Victoria’s first Indigenous senator Lidia Thorpe expresses shock at receiving abusive letter purportedly from Jim’s Group CEO Jim Penman


Victoria’s first Indigenous senator has expressed shock at receiving an abusive letter purporting to be from the CEO of Australian gardening company Jim’s Group.

Green’s Senator Lidia Thorpe told Parliament she recently received a letter which appeared to have been sent from Jim’s Mowing founder Jim Penman telling her to “get off her fat black ass”.

“I have only been in this job, in public office, for a matter of weeks and the misogyny, sexism and racism is coming in thick and fast,” Ms Thorpe told the Senate on Tuesday night.

The ABC has seen a copy of the letter, which takes aim at Senator Thorpe’s activism, but cannot independently verify its origins.

In a statement to the ABC Mr Penman categorically denied sending the letter and said he believed a “fraudster” had copied an electronic signature and attached it to the letter.

“Why don’t you get off your fat black ass and instead of wasting time marching around private property on ‘Djab Wurrung country’ to stop tree felling, actually do some work with your taxpayer funded job?” the letter states.

The CEO of Jim’s Group, Jim Penman says this letter was not written by him and the signature is not a match of his own.(Supplied)

“Taxpayers money was not meant for fat-assed women to go giving food to tree hugging hippies!”

“Devote your time to going to the gym to exhaust your hormonal frustration and lose some weight.”

In a his statement to the ABC, Mr Penman said the signature on the letter did not match his own and is an electronic version.

“Until tonight I had no idea who Lidia Thorpe was and have never communicated with her,” he said.

“Please convey my sympathies and best wishes to the Senator, but tell her this was almost certainly a fraud committed by someone offended by my stand against Daniel Andrews over the recent lockdown.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate her on her achievement in becoming a Senator. This is a major step forward for the Australian people and long overdue.”

Lidia Thorpe, in an aboriginal flag shirt with the words 'protect country', stands in front of trees.
Lidia Thorpe supports the protests over concerns about Aboriginal cultural heritage.(ABC Ballarat: Sian Johnson)

In August, Mr Penman sent a letter to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews criticising his handling of COVID-19 and stage four lockdowns in the state.

The letter, which has been published online is still available in google searches.

Mr Penman says it is “obviously, where the fraudster got it [his signature] from”.

Senator Thorpe is a vocal activist from Djab Wurrung Country and has been outspoken in her criticism of the Victorian Government’s decision to remove a culturally significant tree two weeks ago to make way for a regional highway project in western Victoria.

She previously served in Victorian Parliament and was elected to the Senate earlier this year to replace former Greens leader Richard Di Natale.



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Twitter board expresses confidence in CEO Dorsey


November 3, 2020

(Reuters) – The board of Twitter Inc <TWTR.N> expressed support for Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey on Monday and said it had confidence in the social media company’s “current structure”.

“The committee expressed its confidence in management and recommended that the current structure remain in place,” the board said in a regulatory filing.

The board cited Twitter’s “significantly improving product” and financial performance in the third quarter when revenue grew 14% year-over-year to $936 million.

Earlier this year, Dorsey fought off an attempt by activist investor Elliott Management to oust him from his job by agreeing to growth targets.

The deal bought time for Dorsey, who is also CEO of financial tech company Square <SQ.N>, to show Elliott he could run two public companies.

The social media platform had 187 million monetizable daily active users (mDAU) during the third quarter, missing consensus analyst expectations of 195.2 million users, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The board’s endorsement of Dorsey also comes as the social network faces intense pressure to combat election-related misinformation around Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen Coates)





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Boris Johnson says UK stands united with Austria against terror as he expresses ‘deep shock’ over attack in Vienna


UK Prime Minister Mr Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel both tweeted to express solidarity with Austria after the deadly attack.

Mr Johnson said: “I am deeply shocked by the terrible attacks in Vienna tonight.

“The UK’s thoughts are with the people of Austria – we stand united with you against terror.”

Austria’s top security official said authorities believe there were several attackers involved and that the incident was ongoing.

The city’s streets were reportedly particularly busy as people took to bars and restaurants on the eve of the introduction of harsher restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.

(

Police vehicles line a street in Vienna as officers respond to the attack

/ REUTERS )

The incident comes after a series of terror incidents in France in recent weeks.

Three people killed at Nice basilica last month, while teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in the suburbs of Paris after showing his pupils a cartoon depicting the Islamic prophet Mohammed.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that the French “share the shock and grief of the Austrian people hit by an attack tonight.”

“After France, this is a friendly country that has been attacked. This is our Europe … We will not give in,” he wrote.

Ms Patel tweeted: “Deeply shocked and saddened by the incident that has taken place in Vienna this evening.

“My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected and we stand ready to support in any way we can.”

Vienna police said several shots were fired shortly after 8pm local time in a lively street in the city centre, and that there were six different shooting locations.

Police urged people to avoid all open spaces and public transport in the city.

“There are several injured persons,” police tweeted. “We are on site with all available forces. Please avoid all public squares in the city.”

