Kolkata: Celebrating the traditions of Bengal’s royalty, ITC Royal Bengal is a visual treat to the guests looking to soak themselves into premium luxury facilities. The latest addition to the ITC’s premium luxury segment combines the unique fervour of the state through its contemporary architecture and culinary offerings. Apart from the 374 rooms and suites, the hotel offers 82 serviced apartments with a common open space for the guests looking for long Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Pujaduration stay options. Packed with state-of-the-art gym and elegantly designed furniture, the Grand Presidential Suite and the Presidential Suite are spread across an expanse of 6620 sq.ft. and 3500 sq.ft. respectively. With luxury wafting through its spaces, ITC Royal Bengal presents an exquisite confluence of contemporary architecture and warmth of old hospitality. The hotel offers an exquisite rejuvenating wellness experience spread across 24,000 sq ft, including, Kaya Kalp – The Royal Spa. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway Special care has been taken to add the imprints of local drawings on the carpets, reinforcing the Responsible Luxury element that promotes regional heritage and tradition via all aspects of the hotel, be it decor, interiors, hotel facade design or food. The hotel enables a sense of destination through a showcase of local cuisine, arts and culture. A stand-out in-room tech feature is the amalgamation of all services through the E-Butler iPad. The sprawling property boasts of a culinary fare tempered with the touch of local delicacies. The three buffet restaurant Grand Market Pavilion presents a unique fare of dishes from the seven sister states of the North-East. Diners can choose from the spicy dishes of Nagaland, Nepalese-inspired dishes from Sikkim, and a blend of tribal and Bengali cuisine from Tripura. Experimental in its culinary delights, the restaurant, which is reminiscent of Kolkata’s historical market, also features popular local dishes as well as the international ones. The critically acclaimed ‘honestly vegetarian’ Royal Vega with its careful selection of seasonal delicacies and spices from across the country, presents a vegetarian treat to the non-meat eaters. This signature restaurant also features ‘Sherherwali’ the royal vegetarian cuisine of Murshidabad town of West Bengal. The hotel also houses a lobby level jazz bar, The Brass Room which brings the city’s fondness for live music to life, Darjeeling Lounge, which is based on the city’s adda culture, offering the finest teas from the region as well as from the world and Ottimo – Cucina Italiana, ITC’s signature pan-Italian brand. Nakul Anand, Executive Director, ITC Ltd said, “The addition of ITC Royal Bengal to our luxury hotel portfolio further strengthens our presence in Eastern India. Bengal is ‘Royal’ in a unique way – it has celebrated the royalty of the intellect through the centuries, where literature, poetry, painting, sculpture, theatre, cinema, science, have not only blossomed, but are inherent to the fabric of Bengal. In keeping with ITC Hotels’ philosophy of Responsible Luxury and creating indigenous experiences, ITC Royal Bengal is rooted to the ethos of the land and pays a tribute to these finest experiences that while being indigenous to the State are celebrated globally.” With a height of 133 meters, the 27 stories ITC Royal Bengal has been built with an investment of approximately Rs 1,400 crore. The 14th addition to the ITC’s luxury segment seeks to redefine the city’s hospitality and tourism landscape. Located adjacent to ITC Sonar, both the properties will together offer 693 rooms, suites and serviced apartments, 15 signature dining destinations, 22 meeting venues and a sprawling 1,00,000 sq ft of MICE -banqueting space for large scale exhibitions, meetings and events in Kolkata. ITC Royal Bengal is truly emerging as the gateway of East India.
Patna: RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who has been in a sulk ever since his party drew a blank in the Lok Sabha elections, has urged voters to be cautious of “issues like Hindus versus Muslims and fake nationalism” and choose a government without being affected by propaganda. The leader of Opposition, whose absence from the recently concluded assembly session in Bihar drew repeated criticisms from the treasury benches, shared his thoughts in a lengthy Facebook post on Thursday. “People must choose a government keeping in mind the issues that affect their daily lives, without being affected by propaganda,” Yadav said in the post titled ‘Dil ki baat’. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Assembly polls in Bihar are scheduled for next year. “If people give in to issues like Hindus versus Muslims and fake nationalism fall for enticements like a mere Rs 6,000 per annum, which amounts to just Rs 17 per day, why would any regime feel the need for solving their problems,” the 30-year-old stated. He was referring to the BJP-led central government’s ‘Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana’, under which the an income support of Rs 6,000 will be provided every year to small and marginal farmer families having combined land holding or ownership of up to two hectares. The RJD heir apparent also complained about the Nitish Kumar government for its “continuous harping on the situation that prevailed 25-30 years ago”, when the state was ruled by his father Lalu and, successively, by mother Rabri Devi.
