Northwestel reporting major network outage for landline customers in Northern BC

first_imgAt this time, there is no service for customers and an estimated time for when service will be restored is unknown.In the case of a fire emergency, affected customers in the Fort Nelson area are being asked to call 250-775-0796 or 250-321-0924.For police emergencies, affected customers are asked to call the Fort St. John RCMP detachment at 250-787-8100.For more information on this landline service outage, you can visit Northwestel’s website. UPDATE as of 1:20 p.m. – We have been advised that normal telephone service has been resumed.FORT NELSON, B.C. – As of Monday morning, August 12, phone service provider Northwestel is reporting of a temporary major network outage that is impacting landline service in Northern B.C. and Whitehorse.According to a post on the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Facebook page, the company is working hard to locate and remedy the issue.last_img read more

Peace Gallery Norths opening night of Harvest Moon Exhibition

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Peace Gallery North has its opening night of their Harvest Moon Exhibition, tonight, Friday, September 6th, 2019 from 7 pm – 9 pm.The exhibition is a preview of original art to be auctioned at the 36th Annual Art Auction held October 5th, 2019.This evening will include entertainment by Intermezzo, as well as refreshments and appetizers by the Cultured Cafe. The Peace Gallery North is located at the North Peace Cultural CentreTo view the FB Event Page; CLICK HERElast_img read more

Australia political leaders use Chinese app to chase votes

first_imgCanberra: Australia’s prime minister and his political rival said on Wednesday they were not tailoring their political messages to suit Chinese censors as the politicians increasingly use Chinese social media to woo Chinese-speaking voters. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Bill Shorten each have accounts with China’s largest social media platform, WeChat, which they use to target the Chinese diaspora ahead of federal elections on May 18. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USCritics argue that the Australian political leaders risk being kicked off the platform if they don’t comply with Chinese censorship rules. Morrison said his account has not been subjected to Chinese censorship used on social media. “We haven’t experienced any such censorship,” Morrison told reporters. Bill Shorten, who leads the center-left Labor Party, was similarly unconcerned by the type of censorship that the Chinese Communist Party routinely exercises on Chinese social media. “I’m not fussed at all,” Shorten told reporters. “I do not feel censored by the Chinese government.” WeChat was launched by Chinese giant Tencent in 2011 and the app, known in China as Weixin, has become essential for daily life in China. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsMorrison’s account was registered in January under the name of a Chinese citizen in Fujian province, and Shorten’s account was registered to a Chinese citizen in Shandong province, Australian Broadcasting Corp reported. Morrison said his conservative Liberal Party was trying to transfer his account to Australia. “The way you set up a WeChat account, because of where it’s run, is you have to work through these overseas structures and we’ve been in the process now over the last week or so of seeking to repatriate how that’s done,” Morrison said. Shorten said he left his Labor Party to set up his account. The party said it was set up in early 2017 by an Australian resident who is employed by the party. It is jointly operated by Shorten’s office and the party. “Labor has never experienced any censorship of our communications on any social media platforms,” a party statement said. “We do not tolerate any outside interference that seeks to undermine our free and fair society.” Fergus Hanson, head of the International Cyber Policy Center at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said politicians’ use of Chinese social media in the Australian political debate created the possibility of censorship and self-censorship on subjects sensitive to China. “It’s pretty outrageous that you’re in a situation where an Australian politician in a full-blown democracy is being censored in what they can say by the Chinese government trying to speak to other Australians within Australia,” Hanson said. “It’s absolutely preposterous.” Hanson’s own research estimated that there were 1.5 million active WeChat users in Australia including Chinese-speaking Australians, tourists and international students. Australia has a population of 25 million.last_img read more

Oppn leaders set to meet today also to move EC over VVPATs

first_imgNew Delhi: Two days ahead of the Lok Sabha poll results, top opposition leaders will meet in the national capital on Tuesday to discuss the political situation and possibilities of a non-NDA alliance to stake claim for government formation.As part of his efforts to unite the opposition, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu held a meeting with his West Bengal counterpart, Mamata Banerjee, at her Kolkata residence on forming a non-BJP government at the Centre in case of a hung verdict. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadNaidu had a 45-minute meeting with Banerjee on the future strategies of the “Mahagathbandhan” (Grand Alliance), during which he also discussed the possibilities of forming a non-BJP government, including regional parties, with the support of the Congress. “It was decided at the meeting that a detailed discussion will be held with other players of the Mahagathbandhan in the event of a hung verdict after the poll results are declared on May 23,” a source said. Also Read – Firms staying closed 10 days a month due to recession, govt doing nothing: Priyanka GandhiThe decision on Banerjee going to New Delhi would also be taken after May 23, the source added. Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav also telephoned Banerjee during the day and discussed the strategy of the “Mahagathbandhan”, sources said. Naidu has been moving around across the country and has held several rounds of discussions with top opposition leaders in a bid to unite them and form an alliance to stake claim to form the next government in case the NDA falls short of the majority mark. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief met Banerjee again on Monday evening to discuss the political scenario in the wake of the exit poll predictions. On Sunday, Naidu met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi separately in New Delhi, besides NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. The TDP leader has already met other top opposition leaders such as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal, Left leaders and Sharad Yadav in Delhi. Meanwhile, Akhilesh and Mayawati also held a meeting and discussed their strategy going forward. However, in view of the exit polls, most of which have predicted a majority for the BJP-led NDA, the opposition has turned a bit cautious and decided not to hold any formal meetings. Top Congress leaders also held a meeting under the guidance of Sonia Gandhi on Saturday, where the current political situation was discussed. Sources said the opposition strategy was to procure letters of support from various parties and in case of a hung verdict, to present the same before the president to stake claim to form the government. They added that the opposition did not want to leave anything to chance and did not wish to waste any time in staking claim for government formation and thus, was putting its house in order. Notwithstanding the exit poll predictions, the opposition is going ahead with its strategy as most parties have trashed the forecast and claimed that the NDA would not get a majority in the Lok Sabha. Opposition leaders are citing previous examples when exit polls were proved wrong, as also elsewhere in the world like the surprise result in Australia. Opposition leaders will also meet the Election Commission (EC) and raise the issue of tallying the paper trail of votes (VVPATs) with the electronic voting machine (EVM) figures as directed by the Supreme Court. The opposition parties are demanding tallying of VVPAT slips with EVM figures in an entire Assembly constituency in case a discrepancy is found in any polling booth.last_img read more

