New Delhi: A bill seeking to provide death penalty for aggravated sexual assault on children and greater punishments for other crimes against minors was approved by Parliament, after it was passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday.Piloting the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said it aims at making offences against children gender neutral. The Bill, which was already passed by the Rajya Sabha on July 29, defines child pornography, making it punishable. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Cutting across party lines, members supported amendments to POCSO Act though some demanded that Bill be referred to the standing committee or select committee as it makes certain offences punishable with death. Seeking passage of the bill in Lok Sabha, Irani said this bill is not related to vote bank politics but to save the future of India. In an apparent reference to Congress MP Ramya Haridas who raised the Unnao rape issue in the House, Irani said this bill should not be looked from the perspective of politics and should not be politicised for personal benefits. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KResponding to Haridas, Irani said it was very unfortunate that when she was speaking some members who were supporting her were actually having fun. She further said the courts of this country have even power to punish MLAs and MPs. The Bill, said Irani, would provide added legal protection to 39 per cent of population or 43 crore children, irrespective of whether they are a girl or boy. Besides other things, she said, the Bill defines child pornography so that sexual predators indulging in such heinous crimes could be punished. Regretting that 5,000 persons followed the child pornography site operated by a person, Irani said, “this is a matter of grave concern for the society. The site had even showed the rape of a minor girl, he added. Recalling a case wherein children were administered drugs and harmones to make them sexually active, she said, the law is aimed at providing stringent punishment to such offenders. “We want to provide added protection to children…in rarest of rare cases death (penalty),” she added. Replying on the bill, Irani assured that under witness protection scheme, all measures such as doing threat assessment of the victim and witness and if required even changing their identity and others, were taken to ensure their safety. On if juvenile is involved in sexual offence against the children, the minister said that cases come under juveile justice act and the death penalty could be given only if he is above 16 years of age and juvenile justice board finds that he has adult mind. The minister acknowledged that the rate of conviction in sexual offences is very slow and informed that under Nirbhaya Fund, 1023 fast track courts will be established across the country and 18 state governments have already been taken on board by the government. She also said that a national data base for such cases have also been started and about 6.2 lakh sexual offence cases were registered in that base. Sharing the details of awareness programme among children, the minister said CBSE will carry out programmes in school across the country to make aware children about good and bad touch.She further said more than 40,000 teachers will also be trained for the same. Participating in the discussion, Su Thirunavukkarasar (Cong) suggested that since the bill has a provision for death penalty, it should be sent to a Parliamentary committee for further scrutiny. Rita Bahuguna Joshi (BJP) said the Bill will go a long way in bringing offenders against children to book. Kanimozhi (DMK) said that bill should be sent to select committee or standing committee as harsher punishment could deter people from reporting the crime. While presiding over the proceedings, BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab pointed out to Irani that the Hindi version of the POCSO bill used the word “balakon”, a term for young boys, while the English word “children” is gender neutral.
New Delhi: The government has approved the railways’ proposal to increase the train speed on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah routes to 160 kmph which will reduce travel time by 3.5 hours and five hours respectively, making them overnight journeys.While the cost of the project for the Delhi-Mumbai route will be Rs 6,806 crore, the cost for the other route will be Rs 6,685 by 2022-23. This was part of the ministry’s 100 day agenda. The decisions were taken in the Cabinet meeting held on Monday, but were made public on Wednesday. It was during this Cabinet meeting that the decisions on Kashmir were discussed with Union ministers. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsThe increased speed on these routes will ensure improved service, safety and will create capacity, a statement from the government said. Increasing the speed of the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah sections to 160 kmph will ensure up to 60 per cent increase in average speed of passenger trains and doubling of average speed of freight traffic, the statement said. Together these two routes account for 29 per cent of passenger traffic and 20 per cent of freight traffic. The government has also approved the ministry’s plan to construct a new line between Vaibhavwadi-Kolhapur (now Shri Chhatrapati Shahumaharaj Terminus) (108 km) with an estimated cost of Rs 3,439 crore. The project will be completed by 2023-24 and will be executed by Construction Organization of Central Railway.
