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Ottawa Star www.OttawaStar.com • November 7, 2013 • Volume 1, Issue 10
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‘Shopping While Black’ Barneys and Macy racial discrimination complaints stir emotions By Jesse Washington, The Associated Press
The usual scenario involves suspicious glances, inattentive clerks or rude service – not handcuffs. Yet when a black teen said he was wrongly jailed after buying a $350 belt at a Manhattan luxury store, it struck a nerve in African-Americans accustomed to finding that their money is not necessarily as good as everyone else’s. Shopping while black, they say, can be a humiliating experience. Much attention has been paid to the issue over the years—Oprah Winfrey complained that a Swiss clerk did not think she could afford a $38,000 handbag, and even President Barack Obama has said he was once followed in stores. But according to shoppers interviewed last week, many people don’t recognize how prevalent retail discrimination is, and how the consistent stream of small insults adds up to a large problem. Continued on page 14
Irish police return children to Roma parents Two blond, blue eyed children returned to Gypsy homes after DNA tests prove their parentage
Montreal electronic musician Grimes is being criticized for her decision to play a private show in Russia. Photo: Andrew Mager
Quebec plans to take in less immigrants The Canadian Press
UEBEC—The Quebec government, in the midst of a heated debate about minority accommodation, says it will lower its immigration targets so it can better integrate newcomers and ensure they are able to function in French. Immigration Minister Diane De Courcy announced the reductions as she made public the government’s immigration plan for the coming year.
The previous Liberal government had already started to trim levels before the debate over the values charter, a still-unadopted plan to ban civil service employees from wearing obvious religious symbols such as the hijab. About 55,000 immigrants came to Quebec in 2012, which the government of Premier Pauline Marois now believes is too many. Continued on page 5
By Shawn Pogatchnik, The Associated Press
DUBLIN, Ireland—Two blond children who were taken by Irish police from their Romanian Gypsy parents were returned last week to their families after DNA tests determined that the children were rightfully theirs, an episode that raised accusations of racism. The Irish police were responding to public tipoffs fueled by media coverage of an alleged child-abduction case in Greece involving a blond-haired girl and a family of Gypsies, known as Roma. Justice Minister Alan Shatter told lawmakers he was “pleased and relieved’’ that the children had been returned to their homes. He ordered the police commander, Commissioner Martin Callinan, to produce a report explaining why officers felt it necessary to take the children—a 2-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl—from their families. Continued on page 12
Canadian weed finds market in Asia Reversing years of East to West trade By Chris Brummitt, The Associated Press
HANOI, Vietnam—For the young Vietnamese dope smokers rolling up outside a smart Hanoi cafe, local cannabis is just not good enough. As with their Adidas caps, iPhones and Sanskrit tattoos, so with their choice of bud: only foreign will do. Potent marijuana grown indoors in Canada and the United States is easy to buy in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, say regular smokers, and sells for up to 10 times the price of locally grown weed. That’s perhaps surprising giv-
en that marijuana is easy to cultivate regionally, and bringing drugs across continents is expensive and risky. Some experts say the trade can be explained by the dominant role Vietnamese diaspora gangs play in cultivating the drug in western countries, making sourcing the product and smuggling it to Vietnam an easier proposition than it might be otherwise. The drug is used mostly by foreigners and wellheeled Vietnamese, who are prepared to pay for quality. Continued on page 10
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Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013
A celebration of Cuban culture in the Capital By Layla Piedra Abu Sharar
he Cuban community of Ottawa and Gatineau gathered at the Ukrainian Banquet Hall in Ottawa in celebration of Cuban Culture Day on Friday, Oct. 25. The theme of this year was “The Cuban Excellence” as the evening recognized the achievements of the Cuban Canadian Association of OttawaGatineau (CCAOG) in 2013, and the outstanding presence of the Cuban culture in the Capital region. Deputy Mayor Steve Desroches (left), Moraima Rodriguez, Mrs. Peña and Cuba’s Ambassador October 20, the official Cuban to Canada, Julio Garmendía Peña. Photo: Danilo Velasquez Culture day, marked the 145th an-
In-TAC holds job fair for IT and finance professionals By Ellen O’Connor
IT and finance professionals are invited to attend Career Expo 2013 organized by the Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre (OCCSC) Employment Services Division, In-TAC, on Tuesday, Nov. 19. Ottawa job-seekers in the fields of information technology and finance will have to chance to meet and network with about 30 local employers under one roof and discover various career opportunities. The job fair is an official Global Entrepreneurship Week event and its message this year is “Go Global: Hire Local.” “We were the only multicultural organization involved in last year’s GEW,” said InTAC’s senior manager Ying Xie in a press release. “It was such a positive experience we decided to become even more involved this year and hold In-TAC’s first Career Expo.”
Free workshops throughout the day will teach how to perfect a one-minute pitch, and employer panel presentations will discuss emerging trends in the IT and finance sectors as well as the current and future need for skilled professionals. Some of the employers that will be in attendance are Belairdirect, Canadian Armed Forces, Fortinet Technologies, Kivuto Solutions, Macaadamina, La Cité Collégiale, Scotiabank, S.i. Systems, Sun Life Financial, Superna and Willis College. In-TAC, short for International Talent Acquisition Centre, is an employment initiative by the OCCSC to match international educated professionals with Canadian companies, as well as provide the staffing, training and recruitment support and services to help their clients succeed in their field of interest.
Gary Epton, a member of OCCSC, said that In-TAC is just another step to help solve the cultural roadblock that many immigrants face when trying to find employment in Canada. He added that almost 70 per cent of clients end up getting employed through their employment division. Along with finding job placements for IT and finance professionals, In-TAC also works with employers to help with their workplace diversity training and cultural acceptance. In-TAC is one of the three services OCCSC provides, along with language training and client and settlement services. The job fair runs between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. at the RA Centre, 2451 Riverside Drive and is free admission. Interested job-seekers can pre-register for the free event at intaccareerexpo.eventbrite.ca and for more information can call 613-2354875 ext. 151 or email@example.com.
The Kathina festival at the Buddhist monastery in Ottawa By Tharanga Weerasooriya
The most revered Buddhist tradition of the vinaya pitaka (code of discipline) promulgated by the Buddha is the “kathina Ceremony” during the Buddha’s time. This 2500 year old annual Kathina Festival (robe offering) ceremony marking the end of Vassana (rainy) retreat for monks was held on a pious but grand scale in its pristine glory on Oct 19-20 at the
Hilda Jayewardenaramaya Buddhist monastery and meditation centre. Under the guidance of the most Venerable Brahmanagama Muditha, Venerable Nugegalayaye Jinananda, Venerable Kirinde Vijitha and the devotees of the temple organised the ceremony. Sixteen venerable bhikkhus (male monks) and bhikkunis (female monks) participated in the ceremony. There was a pirith chanting ceremony on 19th and
offering of kathina robe and dana (food) to the monks and people on 20th. By tradition, during the South Asian rainy season, Theravada (the elders’ tradition) Buddhist monks observe a three month’s retreat known as Vassana retreat. Devotees of a temple would invite one or more monks to spend the three months during the rainy season in their temple and would see to the needs of the monks by offering food, medication and other req-
niversary of the Cuban National Anthem, La Bayamesa, which was heard for the first time when rebel troops led by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, freed the city of Bayamo in 1868. It was instituted in commemoration of one of the most important events in Cuban history. This year, the City of Ottawa issued a decree recognizing the event as a way to celebrate and acknowledge the achievements of the Cuban community. Deputy Mayor Steve Desroches, officially delivered the decree to Cuba’s ambassador to Canada, Mr. Julio Garmendía Peña, and congratulated the Cuban community on their contribution to the diversity and culture within Ottawa. “I am very happy with the outcome of the event, and extremely honoured to have received the decree from the City of Ottawa,” said Moraima Rodriguez, president of the CCAOG. “This means a lot for the Cuban and Latin American communities in Ottawa.” Rodriguez shared her thanks toward other Latin American organizations for their support and participation in the event. Mauril Bélanger, Liberal MP for Ottawa-Vanier dwelt on the unforgettable historical and political relationship between Cuba and Canada and also discussed the importance of the Cuban contribution to the cultural environment in Canada. Garmendía Peña thanked the community for all of their efforts and accomplishments, as well as the Canadian government for all of their support. The remainder of the night was enjoyed with plenty of salsa and merengue music, folkloric performances, and delicious traditional food and beverages specially prepared for the event.
uisites. For the whole of three months, the monks would stay in one place meditating for spiritual development and seeing to the religious needs of the lay people in the area. At the end of three months, a robe or cloth is prepared by pious devotees to be offered to monks who have successfully completed spiritual training and development. This specially prepared robe or clothe is offered to monks at the annual gathering or ceremony known as the Kathina (robe offering) ceremony. The origin of Kathina occurred when Buddha advised monks to stay in one place and refrain from travelling as it could cause unintentional harm to plants and insects. The event was sponsored by Mrs. Mallika Edirisinghe and the family.
Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013
www.OttawaStar.com • PAGE 3
Oh won’t you color me some Ottawa By Samantha Ammoun
rom the jazz rhythms echoing through the St Elias banquet hall, the smell of fresh coffee simmering to the beautiful pieces of art decorating every corner, Ottawans were invited to observe, to buy and to speak to some of Canada’s most exceptionally talented artists at the Ottawa Art Expo between October 26 and 27. “It’s artist meets public. You can just float around and you don’t feel any pressure,” said Ross Rheaume, cofounder of the Ottawa Art Expo. “Here everyone is welcome, it’s really a friendly environment, and no one is trying to get a buck out of this.” The not-for-profit organization was founded in 2008 to provide a significant indoor event for fine arts. With only 70 spots available and hundreds of applicants, Rheaume said this year’s judges looked to select artists who showed a greater level of skill, technique and overall quality in their art. Hamid Ayoub, painter and instructor, is no stranger to this event; his art was showcased for a fourth consecutive year. “I have to compete very hard, with very good artists,” he said. Ayoub was born in Sudan and arrived to Canada in 2001 when asked to represent West African countries in visual arts at the Jeux de la Francophonie. He has remained in Ottawa ever since. “I feel safe here, I can create more. In a sense, my art saved me,” said Ayoub. “My family was still in Sudan for six years before they finally joined me. I used art to relieve myself from depression and the stress.” Ayoub’s collection of paintings reflect his personal experiences from back in Sudan, which at times were difficult. Yet, Ayoub still looks to trigger joy in his paintings by making use of vibrant color choices and a unique pallet knife technique. Sandy Sharkey, on the other hand, was selected to showcase her photographs for the first time and was delighted to do so. She has travelled across Canada and the United States to take pictures of all kinds of animals, but her greatest passion is wild horses. “When you’re standing on a mountain pass and a herd of wild horses run by you, it has to be one of the most amazing experiences of your entire life, these animals are majestic and the ultimate symbol of freedom,” she said. “Hopefully someone will have one speak to them and they’ll end up on their living room wall.” Yisa Akinbolaji, who drove all the way from Winnipeg to be a part of the event, showcased a unique painting technique, harmonizing layers of paint, shapes, colors and textures.
OriginallyfromNigeria,Akinbolajifound inspiration in sounds of music and nature. “The purpose of my layering is to make people experience a little magic. I want people to look at my work as an abstract work that brings two people to communicate,” he said. Ottawans also had the unique opportunity to see the works of those who had received particular recognition during the Art Expo’s award ceremony that was held October 25.
Yisa Akinbolaji, an abstract painter at the Ottawa Art Expo. Photo: Samantha Ammoun
PAGE 4 • www.OttawaStar.com
Upcoming Events By Ellen O’Connor
November 9: Orient Productions presents Simon Shaheen & Ensemble in “The Call: Songs of Liberation.” Palestinian-born Shaheen is an Arab musician and composer, who has earned international acclaim as a virtuoso on the ‘oud and violin. Shaheen is joined by the Near Eastern Music Ensemble and will be performing a range of music from traditional Arab sounds to jazz and Western classical styles. It is held at Bronson Centre Theatre, located at 211 Bronson Ave. and begins at 7:30. Ticket prices range from $35 - $55. November 9: CHIN Radio’s Michael Qaqish invites you to an evening with mezzo-soprano Julie Nesrallah for a community fundraiser in honour of our veterans. Held on Saturday, Nov. 9 over Remembrance Day weekend, all funds will go toward the Barrhaven Legion. The concert begins at 7 p.m. at Cedarview Alliance Church, 2784 Cedarview Road. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased from the Barrhaven Legion. November 10: Mushfiq Ensemble presents Mystic Heart. Join the Mushfiq Ensemble in its journey into Sufi poetry of the greats such as Rumi, Kabir and Hafez. Performances will include a wide variety of styles from South and Central Asia. The concert will also feature an art exhibit of original paintings and calligraphy. Attend and experience the depth of universal message of love. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Centrepointe Sudio, 101 Centrepointe Drive. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. November 22-24: Get in the holiday spirit at the St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church’s Pre-Christmas Bazaar. Located at 1 Canfield Rd at Greenbank, the three-day free event features Christmas carols, a choir, Christmas play, and a clown on Saturday, Nov. 23, as well as Egyptian food, crafts, copper plates, pharaonic papyrus and more all weekend. Seniors receive at 10 per cent discount. November 24: The 5th annual Suhaag Show is coming to Ottawa and is a must-attend event for all soon-to-be brides and grooms and their families. Called the longest-running and largest South Asian show in North America, it will feature a variety of vendors that have everything you need for your dream wedding including entertainment, fashion, food, and decor. The show is located the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre, 200 Coventry Rd. December 2: The Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre is holding their Annual Fundraising Gala at the Chu Shing Oriental Restaurant, 691 Somerset St. W. Hosted by CTV news anchor, Vanessa Lee, the evening will feature a 10-course banquet, performances, a silent auction and draws. Tickets are $65 with a $35 tax receipt available and all proceeds go toward supporting the OCCSC employment, language and settlement programs and services for immigrants.
Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013
Bhangra meets Bollywood in Ottawa By Ellen O’Connor
f you’re looking for a new type of entertainment for your wedding, business event, or party, a fusion of India Bhangra and Bollywood music and dance may be just the thing. This month, Gabroo Shokeen, a Bhangra dance school headed by 22-yearold Mandeep Singh is joining forces with Live2Dance, an academy run by Deepali Jamwal that operates out of Chad Wolfe Studio in Nepean. With the union of Gabroo Shokeen and Live2Dance academy, dancers will be able to take a variety of lessons, from folk and modern Bhangra, to Bollywood and dhol lessons in a formal studio space, and Ottawa audiences will have the opportunity to enjoy the fusion entertainment. Jamwal’s lessons combines a variety of dance forms, including jazz, jive, hip hop, and salsa, and puts them to Bollywood music.
Jamwal said the focus of joining the academies is to share choreography and dances styles, as well as appeal to both Canadian and Indian audiences. “The beauty about dance is that any two dance forms can join forces and find some sort of fusion,” said Singh. Singh has been competitively dancing Bhangra for five years with other Ottawa and Toronto dancers. “Last year is when it hit me and my brother, as some fellow dancers began to graduate and move on, that we wanted to create an academy and team to represent Ottawa on a national level,” said Singh. It was then they founded and launched Gabroo Shokeen. Complete with a senior, junior and under 12 team. Singh said an eight man squad of junior members is already practicing for a national competition in July at Niagara Falls. This will be the first time that an Ottawa-based team
Deepali Jamwal Photo: Smiles Photography
will be represented at a national level, with a full dance team, singer and dhol drummer. Singh’s brother also launched the Algonquin Bhangra Club last fall, as an educational, open-door club for any student or teacher at Algonquin College to drop in and learn about the dance.
Cuadra’s A-List elevator pitch By Samantha Ammoun
“When I was 15-years-old, panhandling on the streets in downtown Ottawa, lost and on drugs, there was no way that someone could have tapped me on the shoulder and said this is where you will be at 36,” said Alfonso Cuadra. Having opened a successful clothing chain, worked in real estate, written an autobiography and success guide, and hosted his own TV show Success by Design, now in its third season, the father of two young girls and of a business aimed at motivating entrepreneurs said none of his accomplishments happened by accident. “Anybody is capable of anything…I found a purpose, and I held on to that purpose. I always tell people, your reason why should make you want to cry,” he said.
But like all stories, there was a time when Cuadra’s life was not as bright. At the age of nine, he and his mother came to Canada from El Salvador as political refugees after escaping war and a corrupted government. For years, his mother had been targeted for writing about human rights abuses and finally landed herself with a 30-year prison ticket. It was not until Amnesty International swapped her prison ticket for a ticket to Canada for her and her son, that Cuadra’s mother had a second chance at a life. As a child, Cuadra was labeled as the boy with multiple learning disorders, which made it difficult for him to blend in. “I dropped out of high school at 15-years-old and left home. I was completely homeless. My turning point came
Guyana wants Ottawa to “Enjoy de Mix” By Samantha Ammoun
An evening filled with laughter, music, dance, poetry and delicious food were on the menu at Centrepointe Theatre, October 26. The Guyana Ottawa Cultural Association hosted their fourth annual heritage night, “Enjoy de Mix” that left the audience with smiles on their faces as many hummed folkloric hymns on their way out of the theatre. The evening began with one of its special guest performers, Cyril Dabydeen, poet and creative writing professor who shared with the audience some of his favor-
ite pieces including, his most famous poem, Multiculturalism. The evening continued with video presentations, dance numbers, singing, performances by the group Divine Connection and a fashion show by local designer Frank Sukhoo. “Guyana is often referred to as the land of six peoples where Eastern Indians, Chinese, Portuguese, Amerindians, British and Africans have played an active role in our history,” said Sylvia Barrow, secretary with the association. “We share each other’s festivals, foods, customs and what has become Guyanese today is truly a marriage of all those things.”
at 17 when my girlfriend at the time told me she’s pregnant. Nine months later, they put this little girl in my arms and my life changed from there,” he said, as he points to his personalized iPhone case showing a picture of himself and his two children. Rebuilding his life from the ground up began at that exact moment. Cuadra decided to return to high school and eventually enter the world of business. “I started selling from my backpack. I opened up my location in 1998 called Rugged Culture, and by the time I was 20-yearsold I had 15 locations across Canada, got into real estate and never looked back,” he said. Today, Cuadra helps people find a purpose and build a business plan from A to Z. He blogs on YouTube and hosts networking events with other successful entrepreneurs.
Barrow said while the rest of South America has its blue seas and white sand to share, Guyana has its homes and heritage, even here in Ottawa. “We want to rejuvenate the association with some youth and it is reflected in our program as we reach out to the talented and creative members of our community,” President Denise Moore-Isaacs said. “The kids are truly the ones who drive us to these things. When my daughter started asking me questions about our heritage, I found myself asking the same ones,” said David Sutton, communications chair and assistant treasurer. “Heritage night is one of the ways we are able to connect with each other. It informs us of who we are, where we came from and how we fit in the larger diaspora. I always felt it to be empowering, the thought that I am not just out there, I am part of something bigger.”