Morocco Reinforces its Leadership in Africa in 2014 US Expert

Washington – In 2014, Morocco has reinforced its position as a leader and a key hub in the African continent thanks to the strategic vision of King Mohammed VI, Peter Pham Director of the Africa Center of the US Atlantic Council said.“The US-Africa summit, held last August in Washington, was an occasion to highlight the strong US-Moroccan partnership as well as the role of the Kingdom as a gate of business partnerships and sustainable development projects in Africa,” Pham said in an interview with MAP.Recalling the meeting between King Mohammed VI and President Barack Obama in November 2013, Pham said that the meeting was followed by visits of senior US officials to Morocco including Vice President Joe Biden who led a US delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Marrakech. In 2014, the two countries signed a bilateral agreement on anti-terrorism assistance (ATA) which provides for a triangular cooperation in the fields of security training, he said.Under the agreement, the two countries contribute to reinforcing regional capacities in fields relating to training civilian security services of partner countries in the Maghreb and Sahel regions through offering expertise in terms of crisis management, border security and investigation, Pham recalled. read more

Two Men Arrested in Marrakech for Homosexuality

Casablanca — The red city again makes the news for homosexuality-related arrests.A 70-year-old Spanish man and a Moroccan citizen in his 20s were arrested on Thursday, November 24, on charges of homosexuality. The men were caught laying in the same hotel bed by a cleaning lady, who immediately notified hotel management, which then contacted the police, reports AlYaoum24.According to the Aswat Collective, a Moroccan organization fighting for human rights, the Spanish national was released while the Moroccan man still remains in custody of local authorities. In regards to the case, Omar Arbib, member of Marrakech’s Moroccan Association for Human Rights, told HuffPost that “this kind of arrest needs to stop in Morocco.” “It’s not normal. These are two adults who should be allowed to exercise their independence, but Moroccan law states that they risk up to three years in prison,” adds Arbib.In Morocco, homosexuality is punishable by up to three years in jail and a fine of up to 1200 dirhams. Last month, a similar case was widely publicized. Two girls, Hajar and Sanae, aged 16 and 17, were reported to the police after a family friend had seen them kissing on a Marrakech terrace. After a few days of detention, they were granted temporary release on November 1. The two minors are set to receive their verdict tomorrow.Hajar and Sanae’s arrest got a lot of attention from Moroccan and international media. Leïla Slimani, the French-Moroccan writer who was recently awarded the prestigious literary prize, the ‘Prix Goncourt,’ publicly spoke out earlier this month against the girls’ arrest. In an interview on the French TV show, “C à Vous,” Slimani stated that Article 489 “takes away the dignity of citizens and contributes to their humiliation.”The United Nations Human Rights Committee has urged Morocco to decriminalize homosexuality, as reported earlier this month. Nevertheless, given the controversy of the issue in the majority-Muslim country, it is unlikely that the law will change anytime soon. read more

Czech PM Morocco Could Become Czechs Largest Economic Partner in Africa

Rabat – Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said “Morocco could become the Czech Republic’s largest economic partner” in Africa, on Wednesday, at the launch of the Czech-Moroccan Business Forum in Casablanca.Morocco and the Czech Republic “are currently discussing cooperation in the automobile, aircraft and armaments industries,” reported Czech Radio.Babis described Morocco, where he lived for five years as a Czech company representative in the past, as crossroads between Europe and Africa. Over the past five years, Czech exports to Morocco have doubled and many Czech companies are operating in Morocco, according to Czech Radio.In 2017, trade between Morocco and the Czech Republic totaled $435 million.In this regard, Babis reaffirmed his country’s determination to strengthen trade with Morocco, the Czech Republic’s second largest partner in Africa, reported Maghreb Arab Press.Babis arrived in Rabat on Tuesday leading a delegation of 37 business leaders, in addition to Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Marta Novakova, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Miloslav Stasek, and Czech Ambassador to Morocco Hanane Saadi.The head of the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic, Jaroslav Hanak, told Czech Radio that “this was the first time that Prime Minister Babis has travelled with a business delegation outside of Europe.”Read also: Czech PM Visits Morocco with 37 Business LeadersBabis met the president of the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM), Salaheddine Mezouar. Mezouar said that the meeting with Babis will “give new impetus to cooperation between the business communities of both countries.”Morocco offers ‘great potential’ in aeronautics and automotive industryCzech prime minister also met representatives of different Moroccan investment groups to discuss opportunities in the renewable energy and agricultural sectors. The head of the local CzechTrade mission, Tamer El-Sibai, said that Morocco plans to invest $30 billion in the energy sector to which the North African country gives special attention, in addition to agriculture and construction.Babis affirmed that Morocco offers “great potential” to investors in many sectors, including the aeronautics and automotive industry.“Since Morocco is the largest automobile producer in Africa, Czech companies could try to become subcontractors,” Babis said.Babis said that he also discussed military cooperation between Morocco and the Czech Republic, noting that Morocco spends up to €4 billion on military technology.According to the Czech Confederation of Industry, Morocco showed great interest in the Czech Technical University’s projects which aims to collect water from humidity in the air.The Czech prime minister informed that a delegation of Moroccan industrialists will later visit the Czech Republic to explore business and investment opportunities in the country. read more

