In the recent past, the passage of Bills like RTI, Triple Talaq, River water disputes, Abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, etc., have provided for every reason to critically analyse the aspect of Parliament accountability more deeply. The Indian Parliament completed 60 years of its existence seven years ago. A couple of parliamentarians of yesteryears were also felicitated on the occasion. However, over the years, the effectiveness of the Indian Parliament as an institution of accountability and supervision has been on a decline. The instruments for accountability like motions on the floor, oversight powers, committee system that Parliament can use, are being rendered dysfunctional. The globalisation of Indian economy eroded the power of Parliament. International treaties govern much of the economic decision-making and Parliament does not have a system of effective treaty oversight in place. The decision on these treaties would have been already taken and are unalterable by the time they come to Parliament. Parliamentary oversight on the powers which are being delegated to non-elected institutions is very weak. Also Read – A special kind of bondSlow legislation process, more powers to executive in the form of ordinances substituting for legislation were identified as the weakness of the Indian Parliament. Parliament is increasingly becoming ineffective in providing scrutiny of the executive. Parliament itself has self-abdicated many of its functions. The imperatives of electoral and party politics facilitated in delaying of important legislation just for the sake of delay but not for any qualitative improvement in legislation. Parliament has become more of an oppositional space rather than a forum for genuine debate. Also Read – Insider threat managementIt is debatable as to what extent the Indian Parliament could be held responsible for the successes and failures of Indian democracy. Performance of parliamentary democracy is not independent of the performance of Parliament. Performance of legislators in a parliamentary system is more an outcome of the influence of the political party to which they belong than anything else. The quality of parliamentarians, judged by their qualifications and commitment, seems to be declining. Though India’s current parliamentarians have much higher levels of formal education than in the past, sizable number among them has criminal backgrounds. This certainly has an impact on the functioning of Parliament. The composition of Parliament in general and the Lok Sabha, in particular, has been a reliable index of the changing political preferences of Indian voters. The social composition of Parliament has changed considerably over the years. From its inception as an elite coterie of British educated lawyers, its members today are drawn from a variety of social strata and occupations. Parliament continues to lag behind in the representation of women, and through quotas, a certain number of seats have been earmarked for historically marginalised groups – the Scheduled Castes and Tribes – and this has ensured the representation of these groups in Parliament. Parliament, thus, is a reasonable representation of the diversity of social interests. The “state of emergency” that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared in 1975 was probably one of the most precarious episodes for parliamentary democracy and was not warranted by the national interest. There is also a general sense that the procedural norms that are the basis of parliamentary practice began to erode, particularly after the mid-1970s. The weakening of political parties, the multiplicity of political parties represented in Parliament, from five in the first Lok Sabha to nearly 40 subsequently as well as the changing nature of constituent services and re-election incentives have all transformed the institution of the Indian Parliament. The primary objective of Parliament is to enact legislation, although it also has constitutional, financial and governmental powers. It is the sole body that can amend the Constitution. It is also the only body with the power to raise taxes and spend money, including the authority to pass the annual budget. The failure of the government to ensure the passage of the budget is automatically a vote of no-confidence. Finally, the Cabinet is collectively responsible to Parliament. Parliament is the agency through which the government is held accountable. The opposition is the constituent part of Parliament that has the most incentive to use the statutory powers of Parliament to keep the government accountable. The principal reason that opposition parties in India do not scrutinise the day-to-day functions of government with any seriousness is that political parties are weak institutions. The ability of the opposition to function as an independent mechanism of accountability has little to do with the formal rules of Parliament. There are various types of committees in the Indian Parliament namely standing committees like Committee on Public Accounts, the Committee on Estimates, the Committee on Public Undertakings and Ad hoc Committees which are usually appointed for a specific purpose and can be either select or joint. However, the Parliament itself tends to ignore the reports of its committees which is yet another reason for its declining accountability. Legislation in the Parliament involves three stages corresponding to three readings of a bill. A distinction needs to be made between the workings of Parliament as an institution and the processes that go into the making of Parliament itself. The imperatives of raising electoral financing make parliamentarians beholden to special interests and in some cases corrupts them, distorts the legislative process and causes a considerable decline in Parliament standards. Parliament’s working hours has declined over the years. There is a sharp increase in adjournments of Houses as a result of disorderly scenes and interruptions where nothing could be recorded and nobody could hear the MPs. Due to interruptions, legislative proceedings are frequently disrupted to the point where there is no option but to adjourn. The disruption can take many forms including rushing to the well of the House and shouting in front of the speaker. On one hand, it appears that parliamentarians spend most of their time attending to the affairs of their constituents. On the other hand, parliamentarians seem relatively uninterested or ineffective in utilising grants and policies for the development of their constituencies. This is exemplified by the extraordinary failure of the Local Area Development (MPLADS) scheme. It also seems that most MPs and their constituents seem to look upon MPs primarily as distributors of patronage rather than as policymakers. MPLADS is perhaps less important than its implications for Parliament as an institution of accountability. Under the Indian Constitution, the president can, on the advice of the government and even in the absence of parliamentary legislation, promulgate ordinances to deal with matters that might arise from time to time. The frequent use of presidential ordinances cannot be seen other than as a way of bypassing the need to secure parliamentary approval for important legislation. While parliamentary democracy remains healthy, there are significant institutional challenges facing the Parliament and it is absolutely necessary to overcome them. (The author is Chief PRO to Telangana CM. The views expressed are strictly personal)
Shahjahanpur (UP): BJP leader and former Union minister Swami Chinmayanand has been quizzed by the SIT for around seven hours in connection with a law student’s allegation that he raped her, his counsel said on Friday. The special investigation team, formed on the orders of the Supreme Court, summoned Chinmayanad to the police lines on Thursday night, his counsel Om Singh said. Later, he was brought back to his residence Divya Dham in Mumukshu Ashram under heavy security, he said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details The SIT team also inspected the bedroom of the BJP leader at the ashram but since it was very late they sealed the room. They are expected to continue their inspection on Friday, he said. The postgraduate student has alleged that she was raped and “physically exploited” for a year by the BJP leader, whose organisation runs several colleges. In a letter on the SIT on Wednesday, the woman had alleged that some vital evidence was removed from her hostel room by Chinmayanand’s supporters before it was sealed by the police.
