By Andrew Hepburn - Friday, March 29, 2013 - 0 Comments
What killed Thelma Morrow?
At first glance, the answer seems obvious and not all that unusual. On the night of September 7, 2011, a car struck the 52-year old Miami woman as she crossed the road.
It’s tragic, but pedestrian-car accidents happen all the time.
Yet something about Morrow’s death was different, and it had nothing to do with Morrow, the driver, or weather conditions.
As a local news outlet reported at the time, “A 30-block stretch of road was unlit because copper wiring had been stolen from the street lights, rendering them inoperable.”
Emergency personnel at the scene were convinced the dimly-lit street made the unfortunate difference.
“We all feel if the street lights were on, she wouldn’t be fighting for her life,” an official with the Miami Fire Rescue was quoted as saying.
Thelma Morrow was killed by copper theft.
By macleans.ca - Friday, February 8, 2013 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
Violence along the border has been rising, but new trade agreements can establish needed trust
While violence along the border between India and Pakistan has been rising in the disputed Kashmir region over the past month, coverage of the tensions is hiding a surprising reality: warming economic relations between the countries are giving rise to hope of a thaw in their historically strained relationship.
Trade between the nuclear neighbours has been rising steadily since 2004 and hit nearly US$2.7 billion in 2011; it’s expected to increase further since the two nations signed several new trade agreements last fall. And an expansion of the Wagah-Attari border crossing—the main land route between India and Pakistan—last April has allowed previously heavily restricted truck traffic to jump significantly.
All this is good news, says University of Western Ontario professor Salim Mansur: “Trade, travel and commerce will help to break down suspicion between the two peoples.” He cautioned, however, against getting too hopeful, noting that the trade agreements were a long time coming and there are still many other issues that need to be worked out. Still, “any small step forward in a long journey is positive and something to be cheered,” he says.
The new trade arrangements are expected to increase bilateral trade to $8 billion in the next two years.
By Emma Teitel - Friday, January 11, 2013 at 10:57 AM - 0 Comments
Men, and sometimes women, have and will always say stupid and horrendous things in the aftermath of rape. Said things usually go like this:
The impetus behind these statements is that rape is inevitable because some men just can’t help it. And if rape is inevitable, if it’s a biological certainty that men are dormant deviants until a bare midriff in a dark alley catches their eye, then women should take “practical” precautions, like wear modest clothing or walk to and from their points of destination chaperoned by male specimens less prone to deviant outbursts. (For the record, the “don’t dress like a slut” argument is pretty easy to refute when you’ve been verbally harassed in a balaclava and snowsuit.)
By Andrew Hepburn - Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
This is part one of a series. Next up: Andrew Hepburn will look at whether low inventories and supply shocks are responsible for food price spikes. In the next and last article, Hepburn will examine the role played by financial speculators, as well U.S. subsidies for biofuel.
As Maclean’s noted yesterday, a report by the University of Guelph suggests that food prices in Canada could rise by 3.5 per cent in 2013. That might not be a shocking increase, but it’s still a significant one and it is a timely reminder of how expensive food has become in recent years.
As the following chart from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) demonstrates, since 2004 food prices have levitated:
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 2:21 PM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister considers the political situation in New Delhi.
Mr. Harper, who this week urged India in a speech to work harder and faster on trade deals, on Thursday said he realized New Delhi was proceeding as fast as it could. “Are we frustated? I am very clear we need to go farther and faster,” the prime minister told reporters in Bangalore after celebrating the opening of an IMAX cinema. “In my conversations with Indian leaders, they reflect exactly the same thing.”
He said Indian politicians share his concern but are hamstrung by a coalition government and the need to win approval from partners. “What we do have to realize when we deal with India as opposed to some other countries we’re dealing with in the developing word: this country is a democracy,” the prime minister said. “And that means governments cannot simply dictate a whole set of policy changes to happen the next day. That means governments must develop public consensus behind policy change.”