For a long time now, Test cricket has been limited to sparse bilateral series. It has turned boring, without context or purpose, and has been constantly criticised for its dragged five-day format. Questions were raised on why one should wait for five long days when other formats like Twenty-20 throw up results for fans in just three hours. The traditional form of cricket, which is far more involved, rests on unfolding drama and uncertainty – yet, it is unable to pull crowds. Test cricket is all about changing tactics that test the skill-set of a player. Only old fans of cricket can cherish the satisfaction that a player derives in the constant battle between ball and bat, only found in Tests. Yet, the charm among fans is dissipating as most stadiums go empty for even the most testing games. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhICC World Test Championship Like world cups in other formats, ICC has introduced the World Test Championship (WTC) to revitalise the popularity of Test cricket. ICC hopes that WTC will push teams to play for something beyond a series result – even the dead rubber matches will gain relevance now. Recently, in an interview, Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli rightly said, “We are awaiting the ICC World Test Championship with great enthusiasm as it adds context to the longest format of the game. Test cricket is very challenging and coming out on top in the traditional form is always highly satisfying.” Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterICC first came up with the idea in 2009 and the championship was approved in 2010, with plans of hosting the first edition in 2013. But it was postponed to 2017 and later stood cancelled. Finally, the Ashes Series, which started on August 1 between Test cricket’s oldest rivals Australia and England, marked the beginning of WTC. ICC has made some changes in the format to make Tests exciting with this world championship running across two years. The loopy format The top nine teams of ICC Test ranking are participating in WTC. During the two years, a total of 27 series will be organised, where 71 matches will be played. Each team will play in six series of which three will be organised on foreign soil while three will be at home. The top-two teams will play the final at the Mecca of Cricket, Lords cricket ground, in June 2021. However, when we look at the WTC format, it raises some questions. Unlike the recently-concluded ICC ODI World Cup which was played on the round-robin format allowing every team to play equal matches, the number of matches for each team in the Test Championship is different. For example, England will play 22 matches while Pakistan and Sri Lanka will play only 13 matches each. This creates a huge difference while playing to secure a place in the final. Moreover, every team in the championship will bilaterally decide its opponents – indicating a sharp lack of uniformity. India has four of six series against England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. India’s away series is against Australia and New Zealand, which will not be easy. On the other hand, New Zealand will not have to play teams like England and South Africa, which is a benefit for them. There are many aspects of the World Test Championship, from matches to home-away series and more, that lack uniformity. Though a total of 120 points are up for grabs for each series, match points will differ with the number of Tests being played under one whole series. A series consisting five matches will have 24 points for the winner of each match, whereas a two-match series will have 60 points for the winner. Similarly, points will be evenly distributed in four- and three-match series. Additionally, according to the information given by ICC, both teams will get half the points in case of a tie and on a draw, one-third of the points will be awarded. The maximum number of matches in a series will be five while two will be the least. Moreover, ICC has put the away and home series in the same bracket. Winning a series on foreign soil is considered a mark of quality cricket but in the WTC format, the away victories will be at par with those at home. Suppose Australia beat England 5–0 at their home in the Ashes they will be awarded 120 points. But in the home series to be held next year, Australia may clean sweep Pakistan 2-0, and will still have to be content with 120 points. It means, the team playing more home matches will have the upper-hand. All these issues raise the question of whether Test cricket will be able to really produce an undisputed champion as in the ODI and T20. ICC General Manager Geoff Allardyce, while talking about point sharing, argues, “The general rule of any competition is that every team has to compete for the same number of points. Each team has to play three series at home and three on overseas grounds and we have decided to give equal points for each series.” He also stated that ICC had given another option to participating countries, under which, only the first two matches of any series should be considered a part of WTC and 120 points should be given for these two matches only. But, all countries rejected the second option. New Rules ICC is doing many new things in this World Test Championship to popularise the longest format of cricket. For one, it has made a change in players’ jerseys. According to ICC, now in Test cricket too, numbers along with the players’ names will be written on jerseys. ICC has also made some changes regarding the slow over-rate in games. Until now, there was a rule to cut the captain’s match fees or to prevent him from playing a few matches as a penalty for slow over-rates in a test match. But now, by the new rule, a match fee deduction will apply to all team members. Moreover, two points will be deducted from the team responsible for slow over-rate in matches of WTC. In case the WTC final ends in a draw or tie, both teams will be declared joint winners. However, ICC has also given the option of Reserve Day which will happen only if there is some loss in the total playing time of five days. The total time set for a Test match is 30 hours (six hours daily) in five days. According to ICC, if there has been less than 30 hours of play then that time can be compensated on the sixth day. This rule has been introduced to prevent a repeat of its ODI mistake. If a team cannot play the final simply because its over-rate was slow, then it would be somewhat unfair. That is exactly what happened with New Zealand in the final of the ODI World Cup, when the Kiwis lost simply because they hit fewer fours than England. ICC has also made major amendments in the rule related to a substitute player. According to the new rule, if a player is injured, then another player can be included – who can bowl, bat and keep wickets. Such players will be called ‘Concussion Substitutes’. The decision on substitutes will be made by the medical representative of the team, with the match referee taking the final call. Additionally, the rule says that a new player must be deemed a “like for like” replacement by match officials. For example, if a batsman is injured then only a batsman can replace him and not a bowler. India’s chances India is the leading contender to emerge as the first WTC champion as it is set to launch its bid for the inaugural WTC on August 22 against West Indies in Antigua. India are the number one Test team at the moment. They won their maiden Test series 2-1 Down Under, last December-January, and have been invincible on home turf, not having lost a series since England beat them 2-1 in 2012. But India will have to face a litmus test when they fly to Australia and New Zealand for a four- and two-match series respectively. Turfs Down Under have always posed a challenge for the Indian cricket team. Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav have though lent strength to the Indian pace attack. These will prove to be valuable on the hard and bouncy pitches of Australia and New Zealand. However, India needs to desperately work on its middle-order whose lack of depth has been exposed repeatedly. Other than Virat Kohli, Cheteswar Pujara and Rohit Sharma, no other batsman has yet gained trust. If India aspires to become the first champion, it needs to find a quick and reliable solution to its middle-order jigsaw.
