December 3

Bengal a hub of soaring trade in wild Indian birds

first_imgPeople keep parakeets as pets without realising that they are violating the law,says a forest official.  | Photo Credit: ABRAR AHMED “On January 13, we arrested five persons, all residents of West Bengal. Thankfully, most of the birds were alive and we released them at a spot where they could thrive,” said Arup Mukherjee, Divisional Forest Officer, Kharagpur.Agni Mitra, Regional Deputy Director-Eastern Region, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, says that residents of a village near the Bardhaman Station are in touch with bird-catchers in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.“Once these birds are brought to West Bengal, they are stored for a brief period with shop-keepers, whom they call mahajans. Another group of hawkers takes these birds on credit from the shopkeepers and sells them in village fairs,” Mr. Mitra explained.Mr. Mitra said that this seizure of 2,754 birds was not the only one of its kind in recent times. Other seizures of wild Indian birds have been reported not only from Kolkata but also from market fairs in districts such as Tarakeshwar in Hooghly, Uluberia in Howrah, and in Purba Medinipur.Clandestine tradeExperts observe that Kolkata, and West Bengal, have for the past several years been a hub for the trade in Indian wild birds despite laws prohibiting it. After a 1991 amendment to the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, except for the house crow (Corvus splendens), which is listed as vermin, no Indian bird can be hunted, trapped, caged or traded.But in markets like Ghalif Street, Moulali and Boral across the north and south of Kolkata, and in the numerous haats in villages and suburbs, trade in wild Indian birds continues to flourish under the garb of trade in wild exotic birds, which is legally allowed. Abrar Ahmed, ornithologist and former consultant to NGO Traffic International’s Bird Trade Project, said that his studies over the past two decades have shown that of the 1,300 Indian species of birds, about 450 are being traded in domestic and international markets.Some of the most traded species are the rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri), Plum-headed Parakeet (P. cyanocephala) and Alexandrine parakeet (P. eupatria), followed by these passerines — black-headed munia (Lonchura malacca), red munia (Amandava amandava), white-throated munia (Lonchura malabarica) and hill myna (Granula religiosa).Mr. Ahmed pointed out that over the course of his studies on the Indian bird trade since 1992, he recorded 23 species listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Birds, and 19 species listed as Near Threatened, being exploited for trade.While the focus is on protecting threatened species, many of the bird species that are being exploited do not fall in such categories, the bird expert said. He describes them ironically as “species of lesser gods”.Explaining how the bird trade racket is spread far and wide Mr. Ahmed referred to a recent seizure at Lucknow, where about 800 wild birds were seized in the first week of January and seven persons were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police. He also pointed to another seizure Nepal in October 23, 2017, where three Indian nationals and a Pakistani national were arrested with a large number of animals and birds. Kolkata is the end point for the trade.“In Kolkata, the birds are brought from the terai region and the Gangetic plains. The route goes from Lucknow to Patna and then to Kolkata, over short distances by train. Winter is a preferred time for the trade as the birds can undertake longer journeys without food and water, and can be stored in smaller spaces to avoid detection,” he said.Another route followed is stretches from Assam to Siliguri to Kolkata.Since West Bengal shares a porous 2,216 km border with Bangladesh, the birds are easily taken to the neighbouring country, and smuggled all over the world via traders in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.‘Unending problem’A senior official of the West Bengal Forest Department, who has been involved in the seizure of thousands of birds and the arrest of over 100 persons for the crime, described it as an “unending problem” as long as there is demand for wild Indian birds in local markets. While the focus is on protecting threatened species, many of the bird species that are being exploited do not fall in such categories, the bird expert said. It was like a scene from Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s National Award-winning film Charachar (‘Shelter of the Wings’, 1994), where the protagonist Lakhinder, played by Rajat Kapur, a bahelia (bird-catcher) by profession, releases his catch in the forest. Forest officials of the Kharagpur Divisional Office, too, had never witnessed anything such as this before.In mid-January, hundreds of wild birds with bright plumage flew out of iron cages in a burst of colours into the freedom of the sky. There were so many of them that it took several minutes before the cages were empty. The release followed highest ever seizure of wild birds in West Bengal in the preceding week. The birds were set free in the forest of Nayagram in the Pashchim Medinipur district, where such a large population of birds could be sustained in wilderness.The seizure included 1,782 rose-ringed parakeets and plum-headed parakeets, 80 hill mynas and 892 munias. They were stuffed in cages and being transported to a local fair in two vehicles when they were intercepted by the forest officials.According to investigators, the birds were trapped along Uttar Pradesh’s border with Nepal. They were transported by short train journeys to ensure that the maximum number could be kept alive. Forest officials tracked them from the time they arrived in West Bengal’s Bardhaman Station, based on a tip-off.Last year, too, when a similar consignment arrived in West Bengal, the perpetrators managed to slip away. Wildlife officials were ready this time, and intercepted the cages en route to Dantan, a block bordering Odisha. Wild Indian birds are in demand in international markets also.  | Photo Credit: ABRAR AHMED  “People who buy these birds should realise that the common mithu (parrot) is a protected species in India,” the officer said, emphasising that many people try to keep birds as pets without even realising that they are protected by law.While there are provisions in the law to prosecute buyers of these birds, it has not been implemented and law-enforcers are of the opinion that prosecuting buyers would amount to taking the matter “a little too far”.The clandestine nature of trade in wild Indian birds makes it difficult to enumerate it. Mr. Ahmed estimates 20,000-50,000 wild Indian birds are sold annually at each of the trading points.The researcher says there are at least 5,000 families, including traditional trappers such as Mishrikars, Pathamies, Bahelias or Chirimars, who depend on bird-catching as a means of livelihood. Conservationists fear that any attempt to stop the trade in Indian wild birds will not bear fruit in long run without the rehabilitation of these communities.last_img read more

