Blaming government for judicial vacancies unfair: DV Sadananda Gowda

Union Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda has described the criticism heaped on the Modi government for “inaction” in filling up judicial vacancies as “unfair and factually incorrect”. Making a careful comment on Chief Justice of India (CJI) Tirath Singh Thakur’s “outburst” blaming the Centre for delay in appoint of judges, the minister, in an interview to Raghav Ohri, said, “there’s no truth” in the charge.

On the ratio of the number of judges to the population being “grossly inadequate”, the minister said the Law Commission has twice concluded that it did not consider the judge-population ratio to be a scientific criterion for determining the adequacy of the judge strength. Underlining the need for liberalisation of legal services, Gowda said entry of foreign firms and lawyers “on reciprocal basis” is crucial. For a “better” crop of Judges, Gowda said the legal education needs to be “geared up” to produce quality lawyers who can go on to become better judges. On politics, Gowda minced no words in stating that “nobody can revive Congress” regardless of whether a Gandhi leads the pack or not.


Nitin Gadkari’s home state Maharashtra to get most road projects

Maharashtra, the home state of Union highways minister Nitin Gadkari, will get the lion’s share of road projects this year, which will be executed by the road transport and highways ministry.

According to an official order issued by the ministry on Friday, officials have been allowed to sanction projects with expenses up to Rs 20,000 crore for Maharashtra during this year. The total approved sanction ceiling for building highways for 2016-17 for all states is pegged at Rs 42,208 crore.

These works don’t include projects that are undertaken by National Highways Authority of India.


Source: ET

Government caves in to demands to scrap primary school spelling test after paper was leaked online

primary school spelling test due to be taken by hundreds of thousands of seven-year-olds this summer has been ditched after it was accidentally published online.

The test, part of the Key Stage 1Sats assessment, is taken in May along with tests in maths and reading.

But it emerged the spelling test had been uploaded to the Standards and Testing Agency website as a practice paper by mistake in January.

The error was only spotted this week when a number of schools piloted the test and the questions were recognised.

The Government initially said the test would still be used as part of the Key Stage 1 assessment – used to gauge 500,000 pupils’ progress but not to rank schools – but following pressure from teachers it has relented.

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Feds scrap Apple lawsuit in New York

The Department of Justice will no longer go after Apple in court in an effort to compel the company to unlock an iPhone related to aBrooklyn drug case. According to the court document US Attorney Robert Capers submitted (and obtained by Apple Insider), someone already handed the feds the passcode they needed. If you’ll recall, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against Cupertino in the state, using the All Writs Act to get the tech titan to comply.

Apple didn’t budge and kept refusing to unlock the device, just like it fought the DOJ in the San Bernardino iPhone case. Authorities also dropped the San Bernardino lawsuit after theypaidhackers with a history of selling software vulnerabilities to the government fora toolthat cracked the device open.

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more scrap dealers arrested in Deonar fire case

The Shivaji Nagar police on Friday night arrested two more scrap dealers in connection with the fire that took place at the Deonar dumping ground. Earlier, the Deonar police had arrested 13 scrap dealers for allegedly being involved in the crime.

The two arrested accused have been identified as Rafeeq Ahmed Khan (49) and Ateeq Ahmed Khan (42). According to the police, both of them are in the scrap business and would allegedly send rag-picker children to set the dumping ground on fire to collect metal scrap.

“We got information that Rafeeq and Ateeq were both also involved in the crime and were part of the gang that was involved in setting fire to the Deonar dumping ground,” said Balasaheb Jadhav, senior police inspector, Shivaji Nagar police station. He further added: “The arrested accused used to send rag-picker children to set fire to the heaps of garbage at the Deonar dumping ground so that they could collect metal scrap.”

The incidents of fire at Deonar dumping ground that took place in January and March this year had engulfed the entire eastern suburbs with a thick layer of smog, leading to various health hazards. The impact of the smog was such that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had to keep 78 schools in the area shut for almost a week. Even National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellites captured the incident.

According to the police, it was revealed during the course of the investigation that the fire at the Deonar dumping ground was not natural and that some mischief mongers had caused it. While probing the matter, the police had arrested a total of 13 scrap dealers earlier for allegedly using rag-picker children to set the dumping ground on fire to extract metal scrap.

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Ministers abandon plan to scrap farm animal welfare codes

Ministers have backed down on plans to repeal farm animal welfare codes, abandoning their move to put the poultry industry in charge of the guidance on chickens that was scheduled to come into force this month.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs released a statement confirming the U-turn, saying the decision was taken “in light of views raised”.

The move to scrap the official code on farming chickens for meat and breeding was revealed last month by the Guardian, prompting an outcry from animal charities and opposition parties.

The change in favour of an “industry-led” guidance, which was to be written and supervised by the British Poultry Council, was part of the deregulatory agenda being led by Liz Truss, the environment secretary.

