Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A Concrete Poem From A Kashmiri's Perspective


Haiqa Masoodi









" Tanks, convoys and men in uniform is all we fear"


$817 Billion CAD Spent in Direct Relief paired with a Message to Canadians to Save for a Rainy Day


Hanson Feng

The Government of Canada has launched a spree of support Canadians and businesses, helping the most vulnerable in
society to ensure Canadians can continue to live after the pandemic comes to an end. This will cost taxpayers over $817
billion dollars plus interest on borrowed capital.

The primary program includes (Source: CBC News)
  • $200 Billion in Credit and Liquidity Support via Bank of Canada
  • $85 Billion in Income and Sales Tax Deferrals
  • $285 Billion in liquidity support for businesses
  • $73 Billion Wage Subsidy
  • $35 Billion CERB Payments
  • $15.3 Billion in Canada Emergency Business Account Payments
  • $5.5 Billion in GST Credits
  • $9 Billion in Financial Aid to Students
  • $1.7 Billion in Oil Well Clean Ups
  • $145.6 Billion in other forms of direct support
10% of mortgages with the big 6 banks have been deferred
leaving an estimated $663 Million per month unpaid
(Source: CRA)
Low returns on safe investments, cheap mortgages, and heightened ability to qualify for credit cards has left Canadians on a spending spree since the 2009 recession. The majority of Canadians (52%) report having less than $10,000 in liquid savings with 40% of Canadians saying they have less than $5000 (Source: BMO). Paired with an average mortgage payment of just under $1500 a month and over half of Canadians less than $200 away each month from bankruptcy, the math doesn’t add up. This is compared to Canadians continually spending more each year on non-essentials like travel and clothing.



The inability for Canadians to save has left millions across this country desperate for cash with many looking for someone to point to blame for their negligence with their finances. The fact of the matter is, the only person to blame is themselves.

A few weeks ago, big banks were in the hot seat after people brought up that banks were charging interest on principal during the 6-month mortgage deferral program, claiming it as ‘greedy’ and an ‘abuse of the situation.’ We need to acknowledge that this program was created as a good-will program from the banks. Many don’t understand the consequences if this program wasn’t in place. We’re talking 500,000+ mortgages being foreclosed, collapsing the economy, mortgage backed securities, blue-chip stocks, mutual funds, and RRSP savings plan leading to Economic ruin. Without this program we’d experience a depression never seen before; Pandemic recession plus a consumer and mortgage debt crisis.

This all should teach Canadians that no matter how low interest rates may be on fixed income investments, GIC products, and plain vanilla savings accounts there’s no excuse for not saving. The inability for 37 million Canadian to not save could have led to an economic depression that would ravage us for decades.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Reducing your Carbon Footprint


By Daphne

Add caption
Picture: By Alazne Qaisar

Caring for the environment is essential for future sustainability but it also affects our everyday lives. Pollution can negatively impact your health and being in nature is shown to improve your mood. Making sure that the world is healthy is something that everyone should be conscious of in their daily lives.
So you may be wondering how you can help. It doesn't take a zero waste lifestyle to reduce your carbon footprint. I know that many tips on how to help the earth may seem daunting but this collection of tips can help you on your journey to live a sustainable and minimal lifestyle.
  1.  Eat less meat and animal products. This doesn't mean that you need to go vegan but limiting your meat and animal product consumption to fewer days a week can make a large difference. The cattle industry contributes 18% of man made greenhouse gas emissions, that's more than the entire transportation industry. Meat production also limits biodiversity in the natural environment with more and more animals being domesticated. (Not to mention the unethical treatment of these animals). Reducing your intake of meat is also super easy and you can still enjoy your favorite meals with meat tasting substitutes. Like I said you don’t have to be vegan but maybe go for beans instead of beef every once and awhile.
  1. Buy used clothes, donate old clothes and repair damaged clothes. There are lots of reasons for why the clothing industry is a burden on the environment. The production of cotton uses up large amounts of water. Each shirt takes up 2700 litres of water to produce. Additionally cotton takes the largest amount of pesticides to grow of all the crops, the use of land continuously for commercial farming can leave the land arid and unusable for the future. The production of clothing is also very machine heavy. The human labour used to sew garments it's also widely unethical with the existence of sweatshops, ill treatment of workers and low pay. Clothing is also almost never produced locally (unless you live in developing countries like Bangladesh or China) and thus needs to be shipped worldwide. This accounts for large amounts of carbon emissions, in fact 10% of carbon emissions world wide. All of these issues can be easily mitigated by your actions. Buying used clothing can reduce the demand for new clothing which in turn relieves the stress on our natural resources.  With the rise of fast fashion things go out of style quickly and new clothing is always in demand. You can help change this by choosing to buy only when you need and also extending a garment’s lifetime by donating it when you are done with it so that someone else may use it. This not only helps others but also keeps perfectly good clothing out of landfills. Finally repairing small holes rather than scraping a piece of clothing means that you can use it longer and thus reduce your carbon footprint little by little. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiSYoeqb_VY

