Rabat- While the Atlas Lions were lamenting their unfortunate 0-1 defeat against Iran in their World Cup opening match, Iranians in Tehran spent all Friday night “celebrating like they had won the World Cup.”International news agency Agence France Press (AFP) stated that Iranians celebrated as if they had won this year’s World Cup.Many Iranians shared their happiness on social media platforms: Iranians all over Tehran celebrating like we’ve won the entire World Cup pic.twitter.com/7z1hdDBrra— Lily (@lilytaj5) June 16, 2018Iranians dancing and cheering in the streets after Iran won its first World Cup match against Morocco #iran #iranmorocco #worldcup #worldcup2018 #russia2018 #russia #tehran #valiasr #parkway #????? #????_?? #?????? #?????_????? #????? pic.twitter.com/JWAgxTJMel— Mehran Haghirian (@MehranHaghirian) June 15, 2018Live from Parkway, the most famous crossroads of Northern Tehran after Iran beat Morocco in its first 2018 World Cup match#iran #iranmorocco #worldcup #worldcup2018 #russia2018 #russia #tehran #valiasr #parkway #????? #????_?? #?????? #?????_????? #????? pic.twitter.com/nn8e9Sln3Y— Mehran Haghirian (@MehranHaghirian) June 15, 2018This is Iran: See the Iranian nation celebrate as Iran wins World Cup Opener against Morocco. (1/2) #Iran #WorldCup #Tehran #????? pic.twitter.com/wx5e7GUQ0R— Iran Military (@Iran_Military) June 16, 2018Earlier, Tehran authorities stopped the broadcast of the match in public spaces such as gardens and stadiums due to their frustration when none of their team players were able to score a goal, thanks to the Atlas Lions’ stalwart defence.The nerve-racking match had both teams and the spectators on edge as the two persistent teams battled to score a goal against the other, which didn’t happen until late in the game. Then came the added time and Morocco’s own goal scored by Aziz Bouhaddouz, making Iran the winner.Read Also: Iranian Football Players Comfort Bouhaddouz on Social MediaMorocco has not yet recovered from the ill-fated loss against Iran in its World Cup opener.Midfielder Noureddine Amrabat, who fell and slammed his head into the ground during the match, is currently suffering from a concussion and will not be participating in the training session for the match against Portugal on June 20.Read Also: Nordin Amrabat’s Head Injury Not Concerning, Says Medical StaffDuring the after-match press conference in St. Petersburg, head coach Hervé Renard expressed extreme disappointment with the result, saying that he would have “come to the conference disappointed” even if the game finished with a draw.
CALGARY — Four years after an oil price crash that’s been blamed for more than 40,000 oilpatch job cuts in Western Canada, stability is returning to the residential rental market.Apartment owners including Boardwalk REIT and Mainstreet Equity Corp., along with smaller operators and industry observers, say that people moving to the region, and generally lower unemployment rates on the Prairies are driving vacancy rates down and allowing rents to rise.Rental market strength is also being supported by weakness in the home-buying market — renters lack the confidence to buy a house given bad news in the oilpatch, rising interest rates and the federal “mortgage stress test” that makes it harder to borrow.“For many people out there, they might not be directly tied to the energy sector, but they’re concerned about it and if that sector slows and there’s no growth there, what does that mean for prospects for the entire city, for the entire province?” said Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist for the Calgary Real Estate Board.Earlier this month, the board reported that home sales in February were 10 per cent lower than in the same month last year and the average price was down 6.5 per cent, a trend Lurie expects to continue this year.In Edmonton, year-to-date sales for all residential categories through the first two months were down 11 per cent compared with last year and February average prices were down for both condos and single-family homes.Meanwhile, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. last week reported new housing starts fell 31 per cent across the Prairies in February compared with February 2017.By comparison, the rental market is a bright spot — in its annual rental report late last year, CMHC said vacancy rates fell from 7.5 per cent in 2017 to 5.5 per cent in 2018 in Alberta and from 9.3 per cent to 8.7 per cent in Saskatchewan.Both are a far cry from the overall national apartment vacancy rate of 2.4 per cent.“Calgary and Edmonton now have some of the most affordable rents in the entire country. Five or six years ago, we had the exact opposite situation, where our rents were one of the highest,” Sam Kolias, chairman and CEO of Boardwalk REIT, said in an interview.The landlord said affordability is the biggest factor in lower vacancy rates, pointing out that average rents for occupied apartments in the Boardwalk portfolio peaked at $1,199 per month in the third quarter of 2015, hit a low of about $1,075 in the summer of 2017, and are now back at $1,138.About 24,000 of the company’s 33,000 rental units are in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The rest are in Quebec and Ontario.The improved rent picture means there are fewer incentives being offered to tenants, but doesn’t yet justify building new properties, Kolias said.Raising rental rates is a lot harder than reducing them, says landlord Jim Rempel of Galactic Properties.In 2014, a typical one-bedroom suite in one of his three four-storey walk-ups in Calgary would rent for $1,125, he said. Under competitive pressure, the rate fell to under $800 and is now back up to about $915.“When the price of oil was US$100 (a barrel, in 2014), I could rent a place out in 24 hours or less,” he said. “Now, it takes me a month, a month and a half.”Rental rates fell off quickly after 2015 in Calgary, which was hardest hit by the oilpatch crash, and about a year later in Edmonton, said Mark Hawkins, owner of website RentFaster.ca.He said the current bounce back in rents in Alberta indicates the market has hit bottom and rents will likely continue to rise through the rest of the year.Mainstreet Equity Corp., which has about 12,200 rental units in Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan, reported its same-asset vacancy rate dropped to about six per cent in the last three months of 2018 from 11.3 per cent in the same period a year earlier, bumping up associated revenue by eight per cent.Founder and CEO Bob Dhillon said the crash of 2015 resulted in a surplus of condominium units on the Prairies that couldn’t be sold and wound up being put on the rental market.The result was higher vacancy rates, lower rents and higher costs as landlords paid more for advertising and apartment upgrades, while also being hit by higher property taxes and employee wages.“If (the market) is not balanced, it’s slowly getting to be balanced,” Dhillon said.“But I want to be very clear, balanced doesn’t mean the rent levels are the same as four years ago. It just means the bleeding has stopped.“Now we’ve got a new base, a new norm.” Follow @HealingSlowly on Twitter. Companies mentioned in this story: (TSX:MEQ, TSX:BEI)Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
