Archive | December, 2013

“I never thought that I would be in Hindi films”

Posted on 26 December 2013 by admin

Sunny Leone is all set to the hit the jackpot

“I love Bollywood dancing. I’m getting better each day. I’m practising a lot. I don’t have much time, so I practise wherever I can… be it my home, car or hotel room. As a kid, I played a lot of sport, so balance and flexibility is not an issue for me.”

From hidden folders of computers to being out on the 70 MM screen, Sunny Leone has made quite the transition.  Once discussed only in the boys’ locker room, she now has become a household name. Her stint in the reality show Bigg Boss paved way for her Bollywood debut and she steamed up the silver screen in Pooja Bhatt’s Jism 2.  The adult film princess, however, never imagined any of this to happen. “I never thought that I would be working in Hindi films. It’s been two years in the industry and I can’t tell you how crazy it feels,” says the Canadian actor adding, “I never thought I would permanently move to India. I used to tell my friends that I would be back. But in no time my husband Daniel Weber and I were looking for a house, buying a car, appointing staff etc. And now, I’m doing shoots for magazines that I’d always dreamt of. It’s unbelievable. I’m working extremely hard here and giving it my all.”

Her next film with Sachiin Joshi, director Kaizad Gustad’s Jackpot, is also creating a lot of buzz. Jackpot, a racy thriller was shot in the casinos of Goa and Sunny, who plays a femme fatale, had a blast shooting for it. “I loved the script, when I first read it. I was hooked from the start.

I loved working with Sachiin and his company Viking Ventures. The film has shaped up well and it’s looking good. We all have put in a lot of hard work into it. Hope it all pays off.”
Though she’s spent a considerable amount of time in Hindi films, she still hasn’t got a hang of the ways and workings of the industry. “I’m always on time. But people here don’t expect that. I don’t get it. It bothers me when others are late.

I hate wasting hours till others arrive. Sometime back, there was an award show, which my publicist told me to reach by 8 pm. My husband and I reached on time and there was no one. We were the first ones to arrive.” The other thing Sunny is adapting to is Bollywood dancing. She’s putting her heart and soul into learning the latkas and jhatkas. “I love Bollywood dancing. I’m getting better each day. I’m practising a lot. I don’t have much time, so I practise wherever I can… be it my home, car or hotel room. As a kid, I played a lot of sport, so balance and flexibility is not an issue for me.”

With stardom, come perks and drawbacks. Sunny is experiencing all of them. “I’m enjoying my life. I get to travel the world and visit places I’ve always wanted to. This just seems like my dream job.” Though she’s enjoying the frills of her career, there are things which make her sad. She says, “I don’t have any time for myself or my loved ones.  I don’t get holidays. I don’t get the time to go and see my dogs in the US. People think that actors lead a glamorous life and can do whatever they want. But the truth is that actors are hard-pressed for time. I don’t get to see much of my family. I miss my brother.”

The upward swing of her career is being beautifully complemented by the harmony in her marital life. She’s married to Daniel Webber, who along with his businesses in the USA manages her work here.  The couple have been together for over five years. They’ve been married for two and a half years. “My husband is my best friend. We don’t fight. We are just happy to be with each other. We love each other. He has his own business and yet he smoothly manages my work here. He’s a multi-faceted guy. I’m happy he’s here with me. Today we did our fist puja together in the house. We lit one diya for Diwali, one for our new house and one for our marriage. It felt good,” she beams.

She’s eagerly awaiting her next two films after Jackpot. Ekta Kapoor’s Ragini MMS 2 and Devang Dholakia’s Tina And Lolo are her big ticket releases the next year. And wait, there’s a big masala entertainer too which is in her kitty. Only time will tell, how far this one goes.

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Five Things You Might Not Know About Classic Christmas Songs

Posted on 26 December 2013 by admin

For about six weeks at the end of every year, people everywhere are bombarded with the sounds of Christmas songs filling the air. The department stores play holiday tunes like crazy, and several radio stations go “All Christmas” for the month of December. Every song has a story, and here are five facts about some of your favorite holiday songs.

