Archive | November, 2016

As demographics change, food banks struggle to meet users’ tastes

Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

Every week, hundreds of refugees from Syria arrive at the Mississauga Muslim Community Centre’s food bank to fill their baskets with groceries. As these newcomers walk through the food bank, they follow a similar pattern: Avoiding processed foods such as pasta or prepackaged meals and scanning the shelves for halal items or other Syrian staples: rice, chickpeas and lentils. The problem, the food bank’s head of operations Najam Syed said, is that the centre rarely has enough of the latter items. But the prepackaged, processed stuff, he receives by the truckfull.

“These people are new to this country. At least with food, they want to eat something they’re familiar with,” Mr. Syed said. “We need to cater to that need, to that audience, if we want to be helping them.”

Mr. Syed is not alone in this predicament. As food banks across Canada struggle to meet an ever-increasing need – up 28 per cent from eight years ago, according to a new report from Food Banks Canada – they also struggle to meet the demands of a user base that is changing demographically, and requesting different and healthier foods.

According to Food Banks Canada’s HungerCount report, 13 per cent of people who used food banks in the past year were immigrants or refugees. As in the case of the Mississauga Muslim Community Centre, many of them were part of the wave of refugees from Syria who settled in Canada in the past year.

These families do receive government support – about $2,500 each month for a family of four, according to Mr. Syed. But in urban areas where housing costs are especially high, such as Toronto, Vancouver and their respective suburbs, much of that winds up going toward rent. The Surrey Food Bank, about an hour outside of Vancouver, saw a 17-per-cent increase in use last year due in large part to Syrian refugees. And the food bank Mr. Syed runs was created in February specifically to address Syrian refugees, who make up about 95 per cent of the user base.

Still, the food Mr. Syed receives from organizations such as the Mississauga Food Bank, which distributes food through dozens of food banks and meal programs across the city, often does not reflect this changing need.

“People have in their heads what they want to donate,” said Jon Davey, the manager of food programs and distribution for the Mississauga Food Bank. The organization receives food not only from members of the public, but also from corporate donors. For Food Banks Canada, which supports a network of over 500 food banks across the country, its major supporters include companies such as Campbell’s, General Mills, PepsiCo and Mondelez International.

“We can ask for rice and lentils and tuna until we’re blue in the face – it works to a degree,” Mr. Davey said. “But pasta, soup and snacks are three things that are constantly filling up.”

Ethnicity and culture are not the only types of change that food banks face. Increasingly, Mr. Davey said, food banks such as his are dealing with the effects of an aging population, as well as an increase in young people receiving food assistance. More and more universities and colleges have begun offering food-bank services on their campuses.

Another major shift Mr. Davey said he’s seen is an increased demand for healthier, fresher options – mirroring the concerns of the general public about healthier eating.

Over the past year, he said the organization has worked with dietitians to better track its food supply to ensure items cover all four food groups.

He also said that he regularly refuses large quantities of unhealthy donations from both private and corporate donors. Others have done the same. An Ottawa food bank made headlines in 2014 after refusing to accept donations of items such as Kraft Dinner and Dunkaroos. That announcement sparked some criticism, with some questioning whether the Ottawa organization was being overly picky.

Mr. Davey acknowledged these concerns, but emphasized the difficult position his organization and others like it are in. “I’m not trying to disparage the donations we get, because we’re extremely happy people think about us at all,” he said.

Still, he added, “just because people are lower income and need to use the services doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to eat healthy, and doesn’t mean they don’t want to eat healthy.”

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Make sure at-risk kids have a chance to graduate

Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

The arguments for encouraging students to complete their high school education are overwhelming.

First, students can’t get into college or university without a high school diploma and highly educated workers are critical to an innovative economy.

Second, high school graduates contribute more in tax revenues than they would if they drop out.

Third, drop-outs cost Canada’s social assistance and criminal justice systems just over $1.3 billion annually, according to a 2009 study.

And a U.S. study found that for every dollar invested in programs that help kids graduate, there’s a return of $1.45 to $3.55.

In other words, it pays society to help kids graduate, even leaving aside its importance to their personal well-being.

So it’s discouraging to see a Toronto program that has been successful at helping at-risk kids graduate from high school in danger of closing its doors over what amounts to a short-term lapse in funding.

PEACH — which stands for Promoting Education and Community Health — has helped about 300 marginalized kids at risk of suspension graduate through one-on-one teaching in an intimate setting (there are only 20 students in the program at one time) and emotional support.

But it will be shut down on Dec. 23 unless someone comes up with bridge financing to tide it over until its other funding comes through.

