Less withholding = Larger paycheck = Smaller tax refund or taxes owed to the IRSW-4 forms are typically required the first day on a job. The Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate section on the bottom of the W-4 form tells employers how much tax to withhold based on a formula from the IRS. Anyone can change their W-4 form periodically with their employer and undo their over-withholding.Just be careful not to overdo it. Essentially, taxpayers must pay 90% of their current year tax liability to avoid a penalty plus interest. However, there is a “safe harbor” exception rule: no penalties are due if a taxpayer paid at least as much (i.e., 100%) of their prior year’s tax bill (i.e., the tax due shown on their prior year’s tax return) or 110% of the prior year’s tax amount if adjusted gross income (AGI) was more than $150,000.Conversely, service members can also request to have additional taxes withheld from their pay to cover taxes owed on taxable income such as interest and dividends, capital gains and self-employment. Another reason to have extra taxes withheld is the “marriage tax” where married couples with two employed spouses pay more tax together than they would if each spouse filed as a single taxpayer. This is especially true if each spouse has a similar income such as two spouses earning $35,000 for a total combined gross income of $70,000.A helpful resource is the IRS Withholding Calculator (https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator). Results from the calculator can help taxpayers complete their W-4 form to avoid having too much or too little tax withheld from their pay. By Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, firstname.lastname@example.orgFebruary is a “teachable moment” for military financial service professionals to “talk taxes” with service members. W-2 forms and statements from financial institutions have started to arrive and many people are looking forward to receiving an income tax refund.Photo by stevepb via Pixabay.com Public Domain CC0Many people deliberately have extra federal and state income taxes withheld from their paychecks. Advantages of over-withholding are that there’s no access to this money and, therefore, it can’t be spent recklessly, and the refund makes a nice windfall once a year to pay off debts or buy “big ticket” items. Disadvantages of big tax refunds are that taxpayers must wait to collect their money and the government pays no interest.Perhaps the biggest disadvantage, however, of over-withholding is the risk of having a tax refund delayed as a victim of tax identity theft. This happens when fraudsters use stolen personal identification information (e.g., name and Social Security number) to file a fraudulent tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.Victims can wait months for their money as they take steps to file paperwork to verify their identity with the IRS. Tax identity theft is the most commonly reported type of identity theft according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), with more than $5.8 billion in fraudulent refunds cited in a government GAO report.A small refund, say $500 or less, may be fine, but if when people get back a lot more, they are losing foregone interest on money that could have been saved. They also run the risk of having to wait for a large sum of money if they are an identity theft victim. Social Security numbers are often obtained illegally through database hackings that people have no control over.The amount of the income tax withholding is based on the number of allowances that a person notes on a W-4 form that is filed with their employer. Essentially, if income taxes are over-withheld, a paycheck is smaller, and a tax refund is larger. In simple terms, tax withholding can be explained this way:More withholding = Smaller paycheck = Larger tax refund
Using compositing tricks you can transform your 2D images to 3D, a popular technique in video advertisements and motion design.Make your still images more dynamic by giving them dimension! Discover how to create a 2D to 3D photo effect, adding motion and depth to still images. Here’s the type of effect you’ll learn to create:Each of the video tutorials below explains a similar way of creating this 2D to 3D photo effect by using industry standard photo and video editing tools – Adobe Photoshop and either After Effects or Apple Motion. The last video is a demo for a commercial Adobe After Effects script that simplifies the process of animating 2D layers in a simulated 3D space.2D to 3D / Photoshop to MotionVideo producer Jonthan Fowler gives step-by-step instructions for breaking apart your 2D image in Photoshop and then bringing it into the Apple Motion compositng/motion graphics app. Jonathan refers to this technique as the “Kid Stays In The Picture” effect, after the documentary that popularized it. The layers of the still image are inputted into Motion and then animated. Tracking the layers through z-space will give 2D images a simulated 3D effect.2D to 3D / Photoshop to After EffectsMany post production professionals recognize Andrew Kramer as a leading After Effects guru and founder of VideoCopilot.net. In this tutorial, Andrew showcases his expertise in demonstrating a quick way to create this cool 2D to 3D photo effect. First, a photograph is broken into layers in Photoshop (with some basic cutting and cloning). Then, the layers of the image are brought into After Effects, where they are stacked along the Z-axis and animated with the AE built-in camera. Andrew’s super knowledgeable and fun to listen to, making this a great tutorial for anyone interested in animating their still photos from 2D to 3D.pt_MultiPlane plugin for After Effectspt_Multiplane is an After Effects script that allows you to quickly experiment with the depth of the layers of your still image. The script preserves the look of the original image as you modify the z-axis in After Effects. If you plan to utilize the 2D to 3D effect often (such as a consistent look through a film or video) this plugin can be a big timesaver. Take some of the headache out of animating your layers! pt_Multiplane is available from AEScripts.com