December 3

BJP using Goa casino to fund campaigns, claims NSUI

first_imgThe National Students Union of India (NSUI) has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission of India (ECI) alleging that the BJP-led coalition government in Goa permitted a new casino vessel to operate in the Mandovi river for funds for the upcoming general elections and three Assembly by-polls to be held on April 23. NSUI Goa president Ahraz Mulla said in his complaint that the permission granted to the offshore casino Big Daddy on March 13 was in violation of the model code of conduct which came into force on March 10. “We feel the casino is the ‘big daddy’ of the BJP, and will help them fund their election campaigns as the vessel was brought after the election model code of conduct was put in effect,” the complaint said. There are now seven offshore casinos anchored in Mandovi river, and nearly 10 onshore casinos functioning from five stars and above category resorts.last_img read more

December 1

Patients not getting aid from CM cell due to President’s rule: Dhananjay Munde

first_imgNCP leader Dhananjay Munde on Thursday said that the imposition of President’s rule in Maharashtra has led to temporary shutting down of the Chief Minister’s medical assistance cell, depriving thousands of patients of financial aid. Drawing Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s attention to the issue, Mr. Munde sought his intervention.He also wrote a letter to the governor in this connection. The President’s rule was imposed in Maharashtra on Tuesday as no party or alliance conveyed adequate numbers to stake claim to form government.“The Chief Minister’s medical assistance cell has been closed down as the President’s rule has been imposed in the state. Therefore, thousands of patients have been deprived of medical help. Requesting Honourable Governor @BSKoshyari to take note and give instruction to help patients,” Mr. Munde tweeted in Marathi. Meanwhile, a BJP leader and president of Thane-based ’Alert Citizens Forum of India’, Dayanand Nene, said the Governor should appoint an officer on special duty to handle emergency financial aid from the cell for the convenience of patients.last_img read more

November 26

Serie A: AS Roma Apologise for Racist Abuse of Sampdoria’s Ronaldo Vieira

first_img as romafootballinter milanracism First Published: October 20, 2019, 11:59 PM IST Milan: Roma on Sunday apologised for their supporters racially abusing Sampdoria’s English midfielder Ronaldo Vieira during their goalless Serie A draw.”AS Roma would like to apologise to Ronaldo Vieira for the racist boos he was subjected to,” Roma said on Twitter. “Roma does not tolerate racism of any kind and the club will support the authorities in identifying and subsequently banning any individuals found guilty of racially abusing the midfielder.”Monkey chants were directed at 21-year-old Vieira towards the end of the first half of Sunday’s match with an announcement made over the stadium loudspeaker, but the match was not interrupted.AS Roma would like to apologise to Ronaldo Vieira for the racist boos he was subjected to. Roma does not tolerate racism of any kind and the club will support the authorities in identifying and subsequently banning any individuals found guilty of racially abusing the midfielder.— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) October 20, 2019 The English U21 international, who was born in Guinea Bissau and raised in Portugal and England, joined Sampdoria in 2018 from Leeds United.”I heard it but I don’t want to talk about it. This happens too often, it shouldn’t be this way,” Vieira told Italian television Rai Sport.The problem of racism is a recurring one in Italian football.This season Inter Milan’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku and AC Milan’s Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie have been targeted by monkey chants without any sanctions being applied.Atalanta were fined 10,000 euros ($11,000) earlier this month for racist abuse by their fans aimed at Fiorentina’s Brazilian defender Dalbert.Blaise Matuidi, Kalidou Koulibaly and Moise Kean were also victims of racist abuse last season.INTER MILAN KEEP PACE WITH JUVENTUS AS RANIERI’S SAMPDORIA HOLD ROMAInter Milan held off a late Sassuolo surge to win 4-3 and keep pace with leaders Juventus in Serie A on Sunday as Claudio Ranieri settled for a goalless draw against former club Roma in his first game as Sampdoria coach.Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez each bagged a brace for Inter in a seven-goal thriller to keep Antonio Conte’s side second, a point behind Juventus who beat Bologna 2-1 on Saturday.The match at Sassuolo’s Mapei Stadium was briefly interrupted before the break after a parachutist inexplicably landed on the pitch just as Lukaku was about to take a penalty.The man was quickly led off by security agents as players and fans looked on bewildered. Then the former Manchester United striker slotted in to give Inter a 3-1 lead.Martinez had opened the scoring after two minutes. He added a penalty after 71 minute, following Lukaku’s quick-fire double on 38 and 45 minutes.Inter were in control 4-1 with 20 minutes to go, when Antonio Conte brought on winger Matteo Politano and midfielder Valentino Lazaro for their first appearances this season.Then Filip Djuricic (74) and Jeremie Boga (81) hit back for the hosts to add to Domenic Berardi’s first-half goal.Inter held on for a win after consecutive defeats against Barcelona in the Champions League and Juventus in Serie A.”Once it goes to 3-1 and 4-1, it should be over,” said Lukaku who has now scored five Serie A goals in eight games.”In the first half, we did everything well. However, we should have scored in the first 15 minutes after the restart to really kill off the match. “The positive we take is that we got the three points, but we need to defend better than that. “It was very important to get this win.”Sassuolo fell to their fifth loss of the season and sit 16th just above the relegation zone.”For more than an hour we played very well, then there was a blackout that we will analyse in detail,” said Inter assistant coach Cristian Stellini speaking as Conte missed the post-match conference because of illness. “We did well, but we still have a lot of work to do.”AS Roma’s injury crisis grew worse as they lost both Bryan Cristante and Nikola Kalinic early as they settled for a fourth draw in eight games against Ranieri’s basement club Sampdoria.Edin Dzeko came on for Kalinic with his face protected by a mask after breaking a cheekbone two weeks ago. The Romans also played the final five minutes a man down after Justin Kluivert was sent off for a second yellow card.Roma fall to sixth in the table behind Cagliari who beat SPAL 2-0 as Sampdoria stay bottom but take their first point in four games.Ranieri said he had made progress.”I’m satisfied especially after only a week training together and against a very good Rome,” said Ranieri, who turned 68 on Sunday. “Now let me have time to get to know the players and then we will try to find solutions to score.”Stefano Okaka’s header was enough to give struggling Udinese their second win of the season as Torino slipped to ninth.Stefano Pioli takes charge of his first game as AC Milan coach later Sunday against Lecce. Get the best of News18 delivered to your inbox – subscribe to News18 Daybreak. Follow News18.com on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, TikTok and on YouTube, and stay in the know with what’s happening in the world around you – in real time.last_img read more

