Archive | April, 2016

Aishwarya Rai supports Salman Khan for #RioOlympics2016

Posted on 28 April 2016 by admin

Salman Khan is facing a lot of flak for being appointed as the Goodwill Ambassador to represent the Indian contingent at the Rio Olympics 2016.

Though the actor is known for being one of the foremost Bollywood superstars when it comes to charity and noble work, many prominent personalities did not support his appointment. However, there seems to be a ray of hope for the ‘Sultan’ actor from an unexpected source. At an event, it was his ex-girlfriend, the gorgeous Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who openly supported the ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ actor’s selection as the Goodwill Ambassador for the Rio Olympics.

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Ram Lakhan remake; Shahid Kapoor, Ranveer Singh on-board

Posted on 28 April 2016 by admin

Ever since Karan Johar announced the remake of Subhash Ghai’s super hit film ‘Ram Lakhan’ with Rohit Shetty, there have been lots of speculations on who would play the lead. After months of speculations, looks like makers have finally zeroed on Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh for the lead role.

According to Indian media reports, ‘Rangoon’ actor has outrun Ranbir Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan and Sidharth Malhotra, who were the front-runners for Ram’s role, to step into Jackie Shroff’s shoes for the film.

And Ranveer has been roped in to play Anil Kapoor’s iconic role Lakhan in the remake. Last year Anil Kapoor had also said that Ranveer is perfect for his iconic role.

The actors, however, have not signed on the dotted line yet. The makers are also looking for fresh faces to essay Madhuri Dixit and Dimple Kapadia’s characters and the project is likely to go on floors by end of the year.

For now, Shahid Kapoor has recently finished shooting for ‘Rangoon’ with Kangana Ranaut, while Ranveer Singh is busy shooting for his upcoming movie ‘Befikre’.

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Pop Star Selena Gomez banned

Posted on 28 April 2016 by admin

There are dozens of Hollywood stars who have showed love for the Dalai Lama (a spiritual leader). Now, as per the latest buzz one of those stars, Selena Gomez, may have lost the chance to perform in China because of her support for the spiritual leader.

Gomez was supposed to perform in the two Chinese cities in August as part of the ‘Revival Tour’ but it appears that promotions for the concerts have been pulled down from the singer’s official website. According to various media reports, the reason behind the cancellation is Gomez’s photos with the Dalai Lama posted on a social media site.

“Chinese authorities have allegedly blocked Selena from performing in the country because of her connection to the spiritual leader,” said China Entertainment Weekly.

The picture appears to be taken two years ago, when both Gomez and the spiritual leader were in Vancouver to host We Day, a youth empowerment project that takes place in cities around the US and Canada. According to a Daily Mail report, the singer captioned the picture, “words of wisdom. #speechless”. Earlier, Maroon 5, Bon Jovi and Linkin Park have been banned from performing in China for the similar reason.

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Toronto’s Prasanthan Aruchunan, 17, first in Ontario to win NHL scholarship

Posted on 22 April 2016 by admin

 

‘If I can do it, you guys can do it,’ winner tells other youth in his community

Toronto’s PrasanthanAruchunan is making history.

The 17-year-old from Westview Centennial Secondary School is the first student in Ontario to receive the National Hockey League scholarship from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

It’s an academic scholarship awarded to a student in the NHL’s official youth development program, Hockey is for Everyone (HIFE), who has achieved at least a 3.0 GPA.

A criterion easily met by Aruchunan, who maintains a 94 per cent average.

If that’s not impressive enough, he plans to use the scholarship to study mechanical engineering at the University of Waterloo.

“I just have a passion for building stuff…and hopefully I’ll be the first guy to invent a hybrid airplane one day,” Aruchunan said.

He also has a passion for hockey, a feeling that grew after he first played the game in Grade 3.

Aruchunan’s family moved to Canada from Sri Lanka when he was a young child, settling in Toronto’s Jane-Finch neighbourhood.

He eventually joined the Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS), an after-school program that gives kids from low-income and at-risk families a chance to play the game.

“The first day on the ice … I was like falling all over the place,” he said. ”But the mentors just kept pushing me, they kept telling me that if I never give up then I’ll be better one day, and look where I’m at now.”

