In a normal world, when something is severely restricted in your country, you would not export it to another country under the pretense that used under certain, very restricted conditions, your product only causes a moderate increase in cancer.
While the federal government projects an image of being a helpful, international Boy Scout on issues ranging from peacekeeping to nuclear proliferation, Canada has a peculiar relationship to asbestos.
But we don’t live in a normal world, because asbestos is exported from Canada to India where it is added to cement.
Tushar Joshi, a noted New Delhi occupational health expert, is flabbergasted over asbestos sales by a country of Canada’s stature. “As a developed country, you expect more civilized behaviour,” Dr. Joshi says. Canada’s activities are “beyond comprehension,” he adds, calling Ottawa’s promotion of asbestos “a black spot on a sparkling white dress.”
yes, well said. It is very mysterious that asbestos use in India went up in the 1980s just as evidence about its incredibly destructive effects on respiratory systems had curtailed use in most of the first world. Clearly, third world lungs are not as important as Canadian lungs.
Asbestos is one area where Canada lags even behind the US. And Canada’s environmental practices are going to come under increasing scrutiny as climate change unfreezes the great white North and exposes the resources underneath.
Canada, the world is watching.
Where my home state of Tamil Nadu gets into the news for this bizarre story of parental pride gone too far.
Two Indian doctors are facing an investigation into claims they let their 15-year-old son perform a caesarean section to get into the Guinness Book of Records.
The government of Tamil Nadu state in southern India today said it was launching an inquiry, according to Indian newspaper reports.
It is alleged the doctors screened a video of their son performing the caesarean at a meeting of the regional branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) last month in the hope their son, Dhileepan Raj, would get into the record book as the world’s youngest surgeon.
I feel like laughing at the parents, but the patient and her fetus were put at grave risk, what idiots!
India appears to be in a grip of a polio outbreak with 352 cases reported so far this year, many of them from areas that were free of the virus, and officials fear the number may increase further. Uttar Pradesh alone has reported 312 cases, the highest of all the states, and World Health Organisation officials have described it as an “exporter” of the disease.
In Uttar Pradesh, officials said 90 percent of the cases were due to ignorance in the minority Muslim community, who believed the polio vaccine could make children impotent.
Only four countries in the world (Nigeria, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan) are reported to have endemic polio.
I remember reading about a Nigerian Province issue with Clerics claiming “that vaccines supplied by Western donors were adulterated to reduce fertility and spread AIDS as part of a general war on Islam”, which the Wikipedia Polio article verifies. But we have never seen this in India before, and I find it hard to believe. I will remain sceptical about the Muslim clerical influence on India’s polio debacle unless I hear better. News from India sometimes builds its own “truth momentum”, with speculation and hearsay morphing into bulletproof truth in a matter of hours. It is also easy in India to start rumors to deflect blame.Here’s a contrarian take from a Reuter’s Article
“Tens of thousands of children were missed by state health workers over the past year during rounds of immunization, leading to a resurgence of the virus, they said.
“We are very concerned. It raises the threat to India and is also threatening other countries,” said Jay Wenger, head of the National Polio Surveillance Project, a collaboration between the WHO and the Indian government.
One federal official said around 10 percent of children in several western districts of Uttar Pradesh, known for its ramshackle state health care and sluggish bureaucracy, could have missed immunization between late 2005 and early 2006.
“These (vaccination) rounds were of poor quality,” said the official, who did not want to be named.”
Well, sounds more logical, does it not? But why let the depressing truth of inadequacy get in the way of a juicy and self-perpetuating tale of Muslim backwardness.
India, the emerging tiger.
The decision to make public a presidential order of last July authorizing American strikes inside Pakistan without seeking the approval of the Pakistani government ends a long debate within, and on the periphery of, the Bush administration. Senator Barack Obama, aware of this ongoing debate during his own long battle with Hillary Clinton, tried to outflank her by supporting a policy of U.S. strikes into Pakistan. Senator John McCain and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin have now echoed this view and so it has become, by consensus, official U.S. policy.Its effects on Pakistan could be catastrophic, creating a severe crisis within the army and in the country at large. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are opposed to the U.S. presence in the region, viewing it as the most serious threat to peace.
This part of the world could see even more escalation in violence and death. Imagine the terror in the population as unmanned drones routinely fly over and drop bombs from the sky. The US government created this problem in the 1980s when fighting its proxy cold war. It decided that communism was a big enough threat to justify the arming of religious fundamentalists. We still continue to pay the price.
When will this colonialist meddling end? If the last 100+ years have shown us anything, Western forces cannot control this region by force, yet they keep trying, keep killing people and keep the flames alive.