TORONTO – Coffee chains and restaurants aren’t the only businesses under pressure from Ontario’s minimum wage hike — marijuana companies say the higher provincial pay rate is driving up the cost to produce and sell cannabis products as well.Licensed medical marijuana producer Aphria Inc. has calculated that the province’s 21-per-cent minimum pay jump from $11.60 to $14 per hour would add another $600,000 to its overall wage costs each year.“If this increase had been in effect in the current quarter, the company’s ‘all-in’ cost of sales of dried cannabis per gram would have increased by approximately $0.12 per gram,” the Leamington, Ont.-based company said in recent financial documents.That’s an increase of nearly six per cent from its all-in cost of $2.13 per gram during the quarter ended in November.Aphria said in its management’s discussion and analysis that when the provincial minimum wage goes up to $15 on Jan. 1 2019, it expects overall company wages to go up by another $300,000 per year.Southern Ontario-based pot producer Newstrike Resources Ltd. said it’s also feeling the financial pressure, and anticipates its all-in costs to sell cannabis will rise by roughly 10 cents per gram due to the provincial wage hike.The province has both relatively high labour costs and electricity costs, which will likely weigh on producers’ decision making when setting up a new facility, said its chief operating officer Kevin Epp.That could mean consumers will pay more for their weed.“For a while, you could probably absorb it by having reduced margins,” Epp said. “But eventually, in any competitive industry, costs have to be passed through or people would exit the industry.”Beacon Securities analyst Vahan Ajamian said the cost increases are meaningful. He added that Ontario’s higher pay rate will make it more difficult for marijuana producers in the province and others with rising minimum wages to compete with those in Quebec, where both labour and power costs are lower.Ontario’s minimum wage hike, which took effect Jan. 1, has already prompted other businesses to adjust how they operate.For instance, some Ontario Tim Hortons’ franchisees eliminated paid breaks, fully-covered health and dental plans and other perks for their workers to offset the added costs. The move drew protests at some of the coffee chain’s Ontario locations earlier this month as well as a few locations in cities across the country.Meanwhile, Freshii chief executive Matthew Corrin said the eatery took steps to help franchisees offset the increase, such as raising prices on some items in the fall ahead of the hike.But not all marijuana producers in Ontario are grappling with rising minimum wage rates — at least, not yet.Beleave Inc.’s chief executive officer Andrew Wnek said its relatively smaller operation is comprised largely of specialized workers who make more than minimum pay.However, he notes, as the Hamilton, Ont-based pot producer grows in scale and additional harvesting staff is required for larger facilities, a higher minimum wage will factor in.“There’ll be an impact for sure,” he said. “But, again, for the smaller LPs at this point in time, they won’t see that until they get into the larger facilities.”Companies in this story: (TSX:APH, TSXV:HIP)Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version identified Kevin Epp as Newstrike’s chief financial officer.
New Delhi: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday hit out at the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government over alleged lack of job creation, saying the three main issues in the upcoming general elections would be jobs, jobs and jobs. “What is worse? Not creating jobs or lying about creation of jobs?” Chidambaram asked in a tweet, alleging that the National Democratic Alliance government was guilty of both. “The top three issues in the elections will be jobs, jobs and jobs.” “Glad that CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) has found its voice and has exposed the government’s bogus claims on job creation. Hope that others also will speak up,” the former Union finance minister added. The CII had on Wednesday expressed concern over the country’s job market amid growing challenges of making a generation employment-ready. However, it had on Thursday said the recent reforms ushered in by the government were creating new livelihoods across existing and emerging sectors.
Rabat – Moroccan national football team will face Mali on Tuesday night in the Malian capital Bamako, in Africa’s fourth round of Group C 2018 World Cup qualifiers.Despite amassive victory on Friday, when the Atlas Lions crushed the Malian squad 6-0, Morocco has still a long way to get the qualifying ticket for the biggest football event, taking place in Russia next summer.With Friday’s win, Morocco took second place in Group C, five points behind Ivory Coast which stunned Gabon in Libreville with a 3-0 victory. Morocco has no other option but to win tonight’s game against Mali in order to preserve its chances of qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in 20 years.During the Lion Atlas’s appearance at the 1998 World Cup in France,the Moroccan squad made a good impression by defeating Scotland 3-0 and forcing and a draw against Norway 2-2.But,their defeat against Brazil, which went to become the Cup’s runner up, was the main reason Morocco could not qualify for the Round of 16.With Ivory Coast, currently the lead of the group with 7 points, being the host of their game against Gabon, they have more chance of raising their points to 10 with another victory. Morocco, which has 5 points, need to secure three points to keep the margin of difference only two points with Ivory Coast.Coach Hervé Renard is aware that his team has no other option but to win tonight’s game. He made it clear whe told Moroccan press that “despite the great result of the last game”, the Lion Atlas are now “under pressure after Ivory Coast’s victory against Gabon”.Renard affirmed that his team has to give another great performance, just like they did on Friday.The Lion Atlas will have to win the next two games against Gabon at home and against the host Ivory Coast in order to achieve its World Cup dream.
