Archive | September, 2014

Priyanka Chopra hits 7 million fans on Twitter

Posted on 24 September 2014 by admin

Actress Priyanka Chopra has crossed the benchmark of seven million followers on micro-blogging site Twitter.

The 32-year-old ‘Mary Kom’ star, who joined Twitter in January 2009, thanked her fans for their support on the social media.

“Thank you all for 7MillionPcManiacs… Our family is getting larger.. Your love keeps me going..” she tweeted.

Priyanka, who is an avid user of social media, is the fourth most popular Indian celebrity on Twitter.

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan has 10 million followers followed by Shah Rukh Khan (9.04 million), Aamir Khan (8.46 million) and Salman Khan (8.28 million).

 

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Veena Malik’s chirpy behavior helped her get a role in Mumbai 125 km?

Posted on 24 September 2014 by admin

Filmmaker Hemant Madhukar talks about his upcoming horror flick, Mumbai 125 km and why he chose Veena Malik to play the ghost: In your last film, you had worked with known faces like Jimmy Sheirgill and Sanjay Suri. What made you opt for newcomers this time?

I wanted to shoot the film in 3D, which is time consuming, and wanted actors who could give me dates at a stretch for the shoot. Hence, I opted for TV actors and newcomers. But the plot is the actual hero.

Apparently, you cast Veena Malik in the ghost’s role after watching her tantrums on a reality show?

I liked her attitude and quirky behaviour, which is exactly what my ghost is all about.

What is the USP of your film?

It’s a story about a single night and all the horror elements that transpire on a road trip, which has not been seen in our films before. Five friends are on their way from Pune when they experience a bizarre incident and get holed up 125 kms away from Mumbai. Along with my coproducer Nishant Pitti of Easemy trip on board, we did the right kind of promotion and are ready with the film.

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Bigg Boss 8: Minissha won’t create drama to get footage

Posted on 24 September 2014 by admin

Actress Minissha Lamba says she won’t be using fake drama to bring in viewers on ‘Bigg Boss 8′.

The 29-year-old actress is one of the 15 contestants to enter the Salman Khan-hosted controversial reality show this season and she says people will get to see the real, fun Minissha.

“It is a reality show and the audience love when there is more drama but I am not going to be out of character to create drama… that is just not me. At least I am hoping that I will not do that. I don’t know what the situation is going to be like. I don’t know how I am going to react to things inside,” Minissha told PTI before entering the house.

This is the first time that the actress, who has starred in films like ‘Yahaan’, ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd’ and ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’, has ventured into the territory of reality TV and Minissha says the timing is perfect for her as she does not have any work commitments at the moment.

“There is no commitment right now. It was an easy decision for me to make. Besides that this is the biggest reality show that is happening in the country today. It was the right time to do reality,” she said.

Minissha says she did have apprehensions regarding the show but her friends’ love and excitement for ‘Bigg Boss’ helped her make the decision.

“When I was approached for the show I did not know whether it would suit me to do it. The moment I talked about it to my friends and the excitement that I saw in them and their love for ‘Bigg Boss’ it really hit me that how popular this show is. Even I love watching it,” she said.

 

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“Fatima Fasih brings together art and sustainability for a cause”

Posted on 17 September 2014 by admin

She plans to take art and sustainability hand in hand

Her mother is from India. Her father is from Pakistan. She was born and raised in Saudi Arabia. After graduating from high school in Jeddah, she moved to Canada, got admitted in Life Sciences at UofT and recently graduated in 2013. After graduating, she decided to use art to make a difference and is now starting her Masters at UTM in Sustainability Management.

She was talked into exhibiting her work by Ethnic Marketing. We are referring to Fatima Fasih who had an opportunity to showcase her work at Royal Ontario Museum this summer. Her artistic work seems to be inspired by Islamic art and culture of subcontinent. She officially launched Fatima Fasih Watercolors this year, and donates as much as she can to charity.

We asked this gifted young artist about her life and experiences:

When did you learn that you have a gift?

I’ve always been painting something or the other since I was a child. I can not remember a time when my friends or family didn’t appreciate what I made in arts class or at home – of course, my dad wasn’t pleased when I ruined his walls and window railings with paint, but that’s when my parents would always take my brother and I to Jarir Bookstore in Jeddah and make me buy art supplies to work on for summer and winter holidays.