5. Wham! Got Sued For “Last Christmas”. In 1984, the single “Last Christmas” hit #2 on the UK Christmas Singles Chart, a coveted spot for European artists. An enormous hit, still covered by artists to this day, “Last Christmas” sounded familiar to Arnold/Martin/Morrow, the songwriting team behind “Can’t Smile Without You”, a huge hit song for Barry Manilow in the late 70s. The publishing company behind “Can’t Smile” sued George Michael (songwriter of “Last Christmas”) for using the same melody, and the case was settled out of court, with the money going to the Band-Aid charity.

4. “Have Yourself…” Was a Depressing Little Christmas Song. In 1944, Judy Garland sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in the movie Meet Me In St. Louis, introducing the world to an instant holiday classic. When Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane originally wrote the song, however, the lyrics were quite different than the song everyone has come to know and love. The opening lyrics to the song originally were “Have yourself a merry, little Christmas/It may be your last”. The changes helped the song, apparently, since the it has become one of the top five most-recorded Christmas songs in history.

3. We Almost Had Tinkle In Our “Silver Bells”. Jay Livingston and Ray Evans wrote the 1950 Christmas song “Silver Bells” as a reference to the Salvation Army, whose workers stand on street corners every Christmas and ring hand bells while seeking donations. When Livingston’s wife heard their original idea, she informed her husband how people were most-commonly using the word “tinkle” those days. Rather than let this bad news pee on their parade, Livinston and Evans changed the name and chorus to “Silver Bells”, sparing themselves embarrassment and giving the world one of the greatest Christmas songs ever written.

2. A Heat Wave Inspired Some Chestnut Roasting. 1944’s “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” became a huge hit for singer/songwriter Mel Torme and his writing partner Bob Wells.

1. “White Christmas” Beats Everybody. In 1941, when Bing Crosby recorded and released the song “White Christmas”, he didn’t think anything was terribly special about it. He told Irving Berlin, the song’s composer, that he thought it was a fine song with “no problems”. He also thought that anyone could have made the song popular and downplayed his role in its success. The song didn’t perform that well when it was initially released (for the movie Holiday Inn) but suddenly took off a year later. It charted numerous times over the next several years and was one reason Billboard magazine created a chart just for Christmas songs.

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Ontario motorists to pay $5 less for Drive Clean test

Posted on 26 December 2013 by admin

Ontario will lower the fee motorists pay for a Drive Clean emissions test by $5 this spring.

Environment Minister Jim Bradley announced the new price will be $30 plus HST starting April 1. The move is in response to the auditor general’s concerns that the courts could rule the user fee is an illegal tax.

“For the past two years, fees have exceeded the cost of running the program and it is in surplus,” Bradley said. “The new reduced fee, combined with applying the two-year surplus to future costs, will ensure that over time…Drive Clean brings in only enough revenue to cover the costs of running the program and no more.”

The mandatory emissions test, required every two years for vehicles seven years or older, will stay in place because it continues to help reduce smog, which endangers public health, Bradley said.

In several articles this year, QMI Agency identified significant problems with the program including false fails and price gouging.

Progressive Conservative MPP Michael Harris said Drive Clean has outlived its original purpose and a fee cut doesn’t go far enough.

“It’s not good enough for Ontario drivers who’ve had to fork over these fees for this unnecessary program for years,” Harris said. “It needs to be scrapped altogether.”

NDP house leader Gilles Bisson said his party would make changes to Drive Clean to correct its problems but believes it still serves a useful purpose.

Bisson said the fee cut is a political move by the Ontario Liberals, when the issues with Drive Clean go much deeper.

“The auditor was pretty clear when the auditor reported that there are a number of things that can be done in order to make a program like this actually achieve its goals,” he said. “And there’s some question as to what degree is it doing so.”

Drive Clean was introduced in 1999 as a tail pipe emissions test, but as of 2013 is an onboard diagnostic test.

According to the 2012 auditor general’s report, the vast majority of vehicles pass the test, the worst polluters are exempted and the program has had a declining effect on air quality in the province.

The new diagnostic test has since been found to register false fails with certain types of vehicles, but Bradley said his ministry is addressing the problem.

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Posted on 26 December 2013 by admin

Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak along with Citizenship and Immigration Critic Todd Smith unveiled the PC plan to break GTA traffic gridlock to create jobs at a roundtable discussion and luncheon with prominent members of the cultural media.

