CWG Village builder’s Rs 183-cr bank guarantee seized

first_imgA view of the Games VillageThe Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on Wednesday confiscated the bank guarantee of Rs 183 crore given by Commonwealth Games Village builder EMAAR-MGF. WATCH VIDEOEMAAR-MGF also faces legal action by the DDA as penalty for shoddy work done at the Village and for recovery of other expenditure. The action came after the DDA submitted a report to Union Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy about the Village. The report said EMAAR-MGF did not meet several project milestones and failed to make payments to government agencies. The report said there were many defects in the construction and these weren’t rectified by the builder. The report was sought by Reddy after complaints from advance teams of other countries about filthy conditions at the Village.  In the letter, Reddy asked the DDA – which functions under the urban development ministry – to file a report, saying that the complaints had dented the image of the authority.  – With inputs from agencieslast_img read more

Kite string almost amputates 70-year-old’s foot

first_imgAs a child, Sant Lal Taneja loved to fly kites and has many cherished memories of the sport. But the much-familiar kite string, which he handled with ease all his life, sliced his ankle as the 70-year-old’s leg got entangled while crossing the road.The unfortunate incident occurred when Taneja was out on his evening walk.His left leg was snared by a kite string caught between the park’s fence on one side and a vehicle on the other. When he tried freeing his leg, he suffered severe pain along with heavy bleeding. “I was just crossing the road and didn’t see the string there. I never knew the string would affect my foot so badly. Initially, I thought it was just a deep cut, but after a few seconds my foot started to bleed profusely. I couldn’t feel my foot. What we saw later was unbelievable. My ankle was almost hanging on a single bone. My family got worried and rushed me to the nearest hospital,” said Taneja, who is now perfectly fine and walking with full confidence.Kite flying is a popular activity amidst children and young adults in the months of June, July, August and September. The sporting activity, though, is known to cause many injuries including serious accidents that occur during the preparation of the threads, electrical injuries from high-tension currents, falls during the game, injuries caused to bystanders, especially those riding motorcycles or bicycles.A resident of Hari Nagar, Taneja was initially taken to a government hospital. After initial investigation and treatment, his family took him to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital where he was operated on.advertisementSEVERITY OF INJURY”All his nerves and blood vessels were destroyed. The ankle was hanging through a single bone. We were surprised to know that a kite string caused such an injury. His foot was pale and there was no blood circulation.The case was quite complex as we had to work on each and every nerve,” said Dr Vivek Kumar, consultant, department of plastic surgery, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.KITE STRING HAZARDSThe case has been published in the Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery highlighting the harmful materials which are used in making kite strings.”Previously, kite flyers mainly used a string that was made with 3-9 layers of variously treated cotton thread. To make the competition more challenging, kite fighters started using metallic, chemical and glass powder coated string (manja), in the recent past. This made the simple traditional fun of kite flying deadlier,” the report published in the journal said. To make the competition more challenging, kite fighters have started to use metallic, chemical and glass powder coated strings.The surgery lasted for almost seven hours. “Nowadays people are using sharper and stronger metals to make the strings used in kite flying,” added Dr Kumar.Taneja was advised complete bed rest for six weeks. “We had to repair everything.Kite-related injuries are most common on the neck but an injury of this extent was not so common. He is now able to walk properly,” said Dr Lalit Chaudhary, senior consultant, department of Plastic surgery, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.last_img read more