Rabat – Moroccan authorities arrested a 24-year-old woman suspected of trafficking illegal drugs and psychotropic substances.The arrest, which took place on Tuesday, April 30, was based on information provided by the General Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DGST). The directorate stated in a press release that the police arrested the suspect at the Meknes train station. Read also: Morocco Bust Criminal Ring Involved in Hacking, Robbing International BanksThe suspect possessed a haul of 1002 pills of ecstasy-based drugs and two doses of cocaine. Further police investigations also led to the arrest of her husband, whom the police suspect to be the major drug dealer. The authorities have placed the suspects under police custody, awaiting further investigations into the circumstances surrounding the case.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In the winter of 2009, my wife and I found a house that looked like a great place to start our family, a three-bedroom in a hilly subdivision surrounded by dry brush just outside the Redding city limits.By that point, I’d covered wildfires for the Record Searchlight newspaper for three years. I’d seen fire after fire ignite during Shasta County’s blast-furnace summers in the brushy chaparral that dominates the landscape.In 2008, a freak early summer lightning storm ignited more than 86,500 acres in the area, prompting the evacuation of dozens of families. I stood in that very subdivision where we now wanted to live as residents watched a churning smoke plume on the other side the Sacramento River canyon. The fire didn’t jump the river that day.But as my wife, Cara, and I toured that same subdivision, I told her, “This neighbourhood is going to burn to the ground some day.”We bought the house anyway.The quiet streets, the running trails and the fishing opportunities minutes away in Lake Shasta outweighed the risk.How very Californian of me.If there’s one consistent thread in California’s history, it’s that we often ignore the profound risks that come with living in this big beautiful state — the earthquakes, the mudslides, the wildfires, the floods, the droughts and, yes, even the volcanoes.It’s been like that since our founding.Gov. Leland Stanford took a rowboat to his inauguration in January 1862 because Sacramento was swallowed by the same floodwaters that would turn the Central Valley into a vast inland sea stretching from Red Bluff to Bakersfield.Despite the billions we’ve spent on dams and levees, it’s only a matter of time before it happens again.“It’s still going to flood some day,” Jeffrey Mount, a watershed expert with the Public Policy Institute of California, told me a couple of wet winters ago after Hurricane Harvey. “There’s still going to be that rare large event, which will overwhelm us.”Half a million Sacramentans go about their lives largely oblivious to the threat.I grew up in Mt. Shasta, a small alpine community near the Oregon border. The city is named after the massive active volcano that looms above it. When Shasta inevitably erupts, lava, debris, ash and boiling steam and gases could wipe my hometown off the map.But, man, what a great place to grow up.When I was a boy, I would bike out to the meadows by my house. I’d spend hours fishing, barefooted up to my knees in creeks frigid from the melting snow pouring off my mountain’s glaciers.I’d like to live under Shasta’s shadow again some day. Never mind that my home would stand on ashy soil flecked with pumice and obsidian, reminders of the eruptions of centuries past. Never mind the charred marks on the big cedars and pines, scars from wildfires that burned through Siskiyou County decades ago. Never mind that my great aunt’s home was one of the few left standing in her neighbourhood after the Boles Fire burned through the Siskiyou County city of Weed in 2014, torching 157 homes.I get why more than 2.7 million Californians are living in places that could erupt in a catastrophic inferno any summer, or those who move to California even though we could build as many as 1.2 million new homes over the next 30 years in the areas with state’s highest fire risk .I get why they’re rebuilding Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove neighbourhood, which first burned by the Hanly Fire in 1964 before it burned again in 2017’s Tubbs Fire. And why they rebuilt Harbison Canyon in San Diego County after it was levelled by the Laguna Fire in 1970 and again by the Cedar Fire in 2003.I get why Cheri Skipper, whose Harbison Canyon home burned in the Cedar Fire, wanted nothing more than to move back in while it was being rebuilt, despite the trauma she endured and the anxiety that still has her obsessively looking for smoke and checking local fire-watcher websites.