“The biggest issue we face right now is jobs and gridlock costs us jobs.  If people are stuck in traffic it’s hard to close a business deal, create jobs or get shipments to market,” said Hudak. “The first part of our plan is to build new subways and expand regional highways.  But unlike the Liberals and NDP, we will do it without raising taxes.”

The PC plan proposes setting aside money into an Ontario Transportation Trust.  The money in the Trust can only be used to build subways and expand highways.  And it will be open and honest – it will be audited so the public can be sure the money is being put to good use.

“But building new subways and expanding highways takes time,” said Hudak.  “While the projects are being built, we also have a plan to help ease the flow of traffic.”

 The PC plan will use the latest technology already working for other major cities: electronic speed signs to prevent stop-and-go traffic, technologies to control ramp flow, and clearing minor accidents faster.

 “The Liberals have done nothing to fix our gridlock problems for 10 years and as a result the GTA has among the worst commute times in North America,” said Smith. “After all this time they still have no plan to fix the problem.  The only thing the Liberals have come up with is new taxes – they even plan to increase the gas tax by 10 cents per litre.”

 “We have a jobs and gridlock crisis caused by a crisis in leadership. Premier Wynne’s approach will cost you and cost Ontario jobs,” said Hudak.  “The PC plan will work, it’s thoughtful, it’s clear and transparent for voters and it will mean the GTA will finally see these projects built.”

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Posted on 26 December 2013 by admin

Speaking to a huge crowd of attendees with standing room filled to capacity, Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa shared a message peace and justice, as his health continues to dwindle.

Mr. Khalsa has been on a hunger strike for over a month now in protest to the illegal arrest and detention of political prisoners who have completed their sentences, yet remain imprisoned.

OGC member Daljeet Singh Sehkon said “His (Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa’s) courage, determination and strength has had a profound affect on the Sikh community. When you look around the hall and see how many people have come to support him, it’s overwhelming”.

Mr. Khalsa spoke of his disappointment in the Indian judiciary, explaining that application of the law equally is paramount to a thriving democracy . He also took the opportunity to highlight the importance of peaceful protest and meditation as the basic fundamentals for anyone wanting to support his cause. Although having been on a hunger strike for over a month, Mr. Khalsa remains positive and hopeful.

“We commend Mr. Khalsa for taking this stand and bringing light to this issue said Lakhwinder Singh Dhaliwal,” said committee member at Gurdwara Guru Nanak Mission Center and Ontario Sikh and Gurdwara Council Spokesmen.

The attendees and community leaders concluding the evening with a discussion on the next steps and all the ways in which the community could work together to progress forward on this issue to support Mr. Khalsa.

“Gurbaksh Singh delivered a message of hope and peace tonight.  His conviction is testament to his dedication for the judicial rights of all minorities in India – as Canadians and Sikhs we’re so proud to be ambassadors of his message of peace and protest.” added Amaninder Singh from Coalition of Sikh Organizations (COSO)

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Eight charities that deserve your cheer

Posted on 26 December 2013 by admin

Aunt Leah’s PlaceNew Westminster, B.C.

Foster care is often tumultuous for kids. And in B.C. and many other provinces, kids in care lose their government support when they turn 19. Many of these vulnerable teens end up homeless. Aunt Leah’s helps to find them housing and make the “transition to independence and adulthood.” It also helps teen mothers in foster care by providing a residential program for the moms and their babies. Says one young mother, a graduate of Aunt Leah’s who is now supporting herself and her child: “I don’t think I could have raised my son on my own without that help.”

Camp Kirk, Toronto and Kirkfield, Ont.

Camp Kirk is a small, friendly overnight summer camp near Kirkfield for kids with learning disabilities and other exceptionalities. Its fees are heavily subsidized so that the camp experience is available to children whose families couldn’t otherwise afford it. The testimonials from parents are great, but the video testimonials from the kids themselves are amazing. “I really love it because if you’re different, you feel at home,” one boy said. “You don’t get teased here. Here, you can act as yourself. You don’t have to change yourself. You’re perfect the way you are.”