Cespedes, Mets Rock Rockies, 14-9

first_imgDENVER — Yoenis Cespedes hit three home runs, including a grand slam, and had a career-high seven RBIs and the New York Mets overpowered the Colorado Rockies 14-9 on Aug. 21.Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto also had home runs in the seventh inning in the Mets’ first five-homer game since Sept. 5, 2014, against Cincinnati.Cespedes led off the eighth with a chance to tie the major league record for most home runs in a game. He singled off reliever Tommy Kahnle for his fifth hit of the game, a career best.He came up again with two outs in the ninth to face Rafael Betancourt and hit a drive to right-center field that Carlos Gonzalez had to chase down near the warning track, making a running catch.In all, there were eight home runs in the game. Colorado’s Gonzalez, Ben Paulsen and Nolan Arenado also homered on a night when the ball was flying out of Coors Field.Arenado’s three-run homer off Bartolo Colon in the fourth was his 30th of the season. Nick Hundley finished a homer shy of the cycle.Cespedes, acquired by New York from Detroit in a trade deadline deal July 31, began the power display with a slam off rookie Jon Gray in the Mets’ six-run second inning, helping New York take a 7-1 lead. It was the second slam of his career. His first came on April 19th for Detroit against the Chicago White Sox.He led off the fourth with his second homer, this one off reliever Christian Bergman and his third, a two-run shot off Christian Friedrich, snapped an 8-8 tie in the sixth.Cespedes has hit five home runs since joining the Mets and has 23 home runs overall.It was the third time this season a Mets player has hit three home runs in a game. Lucas Duda was the last to accomplish the feat on July 29 against San Diego.Both starters had a rough night. Colon was hit by a pitch on his right hand in the second when he squared to bunt.He was checked by team trainers and remained in the game but went just 3 2-3 innings, allowing seven runs and nine hits, including all three of Colorado’s home runs.Jon Gray, who held the Mets to one run in a six-inning outing that resulted in a no-decision on Aug. 10, couldn’t get out of the second this time around. He gave up seven runs and eight hits in 1 2-3 innings.Sean Gilmartin (2-1) picked up the win with 2 1-3 innings of solid relief. Friedrich (0-4), who gave up the tiebreaking shot to Cespedes, took the loss.(DENNIS GEORGATOS) TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

Shanghai Waigaoqiao Snaps Up 11,000 TEU Order

first_imgzoom Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding (SWS), a shipbuilding subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Corp, has won an order for six 11,000 TEU containerships from an undisclosed European owner.The deal was landed on April 28th, according to the shipbuilding conglomerate’s announcement.Further details on the value of the order and potential delivery dates have not been disclosed yet.SWS believes that the order marks an important milestone in the company’s efforts to secure a place on the market of construction of large ships of 19800 TEU and 21000 TEU design.Construction of these giants of the seas is nothing new to the shipbuilder as it has already secured orders for ultra large container carriers such as the one placed by French liner giant CMA CGM for three 18,000 TEU boxships in 2013.World Maritime News Stafflast_img read more

AI freezes promotions new appointments amid stake sale preparations

first_imgNew Delhi: Air India has stopped giving promotions for its employees and recruiting new personnel as the government prepares for the disinvesment of the debt-laden airline, an official said Sunday. The government is expected to soon start the disinvesment process for Air India, which has a debt burden of more than Rs 50,000 crore. For the disinvesment process, the official said the airline’s books of accounts till July 15, have been closed and those financials would be used while seeking bids. Also Read – MP woman hangs herself after killing three children Promotions and fresh appointments have also been frozen ahead of the stake sale for Air India, the official added. The airline has around 10,000 permanent employees. There was no immediate comment from Air India. Query sent to Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola remained unanswered. The government is looking to complete the Air India stake sale in the next four to five months. Air India is currently making a revenue of Rs 15 crore everyday. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ Efforts to sell 76 per cent stake in the national carrier failed to take off in 2018. Then transaction adviser EY in its report had cited the government retaining 24 per cent stake and corresponding rights and high debt as reasons for the failure of the disinvesment process. On July 3, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told the Rajya Sabha that the government is committed to the disinvestment of Air India and the plan is to make it more operationally viable before stake sale. “It (Air India) will be sold when the buyer ultimately gives the cheque and there are certain prerequisites before any sale, those also have to be met. I do expect that to be finished in 4-5 months but nevertheless to provide for that exigency, we have not accounted for Air India sale proceeds (in budgeted disinvestment proceeds). “We will try to finish it off by Diwali, if not before,” Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) Secretary Atanu Chakraborty said on July 7. In her Budget speech on July 5, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that in view of current macro-economic parameters, the government would not only reinitiate the process of strategic disinvestment of Air India, but would offer more central public sector enterprises for strategic participation by the private sector.last_img read more

