A quarter century after Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen generated a massive worldwide buzz following its premiere in Directors’ Fortnight in 1994, the epochal film’s producer, Bobby Bedi, has firmed up plans for a 20-episode web series on the life and death of Phoolan Devi, the dreaded Chambal dacoit-turned-Member of Parliament who was assassinated in the heart of Delhi in July 2001. The web series, titled ‘Phoolan Devi’, will be directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, with Tannishtha Chatterjee taking on the role of the protagonist. Dhulia was the casting director of Bandit Queen. Also Read – Pollution makes you more aggressiveSpeaking on the sidelines of the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, Bedi reveals that the web series will go into production within the next few months. It will be spread out over two seasons of 10 episodes each. “The first season will end with Phoolan’s eight-year prison term, while the second will largely cover the years in the aftermath of her release,” he says. “Her prison term was extended by four years, but within two years of her release she became a Member of Parliament,” says Bedi. Also Read – Physical therapy better for low back pain”Bandit Queen hinged on how a woman had to suffer huge indignities in rural India on account of being low caste. It focused on crushing caste oppression. In an urban setting, conversely, she demonstrated the political power of a low-caste woman,” says Bedi. For a long time, the New Delhi-based producer had toyed with the idea of doing a sequel to Bandit Queen. “Then the web space opened up and we realised it would be the best option because it allows the storyteller all the time to develop characters and settings,” he says. Bedi was sure from the very outset that he wanted Tannishtha for the role of Phoolan Devi. The actress came on board instantly once she was convinced that the web series would be completely unlike Bandit Queen in tone and substance. The new production is neither a sequel nor a remake the format is long enough to allow us to handle a wider canvas of the Phoolan story.
NEW DELHI: With the plans of beautification of Delhi’s signature bridge with lighting and also making a different spot for the tourists to see the view, the Delhi government has started to formulate a plan to make parking space for the tourists of the Signature bridge.The official sources have confirmed that the government is working to finalise land near signature bridge so that it would be convenient for the people to park their cars. “This week the Delhi Chief Secretary held a senior level meeting on the ongoing work at the bridge. The officials presented that when the rush of visitors will increase and if there is no separate parking space then it might create law and order situation,” said an official. Also Read – Kejriwal ‘denied political clearance’ to attend climate meet in DenmarkHe also added that as per the government’s estimate that if there is no space for parking then the people will park the car at the bridge which might create a lot of traffic and also space will become prone to accidents. “The government will not allow such a situation and a separate parking space will be made. Space should be nearby so that every visitor can walk the way till the signature bridge,” said the official. The Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) is working to develop the Signature Bridge as an important tourist destination. The initiative is part of directions issued by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia to the DTTDC after an inspection of the under-construction bridge last week. The DTTDC is responsible for the construction of the 675 meter-long bridge — the first asymmetrical cable-stayed bridge in India. Also Read – Bangla Sahib Gurudwara bans use of all types of plastic itemsThe bridge will have a 154-metre high glass viewing box which will offer a panoramic view of Delhi. The bridge will have four elevators with a combined capacity of 50 people to carry visitors to the viewing box. The bridge measures 575 metres in length and will have selfie spots for people to click photo. While being a tourist spot, the Signature Bridge will also share the burden of traffic with the Wazirabad Bridge. The Signature Bridge was proposed back in 2004 as the first asymmetrical cable-stayed bridge in the nation. Back then, it had an estimated cost of Rs 494 crore. The projected cost was hiked to Rs 1,131 crore in 2010 when New Delhi hosted the Commomwealth Games. The project was delayed even further and its estimated cost grew to Rs 1,594 crore. The bridge is being built on the Yamuna near Wazirabad and will cut down travel time between north and north-eastern parts of the national capital.
Los Angeles: Neil Gaiman’s beloved Vertigo comic “The Sandman” is finally getting a screen adaptation. Insiders told The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix struck a huge financial deal with Warner Bros Television to adapt the bestseller into a live-action TV series. The news came over three years after New Line failed to turn the graphic novel into a feature film. Sources close to the development said the negotiation will result into the most expensive TV series that DC Entertainment has undertaken till date. Also Read – Rihanna to release 500-page ‘visual’ autobiography “Wonder Woman” fame Allan Heinberg is set to write and serve as showrunner on the straight-to-series drama. Gaiman, who created the ongoing monthly comic, will executive produce alongside David Goyer. Gaiman and Goyer were both attached to New Line’s most recent attempts to adapt “The Sandman” for the big screen. Netflix and Warners declined comment as a formal deal has not yet closed. “The Sandman” follows a tale of horror, dark fantasy and mythology tale Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams, and the Endless, the powerful group of siblings that includes Destiny, Death, Destruction, Despair, Desire and Delirium (as well as Dream). Gaiman’s previous works “American Gods” and “Good Omens” already got their screen adaptations at Starz and Amazon, respectively.