Tony Wray is the program’s coordinator and has known Aruchunan since he started at HEROS.

“We just support in the background to make sure that they overcome some of the barriers, whether it’s accessing some additional hockey time, whether it’s accessing tutoring, whatever they need,” Wray said.

‘It was unbelievable’

Not only did Aruchunan find a love for the game, but he also said hockey gave him a sense of belonging.

Now, on top of that, hockey is helping him achieve his dreams. Wray had the opportunity to deliver the good news.

“He’s like, ‘You just won the scholarship,’” Aruchunan said. “I was just freaking out at home. I was jumping up and down, I gave my mom a hug and it was unbelievable.”

While speaking with CBC News Monday, Aruchunan’s mother was able to watch him skate for the first time.

She speaks little English, but smiled as she watched her son glide over the ice.

“She’s very proud of me,” Aruchunan said. ”At first she was kind of scared that I would break a leg or two cause it’s ice, right, and back in Sri Lanka we don’t play with ice or anything.”

From no ice at all, to the NHL scholarship winner, Aruchunan’s come a long way.

Even though he’s excited to start his post-secondary career, he still plans to give back.

He already mentors kids in the HEROS program, giving them the same sense of belonging he found on the ice.

“If I can do it, you guys can do it as well,” he said, offering tips for other young students. “Keep working hard, keep pushing forward and one day you’ll be successful.”

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Close the wage gap between men and women: Editorial

Posted on 22 April 2016 by admin

What needs to be done to close the gender wage gap? That’s a good question on April 19, Equal Pay Day in Ontario. But it’s not one anyone seems closer to answering despite countless studies that shine a bright light on the fact that women continue to make less than men.

What can be said is the more we learn, the more it seems to be about discrimination rather than other factors.

Consider that the latest Statistics Canada figures, from 2013, indicate that women in Ontario still make only 70.6 cents for every dollar a man earns, for a gap of 29.4 per cent. Then consider that no matter what women have done over the years to close the gap — whether it’s climbing the corporate ladder, getting more education, earning more experience or changing occupations — it has barely budged, according to a new study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Among its findings:

  The higher up the ladder women climbed, the larger the wage gap. For the top-earning 10 per cent, the wage gap is 37 per cent, or $64,000 a year. That means that over a 35-year career, a woman in that category will earn $2.24 million on average less than a man.

  Even though the majority of post-secondary degree holders are women and they are moving into professions once dominated by men, their average annual earnings are still less than men’s for a gender wage gap of 27 per cent.

  Nor is the wage gap affected by which occupation women choose. In every category, including those where they are in the majority, women’s average annual earnings are less than men’s. For sales and services, for example, there was a gender pay gap of 48 per cent. For health care it was 37 per cent.

  Experience doesn’t close the wage gap, either. In fact, it seems to increase it. The gap increases to 38 per cent for women aged 55 to 64, from 23 per cent for women 15 to 24.

While this is only one report, it bolsters the findings of studies done over the decades in industrialized countries. After all that effort, the only thing that is clear is that studying the problem is not enough. Ontario needs a step-by-step plan to close the wage gap. And that is what the Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee, established a year ago, is supposed to come up with.

Though it plans to issue an interim report, its final report, which will include recommendations on how to close the gap, won’t be out for at least another three months. That’s disappointing.

Almost as disappointing as the reason why today is Equal Pay Day. The date is set on April 19 because women working full time have to put in roughly three-and-a-half months extra to catch up to what men earned in the previous year.

That’s nothing to celebrate.

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Ontarians Hit With Another Unaffordable Hydro Increase

Posted on 22 April 2016 by admin

 

On May 1st, the people of Ontario will find yet another increase on their monthly hydro bill, with rates expected to rise $37.56 annually.

“Electricity rates in the province are skyrocketing and it’s only getting worse,” said Leader of the Official Opposition Patrick Brown. “Since November, bills have gone up $186.96 a year for the average consumer.  These rates are excessive for the average Ontarian.”

Ontario has the fastest rising hydro rates of any province or state in North America.