I am in a wrong relationship and feel completely broken. What can I do?Name withheld, Kolkata Several actions can be taken to rid ourselves of negative relationships. First, you can attempt to fix the relationship. Explain that you’re not attempting to change them as a person – you simply want to change how your relationship works. Finally, ask them what they’d like to change about the relationship. Ask them how you can add more value. Listen attentively, act accordingly. Also Read – Feel what you fearOr, if you’re unable to change the relationship, you can end it altogether. This is incredibly difficult but applies to any relationship. If someone is doing nothing but draining your life, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell them, “This relationship is no longer right for me, I must end it – must move on.” Do what is right for you. I lost my husband four years ago, I’m 42 now. I don’t know whether to remarry or not. What’s your view? Also Read – HomecomingG. Parekh, New Delhi Your life, your choice. If you truly feel that you want to settle down, please do. If that inch of doubt remains, wait for the one who might wipe the ‘whether or not’ syndrome someday. If love rules, please follow the heart. If it doesn’t, just live your life the way that makes you happy. Time is the only power and you should be your boss. Don’t take any decision unless you are sure about it. My daughter, 32, is highly educated and well placed. She is determined to settle with a guy she met over a matrimony website. She thinks he is very smart while we think he is not suitable for her. He’s running a small dealership. We are very worried. – DC, West Bengal As parents you will always worry as you will want the best for your child. As parents, you should also trust her. She is old enough to understand her future. She will use her liberty to do what she wants. Express your concern but try to have faith on her. Try to meet the man she is dating and begin to know him as well. Don’t remain over worried about your life and lose the happy moments tucked in everyday. Your life and it’s happiness is your first priority. Choose everything wisely. I wish her the best and hope the best for you too. My husband beats me up. We are married for last 5 years and we have a 1 year old son. I’m living in hell. What can I do? Name withheld To allow a man (or anyone) to put their hands on you is a form of mental destruction. Such domestic violence is the worst thing you can allow your child to witness. Unfortunately people have the habit of repeating these sick actions if they are not stopped the very first time. I suggest you stand up and fight it out. Take strong steps and if need be, involve your family or close friends to seek legal advice. Keeping quiet and tolerating is no sign of showing strength or love. You will lose your mental peace, confidence and gradually be depressed. (Send your questions to email@example.com)
Kabul: Afghanistan’s president on Monday vowed to “eliminate” all safe havens of the Islamic State group as the country marked a subdued 100th Independence Day after a horrific wedding attack claimed by the local IS affiliate. President Ashraf Ghani’s comments came as Afghanistan mourns at least 63 people, including children, killed in the Kabul bombing at a wedding hall late Saturday night. Close to 200 others were wounded. Many outraged Afghans ask whether an approaching deal between the United States and the Taliban to end nearly 18 years of fighting America’s longest war will bring peace to long-suffering civilians. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US The bomber detonated his explosives in the middle of a dancing crowd, and the IS affiliate later said he had targeted a gathering of minority Shiites, whom it views as apostates deserving of death. Both the bride and groom survived, and in an emotional interview with local broadcaster TOLOnews the distraught groom, Mirwais Alani, said their lives were devastated within seconds. A sharply worded Taliban statement questioned why the US failed to identify the attackers in advance. Another Taliban statement marking the independence day said to “leave Afghanistan to the Afghans.” Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls More than anything in its nearly year-long negotiations with the US, the Taliban want some 20,000 US and allied forces to withdraw from the country. The US envoy in talks with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Sunday said the peace process should be accelerated to help Afghanistan defeat the IS affiliate. But Ghani on Monday asserted that the Taliban, whom the US now hopes will help to curb the IS affiliate’s rise, are just as much to blame. His government is openly frustrated at being sidelined from the US talks with the insurgent group, which regards the Afghan government as a US puppet. The Taliban “have created the platform for terrorists” with its own brutal assaults on schools, mosques and other public places over the years, the president said. More than 32,000 civilians in Afghanistan have been killed in the past decade, the United Nations said earlier this year. More children were killed last year 927 than in any other over the past decade by all actors, the UN said, including in operations against insurgent hideouts carried out international forces. “We will take revenge for every civilian drop of blood,” Ghani declared. “Our struggle will continue against (IS), we will take revenge and will root them out.” He urged the international community to join those efforts. He asserted that safe havens for militants are across the border in Pakistan, whose intelligence service has long been accused of supporting the Taliban. The IS affiliate’s claim of the wedding attack said it was carried out by a Pakistani fighter seeking martyrdom. Ghani called on people in Pakistan “who very much want peace” to help identify the IS safe havens there. Last month after meeting with President Donald Trump, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan insisted he will do his best to persuade the Taliban to open negotiations with the Afghan government to resolve the war. Trump on Sunday told reporters he doesn’t want Afghanistan to be a “laboratory for terror.” He was briefed on Friday on the progress of the US-Taliban talks, of which few details have emerged. In a message marking Afghanistan’s independence and “century of resilience,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the weekend wedding bombing “an attack against humanity.” It was one of many international expressions of condemnation pouring in following the attack.