Business Credit a Reasonable Risk in Morocco Coface Risk Assessment

Rabat- Coface has again given Morocco the rating “A4” for credit risk of businesses defaulting, making it among the highest-ranking countries in Africa.Coface (Compagnie Française d’Assurance pour le Commerce Extérieur), a French insurance company for foreign trade, published its country risk and sector risk assessment map for the second quarter of 2018 last week.The assessment comprises 160 countries around the world and is drawn up on the basis of macroeconomic, financial, and political data.  Morocco has again received the “A4” rating, which corresponds to a “reasonable” risk. Alongside Morocco, only Kenya, Botswana, and Mauritius received such a high ranking in Africa. In the MENA region, Morocco joins the United Arab Emirates and Qatar with the same risk ranking. Israel ranked first, with A2, followed by Kuwait ranking A3.Oman was the only country in the MENA region whose rating improved, from C (high risk) to B (fairly high risk). The development is explained by the country’s growth, thanks to a rise in the oil and gas sector and continued moderate growth in other sectors, according to Coface.Coface downgraded Argentina (C), Turkey (C), Sri Lanka (C) and India (B) as well due to their dynamic internal demand favoring imports, political tensions, and the deterioration of their trade balance.Coface is considered to be a trustworthy reference in credit insurance, risk management, and the global economy. It operates globally, offering companies solutions to protect them against the risk of financial default of their clients. The company’s services and solutions protect and help companies to make credit decisions to improve their ability to sell on both their domestic and export markets.Coface estimates the average credit risk in a country’s businesses. The assessment map is an invaluable tool, giving an indication of a country’s potential influence on businesses’ financial commitments.  Coface’s analyses use an eight-level ranking order of risk from A1 (very low) to E (extreme). read more

Australia Convicts Vatican Senior Cleric of Child Sexual Assault

Rabat – An Australian court announced on Tuesday that Australian Vatican treasurer George Pell, 77, was convicted of sexually assaulting two 13-year-old choirboys.A jury found Pell guilty on one charge of sexual abuse and four counts of an indecent assault against the two boys. The assaults occurred at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in late 1996, a few months after the cathedral church appointed Pell as archbishop of Melbourne.Pell had cornered the choirboys after a Sunday solemn mass and raped them. Through trial proceedings, the cleric had remained free on probation while he denied all charges against him. More than 20 witnesses, including clerics, choristers, and altar servers testified against Pell during trial. The court held a retrial in December during which he was convicted, but the court’s decision went unreported until today.Pell faces as many as 50 years in prison for the offences. He is currently in custody and his sentencing is due to begin on Wednesday.Read Also: King Mohammed VI to Receive Pope Francis in MarchOne of Pell’s victims—now 34—said in a statement to AFP about the assault: “Like many survivors, I have experienced shame, loneliness, depression and struggle. It has taken me years to understand the impact upon my life.”Speculations about Pell’s “unreported crimes” began to surface in 2013, following the publishing of a report by a task force called Operation Tethering. In 2015, Australian police began investigating Pell.In December, a few days after the unreported verdict, the Vatican removed Pell and other cardinals from the council of advisers. Pope Francis has yet to break his silence about Pell’s conviction. Several media reports have suggested that Pell’s verdict may tarnish Pope Francis’s reputation because the pope had previously praised Pell for his “honesty” and appointed him as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy in 2014, ignoring the allegations of sexual abuse.Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Morocco March 30-31 at the request of King Mohammed VI. read more

