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  • Swansea v QPR line-ups: Dunne back, Swans defender out

    first_imgRichard Dunne returns to the QPR side for the game at Swansea, who are without injured defender Federico Fernandez.Dunne, available again after a suspension, partners Steven Caulker at centre-back, with Nedum Onuoha moving to right-back and Mauricio Isla dropping to the bench. Bobby Zamora is still out and Niko Kranjcar keeps his place. Swansea: Fabianski, Richards, Bartley, Williams, Taylor, Britton, Ki, Routledge, Sigurdsson, Montego, Bony.Subs: Tremmel, Amat, Carroll, Shelvey, Dyer, Barrow, Gomis. QPR: Green, Onuoha, Caulker, Dunne, Yun, Vargas, Barton, Henry, Fer, Kranjcar, Austin.Subs: McCarthy, Ferdinand, Isla, Mutch, Phillips, Hoilett, Zamora.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

  • Jaw Mutation Led to Human Brain

    first_imgThe science news outlets like Science News seem to all jump on human evolution stories more than evolution stories about other life forms.  Maybe that’s because we’re only human.  This week’s entry concerns a story published in Nature1 by Stedman et al2 that a muscle protein mutation might be correlated with a change in brain size among human ancestors.  The idea is that this change reduced the stiffness of the jaw, shrinking the massive jaw muscles of gorilla-like primates, and therefore allowing brain size to grow.  “A change in a single muscle protein may have been a key step in the evolution of modern humans, according to a new theory,” echoes Elizabeth Pennisi in Science3. 1Pete Currie, “Human genetics: Muscling in on hominoid evolution,” Nature 428, 373 – 374 (25 March 2004); doi:10.1038/428373a.2Stedman et al., Nature 26 March 2004.3Elizabeth Pennisi, “The Primate Bite: Brawn Versus Brain?” Science Vol 303, Issue 5666, 1957 , 26 March 2004, DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5666.1957a.If you swallow this line, we’ve got a resort vacation to sell you on the Isle of DeBris.  The reaction of Ralph Holloway, a physical anthropologist at Columbia University, is more calm and rational: “To suggest that the brain is constrained by chewing muscles is just rubbish.”    This tale is a pinhead balanced on a house of cards in a windstorm.  It relies on mythical dating methods and flexible estimates of mutation rates, all supported by the assumption of evolution.  We are not impressed by one putative mutation that might have made miracles possible (Stedman sidestepped in the Science article, “We’re not suggesting that this mutation alone [buys] you Homo sapiens, but it could make possible brain growth”).  We want to see the catalog of 50,000 or more lucky rolls of the die that supposedly turned a gorilla-like knuckle-walker into a philosopher.    Pete Currie has the gall to open his report in Nature, Darwin’s mouthpiece (see 03/04/2004 commentary), with this distortion:Ever since Bishop Wilberforce famously ridiculed the possibility that man was descended from apes, and T. H. Huxley bravely chose primate ancestry rather than ignorance , the debate over our origins has claimed a special place in evolutionary theory.  With the acceptance by most of us that we are indeed a product of natural selection , discussions surrounding the issue have cooled somewhat.  But exactly how natural selection acted to produce the modern human form has remained hotly contested.Fact is, no one recorded the actual words spoken in the famous interchange before the British Association at Oxford in 1860, and many if not most in the crowd sided with Wilberforce.  The debate has become somewhat of an urban legend, more symbolic than substantial (see Janet Browne’s account, Charles Darwin: The Power of Place, ch. 3).    “Most of us”?  Speak for yourself, Pete.  Only a few elitist Darwin Party members think the intricacies of human soul, spirit and body can be produced by natural selection.  But of course, they have far more faith and more vivid imaginations.  That’s why they are evolutionists.  If you think this is an unfair tirade against the X Clubbers, look what Currie himself confesses at the end of his article about not just the fossil record of human evolution, but of all evolution:What is the significance of these findings, and do they shed any light on human origins? Although there is a rough consensus [see 12/27/2003 headline] about the individual features that define fossil species within the genus Homo, the sequence in which individual traits were acquired during hominid evolution remains controversial.  Furthermore, the definition of which character traits were essential for the appearance of the modern human form is equally contentious.  The reasons for this are familiar to anyone who tries to explain morphological transitions over large evolutionary distances based primarily on the fossil record.  Such explanations hinge on finding so-called ‘transitional forms’, where a particular fossil is so indelibly etched with the tell-tale signs of what something was, and what it was going to become , that an inescapable evolutionary theory simply tumbles out of the dirt.  Not unsurprisingly, such fossils are very rare indeed, and fossils charting the course of hominid evolution are no exception.There you have it.  He has just admitted that transitional fossils are “rare indeed.” – so rare that a senior paleontologist at the British Museum once laid it on the line: “there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.”  Though an evolutionist, Dr. Colin Patterson continued by criticizing a bad habit of his brethren: “It is easy enough to make up stories of how one form gave rise to another, and to find reasons why the stages should be favoured by natural selection.  But such stories are not part of science, for there is no way of putting them to the test.”a    Deliberately and connivingly, the Darwin Party injected just-so storytelling into science (see 12/22/2003 commentary).  It’s time to vote the rascals out.(Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

