Productive winter session sees 11 bills passed in the Lok Sabha, but the Opposition unites to stall key moves in the Rajya Sabha

first_imgAfter the winter session of Parliament concluded, a Rajya Sabha member of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) had this insight to offer: “I have never seen Finance Minister Arun Jaitley edgy or impatient in Parliament. But in the last week of this session, he was not his usual self. The desperation,After the winter session of Parliament concluded, a Rajya Sabha member of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) had this insight to offer: “I have never seen Finance Minister Arun Jaitley edgy or impatient in Parliament. But in the last week of this session, he was not his usual self. The desperation was writ large on his face.”Jaitley was indeed a disappointed man, and it’s not difficult to fathom why. While the NDA Government had a relatively productive session in the Lok Sabha, thanks to its brutal majority of 335 MPs, it ended with a setback in the Upper House as two big-ticket bills failed to pass the floor test. The Government was determined to pass the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008, and the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2014.The insurance bill has been pending in the Rajya Sabha since 2008. The UPA could not get it passed due to opposition from the BJP and Left parties. And this session, in the Rajya Sabha, where the Government is in minority, a united Opposition stalled proceedings for seven days with demands that ranged from the need for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make a statement on the row over religious conversion to action on the BJP’s prepoll promise of bringing back black money from abroad. A frustrated Jaitley blamed the “political obstructionism of the Opposition” for not allowing the insurance bill to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha.The Government’s helplessness in the Upper House is evident from statistics collated by independent research agency PRS Legislative Research. While the Rajya Sabha extended its sitting by an hour every day, it worked for only 59 per cent of its scheduled time. For 15 of the 22 days it functioned smoothly, with the Question Hour lasting for less than three minutes a day. The Lok Sabha, in contrast, worked for 98 per cent of its scheduled time, spending 45 hours on discussing bills, against the Rajya Sabha’s 25 hours.advertisementAlthough Opposition leaders rubbish Jaitley’s allegations of obstructionism, the opposition to the insurance bill was a well-planned strategy that saw bitter rivals like the TMC and the Left, as well as the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party, come together. The Congress did not make clear its stand initially, but according to a TMC MP, it was finally won over with a clever “marketing strategy”. Says the MP: “While Modi was desperate to pass the insurance bill to impress US President Barack Obama before his Republic Day visit, we asked the Congress to help us prevent the Government from giving Obama a Christmas gift.”Despite the stalemate in the Rajya Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu was upbeat as the Government passed 11 bills from the initial legislative agenda of 37 for the session. This is in sharp contrast to the last winter session, when only the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill was passed out of 29 bills listed for both Houses. At the end of the winter session, 126 bills were pending before Parliament.In 2012, only six of 25 bills listed for the winter session could be passed by both Houses, with 104 pending at the end of the session.One of the biggest achievements of this session was the introduction of the Constitutional Amendment Bill, which seeks to roll out the goods and services tax (GST) in the states. Another significant development was the introduction of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas and Other Related Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014.The Government’s delight notwithstanding, Opposition leaders weren’t happy with the way the Lok Sabha functioned. According to PRS, of the 15 bills introduced in the session, 11 were passed without referring them to a standing committee. “Debates took place only at the Government’s whim,” says Congress chief whip in the Lok Sabha Jyotiraditya Scindia. Congress Rajya Sabha member Anand Sharma blamed the BJP leadership’s “arrogance” for the disruptions in the Rajya Sabha.Naidu, though, was quick to share credit with Opposition leaders for the productivity. “It shows there can be record business when the Government and the Opposition function together,” he says.Follow the writer on [email protected]last_img read more

In Focus – Touch World Cup: Hong Kong

first_imgIn the lead-up to the 2015 FIT Touch World Cup, we catch up with Marco Wong from Hong Kong as they embark on their first World Cup campaign.How big is Touch in Hong Kong?Touch is a rapidly growing sport and has over 3,000 players participating in Hong Kong including at the school and open levels. Tournaments and regular leagues are played throughout the year. The highlight of our event calendar is the Hong Kong International Touch Championship which will be held for the 10th year in 2015. This event is an invitational event for the best teams in Hong Kong as well as overseas teams from China, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Korea and for the first time next year a team from Fiji.How are your preparations going for the 2015 TWC?The team’s preparations are going extremely well in the lead up to the 2015 TWC. The core of the team has been selected and recently participated in a tournament in Shanghai where they were runner-ups at the event. They are also looking forward to the first international game to be held in Hong Kong on December 20th against China where the team has the opportunity to test its skill against the Chinese national team. This should serve as a good milestone in the team’s preparations and build-up.Who is a player from Hong Kong that is one to watch out for at the 2015 TWC?One of players who goes by the nickname, “Watermelon”, is definitely one of the players to watch. He has been a core member of the team for a number of years and is looking to forward to displaying his speed and deft skills at TWC 2015.Hong Kong are currently sending one team (Mixed Open) to the 2015 TWC, what are your goals for the event?We are looking forward to testing our skills against the best teams in the world and gauging the team’s development over the past few years. We also look forward to making new friends and hopefully convincing people to visit us in Hong Kong.What are you most looking forward to for your trip to Australia?We are looking forward to playing high quality games of touch and enjoying the beautiful Australian weather!If you want to keep in touch with Hong Kong in the lead-up to the 2015 TWC, visit the following:WebsiteFacebookRelated LinksHong Kong: 2015 TWClast_img read more