This is the latest unaffordable hydro increase for Ontarians, who were faced with another Ontario Energy Board (OEB) rate increase in November 2015. On January 1st, the Wynne Liberal Government also terminated the Clean Energy Benefit, representing a 10 per cent reduction in electricity charges, and the Ontario Electricity Support Program came into effect creating an additional cost for Ontarians.

“There’s a reason the Liberals don’t want to talk about hydro rates,” added Patrick Brown.  “The legacy of the Wynne Liberals 13 years in government will be unaffordable energy rates in the province. What this government should be doing to help fight electricity price increases is to stop wasting money.”

While many Ontarians struggle to pay their hydro bills, the OEB claims rates are rising in part due to lower than expected usage over the winter.

“Of course the Wynne Liberals would blame rate increases on the weather.  Of course they ignore the fact that the province produces enough surplus power that we could power the province of Nova Scotia for five years,” Brown stated. “What’s more, this government just signed another 5 wind generator contracts, for which we pay nearly double Quebec’s average.  This is the reason we have higher rates in the province, and it’s why companies see our rates as a barrier to doing business.”

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Health minister ‘deeply disturbed’ by report of ‘son preference’ sex-selective abortions

Posted on 22 April 2016 by admin

Ontario’s health minister is speaking out strongly against “sex-selective” abortions of female fetuses by parents who want males. And he is reminding doctors they should not be doing such procedures.

Dr. Eric Hoskins said Tuesday he was “deeply disturbed” to see a study of more than six million Canadians births revealing a greater presence of boys among Indian-born mothers may be linked in part to second-trimester abortions after parents can learn the baby’s gender.

“No health-care provider, including physicians, should, in any circumstances, be providing or supporting individuals or families that are attempting to determine the sex of their child in order to secure a sex-selective abortion,” Hoskins told reporters.

“This is an issue of gender equality and equity and (the behaviour) has no place in Canada, let alone in Ontario.”

Hoskins, a family doctor and public health expert, said the College of Physicians and Surgeons Ontario has restrictions on sex-selective abortions.

“It’s important that doctors and other front-line health care providers understand that there are guidelines . . . by the CPSO that restrict them from engaging or being complicit in this practice.”

Hoskins has asked the self-regulatory body for doctors to determine whether “any further measures need to be taken to review the guidelines that are currently in place … or if other measures need to be taken.”

A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and its online CMAJ Open publication found a preference for boys among Indian-born parents may have contributed to a deficit of more than 4,400 girls over two decades.

Researchers, who used information from Statistics Canada and the Toronto-based Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, refer to the phenomenon as Canada’s “missing girls.”

Hoskins said any additional steps taken to curb sex-selective abortions must “strike the right balance” and said Ontario, unlike some other jurisdictions, would not restrict parents from learning the gender of fetuses.

“I certainly wouldn’t want the choice that women have to seek therapeutic abortion. However, there is a right of an individual to have access to personal health information” about an unborn child, he added.

Education is a key element of spreading the message that sex-selective abortions are morally unacceptable, Hoskins said.

“Absent that education, there likely would continue to be circumstances where an individual woman, for example, may choose to return to their place of origin, if they’re a new immigrant . . . to undergo that procedure.”

“So it’s critically important, I think, that we educate our health-care professionals and help them understand the consequences, but also educate, particularly, new immigrants in certain communities that this is an issue of gender equality and equity, and it’s a practice which has no place in Canada, let alone in Ontario.”

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$2-per-vote subsidy for parties will be considered, Wynne says

Posted on 22 April 2016 by admin

Penny for your thoughts . . . a toonie for your vote?

A $2-per-vote subsidy for political parties appears to be on the horizon in Ontario as part of reforms to campaign fundraising in the province.

With sweeping legislative changes being introduced next month, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday some form of public financing of the parties has to be considered.

“We need to decide as we move to a ban on corporate and union donations, does there need to be a public subsidy? I hope the opposition leaders will give me some sense of what they think about that,” Wynne said on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning.

After Ottawa revamped federal political fundraising rules, there was a per-vote subsidy of about $2 for the 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2011 elections, before former prime minister Stephen Harper phased it out.

