New Delhi: The Congress said on Monday that the CWC meeting on Saturday held a collective deliberation on the partys performance in the Lok Sabha polls instead of casting aspersions on the role or conduct of any specific individual and any “conjectures, speculations, insinuations, assumptions” in the media about its deliberations were “uncalled for and unwarranted”. In a statement released, Congress Communications In-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said that the party has authorised its President Rahul Gandhi to go for radical changes and a complete organisational overhaul. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twist He said the Congress Working Committee, which is the highest decision making body of the party, is a democratic forum to exchange ideas, formulates policies and takes corrective action. “In this realm and context, members of the CWC expressed their views in the meeting on May 25, 2019. The CWC looked at the reverses in the Lok Sabha elections as an opportunity for radical changes and a complete organisational overhaul, for which it authorized the Congress President Rahul Gandhi,” he said. Also Read – India receives its first Rafale fighter jet from France “The Congress party expects everyone, including the media to respect the sanctity of a closed door meeting of the CWC. Various conjectures, speculations, insinuations, assumptions, gossip and rumour mongering in a section of the media is uncalled for and unwarranted,” Surjewala said. He said the gist of deliberations was made public in the CWC resolution of May 25. “The CWC held a collective deliberation on the performance of the party, the challenges before it as also the way ahead, instead of casting aspersions on the role or conduct of any specific individual. We would request everyone, including the media, to not fall into the trap of conjectures or speculations and await the calibrated efforts by the Congress party towards future course of action,” he said. The CWC had rejected the offer of resignation made by Rahul Gandhi following the party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha elecitons. There have been reports in the media of Rahul Gandhi conveying at the meeting that Congress Chief Ministers Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath wanted tickets for their sons but he was not very keen on it.
Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court Thursday granted protection from arrest and any coercive action till July 10 to West Bengal CID Additional Director General Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha chit fund scam case. The vacation bench of the court granted him a month’s protection from June 10, when the court will reopen after summer break, and directed Kumar to deposit his passport within 24 hours of the passing of the order. The former Kolkata police chief has also been asked to cooperate with the CBI investigation into the multi-crore chit fund case, while recording his attendance with an officer of the probe agency every day at 4 pm. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twist Justice Pratik Prakash Banerjee ruled that the petition will appear before a regular bench on June 12 after the court reopens following a summer vacation. Kumar moved the Calcutta High Court Thursday, seeking quashing of the CBI notice served on him over alleged suppression of facts in the Saradha chit fund scam case. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had served a notice on Kumar asking him to appear before it for assisting the investigation into the case. Also Read – India receives its first Rafale fighter jet from France Kumar, a former commissioner of Kolkata Police, was appointed ADG, CID, by the Mamata Banerjee-led government before the Lok Sabha elections. He was, however, removed by the Election Commission during the poll process and was attached to the home ministry in New Delhi. The state government reinstated him following the withdrawal of the model code of conduct. The Supreme Court had last week dismissed a plea of Kumar seeking extension of protection from arrest in the multi-crore chit fund scam case. A vacation bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, said Kumar can approach the Calcutta High Court or a trial court here for seeking relief in the case. In January, the Centre and the state government had faced an unprecedented standoff after a CBI team, which reached the residence of Kumar for questioning, had to retreat following police intervention. Chief Minister Banerjee came out in Kumar’s defence and launched a sit-in to protest in the city against the Centre’s move. On February 5, the Supreme Court had prevented the agency from any coercive action against Kumar, while directing the former police commissioner to appear and co-operate in CBI questioning at a “neutral place”. He was questioned by the CBI for nearly five days in Shillong from February 9. Kumar, who was appointed Commissioner of Police at Bidhan Nagar Police Commissionerate in 2012, had served as the head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) which probed the ponzi scams before the CBI took over. Last month, the CBI had told the Supreme Court that Kumar’s custodial interrogation was necessary as he was not cooperating in the probe and was “evasive” and “arrogant” in answering the queries put to him. As part of the Rs 2,500-crore scam, the Saradha group of companies duped lakhs of customers, promising higher rates of returns on their investment, the agency said. Similar modus operandi was adopted by other ponzi companies like Rose Valley operating in West Bengal, Odisha and north eastern states where gullible investors were duped, it added.