An agitated Pak

first_imgThe Western neighbour has been far more than flustered over India’s move to make inoperative the contentious Article 370 and is virtually leaving no stone unturned to lobby the international community against India over the Kashmir matter, albeit to little effect. Pakistan’s desperation to have a group of third parties gang up against India may be understood as potential existential crisis glaring in the face of the Pakistani state. A country founded on the basis of religion, a homeland for Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent, has since its inception pegged its ideological war against India on the Muslim-majority Kashmir region, seeking to claim the entire earstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. In a recent development, UAE and Saudi Arabian foreign ministers extended their presence in Pakistan to calm tensions over Kashmir. The very reported purpose of their visit is somewhat of a diplomatic travesty given India’s fast developing and strengthening relations with the Gulf region, particularly with Saudi Arabia. Seeking to internationalise the historic Kashmir issue at the behest of India’s internal move to disempower Article 370 has not so far gone down very well with world leaders and global powers, as most of them officially maintain the stand that what India did was its internal matter and any dispute with Pakistan over this is a bilateral issue between the two neighbours and it is for them to resolve it. The global stand also affirms India’s clear position to disallow any third party intervention in its discord with Pakistan. Saudi Arabia and the UAE sending their top diplomats to Pakistan to help defuse tensions over Kashmir may be a necessary diplomatic exercise at their end but when Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan asks Saudi Arabia and the UAE to urge India to reverse its decision on Kashmir, their persistence to involve international forces over Kashmir only gives away their desperation a little more with every new effort.last_img read more

Shailene Woodley to star in thriller Misanthrope

first_imgLos Angeles: Actor Shailene Woodley will be toplining the upcoming serial killer thriller film Misanthrope. The project, which hails from FilmNation Entertainment, will be directed by Damian Szifron from a screenplay he co-wrote with Jonathan Wakeham, reported Variety. The story follows a talented but troubled cop who is recruited by the FBI to help profile and track down a murderer. Shooting will soon start in Atlanta and producers are currently looking for additional cast members. FilmNation, which previously backed Arrival, The Big Sick and Late Night, will finance and oversee worldwide sales for Misanthrope. Woodley, 27, will also produce alongside Aaron Ryder and Stuart Manashil.last_img

Shooting and Possible Hostage Situation at a Movie Theater in Germany

By Alexandra KrauskaRabat – An unidentified, masked man entered a theater in Viernheim, Germany at about 3pm and fired four shots into the air. It is believed that he was firing blanks, rather than real bullets, though it is not confirmed that the weapon was real. Dozens of people are reported to have run from the scene. Local news sources reported that he took several hostages.German police closed off the area around the cinema and entered the building. According to interior minister Peter Beuth, the attacker was killed by police at about 5pm, and there is no information that anyone was injured in the attack. “The assailant moved through the cinema complex, according to the information we have now, and appeared confused.” The motivation for the attack is still unclear. German press agency DPA reported that the shooter was a “confused individual,” and not a terrorist. The shooter’s identity has not yet been revealed.About 25 of the people inside may have been minorly injured due to the police use of tear gas, but were not harmed by the attacker.German gun laws allow for people to own weapons, but fully automatic weapons are banned and restricted to those with a “creditable need for a weapon,” according to the Library of Congress. Small-arms permits can be acquired to own pistols and the like. read more

Nepal UNICEF working to address needs of women and children flood victims

3 September 2008The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is working with its humanitarian partners in Nepal to address some of the specific needs of women and children who have been displaced by the recent floods in the country’s east. Almost 30 shelter sites have been set up so far to accommodate the increasing numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs), which the Government estimates to be around 107,000. Children are said to make up nearly half of that number. In the affected districts of Sunsari and Saptari, UNICEF has distributed 1,000 blankets for small children and is procuring 10,000 clothing kits for children and young people – along with 3,000 bedding and clothing kits for pregnant and lactating women. UNICEF has already reached 10,000 people and is planning to reach the total of 55,000 living in temporary shelters in the affected districts. In addition, the agency and its partners are installing 320 bathing spaces in the shelters especially for women and adolescent girls, to address privacy and security concerns. UNICEF is also advocating for, and establishing, separate toilets for males and females, and has requested that proper lighting and security patrols be implemented at night to reduce the risk of violence against women. The agency is working with local partners to monitor and report on protection issues in the shelters – and to ensure that psycho-social support is provided to those in need. Meanwhile, UNICEF is helping the non-governmental organization (NGO) Save the Children to establish at least 30 safe spaces for young people in Sunsari. The spaces will support a variety of activities, including early childhood development, informal schooling, life-skills training, psycho-social support and recreation for children. Disease and malnutrition are some of UNICEF’s main concerns for children in the affected areas, given the lack of access to safe water and nutritional food. Pregnant and lactating women are also at risk due to these factors. Based on a preliminary assessment, the agency says it needs almost $1.8 million to provide humanitarian assistance to children and women in the affected areas. read more

