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Powering The Gig Economy

first_imgWhen 26-year-old Avantika Kukrety from Mumbai was researching postgraduate programs at U.S. universities during her admissions search, what also caught her eye was a startup called EnvoyNow. The on-demand food delivery service is run exclusively for college students by college students. Currently serving a few college campuses in the United States, the service provides meal delivery within a mile of campuses for a nominal charge. For Kukrety, the idea of students striving to make life simpler for other students while earning a quick buck was at once inclusive and an example of how the gig economy is changing the dynamics of peer-to-peer exchanges.Dr Seema MadanDr Seema Madan, a physician based in Faridabad, a suburb near Delhi, travelled to Costa Rica and New York last month for a solo holiday. She chose an Airbnb over a traditional hotel in the capital city of San Jose. She says, “Not only was it the most viable option financially (She paid only $30 a day for her stay), but it felt that there was a host family waiting for me in a new country.”The family, she stayed with gave her important travel tips and she ended up cooking an Indian meal for them in what turned out to be one of her best holiday memories.Madan says: “In a stark comparison, for my stay in New York City, I chose a hotel and everything from service to treatment was below average. For me Airbnb and other sharing economy services like Uber and Ola are the new age answers for a lot of our everyday necessities.”She reasons, “I would rather pay someone trying to work extra hard to earn the money they need than fill the pockets of the already rich.”For many young urban professionals in the United States and India, the gig economy, in which an open source community allows easy sharing of goods and services, is increasingly becoming am urban alternative to expensive and often monopolistic economic options. Organizations are also opting to increasingly contract with independent workers for short-term engagements, notwithstanding the bad rap the practice has been drawing lately, including calls for regulation of fast growing businesses, such as Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, etc.Dr Seema Madan’s  Airbnb room in Costa Rica.Interestingly, though Indians are not culturally very receptive to the idea of using pre-owned goods or trusting a stranger enough to receive their services, in this new virtual human cloud platform that has created a global marketplace, the millennial generation is in a mood to embrace societal collaborations in its new version. While younger Indians are devising novel ways to incorporate the gig economy in their daily lives, another generation of Indians who travelled overseas for study or work, also discovered the idea of renting services, offering their skills for money, or using pre-owned goods, was especially beneficial.Indian Americans are in many ways at the forefront of the gig economy. A study by the Kauffman Foundation reported that 33 percent of co-founders of technology start-ups in the United States since 2006 are Indians. Another 2014 study by Vivek Wadhwa, director of research at the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University, found that Indians founded 15 percent of start-ups in Silicon Valley. The study also established that Indians comprised the largest immigrant group leading tech companies.Indians are the single largest providers on online outsourcing services and freelance platforms, such as Upwork, Freelancer and Fiverr, accounting for almost a fifth of their traffic, ahead even of the United States, according to the traffic management engine Alexa.Within India, ride hailing service Ola’s revenues are estimated at Rs 418 crores ($65 million) during the year ending March 2015. Last June, after Uber appointed a new India head, Amit Jain, who had worked on the U.S. based rental site rent.com, the company committed an investment of $1 billion in India. Clearly Indians are poised to play an outsized role in this new integrated system of trade and business.A Price Water Coopers report estimates that the sharing economy, which was pegged at $15 billion in 2014, could grow to $335 billion by the year 2025. A study, titled The rise of the sharing economy: India landscape, published jointly by Ernst Young and Nasscom, concluded that the gig economy holds the promise of significantly enhancing job opportunities in India: “On demand technology platforms are creating a massive opportunity to employ delivery associates, data collectors and sales agents across different geographies within India…. It has also opened up vistas for self-employment for a lot of youngsters with ideas. The new entrepreneurs are in turn paving the way for an increased income for stakeholders too.”Innovative companies are disrupting traditional businesses globally. Barqo in Netherlands allows people interested in sailing to boat share; UK based Accomable, started by Srin Madipalli, helps people with mobility problems find accessible hotels, vacation rentals and apartments.Scores of other Indians are riding the new economy. In 2012, the same week that it acquired Instagram, Facebook snapped up San Francisco based Tagtile, a startup founded by IITians Abheek Anand and Soham Majumdar. Tagtile is a business loyalty app that allows consumers to earn incentives from tagged businesses.Two University of California, Riverside, Indian American students Sultan Khan and Haasuth Sanka created an app Scholarly, touted as the Uber for tutors, which allows users to search for tutors in their area. The app won first place at the 2015 HackingEDU.Jugnoo, an autorickshaw aggregating service has now expanded into meal services, as part of the company’s Fatafat app.New Jersey based Kishore Gangji has launched Zip.in, an online supermarket in Indian cities, such as Hyderabad and Vizag. He says, “I envision making Zip.in a platform for small vendors to grow their business and plan to expand in more Tier 2 cities in India, which is also where the real potential for sharing economy lies.”Today India boasts the world’s third largest number of start-ups. In July, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, on a visit to Silicon Valley, invited Indian American professionals to launch innovative startups in key Indian sectors.Last year, three Indian American startups were among those showcased before Pres Barack Obama during the White House Demo Day. These included San Francisco based Privahini Bradoo’s Blue Oak that recycles electronics and mobile phones. New York based Suma Reddy’s Waddle, a friend-to-friend discovery platform that helps identify best places nearby based on reviews and recommendations, and Michigan’s Ann Marie Sastry’s Sakti, which develops next-gen batteries to power everything from cars to computers.Anupam AgarwalA slew of gig entrepreneurs are revving up in India. A doorstep delivery car service called Revv, currently in four Indian cities, delivers a rental car to the door. It comes with a foldable electric scooter that fits in the boot of the car, which delivery executive use to return to their location. Anupam Aggarwal, co-founder of Revv, says that the company considered many concepts on how to get executives back in a cost-effective, eco-friendly way: “We toyed with ideas such as a bike mounted on top of the car or a truck delivering