New Delhi: The country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) on Friday reported 31.67 per cent decline in consolidated net profit at Rs 1,376.8 crore for the first quarter ended June 30, on account of lower sales volume and higher depreciation expenses. The company, which posted a net profit of Rs 2,015.1 crore in April-June period 2018-19, said in the next three years it will completely shift to paying royalty to parent Suzuki Motor Corp in rupees instead of yen. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalIt said revenue from sale of products during the first quarter this fiscal stood at Rs 18,738.8 crore as compared to Rs 21,813.8 crore earlier, down 14 per cent. Depreciation and amortisation expenses during the first quarter stood at Rs 919 crore as compared with Rs 720.3 crore in the year-ago period. The company sold a total of 4,02,594 vehicles during the quarter, lower by 17.9 per cent from the year-ago period. Sales in the domestic market stood at 3,74,481 units, down 19.3 per cent. Exports were at 28,113 units. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostMSI CFO Ajay Seth said during the first quarter the company was also affected by the ongoing slowdown in the domestic automobile industry. “It was the fourth consecutive quarter of decline in volumes (for the industry). During the quarter, passenger vehicles (PV) sales of the industry declined 18 per cent…The company was also impacted by the demand weakness and domestic sales declined by 19.3 per cent,” Seth told analysts. He, however, said the current situation is a cyclical phenomenon and MSI continues to believe in the long-term potential of the market. Elaborating on the challenges in the market, MSI Senior Executive Director (Marketing and Sales) R S Kalsi said the rural market, which was earlier witnessing good traction, is also under a lot of pressure and saw decline of around 17 per cent. The decline in the rural market was almost similar to what has happened in the urban market, he said adding footfalls at showrooms continued to witness big decline. Commenting on royalty payment to parent Suzuki, Seth said at present royalty on almost 45 per cent of the models are now being paid in rupee and the remaining 55 per cent will also transition fully from yen to rupee in the next three years. “So, by 2021-22 we would have all the models, which would have moved to the rupee formula,” he said, adding for the first quarter of the fiscal the royalty payment was at 5.2 per cent of net sales. In 2015, MSI had announced that it would start paying royalty to its parent Suzuki in rupee instead of yen for all new models starting with the Vitara Brezza which was launched in 2016. Earlier, company’s Chairman R C Bhargava had said that the royalty of all the models of Maruti was expected to be in rupee terms by 2025. When asked about BS-VI preparedness, Kalsi said the company is working keeping in mind the April 2020 deadline. “Majority of our models will be ready by end of 2019,” he said. At present, five of the company’s top selling models are BS-VI compliant. These are Alto, WagonR, Swift, Dzire and Baleno.
Two weeks post the World Cup, England was almost caught daydreaming at Lords. Ahead of the Ashes, England was scheduled to play a one-off test against Ireland. To their surprise, they were bowled out for a mere 85 in the first innings. They did eventually manage to win the Test by 143 runs, but England should not let the World Cup high get the better of them against the mighty Aussies. Australia thrashed England 4-0 the last time these two teams played for the Ashes in 2017. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhA 6-inch trophy to fight for – the Ashes is one of the smallest cricket trophies yet a historic one. Australia and England first played against each other back in 1877 but the rivalry started five years later. In 1882, chasing a paltry 84 runs to victory, England was destroyed by the pace of Fred Spofforth and was bowled out for 77 – marking the first defeat on home soil since playing the sport from 1739. The very next day, a British daily, The Sporting Times, published a satirical obituary in regard to the demise of English Cricket. It read, “The body will be cremated and the ashes will be taken to Australia.” Following that, various media published obituaries on the same lines. Ahead of the 1982-83 tour of Australia, Ivo Bligh promised that as England’s captain he would “recover those Ashes”. The English media dubbed the tour as England’s quest to regain the Ashes. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later England went on to win the series 2-1, thus marking the beginning of the Ashes. After the victory, Bligh was presented a small urn with the ashes of a wooden bail by a few women from Melbourne including the Countess of Darnley, Florence Morphy. The urn has never been the official trophy as it was a personal gift. But replicas of the urn are held aloft by the victorious team. Thereafter, England went on to win eight consecutive Ashes series. Australia managed to get the better of the English team in their ninth attempt – winning their first Ashes series in 1892. The rivalry kept on growing to great boundaries. In the 1932 series, Australia had the great Don Bradman in their armoury. To counter the threat of the great batsman, English bowlers developed the ‘bodyline’ technique that won them the series – a technique when balls were bowled towards a batsman’s body expecting the ball to deflect off the bat while the batsman tries to defend the ball. In