Not every technological innovation can change the world. Here are a few of the most recent video product fails.It seems like every week there’s a new camera, lens, or piece of equipment that is making a splash in the filmmaking industry. In a lot of ways, it’s never been a better time to be a gear lover. However, every now and then a new piece of equipment will flop harder than 47 Ronin at the box office. In honor of all things terrible (and lest we forget), let’s take a look at some of the biggest technology flops in the filmmaking industry from the last few years. If you can think of any other flops that we forgot, please share in the comments below.1. The AJA CionWhen the AJA Cion was announced at NAB 2014, it looked like a very promising camera that could potentially find a home in the professional video production world. In fact, AJA’s background in video technologies is very similar to that of Blackmagic Design — but the Cion had major problems from the beginning. First and foremost, the camera was delayed six months. In an industry that is constantly changing, a six month delay is a lot of time.Blackmagic announced their URSA Mini just a few months later at NAB 2015. It had better specs than the Cion at a fraction of the price. In order to compete with the URSA Mini, Cion dropped their price from $9,000 to $5,000, which was viewed by many to be a sign of desperation. Furthermore, AJA started offering free ‘test drives’ of the Cion so that filmmakers could try it out before they bought it. But what may have been a genuine attempt to put the Cion in the hands of filmmakers was quickly perceived as a desperate move to get rid of the cameras.Adding insult to injury, when Cinema5D did a comprehensive review of the Cion it was revealed that the camera only had 8.2 stops of dynamic range instead of the advertised 12. Currently there have been no talks of a new AJA camera, so the AJA Cion may very well be the first and last camera the company ever produces.2. 3D TelevisionWhen talking about 3D, James Cameron said “We’ve solved the technology.” But did we really ‘solve’ problem? Despite having the ability to watch 3D sports, movies, and television in your home, audiences simply aren’t consuming 3D content. Maybe it’s the fact that you have to wear glasses. Maybe it’s because there isn’t much 3D content to watch. The Wire put it best when they said:3D TV Is DeadNot much wiggle room there. Despite investing billions in the technology, TV manufacturers have opted to focus on 4K rather than 3D. That’s not to say that 3D technologies are dying… far from it. But development of flat 3D TV screens for in-home consumption appears to have virtually stopped.3. FCPXIt’s hard to think of a software fail more epic than the launch of FCPX. Despite having loyal users and one of the best NLEs on the market, Apple’s FCPX release was so bad that some were speculating that the software might die off it not updated. Of all the problems with the initial release of FCPX, the most notable design feature/flaw was the introduction of the magnetic timeline, which was supposed to replace traditional track-based timelines. This was a radical departure from the workflow of earlier Final Cut Pro versions and many editors simply couldn’t get on board.FCPX wasn’t intially released with other little features like multi-camera editing or broadcast monitoring. But then again, when would you ever need to edit a project with multiple cameras?This is a Google Trends report for search popularity. The blue line is Final Cut Pro and the red is Premiere Pro. The spike in 2011 signals the release of FCPX (more online searches during that time).Since its release in 2011, FCPX has been updated over a dozen times. It’s now fully functional as a modern NLE – the first Hollywood feature cut on Final Cut Pro X was released this year. Yet its popularity (according to search data) is still in decline. Did the botched FCPX release set the software on a course for disaster? Only time will tell.There’s some additional interesting numbers on the Final Cut Pro X userbase over on Creative Cow.4. GoPro SessionGoPro is all the rage right now. From action videos to immersive 360 VR experiences, GoPros are the camera of choice if you need a small action camera capable of producing better-than-average video. However, their latest camera, the GoPro Session, is severely underperforming in sales, leading many analysts to declare that the camera a flop.GoPro’s stock prices since its IPO in June 2014.From the outside, it would seem like the GoPro Session is a great idea — but consumers just aren’t buying the camera. As a result, GoPro’s stocks (as of October 7, 2014) are at a record low and the company’s future has been called into question.5. Curved TV ScreensWhen you’re standing four feet from a TV at Best Buy there might be a split second where you might think a curved screen is a good idea. But curved TVs have major flaws that have left consumers asking a very important question: why would anyone want to buy a curved TV?One of the biggest marketing selling points for curved TVs is that they will increase immersion for the viewer, as if the slight curve will create a pseudo-VR experience. This doesn’t make sense, but you don’t need me to tell you that. David Katzmaier from CNET puts it best when he said:In no case did I notice the increase in “immersion” supposedly brought on by the curve. The image seemed no more immersive than any other 65-inch TV, either in isolation or in a comparison lineup.One of the biggest problems with curved TVs is the fact that if you are viewing the image from anywhere but directly in front, the picture will begin to distort. There’s also the problem of a higher price. While TV salesmen may be able to trick some consumers into buying curved screens, the technology is flawed and isn’t getting great reviews. It’ll be gone faster than you can say “gimmick.”Can you think of any other technology fails from the last few years? Share them in the comments below!