If Ontario adopted a similar formula, the Liberals would get $3.72 million, the Progressive Conservatives $3.01 million, the New Democrats $2.29 million, and the Greens $465,000.

Those amounts are based on tallies from the 2014 provincial election, in which the Grits received 1,863,974 votes to 1,508,811 for the Tories, 1,144,822 for the NDP, and 232,536 for the Greens.

The premier said she wants to work with the other parties to determine how such public funding could be implemented.

“Should there be a transitional subsidy based on vote counts from the previous election? If so, how long should the transition period be in order to allow all parties to adjust?” she said following a meeting with Green Leader, Mike Schreiner.

Schreiner said the Greens “are going to be very strong advocates for that, because, if you want to produce legislation in the public interest, the public should fund political parties.”

“We already have a public-financing system in Ontario, but it’s a pay-to-play system; if you donate, say, $2,500 to a political party, you get almost half of that back though public financing of a tax credit,” he noted.

“We would prefer to see a public-financing system that’s vote-to-play and that would be your vote directs a donation to a political party.”

Conservative Leader Patrick Brown, a former federal MP, emphasized “there has to be some phase-out period” of public funding.

“I would hope that that a per-vote subsidy would be transitional and not permanent, and that the transition period would be as expeditious as possible,” said Brown.

“I know in Ottawa it took almost a decade. I think that is far too long and I would like a process that is a lot quicker.”

But NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said it is too soon to be talking about such minutiae when there are serious concerns about how Wynne is reforming the fundraising system.

“We think that starting to get into the weeds on the details is putting the cart before the horse,” said Horwath.

“That somebody could be writing up rules on the back of a napkin at the kitchen table on that weekend should be setting alarm bells off for everyone,” she said, referring to Wynne’s plan.

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Is women’s rights bill negation of Islamic injunctions?

Posted on 22 April 2016 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

      Pakistan is slowly moving towards a new political crisis. The PMLN led federal and Punjab governments had acquired much confidence by early March that they were secure in power and that it would be possible for the PMLN to sweep the 2018 elections.

    This dream received a set back by a number of quick political and security developments in the last week of March and the first two weeks of April. The latest crisis was triggered by the release of “Panama Documents” that named about 200 Pakistanis for pursuing off-shore financial activities and accumulation of assets abroad. This list included three members of Prime Minister’s family which provided the much needed opportunity to the opposition to raise ethical question on the role of the Prime Minister. Others pointed out the contradictions in the explanatory statements of the family members of the Prime Minister about their financial affairs abroad.

    The PMLN pursued a contradictory policy in response to the “Panama Leaks”. On the one hand, the ruling party rejected the notion of moral responsibility of the Prime Minister and maintained that the two sons of the Prime Minister were doing business outside of Pakistan.

    Therefore, no question could be raised about their financial activities in Pakistan; nor the Prime Minister could be held responsible for their business activities.   On the other hand, the Prime Minister addressed the nation on radio and TV to defend him and his family. Some members of the federal cabinet and the PMLN’s “drum-beaters” on the private sector TV channels resorted to counter offensive against the opposition leaders, especially on Imran Khan, threatening to expose their corruption.  The PMLN activists minced no words in suggesting that if the opposition leaders continued to accuse the Prime Minister and his family for financial impropriety, the federal government would expose the corrupt practices of the major opposition leaders.

     Three other developments created additional pressure on the federal and the Punjab governments.  These included the strong protest by Islamic parties and groups against the passage of the law for protection of women rights in the Punjab Assembly which they described as a negation of Islamic injunctions; a sit-in for several days in Islamabad by Islamic parties and activists in the Barelevi Islamic tradition to register new protest against the hanging of MumtazQadri; and a suicide attack in a park in Lahore, killing 75 people, that exposed the claim of the Punjab government that there were hardly any entrenched violent group in the Punjab and that law and order was  under control.   The challenge by conservative Islamic groups included a good number of leaders who traditionally supported the PMLN or avoided picking up open confrontation with the government.

   The policy of the PMLN activists to engage in unnecessarily rude and noisy discussions with the opposition leaders increased controversies about the financial affairs of the Prime Minister’s family.  These rough exchanges on the media created political uncertainties about the future of the PMLN government. The PTI threatened to launch street protest against the financial issues of Nawaz Sharif’s family.