cars, but the foldable bikes turned out to be most innovative.”While Uber has revolutionized mobility the world over by swiftly becoming the fastest growing startup in history, and its valuation is now pegged at $60 billion, off-shoots are introducing other novel approaches. Adding a touch of local Indian flavor to the gig economy is an auto ride app titled Jugnoo, which allows users to book autos.Today with a fleet of 12,000 autos, Jugnoo operates in 30 cities across India. Nitish Singh, vice president of Jugnoo, says: “We are not just stopping at ride services, we look ourselves as local providers. So if you are in the city and need something we will provide.”On how Indians are adapting to the gig economy, he says: “We thought of an underutilized infrastructure and how to increase the efficiency there. We then also diversified by asking the auto drivers to double up as delivery agents during their idle times. Indians are used to the idea of employing people for services and the new start-ups are streamlining the age old practices in a way.”Vivek Khaitan, of Urban Clap: “Here micro entrepreneurs employ skilled workers, so the need was to give everyone a chance to work and grow independently.Vivek Khaitan spent years studying and working in consulting firms in California and New York and returned to India to launch Urban Clap, an online service marketplace. The platform allows individuals to hire everything from a plumber to a party planner. He says: “Gig economy will work as much for India as for the United States.“During my years in the United States I noticed that one major difference between Indian and U.S. businesses is that in the U.S. even the micro entrepreneur was tech savvy and had a basic infrastructure. In India this is lacking. Here micro entrepreneurs employ skilled workers, so the need was to give everyone a chance to work and grow independently.”However, this digital capitalism is running into conflict with labor laws and labor rights advocates. New York is weighing a bill that penalizes apartment owners and tenants from offering short term Airbnb stays. Uber is in a continuing battle with cities and taxi unions, both in India and the United States, and there are growing calls for regulating grey areas of the shared economy.Nevertheless, a survey by the communications firm Burson-Marsteller, The Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative, The Markle Foundation and TIME magazine found that 44 percent of U.S. adults have participated in some sort of gig economy transfers. According to the report, a majority of employers in America now use independent contractors, with 80 percent saying it enables them to adjust the size of the workforce, save money on benefits and tailor the worker to a specific cost. But enlighteningly, more than half of the surveyed firms felt that contingent workers are not as loyal or invested as employees. On the rising concerns on the ambiguous areas of work contractors, nearly 70 percent of those surveyed said that a social contract, whereby benefits, such as health and retirement plans that are available to full time employees, should be be extended to contract workers. Security and safety concerns have also been raised around proper background checks of drivers on online auto services, such as Uber, for example.Nitish Singh of Jugnoo, however, terms these apprehensions as teething troubles for consumers: “Whenever there is a new experience, there is bound to be some resistance. This has happened in the past too. When people are confronted with something new it takes a while before the idea becomes mainstream.”Major Prashant Rai of OTG247.com, a Bengaluru based service aggregator, which provides concierge services, background verifications and bodyguard servicesBut in recognition of these concerns, reputed online service providers are adopting precautions, such as background checks, police verification, etc. Major Prashant Rai of OTG247.com, a Bengaluru based service aggregator, says since it was launched in September 2015 OTG247 has provided concierge services, background verifications and bodyguard services for U.S. clients. He says, “If trust and quality were found lacking we wouldn’t have been approached by American clients.”Intrepid entrepreneurs are barreling on with ideas both big and small. Aalizwel, a startup by Vishal Jagetia, allows students to sell their old textbooks to fellow students. Jagetia says: “We are trying to educate the youth about the concept. In India big companies such as Uber and Airbnb were able to penetrate as they worked on discount couponing and commission for drivers, etc.”The shared economy is tailor made for India’s expanding city population. Vij says, “As we grow, acquisition of assets will become more difficult. I was inspired by the infrastructure in growing cities, such as Singapore, where despite the rapid development, there are measures to check over usage of resources. From popularity of public transport to congestion charges, everything is being structured to ensure that the burgeoning growth does not deplete the quality of life.”Pushpinder Singh, CEO, Travel Khana, a food delivery service that provides homecooked food for travellers on the Indian Railways, says: “All you have to do is choose from an array of options ranging from local delicacies of the area you are passing by or a homecook’s food and order it via the app. The food will be delivered to you at the next station.”Singh who has lived in the United States, says the market opportunities are everywhere: “In 2007, I was at John F Kennedy airport (in New York) and there was a panel that could connect you to car rental companies. When I tried using it, none of it worked and that made me think that there is a big gap between technology and its streamlining. We are trying to bring that streamlined approach while providing vocation to home cooks who may have otherwise not found a medium to earn what they deserve.”Vishal Jagetia founded Allizwel to help college students engage with the sharing economy.Sakshi Vij, founder of Mylescar.com, a car rental service introduced in India in 2013, says:“We researched and found that in India every year 2.5-2.6 million cars are getting added. This also meant that Indians were making a commitment of around $11 billion to support that number. This didn’t seem a logical and we thought of introducing the concept of renting cars so that there isoptimal utilization of existing cars.”Vij says: “While in the United States, Enterprise, Rent a Car, etc. have been around for decades, it was about time to bring it in India where we have been used to the idea of being driven in taxis.”The shared economy is tailor made for India’s expanding city population. Vij says, “As we grow, acquisition of assets will become more difficult. I was inspired by the infrastructure in growing cities, such as Singapore, where despite the rapid development, there are measures to check over usage of resources. From popularity of public transport to congestion charges, everything is being structured to ensure that the burgeoning growth does not deplete the quality of life.”The gig economy still constitutes a tiny sliver of the global economy, but with ideas as sweet as Zaarly, which allows one to order a homemade pie, to Lending Club, which enables people to shop for better interest rates on home or auto loans, its disruptive potential has just begun. Related Itemslast_img read more

