first_imgAPTN National NewsAn Akwesasne Mohawk man is on probation after occupying land in New York State.William Roger Jock, a member of an Akwesasne Longhouse, stands accused of stealing land.APTN National News reporter Danielle Rochette has this story.last_img

first_imgAPTN National NewsThere was a massive gathering of Idle No More supporters Wednesday.At one point there were so many who turned out the place hosting the meeting collapsed.But don’t worry, nobody was hurt.This is a story about the secret weapon Idle No More uses to organize.It’s a tool they used Wednesday to bring out thousands to a discussion about the future of the movement.APTN National News reporter Tim Fontaine has the story.last_img

first_imgAs we step further into 2018, business confidence in Alberta is the highest it’s been since the economic downturn hit.A new study by the Business Development Bank of Canada says investment will be strong in the coming months. BDC Chief Economist Pierre Cléroux said 2017 was a year of growth, and companies are looking to continue that recovery.“There’s a shift in the investment pattern. Businesses are investing more in technology, in employee training, than they are investing in equipment and buildings,” he said. But employee training doesn’t necessarily mean hiring.Cléroux said the minimum wage hike may mean less of a focus on labour. “As a business owner, you hire people, you invest in technology and that’s basically what you have to produce something. If the cost of labour is increasing, well, it’s an incentive to invest more in your capital, or technology,” he said. The BDC predicts Alberta, B.C. and Quebec will lead the country in terms of investment in 2018.last_img read more

first_imgTRENTON, N.S. – Time appears to be running out to find a new operator for a former wind tower manufacturing plant in northeastern Nova Scotia developed with $56 million in provincial funding.In an interview Thursday following a tour of the former DSME Trenton plant, Business Minister Geoff MacLellan said the province would have to make a decision on what comes next by the end of this fiscal year if a buyer isn’t found.“We are coming to a point where we have to make a final decision on this,” said MacLellan.The minister said possible future steps could include finding buyers for the equipment, or in the worst case scenario, liquidating the plant’s assets.“The best case scenario for the Pictou County region and for the government and the province is to find a buyer that would operate this (plant) in its totality,” said MacLellan.However, he wouldn’t speculate on the likelihood of that possibility given the time remaining.“Obviously we are remaining hopeful,” he said, although he couldn’t give specifics on how many business entities had expressed interest in the plant.MacLellan said two years into the receivership process and near the end of a second round of bids, it’s costing the province $150,000 a month to keep the plant in operational shape.The first round of bids was abandoned in late 2016 after the province rejected three, including two of only $1.The plant closed in February 2016 after taxpayers had sunk $56.3 million into the facility. Operations wrapped up less than a month after the province said it wouldn’t put any more public money into a plant that had hoped to develop the capacity to produce 250 wind turbine towers and 200 blade sets per year.The previous NDP government announced in 2010 it had taken a 49 per cent equity stake in the firm, committed up to $59.4 million to the manufacturing plant and predicted 500 jobs would be created within three years.At the time of the closure, DSME told the province that it couldn’t start payment on $36 million in repayable loans.Former business minister Mark Furey said in November 2016 that he didn’t know whether there was an opportunity to recover “any of those losses.”MacLellan said nothing had changed since then.“There’s no conversations I’m having about recovering any of the loans or the investment that was made by the previous government,” he said.The province is the primary secured creditor for the plant.last_img read more

first_imgBUENOS AIRES, Argentina — President Donald Trump abruptly cancelled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin as he headed to the Group of 20 Nations summit Thursday, citing Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian vessels as a source of tension in a relationship he has fostered in the face of criticism.Trump tweeted his decision from Air Force One shortly after his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, revealed he had lied to Congress to cover up that he was negotiating a real estate deal in Moscow on Trump’s behalf during the Republican presidential primary in 2016.The news ensured any meeting with Putin would spotlight the special counsel’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow during the campaign. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and on Thursday called Cohen a “weak person” looking for a reduced sentence.The last-minute move kicked off a global economic meeting expected to be dominated by Trump’s seat-of-his-pants diplomacy. The Putin meeting — a continuation of a controversial summit between the two in July — was just one of a series of high-stakes items on Trump’s agenda, which also includes talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on how to ease a rising trade war.Although Trump had previously floated cancelling the meeting with Putin, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters he did not make the final decision until boarding the plane for Argentina and speaking with national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The Kremlin said it had not been formally notified of the decision, which came hours after Moscow said the meeting was on track.“I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!” Trump tweeted from Air Force One.Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko praised Trump on Twitter, saying, “This is how great leaders act!”Sanders also said two of Trump’s planned bilateral meetings — with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in — had been cancelled. Trump will instead speak informally with those leaders at the conference. She did not offer any explanation for those changes to the schedule.The stakes for the sit-down between Putin and Trump were raised this week by Russia’s stepped-up aggression in the Kerch Strait, stemming from its years long occupation of Eastern Ukraine. Russia recently seized three Ukrainian vessels and crews. Russia said Ukraine didn’t have permission to pass between Russia’s mainland and the Crimean Peninsula. Ukraine insisted its vessels abided by maritime laws.Tensions had already been high over the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race. Trump has sought to improve the relationship with Putin, but was roundly criticized after the July summit in Helsinki for failing to publicly denounce Russia’s interference and appearing to accept Putin’s denials of such activity.While Trump’s statement was strongly worded, he has made similarly dramatic moves before only to walk them back. In the spring he cancelled a planned summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, only to revive the meeting a week later.The G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires comes amid growing economic uncertainty and global displeasure with Trump’s trade policy.The most pressing issue on Trump’s packed schedule of meetings is whether he can reach a detente with Xi over trade after months in which both sides have raised tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other’s goods, shaking financial markets and threatening the global economy. Without an agreement, the U.S. is set to increase the tariffs on January 1.Departing the White House Thursday, Trump said he was “very close” to a deal with China, but added, “I don’t know that I want to do it, because what we have right now is billions and billions of dollars coming in to the United States in the form of tariffs or taxes.”With China, experts said Trump likely wants to see something come out of the meeting.“I think it’s in President Trump’s interest to have this meeting be viewed as a success,” said David Dollar, a senior fellow in the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution. “The markets are looking for some kind of dialing down of the rhetoric, and in particular markets are hoping there will not be an escalation of U.S. tariffs on January 1. So there’s a foundation for some kind of agreement.”That approach leaves open the possibility for a preliminary or vague deal. Trump’s Singapore summit with Kim produced a vague agreement on denuclearization with few, if any, specifics. Since then progress between the two nations appears to have slowed, but Trump continues to hail the meeting as a historic breakthrough.Trump’s advisers have sought to manage expectations heading into the talks, though some have projected optimism.“If China will come to the table, or in this case the dinner table, with some new ideas and some new attitudes and some new co-operation, as the president said, there is a good possibility they could make a deal,” economic adviser Larry Kudlow said this week. “He’s open to it. So nothing is written in cement or stone.”On the ground for just two days, Trump is packing every moment with diplomacy, conducting bilateral meetings with numerous world leaders as well as group events.Trump’s visit will also put him in the same room as Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the first time since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The U.S. resident and prominent critic of the Saudi royal family was brutally killed last month upon entering the country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, a plot that sparked a diplomatic row that cast the future of the U.S.-Saudi relationship into doubt.U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that the Saudi crown prince, known as MBS, must have at least known of the plot. Lawmakers in both parties have called on Trump to, at minimum, avoid the young heir apparent as punishment.But Trump publicly announced his decision to effectively give the prince a free pass in the name of “America First,” citing vastly exaggerated claims of Saudi military contracts and investments in the United States. The president also views Saudi Arabia as a vital counterbalance to Iranian influence in the Middle East.While no official sit-down is scheduled, Trump has kept the door open to a casual meeting.“I don’t know that he’s going to be there,” Trump said last week. “But if he is, I would.”The crown prince arrived in Argentina on Wednesday and on Tuesday White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “I wouldn’t say that we’ve ruled out any interaction.”Taking office on an “America First” platform, Trump has long had an uneasy relationship with his position on the world stage and has largely eschewed taking on a moral leadership role. Instead he has tailored his portfolio to promote American interests and to sow disruption. He has slapped tariffs on the European Union and pulled the U.S. out of the landmark Paris Climate Accord and the Iran nuclear deal. Trump also has suggested he might be willing to pull the U.S. out of NATO if member counties don’t significantly boost their defence spending.Zeke Miller And Catherine Lucey, The Associated Presslast_img read more

first_imgANCHORAGE, Alaska — A small town in southeast Alaska is planning to construct a new pier, aiming to boost tourism by allowing access for more cruise ships.KTVA-TV reports the city of Hoonah on Chichagof Island is partnering with Huna Totem Corporation and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings to build a pier at Icy Strait Point.Hoonah city administrator Dennis Gray says tourism is the main economic driver in the town of fewer than 800 people after the logging industry dwindled. The pier should allow more ships to reach the town west of Juneau.Officials say the new pier should be ready for the 2020 tourism season depending on if construction stays on schedule.___Information from: KTVA-TV, http://www.ktva.comThe Associated Presslast_img read more

first_img“It makes me happy to call Fort St. John home when the community comes together,” said Moose FM Promotions Director Sydney Reid. “In just over 48 hours, we were able to not only raise the needed funds but surpass our goal.  Thank you to everyone; whether you donated, started your own fundraising or shared the post on social media.  Every action helped us reach our goal!”Video Playerhttp://energeticcity.mystagingwebsite.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/video-1532638568.mp4Media error: Format(s) not supported or source(s) not foundmejs.download-file: http://energeticcity.mystagingwebsite.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/video-1532638568.mp4?_=100:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Without the processor, Chloe is completely deaf and must rely on sign language. Kalas added that with her daughter going into grade one this year, a new cochlear implant is a must since it’s already difficult for someone who uses an implant to hear in a school environment.A new processor for the cochlear implant costs $11,130 while the cable and coil cost an additional $370. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The GoFundMe campaign raising money for a local 6-year-old deaf girl who lost the processor for her cochlear implant has reached its goal.The campaign started just after 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, and reached the $12,000 goal just after 1:00 this afternoon.The processor fell off when 6-year-old Chloe Kalas was bumped while playing in the park. Chloe’s mom Elizabeth and her husband searched the park seven different times but came up empty-handed.last_img read more