Helping the environment is easy and doesn't have to mean a whole lifestyle change. There are things you can do everyday to help keep our earth beautiful

THE FLAMES OF THE SEA


Aditya Mayuresh Thite 



At the Cusp of the hour,
There are the flames of the sea that reside in our vicinity,
We as the kings and queens of our domains,
Why do we reside in silence?
Like the calm before the storm,
Why do we lay on the seashore?
And endure the waves of despicable actions,
Actions beyond the realm of tranquility,
The silent ones aid in the aggravation,
In discrimination, racism, casteism, sexism,
The blind faith and the deep-rooted regressive mindsets
Of every morsel of sand on the seashores,


Don’t let it encapsulate your thoughts,
Let go of the fear you once held in the firm grip of societal pressure,
Let it go like the wind,
The remedy is the voice that is embedded,
The robust voice every morsel of sand possesses in this seashore,
The fierce voice that shrieks free from the shackles of reservations,
Be Opinionated, hold dynamic thoughts and ideas,
Let out the message with crispness and clarity,
Be an inspiration instead of leading a life with desperation,
Don’t showcase benevolence to the waves,
Live like a free bird over the horizon,
With the personality of a lion,


In the end of it all,
We must put an end to the societal norms and regressive mindsets,
The current is strong, yet the waves are narrow and shallow,
Keep your emotions to a piece,
Be a Vivid dreamer and hold a hand to your heart and believe,
At the end of the wave,
There is always a beautiful sky


Monday, April 20, 2020

The Practice of Nepal’s Menstrual Taboo - Chhaupadi Pratha


Arya Khadka, 20th April






The biological phenomenon of menstruation is indefinitely linked to the foundation sustaining human life and mankind, a process which shouldn’t be seen as sinful and an act of shame. This reality of normalizing menstruation amongst adolescent youth and women is only a dream for many in Nepal, primarily western districts of Nepal who continue to rigidly practice the social tradition of Chhaupadi Pratha - a form of menstrual exile.
The basis of this primitive tradition is the concept of “untouchability” originating from religious beliefs of Hindu’s in regards to purity and impurity, in which menstrual blood is impure. The superstition initially coming from a myth that menstruation is a curse created by lord Indra in which anything touched by a menstruating woman will be destroyed or catalyze the future misfortune of others, i.e, if a menstruating woman touches a man, he will fall ill. Thus, women menstruating are isolated from their family, household activities, livestock, water and food sources further restricting their access to basic necessities. And with relevance to the curse of menstruation, anything touched by an “impure” girl or woman must be discarded immediately or purified. The process of purification is  most commonly done with sun ko pani (water purified by gold). To further extend the extent of isolation adolescent girls and women are “banished” to live away from their family and community commonly in Chhau or livestock sheds.

According to the quantitative survey of a social study on Chhaupadi pratha with a population study of 107  adolescent girls in the western district of Accham - 72% practiced Chhaupadi (exile) outside their homes likely to Chhau or livestock sheds with the other 28% practicing various forms of self distancing within their homes (Amatya et al, 2018). Out of the 72% of girls who had to partake in exile 26% of their living spaces didn’t have any/proper ventilation, 70% without toilets and lastly, 38% of the sample population lacked bedding and blankets (Amatya et al, 2018). The brutal living situations these girls are forced to go through is simply antediluvian, out of the 77 girls that were exiled from their homes nine of them reported to have been bitten by snakes (Amatya et al, 2018). In addition, hundreds of deaths from this practice have been reported with women mauled to death by wild animals as well as deaths from fatal snake and scorpion bites. The girls and women are left helplessly to die or wait in despair until they are noticed, unable to seek medical care as they must wait until the completion of their cycle. The restrictive access to healthcare and human contact has made Chhaupadi pratha a leading cause of death in Nepal.