Sri Lankans escape bus blaze in India

Kesariya referral hospital medical officer P. Ojha, who is treating Somruna, a police officer in Sri Lanka, claimed that he was out of danger as he had sustained only 10 per cent burn injuries on his head.The three staff members of the bus are also safe. The tourist bus (registration number UP 65BT 4877) was hired by the group from Gaya and after their pilgrimage to Vaishali, Kesariya and Kushinagar, they were to take a flight from Varanasi on Tuesday, said Kesariya police station house officer Santosh Kumar. Indian media reports said that sixteen tourists from Sri Lanka had a near escape after the bus they had been travelling in was reduced to ashes in Kesariya.According to witnesses, one tourist, R.M. Somruna (50), who is also the team leader, sustained partial burn injuries. The incident has taken place yesterday while the tourists were busy climbing the Kesariya Stupa, the tallest such Buddhist stupa in the world. The Telegraph in India reported that the bus — parked outside the main entrance to the archaeological site — suddenly caught fire. Although the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, a rough estimate has put the loss to be worth $1 million as personal belongings like suitcases, bags, passports and visa documents were charred completely. He added that it was first such incident near the stupa site, about 45km southwest from here and 110km northeast from Patna.The fire was brought under control only after two fire tenders from Chakia and Motipur reached the spot.SHO Kumar said arrangements for a safe stay of the visitors have been made at the local tourist rest house and a suitable vehicle would also be arranged by early tomorrow morning enabling them to reach Varanasi in time. read more

Mali UN food agency urgently working to aid communities despite insecurity

“I was able to go to Timbuktu last week and I saw how critical the humanitarian situation really is,” Sally Haydock, Country Director in Mali for the UN World Food Programme (WFP), reported in a news release. According to the agency, one household out of five in the northern regions of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal faces extreme food shortages, with a significant deterioration of household food consumption in the past week. “The areas around Timbuktu are unsecured and difficult to access, markets are not functioning properly, food prices are high, fuel prices are high, and there is a lack of liquidity, which means that people are not able to buy the basic necessities,” Ms. Haydock continued. Northern Mali was occupied by radical Islamists after fighting broke out in January 2012 between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, uprooting hundreds of thousands of people. However, with fast approach of the so-called “lean season” – a three-month dry period stretching from April to June – the WFP is planning to provide food assistance to 145,000 people in Timbuktu, 86,700 in Gao, and 34,500 in Kidal. In addition, the agency plans to support over half a million people in Mali on a monthly basis despite an overall budgetary shortfall of $159 million. Following her visit to Mali in early March, WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin similarly underscored the UN’s resolve to feed the country’s northern areas with shipments of food by road and riverboat. “People are still suffering; the crisis is not over,” Ms. Cousin said. “It is not safe in many of the communities in the North and people cannot go home. We need to continue to provide support so children can continue to receive food assistance.” read more