Oskar Deutsch, the head of the Jewish community in Vienna, said the shooting took place in the street where the city’s main synagogue is located but that it was not clear whether it had been targeted.

The synagogue was closed at the time of the shooting, he added.



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Centre of Indian Trade Unions expresses concern over change in base year for CPI-IW


The Centre of Indian Trade Unions has expressed concerns over the change in the base year of consumer price index for the industrial workers (CPI-IW) from 2001 to 2016, saying the exercise is arbitrary and deliberately designed to suppress the real impact of the price rise of essential items for human survival.

“Entire exercise made by the labour bureau functioning under the ministry of labour on this matter has been thoroughly arbitrary, deliberately designed to suppress the real impact of the price rise of essential items for human survival and also to deprive the workers of their entitlement for legitimate DA,” Tapan Sen, secretary general of CITU said in a statement on Friday.

According to Sen, the government ignored the fact that even in the midst of economic slowdown, the prices of essential items, food items in particular were on the rise. “They did not hesitate to arbitrarily as well as drastically reduce the weight assigned to food items in the standard consumption basket from 46.2% to 39% for the purpose of computation of consumer price index,” CITU said.

The union alleged that the data has been manipulated with a dubious intent. “Manipulation by the government with a dubious intent does not end here,” Sen said. CITU said the linking factor of 2.88 for converting the numbers of 2016 to 2001 series equivalent will suppress the impact of actual price rise.

CITU said till July 2020, the exercise of base revision was being done with the idea of 2013-14 as the base year. “Changing it to 2016 is an afterthought by the Modi regime as the same year, the notorious demoetisation was undertaken affecting negatively the price-level of the items in standard consumption basket for CPI-IW owing to virtual collapse of the economic operation in the country in the last quarter of 2016,” it said.

“CITU denounces such anti-worker pro corporate steps by the BJP Govt and calls upon the workers and unions to protest and oppose such moves of the government,” it added.





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Eknath Khadse quits BJP, blames Fadnavis for his decision; BJP expresses regret


Khadse (68) blamed Fadnavis for “trying to destroy his life” and political career

Mumbai: Sulking since his unceremonious exit from the Devendra Fadnavis-led ministry in 2016, senior Maharashtra BJP leader Eknath Khadse on Wednesday quit the party and will join the Sharad Pawar-led NCP later this week.

Speaking to reporters, Khadse (68) blamed Fadnavis for “trying to destroy his life” and political career, over three decades of it spent in strengthening the BJP in Maharashtra.

 

NCP minister Jayant Patil said Khadse will join the NCP on Friday, ending prolonged speculation over the latter’s next political move.

Khadse has been sulking after he had to resign from the Fadnavis-led ministry in 2016 over corruption allegations. Patil, who is also the state NCP chief, said with the joining of a seasoned leader like Khadse, who was also former leader of opposition in the state Assembly, the NCP will be strengthened, particularly in north Maharashtra’s Khandesh region, from where Khadse hails.

The seniormost minister in the Fadnavis ministry, Khadse resigned as revenue minister in 2016 over land grab allegations, and was since then largely sidelined in the BJP.

 

Patil claimed “a lot of people” want to join the NCP. “As per my information, a lot of MLAs are in touch with him,” the minister said. He said he is sure the BJP will introspect as to why a senior leader like Khadse quit the party. Asked about the role Khadse will be given in the NCP, Patil said, “The party will take a decision about it…he has consented to work under the leadership of Pawar saheb.”

Eknath Khadse’s daughter-in-law Raksha Khadse is BJP’s Lok Sabha member from Raver seat in north Maharashtra.

Khadse lashed out at Fadnavis after quitting the BJP and claimed that the former chief minister instructed the police to implicate him in a fake harassment case. Talking about how he “suffered” in the BJP, Khadse said, “The then CM (Fadnavis) instructed police to register FIR against me on false allegation of harassment by a woman. He said the case would be withdrawn later. Inquiries for corruption was initiated against me in which I came clean.” Khadse said Fadnavis tried to destroy his (political) life.

 

Responding to the charges levelled by Khadse against him, Fadnavis (50) said his former BJP colleague was speaking “half truth”. “If he had complaints about me, he would have told seniors of the party,” Fadnavis said. Terming Khadse’s resignation as unfortunate, Fadnavis said, “It would have been better had he not resigned.” “I will not speak about this today but will do so at a proper time,” Fadnavis said, adding Khadse had painted him a villain while making the allegations against him.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the BJP should think why are its foundation stones coming off when it is reaching the pinnacle of success. Thackeray said Khadse is “definitely welcome” to the family of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress. Thackeray said Khadse is among the leaders who expanded the BJP’s base in parts of the state along with Pramod Mahajan aind Gopinath Munde. Khadse has a separate identity, is a fighter and a straight-forward leader, the Shiv Sena president said.

 

“We (Shiv Sena) left the NDA, the Shiromani Akali Dal also left the alliance recently. Now Khadse is also not with the BJP. Hence, the BJP should think about it. Being an old friend of the BJP, it is my duty to alert them,” he said.