first_imgOct20 – Marigold Centre – Truro, NS 22 – Rebecca Cohn Auditorium – Halifax, NS 23 – Playhouse Theatre – Fredericton, NB 24 – Imperial Theatre – Saint John, NB 25 – Homburg Theatre – Charlottetown, PE 26 – Convocation Hall – Wolfville, NS 27 – Capitol Theatre – Moncton, NB 29 – Imperiale Bell – Quebec, QC 30 – Corona Theatre – Montreal, QC The below dates are with Andrew Hyatt: Nov1 – FirstOntario – St. Catharines, ON2 – Burlington Performing Arts Centre – Burlington, ON 3 – Rose Theatre – Brampton, ON 4 – Fraser Auditorium – Sudbury, ON 5 – Academy Theatre – Lindsay, ON 7 – Sanderson Centre for Performing Arts – Brantford, ON 8 – FirstOntario Arts Centre – Milton, ON 9 – The Grand Theatre – Kingston, ON 10 – River Run Centre – Guelph, ON 11 – Regent Theatre – Oshawa, ON 12 – Festival Hall – Pembroke, ON The below dates are with Tenille Arts: 15 – Club Regent – Winnipeg, MB 16 – Club Regent – Winnipeg, MB 17 – Casino Regina – Regina, SK 20 – Vic Juba Theatre – Lloydminster, SK 21 – Red Deer Memorial Centre – Red Deer, AB 22 – Douglas J Cardinal Performing Arts – Grande Prairie, AB 23 – Pomeroy Hotel & Conference Centre – Fort St. John, BC 24 – Quesnel + District SR Citizen Centre – Quesnel, BC 26 – Massey Theatre – New Westminster, BC 27 – Port Theatre – Nanaimo, BC 28 – Tidemark Theatre – Campbell River, BC 29 – Cowichan Performing Arts Centre – Duncan, BC 30 – Vernon Performing Arts Centre – Vernon, BC Dec1 – Charles Bailey Theatre – Trail, BC 2 – Key City Theatre – Cranbrook, BC Many of Brody’s songs were in fact written at his kitchen table, and the acoustic tour is meant to replicate that intimate setting that inspires his original works, “I want to give my fans a window into how my songs were written, how they sound in their rawest form, performed in an intimate theatre setting,” states Brody.The focus on compelling storytelling in country continues where the opening acts in each market are concerned. Acclaiming singer-songwriter Jessica Mitchell will join Brody on each of the East Coast dates, including Montreal, giving listeners a taste of her genre-bending sound with tracks on her recently released debut album, Heart of Glass. Country musician Andrew Hyatt, who recently released his second Top Ten hit, “Do It With You”, will join Brody on his dates in Ontario. SK native Tenille Arts who was recently featured on The Bachelor, will be involved in the dates in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, providing insight into the meaning behind the songs on her debut EP. THE FULL LIST OF TOUR DATES IS AS FOLLOWS: The below dates are with singer-songwriter Jessica Mitchell: Ticket OptionsGeneral Admission – Grab a seat and enjoy the show at the Pomeroy Hotel and Conference Centre – Tickets are $55 plus fees and taxes.VIP – Enjoy the show from the VIP section right in front of the stage.  You’ll have a private bar and you’ll get access to the build your own nacho bar for the entire show – Tickets are $75 plus fees and taxes.Dean Brody VIP – Not only will you enjoy the show from the VIP section and all the features listed above, you’ll also get to meet Dean Brody, Question and Answer session with Dean and an exclusive merch item – This exclusive opportunity is limited and costs only $139.99 plus fees and taxes.About Dean BrodyFresh off of his second headline show at Budweiser Stage in Toronto on August 17, Brody is a 3-time winner of the CCMA Award for Songwriter of the Year in previous years, and is currently nominated for “8th Day”, from his sixth album, Beautiful Freakshow, which hit the #1 spot on the Nielsen BDS and Mediabase Canadian Country Airplay Charts earlier this year. Brody’s reputation for penning thoughtful, articulate, original narratives in music began back in 2009 with the release of “Brothers”, a touching song about a loved one leaving for the military, which resonated both north and south of the border. Celebrated songs such as “Trail in Life”, “Another Man’s Gold”, “Bounty”, have gone on to place Brody in a unique category all his own, rising beyond the conventional tracks that can be heard on mainstream radio in lyrical composition, and yet still retaining conventional success, with Brody recently landing his 22nd Top 10 hit at country radio, with “Good Goodbye.” His ballad “Time” released in 2016, laments on the passing of time, becoming especially poignant in a social media era with less one-on-one interaction with loved ones, earned critical acclaim and a great deal of recognition, showcasing Brody’s unique ability to make people think about their actions through his lyrics.center_img Dean Brody Heads out on the Dirt Road Stories Tour Beginning October 20 on the East Coast with a stop in Fort St. John.Current CCMA Fan’s Choice, 2-time Juno Award-winning artist and celebrated songwriter, Dean Brody will be hitting the road this fall for the Dirt Road Stories Tour, with a stop in Fort St. John on Friday, November 23 at the Pomeroy Hotel and Conference Centre. Tickets go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. local time at Systems Sound Source or online at www.energetictickets.ca.  Tickets start at only $55 plus fees and taxes.  Plus there are VIP options for you to get up close and personal with Dean Brody, see below for all the details.  Doors open at 7 p.m. with the show starting at 8 p.m.Make sure to join the Energetictickets.ca/newsletter before the end of the day today, for your chance to buy tickets before anyone else.  You’ll get a special email early Thursday morning.last_img read more

first_imgThe project will employ the local labour force and Aboriginal companies as the procurement was done through an Aboriginal set-aside under the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business.Public Services and Procurement Canada is committed to maintaining the integrity of its infrastructure to ensure the safety of Canadians.“Through this project, our government is making the Alaska Highway safer for the community while protecting the environment. The contract demonstrates our commitment to working with communities to create jobs and strengthen the local economy,” said Carla Qualtrough Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility FORT NELSON, B.C. –  Industra-Liard Construction Ltd. of Surrey, British Columbia was awarded the contract for remediation work on the Alaska Highway in the area of Peterson Creek.The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, announced the awarding following what the government says was an open, fair and transparent bidding process.Through the contract, Industra-Liard Construction Ltd. will clean an abandoned portion of the old highway’s route and will remove non-functional infrastructure, such as culverts, road signs, guide rails and bridges that are no longer safe for the public and also prevents passage of fish in a nearby creek.last_img read more

first_imgMohali: With Kagiso Rabada’s yorker being the talk of the town, it will be interesting to see how the Delhi Capitals pacer counters the hard-hitting Kings XI Punjab batsmen when the two teams clash in an IPL match here on Monday. Rabada helped the Capitals defend the lowest total (10) in a Super Over in IPL history after the scores were tied at 185 in the allotted 20 overs each. Focus will now be on how the South African paceman would fare against the likes of Chris Gayle, Lokesh Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and David Miller. Both sides are riding high on confidence having won their respective matches on Saturday. In fact, both the teams’ opening batsmen were the architect of their victory. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhWhile Delhi’s Prithvi Shaw (55-ball 99) almost took the team home against Kolkata Knight Riders, Rahul (57-ball 71) finished the job for Punjab against Mumbai Indians. Playing on home turf, Rahul, who had failed in his first two matches, played a controlled innings while Gayle (40) and Mayank Agarwal (43) also chipped in with crucial runs to help Punjab comfortably chase down the 177-run target, set by Mumbai. Gayle was his usual self and batted in the manner only he can as 36 of his 40-run knock came in boundaries and sixes. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterRahul has the ability to steady the innings and play sheet anchor’s role and Gayle can puncture opposition camp’s plans to control the run flow, something that Delhi would be worried about. Punjab’s bowling is spearheaded by Mohammed Shami and with other key players such as Andrew Tye and Hardus Viljoen in their ranks, it may not be easy for the visiting batsmen. Moreover, Ravichandran Ashwin-led KXIP would also have the advantage of playing at home and they will look to exploit familiar conditions once again. Delhi though will be desperate to get the momentum going after winning a close game. Chasing 186 to win against KKR, Delhi were set up nicely by Shaw but they failed score six runs from the last over, taking the match to Super Over. However, Rabada’s sensational yorkers in all six balls restricted KKR to just seven runs while chasing 11. Delhi will be hoping not to let that advantage slip. Besides Shaw, Delhi also have the likes of Rishabh Pant, who played a superb knock of 78 to pile up a mammoth 213 against Mumbai Indians in the first match, Shikhar Dhawan, captain Shreyas Iyer and Colin Ingram. They would expect their batsmen come out all guns blazing against Punjab on Sunday.last_img read more

first_imgMir Afsar Ali has come up with an album ‘Awshomapto’ – a monologue by the poet/author, where he recollects his memories of different endeavours – all of which has a common ground of love.His memoirs of six different phases of life which he had gone through in his lifetime are recorded. The album was released on April 12 in Kolkata. In all the phases, he thinks his main strength – escape refuge – and in the end the place where it all kind of converges in one point is songs and verses by Rabindranath Tagore. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainHere we are connecting these six dots with six expressive Tagore songs in the project. List of songs (In exact order) Bhalobashi Bhalobashi (Koishorer Bhalobasha) Diosho Rojoni Ami Jeno Kar Ashae Ashae Thaki E Parobashe Iboshdo – Biroho (The distance in a relationship) Dekho Sokha Bhul Kore Bhalobeshona – (The labour of love) Chaya Ghonayeche Bonay Bonay(death separates) Megh Boleche Jabo The album stars following people: Male lead – Mir Afsar Ali (story teller) Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardFemale lead – Jayati Chakraborty (song) Composition and lyrics – Rabindra Nath Tagore Concept and music direction – Ashu Chakraborty Script – Rajib Chakraborty Hindusthan Records, the forerunner to The Indian Record Manufacturing Company Ltd (INRECO), began its journey in the early decades of 1900s. Being the oldest Indian music label in the country, it was evidently popular as the only Indian Music Company. Rabindranath Tagore recorded his first recording with ‘Hindusthan Records’ and encouraged his disciples to record as well. The music label has the top recording artists of the past hundred years including K L Saigal, S D Burman, Debabrata Biswas, Subinoy Roy, Pankaj Kumar Mullick, Amar Pal, Kanika Banerjee,Pannalal Bhattacharjee, Mohiner Ghoraguli, Abbasuddin, Gyan Prakash Ghosh, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Kanan Devi, Feroza Begum, Begum Akhtar, Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali and other luminaries. As the format changed, the need of the hour was to take a strategic decision to diversify into the domain of emerging media and technology. INRECO was the first to get into the Digital Domain.last_img read more