Other sectors that were to get control of their own guidance in future included the cattle, sheep and pig farming industries.

But a Defra spokesman said on Thursday: “We have the highest standards of animal welfare in the world, and no changes have been proposed to the legislation upholding them. We want to draw more closely on the expertise of the farming industry to ensure our welfare codes reflect the very latest scientific and veterinary developments.
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“In light of views raised, we have given the matter further consideration and believe we can achieve this objective by retaining the existing statutory codes. The work of the farming industry has been invaluable and we will continue to work with them to ensure our guidance is updated to best help them to comply with our high welfare standards.”

Concerns that welfare standards could be weakened had been raised by the RSCPA and Compassion in World Farming as well as by Labour, which this week called for an urgent parliamentary debate on the changes.

Kerry McCarthy, the shadow environment secretary, wrote to Truss on Wednesday, saying: “Abolishing statutory animal welfare codes flies in the face of common sense and risks a return to dangerous days in Britain when animal welfare standards were lax and food scares were rife.

Pfizer, Allergan scrap $160 billion deal after U.S. tax rule change

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and Ireland-based Allergan Plc (AGN.N) left their $160 billion merger on Wednesday, a noteworthy win for President Barack Obama, who has been pushing to check bargains in which organizations move abroad to cut duties.

Pfizer said the choice was driven by new U.S. Treasury rules went for such arrangements, called reversals. The merger would have permitted New York-based Pfizer to cut its duty bill by an expected $1 billion yearly by domiciling in Ireland, where charge rates are lower.

While the new Treasury rules did not name Pfizer and Allergan, one of the procurements focused on a particular element of their merger – Allergan’s history as a noteworthy acquirer of different organizations.

Allergan Chief Executive Brent Saunders said on CNBC TV that the new Treasury standard would not prevent the organization from doing other stock-based acquisitions when this fall. The new Treasury standard considers the previous three years of an organization’s arrangements.

“It truly appeared as though they made a fine showing with regards to with developing a provisional principle to stop this arrangement and clearly it was effective,” Saunders said.


› Mega-bargain crumple a second-quarter wake-up for merger-arb speculative stock investments

Saunders said that he would stay to run the standalone organization with an attention on both arrangements and innovative work. Allergan will likewise advance with arrangements for its $40.5 billion offer of its nonexclusive medication business to Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA.TA). It anticipates that the exchange will near to June.

With the arrangement behind it, Pfizer said it would choose this year about whether to divide from its many non specific pharmaceuticals into a different business. It had put off settling on that choice until 2019 in the wake of reporting its arrangement with Allergan last November.

Pfizer will pay Allergan $150 million to repay costs from its arrangement.

Clinton and Sanders trench graciousness for New York scrap

Low-level squabbling between Democratic competitors blasts away from any confining influence in front of New York essential, with specific hostility over who is the most bona fide.

As though finding betting in Casablanca, political agents affirmed themselves “stunned” on Thursday at indications of developing spite between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in front of their out of the blue aggressive New York essential decision.

“An extraordinary failure,” griped Clinton representative Brian Fallon, after her adversary reacted to what he accepted were close to home assaults on him by addressing whether she was “qualified to be president” either.

Precisely who began this most recent war of words, is presently the subject of a war of words as well, with the Clinton camp blaming Sanders for reacting to false media reports of its new forceful procedure as opposed to precisely reflecting what their hopeful had said or done.

In any case, low-level quarreling between the battles that had been put on hold amid a more courteous midwest essential in Wisconsin burst away from any confining influence again without a moment to spare for an unquenchable New York media.

“It is really clear that their procedure is to denounce Bernie Sanders’ record … furthermore, run a smear crusade,” reacted his battle administrator Jeff Weaver on MSNBC. “They are going to perceive how a genuine New Yorker battles back … he is a child of Brooklyn and knows unpleasant and tumble, he is not going to take it.”

Typically, this fight over who is the true New Yorker is turned out to be the most beautiful.

The 74-year-old congressperson from Vermont lays the most seasoned case, having put in the initial 18 years of his life in a Brooklyn dwelling fabricating that left him with a standout amongst the most particular accents in American legislative issues.

Be that as it may, his long nonattendance uncovered itself embarrassingly this week when he was asked by columnists how the metro functioned and depicted utilizing tokens, eliminated in 2003.

Spain Debates: Is It Time To Scrap The Siesta?

Every day at 2 p.m., Antonio Davila rolls the metal shutters down over the front of his computer repair shop in central Madrid. He heads home for lunch, picks up his kids at school — and then goes back to work from 5 to 9 p.m. He’s originally from Peru, and says Spanish hours took some getting used to.

“The sun sets later here, and that affects people’s habits,” Davila says. “I open my shop around 10:30 a.m., close in the afternoon, and then stay open later at night.”