New Delhi: The Finance Ministry has asked public sector banks (PSBs) to initiate a month-long consultation process with officers at branch level to seek suggestions on streamlining banking sector to help the country achieve $5-trillion economy in five years. The suggestions emanating from a month-long campaign beginning Saturday will be used as inputs to prepare a road map for the future growth of the banking sector. According to a communication by the ministry to the heads of PSBs, it will be a bottom-up consultative process from the branch level onwards which will involve discussions at the branch or regional level, state level and national level. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalThe consultation process is aimed at aligning the banking sector with national priorities, stimulating ideas and inculcating a sense of involvement among bankers at the branch level, it said. The campaign envisages not only performance review but synchronisation of banking with region-specific issues and their growth potential. It also aims to find out role of PSBs as active partners in the Indian growth story for the next five years. The country has set a goal of achieving a $5-trillion economy by 2024-25. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostIt will also find solution for enhanced ease of living making banks more responsive to customers and challenges before banks and their preparedness in areas such as cybersecurity and data analytics. There will be focus on raising credit offtake for supporting economic growth credit support to infrastructure and role of the banking sector in doubling farmers’ income and water conservation. Besides, supporting for green economy, improving education loan and other sectors such as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and exports. In addition, there will be focus on pushing digital economy and financial inclusion, it said. The consultative process will be divided into three stages with the first being at the branch or regional level, followed by the state level. It will culminate with a national-level two-day brainstorming in Delhi. The campaign comes at a time when the economy is facing headwind and it has slowed to a 5-year low of 6.8 per cent. There are ominous signs showing that slowdown may be deep. The automobile sector is facing its worst crisis in two decades and reports suggest thousands of job losses in the auto and ancillary industry. In the real estate sector, the number of unsold homes has increased, while fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies have reported a decline in volume growth in the first quarter. Though lending by banks to industries has shown a significant jump from 0.9 per cent in the June 2018 quarter to 6.6 per cent in the corresponding period this year, the same to job-creating MSME sector has slipped from 0.7 per cent to 0.6 per cent during the same period. However, silver lining amid gloom is improvement in non-performing assets of the banks. Last month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told Parliament that total bad loans of commercial banks declined by Rs 1.02 lakh crore to Rs 9.34 lakh crore in 2018-19, on the back of steps taken by the government.
New Delhi: Air India has detected an advertisement for fake recruitment scheme wherein it is being said that there are total 120 vacant seats in the airline and if an applicant wants to apply for any position, he or she will have to deposit Rs 9,800 plus GST, according to officials. The airline will soon file an FIR against the person or persons running this fake recruitment scheme, said one of the officials. The national carrier came to know about this fake scheme on Wednesday through social media when a person posted the advertisement and asked Air India whether it is running such a recruitment scheme or not, the official said. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ “A two page fake advertisement for recruitment has been noticed on Wednesday. It asks the applicant to contact a person named Rohan Verma…(and) deposit a ‘refundable security amount’ of Rs 9,800 plus GST,” said the airline official. The advertisement shows the following fake address: Air India Building, Akola, Santacruz East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400047. “We have got no building in Akola,” another airline official said. The fake recruitment scheme advertisement says that total 150 candidates have been short-listed and total vacant seats are 120. “We will soon file an FIR against the person or persons who are running such a fake recruitment scheme,” the official said.
Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday said it could order the closure of its airspace for India “at a time of its choosing”, but so far no decision has been taken yet. Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal during a media briefing on Thursday said the issue had been discussed at the highest level. “It is one of the many options that are being considered, we can exercise it at a time of our choosing. No decision has been taken as yet,” he was quoted as saying by Dawn. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US The FO spokesperson’s comments come a day after Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that no decision has been taken yet to close the airspace to India and any such step would be taken after looking into each and every aspect of the move through consultation. Qureshi said the issue did come up for discussions during the recent Cabinet meeting but the final decision would be taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan. He had dismissed reports suggesting that the airspace was being shut for India as “speculative”. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday announced on twitter that the government was considering complete closure of airspace to India and complete ban on use of Pakistan land routes for Indian trade to Afghanistan. Pakistan had fully closed its airspace in February after an Indian Air Force strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot. The country opened its airspace for all flights except for New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur on March 27. On May 15, Pakistan extended its airspace ban for flights to India till May 30. It fully opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on July 16. Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories. Pakistan expelled the Indian High Commissioner after it downgraded the diplomatic ties with India in protest to India’s decision to end Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. Pakistan also suspended its trade with India and stopped the train and bus services.