modern context, this might not make sense, but during that time, cricket was in a phase when protective gears were not developed. In a game that was supposed to uphold gentlemanly traditions, England’s tactics were considered intimidating and physically threatening. Over time, several of the Laws of Cricket were changed to render the bodyline technique less effective. Buoyed by Bradman’s batting, Australia came back to retain the Ashes in the next series. Thus began a six series unbeaten streak spanning over 19 years. The rivalry had now shifted powers and Australia eventually gained the nickname, “The Invincibles”. From the 1999 series, a Waterford Crystal representation of the urn has remained the trophy for the Ashes series. The original urn remains at the Marylebone Cricket Club Museum in Lord’s – the home of cricket. As we go into the 2019 series, a lot has changed over the last century. The rules have changed, but the series stills hold a prominent place in the heart of Australian, English as well as neutral cricket fans. Both teams would go into the series on even terms with all boxes checked. England managed to turn fortunes in the World Cup with grit and determination. A rejuvenated England will begin their quest to regain the Ashes from August 1. Aug 1- Aug 5, 1st Test Edgbaston, Birmingham Aug 14 – Aug 18, 2nd Test Lord’s, London Aug 22 – Aug 26, 3rd Test Headingley, Leeds Sep 4- Sep 8, 4th Test Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester Sep 12 – Sep 16, 5th Test Kennington Oval, London
Kolkata: In a unique gesture Akansha Vaskar, an IAS officer, has decided to examine patients at the Block Primary Health Centre (BPHC) on Saturdays.Vaskar, a 2015 batch IAS officer, is now posted as the sub-divisional officer (SDO) at Raghunathpur in Purulia. She did her MBBS from R G Kar Medical College and Hospital and had joined the block as SDO one and a half months ago. On Saturday, Vaskar reached the Santuri Block Primary Health Centre (BPHC) and started examining the patients. She examined 45 patients on that day and prescribed medicines. The doctor on duty was not present at the primary health centre. Apart from the doctor and a pharmacist, there are three health workers at the PHC. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaAsked about the health condition of the patients she had examined, Vaskar said: “Most of them are suffering from skin disease, which is very common in the villages as people go to the ponds for bathing. Children are found to be suffering from infection in the ears because of this age old practice.” She said she was very happy as the patients, particularly the women, had talked to her about their health-related issues in details. Vaskar said: “As the workload is less on Saturdays, I have decided to go to the Block Primary Health Centres and examine patients.” She said that she used to go to the nearby villages to examine patients, while at the Lalbahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie for training. “After coming to Purulia I thought that as a doctor it is my duty to look after patients and so I decided to use the weekly off meaningfully,” she added.
New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose tenure as Rajya Sabha member ended in June this year is set to return to the Upper House from Rajasthan, party sources said. A Congress source said Manmohan Singh will be the party’s candidate for the Rajya Sabha. He said the former Prime Minister will file his nomination on August 13. Manmohan Singh has represented Assam in Rajya Sabha for 28 years. The Rajya Sabha elections in Rajasthan was necessitated after the death of BJP MP Madan Lal Saini, who passed away in a Delhi hospital. Saini was elected to the Upper House last year when the BJP was in power in the state. The Congress has majority in the 200-member Assembly.
Mumbai: The Sensex fell by 140 points during the early trade on Friday, dragged by finance and banking stocks. All the sectoral indices except pharma stocks traded lower. Metal and IT stocks came under heavy selling pressure during the early trade. Besides, markets are awaiting a stimulus package and relief for foreign portfolio investors from the super-rich surcharge announced in the Budget. At 9.56 a.m., the Sensex traded 140.29 points lower or 0.38 per cent at 37,171.24. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal The broader Nifty also traded lower at 10,975.95, down 53.45 points or 0.48 per cent. Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Finance Ministry officials on Thursday, which gave way to hopes of market-friendly announcements soon. However, global markets are under tremendous pressure ever since the US treasury bond yield curve inverted for the first time since 2007, a sign of an imminent recession in the US. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost Global growth concerns are already disturbing as the German and the UK economies have contracted and are on the brink of a technical recession. Also, trade data from China and the US is far from encouraging. An economy is said to have fallen into a recession if it logs two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Although the Indian economy is far from a recession, but some of the sectors like auto and manufacturing have seen negative growth. Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs), meanwhile, have turned buyers in a positive development. FIIs bought Rs 1,614.63 crore worth of shares while Domestic Institutional Investors (DIIs) purchased scrips worth Rs 1,619.82 crore.