 Why be an artist?

Why not? There is this stigma against art in our part of the world or community and it’s about time we let it go. I decided to get into it, because I knew my work made people happy. Pakistanis that saw the Pakistani-at in my paintings felt something to be proud of. If I was painting a portrait of a Sufi believer, singing in front of a tomb covered in the traditional, handmade blue tiles, people had something to relate to it in some way or another and that made me go on. It isn’t about the money or the fame, it is about putting your heart into something that helps you relate to people and also highlights stories of the poor or less fortunate to people that will probably never see them in person, but the painting will communicate a story between the two.

 Why paint specifically?

That’s actually just like me asking you, “Why breathe specifically?”. It’s hard to explain when it becomes a part of your life from a very early age. Like I said, I don’t even remember the first brush I got.

What and who is your inspiration to be a painter?

My parents and the great Sadequain. My parents first, because they love handicrafts. Because of their upbringing and love for people and culture, I learned and valued art from the subcontinent more – and not just paintings, but any kind of handicraft. Sadequain, because of this one time when my parents took me to Frere Hall when I was barely 7 years old. I kept staring at the half-done ceiling by him. I asked my mother why isn’t it complete yet. She told me he had died while working on this work, and in my head, I always thought if one must die, this is how it should be, so that people can see the work you put in, the transition from a bare wall to something magnificent as that work. The details in that specific work made me believe that art was more than a few strokes of the brush; it can be whatever you want it to be.

 What are some of the influences on you? Are they mostly Islamic or just broadly South Asian or more?

Well, since I lived a majority of my life in the Middle East, I have seen a lot of Islamic architecture and calligraphy and although it is not a very big influence, it is a substantial one along with the greater influence by South Asian culture

 Have you visited historical Mugal or Islamic sites to see the tradition up close?

Yes, definitely. Growing up, we traveled a lot in South Asia and beyond. I remember the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort in Delhi, Badshahi Masjid in Lahore and also visited a wonderful museum in Malaysia called the Islamic Arts Museum and that is where I learned the idea of using tiles to make paintings. I was only 12 years old then, but that idea stuck since then and in 2013, I made the Alhamdulillah painting for my parents as a thank you present for all the wonderful things that they have helped me attain.

 Fatima Fasih Watercolors for charities and commission, why charities so early in your career. After all you are still in your 20′s.

I would blame my parents for that again. Growing up, we were always taught to be happy with less. My parents had good jobs, we could afford many gadgets like the rest of the kids in the Middle East, but we had rules and we were always taught to look at those that are less fortunate.

I personally think you don’t need to be a millionaire to begin philanthropy.

 I am a student that has loans on her still, but I think the need to help others is so great, it overshadows our petty current needs. If I sleep with $200 less tonight, it wouldn’t make that much of an impact on me as much as it would to someone who was a refugee, had just watched her house been blown up, or to an orphan who doesn’t even know the meaning of being an “orphan” yet.

So that’s why the idea of charities wasn’t foreign to me when I began. My first series in 2010 was actually for charity when I donated all my 10 paintings for the victims of the massive floods in Pakistan and I didn’t ask for a penny in return.

 Which charities do you donate to and why?

I donate to charities that I know are non-political. I studied a course in undergrad about how some organizations are politically motivated at the grassroots level and do not provide the money for the people that need it the most, because of being politically inclined. That’s why through research I found out about Thardeep Rural Development Programme (TRDP) in Pakistan that provides relief to people in Tharparkar specifically and rehabilitates them.

Many people criticize that much of the abstract art is throwing paint on the canvas with no real craft or sense of vision. What would you say?

I wouldn’t agree to that, but my form of art is different.

 How much do your paintings sell for?

It depends on which painting you ask about. My paintings range from $50 to $300, so far. The bigger, the more detailed the work, the more expensive the painting.

Is it a good career choice for youth who think about pursuing it?

Yes, absolutely. Although I am starting my Masters in Sustainability Management and not pursuing my art as a full-time career, it is going to go hand in hand with each other and I plan on using sustainability and art to make some change in this world, hopefully.

 Iqbal used to say that poetry is revealed upon him. Is this true for painting as well?

Yes, I couldn’t agree more.

Do you think the field of art is dominated by men as almost every other field, giving them an advantage when art reviews etc come up?