Coolidge (Antigua): Shreyas Iyer made a match-defining 77 before the bowlers, led by left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed, guided India A to a 65-run win over West Indies A in the low-scoring first unofficial ODI here. India A were in a spot of bother at 22 for 3 after opting to bat on Thursday before Iyer and Hanuma Vihari stitched 95 runs for the fourth wicket to lay the foundation for the team’s 190-run total. At a time when the spotlight is on the middle-order problems of the senior team following India’s semifinal defeat to New Zealand in the World Cup, Iyer made a case for himself with a timely knock that came off 107 balls and was studded with eight fours and one six. Also Read – Dhoni, Paes spotted playing football togetherIyer had the challenging job to repair the innings after openers Rituraj Gaekwad, Shubman Gill and skipper Manish Pandey departed inside the first eight overs. Iyer, in the company of Vihari, who made a patient 34 off 63 balls, resurrected the Indian innings but once the duo departed, it all just fell apart for the visitors. After Iyer was run out by Rovman Powell in the 36th over, West Indies A skipper Roston Chase (4/19) ran through India’s lower-order with his off-spin to bowl out the opposition in 48.5 overs. Also Read – Andy Murray to make Grand Slam return at Australian OpenPacer Akeen Jordan (3/43) too shone with the new ball for the Caribbeans. Defending the total, Khaleel (3/16 off 8 overs) produced a fiery opening spell and was ably supported by the spin trio of Axar Patel (2/16), Rahul Chahar (2/32) and Washington Sundar (2/37) as India A bundled out West India A for 125 in 35.5 overs. Jonathan Carter and Powell contributed 41 runs each, among only the three West Indies A batsmen who could reach double-digit scores. The second unofficial ODI of the five-match series will be played at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua on July 14.
Kolkata: West Bengal Veterinary Alumni Association (WBVAA), the organisation comprising officers of the Animal Resources Development department submitted a 13-point agenda to the director of the department placing their various demands.WBVAA submitted a memorandum urging the director, AB Banerjee, to fulfill their demands. It was alleged that vaccines are not properly delivered to the veterinary hospitals in the districts. The organisation also alleged that it is often found that the vaccines in lesser quantities which are delivered to the hospitals are of inferior quality. The officers of the WBVAA claimed that the director of the department admitted that their demands were legitimate and assured them that the matter would be considered. The organization has also been conducting relentless campaign for infrastructural reforms in various veterinary hospitals in the districts.
New Delhi: Hospitality firm OYO Tuesday announced entry into a new vertical, OYO Workspaces, targeting the co-working opportunity in India with an aim to have 50 centres across the country having a total seat count of around 35,000 by the end of 2019. It also formally announced the acquisition of co-working firm Innov8 during the year. Currently, Innov8 has 16 centres across the country with over 6,000 seats.While the companies did not disclose the financial details of the acquisition, according to the sources in know of the matter, Innov8 was acquired for around USD 30 million (about Rs 205 crore). The entire team of Innov8 has also joined OYO as part of the deal. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepThe debut of OYO Workspaces follows a multi-brand approach with introduction of three brands — Innov8, which is an upper mid-scale brand, Powerstation, a mid-scale brand, and Workflo, which is an economy brand. OYO Workspaces will open the doors to 21 workspaces, with over 15,000 seats across more than 10 cities. “For 2019, we plan to have 50 centres that are operational across India, with a total of around 35,000 seats,” OYO New Real Estate Businesses CEO Rohit Kapoor said. He said the investment on this would be part of already-announced Rs 1,400 crore investment for India and South Asia for the year.
New Delhi: The government Friday asserted that subsidies for promotion of electric mobility in India will be only for commercial vehicles, and automobiles for personal usage will not be included. Speaking at an event here, Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Arjun Ram Meghwal said the government expects India to adopt electric vehicles (EV) in “all natural course” – be it for bikes, cars, trucks, buses and e-rickshaws, while emphasising that the transition was necessary in order to reduce carbon emissions as per the Paris Agreement. “The government has made clear its intention to promote electric mobility through commercial fleet owners and incentives will be only offered to them,” Meghwal said here at India UK Electric Mobility Forum 2019. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to CustomsUnder the Rs 10,000-crore FAME scheme, subsidy on EVs are given to three- and four-wheelers for commercial and fleet applications. However, in two-wheelers it is also extended for personal usage. Various industry players have been asking the government to also provide support to EVs for personal usage four-wheelers in order to make them affordable and popularise the eco-friendly technology. Reiterating the significance of EVs, the minister said this was the only way to provide smoke-free environment to the future generations. Also Read – Coking coal shipments rise 15 pc to 29 MT at 12 state-run ports in Apr-Sep”We will have to move towards the EVs to reduce carbon emissions as per the Paris Agreement… It is the right of future generations to have a smokeless environment… It is our goal,” Meghwal said. Elaborating on the plans to promote EVs, Meghwal said that his ministry has invited proposals from entities to develop charging infrastructure in big and smart cities. “Proposals are invited from cities that intend to develop charging infrastructure in million-plus cities as per 2011 census. Initially, 1,000 EV charging stations are earmarked for development through the EOI (expressions of interest),” he added. These charging stations will be sanctioned in different cities after evaluation of the proposals received under the EOI, the minister said. “We also plan to connect all charging stations with grid-connected solar power plant of required capacity as per new renewable energy guidelines so as to ensure grid stability and green energy for EVs,” he added. “The government also wants to have an electric highway. We are working on that front. The shift towards EVs will not only tackle air pollution, but also reduce import bill,” Meghwal said. He added that the Niti Aayog has recommended making electric two- and three-wheelers mandatory from 2025 and all new four-wheelers for commercial use within city limit by April 2026. The government think tank has also recommended even phase-wise introduction of commercial four-wheelers by fleet owners including taxi aggregators from 2.5 per cent in 2020-21 to 40 per cent usage in 2025-26, he said. “Moreover, it was recommended that 30 per cent of new intra-city buses should be electric by April 2026,” Meghwal said. He said the government has put in statutory safeguards to promote green mobility in the country.