first_imgLos Angeles: Actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who has been named Beauty of the Year by People magazine, says she has realised that ‘looks arent everything. The actor, who got married to American singer-actor Nick Jonas, is one of the Beauties of the Year in People’s Beautiful Issue. Priyanka has also realised that “in the world we live in, the standard of beauty is not really real”. “And that’s something that we have done to ourselves,” people.com quoted her as saying. Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: PriyankaLooking back at the time she started working in show business, Priyanka said: “I think I realised what all it takes to actually look the way we do on magazine covers and the work we do. “That’s when I realised looks aren’t everything, it’s the confidence with which you walk into a room, it’s the ability to do your job to the best of your capabilities.” Her own definition of wellness revolves around skincare. “The way that I take care of my skin is to make sure to moisturise every day,” said Priyanka, who made India proud by winning the Miss World crown in 2000. Also Read – Salman Khan remembers actor Vinod Khanna”I take off all my make-up before I go to bed, and it doesn’t have to be really difficult. I think hydration is extremely important, drinking as much water as you can. That is truly the elixir of life.” As for her future, the actor is focused on building her brand and plans to be an “extremely glamorous old lady, who will always have an opinion on everyone”. “I’ll be super fun and yeah, (mine) will be the house everyone will want to come to,” added the actor.last_img read more

first_imgKolkata: The Election Commission has served a show-cause notice each to the BJP district president of Nadia Mahadev Sarkar and Trinamool Congress MLA from Chakdah Ratna Ghosh Kar, for their derogatory remarks. Sarkar had made some derogatory remarks on Mahua Moitra, who is contesting the ongoing Lok Sabha elections on a Trinamool Congress ticket. The Commission has taken a strong objection to his remarks after watching the video where he was heard saying the words. Sarkar has been asked to clarify why he made such remarks about a candidate of his rival party. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe Commission had earlier sought a report from the District Magistrate of Nadia on April 17, regarding the statements made by Ghosh Kar. The Commission has now show-caused her after it found her statements highly derogatory in nature. The office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) has gone through the report submitted by the DM in this regard. The TMC MLA found herself at the centre of controversy after she made some objectionable remarks regarding the Central Force. It was alleged that during a closed door party meeting, she had appealed to the members of the party’s Mahila Morcha to “chase Central Forces away with broomsticks.” In another development, an FIR was lodged with the Hooghly police against Locket Chatterjee, who is contesting the election from Hooghly Lok Sabha constituency on BJP’s ticket. During a rally, Chatterjee had allegedly made some remarks which could have triggered communal tension in the area.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu Wednesday met Congress President Rahul Gandhi and discussed plans to hold a meeting of Opposition parties on May 21, two days ahead of Lok Sabha results to chalk out a post-poll alliance. Naidu met Gandhi before heading out to West Bengal to attend public rallies in support of the ruling Trinamool Congress in the state, sources said. In a brief meeting, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief is believed to have discussed the voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) issue, voting percentage in the recently held five phase polling besides the Andhra Assembly election developments, the sources said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange framework The sources said Naidu and Gandhi also discussed the post-poll scenario and more or less agreed to call a meeting of Opposition parties on May 21. The Lok Sabha elections are being held in seven phases. So far, polling in five phases are over and the counting of votes will be on May 23. Naidu will be meeting West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee apart from attending her rallies on Wednesday and Thursday. The Andhra Pradesh CM was in Delhi to attend the Supreme Court hearing on a petition filed by the Opposition parties to review its judgment rejecting 50 per cent random physical verification of EVMs using VVPATs. The apex court dismissed the petition following which the parties again met the Election Commission to press their demand.last_img read more

first_imgNew York – A residential building in Manhattan exploded and collapsed on Wednesday, killing at least one person and injuring 17 others as a serious fire engulfed the area in thick smoke, officials said. The explosion struck a building at 116th Street and Park Avenue in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York, where witnesses said they were jolted awake by what sounded like an earthquake.Mainline train services in and out of Grand Central terminal were suspended as a result of the incident next to its tracks. Hundreds of police and firefighters were on site with emergency service vans and fire trucks, as a dense white column of smoke spewed into the sky next to the Metro-North railway line, an AFP reporter said.A spokesman for energy company Con Edison told local TV channel NY 1 that it got a call from the building alerting them to a possible gas leak at 9:13 am, shortly before the blast.Local residents also spoke of smelling gas in the area.But Con Edison stopped short of confirming that the explosion had been caused by a gas leak.“Obviously what we see is something that would be consistent (with a gas leak) but we can’t say at this point what caused (the explosion),” the spokesman told NY1.“It was an explosion and a building collapsed,” a spokesman for New York Police Department told AFP. Scores of firefighters were dispatched to the scene.Police told AFP one person was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital and that 17 other people had been injured.“The call came at 9:34 am (1334 GMT). It is a residential building. The New York Fire Department is in the process of extinguishing the fire,” another police spokesman added.The New York Fire Department told AFP that more than 168 fire fighters and 44 different units had responded to the explosion.Witness Robert Santiago told CBS that he was sleeping when all of a suddenly the explosion shook his bed and the floor.“It smells very bad out here. It smells like rubble,” he said.“I thought the world was coming to an end, an earthquake or something like that. Terrible,” he added.Another witness told CBS that “a lot of people” lived in the six-storey building, including one of her friends.“I’m scared, I’m scared. I came out to see the situation,” she told the channel from behind the security cordon at the scene.“I’m very scared. I’m shaking. I’m asthmatic and I’m not supposed to be here. I just came,” she added.Another witness who lived across the street told the channel that his relatives living further way also felt the blast.“I saw a lady running with no shoes on. It was crazy. It was like a war zone,” he said.“First of all I thought it was an earthquake. I got calls from my family who felt it too and that was all the way up town. Man, it was crazy,” he added.The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Metro-North trains had been suspended indefinitely in and out of Grand Central because of the building explosion and collapse.“Southbound trains are being held at stations to await further instructions. Northbound trains are being held in Grand Central,” said an emergency notice published on its website.last_img read more

Rabat – Government Chief Abdelilah Benkirane chaired, here Wednesday, the signing ceremony of the documents related to the investment contracts concerning the Safi thermal power plant at a total cost of 2.6 billion dollars (around 23 billion dirhams).The plant, the largest in Morocco, will provide an annual production covering around 25 percent of the national electricity demand by 2018, with an aggregate capacity of approximately 1,386 MW.This latest-generation plant, which is part of the national strategy to meet the growing electricity at the lowest cost and the environmental demand, is characterized by optimizing the environmental performance and efficiency high in comparison with conventional plants. It will enable a significant reduction in CO 2 and a reduction in costs associated with fuel. The plant will be built by the OEM South Korean Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co. The construction contract thereto, an amount of 1.8 billion U.S. dollars, was signed on August 9, 2013 between the manufacturer and the company SAFIEC.From the beginning of its construction, and throughout the period of its operation, the plant will contribute significantly to the dynamics of economic and social development of the Kingdom, and particularly that of the region of Safi and this, particularly in terms of job creation and use of the services of local SMEs.It will also allow the development of existing or under construction port, rail and power infrastructure, including the new port of Safi to house the coal dock that will supply the plant with coal and the construction works were initiated by King Mohammed VI in April 2013.The commercial operation of the plant will begin in 2017. read more

Rabat – King Mohammed VI, Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, received and appointed, Thursday at the Royal Palace in Casablanca, the members of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, said a statement by the Royal Office.They are, in accordance with the provisions of article 115 of the Constitution, Mustapha Fares, in his capacity as first president of the Court of Cassation, deputy chairman of the Council and members:Mohamed Abdennabaoui, in his capacity as attorney general of the King at the Court of Cassation, a position to which he was appointed by the King on April 3, 2017.Abdelaali El Aabboudi, in his capacity as president of the first chamber of the Court of Cassation. Idriss El Yazami, in his capacity as president of the National Council of Human RightsAbdelaziz Benzakour, in his capacity as mediator of the KingdomKing Mohammed VI also named:– The five members, appointed by the King to the Council in accordance with the Constitution. They are Ahmed Khamlichi, Ahmed Ghazali, Mohamed El Haloui, Mohamed Amine Benabdellah and Hind Ayoubi Idrissi.– The elected members representing the judges of the Courts of Appeal. They are El Hassan Atlas, Hassan Jaber, Yassin Makhli and Majda Daoudi.-The elected members representing the judges of the first instance Courts. They are Adil Nidam, Mohamed Jalal Moussaoui, Faisal Chaouki, Abdelkarim Al-Aazani, Hajiba El Boukhari and Aicha Ennaciri.The installation by the King of this constitutional institution takes place in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the Organic Law relating to the Supreme Council of the Judiciary.The place of justice in the national institutional structure has been strengthened and the judiciary has been elevated to full power, independent of the legislative and executive powers.Similarly, the prerogatives of the Council have been broadened, its diverse and plural composition has been guaranteed and its openness to its environment has been strengthened.During the audience, the deputy chairman of the Council and the members of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary were sworn in before King Mohammed VI. read more