“All I wanted to do was to go home, put my head on my pillow and look out the patio and see my view,” she told me as she gazed out at the green hills festooned with wildflowers after recent rains. We both knew this summer the vegetation will be brittle and dry , her canyon a wind tunnel for the Santa Anas.What I don’t get is how surprised people are that these big, destructive fires keep happening.The “new normal” is what officials keep calling it, but last year’s “record breaking” 1.9 millions of acres burned wasn’t really a record at all. If anything, we’re approaching something closer to an “old normal.”UC Berkeley researchers estimate that prior to 1800, about 4.5 million acres of California burned in a typical year. That was before we started monkeying with our climate and infesting our wild places with non-native, fire-prone vegetation. We spent a century trying to put out every fire that popped up to protect the state’s lucrative timber stocks and the ever-expanding sprawl.Some environmentalists argue we should stop moving to these places and rebuilding them when they burn down. They tell cities to focus on infill and building up urban centres in a sustainable way. Stop encroaching on nature. Fair enough. That certainly is the safest alternative.But that’s not going to happen if California’s history is any guide. Plus, what do you do about the folks who already live in dangerous communities? Tell them they should move? Tell them firefighters aren’t going to try to save their homes?Californians aren’t totally oblivious to the dangers. There is an active debate over how much new development we should allow and where we should allow it. There’s common ground in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s and President Donald Trump’s executive orders to thin the forests after the Camp Fire. Of course, the devil is in the details. It remains unsettled how much logging, intentionally-set “prescribed” fires and other wildland management strategies California and the federal government will undertake.The reality, though, is there’s only so much that can be done when you live in a state that wants to burn.Before too long, before it’s too late, we’ve all got to have a clear-eyed understanding of the risks of living in the hundreds of lovely communities like Redding, Paradise, Malibu and Santa Rosa that have encroached into the forests and chaparral. The price you pay to live there is that in any fire season, you and your family could burn.Prepare accordingly.Adopt the mindset of J. Lopez, one of two firefighters I spoke to recently whose homes survived major wildfires burning in adjacent wildlands. They still chose to live there knowing they’ll almost certainly go through another one. That’s why they’re zealots about evacuation planning and minimizing the risk to their properties by clearing the vegetation around their homes.“On Sunday, I got up in the morning, and two minutes later I’m walking in the forest. How cool is that?” said Lopez, an assistant chief with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. “But it’s understanding what you’re moving into and embracing it. You’re not going to change it. Nature is always going to win.”It did in Redding.Last summer, I found myself driving through the neighbourhood where my wife and I had bought our first house. I was on assignment for The Sacramento Bee the morning after the Carr Fire and its infamous “firenado” roared through western Redding, burning 1,079 homes.Home after home was burned to wood skeletons along the streets where I once walked our puppy and pushed our girls in strollers. Just outside the subdivision, a woman and her two grandchildren burned to death.Out of sheer luck, our former home, which we had since sold after I changed newspaper jobs, was still standing.Despite the heartbreak and the terror and the loss, my old neighbourhood will rebuild, and the region will be a fire trap again as soon as the chaparral grows back. Yet, if I still lived in that neighbourhood, I’d almost certainly want to stay there. Those trails. That fishing. The peace and quiet. I miss them still.Ryan Sabalow, The Associated Press
BEIJING — The Latest on the tariffs battle between China and the United States (all times local):9 p.m.China has announced it is raising tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods in retaliation for the latest penalties on its exports announced by the Trump administration.The Finance Ministry said Monday the penalty duties of 5% to 25% on hundreds of U.S. products including batteries, spinach and coffee take effect June 1.That followed Trump’s increase Friday of duties on $200 billion of Chinese imports from 10% to 25% in a dispute over Beijing’s technology ambitions and trade surplus.___1:58 p.m.Companies are waiting to see how China will retaliate for President Donald Trump’s latest tariff hikes on Chinese imports while economists warned the escalating dispute could slow growth.Chinese officials gave no indication Monday what steps they might take after threatening “necessary countermeasures” for Trump’s penalties on $200 billion of Chinese goods, imposed Friday.Trade talks wrapped up later Friday in Washington without an agreement.Jake Parker, the vice-president of the U.S.-China Business Council, an industry group, said officials appeared to be studying the potential impact on China’s economy before deciding how to respond.Morgan Stanley economists said the tariff hike could trim China’s annual economic growth by 0.5 percentage points. They said that impact could grow if uncertainty prompts companies to cut jobs or postpone investment.The Associated Press
OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – It was another good month for Canada’s labour market.There were 27,000 new jobs added in May. Statistics Canada says this follows a strong increase in employment in April.“The unemployment rate in May was the lowest since comparable data became available in 1976,” the agency says. Job numbers grew by 453,000 compared with the same month a year ago.The unemployment rate fell to 5.4 per cent compared with 5.7 per cent in April as the number of people looking for work fell sharply.Economists on average had expected the addition of 8,000 jobs for the month and an unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.The better-than-expected increase in the number of jobs follows a record 106,500 jobs that were added in April.The increase in jobs was made up entirely of full-time employment as there was no change in the number of part-time jobs.Year-over-year average hourly wage growth for all employees, a key indicator monitored by the Bank of Canada ahead of its interest-rate decisions, 2.8 per cent in May, up from 2.5 per cent in April.Statistics Canada says employment rose in B.C., as well as in Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. A drop was seen in Newfoundland and Labrador as well as in Prince Edward Island, while there was little change in the rest of the country.In B.C., employment rose by 17,000 in May, primarily thanks to increases in “part-time work among core-aged people.”