Music: Indian Ocean Laps At American Shores

first_imgThe Indian Ocean is finally lapping at America’s shores. If you’re more into geography than music that might have you wondering. Well, Indian Ocean is a world music band from India, which is performing all over the country, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York. The group has Susmit Sen on guitar and vocals, Asheem Chakravarty on tabla and vocals, Rahul Ram on bass guitar and vocals and Amit Kilam on drums, gabgubi and vocals.Together the quartet makes beautiful music together. They’ve released five albums since 1993 – Indian Ocean, Desert Rain, Kandisa, Jhini and the latest released this year is the soundtrack for the film Black Friday.   Related Itemslast_img read more

Debating the California Text Book Controversy

first_imgComparing Indian and American secularism:While America and India uphold the ideals of secularism and pluralism, they practice these ideals in significantly different ways. Hindus in India and Christians in America each represent roughly 80% of their respective populations, but the public status of these two majority religions is not comparable in their respective countries.In India, an official who publicly affirms his Hindu identity would be stigmatized as “non-secular,” while almost any serious American presidential candidate (Republican or Democrat) feels compelled to assert a good Christian or Jewish identity with great pride. In America, it is a liability for public officials to be seen as not going to church regularly. In India, it is a liability to be seen as a devout Hindu among the modern (Westernized) Indians who maintain a safe distance from Hinduism.While the Indian government’s faith-based initiatives give the largest chunk of social funding to its minority religions (i.e. Christian and Islamic groups), the American government’s faith-based funding goes predominantly to Judeo-Christian groups. In other words, secularism and pluralism in America are not practiced at the expense of its majority religion, while in India Hinduism is undermined in the name of secularism.Who controls the academic study of Hinduism in America?While Religious Studies is the most popular humanities discipline in American colleges, it is virtually absent in Indian universities, because of the Indian interpretation of secularism. The American Academy of Religion has 13,000 academic scholars of Religion, with sub-groups in various religious specialties.Very few AAR academic scholars of Hinduism identify themselves as practicing Hindus whereas a large percentage of Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism academic scholars are practitioners of those faiths. This under-representation in the case of Hinduism is partly due to India’s failure to supply qualified academic scholars in Hinduism Studies. Indians trained in social sciences have only a superficial education in Religious Studies, largely based on the imported interpretations of colonialists, evangelists and foreign-funded human rights campaigns.Many scholars in South Asian Studies adopt paradigms from English language writings that implicitly treat the West’s experiences as being universal. Trendy Western “theories” from the Post-Enlightenment milieu are often parroted by Indian intellectuals as a route to becoming a “whitened liberal.”Some scholars are implementing the agendas of Christian evangelists in India, Communist Party of India, and funding agencies linked to the US government and/or its “human rights” proxy agencies. These scholars seek credibility in the eyes of peers and the mainstream, well-funded Western agencies that can make or break careers. Their personal stakes include grants, tenure, prestigious projects and official committees. Hence, there is no significant “home team” representing Indian culture in the academy in the same manner as other major cultures and religions are represented. California school textbook biases against Hinduism:The recent California Department of Education hearings on sixth-grade textbook portrayals of religions and cultures have put the spotlight on the politics of identity negotiation in America. There is a clash between the Hindu Diaspora and a group of academic scholars claiming to be “the experts” on Hinduism. The latter are neither specialists in Religious Studies nor do they understand the politics of identity formation of immigrants in American history.The table below compares how California textbooks treat Hinduism and other major religions. Every religion has both positive and negative aspects, and someone has to choose which information to present to children. For instance, every religion needs to improve its treatment of women, minorities and those of other religions. Yet every religion also has great exemplars and textual references to inspire good citizenship. Every religion has beliefs that cannot be proven in a scientific manner using empirical evidence, thereby making it imperative that such beliefs should be explained consistently across all faiths. Every religion’s own leaders project a positive self-image, while there are differing views of those who are on the outside, especially those who hold a grudge against a given religion for whatever reason. Each religion has its “enemies” and its “victims.”TopicHow religions are treated in textbooksIslamJudaismChristianityHinduismWomen are shown equal to men?YesYesYesNoOppression of certain groups is discussed?NoNoNoYesBeliefs are considered as historical fact?YesYesYesNoOwn leaders’ interpretations are emphasized?YesYesYesNoTreated as a world religion independently of the social/political issues of any foreign country?YesYesYesNoThe question then becomes: What is appropriate to be taught to the 11-year old school children in California, who often have very short attention spans, and whose tightly packed curriculum has precious little time allotted to the study of other cultures? California’s official educational standards contain policies on this important question and require that, “No religious belief or practice may be held up to ridicule and no religious group may be portrayed as inferior,” and that, “Textbooks should instill a sense of pride in every child in his or her heritage.” These standards must be applied equally and consistently to all religions.As the table below demonstrates, the textbooks do not comply with the California standards when it comes to Hinduism. For instance, the textbooks say that Hinduism considers women to be inferior to men, but ignore biases against women in Islam, Christianity and Judaism. The textbooks focus on Hindu atrocities against certain groups, but do not point out that Islamic, Christian and Jewish societies have similar problems. The clergy in Islam, Christianity and Judaism are treated as credible experts and their religious texts are assumed to be stating historical facts, while Hindu texts are depicted through the pejorative lenses of critics.Impressionable sixth graders with hardly any understanding of America’s minority faiths are unlikely to study these religions ever again in their lives. So the impressions created by these textbooks will be lasting in shaping America’s future society. Academicians smear Hindu participation in the hearings: To remedy this, some Hindu American groups and individuals did what Islamic, Jewish and Christian groups have been doing for many years: they reviewed the textbooks and initiated dialogue with the educational authorities who hold public hearings every six years in order to update textbooks. While the activism by Islamic and Christian groups drew no protests from scholars, similar activism by Hindus is being virulently attacked by some American scholars from prestigious colleges who brought in a bandwagon of Indian scholars eager to impress them. Most of these academics are not experts of religion, do not even belong to the Hinduism Unit of the American Academy of Religion, and claim their authority largely on their academic affiliations. The emphasis of the academicians’ counter-attack was not on the contents of the textbooks, on the official standards published by California, nor on the philosophy of education for our children. Instead, they attacked the people involved on the Hindu side, calling them “fascists,” “fundamentalists,” “nationalists,” “chauvinists,” and so forth. They tried to link these groups to violence overseas with sensationalized warnings to the California educators that their proposed amendments would encourage international terror. In other words, scholars who claim to be defenders of intellectual freedom and teachers of critical inquiry fell short on both counts in their own conduct.I do not agree with many of the changes petitioned by the Hindu groups. My issue is with the prejudice with which Hindus are being treated as compared to all others. Hindu petitions not treated equally:The following table shows that while all religions have their own lobby groups advocating changes, only the Hindus are attacked by these scholars. Furthermore, the California authorities, in a move which is now being challenged legally, heard a parade of anti-Hindu voices as “expert witness,” while there were no similar dissenting voices invited to criticize Islam, Christianity or Judaism. The scholars fighting the Hindu Diaspora frantically arranged to fly in witnesses who testified about the horrors of Hinduism, while no similar witnesses were brought to testify against the horrors of Islam, Christianity or Judaism. Only in the case of Hinduism was the politics from the mother country dragged into the California proceedings. The fact is that Hinduism is a world religion with followers in many parts of the planet besides India, and the social-political problems in India do not reflect on Hindus elsewhere such as the millions of Euro-Americans practicing yoga/meditation who claim Hindu or quasi-Hindu identities or the second-generation Indian Americans.Public ProcessHow the California process has workedIslamJudaismChristianityHinduism Organized community groups are lobbying for change?YesYesYesYes Have academics protested against the community’s activism?NoNoNoYesDid Education Board bring hostile academics as advisors?NoNoNoYesAre advocates of the religion being branded as “chauvinists”, “fundamentalists”, “nationalists”, etc.?NoNoNoYesIs politics from the mother country driving the academic scholars?NoNoN/AYes Political correctness towards non-Hindus only:While attempts are being made to teach about “Hindu horrors” against minorities, the same scholars are not lobbying to include “Islamic genocides,” in South Asia, “Islamic terrorism” worldwide, or “Christian holocausts” of Native Americans: The non-Hindu religions are coddled with political correctness and “sensitivity.”South Asia experts also know that Islam is a major South Asian religion, that it has more followers in South Asia than anywhere else in world, and that South Asian based Islam (i.e. in Pakistan-Afghanistan) has bred international terrorism. Therefore, to be true to their field of study, South Asian Studies scholars should apply the same “human rights” criteria to depict Islam in textbooks as they do to Hinduism.While these scholars champion sympathetic portrayals of minorities in India, they do the opposite in the case of Hindu minorities in America.Scholars should respect the mandate of California’s Social Studies Standards, that “Textbooks should instill a sense of pride in every child in his or her heritage.” In this capacity, textbooks should also include Hinduism’s major contributions to America: yoga, vegetarianism, the transcendentalist literary movement in the 19th century, and the many influences on American pop music, cuisine, film, dance, etc.“Human rights” used as a weapon of imperialism:Like all other traditional societies, Indian society can be seen as a “patient” that needs to be cured of maladies. But academic activists argue that Indian society should be “exposed” in America. However, they have failed to answer the following questions: Are Western institutions qualified to “cure” Indian society? What is the past track record of Western powers intervening in third-world domestic issues? What accountability do they have as “doctors”? Does the West have a superior human rights record? Are human rights definitions and case selections biased? Are Western agendas constructing categories of “cultural crimes”? Do Indian globe-trotting activists have personal vested interests?Young children exploited as pawns:The sixth-grade classroom is the right wrong to prosecute an American minority culture or a foreign nation. Among these students, perhaps less than one percentage will pursue careers as Christian evangelists slandering Hinduism to convert, or as government officials using “human rights” as a weapon to gain leverage against India. For this tiny number of potential specialists, there will be opportunities in higher studies to embark upon a comprehensive study of India’s positive and negative social qualities.Challenging history is one thing, but intentionally undermining self-respect at an impressionable age is a form of psychological child abuse. The political activism of a cartel of elitist scholars is invading innocent children: It harasses Indian students in class who feel embarrassed and ashamed of their ancestry, especially since American society valorizes identities and traditions. It handicaps the non-Indian students who will grow up to work in a world in which India must be taken seriously and not dismissed as a patient to be cured by the West.Rajiv Malhotra is a public intellectual living in Princeton, N.J., heads the Infinity Foundation. Related Itemslast_img read more