WASHINGTON — With the Trump administration more than doubling tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese imports, will Americans soon see higher prices on store shelves?Yes, but it may take a few weeks. U.S. import taxes on $200 billion of Chinese goods jumped to 25% on Friday, from 10%, as President Trump followed through on his threat to hike duties after he accused Chinese negotiators of backtracking on previous concessions they had made in ongoing trade talks .The tariff hikes will impact thousands of items , including consumer goods like furniture, luggage, seafood and handbags. Businesses will pay more for chemicals, telecom equipment, and plastics. And car companies will pay more for auto parts, potentially raising new car prices.Still, the most widely-purchased products that Americans buy from China — clothes, shoes, toys, and electronics such as the iPhone — have not yet been hit with extra tariffs. The Trump administration has sought to avoid taxing those items because the impact on consumers would be so visible. But Trump has threatened to change that if a deal isn’t reached, and said he would place tariffs, if necessary, on the remaining $290 billion or so of Chinese imports.Here’s a closer look at the tariff increase and how it might play out:___THE PRESIDENT SAYS CHINA IS PAYING THESE TARIFFS, NOT AMERICANS, RIGHT?Yes, but he is wrong. Instead, American businesses and consumers will pay.Friday morning Trump tweeted , “Tariffs will bring in FAR MORE wealth to our Country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind.” But that’s not how import taxes work. They aren’t paid by Chinese companies. They are paid by the U.S. importer, which can be a large retailer, a wholesaler, or a manufacturer. Those companies have to pay the tariffs or the products won’t make it off the docks of a U.S. port.Huge U.S. importers, such as major retail chains, may have the clout to force a Chinese supplier to cut their prices to offset some or all of the tariffs. But studies show that hasn’t made much difference so far.Including the China tariffs as well as other duties Trump has imposed on items such as steel, American businesses and consumers were paying $3 billion a month in higher import taxes by the end of last year, according to a study in March by economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Columbia University, and Princeton University.“Tariffs are taxes, paid for by Americans consumers and businesses, not by China,” said David French, vice-president of government relations at the National Retail Federation.___SO WHAT WILL I PAY MORE FOR?Look for higher costs for school backpacks when back-to-school shopping begins. If you’re planning to remodel your home, higher tariffs on granite, marble, steel, lumber and other building materials will make that more expensive. The National Association of Home Builders estimates the duties will cost developers $2.5 billion a year.Furniture, including bedroom and office furniture, will get hit, as well as refrigerators and freezers, air conditioners, handbags, baseball gloves, bicycles, and luggage. Shrimp, tuna, fish sticks and many other types of sea food will also cost more.About 80% of all luggage sold in the United States is from China, according to the U.S. Travel Goods Association. Most luggage and backpacks already face 17.6% duties and the extra tariffs will increase that to 42.6%, the trade group says.Tiffany Williams, who owns The Luggage Shop in Lubbock, Texas, says most of the U.S. importers that she buys from quickly raised their prices 10% after the Trump administration first imposed 10% tariffs in late September. One vendor told her that they would raise their prices 25% immediately after Trump tweeted on Sunday his threat to lift tariffs to that level.Williams has had to raise her prices as well, which has lowered sales, particularly for higher-priced brands such as Tumi and Briggs and Riley. Overall sales fell 8% during the winter holidays, she said, and she decided against hiring any seasonal employees, as she has in previous years.“This has been a challenging time for our business,” Williams said. Some vendors absorbed the 10% tariff hike and didn’t pass on the cost, she said, but “I don’t think anybody can eat an extra 15%.”Also, your next new car may cost more. The duties have been imposed on $9.2 billion of auto part imports, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Kristin Dziczek, a vice-president at the Center for Automotive Research, calculates that the tariffs will raise the cost of U.S.-made cars by $190, most of which will likely be passed on to the consumer.A study by the Trade Partnership , a consulting firm that works with the NRF, found that the duties will cost the average family of four $767 if they remain in place for at least a year.___WHEN WILL PRICES RISE?It could take a few weeks.The tariffs are being applied to products that are shipped from China on Friday, but not before. It takes about three weeks for a large container ship to reach the United States from China, so the first goods to pay the tariff won’t arrive until then.That might even allow U.S. and Chinese negotiators to reach a last-minute deal that could allow the U.S. to rescind the tariffs before they really take effect.Still, some companies will use the tariff announcement to start billing retailers right away, French said. Some of those costs could then be passed quickly to consumers.Either way, prices across the huge $20 trillion U.S. economy won’t move that much. A report by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in February said that Chinese tariffs imposed last year — 25% on $50 billion of imports, and the 10% on $200 billion — had lifted consumer prices by just 0.1 percentage point.___HOW WILL ALL THESE TARIFFS IMPACT THE ECONOMY?They will make a dent. Oxford Economics estimates that U.S. growth will slow by 0.3 percentage point in 2020.More damage would occur if Trump follows through on his threat to slap 25% tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports, which totalled $539.5 billion last year. Oxford estimates that would cut growth by 0.5 percentage point next year and cost the U.S. 300,000 jobs.___HAVE OTHER TARIFFS RAISED PRICES FOR CONSUMERS?Yes. The Trump administration slapped a 20% tariff on all imports of washing machines early last year. That lifted prices on not only washers but also dryers by 12% each in the first half of 2018, according to a study by economists at the University of Chicago.Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Unwilling to cut interest rates to help restart the stalled economy, the Bank of Canada may seek to achieve the same end result Wednesday by continuing to soften its tone over future intentions.Economists say financial markets are looking for a dovish statement — from a modest tweak of the bank’s forward-looking guidance to dropping altogether the tightening bias on future rate hikes that has been on the books for about a year.That would likely add more downward pressure on an already falling Canadian dollar, something they say would suit the bank’s purposes nicely, both on the economic growth front and on its inflation mandate.“A lower dollar would be consistent with what the bank is trying to achieve, ” said Derek Burleton, a senior economist with TD Bank.“A lower dollar not only helps to strengthen the economy, but also would help the bank to achieve its medium-term inflation targets. That’s a positive offshoot of softer language.”A lower currency helps bolster one of the economy’s weak points — exports — while at the same time boosting inflation, which at 0.5 per cent is well below the bank’s one-to-three per cent comfort zone, by increasing prices on imports.Analysts say the bank’s policy panel won’t be taking any concrete action on interest rates.The bank has kept the overnight rate at one per cent since September of 2010 — a remarkable two-and-a-half year stretch of inactivity — and the betting now is it might stay there until the latter half of 2014.But that doesn’t mean governor Mark Carney is powerless to influence markets, and even real-world interest rates.The outgoing governor, who has one more rate announcement to make before departing for the Bank of England this summer, has already made use of the power of words to achieve some real-life results in an effort to buck up the lacklustre economy, analysts say.Since December, he has issued three dovish reports, the most dramatic coming in January when he surprised markets by declaring the prospects of a policy interest rate hike was now “less imminent.”Along with the weaker-than-expected economy which grew a snails-pace at 0.7 per cent in the second half of 2012, the statement likely contributed to a sharp drop in the value of the Canadian dollar from close to US$1.02 at the beginning of the year to the current level of just above 97 cents.As well, bond yields have continued to weaken, with one factor being the recent announcement by the Bank of Montreal that it would lower its posted rate on five-year fixed mortgages to 2.99%.Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said he believes Carney will stop short of softening further what is already an extremely dovish guidance, but predicted the governor would point to weaker global economic conditions, as well as the spending cuts in the United States, to make the same point.As for a rate cut, which markets have begun pricing in for later in 2013, Holt believes the bank will “go down fighting” rather than succumb to market pressure given that it has sunk so much political capital into lecturing people about the dangers of borrowing.“I think they are much more likely to coax the markets into doing their easing on their behalf instead of changing the administered overnight rate,” he explained. “They do that by talking more dovish, talking up a longer pause and exerting the Bank of Canada’s influence further up the yield curve and in favour of a weaker Canadian dollar.”Ironically, Holt says the markets may actually strengthen the Canadian dollar Wednesday if Carney’s language is not as dovish as they expect. But he believes the overall pressure on the dollar is downward.“In terms of near term momentum, you could get the Canadian dollar coming off (to 90-95 cents US),” he says. “Probably every dealer is fielding a rising number of accounts about the ’shine-off-Canada’ argument, and what’s going on in our housing markets and the extent to which growth has been disappointing. They are questioning the whole Canadian resiliency story in a way I haven’t seen since the depth of the crisis.”However, judging from Carney’s statements two weeks ago, he believes the current soft patch in the Canadian economy is temporary, which suggests he will wait out the storm rather than change course dramatically. He cited the need not to “over-emphasize shorter-term data,” and blamed a poor export performance for weaker than expected growth.For the first three months of 2013, the bank has pencilled in a 2.3% growth rate.Economists say that is unlikely given the clumsy handoff from December, but most believe it will be stronger than the fourth quarter’s 0.6%.In a new forecast, CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld says there is reason to be more optimistic going forward. He says the first quarter may actually see growth return to about two per cent, the believed cruising speed of the economy.Employment dropped in January, but total hours worked rose by 0.2%, indicating increased production. And auto sales, a signal of consumer confidence, appear to have rebounded. Exports also appear to set for a modest rebound after a disastrous 2012 as the U.S. economy firms.The Canadian Press
“This form of punishment is incompatible with human dignity and can lead to irreversible miscarriages of justice. No justice system is immune from error,” the High Commission said. Further, the Canadian High Commission in Colombo said that the resumption of executions could attract global attention and would do little to rebuild Sri Lanka’s image as a peaceful and welcoming destination for travellers and investment.Canada said that it joins many Sri Lankans and friends of Sri Lanka around the world in urging the Government to maintain the moratorium on the death penalty. (Colombo Gazette) Canada is deeply concerned by reports that Sri Lanka is considering a reversal of its long-standing moratorium on the death penalty.The Canadian High Commission in Colombo said that Canada strongly and unequivocally oppose the use of the death penalty in all cases. Canada noted that while action to counter the illicit drug trade is important and necessary, there is no evidence that the death penalty is an effective deterrent.