Bangkok: The Indian pair of Satwiksairaj Shetty and Chirag Shetty entered the men’s doubles semi-finals after registering a hard-fought win over qualifiers Choi Solgyu and Seo Seung Jae of Korea at the Thailand Open on Friday. The unseeded Indian combination registered a 21-17, 17-21, 21-19 in a gruelling quarterfinal match that lasted exactly an hour. This was Rankireddy and Shetty’s maiden win over the Korean pair. The duo will now face another Korean pair of Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol for a place in the finals of the $350,000 tournament on Saturday.
Kolkata: Skyrocketing prices of cattle did not deter people from buying goats and dumbas (Arabian Lamb) on the eve of Bakrid, to be observed on Monday.A goat weighing around 30 kg drew the attention of customers at the Zakariya Street goat market this year. “On Saturday, I sold a goat for Rs 1.10 lakh. The person who bought it lives near Moulali. I have only one goat left with me. Its name is Praveer and its two-years-old,” said Shubham Sharma, the seller of the goat. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaEvery day, the goat maintains a special diet consisting of grams and banana leaves among others, amounting to a total cost of around Rs 200 per day. While the price of small goats starts at Rs 8,500, the cost of medium sized goats varies between Rs 12,000 and Rs 15,000. The Narkeldanga and Kidderpore cattle markets are usually preferred by people buying average sized goats, while the market near Nakhoda Masjid is known for high priced goats and dumbas. “I had brought 12 dumbas. I have already sold eight of them and by tonight, all the dumbas will be sold out,” said Kalim, a goat and dumba seller. Bakrid, also known as Eid al-Adha, is the festival of sacrifice celebrated in the honour of prophet Ibrahim, the messenger in Islam who was willing to sacrifice his son as an act of respect towards God’s command.
Anukta Mukherjee Ghosh’s magical strokes breathe a symphony of the world around her, as she goes about celebrating life through her colours. Like a child looks at the wonders of the world, experiencing even the ordinary with an amazement, Anukta’s canvas brings to life a fresh perspective – transforming the mundane to the extraordinary.’India on Canvas: A brush with our diversity’ is an exhibition of few such phenomenal works by Anukta. The solo art show will be held from September 6-8, at WelcomArt Gallery, ITC Sonar Also Read – An income drop can harm brainThe horizon of her works is beyond the boundaries of categorisation. Just as many India(s) breathe within one India, Anukta gives an ode to that versatility through her works. Ever inspired by the spaces she inhabits, the places she visits and the people she meets, her works are mostly personal insights and associations from the ordinary to the obvious. Colours, forms and lines play a special interest in her works done mostly in contemporary realistic style. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardRising above from her corporate avatar of over a decade, Anukta bid adieu to her successful career and embarked on a new adventure to complete a two year online Diploma course in drawing and painting with a certificate of distinction from the London School of Art, while also honing her skills through guidance from professional artists. For Anukta, painting is not merely about the end result. Between the first brush stroke to the last, what brings her joy is the meditative and spiritual process of losing oneself to the subconscious. In a world that is standing at the brink of chaos, Anukta believes in the redemptive power of art. Her strokes cast a magical spell of positivity and cheerfulness on the audience, reaching not only to the heart but the very soul of those who take respite in art. Anukta’s paintings have been exhibited across India and abroad. Her paintings and commissioned projects find home all across the globe for corporates and individuals alike. For example, Image of her painting ‘Magan’ has been adapted by the Government of India in 2019, for a period of five years as a mascot for its recently launched Pan India project called Womaniya on GeM – supporting woman entrepreneurs and SHGs.The image is currently on the home page of the Govt. e–market website. She has been recently felicitated by the then Union Minister of Commerce and Industries, Mr Suresh Prabhu at a National Launch of the project. One of her paintings from her series ‘My Brush with Bollywood’ found a feature and favourable mention by Amitabh Bachchan in his official blog in February 2018. She has recently done an artwork titled ‘Kolkata Kaleidoscope’ for the public area of the newly launched, super luxury hotel ITC Royal Bengal, as part of an art camp hosted by ITC Ltd., comprising some of the leading artists of Bengal.