By Erica Alini - Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 5:06 PM - 0 Comments
Prime Minister Stephen Harper still has a couple of days in India—he’s headed to Bangalore tomorrow for the last leg of the trip—but there are no more meetings with high-level government officials on the schedule, so it’s safe to say the important part of the Canada-India rendezvous is over.
Coverage of the trip has been drowned out by the U.S. election—something that might suit our notoriously secretive PM just fine—and journalists seeking insight into the trade mission have been fed little besides Samosas. To help Maclean’s readers makes sense of it all, here’s an Econowatch primer based on news reports and interviews with three of Canada’s top trade experts: Carleton University’s Michael Hart, the University of Ottawa’s Debra Steger and the Conference Board of Canada’s Danielle Goldfarb:
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 1:24 PM - 0 Comments
In March, Mr. Harper visited Thailand, South Korea and Japan. Thailand is reportedly moving towards a cap-and-trade system. Japan has now introduced a carbon tax, while Tokyo has had a cap-and-trade system for the past year. South Korea passed cap-and-trade legislation in May.
In February, Mr. Harper visited China, which is now experimenting with a carbon market.
In January, Mr. Harper delivered a speech in Switzerland, which has both a carbon tax and a trading system.
(In September, Mr. Harper visited Russia, which is maybe (?) thinking about cap-and-trade.)
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 4:21 PM - 0 Comments
During QP this afternoon, the Foreign Affairs Minister concluded his third response to Thomas Mulcair thusly.
What the Leader of the Opposition wants to do is bring in more regulation and a large carbon tax. Let me say, that will be something that would not be welcomed in India or by anywhere else that looks at Canada.
India has a carbon tax.
By Scaachi Koul - Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 9:56 AM - 0 Comments
The now-retired Indian army general who helped lead India in the deadly 1984 raid…
The now-retired Indian army general who helped lead India in the deadly 1984 raid on the Golden Temple in Amritsar against Sikh militants was stabbed in London. It appears it was an assassination attempt.
Lt. Gen. Kuldeep Singh Brar, 78, was attacked by four men and slashed in the neck while walking with his wife near London’s Oxford Street. He was treated in a London hospital, then released.
London police are treating the attack as an attempted murder, but haven’t figured out a motive for it yet.
Brar has already linked the attack to his role in the Golden Temple raid, which killed more than 1,000.
By From the editors - Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
The chain has proven to be the right store for the times
India is in a bit of trouble these days. Despite its reputation as one of the “economic tigers” of the developing world, growth has slowed, inflation is running over 10 per cent and infrastructure problems remain staggering. So where has Prime Minister Manmohan Singh turned for help? Wal-Mart.
Last week the Indian leader announced a package of sweeping economic reforms; chief among these are changes to his country’s restrictive retail laws that will allow Wal-Mart and other foreign firms to set up shop for the first time. While the plan still faces political opposition, Singh is hoping the store’s famously obsessive commitment to low prices and efficient logistics will play a key role in curbing inflation, stoking domestic growth and modernizing India’s entire retail industry.
“We are willing and able to invest in back-end infrastructure that will help reduce wastage of farm produce, improve the livelihood of farmers, lower prices of products and ease supply-side inflation,” Raj Jain, president of Wal-Mart India, told Bloomberg News after the new policy was announced.
By Scaachi Koul - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 11:45 AM - 0 Comments
A crusading cop has brought prohibition to the city, to the dismay of its cosmopolitan residents
It’s hard to think of a police officer anywhere in the world who has been both lionized and criticized as much as Mumbai’s assistant commissioner of police, Vasant Dhoble. As head of the police social service division, Dhoble has in a few short months led Mumbai cops in a self-directed mission to shut down parties, crack down on bars and regulate the city’s bustling nightlife using archaic prohibition laws that were never taken off the books. He has been hailed as a moral crusader—and a wet blanket. There are Facebook groups praising his work, many of them started by older Mumbai residents—on one he is hailed as “the real face of truth”—and others denouncing him. In June, when 1,000 people marched to protest Dhoble and his brand of moral policing while holding cutouts of field hockey sticks (a nod to the hockey stick Dhoble carries during his raids), two other protests in his defence were held the same day. “Dhoble go back,” said one banner. “We need more Dhobles to save Mumbai city,” said another.