Presidential search moves into active recruitment phase

In July, as Brock President Jack Lightstone enters the last year of his second and final term, the committee tasked with finding his successor will start to identify potential candidates.Advertisements have been placed in national media during June, and the executive search firm Caldwell Partners will be having discussions with individuals who could potentially be interested in pursuing the University’s top job.This active recruitment stage follows months of preparations in which the advisory committee held input sessions with the Brock community, then drafted a Mandate and Role Profile document setting out key tasks and priorities for the next president, as well as the experience and background sought in a successful candidate.As mandated in the Faculty Handbook, a presidential search at Brock is driven by a 12-member advisory committee representing stakeholders across the campus. The current committee consists of three faculty members, two students (one undergraduate and one graduate), a staff member, a librarian, a senior administrator and four lay board members. (One of the faculty members and the staff member are also board members.)To attract the strongest possible field of candidates, the advisory committee unanimously opted to use a confidential process, which is used for presidential searches at most Canadian universities. In this method, candidates’ identities are known only to the advisory committee, all of whom have signed confidentiality agreements. They in turn conduct the interviews and compile recommendations.Joe Robertson, past chair of the Board of Trustees who is also chair of the presidential search advisory committee, said senior university sector officials have indicated a vast majority of elite candidates will not pursue a presidential position unless the process takes place in confidence.Heather Ring, the search consultant for the Brock recruitment, said most shortlisted candidates for a university president search are not applicants who respond to advertisements. The search consultant’s role is to actively engage with and attract the best possible leaders to the opportunity.“One of the first questions the recruiting consultant hears is, ‘Is this an open or confidential process?’,” said Ring. “If the answer is ‘An open process’, the majority of potential candidates will not proceed with the conversation. Their reasons are many and varied, but what matters is that the pool of potential candidates becomes very small. In a finite market for academic leadership like the one we have in Canada, options become severely limited.”The advisory committee hopes to begin reviewing candidates this summer.As directed by section 3.2 in the Faculty Handbook, when a potential choice is tentatively selected, the search committee will consult with Senate at least two days before formally recommending a candidate to the Board of Trustees. read more

Google shows off Android 30 in first look video

first_imgAsus announced that Android 3.0 would be featured on three of its newest tablets. That’s a perfect lead up to Google releasing a preview video of the latest Android operating system on YouTube. The biggest statement Google makes in the video is that Android 3.0, codenamed Honeycomb, is “built entirely for tablet.”Watching the video it’s easy to pick up a few things that Google is going out of their way to highlight. One of which is utilization of Google eBooks which would put Android tablets not only in direct competition with e-readers like Kindle and Nook, but the iPad which offers similar functionality. Another is the ability to video conference using Google Talk. Though this functionality is not currently available with the iPad, the expectation is that it will be for the iPad 2.Of course, you had to expect that Google would also offer some new streamlined interfaces around its services as well. To that end, Android 3.0 offers tablet optimized Gmail, a newly redesigned YouTube interface, and the ability to explore 3D models within Google Maps. Overall, it is apparent that the new Android OS offers a completely new and updated interface which you have to agree was designed with tablets in mind.Now that Microsoft has announced the next version of Windows will support ARM processors, Google is under increasing pressure to keep Android a dominant operating system on tablets. It wouldn’t have been able to do that if it continued to design the OS with only the smartphone in mind.via YouTubelast_img read more

Former MP appointed president of centre for Greek culture

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram An idea proposed by visiting professor and linguist Georgios Babinitios – on a trip to Australia last year – has seen the creation of the first centre to promote Greek culture in Australia. Former Minister of Education Robert Pearce has been appointed president of the first Centre of the Society of Friends of Greek Culture. The organisation is aimed at strengthening the promotion, cultivation and development of Greek culture. “I call you and I invite you to go along all together and to help, not only to promote the Greek Culture, but to assist Greece to exit the European crisis which plagues the country” urged the former Minister in his heartwarming speech. About 250 people attended the gathering, including many Australian MPs, Academics and the Ambassador of Greece to Australia, Haralambos Darfarnos who was the keynote speaker of the night. The centre was founded on May 19 at the University of Notre Dame in Perth.last_img read more