Kolkata: New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) will appoint eco ambassadors from among the residents of New Town to create awareness among the people to conserve water and other environmental issues.This is for the first time when a state government agency will be training up residents to create awareness on environment protection. It may be mentioned that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said over and again that people of the area should be taken into confidence before implementation of any project. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaA lottery was conducted at Rabindra Tirtha on Sunday and 10 eco ambassadors were selected .They will be given training by NKDA soon so that they can go to the people and talk on the important issues. The eco ambassadors will be felicitated and given a token cash prize of Rs 1,000 each and will be given the honour of being an eco ambassador to tell people how to avoid eco anxiety by making New Town a green and clean City. The programe is likely to be held on September 15 evening at Eco Park. Over the past few months NKDA has organised several citizens’ meets across New Town on waste segregation, recycling, home composting, no plastics, rain water harvesting and control of vector borne diseases. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayAs many as 757 residents had given their commitment in writing to NKDA to segregate wastes into dry and wet streams. Forms were earlier distributed during residents’ meets during the IEC (Information and Education Campaigns) of NKDA at various localities. In New Town, stress has been given on the use of solar power to make it into a solar city and a second solar canal-top project (1,000 KWp) is being conceived in collaboration with IIEST, the first one being a 500 KWp near Eco Park.
Kiev: A court in Ukraine on Thursday released from pre-trial detention a man suspected of involvement in the downing of flight MH17, amid speculation he may be used in a prisoner swap with Russia. Ukraine captured Vladimir Tsemakh, accused of fighting for pro-Russian separatists, in June, but he is believed to be a person of interest in the downing of MH17. European lawmakers described him as a “key suspect” and asked Kiev to make him available for testimony in the probe.
WINNIPEG – More than five months after he almost froze to death walking across the Canada-United States border, eventually losing his fingers to frostbite, Razak Iyal was granted refugee status Tuesday.“If I go back to Ghana, I might lose all my life. But here I am, I just lost my fingers, but I’m still part of the society,” Iyal, 35, said after his closed-door Immigration and Refugee board hearing.“I thank God that I’ve been accepted to stay in Canada, to be a Canadian. And what I have in me, I’ll make sure I share it with the community, with the people.”Iyal was among the first in the recent wave of refugee-claimants sneaking across the border from the United States out of fear of being deported back to their home country.After meeting up with another man from Ghana, Seidu Mohammed, at a bus station in Minneapolis, the two men took a bus to Grand Forks, N.D., and then a taxi to an area near the border.It was Christmas Eve and the overnight windchill dipped to —30 C as the men walked though snowy fields in the darkness for hours. They were not dressed for such an excursion, and suffered severe frostbite before being noticed by a trucker after crossing into Canada.They would spend weeks recovering in hospital. Iyal lost all his fingers but kept his thumbs. Mohammed lost all ten digits.“I can do a lot of things that people who have fingers can do,” said Iyal, who dreams of bringing his wife to Canada and opening an electronics business similar to one he had in Ghana.Iyal said he fled Ghana because his five siblings were out to kill him in a dispute over the inheritance of his late father’s property. A local politician was involved, he said.After he arrived in Canada, some media reports in Ghana said he was a homosexual. It’s not true, he said, but the reports added to the danger he would face if returned home due to the African nation’s treatment of gays and lesbians.“There is no place in Ghana, which is geographically a very small country, that he could ever be safe,” his lawyer, Bashir Khan, told reporters.Iyal and Mohammed both had their claims for asylum rejected in the United States, so they would have been turned back at an official border crossing under the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement.Like hundreds of others in recent months, they opted to try to sneak across the border, knowing that they would get a refugee hearing if they made it on to Canadian soil before turning themselves in.Mohammed, who is bisexual and a professional soccer player, had his refugee claim approved last month.
OTTAWA – Health Canada says certain glass beer mugs sold at HomeSense locations across the country are being recalled.The agency says the glass mugs can break if used for hot liquids and can cause burns or lacerations.It says TJX Canada is recalling the mugs after receiving one complaint in Canada of the mug breaking and causing a burnAbout 1,525 mugs, which are made in Poland, were sold in Canada between Jan. 1 to March 15.Customers are being advised to return the mugs to the nearest HomeSense store for a refund.
