Archive | March, 2012

Autism: Conquering Stigmas

Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin

The ways in which the human body and mind are governed are sometimes difficult to understand, even with the advancement of medical science and technology. The scenario becomes even more complex, when certain conditions inexplicably affect the human nervous system. One such spectrum of conditions is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). While autism is the most known of these disorders, there are other conditions that comprise the spectrum. These are PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder), Asperger’s syndrome, Rett syndrome and Childhood disintegrative disorder. Although it is known that autism is a neurological disorder affecting the brain’s development and functioning, its cause remains unknown. As a pervasive developmental disorder, autism affects a person throughout his or her lifetime. South Asia has a sizeable population of autistic individuals-although estimates are hard to come by and not always accurate, the number of individuals is anywhere between 300,000 (approximate, in Bangladesh) to 2,200,000 (approximate, in India). Notwithstanding the staggering numbers, several misconceptions and myths surround autism, especially in South Asian countries. Lack of knowledge and information often leads to stigmatizing affected individuals who are la-belled “mentally ill.” This is where the role of organizations specifically working on disseminating knowledge on this disorder assumes critical importance. South Asian Autism Awareness Centre or SAAAC is one such organization working in the GTA. With its guiding principle of “Defeat Ignorance, Embrace Difference, Conquer Stigmas” SAAAC has been engaged in the two-fold mission of helping families with autistic individuals as well as raising general awareness on ASD within the community. This week, Generation Next profiles this organization and its activities. As the Vision Statement says, “SAAAC also looks to eliminate the culture of enclosure that pervades the South Asian community when it comes to is-sues regarding ASD and disability in general.” Autistic individuals are often gifted in some form or the other. If only the broader society is made aware of their latent talents, these individuals can become significant contributors to the development of their communities. Just as they need some help with acquainting them to the practical aspects of daily living, we-those not affected by ASD-also need a shift in perspective with regard to autism.

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Thomas Mulcair, NDP is the new Leader of the Opposition

Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin


  • Born in Ottawa on October 24th, 1954 to an Irish Canadian father and French Canadian mother. He is the second oldest of ten children. He was raised in Laval, North of Montreal.
  • Went to Laval Catholic High School. Was actively involved, through a school group, as a volunteer in many social and community causes.


  • Holds degrees in Civil Law (B.C.L.) and in Common Law (LL.B).
  • In 1975-1976, the final year of the B.C.L. program, Mulcairwas elected President of the Law Students Association and sat on the council of the McGill Student Union.
  • Married to Catherine Pinhas, a psychologist and French citizen, with whom he has two grown sons, Mathew and Greg.
  • The couple moved to Quebec City in 1978 with their son Matthew. Mulcair worked first in the Legislative Affairs branch of the Justice Ministry and later in the Legal Affairs Directorate of the Conseil de la langue francaise.


