Free speech is under assault like never before: Donald Trump

Agencies
January 13, 2021

Big Tech is doing a horrible thing to US': Trump on social media clampdown  post Capitol siege

Washington, Jan 13: Free speech is under assault in the United States like never before, outgoing President Donald Trump said as almost all major social media outlets moved to block him following the breach of the Capitol Hill by his supporters.

In his first public speech on Tuesday after the January 6 storming of the US Capitol, Trump, in a Texas border town, addressed for the first time several issues, including impeachment proceedings against him, last week's incident itself and the call to invoke the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution wherein he can be removed by his cabinet members.

"Free speech is under assault like never before. The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the expression goes, be careful what you wish for," Trump said in his remarks at a border wall in Texas.

"The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country and is causing tremendous anger and division, and pain far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time," he said.

Referring to last week's events, Trump said millions of Americans watched on as a mob stormed the Capitol and trashed the halls of the government.

"I have consistently said throughout my administration, we believe in respecting America's history and traditions, not tearing them down. We believe in the rule of law, not in violence or rioting," he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it a very difficult year and a difficult election for the US, Trump said.

"Now is the time for our nation to heal, and it is time for peace and for calm, respect for law enforcement and the great people within law enforcement. So many are here is the foundation of the MAGA agenda and we are a nation of law, and we are a nation of order," the President said.

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Agencies
January 12,2021

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New Delhi, Jan 12: The Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended implementation of the new farm laws until further orders and said it will form a committee to hold talks with all stakeholders, after hearing petitions challenging the agriculture reforms.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde, has asked all parties to recommend names for forming the committee.  The bench has decided to set up a four-member committee to look into farmers' grievances. It will comprise of agriculture economist Ashok Gulati, international policy head Dr Pramod Kumar Joshi, Shivkeri Sangathna's Anil Dhanvat, and BKU's president Bhupinder Singh Maan.

The top court asserted that it has the power to suspend the contentious legislation to solve the problem and no power can prevent it from making a committee to resolve the impasse on new farm laws.

The top court is inclined to pass an order that all protestors be moved to one common site. Senior advocate Vikas Singh recommended either Ramlila Maidan or Boat Club for this purpose. The court has also decided to serve notices to all farm unions on a Delhi police application that wants a ban on proposed tractor rally by farmers on January 26.

Advocate AP Singh, appearing for one of the farm unions said that his clients have agreed that no elders, women or children will participate in the protests. Chief Justice Bobde said he will take this assurance on record for all protesting unions.

Senior advocates Colin Gonsalves, Dushyant Dave and advocates Prashant Bhushan, HS Phoolka who represent the bulk of farmer unions haven't joined the hearing yet. The Chief Justice and lawyers in favour of the farm laws are repeatedly wondering why Dave, Gonsalves, Phoolka and Bhushan aren't joining the hearing as the four had assured the court yesterday that they will discuss yesterday's proceedings with their clients and revert to the court.

The top court sought the cooperation of farmers' unions, and said that "those who genuinely want resolution, will go to the committee". 

"This is not politics. There is a difference between politics and judiciary and you will have to cooperate", the court asserted to farmer unions.

A note released by the umbrella body Samyukt Kisan Morcha late last night clarified that protesting farmers will not participate in any committee proceedings as proposed by the top court. "While all organisations welcome the suggestions of the honourable Supreme Court to stay the implementation of the farm laws, they are collectively and individually not willing to participate in any proceedings before a committee," it said.

The government also told the apex court that Khalistanis have infiltrated farmer protests. The Attorney General said that he will file an affidavit, with IB reports, detailing the involvement of Khalistanis and other banned outfits in farmer protests.

The top court heard a clutch of pleas opposing the contentious agriculture reforms yesterday. A bench, headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde, said during the hearing that orders on issues concerning the farm laws and farmers' protest will be delivered in parts. 

The matter pertaining to the farm laws was listed for January 12, 2021, as per information uploaded on the website after the hearing, as negotiations between the Centre and farmer leaders remain at a standstill. 

The bench, which also comprised of justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, expressed disapproval over the manner by which the three recent farm laws were passed by Parliament.

"We don't know whether you are part of the solution or part of the problem", the Supreme Court said to the Centre during the proceedings on Monday. 

It also indicated amply that it may go to the extent of staying the implementation of the contentious farm laws and refused to grant extra time to the Centre to explore the possibility of amicable solution saying it has already granted the government a “long rope”. It reiterated the possibility of setting up a committee to resolve the issue. 

Protesting farmers have been camping out at Delhi borders since November, demanding a complete repeal of the new laws. Bhog Singh Mansa, president of Indian Farmers Union (Mansa), said a stay on the laws is "no big deal".
"A stay is not a solution. We are here to get these laws scrapped completely... the government has in a way already agreed to scrap the laws when it said it is willing to incorporate as many amendments as farmers want," he said.