Huawei Forecasts 30 billion Revenue Decrease in 2019

Rabat – Huawei’s founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei has said that the telecommunication company forecast a $30 billion decrease in revenue over the next few years. The prediction comes in the wake of President Trump’s executive order blacklisting Huawei in the US. The legislation prevents American mobile equipment makers from trading with the tech company. .“In the next two years, I think we will reduce our capacity, our revenue will be down by about $30 billion compared to the forecast, so our sales revenue this year and next year will be about $100 billion,” Ren Zhengfei said Monday during a panel discussion at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen. In 2018, Huawei’s revenue grew by 19.5%, surpassing $100 billion for the first time.Earlier this year the United States government accused Huawei of using international networks for espionage purposes. So far the evidence behind the accusation has not been made public.On 15 May 2019, President Trump signed an executive order banning American companies from trading with any foreign telecommunication providers named on a blacklist of companies thought to pose a threat to the US national security.Read also: Huawei Signs Deal with Russia, Escalating Tensions with the USTo comply with the ban, Google announced that they would no longer provide Huawei with pre-release access to Android software updates. Huawei users in China are already unable to use Google’s various services, such as Gmail, google maps, youtube, etc.Most recently Facebook group, which owns Instagram and Whatsapp, also announced that Huawei would no longer be authorized to pre-install the group’s applications on their devices.Despite the US blacklist, Russia’s MTS network operator, however, has announced the signing of a new contract with the Chinese telecommunication company to develop a 5G network over the coming year.Russia believe that Huawei pose no threat to national security and that the US allegations are false and unjust.The chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Kirill Dmitriev, has criticized the US stance, saying that they have failed to provide evidence that Huawei is a security risk. read more

The Latest Wisconsin governor to meet with Foxconn head

MADISON, Wis. — The Latest on Foxconn Technology Group and its Wisconsin project (all times local):10:20 a.m.Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is planning to meet with the head of Foxconn Technology Group for the first time, after saying the Taiwanese company was looking to make changes to its agreement with the state.Foxconn CEO Terry Gou met with President Donald Trump at the White House on Wednesday. Foxconn has repeatedly said it remains committed to investing $10 billion and employing 13,000 people in Wisconsin.Evers’ spokeswoman confirmed the planned meeting Thursday.But Evers has said he doesn’t think Foxconn will employ that many people because it’s building a smaller display screen manufacturing facility in Wisconsin than originally envisioned.Evers was a critic of the project when he ran for governor last year. The state’s head economic development official who brokered the current contract was also to meet with Gou and Evers on Thursday.___8:50 a.m.Foxconn Technology Group CEO Terry Gou has met with President Donald Trump to discuss the company’s ever-changing Wisconsin project.Foxconn confirmed the meeting on Thursday but offered few details on what was discussed. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers says Foxconn approached him about changing the state’s contract with the worldwide electronics leader.The current deal makes more than $4 billion in state and local tax credits available to Foxconn if it invests $9 billion and hires 13,000 people. But Foxconn has reduced the size of the display screen factory it plans to build and Evers says he thinks fewer people will be hired.Foxconn says Gou and Trump “discussed the latest updates and the positive progress” of the project, among other things. Gou announced last month he is running to be president of Taiwan.The Associated Press read more

Are retail jobs in a funk Its complicated

NEW YORK — The overall economy is adding jobs, but there’s one spot that appears to be in a funk: retail.Overall, U.S. employers added 263,000 jobs in April, according to the government data released Friday. The retail sector lost 12,000 jobs that same month.That decline wasn’t a blip; the sector has shed 49,100 jobs in the past 12 months despite the faster pace of economic growth.Retail job losses appear to reflect broader changes in the economy as more Americans have shifted their spending online and stores close after decades of overexpansion.But the government figures don’t tell the whole story. Government statisticians still haven’t caught up with the booming growth in e-commerce. In fact, jobs in areas like distribution warehouses where job growth is soaring are counted under the warehouse industry category, not retail. That method excludes 4 million retail jobs, or 20% of the retail industry, estimates Mark Mathews, vice-president of research development and industry analysis at the National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group.Retailers are also still struggling to find qualified workers. There were 840,000 openings for retail jobs at physical stores in February, more than double the number from February 2013, according to the most recent government figures.“People have extra money,” said Andy Challenger, vice-president at Challenger Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based global outplacement firm. “But the jobs in retail are really shifting away from the front of the store to the back like warehousing jobs.”Here are the top factors affecting retail job losses:SHIFT AWAY FROM PHYSICAL STORESIncreasingly, shoppers are spending more of their purchases online. That’s causing stores that haven’t been keeping up with shoppers’ shifting habits to either shrink their physical stores or shutter poor-performing ones.In February, Payless ShoeSource announced it was closing all of its 2,100 U.S. stores, making it one of the biggest store liquidations. Also accounting for a big chunk of store closures this year is children’s retailer Gymboree, which is closing its remaining 750 stores.As of last month, store closures this year have exceeded the total recorded for the full year 2018, says Coresight Research, a key global research and advisory firm. U.S. retailers have announced 6,150 store closures, and 2,671 store openings. That compares to 5,864 closures and 3,239 openings for the full year 2018.RISE OF THE ROBOTSRetailers, including Walmart and Target, are increasingly automating menial tasks for workers. Under pressure from Amazon, they are turning their physical stores into shipping hubs, speeding up deliveries and helping to defray costs.“Retailers are moving into things like artificial intelligence to boost productivity, and that’s creeping into stores and limiting job growth,” said Ken Perkins, president of RetailMetrics LLC, a research firm.Walmart, for instance, is rolling out robots to a cluster of stores that help keep tabs of what’s on and off the shelves and communicating that information to the automatic conveyor system that is backed up to truck bays. It is also testing computer vision to help manage the store.Workers at a number of retailers are using new apps on their hand-held devices to manage routine tasks like price changes on the spot.EXPERIENCES INSTEAD OF CLOTHESShoppers are continuing to focus more on experiences like spas and away from clothing. Aging boomers are also less interested in buying clothing as much as they used to.NPD Group, a market research group, estimates that as much as 40 per cent of shoppers bought experiences as gifts during the last holiday season, up from 25% just a few years ago.When shoppers do buy clothing, they tend to go online or increasingly focus on discount stores like T.J. Maxx. Department stores have cut 23,200 jobs in the past 12 months, according to the government data. Clothiers have let go of 23,300 workers during that same time period.GOVERNMENT LAGS BEHIND ECOMMERCEIf you work for a retailer but don’t work in a building where the retailing of goods is the principal activity, you don’t count as a retail employee.That’s because the Bureau of Labor Statistics determines the number of workers based on the main function of that site, says Mathews of the National Retail Federation. That misses the growth of hiring of workers at call centres, fulfilmentcentres and shipping sites. In fact, workers in the transportation and warehousing sector rose 11,100 in April and 176,200 in the past 12 months, according to the latest government data.“We are working to get around this,” Mathews said.___AP Economics Writer Josh Boak in Washington contributed to this report.______Follow Anne D’Innocenzio: D’Innocenzio, The Associated Press read more