Toronto – According to a new report from researchers at Georgia State University, terror attacks committed by Muslims in the US receive five times the media coverage than when the perpetrators are non-Muslim.The study covers all US-related terror attacks during the five-year period from 2011 to 2015. What it found was a 449 percent increase in media attention when the perpetrator was Muslim.The most high-profile of these attacks was the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The report reveals that media coverage of the event accounted for a whopping 20 percent of the total US-related terror coverage for the five-year period covered in the study. When compared to media coverage of terror attacks perpetrated by non-Muslims, the results are undeniable. A 2012 attack on a Sikh temple which left six people dead and was carried out by a Caucasian man, received just 3.8 percent coverage. By the same token, the notorious Dylan Roof attack on an African-American church in South Carolina where nine people were murdered, received only 7.4 percent.Authors of the report are quick to point out that their data offers irrefutable proof that US President Donald Trump has been feeding the American public errant information when he claims that the media has been under-reporting Muslim terrorist attacks.“When President Trump asserted that the media does not cover some terrorist attacks enough, it turns out that he was correct,” they write. “However, his assertion that attacks by Muslim perpetrators received less coverage is unsubstantiated.”They add that “Regardless of other factors, attacks perpetrated by Muslims receive a disproportionate amount of media coverage. In the present data, Muslims perpetrated 12.4 per cent of the attacks yet received 41.4 per cent of the news coverage.”The report is equally quick to point out that all the non-Muslim attacks covered in the study meet accepted criteria to be classified a terror attack. The data suggests that the disproportionate coverage is creating an irrational fear of Muslims in American culture.“Whether the disproportionate coverage is a conscious decision on the part of journalists or not, this stereotyping reinforces cultural narratives about what and who should be feared,” the report says.“By covering terrorist attacks by Muslims dramatically more than other incidents, media frame this type of event as more prevalent. Based on these findings, it is no wonder that Americans are so fearful of radical Islamic terrorism. Reality shows, however, that these fears are misplaced,” the report conclude. read more

Rabat – The government appears to have taken back its decision to deny civil society a position in the National Anti-Corruption Commission, instead giving two Moroccan NGOs seats in the commission for a two-year term as full members.Having reviewed the executive text of the composition of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the head of the commission, El Othmani said during a meeting of the Governing Council on September 21 that two seats will be reserved for the NGOs.“In principle, it is the most representative NGO in this field [anti-corruption] that will be given the seats. However, it will be up to the head of government, the president of the commission, to decide by decree,” reported Telquel. The executive draft setting out the hierarchy of power within the commission had sparked controversy, as it stated that NGOs would not have the status of full members.The director of Transparency Maroc, Fouad Zirari, said to the same source on June 5 that he had learned “by rumor” that civil society organiations would not be invited to the new National Anti-Corruption Commission.“We were involved in the preparation of the national anti-corruption strategy adopted two years ago, which would systematically be followed by the creation of an anti-corruption commission. We learned that the government has finally decided to create a commission alone, without the participation of NGOS and civil society,” said Zirari.The president claimed that “the government does not really have the will to fight against corruption, otherwise it would have integrated the civil society without which nothing could be possible in this fight. The commission would only become a is only a showcase to make a good impression on the international scene.” read more

Rabat – Morocco is seeing a strong downward trend in all forms of poverty rates, which have become statistically insignificant in urban areas.Financial poverty affects only 2 percent of people in urban areas and almost 9 percent in rural areas, says a report by the High Commission of Planning (HCP).With a decline rate of 9.4 percent per year, the overall population suffering from multidimensional poverty has decreased from 7.5 million in 2004 to 2.8 million in 2014, said the HCP in its report on multidimensional poverty in 2014, published on October 5. The impact of multidimensional poverty decreased from 25.0 percent to 8.2 percent between 2004-2014 at the national level. In urban areas, the rate of multidimensional poverty fell from 9.1 percent to 2 percent in urban areas, and from 44.6 percent to 17.7 percent in rural areas.Multidimensional poverty remains predominantly a rural phenomenon. By 2014, 85.4 percent of multidimensional poor people live in rural areas, compared with 80 percent in 2004.The phenomenon is a result ofseveral factors, notes the HCP, particularlyadult education, which alone accounts for 34 percent of poverty at the national level, while child illiteracymakes up21.3 percent.Overall, education gaps account for slightly more than half(55.3 percent)of multidimensional poverty.Deprivations in terms of access to basic social infrastructure account for 19.7 percent of multidimensional poverty: 14.1 percent for deprivations in terms of habitat conditions, and 10.9 percent in terms of health.In urban areas, 60.8 percent of multidimensional poverty is due to deficits in education,for adults at 36.8 percent and for children at 24 percent. Inequality in terms of health contributes 24.5 percent of poverty in urban poverty.Lack of educational deprivation (54.5 percent), access to basic social infrastructure (21.2 percent), and housing conditions (15.3 percent) are the major drivers of multidimensional poverty in rural areas.Poorest Regions in Morocco, Getting richBetween 2004 and 2014, the incidence of multidimensional poverty declined in all regions. The poorest regions in 2004 experienced the largest decline in poverty, namely the Marrakech-Safi regions, from 34 percent to 11.3 percent, Tangier-Tétouan-Al Hoceima, from 30.3 percent to 9.5 percent and Béni Mellal-Khénifra, from 31 percent to 13.4 percent.Though the trend saw a decline in terms of provinces between 2004 and 2014, it still varies greatly from province to another.Thisdecline wasover 80 percent in the provinces of Skhirate-Témara, Nouaceur, Aousserd, Mediouna, Casablanca, Essemara, Rabat, Boujdour, Laayoune and Oued-Ed-Dahab, between 80 percent and 50 percentin 59 provinces, and between 26 percent and 49.7 percentin the rest of the provinces, namely Boulemane, Jerada, Taounate, Azilal and Assa-Zaga.The distribution of poverty shows that 3.5 million people or 10.3 percent of the population have a single poverty, 2.3 million suffer from multidimensional poverty (6.8 percent) and 1.2 million from financial poverty (3.5 percent). Meanwhile, 463,000 people or 1.4 percent of the population, are victims of both multidimensional poverty and financial poverty.With these three indices, the rate of poverty in its financial and multidimensional forms accounts for 3.9 million people, representing an overall poverty rate of 11.7 percent nationally, 3.9 percent in cities and 23.7 percent in the countryside. read more

Rabat – In the wake of  the corruption accusations surrounding Benyamin Netanyahu, several Israelis were arrested in what the police are calling “Case 4000.”Seven Israeli members of Netanyahu’s innermost circle were arrested less than a week ago on charges of bribing regulators, fraud, money laundering, corporate breach of trust, among other charges. This circle includes Shaul Elovitch, a close friend of the prime minister who runs an Israeli telecommunications giant named Bezeq Group.Nir Hefetz, Netanyahu’s former family spokesperson for many years also figures among the persons arrested, on suspicion of obstruction of justice and accepting bribes. A lawyer for Elovitch told CNN: “Shaul Elovitch vehemently denies the suspicions against him. We suggest that you be patient and do not rush to conclusions. We are certain that when things clear up, it will be possible to realize that he did not commit any offense.”However, several Israeli news outlets reported on Sunday that Netanyahu, who denied any wrongdoing, is not currently facing any charges, though he and his spouse are expected to be questioned,.On the other hand, at the annual Munich Security Conference attended by Netanyahu, he said “the arrests of members of his close circle revealed yet another futile investigation, a contrived bubble that will burst.” read more

The Canadian subsidiary of General Motors is trying to stop an auto workers union from airing a critical TV commercial during the Super Bowl.The 30-second ad calling the automaker greedy and “un-Canadian” is scheduled to broadcast on Canadian TV stations during Sunday’s game.GM announced plans in November to close its car factory in Oshawa, Ont., costing the jobs of about 2,600 blue-collar workers.The commercial accuses GM of continuing to expand in Mexico while leaving Canadians “out in the cold” and makes claims about the costs of a 2009 auto bailout.GM sent a cease-and-desist letter to Unifor giving it a Saturday deadline to stop using the ad.GM says in a statement that the ad is misleading and inaccurate.The Associated Press read more

Rabat – Morocco’s victory over Malawi has benefited the Atlas Lions. The team has gained a spot in this month’s FIFA ranking, up to 45th. With 1,425 points, the Atlas Lions rank fourth in Africa behind Tunisia (23), Senegal (25), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (40).Last month, the national football team dropped five spots to 46th. Coming first in the FIFA ranking, the 2018 World Cup champion, France, shares the lead with Belgium. France and Belgium have 1,729 points, followed by Brazil (3), Croatia (4), and Uruguay (5).To earn a better spot in the next FIFA ranking, the Moroccan team needs to score another win during the qualification games of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nationas (CAN). The Atlas Lions will play against Comoros on October 10 and Cameroon on November 17. read more

Rabat – The Moroccan delegation to the roundtable talks in Geneva most likely reiterated that only the autonomy proposal should be discussed. Polisario has certainly insisted that the referendum for independence should be included as an option. Mauritania is expected to be neutral and perhaps stated that the problem needs to be solved for the sake of a Maghreb Union.The Algerians have undoubtedly held their usual stance that Morocco should adhere to international legality and allow for a referendum which includes independence as an option.The UN envoy, Horst Kohler, told reporters that a peaceful solution to the conflict is possible.A solution is possible of course, but only if the current Algerian regime wants to end its financial, political, diplomatic, and military support of Polisario. Let’s not fool ourselves with these UN meetings. Forcing Algeria to be part of the roundtable will not bring an end to the conflict. As a matter of fact, Algeria had insisted before and after the roundtable that they attended only as observers. An observer is just that and is not under any pressure to contribute to a solution. That is a primary reason why these UN talks will never succeed. It is no secret that Polisario is simply a tool for Algeria to use when needed. Algeria has the last word in choosing if it should continue with the status quo or decide that it is time to work with Morocco on a peace plan. All signs indicate that Algeria is not interested in doing so. The refusal to reply to the Moroccan monarch’s proposal for peace is a clear sign that it is not how they see the solution to the conflict.Many believe that Algeria is simply stubborn and refuses to make peace. But that’ i not the case. The Western Sahara conflict is a raison d’etre for the current regime. If the conflict ends, the regime will be deprived of its livelihood, and it will no longer be able to sell the pretext to the Algerian people that they are arming themselves to the teeth to deter an invasion from the Moroccans. Read Also: Sahrawi Activist Questions Algeria’s Stand on the Western Sahara ConflictA solution will only come if the Algerian people are somehow able to change course and say loud and clear that they can no longer be governed by octogenarians from another era, put in place a democratically elected government, and not one created in the presidential palace run by none other than the brother of the very ill president of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika.Read Also: Geneva Western Sahara Roundtable, New Formula for Business as UsualRight after the roundtable ended, Moroccan foreign minister Nasser Bourita already sensed that the Algerians are not contributing positively, which led him to stress that “it is not enough … a good atmosphere should be translated into a genuine will” to change the situation. “This momentum will have an end if there is no political will,” he warned.The next planned roundtable will be challenging for the Moroccans. It will have to advance beyond simple remarks and a fake friendly atmosphere. That is something the Algerians will not make any effort to accomplish, because they do not have to. Morocco should redouble its efforts to convince the international community that the only way towards ending this conflict is the direct involvement of Algeria in the political process. Without a clear definition of what the UN needs to achieve from the Geneva talks and what its parameters are, the talks will end up producing the same effects as the nine informal talks held under the auspices of the former UN personal envoy, Christopher Ross. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy. read more