The Summer Theatre Festival at Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts (SRCPA) is back again with its exciting bouquet of well acclaimed, award-winning productions along with great opening shows for Delhi theatre lovers. The festival is scheduled to be staged on June 8-16, at Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts (SRCPA), New Delhi.Raising the bar in creativity, while offering a fine blend of contemporary and traditional genres, the festival in Delhi will be kicking off with Girish Karad’s ‘Tughlaq’, followed by ‘Meeta Ki Kahani’ by renowned playwright Vijay Tendulkar, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ directed by famous Feisal Alkazi (an adaptation of Charles Dickens), and many more fun-to-watch plays. Also Read – Pollution makes you more aggressiveThe festival will bring the theatre plays which have been done before too, however presenting them again with an equal zeal is the strength of the performers, assures Sameep Singh, Repertory Chief, SRCPA. He says, “Each play is rehearsed with 100% honesty to recreate the magic on the stage. Actors have undergone regular physical training and literary sessions to live up to the character.” “The audience applaud is what we all look forward too. Since the festival has been an integral part of the SRCPA events, I feel glad to see patrons revisiting the plays bringing along new audience too,” he added. Talking about the plays to be staged, Hemant Bharatram, Executive Vice President SRCPA informs that enriching the vibe of theatre in the cultural arena of the Capital, the theatre organisation will bring selected plays in this nine-day long event, showcasing all genres from dark comedy, romance to contemporary issues.”
New Delhi: More than 2,000 people died in India in the last one year due to extreme weather events, the Environment Ministry informed Rajya Sabha Monday but denied any direct connection to the global issue of climate change.In a written reply to a query, MoS in Environment Ministry Babul Supriyo said, “As per the information received from the Ministry of Home Affairs, 2,405 lives have been reported to be lost during the financial year 2018-19 in the country due to cyclonic storm/flash flood/landslides/cloudburst etc.” He said global warming may lead to increase in frequency or intensity of weather events. In reply to another question whether about 4,000 deaths take place every year due to climate change, the minister said, “India experienced 431 major natural disasters during the period 1980-2010, resulting in loss of human lives, property and resources. However, any direct attribution to climate change has not been indicated.” Highlighting the steps taken by the government to tackle the issue, he said the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), which comprises missions in specific areas of solar energy, energy efficiency, water, agriculture, Himalayan eco-system, sustainable habitat, green India and strategic knowledge on climate change, was being implemented. “The NAPCC provides the overarching framework for all climate actions. 33 states/Union territories have prepared their State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) in line with NAPCC taking into account state’s specific issues relating to climate change. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity!”These SAPCCs inter-alia outline sector specific and cross sectoral priority actions including adaptation,” the RS was told. The minister informed that the government was also implementing the scheme National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change to support adaptation measures of states/UTs in areas that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. “The National Disaster Management Authority has issued several disaster specific guidelines for managing extreme weather-related disasters such as cyclones, floods and heat wave. National Disaster Management Plan has been formulated to assist all stakeholders including state governments in disaster risk management of various hazards including hazards related to climate change. “The National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project is under implementation in eight coastal states to mitigate the sufferings of the coastal community. Cyclone shelters and early warning system created under this project proved to be of great help during cyclones ‘Phailin’ in 2013, ‘Hud-Hud’ in 2014 …’,” Supriyo said.
New Delhi:It was a sultry Friday morning in the national capital with the minimum temperature settling at 30 degrees Celsius, three degrees above the season’s average. Relative humidity was 55 percent at 8.30 AM, said a MeT department official. Strong surface winds raising dust are forecast for the day ahead. Maximum temperature is expected to be around 39 degrees Celsius, he said. Rains are expected to lash the city on July 15-16, said the MeT official. It was a humid day in Delhi on Thursday too, with maximum temperature of 39.2 degrees Celsius and minimum 31 degrees Celsius.