New Delhi: A Rs 150 crore worth five-star hotel in a prime business space of Gurgaon has been attached by the Income-tax department, considering it as a “benami” asset of Haryana Congress leader Kuldeep Bishnoi and his brother, officials said on Tuesday. They said the department’s Delhi-based anti-benami unit has issued an order for attachment of the hotel property, identified as Bristol hotel in DLF phase-1, under section 24(3) of the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details The hotel, as per the order accessed by PTI, is owned in the name of a company, Bright Star Hotel Private Ltd. The latest action by the department has come in the backdrop of the raids conducted by it on 13 premises linked to Bishnoi in Haryana, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh on July 23 on charges of alleged tax evasion. I-T sources said their probe found that 34 per cent shares in the company are held in the name of a “front” company registered in British Virgin Islands (BVI) and was being operated from UAE. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday The said hotel entity, they said, and properties held by it are “the benami assets of Kuldeep Bishnoi and Chander Mohan (Bishnoi’s brother).” Benami properties are those in which the real beneficiary is not the one in whose name the property has been purchased. The two brothers are sons of late former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal. While Bishnoi is a Congress MLA from the Adampur constituency, Mohan is a former Deputy CM of the state. Sources, quoting the I-T order, said benami shareholders of the BVI entity are “close confidantes” of the Bishnoi family. They said the control over the affairs of the entity rests with the Bishnois and monetary consideration paid for acquisition of shares in Bright Star Hotel Private Limited was “arranged by the Bishnois.” The Bishnois were “managing actual affairs” of the entity through their associates based in India and abroad, the department charged in the order. After the completion of raids, the department had said in an official statement that foreign assets worth over Rs 200 crore allegedly linked to Bishnoi and his family have been detected and are being probed by it. Violators of the anti-benami law, enacted in 1988 but implemented from November 2016 by the Modi government, attract a rigorous imprisonment of up to seven years and fine up to 25 per cent of the fair market value of the property. The Act allows for prosecution of the beneficial owner, the benamidar, the abettor and the inducer to benami transactions. It also says the assets held benami after final prosecution are liable for confiscation by the government without payment of compensation.
New Delhi: India’s gross GST collections slipped below Rs 1 lakh crore to Rs 98,202 crore in August, according to official data released on Sunday. Gross revenue collections from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July stood at Rs 1.02 lakh crore. The August 2019 mop-up was, however, 4.5 per cent higher than the Rs 93,960 crore collected in the same month last year. This is the second time during this year that the revenue collection from the GST has slipped below the Rs 1 lakh crore mark. First, it happened in June when the collection was Rs 99,939 crore. Central GST collections stood at Rs 17,733 crore, State GST Rs 24,239 crore, and Integrated GST Rs 48,958 crore (including Rs 24,818 crore collected on imports) during August this year, a statement said. P12
New Delhi: With the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) extending the deadline for mobile wallets to become fully Know Your Customer (KYC) compliant, people using PhonePe, Paytm, Amazon Pay or other such wallets will have no troudble doing their transactions as usual at least till February 29, 2020. The deadline for mobile wallets to become full KYC compliant was earlier set to end on August 31. But on August 30 the RBI extended the deadline by six more months, with the warning that no further extension would be granted. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal “It is advised that the timeline for conversion of minimum detail PPIs (pre-paid payment instruments) to KYC compliant PPIs has been extended from 18 months to 24 months. It may also be noted that no further extension will be granted for this purpose,” the RBI said in the notification to all PPI issuers or mobile wallet providers. Becoming full KYC complinat would mean that the mobile wallet service providers would have to do a physical verification of their customers. Earlier, these PPI issuers made use of partial KYC, which could be completed through a smartphone. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost Industry body Payments Council of India hopes that the government would come up with a method that would enable mobile wallet users to avoid face-to-face verifications. “PCI further states that the PPI industry hopes government will soon come up with the clarity on e-KYC via Aadhaar or any other remote fully non-face to face digital KYC method in order to enable the PPI industry players to perform this task of full KYC conversion effectively and efficiently under the given timelines as well as in a fast-track manner,” the Payments Council of India said in a statement earlier.
Gurgaon: A couple, both in their 30s, was found murdered on Thursday morning at their rented house in Gurgaon’s Udyog Vihar.The bodies of Vikram and Jyoti were found, with multiple stab wounds, at their second-floor home in village Dundahera and one person has been detained, police said. Vikram worked at a private company in the city and his wife was a homemaker. The incident was reported at 4 am when a member of landlord’s family, who lived on the ground floor heard a commotion. They checked and saw the couple lying in a pool of blood. The landlord rushed them to a hospital, where they were declared dead on arrival.