Cornwall Alternative SchoolRegina

This small, nurturing, family-like school is for children in Grades 7 to 10 who are referred by the regular school system because they’re failing. They are identified as having the potential for success if learning is intensive and if they’re kept engaged. About 85 per cent are from First Nations, and many are involved in gangs, drugs or prostitution. As one former student said, “Thanks to this school, I can see a brighter future and now believe in myself in everything I do.”

The Hammer BandToronto

Renowned violinist Moshe Hammer founded The Hammer Band as a way to give inner-city kids an alternative to gangs and guns. Its motto is “From Violence to Violins.” This intensive program provides free violins and music lessons to 300 students, who learn the value of teamwork, self-discipline and personal responsibility as they acquire musical skills. Lessons begin in Grade 4, and the goal is to stay with the students through secondary school. As Mr. Hammer sees it, more time with the violin means less time on the street.

Sarnia-Lambton ReboundSarnia, Ont.

For a young person in trouble, suspension from school can mean being shown the door for good. SLR tries to ensure that doesn’t happen. It helps young people who are in trouble with the law, experiencing conflict at home or school, or at risk of substance abuse. Its in-school detention program coaches thousands of students who would otherwise be suspended from class. Over the past 30 years, its tiny staff and strong team of volunteers have helped more than 13,000 adolescents. Among other distinctions, the agency has won a Peter F. Drucker Award for excellence in non-profit management.

WISH Drop-in Centre SocietyVancouver

WISH is a lifeline for female sex workers in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, more than half of whom are aboriginal. It’s one of the few places where they’re treated with dignity and respect. Their problems are overwhelming: physical and sexual violence, chronic stress disorder, depression, addiction, HIV, hepatitis C and more. WISH provides emergency services and respite from the streets. After the missing women’s inquiry, WISH got a well-deserved funding boost from the provincial government. But it still depends on individual donations to expand its programs.

Youth FusionMontreal

Youth Fusion fights dropout rates (which are very high in Quebec) by teaching kids what they want to learn. The entrepreneurial founder, Gabriel Bran Lopez, develops partnerships with universities and companies to create after-school programs in fashion design, robotics, film production, photography and more. University students act as mentors to the kids, who lap it up. The program now operates in 70 schools across Quebec. The effect on dropout rates appears to be impressive.

Save the Children Canada

Refugees from the Syrian war and victims of the devastating typhoon in the Philippines should be in everybody’s thoughts this year. One way to help is through Save the Children Canada, whose U.S. parent gets top ratings from charity evaluation groups.

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New job won’t save strip-search Indian diplomat from prosecution

Posted on 26 December 2013 by admin

India gave a diplomat charged with visa fraud a new job in the hopes of securing immunity for her, but the State Department said Thursday that the gambit won’t work.

Devyani Khobragade — the deputy consul who was arrested and strip-searched, sparking an international spat — was transferred to a new role at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York, officials told NBC News.

“She will represent India at the U.N., and from what we are aware of the diplomatic privileges of the delegates to the U.N. we are sure she will get this [immunity],” foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.

State Department spokesman Marie Harf said the agency had not received a request for status change from India, but that even if it were granted, the immunity would start at that point.

 “It is not retroactive,” Harf said at a briefing.

Because Khobragade, 39, was consular staff when she was arrested, and not an ambassador, she only had consular immunity, which covers acts directly connected to her business and not unrelated offenses, U.S. officials have said.

A State Department handbook for law-enforcement, however, seems to suggest that once a person has criminal immunity they can’t be prosecuted, even for prior acts.

“Immunity attaches to the person,” said Daniel Arshack, Khobragade’s lawyer.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have charged Khobragade with visa fraud and making a false statement in connection with the hiring of a housekeeper and babysitter from her homeland to work in New York City.

She allegedly told the U.S. Embassy the worker, Sangeet Richard, would be paid $4,500 a month — then had her sign a secret contract that paid $3.31 an hour, in violation of American rules that require visa holders be paid minimum wage.

Prosecutors also say that the maid complained Khobragade paid her even less than $3.31, verbally abused her, took away her passport and told her she had no choice but to continue working under those conditions.

Indian lawmakers have reacted with fury to Khobragade’s arrest, calling her treatment “humiliating,” “despicable” and “barbaric” and alleging she was cavity searched.