New Delhi: Amid promoters feuding over governance issues, InterGlobe Aviation has decided to have up to 10 members on its board, including four independent directors. The decision, taken during the company’s board meeting on July 20, comes against the backdrop of a feud between co-promoters — Rakesh Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia — over corporate governance issues. InterGlobe Aviation, the parent of the country’s largest airline IndiGo, at present has six members, including two independent directors. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal The board of directors have decided to amend the Articles of Association (AoA) for expanding the board by up to a maximum of 10 members, including four independent directors, a regulatory filing said. “The said amendment of the articles will be subject to approval of the shareholders at the forthcoming annual general meeting of the company,” it added. Generally, an AoA pertains to internal rules governing a company. In a statement on July 19, the company said its board has decided to seek shareholders’ approval for expanding the board to enable the induction of an independent woman. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost Former Sebi chief M Damodaran is the Chairman of InterGlobe Aviation. Apart from Gangwal, Bhatia and his wife Rohini Bhatia, former World Bank executive Anupam Khanna and chartered accountant Anil Parashar are board members. Markets regulator Sebi and the corporate affairs ministry are looking into the alleged governance lapses at InterGlobe Aviation. Shares of InterGlobe Aviation were trading at Rs 1,475.30, higher by 0.82 per cent, even as the broader market was trading in the negative territory.
Kananga (DR Congo): Eleven people have drowned and dozens are missing after a barge sank on a river in central Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities said Tuesday. Sixteen people survived the accident on the overcrowded vessel by swimming to safety on the Lukenye river, a journalist working for a local community radio told AFP. The disaster — the latest in a string of deadly accidents in Congolese waters — occurred a week ago in a remote and densely forested region of Kasai province where rivers are the main means of transport due to a lack of driveable roads. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US “We have recovered 11 bodies and about 50 people are missing,” Kasai governor Dieudonne Pieme told AFP. The local journalist said most of those on board were travelling to the DR Congo capital of Kinshasa. Boat accidents are common in the vast country, typically caused by overloading of passengers and cargo. Tolls are often high because there are no life jackets and many Congolese do not know how to swim. In May, 32 people died in a boat accident on Lake Mai-Ndombe in the west of the country. In April, at least 167 people died in two accidents, prompting President Felix Tshisekedi to make it mandatory for boat passengers to have lifebuoys.
New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accepted Governor Satya Pal Malik’s ‘invitation’ to visit Jammu and Kashmir but said he did not need an aircraft. Gandhi said he and other opposition leaders would visit Jammu and Kashmir and urged Malik to allow them the freedom to meet people, and soldiers. Gandhi said in a tweet, “Dear Governor Malik, A delegation of opposition leaders & I will take you up on your gracious invitation to visit J&K and Ladakh. We won’t need an aircraft but please ensure us the freedom to travel & meet the people, mainstream leaders and our soldiers stationed over there.” On Monday, Governor Malik invited Gandhi to visit Jammu and Kashmir, saying he would send an aircraft for him, after the Congress leader said, “People were dying in the state and the situation was not normal as claimed by the government.”