"We appeal to the Supreme Court to terminate these laws as these are not valid constitutionally," Mansa said, adding the protest will continue till the "the laws are not repealed or the BJP government completes its tenure".

The eighth round of talks between the Centre and the farmer unions on January 7 headed nowhere as the Centre ruled out repealing the contentious laws while the farmer leaders said they are ready to fight till death and their "ghar waapsi will happen only after law waapsi".

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Agencies
January 12,2021

Mumbai, Jan 12: The Central Board of Direct Taxes dashed hopes of all taxpayers waiting for further extension of due dates for filing tax returns rejecting all representation in this regard, citing that the process cannot be delayed 'indefinitely' and hamper the functioning of the tax department and welfare programmes of the government.

The decision means that individual taxpayers who have missed the January 10 deadline for filing returns may now have to pay a penalty to complete the process. Similarly, taxpayers who need to file audit report before filing returns will have to do so by January 15 and file their returns by February 15.

The income tax department had received several representations to further extend dates for filing returns as disruptions caused pandemic had continued to create problems for various taxpayers. The suggestion was to extend dates for all categories of taxpayers to March 31.

In its office order directing all tax formation across the country to see the due dates for tax payment is followed as no further extensions were due, the CBDT cited that the contentions of lesser number of audit reports filed this year and thereby extension was required, as completely baseless. It said that even in previous years audit reports were filed in the last few days before the deadline and similar trends were seen even in 2020-21.

The board also cited that India has been more generous compared to other global economies, particularly, Covid hit the US and UK, in providing relief to its taxpayers on compliance issues.

Moreover, the statistics of returns filed this year clearly shows that the numbers are higher than last year already. In 2019-20, about 5.62 crore income tax returns were filed till due date and this year (2020-21) already 5.95 ITRs have been filed (up to January 10).

Any further extension would adversely affect the return filing discipline and shall cause injustice to those who have taken pains to file the return before the due date, CBDT said in its order.

It will also hamper the government's efforts to provide relief to the poor during Covid times, the office order said.

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Agencies
January 13,2021

Petrol touches new high of Rs 84.45 in Delhi, crosses Rs 91 mark in Mumbai  - cnbctv18.com

New Delhi, Jan 13: Petrol price on Wednesday touched a new high of Rs 84.45 per litre in the national capital after state-owned fuel retailers hiked prices after a five-day hiatus.

Petrol and diesel prices were hiked by 25 paise per litre each, according to a price notification from oil marketing companies.

In Delhi, petrol now costs Rs 84.45 per litre and diesel is priced at Rs 74.63. In Mumbai, petrol comes for Rs 91.07 a litre and diesel for Rs 81.34.

This is the highest ever price of petrol in Delhi, while diesel is at a record high in Mumbai.

State-owned fuel retailers -- Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) -- had on January 6, resumed daily price revision after nearly a month-long hiatus.

Rates were hiked on two consecutive days - totalling 49 paise for petrol and 51 paise for diesel - before they hit a pause button again.

The price increase cycle resumed after international oil prices rose for the seventh day. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was up 1.3 per cent at USD 53.88 a barrel, while Brent crude was up 79 cents at USD 57.37.

Both benchmarks are trading at the highest since February, before the coronavirus outbreak in China began spreading across the world, forcing lockdowns that shaved off demand.

Petrol price had scaled to an all-time high of Rs 84.20 per litre on January 7.

The previous highest ever rate of Rs 84 a litre for petrol in Delhi was touched on October 4, 2018. On that day, diesel too had scaled to an all-time high of Rs 75.45 a litre.

The government had responded to that situation by cutting excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 1.50 per litre in a bid to ease inflationary pressure and boost consumer confidence. Alongside, state-owned fuel retailers cut prices by another Re 1 a litre, which they recouped later.

The highest level for petrol in Mumbai was on October 4, 2018, when it was Rs 91.34.

Though petrol and diesel rates are to be revised on a daily basis in line with benchmark international price and foreign exchange, government-controlled fuel retailers have been moderating rates since the pandemic broke out.

This after they adjusted a Rs 13 per litre hike in excise duty on petrol and Rs 15 a litre on diesel, against a decrease in the retail selling price that was warranted by crude oil prices falling to an average of USD 19 per barrel in April.

Excise duty totals Rs 32.98 per litre in petrol and Rs 31.83 in diesel. VAT in Delhi totals to Rs 19.32 a litre on petrol and Rs 10.85 on diesel.

Since May 2020, petrol price has risen by Rs 14.79 per litre and diesel by Rs 12.34 a litre, price notifications of oil companies showed.

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