The Birth Of A Dahi-Wallah

first_imgEveryone has their Eureka moment sometime – and for Jordan Soroko, a product developer for Derle Farms, it came during a conversation with an Indian restaurateur in New Jersey. Derle Farms, owned by the Abrahamson family, is one of the larger independent diaries in the tri-state area and had been providing tons of milk to the restaurateur. Soroko was curious why so much milk was being bought and was told it was to make yogurt. Why not just buy the yogurt available in mainstream supermarkets? The answer was, “Oh, no, the yogurt we have in this country is nothing like what we have in India.” Soroko asked him if it was big business, and was told, “The Indian community uses more yogurt than you can possibly imagine. If you did this, it would be the best thing you could ever do.”Off went Soroko to Indian stores to check this out and says, “I took a look and could not believe my eyes how much yogurt was in the store and it was all American yogurt! And I said to myself, ‘Wait, they don’t like this yogurt but still they are having it because there’s nothing available for them.’”Soroko researched and learnt that Indian yogurt was thicker, richer, full fat, smooth and with no acidic taste. It took him over a year of creating samples to perfect the formula. Finally one day his tasters’ eyes lit up: “It’s just like what we have in India.” He was told that dahi was the Hindi word for yogurt and desi was the word for South Asians living in this country, so “Desi Natural Dahi” was born, and Soroko registered the name. It’s produced in low fat, nonfat and whole milk versions.It all started with one small batch, which he took to the Indian stores. It was sold out so next came a bigger batch, which sold out too. The phone calls started coming, from desis starved for dahi, and the orders came in from stores from Atlanta to Texas to Florida: “It was one city after another.”  Ask Soroko about the quantities and he’s tightlipped:  ‘That’s classified.” But obviously Derle Farms is doing well with Desi Dahi? He says, “I wish to God that everybody should do as good.”His clients next told Soroko that he’d be missing the boat if he didn’t do paneer. So Desi Paneer debuted from Derle Farms and even Desi Lassi in 10 ounce bottles in mango, sweet rose, salty and sweet flavors. This is a summer product. but the latest introduction has been Desi Makhan, the butter of the Indian villages.Already another milk company in Flushing, Queens, Raz Dairy, has come up with Natural Dahi and added an extra cream version. The manager, Mohammed Abdolah, said they are supplying wholesale to many Indian stores.  With the South Asian population in the U.S. ever expanding, the mainstream will soon catch on to the potential of this hidden market, and before long we’ll probably see the major companies jumping on the bandwagon. Stay tuned to the battle of the Dahi-Wallahs!  Related Itemslast_img read more

Knot A Problem

first_imgIn a break from long-held tradition that saw some of Bollywood’s greatest talent lost to marriage, this year Bollywood heartthrobs are unknotting the proverbial marital knot -just for reel life, we think.Kajol, (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge fame) who took a break from Bollywood after her marriage to actor Ajay Devjan in 1999, returned to the screen last year in Fanaa . Juhi Chawla (Dar and Ishq), shifted to tamer parallelcinema after her marriage to industrialist Jai Mehta.Now Karisma Kapoor and Sridevi are mulling comebacks as Madhuri Dixit’s first post marital film Aaja Nachle opens later this year. Related Itemslast_img read more

Sex Games

first_imgIf your love life is being killed by a partner obsessed with video games, why we have just the trick for you. For her master’s thesis, New York University interactive telecommunications student Jennifer Chowdhury deviced so-called “Intimate Controllers” to play video games while manipulating a woman’s breasts and a man’s shorts. Chowdhury embedded sensors in underwear – a woman’s bra and a man’s shorts. Much like other remote controls, touch the right bra, the motion moves right; touch the left bra and it moves left. Finger his shorts … you get the idea.Chowdhury says her audience is “people in relationships who want to experiment with a combination of game play and intimacy.”Stop tittering. This is serious stuff. Chowdhury is seeking to rescue gamer widows, whom she studied extensively, she reports, on the Widows of Warcraft support group: “I then found out about a phenomenon called gamer widowhood where men essentially abandoned their wives to play video games night and day. I wanted to create a type of video game play that would center around a couple’s intimacy and where two people would touch each other in order to play the game.”Have your game and have sex too.  Related Itemslast_img read more

IT Doesn’t Pay

first_imgIndia, the global face of the information technology industry, is the fourth lowest paymaster, according to a global survey of IT managers.Indian IT managers make an average of $25,000, ahead only of Vietnam, Bulgaria and the Philippines.Switzerland ranked first in the survey with a salary of $140,960, followed by Denmark, Belgium and the United Kingdom. The United States ranked sixth with $107,500 in the global survey of IT staff at 6,545 companies in 35 countries conducted by Mercer. IT Managers:Lowest paymasters countries1Vietnam $15,470 2Bulgaria $22,240 3Philippines $22,280 4India$25,000 5Indonesia $31,720 6China (Shanghai)$33,770 7Malaysia $35,260 8Czech Republic$35,880 9China (Beijing)$36,220 10Argentina$43,180  IT Managers:Top paymasters countries1Switzerland$140,960 2Denmark$123,080 3Belgium$121,170 4UK$118,190 5Ireland$108,230 6US$107,500 7Germany$106,730 8Canada $93,860 9Hong Kong$90,340 10Australia$88,850   Related Itemslast_img read more