New Delhi: India will require $500-700 billion in renewable energy and supporting grid investment over the coming decade in order to meet its renewable energy targets, the US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said on Friday. In a note titled ‘International Capital Awaits Robust Policy Environment in India’s Renewables Infrastructure Sector’, it reviewed India’s energy market and found some recent policy changes favourable for renewable energy investors. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalBut it also noted with caution some sovereign risk issues that need to be resolved quickly. Author Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Finance Studies with IEEFA, said the world is looking to invest in India’s renewable energy sector. “There has been clear momentum in India’s renewable energy capacity building in the last 24 months, leveraging the expanding opportunities in deflationary sustainable domestic projects,” Buckley said in a statement to IANS. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost”India is set to reach 144 gigawatts of renewable energy by the end of financial year 2021-22.” “The country has a clear ambition to transition to a cheaper lower emission electricity system, and that ambition is attracting healthy global investment,” he said. According to Buckley, global capital flows into India will accelerate as long as the Indian government provides a clear policy framework and puts in place measures to lower risks and protect investor confidence. The briefing note highlighted multiple examples of international investment in India’s renewable energy projects, while also noting recent obstacles to India’s renewable ambitions, including a slowdown in the tendering process, grid integration constraints, and issues with excessively aggressive tariff caps on reverse auctions. As a result, during FY2018-19 India failed to capitalise on the momentum built over the previous two years through record low solar and wind tariffs. Only 10.3 GW of renewable generation capacity was added in FY2018-19. Co-author Kashish Shah said the slowdown masks some very positive policy announcements recently which accelerated tendering activity in June 2019, post the general election. “The proposed tariff policy revision and the payment security mechanism enhancements are both significant regulatory reforms, while removing the priority lending limit for the renewable energy sector will accelerate private bank lending to renewable energy infrastructure projects,” Shah added. For global public and private debt and equity capital seeking steady long-term returns, there is a huge investment opportunity in India’s electricity and transportation sectors to support the development of new generating capacity and grid development by 2030. “India wants to meet its renewable targets while showing global leadership in setting a policy framework consistent with the Paris Agreement,” Buckley added.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday referred a batch of petitions challenging the changes in Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional status by abrogating provisions of Article 370 to a five-judge Constitution bench. The apex court, which said the petitions will be listed for hearing in the first week of October, also issued notices to the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration on the batch of pleas challenging the presidential order abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi did not agree with the Centre that there was no need for issuing notices in the matter as Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta were marking their presence in the court. “We will refer the matter to a five-judge Constitution bench,” said the bench while not accepting the argument that the notices would have a “cross-border repercussion”. The bench also comprised Justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday The attorney general said whatever was being said by the court was sent before the United Nations (UN). As the counsel appearing for both sides were involved in arguments and counter-arguments, the bench said, “We know what to do, we have passed the order, we are not going to change.” The first petition challenging the presidential order scrapping Article 370 was filed by advocate M L Sharma, who was later joined by another lawyer from Jammu and Kashmir, Shakir Shabir. National Conference (NC), a prominent political party from Jammu and Kashmir, filed a petition on August 10, contending that the changes brought in the status of the state had taken away the rights of its citizens without their mandate. Arguing that the legislation approved by Parliament and the orders issued by the president subsequently were “unconstitutional”, the petition asked for those to be declared “void and inoperative”. The petition was filed by NC’s Lok Sabha MPs Mohammad AKbar Lone and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi. Lone is a former speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and Masoodi a retired judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. In 2015, he ruled that Article 370 was a permanent feature of the Constitution. There are other petitions challenging the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370, including a plea filed by a group of former defence officers and bureaucrats, who have also sought directions declaring the presidential orders of August 5 “unconstitutional, void and inoperative”. The plea was filed by professor Radha Kumar, a former member of the Home Ministry’s Group of Interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir (2010-11), former IAS officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre Hindal Haidar Tyabji, Air Vice Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak, Major General (retd) Ashok Kumar Mehta, former Punjab-cadre IAS officer Amitabha Pande and former Kerala-cadre IAS officer Gopal Pillai, who retired as the Union home secretary in 2011. A petition has also been filed by bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal, along with his party colleague and former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) leader Shehla Rashid. There are other petitions challenging the Centre’s decision on Article 370.