The Indian government retaliated by removing security barriers at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and revoking the privileges of American diplomats in India. There have also been several anti-American protests outside the U.S.’s diplomatic buildings in the subcontinent.

It was against that backdrop that Secretary of State John Kerry called Indian’s national security adviser Shivshanker Menon on Wednesday to say that while it’s important for the U.S. to enforce its laws, he “regrets that certain courtesies were not extended in this case,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

But just a few hours after Kerry’s fence-mending effort, the prosecutor who charged Khobragade, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued an extraordinary, detailed defense of his handling of the case, slamming his critics.

“This Office’s sole motivation in this case, as in all cases, is to uphold the rule of law, protect victims, and hold accountable anyone who breaks the law – no matter what their societal status and no matter how powerful, rich or connected they are,” he said.

“One wonders why there is so much outrage about the alleged treatment of the Indian national accused of perpetrating these acts, but precious little outrage about the alleged treatment of the Indian victim and her spouse?” added Bharara, who happens to be of Indian descent.

He said Indian authorities had opened an investigation into Richard in an attempt to “silence” her, and her family had to be brought to the U.S. after they were intimidated at home.

India’s foreign minister, however, portrayed Richard — whose father-in-law has worked for a U.S. diplomat stationed in New Delhi — as the villain and law-breaker and Khobragade as the victim of a “conspiracy.”

Shri Salman Khurshid told parliament that the incident is the culmination of a months-long dispute between the two women. The housekeeper disappeared in June, and then through a lawyer demanded the diplomat secure her a full U.S. visa and a large amount of money as a “settlement,” he alleged.

He said Khobragade registered a complaint of “aggravated harassment” against her former employee with the NYPD, but “no action was taken” by the force. The NYPD did not respond to requests for comment.

“It became clear at that point that this was a conspiracy by which some people had virtually trapped our official into a situation where she would have to do something illegal in order to help those people remain in the United States of America,” Khurshid told lawmakers.

“It is not the illegality she is accused of, it is the illegality she refused to subject herself to that brought about this unfortunate situation upon her.”

And on Thursday, a spokesman for the Indian embassy in Washington fired back at Bhrarara by accusing him of interfering in another democratic nation’s legal process by “evacuating” Richard’s family.

“We need to keep in mind the simple fact that there is only one victim in this case,” the statement said. “That victim is Devyani Khobragade —a serving Indian diplomat on mission in the United States.”

Khobragade, who was released on bail of $250,000 after giving up her passport, faces up to 15 years in prison if she is convicted.

Harf said the State Department was not pressuring Bharara to drop the charges and she declined to comment on the statement he issued Wednesday night.

“I’m not going to go line by line and parse a statement from the [prosecutor],” she said, adding, “It’s not a decision for us to prosecute or not.”

But the State Department is clearly anxious to tamp down tensions with a key ally. Undersecretary Wendy Sherman spoke Thursday with India’s foreign secretary about the matter.

“They had a good conversation,” Harf said.

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Political leaders in Bangladesh about to lose to the military

Posted on 26 December 2013 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari


      Pakistan’s relations with Bangladesh are passing through a difficult period. Whenever the Awami League’s government comes to power under Sheikh Hasina Wajid in Bangladesh, there is a cooling-off in Pakistan-Bangladesh relations. Sheikh Hasina’s government always plays up the nationalist card with reference to the 1971 independence of Bangladesh. This translates into anti-Pakistan and pro-India sentiments in the attitude and policies of the Bangladesh government.

      The current problem in Pakistan-Bangladesh relations relates to the war trials in Bangladesh and conviction of several people for their alleged crimes against the Bengalis in 1971.  One of the convicts, a Jamaat-i-Islami leader, was hanged to death in a hurry to do this before December 16, anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence.

     Pakistan’s National Assembly passed a resolution expressing sorrow and resentment on the implementation of death sentence and questioned the whole notion of war trials.   This was a major shift in Pakistan’s policy. In the immediate aftermath of the execution of the Jamaat-i-Islami leader, Pakistan’s Foreign Office argued that this was an internal matter of Bangladesh and that the Pakistani state would not publicly make comment on it.