“The situation in Cap Haitien is calm and commercial activities appeared to have resumed,” UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told the press in New York. “Markets along the road appeared to be well stocked and no roadblocks were encountered.”The assessment mission expressed concern yesterday that Gonaïves, which was on their route, might run out of food because of roadblocks.Following the mission of Wednesday and Thursday, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) sent a convoy with 10 tons of food to Cap Haitien for distribution in schools. Within the capital, more medical aid is being distributed as security improves, the spokesman reported.Meanwhile, a security assessment mission left Port-au-Prince to examine the major road used for moving trade goods between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Mr. Eckhard said.The leader of the UN team, Hocine Medili, held talks today with Haiti’s interim President, Boniface Alexandre, after meeting with Police Chief Leon Charles, and he was scheduled to meet representatives of the diplomatic community, including the Organization of American States (OAS), Mr. Eckhard said.On his way to Port-au-Prince from New York, Mr. Medili consulted United States military authorities in Miami, the spokesman said. He arrived in the capital yesterday and met immediately with UN Resident Coordinator Adama Guindo and other senior UN officials.
Odds on Roy Keane becoming Celtic’s next manager were slashed dramatically and Martin O’Neill confirmed an approach from Dermot Desmond.Robbie Henshaw will miss Ireland’s tour of Argentina, but Joe Schmidt has still to make up his mind about a replacement.Connacht have appointed a new backs coach — New Zealand native Andre Bell.Worried about missing the Munster SHC replay between Cork and Waterford? RTE will stream it live on their website.The GAA and GPA launched “We Wear More,” a new mental health campaign supporting players.Away – Gary Wilson’s cult status at Surrey has really taken off.Where we were todayBen Blake went to meet three-time Major winner turned fashion designer Padraig Harrington to ask him about missing out on the US Open… and Rory McIlroy’s love life. Source: James Crombie/INPHOThe fixture list#NBA: Game 5 of the Western Conference play-off finals between Oklahoma City and San Antonio gets underway at 2am tonight.#AIRTRICITY LEAGUE: Champions St Patrick’s Athletic host Derry City in the pick of tomorrow’s five Premier Division fixtures. It doesn’t look like Kim and Kanye will be taking up their seats in Turner’s Cross, sadly, but here are the full list of fixtures. NEED TO CATCH up? TheScore.ie brings you a round-up of today’s sports news… Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHOHome #FRENCH OPEN:Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are back on the Roland Garros clay for their respective third-round matches.Showbiz, Baby!Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman continues to flout his indoor voice, this time at one Michelle Obama in a government healthy eating initiative. Ireland’s Philip Deignan finished third on today’s stage of the Giro d’Italia.Flags outside Old Trafford flew at half-mast following the death of Manchester United’s American owner Malcolm Glazer.Jonny Wilkinson will take up a backroom role at Toulon next season.George Groves promised to “finish” Carl Froch with a left hook when the two meet in Wembley on Saturday evening. (BBC)A spilled drink drove former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez to kill two men, prosecutors in a US court alleged.The best thing we sharedThis New Yorker interview with Richard Williams, the world’s most famous tennis dad, is well worth five minutes.On the record“They named a drink after me, the Gary Wilson, which is gin and whiskey. I’m sure Gary Wilson messed a few people up that night — it’s not often I get to say that!” Source: letsmove/YouTube“I’ve got a job, I’ve got a job… I’ve got two jobs.”
Opinion: Had Denis O’Brien’s suit succeeded, our democratic system could have been undermined Free speech and open debate in parliament is essential to our democratic system and would be inhibited if TDs were constantly under threat of lawsuits, writes David Kenny. https://jrnl.ie/4524800 Tuesday 5 Mar 2019, 6:00 PM Share8 Tweet Email2 David Kenny 1 Comment By David Kenny Mar 5th 2019, 6:01 PM 15,366 Views Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article Short URL LAST WEEK, THE Supreme Court issued a surprising judgment in the Angela Kerins case, holding that it was willing to oversee statements in Oireachtas committees in some limited circumstances.The court found that the Public Accounts Committee acted “significantly outside its remit” in its questioning of former Rehab CEO, Angela Kerins.But Denis O’Brien’s claim, which the Supreme Court dismissed today, was a step too far. The Kerins case showed that there is no absolute bar on the courts overseeing the conduct of Oireachtas committees.However, the O’Brien case shows that there is a near-absolute bar on courts ruling on privileged speech in parliament.This result is not unexpected, but it is very important.Had O’Brien succeeded in his claim, it would have fundamentally altered the separation of powers between the Oireachtas and the courts.O’Brien claimed that statements made by two TDs in the Dáil, Catherine Murphy and Pearse Doherty, had violated his right to privacy by revealing information related to his banking arrangements.The subject matter of the comments was, at the time, also under consideration in another High Court case where O’Brien was seeking to prevent RTE from broadcasting similar information.The core of O’Brien’s appeal to the Supreme Court was that this incident had not been dealt with properly by the Committee on Privilege and Procedure (CPP), which found that the TDs had not abused their privilege.O’Brien asked for the courts to declare that this process was inadequate.This claim raised major issues about the scope of Oireachtas privilege.Article 15.13 of the Constitution says that parliamentarians “shall not, in respect of any utterance in either House, be amenable to any court or any authority other than the House itself”.That is, TDs and Senators are not answerable to courts for what they say in parliament; they are answerable to their peers in the Oireachtas.If they abuse their privilege, the CPP can investigate statements of this sort and if appropriate, impose sanctions. This is a fundamental aspect of the separation of powers.Free speech and open debate in parliament is essential to the running of our democratic system and would be inhibited if parliamentarians worked under threat of possible lawsuits and judicial oversight.O’Brien argued in the Supreme Court that he was not trying to make the individual TDs answerable in court, but