Kolkata: The Health department of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) will give away 120 prizes to the Durga Puja committees this year to acknowledge their efforts in creating dengue awareness. The move of awarding Puja committees with “Swastha Bandhab Sarad Samman” for their efforts in curbing the vector-borne disease in their respective areas was started by the civic body last year and prizes were given to 80 Puja committees. “We have found in the last few years that a good number of dengue cases have been reported after the Durga Puja. So we have decided to involve the Puja committees in our campaign against dengue. The idols, the décor of the pandal are an integral part of the festival. But the clubs should not forget their responsibility to keep the residents safe and secure,” said Deputy Mayor Atin Ghosh who is in-charge of KMC Health wing. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaMayor Firhad Hakim cautioned the Puja committees to check the space under the stage where the idols are placed to ensure that water does not accumulate in any sort of container. “We have been able to eradicate smallpox and have now taken up the challenge to prevent dengue and malaria,” he added. The Puja committees will have to create awareness in their areas from September 18 to 22 and then will organise a day’s camp.
Kolkata: A Kolkata-Agartala Air India flight was delayed for around two hours on Sunday after a swarm of bees was noticed in front of the aircraft while it was taxiing towards the main runway here, an airlines official said. The plane with 136 passengers and crew members on board the AI 743 flight was scheduled to depart at 9.40 am. The bees were noticed by the pilots when the Airbus A319 was moving towards the runway for the take-off. The pilots brought the aircraft to a standstill as further movement could have damaged the plane and harmed the passengers if the bees entered it through the engines, the Air India spokesperson said. Fire services personnel were called to tackle the problem. It was found that the bees did not enter the airctraft nor any damage was caused to the plane. Before this incident, the flight had been delayed for some time due to a technical snag. The plane finally embarked for the Tripura capital at 12.45 pm.
FREDERICTON – Water levels are starting to drop in flood-stricken New Brunswick, signalling the beginning of the end of the catastrophic natural disaster.New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization said Saturday that water levels have already fallen below flood stage in many areas, and most affected regions should be under flood stage by Thursday.While the worst is over, residents and volunteers alike are turning their attention to the debris and damage left by the record-level flooding.“In terms of the water-level situation, it’s coming back to normal,” said Emergency Measures Organization spokesman Robert Duguay in a phone interview from Fredericton. “It’s more an issue of recovery now.”Thousands of sandbags need to be disposed of and sodden debris lining communities and homes need to be cleared as water levels continue their much-anticipated retreat.The Canadian Red Cross is offering flood cleanup kits — containing squeegees, sponges, work gloves and other items — to New Brunswickers who can safely return to their homes.Dunguay said 47 roads across the province remain closed as officials continue to survey roads, culverts and bridges for damage.“Even if the roads seem to be dry, they still need to be inspected to make sure they’re safe for driving,” he said.The Jemseg area is the only region where water is expected to remain above flood stage for the rest of the week, with federal data indicating that Jemseg was 1.11 metres above flood stage on Saturday.Gerald Dykeman, who lives in Jemseg, said he’s never seen anything like it in the 70 years he’s lived there.While his part of Jemseg was spared from the torrent of water, he said a community of houses and cottages close to nearby Grand Lake were devastated.“Some of them are off their foundations, and others are just gone,” he said, estimating that at least 30 cottages were destroyed in the disaster.“It’s just unbelievable, the damage it did.”He said many of them were summer homes owned by people in the surrounding communities.Last weekend, the rising water levels were only made worse by tearing winds, whipping up waves more than a metre high.Dykeman said some residents protected their cottages at Grand Lake by tethering the corners of the buildings to nearby trees.Others couldn’t be saved.“When the waves hit them last weekend, they just exploded and collapsed,” he said. “Even though some of them are summer cottages, they meant a lot to the people that owned them. Some were handed down from granddad, to dad, to the next generation.”New Brunswick’s government website indicated that St. Leonard, Perth Andover, Simonds, Hartland, Woodstock, Durham Bridge, Apohaqui, Frederiction and Maugerville were below flood level on Saturday.Homeowners affected by the flood are urged to contact their insurance companies before they begin cleaning their homes.The disaster has attracted national attention, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visiting Oromocto, N.B., late Friday afternoon with Premier Brian Gallant to see communities affected by flooding.The province has put out a call out to volunteers to aid in the massive cleanup efforts, and about 60 members from the Canadian Armed Forces were deployed Friday to help the provincial government with damage assessment.Meanwhile, 738 households representing 1,688 people have been registered for evacuation with the Red Cross.