New York: Dominik Koepfer arrived at the US Open with just two career tour-level wins, but the German has eclipsed that total in New York alone with his stunning run to the last 16. Koepfer, 25, spent four years studying for a finance degree at Tulane University, in New Orleans, twice earning All-American honors as one of the nation’s top collegiate tennis players. This time a year ago Koepfer, currently 118th, was ranked outside the top 200 but his unexpected success at Flushing Meadows will easily propel him into the world’s top 100, almost doubling his career prize money at the very least. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh Koepfer, who turned professional in 2016, had pocketed USD 332,732 prior to the year’s final Grand Slam but is guaranteed to collect a check for a minimum of USD 280,000 following Friday’s 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-1 win over Georgian 17th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili. “It’s obviously great to be here. Qualifying for the first time and playing it, winning three rounds now — I didn’t expect that, to be here two weeks. It’s amazing, it feels unreal. I can’t believe it. I’m kind of speechless,” Koepfer said. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later Koepfer is based in the Florida sunshine in Tampa and cites compatriot Tommy Haas, a former world number two, as a hero of his in his youth. “I met him at Indian Wells this year, went there and didn’t get in, which was a bummer,” he said of the Masters event last March. Life on tour for those in the lower echelons of the sport can be tough. While there is a concerted behind-the-scenes push for increased prize money that filters further down the rankings, Koepfer admits his bumper US Open payday is a huge source of relief. – Pressure reliever – ===================== “Obviously the money takes a lot of pressure off me. It’s not easy playing challengers, losing first round – you get like USD 300,” Koepfer said. “It’s not easy to pay your coach every week and travel expenses, hotels, food, rent back home in Tampa. It definitely takes a lot of pressure. It’s unreal, it should cover the next year or two.” Koepfer and South Korea’s Chung Hyeon, who faces Rafael Nadal in Saturday’s third round, are the lone qualifiers remaining in the men’s draw. Despite the extra workload, Koepfer insists he still feels “pretty good” as he bids to become just the third qualifier to make the US Open quarter-finals — after Nicolas Escude (1999) and Gilles Muller (2008). “First round I was struggling against (Jaume) Munar, cramping in the third but I recovered well. Against (Reilly) Opelka at night I kept it pretty short. Today it was like two hours and 40 minutes. I felt good out there,” he said. “I’m pretty happy about my body, nothing hurts so let’s hope I can come back on Sunday.” It took the eventual champion, Andre Agassi in 1999 and Roger Federer in 2008, to halt the runs of Escude and Muller in New York. Should Koepfer find his way into the last eight, he could well come up against top seed and US Open title-holder Novak Djokovic.
New Delhi: Hitting out at Congress leader Digvijay Singh for alleging a link between the BJP and Pakistani spy agency ISI, the saffron party on Tuesday dubbed his charge as “shameful and condemnable” and sought an apology from Congress president Sonia Gandhi. In a video, Singh was purportedly heard saying at an interaction that the BJP has links with the ISI and that non-Muslims spy more for Pakistan than Muslims. At a press conference, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra accused the Congress of trying to polarise society on communal lines and asked why Singh had to divide people on religious lines while mentioning ISI. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details “What he has said is of concern, shameful and condemnable. It shows his distorted mindset,” Patra said. He said Singh is among the “navaratna” (nine jewels) of the Congress who have played a key role in its massive defeat in elections. In reality Congress leaders such as Rahul Gandhi, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Ghulam Nabi Azad, besides Singh, are “navaratna”of Pakistan and it would be proud of them, Patra said.
New Delhi: Cyber manipulators are circulating fake videos on social media which is posing a risk to the country, Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said Thursday, highlighting the scenario after the withdrawal of the special status to Jammu and Kashmir.Addressing the first National Conference on Cybercrime Investigation and Forensics, organised by the CBI, the minister said the study of cybercrime is important for India, keeping in mind that India has a huge population and that India has the second-largest internet users in the world. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’He further said the nature of crime also evolves with the evolution of society, which makes it essential on the part of investigative agencies to evolve their techniques. “Speaking about the recent developments in the country, Dr Singh said that we are in the post-Article 370 abrogation scenario. He expressed concern over the fact that the cyber manipulators are posing risk to the nation by circulating fake videos on the social media, which needs to be addressed,” a government statement said. Singh said the thrust of the government has been on clarity in fight against terrorism and decisive actions have been taken in this regard. CBI Director R K Shukla said the conference is a platform for state police and enforcement agencies to share their best practices and to replicate them.