rather asking the court to review whether the Oireachtas’ procedure for dealing with abuse of privilege in the CPP was inadequate. But the Supreme Court said that even this, it could not do.O’Brien’s case was an “indirect or collateral challenge” to the statements made by the TDs in the Oireachtas.The effect of a successful challenge to the committee on procedure would be to suggest or require a reconsideration of TDs’ statements.In practice, the Court reviewing the CPP’s process would indirectly interfere with parliamentary speech, the very thing that the constitutional protection is designed to avoid.This, the Court said, would be “a breach of Article 15.13 and would amount to an impermissible departure from the separation of powers.” The Court admitted that rights might, from time to time, be violated by parliamentarians invoking privilege and there would be nothing judges could do.That is not to say the rights are unimportant or unprotected, but rather that the Oireachtas has a “constitutional obligation to protect the rights of citizens in respect of that which transpires within the Houses themselves.” The duty to defend these rights lies with the Oireachtas rather than the courts, and we have to trust the Oireachtas to perform this task well. The Court did not quite say that intervention would never be possible.In the most extreme case, such as a massive or prolonged failure of the Oireachtas to meet this constitutional obligation to protect rights – perhaps the courts would have to intervene. However, that was far from the case here, and so the Court deferred considering this matter unless and until such an extreme circumstance arose. The Supreme Court’s judgment is not surprising. This case went to the very core of parliamentary privilege and the very heart of the separation of powers. Had O’Brien succeeded, it would have upended our understanding of the separation of powers and radically changed the relationship between the courts and the legislature.It would also have had potentially significant consequences for freedom of parliamentary speech.In the end, this judgment leaves the responsibility for policing Oireachtas privilege in the hands of our parliamentarians, who must use their powers responsibly, and acts as a check on any peers who do not. If we are unhappy with how this is done – if we feel privilege is being abused or rights being violated – then we, the people, must demand change by lobbying our politicians or using our power at the ballot box. The power to ensure better oversight and accountability for use of privilege never belonged to the courts. That power was and still is, in our hands.Dr David Kenny is Assistant Professor of Law at Trinity College Dublin. He is a co-author of the recent fifth edition of the leading text on Irish constitutional law, Kelly: the Irish Constitution.
Joan McConnell likes to joke that the first three months of her retirement were spent sleeping.After having to wake up around 4 a.m. on workdays for her commute to a federal services job in Portland, catching up on sleep was necessary. Then, shortly after her hibernation period, a card arrived in the mail, asking: “Wouldn’t you like to be an advocate for seniors?”“And I thought ‘no,’ ” she jokes now.That was about a decade ago. McConnell, 70, actually looked into the card, discovering the Southwest Washington Regional Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, which has volunteers who advocate on behalf of more than 6,000 residents living in skilled nursing, assisted living, and adult family homes in Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties.The local program currently has 28 volunteers, and would like the number to rise to at least 35, according to Southwest Washington Regional Long Term Care Ombudsman Neil Degerstedt.McConnell has volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, with Meals on Wheels and with her neighborhood association in Countryside Woods. So she was intrigued by the program, and decided to join.Over about 10 years, she’s volunteered more than 2,130 hours to the program, assisting residents in resolving issues related to resident rights, quality of life and quality of care, Degerstedt said.
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — A man’s body washed ashore in Ocean Beach early Monday morning about three hours after witnesses reported that a man jumped off the pier, police said.Investigators believe the body that washed ashore was that of the man who jumped off the pier but were still working Monday morning to confirm that, San Diego police Sgt. Robert Hawkins said. It wasn’t immediately clear if the death was a suicide, an accident or something else.Witnesses reported the man jumping off the pier just after midnight, prompting an ultimately fruitless search of the water, Hawkins said. Lifeguards and police searched for the man in boats and from above on the pier and in helicopters.At 2:53 a.m., after emergency crews had already completed their initial search, a person flagged down police and pointed them toward a man’s body that washed ashore, Hawkins said. 10News reported that a witness told police the body was that of the man who jumped off the pier.Lifeguards and police were investigating the incident and the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office responded to take custody of the victim and determine the cause and manner of death. Man’s body washes ashore in Ocean Beach after witnesses report seeing man jump of OB Pier KUSI Newsroom Posted: March 5, 2018 KUSI Newsroom, March 5, 2018 Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitter
Dwayne Johnson shares heartfelt message with wrong-way crash victim’s family SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson shared a heartfelt message of support and encouragement with the family of Aryana and Aileen Pizarro, who were both killed Thursday after a wrong-way driver struck their SUV on Interstate 805.On Saturday, Angelo Pizarro reached out to Johnson on social media to see if he would send a tribute for his mother Aileen, who was a huge fan of the wrestler-turned-actor. August 26, 2018 Posted: August 26, 2018 , @TheRock THANK YOU SO MUCH SIR. I hope everyone knows how amazing you are. I can’t stop smiling knowing she’s smiling so much. Just, thank you. And again thank you to every single person who viewed my post (now over a million). pic.twitter.com/tQisyRGgVT— angelo pizarro (@mikkeltweets) August 27, 2018In video Johnson sent Pizarro, he says that he turned on his phone to see “thousands and thousands” of tweets informing him of the “devastating loss” the Pizarro family is going through.“I’m sending you so much love and light and strength your way from my family to yours,” Johnson said. “If your mom can here me now, which I’m sure she can, I just want to thank her for all the love and for being such a big fan.”