New Delhi: Posts containing fake news continued to flourish on social media platforms after the end of the Lok Sabha elections that saw the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) returning to power with a massive win. Celebrations followed the results that pave the way for Modi to become the Prime Minister of the country for the second consecutive term. Some distributed ladoos to celebrate the victory. A few others spread fake news. Also Read – Spotify rolls out Siri support, new Apple TV appA post claiming that “Welcome Modi Ji” has been written on all the city buses of London soon started doing the rounds on social media platforms. The claims were found to be fake by fact-checking platform BOOM. The images used for the posts originated in 2015, when a bus named “Modi Express” was launched by the Indians living in the UK, the fact checkers found. Some even circulated a video on Facebook that claimed that a Gujrati man got so elated with Modi’s re-election that he showered cash on people in Milton, Canada. The caption that accompanied the video claimed that the man made a lot of profit after the share market responded positively to Modi’s re-election. Also Read – New Instagram tool to help users spot phishing emails BOOM traced the viral video to the Instagram account of a Detroit, US based man. It found that the video, originally shot in New York, was uploaded much before the election results in India were declared and it had nothing to do with the celebration of BJP’s victory. On May 23, the day the results of the Lok Sabha polls were declared, a video that showed Modi with his mother went viral on Facebook. While social media users claimed that the video was shot after BJP’s landslide victory in the elections, fact checking website Alt News traced the video to 2014. BOOM also found that following the victory of the BJP, a quote that was falsely attributed to Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan in the past resurfaced on WhatsApp. “I would leave India if Modi becomes the PM of this country,” the actor was falsely quoted as saying in the post that demanded that the actor should now “apologise or leave the country as PM Modi is back”. BOOM traced the quote to a fake tweet and fake news report that celebrated the 2018 April Fool’s Day with the false information. These posts, however, are only the tip of the iceberg. Many more fake posts are doing the rounds on social media with some even falsely claiming that six lakh votes polled in favour of Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Kerala’s Wayanad mysteriously disappeared from the records. According to BOOM Founder Govindraj Ethiraj, the spread of fake news reached an “all-time high” in the run up to the 2019 general election. The flow of fake news after the election results suggests that the tide of misinformation on social media is unlikely to stop any time soon. “The biggest challenge to fighting fake new is that over 300 million of the 550 million smartphone and broadband users in the country are low on literacy and digital literacy and are especially gullible,” leading tech policy and media consultant Prasanto K. Roy earlier told IANS.
Colombo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Sri Lanka’s top leadership including President Maithripala Sirisena Sunday and the two sides agreed that terrorism is a “joint threat” that needs collective and focussed action, weeks after the island nation witnessed the worst jihadi attack. Modi is the first foreign leader to visit Sri Lanka after the deadly Easter terror attacks in April. His visit is considered as a sign of India’s affirmation of solidarity with Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the attacks. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twistExternal Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that the two leaders discussed bilateral issues of mutual interest. A banquet was hosted in honour of Prime Minister Modi by President Sirisena. Modi also received a special gift, a replica of the Samadhi Buddha Statue, from “special friend” Sirisena. Earlier, Prime Minister Modi’s entourage made a detour to St Anthony’s church – one of the sites of the horrific Easter Sunday attacks – on their way from the airport to the Presidential Secretariat, where a red carpet welcome awaited. Also Read – India receives its first Rafale fighter jet from FranceModi paid tributes to the victims of the deadly terror strikes at the church and said the “cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka”. “I am confident Sri Lanka will rise again. Cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka,” said Modi. Nine suicide bombers carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through St Anthony’s Church in Colombo, St Sebastian’s Church in the western coastal town of Negombo and another church in the eastern town of Batticaloa, and three high-end hotels frequented by tourists in the country’s deadliest violence since the devastating civil war ended in 2009. The Islamic State has claimed the attacks, but the government has blamed local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaath (NTJ) for the bombings. After paying tributes to the victims of the Easter attacks at the Catholic church, Modi arrived at the President’s House where he was accorded a ceremonial reception. President Sirisena held an umbrella to provide cover to himself and Prime Minister Modi from rain. Modi also planted a sapling of an evergreen Ashoka tree at the President’s House. Prime Minister Modi held “fruitful discussions” with his Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe. “Assured India’s full support to further strengthen bilateral development partnership including through people-oriented projects in Sri Lanka,” Modi said after his meeting with Wickremesinghe. Modi also held an extensive meeting with the Leader of Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa and discussed the need for close collaboration between the two countries in the fields of counter-terrorism, security and economic development. A Tamil National Alliance delegation led by R Sampanthan also called on Prime Minister Modi and congratulated him on his electoral victory. Modi termed his visit to Colombo “immensely fruitful”. Modi arrived in Colombo from the Maldives where he held wide-ranging talks with Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Saturday.