New Delhi: Stepping up its attack on Union minister Santosh Gangwar for saying that recruiters complain of lack of “quality people” in north India, the Congress on Monday demanded an apology from him, while its general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra asked him to provide figures for jobs given to people from that region in the last five years.The Congress general secretary also posted a video of the interaction in Bareilly, held on Saturday, during which Gangwar said that recruiters complain of paucity of “quality people” in north India for the posts they wish to fill. The minister represents Bareilly constituency in the Lok Sabha. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’At the Congress briefing, party leader Rajiv Shukla said the minister’s remarks that “youth of north India are not employable is a very big insult to them. The government and the minister concerned should clarify their position. The minister should apologise or should say that this is the policy of the government.” Clarifying his remarks, Gangwar said that his statement “had different context”. “What I said had different context that there was lack of skills and the government has opened Skill Development Ministry…,” the Union labour minister added. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K”Mr Minister, you have said such a big thing, so please also give the figures now. How many jobs you have given in the last five years and 100 days? How many jobs you have given to north Indians in the last five years? How many jobs were given under the skill India programme?” Priyanka Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi. “Do remember that figures of job losses are with the people,” she added. “Mr Minister, it has been more than five years of your government. There is no job creation. Whatever jobs were there, they have been snatched due to the economic slowdown brought by the government. You want to escape by insulting north Indians,” she added. Shukla also urged the government to take note of the serious problem of economy and unemployment and address the issue seriously and not be in a denial mode, as it was currently. Shukla said,”if the country’s labour minister himself is saying that the youth of north India is not employable, is incompetent and are not worthy of jobs, then the government’s problem is over…This is a very serious issue.” He claimed that though the government has initiated the Skill India campaign but only 30 per cent of those enrolled have got jobs.
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s Liberal government is expected to present a balanced budget Thursday that many believe will lay the groundwork for an election call that could come as early as this weekend.A government source familiar with the fiscal document said it will contain $2.4 million in annual funding for two existing medical programs, a move that appears aimed at defusing public anger about the provincial government’s inability to keep a promise to provide every family in the province with a doctor.“That will help 50 new family doctors (net) who can practise in the system each year,” the source told The Canadian Press.The funding would create 10 new seats in the family residency program at Dalhousie University and open 10 new spaces in the ready assessment program, which assists international doctors in establishing practices in Nova Scotia.The government has unleashed a flurry of announcements in the last seven weeks, totalling in the tens of millions of dollars, which has led to speculation about a trip to the polls, which Premier Stephen McNeil has done little to squelch.McNeil, who has refused to rule out an election before a legislative vote on the budget, stuck to his script on Wednesday.When asked whether the budget would be a real document without a house vote on the estimates, McNeil was clear.“The day it is introduced it’s considered to be a real budget, even those that have been defeated. This is a real budget. It’s a thoughtful plan and it reflects the hard work of Nova Scotians over the last three-and-a-half years.”Last month, Finance Minister Randy Delorey committed to a balanced budget for 2017-18, on the heels of a forecasted surplus of $12.1 million for 2016-17.But Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie did his best Wednesday to cast doubt on those claims.Baillie said although the document would be presented as balanced, it likely won’t account for certain expenses, such as the coming legal fight over Bill 75, which imposed a contract on the province’s 9,300 unionized teachers.“That exact action in British Columbia cost the taxpayers there hundreds of millions of dollars when the courts finally settled it,” said Baillie. “It would be irresponsible to table a budget that doesn’t account for the significant legal costs the McNeil government has exposed us all to, but I do think that’s what’s going to happen.”The Tory leader said he expects the Liberals to table the budget and then dissolve the house to call Nova Scotians to the polls. He said it would be wrong not to subject the budget to its usual scrutiny.“They don’t want Nova Scotians to see what they’ve done until after an election,” he said.NDP Leader Gary Burrill said such a move would be “undemocratic and sneaky.”Burrill also lamented the government’s expressed intent to table another balanced budget.“That fills me with foreboding that the investments that are needed … are not going to be made,” he said.During a speech last month to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Delorey revealed the budget would see a rise in the threshold for the small business income tax rate to $500,000 from $350,000. The move would shift more than 1,000 companies into a lower income tax bracket, paying rates of three per cent rather than 16 per cent on their income.