Malay Indians Seek $4 Trillion in Reparations

first_imgA lawsuit on behalf of 2 million Indians in Malaysia is seeking $4 billion in reparations from Britain for bringing their ancestors to Malaya as indentured laborers and exploiting them under colonial rule. The lawsuit filed in London alleges that British neglect after Malyasia’s independence from Britain is responsible for their plight. Indians, the second largest minority group in Malaysia after the Chinese, are economically disadvantaged under Malaysia’s Bhoomiputra policies favoring Malays.  Related Itemslast_img read more

See You Again, Sarkozy?

first_imgFrench President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose state visit to India was overshadowed by frenzied speculation over whether his girlfriend Carla Bruni would accompany him, ultimately came alone.Earlier, concerns about cultural mores prevented Bruni from accompanying Sarkozy on a trip to Saudi Arabia, after officials there urged the French leader to respect the country’s conservative Islamic culture. Indian officials had been dropping hints in advance of the visit that it would be impossible for them to receive Bruni as a spouse of a head of state. Bruni, who told a reporter that she had not married Sarkozy “yet,” acknowledged, “I cannot take part in an official trip with the president.” But she added coyly, “It (a wedding) is in our plans.”Sarkozy, 52, and Bruni, 40, met in November, soon after his October divorce from Cecilia, his second wife.Sarkozy took a brief tour of  the Taj Mahal during his India visit. “He did not ask many questions … he just heard what we had to say. He walked around and clicked pictures, but he seemed melancholic,” said Kamlesh Diwedi, the guide who showed Mr. Sarkozy around, alluding to the absence of Bruni.That may change. In the guest’s register: “See you again” in French. Related Itemslast_img read more

Three Charged With LSU Murders

first_imgThree Baton Rouge men with lengthy prior criminal records have been charged with the brutal murders of two Indian doctoral students at Louisiana State University five months ago (Little India, February 2008). Michael Lewis, 19, Devin Parker, 19 and Casey Gathers, 20, are accused of killing Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma and Kiran Kumar Allam in December. Police say that Parker confessed that the three men forced the two students inside the apartment, where Gathers shot them.  Related Itemslast_img read more

Saina ends ‘friend’ Anna Rice’s career with a defeat

first_imgShe used to hand out tips to Saina Nehwal until just four years ago and an emotionally overwhelmed Anna Rice could not stop the tears from flowing when she ended her career with a loss against the Indian ace at the Commonwealth Games here.A good friend of Saina, the 30-year-old Canadian shuttler recalled the days when she played with her, helping the Indian in little ways to become a better player.Anna, who went down 7-21 10-21 to the top seeded crowd favourite in the quarterfinals of women’s singles last night, said she still loves the game but it was time to quit.”It is very emotional for me but the feeling is yet to settle in,” Anna said, tears welling up in her eyes.”I wanted to play for some time more, I mean I love the game but I guess I can’t keep up with these young girls anymore,” she added.Anna and Saina became friends in 2006. Saina had started taking her first steps to the stardom she enjoys now but Anna had already become an Olympian at that time.The world number 31 Canadian said she has seen her friend grow.”She is a player who has matured beyond her age. I started going for international tours at 18-19 but look at her, she was on her own when she was just 15 years old,” Rice said.”I remember she used to complain that she is losing in three games and I used to tell her that it is a process,” she added.advertisementAnna said Saina’s success has raised the profile of the sport.”Saina’s growing stature is good for the sport in India.As I see it, the gender equality when it comes to sport is not the same in India. Saina’s success will increase the profile of the sport as a whole in India and that is good for badminton also,” Anna said. .Saina also acknowledged Anna’s contribution to her career.”We have been friends for quite sometime. We had a lot of fun together. When I had started playing the qualifying rounds, we became friends,” she recalled.”It was very important to know about the court and know about doubles. She helped me at that time. We used to practice together and play at international level. It helped improve my reflexes and drives.”She even used to sit behind me, guiding me and giving me advice about the weaknesses of my opponents. I didn’t have a coach at that time and I didn’t know anybody,” Saina said.Asked about what she plans to do next, Anna said she would concentrate on coaching young Canadian shuttlers.”I am associated with a coaching job in a non-profit organisation called ‘Choose Again’ in Vancouver. I will concentrate on coaching. I will also spend a lot of time with my family, let’s see how the next phase pans out,” she said.Anna has been playing professional badminton for more than a decade.She won the 2009 US Open Champion and represented Canada at the International level for over 12 years, including the 2004 Athens Olympics, the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as well as several World Championships.At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Anna became the first female singles player from a Pan-American country to achieve a top-16 finish.She won the Canadian National Championships in 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2009.last_img read more

SYDNEY CHAMPIONSHIPS AWARDS PRESENTATION

first_imgDay One of the NSW State Cup concluded last night with the Sydney Championships presentation awards. As the sides, players and officials gathered at the Bowling Club, a little tired and muddy from day one of Cup competition, expectation was high as to who would take home the Boland and Smith medals for the best player in the Mens and Womens Open divisions. Awards: Mixed 2nd Division- Peakhurst (5) def UNSW (4) Player of the Final- Casey Kinnard (Peakhurst) Player of the Year- Steve Moses (UNSW) and Clare Kendrick (Peakhurst) Womens 2nd Division- Westmead (5) def Wests (1) Player of the Final- Jody English Mens 50’s Division- Penrith (3) def Canterbury (1) Player of the Final- Dieter Major Player of the Year- Glen Jackson (Canterbury) Womens 23’s 2nd Division- Manly (3) def Easts (2) Player of the Final- Lisa Clark (Manly) Mens 45’s Division- Penrith (6) def Wests (2) Player of the Final- Bob Benke (Penrith) Mens 40’s Division- Parramatta (4) def Wollongon (3) Player of the Final- Ken Donley (Parramatta) Player of the Year Mens 40/45- Gary Simmons (Manly) Mens 35’s Division- Manly (2) def Wests (0) Player of the Final- Joe Biskup (Manly) Player of the Year- Keith Rozario (Wests) Mens 30’s Division- Penrith (5) def Manly (3) Player of the Final- Darren Currie (Penrith) Player of the Year- Darren Currie (Penrith) Womens 23’s 1st Division- Cronulla (5) def Wallsend (3) Player of the Final- Lori Pennie (Cronulla) Player of the Year- Erin Hardes (Wallsend) Mens 23’s Division- Wests (7) def Canterbury (6) drop off Player of the Final- Jai Ayoub (Wests) Player of the Series- Jye Malcolm (Wests) Mixed 1st Division- Easts 2 (6) def Cronulla (3) Player of the Final- Willie Bishop (Easts) Players of the Year- Willie Bishop (Easts) Janine Hinds (Easts) and Rebecca Watt (Norths) Womens Open Division: Easts (4) def Canterbury (3) Player of the Final- Giselle Tirado (Easts) Mens Open Division Wests (6) def Parramatta (5) Player of the Final- Scott Mitchell (Wests) The Gary Croft Cup was awarded (for most points pre-finals): 1st- Wests 184 points 2nd- Penrith 167 points 3rd- Manly 154 points The Vawden Cup was also awarded (Club Championship in the finals): 1st- Penrith 65 points 2nd- Wests 57 points 3rd- Canterbury 44 points SMITH MEDAL WINNER: Louise Winchester (Canterbury) Louise Winchester (Canterbury) 14 points Dom Maher (Cronulla) 12 points Melissa Pitfield (Easts) 12 points Bo De La Cruz (Wests) 12 points BOLAND MEDAL WINNER: Brent Powell (Central Coast) Brent Powell (Central Coast) 15 points Steve Roberts (Canterbury) 14 points Scott Mitchell (Wests) 12 points Mitchell Tope (Cronulla) 12 pointslast_img read more