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation 2019 summit is on the cards and might help India in a variety of ways. To be held in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek, SCO 2019 envisages a flurry of themes to be pursued between major economies such as China, Russia and India amidst other smaller central Asian nations. Pakistan also is a party to this summit, however, no sort of bilateral talks between neighbours is likely despite Pakistan making an exception in its airspace, allowing PM Modi to take a flight to Bishkek without any detours. India would rather be meeting his Chinese counterpart as well as Russian President Putin in a bid to open increased cooperation in the Central Asian region through proper dialogues with Russia and China on the occasion. The 19th summit of SCO in Bishkek is apparently new for India who along with Pakistan only recently joined the group in 2017. Though in essence, SCO’s theme encapsulates multilateral agenda comprising regional cooperation in IT, environment, healthcare, sports, security, et al apart from combatting drug-trafficking and terrorism. There are several issues stacked up but large attention would be directed towards regional security paradigm, counterterrorism and trade. China implicitly urged member countries not to bring up the issue of state-sponsored terrorism in the fray in an attempt to prevent Pakistan’s isolation. It is understood that China may also encourage a resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan after relations further soured in the wake of what happened at Pulwama. SCO remains an opportunity for Modi and Xi to meet and discuss future bilateral meets, if not the details then just the dates. This is the first meeting between leaders of the two nations after China agreed to list Azhar in the UNSC sanctions committee. Scope of a Wuhan-style meet has been doing rounds ever since China agreed to list Azhar amidst global pressure since that has been a longstanding Indian demand that foreign players helped fulfil. Both countries have walked a mile since the Doklam standoff that had degraded relations between the fast-growing Asian economies and it may be a good time to discuss potential bilateral scope. Though SCO boasts of a recently-built Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) which focuses on periodic counterterrorism exercises involving member countries, China and India can reinvigorate this combat the rising forces of terror that have targetted South Asia in recent times viz. Pulwama carnage and Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka. Sidelined by India for its notorious play, evident from India’s interest in BIMSTEC instead of SAARC and no invitation for Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, Pakistan must seize the SCO platform to make a global statement regarding its intentions which on the surface are to counter terror outfits but rather ambiguous on the inside. Also Read – Securing nutritionIndia’s participation in SCO comes with a great incentive of carrying forward its Connect Central Asia policy. After stressing on ‘neighbourhood first’ policy affirmed by Modi’s visits to Male and Colombo, India stands at the crossroads of two potential development chapters on the foreign front – Central Asia and South Asia. India is wary of China’s expanding silk route through its economic colonialism which has rendered countries in debt of it, allowing China to take key infra away from them in the form of ports or roads. This has opened the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) for China to dominate. India realises the strategic importance of IOR and hence, strengthening relations with the Maldives and Sri Lanka – key IOR nations – who are indebted to China is a priority. India’s focus on BIMSTEC and its participation in SCO will ensure a comprehensive neighbourhood first policy whereby India bridges Central Asia and South Asia by being a mediator of trade and security cooperation between nations of the two international groups. In the rising tension of Sino-US trade war, enhanced cooperation between Asian economies is the best way to check US’s unilateralism, even as India has significantly grown its ties with the US. SCO has a wide scope but it can only be utilised if tapped on the right fronts and with a consensus reached between its member nations.
Itanagar: A search operation to retrieve the mortal remains of six of the 13 people who were killed in the AN-32 crash on June 3 were hampered due to inclement weather in the area, the Indian Air Force (IAF) said on Saturday. The first seven bodies were recovered on Thursday. The IAF said that Cheetah and ALH helicopters have been put on stand-by to commence the operations once the weather improves. “At present, there are low clouds associated with rain in the area. The IAF is making all efforts to retrieve the mortal remains of the deceased air-warriors. IAF personnel are in constant contact with the families of these air-warriors and are being updated regularly. They are also being explained about the challenges about the weather,” Wing Commander Puneet Chadha said in a statement. Also Read – IAF receives its first Rafale fighter jet from France On Friday, the search teams recovered the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and Flight Data Recorder (FDR) of the aircraft that crashed in Arunachal Pradesh. A team of 16 mountaineers from the IAF and the Indian Army along with five civilian mountaineers are combing the site of crash 16 km north of Lipo, northeast of Tato under West Siang district, at an approximate elevation of 12,000 feet. The AN-32 took off on June 3 from the Jorhat airbase for the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal’s Shi-Yomi district bordering China, but lost contact with the ground agencies within 35 minutes. After the disappearance of the aircraft, the IAF commenced extensive search operations under the direct supervision of the Eastern Air Command headquarters at Shillong.