Terming Khadse’s decision to quit the BJP unfortunate, Union minister Raosaheb Danve said the issues he had could have been resolved with time. “Due to some reasons, he was away from the main flow of politics, but that doesn’t mean Khadse should leave the BJP. This is unfortunate,” Danve said.

“The party has received Khadse’s resignation. We tried to dissuade him, but our efforts were in vain. We wish good luck for his political future,” state BJP’s chief spokesperson Keshav Upadhye said. When asked about the future of Raksha Khadse in BJP, he said she has maintained that she will continue with the BJP and “we have no issues with it.”

 

Many BJP leaders in Maharashtra expressed shock and disappointment over Khadse’s decision to quit the party. BJP’s state unit chief Chandrakant Patil said, “We were hopeful that Khadse would stay with the party, until I received his resignation today.” “We were optimistic about finding a solution through dialogue and move ahead irrespective of his disappointment with some leaders…I wish him good luck for his future journey,” he said.

BJP’s former state unit chief Sudhir Mungantiwar said the party needs to think about why Khadse decided to quit. “Khadse’s decision to leave the party has come as a major shock to the BJP’s state unit. He had worked for the growth of the party for several years. I think the party needs to think why such a senior leader decided to quit,” he said.

 



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Pope Francis pushes new boundaries and expresses support for same-sex civil unions



Pope Francis has broken with tradition in a new documentary released this week by expressing support for same-sex civil unions, in some of the clearest language he has used in relation to the rights of LGBTQ people.

“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family,” he says in the documentary, Francesco, by Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that,” he said.

When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis opposed legislation to approve same sex marriage but supported legal protections for the rights of gay couples.

Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh told Reuters that the Pope’s comments in the film were some of the clearest language the pontiff has used on the subject since his election in 2013.

Attitude has ‘massively changed’

The Pope, who early in his papacy made the now-famous “Who am I to judge?” remark about homosexuals trying to live a Christian life, spoke in a section of the film about Andrea Rubera, a gay man who with his partner adopted three children.

Mr Rubera says in the film that he went to a morning Mass at the Pope’s Vatican residence and gave him a letter explaining his situation.

He told the Pope that he and his partner wanted to bring the children up as Catholics in the local parish but did not want to cause any trauma for the children.

Mr Rubera says the Pope telephoned him several days later, telling him he thought the letter was “beautiful” and urging the couple to introduce their children to the parish but to be ready for opposition.

“His message and his advice was really useful because we did exactly what he told us. It’s the third year that they [the children] are on a spiritual path in the parish,” Mr Rubera says in the film.

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are. It teaches that homosexuals should be treated with dignity.

In 2013, Pope Francis said it was not his place to judge homosexuals and they should not be marginalised, but he also condemned the gay lobby as a “serious problem”.

The remarks — made to journalists as he flew back to Rome from a trip to Brazil — appeared to be more conciliatory towards homosexuals than his predecessor Benedict XVI.

“If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” he said.

“The problem is not having this orientation, it is lobbying. That’s the most serious problem I think.”

Reuters



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Parliament proceedings live | MoS Anurag Thakur expresses regret over his comments


Lok Sabha witnessed first adjournment in the Monsoon Session over disruption when Treasury and Opposition members clashed over PM-CARES fund.

On the other hand Rajya Sabha passed four Bills in less than four hours. The Upper House too was adjourned for 30 minutes to mourn the death of Karnataka MP Ashok Gasti.

(For a concise report on the daily going-ons in the Parliament, subscribe to our political newsletter. Subscribe here and get it in your inbox.)

Here are the latest updates:

6.20 pm | Lok Sabha

BJP Member Jayant Sinha continues the discussion on the supplementary demands for grants, 2020-21. This is a manifesto for “atmanirbharta”, he says.

“We are seeking supplementary demand for Rs.2.35 lakh crore, in which huge amounts have been allocated for meeting expenses related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The impact of expenses incurred is that right now we are conducting 10 lakh tests per day for Covid-19, work on vaccine candidates are under way, Covid care centres have been set up, ventilators are being manufactured. In 70 days, we have provided 50,000 ventilators. We should praise and thank the frontline workers,” he says.

“Funds are also being allocated for the benefit of MSMEs, thereby protecting employment. For those with distressed assets, Rs.250 crore has been allocated.

“For MNREGA, an extra Rs.40,000 crore has been given, apart from the Rs.60,000 crore. While 6 crore people were earlier working under MNREGA, it is now 2 crore, as the economy is improving,” he adds.

“We have been able to stabilise the economy, RBI’s role cannot be ignored. The government, in coordination with the RBI, has maintained the credit market well. In India, the rupee has appreciated against the dollar. The world.has confidence in our leadership. Other indicators of economy have shown growth. We know that oil prices in world market are the lowest, so funds have been allocated for creating more oil reserves,” Mr. Sinha says.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury says both the supplementary demands are deemed to have been moved. “I have not found anything to suggest that any new service has been contemplated in the demands for grants.

“There has been a complete breach of trust by the Centre when it comes to revenue sharing with the States. This is completely unacceptable. States are being told to relinquish their rights to collect taxes,” he adds.

6 pm | Lok Sabha

Not my intention to hurt sentiments: Anurag Thakur

The House resumes. Speaker Om Birla is in the Chair.