November 17

Determined to score big runs in Asia Cup 2018: Mushfiqur Rahim

first_imgMushfiqur Rahim starred in Bangladesh’s 137-run win over Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup 2018 opener and the diminutive wicket-keeper batsman is not done yet.Awarded the man-of-the-match for his match-winning 144 off 150 balls, Mushfiqur said that he has been in good touch in 2018 and is eyeing to score big in this years’ tournament.”I thought I’ve been in great nick in the last one year and I was determined to score big runs in this tournament. I’m really happy that I’m able to contribute to my team’s win,” said Mushfiqur at the post-match presentation ceremony.The former Bangladesh captain also remembered Tamim Iqbal, who suffered an injury and was retired hurt. After further scans, it is expected that Tamim could be out till six weeks. And his colleague’s injury, inspired Mushfiqur to do something big in the match.Also read – Mushfiqur Rahim stars as Bangladesh crush Sri Lanka in Asia Cup 2018 opener”I knew it was easy to bat and I took my chances. When I saw Tamim walk out to bat I knew I had to do something for him and for my country,” said Mushfiqur.Player of the Match : .@mushfiqur15 pic.twitter.com/bEHEBAkGARBangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) September 15, 2018Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza also thanked Mushfiqur and Mohammad Mithun for their 131-run partnership for the third wicket under pressure. The latter scored 63 off 68 balls and played a perfect innings along with Mushfiqur.”I should thank Mushfiq and Mithun. They batted really well and also Tamim came out to bat under real pressure,” Mortaza said.Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka: HighlightsadvertisementIt was good to see Mushfiq get a big score. People should remember him (Tamim). The way our seniors are performing, I think it’s time for our juniors to step up now,” Mortaza added.However, despite the 137-run victory, Mortaza feels that there are a lot aspects, where the team can improve on.”There’s lot of things we can improve. Hopefully we can look after our batting in the coming games. We have to improve a little bit in our bowling as well,” Mortaza said.Mortaza also spoke about the heat in Dubai, that has troubled most of the teams since their arrival in the country.”Good thing that we didn’t field first, but somewhere in the tournament we have to be prepared for that,” said Moratza.last_img read more