HALIFAX – A national prisoners’ advocate is praising a 20-day peaceful protest by inmates at a Halifax jail as a rare and effective tactic that sets an example for similar efforts at the country’s provincial lockups.Inmates at Nova Scotia Central Correctional Facility, often called the Burnside jail, joined a prisoner strike in the United States on Aug. 21.A group in the prison prepared and circulated their 10-point plan for basic improvements in health care, rehabilitation, exercise, visits, clothing, food, air quality and library access.By the time the legislature resumed sitting on Thursday, the prisoners’ petitions had gained widespread media coverage and political responses as a group of advocates, lawyers and community leaders outside the facility circulated their requests.The protest is set to conclude this weekend.Kassandra Churcher, national executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, says the inmates’ strategy has been noticed nationally as an innovative way for provincial inmates to gain public and political attention for their grievances.“This is unusual. It’s good to see that sense of community, solidarity and focus being prisoner-led,” she said in a telephone interview.“It speaks to their ability to mobilize around their common concerns … It’s powerful,” she said.Emma Halpern, the regional director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, said the campaign has resonated because it has made requests ordinary citizens can relate to, such as better access to family visits.The prisoners argue the visits should be possible given that recently purchased body scanners have drastically reduced the risk of contraband smuggling.“I think most people would feel that mothers and children should have regular contact. It’s the best thing for our society and it’s essential for rehabilitation and reintegration,” said Halpern.Justice Minister Mark Furey responded to some of the items on the list on Thursday, and though he made few firm commitments, he told reporters “it’s important we have these discussions and ensure the rights of those incarcerated in our facility are respected.”Asked about family visits, he said the body scanners have improved the security concerns and may open up an avenue for more visits.“The opportunity to revisit the policy and determine what family visits may look like going forward is a real discussion,” he said.He argued some of the prisoners’ complaints, such as the lack of sufficient air circulation amidst the summer heat wave, are being addressed as the facility is modernized to bring in so-called “direct supervision” — where guards work in closer contact with prisoners.“The renovations with the direct supervision will address the air circulation issues that have been brought to our attention,” he said.He disagreed with the prisoners’ criticisms of their food, saying, “the facility follows the Canada Food Guide. We’re providing nutritional meals in that environment.”In addition, he said that there are no plans to agree to allowing a request for prisoners to have their own clothing due to security concerns around the potential of what he called a “micro economy” in the trade of clothing.He said improvements are being considered for exercise facilities, while noting new outdoor “airing courts” for inmates are under construction, and they will include outdoor exercise equipment.Regarding demands for more rehabilitation programs, the province issued a written release saying six new program officer positions have been created for the facility for this year, and that this fall more programs on addictions, emotion management and trauma will be delivered.“Additionally, we are developing incentive-based programs for inmates as well as having conversations regarding the formation of an inmate committee at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility,” said the release.The prisoners have asked for more timely access to their medication and to medical tests, and for better access to specialists and care for chronic conditions.That has also drawn a response, though no formal commitment to change, from the province’s health authority.Kristen Lipscombe, a spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said in an email that “healthcare services in correctional facilities should be at the same standard/level as those services that are available in the community.”“We will continue to monitor and respond to feedback we receive from individuals who are incarcerated. We will also continue to monitor our wait times and adjust as necessary with changes to an individual’s health status while they are incarcerated.”She said with nurses delivering medications to offenders up to four times per day, one of the issues is the availability of correctional officers.Sheila Wildman, a law professor at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law, said in an interview the protest’s results remain uncertain.“This was a success in terms of prisoners having managed, against all odds, to voice their concerns in a way that provoked public debate and awareness about the conditions of their confinement, and eventually provoked a formal government response,” said Wildman, who is a member of the advocacy group East Coast Prison Justice Society.“But let’s wait and see what concrete initiatives come out of this before we pronounce on whether or how it was a success.”Senator Kim Pate, who has participated in a national tour of Canadian prisons, says she believes the conditions in provincial jails are generating rising anger among inmates — and will bring similar prisoner actions elsewhere.“Given the frustration of prisoners across the country, we may well see more such protests,” she wrote in an email.— Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.
TORONTO – A plant that can take about a decade to produce a flower that emits a scent akin to rotting flesh is set to bloom this week at the Toronto Zoo — years ahead of schedule.The corpse flower, a native of Indonesia, will bloom for just eight to 36 hours sometime this week, said the zoo’s curatorial gardener, noting that when in full bloom, the plant produces one of the largest and smelliest flowers in the world.“This is a very rare occasion,” said Paul Gellatly. “They only flower every seven to 10 years sporadically and there is no guarantee that it will.”The plant at the zoo is only five years old, but Gellatly said he knew something unusual was going on based on what he saw over the past few weeks.A month earlier, the leaf portion of the plant began to die off and recede into the corm, an underground plant stem. Such plants then produces more leaves or a flower, never both, he said.But the plant at the zoo showed signs of flowering, despite its young age.“I was pretty excited,” Gellatly said. “I couldn’t get to my supervisor fast enough to let her know.”Gellatly said he then sent off numerous pictures to colleagues at the New York Botanical Garden to be sure the plant was about to flower before the zoo went public.“This is the first one I have seen gone to flower,” he said.The plant is native to the jungles of the Indonesian island of Sumatra and smells like rotting meat while blooming, which attracts carrion flies and beetles for pollination.The flower will smell its worst on the first night it blooms, Gellatly said. The flower is threatened in Indonesia and will become the first in the Toronto area to ever bloom, he said.The zoo has 14 corpse flowers of various ages, but this is among a group of the oldest.A corpse flower recently bloomed at Edmonton’s Muttart Conservatory. The two have great differences in mass, Gellatly said.The Toronto Zoo’s corpse flower bulb weighs 24 pounds while Edmonton’s came in at a whopping 200 pounds, he said.The zoo has dubbed the Toronto plant “Pablo ‘Pe Ew’ Caso” after a naming contest.It has been moved to one of the zoo’s production greenhouses for display from its usual spot in the Indo-Malaya pavilion and visitor hours will be extended so members of the public can see the pungent plant in bloom.A corpse flower also bloomed in Vancouver earlier this year.In July, that plant — dubbed Uncle Fester — flowered at the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park, drawing thousands of visitors.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly said the flower was endangered. In fact, it is a threatened plant.
