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Marlborough transgender student starts petition to change school’s bathroom rules

first_imgNewsTalk ZB 16 June 2016 Marlborough Girls’ College is undertaking a review after a transgender student began a petition over which bathrooms she could use.Stefani Muollo-Gray says she’s been told to either use the boys or unisex bathrooms after a teacher at the school questioned which toilet she used.She’s started a petition which now has over 5000 signatures.But, acting principal Jo Chamberlain said when first enrolled, the 16-year-old and her parents agreed she would use the boys’ bathrooms.Minister of Education Hekia Parata said she knows the school is working hard to resolve the issues, indicating an agreement had been previously reached on which bathrooms Ms Muollo-Gray would use.“There are other girls at the school who have different views and the school has to balance all of those. I think that they have managed incredibly well to this point.”Family First National Director Bob McCroskie said the legal opinion sides with the school.“School toilets, showers and bunk rooms at camps and sports teams should be based on biology. Biology is an objective reality as opposed to just a subject of assessment of how someone feels.”READ MORE: http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/marlborough-transgender-student-starts-petition-to-change-schools-bathroom-rules/Marlborough Girls’ College tells student to use boys’ toiletNewsHub 16 June 2016Hekia Parata says she’s not sure what’s unfair about a transgender girl at an all-girls’ school not being allowed to use the girls’ bathroom.Ministry head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey says it has been working with the school to find the best solution.“It’s important students feel safe at school and are not subjected to abusive or bullying behaviour,” she says.The sexuality guidelines for schools will be update this year to include more information on experiences of gay, lesbian and transgender youth to raise awareness among staff.Family First has now waded into the situation, giving them the legal opinion for schools released earlier this year which says under the law they don’t need to allow transgender students access to shared toilets, showers or changing rooms, or to participate in sports which don’t match their biological sex.READ MORE:  http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/marlborough-girls-college-tells-student-to-use-boys-toilet-2016061611#axzz4Bif4TU00Keep up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.last_img read more


Coach Terry Smith Leaves Gateway Nest

first_imgby Smokin’ Jim FrazierFor New Pittsburgh CourierCoach Terry Smith is the greatest athlete in Gateway High School history. In 1986 he led the Gators to a state championship. He was the head football coach at Gateway for the last 11-years and finished his career as Gateway’s highest winning percentage coach with a 77% winning record. He was 101-30 in his 11 seasons as head coach.In June the school board voted to reduce his athletic director position from full-time to part-time and cut his salary in half. Smith filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, in October that said the decision was racially motivated. He is not withdrawing the complaint.Coach Smith recently accepted a job as wide-receivers coach and passing game coordinator for the Temple University Owls football team. His salary at Temple will be $150,000, he said.Smith, who was an assistant coach at Duquesne University from 1997 to 2000, said he will be Temple’s recruiting coordinator for the Pittsburgh area, as well as the areas around State College, Johnstown, Erie and into Ohio.“I was blessed to have good coaches around me. Michael Booth, a Brashear graduate, has been with me all 11 years, from day one to the very end,” Smith said. “There were a number of other coaches who were major parts of the program.”Football is like the Art of War, so creating your competitive exit strategy is somewhat similar to the military carefully calculating and planning a battle strategy necessary to win a war. When did coach Smith decide to pursue the Owls?“I never applied to Temple. They came to me,’ Smith said.“This is something that I always wanted to do, but I didn’t know if I would ever get the opportunity to do it. Our goal is to win a Big East conference championship.”Smith was honored in September 2010 by the New Pittsburgh Courier as one of the 50 Men of Excellence and has been one of the top coaches in the WPIAL. In 11 seasons at Gateway, Smith sent 23 players to NCAA Division I-A colleges and 17 more to Division I-AA colleges.Despite all his success he has been under the microscope from the start, the scrutiny even more intense than normal because he was a first-time head coach and because he is Black.A private investigator was hired by the Gateway school board in November, by then-school board President Dave Magill and then-Vice President Steve O’Donnell, and found no improprieties.Making an often arrogant and out-of-touch institution such as the school board look like a paragon of common sense is no easy task. But Coach Smith somehow found a way to do exactly that last week.“Gateway hired a private investigator to check into every single player on our roster and they found nothing,” said Smith. “They spent over $4,000 for this investigation. When you run a program that is first class and you put kids first you would think that money could have been used more wisely.”It is believed that now that Coach Smith has moved on that the Athletic Director’s job will be restored to full-time status.So look for this wise old Owl to meet with the district officials along with his attorney (Milton Raiford), the EEOC legal staff and defeat the Gateway School Board and win a Big East Conference football championship in 2013.last_img read more