  • During his time at the Conseil de la langue française, Mulcair served as the union delegate and later was elected the Secrétaire de section of the (SPGQ) Syndicat des Professionnels et Professionnelles du Gouvernement du Québec (The Union of Quebec Government Professional Employees).
  • In 1985, Mulcair began a private law practice and was named the reviser of the statutes of Manitoba following the Supreme Court ruling in the Manitoba reference case. He worked regularly in Winnipeg over the next two years.
  • In 1986, his political mentor, Claude Ryan, named MulcairCommissioner on the Commission d’Appelsur la langue d’enseignement.
  • At the end of 1987, Mr. Ryan proposed that Mulcair be named President of the Quebec Professions Board (Office des professions du Québec); a position he held until 1993.
  • As President, Tom introduced wide-ranging reforms to make disciplinary hearings more transparent and successfully led a major effort to have cases of alleged sexual abuse of patients dealt with decisively.
  • During his tenure at the Quebec Professions Board, Mulcair became the first Canadian elected to the Board of Directors of the Council on Licensure Enforcement and Regulation.
  • In early 1994, upon the resignation of the sitting member of the National Assembly for Chomedey, Lise Bacon, the Quebec Liberal Party sought Mulcair’s candidacy. His run in the by-election turned into a race in the general election that was soon called. On September 12th, 1994 he was elected the Member of the National Assembly for Chomedey, his old home-town in Laval.
  • Re-elected in 1998 and served as Deputy House-Leader of the opposition. He was successively Justice Critic and Industry Critic.
    • In 2003 Mulcair was elected provincially for the third time and named to Cabinet as Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks.
    • Served as Minister until 2006. While minister, Mulcair took a tough stand on enforcement of environment laws and regulations. He also introduced wide-ranging legislation on sustainable development and carried out a 20-city tour of Quebec on the issue.
      • During a Cabinet shuffle, Charest offered Mulcair the position of Minister of Government Services in the Quebec government, and Mulcair chose to resign from cabinet rather than accept the apparent demotion. There was speculation that his contrary opinion on a project that would have transferred lands in Mont Orford Provincial park to private condominium developers led to his removal as Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks.
      • On February 20, 2007, he announced that he would not be a Liberal candidate in the 2007 Quebec general election.
      • On September 2006, Jack Layton invited Mulcair to Quebec City to address delegates at the NDP’s convention on the subject of Sustainable Development.
      • In early 2007, Jack Layton named Tom Mulcair his Quebec Lieutenant. After Mulcair’s victory in the Liberal stronghold of Outremont, he also named him Co-Deputy Leader of the NDP.
        • Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton died on August 22, 2011, following a battle with cancer, and was honoured with a state funeral. Mulcair stated that Layton’s death had hit him exceptionally hard, and that while he was considering a federal NDP leadership bid, he would need several weeks to make up his mind on that decision.
        • Mulcair declared his candidacy for the federal NDP leadership at a press conference in suburban Montreal on October 13, 2011. He attracted the support of 60 of the 101 other federal NDP MPs, including Robert Chisholmand Romeo Saganash, the only two to have dropped out of the leadership race.

On the fourth and final ballot, Thomas Mulcair was elected NDP leader with 57.2% of the votes.

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Greeniche Stevia: Pleasure without guilt

Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin

According to estimates, 10 million Canadians live with diabetes or pre-diabetes, making the condition almost epidemic in the country. In particular, the South Asian community is at higher risk of being afflicted with diabetes. Besides genetic factors, poor lifestyle choices and unhealthy eating habits contribute to this. As the amount of sugar consumed has a clear connection to a person’s risk of contracting diabetes, zero-calorie artificial sweeteners are often the choice of many. However, most of these sweeteners come with mild to serious side-effects, and are thus not fully risk-free. But what if one had access to a sweetener made from natural sources and having no calories?

Stevia is one such plant-based product, now popular in different parts of the world. In Canada, Greeniche Natural is one company, which sells its own Stevia product. IrfanSattar, the company’s vice president recently spoke to Generation Next. He has been associated with pharmaceutical and healthcare industries for the last 18 years, in Pakistan and Canada. Since 2005, his focus has been on natural health products.

Excerpts from the interview:

GN: Take us through your journey with Greeniche. Why was the company formed?

IS: Greeniche Natural Health came into being in October 2010, when a group of professionals from the healthcare industry came together to form an organization focused on bringing the most modern natural healthcare concepts to people in Canada and abroad. The company plans to introduce a portfolio comprising natural healthcare products, including vitamins, minerals, herbal remedies, health supplements, and consumer healthcare products.

Our vision is to create a leading health and personal-care products marketing company in Canada, and a competitive and successful player in the global market place. A company recognized for marketing excellence, futuristic approach, and acknowledged for being a responsible corporate citizen.

GN: Tell us about your product Stevia.

IS: Stevia is the world’s first all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener – a perfect alternative to sugar and artificial, chemical based sweeteners. Stevia is rapidly becoming the most preferred sweeteners by millions of consumers worldwide. Besides bearing zero calories, it is also free of carbohydrates and has a zero glycemic index, which makes it the perfect sweetener for people suffering from diabetes, or who care for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Stevia Rebaudiana is a specie of herbs belonging to the Asteraceae (sunflower) family, native to subtropical and tropical South America and Central America. The species are found in the wild in semi-arid habitats ranging from grassland to mountain terrain. Stevia’s sweetening properties are imparted by two components: Stevioside and Rebaudioside (Reb A) which is the best tasting part of the Stevia leaf. The concentration of this component determines the overall sweetness, taste, and aftertaste of the end-product.