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Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013
By Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press
ORONTO—The drug scandal involving the mayor of Canada’s largest city received international attention as police revealed they had found an alleged video that appears to show Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. Toronto’s controversial mayor has drawn the attention of friends and foes since May with his abrupt dismissal of media reports carrying details of the alleged video— which he had said did not exist, while denying that he ever smoked cocaine. But confirmation from the city’s police chief that the video was in the hands of authorities forced Ford into the spotlight, with his troubles becoming an international talking point. “Toronto police link mayor to cocaine,” blared a headline on the front page of the New York Times website. “Toronto mayor drugs video found,” said another on the home page of the BBC website. News outlets as far as India, Europe and Australia also carried coverage of the bombshell revelations. U.S. gossip website Gawker, which along with the Toronto Star newspaper was the first to report on the alleged
video earlier this year, criticized Ford after the mayor said he had no reason to resign. “Well, there’s the crack tape! But, sure, pal,” a piece on the website said. Vanity Fair chimed in: “the most anticipated film of the year is not ”Gravity“ or ”Blue is the Warmest Color“ or even ”Last Vegas”…it is an independently produced amateur documentary that purportedly shows Toronto Mayor Rob “Oh Yeah, Rob Ford” Ford smoking crack.“ Some U.S. observers compared the Ford affair to the case of former Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry, who was busted smoking crack cocaine by an FBI sting in 1990. “Marion Barry had one of the best mayors-smoking-crack videos of all time. Yes, even in terrible scandal, Canada is still decades behind the United States of America,” wrote the author of a cheeky piece on the National Journal political news website. The article noted that Barry was reelected as mayor after serving a sentence for drug possession. “While the Rob Ford news is reasonably astonishing…it definitely isn’t unprecedented,” the piece said. “Canada just can’t escape its southern neighbour’s sad, sad shadow.”
Quebec plans to take in less immigrants Continued from page 1
The target for 2014 has been set between 49,000 and 52,500 and will be reduced the following year to between 48,500 and 51,500 people. The province struck a deal with the federal government decades ago to gain some control over its immigration programs. More recently, the Charest Liberal government had planned to stabilize immigration levels around 50,000 new arrivals per year, a target that was regularly exceeded. It did close some valves leading to a decline in immgrants from Africa. Now Quebec’s fiscal and demographic pressures raise the question of whether the province might actually be taking in too few immigrants—not too many.
In recent years Quebec has actually been taking in a slightly higher share of immigrants to Canada—at 21.3 per cent last year, from a low of less than 13 per cent in the two years leading up to the 1995 referendum. But that has not stopped the province’s demographic clout from dropping within Canada. The province has gone from having 29 per cent of the national population in 1951 to 24 per cent in 2011, as Quebec lagged behind some other provinces in population growth. Quebec has also announced that it will spend an additional $13.5 million per year during the next three years to teach immigrants French. A public consultation is planned to help revise guidelines and set desirable immigration levels for the future.
www.OttawaStar.com • PAGE 5
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Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013
Racism and paranoia against Roma parents J
ust after the news of Maria, a blond and blue-eyed girl discovered in Greece living amidst poverty and squalor with dark skinned Roma parents ignited the global imagination and captivated world’s attention, we are hit by one more: this time from Ireland. In an episode that showed prejudice, paranoia and racist hysteria two children were taken by Irish police from their Romanian Gypsy parents purely on suspicion that the children had been abducted because they were blond-haired and blueeyed, unlike their parents. Just because the children were fair skinned the police investigation started. It became: are these, really children of the dark coloured parents? Something had to be wrong and very fishy. For the police, the answer was evident and obvious. These children had to be abducted. But the DNA results were a huge embarrassment to the Irish police because it proved that the children truly belonged to the Roma parents. What struck me in this case was the quickness with which some people jumped to racist conclusion after mere observation and how quickly within a few hours racist hysteria was whipped up- all because a blond child was found with dark Roma parents. As Tunku Varadarajan wrote for World news at Daily Beast “A very dark-skinned kid in the keep of blonde people is part of the natural order, proof, in fact, of benevolence, of the big heartedness of the adoption process. But the converse—as is Maria’s case—is not merely fishy, it is almost in-
conceivable. What is wrong with this picture? Everything.” At the crux of the matter here is all kinds of feelings-prejudices, paranoia, misconceptions, negative stereotyping, ethnic hatred -that are intransient social human conditions which we have learnt to restrain and curb in a civilized society. The racial hysteria and “leap to racial conclusions”, when it happens, is a very discomforting feeling, particularly in this case (of blond children and dark Roma parents), when the prejudices are so rude, shameless, and blatant. It is wrong to target one particular community on the basis of unfounded perception that they may have broken the law. It is vesting too much power with the police. What can stop police from literally abducting your children from your home on the grounds that they don’t look like you and so must be not yours? What about parents who have adopted children of different heritage or of different ethnicity? Do they have to walk around with their child’s adoption papers to prove their parentage? It is a slippery slope and if it can happen in Ireland and Greece which are not some third world countries ruled by dictators but developed countries with democracy and rule of law, it can happen anywhere. Actions by the state need to be evidence based and due process needs to be accorded to all communities living. There is a real danger that precipitative action, undertaken on the basis of appearance and looks can create an explosive situation for racism and discrimination against ethnic minorities.
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To be or not be a stay at home mom
By Sangeetha Arya
illiam Shakespeare famously said in the opening phrase of a soliloquy in Hamlet: “To be, or not to be, that is the question:” One paramount dilemma or question we are constantly faced, as women, is whether to stay at home with our child or to work. Making the choice can be extremely difficult. Unfortunately, to decide to be a stay at home mom is also to fight the negative stereotype that you are “50’s throwback” and “unmotivated, depressed, uneducated and all wealthy.” This is certainly not true. There are many pleasures, upsides, and silver linings of stay-
Publisher: Chandrakanth Arya Chief Editor: Sangeetha Arya Editor: Ellen O’Connor
ing at home with a newborn or young child. The most important advantage is being able to witness your child’s milestones. If you stay home with your children it does make a huge difference in their lives. You will probably be the one to hear your child’s first words, see it take its first step and be proud of the fact that whenever your child learns something new it was because of what you have been teaching it. It is priceless and beyond comparison to witness their little bodies and minds grow; it’s like being there at a live concert as compared to watching the highlights on TV. Other advantages are you are not commuting and spending long time away from your child any more. You have more time with those you care about and you are not missing out on the precious moments which once gone are gone for ever. You can savor the pleasures of a more simple and humble lifestyle.
Production: Benoit Deneault Joey Sabourin Editorial Contact Editor@OttawaStar.com
Although there are advantages, there are also some disadvantages. A national study conducted by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC) reveals that support for stay-at-home parenting drops among people with higher levels of education who have invested in 15-18 years for education and training. Working gives to many a parents a sense of purpose and a sense of identity, and adds meaning to their life. They miss their job –because they have jobs that are very rewarding, and fill a niche that they can’t get at home. Andrea Mrozek, executive director of IMFC in Ottawa, also felt that many women see their work as a way of setting an example of success for their children. By opting to stay at home they think they are sending their children wrong signals. Of course, countless other working parents are doing so because financially they have no choice. All said and done, once you make your decision, embrace it. There’s a reason you’re on this journey, whether it be staying at home or working, and you’re right where you are supposed to be.
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Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013
Why spy on allies? In geopolitics, even best friends keep secrets By Nancy Benac, The Associated Press
n geopolitics, even best friends don’t tell each other everything. And everybody’s dying to know what the other guy knows. Revelations that the U.S. has been monitoring the cellphone calls of up to 35 world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have brought into sharp relief the open secret that even close allies keep things from one another—and do all they can to find out what’s being held back. The Israelis recruited U.S. naval analyst Jonathan Pollard to pass along U.S. secrets including satellite photos and data on Soviet weaponry in the 1980s. The British were accused of spying on U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan before the Iraq War. The French, Germans, Japanese, Israelis and South Koreans have been accused of engaging in economic espionage against the United States. But the technology revealed by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden has underscored the incredible reach of the U.S. spy agency. And it is raising the question for some allies: Is this still OK? National Intelligence Director James Clapper testified last week that it is a “basic tenet’’ of the intelligence business to find out whether the public statements of world leaders go with what’s being said behind closed doors.
What might the Americans have wanted to know from Merkel’s private conversations, for example? Topics could include her thinking on European economic strategy and Germany’s plans for talks with world powers about Iran’s nuclear program. Allies often have diverging interests, and the explosion of digital and wireless communication keeps creating new ways to spy on one another. Shifting alliances mean that today’s good friends may not be sometime soon. “It was not all that many years ago when we were bombing German citizens and dropping the atomic bomb on the Japanese,’’ says Peter Earnest, a 35-year veteran of the CIA and now executive director of the International Spy Museum in Washington. News that the U.S. has tapped foreign leaders’ phones was surprising to many - the White House claims that even President Barack Obama wasn’t aware of the extent of the surveillance and has prompted loud complaints from German, French and Spanish officials, among others. It’s all possible because “an explosion in different kinds of digital information tools makes it possible for intelligence agencies to vacuum up a vast quantity of
Scare stories of Canadian labour and skills shortages a myth By Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press
TTAWA—A new report from the TD Bank attempts to debunk what its authors call the myth of widespread skills mismatches in Canada and of a looming labour shortage as the workforce ages. The findings run counter to the general discourse on the subject over the past few years, which has tended to highlight shortages in trades and in Western Canada, along with warnings of overall labour shortages as the baby boom generation moves into retirement. The federal government has introduced several measures to combat the problem, including more stringent rules for obtaining unemployment insurance benefits and a new proposal, called the Jobs Grant, that would directly involve employers in decisions and funding of training programs.