A-Rod banned for 2014 season, arbitrator rules

first_imgIn this Aug. 20, 2013 file photo, New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez reacts after striking out in the second inning of the second game of a baseball doubleheader at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Rodriguez was dealt the most severe punishment in the history of baseball’s drug agreement when an arbitrator ruled the New York Yankees third baseman is suspended for the entire 2014 season as a result of a drug investigation by Major League Baseball.The decision by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz on Saturday cut the suspension issued Aug. 5 by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig from 211 games to this year’s entire 162-game regular-season schedule plus any postseason games. The three-time American League Most Valuable Player will lose just over $22 million of his $25 million salary.Rodriguez vowed to continue his fight in federal court to reverse the decision.“It’s virtually impossible. The arbitration will stand. I think it’s almost inconceivable that a federal court would overturn it,” said former baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent, a graduate of Yale Law School. “The arbitration is itself an appeal from the commissioner’s judgment. How many appeals do you go?”Rodriguez is the most high-profile player ensnared by baseball’s drug rules, which were first agreed to in 2002 as management and union attempted to combat the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. In sustaining more than three-quarters of Selig’s initial penalty, Horowitz’s decision will be widely viewed as a victory for the 79-year-old Selig, who has ruled baseball since 1992 and says he intends to retire in January 2015.A 14-time All-Star, Rodriguez has been baseball’s highest-paid player under a $275 million, 10-year contract. He has spent parts of the last six seasons on the disabled list and will be 39 years old when he is eligible to return to the field in 2015. He is signed with the Yankees through the 2017 season.Rodriguez admitted five years ago he used performance-enhancing drugs while with Texas from 2001-03 but has denied using them since. He already sued MLB and Selig in October, claiming they are engaged in a “witch hunt” against him.“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable.”The Major League Baseball Players Association had filed a grievance last summer saying the discipline was without “just cause.”The 65-year-old Horowitz, a California-based lawyer who became the sport’s independent arbitrator in 2012, heard the case over 12 sessions from Sept. 30 until Nov. 21. Technically, he chaired a three-man arbitration panel that included MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred and union General Counsel Dave Prouty. The written opinion was not made public.In Rodriguez’s only partial victory, Horowitz ruled he is entitled to 21-183rds, or about 11.5 percent, of his salary this year, a person familiar with the decision said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision was not made public. That comes to $2,868,852.46.Baseball’s drug agreement says the amount of lost pay shall match the number of regular-season games suspended, regardless of days over the season, which is 183 days this year.Despite the ban, baseball’s drug rules allow Rodriguez to participate in spring training and play in exhibition games, although the Yankees may try to tell him not to report.New York figures to be happy with the decision, which eliminates uncertainty and gives the Yankees additional money to sign Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka or other free agents while remaining under the $189 million luxury tax threshold.MLB was largely pleased.“While we believe the original 211-game suspension was appropriate, we respect the decision rendered by the panel and will focus on our continuing efforts on eliminating performance-enhancing substances from our game,” MLB said in a statement.The union said it “strongly disagrees” with the ruling but added “we recognize that a final and binding decision has been reached.”“We respect the collectively-bargained arbitration process which led to the decision,” the union’s statement added.Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch testified in the hearing after reaching an agreement with MLB to provide evidence.“Tony Bosch doesn’t take joy in seeing Alex Rodriguez suspended from baseball, but he believes the arbitrator’s decision was appropriate,” his spokeswoman, Joyce Fitzpatrick, said in a statement.Bosch is to appear Sunday on “60 Minutes” along with MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred. In an interview with “CBS Evening News on Saturday,” Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes” said Bosch told him he administered six banned substances to Rodriguez, including testosterone and human growth hormone.Picked first in the 1993 amateur draft, Rodriguez reached the majors at age 18 with Seattle and was an All-Star by 20. He seemed destined to become one of the greatest players in the history of the game, and appeared in line to break the career home run record — he ranks fifth with 654.“This injustice is MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety of defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review,” Rodriguez said.“I have been clear that I did not use performance-enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court. I am confident that when a federal judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension.”Rodriguez has claimed Selig was on a vendetta to smear him as a way of burnishing the commissioner’s image following the Steroids Era. Both sides have admitted paying for evidence as they prepared for the hearing.Fourteen players were penalized following the Biogenesis probe, and they all accepted penalties. Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun sat out the final 65 games of the season, the other players were given 50-game suspensions.A-Rod’s drug penalty was for “his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone over the course of multiple years,” MLB said last summer. His punishment under the labor contract was “for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the office of the commissioner’s investigation.”Rodriguez’s penalty was more than double the previous high for a PED suspension, a 100-game ban given last year to San Francisco pitcher Guillermo Mota for a second offense. Kansas City infielder Miguel Tejada was given a 105-game ban last summer following a third positive test for amphetamines.last_img read more