This social tradition of Chhaupadi is dangerous with regards to the health of adolescent girls and women, their temporary residence in an unhygienic livestock or Chhau shed with limited materials heightening the prospect of dehydration, hypothermia, reproductive tract and urinary tract infections. Asides from the fact that this social issue in Nepal requires urgent mediation from the government and health officials, this also encourages oppression against women as Chhaupadi pratha is a belittling experience and an unfortunate reality for many. With this said, if stringent measures aren’t taken immediately overt discrmination against women is a likely social consequence.

Although Nepal's supreme court placed a ban on Chhaupadi pratha in 2005, its followers are rigid on changing their ways hence, change is exceptionally slow as the taboo against menstruation and menstruating women is so deeply entrenched. The government deemed this tradition as a “human rights violation” yet Chhauupadi continues to flourish and persist. In 2017 new laws were introduced strengthening the legislative approach to menstrual exile due to three deaths that were greatly publicized. A fine of 3,000 Nepalese rupees and/or a three month jail sentence was also applied, this is progress towards breaking down the repressive barriers for women in Nepal. However, the struggle lies in enforcing the laws set in place. Furthermore, social change campaigns openly destroyed Chhau sheds declaring multiple villages as “Chhaupadi free” (Amatya et al, 2018). Yet, this only deteriorated the state of menstruating women in these villages as they were ostracized against and sent to more unhygienic and dangerous living residences.

Progressive change regarding Chhaupadi pratha can only be seen when government implemented laws and limitations are enforced consistently. Nepal also has 44.5% illiteracy rate in the female population, and persistent education about the dangers of this custom will be imperative in discouraging Chhaupadi. Generations of oppressed women who feel shame and impure for a bodily process they cannot control reinforces a repressive standard of treatment and discrimination against women. Eliminating this practice is a step towards a progressive society.


References

Practice and Lived Experience of Menstrual Exiles (Chhaupadi) among adolescent-girls in far western Nepal - Pubmed Central (pmc) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6287853









The city seems peculiarly quiet,
The roads have become an abode of peace,
Nature is nurturing,
But at grim cost,
We must call it an apocalypse
or fate,
Freedom and liberty are now
Lost,
But people still preaching hate,
We are desirous to end our sorrows,
But, I guess, we would risk our lives again tomorrow,
We must seek to eradicate it all,
Because it's our temporary solutions that are the root cause of sorrow,
Let's hope everything will get well soon,
And we again could see the wheat fields glittering by the shine of the moon.

-Aryan Vishwakarma

Centuries of Antagonism


Who are the Kurds/Yazidis? 

Aysha Rasha, 20th April

On February 3, the New York Times quoted the desperate plea of a Yazidi, a member of an ethnic-religious group facing communal extermination in the hands of ISIS terrorists. In simple, but moving terms he summed up the plight of his people, ‘Please help us. They are killing us and kidnapping our women and children.’

Nadia Murad was one of the victims. She was held as a slave in the city of Mosul, where she was beaten up, burned with cigarettes, and raped. She successfully escaped as a Muslim family living nearby helped her with the abscond. 

HISTORY

Times before and during the Ottoman rule, the Kurds lived in the regions of present day Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq. The Ottoman rulers were unsparing with the forced conversion and these ppl had to outwardly behave as converts. This ethnic-religious group was classified into Muslim, Jewish and Yazidi Kurdish-speaking people.



After the decline of the Ottoman empire, the Kurds had requested for an autonomous nation for them, named Kurdistan. They had put this forward to France and Britain as there was no intergovernmental organisation like the UN, at that time. The countries had skeptically accorded to this in the beginning as they signed the Treaty of Sevres. But later, the Sykes-Picot agreement stipulated that the territories will be shared among France and Britain, the rest being tiny bits of present day Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, which was given to the Kurds to inhabit.

Kurds were large in population and weren’t allowed to extant by any of the regions. Mainly, Turkey was the country that had the notion of ravaging them, as it was an irresistible impulse for the Ottoman dynasty. This was when the ISIS has come in with the aim of turning Syria into a 100% Muslim nation. The Kurdish people had decided to fight the ISIS by joining hands with the Syrian military. America had shown support for this and called for Turkey to refrain from disrupting them.They successfully defeated the ISIS and held many captives after facing traumatic, excruciating damages. But now, America has withdrawn support after achieving  their objective of subjugating the ISIS. So the hassles with Turkey has started. Russia has declared its support for the Syrians, America on the other hand, for Turkey.