November 16

England win World Cup 2019 despite tied Super Over vs New Zealand

first_imgEngland were crowned world champions despite a tied Super Over against New Zealand in a nail-biting World Cup 2019 final at Lord’s on Sunday. This was the first time a Super Over was used in a 50-over World Cup final.Chasing 16 in the Super Over, New Zealand managed 15 but England won because they scored more boundaries in the match and in the Super Over.Ben Stokes had starred with an unbeaten 84 but his heroics were not enough as New Zealand held on to a thrilling tie. Lockie Ferguson and James Neesham struck crucial blows at the death while Trent Boult conceded 14 in the final over when England needed 15 to win the title clash without having to go to the Super Over.In the Super Over, England sent in Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler to face Trent Boult and the pair managed 15 runs.Jofra Archer bowled the Super Over for England and did an excellent job, restricting the Kiwis to 15 to trigger massive celebrations in the stadium and all around the United Kingdom.ENGLAND LIFT #CWC19 TROPHY! #WeAreEngland | #CWC19Final pic.twitter.com/sRp23yWv71Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) July 14, 2019This one has to go down as one of the best finals in the history of Cricket World Cups. Both teams played high attrition cricket on a pitch where run-making was not always easy. England’s pacers Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett were brilliant upfront before Lockie Ferguson bowled a sensational final spell to produce some thrilling moments in the World Cup finale.advertisementChasing 242, England openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow got off to a nervous start. But the pair appeared to break the shackles soon enough before Matt Henry removed Roy for 17 in the 16th over.Joe Root was inexplicably slow and the pressure of a run chase in a World Cup final got to him. He played a couple of poor shots against Colin de Grandhomme before edging the same bowler to Tom Lathan in the 17th over.Jonny Bairtsow wanted to anchor the England innings but New Zealand were cock-a-hoop when Lockie Feguson removed Bairstow with a back of a length delivery. Eoin Morgan smashed the first ball from James Neesham and was spectacularly caught by Ferguson near the point boundary.One winner, but two champion teams.#SpiritOfCricket #CWC19Final pic.twitter.com/qOX8R0C7J0Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) July 14, 2019With the required rate soaring up, England needed a special effort from Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler. Stokes had played a couple of heroic innings but England had failed to cross the line against Sri Lanka and Australia.The stakes were high for England on Sunday and Stoke was at it again for his country. Jos Buttler had a middling World Cup before the final; moreover he was not needed to bat in a few crunch games because the top-order had done the job.On Sunday, both Stokes and Buttler were in complete control ever since they got together in the 24th over with 4 wickets down. At that stage, New Zealand had the upper hand but run-by-run, minute-by-minute, England inched closer to a historic World Cup triumph. However, there was a twist in the tale when Lockie Ferguson struck off successive overs in the death to remove a well-set Buttler and the dangerous Chris Woakes.Heroes.#CWC19Final pic.twitter.com/VScY54vzLMCricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) July 14, 2019The onus of the chase was squarely on Ben Stokes and he did well to bring the equation to 24 off the last 2 overs.Ben Stokes was on fire but he kept losing partners at the other end. James Neesham struck twice in the penultimate over to remove Liam Plunkett and Jofra Archer – England needed 15 off the final over.Boult bowled two dot balls but Stokes hit a six off the third ball before England got 6 lucky runs in a tense final over. With 2 needed off the last ball, Mark Woord was run when Stokes called for 2. Scores were tied at 241 and this became the first ever 50-over World Cup where the champions were decided via a Super Over.England were playing their 4th World Cup final on Sunday. They had played the first World Cup final in 1975 but failed to chase down 287 against West Indies. In 1987, England fell agonisingly short of a 254-run target against Australia.5 years later in 1992, England lost to Pakistan in the World Cup final in a chase of 250.England had to wait for another 27 years before their next chance. In 2019, England were touted pre-tournament favourites but in the middle of their campaign, successive defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia, had made the hosts nervous.advertisementHowever, England got back on their feet with victory over India.New Zealand were playing their second successive World Cup final. In 2015, Australia’s pacers had blown the Black Caps away but this year, the Kiwis were far more determined and wanted to do better.After winning the toss, Kane Williamson decided New Zealand would bat. Their openers Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls were woefully out of form but they needed to give New Zealand a strong start in overcast conditions against a top-quality English bowling attack.Martin Guptill looked like he had come into his own with a couple of good looking shots but he fell to Chris Woakes. It was slow going for Nicholls and Williamson but the pair calmed nerves in the New Zealand dressing room with a 74-run stand for the 2nd wicket.Liam Plunkett struck in the 23rd over to give England the big breakthrough – Kane Williamson edged it to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler and that alowed the hosts to make a strong comeback. Plunkett struck again in the 27th over to send back Nicholls.Ross Taylor was unlucky to be given out LBW to Mark Wood but New Zealand had lost their DRS when Guptill used it in a poor moment of decision making. Tom Latham hit 47 and shared important partnerships with James Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme to help New Zealand reach a respectable total.Also Read | Why England won the World Cup 2019 even after Super Over tie?Also Read | ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 Final Prize Money: England get USD 4 million, New Zealand pocket USD 2 millionAlso Read | Rohit Sharma finishes with most runs in World Cup 2019last_img read more

October 26

Lamar Goods, 4-Star DT In 2020 Class, Announces De-Commitment

first_imgA pylon with the SEC logo on it.ATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER 07: An ‘SEC’ logo is seen on an end zone pylon before the Missouri Tigers take on the Auburn Tigers during the SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 7, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)Four-star defensive tackle Lamar Goods looked set to be a figure piece of Mike Stoops’ defense at Kentucky. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, it looks like Goods is going to be taking his talents elsewhere.Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, Goods announced that he would be de-committing from Kentucky and re-opening his recruitment. The announcement comes just a few days after a took a visit to the University of Florida.247Sports rates Goods as the No. 333 overall prospect in the country. He is the No. 30 defensive tackle in the country, and the No. 4 prospect from the state of Connecticut.Losing Goods deprives the Wildcats of one of their top recruits for the Class of 2020. pic.twitter.com/nXlf8j0AlD— lamar goods (@GoodsLamar) June 19, 2019Kentucky’s football team is coming off a historic season, having won 10 wins for only the third time in their history. Benny Snell set new rushing records for the team while top pass rusher Josh Allen was rewarded with a top-10 NFL Draft selection.As for Woods’ potential destination, 247Sports’ Crystal Ball Predictions have him projected to go to Florida now.last_img read more

October 24

Region Urged to Unite to Address Debt Problem

first_imgMinister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, says Caribbean countries need to come together and exploit the synergies that exist in order to facilitate growth and reduce the debt stock.He pointed to the areas of tourism, entertainment, and commodity-focused sectors as areas in which countries could collaborate and share experiences “for the benefit of all”.“What we need to do is to develop the patterns of collaboration between the investor community, the banking community, the public sector, to ensure two things, one, that we never permit the debt to build up again to this scale that it now currently is…and two, we need to create the business environment that facilitates investment activity at all levels of the investor community, small, medium and large,” he stated.Dr. Phillips was addressing Tuesday’s (June 18) closing ceremony of the Caribbean Association of Debt Managers two-day forum held at the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Hotel in Montego Bay.According to the Finance Minister, the build-up of debt is “presenting itself as a major impediment to the capacity of our countries to grow” and the most important challenge “is how to transition from the debt management agenda to a growth agenda”.He noted that in many respects, fiscal consolidation represents “the most important initial building block for any growth agenda”.He said, however, that this will require difficult social adjustments, and it is therefore important for governments to share perspectives with the general population as to the measures that will have to be implemented.Senior Director, Debt Management Branch, Ministry of Finance and Planning, Pamela McLaren, informed that the two-day meeting, held under the theme: ‘Managing debt under financial distress’ included exchanges among the Caribbean debt managers, and participation from international partners such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Inter American Development Bank (IDB), World Bank and commercial and investment bankers.She mentioned that there were representatives from about 10 Commonwealth countries across the region.Mrs. McLean stated that all the issues in relation to debt management were examined, including an institutional and legal framework, along with solutions to get the debt of respective nations on a downward trajectory.Contact: Bryan Millerlast_img read more