Just when the draft New Education Policy (NEP) came open for analyses and commentaries, there surfaces a refreshing piece of news from Uttar Pradesh. A 12-year-old child prodigy from the state has written 135 books on subjects like religion and biographies of well-known personalities—including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath! This child is Mrigendra Raj who started writing books at the age of six and his first accomplishment was a compilation of poems. Mrigendra already has four world records to his credit and writes under the pseudonym ‘Aaj Ka Abhimanyu’. He informs that he has written books after analysing 51 characters of the Ramayana. His books run about 25 to 100 pages. Twelve-year-old Mrigendra Raj’s accomplishment has even earned him an offer from the World University of Records in London for a doctorate. It is very pertinent to mention here that his mother is a private school teacher in Sultanpur. She says that her son developed a keen interest in writing upon her encouragement. Mrigendra’s father is an employee in the state’s Sugar Industry and Cane Development Department. The child prodigy wishes to become a writer when he grows up and write maximum number of books on various subjects and genres. Also Read – A compounding difficultyThis story is interestingly a very timely entry as intellectuals, analysts, and thinkers engage in understanding the draft NEP for the novel changes it intends to introduce. Among the components that the draft policy enlists, a boost to research and innovation appear to be a massive move— with an annual grant of Rs. 20,000 crore for research is recommended and to be increased with time; professional education to be part of higher education. The draft policy is said to have laid strong emphasis on catalysing and energising research and innovation in all academic disciplines with particular focus on State universities and colleges. On a more elementary level, the draft NEP talks of foundational literacy and age-appropriate pedagogical practices. This means more than revamping the current educational structure; it refers to promoting large-scale teacher education and professional development reforms. Remedial education is an important aspect that the draft covers. The draft NEP is largely a promising proposition given the state of affairs education is in today. There is a stark disconnect between quality and purpose of education and the failure of the education system on two crucial fronts: the market value of the education received with respect to procuring reasonable jobs, and economic dividends from the existing education system. Addressing this issue has to be the first step in upgrading the system. And the beginning of this has to be conditioned by a healthy social environment conducive to learning. Education at different levels must be dealt with separately and specifically for their unique requirements. What is of utmost importance is to encourage an environment of learning.
New Delhi: The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) on Wednesday announce new tariff for 2019-20 and slashed fixed charges for domestic consumers with sanctioned load of up to 15 kilowatt. Now, the consumers have to pay Rs 105 less per kilowatt per month for sanctioned load of up to 2 kilowatt. “The consumers were paying Rs 125 per kilowatt per per month for meters having sanctioned load of up to 2 kilowatt. As per the revised tarrif, they will have to pay Rs 20 per kilowatt per month,” the DERC said. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder Similarly, for sanctioned load between 2 and 5 kilowatt, the consumers have to pay only Rs 50 per kilowatt per month in place of Rs 140 per kilowatt per month. “For sanctioned load between 5 and 15 kilowatts, the consumers were paying Rs 175 per kilowatt per month. Now they have to pay just Rs 100 per kilowatt per month,” the new tariff reads. The new tariff will be applicable from August 1.
Raipur: Seven Maoists were killed in a gunfight with security forces in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh on Saturday, police said. The exchange of fire occurred around 6 am in the forest near Sitagota village under Baghnadi police station area, when a team of District Reserve Guard (DRG) was out on an anti-Naxal operation, Deputy Inspector General (anti-Naxal operations) Sundarraj P told PTI. So far, seven bodies along with a huge cache of weapons, including one AK-47, have been found from the spot, he said. Further details are awaited as search operations are still on, he added.
Lucknow: iansSamajwadi Party MP Azam Khan has moved the Allahabad High Court for anticipatory bail after 64 cases were filed against him by the Uttar Pradesh Police over the last three months, sources said on Monday. The application is expected to come up for hearing in a day or two. District Magistrate of Rampur Aunjaneya Kumar Singh told reporters that all the 64 cases were serious and 28 of them were filed in just one month. He said: “Many more people are expected to come forward and complain against the MP now”. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ “Twenty seven farmers have lodged cases saying their land was forcibly grabbed by Azam Khan. There are 13 cases of election rules violations, threats to officials and communal speeches by him during elections. Chargesheets have been filed by the police in all these 13 cases,” the DM said. Sources said Azam Khan’s arrest for custodial interrogation is imminent, especially after the Enforcement Directorate also lodged a case against him. He has also been enlisted as an organised land grabber by the state government on July 12. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K Sources said the arrest is likely to happen after the Parliament session gets over. Meanwhile, Azam Khan said: “I am paying the price for winning the Rampur seat and defeating the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). A political vendetta has been launched against me by the Yogi government.” The Samajwadi Party has threatened a state-wide agitation if the UP government moves to arrest Azam Khan, who has accused the district officials of Rampur of implementing the BJP agenda against him.
New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind has given assent to a legislation under which individuals can be declared as terrorists and their properties seized, officials said on Friday. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 also provides for putting travel ban on such individuals once they are declared as terrorists. The President gave his assent to the legislation late on Thursday night, a home ministry official said. The Lok Sabha had passed the amendment Bill on July 24 and the Rajya Sabha on August 2. India’s most wanted, Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed and Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, are likely to be the first two individuals to be designated as terrorists under the legislation, the officials said. The amendments give powers to the Director General of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to attach properties acquired from proceeds of terrorism. Earlier, the law required that the NIA take prior permission from the respective state police chief to attach the proceeds of terrorism. This delays the process as often such properties are in different states, another official said. Earlier, officers in the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and above were empowered to investigate cases under the UAPA as per Section 43. Now, officers in the rank of Inspector are empowered to do so.