The government has said it will go ahead with the program despite what appears to be near universal opposition from the provinces. But the bank’s report, authored by TD’s deputy chief economist Derek Burleton and three other bank economists, says whatever skills shortages exist are isolated and likely no greater than a decade ago. “Evidence of economy-wide shortages is hard to find,’’ said Burleton. “Yes, across regions and occupations, skills mismatches (exist) because you are never going to get a perfect match. “So it’s not a complete myth, but it’s not as extreme as people believe.’’ The report, which runs 52 pages, looks at a variety of factors for its conclusions, including job vacancy rates and overqualification and underqualification rates in comparison with other countries.
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data,’’ says Charles Kupchan, a former Clinton administration official and now a senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. “When you add together the Internet, wireless communications, cellphones, satellites, drones and human intelligence, you have many, many sources of acquiring intelligence.’’ “The magnitude of the eavesdropping is what shocked us,’’ former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in a radio interview. “Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop, too. Everyone is listening to everyone else. But we don’t have the same means as the United States, which makes us jealous.’’ Protests aside, diplomats around the world know the nature of the game. “I am persuaded that everyone knew everything or suspected everything,’’ Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said of the reports of U.S. monitoring. And while prime ministers and lawmakers across Europe and Asia say they are outraged, Clapper told Congress that other countries’ own spy agencies helped the NSA collect data on millions of phone calls as part of co-operative counterterror agreements. Robert Eatinger, the CIA’s senior deputy general counsel, told an American
Bar Association conference on Thursday that European spy services have stayed quiet throughout the recent controversy because they also spy on the U.S. “The services have an understanding,’’ Eatinger said. Still, Claude Moraes, a British Labor Party politician and member of the European Union delegation that travelled to Washington this week for talks about U.S. surveillance, was troubled by the broad net being cast by U.S. intelligence. “Friend-upon-friend spying is not something that is easily tolerable if it doesn’t have a clear purpose,’’ he said. “There needs to be some kind of justification. ... There is also a question of proportionality and scale.’’ Obama has promised a review of U.S. intelligence efforts in other countries, an idea that has attracted bipartisan support in Congress. The United States already has a written intelligence-sharing agreement with Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand known as “Five Eyes,’’ and France and Germany might be interested in a similar arrangement. A database maintained by the Defence Personnel Security Research Center covering Americans who committed espionage against the U.S. includes activity on behalf of a wide swath of neutral or allied countries since the late 1940s. U.S. citizens have been arrested for conducting espionage on behalf of South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Israel, the Netherlands, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Ghana, Liberia, South Africa, El Salvador and Ecuador, according to the database.
They also looked at wage gains on the theory that if labour is scarce, employers will pay more to obtain it. But even in Alberta and Saskatchewan, which for years have led the country in low unemployment rates and have real shortages in certain trades, the report suggests the problem is far from crisis proportions. “The story on the wage data remains curious, as wage gains out West have not increased to the extent that one might have thought given the signs of tightness,’’ the economists wrote. Nor do they buy into dire predictions of massive labour shortages down the road as the aging workforce moves into retirement, noting that older Canadians are working longer and that other market adjustments are likely to occur. The latest Bank of Canada business outlook survey released last week did show an uptick in firms reporting difficulty finding specific skills, but the bank added that in general “firms do not consider the intensity of labour shortages to be very different from 12 months ago.’’ The TD economists do say that skills mismatches could increase in the future and urges governments, business and educators to increase their focus on skills and
training “to provide Canada with a worldleading workforce in the 21st century.’’ In an overview of Canada’s labour market over the last decade, the economists judge that Canada has fared far better than the United States and other members of the Group of Seven big industrial economies, with the possible exception of Germany. Despite the dip during the 2008-09 recession, job growth in Canada has averaged 1.3 per cent a year between 2003 and 2013, compared with 0.4 per cent for the U.S. and 0.3 per cent for the G7 as a whole. Canada’s pace of job creation has been slightly better than the growth in the labour market during the period, the economists say. The authors noted other trends, including a growth in temporary or contract jobs, which may show a deterioration of job quality but could also be attractive to older workers. They say older workers are punching well beyond their weight,’’ in terms of their takeup of new jobs, while youth unemployment remains elevated. Still, they say concerns about a “lost generation’’ is overstated, saying the job outcome of recent university graduates, including those with liberal arts degrees, “are likely better than many Canadians perceive.’’
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Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013
Communist Cuba’s new private industry: 3D movie theatres with latest films, and video games By Michael Weissenstein, The Associated Press
HAVANA, Cuba—he streets of central Havana were dark and almost silent as a young married couple climbed a chipped marble staircase to the top of an aging building. Dubied Arce and Dayelin Perez opened a narrow door to a flood of cold air, colored light and the twang of a country-and-western video blasting from a wall-mounted TV. To their right: a private movie theatre with a 200-inch screen, glossy leather armchairs and a high-definition 3D projector. In another room: a half dozen Xbox video-game consoles wired to flat-screen displays that were hand-carried by Cubans returning from trips abroad. President Raul Castro has legalized small-scale private business in nearly 200 fields since 2010 in an effort to rejuvenate Cuba’s economy. The limited opening has created jobs for some 436,000 people, but is often accompanied by tighter regulations or higher taxes as private enterprise starts to compete with the government. Video parlours aren’t mentioned among the approved businesses but aren’t explicitly prohibited either. Their owners usually operate under licenses for restaurants or snack bars, then add entertainment options that grow larger than the original business. “What are we to do: prohibit or regulate? I believe in regulating, from a funda-
People wait to see a movie at a private theater called “3D Mania” in Havana, Cuba.
mental starting point: everybody complying with cultural policy,’’ Vice Minister of Culture Fernando Rojas told the Communist Party youth organ Juventud Rebelde. The paper said Rojas believes the video salons are promoting “a lot of frivolity, mediocrity, pseudo culture and banality, which flies in the face of a policy demanding that quality comes first in Cubans’ cultural consumption.’’ Most video parlours feature recent Hollywood blockbusters like “Star Trek,’’ ‘’Ice Age “and ‘’World War Z, “with children’s fare in the daytime and horror late at night. Cuba’s state-run cinemas generally show higher-brow films in poorly maintained theatres. The current government fare in Havana in-
AP Photo/Franklin Reyes
cludes ‘’Sarah’s Key, “a 2010 French drama about the Holocaust. Some parlours have nothing more than a TV, a DVD player, a handful of 3D glasses and a dozen or so chairs in a family garage or living room. Others, like the cinema and game parlour where Arce and Perez had their night out, are professionally designed. Aixa Suarez, a former purchasing agent for a state-run business, said the 55-inch LG 3D TV set and Xbox game console bought by her brother in Florida allow her to support her mother, father and 9- and 16-year-old son and daughter. She charges teens in her central Havana neighbourhood $1 or $2, depending on the hour, to play video games or watch a movie in her home. That income has fully replaced her
$45 monthly state salary and added a significant percentage, but her feeling of independence is even more important, she said. “I don’t have a boss. I am the boss,’’ said Suarez. “I don’t have set hours. That’s the biggest advantage. And that’s enough for me.’’ In the higher-end salon, the equipment alone cost $100,000, all hand-carried on flights from Canada, where the Cuban-born owner lives, the manager said, declining to provide details because of the possibility of a government crackdown. Movie tickets cost $4, which includes a drink and popcorn. The eight employees share a percentage of the earnings, and it should take three years to recoup the initial investment.
Chris Hadfield settles back into Canada with new book, OHIP card and driver’s licence By Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
TORONTO—He’s explored space several times, become a national treasure and global social media sensation, and even fielded record deals. But these days, what gets indefatigable former astronaut Chris Hadfield excited are his more humble, grounded accomplishments as he finally settles into a permanent home in his native province of Ontario. “I got my driver’s licence and I got my OHIP card and I’m getting moved back into the country,” Hadfield, 54, said in a recent interview in Toronto, where he and wife Helene just bought a house they plan to take possession of in December. “I’m proud,” he added as he pulled out his wallet to show off his new licence. “I had a temporary (licence) for quite a while.” For 26 years the moustachioed Sarnia, Ontario, native has been outside of
Canada—in Russia and the U.S. – building a career which allowed him to become the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm in orbit, the first Canadian to walk in space and the first Canadian to command the International Space Station. On that last five-month mission, Hadfield went viral online with tweets, photos of Earth and videos of himself explaining everyday space oddities and singing and playing music on his guitar. His songs included a revamped version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and a tune he’d written with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies. Hadfield retired from his career as an astronaut in July, shortly after getting back from the ISS. But as is typical for him, he’s not slowing down. Hadfield said he’s working with a Canadian illustrator on a second book, for children. He’s also been writing for
Photo: NASA/Robert Markowitz
various magazines, is in talks for a possible young adult version of “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth,” and will start a new job as adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo next fall.
