Same sex couples say, “I do”

Same sex marriages became legal in England and Wales on 29th March, 2014 at midnight.

The law

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force in July 2013Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 22.21.49 in England and Wales. Couples could register their intention from 13th March, 2014 onwards that legalises same-sex marriage starting 29th March, 2014.

Before, 29th March, same sex couples had the option of getting into a civil partnership that became legal in 2005 under the Civil Partnership Act 2004.

Legislation to allow same-sex marriage in Scotland was passed in February 2014 by the Scottish Parliament. The legislation received the Royal Assent on 12th March, 2014. The first same-sex marriage in Scotland will start in Autumn 2014.

The first couples in England and Wales

Peter McGraith and David Cabreza spent 17 years together before being among the first same sex couple to tie the knot in London on the night of 29th March. The wedding took place at Islington Town Hall. Human Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell acted as the chief witness to the ceremony.

Also vying for the title of the first same sex couple to wed in Britain were Andrew Wale and Neil Allard from Brighton.

The first Asian same sex couple to get married were Subodh Rathod and Niranjan Kamatkar who got married at the Wood Green Civic Centre in North London. They streamed their ceremony live.

David Cameron on gay marriages

“This weekend is an important moment for our country,” said British PM David Cameron on the PinkNews website. The rainbow flag flew above Whitehall today.

“I am proud that we have made same sex marriage happen. I am delighted that the love two people have for each other – and the commitment they want to make – can now be recognised as equal. I have backed this reform because I believe in commitment, responsibility and family. I don’t want to see people’s love divided by law,” said Cameron in July last year.

Resistance

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 preserves the Canon Law of the Church of England which states that marriage should take place between the opposite sex only. Queen Elizabeth who is the head of the Church of England gave her Royal Assent to the act on 17th July, 2013.

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury said the Church had accepted the new law and would continue to demonstrate “the love of Christ for every human being”. However, same-sex marriages are not currently taking place in the Church of England.

Northern Island currently does not intend to legalise same-sex marriages.

 

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10 years of social networking

Mark Zuckerburg changed the way we socialised 10 years ago connecting us with “friends” around the world.

Facebook changed lives

Facebook has made networking easier. It is a great way to make a personal connection. Prior to Facebook, tracking people down wasn’t easy. The site has reunited long lost friends, relatives and high school classmates.

Everyone knows what the other one is up to. The ability to share information, news, photographs and videos has gotten faster and easier. Facebook allows you to share anything and everything about your life. Facebook has become the biggest online photo album in the world.

Facebook has defined the word ‘friend’. Everyone from a high school teacher to an old aunt is a “friend” on Facebook.

Facebook has been responsible for the increase in citizen journalism. Facebook has advocated free speech that it has been blocked in countries like China.

Facebook has ultimately stolen hours of our precious time, which we will never get back. Find out how much time you have wasted on Facebook here

Look Back

To celebrate it’s 10th anniversary, Facebook has given its users a way to relive their earliest Facebook memories through a special release called Look Back.

Look Back is a personalised movie of their life on Facebook. The video is meant to stir up social networking nostalgia and provide a sentimental experience.

Warning: If you don’t share the video, it will disappear after a month. I accidentally deleted the video and it disappeared from my Facebook profile. I managed to recover it from my cache and uploaded it onto YouTube lest it get lost again.

Here is a video summary of my life of Facebook.

 

Humble beginning

Facebook was founded on 4 February, 2004 as ‘thefacebook’ by Mark Zuckerburg and his fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Chris Hughes, Dustin Moskovitz and Andrew McCollum.

What started initially as a website only for Harvard students gradually expanded to Stanford University, Columbia University and Yale University before opening up to collages in the Boston area, and other Ivy League institutions. Since 26 September, 2006 Facebook has been open to anyone aged 13 years and over with a valid email address.

On the occasion of it’s 10th anniversary, Mark Zuckerburg released a public statement on Facebook.

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Supreme Court of India refuses to review gay ban

The controversial Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that deals with “unnatural offenses” criminalises homosexuality in India.

Section 377

The Indian Penal Code is a 153-year-old act that was introduced during the British rule in India. Section 377 deals with unnatural offenses.

“Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Naz Foundation v. Govt of NCT of Delhi

Naz Foundation, a non-governmental organisation that supports gay rights had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court in 2001 seeking legislation of homosexual intercourse between consenting adults.

In 2006, the National AIDS Control Organisation filed an affidavit stating that Section 377 violated LGBT rights.