As its interim managing director, Mary Lafontaine, explained to the Star, the organization mismanaged the timing of the $500,000 it has in outstanding applications and has run out of money.

That’s a shame. The program was initially set up to give suspended or expelled students a place to land. But it evolved over the years into a way to re-engage students in school before their problems escalated.

The Toronto District School Board, which provides some monthly funding to PEACH, says it is in the process of finding suitable spots for the students to complete their credits.

But a better — and perhaps cheaper in the long run — decision might be to provide some of the bridge funding PEACH needs to ensure these kids graduate. With the promise of support from the school board, there would be a greater chance that other donors will step into the breach to help it continue its important work.

PEACH has extended lifelines to kids. Now it’s time to extend it a lifeline.

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League of nationalists

Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

All around the world, nationalists are gaining ground. Why?

 He universal rights of man and of the citizen. Napoleon’s Grande Armée marched not just for the glory of France but for liberty, equality and fraternity. By contrast, the nationalism born with the unification of Germany decades later harked back to Blut und Boden—blood and soil—a romantic and exclusive belief in race and tradition as the wellspring of national belonging. The German legions were fighting for their Volk and against the world.

All societies draw on nationalism of one sort or another to define relations between the state, the citizen and the outside world. Craig Calhoun, an American sociologist, argues that cosmopolitan elites, who sometimes yearn for a post-nationalist order, underestimate “how central nationalist categories are to political and social theory—and to practical reasoning about democracy, political legitimacy and the nature of society itself.”

It is troubling, then, how many countries are shifting from the universal, civic nationalism towards the blood-and-soil, ethnic sort. As positive patriotism warps into negative nationalism, solidarity is mutating into distrust of minorities, who are present in growing numbers (see chart 1). A benign love of one’s country—the spirit that impels Americans to salute the Stars and Stripes, Nigerians to cheer the Super Eagles and Britons to buy Duchess of Cambridge teacups—is being replaced by an urge to look on the world with mistrust.

Some perspective is in order. Comparisons with the 1930s are fatuous. Totalitarian nationalism is extinct except in North Korea, where the ruling family preaches a weird mixture of Marxism and racial purity, enforced with slave-labour camps for dissidents. And perhaps you could add Eritrea, a hideous but tiny dictatorship. Nonetheless, it is clear that an exclusive, often ethnically based, form of nationalism is on the march. In rich democracies, it is a potent vote-winner. In autocracies, rulers espouse it to distract people from their lack of freedom and, sometimes, food. The question is: where is it surging, and why?

The most recent example is Donald Trump, who persuaded 61m Americans to vote for him by promising to build a wall on the Mexican border, deport illegal immigrants and “make America great again”. Noxious appeals to ethnic or racial solidarity are hardly new in American politics, or restricted to one party. Joe Biden, the vice-president, once told a black audience that Mitt Romney, a decent if dull Republican, was “gonna put y’all back in chains”. But no modern American president has matched Mr Trump’s displays of chauvinism. That no one knows how much of it he believes is barely reassuring.

His victory will embolden like-minded leaders around the world. Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), the politician most responsible for Brexit, has already visited Mr Trump, greeting him with a grin wide enough to see off the Cheshire cat. Viktor Orban, Hungary’s immigrant-bashing prime minister, rejoiced: “We can return to real democracy… what a wonderful world.”

The consequences for the European Union could be disastrous. In France pollsters no longer dismiss the possibility that Marine Le Pen, the charismatic leader of the National Front (FN), could be elected president next year. Compared with other Europeans, French voters are strikingly opposed to globalisation and international trade, and few think immigrants have had a positive effect on their country (see chart 2). Ms Le Pen promises that she would pull France out of the euro and hold a “Frexit” referendum on membership of the EU. The single currency might not survive a French withdrawal. And if French voters were to back Frexit, the EU would surely fall apart.

The rush for the exit

European elites once assumed that national identities would eventually blend into a continental bouillabaisse. But the momentum is now with parties like the FN, including Hungary’s Fidesz, Poland’s Law and Justice party and Austria’s Freedom Party (one of whose leaders, Norbert Hofer, could win Austria’s largely ceremonial presidency next month). Ms Le Pen’s language is typical. She caters to nostalgia, anxiety and antipathy to the liberal international order. (“No to Brussels, yes to France”, goes one slogan.) She laments the decline of a proud people and vows to make France great again.

