Moroccan Govt Approves MAD 155 Billion Investments to Create 4k Direct

Rabat – The Inter-Ministerial Committee for Investment approved, on Wednesday, thirty-two investment draft agreements for an amount of 15.5 billion dirhams.These investments are expected to generate over 4,000 direct and stable jobs, said economy and finance minister Mohamed Boussaid in a statement to the press before the committee’s meeting, held in Rabat under the chairmanship of head of government Abdelilah Benkirane.The industry sector has the biggest share which is 11.76 billion dirhams, said Boussaid, underlining that this is a qualitative transformation brought about by the national industrial development policy. The 2015 appropriation bill provides for measures to boost investment, mainly reducing, from 250 to 100 million dirhams, the threshold of investment meant for purchasing importation equipment and material benefiting from tax exemption, and extending the deadline, from 24 to 36 months, of tax exemption on value added in relation with the acquisition of investment goods at the domestic level and for importation, he said.The Inter-Ministerial Committee for Investment had approved, in 2013, forty investment draft agreements for an amount of 42 billion dirhams. read more

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Kabyle Leaders Hails Moroccos Plea for Kabylie

Paris – A Kabyle leader hailed Morocco’s plea in favor of the self-determination of the Kabylie region in Algeria, during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the UN creation in New York.“I am glad to hear this plea since the main goal of the Kabylie’s provisional government (GPK) is to put the issue of Kabylie’s sovereignty on the UN’s table,” said GPK’s second in command Lyazid Abid in a response on Tuesday on Website “tamurt.info“.Abid noted that the cause of Kabylie is very legitimate and the recognition of the GPK is logical.Either the right of self-determination is available for all peoples, or no one gets it, he added. Last Friday, the deputy permanent representative of Morocco’s permanent mission to the UN Abderrazzak Laassel said that “it is deplorable that the legitimate aspirations of Kabylie’s native people are muzzled, their human rights are breached on a daily basis and their legitimate representatives and leaders are persecuted and exiled.”With Map read more

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Rwandan President Offers Official Welcome to King Mohammed VI in Kigali

Kigali – President of the Republic of Rwanda Paul Kagamé offered, Wednesday at the headquarters of the Presidency in Kigali, an official reception in honor of King Mohammed VI.Upon his arrival at the headquarters of the Presidency of the Republic, the Sovereign was welcomed by President Paul Kagamé.Subsequently, the two Heads of State got to the grandstand to greet the national colors to the sound of national anthems of the two countries. After reviewing a detachment of the Rwandan Armed Forces who made the honors, King Mohammed VI was greeted by Foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, Natural Resources minister, Vincent Biruta, minister in the Office of the President, Venantie Tugireyezu, Finance and Economic Planning minister, Claver Gatete, and Justice minister, Johnston Busingye.The King, who is accompanied during this official visit by Prince Moulay Ismail, was also greeted by minister of Youth, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Geraldine Mukeshimana, minister of Sports and Culture, Julienne Uwacu, minister of State in charge of Economic Planning, Uzziel Ndagijimana, minister of State in charge of Transport, Alexis Nzahabwanimana, as well as by members of the diplomatic corps accredited in Kigali and several senior civilian and military Rwandan officials.The President of the Republic of Rwanda was greeted by members of the official delegation accompanying the King, including Fouad Ali El Himma and Yassir Znagui, Interior minister, Mohamed Hassad, Foreign minister, Salaheddine Mezouar, Endowments and Islamic Affairs minister, Ahmed Toufiq.The delegation also includes Economy and Finance minister, Mohamed Boussaid, Agriculture and Fisheries minister, Aziz Akhannouch, minister delegate to the Foreign minister, Nasser Bourita, and several civil and military personalities.King Mohammed VI arrived Tuesday night in Kigali for an official visit to Rwanda, the first stage of a royal tour that will also lead the Sovereign to Tanzania and Ethiopia. read more

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Moroccon Health Budget below Half of Needs Minister

Rabat – Minister of Health Houcine El Ouardi has expressed his concern about the budget allocated to his ministry, which is far below World Health Organization (WHO) standards.At MAD 14.3 billion, the Ministry of Health’s budget has not changed for years, El Ouardi said in a press conference held this Wednesday in Rabat.“According to [the] WHO, every country that wishes to upgrade its health sector must reserve 12% of the state budget for health. Ours provides only 5.69% of the general budget,” he pointed out during the presentation of his program for the period 2017-2021. Despite the poor figures, El Ouardi said that the ministry has been trying to meet the people’s needs the best it can for years.Out of the MAD 14.3 billion, “54% is reserved for the staff’s salaries, which means that we have less than half for the investment,” lamented the minister, stating that the Ministry is suffering from a sever shortage of human resources, as the number of assignments dedicated to the sector do not exceed 1,500 posts in the current year.El Ouardi stressed the immense lack of human resources suffered by Moroccan hospitals, nothing that the country has 14 well-equipped hospitals that are idle due to shortage of staff. According to the minister, this issue constitutes one the health department’s most critical problems.“Since I’ve been appointed as Minister, I have raised the issue of human resources and working conditions many times,” stated El Ouardi, calling for an open debate on the issue with the Head of the Government. He stressed that “this issue must be addressed urgently. We cannot keep going like this.”On a brighter note, the minister highlighted the government’s achievements during the 2012-2016 mandate, from reducing the price of 3,600 drugs, to developing and promoting human organ transplantation.El Ouardi also noted that during his previous mandate, he worked on developing and strengthening the sector, as well as expanding health coverage and increase medical assistance financial coverage by 22 percent. read more