Macaulay Culkin stays Home Alone again for Google Assistant

first_imgThe modern version of Kevin McCallister is much more laid-back than the original. Google got former child star Macaulay Culkin to reprise his most famous role for an ad for Google Assistant. Review • Google Nest Hub review: Still the smart display to beat Dell Online The video ties in with Google Assistant’s launch of a bunch of Home Alone-themed Easter eggs this December. At least this time, nobody gets hit in the face with an iron. 0 2019 movies to geek out over The video is both a nostalgic revisiting of the 1990 hit Home Alone and a clever way to show off what Google’s voice-activated devices can do. Culkin once again finds himself at home alone around Christmas time. He uses a Google Home Hub, Google Home Mini and his phone to check his calendar, set reminders, order pizza and adjust the house temperature. The narrative this time plays out very differently from the movie. The thieves never make it inside thanks to a Google-triggered “Operation Kevin” that activates the front door’s smart lock and sets a whole sequence of house-protecting events into motion.  CNET may get a commission from retail offers. Best Buy Turns out it’s a lot easier to defend your house from bandits when you have the Google Assistant. Take it from @IncredibleCulk. #HeyGoogle— Google (@Google) December 19, 2018 How To • Google Assistant, Android Q, Google Nest Hub Max: Google’s big plans for the rest of the year Walmart $99 See it Tags See Itcenter_img Mentioned Above Google Home Hub #heygoogle Have you ever wondered what Kevin McCallister is like as an adult?  Me neither. But just in case you’re curious you should totally watch this #ad— Macaulay Culkin (@IncredibleCulk) December 19, 2018 See It Google Nest Hub “Turns out it’s a lot easier to defend your house from bandits when you have the Google Assistant,” Google tweeted on Wednesday.Culkin dropped an arguably snarky remark on Twitter, saying, “Have you ever wondered what Kevin McCallister is like as an adult?  Me neither. But just in case you’re curious you should totally watch this #ad.” Share your voice $99 $99 See It News • Get the Google Nest Hub for just $67 Preview • Google Home Hub joins the fight to put a screen on your countertop 77 Photos $79 Post a comment Google Assistant Googlelast_img read more

Highlevel exits Infosys senior VP and head of technology Navin Budhiraja quits

first_imgBoth SAP and Infosys said that they have mutually resolved all concerns regarding the use of their respective trademarks.REUTERS/Abhishek N. ChinnappaResignations from top executives continue at India’s second largest software services firm. In a latest, Navin Budhiraja, development, architecture and technology head of Infosys, has put in his papers, Mint reported.Budhiraja had also followed Vishal Sikka from German software giant SAP to join Infosys in 2014. And it’s been just over a month that Sikka stepped down as chief executive of the Bangalore-based IT major. On counting Budhiraja, as many as 12 former SAP executive have left Infosys since March last year.Earlier in July, Ritika Suri had quit from of the position of executive vice president of Infosys. In August, Yusuf Bashir, MD of the $500-million Infosys Innovation Fund, had resigned from his post, later Sanjay Rajagopalan, who had also joined Infosys from SAP, also put in his papers.Budhiraja’s exit does not come as a complete surprise as a number of Sikka loyalists inside Infosys were expected to resign soon or later, Mint reported quoting a source aware of the development.Budhiraja joined Infosys with a reputation of being a world-class technologist, and with his exit, he left his reputation intact. He was involved with several key Infosys projects, which included Rs 1,380-crore project of Narendra Modi government’s Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) initiative.Being at the helm of technology and architecture of IT firm, Budhiraja, along with other senior executives, helped the company undertake complicated technology projects in areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, reported the business daily.Sources told the daily that Budhiraja’s exit can impact the company’s ambitious plans to monetize and scale up business from its artificial intelligence-powered platform, Infosys Nia. Nia was the brainchild of Budhiraja and another former SAP colleague at Infosys, Abdul Razack.Earlier on August 18, Sikka had resigned, blaming co-founder NR Narayana Murthy for “baseless/malicious and increasingly personal attacks.” Post Sikka’s exit, the company had lost nearly Rs 33,914.71 crore of market valuelast_img read more