New Delhi: India batsman Suresh Raina posted a heartfelt message on his social media handles after he underwent a knee surgery in Amsterdam and updated fans about his health. Raina on Friday underwent a knee surgery where he had been facing discomfort for the last few months. “I am out of surgery and healing steadily, for which I thank my doctors, family, friends, and everyone who has wished me good health and speedy recovery,” the left-handed batsman posted on Twitter and Instagram on Saturday. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh “The issue began way back. It was 2007 when I underwent my maiden knee surgery and later, I was back on the field, giving the game my 100 per cent, all thanks to my trainers and doctors. “However, a nagging discomfort returned last couple of years. During the episodes of niggling pain, to avoid any impact on my game, my trainers kept me going and helped me a lot in training my muscles well so that it would take the load off of the knee. “To be honest, a second knee surgery was a tough call to make because I knew it would put me off-action for a few months and I wasn’t ready for it until a few weeks ago when the pain had gotten a bit much and I knew there was only one way out of this. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later “I hope I’m up on my feet, on the field and ready to give my best very soon again,” he added. The left-handed batsman will not be available for most part of India’s upcoming domestic season which begins with Duleep Trophy. The 32-year-old southpaw last played for India in an ODI against England in 2018. Raina, a World Cup winner in 2011, has played 18 Tests, 226 ODIs and 78 T20Is. He was last involved in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with Chennai Super Kings.
Vladivostok: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday explained to his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad the rationale behind his government’s decision on Jammu and Kashmir and sought the extradition of radical televangelist Zakir Naik, wanted in India for alleged money laundering and inciting extremism.Prime Minister Modi met the Malaysian Prime Minister on the sidelines of the fifth meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) held here in the Russian Far East Region. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM'”Had a great meeting with Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia. We talked about bilateral ties between our nations and ways to further diversify cooperation,” Modi tweeted. Briefing reporters on the meeting, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said Prime Minister Modi discussed with Mahathir the “reorganisation” and the developments related to Jammu and Kashmir. They growing threat of terrorism also figured in their talks. “Prime Minister Modi explained to Mahathir the rationale behind the reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, in terms of both giving effective governance and delivering socio-economic justice. And in that context the two leaders discussed the focus was on terrorism, on how to combat the growing threat of terrorism,” Gokhale said. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K”Prime Minister Mahathir acknowledged that terrorism was a global problem and Malaysia is against any form terrorism,” he added. India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5 and has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality. Pakistan is trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue after India’s decision on August 5. After India’s decision on Kashmir, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan telephoned Mahathir and had sought his support on the issue. Prime Minister Modi also raised the issue of Zakir Naik’s extradition during his meeting with Mahathir, Gokhale said. “Both the parties have decided that our officials will stay in contact regarding the matter and it is an important issue for us,” the foreign secretary said. Naik, a 53-year-old radical television preacher, left India in 2016 and subsequently moved to the largely Muslim Malaysia, where he was granted permanent residency. He is wanted by Indian authorities since 2016 for alleged money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speeches. He has been banned from from any public activities in the multi-ethnic country after his remarks against Malaysian Hindus and Chinese on August 8. This is the second meeting between the two leaders, the first was in May last year when Prime Minister Modi called on Mahathir in Putrajaya after the 94-year-old leader won the general election. Gokhale said that the meeting between the two prime ministers was “very warm”. “Modi also described Mahathir’s election as a historic one and said India was looking forward to working with Malaysia,” he added. There was also discussion on trade and ways to diversify the bilateral ties to benefit people in both the countries. “Prime Minister Mahathir acknowledged that there was a growing trade between the two countries, but that Malaysia had a surplus in trade. He assured Prime Minister Modi that while we should grow this trade, Malaysia is looking at ways by which we can balance this trade,” Gokhale said. Prime Minister Mahathir said, Malaysia would consider importing more from India so that India’s exports to Malaysia grow, he said.