PremiumBeat sat down with composer Austin Wintory to discuss his latest project — a collection of his successful failures.Grammy-nominated and two-time BAFTA-winning composer Austin Wintory has had a career straddling film, video games, and the stage. He has scored over 50 features, including several Sundance hits (Grace, Captain Abu Raed) and over 30 games, netting him 7 BAFTA nominations, 2 wins of the peer-voted ASCAP Composer’s Choice Awards, and a slew of other industry accolades.However, even with a resume full of success, there are the near misses, the almosts, the ones that got away. Like the video games he’s scored, Austin Wintory knows that sometimes the business of composing can play you and much is out of your control. Here’s what he had to say.PremiumBeat: The old adage goes “You win some, you lose some.” Your point of view seems to be “You win some, you learn some.” How did you come to a place, emotionally, where you could turn your losses into learning more about yourself and the world at large?Austin Wintory: Ironically, I’ve never heard it phrased as “You win some, you learn some,” but I love that! And honestly, I don’t know when or how that came to be a core philosophy. I’ve always been ambitious and most ambitions stumble a bit, particularly early on. So, I think it’s just something that organically emerged, probably as a survival mechanism!Austin Wintory (via IMDb).PB: You came so close to a childhood dream of scoring Star Trek: Discovery. In fact, you worked on three demos for the production team, hiring your own resources. Is that typical or did you just go pedal to the metal because getting the job would have been so meaningful to you?AW: That’s actually pretty typical for me. And sometimes it pays off, other times it doesn’t. It’s part of the game! Though certainly Discovery was more meaningful than most, just by virtue of how it related to my childhood.PB: You’ve written before, joyfully, of the process of not getting the Star Trek job. Was it only because you came so close to fulfilling a childhood dream, or did you learn something about yourself as an artist because of that effort?AW: I learn about myself every time I do anything, whether it succeeds or fails. That’s one of the best features of this whole line of work. It’s built in. So, fortunately, Discovery wasn’t actually an outlier. That’s part of why I released the album Remnants. Because there have been many, many of those!Austin Wintory’s Album Remnants.PB: In talking about your album, you say “When you’re starting on a new piece, it’s almost like you are haunted by the ghosts of the others.” What is your creative process in terms of letting go to move on to something new? Or do you need the work you’ve done prior to extend to something current?AW: It’s not about extending the previous work into this one. It’s just simply that all prior work (indeed, all prior actions!) are baked into the foundation of the new work. After writing piece X, I will forever be the composer of X, and as a result, X will exert some sort of influence (even if minuscule) on everything to come after. All of our life choices have this impact. That’s what I meant by ghosts. We are surrounded, if not literally, by everything leading up to this moment.PB: What do you hope the listener takes away from this compilation of near misses and heartfelt efforts?AW: Mostly, that it serves as a call of solidarity amongst everyone who’s attempted to create. Whether full-time artists or hobbyists, we all stumble. We all struggle. We all have to throw away huge amounts of material. It’s NEVER a waste. Hopefully this album helps remind people of that.Looking for more industry interviews? Check these out.Interview: Cinematographer Todd Banhazi Talks HustlersInterview: “Long Gone By” Director Andrew Morgan and Star Erica MuñozIndustry Insights: “Better Call Saul” Production Designer Judy RheeInterview: John Downer of Discovery Channel’s SERENGETICGI, 3D Scans and Live Action with the Image Creators at Saddington Baynes
Essential Reading! Get my first book: The Only Sale Guide You’ll Ever Need “The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience.” Buy Now High value activities are the activities that produce your most important outcomes. These activities produce the results you are measured on, and they are the difference between success and failure.Low value activities produce outcomes that, while still necessary, aren’t nearly as important. They don’t have any real impact on your success.High Value Activities and OutcomesThe high value activities for salespeople include prospecting, nurturing dream clients, making sales calls, keeping their follow up commitments, and taking care of their existing client relationships. These high value activities produce the outcomes of opening relationships, developing opportunities, executing the sales process, winning deals, and owning the outcomes that they have sold their clients.These high value activities must dominate your calendar. If they don’t, you won’t produce the outcomes that you need.Low Value Activities and OutcomesLow value activities are still important. But they don’t produce the sales outcomes you need. These activities include most of your email, most of your voicemails, much of your paperwork, updating your sales force automation, most of the RFPs you receive, some of your meetings, and some of your client calls.These low value activities feel like work, but they aren’t really the work that produces the outcomes you need. In all likelihood, you are using these low value activities to avoid the activities that you most need to do.That email doesn’t really require a response, at least not during your sacred sales time. That voicemail isn’t in any way urgent; it can wait. You can do your paper work between 4:30 and 5:00 PM (or at home, if you are a hustler). The only reason you are responding to the RFP is because you don’t have a solid pipeline.You can’t allow your low value activities to crowd out your high value activities. In fact, you need to use your calendar to ensure that your high value activities crowd out your low value activities. By committing to your highest value activities, you ensure that your time and energy is invested where it provides the greatest returns. This simple change of focus will dramatically change your sales results for the better.Invest your time in high value sales activities. Squeeze out just enough time for your low value activities. If you have to barely get some of your work done, don’t let that work be the work that really produces the results that you need.QuestionsWhat are the highest value activities for you as a salesperson?What outcomes do the high value activities produce?What are the low value activities for you as a salesperson?What outcomes do these low value activities produce?How do you ensure that the highest value activities dominate your calendar and command your time and attention?How do you minimize the time you spend on low value activities?