October 24

Boskalis Subsidiary Dockwise Transports Two New Statoil Rigs

first_imgzoom Dockwise, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. (Boskalis) was awarded several contracts in January 2014 with a combined value of approximately USD 65 million.The largest contract award was from Statoil Petroleum AS for the transportation of two very large new jack-up drilling rigs. The two Cat-J rigs will be the largest and heaviest jack-up rigs ever to be transported on a heavy marine transport vessel.The two rigs are on order with a South Korean yard and are scheduled to be transported to Norway between the second half 2016 and the second half 2017. Dockwise will deploy two of its largest Heavy Marine Transport vessels: the Blue Marlin and her sister vessel the new White Marlin, which will be put into service later this year.Statoil’s decision to award the contract was based on several criteria. One of them was indeed the ability of Dockwise to provide two large identical Heavy Marine Transport vessels within the same timeframe.Statoil will deploy the new Cat-J rigs to contribute in production drilling on Gullfaks and Oseberg. The new rigs will be able to operate at water depths from 70 to 150 meters and drill wells down to 10,000 meters. The Cat-J rigs are tailor-made for operations in harsh environment for both surface- and subsea wells.Boskalis, January 31, 2014last_img read more

October 24

HPA, MUA Extend Talks on Sacked Workers

first_imgzoom  Stevedoring company Hutchison Ports Australia (HPA) and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) today inked a new agreement to extend negotiations until November 16 as they continue conciliation proceedings in the Fair Work Commission (FWC).The extension follows a six-week negotiation process of the two parties following the sacking of 97 wharfies last August.The layoffs were prevented by the Australian Federal Court which granted a temporary injunction, ordering the workers’ return to work at least until the full court hearing of the dispute. However, the hearing was deferred as the two parties agreed to return to the negotiating table.Under the terms agreed today, a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) will be negotiated and made by November 16. The date can be extended by mutual consent, HPA said.As informed, both parties agreed that a voluntary redundancy program would be opened for workers in Brisbane and Sydney.The parties also agreed that the Federal Court action brought by the MUA against HPA would be vacated, with each party bearing its own costs.“This is not an easy time for our workers and the company. We have been working on solutions to keep the company viable and to demonstrate to the union how creating a sustainable long-term workforce is the only way forward for both the company and HPA’s workers,” HPA Acting CEO Mark Jack said.“We will continue to negotiate in good faith during this extended period and hope that the MUA and its members will cooperate to try to work out a solution in the best and balanced interest of all stakeholders including the workforce, the customers and the shareholders.”Jack said critical terms remained at issue, adding that a mutually agreeable outcome about the company’s future employment needs at Sydney and Brisbane port operations may not be achievable at all.He also noted that the economic reality of a third operator on Australia’s eastern seaboard was that without creative thinking from all stakeholders, the future looked challenging.Image: MUAlast_img read more

October 20

Govt to hold special classes for improving board results

first_imgNEW DELHI: Weeks after the CBSE announced the Class X and XII results, the Delhi government is working out a strategy and planning for organising special classes to improve the board results by giving special focus on subjects in which students have scored the lowest marks.Along with organising special classes for board compartment exams starting next month, the Delhi Directorate of Education (DoE) is also working out strategies to improve the overall results for next year. These decisions were taken by the Delhi Education Department after an assessment of the board exam results. Also Read – Cylinder blast kills mother and daughter in Karawal NagarShailendra Sharma, the Principal Advisor to Director Education at the Delhi Directorate of Education, said the department has issued detailed guidelines to the schools to organise classes for the compartment exams for class X. “Similar instructions will go for class XII as well,” he said. He said the department looked for the students who had been placed in compartment — signifying the category of those failed in one or two subjects. “We are helping those children to take compartment exams and pass them,” Sharma said. Also Read – Two persons arrested for killing manager of Muthoot FinanceHe also said the department is working to make a strategy for next year to help students with subjects that have seen the most compartments. “Like Maths is a subject where most students get compartment in Class X. So we are going to work out some strategy on how to crack that part for the next year,” he added. On May 2, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) announced Class 12 results in which 94.24 percent students of Delhi’s government schools passed the exams.last_img read more

October 18

NEP draft wishful document but no roadmap to implement it Sisodia

first_imgNEW DELHI: The draft for the Centre’s National Education Policy (NEP) is a “good wishful” document but there is no roadmap for how the changes will be implemented, according to Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s Education minister, said sans a step-wise implementation plan, the NEP may end up in a “disaster” like the no-detention policy.”Broadly, it is a good draft except a few small things here and there the concepts they have talked about are good. They have set targets that one has to reach rooftop but policy does not talk about step one that how will they reach there,” said Sisodia. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder”That is what the disaster happened in no detention policy, right to education was made a fundamental right and no-detention policy was implemented without any preparatory measures. They could have said that in one year B.Ed programmes will be changed, next year books will be replaced, in the third year examination pattern will be revamped and then no-detention policy will be implemented. “Teachers did not know what to do and how. They just knew that they were not supposed to fail children. Similar thing can happen here, NEP implementation may end up like the no-detention policy,” he added. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsA panel headed by former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K Kasturirangan had submitted the draft of the new National Education Policy (NEP) to Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ when he took charge. The draft was then put in public domain to seek feedback from various stakeholders and over two lakh suggestions were received by the HRD Ministry about the same. “They have defined some good concepts like introduction of learning outcomes. But how? Their B.Ed programmes are running on rot learning and so are teacher training programmes. Has the government asked the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) to work on a draft B.Ed. programme in accordance with NEP?,” he said. “Unless there is roadmap for implementation it is a good wishful draft. They must fix the linkages and there should be an year-wise timeline for implementation,” Sisodia added. The existing NEP was framed in 1986 and revised in 1992. A new education policy was part of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto ahead of the 2014 general election. The drafting experts also took into account the report of a panel headed by former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian and formed by the HRD Ministry when it was being headed by Smriti Irani.last_img read more