From SRK’s Wankhede ban to spot fixing fiasco: 5 IPL controversies that rocked the league

first_imgFrom SRK’s Wankhede ban to spot fixing fiasco: 5 IPL controversies that rocked the leagueThe Indian Premier League has been rocked by controversies every season since it started in 2008. From SRK’s Wankhede ban to the spot fixing controversy, here are five IPL controversies that rocked the league from 2012 to 2015.advertisement Indo-Asian News Service New DelhiApril 2, 2019UPDATED: April 2, 2019 19:25 IST Shah Rukh Khan, Virat Kohli and Preity Zinta were part of shocking IPL controversies that rocked the league from 2012 to 2015. (Photos from PTI, AP, Reuters)HIGHLIGHTSShah Rukh Khan was banned by the Mumbai Cricket Association for five years in 2012S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan were arrested by the Delhi Police for the spot fixing fiasco in 2013Things turned ugly between Preity Zinta and Ness Wadia when they got into a fight in 2014 at the Wankhede stadiumThe Indian Premier League (IPL) is the perfect mix of cricket and entertainment. While fans get to witness their favourite stars in action, the league also provides the ultimate platform for youngsters to impress the national selectors. These apart, there has been one more constant with the cash-rich league — its controversies.Be it the “Slap Gate” in the opening season or “Spot-fixing fiasco” in 2013, there has not been a year which has not been marred by controversies, since its inception.Also Read | From Slap Gate to Lalit Modi sacking: 4 IPL controversies that shocked fansIn this part, IANS takes a look at the major episodes that have rocked the league from 2012 to 2015:1. 2012: SRK gets banned from Wankhede Shah Rukh Khan was banned by the Mumbai Cricket Association for five years (Photo: PTI)Involved in an altercation with the security guards at the Wankhede Stadium after a game between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians, KKR co-owner Shah Rukh Khan was banned by the Mumbai Cricket Association for five years and denied entry into the stadium.While officials said that SRK had abused some of the guards and officials, the superstar had refuted saying he had only tried to protect his family who had gone to watch the game.2. 2012: Luke Pomersbach arrested over molestation charge A US woman filed a case of molestation against the Royal Challengers Bangalore player Luke Pomersbach (Photo: PTI)The Australian player was arrested after a US woman filed a case of molestation against the Royal Challengers Bangalore player. He was suspended pending enquiry by the franchise.advertisementBut the woman who had also blamed him of beating up her fiance, withdrew the case and the player was let off.3. 2013: Spot-fixing fiasco rocks league S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan were arrested by the Delhi Police for the spot fixing fiasco (Photo: PTI)This year will always be remembered for the arrest of S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan by the Delhi Police for their involvement in fixing matches.CSK team principle Gurunath Meiyappan was also suspected of being involved in betting and former BCCI president had to step aside for his son-in-law’s (Meiyappan) role in the whole fiasco.The face of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) changed forever with this as the Mudgal panel did the initial investigation and handed over its report to the Supreme Court.The apex court then appointed the Lodha panel to look into the situation and propose necessary changes. Six years on, the BCCI is still looking to emerge from what has been the darkest phase in its history.4. 2014: Preity Zinta-Ness Wadia fight Things turned ugly between Preity Zinta and Ness Wadia when they got into a fight in 2014 at the Wankhede stadium (Photo: Reuters)The news of their official split had come in 2013 when the actress said that they were just friends and partners in the Kings XI Punjab team.But things went from cordial to ugly in 2014 when during a game at the Wankhede Stadium Wadia allegedly threatened her with dire consequences and also abused her in front of others.Preity filed a complaint as soon as the IPL got over that season. Wadia though had claimed that the allegation were baseless.5. 2015: Kohli breaks BCCI guideline Virat Kohli was let off with a verbal warning for speaking to future wife Anushka Sharma while a match was on (Photo: AP)It was a game between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru when a rain break saw Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh engaging in a conversation with Kohli’s future wife actress Anushka Sharma as the latter had come to watch the game.As per the anti-corruption rules of the Indian cricket board, players aren’t allowed to speak to outsiders during a game. He was let off with a verbal warning.Also Read | Mankading controversy erupts in IPL: Is it fair to call R Ashwin a cheat?Also Read | IPL no-ball controversy: Cricketing fraternity slams umpiring blooperAlso Read | IPL 2019: England cricket stars slam R Ashwin after he Mankads Jos ButtlerAlso Watch | Umpire fails to spot no-ball as MI beat RCB under controversial circumstancesFor sports news, updates, live scores and cricket fixtures, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for Sports news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byRoshni Tags :Follow Shah Rukh KhanFollow Spot fixingFollow Preity ZintaFollow Virat KohliFollow IPL controverisesFollow Indian Premier Leaguelast_img read more