Economic slowdown in rich countries could hurt poorer States UN reports

4 September 2008While developing countries’ economies are forecasted to expand by 6 per cent this year, that growth could potentially be checked by the slowdown in wealthier nations, according to a new report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Financial turmoil, soaring oil prices and likely tighter monetary policy in several nations augur poorly for the global economy both in 2008 and 2009, with the reach of the sub-prime mortgage crisis extending well beyond the United States which has contracted liquidity and credit worldwide.UNCTAD’s Trade and Development report for 2008 noted that output around the world is expected to grow by 3 per cent this year, down nearly one percentage point from last year. In developed countries, gross domestic product growth could shrink to half this rate.“By contrast, growth in developing countries as a group can be expected to remain quite robust, at more than 6 per cent, as a result of the relatively stable dynamics of domestic demand in a number of large developing economies,” the publication said.“However, possible restrictive monetary policy responses to increasing pressure on the overall price index from higher commodity prices could well lead to a further deceleration of growth in developed and developing countries alike.”To allow poorer nations to sustain their economic expansion, greater investment in “productive capacity” – the ability to diversify manufacturing – is needed to augment their reliance on primary commodities, UNCTAD said.Challenging theories that call for investment in developing countries to be drawn from mainly household savings and foreign capital, the report urges changes in domestic monetary policy and local financial systems to allow private companies to access cheaper financing.It also criticized the current system of global financial governance, noting that market discipline alone cannot curtail periodic episodes of “irrational exuberance,” where firms try to reap double-digit gains out of economies growing at a much slower pace, leading to situations requiring government bailouts.“The current international framework for monetary and exchange-rate policies offers opportunities for speculative activities that are highly profitable for a limited period of time, but ultimately destabilize the entire system,” the study said, calling for a review of divergent policies of central banks with a view to end global economic turbulence. read more

Humanitarian crisis worsens in north Yemen fighting UN reports

23 September 2009The humanitarian crisis in northern Yemen, where 150,000 people have been driven from their homes by fighting between Government and rebel forces, continues to worsen, with the lack of drinking water posing a particularly serious concern, the United Nations reported today. Given the very limited access to people affected by the conflict and the geographical spread of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in all four affected northern governorates, it has been very difficult to assess the full scope of displacement and provide sufficient relief, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.“Food rations have been pre-positioned at strategic points throughout northern Yemen and are sufficient to provide 60,000 beneficiaries with a monthly ration,” it added in its latest update. “In the hot weather conditions, the current lack of potable water is particularly a serious concern.”The $23.7 million Flash Appeal that was launched three weeks ago has still not received any funding, although some pledges have been recorded. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is procuring emergency shelter items for 35,000 IDPs, including 7,000 tents, 5,000 plastic sheets, 250 plastic rolls, 21,000 mattresses, 36,000 blankets and 5,000 kitchen sets. Since 12 September, a window of access has allowed Islamic Relief Yemen, the main partner of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in the region, to start the second cycle of food distributions in Hajjah governorate and by 16 September some 12,800 people had benefited from 188 metric tons of food.New families arrived in Hajjah from Sa’ada governorate on hearing that aid was being provided. These families have been added to the distribution lists.The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will triple water distribution in the IDP camp in Sa’ada, but additional funding is needed to construct separate toilets and washing facilities for men and women and ensure adequate water and sanitation services.The UN World Health Organization (WHO) has received surgical supplies from the Italian Government for 400 major surgical operations, as well as medical supplies for 20,000 IDPs for three months and diarrhoeal disease treatment for 1,500 victims of severe to moderate dehydration. While some international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were denied access to IDPs in Al-Jawf governorate, the Ministry of Health/WHO mobile teams managed to continue delivery of essential health care services to displaced persons in the area. read more