Tony Becca | Cricket, a game of many moods

first_imgI was born during the dark clouds of the second World War, and to those who were born after that, I make no apologies for it, even if, to a few, I am considered old fashion for my views, and especially so, on cricket. And my view on cricket is simply this: for whatever reason, cricket today is a game for all kinds of people, for three kinds of people, including those who love it for its skill between bat and ball, for its excitement, drama, and surprises, and those who prefer it for its artificial atmosphere and finishes, and especially after a quick 20-over affair. And I respect and admire all three versions of the game, but I love the original one, the one that fully tests ones skills in the many aspects of the game, including technique with bat and ball, the intricacies of the game, and the many variables as it meanders through the unknown and on to the end for one to five days. I love cricket for what it really is: a game of skill, of excitement and drama, of surprises and disappointments, and, as Mark Nicholas, the former captain of Hampshire, has said, one of the rearguard action. Now a journalist, Nicholas, writing on cricinfo.com recently, wrote that people have apparently turned off Test cricket because of its length, its total dependency on technique, the possibility of enduring maiden overs after and maiden overs day after day as batsmen fight for survival, and the ever-present possibility of the dreaded draw. To Nicholas, however, and for me also, the draw is not a dreaded draw, at least not all the time. The draw, which can be really be boring at times, can also be an attraction, and an exciting, nail-biting one. And it can be, as it has been on many, many occasions, as exciting as many thrilling victories, when the draw comes after victory seemed almost a certainty or almost a foregone conclusion for one team, and when one team appears dead and buried. At such times, it is almost like a miracle to come away alive and ready to fight another day. How can I forget, as a young man, the Test match at Lord’s in 1963, when the West Indies went all out for victory on the last day, with fast bowler Wes Hall bowling non-stop all day, and when Hall started bowling the last over of the day, Colin Cowdrey, with his left-arm in plaster, came out to bat left-handed as the last man for England with six runs to get and one wicket in hand? How can I forget either, Garry Sobers and David Holford, with the West Indies on 95 for five in their second innings and just eight runs ahead of England at Lord’s in 1966, putting on 274 to save the game? And how can I forget, as a man, that wonderful performance of V. V. S. Laxman and Rahul Dravid in Kolkatain 2001, when, after being dismissed for 171 and following on 274 runs behind, they stroked 281 and 180 in a partnership of 340 to pull an amazing victory? How can I forget that day at Trent Bridgein in 1966 when, with the West Indies in trouble and fighting to save the game, Derek Underwood and company, on a rainy Saturday, bowled maiden after maiden overs before Rohan Kanhai and Basil Butcher gave the Monday crowd a batting display to remember, or just recently, in Ranchi in India, when Australians Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh, with the Indians getting ready to celebrate with champagne, batted for 64 overs on the last day and scored 123 runs on a “turner” to rob India of what seemed a certain victory? And how can I forget that day in Chittagong when, at tea time on the final day, England were 1000 without loss and, to everyone’s shock, to some dismay, to others jubilation, went on to lose to Bangladesh as all 10 second-innings wickets fell for 64 runs in 21.3 overs, These were not normal deeds, neither were they regular deeds, but there have been many more instances of two batsmen, a batsman and an all-rounder, a batsman and a tail-ender, or two tail-enders have gone beyond the norm by defying the odds and by frustrating the opposition when all seems lost. Cricket is a game of many parts, of skill, charm, and elegance, of strength and speed, concentration and staying power, and, of course, of the excitement of flying sixes and acrobatic fielding. MEMORABLE INSTANCES Nicholas mentioned a few memorable instances when the dead got up and walked, when, at Old Trafford in 2005, Ricky Ponting, Brett Lee, and Glen McGrath batted Australia to safety before a full house, when Australia had England on the ropes in Cardiff in 2009 and Monty Panesar and James Anderson fought the good fight to save the game, and when, at Adelaide in 2012, newcomer Faf du Plesis joined A. B. deVilliers and batted all day as South Africa denied Australia what seemed an easy victory. The victory at Old Trafford was so exciting that according to Nicholas, England’s captain Michael Vaughan was heard saying to his players as Australia celebrated the draw, “See, even the mighty Australians are celebrating a draw with us.” My memories suggest to me that the draw is an important part of cricket, and that many of the game’s most memorable and historic moments involves great and surprising escapes. How can I forget, as a teenager, when Denis Atkinson and Clairemont Depeiza of the West Indies batted for over a day and scored 348 for the seventh wicket against Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller, Richie Benaud and company of Australia to save a Test match in 1955? 1963 TEST MATCH AT LORD’Slast_img read more