SASKATOON – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he respects the decision of Calgary MP Darshan Kang to step away from the Liberal caucus while sexual harassment allegations against him are investigated.But Trudeau won’t say whether he personally asked Kang to resign.Kang said he’s leaving the governing party’s caucus to focus his efforts on clearing his name.He resigned from caucus Thursday night, shortly after The Hill Times reported that a woman who worked in Kang’s constituency office when he was a member of the Alberta legislature has come forward alleging she was sexually harassed.The woman alleged in an interview that Kang grabbed her breasts, among other inappropriate behaviour, and would not desist in the harassment despite repeatedly being asked to stop.Kang, who was elected federally in 2015, is already under investigation after a young woman who worked in his federal constituency office complained in June of sexual harassment.That woman’s father told the Toronto Star earlier this week that Kang allegedly offered the staffer as much as $100,000 if she didn’t tell her parents about the harassment. The Star cited the woman’s father, who was not named, alleging that Kang repeatedly harassed his daughter over a period of four or five years.Among the father’s accusations: Kang gave his daughter unwanted hugs, stroked or held her hand, once took her to an apartment where he tried to remove her jacket and followed her the next day to her hotel and tried to get into her room to talk.When asked about Kang Friday, Trudeau said the House of Commons has a processes for investigating harassment complaints that respects both the complainant’s and the respondent’s rights.Under that process, adopted in December 2014, when there is no mediated resolution to a harassment complaint, an external investigator is hired to review the facts.Either the complainant or the respondent can appeal if they’re unsatisfied with the investigator’s final report.“The whip’s office in my party has been engaged in this process and we are allowing this process to unfold as it must. I won’t have anymore comments to make on this specifically other than to say that I respect Mr. Kang’s decision to step away from the Liberal caucus while this process is being undergone,” Trudeau said.“As a feminist, I am pleased that there is a process in place and I am allowing that process to unfold as it must.”Sheila Malcolmson, federal NDP critic for the Status of Women, accused Trudeau of hiding behind process.“He should have taken action when he first learned of these troubling allegations instead of dodging questions for three weeks,” she said in a statement Friday.Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan said the allegations are “deeply concerning.”“The behaviour alleged is repugnant and has no place in society,” Khan said in a statement Friday afternoon.He said the party will do an internal investigation and relevant information will be passed on to all those bodies that are investigating.“Until there is any additional information or findings by an investigative body, we will not be making any further comment on this matter.”A spokesman for the Speaker of the Alberta legislature said that office only became aware of the Alberta allegations through the Hill Times report and could not comment further because it’s a human resources matter.
BRIDGEWATER, N.S. – This small Nova Scotia town is reckoning with the long shadow of a criminal prosecution involving so many of its children.Under a national spotlight because of an intimate photo ring that ensnared more than two dozen teenagers — some as young as 13 — Bridgewater is now trying to find a way to move on.On Wednesday, a judge handed conditional discharges to six young men who had shared 19 girls’ images on Dropbox without consent.But in his decision, Judge Paul Scovil implicitly acknowledged the case’s profound impact on the town — and chastised those who gossiped about the girls.Scovil said the young men had accepted responsibility, but others in the town blamed the victims.During sentencing, he relayed comments from the mother of one victim who called the experience “complete hell.”“She described walking into meetings to hear co-workers talking about the Dropbox and calling the girls ‘sluts’ and ‘whores’ and listening to comments such as ‘What kind of parents are they, to have their daughters involved in such a thing?’” said Scovil, adding that the woman eventually took a leave of absence from work over the constant gossip.Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell said Thursday his constituents needed to find a way to end the judgments.“This is a small community where people know the victims and people know the perpetrators,” said Mitchell in an interview. “There has to be some caution in our community that we’re not going to go down a road of ruining lives through gossip and public shaming.“It doesn’t move us forward as a town. It’s not productive. For the victims, we need to move on as they are moving on.”The case of the six young Bridgewater men was one Canada’s largest involving a relatively untested law introduced in 2015 to combat the non-consensual sharing of intimate images. The law came after the suicide of Nova Scotia teen Rehtaeh Parsons, whose family says a photo of her allegedly being sexually assaulted was circulated among students at her school in Cole Harbour.The six boys — whose identities are protected from publication under the Youth Criminal Justice Act — made headlines country-wide as their case wound its way through the court, drawing the ire of the community of roughly 8,500 on the province’s South Shore.In an agreed statement of facts, the girls cited a variety of motivations for sending the images. Some young women felt pressured by what they described as persistent requests for intimate images, while others said they were vying for boys’ affections or just joking around, the statement said.Mitchell said the problems revealed by the case weren’t unique to Bridgewater.