Unlike Mr Trump, Ms Le Pen has never called for a ban on Muslims entering the country; rather, she talks about curbing the “gigantic wave” of immigration. A lawyer by training, she defends her arguments with reference to France’s rules on keeping religion out of public life. Yet her voters are left in little doubt as to which sorts of immigrants she disapproves of, and whom she counts as French. An FN campaign poster for regional elections in 2015 showed two female faces: one with flowing hair and the French tricolour flag painted on her cheeks, the other wearing a burqa. “Choose your neighbourhood: vote for the Front”, ran the text.

Ms Le Pen’s popularity has dragged other politicians onto similar territory. Nicolas Sarkozy, a centre-right former president, wants the job again. As soon as you become French, he declared at a recent campaign rally, “your ancestors are Gauls.” At another, Mr Sarkozy said that children who did not want to eat pork at school should “take a second helping of chips”—in other words, that it was up to non-Christians whose religions impose dietary restrictions to make do with the food on offer, not up to schools to accommodate them. France is witnessing a “defensive nationalism”, says Dominique Moïsi of the Institut Montaigne, a think-tank, “based on a lack of confidence and a negative jingoism: the idea that I have to defend myself against the threat of others.”

Something similar is on the rise elsewhere in Europe, too. In 2010 the Sweden Democrats (SD), a nationalist party, put out a television ad that captured the popular fear that Sweden’s generous welfare system might not survive a big influx of poor, fertile Muslim asylum-seekers. An elderly white woman with a Zimmer frame hobbles down a dark corridor towards her pension pot, but is overtaken by a crowd of burqa-clad women with prams, who beat her to the money. At least one channel refused to air it, but it spread online. Polls suggest the SD is now one of Sweden’s most popular parties.

In the Netherlands Geert Wilders, the leader of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant Party for Freedom, is on trial for “hate speech” for goading his audience to chant that it wanted “fewer Moroccans” in the country. Polls put his party in first or second place in the run-up to the national election in March; its popularity has risen since the start of the trial.

Britain’s vote in June to leave the EU was also the result of a nationalist turn. Campaign posters for “Brexit” depicted hordes of Middle Eastern migrants clamouring to come in. Activists railed against bankers, migrants and rootless experts; one of their slogans was “We want our country back”. After the vote David Cameron, a cosmopolitan prime minister, resigned and was replaced by Theresa May, who says: “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.”

Even before Britain has left the EU, the mere prospect has made the country poorer: the currency is down 16% against the dollar. Still, few Brexiteers have regrets. In Margate, a seaside town full of pensioners, it is hard to find anyone who voted to remain. Tom Morrison, who runs a bookshop, says: “[We] should be allowed to make our own laws…At least our mistakes will be our own mistakes.”

Clive, a taxi driver, is more trenchant. “All the Europeans do is leech off us. They can’t even win their own wars,” he says. He is glad that Mrs May has promised to reduce immigration: “We just physically haven’t enough room for them…The schools are overfilled with foreigners.” He adds that some of them are hard workers, but “in Cliftonville [next to Margate], you might as well be in Romania. A lot of them are gypsies.” Asked if being British is important to him, he declares a narrower identity: “It’s being English. English.”

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, is not sure what to make of Mr Trump. Though he doubtless welcomes Mr Trump’s promise to reset relations with Russia, if America ceases to be the enemy, he will need another one. Mr Putin’s core belief is in a strong state led by himself, but since he first took power in 2000 he has harnessed ethnic nationalism to that end. In 2011 he faced huge protests from an urban middle class angry about both corruption and uncontrolled immigration by non-Slavic people. He responded by whipping up imperial fervour. When Ukraine sought to move closer to the West, he then annexed Crimea and invaded Eastern Ukraine. State media portrayed him as saving ethnic Russians from (historical) “Ukrainian fascists”.

With oil prices low, and after a long spell in the economic doldrums, nationalism is Mr Putin’s way of remaining popular. His version involves rejecting the universal, liberal values that the West has long promoted. That is why he so eagerly supports illiberal nationalist parties in Western Europe, such as Ms Le Pen’s FN. “We see how many Euro-Atlantic countries are in effect turning away from their roots, including their Christian values,” he said in 2013. He contrasted this with an ethnically defined version of Russia as “a state civilisation held together by the Russian people, the Russian language, Russian culture and the Russian Orthodox Church”.

In China a similarly ethnic, non-universalist nationalism is being pressed into service by the Communist Party (see Briefing). The party seeks to blur the distinction between itself and the nation, and to prop up its legitimacy now that economic growth, long the main basis of its claim to power, has slowed. Soon after becoming president in 2012, Xi Jinping launched the “Chinese Dream” as a slogan to promote the country’s “great revival”. A “patriotic education” campaign extends from primary school all the way up to doctoral students.