He says in the past four days, the House functioned well with all the members following the protocols properly. He urges the Members to maintain the dignity of the House and to not indulge in levelling baseless allegations.

“It is my responsibility to protect all the members, I would request Mr. Anurag Thakur to say a few words on the objections raised by the other members,” he says.

Mr. Thakur express regret over his comments.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh praises the Speaker for having resolved the differences. He expresses hope that the House will function smoothly.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury says all the members have immense respect for the Speaker. “We all should keep in mind that we have come together to attend the proceedings in the adverse circumstances, we are here to dispense our responsibilities,” he says.

“None of the members have any complaint against you, we have confidence that you as a guardian will protect all the members. We all will run the House smoothly and protect its dignity, it is the responsibility of all Members,” says Mr. Chowdhary.

5.00 pm | Lok Sabha

Lok Sabha resumes and is immediately adjourned as Opposition leaders continue to demand an apology from Mr. Thakur.

The House proceedings resume at 5.30 p.m. Sloganeering continues. The Chair asks the protesting members to cooperate. The House is adjourned again till 6 p.m.

4.20 pm | Lok Sabha

Lok Sabha resumes. Rama Devi is in the Chair.

Amid slogan-shouting by Opposition members, demanding an apology from Mr. Thakur, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman seeks discussion and voting on the supplementary demands for grants 2020-21 and voting on the demands for excess grants for 2016-17.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury says the House is not in order, and that the MoS should tender an apology.

The House is adjourned till 5 p.m.

3.40 pm | Lok Sabha

The Speaker intervenes. He warns the members not to stand up and move around. “Safety is important. The country is watching us,” he says.

Kalyan Banerjee (TMC) to the Speaker: “You are not saying anything against BJP members. You can even suspend us, but you cannot protect them.”

“I have warned the minister too,” Speaker says.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury points out the opposition MPs were objecting only legal issues. “Nirmala Sitharaman was speaking respectfully,” he says and targets Anurag Thakur for politicising the issue. Treasury Benches oppose him.

Gaurav Gogoi demands an apology from Anurag Thakur.

House adjourned for 30 minutes.

3.30 pm | Lok Sabha

Heated exchanges between Opposition and Treasury benches over PM-CARES

MoS Finance, Anurag Thakur, responds to opposition queries on PM-CARES. He rubbishes the Opposition charges, saying they are against every move the government takes. “Your intentions are wrong,” he says. Opposition leaders raise objection.

He points out courts have disposed of all cases against PM-CARES. The courts have termed it valid as per Constitution. In April they approached the Court and were indulging in politics when the country was facing Covid crisis. Delhi High Court rejected their plea for RTI application to the fund. Contributions to the fund are not going to the government.

Speaker asks him to cut short his speech. You can raise it during the debate, he says.

Mr. Thakur trains his guns on PMNRF. He claims the trust was not even registered. He claims “the fund was only for the Gandhi family.”

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury objects naming the Gandhis. PM-CARES has taken donations from Chinese firms. This has to be probed, he says. Mr. Thakur accuses the Gandhis of mismanagement of funds.

Heated exchanges between Opposition and Treasury benches.

3.30 pm | Lok Sabha

‘Force majeure clause not for GST’

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman responds. She says she wants to allay the fears of opposition that the government is not on a backfoot in compensations. We are not taking away the States rights on GST revenue sharing by enforcing force majeure clause.

The PM has also been a Chief Minister and he knows how important is for the States to get money, we are not taking away the rights of any States, the money due to them will be given, she asserts.

It is within the limits of central government’s terrain to govern tax payments, tax filing, and tax returns, she says.

Vivaad ke Vishwaas is a dispute resolution scheme and not an amnesty scheme, she clarifies.

3.15 pm | Lok Sabha

Row over PM-CARES

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduces The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020.

Shashi Tharoor, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, and A.M. Arif oppose the Bill.

The Bill, replacing an ordinance, extends the deadline for paying taxes and duties in view of COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bill also seeks to provide the same tax treatment to PM CARES Fund as available to Prime Minister National Relief Fund. Opposition MPs oppose this clause in the Bill. They question the need for a new fund, and why is it not being audited by CAG, if it is a public fund.

TMC Member Sougata Roy objects to introduction of the Bill, particularly the provision related to PM Cares Fund. The PM already has a national relief fund and PM relief fund for cancer fund, what is the need for new fund, there will be no audit by CAG of this fund. This fund be abolished and all the funds gathered be transferred to the PM national relief fund, he says.

Congress member Manish Tewari also opposes the Bill saying it does not propose procedural changes, but it has the effect of substantially amending eight different laws. He also objects to the provision pertaining to PM Cares Fund, since its name is attached to the institution of PM, it should rather be brought in through legislation.

3.00 pm | Lok Sabha

Lok Sabha assembles. Speaker Om Birla says he is not allowing any adjournment motions but assures members that the issues can be raised during Zero Hour.

Various papers are being laid on the table.

Speaker notes the absence of concerned ministers at the time of session. He asks the Parliamentary Affairs Minister to plan the day in advance, and modify the list of business accordingly, if the minister coudn’t be in the House for some reason.