23 April 2007At the request of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will withdraw its remaining two international staff members from Pyongyang early next month, but both will be able to facilitate an ongoing audit of the agency’s activities in the country, a UN spokesperson announced today. The two staff will leave the DPRK capital on 3 May. “They will proceed to Beijing and will be accessible to facilitate the audit,” Michele Montas told reporters in New York.The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has agreed to provide storage and support for its current office assets, as well as to make any necessary further payments on behalf of UNDP, said Ms. Montas, adding that all UNDP records are secured. UNDP’s programme in DPRK remains formally in suspension, and the agency will retain its lease on its Country Office building in Pyongyang until further notice. The agency announced the suspension last month, and said it would withdraw all but two of its international staff over the failure to implement conditions set up following reports that UN funds improperly went to the Government. These conditions included ending all hard currency payments and discontinuing sub-contracting of national staff via Government recruitment as of 1 March, as well as adjusting the content of current programmes to support sustainable human development goals.The DPRK has been subject to UN Security Council sanctions since October following its proclaimed nuclear test.The internal audit was triggered by press reports suggesting that the agency’s own audits raised concerns about payments being channelled to the Government. After the issue came to light in January, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon promised an external, system-wide probe of UN activities in the field, targeting as his first priority countries where hard currency transactions, independence of staff hiring and access to review local projects were an issue and beginning with the DPRK.The UN does not anticipate that the suspension of UNDP’s programme in DPRK and the departure of its staff will have an impact on the audit of other UN agencies in the country, Ms. Montas said.
17 March 2008The fourth round of talks on Western Sahara, bringing together representatives from Morocco and the Frente Polisario under United Nations auspices, got under way today on the outskirts of New York City, according to a UN spokesperson. The talks, held at the Greentree Estate in Manhasset on Long Island, also include representatives of neighbouring states, Algeria and Mauritania, and are facilitated by the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, Peter van Walsum. Following the third round of discussions this past January, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that while it was a positive sign that the two sides had committed to a process of negotiations, they remained far apart on substantive issues. He said the talks were limited largely to preliminary discussions on thematic subjects such as administration, competencies and organs, and the parties discussed but did not agree on any confidence-building measures. Mr. Ban noted, however, in a communiqué issued by Mr. van Walsum after the talks, that the two sides “agreed on the need to move the process into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations.” Last month Mr. van Walsum visited the region for in-depth consultations with the parties. The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been in the Territory since September 1991 to monitor the ceasefire between Morocco and the Frente Polisario.
19 June 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced that Côte d’Ivoire is eligible to receive help from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, set up two years ago to help countries emerging from conflict consolidate their gains and avoid slipping back into war. Mr. Ban’s decision follows a request for funding from the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to the West African country, Y. J. Choi, that is also backed by the Ivorian Government.“The country is now in a pivotal post-conflict phase,” with elections scheduled for November, and funding is therefore critical for ensuring that Côte d’Ivoire “continues on the path for peace,” said Carolyn McAskie, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support.Mr. Choi welcomed the announcement, saying the Fund can fill crucial gaps, “such as for the reintegration of former combatants or the pursuit and facilitation of political dialogue.”It is not the first time that the Fund has allocated spending to Côte d’Ivoire. It already funded an assistance package of $700,000 to support last year’s successful efforts of neighbouring Burkina Faso to broker a settlement between Ivorian political forces.UN officials have warned that although the security and political climate has improved since the signing of the Ouagadougou Agreement last year by the Government and the rebel Forces Nouvelles, the country is still fragile. Violent crimes remain persistently high, and there has been a lack of progress in disarming both the Forces Nouvelles and militia groups in the west.Since its creation in 2006, as part of reforms that led to the establishment of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, the Fund has exceeded its initial funding target of $250 million and has so far allocated $101 million for projects in Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and the Central African Republic (CAR) and for emergency projects and initiatives in Haiti and Africa.