  • South Africa streamlines customs control

    first_img“Electronification releases human resources from mundane, low-yielding administrative activities and allows more manpower to catch illegal traders. Implementation of electronic systems had already begun, but the first major changes could be expected in October this year. “The programme will improve the service for tax-compliant traders and increase the risks for those who are non-compliant,” SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Oupa Magashula told a conference in Johannesburg on Thursday. “If data is in a computer it is more manageable and that information is safer. We will be able to tell exactly where cargo is and at what stage of the customs process it is at.” Sapa Intikhab Shaik, executive of the modernisaton programme, said: “We will be automating technology, putting all data into computers. This will mean more ease and speed of the tax and trade process.” The South African Revenue Service is modernising the country’s customs processes to improve its service for tax-compliant traders while making it easier to identify illegal and illicit trade. Shaik said the electronification of South Africa’s customs process, electronic document delivery and management, would allow Sars to identify illegal and illicit trade more easily. Releasing human resources “We want to make sure ‘the stick’ is only used on non-compliant traders. We don’t want to be the gatekeepers any more. We aim for customs to only intervene silently and efficiently, and only when necessary.” He said Sars aimed to move from a paper-controlling organisation to a risk-management organisation. 30 July 2010 Sars also announced they would be eradicating some of their more “complicated” forms.last_img read more