No, definitely not. I’ve seen an equal number of men and women in this field, similar to the ratio of art lovers. I would actually like to add that being a young female Pakistani artist has been a greater advantage to me for when I work and when I display my paintings. Many people from Pakistan have applauded for me work for the Thar people, for Syrian children, for highlighting Pakistani culture through my series of Sufi paintings and for highlighting important verses of the Holy Quran. I’ve never felt more proud to be a woman than now. I am truly blessed.

 How did your family react to your career choice?

My family was very supportive and still very proud of my work. My parents actually book my best paintings while I’m working on them for themselves.

Any wedding plans?

Not yet.

Your favourite season?

Fall

 Your favourite male artist?

Sadequain

Your favourite female artist?

Sumaiyya Jillani

 Your favourite book?

The Pakistan issue of GRANTA

 Your favourite movie?

The Blind Side

 Your favourite song?

Ishq Aap bhi Awalla by Chakwal group and Meesha Shafi – in Coke Studio Pakistan

 Your favourite leader?

Still undecided

 Your favourite colour?

Purple

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Five Things Most People Get Wrong About Canada’s Health Care System

Posted on 17 September 2014 by admin

A recent court challenge before the British Columbia Supreme Court threatened to change the rules of the game for the Canadian healthcare system – should the challenge have made its way to the Supreme Court of Canada and found success there. Dr. Brian Day of The Cambie Surgeries Corporation is contesting the ban against ‘extra billing’ for privately provided health services, and for the right of doctors to work simultaneously in both the public and private health spheres.

1. Doctors are self-employed, not government employees

Canada has a publicly-funded healthcare system, but the vast majority of doctors do not work for the government. A patient is free to choose which doctor they wish to visit, and they are entitled to essential physician health services without charge. Doctors are self-employed, which means they can determine their own hours and work location, and they are responsible for paying their employees, for office space and other overhead expenses. Doctors earn money by billing their provincial government for the services they provide to patients.

2. Canada has 15 different healthcare systems

People often refer to the “Canadian healthcare system,” when in reality, it has distinct health systems for each of the provinces and territories. The Canada Health Act outlines the basic tenets for healthcare to be universal and accessible for essential physician and hospital health services across the country. However, the details of how each system operates, including what is covered and how, is determined provincially. In addition, the federal government has responsibility for Aboriginal and Veteran healthcare.

Add it together, and Canada has a whopping 15 unique healthcare systems.

3. Funded healthcare services are not provided equally across the country

The Canada Health Act guarantees that essential physician and hospital services are paid for by the government, but there is variation across provinces for what is considered an “essential health service” — and even who delivers the care or where care is delivered.

4. User fees charged to patients are not permitted

Canadians cannot be charged a “user fee” when a physician provides an insured service (something already covered by the publically funded health system). But some physicians get around the letter of the law by charging “annual fees” as part of a comprehensive package of services they offer their patients.

5. Canada does not truly have a “single payer” system meaning a significant portion of Canadian healthcare comes from both public and private financing

Canadians have to pay for eye and dental care out-of-pocket, and more than 60 per cent of prescription medications are paid for privately in Canada.

Canada is the only country with a universal healthcare system that does not include prescription drugs. This means that Canadians still pay for approximately 30 per cent of their healthcare directly or via private insurance with only 70 per cent of health costs paid for publicly. In fact, Canadians are as likely to hold private health insurance as Americans.

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Bonnie Crombie Officially Opens Her Campaign Headquarters

Posted on 17 September 2014 by admin

Hundreds of supporters joined Bonnie Crombie

Sunday evening to officially open her campaign headquarters at 3985 Grand Park Drive and kick-off the final stretch of the campaign.

 Surrounded by supporters from across the city and all points in between, Crombie delivered remarks thanking residents for their support, energizing volunteers and sharing her vision for the next chapter in Mississauga’s history.

 Since entering the election on March 25th, Crombie has received an outpouring of support from across Mississauga’s 11 Wards and her campaign is building momentum as Election Day approaches.

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Rob Ford Threw a Political Hail Mary that Doug Can’t Catch

Posted on 17 September 2014 by admin

Sometimes it’s the little details that reveal so much, especially when they’re captured on television.