24 September 2008Investments in the agriculture of developing countries should replace food aid as part of the reforms needed to face the challenges of this century, African presidents told the General Assembly on the second day of its annual high-level debate today. “We can no longer continue to apply 20th century solutions to the more complex problems of the 21st century,” Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said. “The moment has therefore arrived for an in-depth reform of the mechanism of cooperation for development.”President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso said the crisis of soaring food prices showed the irrelevance of current agricultural policies and the fragility of the system of production and trade.Meanwhile, Mozambican President Emilio Guebuza highlighted the importance of global cooperation to enhance agricultural productivity in developing countries by improving access to inputs and boosting investment in infrastructure to increase market access.For his part, President Bingu Wa Mutharika of Malawi pointed to the detrimental impacts of severe climate changes on food production, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, lamenting that little concrete international action has been taken on the issue.Mr. Wade advocated replacing financing measures that involved long and complicated procedures with investments based on direct assistance to beneficiaries, putting equipment, other agricultural input, and technical training at their disposal. “In contrast to traditional financing, this innovative partnership offers an immediate and credible response to the food crisis, the rural exodus and the troubling phenomenon of illegal immigration,” he said.He assailed the agricultural subsidies in rich countries, which “continue to poison international trade and seriously afflict the economy of developing countries, particularly in Africa.”Mr. Compaoré called for massive investment in rural areas, greater control of water and a more efficient distribution of seeds and fertilizers, citing a decrease in recent years both in the volume and effectiveness of development aid.He also called for international help in combating drug trafficking and the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.Mozambique’s President said the causes of the current global food crisis are myriad, and that countries must join forces to help poorer nations make the leap from “their current subsistence farming into commercial agriculture.”Mr. Guebuza noted that his country is home to natural resources that are favourable to mixed-farming.“However, the shortage of financial resources and the weak [banking network] in the rural zones, associated with the lack of infrastructures and technology to secure the development of a commercial agriculture, have not allowed us to scale up our production to the levels that could meet the food needs of our population,” he said.Mr. Mutharika, the Malawian leader, said that food production has been affected by climate events such as hurricanes, floods, droughts and desertification.“The high dependence on rain-fed agriculture, especially in developing sub-Saharan countries, has also placed such nations at the mercy of the vagaries of nature,” he said.Characterizing global food insecurity as a “collective challenge,” he called on the international community to increase investment in agriculture, especially food production.President Pedro Rodrigues Verona Pires of Cape Verde also underlined the need to boost agricultural production. “The food crisis has endangered hundreds of millions of people,” he told the Assembly. “It is clear that urgent action is needed to guarantee greater agricultural production able to satisfy present and future needs.“This goal requires the promotion of agricultural policies that are consistent with the needs of the situation, the participation of rich and technologically advanced states as well as the technical support of international organizations.“It demands that attention be paid to modernization, increased production and agricultural productivity in the affected countries and regions,” he added, citing his own country and Africa at large.Ghana’s President John Agyekum Kufuor said the various forms of economic and other assistance to developing countries need to better coordinated if the globally agreed targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are all to be achieved on time.“The whole idea of aid is to empower beneficiary countries to stand on their own feet to become effective partners in the global market, from which neither the rich nor poor countries can abstain, given the increasing inter-dependence of the world,” he said.
The financial crisis threatens to push more children – especially girls – into child labour, the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a new report.Despite falling numbers of children involved in child labour worldwide, the current economic turmoil could roll back those gains, according to the new study, entitled “Girls a Chance: Tackling child labour, a key to the future,” issued ahead of the World Day Against Child Labour to be celebrated on 12 June.Most recent estimates indicate that over 100 million girls are involved in child labour, with many exposed to its worst forms, according to the report.It also notes that the danger of girls being forced into labour is linked to evidence that families in many nations prefer boys when making decisions on children’s education.“Protecting girls – and all children – from child labour calls for integrated responses that include jobs for parents, and social protection measures that help them to keep both girls and boys in school,” said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. “Access to basic education and training for girls and boys must also be part of the solutions for the future.”Events will be held in 50 countries to celebrate the World Day through events music performances, conferences and other public events. 10 June 2009The financial crisis threatens to push more children – especially girls – into child labour, the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a new report.