References



INVESTING AND ECONOMY - What the Bankruptcy of Neiman Marcus Signals to Investors and Consumer Discretionary Companies


Hanson Feng April 20, 2020

On Sunday April 19, 2020 a Reuters report outlined a multi-billion-dollar bankruptcy declaration by America’s largest luxury department store. This was after a $5.7 Million USD bond payment was left unpaid earlier that week. With over $6 billion in liabilities to dozens of investors including the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, who oversees the investment and management of CPP payments.
Analysts say, “We continue to view its capital structure as unsustainable.”
With many analysts claiming it’s credit score is deep into “junk” territory. Neiman Marcus Group LTD LLC reported a $31.2 million loss in the third quarter of their 2019 fiscal year, with losses up from last years $19.9 million loss in the same quarter (Bloomberg, 2019). With a seemingly strong balance sheet with liabilities not exceeding assets, we must remember the “worth” of their “assets” are comprised of merchandise inventories, which clearly aren’t selling or worth much on the marketplace.

Next for the group is a possible bid from the Hudson’s Bay Co. which also owns Saks Fifth Avenue. However, have not responded to comment from other media outlets. But we must recognize a pattern of large department stores and a pattern of weak profits and strong headwinds they’re facing in the 21st century. J. C. Penny, Hudson’s Bay Company, Eaton’s, Zellers, Sears, and Macy’s have all announced either cuts or have completely gone under in what many are calling a “retail apocalypse.”

Their inability to adapt and change to market conditions has led to the demise of their brands. Paired with poorly laid out stores, mediocre goods, poor online offerings, way too many items to filter through and hard to understand sale programs and campaigns all pair for a disaster in the 21st-century marketplace where successful companies sell themselves as transparent, simple, and minimal.

A message for department stores; you have months to save your brand image, not quarters or years. We’re talking months to be able to win over young consumers before you’re forgotten. Choose not to, your days are numbered.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Demise of Andrew Scheer; a Rhetoric of How the Conservative Party of Canada Has Failed Young Canadians


By Hanson Feng
April 14, 2020


All after a major corruption scandal, unmet fiscal promises, and policy that alienated the west; Trudeau still came out on top on a 2019 Monday night with minority control of the house all after what many Canadians called a battle of “evil versus evil.” But how did we get here? A government accused of corruption and obstruction of justice being democratically re-elected with a record high voter turnout rate.

In 2019, Canadian’s aged between 18 and 38 represented just under 40% of the eligible voter population (Source: Adacus Data). This meant this group has sweeping power on deciding the fate of the election. Yet treated like kids that aren’t mature enough to be a part of the conversation by a major political party.

A lack of vigilance with words among a variety of social issues and their apparent coexistence with his faith, citizenship drama, climate change ignorance are just a few metrics of Scheer’s failure to score a goal in an empty net. Why is the party still going off ideals written in the mid to late 1900s? What, to appease it’s largely white, male, and uneducated voter base? To continue culture and tradition. To spread the love of faith to Canadians. To make Canada great again. None of the above. A clear failure to target to voters in the GTA and Quebec area; those who decide the fate of the election and government.

No conversation on the elimination of poverty, a war on climate change, increasing meaningful employment for university graduates, challenging racial hate crime, achieving affordable housing for all, and an open policy on celebrating diversity. All of which are crucial in the conversation to young Canadians, and all of which are addressed in the platforms of every other major party. The resentment of youth is the feeling of being left out of the conversation and being treated as ‘immature kids.’ This all weakens the party which already needs to fight an existing uphill battle of rewriting the connotated definition of ‘conservative.’

What’s next for the party? The choice of a leader who vows as a social and economic conservative and markets his platform as significantly to the right of Liberals or a leader who advertises himself as open, socially forward, and slightly centre to the Liberals. This decision will lead to either another defeat or regained leadership.
It’s clear if O’Toole is to be leader, another Scheer-like failure will again dominate the headlines

Universal acceptance of diversity is not a policy, a perspective or an opinion to young voters, is assumed. Climate change similarly something our generation will have to fight like how our ancestors fought in world war II. Ambiguity on the commitment to ensure no Canadian’s existence is at question is again going to lead to the defeat of the conservatives if O’Toole were to win.

An article: “Where 14 Conservative leadership candidates stand on social issues” (CTV News, Dehaas, 2017) pinpoints the lack of unity of the Conservative Party of Canada. Abortion, LGBTQ+ rights, and doctor assisted death were all discussed in the article. With no unified message from mid-level and leading party MPs. With some saying they “choose to not reopen the debate” and would not provide their perspective on the issue. These exact words prove to Canadians, they will not take responsibility on issues that profoundly affect Canadians.