Rabat – On Monday, King Mohammed VI visited several projects of the Rabat medina rehabilitation, part of a national plan to renovate and restore Morocco’s medinas (walled cities).The King visited the Bab Chellah and the souk Essabat streets in Rabat.The monarch also visited the restoration sites of El Mellah square and Sabbaghine street. According to Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), projects in the sites are 75 percent complete. Read Also: Morocco to Spend MAD 2.35 Billion to Restore Old MedinasThe King launched the renovation program in May 2018 to improve access to the old medina and enhance its attractiveness.The program also includes the development of the Tamejajet sports complex, improving the surroundings of medina walls, and street paving. In addition, the streets, alleys, and small squares will get addresses, and workers will install information markers.Other projects are also underway in Rabat, including an underground parking project at the Bab El Had entrance to the medina.Rabat has completed several projects, including development projects in Lagza street, the renovation of the wall around the Kasbah of the Oudayas, the revamping of El Marsa avenue, the development of community sport fields in Bab Chellah, the building of a shopping arcade, and the consolidation of the El Mellah cliff. Construction continues on other projects, including the restoration of the wall from Bab Laalou to Bab El Had.In addition to Rabat, the project also includes Sale, Meknes, Tetouan, Marrakech and Essaouira.In October, Morocco’s Minister of the Interior Abdelouafi Laftit announced an MAD 2.35 billion budget for the renovation programs.The Hassan II Fund for Economic and Social Development will contribute approximately 40 percent of the budget. read more

Rabat – The Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said that Arab countries must remain united in the face of global challenges, at a meeting of the Arab League Executive Council on March 30 in Tunis.The threat posed by Iran is the biggest challenge for the Arabs, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Assaf said Friday.“One of the most dangerous forms of terrorism and extremism is what Iran’s… blatant interference in Arab affairs and its militias… the Revolutionary Guards in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, who require us to work together,” he said. Al-Assaf also spoke about his county’s “balanced relations and contacts on the international scene.” Saudi Arabia “coordinates positions with Arab countries to positively influence the causes of the Arab world on the international stage,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted Al-Assaf as saying.Al-Assaf said that Saudi Arabia supports the Skhirat agreement, signed in December 2015. The agreement is “a road map for the political solution to the Libyan crisis”, he said.On March 26, King Salman received Marshal Khalifa Haftar on a two-day visit to Riyadh. Haftar had announced, in December 2017, the “end” of the Skhirat agreement which provided for the formation of the Government of National Unity. According to Haftar, “All the bodies stemming from this agreement lost their legitimacy.”On March 28, Rabat sent an indirect message to Riyadh about the situation in Libya.Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said that coordination between allies should be “two-way. It should not be on demand. It should cover all the important issues in the Middle East as in North Africa, like the Libyan crisis.” read more

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh City Council is scheduled to take a final vote on a package of gun laws introduced after last year’s synagogue massacre.The legislation would place restrictions on military-style assault weapons like the AR-15 rifle that authorities say was used in the Oct. 27 rampage at Tree of Life Synagogue that killed 11 and wounded seven. It would also ban most uses of armour-piercing ammunition and high-capacity magazines, and allow the temporary seizure of guns from people who are determined to be a danger to themselves or others.The council gave tentative approve last week. A final vote is scheduled for Tuesday.Pennsylvania state law forbids municipalities from regulating guns, and pro-gun advocates say they’ll sue to block the laws from taking effect.The Associated Press read more

Rabat – If anything, the second leg CAF champion’s league final between Morocco’s Casablanca’s Wydad and Tunis’ Esperance at the Rades stadium in Tunisia was an unforgettably scandalous night.For those who were left utterly disappointed at the injustice Wydad of Casablanca suffered last Friday in Rabat, where does yesterday’s sabotage stand in comparison? How does one even start to recount the unfolding of what looked like a deliberate, planned footballing fiasco?At the kick off time, yesterday’s second leg confrontation between Tunisia’s Esperance de Tunis and Morocco’s Wydad de Casablanca, there was already a palpable sense of tension and frustration in the air. Nerves were high, even mercurial, on both sides—courtesy of a battle to emerge from the stained first leg, where an untold number of refereeing mistakes robbed the Moroccan side of a significant home victory. Both sides, in this sense, went in yesterday’s game to rise from the lingering bruises of that grandly controversial first leg.By the time yesterday’s game reached minute 60, however, it was clear that hearts would be broken and dreams shattered.As Bakari Gassama, the Gambian referee of the game, stubbornly refused to yield to Wydad’s rightful demands that VAR be consulted to deliberate on whether the goal that had just been ruled out was valid (it was), there was a feeling that here, too, all had been set up for Wydad to end up on the losing end.By all means, what happened yesterday was an emphatic stain on the honor, or respectability, of Africa’s most revered football contest for clubs. Or, as Wydad’s chairman put it, it was a “total shame for African football,” perhaps the most outrageous African Champions League final.To put it briefly into context: Esperance had been leading the game by 1-0, courtesy of a first half in which they were slightly superior. But like in the second half in Rabat, Wydad came back from the 15-minute respite more spirited, more driven.Like in Rabat, Wydad was more present and far more dominant in the second half, leaving their Tunisian hosts with the sole option of defending their goal advantage while playing on counters. And like in Rabat, Wydad pressed higher and scored the equalizer in the first minutes of the second half, at minute 49.But, somewhat unsurprisingly, like in Rabat, too, Wydad’s goal was ruled out. In that moment, it felt as though last week’s refereeing fiasco was after all a prelude to an even grander, vastly dishonorable show.After over an hour of deliberation, the game was stopped. Somehow, unexplainably, with nearly 30 minutes to go, the referee blew the final whistle, declaring the Tunisians the winners of the 2019 African champions League. It was brilliantly laughable, the result monstrously unjust to a Wydad squad which, given how they had been playing, could have won the game.Only after the game was it revealed that, actually, the referee rejected Wydad’s call to use VAR because the system was out of order. But the problem is that Wydad, according to their chairman, Said Naciri, did not know about VAR not being operational.“Why would we have asked for VAR to be used if we were informed that it was not operational in the first place?” Naciri insistently lamented in his post-match interview. While the decision to declare Esperance champions was unfair by all definitions of the word, the revelation that VAR was defective compounded the frustration, leaving space to suggestions the game had been rigged all along, skewed in Esperance’s favor.And no, this wasn’t some kind of one-off. It had little to do with those grotesquely disappointing moments when football can feel understandably painful, bearably unbearable. No, this was deliberate, offensively cunning, planned outrage. How can anyone explain that VAR was not functional on a night of the continental Champions League final? Was it deliberate? The answer, reports have it, is a resounding yes. In fact, this was hardly the first time that Esperance “deliberately broke VAR,” according to former CAF Secretary-General Amr Fahmy.“This is unfair,” Naciri lamented after CAF decided that Esperance were the victors. He said his club “will not keep silent” and “will file complaints with FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sports.” He called the match a “failure for African football” and a display of “refereeing massacre.”Putting aside the human propensity to sympathize with the indescribable pain of undeserved defeat, it is difficult to argue against the crux of Naciri’s point. The Wydad chairman was not only right in his assessment of the game as a disgrace and a dishonor to African football just days ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.Though his outbursts—which were legitimate, anyway—reverberated with the biting, unforgettable aches of undeserved loss, Naciri was actually pointing to something many of us can sympathize with. When, twice in a row, and in the space of just one week, the same team is outrageously denied a fair chance to win a victory it would have deserved, pointing to conspiracy is perfectly warranted. This is no conspiracy theory.After the thoroughly disappointing first leg, it was almost unbelievable that the scene that unfolded before our eyes at the Rades stadium was actually happening. Even the Tunisian press, usually fiery and fervent when it comes to defending their teams, has conceded, somewhat in spite of themselves, that this was “shameful” and “scandalous” for the image of African football days ahead of the continental footballing showpiece.Perhaps the complaints in the Tunisian media are genuine. But they won’t soothe the Wydadi players and fans. The CAF board, meanwhile, has called for an urgent meeting to “discuss a controversial final.” Wydad fans can be pardoned if that “urgent meeting” comes across like a joke: little will come from the meeting.At this point, perhaps, the onus is on the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF). There will be calls among Moroccan fans that, like its Tunisian counterpart, the Moroccan federation should from now on show more aggressiveness and resolve in defending the interests of Moroccan teams at the continental level.Sending post-match letters, however damning and solemn their tone, will do little to reverse the blatant injustice that marred the experience of Moroccan clubs in this year’s CAF tournaments. (RS Berkane, another Moroccan team, was controversially beaten in the second leg of the CAF Cup final against Egypt’s Zamalek.)While FRMF should, as they have said they would, express their legitimate anger and frustration at the CAF board for such scandalous errors of judgment in the course of two season-defining games, they should really consider being more present in the behind-the-scenes, off-the-pitch battles which sometimes dictate much of what happens on the pitch. read more

BERLIN — Germany’s environment minister says the government will discuss introducing a carbon tax as part of its national plan to curb climate change.Speaking after the first meeting of a special “climate Cabinet,” German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said Wednesday that government ministers would, over the coming months, put forward proposals for cutting greenhouse gases in the areas they oversee.Germany’s transport ministry opposes sector-specific targets, but Schulze insisted “everyone will have to shoulder some of the responsibility.”She also displayed openness to some kind of carbon tax. Other countries have already introduced carbon pricing to discourage the burning of fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases and stoke global warming.Schulze said of such carbon taxes that “there are many different models that will also be debated in Cabinet.”The Associated Press read more

LONDON — Cross-party talks in Britain aimed at striking a compromise Brexit deal have broken down without agreement.Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn says the talks with Prime Minister Theresa May’s government have “gone as far as they can.”The two sides have held weeks of negotiations to see if they can agree on terms for Britain’s exit from the European Union that can win support in Parliament. The talks began after lawmakers rejected May’s divorce deal with the EU three times.But the Conservatives and Labour differ on how close an economic relationship to seek with the bloc after the U.K. leaves.Britain was due to leave the EU on March 29, but Brexit has been delayed until Oct. 31 amid the political impasse.The Associated Press read more