October 12

AAP responds to EC directive for removing CM’s image from hoardings

first_imgNEW DELHI: Claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pictures are widely in use under various pretexts, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Thursday in its response to the Election Commission’s order said that a “level playing field” should be ensured for free and fair elections. In its order, the EC had directed removal or covering of pictures especially of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the words ‘aam aadmi’, citing deference to the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). Also Read – Bangla Sahib Gurudwara bans use of all types of plastic itemsReplying to the order, AAP national spokesperson and Lok Sabha candidate Raghav Chadha has argued that Modi’s pictures are plastered all over the city under various governmental/non-governmental pretexts and must be subject to the same standards and regulations as are being imposed on the Delhi Chief Minister. In his written reply to EC, Chadha said: “It is essential that if a level playing field is ensured, the directions ought to be issued across the board, to all parties. It is pertinent to point out that directions ought to be issued only in such a manner, to ensure free and fair elections.” Earlier on March 12, hoardings and banners containing Modi’s photographs were removed from petrol pumps in the national capital following the enforcement of MCC.last_img read more

October 12

Morocco’s Climate Change Commitment Confirmed in One Earth Summit

Rabat – King Mohammed VI’s participation in the One Planet summit today in France affirms that Morocco has a strong commitment to the preservation of the environment, previously showcased during the organization of COP22 in Marrakech.Gathering more than 50 heads of state and government in La Seine Musicale, the main focus of the summit, which will revolve around “Climate Change Financing,” is to take further action on the financial front of the objectives of the Paris Agreement.The participation of King Mohammed VI isn’t arbitrary. The sovereign is an awarded environmental protector. On May 9, the Energy Efficiency Visionary Award was given to King Mohammed VI, in recognition of his “outstanding” and “visionary” leadership. Upon the reception of the award, the King sent a letter to the organizers, expressing Morocco’s “strong interest in energy efficiency as part of our vision of socio-economic development, given its role in strengthening the fundamental rights of citizens, protection of the environment, preservation of public health, reduction of energy dependence and rationalization of the State budget.”Morocco has implemented an integrated national policy for the protection of the environment, combating the effects of climate change and anticipating the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by up to 32 percent by 2030.As part of this policy, Morocco has launched a series of initiatives aiming to integrate the green economy, notably through by adopting the National Environment Charter and Efficiency Strategy and liberalizing the renewable energy sector.“Morocco, which hosted the COP22 in Marrakech on November 7-18, 2016, stands out for its exemplary approach to renewable energy under the visionary leadership of the King,” said Gil Quiniones, the co-chair of the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) Board of Director.“Morocco has been able to put in place a global strategy that has allowed a significant improvement in energy efficiency in the Kingdom, on the way to achieving the specified objectives In the Paris Climate Agreement.”The King  has previously said that “the urgent challenge facing our world today is not so much the lack of energy resources but more of the necessary investment in this matter mobilization. Therefore, it is necessary to build the adequate energy infrastructure and to develop alternative technologies.”“That is why the kingdom of Morocco,” he continued, “is constantly working to adapt to future changes in order to ensure its economic and social development and to meet its growing energy needs on a sustainable basis.”The policies undertaken by the Kingdom place it at the forefront of climate change and environmental issues, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Richard Kinley previously said.Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Patricia Espinosa, praised during the preparation of COP23 in  Fiji the “great” Moroccan presidency of COP22, held in Marrakech in November 2016.“The Moroccan presidency was great, and we had an incredible partner with whom we delivered the first session of the Conference,” said the official in a statement to the MAP on the sidelines of the Pre-COP23 meeting.The One Earth Summit will be mainly devoted to the mobilization of funding to advance concrete projects in all areas of the fight against climate change: renewable energies, clean transport, agriculture, buildings and sustainable cities, and the protection of the population from the impacts of climate change.The goal of the One Planet Summit is to bring together all key players in the world of finance and climate to build the tools, alliances, and initiatives essential to the greening of finance and accelerate the implementation of climate projects on field. read more

October 12

SecretaryGeneral set to travel to Africa next week

18 February 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is slated to leave early next week for Africa where he will make his first official visits to South Africa and Tanzania, as well as stops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Egypt, his spokesperson announced today. While in South Africa Mr. Ban will meet with President Kgalema Motlanthe, as well as the Ministers for Finance and Environment, Marie Okabe told reporters in New York. He is also expected to meet with former President Nelson Mandela.In Tanzania, one of the pilot countries for the UN reform programme on “Delivering as One,” the Secretary-General will hold discussions with President Jakaya Kikwete, as well as address the diplomatic and academic community in Dar es Salaam. In addition, Mr. Ban will inaugurate the One UN Office in Zanzibar which will house all UN agencies under a single roof. He is also due to fly over the receding ice cap of Mount Kilimanjaro on his way to Arusha to visit the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.Following that, he will head to the DRC where he will meet with President Joseph Kabila, as well as with parliamentarians and members of civil society. He will then go to Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu province, to visit Panzi Hospital, where victims of sexual violence are cared for. Then in the North Kivu provincial capital of Goma, he will meet with members of the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUC) and with local authorities. He will also visit the Mugunga camp for people displaced by conflict before flying to Rwanda to meet with President Paul Kagame.Mr. Ban then plans to travel to the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where he will participate in the 2 March “International Conference in support of the Palestinian Economy, for the reconstruction of Gaza,” co-chaired by Egypt and Norway. read more