The government often blames “hostile foreign forces” for things it does not like, including protests in Hong Kong or Xinjiang, a far-western province where Uighurs chafe against Han rule. State television tries to make other countries look stupid, dangerous or irrelevant. Anti-Western rhetoric has been stepped up. In 2015 China’s education minister called for a ban on “textbooks promoting Western values” in higher education.

China’s glorious victory over Japan has become central to history lessons (though in fact it was the communists’ rivals, the Kuomintang, who did most of the fighting). In 2014 three new national holidays were introduced: a memorial day for the Nanjing massacre, commemorating the 300,000 or so people killed by the Japanese there in 1937; a “Victory Day” to mark Japan’s surrender at the end of the second world war; and “Martyrs’ Day” dedicated to those who died fighting Japan.

My enemy’s enemy

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the jingoism, many Chinese now see international affairs as a zero-sum game, believing that for China to rise, others must fall. A recent poll by Pew found that more than half of those asked reckoned that America is trying to prevent China from becoming an equal power; some 45% see American power and influence as the greatest international threat facing the country. Chinese antipathy towards the Japanese has also increased considerably.

The propaganda has been so effective that the government is no longer sure that it can control the passions it has stoked. In 2012 protests erupted across China against Japan’s claims to islands in the East China Sea: shops were looted, Japanese cars destroyed and riot police deployed to protect the Japanese embassy in Beijing. The government now censors the angriest online posts about nationalist topics.

Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s authoritarian president, uses all the resources of the state to promote the idea that he is the father of his country. His regime blames Islamists for everything: when heavy rains caused flooding in Alexandria last year, the interior ministry blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned Islamist group, for blocking the drains. Last summer, after splurging $8bn on expanding the Suez Canal, he declared a public holiday and sailed up the waterway in full military regalia, as warplanes flew overhead. State television broadcast shots of the new canal to the bombastic theme tune of “Game of Thrones”, a television show.

A similar story is playing out in Turkey, a country that only a few years ago appeared firmly on course to join the EU. Now its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, vows to build a “New Turkey”, bravely standing up to coup-plotters and their imaginary Western enablers. He recently attended a mass rally celebrating the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. He accuses Turkey’s duplicitous Western allies of trying to “pick up the slack of crusaders”. Such rhetoric is intended to justify the arrests of 36,000 people since a coup attempt in July.

In India ethnic nationalism, never far beneath the surface, is worryingly resurgent. Since 2014 the country has been ruled by Narendra Modi of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The party seeks to distance itself from radical Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) groups, which criticise it as “soft” on Pakistan, Muslims and those who harm cows (which are sacred to Hindus). And Mr Modi is urbane, pro-business and friendly towards the West. But he is also a lifelong member of the RSS (National Volunteer Organisation), a 5m-strong Hindu group founded in 1925 and modelled loosely on the Boy Scouts.

Members of the RSS parade in khaki uniforms, do physical jerks in the morning, help old ladies cross the street, pick up litter—and are occasional recruits for extremist groups that beat up left-wing students. And last year Mr Modi’s minister of culture, Mahesh Sharma, said that a former president was a patriot “despite being a Muslim”. The minister remains in his job.

Hindutva purports to represent all Hindus, who are four-fifths of India’s population. It promises a national rebirth, a return to an idealised past and the retrieval of an “authentic” native identity. Its adherents see themselves as honest folk fighting corrupt cosmopolitans. They have changed India’s political language, deriding “political correctness”, and calling critical journalists “presstitutes” and political opponents “anti-national”. The RSS also exerts huge sway over education and the media. Some states and schools have adopted textbooks written by RSS scholars that play up the role of Hindutva leaders and marginalise more secular ones.

The BJP has made a big push to control the judiciary by changing rules for appointments, but has met strong resistance. It does not control most states in the east and south. Many of the educated elite despise it. And banging on too much about Hinduism and not enough about the economy is thought to have cost it a state election in Bihar last year.

So India will not slide easily into Turkish-style autocracy—but plenty of secular, liberal Indians are nervous. The police, especially, are thought to favour the ruling party. A reporter nabbed by cops for the “crime” of filming angry crowds outside a bank in Delhi this week says they threatened him with a beating and said: “Who gave you permission to film? Our government has changed; you can’t just take pictures anywhere you like any more.”

Nations once again

Inquiring after the roots of nationalism is like asking what makes people love their families or fear strangers. Scholars have suggested that nations are built around language, history, culture, territory and politics without being able to settle on any single cause. A better question is: what turns civic nationalism into the exclusive sort? There are several theories.