Hadfield said he also co-wrote and recorded a song with Emm Gryner, a former Bowie band member who played piano in Hadfield’s “Space Oddity” video. The new song will be on Gryner’s next CD. Then there’s the “entire CD’s worth of music” he wrote and recorded in orbit that he wants to do something with. And he still faces the weighty task of recovering from his last return to Earth, which takes a huge physical toll and many months to get over. “It took about four months to be able to run probably again,” said Hadfield. “It’s like a big illness that you’re recovering from, and I’m still growing bone back. I still have pretty fragile hips, like osteoperodic hips.” At least he can drive now, though. Asked if he was nervous on his driving test, Hadfield laughed: “I try not to be nervous on tests. I try to get ready so that I know I’m going to pass.”
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Entertainment News in Brief The Canadian Press
Montreal’s Grimes defends herself against criticism for playing show in Russia TORONTO—Montreal electronic musician Grimes is defending her decision to play a private show in Russia after apparently being criticized over Twitter. The Juno Award winner behind last year’s celebrated “Visions” confirmed that she’s got an imminent gig in Moscow and adds: “No, I do not feel bad about it.” In a Tumblr post titled “response to Twitter criticisms of the show in Russia,” she adds that while this is a private event, she’ll return to the country later for a bigger show. In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law outlawing providing “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to children, threatening so-called offenders with prison sentences, hefty fines or, in the case of foreigners, deportation. Via Twitter, Grimes told a fan she was hoping to return for a “big” Russian tour in the spring. “I don’t think that denying and ignoring the gay community in Russia is cool,” wrote the 25-year-old, whose real name is Claire Boucher. “I have gay friends in Russia and the only (straight) person on the Grimes team is James as far as I know lol.” “We are entering safely and it means the world to me to be returning to Russia,” she added. “It doesn’t hurt the government if I refuse to tour there. Just regular people. So I don’t think it’s wrong to be doing this. Refusing to go to Russia would only hurt fans.”
ange County school. Those who break the rules could be ineligible for future dances for the remainder of the school year. Parents also will be notified. No other high schools in the Capistrano Unified School District say they have banned twerking. Twerking has gained recent popularity among teens thanks to pop star Miley Cyrus, but the dance has been around for a while.
Safety citations planned after Cirque du Soleil acrobat’s death during Vegas performance LAS VEGAS—Authorities say they plan to issue safety citations following the death of an acrobat this summer in a Las Vegas Strip Cirque du Soleil performance. Officials say they’ve wrapped up their investigation into the June 29 death of 31-year-old Sarah Guillot-Guyard, who fell 94 feet to the floor below when a wire rope she was suspended from was severed due to her rapid descent. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed six citations for Cirque du Soleil Nevada and three citations for the MGM Grand,
where the performance took place. Both entities can appeal. The show, “Ka,” was cut short after the acrobat’s fall, and reopened 17 days after her death. Guillot-Guyard was the first Cirque du Soleil performer to die in an onstage accident in the company’s 29-year history.
China’s superstar pianist Lang Lang selected by UN chief as a UN Messenger of Peace China’s superstar pianist Lang Lang has been selected to be a United Nations Messenger of Peace—a role he says is more important than his music because it can help improve the lives of children around the world through education. Being a Messenger of Peace is the highest honour bestowed by the UN chief on accomplished individuals in any field. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced his selection of Lang at a news conference Monday, calling the 31-yearold pianist “one of the most exciting and accomplished musicians of our time.” Lang has been a goodwill ambassador for the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, for the last 10 years and Ban said
he will focus on getting the 57 million school-age children who aren’t getting an education into classrooms.
BBC’s Paul Gambaccini arrested on suspicion of sexual offences (AP) LONDON—The BBC says its veteran TV and radio presenter Paul Gambaccini has been arrested on suspicion of sexual offences. The broadcaster says the 64-yearold Gambaccini, who has worked at the BBC for four decades and is one of Britain’s best-known music presenters, was questioned Oct 29. The BBC said he was released on bail later that day. Police didn’t confirm the report, saying only that two men, aged 64 and 74, were arrested as part of an operation probing historical sexual abuse. The investigation was triggered by the abuse scandal surrounding late BBC broadcaster Jimmy Savile. Police in Britain don’t name suspects until they are charged. Gambaccini’s spokesman said Nov 1 the presenter denies the allegations. The BBC said Gambaccini wouldn’t be presenting his radio show Saturday
Amazon orders new pilots for TV shows NEW YORK—Author Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch book series may be finding its way onto television screens soon. Amazon Studios said that a series based on Connelly’s books is one of two drama pilots it is making. The streaming service will work much like Netflix in making original content available to subscribers. The Bosch series follows a Los Angeles homicide detective who is pursuing the killer of a 13-year-old boy while on trial for murdering a serial killer. Amazon also says it is making a futuristic pilot called “The After,’’ written by Chris Carter of “The X-Files.’’ Unlike network television pilots, the public will be given a chance to see these projects and register an opinion about whether they should be made into series.
California high school bans body-shaking twerking ALISO VIEJO—One Southern California high school has added twerking to its list of dances that are banned for students. The Orange County Register reports that administrators at Aliso Niguel High School decided the rump-busting dance is sexually suggestive and should no longer be allowed on campus or at dances. Twerking now joins “freaking’’ and “grinding’’ as prohibited dances at the Or-
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Canadians revelling in resurgence of ancient alcoholic beverage, mead By Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press
ALIFAX—It’s a drink that has been shared among Greek gods, Vikings, mythical dwarves and magical wizards. Made using honey, water and yeast, the origins of mead have been traced back nearly 10,000 years, predating wine and beer. Its popularity has ebbed and flowed through time and throughout the world, popping up in places like ancient Greece, northern China and Ethiopia. Now, Canadians are buzzing about mead—one of the world’s oldest alcoholic beverages. The so-called nectar of the gods has made a resurgence in Canada over the past decade, with meaderies multiplying across the country. Vicky Rowe, owner of the U.S.based Internet mead hub Gotmead. com, said she counted about four meaderies in Canada in the mid-2000s. That number has since grown to more than 30 meaderies from coast-to-coast. Rowe believes that the spike in popularity can in part be explained through an age-old idiom: “Everything old is new again.’’ Popular culture has also lent a hand in its resurrection, said Bob Liptrot, coowner of Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery on Vancouver Island, B.C. Mead is widely drank among the wizards and witches in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. It’s enjoyed in middle-earth, with several references to it in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series and The Hobbit. Mead is also prominently featured in the epic of Beowulf, which depicts a grand mead hall called Heorot.
“People have read about it in their English (literature) classes,’’ said Liptrot, whose family has been making mead for more than 50 years, commercially for about 15 years. Canadian beekeepers are also looking to mead as another way to sell their honey and expand their business, said Liptrot.
“There’s a large percentage of people who are unaware of mead. They don’t know it exists, they don’t know how it’s made or what it’s made from,’’ said Micheal Magnini of Midgard Meadery in Scotch Lake, N.S., adding that close to a pound of honey goes into each 750 ml bottle.
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Seniors spurring Internet growth in Canada The Canadian Press
Bell to track customers’ web history, TV viewing, phone calls, mobile usage The Canadian Press
Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa and the Canada Research Chair in Internet and ecommerce law, said he’s shocked by the extent of the “data grab’’ that Bell is preparing to undertake. “What Bell is able to aggregate, being as large as it is, is far more than any individual Internet company, even a company as large as Google,’’ Geist said. “When you look at the kind of information that they say will now be used ... these are pieces of information that some companies have some of that data, but Bell is in an almost unique position of having it all. “It’s a level of intrusiveness and monitoring that I think is truly unprecedented in Canada. There’s nobody that’s as large and as all encompassing as Bell and their capabilities from a customer surveillance perspective are similarly impressive.’’ Customers can opt-out of having their data used by Bell at the following link: http://bit.ly/1bSRvvr
Canadian weed finds market in Asia reversing years of East to West trade Vietnamese have long shown preferences for imported goods of all kinds—and it appears cannabis is no exception. Regardless of the reasons, cannabis availability in Vietnam is a sign of how hydroponic growing techniques have shaken up the global marijuana business. In the 1960s and 70s, marijuana went from plantations in countries such as Thailand, India and Morocco to wealthy consumer markets in the West. Now, many western countries are self-sufficient in the weed because
Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013
of indoor cultivation, and export is on the agenda. Western-grown cannabis is also appearing in Japan and South Korea. Unlike Vietnam, both are wealthy, developed countries with climates ill-suited to cultivation. They too have seen a shift in supply from countries in the region such as India and Thailand to North America and Europe, law enforcement authorities there say. Smokers said one gram of Canadian weed retails for anything up to $45, the average weekly wage in the country. Mid-
quality hydroponically grown marijuana sells for about $10 a gram in Canada and the United States. While smokers say those who sell and use cannabis face arrest, cracking down on the use of the drug is a not a priority for Vietnamese authorities, which are more concerned with heroin and amphetamine. Some users thought many officers didn’t know what it was. Those smoking outside the cafe were not worried about being caught. “We are nice boys, sitting in a nice place,’’ one said. “There is no problem.’’