Originally introduced to Japan in 1970 by a consortium of food-product manufacturers, stevioside and other stevia products quickly caught on.

Today Stevia is consumed by millions of people from its native origins of Paraguay & Brazil to Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Australia, Malaysia, USA, Canada, Russia, & many other countries.

The competing products like those made with Aspartame, Sucralose and Saccharine have established side-effects and consumers are actively seeking safer alternatives and Stevia fits the bill perfectly.
GN: Are there any side effects (however minimal) of Stevia?       

IS: What makes Stevia so intriguing besides excellent sweetening capability and no reported side-effects are the following attributes:

  • Zero glycemic index, making it perfect in diabetes
  • Zero calories, zero carbs and fat, and it’s terrific for people who are trying to lose weight
  • Studies have shown that it also minimizes hunger sensations and actually reduces cravings for sweets and fatty foods. Many people enjoy Stevia simply to avoid sugar and help prevent obesity. A completely natural way to lose weight!
  • Studies have shown that Stevia lowers high blood pressure without affecting normal blood pressure


GN: What is the cost of GreenicheStevia. Do you have a plan to reduce thecost so that it is affordable for more people?          

IS: Stevia doesn’t cost much considering the major health benefits and safety it offers. For some drinking 3 cups of tea/coffee a day with 2 sugars each, a pack of Stevia sachets would last for more than a month, translating into a daily cost of less than 40 cents a day, which, you may agree, isn’t much considering the advantages. Having said that, as the market expands and volumes grow, the price may come down in long-run.




GN: What other products do you have in the pipeline?      

IS: We have a strong products pipeline, comprising very interesting concepts. We have recently introduced a zero-sodium salt, perfect for hypertensive patients who are advised to avoid common salt (sodium chloride). It tastes just like common salt and is completely free of sodium.

We are currently in the process of manufacturing a range of 100% vegetarian formulas of vitamins and supplements, which should be in the market sometime during the month of April, 2012.
GN: As part of your marketing efforts, is there a strategy to target theSouth Asian community in particular? If yes, how do you do this?       

IS: The first and foremost effort is to promote awareness about the disease, which we do by participating in all relevant events, where we can share the information and provide guidance to the community. Our website and our Facebook page actively disseminate accurate and relevant information. We seek opportunities to stay in touch with the medical community to exchange information and ensure that we do whatever we can to make information available and accessible for everyone. We are working on a project to increase awareness amongst school going children about diabetes, and how to prevent it.

GN: What distinguishes Greeniche Stevia from other similar products?   

IS: Greeniche Stevia is:

  1. The only brand of Stevia with 97% pure Reb-A making it the best tasting Stevia on the market
  2. The only formulation without Maltodextrin and Inulin
  3. The only formulation with rapid dissolution tablets

These facts make Greeniche Stevia absolutely top-of-the-line brand on the market delivering best value for consumers’ money.

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Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin

Rana members celebrated GANGOUR at GURMANDIR on Sunday, March 25,2012. ‘Gan’ represents Lord Shiva and ‘Gaur’ represents Goddess Gauri or Parvati, His consort. Gauri is considered to be the Goddess of marital happiness and conjugal bliss. Mainly the festival for maidens and ladies, they worship her for good husbands and the welfare, health and long life of their husbands respectively.


Gangaur is celebrated all over Rajasthan. People make images of Isar and Gauri out of clay. Some of them even keep traditional wooden images, which are painted afresh every year by ‘matherans’ (painters) on the eve of the festival. The ladies paint their hands and feet with ‘mehandi’ (myrtle paste). Unmarried girls carry ‘Ghudlias’ (earthen pots with holes all around in which a lamp is lit) on their heads and collect songs and people make offerings to them. This ritual is observed to celebrate the triumph of Rao Santhal, ruler of Jodhpur over the cruel Mir Ghudley Khan, who had carried away 140 young girls celebrating the festival of Gangaur, in 1548 AD. The burning lamp symbolizes maharaja’s valor and chivalry.

There is a huge procession taken out of Goddess Gauri taken out by the ladies and maidens, dressed in their best attire and singing songs of the departure of Gauri to her husband’s house.