Five countries set to run unopposed for nonpermanent Security Council seats

14 October 2009The General Assembly is expected to elect Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria as non-permanent members of the Security Council for two-year terms starting on 1 January next year. The five countries are set to run unopposed in their respective regions when voting takes place tomorrow at United Nations Headquarters in New York. This would mark the first time since 2004 that there has been a Security Council election with no contested seats.Gabon and Nigeria have been endorsed as candidates by the African group and, if chosen, would succeed Burkina Faso and Libya. Brazil is set to replace Costa Rica in the Latin American and Caribbean category.In Eastern Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only declared candidate for the seat currently held by Croatia, while Lebanon won regional endorsement from the Asian group to succeed Viet Nam.Council elections are conducted by secret ballot in the General Assembly, and winning candidates requires a two-thirds majority of ballots of members present and voting. Formal balloting takes place even when there is only one declared candidate per available seat.The five countries chosen tomorrow will join Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda, whose terms on the 15-member body end on 31 December 2010. The five permanent members are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. read more

UN has benefitted from legacies of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt says Ban

Mr. Ban was addressing a gathering for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the US President’s former residence, the Roosevelt House in New York City, where he underlined his belief in the values and principles of the UN while drawing on his own childhood experiences.“I grew up in poverty in a country destroyed by war. It is now a major economy,” said Mr. Ban. “We Koreans owe this to the United Nations whose roots lie in this house. It is here that [FDR] developed his plan for an international organization to help preserve world peace and security.” The Secretary-General emphasized the UN’s continuing commitment to global peace, stability and development through its 16 missions around the world and its efforts to feed more than 90 million people in 73 countries. “We are the voice of the voiceless,” he continued. “The defenders of the defenceless.”Commenting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the global anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline, and his recent visit to the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in Seoul, Mr. Ban underscored his role in mobilizing the international community “to deliver on their promises to the world’s most vulnerable people.” He told the audience that if Mr. Roosevelt were alive today, he would also be working “hand-in-hand with the UN” to forge a new global deal on climate change. The Secretary-General also reflected on Eleanor Roosevelt’s “commitment to equal rights for women and men,” as he noted the creation of UN Women, the new UN agency for gender equality and women’s empowerment. “While FDR convalesced in this house, Eleanor was bringing key civil rights and human rights activists to meet him and raising awareness. After her husband’s death, Eleanor secured her own United Nations legacy.” Mr. Ban pointed to Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile and now head of UN Women, as a member of the growing ranks of senior UN officials “who are taking the spirit and example of Eleanor Roosevelt forward.” “I take inspiration from the legacies that Eleanor and Franklin Delano Roosevelt left to the United Nations. I am honoured to participate in the official opening of this home,” the Secretary-General concluded. “Let us hope it will inspire a new generation to devote themselves to international public service; to the work of the United Nations.” 15 November 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today declared that United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vision lives on in the United Nations Charter’s “collective commitment to peace and security, economic and social welfare, tolerance and fundamental human rights.” read more

International Criminal Court investigates Libya violence in response to UN request

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said today he is investigating alleged crimes against humanity committed in Libya, including by President Muammar Al-Qadhafi and members of his inner circle, following a request from the United Nations Security Council to probe the violent crackdown on protesters. “There will be no impunity in Libya,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo told a news briefing in The Hague, where the Court is based. “No one has authority to attack and massacre civilians.” The announcement comes just days after the Security Council asked the Court to look into the violent repression of protesters, in which more than 1,000 people are reported to have been killed and many more injured as Mr. Qadhafi’s loyalists opened fire on peaceful civilians demanding his ouster.It also comes amid efforts to address the growing humanitarian situation in Libya and on its borders. The UN humanitarian office estimates that some 180,000 people have fled the fighting in Libya so far. At UN Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convened a video and telephone conference call this morning with regional organizations and UN agencies to discuss the humanitarian situation. “The Secretary-General urgently appeals to the Libyan authorities to allow immediate and unimpeded access into Libya to determine humanitarian needs and provide assistance inside the country should it be required, including in the west,” UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters, adding that Mr. Ban intends to name a special envoy shortly.On the ICC investigation, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said the probe will look into several incidents that have occurred since 15 February in various towns and cities across Libya. “During the coming weeks, the Office [of the Prosecutor] will investigate who are the most responsible for the most serious crimes committed in Libya,” he stated. The Office has identified some individuals with de facto or formal authority on the security forces who allegedly committed the crimes, such as Mr. Qadhafi and his inner circle, including some of his sons. The Prosecutor also noted that there are people with formal authority who should pay attention to the crimes committed by their people because if they are not preventing, stopping and punishing these crimes, they could be responsible. They include the minister of foreign affairs and the head of the regime’s security and military intelligence, among others.“We’d like to use this opportunity to put them on notice. If forces under their command and control commit crimes, they could be criminally responsible,” he stated.The Office of the Prosecutor will present its evidence to the Court’s judges, who will then decide whether or not to issue arrest warrants.During this morning’s conference call, Mr. Ban and the other participants cited a strong need for urgent relief – food, water, sanitation and shelter – for the thousands on both sides of the Tunisian and Egyptian borders due to significant population movements, as well as the need to prepare for a further possible escalation of humanitarian needs should conditions deteriorate inside Libya. The UN and its partners are working closely with authorities in Egypt, Tunisia and also Niger to meet the basic needs of those who have fled from Libya, the vast majority of whom are migrant workers. But as the situation escalates, it is evident that a much larger response is required, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stressed.The UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported today that a ship chartered by the agency and carrying more than 1,000 metric tons of wheat flour to the Libyan port of Benghazi has returned to port in Malta without unloading its cargo due to security concerns. “We urgently call for safe humanitarian access to Libya,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. “This shows the scale of the challenge we face, especially if there is a need to ramp up food and other assistance in Libya.”The agency said that aerial bombardments have been reported outside Benghazi, and owners of cargo vessels are reluctant to send their ships into areas where crew members could be endangered or assets damaged. “We are exploring every possible humanitarian corridor to be prepared in case needs escalate,” Ms. Sheeran added. 3 March 2011The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said today he is investigating alleged crimes against humanity committed in Libya, including by President Muammar Al-Qadhafi and members of his inner circle, following a request from the United Nations Security Council to probe the violent crackdown on protesters. read more