QPR agree deal to sign Borysiuk

first_imgQPR have agreed a deal to sign Legia Warsaw midfielder Ariel Borysiuk.The 24-year-old, a Poland international, will undergo a medical later this week after Rangers’ offer of around £800,000 was accepted.Borysiuk started his career at Legia and returned there in January following spells at Lechia Gdansk and German side Kaiserslautern.Rangers want to complete the signing of at least one midfield player before their pre-season campaign begins with a friendly at Aldershot Town on 1 July.They have spoken to Belgian club Oud-Heverlee Leuven about a potential deal to sign former Tottenham midfielder John Bostock, who is keen to return to England.QPR also want Arsenal youngster Isaac Hayden and remain keen to sign left-back Jake Bidwell from Brentford and Huddersfield centre-back Joel Lynch despite the respective Championship clubs being reluctant to sell.And West Brom, who had a bid for Matt Phillips rejected last summer, have made a fresh enquiry about the winger but are yet to make an offer. See also:QPR interested in Polish midfielderQPR plan new approach for Brentford’s BidwellQPR submit new offer for Huddersfield’s LynchQPR unable to agree deal for French wingerQPR want to sign Arsenal youngsterQPR’s Sandro fails Sporting medicalWest Brom make new enquiry about PhillipsFollow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more


Grow VC Launches as Company / VC Matchmaker

first_imgDon’t you hate it when your friends set you up and all they can say about your blind date is that he’s / she’s “nice”. Your mind races. Is he / she a total sea donkey? A buffoon? Should you bring the pepper spray? Imagine what venture capitalists think when their brother-in-law invites them down to the Starbucks to meet yet another friend / entrepreneur. Hong Kong-based Grow VC just launched a midnight beta to help triage the dealmaking system. The company is a dating-style site where investors and early-stage companies meet and marry online. Grow aims to be the premier social network for early stage investments” between $10,000 to $1 million dollars USD, and for most investment groups that’s a fairly cheap date. At first glance, Grow VC appears to be a subscription-model hybrid between TheFunded and vator.tv. Like vator.tv, Grow VC allows companies to showcase and market themselves to encourage partnerships with investment firms, angels and seed funds. Meanwhile, similar to TheFunded, the site allows members to rate companies and investments groups. It will be interesting to see how Grow executes on the voting mechanism. One of the biggest complaints about TheFunded is that the site becomes a place for embittered founders to anonymously vent against VCs. Often these are the same VCs who’ve passed on investing in the ranter’s company. For Grow, anonymity may be the only way an entrepreneur would risk commenting candidly on a bad experience; however, if the community is left unregulated, it might set an abusive tone. As the supreme matchmaker, Grow will have to walk a delicate balance. As for monetization, upon official launch in the Fall of 2009, Grow will charge both founders and funders $150 + for access to the community. Fifty RWW readers can use the RWW50 promotional code on the Grow site and check it out for free. You can also request an invite directly from the company. Let us know your initial thoughts in the comments below. And, if you do manage to get hitched to a like-minded business investor, we’d like an invite to the reception. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… dana oshiro Tags:#start#startups last_img read more