The United Nations hopes to boost the participation of civil society in reaching disarmament goals, with the world body’s annual conference on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) set to kick off next week in Mexico City.This year’s gathering, entitled “For Peace and Development: Disarm Now,” will take place “at a time when the cost and dangers of nuclear weapons are mounting,” Kiyotaka Akasaka, Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, told reporters in New York today.Global military spending last year, he pointed out, reached $1.5 trillion, the equivalent of $200 for each person alive today. “This is untenable at a time when 1 billion people live on one dollar or less a day.”Disarmament goals are very broad, encompassing not only the total elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, but also limiting conventional arms, preventing the illicit trade in small arms, ridding the world of landmines and many other targets, Sergio Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said at the same briefing.He noted that there is “growing public awareness of the burdens and risks of large investments in weapons, especially the most deadly ones,” with thousands of nuclear weapons capable of wiping out entire cities remaining on high alert across the globe.“We believe that NGOs and civil society in general have a vital role to play in alleviating these dangers,” Mr. Duarte said, adding that the upcoming event “will provide participants with a very visible forum to convey their own ideas about how these challenges can be met.”Some 1,400 delegates, from over 70 countries and representing more than 350 NGOs, are expected to attend the 9-11 September conference, which will be addressed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams and Mayor of Hiroshima Tadayoshi Akiba are also among those who will take part in the meeting, which is being held outside of New York for the second time in its 62-year history.Last year, the conference was held at the headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, France. 4 September 2009The United Nations hopes to boost the participation of civil society in reaching disarmament goals, with the world body’s annual conference on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) set to kick off next week in Mexico City.
The head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has met with victims of recent storms in the Philippines, witnessing the damage wrought by the typhoon and subsequent floods and hearing first-hand accounts of the devastation.Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, yesterday toured communities in Pasig City, part of the Manila metropolitan area and one of the hardest-hit districts in the wake of Tropical Storm Ondoy (also known as Ketsana) late last month.About 300 Filipinos died and hundreds of thousands of others were displaced from their homes by the storm, which brought the equivalent of a year’s worth of rain in just 12 hours to some areas of Manila. Many families have had to seek temporary shelter in schools and other public buildings.“My heart goes out to the families I met today, who now have no home but the corner of a school classroom,” Ms. Veneman said, noting that she was encouraged by news that many children are starting to return to school classes.One of the people the UNICEF chief met was Rossana Balboa, a 40-year-old mother who is staying in a classroom of a local school with her family and five other families.“It’s been very difficult,” she told Ms. Veneman. “My husband is sick and because of the flood he doesn’t work, so we don’t have money for medicines.”UNICEF has provided authorities in Pasig City and other neighbourhoods with family kits containing such items as water cans, blankets, mosquito nets and sleeping mats. Water and hygiene kits are also being issued to ensure that families have clean water for drinking and cooking.UN agencies have appealed for $74 million to help victims recover from both Ondoy and the more recent Typhoon Parma, which struck more rural areas of the northern Philippines when it made landfall in recent days.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the region continues to be beset by floods and mudslides as a result of the latest intense rains, which have exacerbated the problems caused by Ondoy.Yesterday Ms. Veneman also met with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, President of the Philippines, to discuss how UNICEF can best assist authorities provide emergency relief to flood victims.John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, will arrive in the Philippines on Monday for a two-day visit of his own to meet with senior officials and review the emergency response. 9 October 2009The head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has met with victims of recent storms in the Philippines, witnessing the damage wrought by the typhoon and subsequent floods and hearing first-hand accounts of the devastation.
23 March 2010Women’s empowerment in the workplace and the wider economy is at the top of the agenda as the Deputy Secretary-General heads to Denmark for the first leg of a two-nation European visit. Asha-Rose Migiro will be in Copenhagen tomorrow to address an international conference examining progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) focused on gender equality, which calls for the elimination of educational disparities between girls and boys.The conference is charged with devising recommendations for September’s high-level event at United Nations Headquarters in New York in which world leaders will gather to assess what needs to be done to try to attain the MDGs by their target date of 2015.Earlier this month the Deputy Secretary-General noted at a UN meeting that women and girls “still face discrimination and disadvantage socially, economically and politically,” and she called for stepped-up action to help women realize their rights.While in Copenhagen this week Ms. Migiro will also hold meetings with senior Government officials and visit a key warehouse for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that is based in the Danish capital, according to information released by a UN spokesperson today.The Deputy Secretary-General then travels to Valencia, Spain, to deliver the opening address this weekend at a two-day European Union event about women’s empowerment. That meeting will consider economic development, education, and sexual and reproductive health.Ms. Migiro will also hold bilateral discussions with Spanish Government officials and other dignitaries attending the Valencia gathering.
24 April 2010The top United Nations official in the Darfur region of western Sudan, who is visiting Saudi Arabia, today had talks with the chief executive of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) during which the two officials pledged to strengthen the relationship between the two bodies. Ibrahim Gambari, the Joint Special Representative of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and OIC Secretary-General, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, agreed to forge closer cooperation particularly in the field of early recovery and development in Darfur, during their meeting in Jeddah.Mr. Gambari reiterated UNAMID’s willingness to assist the OIC in implementing its projects in Darfur.UNAMIDis tasked with keeping the peace in Darfur, where a seven-year conflict between the Government and rebels has left an estimated 300,000 people dead and driven 2.7 million others from their homes.