2.15 pm

Mandatory daily antigen test for reporters, Parliament staff

Amid fresh cases of coronavirus among MPs, reporters and parliamentary staff entering the Parliament complex will have to undergo mandatory antigen test on a daily basis, according to a new protocol put in place.

Members of both Houses are undergoing RT-PCR test on regular intervals on a voluntary basis, said a senior Parliament official.

A member of Parliament can undergo RT-PCR test as many times he or she likes.

Journalists covering the Monsoon session from press galleries of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha also have the option to undergo the RT-PCR test which is valid for 72 hours.

Since the report of the much reliable RT-PCR takes time, antigen test has been made mandatory on a daily basis.

Government officials accompanying their respective ministers during bill discussions also have to show a negative report of RT-PCR test taken within the last 72 hours of their visit to the complex. – PTI

1.15 pm | Rajya Sabha

Rajya Sabha passes Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 by voice vote.

Rajya Sabha adjourned till 9 a.m. of September 19.

1.05 pm | Rajya Sabha

MoS Home Affairs G. Kisan Reddy replies to the members’ comments:

He responds to the criticism that the House spent two hours addressing these issues, and says that the idea of this Bill is not just to save money, it is also a matter of principle.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi too addresses DMK MP’s criticism saying the concept is charity begins at home. We have to be role models for our country, he says. He also says that he wants to clarify that the saving from the Bills is not Rs. 6 crore, it is at least Rs. 53.83 crore.

Heated words exchanged over politics of PMCARES fund.

1 pm | Rajya Sabha

Congress MP and Leader of Oppositio Gulam Nabi Azad says that MPLAD funds are vital, and asked that its suspension be modified from two years to one year and 100% to 50% cut.

“What do we construct from these funds? We don’t construct palaces. It is used to construct small houses, kachcha roads, and other small but necessary amenities,” he says.

12.50 pm | Rajya Sabha

BSP MP from Uttar Pradesh Veer Singh asks that the details of the migrants who were affected by the lockdown be made public and the funds for their assistance be increased.

MP from J&K Nazir Ahmad Laway asks that the MPLAD funds be restored. He says that it is imperative to have MPLAD as there are grassroot level issues that can be best addressed by the representatives.

Nominated BJP MP Rakesh Sinha calls the Opposition ‘Frankenstein’s monster’, says they oppose every measure regardless of its relevance.

12.45 pm | Rajya Sabha

YSRCP MP from Andhra Pradesh V. Vijayasai Reddy too supports the Bills, and asks that the MPLAD funds be restored.

TDP MP from Andhra Pradesh asks for a Central government probe into the spending of COVID-19 funds by the State government, alleging that there are discrepencies and suspicions of corruption.

AAP MP from Delhi N. D. Gupta says that he supports the Bills, but opines that it sends a message to the citizens that the MPs’ salary had to be forcibly cut to get them to contribute. He says that the contibutions could have been made voluntary, and that it would have saved the House a considerable amount of time.

12.30 pm | Rajya Sabha

MPs object to the suspension of MPLAD funds

SP MP from Uttar Pradesh Vishambhar Prasad Nisha says that he supports the salary cut, but objected to the suspension of MPLAD funds. This money does not go into our pockets, but is used to help the people in our constituencies, he says. Without that, our hands are tied, he adds.

He asks that the government not use this pandemic to sneak in such measures.

DMK MP P. Wilson from Tamil Nadu argues that the savings made from passing this bill is less than the the amount spent in the process of passing it in the Parliament Houses. “The government is spending Rs. 6 crores to save Rs. 4 crore,” he says.

He too calls for the MPLAD fund suspension be lifted. He adds that it is astonishing that the government thought it appropriate to suspend the MPLAD fund while the multi-crore Central Vista project is still on.

12.20 pm | Rajya Sabha

BJP MP from Punjab Shwait Malik asks the Congress to not politicise COVID-19 efforts. He says that the PMCARES funds are being used wisely, and for coronavirus response.

AITC MP from West Bengal Dinesh Trivedi says that he fully supports the wage cuts, but asks the ruling party to include the Opposition in the decision making process.

12.10 pm | Rajya Sabha

Suspend Central Vista project until pandemic is over, says Congress MP

Congress MP from Maharashtra Rajeev Satav says that he fully supports the Bill and is willing to work for Re.1 if that would aid COVID-19 response.

 

However, he says that the attempt to suspend MPLAD is wrong, and criticises the government’s handling of the economy. He says that there is no accountability for PMCARES, and many other programs. He calls for MPLAD to be reinstated because it benefits the people on the ground.

He also asks that the Central Vista project be suspended until the COVID-19 fight is done with.

11.50 am | Rajya Sabha

The Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 passed by voice vote.

Next in consideration: Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Minister Kishen Reddy moves the motion for discussion on the Bill, on behalf of Home Minister Amit Shah. BJP’s Bhupendar Yadav suggests that this Bill’s discussion be combined with that of Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The House agrees and Mr. Reddy moves the motion.

