Facing severe criticism from several quarters over its failure to tackle the drug menace bedevilling the State, the Punjab government on Monday decided to recommend death penalty for drug peddlers and smugglers to the Centre. The Opposition parties, however, continued to lay the blame for dire drugs scenario squarely at the door of the Congress government.The Punjab Cabinet in its meeting held here, chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, resolved to send a formal recommendation of death penalty for drug smugglers and peddlers to the Union government soon.An official statement said that State would also constitute a special working group under the chairmanship of Additional Chief Secretary (Home) N.S. Kalsi to review and monitor, on a day-to-day basis, the action being taken to check drug abuse.The Cabinet also took stock of the cases of deaths resulting from drug overdose, which Special Task Force chief H.S. Sidhu admitted to be a matter of concern. Mr. Sidhu suggested registration of all such cases to enable the identification and mitigation of risk factors, such as supply of spurious drugs and mixing of drugs with other death-causing substances.Leaders and workers of the Aam Aadmi Party held a sit-in demonstration in Chandigarh on the issue of rising drug menace in the State. AAP leaders Bhagwant Mann, Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Balbir Singh marched towards the residence of the Chief Minister but were stopped by the police. The protesters then staged a “dharna” and raised slogans against the government.“The Congress has failed to stop the drug menace in the State. A few influential police officers are part of the drug trade,” alleged Mr. Khaira, adding that a high court-monitored CBI inquiry is must in the case. He also demanded that the Chief Minister immediately call an all-party meeting. “Also a special session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on the issue of drugs should be convened,” he said.The Shiromani Akali Dal said that all Punjabis, rising above political affiliations, must fight the common enemy of drugs.
The Congress in Meghalaya, which had pushed for legal action against shutdowns during its rule five years ago, has abstained from nationwide Bharat bandh against fuel price hike.AICC’s Meghalaya in-charge Luzinho Faleiro said the party has not enforced the shutdown in the State in view of the Meghalaya High Court’s ruling against bandhs in 2013. The Gauhati High Court, too, had given a similar ruling.The Congress, though, has appealed to the civil society to support the bandh against fuel price hike by other parties including the Left. Congress leaders would be carrying out a protest march in State capital Shillong in the afternoon.The media in Meghalaya too did not carry news on bandh calls. This follows a high court ruling in May 2015 restraining the media from publicising the statement of organisations calling bandh, strike, hartal, road blockade and holding of rallies in State.“In case of violation of this order, the court may not only proceed under the Contempt of Courts Act, but it is also directed that the State government shall register criminal cases under appropriate provisions of the law,” the court had said.The court had later approved former chief minister Mukul Sangma’s plea to set up special courts to try cases related to shutdown calls. He had also pushed for compensation to be paid by organisations calling shutdowns.Elsewhere in the Northeast, the bandh evoked mixed response while it had no impact in Nagaland. There were no reports of violence during the first couple of hours of the shutdown.
US president Donald Trump (2nd L) speaks to members of the media as Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) (L) and vice president Mike Pence (R) listen at the US Capitol after the weekly Republican Senate policy luncheon 9 January 2019 in Washington, DC. Photo: ReutersUS president Donald Trump stormed out of talks with Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday over funding for a border wall with Mexico and reopening the government, complaining the meeting at the White House was “a total waste of time.”On the 19th day of a partial government shutdown caused by the dispute over the wall, a short meeting that included Trump, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer ended in acrimony with no sign of a resolution.”Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier?” Trump wrote. “Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!”Exasperated Democrats called Trump’s behavior a “temper tantrum” and said the meeting broke down when they refused to commit to funding his proposed southern border wall. Trump’s desire for a wall between the United States and Mexico was a central theme of his 2016 presidential campaign.”It was a petulant president of the United States,” Pelosi told reporters when she returned to the Capitol. “A person who would say: ‘I’ll keep government shut down for weeks, months or years unless I get my way.’ That’s just not the way democracy works, and so it’s very sad.”Schumer said Trump had had “a temper tantrum.” The lawmaker told reporters: “That is sad and unfortunate. We want to come to an agreement. We believe in border security. We have different views.”The breakdown in talks could strengthen the possibility that Trump will declare a national emergency to build a wall on the southern border if no deal with Congress can be reached on his request for $5.7 billion for the project.Earlier on Wednesday, Trump said he had the authority to declare a national emergency that would let him pay for the wall with military funds. Vice president Mike Pence told reporters Trump was still considering that option.Asked what Trump had gained by walking out, Pence said: “I think the president made his position very clear today: that there will be no deal without a wall.”Shortly after the White House meeting broke up, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation to end a partial shutdown of the Treasury Department and some other agencies that have been closed since 22 December, without money for the wall.But there was no indication that the Senate, controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, would allow a vote on the bill.Democrats are eager to force Republicans to choose between funding the Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service – at a time when it should be gearing up to issue tax refunds to millions of Americans – and voting to keep it partially shuttered.In a countermove, the Trump administration said that even without a new shot of funding, the IRS would somehow make sure those refund checks get sent.The National Treasury Employees Union filed suit on Wednesday challenging the administration’s authority to force federal employees to work without pay.Trump attended a lunch meeting of Senate Republicans on Wednesday and emerged to declare unwavering support for the tough stance he has taken on funds for the wall.Asked if he got the impression in the meeting that the shutdown would end soon, Republican Senator Tim Scott said: “I did not. I think we’re going to be here a while.”Democratic TacticsPelosi plans more votes this week that one by one would provide money to operate departments ranging from Homeland Security and Justice to State, Agriculture, Commerce and Labor.Able to get the bills through the House because of the Democratic majority, Pelosi is hoping some Senate Republicans back her up and abandon Trump’s wall gambit.The political maneuvering comes amid a rising public backlash over the suspension of government activities that has resulted in the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of federal workers.Other “essential” employees are being required to report to work, but without pay for the time being.On Thursday, Trump travels to the border to highlight what he calls an immigration “crisis.” He delivered his first prime-time television address from the Oval Office on Tuesday to make his case for the border wall.The funding fight stems from Congress’ inability to complete work by a deadline last September on funding all government agencies. It did, however, appropriate money for about 75 per cent of the government on time – mainly military and health-related programs.US airport security workers and air traffic controllers working without pay have warned that security and safety could be compromised if the shutdown continues, but the Trump administration said staffing was adequate and travelers had not faced unusual delays.Union officials said some TSA officers had already quit because of the shutdown and many were considering quitting.Ratings agency Fitch warned that it could cut the US triple-A sovereign debt credit rating later this year if the shutdown proves prolonged and Congress fails to raise the legal limit on the national debt in a timely manner.
Would it not be nice to have an authentic slice of Italy in your mundane life in the Capital? Sorrento, the award-winning Italian restaurant at Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, is offering its patrons an authentic Italian experience titled ‘Barefoot in the Sand’, a handcrafted menu of the signature dishes of Michelin Star Chef Riccardo Sculli. Having long been captivated and driven by the flavours of the pristine waters and the sandy beaches of the Ionian coast, the richly evocative menu enthrals for style, taste and the very quality of the raw materials itself. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfA special a-la-carte menu has been curated for lunch, featuring some of Chef Riccardo’s signature dishes such as – Carpaccio di Aragosta e verdure (Lobster carpaccio with seasonal salad and tomato gelè) and Risotto allo zafferano con mud granchio e ribes rosso (Saffron risotto, mud crab and red currants). For dinner, a special degustation menu has been designed by Chef Riccardo, starring culinary masterpieces such as Costoletta di agnello con carciofi e liquirizia (Rack of lamb with artichokes and liquorice) and Pollo ruspante con peperoni e arancia (Free-range chicken with peppers and orange). Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveKeeping in line with the traditions and rich culinary heritage of Calabria, some of Sorrento’s best wine selection have been paired with the stunning menu which is on till today.Chef Riccardo Sculli has especially flown down to curate this experience for the culinary enthusiasts of Delhi. He is the first chef from the Reggio Calabria province to have received a Michelin star, and is currently the head chef at Ristorante Gamberro Rosso, Marina di Gioiosa Jonica RC, Italy. Chef Riccardo is on a perpetual quest to keep educating himself about the extensive gastronomic legacy of Calabria, and to pay homage to this legacy through meticulously prepared and skillfully presented dishes.