New Flyer Industries acquires ARBOC Specialty Vehicles for US95 million

first_imgWINNIPEG – Bus maker New Flyer Industries Inc. says it has acquired ARBOC Specialty Vehicles, LLC for US$95 million.ARBOC is focused on low-floor bus technology and produces buses used in transit, paratransit and shuttle applications.The company employs approximately 100 people and has a facility in Middlebury, Ind.New Flyer (TSX:NFI) says ARBOC’s management team will remain in place.Management expects ARBOC will deliver approximately 500 buses in 2018, up from roughly 360 buses in 2017.ARBOC’s current firm backlog for 2018 includes over 320 orders.last_img read more

BlackBerry says new software bridge to Microsoft products will increase security

first_imgWATERLOO, Ont. – BlackBerry Ltd. is launching a new way to enhance the security of commonly-used Microsoft Corp. cloud and mobility software in response to increased customer awareness of the need to protect sensitive information.The two companies jointly announced Monday that they’ve collaborated on a software bridge between Microsoft’s suite of applications and BlackBerry’s highly-secure operating environment for enterprises.The bridge will provide various BlackBerry security features for Microsoft Word, Excel and other programs whether they’re on smartphones, tablets or computers using major operating systems such as iOS, Android and Windows.The new level of integration between BlackBerry and Microsoft software will provide a more precise way to decide who has access to documents, under what circumstances and for how long.For example, an employee, consultant or supplier could get personal access to a spreadsheet or presentation for 24 hours but have no ability to forward it to anybody else.BlackBerry chief marketing officer Mark Wilson said at a press briefing in Waterloo, Ont., that organizations are increasingly looking for ways to improve cybersecurity for a highly interconnected workforce.“What we do . . . is secure all of the communications and collaborations within those organizations,” Wilson said.As an example, he said, BlackBerry shares its product road maps with customers “but we actually have embedded security into the files, where they actually can’t share those files with anybody outside of their organization.”In addition, BlackBerry will put a time-limit on the shared documents and kill them off after a month.“They don’t have to kill it, we actually manage the rights of the document so the security travels with the document. So we can kill that document whenever we want.”He said BlackBerry’s customers have long wanted to have that level of security while using Microsoft’s software as it normally operates without the user knowing how secure it is.“For them, they think they’re using the regular Microsoft app. For the IT manager, they know behind the curtain what’s actually happening.”BlackBerry Enterprise Bridge, the software that creates a connection to the Microsoft application environment, is undergoing final customer trials and will be sold on a per-user subscription basis when it’s launched commercially. Final prices were not disclosed.BlackBerry is not the company it was a few years ago when it was still the market leader in smartphones, before it was pushed aside by Apple’s iPhone and various devices using the Android operating system.Now the company gets about 75 per cent of its revenue from enterprise software, which is used by businesses, government departments, police, fire and other first responders and other organizations.Wilson said BlackBerry’s marketing strategy has also evolved, because it’s trying to reach decision-makers in about 40,000 businesses rather than billions of consumers.“It will be better to use different tactics to go after the set of enterprises that we want to go after,” Wilson said.For example, BlackBerry will be holding a series of events in 10 cities, beginning with San Francisco on May 3 and ending with Amsterdam in June.Ottawa is the second stop on the tour, on May 8, to address a largely government-oriented based. The only other Canadian stop is Toronto on May 10, where BlackBerry will address a broader client base.While BlackBerry is just a fraction of the size of Microsoft, it retains a reputation for being a market leader in enterprise security — a feature of the BlackBerry phones that contributed to their success.Companies in this story: (TSX:BB)Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said BlackBerry is trying to reach 40,000 business people.last_img read more