HALIFAX – Pierre Filiatreault looked out his office window at Halifax’s naval base 12 years ago and saw two tiny kittens playing together in a narrow alleyway.The kittens — one with fluffy orange and white fur and one all black — appeared malnourished and without a mother, so Filiatreault began feeding them.He fashioned a small makeshift shelter out of Plexiglas and other scrap materials. The pair could often be seen cuddled together inside the enclosure, resting their heads on each other’s back paws, their bellies touching.Eventually the naval officer took them to the SPCA, where they were adopted. But the two kittens were not the only felines roaming the base in search of food and shelter.Feral cats are a common sight at HMC Dockyard — home to Canada’s East Coast navy, including frigates and the submarine HMCS Windsor.Filiatreault retired in 2009 as a petty officer first class after serving 31 years in the navy, but he still visits the base near downtown Halifax every day to feed the roughly 20 stray cats that call it home.“The cats are part of my life now. As you feed animals, you get attached to them,” said Filiatreault in front of a cat shelter dubbed “Saraphyna” that’s nestled into a ledge that overlooks the Halifax harbour.“It’s not work anymore. They’re part of the family.”Filiatreault, also known as the Catman, has special permission from the Defence Department to maintain several cat shelters at the yard and enter the base each day to feed what have become known locally as the “dockyard cats.”In 2005 he started to trap, neuter and return the cats to help control the population. Kittens have not been born at the base in roughly nine years, and the oldest cat is now around 14. Feral cats usually only live two or three years.Each has a name — like Binoo and Black Chin — and will come to Filiatreault when called. They respond to three languages, given Filiatreault is French and his wife Paola — who helps with the feeding — is Italian, and both speak English.There are two cat colonies at the dockyard, referred to as the “city” and “country” cats.On the south end, a contingent of black and white cats roam a concrete jungle-of-sorts amidst the bustle of Canada’s Atlantic naval fleet.They can be seen scampering up wooden planks Filiatreault has attached to the side of buildings, allowing them to navigate from an upper roadway to an oceanside docking and loading area.The four-legged furballs sometimes trot along the wharf alongside uniformed officers and snooze in the shade under row boats stored on racks.The city cats eat inside the “Catty Shack” shelter — a white barn-style shed with a cat door that sits in the shadow of the Macdonald Bridge and is nestled among shipping containers and the base’s post office. Around back is one of Filiatreault’s first shelters he built in 2005 from an old fridge.The Catty Shack is heated with light bulbs, keeping it at about 10 C, and inside are cubbies equipped with cat beds and an endless supply of dry food.It’s the first stop on the daily run — when Filiatreault or his wife check on their feline friends, give them deworming and anti-flea medications and bring more desirable edibles.“They love treats. My wife spoils them — chicken, ground beef, steak or ham, depending on the season,” said Filiatreault, scooping out wet cat food onto a dish and mixing it with vitamins.“They’re friendly, but they are feral cats so you cannot touch them.”Meanwhile, the north end cats are happy trotting through tall grass or napping inside an old boat — dubbed “the Ark” — which sits in a small green space and is covered by wood framing and Plexiglas for added protection from the elements. Cina, who has long orange fur, can often be found sleeping inside.Placid, a short-haired white cat that has undergone three knee surgeries, is the local boss. He often perches on a retaining wall that overlooks the Saraphyna Shelter and Ark below.Multi-coloured Cleo has also proven to be somewhat of a chieftain of her clan. She recently defended their territory when another cat — Benny from the city colony — wandered in.“She was quite adamant that they did not want him there,” he said. “It’s like street gangs. It works the same way with feral cats. They all have their own section of the dockyard.”Navy officers will sometimes come visit the country colony on their lunch break, bringing treats.There are only a couple dozen cats now living at the dockyard, but that number was once closer to 100 in the 1990s, before Filiatreault took an interest.He raises money to keep the dockyard program running under Pierre’s Alley Cat Society, which is in its 10th year. Cats can be sponsored on a monthly or yearly basis, which pays for their food and any vet visits.Filiatreault said the Defence Department has always been supportive of his initiative and has even provided funding and manpower when the shelters were first constructed. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Catty Shack.He said he will continue the dockyard program until its natural conclusion — when the remaining residents live out their lives.“All animals deserve a chance to live,” said Filiatreault. “It could be another two years or it could be five years, but I’m in it for the long haul.”Follow (at)AlyThomson on Twitter.