To defend the defenseless and protect the innocent from harm.To exercise compassion where compassion is needed.To remove the conditions of fear.To make a difference in the lives of others, especially those who suffer.To help others find their own power.To help others grow.To act as an example of how an individual can bring change, especially as an example to children.This is what real power looks like. The more power you have, the bigger and more impactful the difference you can make.
Essential Reading! Get my first book: The Only Sale Guide You’ll Ever Need “The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience.” Buy Now How did you do today? Were you the person that you committed to being when you made your New Year’s resolutions?When your alarm clock rang this morning, did you hit the snooze button? Did you hit the snooze button three times? Is this pattern so deeply ingrained that you had trouble breaking free? Or did you wake up, jump out of bed, and hit the gym, meditate, or write daily pages?When you arrived at work (or at your desk), did you immediately open your email inbox? Did you respond to all the requests that piled up overnight? Did you allow other people’s priorities to take precedence over your priorities? Again? Or did you devote the first 90 minutes to the most important tasks you needed to complete to move closer to your goals?As you work through the day today, this first business day of the year, was your browser open the entire time? Were you distracted by the social streams on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube? Did the smartphone that lives in your hand distract you from the work you needed to do? Or did you do meaningful work?Did you show up today totally inspired and so impassioned by your dreams that nothing or no one could stand in your way?Today was day one. Today was the day you cut yourself off from anything that prevented you from succeeding in the past. And if it wasn’t today, tomorrow is your day one.
Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now The attributes you see and admire in other people are always available to you. They are ever present, waiting for you, whenever you decide to activate and deploy them for your benefit, and for the benefit of others.Attitude: The ability to choose an optimistic, empowered attitude is available to you right now. The fact that you are capable of producing this state sometimes is evidence that it is available to you at all times. If I told you that you just won the Powerball, you would immediately find yourself in this state, regardless of any other external events. You can choose that state now.Beliefs: The ability to change your beliefs is ever present. You can change your mind about something anytime you want to. At some point in time, you shed your childish beliefs. You still hold beliefs that no longer serve you, and some that never really did. You can change those beliefs as soon as you become aware of them and bravely embrace something new.Meaning: At any time, you can change the frame you use to define what something means. You can switch from a negative frame to a positive frame. You might frame up the circumstances of your birth as negative, using that as an explanation for why things are the way they are now. Someone else believes that story is their origin story and they use it to explain why they are successful now.Focus: You have the ability to give your full and undivided attention to someone or something. The ability to block out the infinite distractions that vie for your limited time and attention is wholly within your control. Whenever you decide that something is important enough to do it with impeccable care, you can focus and make it so.Act: You can do something. What you do may or may not work, but you can always take some action. Most everything is outside of your control, but you have the ability to control yourself and your actions. That’s all you have, and that is enough.Not Act: The ability to not act is ever present too. Much of what captures your attention isn’t worth your attention. You don’t have to respond physically or emotionally to any external stimulus. You can do nothing.Compassion: You can exercise compassion. The ability to assume others are acting out of good intentions is a super power when it comes to maintaining a positive, optimistic outlook. You can forgive, and you can help those who need help.None of these choices is forbidden you. You were born with access to all of them. All that is left for you to do is to decide.
There is this old cartoon I keep around to use in some slide decks. In the picture, a man is standing in front of a wood burning stove. The man is saying to the wood burning stove, “Give me more heat and I will give you more wood.” The stove replies, “Give me more wood and I’ll give you more heat.” It’s an amusing little cartoon because it points to the truth that we sometimes get things in the wrong order when it comes to producing the results we want. The man in the cartoon is going to get no more heat until he puts more wood into the stove, and it can be no other way.This truth applies to every area of your life, and it is why I continually suggest that “you go first.” But first, a small diversion from the central point here, only because I find it necessary.The idea of producing the result you want means that you have an unambiguous picture of what it is that you want. You have to know what you are after to obtain it. Most people, however, live their lives without written goals or the plans to achieve them. Instead, they simply drift, repeating the same year over and over again without progressing. You must know what heat is to know to feed it wood.I’ve said this another way, “You can have anything you want if you are willing to pay the price for it in full before you have it.” And this is the thing; you must pay the price before you have what you want.Right now, I am taking a short break from the final edits of my third book, Eat Their Lunch, to write this newsletter. I want to write the best book I can, so I am spending today paying the price to provide you with a chapter that will change the way you view your contacts and your dream clients and deepen your understanding of how to serve them (while taking them away from your competitors). The price for a good chapter is spending the day editing this chapter and two others.Not only do I have to pay the price, but I also intend to pay it in full. Paying in full requires that I give myself over to this task, giving it my full attention and focus. I want heat, so I provide wood. I am going first.What is that you want? What is the price you must pay for what you want? What is the wood that you need to feed the stove to have heat?