EDMONTON – Alberta Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney says his team and the Wildrose party have made progress on a unity plan and an announcement is coming soon.Kenney said representatives from both sides have narrowed the gap on key points.“We should have news for you in the not-too-distant future,” Kenney said Friday.Friday was the deadline set six weeks ago for negotiating teams from each party to bring back a report. The delay is not a concern given how much has to be done, Kenney said.“This was never a hard deadline. We made it clear that it could go beyond that,” he said.“We were setting that as an aspirational goal for the unity discussion group.”Kenney declined to elaborate on sticking points in the closed-door discussions.“I’m not going to negotiate in public, but when you’re bringing together two political parties, there are dozens of different issues you have to deal with — legal issues, governance issues, (and) obviously a statement of principles,” he said.Wildrose Leader Brian Jean declined an interview request Friday. He posted a video statement saying he was optimistic about the unity talks but the direction of the party will ultimately be decided by the grassroots.“Unifying conservatives cannot be based on a principle of gaining power for power’s sake,” Jean said. “It must be more than that.”A unity agreement would be the next step toward getting both parties working as one, with an organizational structure and a full slate of candidates in time for the next general election.By law, Premier Rachel Notley must call the vote in the spring of 2019, however premiers always have the option of going early if they feel circumstances warrant.Former premier Jim Prentice called the election a year early in 2015 and his PCs were trounced by Notley’s NDP, losing power after more than four decades.Both the Wildrose and the PCs have expressed concern Notley may call an early vote to take advantage of both parties being in flux.On Thursday, Notley reiterated she will not.“I’m kind of a law-friendly person. I like law. Law is fun. And where stuff is there, you should follow it,” said Notley.“So it’s my intent to follow both the spirit as well as the letter of the (election) law.”Both Jean and Kenney have said they will run to be leader of any new merged party.If a deal is struck, the rank and file members in both parties would have to ratify it. Jean has said three quarters or more of Wildrose members would have to approve it.Kenney said the PC rules mandate a simple majority, but said, “I certainly hope we can do better than 50 per cent and I frankly expect that we will.”Kenney, a former cabinet minister under Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, won the PC party leadership on March 18 on a mandate to merge.The victory has left some critics worried Kenney will move the PCs further right on social issues and rights of minorities. Kenney has said he wants a big-tent party of Conservatives.In recent weeks, seven board members have left, some citing concern with the direction of the party under Kenney.One former board member, Lorna Wolodko, posted news of her resignation on social media.“The big tent is getting a tad claustrophobic,” she wrote on Twitter Thursday. “A little sad and a lot relieved.”Kenney said the departures need to be kept in context.“There’s 50 board positions on the PC board. It’s like the cast of Ben-Hur,” he said. “I know a few of the people who have resigned recently planned to do so anyway for personal reasons.“I think a couple have chosen to do so because they don’t agree with the direction that members have taken, and I respect that.”
Kinder Morgan’s plan to raise money for its Trans Mountain expansion through an initial public offering could not come at a more awkward time.In addition to ongoing protests and federal court challenges, a vote recount in BC could tilt the balance of power, giving the Greens or NDP a chance to bog down the $7.4-billion project. The recount begins Monday.Alberta’s securities regulator is also reviewing Kinder Morgan’s regulatory filings upon a request from Greenpeace, who said it believes the documents overestimate growth in Asian oil demand and don’t go far enough in disclosing climate change-related risks.The energy giant faces a big hurdle in its goal of raising $1.75 billion in what would be one of the biggest IPOs ever on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It is expecting to complete the offering in the last week of this month.Goldman Sachs analyst Theodore Durbin said in a note the IPO move was a “surprise,” since Kinder Morgan management had previously said a joint venture would be preferred.Adam Scott, a senior campaigner with environmental group Oil Change International, said he took it as a sign that the company was struggling to raise funds when it scrapped plans for a joint venture.“There’s still substantial legal risk to the project,” said Scott. “There’s also reputational risk. I think that may be why there’s no equity firms willing to step up and take a chunk.”Kinder Morgan didn’t respond to a request for comment on financing issues, but said it was moving ahead with all aspects of planning for the project. In filings it said the IPO was the “superior path” over the joint venture.Terry Marshall, senior vice-president of corporate finance at Moody’s Investors Services, said there are advantages for Kinder Morgan with the IPO, including maintaining greater control of the project and the profits that would come from it, as well as likely securing a better valuation.“It’s economically a very attractive project,” said Marshall. “It’s just getting it built in this environment is challenging.”Opponents expand campaign against Trans Mountain The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion launched a divestment campaign earlier this month against 17 banks that fund oilsands pipelines. Those banks include CIBC, BMO, Scotiabank, TD Bank and RBC.“I don’t think it scares people away,” said Marshall. “It’s unfortunate, the banks are well aware of it, but I don’t think those protests, in and of themselves, would prevent the financing from being provided.”Still, Jeffrey Harris, founder of venture capital firm Global Reserve Group, said the potential project risks could change the financial picture for some investors.“They change their expected rate of return, and because of that, some projects that may have gotten funding may not get funding because people see it as a little more risky,” said Harris.“I don’t know anybody who says, ‘Oh my God, Canada, don’t go there.’ It’s not that by any means,” he added. “It’s the change in the economics that will attract capital or not.”Robert Johnston, chief executive of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said he sees campaigns targeting the financing of Trans Mountain as more of a nuisance than a serious threat.“If the case against Kinder Morgan is that there’s no market in Asia, I think that case would be pretty easy to disprove,” he said.But issues relating to climate change are taking on greater importance at the financial level, Johnston said.“Carbon disclosure is well beyond a hassle. It’s a material risk,” he said. “It’s something companies have to factor into their cost base and be transparent about.”Adnan Amin, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, said the risk of fossil fuel infrastructure becoming stranded assets is increasing with the rapid expansion of renewable energy projects.“Investing in very heavy, long-term expensive infrastructure for the future needs to be reassessed very thoroughly,” said Amin.Kinder Morgan still has yet to render a final investment decision on the project, which would triple the capacity of an existing pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, BC. But it has said it is aiming to start construction in September.