20 September 2007Italian author and journalist Anna Cataldi, a former United Nations Messenger of Peace, was today appointed as an Ambassador of the Stop TB Partnership to raise awareness worldwide about the unfair burden of tuberculosis on refugees, migrants, people living in poverty and other disadvantaged groups. Italian author and journalist Anna Cataldi, a former United Nations Messenger of Peace, was today appointed as an Ambassador of the Stop TB Partnership to raise awareness worldwide about the unfair burden of tuberculosis on refugees, migrants, people living in poverty and other disadvantaged groups. In 2005 alone, the disease is estimated to have killed 1.6 million people. The Stop TB Partnership, whose secretariat is hosted by the UN World Health Organization (WHO), is a network of more than 500 international organizations, countries, donors from the public and private sectors, TB patients and nongovernmental and governmental organizations. Its goal is to eliminate TB as a public health problem worldwide. “Anna Cataldi has an extraordinary track record of galvanizing people to confront issues that cause human suffering,” Partnership Executive Secretary Marcos Espinal said. “She will be a strong voice calling for access to TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment as a human right.” Ms. Cataldi said she was “grateful to the Stop TB Partnership for giving me this opportunity to advocate on behalf of those suffering from this disease.” Welcoming the appointement, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised Ms. Cataldi for her tireless efforts and devotion. “She was an active, compassionate and productive Messenger,” he said. “She travelled to difficult places, such as Afghanistan and Somalia, to bring support, encouragement and hope to the desperate and voiceless. I am delighted she will now devote her energies to the Stop TB campaign.” The Partnership’s Global Plan to Stop TB (2006-2015) seeks to treat 50 million people for TB between now and 2015 and save about 14 million lives. It aims to halve TB prevalence and deaths compared with 1990 levels by 2015. “Ms. Cataldi is sure to advance the global fight against TB. We welcome her appointment enthusiastically,” said Mario Raviglione, Director of the Stop TB Department at WHO. Ms. Cataldi is the author of Letters from Sarajevo, which chronicled the impact of war on Bosnia’s children. In 1998, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she initiated a project to create and distribute a passport-sized pamphlet version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for children. This March, she conceived and helped organize a photo exhibit focussing on TB at the UN’s New York Headquarters that was viewed by more than 100,000 people. read more

22 April 2008The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is rebuilding camps in Nepal and Chad after devastating fires left more than 10,000 refugees homeless in the two countries. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is rebuilding camps in Nepal and Chad after devastating fires left more than 10,000 refugees homeless in the two countries.Last month, a blaze sparked by an oil lamp spread through an area packed with huts – some of which had been built into walkways to accommodate the largely-growing population – in the Goldhap camp in eastern Nepal, leaving 8,000 Bhutanese refugees without homes. No one was killed in the fire, which destroyed nearly 95 per cent of the settlement.The newly-reconstructed camp – rebuilding is expected to be completed in July, ahead of the July monsoon rains – will have fire-retardant thatched roofs and wider spacing between huts to minimize fire hazards, UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva today.While UNHCR and its partners have so far received $177,000 to reconstruct the settlement, it still requires more than $400,000 to complete the task.For the past two months, refugees have been living in temporary shelters and with host families, with the most vulnerable of them sheltering in the camp school which survived the blaze.The Nepalese Government, UNHCR and other organizations have provided food, tarpaulins, plastic mats, jerry cans, mosquito nets and emergency cash grants to those made homeless by the fire.To avert the spread of diseases, UNHCR has provided health workers, installed water tanks and latrines and dug waste disposal pits, among other efforts.“Life is slowly returning to normal for Goldhap’s refugees,” Mr. Redmond observed.UNHCR has distributed copies of school notes for students who had lost them in the fire, while those sitting annual exams were hosted in other camps.Over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees have been living in seven settlements in eastern Nepal since the early 1990s.Meanwhile, UNHCR is also assisting with reconstructing the Goz Amer refugee camp in Chad, where a fire on 11 April left 2,100 Sudanese refugees from the war-torn Darfur region homeless.The blaze was started by an untended cooking fire, destroying 270 family huts, and the agency is encouraging refugees to rebuild their homes with bricks instead of straw, stick and mud, which are popular materials in the region.Those affected by the fire are currently being housed in UNHCR family tents.“The main challenge to brick construction is the severe lack of water in eastern Chad,” Mr. Redmond pointed out, given that refugees must use what little water is available as potable water and thus are disincline to waste it.“Therefore, we have urged them to only use water from a nearby wadi [seasonal stream] for brick construction, while water provided in the camp by us should be used for drinking and cooking purposes.”This week, refugees in Djabal camp held a voluntary food collection for those displaced by the fire in the Goz Amer settlement, 45 kilometres away, in a show of solidarity. read more

11 June 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his profound sadness today after learning of the death of the former Vietnamese prime minister Vo Van Kiet. Mr. Ban offered his condolences to the family of the late leader, as well as to the people and Government of Viet Nam, in a statement issued by his spokesperson.“As a major force behind the economic reforms in Viet Nam that started in the late 1980s, Mr. Vo Van Kiet paved the way for the country’s transition from poverty to a decade of impressive economic growth,” the statement noted.“During his time as the prime minister from 1991 to 1997, he also played a pivotal role in improving Viet Nam’s diplomatic relations with other countries.” read more

The Slovenian capital was picked “for the quality of its application, as well as for its diverse and complete programme, widely and enthusiastically supported by all players in the book industry (publishers, bookstores and libraries),” the selection committee said after meeting today at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.The committee brings together representatives of UNESCO and some of the main professional associations in the book industry – the International Publishers Association, the International Booksellers Federation and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement that he was delighted “to see this magnificent city acknowledged for its collective commitment to promote books and reading in a context of freedom of expression and cultural openness.”Ljubljana becomes the tenth city to be designated as World Book Capital, following Madrid, Alexandria, New Delhi, Antwerp, Montreal, Turin, Bogotá, Amsterdam and Beirut. 18 June 2008The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced today that Ljubljana has been chosen as the 2010 World Book Capital as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to promote literature and reading. read more

2 April 2009Thanks to e-commerce, the postal sector has largely been able to stave off the slump wreaked on the global economy by the current financial crisis, the United Nations Universal Postal Union (UPU) said today. Thanks to e-commerce, the postal sector has largely been able to stave off the slump wreaked on the global economy by the current financial crisis, the United Nations Universal Postal Union (UPU) said today.Postal operators, especially in the letter-post and express business segments, have been feeling the pinch, but that has been tempered by growth recorded in financial services, the agency said during a high-level gathering at its Berne, Switzerland, headquarters on the impact of the financial turmoil on the sector.Worldwide, the industry employs nearly 6 million people and operates 660,000 post offices, making it one of the largest workforces and the most vast physical distribution network.A survey of the world’s 15 largest posts and private courier companies found that some European operators, including Swiss Post and Deutsche Post, have experienced stunning growth rates of more than 50 per cent in the number of postal deposits and savings accounts opened last year, similar to figures recorded during the Great Depression of the 1930s.However, the news was not as positive for the domestic letter post, which has felt the brunt of the crisis, with a 5 per cent contraction in volume in the last quarter of 2008, due in part to less direct mail, especially by the financial sector.The postal industry has yet to reach the levels of revenue decreases reported during the Great Depression in the United States, when revenues plummeted over 12 per cent. During that period, postal savings account deposits multiplied eight-fold in the country, reaching more than $1 billion.During the Depression, postage revenues dropped nearly one-quarter in France and nearly 17 per cent in Germany, the UPU said. read more

The cameras move on from relaying searing footage of the starving masses, the dying and the homeless, they fly off to the next crisis du jour, and donor attention takes flight with them; funding ebbs, but the masses still starve, still die, are still homeless. “It’s an intractable issue, that’s for sure,” Catherine Bragg, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, tells the UN News Centre as the international community prepared to mark the first World Humanitarian Day on 19 August. One of the tools the UN uses to counter so-called forgotten or under-funded crises which have slipped off or under the humanitarian radar is the four-year-old Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), a third of whose targeted annual total of $450 million is committed for just such emergencies where lives are at stake. “But the amount is obviously not adequate to deal with the size of the problem,” Ms. Bragg notes. Some two dozen countries have benefited from CERF’s funding for forgotten crises so far this year, including such little noted emergencies as Algeria, where Western Saharan refugees from the conflict with Morocco have been living in camps in the Tindouf area for decades, or drought-afflicted Djibouti and Guinea, which suffer from severe food shortages. In many cases the grants are relatively small, like $1.5 million for Algeria or $2 million for Burkina Faso . In others they are more substantial and a country may receive more than one allocation a year, like the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) or Zimbabwe , both suffering from severe food shortages, with $19 million and $20 million respectively. In all cases the allocations are meant to be life-saving and time-sensitive. Ms. Bragg cites five reasons for a crisis being under-funded. The first is the relatively small number of beneficiaries, perhaps tens of thousands or 100,000, “compared to next door, where you’ve got 2.5 million,” she says. “People tend to pay attention to the bigger one; people forget about the one that is a small caseload. I think that’s the case of places like Algeria or Guinea .” In the second case, donors do not have sufficient confidence that humanitarian agencies can actually get the aid to the beneficiaries because of either security reasons as in Somalia or Government constraints as in DPRK. “They want to be able to tell their electorates and the taxpayers that the money is actually getting to the beneficiaries,” she notes. The third reason arises when aid gets tangled up in politics, as in the DPRK or Zimbabwe , and donors have difficulty separating out what they should be doing with a country. In the fourth case the sense of urgency has subsided, as happened in Kenya . “When we had the post-election violence after Christmas 2007 and in 2008 we were all getting excited about it,” Ms. Bragg says. “But once the sense of urgency has subsided, then attention drifted even though there still remain needs.” Finally there are the cases where chronic abject poverty masks exacerbated conditions caused by natural disasters or conflicts, as in Niger or Haiti . In all cases the solution lies in continually beating the drum, raising the alarm publicly, and redirecting world awareness, as Ms. Bragg did with her recent visit to Central African Republic, where 1 million people, or a quarter of the total population, are in need of aid, 125,000 of the living in the bush without access to water, shelter, medical services or education. “It is a smaller caseload compared with next-door Darfur which is 4 million people in need, or Congo , or even south Sudan ,” she says. “What I was trying to do was… bringing to people’s attention and continuing to remind them that it’s not just the big ones out there, there are also the small ones. We also need to reassure donors that we can get the aid to the people in need.” As to “the tangling of humanitarian with political issues… we have to keep saying, in DPRK for example, there’s a humanitarian situation regardless of what you think of the political moves of the current Government. There are people who are in need of food. There are people who are severely undernourished.” When the sense of urgency subsides, “we need to continue to communicate… so that people don’t get a sense of complacency, don’t get a sense of ‘well, it’s passed us by, things are back to normal again,’ ” she adds, applying the same lesson for countries with chronic abject poverty. “We need to keep bringing it up so that it is understood in donor capitals that there are still humanitarian issues,” she stresses. 17 August 2009It is one of the most difficult problems the United Nations faces in tackling humanitarian crises – how to maintain momentum when the media klieg lights have gone elsewhere, or generate it when they were never there in the first place. read more