In an inter-State decoy operation, the Rajasthan government’s Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Cell has arrested a doctor and two of his brokers in the Ferozepur district of Punjab on charges of carrying out illegal foetus sex determination tests.The police team accompanying the cell’s officers seized the sonography machine used for the tests and ₹33,000 in cash paid to the doctor, Sandeep Singh, as his fees. This was the 12th inter-State decoy operation carried out by the cell.No record maintainedA pregnant woman, acting as a decoy, was taken by the agents from Raisinghnagar in Sriganganagar district to Ferozepur for the test. In its raid conducted on Dr. Singh’s clinic, the PCPNDT Cell’s team found that no record was maintained there despite its registration, apparently in a bid to conceal illegal activities.The National Health Mission’s State Director Naveen Jain, who is the State Appropriate Authority under the PCPNDT Act, said here on Saturday that the agents were regularly taking pregnant women for the test to neighbouring States because of strict surveillance of medical service clinics in Rajasthan.Court appearanceMr. Jain said the accused persons, who used to charge extra fees for abortion of female foetuses, had been brought to Raisinghnagar, where they will be produced in the court with the request for their police remand.
Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, who visited Shri Jagannath Temple in Puri and offered prayers on Friday, assured the temple administration that she would take up the issue of musk (Kasturi) supply to the temple with her government.Kasturi, the musk obtained from a stag’s navel, is used in some special rituals in the Jagannath temple. The temple administration had last received musk from the erstwhile King of Nepal in 2002, and the stock has almost got exhausted.Talking to presspersons on the sidelines of her visit to the 12th century shrine, Ms. Bhandari said she would urge the Nepal government to resume the supply of musk to the temple.The Odisha Chief Secretary had written to the Foreign Secretary in 2014 seeking assistance in procuring musk from Nepal.Observing that India and Nepal enjoyed age-old friendly ties with strong cultural bonds, Ms. Bhandari expressed the hope that the bilateral relationship would continue in future.She thanked the temple servitors and officials who escorted her on the temple premises. Elaborate security arrangements were made both outside and inside the shrine during her visit.
A day after the declaration of the Class 12 (or intermediate) results of the Bihar State Education Board (BSEB) in which more than 64% of the students had failed, students protested in Patna and at several district headquarters, demanding re-evaluation of their answer sheets.Concerned over the dismal pass percentage of 34.25%, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar held a meeting with Education Minister Ashok Choudhary and BSEB chairman Anand Kishor. Meanwhile, students and experts blamed the drastic fall in the pass percentage on the rampant corruption in the State’s education system which, they said, had collapsed. A large number of students who had cleared their IIT-JEE entrance examination, too, have failed in their Class 12 board exams.Protesting students who had gathered outside the Intermediate Board office in Patna were supported by the student wings of several political parties. Later, the students threw stones at the council office. The police responded with a lathi-charge in which over half-a-dozen students sustained injuries.Three students from Buxar, Bhagalpur and Kaimur districts committed suicide after they failed to clear the exam. Out of a total 12.40 lakh students who took the Class 12 exams, only 8.34% scored above 60%. At the HKV School in Banka district, 80% of the students failed, while all 55 students from Rajapur village in the same district failed.Curbing cheatingEarlier in 1996, only 10.58 students passed the Intermediate Examination after the Patna High Court intervened to ensure that there was no cheating in the exams. However, in following years, the pass percentage rose sharply, with regular reports of mass-cheating, and large-scale corruption at BSEB.“Though the pass percentage this year is low, the successful students are real gold,” said Mr. Choudhary. Mr. Kishor, too, said that several layers of strict measures to curb unfair means had had its impact.But for students like Rajesh Kumar, Anshuman Raj, Ankit Raj, Dev Krishna Kumar, Vishwajit Kumar and several others, the result was bad blow. They have cleared their IIT-JEE Mains exam, and done well in its Advance test but have got only 8, 12, 16 and 18 marks in Maths, Physics and Chemistry in the Intermediate examination. “The State’s education system has collapsed and become corrupt. It got exposed because the exams were conducted strictly. The State government is responsible for this. There is an urgent need for qualitative change,” Nawal Kishore Choudhary, an expert on the Bihar education system told The Hindu.