Karachi: The price of milk has gone out of control across major cities of Pakistan on the day when Muharram is observed, according to Pakistani media reports. The cost of milk has reached Rs 140 per litre in Karachi and the Sindh Province. Interestingly, petrol and diesel prices in Pakistan are lower than that of milk. Petrol was selling Rs 113 per litre, while diesel was Rs 91 per litre in Pakistan, just two days ago. There have been even reports that milk is sold for as high as Rs 140 a litre in some parts of Sindh. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details”Milk is being sold between Rs 120 and Rs 140 across the city of Karachi due to the sharp increase in demand,” said a shopkeeper. During Moharram, Sabeels (stalls) are set up in different parts of the city to offer milk, juices and cold water to the participants of the holy month’s processions. For this, there is a huge demand for milk. Due to the increased demand, milk prices have shot up. Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani, who is responsible for controlling the price of milk, seems to have done nothing about the exorbitant rates at which milk is being sold, according to reports. Ironically, the official price of milk set by the Commissioner Office is still Rs 94 a litre.
Bengaluru: An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) belonging to the Defence Research and Development Organisation crashed during a trial in an agriculture field in Chitradurga district on Tuesday, police said. However, no casualties were reported. The DRDO tweeted, “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) being developed by DRDO on experimental flight trial in new configuration has crash landed in fields near ATR Chitradurga. Data is being analysed.” The incident created a scare at Jodi Chillenahalli village as a loud noise was heard when the aerial vehicle fell. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details Soon, large number of people gathered at the spot, police said. Chitradurga Superintendent of Police Arun K told PTI that the UAV crashed in the arecanut farm this morning, but no one was injured. Videos of the broken UAV went viral on the social media. According to state government officials, the testing of aerial vehicle called ‘Rustom-2’ was in progress when the incident occurred.
OTTAWA – Canada’s Far North is getting the short end of the stick on a major federal investment aimed at reducing gender-based violence, advocates say, because the money is being meted out based on the size of a region’s population, rather than need.“When I go to meetings with shelters in southern Canada, I am hearing about all these shelters being built (or repaired) with the renovation money and I’m thinking, ‘Holy cow! What happened to the North?’” said Lyda Fuller, executive director of the YWCA Yellowknife.The Liberal government committed $89.9 million over two years in the 2016 budget for building or renovating shelters and transition houses for people escaping family violence. The investment was also highlighted in the recently launched federal gender-based violence strategy.The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), through which the money flowed, split the money up among the provinces and territories, which were not required to match the funds in order to get things rolling.But the money was divvied up according to the usual per-capita funding model, which means each share of the pie was determined according to the number of people who live there.Ontario — home to about 14 million people — got about $28 million over the two-year period.Meanwhile, each of the three territories, which have a total population of about 120,000, received just under $500,000 over two years.Lise Martin, executive director of Women’s Shelters Canada, said the money was welcome, but the relatively small sums provided to the territories would make it difficult to build any new shelters there, never mind come up with the extra money to maintain them.“It’s more than needed, but it’s not going to have a huge impact on capacity in terms of creating new spaces,” she said.Martin has been among those calling for a national action plan on gender-based violence, which would go farther than the federal strategy by ensuring equal access to comparable services, no matter where someone lives.Mathieu Filion, a spokesman for Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, suggested these issues could be addressed by the national housing strategy later this year.“The national housing strategy will ensure that more Canadians, including survivors of family violence, have access to housing that meets their needs and that they can afford,” Filion said in an email.The northern territories have the highest rates of family violence in the country.According to Statistics Canada, there was an average of 241 incidents of police-reported family violence in Canada per 100,000 people in 2015.Nunavut had the highest rate, with 2,504 per 100,000 people, followed by the Northwest Territories at 1,938 and Yukon at 731.Ontario, at 150, had the lowest rate that year.Jonathan Rotondo, a spokesman for the CMHC, said that as of March 31, the $60 million set aside for the first year of the investment had been used to create 325 new units or beds in shelters and transition houses across the entire country.There were repairs or renovations impacting another 4,006 spaces.The Northwest Territories Housing Corp. said its share of the money for fiscal 2016-17 amounted to $315,789, which the territorial government used to make “urgent repairs and renovations” to four of the five shelters in the territory. Another $157,368 has been committed for this year.That included renovations to reconfigure a surplus unit the territorial housing authority donated to one of the shelters after it realized the existing building was essentially beyond repair and would not last much longer.The YWCA Yellowknife also operates the shelter in Fort Smith, N.W.T.; Fuller, who has been trying to make it wheelchair-accessible, said the territorial housing authority chose to spend the money on basic improvements like replacing the oil tank.