The Bills call for a 30% reduction in salaries of MPs and 30% reduction in the sumptuary allowance of Ministers to aid in COVID-19 response.

11.45 am | Rajya Sabha

Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan thanks the members for their suggestions and concerns. Addressing the concerns regarding the ordinance route, Dr. Vardhan says there is nothing abnormal about this choice as many previous governments have used this option as well.

The Minister objects to the use of the term “quackery” in reference to certain ancient Indian medical system. He says that yoga and naturopathy need a separate national medical commission, and adds that the National Medical Commission for modern medicine will be functional soon.

11.30 am | Rajya Sabha

BJP MP Dr. Vikas Mahatme from Maharashtra begins by congratulating Ms. Vandana Chavan for her role as acting Chair. He suggests that the name of the position should be changed from Chairman to Chairperson to make it gender neutral.

Parliament proceedings live | MoS Anurag Thakur expresses regret over his comments

 

He says the ordinance was necessary to ensure the registration of the council was done in a proper manner.

11.20 am | Rajya Sabha

AAP MP from Delhi Sanjay Singh says that the amount set aside for homoeopathy in the AYUSH ministry budget is very small.

Congress MP from Karnataka L. Hanumanthaiah too terms the government as an “ordinance government”. He names the different ordinances that were brought in by the government previously to support his statement. “What is the necessity of so many ordinances even when the Parliament is running?” he asks.

Parliament proceedings live | MoS Anurag Thakur expresses regret over his comments

 

He says that the current amendments proposed are stop-gap measures.

11.05 am | Rajya Sabha

Almost every member raises the point that it is inappropriate to choose the ordinance route repeatedly.

RJD MP Prof. Manoj Kumar from Bihar too echoes this sentiment. This not a government, this is an ordinance factory, he says.

The MP asks that the Bill be made balanced. He says though the Prime Minister and ruling party keeps using the phrase cooperative federalism, but he has not seen any inkling of that so far. He asks the Health Minister to rectify that. He adds that there are many fake medicines being sold in markets in the name of Indian medicine, and that he requests the government to find a way to address that as well.

10.55 am | Rajya Sabha

SP MP from Ram Gopal Yadav from Uttar Pradesh says that the current amendments have limited scope, and are just to extend the tenure of the Board of Governors. He says there are many diseases for which there is no cure in allopathy, but there is a cure in ayurveda. He supports the Bill.

Parliament proceedings live | MoS Anurag Thakur expresses regret over his comments

 

DMK MP from Tamil Nadu Tiruchi Siva terms the Bill as another attempt by the government to dilute the principle of federalism. He points out that there is no representation of elected members of State Medical Councils in the advisory council.

10.50 am | Rajya Sabha

Ordinance route to be used only in case of emergency, says Prasanna Acharya

“Homoeopathy is an old Indian system of medicine and it is accessible to the poor. So we need to make it robust,” says BJP MP Prasanna Acharya from Odisha.

“My contention isthat the ordinance should be brought in only during an extraordinary situation. We have a Parliament, why do we need an ordinance,” he asks. He says he and his party supports the Bill, but there is not clear demarcation of powers and functions, and that needs to be addressed.

10.40 am | Rajya Sabha

The members are discussing both Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 together.

NCP MP Vandan Chavan is in the Chair.

AITC MP from West Bengal Dr. Santanu Sen asks what can be expected from a government that says that drinking cow urine can cure disease. He accuses the government of promoting quackery and private colleges.

10.20 am | Rajya Sabha

BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh Dr. Sudhanshu Trivedi speaks on the Bill. He says that one of the challenges before the government was to decide how to uphold the quality of teaching and practising homoeopathy. He says that a national eligibility test has been set up for this.

Parliament proceedings live | MoS Anurag Thakur expresses regret over his comments

 

“Some say that there is no scientific proof for homoeopathic medicines effectiveness. Homoeopathy is a strain of medicine that focusses not just on the disease but also the patient. The science behind this is not visible to us,” he says.

“For instance, two ways of combating COVID-19 are by vaccine and by boosting immunity. Methods to boost immunity are available only in Indian medicine, and not by Western medicine,” he says. It is regrettable that we did not explore Indian medicine in depth earlier, says Dr. Trivedi. He adds that the only way to become a world leader is by being a pioneer, and not a follower. He cites the time and money China has poured into exploration of their traditional medicine as an example.

10.10 am | Rajya Sabha

Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan moves the motion to take up Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha in June 2019.

MP K.K. Ragesh registers his protest against the “ordinance raj”.

INC MP Ripun Bora said that the autonomy of the Homeopathy Council, and briefly describes the history of the Council. He said the government has a history of taking away autonomy (cites J&K as an example) of institutes and organisations.

Parliament proceedings live | MoS Anurag Thakur expresses regret over his comments

 

9.55 am | Rajya Sabha

DMK MP from Tamil Nadu Tiruchi Siva says that there is unequal representation of States in Central government jobs. He asks that 90% representation be given for residents of the States.

Other points raised include digitisation of land rights, concern on privatisation of ordinance factories, rights of pensioners, the uneven implementation of Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan.