October 11

Conservation projects in Guatemala and Nepal win UN environment prize

23 February 2011A forest conservation initiative in Guatemala and a sustainable development project in Nepal are the recipients of this year’s Sasakawa Prize, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today. The UNEP Sasakawa Prize, worth $200,000, recognizes the most innovative, groundbreaking and sustainable grassroots environmental initiatives in developing countries.The Asociación Forestal Integral San Andrés, Petén (AFISAP) in Guatemala and the Manahari Development Institute in Nepal (MDI-Nepal) won the award, whose theme this year is “Forests for People, Forests for Green Growth” in support of the 2011 International Year of Forests.The theme highlights the central role of forests in the pursuit of a global ‘green economy’ as key economic resources whose real value has all too often been excluded in national accounts of profit and loss, according to UNEP press release.Estimates from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) indicate that deforestation and forest degradation are likely costing the global economy between $2.5 and $4.5 trillion a year, more than the losses of the recent and ongoing financial crisis.AFISAP, which was founded in 1999, is focused on preserving the forests on a 52,000-hectare concession within the Mayan Biosphere Reserve in the San Andres area in Guatemala, which plays a critical role in regional conservation. According to an AFISAP study that used remote cameras, the Mayan Reserve has the highest-density of jaguars ever reported in the world.The organization, which has distinguished itself as one of the most successful community groups in Guatemala, has also introduced projects to extract the lucrative xate, the popular foliage used for floral arrangements worldwide. Xate, which has been used for 40 years and is exported, has brought enormous economic benefits for the rural communities in the area. MDI-Nepal, a non-governmental organization founded in 2001, has introduced agroforestry to help improve crop productivity and water irrigation systems as well as reduce soil erosion on the forested hills and mountainous areas.Apart from making up most of the country’s land mass, the slopes are also home to 18 million people. The agroforestry measures have significantly improved food security and living standards of the rural communities living on the steep slopes of Nepal, said UNEP.In a related development, a forest conservation scheme in Kenya is one of the projects to benefit from a new partnership between UNEP and the European Union (EU).The partnership, announced today at the UNEP headquarters in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, by UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potocnik, covers funding from the European Commission (EC) to UNEP up to 2013 and identifies key areas of joint activities.Under the partnership, the EC will provide funding for the restoration of the north-western part of the Mau forest complex in Kenya.The project, which supports the strategy of the Kenyan Government to rehabilitate one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest closed canopy forests, will contribute to maintaining nature-based assets worth an estimated $1.5 billion a year to the Kenyan economy.“Today we are also announcing support to the Government of Kenya, through UNEP, towards rehabilitation and restoring one of Kenya’s and East Africa’s key pieces of natural infrastructure,” said Mr. Potocnik.“The Mau forest complex is a living example of where economy and environment intersect and reflects not only our cooperative work with UNEP, but the EU’s overall vision for a sustainable 21st century at home and abroad,” he added. Mr. Steiner said: “The Government of Kenya has embarked on a remarkable transformation of its economy in which renewable energy and improved management of its nature-based assets are at the core of its sustainable, 2030 Vision, development path.“Realizing that vision however requires the support of committed partners – and I would like to thank the Environment Commissioner for the EC’s commitment in the UNEP-Kenya partnership in support of conserving and restoring Kenya’s vital water towers,” added Mr. Steiner. read more

October 8

Oil sands workers complain they were laid off and replaced by foreigners

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — The federal government is investigating an allegation that several dozen Canadians working in Alberta’s oil patch were laid off this week and replaced with foreign workers.A spokeswoman with Employment Minister Jason Kenney’s office said Thursday that he has asked for an urgent review.They literally walked past the replacements on the way outThe Alberta Federation of Labour said that 65 of its ironworkers were laid off on Tuesday. The workers’ paystubs say they were being paid by a company called Pacer Promec Joint Venture.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick Federation president Gil McGowan said the employees were immediately dismissed from their jobs at Imperial Oil’s Kearl oil sands mine.“They called the guys into an office, told them that they were gone, and they literally walked past the replacements on the way out,” McGowan said.He alleged the foreign workers from Croatia are making about $18 an hour — half the wage of the Canadians.A spokesman for Imperial Oil said its contractors make their own hiring decisions.Melissa Ligertwood with Calgary-based Pacer Corporation said in a statement that the company is not actively recruiting foreign workers and is no longer involved in the Kearl project. She said Pacer is affiliated with Promec Construction.A woman who answered the phone at Promec in Calgary said no one was available to comment on the matter until Monday.“The allegations in question are very troubling,” Alexandra Fortier, Kenney’s press secretary, said in an email.“Our government will not tolerate any abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Our government has recently made reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure that Canadians are first in line for available jobs, and this program remains under review.”Ottawa brought in new regulations in December to calm fears that foreigners were snatching jobs from Canadians, allowing officials to conduct workplace inspections without warrants and blacklist employers who break the rules.The move followed a furor over laid-off workers at RBC being ordered to train their replacements — including those who came to Canada on TFW permits. A B.C. mining company was also in hot water for hiring more than 200 Chinese workers after an ad seeking Mandarin-speakers failed to attract Canadian applicants.McGowan said, despite the changes, the program is being exploited. And the government isn’t doing enough to stop it.“This is not an isolated case. Increasingly, this is becoming business as usual.”McGowan has heard complaints from two other groups of oil patch workers in the past month that they have been replaced by cheaper, foreign labour.“The (government) is allowing employers to use the program as a tool to drive down wages and displace Canadians, despite all the reassurances to the contrary.” read more