Crews Continue to Repair Roads After Rainy Weekend

first_imgHighway crews and private contractors are out in full force today, Sept. 8, repairing roads and bridges damaged by rainfall over the weekend. “The heavy rainfall resulted in new damage over the weekend,” said Murray Scott, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. “Workers have been able to make substantial progress, and will continue to make repairs until all roads are restored.” In Cumberland County, damage includes a culvert washout on Route 242 near Strathcona. A temporary culvert is being put in place, and the road is expected to reopen later this evening. Other damages includes road washouts along two areas of Route 301 — one at the intersection with Mt. Pleasant Road near Oxford, and the other near Port Howe. The Oxford section is closed for repairs, and is expected to be reopened by late Tuesday, Sept. 9. Damage to the Port Howe section is more significant and is under review. Repairs are expected to be completed by the end of September. Detours for both areas are marked. The following roads in Cumberland County are closed for repairs and are expected to be completed within a few days: Dixon Road, Mansfield Road, Route 302 in Maccan, Taylor Road, and North Wallace Road. Little Forks Road is also closed, and drivers are advised to use Athol Road as an alternate route. Willow Street and Pumping Station Road are reduced to one lane and repairs are expected to be completed shortly. Water Street in Oxford and Pugwash Junction Road have been repaired and are reopened. In Inverness County, Upper South West Mabou Road, commonly known as the Irish Road, is closed between Maron Road and the Rear Intervale Road. It will be closed for at least two weeks until repairs are made. The truss bridge on Murray Hill Road is also closed indefinitely due to damage from the last two rain storms. The bridge will be assessed by engineers and will be closed until repairs can be completed. “Our road workers are doing a tremendous job in getting our highways and roads back to working order,” said Mr. Scott. “Please continue to drive with caution, especially in areas where repairs are underway, to ensure everyone’s safety.” The total cost of repairs is still being assessed but is expected to be several hundred thousand dollars.last_img read more

Mark Wahlberg to play lead in Arthur the King

first_imgLos Angeles: Actor Mark Walhberg is set to star in Paramount Players true-life canine adventure story “Arthur the King”. The film is based Mikael Lindnord’s 2017 book “Arthur: The Dog who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home”. Michael Brandt, the scribe of “3:10 to Yuma”, has adapted the script, reported Variety. Walhberg, 48, will portray Lindnord, the Swedish adventure racer who won the hearts of millions when he and his team adopted Arthur, a badly wounded but big-hearted stray dog who tagged along with them during an epic endurance race in Ecuador. The studio is yet to announce a director for the film. Mark Canton and Tucker Tooley are producing the project alongside Courtney Solomon and Tessa Tooley. Brandt and Lindnord are also serving as executive producers along with Dorothy Canton.last_img read more

UFOs roommates and a deer in a clothing shop InTheNews for Oct

first_imgThe Canadian Press In-The-News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Oct. 2.What we are watching in Canada …It’s debate night.Four federal leaders will take the stage in Montreal tonight for the first debate to feature Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.Conservative Andrew Scheer, New Democrat Jagmeet Singh, and Yves-Francois Blanchet of the Bloc Quebecois will face off with Trudeau at 8 p.m. Eastern time, in a debate hosted by the private TVA television network and the Montreal newspaper Le Journal.That means they’re spending most of the day preparing, though the Liberals have a campaign announcement featuring cabinet minister Navdeep Bains in Toronto and the Tories have one planned with Scheer’s Quebec lieutenant Alain Rayes in Montreal.Trudeau is planning a visit to a boxing gym for a photo op, and Singh is going on a walkabout at a market, ostensibly to buy snacks for his preparation team.The organizers didn’t invite Green Leader Elizabeth May or the People’s Party’s Maxime Bernier, both of whom are campaigning in and around their home ridings for the day.—Also this …A jury will begin hearing evidence in the trial of a man accused of stabbing an Edmonton police officer and striking four pedestrians with a van.Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, who is in his early 30s, faces 11 charges including five counts of attempted murder, aggravated assault against the police officer and dangerous driving.Two years ago on Sept. 30, Const. Mike Chernyk was on duty outside a Canadian Football League game when a driver crashed through a barrier, got out of a vehicle, pulled out a large knife and began stabbing the officer.A few hours later, the driver of a speeding cube van hit and injured four pedestrians as it raced through the city’s downtown with police in pursuit.The trial in Court of Queen’s Bench is expected to last six weeks.—ICYMI (In case you missed it) …HALIFAX — This change is out of this world.The Royal Canadian Mint has issued a glow-in-the-dark coin that captures the eerie scene more than 50 years ago when what has been officially documented as a UFO crashed into Shag Harbour in southwestern Nova Scotia.The pure silver, rectangular-shaped coins are worth $129.95 each.The colourful image on the coin shows three fishermen aboard a boat, staring and gesturing as four orange lights gleam over a choppy sea.Shine the included black-light flashlight on the coin and the spaceship disappears, but four orange lights remain in the sky, as described by the many witnesses who reported seeing a UFO that night in 1967.—What we are watching in the U.S. …Setting a defiant tone, the Trump administration resisted Congress’ access to impeachment witnesses.House Democrats warned such efforts themselves could amount to an impeachable offence.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to delay five current and former officials from providing documents and testimony in the impeachment inquiry that could lead to charges against President Donald Trump.But Democrats were able to set closed-door depositions for Thursday for former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and next week for ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.In a Tuesday evening tweet, Trump cast the impeachment inquiry as a coup “intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!”  In fact, a coup is usually defined as a sudden, violent and illegal seizure of government power. The impeachment process is laid out in the U.S. Constitution.—What we are watching in the rest of the world …Hong Kong students are decrying police shooting of a teen protester.It was the first time a protester had been struck by gunfire since the protests began in June and is sure to inflame anger at police, who already were accused of using excessive force against the demonstrators.In a fearsome escalation of violence, Hong Kong police shot a protester in the chest at close range Tuesday, leaving the teenager bleeding and howling on the ground.Hundreds of college students are striking to condemn the police shooting of their classmate during surging violence at Hong Kong pro-democracy protests that marred China’s National Day.Police have said the officer feared for his life and his shooting of the 18-year-old student in the chest at close range Tuesday was “reasonable and lawful.” News reports say he is in critical but stable condition.Students at the Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu memorial college — which the teen attended — called police “murderer” on Wednesday. They chanted anti-police slogans and demanded accountability.—On this day in 1895 …Much of Canada’s Far North was formed into the provisional districts of Mackenzie, Yukon, Ungava and Franklin.Yukon became a territory in 1897.The remaining area was divided in 1918 into the districts of Mackenzie, Keewatin and Franklin, now the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.—Weird and wild …ROME, Italy — You’ve heard of a bull in a china shop, how about a deer in a high-end fashion boutique?It took authorities hours to free a dazed an confused deer that stormed into a clothing store in the fashionable mountain resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy.Local authorities estimate the deer was four or five years old and entered the shop while the attendant was away.The shopping district around the store was cordoned off while veterinarians anesthetized the animal and took it back to the wild.—Your money …Thousands of Canadians move in with new roommates every fall and realize they’ve got a conundrum: How to handle splitting the costs.Done right, dividing expenses with a roommate can alleviate plenty of headaches. Done wrong, it can rip apart friends.Desirae Odjick, a personal finance blogger in Ottawa, says rent is the easiest to split when rooms are the same size. Trouble comes when rooms are different sizes or one has an ensuite bathroom.Unless there are extenuating circumstances where one person uses significantly more water or electricity, she recommends splitting utility fees equally. Odjick considers internet and television a shared resource.Food is one of the trickiest expenses to split with roommate. Odjick recommends roommates only share food if they are really close with their roommate.—Celebrity news …MONTREAL — A judge has ordered Quebec media star Eric Salvail to stand trial on three charges, including sexual assault.The 50-year-old also faces charges of harassment and unlawful confinement involving a single victim, Donald Duguay, now 46.At Duguay’s request, the Crown asked that his name not be covered by the standard publication ban in sexual assault cases.The allegations date back to 1993.Salvail had his own TV production company, hosted a popular talk show on Groupe V Media and was a fixture on afternoon radio in the province.—This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2019.last_img read more