India’s prohibition laws are nothing new: article 47 of the Indian constitution says a state can mandate prohibition of the consumption of “intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.” Prohibition faded from the scene in Bombay (as Mumbai was called) in 1973, but the Bombay Prohibition Act of 1949 remained. It just wasn’t enforced till now. The act requires private citizens and bar owners alike to carry permits to buy, possess, consume or transport alcohol. Dhoble and his squad have followed the letter of that law, forcing bars to apply for up to 10 liquor licences (including separate ones to serve domestic and imported liquor), asking patrons to show their permits, and conducting raids on bars, restaurants and even private homes—in one case targeting a woman making liqueur-filled chocolates in her kitchen.
Phemie Fernandes, a 29-year-old Mumbai resident, says the older generation is fine with the crackdowns. “They sleep more peacefully at night knowing their kids are at home,” she says. And certainly, residents’ associations in areas like Bandra and Khar, tired of complaining of noise from the many bars in their neighbourhoods, have thrown their support behind Dhoble. Young people have not, however, and bar owners are understandably peeved by the raids. In one scandalous incident, four women, purported sex workers, were detained for questioning in the glare of cameras. They turned out to be a group of German tourists out for a drink at a bar recommended by their guidebook. (The government believes Dhoble’s efforts have hurt tourism. According to the Times of India, one cabinet member noted in a recent meeting that it isn’t a police officer’s job to go around to clubs, hockey stick in hand.)
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 9:01 AM - 0 Comments
Maya Kodnani was a state legislator at the time of the 2002 outbreak of religious violence
32 people, including a former state minister, were found guilty by a court in western India for charges from murder to rioting for religious violence that occurred in 2002.
The violence was some of the country’s worst since its independence from Britain in the late 40s. It started with a train fire in February 2002 that killed 60 Hindu pilgrims. Muslims were blamed, which led to weeks of rioting, Hindu mobs rampaging and burning Muslim homes and businesses.
More than 1,100 people were killed or went mission, most of whom were Muslim.
Maya Kodnani is included among the convicted, a state legislator at the time who then became minister of education and child welfare in Gujarat state government. In 2009, she was arrested for murder and criminal conspiracy and has been jailed since.
The court has acquitted 29 others and hasn’t yet announced the sentences.
The convictions in this case were for murders and rioting in Naroda Patiya, an industrial town outside of Ahmadabad, Gujarat’s main city. 95 people died.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
During the 2008 campaign, Stephen Harper promised to ban the export of raw bitumen to countries with weaker emissions targets.
“We will not permit the export of bitumen to any country that does not have the same greenhouse gas regulations that we are imposing,” Harper said in Calgary, where he was campaigning for re-election in an Oct. 14 vote.
Harper’s promise is likely to have no impact on bitumen exports to the United States, said Environment Minister John Baird, but could affect the construction of a major pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific coast to feed the Asian market. Questioned on whether the emission target proposal would have an impact on future bitumen exports to Asian countries, Harper replied: “Well, it could. It absolutely could.”
Nearly four years later, the Harper government is quite keen to sell this country’s oil to Asia. But for all the discussion in recent months about resource development and oil exports, Mr. Harper’s pledge has gone unmentioned. What happened to promised ban? I sent the following query to the Prime Minister’s Office.
During the 2008 campaign, the Prime Minister promised to ban the export of raw bitumen to countries with environmental standards that were more lenient than Canada’s. Does the Prime Minister still intend to fulfill that promise? And, if so, how does he square it with the government’s desire to export oil to countries like China and India?