In rich countries, pessimism plays a role. As chart 3 shows, slower growth lowers support for globalisation. Inequality hurts, too. Educated people may be doing just fine, but blue-collar workers are often struggling. Mr Trump did remarkably well among blue-collar white voters. One of the best predictors of support for Brexit or Ms Le Pen is a belief that things were better in the past.

In developing countries, growth is often faster and support for globalisation higher. But people still have woes, from rapacious officials to filthy air. For the new-nationalist strongmen such as Mr Sisi and Mr Putin, nationalism is a cheap and easy way to generate enthusiasm for the state, and to deflect blame for what is wrong.

The new nationalism owes a lot to cultural factors, too. Many Westerners, particularly older ones, liked their countries as they were and never asked for the immigration that turned Europe more Muslim and America less white and Protestant. They object to their discomfort being dismissed as racism.

Elite liberals stress two sources of identity: being a good global citizen (who cares about climate change and sweatshops in Bangladesh) and belonging to an identity group that has nothing to do with the nation (Hispanic, gay, Buddhist, etc). Membership of certain identity groups can carry material as well as psychological benefits. Affirmative action of the sort practised in America gives even the richer members of the racial groups it favours advantages that are unavailable to the poorer members of unfavoured groups.

Nationalists dislike the balkanisation of their countries into identity groups, particularly when those groups are defined as virtuous only to the extent that they disagree with the nation’s previously dominant history. White Americans are starting to act as if they were themselves a minority pressure group.

Lastly, communication tools have accelerated the spread of the new nationalism. Facebook and Twitter allow people to bypass the mainstream media’s cosmopolitan filter to talk to each other, swap news, meet and organise rallies. Mr Trump’s tweets reached millions. His chief strategist, Steve Bannon, made his name running a white-nationalist website.

For Mrs May’s “citizens of nowhere”, all this is deeply worrying. But they should not despair. Liberals can use social media, too. Demagogues fall from favour when their policies fail to bring prosperity. And demographic trends favour pluralism.

In many countries the university-educated population—typically cosmopolitan in instinct—is rising. In the post-war period about 5% of British adults had gone to university; today more than 40% of school-leavers are university-bound. In Germany 2m citizens were in tertiary education in 2005; a decade later that number had risen to 2.8m. The share of 18- to 24-year-old Americans in that category rose from 26% in 1970 to 40% in 2014.

And immigration, which has done much to fuel ethnic nationalism, could, as generations are born into diverse societies, start to counter that nationalism. The foreign-born population of America rose by almost 10m, to 40m in the decade to 2010. In Britain it rose by 2.9m, to 7.5m, in the decade to 2011. Western voters aged 60 and over—the most nationalist cohort—have lived through a faster cultural and economic overhaul than any previous generation, and seem to have had enough. Few supporters of UKIP and the FN are young; the same is true for Alternative for Germany, another anti-immigrant party (see chart 4).

But youngsters seem to find these changes less frightening. Although just 37% of French people believe that “globalisation is a force for good”, 77% of 18- to 24-year-olds do. The new nationalists are riding high on promises to close borders and restore societies to a past homogeneity. But if the next generation holds out, the future may once more be cosmopolitan.

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Wynne Says High Electricity Prices Were Her ‘Mistake’ but Hydro rate relief will not include return of 10 per cent discount

Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

Premier Kathleen Wynne is calling high electricity prices her “mistake,” sounding a note of contrition on one of the major issues threatening the Liberals’ re-election bid in 2018.

Amid the usual rallying of the troops at the Ontario Liberals’ annual general meeting Saturday, Wynne addressed her poor popularity numbers, which she called the “elephant in the room.”

“I think that people look at me and many of them think, ‘She’s not who we thought she was. She’s become a typical politician. She’ll do anything to win,”’ Wynne said.

After her speech, Wynne wouldn’t point to any specific decision on the electricity file that she deems a mistake, but said her focus was on the big issues facing the system and she hasn’t always paid enough attention to how costs were accumulating on people’s bills.

Bills rose 70 per cent

Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk has said the electricity portion of hydro bills for homes and small businesses rose 70 per cent between 2006 and 2014.

The Progressive Conservatives say electricity rates were driven up much higher than necessary by the Liberals’ overly-generous, long-term contracts for wind and solar power.

The Liberals say rates increased because Ontario stopped burning coal to generate electricity and invested heavily in transmission grid upgrades after years of neglect.

Wynne said in her speech she wasn’t going to talk about the June 2018 election — though she did promise to visit every single riding between now and then.

But the vote that’s about 18 months away was top of mind at the convention, which kicked off with a session — closed to media — from campaign chair David Herle titled “The Path to 2018.”