Former Toronto Councillor Doug Ford made an important appearance at City Hall Friday afternoon. He was there to officially enter the race for Mayor. Why? Because his embattled brother Rob, the current Mayor, suffered a serious setback earlier this week. After privately experiencing persistent abdominal pain for three months, things took a turn for the worst and he was hospitalized. The early diagnosis is a tumour. The official prognosis is expected early next week.

Shortly after Doug left City Hall, the Mayor released a written statement saying that he is physically unable to continue his reelection campaign, a campaign that at one point saw him trailing early frontrunner and former Conservative ally John Tory by more than 10 points in the polls. Doug is replacing him on the ballot. (Friday was the deadline for last-minute election sign-ups and withdrawals.)

In the midst of the circus that surrounded him at City Hall, one cameraman caught a rare moment of vulnerability. Shooting him up close from the left, one drop of sweat slowly trickled down Doug’s cheek.

He should be sweating because the Ford Legacy is in serious jeopardy. Scandal-plagued and globally derided, Rob Ford was never guaranteed a second term running Canada’s largest city. How could he have possibly won anyway considering all the crack videos, the drunk videos, the racism, the sexism, the drunk driving, the physical assaults, the sexual harassment, the threats of violence, the constant lying, the numerous unexplained absences and multiple political conflicts of interest that have defined him these past two years alone?

With only six weeks to go until Toronto elects its next municipal government, Doug Ford, the deeply polarizing former Councillor with his own conflicts of interest and drug dealing past, is now stepping in to try to rescue his brother’s administration. Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, there’s the puzzling matter of Rob Ford’s political future. He is withdrawing from the race for Mayor but he’s not out of the election altogether. Originally, it was his nephew, Michael Ford, who was running to fill his old Councillor seat in Ward 2′s Etobicoke North riding. Now that Doug is running for Mayor, Rob is replacing Michael as a Conservative candidate in that race.

An innocent question: if a man is too seriously ill to run for one political office, how is he healthy enough to run for another? Granted, running for Mayor is obviously more physically demanding than vying for a lower profile City Councillor gig, but still, if your stomach pains are so bad to the point where you need constant professional care and lots of rest and relaxation, why are you running for anything?

The likely answer: because there’s a good chance he might actually win. For all the city-wide support he’s lost in the last year and a half, there are a considerable number of Etobicoke residents who still believe in his now discredited populist “taxpayer protector” rhetoric that got him on City Council in the first place. Rob Ford is counting on that decade-plus connection with those remarkably loyal and forgiving voters to keep him on Council without having to do too much door-to-door campaigning.

Unfortunately, this is a gamble and it depends greatly on next week’s test results. If that mass on his abdomen is cancerous (and let’s all hope it’s not), this sneaky back-up plan to get reelected, this time as a City Councillor, will have to be abandoned. Even if it’s like the earlier mass he had in 2009 (which turned out to be benign), he’ll still have to have surgery and may need plenty of time to rest and recover. As of this moment, he has few good political options.

CBC News Network’s Carole MacNeil asked a number of guests about the possibility of Doug potentially winning the election, Rob winning back his seat, Doug making him the Deputy Mayor and then at some point, stepping aside to let Rob become the Mayor again. Not one thought this was a plausible scenario, not just because of the unlikeliness of both being elected, but because of the absurd idea that the ambitious Doug (who has expressed a desire to lead the Ontario Tories) would ever relinquish power to his younger brother, especially when you consider his many health problems.

Regardless of the end result of Rob Ford’s medical situation, whether it’s manageable or not (and again let’s hope it is a solvable problem), it’s the end of a turbulent era in Toronto politics. Doug Ford has an impossible task ahead of himself. He has to run on his brother’s highly questionable record as well as his own, somehow make up a lot of ground between himself and John Tory while still watching out for the formidable Olivia Chow, and avoid getting swallowed up by all the growing scandals that have already plagued his entire family, all in just a month and a half.

He should be sweating.

 

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China ready to meet ‘half way’; asks India to boost efficiency

Posted on 17 September 2014 by admin


Dushanbe: Ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit, China has sought “work efficiency” in India and welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to push reforms to spur economic growth, saying it was “ready to meet India halfway” in its quest for development and prosperity.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China was all set to sign pacts providing for major investment in infrastructure projects in India including industrial parks and railways networks during Xi’s visit while expressing confidence that the trip will elevate the bilateral ties to a “new level”.