TORONTO – The governor of Florida offered no glimmer of hope on Wednesday to family and supporters of a Canadian man who wants to be transferred to Canada after 31 years in prison in the Sunshine State.While the federal government has formally agreed to allow William Russell (Russ) Davies to serve out his life sentence for first-degree murder in Canada, the state of Florida has consistently refused to let him go.“In our state, we are very focused on our victims and their families,” Gov. Rick Scott said. “There’s a process in our state you have to go through.”Scott, who was at Toronto’s Union Station to urge Canadians to visit his state, refused to discuss the situation further.Davies, 49, of Richmond Hill, Ont., was barely 18 years old in June 1986 when the self-admitted misfit was accused along with five others of gunning down an acquaintance in Tomoka State Park near Daytona Beach, Fla. Two years later, in a seven-hour trial some have denounced as a sham, a jury convicted him of first-degree murder.A Canadian Press investigation published last year revealed the state’s key witness — one of five co-accused who all pleaded out in exchange for probation or short sentences — admitted to having been drunk and urinating out of a car window at the time of the night-time crime. In addition, Davies’ public defender Carmen Corrente, now an assistant attorney general, made numerous mistakes at trial.His ailing parents and a representative had requested a brief meeting with Scott during his visit to Toronto but the governor refused.Shane Martinez, a lawyer who has recently taken on the case, said Wednesday he had hoped Scott would “do the right thing and have compassion” by allowing Davies to transfer under an international treaty to Canada to serve out his sentence.“Canada has approved (the transfer) but Florida has been silent so far,” Martinez said.A spokeswoman for the Florida governor in charge of prisoner transfers has repeatedly said Davies’ request was “pending.” In recent weeks, he has said he was visited by “officials” and signed what Davies termed “pre-release” papers.Enza Davies, his sister-in-law on hand at the station for Scott’s visit, said Davies has turned his life around and would have strong support if allowed to return to Canada.“It would be a very good thing if he could come on Canadian soil and we could visit him regularly,” Enza Davies said. “His parents are too ill now to travel, so it’s really important that they see him.”Davies, who has always denied firing the fatal shot, has little hope for parole in Florida, and his best hope of getting back onto the streets is in Canada.In a recent interview, Davies’ 74-year-old mother, Carol Davies, choked back tears as she pondered Florida’s intransigence.“Why can’t you bring him back?” Davies said. “Why are you keeping him? There’s no reason that kid should still be there.”
OTTAWA – Finance Minister Bill Morneau is threatening to sue the Conservatives for suggesting he used his inside knowledge of a pending tax change announcement in 2015 to sell off stocks before their value dropped.On Tuesday, a day after sidestepping more than a dozen questions on the issue, Morneau called the insinuations by Tory finance critic Pierre Poilievre “absurd.”“If the Opposition want to continue with these absurd allegations, which have no basis in any sort of fact, they take them outside of the House and I will give them a sense of exactly how our legal system works,” said Morneau.Anything said in the House of Commons is subject to parliamentary privilege, which gives MPs legal protection from libel and defamation laws. Poilievre first raised the allegations Monday during question period in the Commons.He claimed Morneau’s December 2015 announcement that he would raise income taxes on the highest earners caused the entire stock market to drop, including the value of Morneau Shepell shares — 680,000 of which were sold off roughly a week earlier.Poilievre alleged the early sale of the shares saved the owner half a million dollars.He repeatedly asked Morneau if it was a coincidence that the 680,000 shares were sold off a week before the tax announcement. And he asked Morneau repeatedly to confirm he was the “someone” responsible for selling off those shares in the company founded by the minister’s father.When the Speaker questioned the appropriateness of questioning the government on the matter, Poilievre retorted: “It is actually the responsibility of government to ensure that no minister ever uses inside knowledge to benefit from transactions on the stock market.”While Morneau dodged those allegations of insider trading Monday, he had more to say at a hastily called news conference Tuesday.“What we’re hearing now is in my mind (an) absolutely crazy idea that something that we campaigned on, that we talked to 36 million Canadians about which was a rise in taxes in the top one per cent was somehow knowledge that was only my knowledge,” he said.Poilievre maintained he hasn’t “actually accused him of anything” and has only asked Morneau whether he was the one who sold the shares a week before the tax announcement.“I am absolutely confident that everything I’ve said out there and in here is true,” Poilievre said in the Commons, challenging Morneau to meet him outside the chamber to answer the question.Morneau was not present during question period Tuesday because he said he had a speech to deliver in Toronto. But under continued Conservative attacks over the stock sale, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asserted that the finance minister “continues to focus on the things that matter to Canadians and he has our full confidence.”On Dec. 7, 2015, the day of Morneau’s tax-change announcement, the Toronto stock index fell 2.4 per cent for its single weakest day of the quarter, BMO chief economist Doug Porter said after he was asked to look up his notes.Porter said already-low oil prices dropped “heavily” that day — by five per cent. He said that factor alone may have been responsible for much of the weakness in the market.Nevertheless, the New Democrats also applied pressure Tuesday on Morneau over the 2015 stock sale. The NDP has asked the ethics commissioner to look into Poilievre’s allegations.The ethics commissioner has already launched a formal examination to determine if Morneau was in a conflict of interest when he introduced pension-reform legislation, which critics have insisted would benefit Morneau Shepell — a company in which, until recently, Morneau owned about $21 million worth of shares.After the ethics controversy erupted, he sold off the remainder of his holdings in Morneau Shepell and vowed to place his other substantial assets in a blind trust.Morneau donated to charity the difference between what the shares were worth at the time of the sale and their value in 2015 when he was first elected — an amount estimated at about $5 million.He has also faced intense criticism about his integrity after information surfaced showing that, based on the ethics commissioner’s advice, he did not divest shares or place his holdings in a blind trust after being was named to cabinet.Follow @AndyBlatchford on TwitterNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the stock sale occurred before the introduction of pension legislation.