EDMONTON – The family of an indigenous sex assault victim who was jailed and shackled while testifying against her attacker is angry about how she was treated by Alberta’s justice system and wants the man to spend the rest of his life in jail.Lance Blanchard was found guilty last year of aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping and unlawful confinement for the 2014 attack.Relatives of the 28-year-old homeless woman came face to face with Blanchard on Tuesday during a court hearing over his treatment at the Edmonton Remand Centre.“It hurts. I want him in jail. I don’t want him out here. I don’t want anybody else to get … raped and beat up,” the woman’s tearful mother said outside court.“I wanted to know why he did that to my baby. Why her? I don’t mean for anybody else for that to happen to them. Why my baby?”The Crown is seeking to have Blanchard declared a dangerous offender. Blanchard’s lawyer is trying to block the move.At a 2015 preliminary hearing for Blanchard, a judge agreed with the Crown that the victim should spend five nights in the remand centre during her testimony. The Crown was concerned about her behaviour and whether she would return to court otherwise.The woman, who was originally from Maskwacis, Alta. and can’t be identified, was shackled and handcuffed during her testimony. On at least two occasions, she had to ride in the same prisoner van as her attacker.On Monday, Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley called the case “disturbing and tragic” while announcing two investigations into how the victim was treated. Ganley has apologized to the family.The mother said the minister’s words gave her no solace.“It didn’t matter. She is already gone,” the mother said. “She didn’t do anything wrong. She was a happy-go-lucky girl.”The woman was killed in an unrelated shooting last year.Family members said they are also angry with the Crown for not allowing the victim’s name to be published. The mother said her daughter was smart and strong, and people should know who she was.The victim’s sister-in-law said the woman’s relatives still can’t believe how she was treated.“This shouldn’t have happened — how she was handcuffed, shackled. There were other options. They didn’t try to find the family, saying can she stay here while the trial was going on. They didn’t try to take her to a woman’s shelter.“They failed her big time.”The Alberta Judicial Council said Tuesday it had not received any complaints about how provincial court Judge Raymond Bodnarek conducted Blanchard’s 2015 preliminary hearing.Provincial court Chief Judge Terry Matchett said he has no authority to review decisions made by judges during trials or preliminary hearings, including decisions about keeping a witness in custody, which is allowed under the Criminal Code.But Matchett said he will look at what happened to determined if anything can be learned.“I will be conducting a detailed examination of all of the circumstances of this case,” he said in an email.A different judge who found Blanchard guilty in December expressed regret that the woman was held in custody.“She was remanded into custody on the mistaken belief that she was ‘a flight risk’ and that she was simply incapable of participating properly in the court proceedings,” Justice Eric Macklin wrote in his ruling released earlier this year.“Her treatment by the justice system in this respect was appalling.”Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Tuesday the woman’s treatment “was absolutely unacceptable.”“The system failed her on a number of different fronts.”