The United Nations refugee agency today warned that access for humanitarian organizations striving to continue to assist people affected the political unrest in Côte d’Ivoire’s commercial capital, Abidjan, and other parts of the country is shrinking rapidly amid worsening insecurity.In Abidjan, the estimated number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has exceeded 200,000, most of them former residents of the northern suburb of Abobo, where fighting has raged in recent days, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).The West African country has been beset by political uncertainty, with factional fighting and other forms of violence flaring up in Abidjan and the western region, since incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo refused to leave office after he was defeated by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara in a presidential election held last November, whose result was certified by the UN.The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, meanwhile, urged Ivorian authorities to immediately halt inter-ethnic violence and called for an immediate investigation into reported crimes to bring perpetrators to justice, and provide redress to the victims in line with international human rights standards.Many of the IDPs in Abidjan have moved in with relatives and friends, but large numbers of people have sought temporary shelter in other places around the city, including churches and other communal buildings. Those in temporary shelters are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva.“UNHCR is seeking access to these vulnerable individuals, including by working through NGOs [non-governmental organizations] that we have been coordinating with, but humanitarian space in Abidjan as elsewhere in Côte d’Ivoire is being squeezed hard,” she said.“Large numbers of refugees from Liberia, who are unable to repatriate, have taken refuge in the UNHCR compound in Abidjan since Monday,” she added.In Abobo, whose population is estimated at about 1.5 million people, mobile telephone and television transmitters were damaged during the recent fighting, disrupting communications.“We are still very concerned about a group of 60 families trapped inside a church and without proper food, water, or sanitation, and we have appealed to combatants for these people to be let out,” said Ms. Fleming.The insecurity has also spread to the Deux Plauteaux, Cocody, and Koumassi neighbourhoods and the business district of Le Plateau, she said. “We are seeing increasing numbers of roadblocks,” she added.Heavy fighting has also erupted in the west of the country, around the towns of Duékoué and Blolequin, about 90 kilometres further south. “We estimate that there are currently around 70,000 displaced people in the west and we continue to see large numbers of people crossing into Liberia,” said Ms. Fleming.In eastern Liberia, UNHCR has registered some 40,000 refugees since November. An estimated 32,800 other people have arrived since 24 February, putting local communities and the Liberian authorities under considerable strain. Host communities and refugees are in need of food, but poor roads continue to make it difficult to get aid to those in need.Meanwhile, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, said relief agencies are revising the estimates of the funds required to respond to the Ivorian crisis in the light of the rising numbers of refugees and IDPs. Humanitarian agencies initially requested $87 million, but only $15 million has been provided. “I urge donors to support the humanitarian response in Cote d’Ivoire and in Liberia,” said Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, at a news conference in New York.In a decision made in Geneva under its early warning and urgent action procedure, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, underscored its concern about “reports of the seriously declining human rights and humanitarian situation in Cote d’Ivoire, including ethnic tensions, incitement to ethnic violence, xenophobia, religious and ethnic discrimination.”The Committee deplored “that the political stalemate that followed the proclamation of presidential election results continues to be marked by a number of serious and escalating human rights and humanitarian violations across the country,” the UN expert body said in a press release.Violations include ethnic clashes that have resulted in deaths, numerous injured people, destruction of property, and the displacement of population inside and outside the country, the Committee added.The Committee also called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to continue drawing the attention of the Security Council to the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, which “could evolve into a threat to international peace and security, along with extended violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”Cote 4 March 2011The United Nations refugee agency today warned that access for humanitarian organizations striving to continue to assist people affected the political unrest in Côte d’Ivoire’s commercial capital, Abidjan, and other parts of the country is shrinking rapidly amid worsening insecurity.
Yesterday the Board of Pardons and Paroles in the state of Georgia declined clemency to Mr. Davis, 42, who is reportedly set to be executed by lethal injection at 7 p.m. local time for the 1989 shooting death of a police officer.“Not only do we urgently appeal to the Government of the United States and the state of Georgia to find a way to stop the scheduled execution, but we believe that serious consideration should be given to commuting the sentence,” the experts stated. The experts – the UN Special Rapporteur on arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns; the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul; and the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Méndez – deplored that the case mainly relied on the testimonies of witnesses which contained “serious” inconsistencies. Many of the witnesses affirmed that they had been pressured or coerced into testifying against Mr. Davis, or recanted or changed their testimony, noted a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). “We recall that the death penalty may only be imposed when the guilt of the person charged is based upon clear and convincing evidence, leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts,” the experts stressed. They reminded the US Government of its obligation to ensure that anyone under its jurisdiction receives a fair trial, as required under article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). “Given the irreversible nature of the death penalty, it is crucial that fair trial standards are fully respected in all judicial proceedings related to offences punishable with the death penalty,” said the experts, who all report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity. 21 September 2011Three independent United Nations human rights experts have called on the United States Government to stop the execution scheduled for later today of Troy Davis, amid concerns that he did not receive a fair trial.