  • Food insecurity in America’s Heroes

    first_imgWindome R, Jensen A, Bangerter A, Fu S. Food Insecurity Among Veterans Of The US Wars In Iraq And Afghanistan. Cambridge Core; 2019. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/food-insecurity-among-veterans-of-the-us-wars-in-iraq-and-afghanistan/F03B64DD63287F2BE5F2067F3E5AC5FB/core-reader#. Accessed June 18, 2019. Bushatz A. Advocates Are Building a Plan to Take on Military Hunger. Military.com. https://www.military.com/spousebuzz/2018/09/24/advocates-are-building-plan-take-military-hunger.html. Published 2019. Accessed June 25, 2019. Sobol Z. Why Are So Many Veterans Food Insecure? | Move For Hunger. Move For Hunger. https://www.moveforhunger.org/why-are-so-many-veterans-food-insecure/. Published 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019. Jones A, Ngure F, Pelto G, Young S. What Are We Assessing When We Measure Food Security? A Compendium And Review Of Current Metrics. American Society for Nutrition; 2019:481-505. Food insecurity in America’s HeroesBy Sarah Pittman, Human Nutrition Graduate Student at the University of Illinois SM W. Prevalence of food insecurity among military households with children 5 years of age and younger. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26976798. Published 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019. References:Eatrightpro.org. https://www.eatrightpro.org/advocacy/legislation/all-legislation/food-security-veterans. Published 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019. NPR Choice page. Npr.org. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/04/19/524563155/when-active-duty-service-members-struggle-to-feed-their-families. Published 2019. Accessed June 25, 2019. What Is Food Insecurity in America? | Hunger and Health. Hunger and Health. https://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/understand-food-insecurity/. Published 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019. Food insecurity is one definition that has changed meaning since the term first came into existence. The current definition of food insecurity by the USDA is “a lack of consistent access to enough food to live a healthy, active life.”5 Food insecurity has three domains: availability, access and utilization but also included is having the ability to acquire socially and culturally acceptable foods. Food insecurity can change over time, whether it is seasonally or as a result of unexpected shocks like weather events, deaths or regional conflicts.2 Depending on the circumstances, there are two possible food insecurity conditions, chronic or transitory (being food secure one month and food insecure the next). For veterans, food insecurity often stems from the mental health issues that our veterans endure. Veterans can experience difficulty adapting back to civilian life when they return overseas, especially if they don’t have support from friends and/or family when they return.4Food insecurity in our veteransThere is a growing number of active duty service members becoming food insecure, relying on SNAP for assistance.1 In 2018, a study showed that 1.5 million veterans live in a household that completely relies on SNAP to supplement their food intake.4 And in 2016 it was noted that families spent about $67 million in food stamps at commissaries.8 A study by Cambridge University conducted in 2015 found that about 27% of veterans that had served in Iraq or Afghanistan wars were food insecure with 12% reported being very low food security.6Consequences and challenges of food insecurityHaving soldiers that are food insecure increases risk of health conditions that may decrease military readiness.3 Although there are supplemental programs available to veterans, many are unaware they exist.1 A study completed in July of 2016 found that military families facing financial hardships face challenges seeking assistance benefits, which include: limited awareness, stigma, misconceptions and inconsistent eligibility.1Is there hope for food insecure veterans and their families?Yes! In an article from September of 2018, stated that officials with the Military Family Advocacy Network are planning to work with Feeding America, the Food Research & Action Center, National WIC Association and the United Way to tackle food insecurity in veterans and their families. With this help they plan to “find the best ways to help families access services, while increasing education on the assistance that’s already available”, while also reducing the shame of asking for help.7Lawmakers in action“Because of a quirk in the law, some service members can be disqualified from programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP… Service members can be considered ineligible because of certain military pay, such as housing benefits.”8 The Military Hunger Prevention Act excludes the value of a housing allowance for service members in determining eligibility for any federal program issuing benefits for nutrition assistance.9Do you know any veterans that are food insecure? Do they use or at least know the resources available to them? H.R.1078 – 115th Congress (2017-2018): Military Hunger Prevention Act. Congress.gov. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1078. Published 2019. Accessed June 25, 2019.last_img read more

