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Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw says purchased electoral bonds at personal level, firm not involved

Biocon founder and executive chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said on Monday that she had donated to political parties through electoral bonds at a personal level and not through her company. This was in response to reports that Biocon had donated to Janata Dal (Secular) through electoral bonds in Karnataka. In a post on X, Shaw wrote: “Would like to clarify that Biocon did not make any political donation to JDS or any other party for elections. At a personal level I purchased electoral bonds which I donated to JDS and several parties”. She said her “donations were nominal on the principle of funding election campaigns with white money.” Would like to clarify that Biocon did not make any political donation to JDS or any other party for elections. At a personal level I purchased electoral bonds which I donated to JDS & several parties. My donations were nominal on the principle of funding election campaigns with… — Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (@kiranshaw) March 18, 2024 The submissions made by the JD(S) to Election Commission last year showed that Biocon Limited had donated thrice to the party, totalling Rs 2.5 crore, since 2018. The JD(S) is among the few parties in the country that have shared their donors’ list. Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Limited (MEIL) contributed Rs 50 crore of the Rs 89.75 crore the JD(S) received through electoral bonds. Data on electoral bonds released by the Election Commission showed that Shaw donated Rs 6 crore on April 10, 2023, a month before the Assembly elections in Karnataka. On March 15, she was involved in an argument on X after a user pointed out her donations in the list. When questioned whether she was “asked” to donate, she stated that “all parties want funding”. All parties want funding. — Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (@kiranshaw) March 15, 2024

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Amitabh Bachchan takes us inside Shweta Bachchan’s 50th birthday celebrations at Prateeksha: ‘Children and grandchildren all together’

Shweta Bachchan Nanda marked her 50th birthday on Sunday surrounded by loved ones. On the occasion, her father and legendary Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan took a trip down memory lane and recalled the day he and his wife, Jaya Bachchan, brought Shweta to their Mumbai home “Prateeksha” for the first time. He also revealed how the family celebrated the special day. “A day filled with the love of family and the greetings and the hilarity of the ‘progress reports’

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Real estate agency charged after auction sale smashes price guide

A real estate company has been charged for allegedly underquoting a townhouse in Melbourne’s north-east that sold at auction for 40 per cent more than the highest estimated selling price. The townhouse at 3/27-29 Kenilworth Parade in Ivanhoe was initially listed last year for $900,000 to $950,000, but that estimate was raised to $1 million to $1.1 million after a few days following buyer feedback. It sold in July for $1,538,000. Following an investigation sparked by complaints from buyers, Consumer Affairs Victoria filed criminal charges against Manningham Sales Pty Ltd – trading as Barry Plant Manningham – for failing to provide a reasonable estimated selling price on two separate occasions. The charges include that the agency claimed it could not find comparable properties that had sold in Ivanhoe.

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Sadiq Khan promises 40,000 new council homes as he launches re-election campaign