9.45 am | Rajya Sabha

BJD MP from Odisha Muzibulla Khan raises the issue of revisiting census figures in Odisha as he suspects that figures related to the minority population is inaccurate.

AIAMK MP from Tamil Nadu M. Thambidurai requests the Centre to release the pending Custom Milled Rice subsidy amount of over 5,445 crore to the State. He details the break-up of the amount, and says that the State government is a farmer-friendly government.

Congress MP from Punjab Shamsher Singh Dullo raises the issue of illicit liquor in the State and requests the Centre to intervene and investigate the illicit liquor mafia. He requests that compensation be provided for people affected by this.

9.35 am | Rajya Sabha

Rajya Sabha resumes.

Parliament proceedings live | MoS Anurag Thakur expresses regret over his comments

 

Papers laid on the table. Chairman reminds the House of safety guidelines. He asks the members to avoid meeting him in his chamber in person, and instead to write to him their requests. Slips are not allowed in the the examination halls, but they are allowed here, says Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, prompting laughter.

9.15 am

Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe tests COVID positive

BJP MP from Maharashtra Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He shared the news on Twitter.

The MP said that he had tested negative on September 11, but after he suffered from mild fever and headache, he got himself examined and retested. He said that he is being treated for the virus and appealed those who interacted with him to consult a doctor.

9 am | Rajya Sabha

The Upper House has been adjourned till 9.30 a.m following obituary reference to Karnataka MP Ashok Gasti.

Ashok Gasti

 

Gasti, who was BJP Rajya Sabha member from Raichur, succumbed to COVID-19 at a private hospital in Bengaluru on Thursday night. He was critically ill with multi-organ failure and was on life support system in the intensive care unit.

 

Covering Parliament during a pandemic

Sobhana K. Nair, who is covering the proceedings from the Parliament House, writes:

What strikes you the most when you enter Parliament now is emptiness. There are no milling crowds, no chatter, and no reporters tailing parliamentarians.

Strict rules have been put in place to ensure safety. To make sure that there are no big crowds, the number of reporters has been severely limited by both Houses of Parliament. The list of news organisations that are allowed inside the Parliament premises has been trimmed. Many regional and smaller organisations are barred. On any given day, there are not more than 35 reporters allowed inside the premises. The Rajya Sabha has come up with a roster allocating different dates to each organisation. On the days one doesn’t figure in the list, one has no choice but to watch the live transmission from miles away. No photographers, except from the news agency PTI, have been provided access. No television cameras are allowed except Doordarshan, ANI, Rajya Sabha TV, and Lok Sabha TV. And these camerapersons too are allowed only up to a certain point.

 

Rajya Sabha

Bills for Consideration and Passing

  • Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020
  • Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2020
  • Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020
  • Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020
  • Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Lok Sabha

Bill for Introduction

  • Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020

Bills for consideration and passing

  • Bilateral Netting of Qualified Financial Contracts Bill, 2020
  • Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020
  • Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020



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Coronavirus update: U.S. case and death tallies keep rising, as Fauci expresses frustration and warns not to look on the bright side


On a somber day for Americans, the number of U.S. cases and deaths resulting from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 continued to climb to lead the world, prompting Dr. Anthony Fauci to express frustration in the “lack of success” the U.S. has had in containing the outbreak as the pandemic reached the six-month mark.

The U.S. case toll rose above 6.4 million on Friday and at least 191,600 people have died, according to data provided by the New York Times. That comes after 37,786 new cases were reported on Thursday, above the daily average of 35,616 over the past week, and as the death toll increased by at least 915.

Fauci, who is head of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases and the White House adviser on the coronavirus, said at a Harvard Medical School webinar Thursday that every day he looks at the COVID-19 data, he gets “more depressed and more depressed” that daily cases have never declined to the baseline he would like.

He said that while daily new cases have come down a bit — the daily average is down 16% from the average two weeks earlier — he said it was still an “extraordinarily unacceptable baseline” when considering the economy is reopening. When he presented data showing the reason for the high baseline, when compared with other countries, was likely because the U.S. didn’t shut down to the extent of other countries, he “got a little push back from people in the government.”

Don’t miss: Opinion: The COVID-19 pandemic is about to enter its most treacherous phase.

If there is a lesson to learn, as the Friday marks six months since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, Fauci said “don’t ever ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. And don’t try and look at the rosy side of things.”

His comments come as President Donald Trump faced a backlash over his interview with Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward in which the president said he knew of the dangers of the coronavirus but played down them to not create a panic.

And at a rally in Michigan on Thursday, Trump defended his optimistic tone by reportedly comparing it to that of U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II, who had advised people to keep calm and carry on.

In other news:

Despite some recent claims that the U.S. mortality rate was one of the lowest in the world, New York Times data showed that out of 169 countries, U.S. had the 51st highest rate at 3.0%, which puts it in the 70th percentile. And for deaths per 100,000 population, it was among the highest at 58.61.


Johns Hopkins University & Medicine

Although 34 U.S. states have shown a decline in new cases over the past week, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University, 33 states have also reported a decline in tests per 1,000 people. Meanwhile, 30 states have had more than 5% of tests produce positive results, which the WHO has said is a threshold that positivity rates should remain below.