Six stories in the news for Monday, Nov. 12———PM WARNS OF POLITICIANS’ MISUSE OF SOCIAL MEDIAPrime Minister Justin Trudeau says politicians need to learn how to enhance citizen engagement through the use of social media in the face of leaders using those platforms to undermine democracy. He made the comment this morning while speaking at a conference in Paris. Without mentioning any names, he suggested there are politicians who are using the technology to foster polarization in the electorate. U.S. President Donald Trump, of course, is notorious for using angry tweets to fire up his legions of followers and vent at his critics.———UCP MEMBER APOLOGIZES FOR COMMENTS ON LGBTQ FLAGA member of Alberta’s United Conservative Party is apologizing for making a comparison between the rainbow LGBTQ pride flag and swastikas. John Carpay issued a statement last night to clarify remarks he made at a weekend conference in Calgary organized by the conservative news outlet Rebel Media. Carpay says he was talking about totalitarianism when he “referred in the same sentence” to the rainbow flag and the flags bearing Nazi and communist symbols. In doing so, he says he “unintentionally drew a broad comparison” between them.———INUIT PLAN SAYS TOO MANY POLAR BEARS THREATENING PUBLIC SAFETYThere are too many polar bears in parts of Nunavut and climate change hasn’t yet affected any of them, says a draft management plan from the territorial government that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking. The proposed plan — which is to go to public hearings in Iqaluit on Tuesday — says growing bear numbers are increasingly jeopardizing public safety and it’s time Inuit knowledge drove management policy. Polar bears killed two Inuit last summer.———POT COMPANY HOPES TO FILL LOST MILL JOBSA cannabis company says it plans to build a grow facility in Merritt, B.C., and replace the jobs that were lost in a sawmill closure two years ago. Emerald Plants Health Source purchased a massive chunk of land and plans to build an initial three-thousand-square-metre facility before building up to potentially more than 100-thousand square metres. Two hundred people lost their jobs when the Tolko mill closed in 2016 and the cannabis company hopes to hire more than 200 workers once it’s up and running.———CROWD WATCHES AS BACKHOE RIPS INTO MANGLED PLANECrews have begun tearing into the mangled Boeing 747 cargo jet that overshot a Halifax runway last week. Dozens of people watched yesterday as a backhoe dug into the midsection of the fuselage, which buckled when the empty SkyLease Cargo plane overshot the runway at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Wednesday. The huge plane’s landing gear collapsed and two of its engines were torn off as it skidded along for 210 metres, coming perilously close to a public road.———VIOLA DESMOND BILL BEGINS CIRCULATION NEXT WEEKA new $10 banknote featuring Viola Desmond’s portrait will go into circulation in a week, just over 72 years after she was ousted from the whites-only section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow, N.S. The civil rights pioneer and businesswoman is the first Canadian woman to be featured on a regularly circulating banknote, which will also show a map of Halifax’s historic north end, home to one of Canada’s oldest black communities and the site where Desmond opened her first salon.———ALSO IN THE NEWS:— Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon holds a Montreal press conference about the aerospace industry.— Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Toronto.— Aurora Cannabis Inc. will hold a conference call to discuss first quarter results.— First-degree murder trial in Vancouver for Garry Handlen, accused of the 1978 slaying of 12-year-old Monica Jack.———The Canadian Press
Elisa Hategan used to be a white supremacist. Then she turned against her group and brought down the neo-Nazi Heritage Front group. Today she works to help deprogram people in the same situation she once found herself in. It’s much harder than it used to be, because hatred is seeping from online sewers into our streets and cities. And you’ve probably witnessed it happening.Everyone has that person in their online network. They started just fine, then they started to talk about someone taking their jobs. Then came the memes. Then the nasty rhetoric. And now you’re legitimately worried about how far it could go. What do you say to that person? How can you tell when they’re being indoctrinated into a world of online hatred? What drives them from talking about it online to committing hate crimes in real life? And what can we do right now to stop it?Today’s Podcast – Can you deprogram a racist? How?Audio Playerhttp://radio.pmd.rogersdigitalmedia.com/podcasts/thebigstory/tbs_11162018.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on iTunes or Google Play.You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.