7 including Indian soldiers killed in fresh Kashmir violence

first_imgMourners pray as they pay their respect to a 33-year-old woman killed by a mortar shelling at Chhajla village in Mendhar near the Line of Control (LoC) border with Pakistan on 1 March, 2019. Photo: AFPIndian forces on Friday fought battles with militants in Kashmir that left seven dead, whilst being dragged into fierce artillery barrages with Pakistani rivals along the troubled territory’s angry ceasefire line.At least one person was killed by mortar fire that has intensified in a worrying sign that Kashmir faces prolonged fallout from new hostilities between India and Pakistan.Seven people were killed in the latest raids that have been staged virtually daily since an Islamist suicide bomber hit a convoy in the Himalayan region on 14 February killing 40 Indian paramilitaries.Troops laid siege to a house in the Handwara district of India’s only Muslim-majority state, believing they had killed two militants inside.However one survived, a police official told AFP. Hours after the firing stopped when security forces went in to retrieve the bodies the man emerged from debris and opened fire, killing four soldiers before he was shot dead.A civilian was killed in later protests over the clash, the official added.- Line of violence -Indian and Pakistan fighter jets staged tit-for-tat raids as they wrangled over responsibility for the February suicide attack.India blamed Pakistan, which denied any role, as it does in an armed uprising in Muslim-majority Kashmir that has left tens of thousands dead since 1989.Pakistan’s promise to release an Indian pilot shot down in the aerial dogfight this week eased the threat of a wider conflict between the neighbours.But there are heightened fears that Kashmir could become the focus of new tensions.”There is a very high risk of escalation towards localised, but more intense direct Indian-Pakistani military confrontation in Kashmir,” Jane’s Intelligence service said in a study this week.Alongside the raids, heavy mortar and artillery fire across the Line of Control — which has separated Kashmir into rival sectors since 1947 — sent residents on both sides scurrying for cover.Indian paramilitary troopers stop a motorcyclist as they block a road in Srinagar on 1 March, 2019. Photo: AFP- Lights out, hopes fade -One woman was killed and an Indian soldier wounded during shelling late Thursday and early Friday at the southern end of the unofficial frontier, according to police.Three hundred people turned up for the funeral of 33-year-old Amina Akhtar who was walking in a field near the village of Chhala when shrapnel from a mortar shell pierced her neck, killing her on the spot.”Poor people are getting killed and their homes are destroyed. We don’t want our men, women and children to die like this. We need peace,” said resident Nagina Bano, who blamed the Indian government.Indian authorities told villages to turn off lights to avoid becoming a target for Pakistani gunners. But it did not help Surjeet Kumar, village chief at Kalal, near the town of Nowshera.With regular explosions and gunfire breaking the night-time silence, Kumar said he was in his house when nine 120mm mortars hit.One shell left a huge hole in the stone bedroom wall, smashing the windows and furniture. Eight other shells failed to explode.”We want peace or an all out war. We don’t want to live in bits and pieces,” Kumar said.”We are very scared. They are firing heavy weapons not just bullets. Yesterday Pakistani jets were flying over our village. We haven’t cooked or eaten properly since the shelling began.”Kalal has no protective shelter and the only school has been closed for a week. Most of the children have been sent away.With more explosions and gunfire echoing around the valley, Kumar’s wife Raj Banti said they may leave too.”We cannot live like this. If we are given an option we would definitely leave this place forever. We are poor but still love our lives,” she said.last_img read more