  • State Tax and Internet Data Collection: Extra Value in Customers and Users

    first_imgStates have made progress in taxing internet businesses from income tax to sales tax on interstate transactions, but what about the data customers and other internet users leave behind? There is no uniform standard for “taxing the Internet” but every incentive to find ways to generate more tax revenue.States Losing Tax RevenueSince the internet became a place to do business and sell products and services, states have fretted over the loss of tax revenue. When fixing this conern, states struggle with:jurisdictional limitations on tax authority; andhow to characterize income generating activities and retail transactions that happen on the internet.Taxing the InternetRecently, a company selling email services over the internet to customers in the state of Washington relied on the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) to challenge a sales tax assessment by the state. The federal Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) has prohibited states from taxing independently provided email since 2007.The Washington Department of Revenue ruled that the company’s services do not fall within the federal ban on Internet tax. The company creates and sends customized digital communications for its customers. The company is not providing standard email accounts. However, another state found that the company’s services were email under IFTA and not taxable by that state.What is email under IFTA? What can states tax without violating federal law? Is user data collected by internet businesses an item of value that could be taxed?Federal Guidance for StatesOver the last two decades, states have been sorting out how to tax transactions that exist because of the internet. Most recently, the decision in South Dakota vs. Wayfair backtracked on U.S. Supreme Court precedent to address the role that the internet plays in determining nexus between businesses and states. States use the facts of the case as a guide for creating nexus laws.So far, Congress has not indicated it will address the issues of nexus and internet transactions that involve parties from more than one state. Notably, Congress didn’t make the IFTA moratorium on taxing internet access and imposing multiple or discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce permanent until February of 2016.State Tax Under ITFAITFA does not ban internet taxes that are structured to substitute for or supplement state corporate income taxes, including gross receipts taxes.For example, income from advertising services would be included in the federal income tax calculation relied on for a state’s income tax return.Also states may tax internet advertising services under:gross receipts tax laws; orsales tax laws for services.Wayfair has made it easier for states to apply sales tax laws to the activities of online marketplaces.Finally, income from the sales of data collected from internet shoppers is subject to state income tax sourcing rules. Sales factor sourcing rules, for example, vary by state. They may source sales of intangible property to a state if:the property is used in the state; orthe income-producing activity is easily identified with a state based on other factors.However, what about the value that a company itself receives from the user data it collects on its retail website? The internet customer pays a set price for a good or a service, but the retail business receives more value from doing business on the internet than collecting sales or advertising revenue. It sells data from users other than customers, and itself receives a benefit from the collected data.A Different Tax Perspective on Digital from EuropeEU countries have, in recent years, addressed this issue by discussing a 3% tax on the revenue of companies that engage in digital transactions. The tax would target revenue derived from digital transactions where internet user participation creates value for the taxpayer.In early 2018, the European Commission proposed a Digital Services Tax, or DST for countries in the EU. The proposed DST was a 3% tax on a company’s revenues derived from three activities that require participation from internet users:selling digital advertising space,digital intermediary activities such as services by online marketplaces, andsales of user collected data.The DST would apply to companies that met relatively high revenue thresholds each year.Ultimately, in November 2018, the EU countries did not agree on the DST. In March 2019, the EU countries also did not agree on a 3% tax that would target only digital advertising revenue. Unable to come to consensus with other countries, EU and other countries are devising their own tax laws for digital companies.Digital Services Taxes Coming SoonAfter the EU countries’ failure to agree on how to digital taxes should work, France, Italy, and Spain are working to pass their own DST legislation.The UK Government has proposed introducing a digital services tax that will go into effect on April 1, 2020. The 2% tax would apply to income generated from UK users of internet search engines, online marketplaces and social media. The tax would apply to businesses whose annual consolidated income is £500m or more.Lost State Tax Revenue and the Digital EconomyArguably, a tax on companies with revenues that make money from digital transactions would violate IFTA as being discriminatory and possibly a double tax. The U.S. government stated it is considering legal action in response to national DSTs in Europe.Nonetheless, in a digital economy, retailers collect data on internet users that visit their websites from each click of a link to the length of time spent on a page. That data has value to the retailer even when the user doesn’t become an actual customer. Is it market research made easy via software or is it value derived from doing business on the internet that goes beyond sales prices?States may be continuing to ask whether they are losing tax revenue in the digital economy. The question extends beyond a state’s jurisdiction to tax.Is there an equivalent to user data in non-ecommerce transactions that would trigger ITFA?By Lisa Lopata, J.D.Login to read more on CCHAnswerConnect.Not a subscriber? Sign up for a free trial or contact us for a representative.last_img read more