His schedule is typical for most small retailers in Spain, where the sun does set later — ever since the military dictator Francisco Franco moved the clocks ahead one hour, to put the country on Central European Time, during World War II, in solidarity with Nazi Germany. And the mid-afternoon break made sense when Spain was mostly agricultural, and it was too hot to work outdoors.

But last weekend, acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said it’s time for a change.

“I will find a consensus to make sure the working day ends at 6 p.m.,” Rajoy said told a party conference Saturday in Seville.

He proposed scrapping the mid-afternoon break, and changing Spain’s time zone back to match that of Britain, Portugal and Morocco, countries on roughly the same longitude.

Rajoy’s speech barely made news inside Spain. Spanish lawmakers have debated the idea before. In 2013, a parliamentary committee approved a proposal to change Spanish clocks back one hour. But the full legislature never agreed.

Spaniards Annoyed At Foreign Coverage

Foreign media, however, have made much of Rajoy’s speech. U.S. and British headlines say “Adios, Siesta!” or “Time to Wake Up!” — alongside stock photos of fat men snoozing, or even bullfighters sleeping on benches.

“A big fat lazy slob sleeping a siesta! It’s an offensive image — but it’s an image people outside of Spain have of Spain,” says Matthew Bennett, editor of the website The Spain Report. “It’s a stereotype of Spain, along with bulls and flamenco and tortilla and sangria — like the English and rain and umbrellas and bowler hats. There’s no way of getting rid of these historical stereotypes — but they do grate with Spaniards, because they work very hard.”

Spaniards typically work longer hours, and sleep less, on average, than other Europeans. While Rajoy’s initial speech grabbed few headlines at home, the foreign media’s subsequent coverage of it did.

“British headlines say Rajoy wants to scrap 3-hour naps,” wrote Spain’s conservative ABC daily. “The international press quips: Rajoy wants to scrap the siesta,” was the headline on El País, Spain’s leading newspaper.

Bennett says he’s been fielding calls all week from foreign journalists asking him to explain the importance of the siesta to Spaniards. But he says most Spaniards simply don’t take one. They run errands, have lunch or work straight through their mid-afternoon break, but are still expected to work late too, and thus don’t get home until 8 or 9 p.m.

“Everybody kind of idealizes European working hours, and [they] say, ‘My goodness, if we finished at five or six [o’clock], we could have like three hours off every evening to do other stuff that’s not work,'” he says.

Stuff like fighting bulls, dancing flamenco or drinking sangria on the beach — or so the stereotype goes.

Working Long Hours

“I guess there is like an element of truth in all of this. Yes, there is flamenco in Spain. Yes, we used to have siestas, maybe more in rural areas to escape the heat,” says Yolanda Martín, a Spanish dance expert who gives flamenco-themed tours of Madrid, and runs a website dedicated to the art form. “But no longer, really. Most people I know never take siestas — or maybe only on a Saturday.”

At 32, Martín is part of a Spanish generation that’s survived economic crisis, and is now working long hours — if its members have jobs at all — for less pay than in most other western European countries. But she says the stereotype of Spain — laid-back, or concerned more with fiestas than work — is something Spaniards themselves created, once upon a time.

“In the 1950s and 60s, when the Franco regime was trying to attract tourists to Spain, they kind of sold this idea. ‘You want sun, you want beach? Come to Spain, you’re going to get all of that.’ We did kind of exploit that, and maybe it’s brought money, and it’s been good,” Martín says. “But at the same time, it can harm us. We’re not portrayed as a serious country. You know, we’re like lazy.”

Polls show most Spaniards would prefer to work a nine-to-five schedule. But Rajoy, the acting prime minister, might not be the one to make the change.

His conservatives lost their majority in elections late last year, and rival parties are in the process of negotiating a possible coalition government, to oust him. Rajoy could leave office this summer. And then he’d have plenty of time for siestas, even if he doesn’t seem to like them.

Pfizer, Allergan scrap $160 billion deal after U.S. tax rule change

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and Ireland-based Allergan Plc (AGN.N) walked away from their $160 billion merger on Wednesday, a major win for President Barack Obama, who has been pushing to curb deals in which companies move overseas to cut taxes.

Pfizer said the decision was driven by new U.S. Treasury rules aimed at such deals, called inversions. The merger would have allowed New York-based Pfizer to cut its tax bill by an estimated $1 billion annually by domiciling in Ireland, where tax rates are lower.

While the new Treasury rules did not name Pfizer and Allergan, one of the provisions targeted a specific feature of their merger – Allergan’s history as a major acquirer of other companies.

Allergan Chief Executive Brent Saunders said on CNBC television that the new Treasury rule would not stop the company from doing other stock-based acquisitions as soon as this fall. The new Treasury rule takes into account the past three years of a company’s deals.

“It really looked like they did a very fine job at constructing a temporary rule to stop this deal and obviously it was successful,” Saunders said.