That question was forwarded to the office of Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. Mr. Oliver’s spokeswoman sent along the following statement by way of response (emphasis mine). Continue…
By Emma Teitel - Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 9:40 AM - 0 Comments
Finding relief in a public toilet is free of charge for men but not women in the Indian city
Women in Mumbai can own property and vote. They even make up half of the city’s civic authority, a collection of elected and unelected officials. Something they can’t do, however, is pee for free. Women have to pay a fee to use their city’s public toilets, while men do not. And, not surprisingly, the women aren’t happy about it. As a result, 35 NGOs have teamed up to launch a campaign called “Right to Pee,” urging authorities to eliminate the public toilet fee and bring in other amenities for women.
A 2009 study by the Center for Civil Society found that Mumbai had only 132 public toilets designated for women—several of which required extensive repairs—while the men had 1,534. The situation is so dire, women often resort to carrying a bag with them, a solution known as the “flying toilet.” And because only half of India’s homes have toilets, public sanitation is more important than ever.
So far the 35 NGOs have collected over 7,000 residents’ signatures on the “Right to Pee” petition, which they are going to present to Mumbai’s civic authority—its female half, in particular.
By Adnan R. Khan - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 10:43 AM - 0 Comments
The fabled Congress party is finding that the past just doesn’t sell anymore
It was 1999 when, in the midst of a heated election campaign, the granddaughter of India’s beloved late prime minister Indira Gandhi told international media, “I am very clear in my mind. Politics is not a strong pull. I have said it a thousand times: I am not interested in joining politics.” At the time, Priyanka Gandhi was adamant her presence on the campaign trail was not an introduction to political life. She simply wanted to help the Indian National Congress, then run by her mother, Sonia, regain control of the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of parliament.
Congress, one of the world’s largest and oldest political parties, had lost the house to its rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party, in the 1998 election. It was a chaotic period in Indian politics: from 1996 to 1999, the nation had gone through three general elections and three unstable governments characterized by fractious coalitions and alliances of convenience. For Congress, the 1999 vote was a chance to reclaim its political dominance: since India’s independence from British rule in 1947, it had governed the nation more or less uncontested for three decades. Priyanka Gandhi, then 27, was Congress’s secret weapon, seen as the future of the Gandhi political dynasty. But the strategy didn’t work. Congress lost and the BJP gained a near majority in a defeat that was a sign of things to come. Congress regained control, but only as part of a shaky alliance. Priyanka Gandhi left the public arena, opting instead to work behind the scenes.
Recent crises, though, have brought her back into the spotlight. During last month’s state assembly elections, she took to the campaign trail, joining her brother Rahul in key states like Uttar Pradesh. (Their mother, Sonia, is now chairman of Congress.) Priyanka’s return prompted frenzied speculation among India’s political pundits. Was this a sign of desperation? Internal tensions within Congress inspired talk of impending collapse and a last-ditch effort to bring unity to a party that had previously been the defining symbol of Indian democracy.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 11:54 AM - 0 Comments
The ship that used to ran from Yarmouth, N.S., to Portland, Maine will be turned into scrap metal
For over 20 years, the Scotia Prince ferry ran from Yarmouth, N.S., to Portland, Maine; after its operations there ended in 2004, it went on to house hurricane Katrina survivors, then moved across the Atlantic to Europe and India (it was used to evacuate Indian citizens from Libya during the crisis). Now, the storied ship that many Atlantic Canadians and New Englanders still remember fondly has been sold to a Sri Lankan buyer. It will be dismantled and turned into scrap metal, according to Miami-based International Shipping Partners, its manager.
Keith Condon, co-chair of the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership, who lives in Yarmouth, has fond memories of the Scotia Prince. In the summers, he says, there would be “floods” of visitors stepping off after the 10-hour trip from Portland. Riding the Scotia Prince was an experience: it could sleep more than 1,000 passengers, had a casino, a restaurant, and even live shows. “Some years we’d get up to 300,000 tourists flowing through here,” he says, many spreading across the province and into New Brunswick or P.E.I.
The abrupt end of the Scotia Prince’s Yarmouth-to-Portland service was blamed on a supposedly mouldy passenger terminal it leased in Portland (a lawsuit ensued). Another ferry, a high-speed catamaran, tried to fill the void, but its service ended in 2009, according to Condon, after a provincial subsidy was cancelled. “Since then, we’ve been trying to find a solution.” He calls it a “provincial issue.”