OTTAWA — Suspended Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s lawyers are accusing the federal Department of Justice of refusing to co-operate with their numerous requests for documents that they say are required to ensure their client a fair trial.Defence lawyer Marie Henein is telling an Ottawa court this morning that she has attempted on countless occasions to work with Justice Department lawyers to try to narrow the search and find documents the most relevant to Norman’s case.But Henein says the Justice Department has either ignored her requests or dragged its feet, saying that it will take months to collect the documents Norman’s team has requested and more resources aren’t available to speed things up.Henein says Crown prosecutors have been little help in either collecting the documents or trying to confirm that Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper are willing to waive cabinet secrecy so that certain records can be made available to Norman’s defence.Court is scheduled to spend the next five days hearing arguments over the relevance and public release of documents in Norman’s case.Norman was suspended in January 2017 as the military’s second in command and charged with one count of breach of trust in connection with the alleged leak of cabinet secrets around a shipbuilding project. He has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to fight the charge.The Canadian Press
NAIROBI, Kenya — A Canadian national and four other people suspected of helping extremist gunmen stage a deadly attack in the Kenyan capital this week appeared in court on Friday as prosecutors investigated them for suspected terror offences.A judge ordered the five suspects held for 30 days while authorities look into the assault on the dusitD2 hotel complex. The al-Shabab group, which is linked to al-Qaida and based in neighbouring Somalia, claimed responsibility. Kenyan authorities say 21 people, including one police officer, were killed by the attackers, one of whom blew himself up beside a restaurant. Another four gunmen died.Prosecutors suspect the alleged accomplices, including two taxi drivers and an agent for a mobile-phone-based money service, of aiding the attackers who stormed the Nairobi complex on Tuesday afternoon and were killed by Wednesday morning, according to a court document. Prosecutors said they were pursuing more suspects in and outside Kenya.The suspects who appeared in court were identified as Guleid Abdihakim, Joel Nganga Wainaina, Oliver Kanyango Muthee, Gladys Kaari Justus and Osman Ibrahim. Abdihakim is Canadian, according to prosecutors.“The investigations into this matter are complex and transnational and would therefore require sufficient time and resources to uncover the entire criminal syndicate,” said Noordin Haji, director of public prosecutions. He said he has appointed a team of prosecutors to help ensure that the investigations are “meticulous and fast-tracked.”Canada has condemned the attack in Nairobi earlier this week.A spokesman for Global Affairs Canada says Canadian officials are aware of reports that a Canadian citizen was arrested in Kenya and that consular officials are in contact with Kenyan authorities to gather additional information.“Consular services are being provided to the family of the individual,” said Global Affairs spokesman Philip Hannan, adding privacy laws prevent the disclosure of any further information.Police earlier identified a Kenyan military officer as the father of another suspect in the assault. The son, Ali Salim Gichunge, as well as Violet Kemunto Omwoyo, were named as attackers in court documents.“The attackers were in constant communications with several phone numbers which are located in Somalia,” prosecutors said.Gichunge’s father, who is not believed to have been involved in the attack, was summoned for questioning about when he last saw his son and other details, a senior police official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.The official said a total of 11 people were detained as part of the investigation.The attack was denounced on Friday in Eastleigh, a Nairobi neighbourhood that is home to many ethnic Somalis and has been targeted in massive police operations against suspected extremist cells. Shop owners temporarily closed businesses to protest extremism, and crowds gathered.Al-Shabab also carried out the 2013 attack at Nairobi’s nearby Westgate Mall that claimed 67 lives, and an assault on Kenya’s Garissa University in 2015 that killed 147 people, mostly students. While U.S. airstrikes and a multinational African Union force in Somalia have reduced the Islamic extremists’ ability to operate, al-Shabab is still capable of carrying out spectacular acts of violence in retaliation for the Kenyan military’s presence in Somalia.The attackers who stormed the hotel complex opened fire and set off grenades, sending panicked people running for cover as security forces converged. Security camera footage released later showed a suicide bomber blowing himself up in a grassy area.A hotel employee, seen in the footage walking past the bomber just before the explosion, described in an interview with Kenya’s K24 television how he heard the man talking on a mobile phone.“Where are you guys?” the agitated bomber said at least a couple of times, according to Abdullahi Ogelo, the employee. Ogelo, who later concluded the bomber had been talking to his accomplices, said the man was also moving his hand over his chest.Seconds later, the bomber detonated in a flash and billowing smoke.In the television interview, Ogelo said God saved him and gave him a “second chance.”—With files from The Canadian PressChristopher Torchia, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — An official with the prime minister’s office says Justin Trudeau had “emotional” conversations with Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, but denies her claims the encounters were “hostile” or that Trudeau yelled at her.Caesar-Chavannes told the Globe and Mail that Trudeau was angry when she told him on Feb. 12 of her plans to announce she was not running in the October federal election.She alleges he yelled at her in that conversation and that she responded by shouting back at him, and says the prime minister later apologized.Caesar-Chavannes also details another encounter with Trudeau in the House of Commons a week later in which she describes him as acting hostile toward her.Matt Pascuzzo, a spokesman for the prime minister’s office, says while there was no question the conversations in February were emotional, there was “absolutely no hostility” and that Trudeau has deep respect for Caesar-Chavannes.Speaking at a teachers’ conference in Ottawa today, Trudeau said he is rethinking some of the processes of how his office supports cabinet and caucus members and is getting outside advice on how to better deal with “internal disagreements.”The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh are campaigning today in their parties’ historic strongholds.Scheer promoted the Conservatives’ pledge to build a national energy corridor during a morning stop in Edmonton, where he also took the stage with an old friend: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.Scheer, who will visit Saskatoon later in the day, urged cheering supporters to help his party win a handful of ridings in Alberta that the party lost in the 2015 election.Singh made an announcement aboard a ferry en route to Vancouver from the NDP’s critical battleground of Vancouver Island, where he’s been campaigning for the last couple of days.He says an NDP government would provide an additional $30 million of federal funding towards British Columbia’s ferry system to help provide more services and to lower costs for commuters.Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s tour has no scheduled public events today, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is campaigning on Vancouver Island and People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier will attend a fundraiser in his Quebec riding of Beauce.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2019.The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — The Royal Canadian Mint has issued a glow-in-the-dark coin that captures the eerie scene more than 50 years ago when what has been officially documented as a UFO crashed into the waters off Shag Harbour in southwestern Nova Scotia.The pure silver, rectangular-shaped coins went on sale Tuesday for $129.95 each. By midday, more than 80 per cent had been sold.The colourful image on the coin shows three fishermen aboard a boat, staring and gesturing as four orange lights gleam over a choppy sea.Shine the included black-light flashlight on the coin and the ghostly image of a huge flying saucer appears to be crashing into the ocean.Mint spokesman Alex Reeves says 4,000 of the coins will be produced, with some of them sent to private shops for retail sales.The Canadian Press
Reality television stars helped to make the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses come true by raising nearly $38,000 for Give Kids The World (GKTW) through Hearts of Reality, a three-day event held July 26-28 in Celebration, Fla.Survivor One World contestant Jay Byars gives a hug to a GKTW wish child.More than 140 of the hottest stars from the hit television shows “Survivor,” “The Amazing Race,” “The Bachelor,” “Celebrity Apprentice,” “Big Brother” and more, reunited with their cast mates and used their celebrity to help raise donations for the Central Florida nonprofit “storybook” resort that provides week-long, cost-free, magical vacations to children and their families from around the world.“We are delighted that the Hearts of Reality participants shared their time and talents with our precious guests,” said GKTW President Pamela Landwirth. “In addition, they raised $38,000 and helped bring awareness to our mission of creating the happiness that inspires hope for children battling a life-threatening illness.”Hosted by Lexin Capital/Celebration Town Center for the last four years, Hearts of Reality invites reality star fanatics to mingle and party with their favorite stars at an autograph signing and a “Land Lovers Luau” in exchange for a $20 or $30 donation, respectively, to GKTW. In addition to the funds collected during the weekend, the stars have also personally raised more than $30,000 by posting on their social media sites and asking fans, friends and family to contribute to the cause, which is still soliciting donations until the official close of the fundraiser on August 12.GKTW’s own stars also had the chance to meet the celebrities during a special visit to the Village. The reality stars toured the 70-acre facility and then helped host the Village’s weekly Pirates & Princesses party. With tiaras and toy swords, the television stars reversed roles with the children by asking for autographs from the young, true-life heroes.Participants of Hearts of Reality included: Richard Hatch (winner, original “Survivor”, “Celebrity Apprentice”), Russell Hantz (“Survivor”), Chelsea Messiner (“Survivor One World” and top fundraiser for Hearts of Reality), Dr. Carl Bilancione (“Survivor Africa”), Kim Spradlin (winner, “Survivor One World”), Sandra Diaz-Twine (the only two-time “Survivor” winner), Rachel Reilly and Brendon Villegas (“Big Brother” and “The Amazing Race”), Britt Griffith (“Ghost Hunters”), Ty Brown and Nick Peterson (“The Bachelorette”), Ozzy (“Survivor”) and many more.To support your favorite reality star with a donation to GKTW, please make a donation by August 12 by clicking here.
Carnegie Hall has announced that Sting will bring his highly acclaimed Symphonicities to Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage for a one-night-only gala benefit concert on Monday, December 14 at 7:00 p.m. with Orchestra of St. Luke’s conducted by Rob Mathes.Symphonicities features Sting’s greatest hits reimagined for symphonic arrangement with orchestrations by Jorge Calandrelli, David Hartley, Michel Legrand, Rob Mathes, Vince Mendoza, Steven Mercurio, Bill Ross, Robert Sadin, and Nicola Tescari. Selections include fan-favorites such as “Roxanne,” “Next To You,” “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” and “Every Breath You Take,” plus songs from his enduring solo career—”Englishman in New York,” “Fragile,” “Russians,” “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” “Fields of Gold,” and “Desert Rose.”The concert on December 14, 2015 marks Sting’s first timeheadlining a full performance at Carnegie Hall. He will also be joined by a quintet comprised of Dominic Miller (Sting’s longtime guitarist), Jo Lawry (vocalist), Ira Coleman (bassist), Joe Bonadio (percussionist), and Mike Ricchiuti (keyboards). All proceeds from the performance will benefit Carnegie Hall’s artistic and music education programs.“It was an absolute joy to discover a whole new palate of musical colors and reinvent the songs that have been the staples of my live performances for over thirty years, commented Sting. “I’m thrilled to now bring Symphonicities to Carnegie Hall and to help support their dynamic arts education programs.”Sting first performed at Carnegie Hall in March 1991 at the first of many concerts benefiting the The Rainforest Foundation, the non-profit organization he co-founded with wife, Trudie Styler, in 1989. He has since appeared 18 other times in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at performances supporting important causes, including 16 additional Rainforest Fund benefit concerts; a 1997 concert benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation; and Carnegie Hall’s 120th Anniversary Gala in April 2011, created and hosted by singer-songwriter James Taylor.Gala benefit tickets for An Evening with Sting: Symphonicities include the best possible concert seating as well as admission to either a pre-concert cocktail reception at Carnegie Hall’s Rohatyn Room for $1,000 or the post-concert dinner at The Plaza starting at $2,500. Tables of 8 or 10 for the gala dinner begin at $25,000. All gala tickets are available for purchase starting on Thursday, July 23 at 11:00 a.m. by calling the Special Events office at 212-903-9679 or visiting online at carnegiehall.org/specialevents.A limited number of concert-only tickets, priced $125–$350, will be available for sale to Carnegie Hall subscribers and donors on Monday, August 17 and to the general public on Monday, August 24 at 8:00 a.m. at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, or visiting online at carnegiehall.org.