OTTAWA—The number of Internet users in Canada continues to grow, spurred by seniors who have discovered a new digital lifestyle. According to a new report by Statistics Canada, 83 per cent of Canadians aged 16 or older were Internet users last year, up from 80 per cent in 2010. The number of seniors using the web grew by 20 per cent in the two-year span, with 48 per cent of Canadians 65 or older saying they went online last year. It’s likely just a matter of time until seniors are no longer lagging other age groups in Internet usage, said Statistics Canada spokesman Mark Uhrbach. Mobile Internet usage exploded in two years by about 75 per cent. While just 33 per cent of those surveyed in 2010 said they accessed the Internet on a phone or tablet, it was up to 58 per cent in 2012. About 85 per cent of younger Canadians aged 16 to 24 were mobile Internet users last year. Statistics Canada also saw big growth in online shopping, with the value of web orders placed by Canadians hitting $18.9 billion in 2012, up 24 per cent from 2010 when the survey was last conducted. About 56 per cent of Internet users ordered goods or services online in 2012, up from 51 per cent in 2010, while 77 per cent researched goods or services on the web. The average Canadian online shopper made about 13 separate orders totalling approximately $1,450 in 2012. Among online shoppers, 58 per cent bought travel arrangements such as airline tickets or hotel reservations and 52 per cent purchased event tickets. Other trends in the report: —Social media usage was up by almost 15 per cent as about two-thirds of Canadians reported using a social network last year —Use of voice or video calling over the Internet nearly doubled as 43 per cent of Canadians reported using a service like Skype or FaceTime last year, up from just 24 per cent in 2010 —Online video viewing has also grown steadily with just over half of the Canadians surveyed saying they downloaded or watched movies or video clips online in 2012, up by almost 20 per cent —When it came to “Internet intensity,’’ or the term Statistics Canada uses to describe highly active web users, 31 per cent said they spent 10 or more hours online a week last year
Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013
Hockey Outside audit into cards as wayward Senate part of “Hall expenses cost taxpayers of Shame” almost $530,000 unveiled by NDP O By Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press
By Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
CALGARY—The federal NDP is immortalizing members of the current Senate. The party has released a set of 99 Ottawa senator hockey cards as part of the “Senate Hall of Shame.” “We think these playing cards that don’t come with gum but come with a lot of information will become really popular on the streets of Canada in the coming weeks,” said Peter Julian, the NDP Member of Parliament who was in Calgary to observe the Conservative policy convention. The tongue-in-cheek cards include a photo of the senator with party affiliation and career stats. It lists both the appointment and scheduled retirement date and the total estimated cost to Canadians based on the amount of salary and office expenses the senators would get during their time in public office. There’s also a brief bio. “Long-time journalist turned consul general Pamela Wallin was appointed to the Senate in the Class of ’08. This theoretical senator from Saskatchewan really lives in Toronto, when she isn’t crossing the country campaigning on the taxpayer’s dime,” reads the card. The total cost to taxpayers was listed at $3,257,425. Mike Duffy’s cost was $1,853,381. “This former journalist scored the scoop of a lifetime when Stephen Harper appointed him in 2008. He was a constant on the Conservative fundraising circuit, but one place you won’t find him much is in Prince Edward Island, the province he claims to represent,” the card said. One of the biggest pricetags is attributed to the third senator that the Conservatives are trying to suspend without pay for past indiscretions. Patrick Brazeau’s total bill comes to $7,981,274, according to the NDP. “The youngest current Senator got expelled from the Conservative caucus after being appointed by Harper four years earlier. He got caught making false claims abut his primary residence, and was charged with sexual assault in the same year,” the card said. The cards also single out Duffy in where he represents as “Prince Edward Island???” and Wallin for representing “Saskatchewan/Toronto/New York???”.
TTAWA—The effort to hold Canada’s allegedly free-spending senators to account has a new price tag—and it’s a whopper. The independent audit of Sen. Pamela Wallin’s expenses has cost taxpayers $390,058, nearly three times the amount of ineligible expenses she was required to pay back, Senate officials disclosed Friday. It’s also more than twice the total cost the auditing firm in question, Deloitte, billed for its review of expense claims filed by senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and now-retired Liberal Mac Harb.
The audit into their living allowances and expenses cost $138,784. “We know this is a significant cost,” said a statement from Sen. Gerald Comeau, the Conservative chairman of the Senate’s board of internal economy, which oversees contracts and spending. “However, once the audit was ordered, we had to allow it to be fully concluded in order to get a fair and consistent reading of the issues involved.” Wallin has paid back more than $138,000 in expenses declared ineligible. Some $90,000 involving Duffy was paid by the prime minister’s former
www.OttawaStar.com • PAGE 11 chief of staff. Harb gave back $231,649, covering eight years, and Brazeau is having his $48,744 expenses tab taken out of his paycheque. “Sadly, it is the price to find the infractions that were found,” said Sen. Claude Carignan, the Conservative government leader in the Senate. New Democrat MP Alexandre Boulerice said an audit was necessary, but he wonders why it had to be done by an outside firm when the federal government already has extremely competent services in the auditor general’s office. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation agreed, but pointed out the auditor general works to his own timetable and reports to Parliament as a whole— something that wouldn’t sit well with the Harper government’s damage-control effort. “What they wanted was to control the timing, the release of the information. They wanted an advance look at it,” said Gregory Thomas, the federation’s national director. The auditor general is now reviewing the expense claims of everyone in the upper chamber.
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Hackers hit major Israeli roadway, a sign cyber warfare now reality By Daniel Estrin, The Associated Press
ADERA, Israel—When Israel’s military chief delivered a high-profile speech this month outlining the greatest threats his country might face in the future, he listed computer sabotage as a top concern, warning a sophisticated cyberattack could one day bring the nation to a standstill. Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was not speaking empty words. Exactly one month before his address, a major artery in Israel’s national road network in the northern city of Haifa was shut down because of a cyberattack, cybersecurity experts tell The Associated Press, knocking key operations out of commission two days in a row and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. One expert, speaking on condition of anonymity because the breach of security was a classified matter, said a Trojan horse attack targeted the security camera system in the Carmel Tunnels toll road on Sept. 8. A Trojan horse is a malicious computer program that users unknowingly install that can give hackers complete control over their systems. The attack caused an immediate 20-minute lockdown of the roadway. The next day, the expert said, it shut down the roadway again during morning rush hour. It remained shut for eight hours, causing massive congestion. The expert said investigators believe the attack was the work of unknown, sophisticated hackers, similar to the Anonymous hacking group that led attacks on Israeli websites in April. He said investigators determined it was not sophisticated enough to be the work of an enemy government like Iran. [the text in red may be deleted if space is a constraint] While Israel is a frequent target of hackers, the tunnel is
the most high-profile landmark known to have been attacked. It is a major thoroughfare for Israel’s third-largest city, and the city is looking to turn the tunnel into a public shelter in case of emergency, highlighting its importance. The incident is exactly the type of scenario that Gantz described in his recent address. He said Israel’s future battles might begin with “a cyberattack on websites which provide daily services to the citizens
of Israel. Traffic lights could stop working, the banks could be shut down,’’ he said. In June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran and its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas have targeted Israel’s “essential systems,’’ including its water system, electric grid, trains and banks. “Every sphere of civilian economic life, let’s not even talk about our security, is a potential or actual cyberattack target,’’ Netanyahu said at the time.
Under constant threat, Israel has emerged as a world leader in cybersecurity, with murky military units developing much of the technology. Last year, the military formed its first cyberdefense unit. Israel is also widely believed to have launched its own sophisticated computer attacks on its enemies, including the Stuxnet worm that caused significant damage to Iran’s nuclear program.
Brunei sultan announces Islamic laws that could include stoning, amputation By The Associated Press
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN—Brunei’s sultan announced Oct 22 that a new Islamic criminal law that could include penalties like amputation for theft and stoning for adultery will be enforced in six months. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said the Shariah Penal Code, which would be applied to Muslims only, should be regarded as a form of “special guidance’’ from God and would be “part of the great history’’ of the tiny, oil-rich monarchy on Borneo island. “By the grace of Allah, with the coming into effect of this legislation, our duty to Allah is therefore being fulfilled,’’ the sultan said at a legal conference in Brunei’s capital. Brunei’s Shariah Islamic court had previously handled mainly family-related disputes. The sultan has been hoping to implement the new law for years to bolster the influence of Islam in Brunei, where Muslims comprise about two-thirds of the population of nearly 420,000 people.
The minorities are mainly Buddhist, Christians and people of local indigenous beliefs. Brunei’s Mufti Awang Abdul Aziz, the country’s top Islamic scholar, told the conference that the Shariah law “guarantees justice for everyone and safeguards their well-being.’’ “Let us not just look at the hand-cutting or the stoning or the caning per se, but let us also look at the conditions governing them,’’ Awang said. “It is not indiscriminate cutting or stoning or caning. There are conditions and there are methods that are just and fair.’’ Under secular laws, Brunei already prescribes caning as a penalty for crimes including immigration offences, for which convicts can be flogged with a rattan cane. Awang said there should be no concerns that foreign travellers might end up avoiding Brunei after the law is implemented. “Please listen to our answer. Sir, do all potential tourists to Brunei plan to steal? If they do not, then what do they need to fear,’’ he said. “Believe me when I say that with
Brunei’s Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah Presidential Press and Information Office
our Shariah criminal law, everyone, including tourists, will receive proper protection.’’ The implementation of Shariah criminal law is not expected to face vocal opposition in Brunei, which has long been known for conservative policies such as banning the public sale of liquor. Sultan Hassanal, who has reigned since 1967, is Brunei’s head of state with full executive authority. Public criticism of his policies is extremely rare in Brunei.