Indicating that there is no chance of a compromise with his estranged nephew Akhilesh Yadav, senior Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Yadav has initiated steps to formalise his “Samajwadi Secular Morcha” into a parallel political party ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.Mr. Shivpal Yadav, however, did not dismiss the prospects of having an alliance with the SP-BSP mahagathbandhan if it materialises and he was treated with respect.Spoke to MulayamIn an interview to The Hindu, Mr. Shivpal Yadav said his decision to form a separate morcha was not based on a whim and he had the blessings of SP founder and his elder brother Mulayam Singh. “I discussed this with him many times. I have taken this step after a lot of thought and waiting, and after speaking to all,” he said.The estranged leader recently declared that he would seek to rope in leaders neglected by the SP under Akhilesh Yadav into his outfit and also connect with smaller parties looking for political space. Though Mr. Yadav is yet to formally resign from the SP, he suggested that he had cut off ties with the party and complained that he was not even shown the basic courtesy of being called to SP meetings despite still being a party MLA. Known for his organisational skills, Mr. Yadav estimated that without his support, the SP-BSP alliance would lose the edge against the BJP in 2019. According to a close aide, the strategy was to create such a presence before the polls that non-BJP parties are forced to negotiate with him and create space for him and his allies.Support in by-pollsMr. Yadav said that in the by-poll elections in which he openly supported the alliance or did not oppose their candidate — Phulpur, Noorpur, Gorakhpur and Kairana — the BJP was defeated, while in the Sikandra by-poll the SP lost as he had abstained.Warning that the low margin of victories earned by the SP with support of the alliance can be easily overturned, Mr. Yadav said he also had the “support of the Yadavs, Muslims and the youth.”“Had I opposed them, imagine what would have happened. In Kairana, I ensured that the [rebel candidate of Lok Dal] Kanwar Hasan withdrew at the last moment. In the final result, the margin was not much,” he said.Bolster organisationMr. Shivpal Yadav plans to strengthen his organisation, and wants to embark on a State-wide tour to gather support. He is in touch with a faction of BAMCEF. Last week, he had attended a meeting of the Yadav-based Krishna Vahini in Lucknow and also concluded a three-day tour of Nepal where he attended a conference of the International Federation of Yadav Chamber of Commerce where he apparently sought support from industrialists belonging to the community. He also held a public meeting in Muzaffarnagar, which was hit by riots in 2013.While the morcha is still in its nascent stage, Mr. Yadav has announced a list of official spokespersons, including two former State Ministers, Sharda Pratap Shukla and Shadab Fatima, who had been shunted by Akhilesh Yadav after his takeover of the party, and is in touch with several former MLAs.To bolster his cadre work, he has also formed three frontal outfits named after him to connect with youth, including a fans association and a youth brigade.While he did not share details of his plan to register the morcha into a political party, its tentative name and when he was planning to resign from the SP, Mr. Yadav did not dismiss the prospect of contesting himself.
BJP president Amit Shah referred to the electoral victories of the party in Nagaland and Meghalaya while kicking off the campaign in Mizoram’s capital, Aizawl, on October 18, asserting that Mizoram would be the “20th State government under the leadership of Narendra Modi”.Mizoram is a Christian-majority State, as Nagaland and Meghalaya are. But the similarities end there.The BJP has had a presence in the other two States for two decades now. It has hardly had any in Mizoram, except for winning five seats in an autonomous council for a minority tribe (Chakma) in April. And unlike the other two, party ideology matters more in Mizoram than candidates or alleged fiscal incentives.Local BJP leaders are wary of the handicap the party carries to the Assembly election on November 28 despite conquering six other north-eastern States since 2016 on its own or in alliance with regional parties.The BJP’s image as a party driven by the Hindutva agenda is one of the reasons Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla is confident that the Congress would brush aside the “saffron surge” for a hat-trick of wins.Though the BJP has decided to contest all 40 seats in Mizoram, the Congress does not see it as a major challenger unlike the regional Mizo National Front (MNF) that began as an insurgent outfit under the legendary Laldenga in 1966. But the MNF is a constituent of the BJP-helmed North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), whose regional members have, by default, been traditional rivals of the Congress. The regional party’s campaign received a shot in the arm after two influential MLAs — former Ministers R. Lalzirliana and Lalrinliana Sailo — quit the Congress and joined the MNF. The Congress played down the departure of the duo as well as of another MLA Buddha Dhan Chakma.More alliancesThe Congress would also be up against two regional alliances. One is the Zoram People’s Movement that three relatively old regional parties — Zoram Nationalist Party, Mizoram People’s Conference, and Zoram Exodus Movement — had forged last year. The other is the Peoples’ Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram, which began as an RTI-based rights group a decade ago.The MNF is wary of a split in the “non-Congress vote share” and is guarded against its projection as the ‘B team’ of the BJP.“We have won on our own in the past, and we are confident that the people will teach the corrupt Congress government a lesson,” MNF president and former Chief Minister Zoramthanga said, pointing out that his party has no electoral alliance with the BJP.He branded the NLUP as a failure that did more harm than good to the ecology and rural economy.Congress leaders said the strategy of the BJP in Christian-majority States in the Northeast has been to go it alone and cobble up post-poll alliances with the constituents of NEDA. This, they added, has been to save the blushes for a “Christian party like the MNF.”Local BJP leaders said Mandate 2018 has offered the party its best chance of making a debut in the 40-member Mizoram Assembly. The party hopes to win at least two seats where the Buddhist Chakmas are dominant.The majority Mizos, however, do not consider the Chakmas as indigenous tribes and have been demanding the scrapping of the Chakma Autonomous District Council straddling the two Assembly seats the BJP is eyeing. Similar is the case with the Brus, another minority tribe that is a lesser voting force.