“Having our town in the national spotlight for something like this, it’s disheartening. For some, it’s been maddening,” he said.“But this can happen to anyone. These weren’t bad kids, and it still happened. It could happen anywhere. Kids today face social pressures that we as adults simply did not have and probably don’t fully comprehend. To move forward, we need to talk to our kids about what happened because it’s happening everywhere in the country.”During Wednesday’s sentencing, Scovil said the young men’s actions and the overall reaction from the community has brought “pain and anguish” upon the young girls.None of the girls were present in court as Scovil appeared to allude to Parsons’ suicide.“We in Nova Scotia have recent experience on a very tragic level dealing with young women who have had their intimate pictures exposed to others,” said Scovil.“It’s discouraging that (society), after all we have gone through in this province, would still look to women and blame them for what took place.”He took defence lawyers to task for arguing in their joint submission that the girls should have known photos shared through Snapchat could have been saved. He said that wrongfully blamed the victims.“Such thinking and such comments harken back to a time of sexual stereotyping that anyone who has been offended against sexually must have put themselves in that position and be asking for it,” said Scovil. “I wish to make it clear to each and every one of the victims and their families: These girls did nothing wrong. It is not their fault.”But defence lawyer Stan MacDonald said that was not the intent of their arguments. He said what the six lawyers did was present an “alternative view.”“At no point in time did we make any attempt whatsoever to blame any victims. I take issue with the comments that the judge made,” said MacDonald outside of court on Wednesday.The boys, who are all from the Bridgewater area, admitted to forming a private Facebook group to exchange photos of the girls, who ranged in age from 13 to 17.Scovil acknowledged that the young men involved in the incident have completed a restorative justice program and have showed remorse for their actions.“I strongly stress that at no time did these young men attempt in any way to place blame on the victims. I am very appreciative of that. The same, however, cannot be said in relation to both (defence) counsel submissions on their behalf and the community at large,” he said.Follow (at)AlyThomson on Twitter.
TORONTO – A woman charged in an apparently unprovoked fatal stabbing in Toronto’s financial district was declared unfit to stand trial Tuesday, with a judge ordering her to spend two months receiving treatment at a mental health facility.Rohinie Bisesar faces one count of first-degree murder in the death of Rosemarie Junor, a 28-year-old newlywed who was stabbed at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto’s popular underground PATH network of shops in December 2015.Bisesar was originally slated to stand trial in January 2018, but the Crown requested she receive a fitness assessment.That hearing began before a jury on Monday, with Bisesar claiming she hears unseen people speaking to her who control her actions. She also claimed Junor is not really dead.Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Ian Swayze testified that Bisesar has a mental illness consistent with schizophrenia and experiences delusions, auditory hallucinations, disordered thoughts and paranoia.Because of her condition, Bisesar could not effectively conduct her own defence or instruct defence counsel, Swayze told the court.Fitness requires that a person be able to instruct their lawyer, understand why they’re in court and who the major players are, including the judge and prosecutor.The jury at the fitness hearing found Bisesar unfit to stand trial after a short deliberation on Tuesday.Justice John McMahon, who was presiding over the matter, then ordered Bisesar to spend 60 days in treatment at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, a standard measure for people deemed unfit for trial, known as a “treatment order.”Bisesar will likely be given anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety medications while at CAMH, the court heard.She is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 9. At that point, a new hearing will be scheduled to determine if Bisesar’s treatment has resulted in her being fit to stand trial, her defence lawyer Robert Karrass said.“If she has become fit, we are then able to proceed towards trial,” Karrass said. “If she is not fit then we would ask for an additional treatment order or ‘keep fit’ order to make sure she is getting her treatment.”Biseasar listened quietly to McMahon as he issued her treatment order. When given an opportunity to address the court, she said she wanted staff at CAMH to examine her face for “implants” which she said could be affecting her behaviour.Bisesar also asked to fire Karrass and represent herself — a request she made numerous times throughout the fitness hearing.McMahon responded that someone found unfit is not legally allowed to represent themselves.“These folks (on the jury) decided, rightly or wrongly, that you are not fit right now to proceed to trial,” McMahon said. “Once you’re fit we can have a bunch of discussions about whether you’d like to have a (self-represented) trial.”Bisesar will be transferred to CAMH as soon as space opens up there, likely within the next two weeks, McMahon said. Until then she will remain at a jail in Milton, Ont.
TORONTO – No winning ticket was sold for the $9 million jackpot in Saturday night’s Lotto 649 draw.However, the guaranteed $1 million dollar prize went to a ticket holder in Ontario.The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on Dec. 20 will be approximately $12 million.