“We tore out the 35-year-old carpeting!” she said with a laugh. “No new beds.”The Nunavut Housing Corp. said it spent about $395,000 on repairs and improvements at two shelters in the territory, and will save the remaining $78,000 for emergencies and additional work.The Yukon Housing Corp., meanwhile, decided to put its $473,166 into a program that allows non-government organizations to apply for grants.Tim Sellars, the director of policy and communications, said $170,000 has gone out so far.Barbara McInerney, executive director of the Yukon Women’s Transition Home Society in Whitehorse, said things are so tight that she cannot even manage to prepare a proposal to apply for badly needed funding.“So much of the time we are fighting for survival to keep the day-to-day running, that it’s very difficult for us to see past that and look at painting our building or whatever,” said McInerney.“You’re operating a 24-hour facility, you’re on call 24-7, you’re trying to support staff in a very difficult job, and you’re going to take on a construction fight?”— Follow @smithjoanna on Twitter
PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. – A deer with part of a purple hammock laced around his antlers has inspired a Facebook page, popular line of T-shirts and tremendous public interest in a northern British Columbia city.But the buck’s bonnet won’t last much longer.Hammy, as he has been dubbed, rose to notoriety during the summer when he got stuck in a backyard hammock in Prince Rupert.RCMP officers freed him but Hammy raced away before the hammock fringe could be tugged off his head.Since then, a Facebook page allows Prince Rupert residents to track sightings of him, while a local entrepreneur created a line of T-shirts that almost instantly sold out depicting Hammy and his haute couture headgear.The fringe isn’t harming the buck or preventing him from feeding.Residents say Hammy even seems to be the leader of a small group of deer that roam the city.But male deer shed their antlers annually, so Hammy will lose his showy chapeau within the next few months.Frances Riley says she has seen Hammy and he appears to celebrate his purple plumage.“He was cruising around with a pack of other bucks. There were about six of them and they’d stop and they’d fight every once in awhile and Hammy was leading the parade,” Riley says.“He seemed to be the leader of their little crew.”Riley says the fringe doesn’t appear to slow Hammy down but she hopes this leads to a conversation about how humans and wildlife interact.In the meantime, she says he brightens people’s days.“It’s just kind of fun. He’s just kind of cool. You see him and its like, ‘oh, right on, there’s Hammy.’ ” (CJFW)
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Canadian Paralympic star Brian McKeever grew up without a television.But days before the 1988 Winter Games opened in Calgary, his parents took their long-broken TV set in to have it repaired, and the cross-country skier’s Olympic love affair began when Canada marched into the stadium for the opening ceremonies.“You don’t necessarily understand what the Olympics are at the time, but if it’s important enough for mom and dad to get the TV fixed, it must be pretty big,” said McKeever, who was in Grade 3 then. “So we watched the whole Games from opening to closing . . . it’s always a big event, right?”On Friday, the 10-time gold medallist will carry Canada’s flag into the opening ceremonies of the Pyeongchang Olympics, leading a Canadian team 55-athletes strong.“I’m sure it will be (emotional),” McKeever said through a big grin. “Everything about sport is, good and bad. And I think that’s partly why we do this, to experience all the stuff, and so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens out there.”McKeever, who’s never marched in the opening ceremonies in his four previous Paralympics — his racing schedule has been too demanding — posed for photos after Thursday’s announcement at Canada Paralympic House. He draped the Maple Leaf around his shoulders like Superman’s cape, his buffalo plaid baseball hat pulled on backwards.