“My brother, my grandfather and I thought the message was so heartwarming, we are very appreciative,” Angelo Pizarro said about Johnson’s message. “My mom was a huge fan, she would always take me to see his movies,” he said. “I’m mindblown still.”“I know she is looking down right now and laughing,” Pizarro said.43-year-old Aileen Pizarro was not just a fan of Johnson because of his movies, but because “she knew the caliber of person he was.”“Rampage” was the last movie of Johnson’s that Angelo saw with his mother.When asked what his mother’s favorite Johnson movie was, he explained that she “loved the man far too much to pick just one.”Angelo and his brother Dominic began receiving a global outpouring of support even before the tweet to “The Rock.”Dominic Pizarro created a Gofundme page for Aryana and Aileen’s memorial. In just two days the fundraiser has skyrocketed past the original $5,000 goal to over $50,000 as of Sunday evening.“We have felt a tremendous outpouring of support from people around the world who felt the need to connect with us,” Angelo said.Angelo Pizarro’s wish moving forward is that people forget the tragic crash and remember his mother and sister for their positive spirits.“I want everyone not to remember the crash, the flames, don’t remember that. Remember how selfless my mother was, how happy they made everyone around them, how full of life Aryana was,” he said.Angelo has also reached out to famous singer Alessia Cara to see if she would make a similar tribute to Johnson’s for 12-year-old Aryana, who was a huge fan of her music. My beautiful mom who passed away loved @TheRock so so SO much. I’m trying to get him to do even a video saying her name for the funeral. If you could retweet the crap outta this for him to see it that’d mean the world. Thank you! pic.twitter.com/ypr4ZJzMxw— angelo pizarro (@mikkeltweets) August 25, 2018Angelo spoke with KUSI about what happened next. “I thought he would be too busy to notice unless it got huge,” he said. “After around 150 retweets it took off like a roller coaster.”One day and 25,000 retweets later, The Rock learned of the Pizarro’s story and about Aileen. He decided to message Angelo with some words of support and positivity. If we could use the audience from this tweet to also get @alessiacara to do a message for my sister. That’d mean so so much. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/02AHFpEw3K— angelo pizarro (@mikkeltweets) August 27, 2018The memorial for Aryana and Aileen Pizarro is planned for September 8th at the Rock Church in Point Loma. Categories: Local San Diego News, Trending FacebookTwitter
PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) – A 7-foot boa constrictor was found in the grass next to a road in Pembroke Pines.The reptile was found in the area of Northwest 184th Avenue and 17th Street and monitored by officers until licensed trappers arrived on scene.The animal was safely removed but due to it being an invasive species, it cannot be released into the wild.Officials said they will release the boa constrictor to a sanctuary or proper home.The Pembroke Pines Police Department wants to remind pet owners that it is illegal and inhumane to release animals into the wild.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
On the heels of Kim Kardashian’s unretouched photos being released on Complex’s Web site only a few months ago, and New York and Rolling Stone’s blatantly airbrushed images of the Obamas during election season, magazines—women’s titles, particularly—have taken an endless beating for having a heavy hand when it comes to airbrushing and Photoshopping their cover subjects.After receiving a great deal of flack for an airbrushed and color corrected (but not Photoshopped) September issue cover featuring Kelly Clarkson—and admitting late last week to the alterations—Self editor-in-chief Lucy Danziger used her Self.com blog to issue a response to the airbrushing “controversy,” which has ended up as a kind of defense for magazine cover retouching.In addition to confirming her “yes, we airbrush” statement, Danzinger wrote that Self’s portraits are not meant to be unedited or true-to-life snapshots. She even admits to asking her art department to shave a little off of her hips on a photo of her running the marathon for an editor’s letter a few years back. “I am confident in my body, proud of what it can accomplish, but it just didn’t look the way I wanted in every picture,” she wrote. Of the hundred or so images snapped at a Self shoot, she stressed, there are outfit changes and lighting adjustments, and hair touch-ups and fans blowing, making a perfect picture hard to come by. “This is art, creativity and collaboration. It’s not, as in a news photograph, journalism. It is, however, meant to inspire women to want to be their best. That is the point,” she wrote.Do you think Danzinger makes the case for retouching?
Post a comment Tags 0 BlackBerry is accusing Twitter of illegally using its mobile messaging technology James Martin/CNET BlackBerry on Wednesday filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Twitter, accusing the social network of illegally using the former phone giant’s mobile messaging technology.Calling Twitter a “relative newcomer,” the lawsuit accuses the microblogging site of co-opting BlackBerry’s technology for use in several services, including the main Twitter app and Twitter Ads, the companies advertising platform. BlackBerry said Twitter’s alleged infringement of six patents — which cover notifications, silencing notifications and push technology, among other things — has deprived it of revenue to which it’s entitled.With BlackBerry’s inventions, Twitter “has succeeded in diverting consumers away from BlackBerry’s products and services” and toward its own by misappropriating features that made BlackBerry “a critical and commercial success in the first place,” according to the 98-page complaint (see below).The lawsuit, filed in US District Court for Central California, seeks compensation for lost revenue and unspecified enhanced damages.Twitter declined to comment on the lawsuit.Nearly a decade ago, BlackBerry was one of the world’s largest smartphone makers. One of the core services found on its older phones is BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), a secure way to exchange text and images and an early competitor to the likes of WhatsApp. But in the years since, BBM’s functions have largely been replaced by the growing popularity of messaging features on social networks and text messaging services.BlackBerry has in the past several years retreated into supplying software and services for corporate and government clients. Its phones remain on the market only because Chinese consumer electronics maker TCL, best known for budget televisions, pays BlackBerry for the rights to use its name.BlackBerry filed a similar lawsuit against Facebook in March 2018, saying the company infringed on its mobile messaging tech for its own Messenger, as well as its Instagram photo sharing app and WhatsApp messaging service. BlackBerry v. Twitter by jonathan_skillings on Scribd Mobile Mobile Apps Share your voice BlackBerry Twitter