3 stories in the news for Monday, Jan. 15———ATLANTIC CANADA RECOVERS FROM DELUGEDozens of people from a rural New Brunswick community were set to return home last night as crews across Atlantic Canada worked to clean up the aftermath of a deluge that flooded basements, snapped power lines and wreaked millions of dollars of damage. Much of the East Coast was drenched by heavy rains on Saturday amid unseasonably warm temperatures that melted a lot of snow, creating havoc.———LAC-MEGANTIC DELIBERATIONS ENTERING DAY 5Jury deliberations at the trial of three men charged with criminal negligence causing death in the Lac-Megantic disaster will enter their fifth day today. The 12 jurors are deciding the fate of Tom Harding, Richard Labrie and Jean Demaitre, who are charged in connection with the July 2013 tragedy in which 47 people were killed when a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded. The three men pleaded not guilty.———B.C. ADVOCATE SAYS PEOPLE IN PAIN NEED MORE THAN JUST OPIOIDSThe head of a group that advocates for patients suffering chronic pain says the B-C government needs to provide more treatment options beyond just prescription opioids. Maria Hudspith of Pain B-C says people in crippling pain also need physical therapy and psychiatric support, yet there’s a severe lack of publicly funded services dedicated to pain management. Hudspith says doctors have weaned patients off painkillers due to concerns about overprescribing them in the midst of an illicit-opioid epidemic — and sometimes the consequences have been dire.———ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:— Expert panel meets in Vancouver to evaluate Korean Peninsula situation as Canada prepares to host Tuesday meeting with its allies on the issue.— Coalition of distinguished women seeks inclusion in Vancouver talks on the Korean Peninsula.— Calgary trial of former “The Young Canadians” staffer Philip Heerema on 22 child sex abuse charges.— Former Afghanistan hostage Joshua Boyle to appear in Ottawa court on 15 charges, including sexual assault and forcible confinement.— Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball makes funding announcement in St. John’s to help prevent and end homelessness.— Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains makes funding announcement in Guelph, Ont., in support of Canada’s auto industry.— Canada Post unveils two-stamp issue in Vancouver marking the Year of the Dog.———
VANCOUVER – A gaggle of seniors waits patiently inside the doors of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, where the sound of Mandarin and Cantonese voices fills the air.They take turns sitting down at one of three tables, piled with optometric tools and gear. One at a time, eye specialists peer into their pupils and ask them to look through lens after lens, until they find just the right fit, often with the help of a translator.Bao Qin Song is one of 50 pre-selected seniors who were offered free basic eye care and prescription glasses, as part of the Eyeglasses Project, on Sunday.Qin Song says it’s been five years since she had her prescription checked. She can only read for five minutes before she loses focus with her current glasses.“I use the glasses but the glasses are no good,” Qin Song said.She said she didn’t know how to get a new prescription, so she was happy when a volunteer told her on Saturday that there would be free eye exams for Chinese, low-income seniors who live in the neighbourhood.“Today, the doctor checked my eyes. He changed the glasses. Oh! Good, good, good! Use that. I thought, this doctor is very good.”Project founder Howard Ma, a chartered financial analyst, says the idea came to him when he had to buy new glasses himself last year.“I remembered my last pair cost about $800 and I thought, wow, I don’t want to do that again. And then I started thinking, what do the poor and low-income do about their eyes,” Ma said.“I’ve worn glasses since I was five years old and I know I can’t function without glasses.”In October, the Canadian Association of Optometrists warned of a looming “vision crisis” in a submission to a House of Commons standing committee due to Canada’s aging population.Seniors 65 and older are projected to make up 20 per cent of the Canadian population by 2024, according to Statistics Canada.With that will come an increase in age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts, the association said.“Maintaining eye health, preventing avoidable vision loss, and managing age-related eye disease is a public health imperative and key to improving the overall quality of life and well-being of seniors,” it said.The Eyeglasses Project is a collaboration between Douglas College, the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House and the Richmond Chinatown Lions Club.Ma says he hopes the project raises awareness about the demand for basic needs and services in the community and inspires others to get involved.If the project proves successful he hopes to continue it with more volunteers.Another volunteer, Lily Hecht, waits to have her eyes checked.Hecht is a senior who recently moved to the Downtown Eastside from Ottawa, after her husband died, to be closer to family.She says she had cataract operations in both eyes in recent years and has been told she might have glaucoma, so she was happy for the opportunity to get an exam.“Sometimes I have to get a bit closer before I can see the signs. If I’m walking or driving, I don’t have good long-distance sight,” Hecht says.