Yellowhead Road Bridge loses North Peace Highway Maintenance Contract

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Yellowhead Road & Bridge has lost the contract to provide Provincial highway maintenance in the North Peace.As of this morning, January 30, YRB employees learned that the contract would be awarded to Interior Roads starting June 1, 2019.Yellowhead Road & Bridge (North Peace) Ltd. was formed in 1996 after winning the contract to maintain the highways and bridges in the North Peace Contract Area (Service Area #22). YRB was successful in retaining the maintenance contract re-tendered in 2004. The current contract was renewed on May 17, 2004, extended in 2012, and will expire May 31, 2019.The Province has yet to release any information on the new contract.last_img read more

‘Can’t rule out EVM tampering’

first_imgKolkata: Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee during her interviews to vernacular television channels did not rule out the possibility of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) tampering during the ongoing Lok Sabha election.Banerjee said: “I do not trust them. The holding of election for such a prolonged period may be because they can facilitate EVM tampering,” she said. It may be mentioned that NCP chief Sharad Pawar has already lodged a complaint regarding the same after he found that the vote he cast had gone to the nominee of another party. The TMC chief also added that the Election Commission of India should have taken measures to educate the voters about the VVPAT. She further reiterated that the United India is coming to power at the Centre. “BJP will be the single largest party. In the worst scenario, it will get 120 seats and the number may go up to 150/160 which is far below the magic figure of 273.”last_img read more

Football Greg Schianos future in doubt following Urban Meyers retirement

LOS ANGELES — When defensive coordinator Greg Schiano came to Ohio State in 2016, he didn’t come because of the reputation of the program.After coaching his sons at Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa, Florida in the years following his brief stint in the NFL as head coach of the Buccaneers, Schiano didn’t plan on returning as a college or professional coach for at least a few more years.Urban Meyer changed that.“I came to Ohio State to coach for Urban Meyer, and I didn’t know a ton about Ohio State, but I knew a ton about Urban Meyer.” Schiano said. “I was coaching high school football and doing TV. And my plan was to do it until my sons graduated and then get back to college or pro coaching, whatever it was. Then Urban called, and, as persuasive as he is, I ended up at Ohio State.”Following three seasons working together, Meyer and Schiano will share the sideline one more time during the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 before Meyer moves to an assistant athletic director position and Ryan Day takes over as head coach.Schiano’s future now appears uncertain, though the defensive coordinator said he won’t be concerned about it until after the upcoming matchup against Washington.“I don’t worry about that,” Schiano said. “I’m excited about the future of Ohio State. We’re going to see where that all — after the game is when we’re going to deal with all that stuff. So I’m not overly concerned with any of it.”But Schiano never sounded confident in his return to a program he said he loves, always prefacing a positive with a cloud of uncertainty surrounding his future.After being a head coach for 13 seasons combined at the college and professional level, Schiano seemed reflective about his three seasons as defensive coordinator more than someone ready to come back for a fourth time.“I love being here. My family loves being here,” Schiano said. “But anytime there’s a coaching change, whether it’s internal or not, coaches have to — a head coach has to select the staff that he feels gives the team the best chance to win, and whatever coach Day decides to do, certainly his prerogative.”In his three seasons at Ohio State, Schiano has ranked in the top 10 twice for total defense, finishing No. 6 in his debut season and No. 9 in 2017. This season, Schiano’s defense sits at No. 67, and has allowed 38 plays of more than 30 yards through 13 games.Schiano said he and Day have discussed his future once Day becomes head coach, but that Day has “so much on his plate” at the moment, he doesn’t want to add to it.“I think Ohio State is in great position,” Schiano said. “Coach Meyer has developed a tremendous culture, and coach Day I know will put his stamp on it. But the makings of a long-term success are in place.”As much as Schiano loves being at Ohio State, the school itself is not what made him take the job in the first place, and it’s not what takes precedence after three years as defensive coordinator. That’s Meyer.“He comes before Ohio State and before everything. He’s a very dear friend,” Schiano said. “I have a longstanding relationship with Urban. I just want what’s best for him.”For now, Schiano is focused on the Rose Bowl. He is focused on the final game Meyer has as Ohio State’s head coach.Schiano is focused on giving one of his best friends, the guy who he took the job at Ohio State for, a victory in his send-off.But when looking past Jan. 1, the future of Ohio State’s defensive coordinator seems anything but certain. read more