  • Proposed Regs Allow Tax-Free Replacements of LIBOR-Based Interest Rates

    first_imgA significantmodification to a debt instrument or contracts is generally treated as an exchangeor termination of the original instrument or contract. Thus, a significantmodification generally causes the parties to realize income, deduction, gain orloss.  Proposed Reg. §1.1001-6(a) allows a qualified interest rate to replace a LIBOR rate without tax consequences.Proposed Reg. §1.1001-6(b) provides requirements for a qualified interest rate.Proposed Reg. §1.1001-6(c) expands these rules to debt instruments and derivatives in integrated transactions and hedges. Proposed Reg. §1.1001-6(d), (e) and (f) provide rules for one-time payments, grandfathered obligations, and OID and REMICS, respectively.Proposed Reg. §1.1275-2(m) offers rules for variable rate instruments. Proposed Reg. §§1.860G-1(e) and 1.882-5(d)(5)(ii)(B) provide special rules for REMICs and banks, respectively. Why Replace LIBOR? The proposed regs are intended to allow taxpayers to replaceLIBOR in debt instruments and contracts without tax consequences. The regsaccomplish this goal by removing such replacements from the category of “significantmodifications.”  LIBOR Damaged by Scandal, Declining Use SOFR is very different from LIBOR. For one thing, SOFR isbased on transactions in the Treasury bond repurchase (repo) market ofinterbank overnight loans. SOFR is an average rate based on each night’stransactions, which is published the next day at around 8 am New York time. By Kelley Wolf, JD, LLM What’s Replacing LIBOR? LIBOR has one big advantage, however. LIBOR provides ratesfor different loan terms, while SOFR is based on overnight loans only. However,major financial institutions have already started issuing SOFR derivatives,which can be used to develop SOFR-based term rates. In addition, SOFR is based on about $800 billion in dailytrading activities, which is around 1,500 times the daily LIBOR transactions.More importantly, SOFR is based on actual lending transactions, rather thaninterest rates that banks think they would pay. These factors should make SOFRmore robust and harder to manipulate. What do the Proposed LIBOR Replacement Regs Do? By 2012, the banks’ manipulation of LIBOR was a full-fledgedscandal. At the same time, the data that LIBOR was based on was drying up, asbanks used fewer and fewer unsecured interbank loans. Since these loans are collaterialized by U.S. Treasuries,they are virtually risk-free. In contrast, LIBOR was supposed to take intoaccount credit risks among the banks and, theoretically, in the economy as awhole. The lack of risk in the repo market is expected to make SOFR lower thenLIBOR. LIBOR rates are based on the average interest rate thatmajor banks pay on short-term loans to each other. LIBOR has been used as areference for interest rates for more than 30 years, and is currentlyincorporated into more than $350 trillion in loans, mortgages, derivatives andother debt. Login to read more on CCHAnswerConnect. The proposed LIBOR replacement regs have six majorcomponents:center_img Under the proposed regs, there are no immediate taxconsequences when a change to a debt instrument or a non-debt contract: Are There Tax Consequences for Replacing LIBOR? What’s the Difference Between SOFR and LIBOR? The ARRC also asked the IRS to provide guidance about taxissues associated with the transition from LIBOR. The IR responded by releasingthese proposed regulations. The proposed regs include flexible rules and two safeharbors for determining if the new rate is a qualified rate. In the U.S., the Alternative Reference Rates Committee(ARRC) announced in 2018 that it had selected the Secured Overnight FinancingRate (SOFR) to replace USD LIBOR. Several other countries have announcedsimilar replacements based on SOFR-type rates tied to their own currencies andbanking systems. After several efforts to reform and strengthen LIBOR, theU.K. Financial Conduct Authority announced in 2017 that all variants of LIBOR,including U.S.-dollar LIBOR (USD LIBOR), could be phased out by the end of2021. USD LIBOR is used in more than $200 trillion in currently outstandingcontracts. Proposedregulations allow taxpayers to make tax-free replacements of interest ratestied to LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) in debt instruments and non-debtcontracts. Taxpayers may rely on the proposed regs until they are finalized.LIBOR is likely to sunset at the end of 2021. The IRS has requested comments on the proposed regs,especially with respect to other complications that may arise from thereplacement of LIBOR with a qualified rate. However, LIBOR actually measured few real transactions.Instead, a bank could report the interest rate it thought it would pay if it borrowed funds from another bank. Notsurprisingly, some banks manipulated these rates to artificially raise or lowerLIBOR. When is a LIBOR Replacement Tax-Free? Any other replacement of a LIBOR rate is subject to thegeneral modification rules that generally treat a change in interest rates as arealization event. merely replaces or provides a fallback to aqualified LIBOR-referencing rate, butdoes not change the fair market value of theinstrument or contract, or the reference rate currency. Not a subscriber? Sign up for a free trial or contact us for a representative.last_img read more