There is uniqueness to the festival in different places. In Bikaner, married women and maidens observe fast and prepare sweet dishes for the festival. In Jaipur, ‘ghewar’ is especially made as a dessert on the Gangaur Festival along with the grand procession of the image of Gauri from the Palace Gate known as Tripolia to Talkatora. Jodhpur has the fair of ‘lotias’, where thousands of maidens bring water and ‘durva’ grass in pots made of silver or brass to a place known as Girdikot.

The procession in Nathdwara, lasts for 7 days. Each day, a particular color is chosen for the dress of the goddess with the last day seeing Gauri dressed in black with golden lace work. In Udaipur, the procession ends at the Pichhola Lake, where idols of Isar and gaur are sent for boating for an hour and then there is majestic display of fireworks on the banks.

There is an interesting way to celebrate Gangaur among the Girasia tribe, who live in Sirohi-Mount Abu region. During their month-long festivity of Gangaur, the eligible boys and girls of the tribe are free to select their life partners and elope with them, and that too with the social sanction!


HERE in Toronto also Rana ladies performed Gangour pooja in traditional manner. All those present also participated typical Rajasthani Folk Dances .


The event started with traditional Rajasthani breakfast of DOODH –JALEBI, followed by Gangour pooja , music & dance and ended with sumptuous lunch .


The event was sponsored by GAURI GOEL & TARUNA PODDAR.


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Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

Most Pakistanis want Pakistan to be the most powerful and prosperous state in the world. They want to live in prosperity, comfort and security with ample opportunities for their children to move ahead in the society. 

  There is nothing wrong in preparing a wish list or dreaming about an ideal situation.  However, if a state and society live only by a wish list and do not want to put their dreams to a reality check, they would feel frustrated for failing to realize the wish list.

   Pakistan can realize most of its wish list and function as a normal state in world community with stable economy provided its policy makers and the politically active circles moderate their wish list keeping in view their actual capacity and resources. They will have to change their mindset from sermonizing others on what should be done and stop waiting for some “sincere leader” to appear for solving their problems. 

  Pakistan will have to seek strength from within its boundaries. It should adopt a low and quiet profile at the global level and work for peace and stability on its border. A low key foreign policy has to be distinguished from isolation. Pakistan cannot afford to be isolated at the global level. It must stay engaged with the rest of the world, especially the major powers. But, it must not get involved in the problems and issues of others that do not directly affect its interests. This will give enough time Pakistani leaders to devote fully to internal problems.

  Pakistan should learn from China’s strategy of modernizing its economy and strengthening itself internally. It has defused tension with all bordering states. It has put aside (not abandoned) its territorial dispute with India. The volume of China’s trade with India is bigger than its trade with Pakistan. It has also developed trade relations with Taiwan and improved relations with other neighbors so that it is able to devote fully to building its economy and strengthening economic ties with the rest of the world. It is expected to continue with this policy to keep its economic development rate in double digit for the next decade or so. This will enable China to project itself effectively at the global level at a later stage.

  Pakistan should postpone its political agenda beyond its border for a decade and devote fully to internal issues and problems. Four issues have to be on the top of the priority list: revival of the economy and international trade, control of religious extremism and militancy, reduction of socio-economic inequities and greater emphasis on quality education and health facilities.

  The 21stcentury is the era of knowledge, especially science and technology, greater movement of people, goods and services across territorial boundaries of the states and the welfare of people. Pakistan should acquire these currencies of power in the coming decades rather than nurturing Islamic militant groups that have transnational ideological and political agendas.

  This calls for toning down anti-America hysteria in Pakistan.  As the Islamic parties and militant groups have found themselves under strong pressure from the U.S. policy in Pakistan and Afghanistan since September 2001 they have turned against the U.S. It is interesting to note that all Islamic parties were generally pro-America and they benefited from American supply of funds and weapons in the 1980s for building up Afghan-Islamic resistance in Pakistan. No Islamic party argued then that the U.S. is enemy of Islam.

  Now, the interests of Pakistan’s Islamic parties have conflicted with the U.S. because the U.S. wants to subdue the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. These Islamic parties argue that if the U.S. leaves Afghanistan all problems of Pakistan will be resolved. This is a naïve solution of complex regional and global problems. Pakistani Taliban have never attacked American target. They target Pakistani state and people in order to dominate them. Their efforts for power and control in Pakistani territory would continue after the exit of the U.S. from Afghanistan.