On electricity bills, Wynne is taking a lesson learned from the Democrats in the U.S. election, saying she takes responsibility as leader “for not paying close enough attention to some of the daily stresses in Ontarians’ lives.”

“The conversation since the American election has very much been about people being left behind, and so when I talk about that, yeah, I’m making a connection there,” she explained after her speech.

“It’s not exactly the same from my perspective because we’ve been working for many years to build an inclusive economy, to make sure people aren’t left behind. But I think that what happened in the United States is a reminder that that is at the core of what government has to do — make sure people aren’t left behind.”

However, on Monday this promise from Premier Kathleen Wynne to take more sting out of high electricity bills did not materialize in the form of a 10-per-cent discount scrapped last January.

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault has ruled out a reincarnation of the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, which cost taxpayers $1 billion annually.

“Things like the OCEB, their time has come and gone,” Thibeault told reporters Monday. He said Ontarians will have to wait and see what other measures he can devise.

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PAKISTAN-TURKEY RELATIONS BETTER FOR PAKISTANI ECONOMY OR A DISTRACTION FROM REAL ISSUES

Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

 Dr. Hasan Askari

   The visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Pakistan on November 16-17 was an important development for Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It provided a positive projection to Nawaz Sharif at a time when his government was under pressure from three directions.

 First, India had adopted an aggressive posture on the Line of Control in Kashmir and India’s firing across this Line of Control has become a regular feature. As Pakistan’s security forces respond to such an attack with firmness, there are losses of human beings and property on both sides. Second, The Panama Leaks case against the Prime Minister and some of his family members is going on in the Supreme Court. As long as the Supreme Court does not settle the case, it will continue keep Nawaz Sharif under pressure. Third, the controversy about the publication of a news item about a national security meeting in an English language newspaper has adversely affected civil-military relations, which produced many speculative reports about the displeasure of the top brass of the military on this issue.

 The visit of Turkish President to Islamabad and Lahore shifted the focus of the media and politically active circles away from the above-mentioned issues. What helped to boost the image of the Sharif government was the support the Turkish leader extended to Pakistan for economic development and regional security.

 President Erdogan’s address to the joint session of the parliament was a remarkable statement of support for Pakistan. He not only highlighted the historical and cultural relations between Turkey and Pakistan but also reiterated his country’s support in all major domain of bilateral and regional interaction, including diplomatic, economic, security and social and cultural domains. He promised to expand the bilateral trade and expand economic relations. He also offered 500 scholarships for Pakistani students for technical and general education in Turkish universities.

 The Turkish President was very open in extending support to Pakistan on its problems with India and on the Kashmir problem. He said that the Kashmir problem should be resolved in accordance with the wishes of people of Kashmir and the United Nations resolutions on Kashmir. In the past some other Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia and Iran, used to extend such a clear cut support to Pakistan on Kashmir. However, since the current popular uprising in Indian-administered Kashmir, no Middle Eastern country has extended such an open support to Pakistan on its problems with India and the Kashmir problem.

 President Erdogan and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif joined Pakistani and Turkish business peope who had come to Pakistan with the Turkish President, for discussing an increased economic cooperation, trade and investment. It is hoped that much needed Foreign Direct Investment will also come from Turkey in the near future.

 Traditionally, Pakistan and Turkey have maintained close friendly relations and they worked together in various regional partnerships for economic and security cooperation. It was in 1974 that Pakistan under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto extended full diplomatic support to Turkey on the Northern Cyprus issue and recognized the independence of Northern Cyprus, declared on the initiative of Turkey. Pakistan’s gesture on this issue was much appreciated by Turkey. Pakistan also supports Turkey on Kurdish separatist movement in Turkey.

 The present ruling party, AK Party came to power in Turkey in 2002 and Tayyap Erdogon became Prime Minister in 2003 and served on this post until 2014, when he was elected President. During all these years, 2002-2016, Turkey’s relations with Pakistan expanded rapidly. When the coup attempt against President Erdogon failed in July 2016, Pakistan fully supported his efforts to protect his democratically elected government and take firm action against his political adversaries in the military and outside. The latest visit of Turkish President has further strengthened the relations between Pakistan and Turkey.

 The desire of the government of Pakistan to maintain very friendly relations with the Turkish government is threating the working of Turkish schools in Pakistan. There are 28 schools in Pakistan run by the Turkish education movement led by Fatheullah Golun, currently based in the United States. Some teachers are from Turkey but almost all students are Pakistani.