A special court in Bihar on Saturday sent a petition seeking a probe against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and other officials in the Muzaffarpur shelter abuse case of 34 minor girls, to the CBI and asked the agency to “look into it”. The move prompted opposition parties to demand that Mr. Kumar resign in order to “face the probe”.Hearing a petition filed by Ashwani Kumar, an accused in the shelter abuse case, the special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court in Muzaffarpur, directed that the petition be sent to the CBI’s Superintendent of Police in Patna to look into it. Ashwani Kumar, a self-styled medical practitioner, is accused of injecting the girls of the shelter home with sedatives before they were subjected to sexual abuse. He was arrested in November 2018.“If CBI investigate Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, former Muzaffarpur District Magistrate Dharmendra Singh, principal secretary of the social and welfare department Atul Prasad, who was also former Divisional Commissioner of Muzaffarpur and several other big officials, the facts would come to light in the shelter abuse case,” contended Ashwani Kumar in his four-page petition. He also alleged that the CBI was “suppressing” facts in the case. “The honourable POCSO court judge… sent the petition to the CBI to look into it…which means an investigation against those named in the petition,” Sudhir Kumar Ojha, advocate of the petitioner, told The Hindu over phone.However, other lawyers of the Patna High Court asserted that the court had merely sent the petition to the CBI for their “notice” and had not “ordered” a probe. “If the petition is sent to an investigative agency CBI not for an investigation then what was the need to send it to them?… the court must have found some merit in the petition to send it to the CBI,” countered Mr. Ojha. On February 7, the Supreme Court had transferred the trial in the case to the Saket court in New Delhi and ordered that the trial be concluded in six months. The hearing in the Saket court is likely to commence from next week.
The CPI (Maoist) has claimed the responsibility for the April 9 attack in Dantewada district in which a BJP MLA and four police personnel were killed.The banned outfit accused the Central government of looting the natural resources of Bastar to benefit corporate houses and selling it to them at throwaway prices.“Our PLGA [Peoples’ Liberation Guerilla Army] had executed the attack [on April 9] and killed Bheema Mandavi and four security guards. We have also recovered four weapons,” said a statement purportedly issued by Maoists and being circulated on the social media on Friday.Police had said that three weapons, including two rifles, of the security personnel were missing after the attack.The two-page statement was issued in the name of Sainath, secretary of Darbha division committee of Dandakaranya Special Zone of Maoists, which had been instrumental in executing several deadly attacks in south Bastar, including the deadly Jhiram valley attack in Bastar district on May 25, 2013, in which top Congress leaders were killed.In the statement, the Maoists also alleged that the government and the police had been forcibly carrying out road construction work and installing mobile towers in the region, despite opposition from local villagers.’Authenticity of Naxal statement being verified’State Deputy Inspector-General (anti-Naxal operations) Sundarraj. P told PTI, “The authenticity of the Naxal statement is being verified. It is nothing but just a propaganda by Maoists. The banned outfit has no right to justify its act. Naxals have now become weak and are losing support. That is why they are committing such acts in frustration,” he said, adding, “Security forces will give a befitting reply to them.”Despite the Dantewada attack, people came out in large numbers to vote in the Bastar Lok Sabha constituency on April 11, which was a victory for democracy, the DIG said.Despite the attack and boycott from Maoists, 57% turnout was recorded in the constituency.
Nine suspected drug peddlers were arrested with a huge cache of narcotics and cash in Udhampur, Jammu and Samba districts of Jammu and Kashmir, police said on Wednesday.Two Punjab residents, Jagdev Singh of Ludhiana and Balkar Singh of Jalandhar, were arrested and 203kg poppy straw was recovered from their vehicle at Chenani on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Udhampur district, a police spokesman said.At Main Bazzar, Udhampur, the official said they recovered 15gm of heroin from two persons, identified as Niklesh and Vikas Thakur. He said while the two were arrested, their third accomplice fled the spot, taking advantage of heavy traffic in the area. “Efforts are on to nab him,” he added.In another incident, four suspected drug smugglers, identified as Wahid Ahmad, Abdul Qayoom and Nasir Ahmad of Baramulla district and Charan Singh of Jammu, were arrested with 100gm heroin, the police spokesperson said. The police team also seized ₹2.76 lakh in cash while checking the accused’s vehicle at Balol in Indira Nagar, Jammu, the spokesperson said.“Another alleged drug peddler, Bashir Ahmad of Anantnag district, was arrested with 50gm charas during frisking at Bari Brahmana area of Samba district,” he said.The arrested accused were booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and are being questioned, the spokesman added.