By Tamsin McMahon - Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 2:10 AM - 0 Comments
The coffee giant has teamed up with Tata Group to introduce lattes to Indian taste buds
Starbucks is the latest global chain hoping to cash in on India’s booming coffee house culture
India has long been associated with tea, from the vast tea fields of Darjeeling to the chai wallahs hawking their brew in pots at train stations and street corners for a few rupees a cup. But these days the country is becoming better known as the epicentre of the global coffee wars. Starbucks announced plans earlier this year to bring its skinny caramel macchiatos and double chocolate chip frappuccinos to India. The Seattle-based purveyor of gourmet Italian coffee for the masses said it expects to open 50 cafés in the country by year’s end, starting with Mumbai and New Delhi.
In an unusual move for the coffee giant, Starbucks announced a joint partnership with Tata Group, the Indian conglomerate that owns major tea brands Tetley and Typhoo. The stores will be called Starbucks Coffee: A Tata Alliance, and will include a line of teas exclusively for the Indian market branded as Tata Tazo. Tata has said the partnership also includes plans for Starbucks to source Indian-grown coffee for its global beverage empire. That’s expected to be a boost to the country’s farmers, who are the world’s largest tea exporters after China but represent less than five per cent of global coffee growers.
By Erica Alini - Friday, March 9, 2012 at 6:22 PM - 0 Comments
For all the hype around the unstoppable ascent of the world’s most populous democracy, “India is not a superpower (and may never be),” according to a group of researchers at the London School of Economics, who just penned an interesting new study on the topic.
The paper, of course, isn’t denying India’s rise. After all, the country’s economy expanded fourfold in the last 10 years, lifting millions out of poverty along the way. And if its domestic market weren’t so tied up with rules meant to keep foreigners at bay, Western companies would probably be stepping over each other to win Indian contracts, as they’re doing right now in China.
But an economic miracle isn’t enough to qualify for superpower status, the authors of the report argue. India is still grappling with a number of serious domestic challenges. These include a disruptive Maoist guerrilla faction; the terrible waste of human resources that is the Hindu caste system; and a corrupt and divided political leadership that can’t ever come up with a coherent, grand strategy for anything from developing the economy to rebooting the military.
By Jen Cutts - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
Nothing could have kept moviegoers in India away from ‘The Adventures of Tintin’
Not even “thundering typhoons”—to borrow a line from Captain Haddock—could have kept moviegoers in India away from The Adventures of Tintin. Steven Spielberg’s 3D revival of the exploits of the boy-reporter-turned-detective earned $1.5 million in its first weekend, the highest-ever opening for an animated movie in India. Tintin opened there fully six weeks ahead of its Dec. 21 North American release date. Spielberg himself made the call. “Tintin is huge in India,” a Sony Pictures (India) spokesperson explains.
Why are Indians so taken with Tintin? Sandip Roy, writing on The Huffington Post, suggests it was his independence and curiosity—traits “never encouraged in our schools, which were all about obedience and memory.” The books were first translated into Bengali in the mid-’70s. The Hindi translation, which began in 2005, was an onerous process, befitting its cultural significance. It took two years to find a translator who “lived, ate, dreamt and breathed Tintin,” according to publisher Ajay Mago. “The litmus test,” he adds, “was how well a translator could translate ‘billions of blue blistering barnacles.’ ”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 11:37 AM - 0 Comments
Japan, India and Tuvalu add their concerns.
The tiny South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, one those most at risk from rising sea levels caused by climate change, was more blunt. ”For a vulnerable country like Tuvalu, its an act of sabotage on our future,” Ian Fry, its lead negotiator said. ”Withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol is a reckless and totally irresponsible act,” he said in an email to Reuters.
Critics in Australia are using the Harper government’s decision to scorn the Australian government.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 25 Comments
The Environment Minister spreads the good word.