In 1980 in China, there were only 51 cities with more than 500,000 people. That number has quadrupled since then to 236, and by 2025, the Asian nation is expected to add more than 100 other cities to that group.China’s urban population has more than doubled between 1980 and 2010, surging from 19 to 47 per cent, and is expected to reach 59 per cent by 2025.The 2009 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects also finds that just over half of the global population, or 3.5 billion people, now live in cities, with nearly all of that group concentrated in the largest urban areas.“Although we say that the whole world is half urban at this moment, there are great disparities between countries,” Hania Zlotnik, Director of the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), told reporters in New York today.Some countries – such as Belgium, Kuwait and Singapore – are now almost completely urban, while others – including Burundi, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Uganda – are still highly rural. By last year, 140 out of the world’s 230 countries or areas were more than half urban, and in the coming four decades, 66 countries or areas will join their ranks.The new study notes that Asia has the greatest percentage of rural inhabitants at 42 per cent, edging out Africa which stands at 40 per cent.But Asia also has the largest number of cities – 52 per cent of them – with populations topping 500,000, driven largely by the high concentration of cities in China.The world’s 21 so-called megacities, which have at least 10 million inhabitants, house 9 per cent – or 324 million people – of the global urban population, the report says. Another eight megacities are expected to emerge by 2025, including Guangzhou, Jakarta, Lima and Kinshasa.The new study also says that the world’s rural population will start to decline around 2020 and will drop from 3.4 billion now to 2.9 billion in the next three decades. 25 March 2010Nearly one quarter of the world’s 1,000 biggest cities in China, whose urban population is growing rapidly, according to a new statistical report issued by the United Nations. read more

In an effort to assess the effectiveness of polio surveillance in Afghanistan, a group of experts from the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) have spent a week in villages across the country examining a system used to detect the paralysing disease in children under the age of 15.The strategy identifies cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and then investigates them to determine, through laboratory testing, which AFP cases are as a result of the poliovirus and which ones are not.“The first and most important step toward eliminating polio is to know where the polio virus is circulating,” said Peter Graaff, WHO Representative to Afghanistan.“This is because low quality AFP surveillance can miss poliovirus transmission and we need to constantly monitor and improve the system, in order not to be misled about the level of progress made toward reaching the eradication goal,” Mr. Graaff said.The main recommendations of the review mission included training more community health workers on AFP surveillance, scaling up participation of the private health sector, and improving the documentation of reported cases.Based on the findings, the review team concluded that ongoing transmission of wild poliovirus in the “reviewed’ areas is very unlikely to be missed.Due to security reasons, the southern and south-eastern regions of the country could not be accessed by the team.Polio, also known as infantile paralysis, is a highly infectious and potentially lethal disease that spreads from person to person. Wild poliovirus could infect virtually everyone who is not yet immune through vaccination, and there is no cure.Afghanistan is one of the four remaining countries in the world that has yet to become polio-free, the others being Pakistan, India and Nigeria. In 2010 alone, Afghanistan has had 13 polio cases, especially in parts of the southern region where access for health workers is not possible due to insecurity.Currently, there is a network of more than 10,000 community members across the country that report children showing signs of potential paralysis to the next level of the health system. They include health workers, pharmacists, religious leaders and shrine keepers among others.WHO, UNICEF and Rotary International are leading the efforts to eradicate polio in Afghanistan. 30 August 2010In an effort to assess the effectiveness of polio surveillance in Afghanistan, a group of experts from the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) have spent a week in villages across the country examining a system used to detect the paralysing disease in children under the age of 15. read more

5 October 2010The deadly lead pollution crisis in the northern Nigerian state of Zamfara due to backyard gold digging is far from over, with hundreds of lives already lost and thousands of people at risk, a United Nations investigative team warned today. “Rapid and coordinated intervention is imperative,” the five-member team from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said after collecting and analyzing dozens of soil and water samples from five villages.Lead poisoning, while treatable to some degree, does irreparable damage to young children’s neurological systems, including reduced IQ, behavioural disorders and loss of control of muscles. It threatens the unborn since it passes directly through the placenta, leading to stillbirths and birth defects and, in breastfeeding, passes freely to babies through mothers’ milk.A spike in lead-related illnesses and deaths emerged at the start of this year in two districts of Zamfara, due to attempts by locals to extract gold from lead-contaminated soils in and around their houses and compounds, and the team said most illness and deaths go unreported.It is likely that many children have not been brought to medical clinics because the rainy season has impeded access from villages. Also, mothers who typically have up to five or 10 children cannot leave family behind, and crucial extended care facilities are lacking for children who come from polluted villages that must be cleaned before it is safe to return. So far, only two villages have been cleaned. The team reported that polluted water is less of a concern than soil, and even possibly food such as meat and crops, and called for urgent further study, adding that the lead seems to come from the external sources of processing rather than naturally occurring in wells. It did not call for banning mining but for safer practices, such as setting up cooperatives to enable ore to be stored and processed safely outside villages rather than within family compounds.It focused on the quality of drinking water for both humans and cattle, and found that public wells often do not meet UN World Health Organization (WHO) or national standards for lead limits and ponds are often polluted, while soil is highly polluted with lead. In addition, there are often high concentrations of mercury in the air.At one former mine processing site in the village of Bagega, with some 8,000 inhabitants, air mercury levels of 5,000 nanogrammes per cubic metre were registered, a hundred times the maximum recommended level of 50. Mercury, which is used in the gold extraction processes, affects the nervous and digestive systems when inhaled. A final report will be available by mid- to late-October, feeding into a larger process to address this crisis involving a variety of actors, including state and federal authorities, WHO, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which have launched a major effort to remove lead- and mercury-contaminated soil and water from the villages. read more

A communiqué issued in the name of the “international community,” grouping the UN, the Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union (EU) and the ambassadors of Brazil, Canada, Germany, Spain and the United States, appealed “for the use of all legal ways to advance a credible electoral process so as to guarantee that the definitive results fully reflect the will of the Haitian electors.”Giving candidates until Wednesday to lodge their complaints, the Provisional Electoral Council has proposed setting up a special verification committee, and the communiqué called on all candidates to participate in this process.It warned that the violence was impeding efforts to fight a cholera epidemic that has already killed well over 2,100 people, with some 50,000 others hospitalized in country that is still struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake in January, which killed over 200,000 people and displaced some 1.3 million others, most of them still living in crowded and unsanitary tent camps. Thousands of protesters have been rampaging through the streets of Port-au-Prince, the capital, accusing the ruling government coalition of rigging the results, after provisional tallies of the 28 November presidential and legislative elections announced last week put former first lady Mirlande Manigat and outgoing President Rene Préval’s party candidate Jude Celestin in first and second place, thus qualifying for January’s run-off.Popular musician Michel Martelly was less than one percentage point behind in third place, but thus excluded from the run-off, and his supporters set up burning barricades of timber, boulders and flaming tires. Haiti’s electoral council has said it will recount the ballots.“The international community deplores the acts of violence which, among others, has paralysed economic activity, prevented school children and students from continuing their studies and, more tragically, impeded the access of cholera victims to medical treatment,” it said.“The international community urgently calls on all political and state actors to do everything possible to advance reconstruction and allow health personnel and Haitian and international humanitarian workers to continue, in full security, to provide the vital response to the cholera epidemic. Thousands of people need it.”It exhorted all candidates to call on their supporters to avoid all recourse to violence, “whose sole victim is the entire Haitian people.” The UN has maintained a stabilization mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH, currently with nearly 12,000 military and police personnel, since mid-2004 after then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile amid violent unrest. 13 December 2010With a three-day window opening today for candidates to formally lodge complaints in Haiti’s disputed elections, the United Nations and its partners have called on all concerned to use these legal means and to urge their supporters to avoid further violence. read more

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has welcomed the commitment of the northern and southern sides to withdraw their forces from Abyei and to immediately deploy combined teams to the disputed area to provide security.Participants in the Abyei Joint Technical Committee, which is facilitated by UNMIS, agreed at a meeting yesterday to start the withdrawal of all unauthorized forces and the deployment of joint integrated units (JIUs) – made up of personnel from both sides – by tomorrow and to finish the process by 17 May.The two sides agreed that they will work to create a more conducive environment by de-escalating tensions and speaking to communities on the ground about the implementation of recent peace agreements aimed at ending the violence in the Abyei area.Deadly clashes have claimed dozens of lives since the start of the year, when a referendum on Abyei’s status that was supposed to have been held never took place amid disagreement on voter eligibility.Southern Sudan will secede from the rest of the country in July as a result of a separate referendum held in January and both north and south claim Abyei.Major General Moses Bisong Obi, the Force Commander of UNMIS, said yesterday’s meeting reflected the commitment of the two sides towards easing tensions.“There was goodwill from both sides and we hope to follow up on this spirit,” he said.The two sides also agreed to ensure freedom of access for UNMIS contingents who are deployed in the area, which is contested by both north and south.The committee was established last month to oversee the implementation of two separate peace agreements reached earlier this year. 9 May 2011The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has welcomed the commitment of the northern and southern sides to withdraw their forces from Abyei and to immediately deploy combined teams to the disputed area to provide security. read more