 The Turkish government has accused Fatehullah Golun for sponsoring the July 2016 failed coup in Turkey. It is now purging the Turkish military, civilian administration and society of Golun supporters and sympathizers. The Turkish government asked Pakistan to close down these schools as these were being run by the Golan movement. Pakistan did not close down the schools but made changes in their administration to minimize the role of the education movement of Fatehullah Golun.

 A day before the arrival of Turkish President, Pakistan government ordered the Turkish teachers to leave Pakistan within a week. A large number of educationists and especially the Pakistani students of these schools protested and argued that it was unfair to expel Turkish teachers who neither have a direct link with the Golun movement nor are they involved in any political activity. If these teachers return to Turkey they are likely to be arrested. In other words, The Turkish government’s domestic policy of excluding all those having some link with Golun is adversely affecting a good school system for Pakistani children.

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Peel police chief faces grilling over glowing survey results

Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

After a year of controversy over carding practices that disproportionately targeted black individuals, disturbing reports of officer misconduct and a new survey that reveals low staff morale, Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans was questioned about her claims that things have never been better.

With her contract up for renewal next year, after months of battle with a new police board calling for sweeping changes, Evans commissioned a community survey of 1,200 Brampton and Mississauga residents this past summer. It shows that 93 per cent “are satisfied with the work of Peel Regional Police.” As Evans repeatedly used the statistic presented in a report at Friday’s police services board meeting, members, residents and rights groups openly questioned her data.

“I’m also skeptical,” said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, following questions by two rights group representatives who scrutinized the data. Crombie said that in the last municipal election “my opponent had me losing by nine per cent (according to his own survey of residents). I ended up winning with 63 per cent (of the vote),” she told the meeting.

Knia Singh, representing the Osgoode Society Against Institutional Injustice and the African-Canadian Coalition of Community Organizations, told Evans, “the numbers would probably be very different . . . if you get a reflection from another segment of the community.” He later told the Star that Evans “really needs to hear from the community, directly, so she can understand how they really feel.”

Board members also questioned if the survey’s respondents reflected Peel’s diversity. They asked what questions were asked and wanted other details of the survey’s methodology.

Kerry Dangerfield, of Winnipeg-based firm, Prairie Research Associates, which conducted the survey, told the Star that survey questions were provided by Peel police — they were not included in the public document. Board chair Amrik Ahluwalia asked Dangerfield if the survey respondents accurately reflected the 62 per cent of residents who are visible minorities. The report’s methodology section states that the survey had “quotas by age and gender,” but there is no mention of race or ethnicity being included in the survey methodology.

Dangerfield told the board that those who don’t speak English as a “main” language were not surveyed. He acknowledged that visible minorities were under-represented, but said the results were “weighted” to account for the discrepancy. He did not explain how this was done or how this might have changed the results.

When asked by the Star why no questions about street checks were asked in the survey, considering the controversial practice has dominated many public discussions in Peel for more than a year, Dangerfield said, “Sorry, I can’t comment.”

Evans responded to the scrutiny by telling the board, “There seems to be some skepticism in the results.” Ahluwalia called the low number of visible minority respondents “skewed.”

 “Our chief is so dug into her position, which is almost the opposite of what the community, rights groups and the board has been telling her all year,” said Ranjit Khatkur, chair of the Peel Coalition Against Racialized Discrimination, after the meeting.

Earlier in the year Khatkur provided the board with published reports that Peel police had rates of officer misconduct three times higher than the rate of the Ontario Provincial Police over the last five years.

Regarding Evans’ community survey, Khatkur said, “does anyone believe that kind of support after calls at public meetings for her to resign, data that shows street checks targeted certain groups and (reports that) one-third of the force’s uniform officers have recently been disciplined for misconduct. And she tells us things have never been better.”

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Poor neighbourhoods pay more for car insurance : Study

Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

If you live in one of Toronto’s priority neighbourhoods, you probably pay more for auto insurance.

At least, that’s what the list of 10 most expensive and cheapest areas for car insurance in Toronto looks like at first blush.

Seven of the 10 neighbourhoods are Neighourbood Improvement Areas.

Meanwhile, more wealthy neighbourhoods like Casa Loma, Rosedale and Bridle Path have some of the cheapest premiums in town.

The list, which was published on Nov. 15 by Kanetix Ltd., found that, “if you live in the north end of the city, whether it’s the east end or west end, chances are you’re paying more for your insurance then those living in the city’s centre and midtown.”

It’s the second annual list that’s been published, based on data from the company’s online InsuraMap tool, which compares premiums by postal code.

Malvern, Rouge and Glenfeld-Jane Heights snagged the top three most-expensive spots on the list ($2,595), while Palmerson-Little Italy, Dovercourt-Wallace Emerson-Junction and Forest Hill North, have the least expensive premiums ($1,640).