Indian eves held by Scotland

first_imgIndia’S head coach Sandeep Somesh was concerned that the team management had no clue about Scotland’s game as they had never faced them. His worry was vindicated on Monday when the Scottish girls held the hosts to a 1- 1 draw in their first hockey match at the Commonwealth Games.The draw could prove to be a setback to India’s chances of advancing into the semi- finals. It was Jasjeet Kaur Handa who found the net in the second half to salvage a point after Holly Cram had given Scotland the lead early in the match.The Indians seemed nervous and their first- half performance was poor. They are known to be bad starters in tournaments and Monday was no different. They missed several easy goal- scoring opportunities and it may come back to haunt them towards the end of the group stage. Holly was set up in the very first minute of the game by Vikki Bunce’s run and made no mistake in finding the cage. In the first 35 minutes, the Indian trapping left a lot to be desired as they regularly lost control of the ball.Somesh must have given the girls a pep talk in the half- time break as the hosts clearly looked a changed side after the breather. Jasjeet restored parity in the 45th minute with a fine turn and reverse strike to beat Abi Walker in the Scottish goal. The ball went in after hitting the inside of the custodian’s right leg.India had chances to snatch all three points but a combination of wayward finishing and some alert goalkeeping put paid to their efforts. Scotland, too, could have scored the winner but failed to find the net in the closing stages of the match.advertisementWith Australia and South Africa in the group, the race to reach the last- four will be a close one.Trinidad and Tobago seem to be the weakest team in the pool and were decimated 12- 0 by the South Africans.Captain Surinder Kaur said: ” The first half was poor as the girls came under the pressure of playing such a big match in front of home supporters. But the second half was much better,” she said.India play Australia on Wednesday.In Group B matches, New Zealand thrashed Wales 5- 1 while Malaysia edged past Canada 3- 2.last_img read more


a month agoLiverpool boss Klopp highlights Krawietz influence on victory at Chelsea

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Liverpool boss Klopp highlights Krawietz influence on victory at Chelseaby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has highlighted the influence of assistant coach Peter Krawietz on victory at Chelsea.Trent Alexander-Arnold thumped home the opener after a well-worked free-kick that involved Mohamed Salah rolling the ball into the path of the young defender.The Reds extended their advantage when Alexander-Arnold played a similar pass to Andy Robertson before his cross was met by Roberto Firmino’s header.”It’s of course from the training ground, the Robbo (Robertson) one is from the training ground,” said Klopp.“The Trent one, I really see the boys on the pitch today had the best view on the pitch. It’s their job to see the best opportunity to score.“It was a direct free-kick so could have scored directly, but this little move changed the whole angle and made it pretty impossible for Kepa (Arrizabalaga) to make a save. It was a brilliant goal.“Pete Krawietz and our analysts, they do a really good job around set-pieces, especially corner kicks.“I loved the corners in the second half where we probably should have scored twice. But it wasn’t a set-piece game, we played a lot of good stuff and in the end you have to score and that’s what we did. All good.” last_img read more