FREDERICTON – New Brunswick residents have begun the long, messy business of cleaning up sodden homes and cottages — including one runaway cottage left bobbing in lake waters after floating seven kilometres away from its perch.As residents began returning to homes, sloshing through watery basements and loading trucks full of sodden garbage, federal politicians landed in the area for tours.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Oromocto, N.B., late Friday afternoon with Premier Brian Gallant, stopping in a command post to look at maps of the flooding, then getting in a boat to view Saint John River communities affected by flooding.He toured a few kilometres of the Saint John River to see the flood damage in the communities of Oromocto, Maugerville and Sheffield.“It was a real opportunity to see the extent of the damage,” he said after returning to shore.“Even though the water is lower, you know that there has been tremendous flooding and a tremendous number of people impacted. And of course the work on the cleanup is going to come in the coming weeks and months.”Elsewhere in the province, municipal governments were organizing volunteer efforts to help homeowners who face the daunting task of emptying basements and taking away thousands of sandbags to landfills.The prime minister praised the efforts.“The response of people who stepped up, the response of the community, the first responders is always extraordinary. It’s a real strength of community when people pull together like this,” he said.Meanwhile, the Canadian Armed Forces said it was deploying 60 members to assist provincial authorities with assessments.The soldiers are from 4 Engineer Support Regiment based at 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown. Rear-Admiral Craig Baines, Commander Joint Task Force Atlantic, said the mission is a “bit more personal” for the team.“They’re deploying to help their neighbours, and the communities close to where they live. Many of our members have been volunteering in recent days, like many community members have, at night and on the weekends to help their neighbours.”The federal response came as flood waters continued their long-awaited retreat, two weeks after they swept through Fredericton and went on to swamp several communities along the swollen Saint John River.The expansive cleanup could be most daunting in the Grand Lake area outside Jemseg, where many cottages either collapsed or were relocated by surging waters and powerful winds.Delberta Flood, who lives in the lake’s Youngs Cove, said she was stunned to find a whole building resting just down the shore from her home, which was not affected by the flood.She was out walking last weekend when she spotted something quite a distance from her home.“I got as close as I could and it was a house or a camp — a one-and-a-half storey camp sitting upright, still floating but caught up in a tree,” she said with a chuckle.“It had curtains in the windows and just looked like it was supposed to be there!”Flood took photos of the structure, posted them to a Grand Lake Facebook page with the message that it had washed up on her shore and quickly heard from the owner, who asked where it was.She told him and asked where it had come from, expecting it was just around the corner.“He said it came from Princess Park and that is seven kilometres across the lake. So we were really surprised it floated that far and stayed upright and didn’t break apart,” she said, adding that the slightly tilted cottage no longer has a door and is filling with water.Flood said all matter of items have floated past her home in recent days, including a submerged sailboat detectable by its mast, lots of decks, sets of stairs, a kayak, two life-jackets and a soccer ball.The cottage, however, stands out.“We saw some pretty weird things float by, but that’s the weirdest,” she said.The military said that since the flooding began, liaison officers had been monitoring developments with provincial authorities and providing advice on the best support it could provide “if provincial resources and capabilities were exceeded.”The Trans-Canada Highway between Fredericton and Moncton reopened just before noon Friday after being shut for a week, but it is reduced to one lane in each direction in one portion.“The water is down across the board,” Emergency Measures Organization spokesman Geoffrey Downey said Friday afternoon.“Fredericton is now, for example, below flood stage and according to the five-day forecast every community but two should be out of flood stage as well by Wednesday.”Downey said water levels were still forecast to persist at Jemseg and Sheffield-Lakeville Corner, south of Fredericton.Federal data indicate water levels in Fredericton receded to about 6.4 metres above sea level early Friday, putting the city below the flood stage. Levels have also gone down to about 4.8 metres in Saint John, which remains above flood stage. Downey said it’s expected to drop to below flood level by Sunday.“It’s obvious that the river is down but that doesn’t mean the threat to your home is gone. There were all kinds of contaminants in the river and people are going to have to clean their homes and property very carefully,” Downey said.He cautioned that people should enter their homes only after they’ve ensured it’s safe to do so.Downey said patience is also a key for a process that will take weeks if not months because what’s happened to many people’s homes is “just awful.”“I did a helicopter tour over the weekend down toward Saint John and the damage is heartbreaking with some buildings in low-lying areas where the water was up to the roof,” he said. “This is going to take time and I think it’s important for everyone to remember that.”About 60 roads remained closed and Darlings Island was still cut off Friday.— With files from Alison Auld, Michael Tutton and Keith Doucette in Halifax
