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Can the world afford a new Cold War ?

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Can the world afford a new Cold War ?

Future historians may view the July 17 downing of a Malaysian airliner and subsequent imposition of stringent Western sanctions on Russia as marking the start of a new Cold War. The ensuing isolation of Moscow might produce a diplomatic bonanza for China and make resolution of hot global issues more difficult. It would also pose new challenges for India and other formerly ‘non-aligned’ countries that would prefer to steer clear of great power confrontations.

The new Cold War would be quite different from the old one, of course. Far from the ideological struggle between two nuclear-armed rivals of the last century, it would represent a battle of political will between a democratic alliance of 28 European countries and the US on one side and an authoritarian pseudo-democracy challenging the existing political order on the other. In today’s interconnected world, the outcome of this clash will naturally be felt across the globe.

The origin of the current crisis goes back to February, when prolonged demonstrations in Kiev demanding that Ukraine join the EU resulted in the overthrow of the country’s pro-Russian president. Fearing that a pro-Western government in Kiev would oust the Russian navy from its strategic port in Crimea, Putin engineered a pro-Russia revolt and subsequently annexed the peninsula. (Although it was once under Moscow’s control, Crimea was gifted to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev, while maintaining its hold on the Soviet navy’s only warm water port in Sevastopol.)

Emboldened by the West’s muted response and enthusiastic support at home, Putin sought to consolidate Russia’s position and encouraged a rebellion in eastern Ukraine. He was determined not to let the anti-Russian government in Kiev defeat the separatists, allowing the EU and Nato to come right up to Russia’s doorstep. His growing involvement in supplying heavy arms to separatists set the stage for the destruction of flight MH17 and worldwide outrage.

The anger at Russia and its Ukrainian allies shook the mutually beneficial economic ties that saw European banks funding half of Russian private investment. Now sanctions raise the risk of Russia defaulting on its external debt. Putin’s options are perilous. The EU has pledged to repeal the sanctions if Russia “starts contributing actively and without ambiguities to finding a solution to the Ukrainian crisis”.

To accept that condition when Putin’s Crimean annexation has been so popular domestically would be a bitter pill to swallow. But to invade Ukraine outright could cost him much more. Foreign investors are already fleeing Russia, sending the rouble into free fall amid fears of a full-blown recession. Russian patriotism could see the public rally around Putin for a time, but the backdrop of a declining economy would not sustain the fervour for very long.

In anticipation of sanctions, in May Russia rushed to sign the $400 billion, 30-year gas deal with China in terms advantageous to Beijing. Now with its Western partners backing away, Russia will be seeking to deepen economic and military ties with China. As Western sanctions shut off the taps of investment capital, Moscow may turn to the Chinese renminbi, and the Hong Kong and Singapore dollar markets.

After the friendly Modi-Putin meeting in Brazil Moscow might be spurred to count even more on India’s diplomatic support and economic cooperation. But the impending credit crunch could complicate its economic and military ties with other countries. For example, recent US sanction against defense companies like Kalashnikov could complicate the firm’s plan to set up manufacturing facilities in India. The closing of credit window and loss of Western technology, especially in oil and gas technology, could hurt Russia’s growth prospect.

However, Russia’s significant oil and gas reserves and its close ties with Western oil majors may help soften the sanctions blow. EU officials took care, for example, not to hinder continued supply of Russian gas. Given that British Petroleum owns nearly 20% of Russian oil giant Rosneft, long-term sanctions would adversely impact the company’s performance and indirectly undermine Western economies.

The West may also soon realise that turning a power like Russia into a pariah would undermine efforts to address many of the world’s burning issues — from negotiations around Iran’s nuclear programme to a bloody and seemingly interminable Syrian civil war. A new Cold War would not be in anybody’s interest.

~ by Nayan Chanda

Canadian News

Joint statement from the Greater Toronto Area & Hamilton Mayors and Chairs

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory take part in a candlelit vigil to honour the victims of a deadly shooting in Toronto on Wednesday July 25, 2018. Ten-year-old Julianna Kozis of Markham, Ont., and 18-year-old Reese Fallon of Toronto were killed in Sunday's shooting attack, and 13 other people were injured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

We are united in fighting COVID-19 – protecting our residents and saving lives.

While the measures we have taken to stop the spread of the virus have made a difference, this virus has still taken far too many lives in our communities and continues to threaten the lives of our residents.

At the same time, there is no denying the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Jobs have been lost, many businesses have closed or are at risk of closure, and many families are worried about their financial future.

We’ve been hit hard but that’s why it is so important that we keep moving forward and come back as strong as possible.

Today, the GTHA Mayors and Chairs met to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the region and how our municipalities can work together on the economic restart and recovery.

We know the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area alone is projected to lose 355,000 jobs and 28% of GDP along with $894 million in lost wages and $3.7 billion in revenue losses for businesses. This will be felt right across the GTHA but it also threatens the provincial and national economies.

A strong recovery right here in the GTHA is crucial to healing the economic damage done by COVID-19 and helping the families and businesses all governments have been working to protect throughout this emergency.

Ontario’s economy and Canada’s economy need the GTHA to come back stronger than ever when the restart begins.