“Of course we look forward to reforms. Economic reform is in India’s own interests. We can tell that Prime Minister Modi is pushing ahead with the reforms. If you insist on me mentioning one area, we hope you raise your efficiency of work,” he said when asked to identify areas for reform to boost Chinese investments in India.

China’s foreign exchange reserves, the largest in the world, reached a record USD 3.95 trillion in March and it plans to invest around USD 500 billion overseas in the next five years, a share of which is expected to find India’s way.

60-year-old Xi, who took over as the head of the ruling Communist Party in 2012 and President and military chief in March last year, had been sending clear signals of boosting bilateral relations with India and is likely to make major announcements about Chinese investment in India’s infrastructure sector.

“We can feel the strong desire of the new government of India led by Prime Minister Modi to strengthen China-India relationship. Probably, this is fully in line with the fundamental interests and wishes of India as a nation and its people,” Wang said.

Welcoming efforts by Modi to bring a new momentum in the Indian economy, he called for joining of hands by the “two major markets” in the world to chart a new course of growth in Asia while and said the “highly complicated” boundary dispute should not be allowed to hamper bilateral relations.

“Our overall thinking is that China and India, as two big neighbours, as two big markets and as two of the world’s major civilizations should unite for even closer cooperation so that together we can usher in a new path of growth and development for Asia in the 21st Century,” Wang told PTI in an interview here in the Tajik capital.

Calling for greater cooperation in key areas, he said the time has come for China and India to seek joint development and prosperity so that together both the countries could contribute to peace and prosperity of the humanity.

“We are ready to meet India halfway and echo India’s efforts and we have full confidence that under leadership of Prime Minister Modi, China-India relations will enjoy even broader prospects,” Wang said.

Wang identified trade imbalance between the two countries as a major issue and underlined the need to address it.

The bilateral trade in 2013-14 declined to USD 65.85 billion from a high of USD 74 billion in 2011. The trade deficit stood at USD 35 billion in favour of China as against USD 39 billion in 2012-13.

Talking about state of Indian economy, Wang said economic reform was crucial for fueling the growth rate.

“Of course we look forward to reforms. Economic reform is in India’s interests. We can tell that Prime Minister Modi is pushing ahead with the reforms,” he said.

Asked about the boundary dispute, the Chinese Foreign Minister termed it as a “highly complicated” issue and said both sides will have to maintain peace and stability along the border areas till its resolution.

“This is something leftover from history. It is highly complicated. We have set up a complete set of dialogue and conversation mechanism. I hope that the two sides will make joint efforts to move towards the direction of resolving the boundary issue through cooperation,” he said.

Wang said both the countries had agreed not to let the boundary issues hamper the overall interests of the bilateral relationship.

India asserts that the border dispute covered about 4,000 km, while China claims that it confined to about 2,000 km to the area of Arunachal Pradesh, which it refers as Southern Tibet. India and China have so far held 17 rounds of talks by Special Representatives to resolve the dispute.

Wang said a number of agreements will be signed during Xi’s visit to India beginning September 17. ”The upcoming trip to India by President Xi will elevate China-India relationship to a new level through concerted efforts of both the sides.

“The Indian side, including Prime Minister Modi and your President are attaching lot of importance to President’s Xi’s upcoming visit to India and we believe with the joint efforts of both sides, the visit will be a full success,” he said.

He said both the sides will sign three agreements marking the establishment of sister city relationship which will be a major step to promote sub-national level cooperation.

Identifying terrorism as a major challenge, he said the international community has the responsibility to work together to combat the menace.

Wang also welcomed India’s bid to become a member of the Shanghai Corporation Organisation, a China-dominated security grouping which is increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO.

The SCO in its summit here on Friday had set the ball rolling to make India a member of the bloc which will give the largest democracy a greater say in issues relating to combating terrorism and involvement in major oil and gas projects.

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AGITATION, FLOODS AND THE GOVERNEMNT IN PAKISTAN

Posted on 17 September 2014 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

 The “Dhrana” in Islamabad by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf and Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehrik has been going on for over a month. This has surprised everybody. Most people did not think that these parties had enough organizational capacity to stay in Islamabad for such a long time. The federal government lost patience when it used tear gas and rubber bullets on the protesters when they moved in front of the official buildings, killing at least three people, although the protesters claim more deaths.