     In Pakistan, the Jamaat-i-Islami and several other political parties protested on the incident and staged protest marches to express their resentment. The PMLN, the ruling party, remained quiet on the issue but Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Interior Minister, shared the views of the Jamaat-i-Islami on this issue.

   The PMLN changed its policy and joined with the Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf to pass a resolution in the National Assembly that was critical of war trials and execution of the Jamaat leader in Bangladesh.  The PPP, MQM and ANP opposed the resolution, arguing that the resolution related to an internal issue of Bangladesh.  The majority in the National Assembly overruled their objection.   Pakistan’s Foreign Office that argued in the past that it was Bangladesh’s internal matter went silent on this issue.

    The Bangladesh government launched a formal protest on the passing of the resolution by Pakistan’s National Assembly. The Awami League activists were unleashed to stage public protest in Dhaka and several other cities and virtually made the Pakistan High Commission hostage for some time. Pakistan flag was burnt down in more than one instance.  Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh issued anti-Pakistan statement that encouraged the Awami League activists to adopt a hostile posture towards Pakistan, demanding the breaking off relations with Pakistan.   The response of Pakistan on this protest was restrained because it was not interested in intensifying conflict.

    The war trial issue in Bangladesh relates to its internal politics and the political style of Sheikh Hasina who has not been able to overcome the trauma of the killing of her family in August 1975 raid on her family home by Bangladesh army colonels and others.  The other influence on her mind is the 1971 conflict, killings and war. Whenever she comes to power, she adopts a tough line towards those associated with these two incidents.

   Sheikh Hasina came to power for the first time after the June 1996 elections and ruled for five years. These two issues were raised and there was a freezing of relations with Pakistan. However, there were no instances of hanging of people with reference to these incidents. She returned to power in January 2009 and during this tenure the trial of the murder of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was re-opened and some people were given death sentence. After this a special court was established to prosecute some people for their war crimes against Bengalis in 1971.

    All this can also be viewed with reference to the general elections in Bangladesh on January 5, 2014. Sheikh Hasina Wajid is killing two birds with one stone. On the one hand she is playing  the nationalist card to strengthen the position of the Awami League. On the other hand she is building pressure on her political adversaries. The Jamaat-i-Islami has been banned in Bangladesh and the main opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by Begum Khalida Zia (Prime Minister 1991-1996, 2001-2006) is under a lot of pressure by the Awami League government.

    The BNP and its allies (18 political parties) have boycotted the forthcoming elections because Khalida Zia wants these elections to be held under a neutral caretaker government but Sheikh Hasina offered to create an all-parties government with her as prime minister for holding the elections.

    The Bangladesh Constitution provided for a neutral caretaker government for holding the elections. This arrangement faced problems for holding the election after the expiration of the term of the elected government in 2006. When Sheikh Hasina became Prime Minister in 2009, she abolished this provision and declared that her government would hold the election.

   The BNP and its allies led by Khalida Zia rejected the holding of the elections with Hasina as Prime Minister. The countrywide protest by the BNP and its allies resulted in violence and killings on the streets of Dhaka and some other cities. The implementation of death sentence for a Jamaat-i-Islami leader added fuel to fire and violence has intensified in Bangladesh.

      The Bangladesh government is insistent on holding the election on time. Due to the boycott by the BNP and its allies 154 seats out of 300 seats have been elected unopposed. These unopposed members belong to the Awami League, its allies and some independent. This means that the Awami League is assured of a clear majority in the new Parliament.

    The credibility of the new elections is in serious question. Even if the elections are held on time, these will not produce stable government.  More violence is expected during and after the elections.  The prospects of holding credible elections are minimal unless the government and the opposition come to an understanding and new nominations are called for the elections.

    It seems that the present confrontation between the government and the opposition will continue and the Awami League will find it very difficult to rule. This can encourage the military to take the political initiative and create an interim government to cool down political temperature. This was done by the Bangladesh military in January 2007 when it established an interim government which lasted for two years and then elections were held in December 2008.  Unless the political leaders in Bangladesh show restraint and responsibility they can again lose to the military.

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Pakistan Speaker lauds SL for combating terrorism

Posted on 26 December 2013 by admin

Pakistan National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq lauded efforts of the Sri Lankan government in defeating the menace of terrorism from its soil.