The big 5

first_imgUttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar and Tamil Nadu – the big five – with 250 seats in their territory, will sound the bugle for this year’s victor. Parties in these states are, duly, working round the clock to influence voters and strengthen their polling arithmetic. These states also posit unique challenges to national parties. While caste holds key for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have to be won by different political strokes. Agrarian distress will be Maharashtra’s polling point while communal harmony is set to dominate Bengal. And, for Tamil Nadu, recovering from the demise of a glamorous political era, the sentiment of anti-incumbency will be hard to overcome. So, with a mix of nationalism and unemployment – the big five will be critical in deciding the nation’s sway…1. Uttar PradeshWith 80 seats, one mega alliance and two national parties desperately seeking to salvage their prestige — Uttar Pradesh has grabbed eyeballs for all the right reasons. In 2014, NDA won 73 seats from the state’s share. This turnaround, from 2009’s 10 seats, pretty much sealed the deal for BJP. But, UP hasn’t been very kind to its incumbents. This year particularly, circumstances appear to be shaky for the ruling party that is relying on its hyper nationalism narrative to fetch the same or more enhanced results than 2014. The SP-BSP-RLD alliance, for one, will upset all set arithmetic. Traditional enemies in the state, the UP gatbandhan looks formidable and could very well roll over the ambitions of both BJP and Congress. On the other hand, now that the Congress isn’t associating itself with the gatbandhan, it could cut into the upper-caste votes which tend to lean away from the region’s socialist parties. Yet, politics isn’t arithmetic — a simple addition or subtraction will conceal true frictions playing on the ground. In 2007, Mayawati rode to power in the state with a considerable chunk of upper-caste votes. These votes have tended to sway — in 2007, they opted for Mayawati; in 2009, they heavily tilted towards Congress who secured 12 seats more than in 2004; and in 2014, they submitted their bulk choice in favour of BJP. This time, the upper-caste votes could split between Congress and BJP, making the path easier for the SP-BSP-RLD alliance. Mulayam Singh’s appreciation for Modi could also be ominous for the gatbandhan as Muslim votes can very well sway entirely in favour of Congress, as was witnessed in 2009 after Mulayam tied up with Kalyan Singh and hurt Muslim sentiments; ultimately, the community voted entirely for Congress. Caste is an important factor that is presently in the gatbandhan’s favour. The emotions on ground are nebulous and, unlike 2014, there is no clear appreciation for a single party. While many are disappointed with the Modi-Yogi government, others repose more faith in him than his counterparts. Priyanka Gandhi’s entry could also extinguish BJP’s spirits; her charisma and absence of experience could make her a more desirable choice for aspirational voters who seek leaders beyond simple caste affiliation — this factor actually supersedes the caste arithmetic. In 2014, caste rules were defied in favour of a new, aspirational India. Priyanka is the only beacon of aspiration today with Akhilesh, Mayawati, Modi, Yogi all having failed their tests of palpably uplifting spirits. By arithmetic alone, if the caste factor works, then the gatbandhan could sweep through 48-50 seats. But any upsetting in caste calculations would leave the door open for BJP. Priyanka could’ve been Congress’s trump card — but her absence (until now) from contesting seats directly could dampen voters’ spirits. Poll focus: The SP-BSP-RLD combine could hamper chances of national parties 2. MaharashtraA traditional stronghold of Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party, Maharashtra, in a sense, is a microcosm of the factors dominating this election season. Presenting a robust mix of rural and urban, industry and agriculture, Maharashtra’s mood would provide a most appropriate glimpse into our democracy’s temperament today — will chants of national security and patriotism emerge victorious or will voters address their immediate concerns in lack of employment and absence of robust agrarian mechanisms. While NCP has aligned with Congress, Shiv Sena will be pairing with BJP, scripting another chapter in their self-starred thriller novel. Before 2014, fissures had appeared in the BJP-Sena camp. While BJP went alone and secured victory, it managed to rally Sena support in forming the government. Through the previous Assembly election and right up to the announcement of an alliance for 2019, Shiv Sena had pulled many a jibe at BJP. But now, they are together and back to fight the NCP-Congress combine, which has had a few hiccups of its own. Sharad Pawar, a constant critique of the current government, deciding against contesting the elections might not spell well for the opposition that could have gained from Pawar’s towering presence. Worse, many believe that Pawar chose against contesting because he anticipated an insurmountable defeat. Despite rumours enforcing the dominance of Sena-BJP against Congress-NCP, the ground situation is quite different; particularly in rural and western Maharashtra where sugarcane farmers have been on the bitter receiving end of failed government