The Delhi High Court declared Section 377 as unconstitutional with respect to sex between consenting adults on 2 July, 2009 in Naz Foundation v. Govt of NCT of Delhi. The court claimed that Section 377 violated the fundamental rights to equality before law, freedom from discrimination and life and personal liberty under Articles 14, 15 and 21 respectively of the Constitution of India.

The Supreme Court overturned this ruling and upheld the provisions of the constitution on 11 December, 2013. The Supreme Court ruled homosexuality to be a criminal offense setting aside the 2009 judgment passed by the Delhi High Court. The judgment declared that it was upto the parliament to amend the law and the judiciary did not have the mandate to rule on it.

Future of the LGBT community

Homosexuality is considered a taboo in India. Sex between people of the same gender is punishable by law.

Following the ruling in 2009 by the Delhi High Court, Gay people found hope and several came out of the closet sensing a bright future. However, on 28 January, 2014, the Supreme Court dismissed the review petition filed by the Central Government, Naz Foundation and several others.

The community can now file a curative petition to have the law overturned or can seek the parliamentary route to have the law amended.

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Ariel Sharon dies

Former Israeli Prime Mininster Ariel Sharon died after spending eight years in coma following a stroke.

 ‘Arik’ to his friends, the ‘Bulldozer’ to his critics.

Sharon was a commander of the Israeli army and fought in all of Israel’s major wars before beginning his political career after the 1973 war.

Sharon became the defense minister in 1981 and led the invasion of Lebanon a year later. He became the Prime Minister of Israel in 2001. A few months before slipping into coma, he completed a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Sharon served as the prime minister throughout the most turbulent times in Israel-Palestine history.

He has been accused of war crimes and human rights abuses following the 1982 Lebanon war. The Sabra and Shatila massacre witnessed the killing of between 750 to 3500 civilians mostly from Lebanon and Palestine.

Health issues

Sharon suffered his first stroke in December 2005. Seventeen days later, a bigger stroke left him in a vegetative state. Over the last one year, he suffered multiple organ failure. He spent months in a hospital in Jerusalem before being shifted to the Sheba Medical Centre, a long-term facility in Tel Aviv.

The soldier-politician was kept alive for eight years by a complicated network of ventilators and feeding tubes. Widowed twice, his sons Omri and Gilad tended to him while he was ill.

Death

Ariel Sharon died aged 85 years on 11th January following multiple organ failure after spending eight years in coma. His funeral is expected to take place on 13 January in accordance with Jewish burial customs. He will be buried at his family’s ranch in the Negev desert besides his wife Lily, the younger sister of his first wife Margalit. Sharon is survived by his sons Omri and Gilad.

British Prime Minister, David Cameron said, “Ariel Sharon is one of the most significant figures in Israeli history and as Prime Minister he took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace, before he was so tragically incapacitated. Israel has today lost an important leader.”

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Ireland exits bailout of €85bn

Three years after being saved from bankruptcy, Ireland will exit the Eurozone bailout programme on 15th December 2013.

The Troika programme

A three-party committee led by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund was organised loans to Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus.

Of all the four counties that have benefited from the bailout due to the Eurozone crisis, Ireland will be the first country to exit from the bailout programme.

The price of bailout

Ireland cut spending and raised taxes to balance the economy after seeking bailout in 2010.

The government earned €28bn through budget cuts and increases in tax over the last three years. Taxes were hiked to €5.3bn and a cumulative spending cut was €9.6bn.

Ireland’s cost to borrow money has now fallen to 3.5% from the earlier 15%.

Ireland invested about €64bn into the banking system during the crisis – equivalent to 40% of the gross domestic product (GDP).  Income of €4.2bn has been generated by the bank guarantee for the Exchequer. €2.3bn has been repaid in 2013 following the sale of the Bank of Ireland CoCos (Convertible Contingent Capital), the successful sale of Irish Life and the redemption of the preference shares to the State by Bank of Ireland.

Future of the bailout

Ireland’s ability to exit the bailout has been driven by a focus on managing public finances, restructuring the banking and financial system and focusing on jobs and growth enhancing strategies.

“This isn’t the end of the road. This is a significant milestone on the road,” said Michael Noonan, the minister of finance, said at a press conference.

Before the bailout, about 7,000 jobs were being lost every month. Over the last year, the Irish economy has created 58,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate is now 12.5%. Public sector wages have dipped by 5%.

The current level of debt is 124% of the GDP is above the European average of 94%.