  • 3 Ways to Light a Room for Different Times of Day

    first_imgAmbient LightFor all three lighting styles, the backlight comes from direct light reflected off of a 4×8 bead board on a risen C-stand. This creates a very soft ambience that fills the room and melds all of the other lights together, creating an atmosphere that resembles wall-reflected natural light.Day InteriorSince natural daylight has such a distinct texture, the interior day lighting set-up is one of the hardest to pull off. In this configuration, a LED blasts through the windows to mimic sunlight and its harsh shadows. For the actor’s key light, a powerful LED past a sheet of bleached muslin diffuses and softens the light. In the example above, the daylight they have created looks a bit more like cloudy daylight, so if you want a warmer aesthetic, just lower your color temperature to about 3,000K.Night InteriorIn a night scene, most of the time you cannot rely on just “moonlight” to outfit the room. In this scene, the filmmaker has beamed in a LED light through the window to mimic the moonlight, but the key is coming from a tungsten light through a sheet of bleached muslin on the right side of the subject’s face. With the addition of the lamp on his right side, this now looks like diegetic lamplight illuminating his body.Golden Hour InteriorGolden hour can provide some amazing light textures for your shot since you have the sun coming in at such a low angle. As you can see above, a direct tungsten key light is shining onto the subject, providing some awesome warm light that creates cinematic shadows on the left side of her face. Some colder back light also drops in from the top to contrast with the warm light and simulate blue sky light.if you are looking for more resources on lighting your set, take a look at these articles:A Practical Guide to Working with Light Stands on Set6 Different Ways Lighting Gels Can Save Your ShotHow to Light an Exterior Day Scene Without Lighting Having trouble lighting a studio set to mimic natural light? Here are a few tips to help you get that look with 3 particular set-ups.All images via Cinematography Database.Learning how to mimic different natural light sources on an internal set is a essential technique for any filmmaker. Even though natural light is hard to beat, sometimes your shooting schedule forces you to adjust and adapt on a studio set. In this Cinematography Database video, you’ll learn a few ways to create light spaces for three different times of day: day interior, golden hour interior, and night interior.last_img read more