Sadiq Khan will launch his campaign for a third term as London Mayor on Monday with a pledge to build 40,000 new council homes by the end of the decade. In a speech in central London alongside Sir Keir Starmer, he will promise to unleash “the greatest council housebuilding drive in a generation” and to double his previous goal to start building 20,000 council homes, which he hit last year. He will say that the mayoral election on May 2 is a “two-horse race” between himself and the Conservatives’ Susan Hall, who he warned would “take our city backwards”. Mr Khan will tout the “rare, precious” prospect of Labour rule in both Downing Street and City Hall, saying Sir Keir’s victory at the general election would mean the capital could “go from rowing against the tide of a Tory Government to having the winds of a Labour Government at our backs”. In a plea to voters to re-elect him, the Mayor will say this presents a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to make real inroads into solving London’s housing crisis”. On a visit to a major new City Hall-funded council housing development, Mr Khan will point to his record on housebuilding, having met the Government’s affordable homes programme target in full and starting twice as many council homes as the rest of the country combined last year. The Labour incumbent will stress his commitment to building quality council homes under zero-carbon rules. He is expected to say: “I’m under no illusion about the scale of the challenge. The housing crisis has been decades in the making. But, with political will, it can be overcome. “And today – in my first major pledge of this election campaign – I can commit to delivering at least 40,000 new council homes in our city by the end of the decade.” He will say that working together with a Labour government, “we can go even further, quickening the pace, building on the progress we’ve made and unleashing the greatest council housebuilding drive in a generation. “After years of a Tory Government trying to drag London backwards, a Labour Government would be transformative, propelling us forwards and helping to accelerate delivery of the homes Londoners desperately need and deserve.” Labour leader Sir Keir is expected to say: “From more police on the streets, being on the side of Londoners in the cost-of-living crisis and delivering the most council houses since the 1970s, Sadiq’s achievements as Mayor of London over the last eight years have transformed our communities. This is the difference Labour makes when in power. “On May 2 the choice is clear: chaos and division with the Tories, or unity and hope with Labour. A vote for Sadiq Khan as mayor is a vote for continuing to change the lives of Londoners for the better.” Amid concerns he could lose to the Tory candidate because of changes in the voting system, Mr Khan will highlight that his main opponent Ms Hall voted against his free school meals programme for all primary pupils and his Transport for London fares freeze. In previous contests, Londoners have been able to express a first and second preference, but this year’s election will be held under the first-past-the-post system, meaning voters will get only one vote each. The Mayor this weekend issued a plea for Liberal Democrat and Green supporters to back him, as he warned the new electoral system brought in by the Tory Government would “make it more likely their candidate will win”. In a pitch to “fellow progressives”, Mr Khan launched what he described as a “love letter” campaign to persuade supporters of other parties to “lend him their votes”.

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Supreme Court weighs how far federal officials can go to combat controversial posts on hot topics

1 of 2 | App logos for Facebook, left, and X, formerly known as Twitter, are seen on a mobile phone in Los Angeles, Saturday, March 16, 2024. The Supreme Court is taking up a dispute Monday, March 18, between Republican-led states and the Biden administration over how far the federal government can go to combat controversial social media posts on topics like COVID-19 and election security. The case involves posts on Facebook, X and other media platforms. (AP Photo/Paula Ulichney) Read More

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Naval Service’s sole active ship unavailable for Cork drugs search due to St Patrick’s Day celebrations