White also confirmed that, on average, the top five most expensive neighbourhoods have rates that increased by $110 since last year.

The data also found that Toronto insurance rates as a whole are about 30 per cent higher than the provincial average ($1,448), with Toronto drivers paying approximately $448 more for their premiums.

If those postal codes are reporting more claims, and the claims are more expensive than average, the payout will be higher, he said.

Generally, insurers measure claims per 100 vehicles, Karageorgos said. The provincial average is 9.3 claims for 100 vehicles, but “a couple of those postal codes had 12 or 13 claims per 100 vehicles,” said Karageorgos.

“And you have to look not just at frequency but also severity: how expensive are the claims people are having? The provincial average is $11,500, while the city average is $14,000. So claims in the City of Toronto are more expensive.”

Kanetix noted that two of Toronto’s most expensive neighbourhoods for car insurance “happen to contain intersections with some of the highest collision rates in the city.”

The number of incidents on Islington Ave. at Albion Road, and Sheppard Ave. at Morningside Road “may contribute to higher insurance rates in these specific neighbourhoods.”

But is it problematic that so many of Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas are getting dinged by higher insurance rates?

Kanetix also recommended a few other ways to try and save: Bundling auto insurance with home insurance, checking with your employer for discounts, or paying for premiums annually in one lump sum to avoid administration costs each month.

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Hatchimal, the ‘it toy’ you can’t get

Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

Even if they’re not quite sure what it is, kids know they want a Hatchimal.

They’ve seen the commercials. They’ve seen the catalogues. Some lucky child in their class has gotten their sticky hands on one. This year’s hot holiday toy comes in the form of a Draggle, Penguala, Owlicorn, Burtle or Bearakeet. The birdlike cyber plush creature is hidden inside the cardboard egg until it pecks its way out.

But good luck finding one. The toys, which retail for around $90 each, were released on Oct. 7. Just over a month later, most stores across Canada are sold out, with savvy resellers offering the candy-coloured beings at nearly three times their value on Craigslist, eBay and social media. One was going for $250 on a local buy-and-sell Facebook group, leading to a flurry of angry messages among those who felt the resale price was exploitative. On Kijiji, one hopeful seller was offering a Penguala in a teal and pink egg for a cool $1,000.

A message on the official Hatchimals website will likely disappoint parents looking to buy one at a reasonable price.

“The consumer response to Hatchimals has been extraordinary, exceeding all expectations. Some of our first shipments have already sold out,” it says in part. Another shipment will arrive later this fall, but production won’t increase until 2017, according to Toronto-based manufacturer Spin Master.

Social media has made it possible to draw interest fast, and in a way that seems organic, but the “tribal mentality” of needing the ‘it’ thing predates Facebook, said Armida Ascano, vice-president of insights at Trend Hunter, a Toronto company that tracks and promotes innovation.

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Prince William Children: Royal Refreshingly Candid About Parenting George And Charlotte

Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

Prince William’s solo trip to Vietnam is mostly focused on raising awareness about the illegal wildlife trade. However, the royal was refreshingly candid in an interview about the struggles he’s had in parenting his two children, George and Charlotte.

The Duke of Cambridge appeared on “Talk Vietnam” and admitted he’s “struggled at times” with parenting, even though he has an incredibly supportive wife in Catherine.

“The alteration from being a single, independent man to going into marriage and then having children is life-changing,” he said.

“George is a right little rascal sometimes, he keeps me on my toes, but he’s a sweet boy. And Charlotte, bearing in mind I haven’t had a sister, so having a daughter is a very different dynamic. I adore my children very much and I’ve learnt a lot about myself and about family just from having my own children.”

William said he worries most about the future. “When you have something or someone in your life to give the future to I think it focuses the mind more about what you’re giving them and are you happy that you’ve done all you can to leave it in a good state.”

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First look: Nargis Fakhri and Rajkummar Rao look jaw dropping impressive in ’5 Weddings’

Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

Nargis Fakhri and Rajkummar Rao will be paired opposite each other for the first time in an Indo-American film titled ’5 Weddings’.

The film produced by Namrata Singh Gujral revolves around an American journalist who travels across India to write a story on ‘Bollywood weddings’ for a magazine column. The first look from the sets of the film is out and we must say, Nargis Fakhri looks just stunning in her traditional outfit. Rajkummar Rao also dons the desi look and gets it spot on.

Weddings’ also features Bo Derek, the Golden Globe nominee for the `79 breakthrough film, ’10′ and Oscar nominee Candy Clark.

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