13 December 2011A new report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on labour migration from Tajikistan shows that many children left behind are exposed to bullying and suffer from depression as well as increased aggression and rebellion. The report, released today, looks at the impact on health, education, well-being and economic activity of labour migration in Tajikistan, where dramatic social and economic changes since the end of the Soviet Union and national independence have led to widespread migration.Remittances from Tajik migrants living in other countries have become vital to boosting economic growth and reducing poverty, UNICEF said, noting in a press release that the report sheds light on many of the downsides of migration.A third of migrant families interviewed for the report describe the overall impact as “negative,” and almost the same amount are “neutral,” with just over a third “very positive” or “positive.”Some 48 per cent of non-migrant households also describe the impact as negative, with abandoned family members back in Tajikistan among those least likely to see a positive impact.“A significant number” of migrant parents also say they are unhappy about having to migrate, despite the additional earnings they usually acquire in another country, which helps to pay for improved health care, education, nutrition and housing.Many children in the study were found to have been strongly affected by their parents’ migration, exhibiting symptoms of depression, withdrawal, increased aggression and greater rebelliousness.The children were also more likely to exposed to bullying because of the lack of protective parental figures and teased by others as “forgotten.”Laylee Moshiri, UNICEF’s representative in Tajikistan, said the report’s policy recommendations are aimed at lessening the social impact of migration on children left behind.
WINNIPEG — The axe is swinging monthly at the Canadian Wheat Board as the agency moves to cut about three-quarters of its staff after losing its monopoly over western wheat and barley sales.“We indicated right from the beginning of the planning process that the Canadian Wheat Board would be a much smaller entity, would need to right-size its staff complement … now that CWB no longer markets all the wheat and barley from western Canada,” spokesperson Maureen Fitzhenry said Wednesday.Fitzhenry said jobs are being cut every month. The number of employees will be down to 288 by the end of May and will drop to about 100 by the end of the year. There were 430 people on the payroll, mainly at the headquarters in Winnipeg, at the beginning of 2011.[np-related]The cuts follow the federal government’s decision last year to make the government-backed but farmer-controlled agency a voluntary route for producers, ending a six-decade-long monopoly.The move divided the farming community. Some producers said they deserve the right to seek higher prices on the open market, as their counterparts in Eastern Canada do. Others have predicted prices will drop as producers compete with each other instead of banding together under the wheat board.The controversy spawned several court battles led by pro-monopoly producers and former directors of the wheat board who were elected by farmers.A group called the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board has filed a class-action lawsuit in Federal Court, asking the court to restore the board and give farmers $17-billion in damages. There is also a lawsuit filed by wheat board supporters last month, which seeks $15.4-billion in damages.Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has criticized the lawsuits and has urged critics to let farmers move on and prepare for the new crop year, which starts Aug. 1.
TORONTO — Three months after expanding its millennial-targeted robo-adviser service to the United States, Wealthsimple is now seeking to capture an older demographic south of the border due to the burden of student loan debt there.CEO Michael Katchen said while he’s pleased with Wealthsimple’s early success in the U.S, he doesn’t expect to see 25- to 35-year-olds — the company’s key adopters in Canada — signing up for its online investment management services in large numbers in the U.S. any time soon.“If I said 25 to 35 in Canada has really been a sweet spot for us, (it is) maybe 35 to 45 in the U.S.,” he said.Still, he added, since co-founding Toronto-based Wealthsimple about two-and-a-half years ago, “our pick up in the U.S. has actually been much faster than it ever was in Canada when we first launched the business.”“In terms of new client numbers, we’re seeing growth that took us 18 months to get to in the Canadian business in just three months in the States,” he said, declining to specify how many clients and assets Wealthsimple has under management in the United States. Combined, Wealthsimple has over $750 million in assets under administration and approximately 30,000 clients in Canada and the U.S.Although student loan debt is an issue in Canada, Katchen said Wealthsimple’s anecdotal experience in the U.S. shows that unlike in Canada it is a barrier to investing.“The reaction in the U.S. is often, ‘Oh amazing service, sounds great, but I’ve got 10 more years of paying down my student debt before I can even think about investing,”‘ he said.Wealthsimple in part attributes the reception to the higher cost of education in the U.S., meaning young Americans are graduating with more debt, making it harder for them to start investing.The average Canadian student graduated with over $28,000 in debt in 2015, according to the Canadian Federation of Students. Meanwhile the average U.S. student debt for the class of 2016 is US$37,712, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.