He will get his fill of pancakes at the Parkdale Community Stampede Breakfast with Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr at about 9:15 a.m.Then he is off to the grounds where Trudeau and Hehr will make an appearance at the Indian Village. Trudueau will finish up his Calgary tour by taking in the rodeo at Stampede later in the afternoon.Initially, the Prime Minister’s Office had announced Trudeau was too busy and would not be able to fit the Stampede, which wraps up Sunday, into his schedule.But officials later said he had changed his mind and would visit Calgary after attending the National Governors Association conference in Rhode Island. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will don the stetson once more as he visits the Calgary Stampede Saturday.Trudeau started early with an 8:30 a.m. meeting with Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
MIDGELL, P.E.I. – Amid escalating trade tensions between Canada and the United States, Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay is throwing open his barn door to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for a meeting Friday on his family farm in northeastern Prince Edward Island.The dairy farm will serve as a backdrop to bilateral talks expected to touch on Canada’s system for controlling the price and supply of dairy, eggs and chicken — something the U.S. administration has made clear it wants abolished.MacAulay said supply management has proven “an excellent system” for Canada and “we intend to make sure that it remains strong.”“We do have issues with the United States off and on,” he said. “We’ll have a chance to discuss the issues.”The meeting — on MacAulay’s farm in Midgell, P.E.I., where he was born, raised and worked as a farmer — is a chance for the agriculture counterparts to discuss trade issues in a potentially more amicable setting.“It’s very important for agriculture ministers to meet in the barn,” MacAulay said, noting there will be “Island hospitality” before they get down to business.He said he shares an excellent rapport with Trump’s agriculture secretary and that Perdue is a “free trader.”“What we intend to do is sit down and deal with the issues at hand and hopefully enhance the relationship and the trade deal between Canada and the U.S., and of course Mexico,” MacAulay said, adding that trade between Canada and the U.S. quadrupled under NAFTA.“We just want to make sure that things keep working properly… and we put a deal together that’s right for both countries.”MacAulay and Perdue are also expected to board a lobster fishing boat near Cardigan, P.E.I., and go on a deep sea fishing tour before they visit a potato farm in Souris, P.E.I.They’re also expected to tour Greenwich National Park and have a “small social evening,” MacAulay said.The one-day visit comes a year after MacAulay went to Savannah, Ga., for a trilateral meeting with Perdue and their Mexican counterpart, Secretary of Agriculture Jose Calzada.— By Brett Bundale in Halifax.
FREDERICTON — People who fell for a website hyping a too-good-to-be-true investment opportunity for New Brunswick’s coastline got lucky: The scam wasn’t intended to trap potential investors, but to teach them.The site was created by New Brunswick’s Financial and Consumer Services Commission, who decided that a good way to educate people about real investment scams was to launch their own fake investment scheme.The commission created TydeCoyn.ca, a website boasting a chance to invest in “Atlantic Canada’s first cryptocurrency token that marries tourism promotion and environmental activism.”Erin King, FCNB’s senior education and website officer, says the website was launched to show potential investors all the “red flags” they should watch for to avoid scams, such as vague wording and a countdown clock to create some urgency to investing your money.King says more than 4,500 people have visited the site since October, and 222 people who sought to invest or get more information were considered as potential victims.Anyone who clicked a link on the site was taken to FCNB’s education page.King says it’s unknown if anyone in New Brunswick has been duped in an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) fundraising scheme involving cryptocurrencies.She says the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ran a similar education program this summer.The Canadian Press
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Canadian man is facing charges in the U.S. for allegedly interfering with crew members and attendants while on a flight from Ohio to Los Angeles.The FBI say in a statement that 49-year-old Ian Stewart Smallwood of Ontario was taken into custody after the plane was diverted to Albuquerque.It was not immediately clear if Smallwood had an attorney.The charge stems from Dec. 21 when, according to a criminal complaint made public this week, Smallwood was accused of being verbally belligerent during the flight.He allegedly intimidated one of the flight attendants while she was preparing service in the galley at the front of the plane.Other passengers were also seen out of their seats, asking Smallwood to move out of the way and sit down.The Associated Press