Environment Minister Peter Kent repeated his sharp criticism of Kyoto at a high-level session of the Durban talks. “Kyoto, for Canada, is in the past,” Mr. Kent told a large audience of delegates and climate negotiators on Wednesday. “For Canada, the Kyoto Protocol is not where the solution lies,” he said. “It is an agreement that covers fewer than 30 per cent of global emissions.”
As he spoke, six Canadian activists stood up and silently protested by turning their backs on him, wearing T-shirts that said: “Turn your back on Canada.” Security guards quickly rushed over and escorted them away, leading them through a narrow corridor at the back of the room and then evicting them from the conference. But the protesters won louder applause than Mr. Kent, whose speech was greeted by a smattering of polite applause from delegates.
Earlier this week, Mr. Kent promised the Harper government wouldn’t withdraw from Kyoto during the Durban conference, but wouldn’t comment on what might happen after the talks. Officials from Brazil, Germany, India and South Africa are unimpressed.
By Alex Ballingall - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 9:40 AM - 0 Comments
The police chief of Bihar in northern India has spearheaded an initiative to melt down more than 60,000 guns seized from criminals
The enterprising police chief of one of India’s most crime-ridden states has come up with a new idea intended to free up storage space and create thousands of tools for the working population. Abhyamand, police chief of Bihar in northern India, has spearheaded an initiative to melt down more than 60,000 guns seized from criminals, currently gathering dust in hundreds of malkhanas, or police station storage units. Their metal is already being used for farming tools. “Can we keep the dead bodies of criminals for long? Only the post-mortem is preserved. The same should apply with unwanted weapons,” said the police chief, recently sharing his logic with the BBC.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, Bihar had more than 3,000 violent killings last year. To combat this, Abhyamand has introduced fast-track trials and enabled police to seize unclaimed private property in Bihar. For his latest initiative—which he refers to as the “cannibalization of Bihar’s weapons”—Abhyamand took advantage of a provision in the Bihar Police Manual that allows him to destroy any “unserviceable or unusable” weapons. “The weapons in police station malkhanas are of no use,” he recently told the BBC. “They stink like dead bodies.”
By Erica Alini - Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 11:20 AM - 1 Comment
In Maharashtra, there are only 88 girls for every 100 boys
Governments imposing population controls have a tendency to wind up like the sorcerer’s apprentice. Take the western Indian state of Maharashtra, one of the country’s most populous, where a two-child policy has led to such widespread gender selection through abortion that the local government is scrambling to boost the dwindling female population. In Maharashtra, there are only 88 girls for every 100 boys, compared to the world’s natural sex ratio of 98 per 100. State officials now want to encourage procreation—but only if it helps beef up the number of girls born. According to a recent proposal that could turn into law, couples will be encouraged to have up to three children, as long as the third one belongs to the gentler sex. These girls, the government promises, will be eligible for free public education and a number of unspecified financial perks.
It all amounts to a mixed message. Legislators are also fast-tracking a motion to outlaw prenatal sex selection. But human rights groups have warned that the promise of rewards for a third-born girl provides a strong incentive for couples to break the government’s own ban on selective abortions. Meanwhile, Maharashtra’s legislative twists haven’t dissuaded the southern state of Kerala from considering its own two-child policy, which would punish parents who have more than two children with up to three months in jail, and bar religious leaders from promoting large families.
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:00 PM - 19 Comments
The Aakash is a pretty crappy tablet computer. Made in India, the Android gadget’s touchscreen is small, with no multitouch functionality. Its battery only lasts for a few hours, its processor is fairly slow, it has no camera, and though it has WiFi, you’ll need a USB dongle to connect to the mobile Internet when away from wireless broadband. Compared to the iPad, the Aakash is a piece of junk—except for the one stat where it blows Apple completely out of the water: price.
The Aakash costs $37.98 to manufacture. Ten thousand units are currently in the hands of Indian students. Thanks to a government subsidy, they cost $30 each. A retail version of the Aakash is expected soon, with 90,000 units shipping to Indian stores bearing a sticker price of $50 to $60. There’s no word on a North American release just yet.
Here’s a short video report on the Aakash from NDTV: Continue…