TORONTO – Hudson’s Bay Co. is the latest Canadian company to be hit with a data breach, saying that customer payment card information may have been stolen from shoppers at certain Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Off Fifth and Lord & Taylor stores in North America.A spokesperson for retailer would not comment on whether any specific Canadian locations were affected, but did say there is no indication the breach affects any of HBC’s other digital platforms, Hudson’s Bay stores or Home Outfitters locations.HBC released little information on the breach itself on Sunday, but a New York-based cybersecurity firm said it had analyzed the available data and found that information from five-million credit cards had been compromised.Gemini Advisory LLC said in a report that the information was stolen from 83 Saks Fifth Avenue or Saks Off Fifth stores, and from all Lord & Taylor locations.The firm found that three Canadian Saks locations were exposed to the breach: Sherway Gardens in Toronto, Bramalea City Centre in Brampton, Ont. and Pickering Town Centre in Pickering, Ont.Dmitry Chorine, the co-founder of Gemini Advisory, said his firm works to improve response to data breaches by analyzing stolen data that appears on the so-called dark web.Chorine said the firm started looking into the breach when they noticed an influx of stolen credit and debit card information being offered for sale on the dark web last week.Upon analyzing the data, Chorine said they were able to determine that shoppers at all Lord & Taylor and at certain Saks Fifth Avenue locations were at risk of having their information stolen.“On March 28, we saw a significant spike of stolen credit cards offered for sale on one of the marketplaces,” said Chorine.“When we checked, we saw there was an advertisement stating that more than five-million credit and debit cards will be offered for sale, and that’s when we decided to research this particular breach.”The data that Chorine and his team found was being offered on a dark web marketplace operated by a hacking group called JokerStash, which Chorine says has been active in hacking retail and hospitality companies for the past three years.Gemini Advisory said Sunday that it had found data that had been stolen from as early as March 2017, and as late as March 2018.He said that only certain Saks Fifth Avenue locations were affected because the outlet was in the process of switching from card-swipe technology to EMV chip technology, which is already commonly used in Canada.Stores that had already implemented chip machines would likely not be exposed to the data breach, Chorine said.Chorine urged any consumers who had shopped at Saks Fifth Avenue or Lord & Taylor stores in the past year to take preventative measures against fraud.“They should probably call their banks and replace their cards,” said Chorine. “That would probably be the best preventative action they could take, instead of just waiting.”For now, HBC is asking clients to review their account statements for activity or transactions they don’t recognize.The company said it’s investigating and taking steps to contain the attack, and clients will not be responsible for any fraudulent charges as a result of the breach.It said it will offer free identity protection services to those affected once they learn more about the breach.
One of Canada’s most infamous killers, whose name became reviled across the country after he murdered two Ontario teens, is back before the courts for an offence allegedly committed from a maximum-security prison.Paul Bernardo appeared via video in a Napanee, Ont., courtroom on Friday facing one count of possession of a weapon, Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General said.It was Bernardo’s second court appearance on the alleged offence, which court documents show took place on Feb. 9 at the Millhaven Institution in nearby Bath, Ont.A spokesman for the ministry said the case was adjourned to May 18 for another video appearance. Bernardo’s lawyer did not immediately respond to request for comment.Bernardo has been a notorious figure since his arrest in the 1990s on allegations that he raped and murdered multiple teenage girls at his southern Ontario home.His 1995 trial for the deaths of 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy and 15-year-old Kristen French sent waves of horror across the country as lawyers presented videotaped evidence of Bernardo’s repeated brutal attacks on both girls.Bernardo was ultimately convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, forcible confinement and aggravated sexual assault in both cases and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.He was eventually also convicted of manslaughter in the death of Tammy Homolka, the younger sister of his wife Karla Homolka.She, in turn, was convicted of playing roles in all three killings and served a 12-year prison sentence after striking a deal with prosecutors.After admitting to raping 14 other women in and around Toronto, Bernardo was given a dangerous offender designation that all but ensures he will remain behind bars for life.Bernardo’s name has been largely absent from national headlines in the years since his sentence, though he did arouse national ire when it was revealed he had a self-published work of fiction available for sale on Amazon. The 631-page book, which supposedly told the story of a plot by a “secret cabal” to return Russia to a world power, was ultimately withdrawn.Bernardo became eligible for day parole in 2015, but it has not been granted.Homolka has faced more scrutiny since her 2005 release from prison and eventually settled in Quebec with her new husband and children. Last year it was revealed that she had been volunteering at a Montreal-area elementary school, prompting it to revise its policies.