policies. Raju Shetty, leader of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana from western Maharashtra, had in 2014 allied with BJP, ensuring the party’s sweep through the region. But, this time, Shetty is allying with UPA, indicative of the larger mood across Maharashtra’s sugarcane belt that is unlikely to vote for NDA at Centre. But a dampener of UPA spirits could be the revising of caste equations in Solapur. The Bahujan Vanchit Aghadi here could cut into Dalit votes and reduce the UPA’s flame — an aspect NDA is heavily reliant upon. But caste is always fragile, as was witnessed in 2014 when several minority votes tilted towards NDA while Congress managed to wrest some urban constituencies from ruling BJP. NDA has said that it will return with a bigger victory but Congress too is boasting of an assured comeback. Maharashtra has witnessed extreme farmers’ agitations through the last five years and the Sena’s highhanded anti-migrant policy too has provoked many. The Modi factor is less important here and, for now, employment and agrarian distress appear to be the prime factors influencing outcome. But, the state remains decisive, Sena-BJP’s exceptional ground-level work could seal a result in their favour. Ultimately, western Maharashtra or the sugarcane belt will hold the key to either’s victory. Poll focus: West Maharashtra’s sugarcane belt will hold the key to either’s victory3. West BengalUnlike the other big states, West Bengal will not witness a contest of raging national parties; in fact, the Bengal verdict is mostly known — Didi will emerge victorious — the contest then is between how many seats Didi secures and how many BJP can wrest. West Bengal is among the more politically charged states and the last year has witnessed heavy exchange of rhetoric between TMC chief Mamata Banerjee and BJP’s poster boy and prime minister, Narendra Modi. In 2014, Bengal had not subscribed to the Modi wave. In a clear verdict, TMC had secured 34 of the state’s 42 constituencies, with Congress, CPI-M and BJP securing the rest. This time though, both CPI-M and Congress have been reduced to irrelevance. Their absence has created a vacuum for BJP which is likely to secure a chunk of these floating votes. Nevertheless, 10-12% of these votes will also move towards TMC. Mamata scores many points over Modi in serving policies that truly reach the poor. Unlike other parties, whose schemes are caught in a warp of paperwork, Mamata succeeds in providing direct cash and material through her many schemes, including Kanyashree, Rupashree, Sabuj Sathi, among others. Further, her charisma, attitude and way with masses continue to attract heavy crowds to her rallies, which easily record a turnout of over 1-2 lakh people. And, unlike the rest of the nation, Bengal is not prone to the vulnerability of muscle-flexing masculine nationalism. Being a state which has thrived in communal harmony, polarisation here, will only lead to conflict rather than selective empowerment. On the flipside, TMC leaders other than Mamata and a few others, have failed to motivate voters. TMC has been blamed of routine violence, a factor that could work against their leader too. Further, BJP has housed a number of TMC deflectors, Mukul Roy being the most prominent. Roy, a right-hand man of Mamata, switched to BJP last year and duly brought a few other leaders with him. Though Roy has held positions of importance, his relevance has largely been borne of his proximity to Mamata. Now, contesting away from her legacy, it will be interesting to observe the true mettle of Mukul Roy – perhaps BJP’s greatest gain in Bengal. Mamata can be assured of the 30% minority vote which is unlikely to sway in any other direction. This 30% added with a minimum of 15-20% votes from general voters, which she is most likely to secure, will give Mamata close to 50% of the vote share — marking an easy win for her. This election is unlikely to challenge her position, but a drop in seat share could augur well for BJP, whose desperation to make headways into Bengal is all too evident.Poll focus: The battle here is for the margin of victory; can BJP curtail Didi’s dominance? 4. BiharBihar, the hotbed of caste politics, will witness a direct clash between NDA (BJP+JDU+LJP) and a gatbandhan of opposition parties (RJD+Cong+RLSP+HAM+VIP). Communists were unable to find their place in either camp and will be contesting a few seats to save their existence in the state. Since the last Lok Sabha election of 2014, Bihar’s landscape has been significantly altered. For one, JDU chief Nitish Kumar was then an ardent critique of PM Modi, leading a mahagatbandhan to secure Bihar’s state assembly. This time though, he’s on the other side of the fence. Since quitting the gatbandhan in 2017, Kumar has forayed into the NDA camp and campaigned actively for Modi as PM. With BJP and Congress both working on the defensive, Bihar is actually a contest between Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav. While Kumar has been the face of Bihar’s backward politics, Tejashwi is rallying for the non-Yadav OBC votes, as is evident in his vote sharing tactic. RJD will be fighting only 19 of the state’s 40 seats, the least ever, in a clear bid to help smaller local outfits consolidate non-Yadav OBC votes. Congress has limited its presence to only six seats. If Tejashwi does emerge successful, the sailing