Chinese storytelling tradition placed on UN list of intangible heritage in danger

23 November 2011A form of verse and prose storytelling from north-eastern China that has only five remaining masters was today placed on a United Nations List of Intangible Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, meeting this week in Bali, Indonesia, inscribed Hezhen Yimakan storytelling on the list as it is danger of disappearing, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported.Statistics indicate that while there were considered to be 20 outstanding Yimakan masters during the 1980s, now only five are capable of performing some cantos, or the main divisions in long poems.Narrated in the language of the Hezhen people, the storytelling consists of numerous independent episodes depicting tribal alliances and battles, including the defeat by local heroes of monsters and invaders.Yimakan performers traditionally improvise their stories without instrumental accompaniment, alternating between singing and speaking, and using different melodies to connote different characters and plots.The storytelling tradition is one of 18 dossiers that have been proposed for inscription this week of the List of Intangible Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, according to UNESCO, which manages the list. read more

Closing Bell TSX closes lower as eurozone recession deepens earnings drag down

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed lower Thursday as energy stocks backed off amid data that showed worsening economic conditions in Europe and earnings disappointments.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 12,721.79 -53.49 -0.42%S&P 500 — 1,521.38 +1.05 0.07%Dow — 13,973.39 -9.52 -0.07%Nasdaq — 3,198.66 +1.78 0.06%The S&P/TSX composite index fell 53.49 points to 12,721.79 while the TSX Venture Exchange was down 7.72 points to 1,196.56.The Canadian dollar was ahead 0.06 of a cent at 99.88 cents US.U.S. indexes were mixed after Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said the eurozone economy shrank by 0.6% in the final quarter of 2012 from the previous three-month period. The decline was bigger than the 0.4% drop expected by markets and represented the biggest fall since the first quarter of 2009 when the global economy was in its deepest recession since the Second World War.The Dow Jones industrials was off 9.52 points to 13,973.39 , the Nasdaq composite index was up 1.78 points to 3,198.66 and the S&P 500 was up 1.05 points to 1,521.38.The eurozone has now contracted for three straight quarters, weighed down by weak, debt-laden countries such as Greece and Spain, where governments have been aggressively increasing taxes and cutting spending.Especially worrisome was worsening conditions in Europe’s biggest economy. The German economy shrank by a quarterly rate of 0.6% in the fourth quarter as demand for its exports fell.“About a year ago… Germany looked pretty strong but what I was saying at that time was that, eventually the impacts of the rest of the eurozone will also hurt Germany at some point. And we’re seeing evidence of that,” said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Financial.On a positive note, he added that the worsening economic conditions could persuade Germany to do more to help their heavily-indebted neighbours.“Or on the other hand, they may say, we don’t have any more money to help out because we need to help our own economy.”There was also major acquisition activity in the U.S. Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and investment company 3G are buying food giant Heinz in a deal valued at $23.3 billion, excluding debt. Heinz shareholders will receive $72.50 in cash for each share of common stock they own, a 20% premium to Heinz’s closing price of $60.48 on Wednesday.The energy sector led decliners, down 1.6% while the March crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 30 cents to US$97.31 a barrel.Cenovus Energy posted a net loss of C$118 million or 16 cents per share, a big turnaround from the year-earlier profit of $266 million or 35 cents per share. Cash flow fell to $697 million or 92 cents per share, down from $851 million or $1.12 per share. Cenovus shares declined 81 cents to $31.79.Gas giant Encana Corp. reported a fourth-quarter loss of $80 million, an improvement over a shortfall of $476 million a year ago. Encana expects its oil and natural gas production in 2013 to be between 50,000 to 60,000 barrels per day and capital investment to be about $3 billion to $3.2 billion. But that’s below an earlier forecast of 60,000 to 70,000 bpd. And its previous target for capital investment had been $4 to $5 billion and its shares fell $1.28 or 6.57% to $18.20.Utilities also contributed to the poor TSX showing as Just Energy Group dropped 71 cents or 8.47% to $7.67. The stock has been under pressure since last Friday, with its stock plunging 13% that day after the natural gas and electricity retailer slashed its dividend, missed analyst revenue expectations, and announced that it wants to put in place a shareholder rights plan.The tech sector was the leading sector, about 1.25% with BlackBerry up $1.05 or 7.5% to C$15.05, a day after dropping more than eight% as the sheen continued to wear off from the company’s smartphone product launch two weeks ago. Shares had been negative earlier in the session when it was revealed that former CEO James Balsillie no longer owns a stake in the company.The rest of the sector was mixed with Constellation Software down $3.54 or 2.94% to $117.The gold sector was up about 0.4% as April bullion surrendered early gains and moved down $9.60 to US$1,635.50 an ounce, its lowest close since Aug. 20.Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) is cutting or delaying US$4 billion in previously budgeted capital spending and writing down the value of its copper business unit by US$4.2 billion after taxes. Toronto-based Barrick made the announcement as it posted a $3.06-billion net loss in the fourth quarter and its shares gained 72 cents to C$32.44.Kinross Gold Corp. reported a quarterly net loss of $2.99 billion, or $2.62 per share, compared with a net loss of $2.79 billion, or $2.45 per share in the year-earlier period. On an adjusted basis, Kinross reported net earnings of $276.5 million, or 24 cents per share, which beat analyst estimates by a penny and its shares gained 43 cents to C$8.34.The base metals sector was ahead 0.11% while copper for March delivery on the Nymex was unchanged at US$3.74 a pound. Turquoise Hill Resources gave back 13 cents to C$7.40.In other earnings news, Sun Life Financial reported after markets closed Wednesday that its quarterly earnings were $395 million, or 65 cents per share, compared with a loss of $525 million, or 90 cents per share, a year ago. Operating earnings, which excludes items that the company believes are not ongoing, came in at 76 cents per share, outdoing analyst expectations of 63 cents per share, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters. Its shares were down $1.14 to $28.86.In the U.S., General Motors said it made US$898 million or 54 cents a share in the latest quarter, up from $468 million in 2011. The fourth-quarter profit included billions in one-time accounting gains and losses in which the company came out $100 million ahead. Without it the company earned 48 cents per share. That was short of analyst estimates of 51 cents and GM stock declined 92 cents to $27.75.Here’s the news investors were watching today:RIM’s former co-CEO Jim Balsillie cuts his stake in BlackBerryWarren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, 3G Capital to buy Heinz for US$28-billion in the biggest deal in food industry historyBarrick Gold takes $4.2-billion hit as costs soar at Lumwana copper mineAmerican Airlines, US Airways announce $11B merger to create world’s biggest carrierON DECK FRIDAYG20 finance ministers and central bankers meet in Moscow ECONOMIC NEWSCANADA8:30 a.m.Manufacturing sales & orders (Dec): Economists expect a decline of 0.8% 9 a.m.Existing home sales MLS home price index UNITED STATES8:30 a.m.Empire State manufacturing survey: Economists expect a reading of -2 9 a.m.Foreign purchases of U.S. securities (Dec): Economists expect US$35-billion9:15 a.m.Industrial production and capacity utilization (Jan): Economists expect 0.2% rise in production with utilization of 74.8% 9:55 a.m.University of Michigan consumer sentiment index CORPORATE NEWSCANADARogers Communications Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 73¢ a share Telus Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 86¢ Brookfield Asset Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 29¢ read more