SAINT JOHN, N.B. – A New Brunswick man who sexually assaulted an underage girl is now suing her family and friends for brutally beating him.The man’s lawyer, David Lutz, says it was not up to the girl’s family or other vigilantes to punish the man — that’s the job of the courts.“He ran afoul of the law by being involved sexually with this young woman, and the court punished him. And it was not for other people, be it her family or unknown vigilantes,” Lutz said.In a statement of claim filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench, the man is seeking compensation for numerous injuries including a broken nose, concussion, two black eyes and cuts to his ear and finger in a September 2015 attack.The lawsuit doesn’t give details of the criminal case, but a New Brunswick newspaper reported that the man pleaded guilty to summary sexual assault and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, which he could serve on weekends.The Telegraph-Journal says the girl’s mother and three men were all sentenced for their roles in the attack on the man.There is a publication ban on the names of all of the individuals involved in the case.The statement of claim says the man was lured to a home where he was greeted with a punch to the face with a closed fist.It says when he tried to retreat, two more men joined in the attack and a knife was held to his throat and he was told that his jugular would be cut if he tried to move.The document says he did try to escape and was cut on the index finger before the three men “caught him and dragged him into a detached garage, wherein they confined and attacked (the man) for 30 to 45 minutes.”The statement of claim says one man brandished a propane torch and threatened to burn off one of the victim’s body parts, and later repeatedly struck the victim in the head with the propane tank.It says a car the man had borrowed from his mother was repeatedly struck with an axe and a sledgehammer, causing significant damage.“When the defendants finished their attacks on (the man) and allowed him to leave, they told (him) that they would kill him if he ever returned,” the statement reads.They took his wallet, and removed $500 cash, the lawsuit says.It says the attack left him with “hemorrhaging inside his eyeballs” and severe recurring headaches. He suffers anxiety, memory loss and fear of being in public, it says.He has lost education and job opportunities, and his mother took two months off from work from her own psychological harm because of the attack, it says.One attacker pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm, uttering threats, and mischief over $5,000. He was sentenced to one year in jail.Two other men were found guilty of assault causing bodily harm and forcible confinement. They were sentenced to three months in jail and 18 months probation.The mother was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm and mischief over $5,000. She was sentenced to three months in jail and 18 months supervised probation.Lutz said people should not take the law into their own hands.“He is not necessarily suing the family members as family members of the young woman he was involved with. He is suing the people who beat him and confined him. If they happen to be the family members, so be it,” Lutz said.“He is like any other person who is assaulted in our country. The assault is not between him and the people who assaulted him. What they did to him is a breach of her majesty’s peace.”The victim of the attack and his mother — the car’s owner — are suing for damages.The lawyer for the defendants has filed a notice of intent to defend, but had not yet filed a statement of defence.
VANCOUVER – The British Columbia government has agreed to pay back more than $5.5 million in fees deducted from the monthly social assistance cheques of methadone patients, a document filed in B.C. Supreme Court says.Details of the agreement were submitted late last week by Laura Shaver and outline how the government will reimburse 70 per cent of the $7.7 million, plus interest, collected from 11,719 patients.The settlement is subject to court approval and will go before a judge on Dec. 1.Shaver was the plaintiff in a proposed class-action lawsuit launched two years ago aimed at preventing private methadone dispensing clinics from receiving $18.34 a month that the government allowed to be skimmed off clients’ income assistance or disability payments.The reimbursement applies to deductions made between November 2009 and July 2016, when the fees were suspended.Shaver’s lawyer, Jason Gratl, described the settlement as fair and said the average repayment would be between $400 and $500.“My overall impression is that the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction realized that this was just the right thing to do, legally and ethically,” Gratl said on Wednesday.Shaver could not be reached for comment.Social Development Minister Shane Simpson said the government is waiting on the courts before proceeding.“If approved by the courts, we will move forward very quickly after that with a settlement agreement for those people who were impacted,” he said.The notice of application says the agreement was reached in May but was conditional on approval from the province’s Treasury Board.The parties have not yet reached an agreement on the rate of repayment, though Shaver says in the court document it should be no less than $150 per month.Shaver’s original notice of civil claim says a Vancouver methadone clinic required her to sign a fee agreement drafted by the government in order to access treatment for her heroin addiction.The $60 fee was to go toward counselling services not provided by a doctor. A government provided supplement of $41.66 reduced that amount, but the agreement allowed the remainder to be paid from a recipient’s monthly social assistance allowance.— Follow @gwomand on Twitter
Companies in this story: (TSX:ECA)The Canadian Press A major Canadian energy company based in Calgary is facing its fourth lawsuit in U.S. courts over climate change.The largest commercial fishermen’s group on the West Coast has included Encana in a lawsuit attempting to link greenhouse gas emissions from 30 energy companies to damage in the crab fishery.The lawsuit alleges climate change is responsible for warming oceans, which has led to major algae blooms and unprecedented closures of the lucrative fishery.It alleges the companies are responsible for about one-fifth of such emissions worldwide between 1965 and 2015.It also claims the companies knew they were causing climate change but worked to obscure the link and to spread misinformation.An Encana spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit, and none of the claims has been proven in court.Encana is named in three similar lawsuits by California cities. The company once operated a large natural gas storage facility in the state. The facility was sold in 2006.