Utpal Parrikar, son of former Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, may have been denied a ticket for the May 19 Panaji Assembly bypoll, because of sustained grilling over dynasty politics, Goa BJP spokesperson and Panchayat Minister Mauvin Godinho said on Thursday. When asked whether the issue of “family raj” could have weighed in on the minds of BJP’s central leadership, Mr. Godinho said, “It was the press itself which was questioning. Every press, every newspaper, and every pressperson wrote on that. So perhaps that could be one of the factors, because BJP has always been projected as a party with a difference”.After Mr. Parrikar’s death in office on March 17 after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer, his elder son Utpal was tipped to be fielded as a candidate for the Panaji assembly by-poll.BJP leaders had also said that Central party leaders had urged him to work for the party following his father. Mr. Utpal also campaigned for the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, but after being tipped as a front-runner for Panaji seat, former two-time Panaji BJP MLA and Mr. Parrikar’s former aide Sidharth Kuncalienkar got the ticket. After losing out on the ticket, Mr. Utpal had described his being denied a ticket as an “obstacle” in the way of his efforts to conduct a “clean up in politics”.When contacted for his reaction to Mr. Godinho’s statement on Thursday, Mr. Utpal Parrikar who seemed to have taken things in his stride told The Hindu that he would not like to comment on what the Minister said.However, he recalled that he had answered this question of “Family Raj” when presspersons had asked him. “I had told them, I have not come into active politics of BJP while my father was around. It is true that my father never wanted me to join politics. However, I am an independent person now who has his own identity,” he reiterated.“ I had also said that whenever you want to join politics to cleanse the system, the hurdles are bound to come in the way. Even my father had faced the obstacles,” he said. Declining to get disheartened from the whole episode, Mr. Utpal said, “I will learn from this. I will work the way the party wants me to retain this prestigious seat. It is my father’s constituency, and for 25 years people of Panaji have blessed him, and hopefully, we will be able to retain it.”
Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Additional District Judge (ADJ) court in Odisha’s Berhampur on Saturday.Panda was convicted under Section 121 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), according Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) Anil Sahu. Section 121 concerns waging, or attempting to wage a war, or abetting waging of a war, against the Union of India.Police arrested Panda from a house at Mangalavarampeta under the Badabazar police station limits of Berhampur late night on July 17, 2014 and seized a revolver, cash worth ₹2,11,000 and 800 gm of gold ornaments from his possession.Berhampur ADJ(1) Sanjay Sahu convicted Panda under Section 353 that relates to assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty and punished him with two years imprisonment and a fine of ₹10,000. He was also convicted under Section 25 (1-B)(a), Section 27(1) with jail sentences and fines. “But he will have to undergo life imprisonment due to which other jail sentences have no meaning. The total fine imposed on Panda under different Sections of the IPC is ₹25,000”, said Mr. Sahu.The court examined 15 witnesses and other evidences before passing the judgement.Counsel for Panda said his client would approach the higher court against this decision. Out of 135 cases, Panda was acquitted in 52 cases, he noted.Panda was involved in several major cases of Maoist violence in Odisha. They include an attack on R.Udaygiri town in Gajapati district, the Nayagarh armoury loot, the murder of VHP leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and his four associates in Kandhamal district and abduction of two Italian tourists in Kandhamal district. He was initially a member of the outlawed CPI (Maoist), from which he was expelled in 2012. After his expulsion, he formed the Odisha Maovadi Party (OMP).
Plant lovers have urged the Bhuvaneswar city administration to undertake plantation of native species which could withstand strong cyclonic winds in future.A rapid assessment carried out by a group of scholars in Bhubaneswar says 99% of trees had suffered damage when Cyclone Fani hit the city on May 3.As many as 1,677 trees having 10 cm girth were recorded along different road stretches in various localities.“We found 99% of recorded trees were either uprooted or snapped and broken. About 6% trees were uprooted and 5% suffered complete damage. As high as 57% of trees were partially damaged,” said Hemanta Kumar Sahu, a botanist, who led the team.“Native species such as Karanja (Pongamia pinnata) and Chhatiana (Alstonia Scholaris) were found to have withstood ferocious wind speed of Fani in Bhubaneswar. These trees with minimal damage will get back much of their lost cover after monsoon,” said Mr. Sahu.Although the fig plants like Ficus bengalensis and Ficus religiosa survived Fani’s fury, most of their branches were lost. Kadamba (Anthocephalus cadamba) trees suffered heavy loss in the cyclone.“Native species such as Karanja, Chhatiana, Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Bahada (Terminalia bellerica), Jamun (Jambul), Amba (mango) and Arjuna (terminalia) trees withstood the high wind speed. These trees lost only 50% of their branches. These species should get priority when plantation would be undertaken in future,” he said.Meanwhile, the government sources said that 3,290 uprooted trees have already been replanted in Bhubaneswar.