  This week Pakistan’s Parliament has discussed the security and foreign policy issues for evolving a framework for revising Pakistan’s relations with the U.S. The federal government wants to pursue balanced relations on mutually beneficial terms. However, the Islamist groups somehow want to sever Pakistan’s ties with the West in general and the U.S. in particular. Alternatively, they want the rest of world to pursue foreign policy as demanded by them.

   Pakistan cannot isolate itself from the international community. The success of foreign policy depends on identifying common and shared areas of cooperation. Pakistan will also have to improve its relations with India, expand ties with Iran and seek a friendly Afghanistan. It needs to have good working relations with other countries with a view to its national interests. This cannot be possible with internal socio-economic development and harmony and peace on Pakistan’s borders.

   Do not expect other countries to pursue policies to Pakistan’s satisfaction. The Pakistani civilian and military leaders will have to adopt a realistic approach to put Pakistan’s economic and political house in order based on a down-to-earth reality check of the resources and capacity. Its domestic and foreign policy effort should give primacy in terms of policy-measures to enhance its internal economic strength, political stability and harmony. This can secure Pakistan against external “conspiracies” and enable it to play an active global role at a later stage.

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China or India? A contest of models

Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin

Gautam Adhikari


China’s political model is superior to the western liberal democratic one, Chinese intellectuals have begun to argue openly. Eric X Li of Shanghai, for instance, wrote in The New York Times (February 16) that America’s competition with China is between two giants that have fundamentally different political outlooks. America sees democratic governance as “an end in itself”, while China sees its current model “as a means to achieving larger national ends”.

To us Indians living next door to China, that difference has relevance.       

Indians see yet another fundamental contest between giants – between two billion-strong nations, each striving for prosperity and the eradication of poverty – using two very different models of governance. China’s model today, visibly the more impressive, resembles not socialism with Chinese characteristics, as the late Deng Xiaoping used to say, but an immense pyramid of state-corporate capitalism. The communist party is a holding corporation at the top, while the politburo acts as a board of directors managing the system through a vast network of subsidiaries.

Today’s China is not yesterday’s Soviet Union. Its economy is intricately meshed in the world’s economy. Its exports flood world markets like the Soviet Union’s never did. Its three trillion dollars-plus stockpile of foreign exchange reserves makes it way more influential in real terms than the Soviet Union’s huge but effectively idle pile of nuclear weapons ever could. China’s management model not only helps it acquire influence, it attracts a growing fan club in other developing countries.    

India’s democratic model of governance, on the other hand, is far less impressive at first sight. It is messy, it is corrupt, its coalitional politics (think Mamata) impels its political managers to be indecisive and its poverty is out there for the world to see.      

Many from India’s rapidly expanding and impatient middle class, frustrated with bureaucratic inefficiencies in the delivery of public goods and services, have begun to look admiringly over the fence at the Joneses in China. Yet, a close look at the Indian model reveals economic growth over the past decade at an average annual rate of around 7%. Could be better, but second only to China’s among major economies. Democratic governance, however deficient, hasn’t crippled that performance. Poverty remains agonisingly visible but the number of millions lifted above ‘absolute poverty’ in the past two decades is, again, second only to China’s record. Democracy is a bit slow, but it works.    

Citizens of India, irritated as they are with the pace of change, still have powers that the Chinese don’t. They, and not any cabal of party bosses, form the national board of directors. They can, and do, throw out any ruling management through regular elections while freely airing frustrations through the media. 

They did it once again in recent state elections. They might fret that all they can do is replace a bunch of thieves with a gang of thugs. But the very fact of their electoral power is extraordinary. It generates, on the whole, a decent degree of accountability in the system. And that’s the case for democracy being made in a few recent books.   

