India’s top court bans firecracker sales before Diwali

This file photo shows Indian children lighting fireworks for the Diwali festival in New Delhi on October 27, 2011. (File photo by AFP)
Updated 09 October 2017

India’s top court bans firecracker sales before Diwali

NEW DELHI: India’s top court ordered a temporary ban on the sale of firecrackers in New Delhi on Monday, ahead of the Diwali festival that leaves the city shrouded in toxic smog.
The decision comes a little over a week before Diwali — the Hindu festival of lights — when Delhi fills with acrid smoke from celebratory firecrackers set off day and night.
The onset of winter usually worsens the situation as cooler temperatures trap the pollutants, exacerbated by crop burning in neighboring states.
Acting on a petition, the Supreme Court directed that all licenses to sell firecrackers in New Delhi and neighboring cities be suspended until October 31.
“The court has made it clear that all licenses stand banned forthwith,” Haripriya Padmanabhan, one of the petitioners, told NDTV news network after the order.
India’s notoriously poor air quality causes over 1 million premature deaths every year, according to a joint report by two US-based health research institutes earlier this year.
A 2014 World Health Organization survey of more than 1,600 cities ranked Delhi as the most polluted.
At midday Monday, the US embassy showed the concentration of PM2.5 — the fine particles linked to higher rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease — at an “unhealthy” level.
The top court had imposed a similar ban last November when Delhi’s air quality reached “hazardous” levels after Diwali, forcing schools to shut and a temporary ban on construction.
But the November order was briefly lifted last month, allowing residents to buy firecrackers ahead of Diwali, which falls on October 19 this year.
“I guess those people will end up bursting them, so it’s not a 100 percent victory,” Padmanabhan said.


Harvey Weinstein rape trial jury finalized — seven men, five women

Updated 26 min 21 sec ago

Harvey Weinstein rape trial jury finalized — seven men, five women

  • Weinstein, 67, faces life in prison if convicted
  • The trial is expected to last up to eight weeks

NEW YORK: Lawyers in Harvey Weinstein’s rape and sexual assault trial agreed Friday on a jury of seven men and five women to decide the fate of the fallen film producer.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys settled on the 12 jurors after screening around 700 candidates in an exhaustive process that took almost two weeks.
Weinstein, 67, faces life in prison if convicted on predatory sexual assault charges related to two women in the high-profile trial seen as key to the #MeToo movement.
The trial is expected to last up to eight weeks, with opening arguments from the prosecution and the defense scheduled for Wednesday.
The jury will hear testimony from former production assistant Mimi Haleyi who says Weinstein forcibly performed a sex act on her in his New York apartment in July 2006.
The disgraced movie mogul is accused of raping another woman, whose identity is unknown.
“The Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra is expected to testify as a supporting witness. She says Weinstein raped her in the early 1990s.
More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct since claims against him ignited the #MeToo movement in October 2017.
But many of the alleged crimes fall outside the time frame for bringing charges.
The trial is expected to run until March 6.