  • Small step, giant leap

    first_imgThree cheers. Hip hip Hooray!!!! Finally Indians have come to their senses; we as a nation have matured and are keen to put behind the bitterness of the past and march into the future with confidence.Really? On the surface, it would appear so considering the muted response to the Ayodhya verdict. Barring the likes of Maulana Mulayam, the political class has reacted with remarkable restraint.Even the rabble-rousers in the Sangh Parivar seem to have discovered a stroke of common sense. Instead of celebrating the victory of faith, constituents of the Parivar showed grace and in refraining from declaring the verdict a victory for Hindutva.But has the Parivar really shifted stance? Or is it a tactical retreat in preparation for a strategic move? In the coming weeks, all frontal organisations of the Parivar will hold small closed door meetings in various parts of the country.They will raise a quiet toast to celebrate the fact that Lord Ram has finally got a certificate attesting his place of birth, from the judiciary no less. They will then approach other cultural, social and religious leaders from other communities to prevail upon Muslims to see reason in the verdict. Sangh leaders have advised the BJP to desist from turning the verdict into a subject of political discourse.The idea is to retrieve RSS’s image of being a disciplined organisation, which seemed lost forever. During the late 80s and early 90s, the Ram Mandir movement was massively endorsed by both the rural and urban middle and elitist class. Despite the shameful destruction of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, the BJP won 161 seats in the Lok Sabha elections four years later and India got its first swayamsewak prime minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee.advertisementBut 2010 is not 1996 and those who rooted for the BJP then are its most trenchant critics now. Since being voted out of power in 2004, the BJP has been on a rapid downhill slide. The verdict affords the party the chance to claw its way back but nobody is in a hurry to hop on to the nearest parked rath and rabblerouse his way across the country. At least not now.It is BJP President Nitin Gadkari’s firm belief that the issue must be revived but in a manner that is in sync with the Hindu psyche which wants Ram lalla but unaccompanied by death and destruction. Gadkari’s move is strategic. He and his team would mount indirect pressure for the handing over the site to the Hindus but has sent feelers to government emissaries that the party would support any government move which paves for the construction of a Mandir and a Masjid nearby.Nitin Gadkari His expectation is that the government would float the idea of a trust on the pattern of Somnath Temple. PV Narsimha Rao, who fiddled while the Masjid was razed had announced a Rs 100 crore grant for rebuilding the Mosque but didn’t find any takers from the Muslim community.Gadkari feels it’s a win-win situation for his party. His assessment is that even if the Congress takes initiatives to settle the issue, it will be his party that reaps the political dividends.Already, Muslim MPs of Congress cutting across age, gender and region have backed the Court verdict. And Digvijay Singh, the self appointed keeper of minority faith in the Congress has said the Ayodhya verdict should form the basis of a negotiated settlement. All this serves Gadkari well. That’s why he has extended his new “all-in-good time” policy to Bihar where elections begin later this month.When Nitish Kumar said neither Narendra Modi nor Varun Gandhi were welcome to campaign in Bihar, Gadkari shot back that it was the BJP’s prerogative to decide its campaigners.The same Gadkari has had a change of heart and asked the two to stay at home, though to ensure that Modi is not rufled, he may ask other BJP chief ministers to stay away from Bihar.The campaign will thus be spearheaded by central leaders, many of whom are not known for their ideological commitment to the cause and are merely part of the party’s Urban Social Alliance (USA) whose chattering sessions are mostly about corporate battles and the politics of sport.By keeping Modi and Varun out, Gadkari wants to give voters a chance to choose between Laloo and Nitish and not have them get caught in a Mandir- Masjid spat. The mantra, for now is Live and Let Live. We will wait for the results from Bihar to see if they sing a different tune in future.advertisement—————————Save elections from the evil of envelope journalism”News”, Lord Northcliffe once said “is what something somebody somewhere wants to suppress. All the rest is advertisement”. The good Lord had obviously not heard of the phenomenon of “paid news” which rocked the Indian media during the last Lok Sabha elections when it became known that many media organisations, including some of the largest publications and TV channels, had disguised paid advertisements as news and passed them off as objective reports to unsuspecting readers and TV viewers.If the EC has its way, a repeat is unlikely during the keenly watched elections to the Bihar assembly later this month. For the fist time, the EC will be monitoring ” paid news” in the print and electronic media and has already sent to the Bihar chief electoral officer the revised formats in which candidates are expected to file daily reports of their expenditure including money spent on advertising and other forms of marketing.The “paid news” issue cropped up last year when it became clear that many candidates resorted to paying off journalists/ newspapers under the table to circumvent an Election Commission rule that puts a cap on a candidate’s expenditure.A media watcher had authoritatively stated then that newspapers had different rate cards for varying types of coverage – interviews, rallies and a higher tariff to trash opponents.The most blatant of them was the Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan. His reported spend on advertsing was a paltry Rs 5000, while stories that hailed him as God’s gift to Maharashtra appeared for days together in newspapers that are otherwise ideologically diametrically opposite.If these had been advertisements and Chavan had to pay for them, it would have cost him a fortune.The EC has taken a close look at the phenomenon of “paid news” and decreed that the cost of such news is included in the expenditure of the candidates. The Election Commission has also taken up the matter with all political parties and is currently collating precise data to ensure that the election process is not undermined by the menace of envelope journalism.last_img read more