“I’m a proud Canadian, and I’ve been fortunate to represent my country on the field of play out there, through a lifetime of sport that’s brought a lot of riches of experience,” he said. “This is something that you dream about doing, and it’s actually a nervous time. I think I’m more nervous to carry the flag than I am to race.”The 38-year-old visually impaired skier from Canmore, Alta., has owned the top of the Paralympic medal podium, going undefeated in Games competition since 2006.He was poised to make history in 2010 in Vancouver as the world’s first athlete to compete in both the winter Olympics and Paralympics in the same year. But Canada’s Olympic cross-country coaches opted to enter four other skiers in the men’s 50-kilometre race and not McKeever. The pain of being the odd man out, he said, stung for a long time.He did make history as the first Canadian to be named to both a Paralympic and Olympic team in the same year, and a few weeks after the Olympics, he shrugged off his heartbreak by racing to three Paralympic gold medals.Four years later in Sochi, McKeever got tangled up with a Russian skier near the start of the one-kilometre race, but clambered back to his feet and he and guide Graham Nishikawa caught up to win gold.The skier admitted his competitive spirit may show itself when he walks into Pyeongchang Stadium on Friday.“Racer mentality probably means I’ll be catching the teams in front,” he said, with a laugh. “I think there will probably be people there to keep me in place. Which is good… Blind guy will just wander all over.”McKeever competed in cross-country skiing from the age of 13, and raced at the world junior championships in 1998. A year later, at the age of 19, he started to lose his eyesight and was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease, an inherited condition of macular degeneration that also claimed his father’s vision.The disease has robbed him of his central vision, but he still has 100 per cent peripheral vision — he likes to tell people he can see the donut but not the Timbit.McKeever roared to a pair of gold medals in his Paralympic debut in 2002 in Salt Lake City, and would race to eight more titles over the next three Paralympics, plus a pair of silver medals and two bronze.He’s also racked up 19 world titles, including two in February 2017, over 10 and 20 kilometres.McKeever’s 10 Paralympic golds match the amount earned by wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc and swimmers Michael Edgson and Timothy McIsaac.Canada’s chef de mission Todd Nicholson, a retired Paralympic hockey player and the flagbearer in 2006 in Turin, presented McKeever with the Maple Leaf.“In 2006… I can honestly say it’s a moment I will never forget,” Nicholson said. “I remember going into the opening ceremonies and there were 80,000 people screaming and yelling, and I’m really hoping that (McKeever) will experience that just as much as I have.”McKeever’s older brother Robin, who competed at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, then raced as Brian’s guide before becoming the para-Nordic head coach, cheered on his younger brother at the announcement.Also on hand were McKeever’s two guides Nishikawa and Russell Kennedy, who competed for Canada at the Olympics last month, and is new to Paralympic sport.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version referred to the closing ceremonies, instead of the opening ceremonies of the Paralympics.
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s community services minister has been asked to apologize to a young woman who was apparently left traumatized after two of her children were allegedly taken away mistakenly by Child Protective Services for four weeks.The woman’s case was raised in the provincial legislature Friday by Progressive Conservative critic Barbara Adams, who did not name the woman or her children.“As you can imagine, this family was incredibly traumatized by this experience,” Adams said during question period.Adams said the two children — an infant and a seven-year-old — were apprehended after police raided the family home in July, acting on a report from the department that the woman had tested positive for illicit drug use.To ensure the children’s welfare, the woman had to submit to random drug testing because she had a previous history of illicit drug use, Adams said.The Community Services Department called the woman a week later to confirm there had been a mix-up, she said.“The positive test belonged to someone else,” Adams said.However, it took another three weeks before the children were returned home.“When the province removes children from a family, they have to have more than bad data,” she said. “(The department) has yet to issue an apology to the family, and have not reimbursed the family for their legal fees.”Glenn Friel of the Community Services Department suggested in an email late Friday that other factors were involved in the decision.“Drug testing would be only one of many sources of information that would be considered in making a decision to bring a child in to care. There is never a reliance on only one piece of information,” he said.He said all efforts are made to keep “the integrity of the family” before children are taken into care.In the legislature earlier in the day, Adams asked if Community Services Minister Kelly Regan would apologize to the family for the mix-up.Regan said she could not speak about individual cases, but she assured Adams that her department would look into the case.Outside the legislature, Adams said the children weren’t returned to the woman until after the politician called the department to determine what was going on.She said she wants the department to adopt policies to ensure this kind of mistake doesn’t happen again.“This is somebody who has her life together and is moving forward with the support of her family — and they were invaded like a SWAT team,” Adams said. “It left a horrible fear in them that this could happen to others.”