Unfortunately, the women and children of this area just don’t have good alternatives. They either get oppressed by their moronic fundamentalist men or get western bombs hurled from the sky at them. Would 20 years of peace, under even fundamentalist conditions, provide enough stability to make incremental change possible? I don’t know, but I do know that unmanned “drones” dropping bombs from the sky will not bring peace.
DIWANA, India, Feb. 19 — On an Indian train bound for Pakistan, two homemade bombs exploded at midnight yesterday, trapping slumbering passengers in the flames and killing at least 65 people. The office of the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, today called the attack “an act of terror” and promised to apprehend those responsible. Pakistan swiftly condemned it. The incident comes on the eve of the visit of Pakistani foreign minister, Khursheed Kasuri, to the Indian capital, and two weeks before officials from both countries are to meet for the first time to share information on terror-related activities.
Horrible. The motive is clear, to keep tensions between India and Pakistan high, but it appears that for the first time that I can remember, the Indian government is not taking the bait.
“This is an act of sabotage,” the Indian Railway Minister Laloo Prasad told reporters in the eastern city of Patna, according to wire service reports. “This is an attempt to derail the improving relationship between India and Pakistan.”
Laloo is a notorious politician, but he got this statement exactly right, I remain hopeful that the resolution of the Kashmir issue is only a matter of time.
There had been no security searches before passengers boarded the train. Nodding towards the row of police officers frisking people at the entrance to the station, opening suitcases and checking hand bags, Aslam said: “None of that was there yesterday.”
Boy, that’s not very smart, is it?
Speaking fluent English, he described the gruelling 42-day high-seas journey and talked of the deteriorating living conditions in his homeland. He also described his dismay at arriving in Canada only to be branded a potential terrorist and jailed for nearly three months.
Ah, the old “compliment”, “you speak such good English”, code for “I am so culturally and racially ignorant that the act of any non-white non Anglo-Saxon speaking English surprises and amazes me, and I am clueless enough to think of this statement as a compliment”. If the statement is made by a lay-person, I view it as an opportunity to educate. This represents the culmination of a long journey growing up in privileged middle class India and slowly accepting myself as a person of colour (different and yet to be written blog post). But, for a reporter specifically assigned to write about immigration and refugee claims, this is inexcusable, especially because the language of his testimony has no relevance to his story. It’s almost as if the reporter thinks that this person would be more deserving of Canadian sympathy if she lets us know that he speaks “fluent English” just like us!
The rest of the story is not too bad, it uses neutral language to chronicle the story of a heroic person’s struggle to first help the people around him, then finally make a risky journey across the world in search of a better life.
But wait, there’s more! The headline writer seems to have his or her own agenda as well (not captured in the website article, but see the Page One headline (captured on cellphone camera!):
Not bad, ” Tamil Migrant Sought Relief from Homeland Threats” – neutral, descriptive and to the point.
Now see the headline for the continuation:
Wow, “Militant Claims No Ties to Tamil Tigers”. Hello, what happened? When did migrant become militant, when did his statement become a “claim”, and what relevance do the Tamil Tigers have to this man’s refugee status? Is every Tamil a Tiger? (true story, playing pickup at the gym the other day, this guy asked me what my ethnicity was, then called me a Tiger, then got very defensive when I yelled at him!).
A writer’s bias becomes very evident in the choice of words used to frame statements. I always look for “said”, “asserted”, “claimed” as short forms for “we are reporting this statement, but here’s what we really think”.
This is not the first time headlines have made me scratch my head. This happens especially often in the world of science, as this blog post very ably documents. I once got into a brief email discussion with a reporter at the Raleigh News and Observer who was writing articles about undocumented workers. She would use “undocumented immigrant” (Good), “illegal immigrant” (Bad) and occasionally, “illegal alien” (Alien??) interchangeably. However, the headline would always contain the very pejorative one word “Illegals”. I asked her about it and her one line dismissal was that “she did not write the headlines”, which is a nice and casual shirking of responsibility! Since most people only see headlines anyway, the words stick. So, Tamil = Tiger, immigrant = illegal, etc.
It made me a little sad to see the story of good things (he survived and will have his refugee claim heard) happening to a good man reduced to a disgusting innuendo filled headline. For more on the Tamil refugee story, see this article. The Canadian government is using secret evidence to decide who gets to go free and who is detained. While some of the people on board this ship could possibly be linked to violence, secret trials and innuendo do not help anyone involved. The Canadian government should know this, given that its dealings with immigrants using the security certificate program have been criticized before. I understand and fully sympathize with the Canadian government’s position that this is a complex situation and each person needs to be dealt with carefully on a case by case basis, but secrecy is not necessary here.