In Democracy Despite Itself, Danny Oppenheimer and Mike Edwards assert that free, fair and regular elections form the fundament of democracy, no matter what the quality of governance might be in a particular country from time to time. Nations that choose their rulers freely have more overall freedom and a higher quality of life than those that don’t. In Why Nations Fail, DaronAcemoglu and James Robinson caution that weak, dysfunctional institutions provide incentives to a parasitical elite in an “extractive state” to loot national wealth, which has been the dominant pattern in history. But where a truly inclusive government emerges, through electoral democracy, it can protect individual rights, encourage investment and reward effort to allow prosperity to follow.      

So, while a contest continues between China’s state-corporate model and the western liberal democratic one, the world should keep an eye on the quieter rivalry over governance models between the world’s two largest nations. Ultimately, it is a contest over values and human rights: Must an individual have inalienable rights or should such rights be conditional upon social advancement as decreed by the few?

Courtesy: The Times of India

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The bitter lesson from Geneva

Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin


Sri Lanka

It’s all over now – at least the phase of the voting where we were assured.

This despite our frontline brilliant men and women in our jumbo delegation assuring they will humble Goliath with consummate ease. Predictably and in the inherent nature of things down this part of the world, it will only be the very naive who will summon that necessary grace to admit their part in the failure. And those who raised hopes most of the Latin American countries in the UNHRC will vote with us too failed to deliver. The suggestion was we have won them over with “our” camaraderie and expertise on Latin American affairs. Neither did various forms of intimidation and harassment by government-inspired and financed mobs right in the precincts of the UN/Geneva bring us any credit. It certainly brought us an inelegant tongue-lash from the HC/HRC. As the London-based Economist concluded, the ground reality in Geneva has changed since 2009 when we happened to escape from the very issues – that came under scrutiny in Geneva this week.

Geneve is now fait accompli. What, pray tell us, should we be doing now is the concern of the country. The answer does not rest in the official Rottweiler seeking a human sacrifice, in the form of a child, to do that necessary hooniam to be rid of the bad spell on His Majesty. Even the open attacks by journos identified as Rajapakse apologists in their pages; the crude anti-Indian language of Ministers like Sirisena must give way soon so that the Rajapakses engage Delhi once again for their own survival, they cannot do otherwise. It requires a combination of brains, courage and gratitude from the regime to express to India their appreciation for more reasons than succeeding in getting the Americans to accept that saving grace of including the words “in consultation with and with due concurrence of GoSL in implementing the Resolution.” The other favour India did was to get us an year’s time to carry out the LLRC recommendations whereas the Americans insisted on “early and visible steps” with the Office of the UNHRC monitoring progress. Encouraging a few hundreds Buddhist priests to irreverently shout opposite the Indian High Commission in Colombo certainly is not one of the choices. Working up the local media and the Weerawansa-Ranawake-Mervin Silva ilk of Ministers that Tamilnadu put the spanner in the works will not hold much water in actual terms. In the DR Nanayakkara language the Rajapakses understand easily “we must know our size.” The fault was entirely the Rajapakses who failed to recognise the importance of the counselling Delhi was offering them for some time in various stages – the final phase of which was the visit of Minister S.M. Krishna. Trying to make a liar of Mr. Krishna may not have been taken far too well by the South Bloc.

If one is to go by the nature and history of the Rajapakses, they will stall what has been imposed on them last Thursday. The usual charade of inspired rent-a-mob facades; thousands of Buddhist priests taking the streets; encouraging sycophant journos to whip up anti-Indianism, anti-West sentiments are scenes likely to follow. This will, necessarily, result in exposing the Rajapakses to more serious steps later in the form of travel sanctions and the like. Whether we are signatories to the Treaty of Rome or not are technicalities that will fall by the wayside when the Big Leaguers decide to act – as they did in Geneva.

Sri Lanka’s immediate salvation lies in giving their Tamil citizens their long-denied dues – some of which identified in the State-inspired LLRC itself. More important – necessary for a smooth Rajapakse innings – will be to bring in better brains to handle the economy. If the Lankan Rupee goes down to Rs.150 for the US$ from the present level of Rs.131 by July – as market sources predict – then we will be half down the Zimbabwe road. Neither Rajapakses, Wickramasinghes orRanawakes will be able to do sweet nothing if that is going to be Sri Lanka’s imposed fate.

Courtesy: Sri Lanka Guardian

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Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin

On March 31, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., the Region of Peel will join hundreds of other municipalities across the country and more than a billion people around the world in support of Earth Hour. Where safe and appropriate, Regional facilities will participate by switching off their lights for one hour.