The Speaker said Pakistan and Sri Lanka are historically bonded in a relationship of trust, mutual respect and deep friendship which is manifest at all the phases of their histories, in a courtesy call on with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo.

He said the meeting between the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Sri Lankan President has given a boost to the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Sardar Ayaz Sadiq also commended the arrangements made by the Sri Lankan government for successfully organizing the Commonwealth Heads of government meeting (CHoGM), said a news release received from Sri Lanka.

During the meeting, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq conveyed appreciation of Pakistani government for the hospitality extended by the people and Government of Sri Lanka towards the Pakistani delegation.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa acknowledged the support extended by the government of Pakistan during Sri Lankan war against terrorism and said that Pakistan’s unflinching support during the three decade internal conflict, has immensely helped in the elimination of terrorism from Sri Lanka.

He further said that Sri Lanka would not have eliminated the scourge of terrorism without the help and support of Pakistan. He said Pakistan has proved to be a true friend of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan government as well as public has deep affection for Pakistan.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa also welcomed Pakistani investment in sugar sector of Sri Lanka and reiterated his governments full support in this regard.
The two sides agreed to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two friendly countries and stressed upon the need to work closely in the regional and global context.

Meanwhile, Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq left Male, the Maldives to attend the SAARC Speaker Conference

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Five workplace themes to watch for in 2014

Posted on 26 December 2013 by admin

1. Leaning in

This was the year of Lean In, where Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberglaunched a movement to encourage women to be assertive in taking their rightful spot at the table. As the term Lean In becomes last year’s motto, the discussion will need to focus on concrete objectives such as reducing the dearth of women in top executive positions and enhancing the role men play at home. Lean In didn’t really get at the fact that the traditional family structure is a relic. It’s time companies – and individuals – start recognizing this and stop slotting people into traditional gender roles.

2. Farewell, 9 to 5

As unemployment and freelance work becomes more prevalent, it’s time to acknowledge that the concept of working for one employer from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, is now a rarity.

A large number of functions in knowledge-based organizations will continue to be farmed out, according to Bill Waters, a futurist and business strategist based in Waterloo, Ont. He sees many companies encouraging employees to work from home to reduce corporate overhead and believes this trend will evolve into contract roles so companies can avoid the costs that come with full-time employment relationships.

This is not all bad news. Marie Bountrogianni, interim dean of the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Toronto’s Ryerson University, said the idea of 9-to-5 no longer appeals to many younger workers, who want flexible work schedules. “It doesn’t necessarily mean working more, or less – just differently,” she said.

3. I tweet therefore I am

Advances in technology keep changing how we work, live and communicate with one another and that will only accelerate. I alienated many when I confessed to being addicted to my phone but I see my device as a social outlet and productivity tool. As mobile devicesovertake computers, that trend will become more widespread.

Employers will continue to try to use advances in technology to boost collaboration and productivity. Last year, Deloitte predicted that more than 90 per cent of Fortune 500 companies would have a business social network. Duncan Stewart, director of technology, media and telecommunications at Deloitte Canada and the co-author of TMT Predictions, said he has not come across one major company that doesn’t use some sort of enterprise social network.

Eventually, every worker will need to get on the social networking bandwagon, as it evolves from specialized role to core skill for every employee, according to Ms. Bountrogianni.

4. Millennial adjustment

Generation Y, or millennials, continued to baffle other generations in the workplace, who often dubbed them lazy and disloyal. Maybe an attitude adjustment is in order since, by 2014, millennials are set to comprise 36 per cent of the U.S. work force. While much more ink (and angst) will be spilled about how to engage, retain and motivate this group, it is time to acknowledge that maybe older employers should conform and learn to embrace their inner millennials.

5. The happiness factor

My final theme for the coming year is happiness. As the term “success” is continually redefined, organizations and employees will keep looking for ways to inject happiness into the workplace.

In 2013, only 13 per cent of workers globally said they felt engaged at work, with the rest sleepwalking through their days or, worse, poisoning their workplace environment for their few happy colleagues. Emphasizing the value of happiness in the workplace will become an important point of discussion in the coming year, because it makes for healthier and saner employees. That boosts productivity and, ultimately, the bottom line. Who couldn’t use just a little bit more happiness in their day-to-day lives?

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