SASKATOON — The gang leader behind a botched hit that led to the death of a 34-year-old Saskatoon mother of four has lost an appeal of his conviction.A judge found Joshua Petrin guilty in 2016 of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced him to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.Lorry Ann Santos was shot to death in the front entryway of her home in September 2012 by two gunmen.Petrin’s trial before a judge alone heard that the shooters had gone to the wrong address after he directed them to kill a former member of his White Boy Posse gang.Petrin had argued his case should be retried because payments made to some witnesses weren’t disclosed and the trial judge didn’t take enough account of credibility issues with certain testimony.The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal didn’t see any problem with the judge’s verdict.“On the whole, the verdict of the trial judge was one that she could properly have rendered based on the evidence before her,” Justice Ralph Ottenbreit wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel.Court documents said Petrin, who is from Edmonton, was a high-ranking member of the White Boy Posse gang that ran a drug-dealing operation in Alberta and the Northwest Territories, but had started making inroads into Saskatchewan.During Petrin’s trial, Santos’s husband, Ferdinand, told court what happened the morning his wife was killed.He said they were going about their morning routine and eating breakfast around 6 a.m. while their children were still asleep. He moved to the master washroom to get ready for work and his wife, who was on maternity leave, laid down on the bed in the next room with their infant child.Santos testified that he didn’t recall hearing the doorbell, but he did hear loud gunshots that sounded as though they were inside the house. He left the washroom and saw the baby was still on the bed. His wife wasn’t there.He told court he went into the hall and saw his wife face down and bleeding from a wound in her back. Their oldest daughter called 911 as he turned his wife over and tried to get a response.He didn’t get one.Police and paramedics arrived and took Lorry Santos away on a stretcher. It was the last time her husband saw her.She was pronounced dead in hospital at 6:54 a.m. that morning.(CKOM, The Canadian Press)The Canadian Press
LEDUC, Alta. — Court has heard that three people involved in a bizarre naked kidnapping case south of Edmonton last year suffered from a rare, shared psychotic disorder.A courtroom in Leduc was packed with supporters as a judge heard a joint recommendation from lawyers for a conditional sentence.Court has heard the group was not affected by alcohol or drugs but believed it was the end of the world and wanted to save their neighbours when they forced them from their home last November.Two women and one man, who cannot be identified under a publication ban, earlier pleaded guilty to unlawful confinement.One of the women, the only one dressed at the time of the kidnapping, also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving.Her teenage daughters were also arrested but not charged.An agreed statement of facts says the group, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, had gathered at a home near Leduc on Nov. 2, 1017. The mother, who was then 35, had taken her daughters there to visit her 27-year old nephew and his 30-year old wife.Strange things happened over the next three days.The group didn’t leave the house and barely ate any food. One of the teens heard screaming and banging and saw ashes in the air. Some of the people hid in a bedroom or bathroom because they believed they were in danger from wicked people or demons.They also believed that the Great Tribulation had happened and Nov. 6 would be Armageddon. So they rushed off to find safety and save a neighbouring family.But four who were naked didn’t have time to put clothes on.“They had to leave right away because it was unsafe,” said the court document.They were in such a hurry that after piling into a BMW SUV, they drove through the garage door.They then forced the neighbours — a man, his adult daughter and her six-week-old son — out of their house and into the snow without shoes. The woman and her baby were put in the back seat of the SUV and the man was put in the trunk.He was ordered to chant “Jehovah” ten times and the group also chanted “Jehovah” as the vehicle sped down roads and through a red light on the way to nearby Nisku.The man in the trunk was able to jump out when the vehicle slowed, because the trunk’s latch hadn’t shut properly. His daughter was also able to get out with her child, although her hand was slammed in the door as she made the attempt.A passing truck stopped to help the family and they climbed inside. But the SUV then rammed the truck from behind. The woman and her baby were thrown into the truck’s dash but not injured. The SUV then went into a ditch.When RCMP arrived, the group were chanting and refusing to get out of the vehicle. They clung to each other and the SUV.One of the teens believed the police “were monsters who would kill them,” said the document.Officers said the group displayed extreme strength. Two were pepper sprayed but seemed unaffected. The three adults were also shot with Tasers several times. One also slid under the SUV and had to be dragged out with a strap.The neighbours later told Mounties the group seems “demonized” and “obviously not in their right minds.”Chris Purdy, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Justin Trudeau’s former principal secretary has been invited to speak to the House of Commons justice committee on the SNC-Lavalin affair.Earlier today, Gerald Butts tweeted that he issued a formal request to testify.“I watched the testimony of The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould yesterday. I believe my evidence will be of assistance to the Justice and Human Rights Committee in its consideration of these matters. I respectfully request the opportunity to attend the Committee,” the letter stated.RELATED: Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furorWhen Butts resigned on Feb. 18, he issued a statement categorically denying the accusation that he or anyone in the PMO improperly pressured Wilson-Raybould to help the Montreal engineering giant avoid prosecution on corruption and bribery charges related to contracts in Libya.He said the accusation is “simply not true.”Butts said it’s his responsibility to defend his own reputation, and that it was in the best interests of the government for him to step away.The justice committee is also asking Michael Wernick, the clerk of the privy council, and deputy attorney general Nathalie Drouin to speak about two conversations Vancouver-Granville MP Jody Wilson-Raybould testified about.It’s unclear when any of them may speak, but the committee says once they do, it will consider next steps.On Wednesday, Wilson-Raybould gave an explosive testimony, confirming the allegations of inappropriate pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office on the SNC-Lavalin case.Testifying to the House of Commons justice committee, the Vancouver-Granville MP says she was subjected to sustained efforts from 11 people in the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, and the Ministry of Finance to cut a deal for the Quebec engineering firm SNC-Lavalin. – With files from Cormac MacSweeney, Kaitlin Lee