“The Region of Peel remains committed to supporting the Earth Hour initiative,” said Regional Chair and CEO Emil Kolb. “I encourage our vibrant and diverse community to participate by finding small changes that collectively, make a big difference to our planet. We all need to do our part to combat climate change.”

There’s more to Earth Hour than just switching off lights for an hour once a year; it’s about giving people a voice and demonstrating that, if citizens around the world work together, they can create a better future for the planet. Last year, more than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights for Earth Hour 2011, sending a powerful message for action on climate change.

“At the Region, we’re continually working to meet energy needs through investments in efficiency, conservation, and clean, secure energy sources that contribute to the health and security of Peel’s energy future,” said Steve Hall, Director, Real Property Asset Management.

As part of this effort, the Region of Peel will be hosting its 8th annual Energy Matters Summit on May 28 and 29 at the Toronto Congress Centre. The Energy Matters Summit is now one of Ontario’s leading public sector energy management and climate change conferences. This unique event brings together both public and private agencies from across the globe to promote strategies that manage energy costs and control consumption. To register or to learn more, visit .

To pledge your support for Earth Hour, or to learn more about how small changes can make a big difference for our planet, visit .

The Regional Municipality of Peel was incorporated in 1974 on the principle that certain community and infrastructure services are most cost-effectively administered over a larger geographic area. The Region of Peel serves more than 1.3 million people and approximately 88,000 businesses in the cities of Brampton and Mississauga and the town of Caledon.

The City of Brampton is also gearing up for Earth Hour. In partnership with Hydro One Brampton, the Region of Peel and local school boards, the City is encouraging everyone to join the campaign and turn off lights and non-essential appliances during this time.

The City will turn off non-essential lights at various facilities during the designated hour on March 31. Lighting affecting public safety, security or service – such as streetlights, stoplights, park pathway lighting and parking lot lights at City facilities – will remain on. Brampton Fire and Emergency Services encourages residents to maintain a safe environment by using flashlights and avoiding candles and open flames. Public programming at recreation and community centers will also continue as normal.

“Once again the City of Brampton is encouraging residents, businesses and community organizations to make Earth Hour a success. This year, we hope to demonstrate that it is possible to take meaningful and practical local action against climate change,” says Mayor Susan Fennell.

According to statistics from Hydro One Brampton, our city saw an 8.5 megawatt decrease in energy consumption during Earth Hour last year. This is equivalent to removing 7,000 homes from Brampton’s distribution system for that hour.

The Earth Hour campaign was started in Sydney, Australia by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2007, when 2.2 million people and 2,100 Sydney businesses turned off the lights for one hour. This campaign has now spread to major cities worldwide making Earth Hour a global movement. For more information please visit or call 311.

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Can I Afford A Vacation This Year?

Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin

By : Rubina Ahmed-Haq

Summer is only a few months away and many of you might be planning on taking a holiday to get some much needed R & R. But before you press “buy” on that expensive European holiday you have to decide if you can afford it. Here are some simple ways to figure out how much you spend this year. 
The 4% rule 

If you’re carrying a mortgage, line of credit or any other low interest loan I recommend spending 4% of your after tax income on vacations. Why? Unless you have no debt anymore, than any more spent on vacations will be eroding into your long-term savings. If you’re carrying ANY high interest debt like a credit card or store card loans, you must pay this off before you hit the road (or the beach) on a holiday.

Cash in the bank

Always pay cash for your holiday. NEVER charge your holiday on credit unless you have the money already in the bank. Remember following the 4% rule, if your household income is $50,000 your holiday budget is $2,000 annually. Want to spend more? Save longer. Make one year a staycation to afford a luxury holiday the following year.

Taking a break doesn’t need to cost you a fortune

It’s important to take a break and have some time to recharge. But if your bills are piling up, this is the year to use some of your vacation money to get out of debt. You can take a break without spending to much money. Road trip, previously mentioned staycation, visiting family and friends.