However, the federal government quickly changed its strategy and returned to a policy of patience and engaged in two pronged strategy: a tough war of words and the calling of the joint session of the parliament. This helped to save the situation for the federal government in the current power tussle between the two protesting parties and the PMLN government at the federal level.

 The “Dhrana” in Islamabad has become a kind of an “evening out” activity for a large number of people who come to the protest venue to spend couple of hours and listen to two leaders. There is less presence of Imran Khan’s loyalists during the day time. His loyalists are poorly organized and face problems while living in the tents or under the trees. Some of them go to the city and return later. Different parliamentarians of the Tehrik-i-Insaf bring their supporters in the afternoon or evening for show of strength. They spend night there or go to their friend’s houses for the night.

 Tahir-ul-Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehrik appears more organized and its loyalists are large in number and stay there most of the time, including sleeping in the small tents. Minimum facilities for staying there, including food and water, are available in a more systematic way, although they still face hardships for staying in the open.

 The two political parties and their workers maintain their party identities but they cooperate with each other and some of Tehrik-i-Insaf activists make use of the facilities made available by Pakistan Awami Tehrik.

  These two parties may not achieve the goal of forcing the Prime Minister out of office. However, they may get the concession of a thorough scrutiny of election results by a commission comprising the judges of the Supreme Court.

 The leaders of some political parties initiated the dialogue but it moved at a painfully slow pace. The federal government and the ruling Muslim League Nawaz wants to restrict the role of the commission to looking at electoral procedures and the charges against some personalities like the former Chief Justice of Pakistan and few other officials by Imran Khan.

The two protesting leaders, especially Imran Khan, want a detailed scrutiny of 30- 35 constituencies and they do not mind if the number of constituencies is increased or if the ruling party also proposes scrutiny of some constituencies. However, the ruling party does not seem to be interested in any detailed scrutiny of any constituency. This has stalemated the talks and if they can find a common ground on terms of reference for the commission, the Dhranas can come to an end.

  The Tehrik-i-Insaf is keen about the scrutiny of the results because whatever scrutiny of results has been done under the direction of the Election Tribunals, serious doubts have been created on votes polled in terms of their genuineness. The fear is that the same situation could be found in other constituencies in the Punjab that will strengthen the PTI claim that Nawaz Sharif should resign and new elections should be held.

 The government of Nawaz Sharif is lucky to get the support of the PPP, the ANP and the MQM in the joint session of the parliament. Had these parties supported the protesting leaders Nawaz Sharif would have found it difficult to survive? The parliamentary session’s support has been the main strength for Nawaz Sharif but, with the exception of the first two days, the attendance of the members was poor. The total strength of the joint session is 446 but less than hundred people used to sit through the day. A good number would walk in, show their face and leave shortly thereafter.

 In the short run, Nawaz Sharif has survived the political attack on his government. However, it is difficult to suggest if he is secure enough to complete the five-year term that ends in 2018.

The Nawaz Sharif government will find it difficult to come out of the dark shadow of the Long March and the Dhrana on the genuineness of the elections. Its moral authority is further eroded because of the killings of 14 people outside the office and residence of Dr. Qadri in Lahore on June 17 and the refusal of the Punjab Chief Minister to step down who has been blamed for this unfortunate incident. This issue of killing of 14 people in Lahore will haunt the Sharif brothers in the future.

 The Muslim League Nawaz leadership will have to improve governance and political management if they want to avoid another crisis in a couple of months. The floods have caused much devastation in the Punjab and if the Sharif brothers cannot effectively cope with the rehabilitation work in the post-flood period, they will have serious political problems. In case of Sindh the blame for the losses in the floods will be shared between the PPP-led provincial government and the federal government of Nawaz Sharif.

 The biggest challenge will be how to get out of the charge of electoral rigging and the demand for new elections after electoral reforms. The future of the Muslim League governments in the Punjab and at the federal level also depend on how Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif and some of their colleagues deal with criminal charges for the killings in Lahore.

 The federal and the Punjab government will have to pay their utmost attention to dealing with post-flood rehabilitation issues. It will have to push back its glamorous projects like the bullet train, motorways, bus services and free distribution of laptops. All these funds should be used to deal with the humanitarian crisis that Pakistan will soon face once the flood water recedes.