Irish police return 2 blond, blue eyed children to Gypsy homes after DNA tests prove their parentage Continued from page 1
“We must all be particularly conscious of the regrettable distress that arose for the two families and their children,’’ Shatter said. He cautioned that Irish authorities must ensure “that no group or minority community is singled out for unwarranted suspicion in relation to child protection issues.’’ In both cases, police suspected that the children might be victims of abductions because they were blond-haired and blue-eyed, unlike the rest of their immediate relatives. On October 21, police went to one Roma family’s home in southwest
Dublin and sought the passport and birth certificate of the girl. The family produced them, but police opted to issue an emergency child protection order and place the child in state care. Police said the Romanian passport was not useful because it had a baby photo, not the girl’s current appearance, while the birth certificate did not match Dublin hospital records. On October 22, police in the midlands town of Athlone went to another Roma family’s home and asked both parents to provide mouth-swab samples from their son and themselves. The boy then was taken away by social workers over-
night and returned the next day after the child’s parentage was confirmed. The Athlone family’s father told reporters he had assured police that other relatives also had blond hair and blue eyes. He said his wife couldn’t sleep all night and the boy’s older sister cried much of the night. The Dublin family’s lawyer, Waheed Mudah said his clients hoped parents across Ireland would “consider how they would feel if one of their children was taken away in similar circumstances for similar reasons. They hope no other family has to go through the experience they have suffered.’’
Pavee Point, a Dublin-based support group for Gypsies, said the police were guilty of racial profiling and child abduction. The group’s co-director, Martin Collins, said he feared that more children “of Roma parents who are not dark-skinned and have brown eyes could be taken away, one after the other, for DNA test after DNA test. It’s outrageous. It’s despicable.’’ Ireland’s national police, the Garda Siochana, defended its actions as consistent with child-protection laws, and said the public should be assured “that we take extremely serious(ly) all reports received from members of the public concerning child welfare issues.’’
Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013
www.OttawaStar.com • PAGE 13
Ethnic Uighurs say they’re facing new police scrutiny in Beijing By Christopher Bodeen and Isolda Morillo, The Associated Press
EIJING—In a dusty outdoor curio market in China’s capital, traders from the minority Uighur community gathered Oct 30 to swap stories about the omnipresent harassment they say they suffer at the hands of the police. That scrutiny has only intensified after the deadly vehicle attack at Tiananmen Square in which Uighurs are the prime suspects. Before the day ended, five suspects had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in Oct 28 audacious attack, which a police statement described as carefully planned terrorism strike—Beijing’s first in recent history. Police also said knives, iron rods, gasoline and a flag with religious slogans were found in the vehicle used in the suicide attack. Since the attack, police “come to search us every day. We don’t know why. Our IDs are checked every day, and we don’t know what is happening,’’ said Ali Rozi, 28, a Uighur (pronounced WEE-gur) trader at the sprawling Panijayuan market.
“We have trouble every day, but we haven’t done anything,’’ said Rozi, who is from Kashgar, the capital of Xinjiang province where most Uighurs live. Militants from the Muslim Uighur community have been fighting a low-intensity insurgency against Chinese rule in Xinjiang for years. The police scrutiny of the Uighurs in Beijing highlights the years of discrimination that have fueled Uighur demands for independence for their northwestern homeland of Xinjiang. Many Uighurs say they face routine discrimination, irksome restrictions on their culture and Muslim religion, and economic disenfranchisement that has left them largely poor even as China’s economy booms. The Tiananmen Square incident is the first such attack outside Xinjiang in years, and among the most ambitious given the high-profile target. Uighurs are a Turkic Central Asian people related to Uzbeks, Khazaks and other groups. With their slightly European features and heavy accents, most are immediately recognizable as distinct from China’s ethnic Han majority.
The 9 million Uighurs now make up about 43 per cent of the population in Xinjiang, a region more than twice the size of Texas where they used to dominate. Uighurs frequently say they’re made to feel like second-class citizens, facing difficulties obtaining passports or even travelling outside Xinjiang. Hotels and
airlines are reported to have unofficial bans on catering to Uighurs, and many employers refuse to hire them. Xinjiang borders Afghanistan and unstable Central Asian states with militant Islamic groups, and Uighurs are believed to be among militants sheltering in Pakistan’s lawless northwestern region. Uighurs were also captured by U.S. forces following the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and 22 were held as enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. All but three have since been released and now reside in Albania, Bermuda and elsewhere.
A look at Syrian refugees in Jordan By The Associated Press
A look at Syrian refugees in Jordan and in the region, with figures provided by U.N. aid agencies and the Jordanian government: Syrians who have fled their country: 2.1 million. Syrians displaced inside their country: 4.25 million. Syrian refugees in Jordan: $50,000, including 423,000 living in urban areas. School age children among the Syrian refugees in Jordan: 200,000.
Of those, number enrolled in school: more than 86,000. Syrian refugee children not enrolled in school in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt: 7 out of 10. Amount Jordan spent on refugees in 2012: $251 million. Amount Jordan expects to spend on refugees in 2013 (based on a projection of 1 million refugees): $850 million. Conservative estimate of Syrian refugee children working in Jordan: 30,000.
Pakistan tacitly agreed to US drone strikes: Report By Arun Kumar, IANS
Washington—Despite publicly denouncing US drone strikes, top Pakistani officials have for years secretly endorsed the campaign, the Washington Post reported citing top-secret CIA-Pakistani documents and Pakistani diplomatic memos. Top Pakistanis even routinely received classified briefings on strikes and casualty counts, it said, and in one case a memo indicated “CIA was prepared to share credit with the Pakistanis if the agency could confirm that it had killed
Ilyas Kashmiri, an Al Qaeda operative suspected of ties to plots against India”. The agency would do so “so that the negative views about Pakistan in the US decision and opinion making circles are mitigated,” according to a diplomatic memo attributed to former deputy director of the CIA Michael J. Morell. Morell, who retired this year, delivered regular briefings on the drone programme to Husain Haqqani, who was the Pakistani ambassador to the US at the time, the influential US daily said. The secret files describe dozens of drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal region
Is It Time For A Second Opinion?
and include maps as well as before-andafter aerial photos of targeted compounds over a four-year stretch from late 2007 to late 2011 in which the campaign intensified dramatically, it said. Markings on the documents indicate that many of them were prepared by the CIA’s Counterterrorism Centre specifically to be shared with Pakistan’s government. They tout the success of strikes that killed dozens of alleged Al Qaeda operatives and assert repeatedly that no civilians were harmed, the newspaper said. The CIA also shared maps and photographs of drone operations in
Pakistan that have not previously been shown publicly. These and other materials were routinely relayed “by bag” to senior officials in Islamabad, the documents indicate. The Post said a spokesman for the Pakistani embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. A CIA spokesman declined to discuss the documents but did not dispute their authenticity, it said. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raised the issue in a recent meeting with US President Barack Obama, “emphasising the need for an end to such strikes” but failed to get a response from the president.
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Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013
3D printing offers customized, one-of-kind objects By LuAnn LaSalle, The Canadian Press
24 modern, unique and fully appointed luxury garden suites on Stittsville Main Street. Featuring:
ONTREAL—3D printing isn’t making waves in the world of mass production but it’s starting to change how businesses can offer customized, one-of-kind objects often in a matter of days. The technology, for example, is changing the jewelry industry to the point that there’s no need to build up a large inventory of rings, necklaces and earrings that might appeal to consumers. “Any time a customer orders a ring, we’re going to print out a correctly sized version of exactly what they ordered and get it made in two or three days,’’ Tony Davis, CEO of the online site Jewlr said from Toronto. Davis said 3D printing turns out a wax prototype of a ring, for example, and then it’s cast into gold, silver or another metal and customized at factories in the Toronto area or Los Angeles. 3D printing also is being used to design and make everything from tools and toothbrushes to plastic toys and figurines, furniture and dishes and even food and guns. Objects are built layer by layer from a 3D design with materials such as plastic, ceramics, glass, metal, powders and pastes. It’s being used in the medical field, too, to make prosthetic limbs and hearings aids and scientists are reprinting human tissue for research into organ regeneration and transplant.
3d printer in action Subhashish Panigrahi
3D printers for consumers are coming down in price, depending on the model and capabilities. A campaign on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter raised more than $650,000 for the so-called Peachy Printer—a $100 3D printer. Higher-end units cost thousands. 3D printing company Magic Maker uses 3D printers and scanners to make objects ranging from Lego blocks to snow globes to customized toys, as well as producing 3D prototypes for engineers. Tech analyst Duncan Stewart said he isn’t convinced that 3D printing is going to be popular with consumers. “The problem is for almost virtually anything you could make with a 3D printer, it is faster and cheaper and easier to walk three blocks to the hardware store.’’
‘Shopping While Black’ Continued from page 1
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“It’s one thing if you don’t understand. But don’t ever tell me it doesn’t happen to me,” said Natasha Eubanks, owner of the celebrity website theYBF.com , who shops often at high-end stores in New York City. “You can’t assume it doesn’t happen just because it doesn’t happen to you.” Sometimes, Eubanks said, it takes clerks more than five minutes to simply acknowledge her presence. Or they brush her off after a token greeting. Or they ask her question after question: “You’re a black girl up in Chanel. They want to know what you’re doing here, and what you do for a living.” Trayvon Christian’s problem was not how he was treated when he went into Barneys New York – it was what happened afterward. In a lawsuit filed last week, the 19-year-old said that he bought a Ferragamo belt at the Manhattan store, and when he left he was accosted by undercover city police officers. According to the lawsuit, police said Christian “could not afford to make such an expensive purchase.” He was arrested and detained, though he showed police the receipt, the debit card he used and identification, the lawsuit said. After Christian’s lawsuit was filed, another black Barneys shopper said she was accused of fraud after purchasing a $2,500 handbag, and the black actor Robert Brown said he was
paraded through Macy’s in handcuffs and detained for an hour after being falsely accused of credit card fraud. Many people justify racial profiling by saying that black customers are more likely to steal. But one study has shown that white women in their 40s engaged in more shoplifting than other demographic groups, said Jerome Williams, a business professor at Rutgers University who has studied marketplace discrimination. “The reason they don’t show up in crime statistics is because people aren’t watching them,” said Williams. Statistics showing that black customers steal more “are not really an indication of who’s shoplifting,” he said. “It’s a reflection of who’s getting caught. That’s a reflection of who’s getting watched. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Dido Kanyandekwe knows he is being watched. “But I joke with them; I see them looking at me and I say, ‘Hello, I see you!’ And I wave,” said the 18-year-old college student in New York City, who was in Barneys on Monday buying a $600-plus pair of Italian designer sneakers. “Most black people don’t have the money to buy stuff at Barneys,” said Kanyandekwe, the son of wealthy parents, before paying for the black leather shoes with a credit card. “But that does not mean all black people are not able to buy these things.”
Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013
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Business news in brief The Canadian Press
Quebec announces half-billion dollars green transport plan MONTREAL—Quebec plans to spend more than a half-billion dollars on a green-transportation plan over the next three years. Premier Pauline Marois says the plan includes up to $8,000 in subsidies for the purchase of electric or hybrid vehicles; and up to $1,000 for people installing a charging unit at home. She says the goal is to add 12,500 electric vehicles on Quebec roads by 2017, accelerating a program introduced under the previous Charest government. It also calls for 5,000 public charging stations; 525 electric taxis; and 25 electric trolleys in Montreal.
Starbucks looks to make tea trendy, with plans to open ‘tea bar’ in New York City NEW YORK—Starbucks is trying to make tea trendy, with plans to open its first “tea bar’’ in New York City. The company says Teavana Fine Teas + Teavana Tea Bar will serve sweets and other food including flatbreads, salads and small plates ranging in price from about $3 to $15. Drink prices will range from $3 to $6, and include novelties such as a Spiced Mandarin Oolong tea and carbonated teas. The opening of the New York City store comes after Starbucks bought Teavana last year. The company has said it plans to use the acquisition to make tea a bigger part of American culture, as it has with coffee. At a media event at the new Teavana store, Schultz said executives noticed that tea orders were among the fastest-growing drinks at Starbucks cafes. People are also more likely to order food when they buy iced tea.
First direct flight to Canada from Saudi Arabia lands in Toronto TORONTO—The first direct flight from Saudi Arabia landed October 28 morning at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, becoming the fourth Gulf airline operating flights to Canada. The Saudi national carrier will have three direct flights to Toronto each week. The company says the Toronto flights will serve different groups of passengers, including Saudi students in Canada and Canadians who travel to the kingdom each year for hajj and umrah pilgrimages
Last year more than three million people performed the hajj, including an estimated 3,400 Canadians. Another 4,000 Canadians performed the umrah. According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, there were more than 14,000 Saudi students enrolled in Canadian educational institutions last year.
World’s first Bitcoin ATM goes live in Vancouver, but experts warn of risks VANCOUVER—The money virtual world now has its first actual automatic teller machine, but industry experts say consumers should still be aware of the risks associated with the digital currency Bitcoin. Mitchell Demeter of Bitcoiniacs—a Bitcoin broker and the firm that installed the ATM in a Vancouver coffee shop— says the firm intends to set up the machines in other Canadian cities as well. Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency, and proponents argue it is a convenient alternative to other forms of banking because transactions are instant and there are no processing fees involved. People trade cash for the digital coins at a current rate $211.79 per Bitcoin, and so far about 16 Vancouver-area merchants accept the currency. But Catherine Johnston with ACT Canada, a group that works to ensure secure online payments, says the fact that Bitcoin is not backed by a central bank means it is not subjected to the same regulations surrounding money laundering as other currencies. Earlier this year, U.S. authorities shut down anonymous online marketplace Silk Road, whose users allegedly used Bitcoins to buy and sell drugs illegally.
Buyers complain about cat urine smell coming from Dell’s new laptops NEW YORK—A noxious feline odour has some Dell customers caterwauling. People who own Dell Latitude 6430u laptops are complaining that their pricey new computers are emitting a smell similar to cat urine. Some of them said on the company’s online customer forums that the odour seems to be coming from the keyboard or palm rest. A customer writing under the handle “passflips’’ said he felt terrible for repeatedly scolding his cat Jerry, because he thought the elderly cat kept spraying the computer. The poster also said he wasted
money on veterinarian bills in an attempt to determine whether his cat had a medical problem. Dell said October 31 that its investigation revealed strange scent is related to a manufacturing process, which the company has since fixed. Company spokesman David Frink said the odour isn’t related to a “biological contamination’’ and doesn’t present a health hazard. He added that newly assembled laptops that are currently in stores aren’t affected.
Apple co founder Steve Jobs’ childhood home in California gets historic designation LOS ALTOS, CA—The Silicon Valley home where Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs grew up and built some of his first computers is now on the city’s list of historic properties. The home, where Jobs and his foster parents moved in 1968, is owned by Jobs’ sister, Patricia Jobs. The commission didn’t need her permission for the designation, although she could appeal it to the City Council. Any proposed renovations to the modest, ranch-style home now require additional review. Steve Jobs, with help from his sister and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, built the first 100 Apple I computers at the home, according to the city’s evaluation. Fifty were sold to a shop in neighbouring Mountain View for $500 each. Steve Jobs also wooed some of Apple’s first investors and in 1976, established the first partnership for Apple at the home. The company later relocated to nearby Cupertino.
Newfoundland to increase minimum wage by 50 cents per hour ST. JOHN’S, N.L.—Newfoundland and Labrador’s minimum wage will increase by 25 cents to $10.25 per hour next fall, and will see another 25 cents added a year later. The province says the first increase will come into effect on Oct. 1 next year. Darin King, minister responsible for the Labour Relations Agency says by Oct. 1, 2015, the minimum wage rate in the province will have increased by 75 per cent in 10 years. The minimum overtime wage rate will continue to be fixed at 1.5 times the minimum wage, rounded to the nearest cent. The province expects to conduct a further review of the minimum wage in 2015.
Internal document shows Europe boasting of gains in Canada free trade deal
Parti Quebecois mining bill shelved; lacked opposition support
OTTAWA—The European Union says in an internal analysis that it gained more than it expected in the recently completed trade agreement with Canada. A document obtained by The Canadian Press reveals EU exporters expect to make large inroads into the Canadian market. The Europeans cited bidding on government contracts, as well as shipments of cheese, wine and spirits, as areas of negotiating victories. The Europeans also persuaded Canada to adopt geographical indicators to market their goods, including Gorgonzola and Feta cheeses, another issue hailed as a huge advance. The EU says those gains can be used to their advantage in future trade negotiations, including talks just begun with the United States. The EU analysis is similar to claims made by Canadian officials and government ministers, but is unique in claiming to have won concessions beyond Europe’s expectations.
QUEBEC—A Parti Quebecois bill to reform the mining industry has been scrapped. The PQ is expressing frustration noting that the bill was already a watered-down version of the plan it campaigned on and that it had incorporated opposition ideas. The bill would have increased royalties by 15 per cent. Mining companies would have been required to pay a minimum annual tax, based on extraction amounts, and a royalty on profits ranging between 16 and 23 per cent. But the opposition says it has no confidence in this government. It accuses the PQ of scaring off investors with a hostile attitude toward the sector. According to newly released statistics, the mining sector has shrunk this year for the first time in a decade, with investments projected to decline 9.8 per cent from the record high in 2012. Also, there’s news that U.S. giant Alcoa has threatened to shut down one-third of its nine Quebec plants unless the government revises plans to drastically increase its hydro rates for 2015.
Ottawa-based Wi-LAN exploring new business model, possible sale OTTAWA—Wi-LAN says it’s exploring a broad range of strategic alternatives in light of its current low share price, including a possible sale of the company, a new dividend policy or other business models. The company, which generates revenue by licensing technology patents, says it doesn’t believe current market prices reflect the true value of Wi-LAN’s stock. Wi-LAN’s announcement comes less than a week after its shares plunged nearly 23 per cent in one day following an unfavourable jury decision in a legal battle with Apple Inc. The company attempted to downplay the impact of the decision, saying it affected only one patent that expires within months and wouldn’t have a bearing on other licensing agreements. Wi-LAN said the company “strongly believes in its current business strategy.” “Strategic alternatives to be considered may include changes to the company’s dividend policy or other forms of return of capital to shareholders, the acquisition or disposition of assets, joint ventures, the sale of the company, alternative operating models or continuing with the current business plan, among other potential alternatives.”
Federal surplus budget in 2015, and not a ‘tiny surplus’ OTTAWA—The federal government will not only balance the budget in 2015, it will run up a sizable surplus before the next election, says Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. “The plan is to budget a surplus in 2015 and not a tiny surplus,’’ Flaherty said. “There will be no doubt that we’re balanced in 2015.’’ The distinction is significant because Prime Minister Stephen Harper is counting on a balanced budget in March 2015—and preferably a significant surplus— to fulfil a 2011 campaign pledge to introduce income splitting for couples with children in time for the October 2015 election. The promise was contingent on having eliminated the deficit. To explain the unexpected surplus projection, Flaherty noted that the government signalled in the throne speech two weeks ago it intends to freeze the operating budget, thereby restraining publicservice hiring and pay increases. Last week, Flaherty reported Ottawa had realized a $7-billion windfall in the just completed 201213 fiscal year. About two-thirds of that windfall, or $4.9 billion, came as a result of lower departmental spending than had been allotted.