Indian stock markets advanced on Monday, snapping their longest losing streak in four months, as declines in capital goods and power sectors were offset by gains in metal and banking shares.The benchmark BSE Sensex gained 0.10 percent, or 18.24 points, to 19,182.26. The 50 share NSE Nifty rose 0.13 percent, or 7.50 points, to 5,685.40.Markets opened on a flat note Monday after plunging in the last eight sessions. State-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL) shares plunged following weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings.BHEL shares slumped 19 percent as the company’s net profit declined for the fourth consecutive quarter. BHEL on Saturday announced that its first quarter net profit tumbled to 465.4 crore rupees, weighed down by lower sales in its power segment, from 920.9 crore rupees in the same quarter last year and also widely missed Reuters forecast for a net profit of 750 crore rupees.Coal India shares gained 3.36 percent despite the company announced that its first quarter net profit declined 16.5 percent to 3,731 crore rupees compared to same period last year.Among the 13 BSE sectoral indices, metal sector surged 2.74 percent and banking sector gained 0.92 while capital goods sector plunged 3.65 percent and power sector declined 1.09 percent.In the Midcap space, Financial Tech rallied 30.81 percent and JP POWER climbed 13.24 percent, while IRB Infra gained 9.82 percent.The overall market breadth is negative with 1122 declines against 1083 advanced on the BSE.Meanwhile, Asian stock markets were mixed Monday following weaker-than-expected US jobs data. Data released by the US Labor Department on Friday showed that the economy added fewer-than-expected 162,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in July while the unemployment rate declined to four year low of 7.4 percent.Chinese shares advanced after an official data showed that China’s non-manufacturing sector growth picked up slightly in July. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 declined 1.44 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.37 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.14 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite advanced 1.04 percent.
Billed as Germany’s “anti-Trump”, the centre-left former foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is Sunday set to be elected as the new ceremonial head of state.The 61-year-old, who regularly polls as Germany’s most popular politician, will represent the EU’s top economy abroad and act as a kind of moral arbiter for the nation.For the Social Democrats (SPD), his appointment raises the party’s profile just as its candidate Martin Schulz, the former European parliament president, readies to challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel in September elections.Steinmeier is expected to receive a large majority of votes after Merkel’s conservatives, lacking a strong candidate of their own, agreed to back him to replace incumbent Joachim Gauck, 77, a former pastor from ex-communist East Germany.The vote will be held in Berlin’s glass-domed Reichstag building by a 1,260-strong special Federal Assembly, made up of national lawmakers and deputies sent from the country’s 16 states.With his snow white hair, round glasses and dimpled smile, Steinmeier is one of Germany’s best known politicians, having twice served as top diplomat under Merkel for a total of seven years.Though the trained lawyer is usually measured in his speech, in the thick of last year’s US election campaign Steinmeier labelled Donald Trump a “hate preacher”.After the billionaire won the White House, Steinmeier predicted relations would get “more difficult” and said his staff were struggling to detect any “clear and coherent” foreign policy positions from Trump.- ‘Antidote to populists’ -As Steinmeier has prepared for the new post, which he assumes on March 19, he has vowed to “be something of a counterweight to the trend of boundless simplification”, calling this approach “the best antidote to the populists”.The Berliner Morgenpost daily judged that Steinmeier looks set to be “the anti-Trump president”.Steinmeier is only known to have lost his cool once, in 2014, when he yelled at Berlin protesters who had accused him of being a “war monger” over his Ukraine policy. The outburst was so unusual it became a minor YouTube hit.A policy wonk by nature, Steinmeier served as advisor and then chief of staff to Merkel’s predecessor, the SPD’s Gerhard Schroeder, coordinating the security services and helping shape biting labour and welfare reforms.In 2009, Steinmeier ran against Merkel and lost badly, only to return years later to serve in her cabinet.Political scientist Michael Broening of the SPD’s think-tank the Friedrich Ebert Foundation said that “as foreign minister, Steinmeier often acted as a voice of reason, bridging gaps and bringing people together”.”It is hardly surprising that Steinmeier has branded himself as the essential anti-Trump.”Steinmeier is well known in the world’s capitals, but his appointment worries some in eastern Europe, who see him as too soft on Russian President Vladimir Putin.He raised eyebrows with NATO partners last year when he criticised a military exercise in Poland as “sabre rattling”.While his SPD praised him for sticking to the party’s tradition of “Ostpolitik” and maintaining dialogue with the Kremlin, critics accused him of being a Russia apologist.- ‘Changed equation’ -Having Steinmeier move into the presidential Bellevue Castle in Berlin has further emboldened the SPD, which has felt euphoric since Schulz’s candidacy has dramatically improved its poll ratings.After years in the shadow of Merkel, the Social Democrats are smelling blood as the chancellor faces deep divisions within her own conservative camp, and the rise of a hard-right populist party after opening German borders to a million asylum-seekers since 2015.Since Schulz took over the party and candidacy for the chancellorship in late January, the SPD has gained about 10 points and edged dangerously close to Merkel’s bloc, even narrowly beating it in one survey.The election may still be more than seven months away, but the SPD finally hopes to have a realistic shot of toppling Merkel.”For Germany’s Social Democrats, Steinmeier’s election is a prelude to something bigger to come: a victory in September’s elections against Merkel,” said Broening.”While this seemed impossible only a few days ago, the recent rise in polls has changed the equation.”