 After copying with the current problems of agitation and floods, the Muslim League Nawaz government need to explore the option of seeking the renewal of its mandate through new elections in September-October 2015. If the PMLN perform well on coping with floods and addressing socio-economic problems of the common people it will have no problem in returning to power after the new elections.

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BC teachers’ strike: Tentative deal reached between BCTF and government

Posted on 17 September 2014 by admin

A deal has been reached in the education dispute between the BC Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government.

After an intense weekend of talks with mediator Vince Ready, the two sides have come to a tentative agreement.

The BCTF will now take the details of the agreement to the teachers for a vote on Thursday and if it is accepted, students will be heading back to class.

Ready announced the deal to media at 4:15 a.m., but would not discuss details of the tentative agreement.

The deal was reached at 3:50 a.m., after nearly 16 hours of negotiation between Ready, BCTF President Jim Iker, and government negotiator Peter Cameron and their respective teams in a Richmond hotel.

Neither Iker nor Cameron have made a statement on the deal yet. Education Minister Peter Fassbender isn’t commenting on the tentative deal until final language is settled on.

Teachers on the picket line Tuesday morning say they are optimistic at this news. “After the weekend of meetings and the number of hours they spent together, but you know I’m glad the public put some pressure, the public’s been made aware of all the issues,” says Hanif Karmali, teacher at King George Secondary.

“I think that’s the silver lining in all this, seeing how the public has responded and the parents.”

He says he is sure there is give-and-take on both sides and thinks teachers will ratify the deal when they vote on Thursday.

“I’m happy with a five year or a six year [contract],” says Karmali.

He adds that he would also like to see a better system so that in another five or six years teachers and the government will not be back at the bargaining table.

“This agreement will presumably take us out for a number of years and pretty much guarantee we won’t see a replay of what we’ve seen this year, which is an extended strike, in the near future,” says Global News political reporter Keith Baldrey. “Teachers paid through the pocketbook in this dispute and I think when this new contract ends, which I think is a five year deal, maybe six, the appetite for this type of job action will be quite diminished among the members of the BCTF.”

Calling this “historic”, Baldrey says the BCTF was the one “that moved the most in the dispute, but the government did too” and while the details have not been released, it’s his understanding from some of the proposals that have been going back and forth that the government put more money on the table for classroom funding, in the region of $30 million per year.

Over the next day, the two sides will be working out the finer points and language of the tentative deal.

As for when schools will re-open for students, it’s unclear.

“It’s conceivable that schools won’t be open [for students] until next week,” Baldrey says. “All that prep work that has to be done to get class composition together… in all reality, even opening the school today, your child wouldn’t get much learning, it’d still be pretty chaotic.”

Since negotiations led by Ready fell apart two weeks ago, teachers have voted more than 99 percent in favour of returning to work if there was binding arbitration. The government has out-ruled this, but it appeared that they are getting more flexible on the contentious E80 clause, which deals with class size and composition.

“We have said clearly, tell us what the problem with E80 is, and we’ll negotiate that,” said Education Minister Peter Fassbender. “And again, negotiations are about give and take.”

Premier Christy Clark said she was confident the two sides could reach a deal before she leaves for India on Oct. 9 for a trade mission.

What brought the two sides together? Vancouver Sun political columnist Vaughn Palmer says enormous credit goes to veteran mediator Vince Ready.

“He’s incredibly good at his job and if they got a deal, it’s because both sides moved — that’s where you get a deal in collective bargaining,” Palmer told Global News. “Ready is a big fan of collective bargaining and he’s said in the past in teachers’ disputes, it’s not a broken system. You get a deal when two sides want a deal. And clearly both sides preferred a deal then have this thing settled on the floor of the legislature.”

Palmer also mentioned some outstanding questions that will not come to light until the details of the deal are released.

“Where does this leave the E80 court case, if anything? What did they do with the $180 million that they saved on the strike in June? We thought all along the money would be available somehow, to make that final element of the deal work. And when do schools go back? Did they make some sort of agreement to extend the school year to make up the time lost?”

READ MORE: What is proposal “E80″ and why is it so contentious?

The full-scale strike started on June 17 of the last school year, after escalating job action by the teachers throughout the spring.

Back in March, public school teachers voted overwhelmingly (89 per cent) in favour of job action and issued 72-hour strike notice on April 17.

In late April teachers started phase one of the strike plan and then began rotating strikes on May 26. Talks between the two sides broke down in July before resuming in late August.

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