TORONTO – The media frenzy surrounding reports that a newborn baby had been abandoned in Toronto highlights the need for Canada to fall in line with other countries around the world and offer safe havens for unwanted infants, advocacy groups said Wednesday.Few details of the case are known as city police remain tight-lipped about the ongoing investigation.They have confirmed that a woman claiming to be a passerby discovered a baby boy behind a plaza in the city’s west end. Media reports, however, have since quoted sources as saying the person making the report was the child’s teenage mother, who was visiting the country from abroad.Police said they have located the mother and do not intend to lay charges, but said the investigation into the matter is ongoing. The baby remains in hospital in critical condition, while the mother is receiving undisclosed medical care.Regardless of the particulars of the case, advocates said it shines a light on what they perceive as a gap in Canada’s child welfare system.All 50 states in the U.S. and several countries throughout the European Union have “safe haven” legislation in place that allows parents to leave children in a secure location and walk away without identifying themselves. Proponents of the system said it allows parents coming from vulnerable situations to ensure a baby’s safety while preserving their own anonymity.But Canada has no such law on the books, a situation the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness would like to see changed.“There’s nothing. There’s no resources or places to go or things to do,” president Helena Kameka said in a telephone interview. “All there is is the fear of the parent.”Kameka said abandoning a child is not illegal in Canada so long as the baby is unharmed.But she said widespread ignorance of this fact sometimes prompts parents to take desperate steps which could paradoxically leave them open to charges if caught.Kameka said her organization has been lobbying the Ontario government on the issue for years without success, saying she’s unsure as to why efforts have met with so much resistance.Despite its widespread adoption outside of Canada, safe havens have come in for strong public criticism from some prominent international voices.In a 2012 report, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child called for an outright ban on such spaces, which are often referred to as “baby boxes.”“They are a bad message for society,” said Maria Herczog, a Hungarian child psychologist on the UN committee. “Instead of providing help and addressing some of the social problems and poverty behind these situations, we’re telling people they can just leave their baby and run away.”The committee argued the practice encourages women to have children without getting medical care. It also challenged the perception that only mothers were leaving babies in the safe havens, saying sometimes pimps or others in positions of power over a woman may take a child away from its mother without having to face consequences.Some theorize that Canada is particularly resistant to the idea because of the nature of its health-care system and social safety net.Dr. Geoffrey Cundiff, regional head of obstetrics and gynecology for British Columbia’s Providence Health Care, said Canadians are more likely to believe that existing systems should make it easier to care for newborns, leading to increased stigma for parents who relinquish their infants.But he said the practice of abandoning babies is more common than many believe.“(Babies) are abandoned in hospital monthly. Women come in, give birth, and then leave. But in the community it seems like a different issue.”The lack of safe spaces for babies born out of hospital prompted Cundiff to set up one of the few safe spaces available in Canada.Since 2010, the Angel’s Cradle program has operated an incubated box at Vancouver’s St. Paul’s hospital where parents can leave an unwanted baby. An alarm will sound after the baby has been inside for 30 seconds, giving parents time to walk away.Since then, two Edmonton hospitals have established similar spaces. Cundiff said the Vancouver Angel’s Cradle has been used twice since it was set up.Cundiff said it’s important for vulnerable parents to have access to a channel that will protect both the baby’s safety and their own anonymity.For Kameka, the need for safe havens is more explicitly about the children.“When you’re a newborn and you’re discarded, you have rights,” she said. “You’re a citizen of this country, and it’s just unthinkable that it’s not important for us to protect those who can’t speak for themselves.”
FREDERICTON – A New Brunswick mother has issued an emotional appeal for her missing 17-year-old son, who last spoke to her more than seven months ago and whose disappearance is considered suspicious.Amanda Frigault said in a YouTube video that she’s becoming fearful she will never see her son Brayden Joseph Thibault again, and recalled that his parting words to her were, “I love you more, Momma.”“I’m angry that somebody knows what happened to him and will not come forward and I’m scared that I will never find him,” she said on the video.Frigault, who held a news conference at RCMP headquarters in Fredericton on Friday, said she is appealing to the public in hope someone familiar with what happened to Thibault will have the “courage and compassion” to come forward.“Investigators believe someone knows what happened,” the RCMP said in a tweet.Sitting next to photos of her son when he was a little boy, Frigault said in the video that she missed his smiles, hugs, his sarcasm, his dancing with his little sister.“I miss fighting with him about curfews and cleaning his room, but what I miss most is his kind soul and his beautiful heart,” she said.Frigault described herself as feeling helpless because she cannot provide answers or lessen the fears of Thibault’s brothers and sisters.“I remember their broken innocence when I had to tell them that Brayden wasn’t just away somewhere else,” she said.He was last seen in Fredericton’s northside on July 31 last year.“If you have any information about my son or where he is, please contact the police or Crime Stoppers. Please help them find Brayden. Help them bring him home and help them begin to heal the hearts of all the people who love him,” Frigault said.