Texas Leads The Nation In Traffic Deaths – These Proposed Laws Could

first_img Share Gabriel C. Pérez/KUTAt least one person has died on Texas roads every day since Nov. 7, 2000. Despite efforts to “End the Streak,” as the Texas Department of Transportation puts it, the state still leads the nation in traffic deaths.Fatalities did fall about 2% between 2016 and 2017, but more than 3,700 people died in 2017.A slate of bills aimed at making a dent in traffic deaths has gotten mixed results at the Texas Legislature this year.Statewide Vision Zero PlanThere does seem to be some action on expanded road safety efforts over at the Texas Transportation Commission. Last month, the commission heard a presentation from TxDOT’s director of engineering and safety operations that indicated the agency may be moving toward a goal of having no traffic fatalities in Texas by the year 2050. Austin adopted a so-called Vision Zero plan in 2016, with the goal of ending deaths and serious injuries on Austin’s roads by 2025. Other major cities have adopted similar plans, which aim to address the problem through better road design, better enforcement of existing laws and education programs. Washington state was the first to adopt a statewide goal of zero traffic deaths in 2000. Since then, more than half of states have set a zero-death goal. But Texas has not. “I’ve been working on Texas transportation policy for 15 years,” said Jay Blazek Crossley, executive director of Farm & City, a nonprofit spearheading a road safety campaign called Vision Zero Texas. “I am stunned and confused about the progress we are making.”He said he’s hopeful the commission will adopt a zero-death goal at its meeting next month.Speed LimitsOne proposal that has moved along in the process at the Legislature would reduce the default speed limit on neighborhood roads in urban areas.“If you look at just kids who are walking and biking, more kids are hurt or killed on 30-mile-an-hour streets than any other type of street,” said Blazek Crossley,House Bill 1287, filed by state Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin), would lower the speed limit on roads that otherwise don’t have marked speed limits from 30 miles per hour to 25. “This is about saving lives, but it’s also about saving money,” she said. Right now, if a neighborhood wants to lower the speed limit on their street to under 30 miles per hour, the city needs to do a traffic study. Under this measure, the speed limit in neighborhoods where there are no speed limit signs would automatically be 25 miles per hour, without doing a traffic study.The bill, which has bipartisan support, has made it out of committee. It’s still waiting to get on the agenda for debate and a vote in the full House of Representatives.Statewide Hands-Free LawMiguel Gutierrez Jr./KUTAustin Police conduct a hands-free phone use ordinance enforcement operation on May 10, 2016.Meantime, a law that would ban all use of handheld electronic devices while driving has gotten less support in the Legislature.TxDOT says more than 100,000 crashes involved distracted driving in 2017 — which killed 444 people and seriously injured 2,889 others.Senate Bill 43, filed by state Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), would crack down on distracted driving by making state law look more like Austin’s hand-free driving ordinance. Right now, state law outlaws only texting while driving. You can still talk on the phone, fiddle with your GPS, browse the web or do whatever else you want to do — as long as you’re not using your phone to “read, write or send an electronic message.”Under SB 43, all uses of an electronic device while driving would be illegal (unless you’re using a hands-free device). Your vehicle would have to be stopped outside a travel lane for you to legally use your phone with your hands.But the proposal hasn’t even had a committee hearing in the Senate — the first step to getting passed. A statewide texting ban was passed only in 2017, so the Legislature’s appetite for beefing up the law may not be there quite yet.Stop For PedestriansThis proposal would make a tweak in the state law that requires drivers to give pedestrians the right-of-way. Right now, the law simply says a driver must “yield” to a pedestrian in a crosswalk when there’s a walk sign or when there is no traffic light. Gabriel C. Pérez/KUTA pedestrian crosswalk in the Allandale neighborhood of North Austin.House Bill 1289 would require drivers to “stop and yield” for pedestrians legally present in a crosswalk. “You have too many people who are just not respecting pedestrians — the right of a pedestrian to be in the crosswalk,” said Israel, who also proposed this bill. “Because you’re in a car doesn’t give you the right to close in on a pedestrian or hurry up a pedestrian with your car bumper. You have to stop and you have to yield.”There doesn’t appear to be open opposition to the proposal, but it remains stalled without a committee hearing.“Some things in the Legislature are a mystery,” Israel said.‘Crash’ Not ‘Accident’There’s been movement afoot in road safety circles for years now to get officials to stop using the word “accident” to refer to traffic crashes. The idea being that accidents are somehow inevitable — and that the word doesn’t hold anyone accountable for a crash.A New York-based safety group called Transportation Alternatives has a campaign for people to pledge not to use the “a-word.” They describe it like this:Before the labor movement, factory owners would say “it was an accident” when American workers were injured in unsafe conditions. Before the movement to combat drunk driving, intoxicated drivers would say “it was an accident” when they crashed their cars.Planes don’t have accidents. They crash. Cranes don’t have accidents. They collapse. And as a society, we expect answers and solutions.Traffic crashes are fixable problems, caused by dangerous streets and unsafe drivers. They are not accidents. Let’s stop using the word “accident” today.House Bill 4243 would change every instance of “accident” in the Texas Transportation Code to “crash.” So far, it hasn’t had a hearing.This piece was originally published on read more