We are determined to deliver this recovery and we agreed today that the GTHA municipalities will be working together to successfully and smoothly reopen our vital regional economy when the time comes.

We also discussed how we can in a consistent way achieve significant, necessary financial support from the other governments to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect our ability to contribute to the recovery. A strong recovery needs strong cities and regional governments.

We have agreed we will work together to share information about our respective financial positions and explore together measures we can advocate to the other governments which will help to ensure the financial stability of local and regional governments in the GTHA.

Our child care and recreation programs help parents get back to work.

Our emergency services keep people safe.

Our transit systems get people to work and home safely.

Our major infrastructure projects – often built in conjunction with the other governments – will help kick-start the recovery and create countless jobs.

Our economic development activities attract jobs and investment.

We built a strong and vibrant GTHA and we know that we will need to come back even stronger and as quickly as we can in order to keep Canada’s economy going.

With the cooperation and support of the provincial and federal governments, we are ready to rise to this challenge.”

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Canadian News

Four People Charged in Mississauga Pedestrian Fail to Remain Fatality

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Investigators from the Major Collision Bureau have charged four people in Mississauga’s most recent fatal fail to remain collision.

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, at approximately 8:40 p.m., the victim, a 61 year-old female from Mississauga, was struck by a south bound vehicle as she was crossing Mavis Road in the area of Knotty Pine Grove in the City of Mississauga. The vehicle did not remain and the victim, having suffered major injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Saturday, February 17, 2018 shortly before 7:00 p.m., Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM, a 60 year-old male from Brampton, and the driver believed to be responsible in this incident, surrendered to police at 22 Division. Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM has since been charged with Fail to Remain Cause Death.

Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, a 25 year old female from Brampton, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN a 28 year-old female from Brampton and Gowtham SATKUNARAJAH a 28 year-old male from Brampton have each been charged with Accessory After the Fact in relation to this incident.

Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM will answer to his charge on March 12, 2018. Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN andGowtham SATKUNARAJAH will answer to their charges on Monday March 26, 2018 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton

Anyone who may have witnessed the collision, have dashboard video footage of the incident or who may have any information regarding this incident is asked to contact investigators with the Major Collision Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3710. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word ‘PEEL’ and then your tip.

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Canadian News

Justin Trudeau in India: Hug missing! Mounting pressure?

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The much publicized and anticipated visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India was marred with questions. The questions were centered on the kind of welcome he would be given in the Sikh dominated state of Punjab. Also the famous hug by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being anticipated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally made his much-touted visit to India. He landed on the Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi only to be received by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat not even a Cabinet Minister in Narendra Modi’s government.

He is presently the second rank Minister of State for Agriculture.  That comes in complete contrast to the warmth that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his NDA government has generally displayed towards the visiting dignitaries.  Only a couple of weeks ago, when the heads of the 10 ASEAN states arrived in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t receive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the airport, as he has previously done with many leaders including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t join him is all surprising even when Prime Minister Trudeau visited Gujarat. This is unusual because the Indian Prime Minister has set a trend that he always accompanies head of the state when they visit his home state.

Even Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath did not show up, let alone accompany Prime Minister Trudeau to the Taj. However, during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 15 January visit to the Taj Mahal at Agra, Yogi Adityanath had received Netanyahu and his wife and shown them around as well as hosted a lunch for them. For first three days, none from the executive or the elected representative held any meeting with the delegation.

Media in India is trying to spread a message that the cold treatment given by Prime Minister could be because two of the four Sikh members of Trudeau’s cabinet – Harjit Sajjan and Amarjeet Sohi – support the Khalistan movement. However, had that been the case his visit to Punjab would have got a similar response.  However, the Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh rolled out a red carpet during his stay at Amritsar and even the two leaders held some fruitful discussions.

Thus putting an end to those criticisms that that Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit was devoid of any warmth.  Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, for instance who met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau setting aside his earlier prejudice that he exhibited during the visit of Defence Minister Harjeet Singh Sajjan.

In recent months, Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in Canada, the United States and Australia have banned Indian officials from visiting gurudwaras and the moment started with Gurudwaras here in Toronto. Could that be the reason for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not accord one of the warmest welcomes that he is known to provide?  Or the use by Canada’s parliament of the term genocide to describe mass killings of Sikhs in India in 1984 has left the Indian Prime Minister disturbed?  However, more than Prime Minister Modi, this could have left the Congress party in troubled waters, but that was also not the case as Amarinder Singh hails from the same party.

The lukewarm welcome to Prime Minister Trudeau can have its political ramifications too. Will it hamper the significant 2015 deal, in which Canada agreed to supply 3,000 metric tons of Uranium to power India’s atomic reactors?

Somewhere Prime Minister Modi has not taken the issue of non allowing entry of Indian officials to Gurudwaras and the statement on Genocide too lightly. Prime Minister Modi however has failed to understand that Canada cannot curtail the right of freedom of speech and expression of its citizen.

Two nations perhaps failed to resolve the matter before Prime Minister boarded the flight from Canada and not welcoming Prime Minister Trudeau could be a tactical decision to put pressure on him. With Prime Minister Modi preferring to meet him at the far end of the tour has conveyed a lot about the myopic approach of Prime Minister Modi.

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