A Canadian who was arrested in northern Thailand for spraying paint on an ancient wall says she’s sorry for what she did and terrified about what comes next.Brittney Schneider, 22, was in Chiang Mai last Thursday when she said she and some others got “ridiculously drunk.” They started to walk back to their hostel, but came across a bottle of spray paint and picked it up.“I came to as I finished writing the B and I stopped because I knew it was bad,” she said Tuesday in an email interview with The Canadian Press. “But it was already too late.”Security camera footage shows Schneider, who is from Grande Prairie, Alta., and Furlong Lee, 23, spraying paint on the walls of the Tha Pae Gate in the city of Chiang Mai.They have been charged with vandalizing registered ancient artifacts, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of one million baht ($40,000).Police said Lee, who is from Liverpool, England, admitted that he wrote “Scouser Lee” on the wall, while Schneider wrote the letter “B” underneath it.The 13th-century Tha Pae Gate is part of an ancient wall that forms a square around Chiang Mai’s inner city.After they sprayed the wall, they walked back to the hostel and went to sleep, Schneider said.“The next morning we woke up and were sitting beside the pool and I just remembered what we did and looked over to one of the guys from the night before and said, ‘OMG, we spray-painted a wall last night. I’m so scared we’re going to get in trouble.’”She said she had gone upstairs to her room to call a friend when a hostel employee knocked on her door and said there was an issue downstairs.“My heart dropped. I knew,” said Schneider. “I walked downstairs, opened the door and there were like seven police officers standing there.“They showed me a video and asked if it was me in the video spray-painting the wall. I said, ‘Yes, it was me.’”Schneider said they were arrested and taken to the police station where they spent the night before court.“The judge said we could face up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $40,000,” she said. “We had the chance to get bail that day, but it was too late at home so I couldn’t get the bail. I spent three nights in prison and got bailed out yesterday.”Schneider said her mother and aunt have arrived in Chiang Mai and, while she’s thankful they’re there, she said she’s not OK mentally.“I’m terrified for my life. I’m so sorry for what I did, beyond sorry,” she said.“I’m just so overwhelmed and just want to go home.”
Calgary police say a body has been recovered from the site of an apparent house explosion in the city’s southeast.Sgt. Dwayne Lepchuk declined to say whose remains were found.Fire department spokeswoman Carol Henke says fire and police investigators were able to enter the destroyed home late Sunday.She says heavy equipment had to be brought in to slowly and carefully remove debris.Police have taken over the investigation.More than 25 people — some several blocks away from the house — called 911 to report a loud bang about 4:20 a.m. Sunday.Firefighters arrived to find the house engulfed by fire and flames spreading to neighbouring properties.One nearby home was badly damaged and “will not be re-occupied any time soon,” Henke said Sunday. Several other buildings suffered less serious damage, including melted siding and blown-out windows.Henke said the owner of the destroyed home was out of the country and that a tenant had not been accounted for.Dale Frizzell, whose home backs onto the one that burned, said that the owner, a single man, regularly goes to Thailand in the winter. Frizzell hadn’t seen the renter for a week or so.The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A ticket holder in British Columbia won Friday night’s $25.9 million dollar Lotto Max jackpot.The exact location where the winning ticket was purchased was not immediately revealed.The jackpot for the next Lotto Max draw on Mar. 1 will be approximately $10 million. The Canadian Press