Canadian’s don’t want change; they want a clear answer. Something the conservative Party of Canada has failed to provide Canadians.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Curl Your Tulips

Picture & Caption by Alazne Qaisar

"Curl your tulips away from the deafening silence that grips the valley. The shadows of injustice that follow each tavern. The cloudy reflections of hatred & bigotry that emerge in the waters of Dal. Curl them away even when their innocence taints with every withering wind below"

In Remembrance of the Old Mountain Ranges


By Alazne Qaisar

I crescendoed my voice, loud and clear. Waiting for the mountains to respond to and mimic the shrill in my voice.
I run across the gravel road, wide enough for two people to strut along,
The mustard plants greeting me as I skip and breathe in the faint smell of newly cut grass,
A delightful, sweet treat for the cattle, stowed away for the upcoming ruthless winter.

I crane my neck to scour for the familiar wisps of smoke coming from the chimneys in the
Nearby kothis (huts),
A sign of preparations underway for the evening supper, a feast decorated with makki di roti
(bread of maize) and homemade butter, freshly strained from buttermilk gifted by the cattle.
Beautiful, golden honey served alongside noon chai (pink tea), the perfect accompaniment
To give the day a rest.

As the sun hides behind the mighty peaks of the Karakoram range,
the mountains cast a shadow over the sheltered valley,
Promising to protect her children who found refuge in her colossal boundaries.

The children usher the tyres with their sticks inside the house as nightfall approaches,
Climbing its way across the lofty peaks,
embedding itself into the crevices and coveting the valley softly below.

I steal glances with the nightly sky,
speckled with stars so bright as though a child using glitter had unleashed her complete creativity.
As I pan across the sky, my awestruck thoughts at the glimpses of marvel are interrupted by hoots of a distant owl and the incessant flow of the Kishanganga river,
Harbouring waters from falling tears of melting glaciers and gushing hot geysers.

Quietness blankets the lush green pastures as darkness sheathes every house,
a reminder to onlookers of the aloof shrieks that lose their way amidst the mountains.
To this heaven, demarcated with barbed wires, I give my last breath.
Let the tulips graze every conscience till the tugging of sleeves, at last, pulls them to gape in full view at the valley in between the mountains.

Curl Your Tulips






Curl your tulips away from the deafening silence that grips the valley. The shadows of injustice that follow each tavern. The cloudy reflections of hatred & bigotry that emerge in the waters of Dal. Curl them away even when their innocence taints with every withering wind below.


In Remembrance of Old Mountain Ranges




I crescendoed my voice, loud and clear
Waiting for the mountains to respond to and mimic the shrill in my voice.
I run across the gravel road, wide enough for two people to strut along,
The mustard plants greeting me as I skip and breathe in the faint smell of newly cut grass,
A delightful, sweet treat for the cattle, stowed away for the upcoming ruthless winter.

I crane my neck to scour for the familiar wisps of smoke coming from the chimneys in the
Nearby kothis (huts),
A sign of preparations underway for the evening supper, a feast decorated with makki di roti
(bread of maize) and homemade butter, freshly strained from buttermilk gifted by the cattle.
Beautiful, golden honey served alongside noon chai (pink tea), the perfect accompaniment
To give the day a rest.

As the sun hides behind the mighty peaks of the Karakoram range,
the mountains cast a shadow over the sheltered valley,
Promising to protect her children who found refuge in her colossal boundaries.

The children usher the tyres with their sticks inside the house as nightfall approaches,
Climbing its way across the lofty peaks,
embedding itself into the crevices and coveting the valley softly below.

I steal glances with the nightly sky,
speckled with stars so bright as though a child using glitter had unleashed her complete creativity.
As I pan across the sky, my awestruck thoughts at the glimpses of marvel are interrupted by hoots of a distant owl and the incessant flow of the Kishanganga river,
Harbouring waters from falling tears of melting glaciers and gushing hot geysers.

Quietness blankets the lush green pastures as darkness sheathes every house,
a reminder to onlookers of the aloof shrieks that lose their way amidst the mountains.
To this heaven, demarcated with barbed wires, I give my last breath.
Let the tulips graze every conscience till the tugging of sleeves, at last, pulls them to gape in full view at the valley in between the mountains.

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