Crystal Palace Zaha makes donation to female team

first_imgCrystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha has donated a substantial amount of money to support the development of the club’s amateur women’s team.Reports surfaced in the media earlier this week that the club asked each player in the women’s team to raise £250 to earn a place in the team.However, Crystal Palace have strongly denied such reports whilst praising the actions of their childhood hero, Wilfried Zaha.“Our senior squad currently consists of 21 players, all of whom are contracted to Palace Ladies and either receive a wage or are paid expenses,” the statement read, as quoted by SportsKeeda.“This is made possible by the substantial financial support we receive from Crystal Palace Football Club and our principal sponsor, Utilita Energy, who are committed supporters of the women’s game and are backing Palace Ladies for the third consecutive season.”Joel Ward, Crystal PalaceHow Joe Ward thanks his faith for his football Manuel R. Medina – September 13, 2019 Crystal Palace defender, Joel Ward, has thanked his Christian faith for helping him play football professionally and he explains why.“Our budget and business and marketing plans were clearly set out in our application to join the FA Women’s Championship; in common with many other clubs, we encourage players to seek personal sponsorship to help raise the club’s profile and build links with the business community, but it is not a condition of playing for Palace Ladies.”“All our other teams operate on an amateur basis and, as with any grassroots membership club, players pay an annual subscription fee. To help the development of our reserve team players, we have heavily subsidised their annual membership fees.”“We are delighted to announce that Wilf Zaha has contacted the club to make a substantial financial contribution to support the development of our amateur players. Everyone knows what Crystal Palace means to Wilf and he wants to give the same opportunities to the next generation of aspiring players at Palace Ladies that he enjoyed when coming up through junior teams.”“We are grateful for Wilf’s support and for the ongoing support of Crystal Palace Football Club and Utilita Energy, which enables our senior team to play in the FA Women’s Championship.”last_img read more

Sean Dyche grateful for International break

first_imgBurnley manager Sean Dyche is happy with the timing of the international break as it gave his side the opportunity to regroup.Burnley are still waiting for their first win of the Premier League season and will travel to Wolves on Sunday hoping to get all three points. Sean Dyche believes the two-week break came just at the right time, after their Europa League qualification failure.Dyche told Burnley official website: “I think this was one was needed, physically, to refresh, and also mentally.“All clubs try and find the right balance between work and rest. which we did and were quite happy with that.Premier LeaguePremier League Betting: Match-day 5 Stuart Heath – September 14, 2019 Going into the Premier League’s match-day five with a gap already beginning to form at the top of the league. We will take a…“It was good for us this time around because there’s been a lot of games, a lot of travelling and a lot of different scenarios, so it was a bit of a ‘clear the mind’ thing.“Obviously a few of the lads were away on (international) duty but the lads who stayed here did well and had a couple of days training and a couple of days off.“I said to the lads that, in a way, it’s a restart. It’s been so different for us and we have seen how it all works and the quirks to it.“Now the next game is literally around the corner, and we move forward now on to that.”last_img read more

Report Coutinho set for crisis talks with Barcelona

first_imgBarcelona manager Ernesto Valverde will reportedly seek out talks with the struggling Philippe Coutinho to discuss his future.The Brazilian playmaker arrived at Camp Nou last year for €160m from Liverpool and enjoyed a strong end to his debut campaign with a respectable tally of eight goals and five assists in 18 La Liga games.But Coutinho has struggled to make the desired impact Barcelona had hoped for this season, which has caused concern among the club board.Now Sport reports that Valverde will speak to Coutinho in an attempt to figure out what is the reason behind his struggles this term.The Blaugrana coach hopes to find a tactical solution for Coutinho as Barcelona are not keen on parting with Coutinho anytime soon.This comes despite reports linking Coutinho with a return to the Premier League to either Manchester United or Chelsea.Speaking to journalists after Barcelona’s 2-0 derby win over Girona in La Liga on Sunday, Valverde backed Coutinho to return to his best form after another lacklustre outing.Jose Mourinho, Lionel MessiMourinho: “Lionel Messi made me a better coach” Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Jose Mourinho believes the experience of going up against Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi at Real Madrid made him a greater coach.“What I like about him is that he always tries things and takes on his man,” said Valverde.“It might work or it might not. He had chances but didn’t score because their goalkeeper is excellent.“He’ll convert other chances soon.”Coutinho was brought in to replace club legend Andres Iniesta, who now plays his football in Japan for Vissel Kobe after leaving Barcelona last summer.However, Coutinho has struggled to establish himself this season with just four goals and two assists in his 19 La Liga appearances.Due to Ousmane Dembele’s ankle injury, the Brazil international may get another shot in the starting line-up in Wednesday’s return leg against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.Valverde’s side fell to a shock 2-0 defeat in the first leg and will need to beat Sevilla by at least two goals if they are to progress to the semi-finals.last_img read more