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market finished in the red as pessimism about the latest Chinese growth figures added to worries about a slowing global economy.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 11,425.47 -119.17 -1.0%S&P 500 — 1334.76 -6.69 -0.5Dow — 12573.27 -31.26 -0.3Nasdaq — 2866.19 -21.79 -0.8The S&P/TSX composite index lost 119.17 points to 11,425.47. The Canadian dollar rose 0.12 of a cent to 98.17 cents US.New York’s Dow Jones industrials closed down 31.26 points to 12,573.27. The Nasdaq composite index shed 21.79 points to 2,866.19 and the S&P 500 declined 6.69 points to 1,334.76.Oil closed up 27 cents to US$86.08 a barrel.The latest Chinese economic growth data comes out tomorrow.The report is expected to show second quarter growth fell as low as 7.3%, down from the previous quarter’s nearly three-year low of 8.1%. The slowdown is a setback for economies around the world that were looking to China to drive demand for exports and support global growth.Here’s the news investors were watching today:Uh oh! Now even Warren Buffett is sounding bearish on U.S. economySprott sees gold at new high before year-endSpain’s bailout forces mountain of losses on bank clientsON DECK FRIDAYECONOMIC NEWSChina releases Q2 GDP data UNITED STATES8:30 a.m.Producer Price Index (June): Economists expect decline of 0.5% from the month before, 0.2% year over year 9:55 a.m.University of Michigan consumer sentiment index (July): Economists expect a reading of 73.5 CORPORATE NEWSCANADAThomson Reuters Q2 earnings: Analysts expect 51¢ a share UNITED STATESJPMorgan Chase & Co. Q2 earnings: Analysts expect 76¢ a share Wells Fargo Q2 earnings: Analysts expect 81¢ a share read more

Walmart Canada is eliminating the pickup fee from its online grocery service as it braces for increasing competition in a business where profit margins are already razor thin.The retail giant said Tuesday it is cancelling its $2.97 charge for customers who order groceries online and pick them up in stores.While the fee was modest, the company’s internal studies indicated it was a barrier preventing some people from using their online grocery pickup service, said Daryl Porter, vice-president of online grocery for Walmart Canada.“Even though it’s a small dollar amount, it means something,” Porter said.“We want to remove that fee and give people a better chance to try it.”Walmart Canada said that for competitive reasons, it won’t say how much it stands to lose by scrapping the fee and how many customers use its online grocery pickup service.The service launched in Ottawa in July 2015, about a year after Loblaw rolled out a similar program in the Toronto area.Walmart Canada has since expanded it to the Greater Toronto Area, Calgary and Edmonton, and Porter said there are plans to bring it to a fifth market that will be unveiled in about a month.Michael von Massow, an associate professor in food economics at the University of Guelph, said Canadians lag behind Americans when it comes to using online grocery pickup services, though they are catching up and it is a market with potential to grow.He said key for retailers including Walmart is locking in first-time consumers because research shows they are unlikely to switch once they become accustomed to ordering online.“If you can get their first order, you’re more likely to get their second order,” he said.He said he doesn’t believe Walmart’s decision will hurt its bottom line, adding that the increased number of orders from new and existing customers will likely more than make up for any losses.The Walmart announcement comes against the backdrop of Amazon’s US$13.7-billion deal to buy Whole Foods, an acquisition that some industry observers say will upend the supermarket sector in North America.“There is a lot of activity happening out there in the industry but this is something we wanted to do even before the Amazon announcement,” Porter said.Von Massow said online grocery delivery services have struggled to gain market share because people want to “squeeze that avocado” — they don’t want to order produce online.He said he thinks Amazon and Walmart Canada may eventually adopt a “hybrid” shopping model where customers can order their packaged groceries online, pick them up, and buy fresh food such as fruit and vegetables in-store.Walmart Canada introduced groceries in its stores in 2006 and they are now available in about three-quarters of its 411 stores.Loblaw said Tuesday it offers its online pickup grocery service at 142 stores and there are plans to expand it. It charges a fee between $3 and $5 per order, depending on the time and day of pickup.Follow @HealingSlowly on Twitter. read more

Some of the most active companies traded Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange:Toronto Stock Exchange (15,076.16, up 13 points):Hydro One Ltd. Instalment Receipts (TSX:H.IR). Utilities. Up five cents, or 0.13 per cent, to $37.50 on 10.2 million shares.Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA). Oil and gas. Up two cents, or 0.17 per cent, to $11.64 on 5.3 million shares.Arizona Mining Inc. (TSX:AZ). Miner. Down three cents, or 0.97 per cent, to $3.06 on 4.8 million shares.First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (TSX:FM). Miner. Up 50 cents, or 3.57 per cent, to $14.49 on 4.3 million shares.HudBay Minerals Inc. (TSX:HBM). Miner. Up 41 cents, or 3.82 per cent, to $11.13 on 3.3 million shares.Tethys Petroleum Ltd. (TSX:TPL). Oil and gas. Down half-a-cent, or 25.00 per cent, to 1.5 cents on three million shares.Companies reporting major news:Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (TSX:CM). Bank. Down $2.03, or 1.89 per cent, to $105.57 on 2.6 million shares. CIBC increased its quarterly dividend by three cents to $1.30 per share. The bank posted net income of $1.1 billion or $2.60 per common share, which was down from $3.61 per share in the 2016 third quarter when CIBC recorded an unusual gain from the sale of its minority interest in American Century Investments. After adjustments, CIBC earned $2.77 per share or $1.17 billion in the three months ended July 31, up from $1.07 billion in last year’s third quarter, while revenue was on a par with last year at $4.1 billion.Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (TSX:FFH). Insurance. Up $30.32, or five per cent, to $636.62 on 97,051 shares. Fairfax is selling its stake in Singaporean insurer First Capital Insurance Ltd. for US$1.6 billion as part of a broader partnership agreement that will ensure the Canadian insurance and investment company receives 25 per cent of the subsidiary’s profits. The Toronto-based company said on a conference call Thursday that the all-cash deal to sell its 97.7 per cent stake in the business to Japan’s Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. is part of a “strategic alliance” with Mitsui, under which the companies will pursue global partnership opportunities.Hudson’s Bay Company (TSX:HBC). Retailer. Down 57 cents, or 5.38 per cent, to $10.03 on 813,030 shares. The Toronto-based retailer says its president of international operations is leaving the company next month. HBC International president Don Watros, who was appointed to the post in January 2015, will vacate the position on Sept. 29. He has worked with HBC for nearly a dozen years. read more

Sri Lanka is facing an economic war launched by some groups three years after the war with the LTTE came to an end, External Affairs Minister G.L Peiris said today.Speaking at a Defence seminar in Colombo the Minister said that these groups are trying to persuade tourists to boycott Sri Lanka and in the end strike at the root of Sri Lanka’s economy. He also expressed regret at attempts to internationalize the situation in Sri Lanka and push for a foreign solution on the country. He also said that the remaining war displaced people will be resettled by the middle of this month.The External Affairs Minister noted that there was misinformed criticism about the army and its relationship with the government.He also stressed that the role of the army during the war was to release civilians being held by the LTTE. He also stressed that the government will not fully withdraw the armed forces from the north despite immense pressure to do so.The External Affairs Minister said that the government will only reduce the military presence in the north but maintain some troops like in other parts of the country for security purposes. Peiris stressed that only a domestic solution will suite Sri Lanka and that solution will be reached through a parliament process. read more

India’s gifting of the Katchatheevu Island to Sri Lanka in the ’70s has reduced fishing space available for Indian fishermen. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who has been demanding retrieval of the island, has mooted the idea of entering into a long-term lease agreement with the Lankan government so that Indian fishermen could legally use Lankan waters for fishing. He said the first lot of 19 had been taken to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka’s northwest, and the Indian consul in Jaffna was trying to gain access to them.Fishermen from both countries often stray into each other’s territory as both countries are divided by a small strip of sea. Over the last 20 years, more than 300 Indian fishermen have reportedly fallen prey to the Lankan navy’s attacks. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had written to the Prime Minister on Thursday, asking him to summon the Sri Lankan envoy. “Let Sri Lanka not be emboldened by your silence,” she wrote. Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson for the External Affairs Ministry, said that Sri Lankan authorities arrested 19 fishermen on Wednesday and another 34 on Thursday for allegedly fishing in Sri Lanka’s waters. Sri Lanka today released 34 of the 53 Indian fishermen allegedly arrested by its Navy. This comes a day after India summoned Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner and lodged strong protest over the arrests. They had asked Sri Lanka that the fishermen should be released at the earliest, NDTV reported.Sri Lanka said the fishermen were arrested for allegedly fishing in their waters. read more

The Swiss Ambassador was addressing the first ever Swiss-Sri Lanka Business Discussion Roundtable held in Colombo today. The Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen also attended the discussion. Switzerland today extended support to Sri Lanka’s reforms process including the 19th Amendment to the constitution, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said.The Swiss Ambassador to Sri Lanka Heinz Walker-Nederkoorn has said that he was impressed with the democratic process Sri Lanka displayed at the January election. “Passing of 19-Amendment shows that the spirit of reform is very much alive in Sri Lanka. We, the Swiss, would like to support this Lankan reform spirit” he said. Walker-Nederkoorn, addressing the event, said: “Sri Lanka’s potential is high. I am pleased to share the first Swiss–Sri Lanka Business Roundtable in Colombo today. After the January Presidential polls, Sri Lanka started a comprehensive reforms process. As a representative of one of the oldest democracies in the world, I am very much impressed by the democratic process Sri Lanka displayed on 08 January. It is a unique event, and a very good start and passing of 19 Amendment shows that the spirit of reform is very much alive in Sri Lanka. We, the Swiss, would like to support this Lankan reform spirit.”He also noted that significant economic and political changes are taking place in Sri Lanka under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Việt Nam Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc wants ties with Sri Lanka to increase, the vietnamnews website reported.Talking to the Ambassador of Sri Lanka, Saranya Hasathi Urgodawatt Dissanayke, Prime Minister Phúc affirmed the strong ties and traditional co-operation of the past 45 years. But he said the bilateral trade turnover, which was around $200 million last year, could be increased. For her part, Urgodawatt Dissanayke echoed Phúc’s opinion of the good relations between the two countries, saying she has made considerable efforts to foster co-operation between the two countries in the fields of investment, trade, tourism and more. (Colombo Gazette) read more