Court challenge coming by BC Wine Institute against Alberta wine ban

first_imgKELOWNA, B.C. – British Columbia’s wine merchants say an Alberta ban on their product is having a crushing impact on the grape business and they plan to go to court to try to stop it.The B.C. Wine Institute says it has told the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission that it will seek a court injunction in Calgary as early as Monday to halt the two-week-old ban pending a legal review of its constitutionality.“It is severely impacting B.C. winery and grape growers, and many of them are small, family-owned operators,” Miles Prodan, president of the institute, said in an interview Wednesday.“The prospect of losing Alberta, even in the short term, is not good at all, and that’s why we reluctantly take this action.”Prodan said a survey of some members showed at least $1 million in lost revenue in the ban’s first week and another $4 million in losses are projected by month’s end.Alberta has said B.C. takes in $70 million a year on sales of 17 million bottles of wine to Alberta.Prodan said he has yet to hear about layoffs, but some wineries are putting expansion plans on hold pending a resolution to the dispute.The B.C. government is challenging the ban as a violation of Canadian free-trade rules, but that will take months to resolve.Prodan said wine producers can’t wait.“The ban has had an immediate, material effect,” he said. “We just feel that we’re backed into a corner somewhat and we need to step up for the best interests of our industry.”The institute speaks for 276 wineries and 923 grape growers who employ more than 12,000 people.It said Alberta takes in 20 per cent of all bottles produced in B.C., making it the province’s biggest customer.Prodan also noted that an estimated 25 per cent of space on Alberta liquor store shelves is for B.C. wines.“They’ve got to sell wine, and if B.C. wine is not available they’ll switch, even reluctantly, to something else,” said Prodan.“Once that’s lost, it’s not an easy return.”It’s also feared that the ban will affect wine tourism, he said. The most recent study in 2015 found that one million tourists visited B.C. wineries.B.C. has not retaliated to Premier Rachel Notley’s move so far. B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said in a statement Wednesday that the province will stand with wine producers against the ban.“The Alberta government’s unfair and illegal decision to ban B.C. wine threatens the livelihood of the families that have worked so hard to build B.C.’s world-class wine industry,” she said.Premier John Horgan has said the province will look to market wine elsewhere, including the United States and Asia.Prodan called that a welcome, but long-term, prospect. “You don’t just shift gears that easily.”Alberta Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous said in an interview that the pipeline bottleneck is costing Alberta — and Canada — billions of dollars and lost jobs due to discounted oil prices.He said Alberta will fight the court application and won’t back away from any of its ongoing actions.“We will see them in court. We’ll see them at a tribunal. We’ll see them in a courtyard. We will fight British Columbia wherever we need to in order to ensure that this pipeline gets built,” said Bilous.Notley imposed the ban in retaliation for a Jan. 30 pledge by Horgan’s government to reject increased levels of oil through the Trans Mountain pipeline until the province reviews spill safety measures.B.C. is against expansion of the Kinder Morgan line from Edmonton to Burnaby, although it has already been approved by the federal government.Alberta sees Horgan’s actions as an illegal way to kill the expansion.Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have made it clear that only Ottawa, not the provinces, has the authority to decide what goes in trans-boundary pipelines.Federal officials have been meeting with their B.C. counterparts to find a solution to the impasse. Notley, who has also scuttled talks to buy B.C. electricity, says she will take further retaliatory action this week if there is no progress in talks.She has been meeting with a 19-member committee made up of business people and academics to find ways to put more heat on B.C. She has also launched an online protest petition against Horgan, which now has more than 36,000 names.On Wednesday, the government spent $62,000 to take out full-page ads in B.C. newspapers. They warn that the B.C. government is “trying to break the rules of Confederation and ignore the national climate plan, choosing to agree with only parts of the federal decision.”— By Dean Bennett in Edmonton(Companies in this story: TSX:KML)last_img read more

UN team heads to region to assess GeorgianAbkhaz peace process

3 July 2008A United Nations team tasked with assessing the Georgian-Abkhaz peace process will be heading to the region this weekend to consult with key actors, a spokesperson for the world body announced today. Led by Bertrand Ramcharan, former acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the mission will visit Tbilisi and Sukhumi for meetings with the parties and representatives of the international community, Michele Montas told reporters.The group will also visit the capitals of the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General – comprising France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – and consult with relevant regional organizations.“The mission will report back to the Secretary-General on key challenges in the UN-led peace process and possible solutions,” Ms. Montas said.Since 1993 the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) has been verifying compliance with a cessation of hostilities and separation of forces accord following the armed conflict between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides. read more

Elderly woman targeted in brazen theft

An elderly woman was the victim of a brazen jewelry theft in downtown Simcoe on Saturday afternoon.Two females exited a vehicle and approached the victim, who was pushing a walker as she made her way along the sidewalk on Robinson Street at about 5 p.m.The two females removed a bracelet from the woman’s wrist, a necklace and her wedding ring.The duo then handed the woman two gold chains before fleeing in the vehicle being driven by an unknown male.Police are encouraging pawn shops, second-hand stores and people in the jewelry business to be on the lookout for anyone attempting to sell the stolen items.The wedding band was purchased 65 years ago. It is described as having a wide yellow gold band with diamond chips embedded on the outer edge and circling the entire ring. The ring’s monetary value was not provided by police.The bracelet is described as yellow gold with emerald and diamond squares. It’s valued at about $2,200.The necklace, valued at $700, is wide yellow gold with diamond chips on the outline of a gold heart.“We have to hold these people accountable,” said Norfolk OPP Const. Ed Sanchuk.One suspect is described as being about five-feet tall with a darker skin complexion. The second suspect is described as being dark skinned.The vehicle is described as an older model, black in colour.Anyone with information is asked to contact the Ontario Provincial Police at 1 – 888 – 310 – 1122, Crime Stoppers at 1 – 800 – 222 – 8477(TIPS) or leave an anonymous online message at www.helpsolvecrime.com. read more