TSX Wall Street slide into the red on oil and disappointing data

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed with a slight loss Tuesday amid further volatility in oil prices, but damage was limited by a strong run-up in gold stocks.The S&P/TSX composite index declined 23.88 points to 14,640.04 on the second-last trading day of the year.The energy sector fell one per cent even as February crude in New York gained 51 cents to US$54.12 a barrel ahead of the release Wednesday of the latest U.S. inventory levels from the Department of Energy. Crude futures are down about 50% since their 2014 high of $107.26 in June amid rising production and lower demand as a result of slowing economies in Europe and China. The rout in prices has pushed the TSX energy sector down about 20% this year as traders try to gauge just how low prices can go.“It’s a gigantic game of chicken that is going on right now,” said Craig Jerusalim, a portfolio manager at CIBC Asset Management, adding that OPEC is trying to slow the trajectory of growth in North American supply.“The U.S. has gone from (production of) six million barrels to 10 million barrels in about four years and that pace has them scared.”He believes that oil touching $50 and then bouncing right back up is not going to be enough. Jerusalim thinks OPEC needs to keep pricing low for at least six months and he is looking for production, capital expenditures and rig counts to come down.Oilfield service companies have been a major casualty of the plunge in oil prices. Shares in Civeo Corp. (NYSE:CVEO), which provides accommodations for energy company workers mainly in the Canadian oilsands region and in Australia, cratered $4.35 or 52 per cent to US$3.92 as it announced that falling oil prices would negatively impact earnings in 2015. The company also suspended its dividend.The Canadian dollar rose 0.16 of a cent to 86.15 cents US.New York markets were in the red amid mixed data covering American house prices and consumer confidence.The Dow Jones industrials declined 55.16 points to 17,983.07, the Nasdaq was down 29.47 points to 4,777.44 and the S&P 500 index gave back 10.22 points to 2,080.35.The U.S. Case Schiller home price index rose by a greater than expected 0.76% on a seasonally adjusted basis in October. Economists had looked for a rise of 0.4%. The year-over-year rate eased to an almost on-consensus 4.5%.And the Conference Board’s U.S. consumer confidence index came in at 92.6 in December, up from a November read of 88.7. Economists figured confidence would improve due to plunging gasoline prices, faster job creation and higher stock prices and had expected a reading of 93.9.Elsewhere on the TSX, financials were also a drag, down 0.6% while industrials fell 0.55%.The gold sector was the leading advancer in Toronto, up about 3.7% as a weaker U.S. dollar helped push February bullion up $18.50 to US$1,200.40 an ounce.The base metals group climbed 1.45% as March copper edged up three cents to US$2.85 a pound. read more