Stretch your holiday dollars

Booking a holiday out of country the prices are usually best around six weeks in advance. Check rates on line and call competing agents to see if they can beat it. Traveling midweek is cheaper for flights. Look for all-inclusive roulette holidays; these are ten preselected hotels at a certain star rating offered at a discounted price. Recently I stayed at a 4 star plus for $1054 taxes in. I would have paid twice that if I booked individually. The catch is you find out your hotel name 3 days prior. You pick the general area, i.e. Mayan, Cancun or Punta Cana.

Look at costs from all angles

It’s always wise to do through research before you go. Online review sites like have made it easier to plan and prepare. Pay attention to details like, is the airport transfer included? Is there departure tax? What’s the average cost of eating out? For example I priced out a villa in St. Barts once at a reasonable rate, but later learned, through research, that the cost of groceries, transport to the island, restaurants was much higher than anywhere else in the Caribbean. Staying there was reasonable but everything else was too expensive.

When can you not afford to take a vacation?

By taking a close look at your finances you can decide if you can afford to get away this year. Generally your after tax income should be divided as follows.

  • Housing 30%
  • Savings 15% (10% pay yourself- 5% short term)
  • Other Living Expenses 30%
  • Debt servicing 10%
  • Transportation 15%

Break this down and your mortgage and taxes should not cost more than 30% of your after tax income, transportation shouldn’t exceed 15% If you’re spending more than this amount, you might want to look at tackling your household debt before you spend money on getting away. That said you should still look at ways of taking a break from work, staying at home, visiting family or a short weekend away, all of this will make you feel good and not drain your finances.

Cheap Vacations Ideas

1.   Book a night or weekend at a nearby hotel.

2.   Check out local festivals.

3.   Hit up the museums for a dose of culture.

4.   Spend some time with the great outdoors.

5.   Hit the beach with a pile of books to read.

6.   Have a proper Girls or Boys night out on the town.

7.   Live in the city? Get out of town to a local trail for an all day hike.

8.   Visit social coupon sites to stack up on great deals to use during your staycation.

9.   Take dance lessons.

10. Get a one-week pass at an ultra high-end gym.


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Natural Acne Scars Remedies – Common Sense Prevails

Posted on 30 March 2012 by admin

Acne is one of those things that everybody seems to get at one point or another, and yet nobody really likes it. While some cases are mild, other cases are quite severe and can lead to visible scarring. So, not only do these people have to suffer through a bad outbreak of acne, they then have to live with the scars for the rest of their lives. Or do they? The answer to that is no they don’t, or at least they can try any number of acne scars remedies that will minimize the scars that are there. Not all of these treatments will work the same on everybody, but they are worth trying if it means you can feel better about yourself.            

One of the best known remedies for acne scars is citrus juice. You can apply the juice of a lemon or lime directly to the problem areas. However, some people find that pure citrus juice irritates their skin, so you may want to try different dilutions until you find the one that’s best for you. Apply it once or twice a day for several weeks and see how much lighter your scars look. It can take quite a while, but if it just doesn’t seem to be working for you, then you can try other acne scars remedies.   

A lot of people swear by olive oil for making their acne scars less visible. In fact, there are any number of different oils that you can try. Simply massage the oil into the scar and the surrounding area, and let it sit. This helps to soften and moisturize the skin which can help diminish the visibility of acne scarring.       

Here’s a natural remedy for acne that you may not be familiar with: tomatoes! That’s right. Tomatoes are high in Vitamin A which keeps the body from producing too much sebum, which is the substance that is largely responsible for acne to begin with. Tomatoes are also rich in antioxidants which are beneficial for repairing the skin.

One of the most soothing acne scars remedies is a mixture of rose water and sandalwood. Simply add a few drops of the rose water to the sandalwood until it is at a paste like consistency. Then put the resulting paste directly on the scars and let it sit for about an hour. This is generally very gentle on the skin, so you can even leave it on as you sleep.  

You have to be more careful if you are currently experiencing an acne outbreak, as you shouldn’t let any foreign material (such as any of the above ingredients we’ve talked about) get into the sores. Not only can it be irritating, but it can also make the acne worse. However, if you need immediate comfort, you may want to try an icepack to help cool and temporarily tighten the skin.

While a lot of people have found success with the above acne scars treatments, you should always consult with a qualified medical professional before doing anything that has to do with your health.

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