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The Bitcoin mania

FC-Bitcoin-Frontview-SingleCoinIn November 2008, an unknown person who goes by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper that led to the creation of the first decentralised virtual currency called Bitcoin. Since then the value of the currency has increased and can be used to buy pizza or even pay tuition fees.

What is Bitcoin?

 

Bitcoin mining

Bitcoins are generated using a process called mining. The computer is given a complex mathematical problem to solve and the goal is a 64-digit number. The person who solves this algorithm will get 50 bitcoins. The network creates a difficulty where 50 bitcoins are created roughly every 10 minutes.

It is open source and uses peer-to-peer networking, digital signatures and cryptographics to generate currency.

“With e-currency based on cryptographic proof, without the need to trust a third party middleman, money can be secure and transactions effortless,” says Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin Developer

Bitcoin is a mobile phone app or a computer software called a wallet that is used to send and receive bitcoins.

Growth of bitcoin

The bitcoin is highly volatile. The currency has experienced fluctuations several times.

There will be only 21 million bitcoins that will ever be created. Therefore, mining bitcoins is like mining any precious metal that is limited. So far about 10 million bitcoins have been unearthed. Most users would not have the patience to solve the algorithm to earn bitcoins. Therefore, they would buy and sell them from a bitcoin exchange. In such exchanges, bitcoins can be purchased using local currency and even stored.

BTC China is the oldest and largest bitcoin exchange in the world. Other bitcoin exchanges include Hong Kong-based Asia Nexgen, Tokyo-based Mt. Gox and London-based Bitstamp. Bitcoin exchanges exist in Germany, USA, Bulgaria and Canada.

Wikileaks and WordPress have started accepting bitcoins as cash. The Royal Canadian Mint has recently launched the MintChip, an electronic currency backed by the Canadian government. A bitcoin ATM was opened in Vancouver in October 2013 allowing people to buy and sell bitcoins in a coffee shop. University of Nicosia in Cyprus has become the first accredited university in the world where tuition fees can be paid using bitcoins.

Legal issues

Bitcoin is a decentralised electronic cash system that is unregulated. This means, there are no banks, no governments and no borders. Hence, they could be manipulated and speculative. It could be used for money laundering.

Bitcoin is the currency that runs The Dark Web using a software called Tor where users can hide their identity online and access the online black market called the Silk Road. Illegal drugs like LSD, heroin and marijuana have been sold on the Silk Road using bitcoins.

Hackers have attacked wallets and bitcoin exchanges to steal bitcoins. Several bitcoin exchanges such as Bitomat, MyBitcoin, Bitfloor and others have shut down due to hacking and theft of bitcoins.

Bitcoin is an open system where people can view all transactions. However, the identity of the owner is protected.

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David Cameron promises to back the curry industry

Fewer curry chefs are spoiling the broth. Enam Ali MBE, David Cameron and chefs at British Curry Awards 2013The £3.6bn curry industry in the UK is facing an acute shortage of South Asian chefs due to strict immigration rules for non-EU nationals.

The curry crisis

The Home Office has set a minimum requirement of that all Indian immigrants must be able to speak English, be educated at NVQ level four with five years work experience at a post graduate level and be paid a minimum salary of £28,260 which most curry houses cannot afford to pay.

According to the immigration policy, locals are being trained to work in curry houses but it is not easy for those donning the apron. Most EU workers are reluctant to work in Indian restaurants, as they are unable to understand the basics of Indian cuisine and spices.

The government has been floating the idea of starting curry colleges to train local workers to work in the curry industry in a move to fix the shortage.

According to Spice Business, there are 10,000 curry restaurants in the UK that employ about 80,000 people.

This has led to a large gap in the kitchen where the demand for skilled curry chefs has increased but the supply is dwindling.

Cameron’s promise

British Prime Minister David Cameron promised to back the curry industry at the British Curry Awards ceremony in London.

“Let me promise you this. We will work through this together. We will continue to help you get the skilled Asian chefs that you need. And we will also work with you to train up the next generation of home grown chefs,” said Cameron.

Promoting the curry industry

The British Curry Awards also known as the Curry Oscars was started in 2005 by British entrepreneur and restauranter Eman Ali. He has been promoting the British curry industry globally for the last 30 years.

“The British Curry has established itself as an international cuisine in its own right and a standalone culinary genre which has produced dishes such as the onion bhaji, the dhansak, the chicken tikka masala, the rogan josh, the chicken phall and the balti,” said Ali.

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