    Imran khan and the PTI will find it difficult to build strong pressure on the PMLN government without getting the cooperation of other opposition political parties.   The planned Lahore “sit-in” may prove to be as inconclusive as was the outcome of the 2014 sit-in.

     The other major opposition party, the PPP, is keeping its option open. On the one hand it wants a comprehensive scrutiny of the financial affairs of the Prime Minister’s family. On the other hand it does not endorse the PTI demand for resignation of the Prime Minister and the proposed Lahore sit-in.  The PPP has kept its options open with the hope that the federal government would offer to protect its key activists against corruption charges.

   Another PPP concern is what happens after the Prime Minister is forced out of office. Will there be an in-house change or the military will impose a political set-up of its choice which might delay new elections for an indefinite period? The PPP is also not in favor of early elections because the PPP is in shambles in the Punjab. However, so far other opposition parties are concerned, if they realize that new elections can be held within the prescribed constitutional period, they would be inclined to come out openly against the PMLN government.

    Further, the PPP and some other opposition parties are reluctant to accept the leadership role of Imran Khan for the opposition agitation.

    All the major Pakistani leaders are in London for pursuing their exclusive agendas Nawaz Sharif would seek advice of financial experts to cover up the contradictions in the statements of his sons regarding their financial affairs.  Zardari would look for a deal with Nawaz Sharif. Imran Khan would explore ways to build pressure on Nawaz Sharif. His party leaders back home are seeking the cooperation of other political parties.

  The military is sitting quietly on the sidelines and watching how the politicians would manage the new political crisis.  Its ability to influence the course of political change will depend to a great extent on how far the opposition is able to build street pressure on Nawaz Sharif.

    The current uncertain political situation can result in different outcomes: the opposition parties led by Imran Khan can join together to challenge the PMLN in streets; Nawaz Sharif can continue to rule as a weaker leader, surrendering more power  to the military; an in-house change in the PMLN; the setting up of  an interim government for holding new elections in 90 days; the military may establish  a civilian government that will stay in office for an year or so for controlling terrorism and political corruption; and the confrontation between the government and the opposition may continue for an extended period, causing a political stalemate.   Pakistan has entered, once again, a new phase of political uncertainties.

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Canadian Taxes Are Lower Than Most Of The World: OECD Report

Posted on 22 April 2016 by admin

Tax season has arrived in Canada.

For some, it’s a time to celebrate how much they’ll receive on their returns. For others, it’s time to complain about how much they have to pay to the government.

Sure, it’s frustrating to have to cut a cheque to the feds. But as a new report shows, it’s much, much worse in other countries.

The OECD issued its “Taxing Wages 2016″ report on Wednesday. It aims to show how much personal income tax and employee contributions people make in 34 countries.

The report measures a tax burden by calculating a “tax wedge”: total taxes that people pay, minus family benefits.

Tax wedges were calculated in various ways, such as how much you pay when you’re single, or whether you’re a couple with two children.

The tax wedge for Canadian couples with children was 18.8 per cent, seventh-lowest among all OECD countries.

Countries with higher tax wedges were mostly concentrated in Europe. Topping the list for couples with kids was France, at 40.5 per cent, followed by Belgium (40.4 per cent), Italy (39.9 per cent), Finland (39.3 per cent) and Austria (39 per cent).

Meanwhile, Canada’s tax wedge for single people ranked 10th from the bottom, at 31.6 per cent. Here, too, European countries dominated the top ranks.

Canada did, however, rank higher when it came to income taxes. It came 13th in income taxes on couples with children and 14th for single people.

Denmark was far and away the highest when it came to income taxes, at 31.9 per cent for couples with children and 35.8 per cent for singles.

The report comes months after the federal government reduced taxes on middle-income earners ($45,282 to $90,563) from 22 per cent to 20.5 per cent. The new rate came into effect on Jan. 1.

Canadians have until April 30 to file their taxes, but the Canada Revenue Agency is also allowing people to submit their forms by May 2.

 

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