Category Archives: International

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.”

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under International, Politics

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under India, International, UK

World Diabetes Day to focus on awareness

Today is World Diabetes Day that marks the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, WDD-logo-date-EN-2048pxthe man who discovered insulin in 1922 along with Charles Best.

The goal

The idea behind World Diabetes Day is to spread global awareness about diabetes mellitus. The day that was started by the International Diabetes Foundation and the World Health Organisation is celebrated every year on 14th November since 1991.

The Blue Monument Challenge

Since 2007, iconic monuments around the world have been lighting in blue, which is the colour of the blue circle of diabetes. So far over 1000 monuments in more than 80 countries have lit in blue in support of the cause. Previous monuments include London Eye and 10 Downing Street in London, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai Building (BMC) in India, Empire State Building in USA and others.

In the UK this year, the Elizabeth Tower popularly known as the Big Ben, the BT tower and Trafalgar Square fountain will be lit in blue.

“Diabetes affects far too many people in London and across the UK. It is vitally important to raise awareness of a disease that is preventable and treatable and I am delighted to back this campaign. I hope it will encourage more people to get tested, but also inspire more of us to think about what can do to reduce the risks ourselves, by getting more active and eating more healthily,” said London Mayor Boris Johnson who will be lighting the Trafalgar Square fountain blue.

The Diabetes Atlas

On the occasion of World Diabetes Day, the International Diabetes Federation released the 6th edition of the Diabetes Atlas with an interactive map.

According to the latest Diabetes Atlas, 382 million people have diabetes and by 2035 this will rise to 592 million.

number of cases IDF regionBy the end of 2013, diabetes will have caused 5.1 million deaths and cost $548 billion in healthcare spending.

number of people with diabetes

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, International

Saudi women defy driving ban

On 26th October, women of Saudi Arabia drove on the streets to defy the driving ban. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving. The punishment is 10 lashes.

The law

There is no written ban on women driving. However, women must obtain a locally issued license to drive. These licenses are not issued to women. Therefore, this effectively prevents women from driving

The defiance

More than 16,000 signatures were obtained on the campaign website to change the law. Later in the day, the website was hacked.

The women to drive movement

The women to drive movement is a campaign started by Saudi Arabian women who are trying to enforce the right to drive motor vehicles on public roads in Saudi Arabia.

The protest began in 1990, when women in Riyadh drove their cars in protest. They were imprisoned for a day, their passports were confiscated and some of them lost their jobs.

In 2007, Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia Al-Uyyouni of the Association for the Protection and Defense of Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia appealed to King Abdullah with a petition of 1,100 signatures. On International Women’s Day, al-Huwaider filmed herself driving and posted the video online. The following week she was arrested after she posted a video of Manal al-Sharif driving.

Several other protests have taken place in Saudi Arabia since then. The movement has garnered support from the international community as well.

Video that went viral

Saudi Arabia based comedian Hisham Fageeh posted a video that went viral over the internet to bring more attention towards the plight of women. The video got over 450,000 views on YouTube. The song titled No Woman, No Drive is his rendition of Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry.

Leave a comment

Filed under International, Law

Swiss banks end secrecy

It is a well-known truth that many wealthy individuals stash their extra cash in Swiss banks to evade tax. The latest development is not going to benefit many countries that can obtain a list of high net worth individuals who have accounts in Swiss banks

The Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters

Switzerland became the 58th country in the world to sign the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris.

The Swiss Federal Council approved the treaty on October 9. This major step means that Switzerland will be breaking its own time-tested laws on banking secrecy.

The Multilateral Convention provides for all forms of mutual assistance in the form of exchange on request, spontaneous tax examinations abroad, simultaneous tax examinations and assistance in tax collection, while protecting taxpayers’ rights.

Banking secrecy

Banking secrecy became entrenched in the Swiss law in 1934. For over 300 years, Swiss banks had a code of secrecy that forbids the disclosure of banking and account holders without their consent. The exceptions are drug trafficking, organised crime and insider trading. Thus Switzerland earned the reputation of being the world’s biggest tax haven for funds, which ensured confidentiality.

Swiss banks were under tremendous international pressure to cooperative with authorities to share information on accounts in Swiss banks. Several whistleblowers’ had exposed details of money laundering and tax evasion.

Switzerland’s Ambassador to the OECD Stefan Flückiger said: “Switzerland has been committed to complying with international standards in tax matters since March 2009. The signing of the Convention confirms Switzerland’s commitment to the global fight against tax fraud and tax evasion with a view to safeguarding the integrity and reputation of the country’s financial centre.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, International

Malala wins Anna Politkovskaya Award

Pakistani child education activist Malala Yousafzai wins the RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in War) Anna Politkovskaya Award for women human rights defenders from war and conflict.

The Award

Malala defied the strict ban imposed by the TalibanMalala Yousafzai on girls attending school. She was only 15-years-old when she was shot in the head by the Taliban on 9th October, 2012 for campaigning for education for girls.

“I am extremely proud to have been chosen to receive an award, which bears Anna’s name and hope that I may be as brave as she was. I greatly admire Anna’s dedication to truth, to equality, and to humanity,” said Malala Yousafzai.

The Anna Politjovskaya Award is being presented by 104-year-old British humanitarian Sir Nicholas Winton in London on 4th October. Malala and Sir Nicholas are the oldest and youngest persons ever nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.

Other honours

Following her attack, Malala was flown in to Birmingham for treatment and made a remarkable recovery in March 2013.

Malala is one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2013 by the Time magazine. She is the first Pakistani girl to be nominated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize.

She is also the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize, the Simone de Beauvior Prize and has been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience award and Harvard University’s humanitarian of the year.

This year, on her birthday, 12th July, Malala spoke to the UN to call for worldwide access to education.

The Malala Fund

Following the outpouring of support that Malala received throughout her ordeal, she set up an international fund, the Malala Fund, which is dedicated to help promote education for girls throughout the world.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, International, UK

Social networking sites to open up in China

No Facebook. No Twitter. No Google+. These sites were blocked in China since 2009 onwards. But they are coming back soon.

Internet censorship in China

The internet arrived in China in 1994. The Golden Shield Project popularly known as the Great Firewall of China was started in 1998 and began operations in 2003. This project was based on Deng Xiaoping’s saying, “If you open the window to fresh air, you have to expect some flies to blow in.”

Some of the current methods used by the Chinese internet police include IP blocking, DNS filtering and redirection, packet filtering, URL filtering, TCP connection reset and VPN blocking.

China has also blacklisted certain keywords from search engines. These are keywords such as democracy, human rights, dictatorship, communism, communist party, Dalai Lama, Chinese democracy movement, Tibet and so on.

Photo and video sharing sites, blogging platforms, discussion forums, peer-to-peer sites and pornography are also blocked.

The lift on the social media ban

The South China Morning Post recently reported that the ban on internet access will be lifted. However, this access will be available only within the Shanghai Free-trade Zone. This region is a mere 28 sq-km out of mainland China’s 9.3 million sq.km area.

China undoubtedly is a huge market and has a largest internet population. This move is a part of the economic and financial reforms that the Chinese government is experimenting with.

The Chinese alternative

All over the world, social media is dominated by Facebook and Twitter. However, China has its own networks, which exceed 100 million active users.

Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo are the Chinese equivalents of Twitter. Weibo means microblog. Qzone is China’s largest social networking site. RenRen, another social networking site has a design that is similar to Facebook. Youku Tudou is a video-sharing site similar to YouTube. Soso is the Google of China and can easily be mistaken for the previous Google China website. Baidu is another popular search engine in China.

Leave a comment

Filed under International, Social networking