could get rocky for Nitish in the state assembly polls due next year. For Tejaswhi, contesting with his father behind bars, this is an opportune moment to emerge as RJD’s star campaigner; while for Kumar, it will be a field test. The mass impact of his switch to BJP will be tested for the first time this season; interestingly, he will also be able to learn the local response of his alcohol ban, initiated in the state in 2016. Congress and BJP have both left Bihar to the mercy of local faces and caste choices. Both have planned their campaigns and candidates mindful of the caste equation. While NDA’s is a mix of upper-castes (BJP), non-Yadav OBCs (JDU) and Paswans (Lok Janshakti Party); the opposition is relying heavily on smaller parties like Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RSLP), Hindustani Awami Morcha (HMA), etc., to secure the Most Backward Caste (MBC) votes. To Nitish’s benefit, he has delivered the traditional road, water, house promise, allowing BJP to avoid issues of national concern such as unemployment and agrarian distress, which also happen to be the opposition’s poll point of attack. Poll studies in Bihar, so far, show that national security continues to be a dominant thread of upper-caste discourse; India’s Balakot strikes have touched their intended chord here. But, rural Bihar is less affected. They believe that, like every other time, caste will decide the winner.Poll focus: Hotbed of caste politics, in Bihar, caste will again decide the winner 5. Tamil NaduTamil Nadu in the post-Jayalalithaa and post-Karunanidhi era has been a political mess. Though DMK has survived the absence of Karunanidhi, AIADMK has failed across almost every parameter of excellence established by Jayalalithaa, among the greatest stateswoman of our time. Recovering from internal conflict, though AIADMK has now been able to establish a united front, governance in Tamil Nadu continues to be shaky. There is widespread public anger with the ruling party, and a plank of Sasikala supporters, led by her nephew TTV Dhinakaran, will cut a section of assured AIADMK votes. But, the consolidation with BJP and important caste parties of rural areas provides a mask for AIADMK to overcome its regional failures. And that, in fact, has been its poll resolve. CM Palaniswami and deputy O Pannerselvam have campaigned exhaustively with the proof and promise of greater national and economic security. That pitch though is unlikely to work in the southern state where federal governance gains prominence over meta promises. Demonetisation and GST continue to dominate as deterrents for voting in favour of the ruling party with the NEET crisis still looming large. The recent Pollachi sexual violation racket that disclosed the unethical association of AIADMK associates has also dampened spirits across Tamil Nadu. MK Stalin and his opposition have a massive chance at resurgence, as a recent Loyola study showed, over 50% of those surveyed were in favour of the DMK-Congress combine. This will be Tamil Nadu’s first test since the demise of its political vanguards. The sailing in the state hasn’t been smooth, with endless protests on account of Jallikattu, Cauvery dispute, NEET row, and now Pollachi. People’s faith in AIADMK is dwindling. Further, this election will run parallel to by-elections in 18 municipalities. Local issues, thus, continue to be in the fray. Caste will play a relevant role in the south too. AIADMK, with its many partnerships, appears to be on the right path if the previous election seats are considered. However, this is a post-Jaya world and Tamil Nadu today thinks rather differently. Dhinakaran-led AMMK will also try to paralyse the AIADMK+NDA combine, particularly in the southern district where the ruling party will be testing its Thevar vote base. Capitalising on caste, DMK too has expanded its base to include local faces that can better secure caste appeals. For Tamil Nadu, the crises are many as are the players. It appears to be a direct contest between national and local interests with caste fulfilling its distinguished role of discrimination. Poll focus: This election will decide Tamil Nadu’s future in the absence of legacieslast_img read more


FY19 CIL coal allocation to power sector dips 6

first_imgNew Delhi: State-owned CIL allocated 27.14 million tonne coal to the power sector under special forward e-auction mechanism last fiscal, registering a decline of six per cent from the previous year. According to the latest monthly report by the coal ministry prepared for the Cabinet, Coal India (CIL) allocated 28.93 MT of the dry fuel to the sector in 2017-18. In March 2019, the allocation stood at 1.12 MT in comparison to nil in the year-ago period. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: IcraRecently, a World Bank report said India is still facing challenges to meet its growing demand for power and reliable supply remains low in the country. Last year, CIL said it would put on offer a little over 45 MT coal under the special forward e-auction mechanism in 2018-19. In an attempt to reach out to its consumers, CIL had earlier announced a special forward e-auction calendar for 2018-19 to facilitate power plants to systematically plan the lifting of coal. Coal India accounts for over 80 per cent of domestic coal output. The PSU produced 606.9 MT coal in 2018-19 against 567.4 MT in 2017-18.last_img read more