A New York Times survey of more than 1,600 universities and colleges in the U.S. indicated that there have been at least 88,000 cases and at least 60 deaths since the pandemic began. And research published in JAMA this week showed that of 3,222 young adults aged 18 to 34 years who required hospitalization for COVID-19, 21% (684) required intensive care, 10% (331) required mechanical ventilation and 2.7% (88) died.

A new report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that people who tested positive for COVID-19 were about twice as likely to have reported eating recently at a restaurant compared with people who tested negative. Read more.

The pandemic has changed how 9/11 was being commemorated. At the New York memorial, thousands of family members are still invited, but the names of the people who died were heard from a recording, rather than live as in previous years. Read more.

Latest tallies

There are now 28.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, the Johns Hopkins data show. At least 910,460 people have died and at least 19.0 million people have recovered.

The U.S. case and death tolls are by far the highest in the world. In cases, India is second at 4.56 million and Brazil is third at 4.24 million, followed by Russia at 1.05 million and Peru at 710,067.

Brazil has the second highest death toll after the U.S. at 129,522, India is third at 76,271 and Mexico is fourth with 69,649 deaths. The U.K. is fifth in the world but first in Europe with 41,697 deaths.

For recoveries, the U.S. is third at 2.40 million, behind India at 3.54 million and Brazil at 3.66 million.

China has 90,139 confirmed cases and 4,733 deaths, according to its official numbers, while 85,021 have recovered.

What are companies saying?

Peloton Interactive Inc.
PTON,
-1.16%

 reported late Thursday its first profitable quarter, as the at-home fitness company’s top- and bottom-line results both beat expectations. “The strong tailwind we experienced in March as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold has continued to propel demand for our products into the [fiscal] fourth quarter and the first couple of months of Q1 fiscal year 2021,” said Chief Executive James Foley, as MarketWatch’s Jeremy Owens reported.

Oracle Corp.
ORCL,
+0.03%

 reported late Thursday fiscal first-quarter profit and revenue that rose above expectations, and provided a second-quarter outlook that was above forecasts. One of the reasons for the better-than-expected Q1 results was that revenue from Zoom Video Communications Inc.
ZM,
-0.29%
,
one of the beneficiary’s of the work-from-home trend accelerated by the pandemic, had more than doubled during from Q4, as MarketWatch’s Wallace Witkowski reported.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Simeon Siegel said that while the pandemic has hurt the retail sector in many ways, forcing some companies to close some stores is not one of them. He said quick reaction by companies to “shrink to grow” is providing an opportunity to thrive that doesn’t appear very often, as MarketWatch’s Tonya Garcia reports.

Hologic Inc.
HOLX,
+3.74%

raised its fiscal fourth-quarter revenue outlook, to put it well above analyst expectations, citing increased production and strong sales of COVID-19 tests. The diagnostics products and medical imaging systems company said it now expects revenue to rise 54% to 60% from a year ago to $1.225 billion to $1.275 billion, up from previous guidance of $925 million to $1.025 billion. The FactSet consensus was $986.5 million.



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Corona expresses leading to Bengal spike: CM Mamata Banerjee | India News


KOLKATA: Terming Shramik Special trains “Corona Expresses”, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday blamed the railways for the sudden spike in the state’s Covid numbers, while laying out a detailed blueprint for a gradual revival of the economy from June 1. Mamata criticised the railways for ferrying migrant workers home in “cramped train compartments, often without food or water”. She took particular exception to the manner in which social distancing rules were being flouted on the trains. “Two to three people are having to share a seat when it is the state government which is paying for passengers on 235 trains,” she said.
“Tell me why the railways is not maintaining social distancing… These trains are spreading terror among citizens. Villagers are saying, ‘Corona Express is coming, bhaag jao’.” “When I was the railway minister, I increased the number of bogies on each train to 25,” Mamata said. “I know that the railways has a huge number of bogeys, which is why it can run special trains during festivals. The railways could have run more trains instead, allotting a berth per passenger. They could have given them food and water,” she added, saying the “unhealthy and inhuman” conditions in which migrants were being sent to the state had caused the uptick in its Covid numbers.
Mamata also spelt out the post-lockdown roadmap for Bengal: from June 1, public and private offices, places of worship and shops can all open in a phased manner, but educational institutions will remain shut till June-end. She also eased the 20-passengers only restriction on private buses.
From June, the maximum number of passengers, for each bus, is its seating capacity. No one would be allowed to stand, the CM specified. The CM spoke about infrastructural constraints the state was facing with the twin challenges of Covid and Cyclone Amphan. “We have a certain capacity for health screening. How can we manage things if one lakh people are sent in a day?” In her attempt to balance life and livelihood, Mamata said Bengal would allow shops to open, hawkers to set up stalls and tea gardens and jute mills to start operating in full swing from June 1.
From June 8, government and private offices are free to reopen, but with restrictions. State government offices, she clarified later, would operate with 70% workforce (up from 50%), while in the private sector, she left it to the managements to “decide on workforce capacity and act accordingly”. She urged everyone in the private sector to stay safe and “work indoors as much as possible”.



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