Monthly Archives: September 2013

4 India lawmakers arrested for deadly violence

LUCKNOW, India, Dhu-AlQa’dah 15, 1434, Sep 21, 2013, SPA — Four state opposition lawmakers have been arrested for allegedly inciting clashes between Hindus and Muslims that killed 48 people early this month in northern India, AP quoted police as saying.
Senior police officer R.K. Vishwakarma says the four, who are members of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and the regional Bahujan Samaj Party, have been charged with delivering hate-filled speeches against Muslims in Uttar Pradesh state. The arrests came Friday and Saturday.
Police officer Arun Kumar says both sides have blamed the other for starting the violence in which guns, swords, stones or knives were used in the killings.
The clashes were sparked in and around the town of Muzaffarnagar by the killing of three villagers who had objected when a young woman was being harassed.
–SPA
12:37 LOCAL TIME 09:37 GMT

U.S. Poverty, Uninsured Rates Flat in 2012

Washington, Dhu-AlQa’dah 11, 1434, September 17, 2013, SPA — The number of Americans living in poverty remained steady last year at 15 percent after rising for several years due the 2007-2009 Great Recession, according to U.S. government data released Tuesday.
The Census Bureau in its annual report said about 46.5 million people, or more than 1 in 7, were living in poverty last year, little changed from 46.2 million in 2011.
It was the sixth consecutive year that the poverty rate had failed to improve, hurt by persistently high levels of unemployment, which averaged 8.1 percent in 2012.
The Census data also showed the 2012 median U.S. household income was about $51,000, also not statistically different from the previous year.
The share of Americans without health insurance coverage-another key indicator of economic well-being-was 15.4 percent last year, compared to 15.7 percent in 2011, a change the Census Bureau described as not statistically significant.
— SPA
22:50 LOCAL TIME 19:50 GMT

French workers march against pension reform

Paris, Dhu-AlQa’dah 4, 1434, Sep 10, 2013, SPA — Thousands of people demonstrated across France on
Tuesday to protest planned reforms to the cash-strapped pension
system, dpa reported.

From Marseille to Lyon, Nantes and Toulouse, workers marched to
protest the government’s proposal to progressively increase the
number of years of contributions required for a full pension from
41.5 currently to 43.

The four trade unions behind the day of protests and strikes also
planned a big rally later in Paris. Only minor transport disruptions
were reported.

The deficit in France’s generous pension system has ballooned in
recent years. Left untouched, the shortfall is predicted to reach 20
billion euros (28 billion dollars) by 2020, prompting demands for
corrective action from the European Commission.

But reforming the system has been a minefield for successive
governments.

More than 1 million people took to the streets in 2010 when former
president Nicolas Sarkozy increased the minimum pension age from 60
to 62. He prevailed in the end, but the weeks of strikes and protests
damaged the economy.

President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government has taken a
more consensual approach, consulting at length with trade unions on
reforms that are widely seen as timid. The government is to present a
bill on September 18.

The modest scale of Tuesday’s protests reflected the modest scale
of the reforms. Moderate trade unions refused to endorse the
demonstrations.
–SPA
17:05 LOCAL TIME 14:05 GMT

Northern European countries stand atop world happiness report

New York, Dhu-AlQa’dah 3, 1434, Sep 9, 2013, SPA — Denmark and Norway were on top of a United
Nations report measuring well-being and happiness, released Monday and cited by AP.

The report, two weeks before the UN General Assembly, was compiled
for the second time to urge global leaders to include well-being as a
measure of development in the upcoming post-2015 Sustainable
Development Goals.

The ranking compiled by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions
Network used data on GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy, and
factors such as having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make
life choices, generosity and freedom from corruption to quantify
happiness levels.

“There is now a rising worldwide demand that policy be more
closely aligned with what really matters to people as they themselves
characterize their well-being,” said Jeffery Sachs, director of the
project. “The World Happiness Report 2013 offers rich evidence that
the systematic measurement and analysis of happiness can teach us a
lot about ways to improve the world’s well-being and sustainable
development.”

Other nations topping the list included Switzerland, the
Netherlands and Sweden. The United States ranked 17, behind countries
such as Mexico and Panama.

The least happy counties included Togo, which was on the bottom of
the list, Benin, the Central African Republic and Burundi.

Happiness as a measure of development has gained momentum at the
UN recently, as the organization observed the first International Day
of Happiness in March.

The initiative came as part of a resolution passed in 2012
sponsored by the Kingdom of Bhutan recognizing happiness as a
universal goal and as a guiding principle for public policies. It
said instead of focusing solely on financial issues when public
policy is drafted, happiness also should be taken into account.
–SPA
22:01 LOCAL TIME 19:01 GMT