The Irish Naval Service’s sole active ship was unavailable to take part in a large drug search off the coast of Cork this weekend as it was taking part in St Patrick’s Day festivities in Dublin. Gardaí investigating a suspected attempt to land a large consignment of cocaine near Skibbereen in west Cork this week made a formal request to the Naval Service for assistance in the search. At the time the only one active ship, the LÉ George Bernard Shaw, was on its way to Dún Laoghaire to take part in the St Patrick’s festival in the town. The ship remained docked in the south Dublin town over the weekend while tours were offered to members of the public. The ship’s crew took part in the town’s St Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday. This meant there was no naval ship available to assist in searching the thousands of square kilometres off the coast of Cork where the drugs may be. In response to queries, the Defence Forces confirmed it received a request for assistance from An Garda Síochána. It said because it was an inshore, coastal operation, it was determined that the best asset to deploy was the Naval Service Diving Section. Naval divers were on a training exercise nearby on Bere Island when they got the call to assist. They have deployed in small rigid-hull inflatable boats (Rhibs) to help with the search. [ Ireland’s lack of focus on maritime security encapsulated by two events 400km apart ] Military sources said the Shaw has been the only ship available for patrol for the last three weeks. It is not known if the ship would have been deployed in the search had not been in Dún Laoghaire. However, former Naval Service commander Eugene Ryan said it would be very useful in such an operation as it is “fully equipped” for drugs searches. Independent TD for Kildare and former Defence Forces officer Cathal Berry said it was “unacceptable” there was just one ship in duty over the weekend. “Ireland’s Atlantic coast is now ground zero for smuggling narcotics into Europe. This is primarily due to the precarious state of the Irish navy. There is no substitute for hulls on the water providing a visible maritime presence to deter and disrupt smugglers,” he said. Last year, the Naval Service was forced to reduce its active fleet to just two ships due to drastic manpower shortages. Ireland currently has fewer ships available to patrol its 437,500sq km than at any point since the 1970s. At several points over recent months, the Naval Service has not been able to put a single ship to sea due to manpower shortages and mechanical issues. Four ships are currently tied up or in operational reserve due to the personnel shortages. Last September just one ship, the LE William Butler Yeats, was available to help intercept the MV Matthew, which was attempting to smuggle more than two tonnes of cocaine into the State. Previous complex interception operations have involved multiple vessels. Niall Duffy, editor of The Skipper, suggested that, similar to the reduction in the number of Naval Service ships on patrol, the decommissioning of a large number of boats in the Irish fishing fleet could also be having an impact on the ability of law enforcement to detect drug smugglers. “Traditionally, fishermen are very aware of what is going on at sea – they have to know what’s happening around them in terms of other boats, so they are like an extra pair of eyes and ears at sea, and they have in the past reported suspicious or unusual activity when they see a vessel acting oddly off the Irish coast. “But under the deal whereby Ireland got €1 billion from the EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve, some 47 boats were decommissioned last year – that’s a lot few fewer fishermen at sea and a lot less eyes and ears that might notice and report any suspicious activity off the Irish coast to the authorities,” said Mr Duffy. [ Gardaí believe ship off Cork coast was involved in planned delivery of cocaine to drug gang ] Meanwhile, gardaí in Cork have arrested 10 members of a suspected international drug trafficking gang as part of their operation. They are also liaising with police forces in a number of other countries including Dubai, the Netherlands, Spain and Serbia as well as the PSNI, a court has heard. Gardaí believe members of the alleged gang moved to Co Cork weeks ago to prepare for the collection of a large consignment of cocaine worth tens of millions of euros off the southwest coast. The men were arrested when gardaí stopped a camper van in Leap village and later a 4×4 and an articulated lorry at Tragumna near Skibbereen at around 7.30am on Thursday. Initial indications are the gang planned to use a rhib to pick up a consignment of cocaine which had been dumped overboard by a larger vessel. This smuggling method, known as the “pickup” method, has become much more common in recent years due to increased security measures in European ports. Drug consignments are usually tied to floating barrels and dropped overboard, sometimes with a GPS device attached. They are then picked up by smugglers in smaller vessels. Listen to our Inside Politics Podcast for the latest analysis and chatSign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phoneFind The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date

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A woman to appear in court in connection with Joslin Smith case

Reading Time: < 1 minute A 32-year-old woman is expected to appear in the Vredenburg Magistrate’s court today, in connection with the disappearance of six-year-old Joslin Smith from Saldanha Bay. The woman was arrested over the weekend. The search for the little girl continues. The Grade 1 learner went missing from her house in the Middelpos informal settlement almost a month ago. Last week, three accused, including the child’s mother appeared in court. Kelly Smith, Jacquen Appollis and Steveno van Rhyn abandoned bail and will remain in custody until their next court appearance. Police yesterday said that more people were taken in for questioning as part of the investigation. Joslin Smith | Last week three suspects abandoned their bail application

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Adam Liaw’s barbecued lamb with mint dressing

Step 1 Cut the lamb leg across the grain into steaks about 6cm thick. Place in a large bowl or on a tray and season very well with salt and pepper. It may seem like a lot, but I would use about 1 tbsp of flake salt and perhaps 1 tsp of freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with ½ cup oil. Step 2 Heat your barbecue grill for about 10 minutes until very hot. Place the lamb on the barbecue and cook for about 15 minutes, turning every 3 or 4 minutes until cooked to medium rare. Place on a clean tray and drizzle with more olive oil. Set aside for 10 minutes to rest. Step 3 While the lamb is cooking, make the dressing by combining all the ingredients except the olive oil in a high-spend blender. Blend to a smooth puree, then drizzle in the oil to form an emulsion. Step 4 To serve, return the lamb to the barbecue to reheat the outside for a minute or two on each side. Cut into 1cm slices with a sharp knife and serve drizzled with more olive oil, salt and pepper, with the dressing on the side.

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