October 7

Top publishers sue Audible for copyright infringement

NEW YORK — Some of the country’s top publishers are suing Audible, citing copyright infringement as they ask a federal judge to enjoin the audiobook producer-distributor’s planned use of captions for an education-driven program.The so-called “Big Five” of publishing — Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Publishing and Macmillan — are among the plaintiffs in the suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The legal action comes in response to “Audible Captions,” which Audible announced in July and indicated would be formerly launched as students return this fall, with titles including “Catch-22,” ”The Hunger Games” and “The Hate U Give.”“Audible Captions takes Publishers’ proprietary audiobooks, converts the narration into unauthorized text, and distributes the entire text of these ‘new’ digital books to Audible’s customers,” the lawsuit reads. “Audible’s actions — taking copyrighted works and repurposing them for its own benefit without permission — are the kind of quintessential infringement that the Copyright Act directly forbids.”Audible, which is owned by Amzon.com and is the dominanrt producer in the throving audiobook market, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Maria Pallante, who heads the Association of American Publishers, told The Associated Press in a recent interview that repeated efforts to communicate with Audible — including cease-and-desist letters — had failed to produce any changes.said in a statement that Audible had showed “deliberate disregard of authors, publishers, and copyright law.” Audible, owned by Amazon.com, is the dominant producer in the thriving audiobook market.Hillel Italie, The Associated Press read more

October 7

Regina—Wascana candidates make election pitch to students and public at U of

Students at the University of Regina got a sense of the wide gulfs separating the federal parties on Monday, as they heard from six candidates running to represent the campus and nearby community in Ottawa.The University of Regina Students’ Union’s All Candidates Forum brought together prospective MPs for the riding of Regina—Wascana, which encompasses the university and much of south, east and downtown Regina.Each candidate began with an address to several dozen attendees gathered in a multi-purpose room at the university’s Dr. William Riddell Centre. The crowd included a contingent of uniformed students from Mother Theresa Middle School. The moderator, Dale Eisler, then asked each candidate to name the most important issue in the campaign leading up to the Oct. 21 election.Most candidates used the question as an opportunity to detail their party platforms. Incumbent MP Ralph Goodale framed the election as a decision about who can lead a fair, inclusive, growing country “in the midst of global turmoil.”But he also leapt at the chance to lay out the Liberal record: middle-class tax cuts, an improved child benefit and a million new jobs.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.Conservative candidate Michael Kram, running against Goodale for the second time, also sees an election centred on who should lead. He phrased the Liberal record in rather less rosy terms.“I would say the most important issue in this campaign is the credibility of Justin Trudeau as prime minister,” said Kram.He argued that Trudeau’s credibility has been shattered by the SNC-Lavalin scandal, deficit spending and a broken promise on electoral reform.“Justin Trudeau is not as advertised,” he said, prompting Goodale to quip that Kram’s address sounded like a “commercial.”NDP candidate Hailey Clark said her most important issue is “inequity.” The word allowed her to spell out key commitments from the party platform, including a federal minimum wage, more affordable housing and better living standards in Indigenous communities.She even got a word in about climate change, saying it risks compounding inequities that already exist.The Green Party’s Tamela Friesen aimed to surprise.“You might be guessing that I will say it’s climate change, but it’s not,” she said of her top issue.“It’s fixing our electoral system.”Friesen emphasized the need for more co-operation between parties. She argued that moving to a system of proportional representation would lead to a more co-operative Parliament.Mario Milanovski, running for the People’s Party, said one issue stands out for him “besides the economy.”“For me, personally, the most important issue is immigration,” he said.He warned about refugees entering the country from the United States and called for an immigration system based on “our economic needs.”The Students’ Union had neglected to invite former mayoral candidate Evangeline Godron, who says she is running as an independent candidate for Regina—Wascana after losing the Green Party nomination.Eisler ensured that she was able to speak when she attended. She said her major issue is the state of the foster care system.awhite-crummey@postmedia.com read more

October 6

International meeting sets agenda for protecting ozone layer UN agency reports

During today’s high-level meeting in Colombo, delegates were addressed by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayeke, who announced his country’s plan to phase out CFCs by 2005, five years earlier than required by the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer. UNEP said the completion of the CFC phase-out schedule for developing countries was of particular importance for the recovery of the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer. Under the Protocol, these countries pledged to freeze their production and consumption of CFCs by 1999, reduce them by 50 per cent by 2005 and by 85 per cent by 2007, before completely phasing them out by 2010. Developing States will also be required to freeze halons and methyl bromide in 2002. Developed countries almost completely phased out CFCs in 1996. The Colombo meeting also conducted the first review of national data on the consumption and production of CFCs by developing countries. The data indicates that most developing countries are in compliance, but that 25 out of 136 had increased their consumption of CFCs in 1999, while one increased its production. “Fortunately, these countries can call on the Protocol’s Multilateral Fund, which provides financial support to help governments make the transition to ozone-safe technologies,” UNEP said in a statement issued after the meeting. The participants also agreed to the terms of reference for a study that will help governments determine the level at which the Fund should be replenished for the 2003-05 funding period. Since 1991, more than $1.2 billion has been disbursed by the Fund for phase-out projects in some 120 developing countries. The meeting also considered the problem of the illegal trade in controlled substances. As a next step, it requested the Protocol’s secretariat to prepare a report on the issue in time for the next meeting of the Protocol’s Open-Ended Working Group in mid-2002. read more