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Qatar Airways Arranges Two Flights for Moroccan Passengers stranded in Doha

Rabat – Several Moroccan passengers were stranded in transit at Qatar’s international airport, Hamad, due to the closure of airspace and the suspension of flights between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.The Moroccan Embassy in Doha said that airport authorities organized two private flights to Muscat and Kuwait, in coordination with Qatar Airways, to carry the Moroccan passengers, who were on their way to Al Madinah Al Munawara and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) to perform Umrah.The embassy added that airport authorities provided some of the stranded passengers with available rooms, while others were reportedly well-served during their stopover at the airport halls. On Monday, six Arab countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates severed diplomatic ties with Qatar following the hacking of Qatar News Agency’s website last May and the publication of statements attributed to the Emir of Qatar.In the statements, which FBI confirmed were the result of a hacking operation conducted by Russian hackers, the Emir of Qatar purportedly criticized US foreign policy in the region and highlighted the role that Iran plays to ensure stability in the region.Qatar’s government issues a statement 45 minutes after the publication of the statements and stressed they were fake and country’s ruler had never made them. read more

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Iraq Announces End of ISIS Caliphate Captures of Historic Mosque in

By Chaimaa ZahaarRabat – The Iraqi army said on Thursday that it had seized the site of the great Al Nouri mosque in the old city of Mosul, where the leader of the Islamic terrorist group (ISIS) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had proclaimed a caliphate in 2014.“Their mythical state has fallen,” Iraqi national television spokesman of the Iraqi army, General Yahia Rassoul, said of the caliphate. The medieval Al Nouri mosque, with its inclined minaret, was destroyed by the Islamic state on 22 June. The black flag of the jihadists had floated on top of Al Hadba, the lean minaret, since June 2014. The IA now controls only a portion of the old city of Mosul, which was its “capital” in Iraq, and the capture of the Al Nouri Mosque is a symbolic victory for the Iraqi army. The mosque takes its name from Nuruddin al Zanki, a nobleman who had fought the Crusaders, and was erected in 1172-1173.The Iraqi authorities expect that the fighting in Mosul will end in the days to come, as the Islamic state’s area is shrinking. The army’s progression is no less difficult because the last jihadists, who last week were at most 350 according to Baghdad, mingled with the civilian population and carried out suicide operations to delay their fall.The anti-terrorist unit seized the site of the mosque in a “lightning operation,” said a commander of the elite units on national television. Civilians living nearby were evacuated in recent days via corridors. read more

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Grassroots tech group takes startup approach to fight Brexit

LONDON — Software engineers, entrepreneurs and product managers huddle in small groups, brainstorming ideas and scrawling thoughts onto Post-it Notes on a wall. The project leader exhorts them to “think of products around these themes.”It’s not a startup but a grassroots band of volunteers from London’s tech industry developing websites to prevent Brexit, Britain’s departure from the European Union that has fallen into complete disarray. They hope to put public pressure on politicians to give people a second vote. While the group is small, their engagement in politics underscores the concerns among businesses and entrepreneurs who stand to suffer from tariffs and border checks.“I’ve never been a political person before, really,” said German-born venture capitalist Andreas Cser. A longtime London resident, he joined the group, Tech For U.K., after he found Brexit made Britain less welcoming for foreigners and exposed the “incompetence and brazen political hypocrisy” of its political leaders.Cser, whose firm, Automat Ventures, invests in companies that use artificial intelligence, helped connect Tech For U.K. to computer scientists. “What I know about is how companies develop tech products,” and how they scale them up, he said.Since its launch last year, Tech For U.K. has rolled out a dozen mobile-friendly websites. They help users automatically send anti-Brexit messages by postcard or voicemail to their politicians or spotlight the EU’s benefits to Britain. Volunteers donate their time and the group also gets limited funding from anti-Brexit campaign group Best For Britain, which vets the digital tools before they go live. The latest, launched on the weekend, lets Facebook and Instagram users add an augmented reality “Stop Brexit” button to photos and videos.Britain was due to depart the EU on Friday but the process has been delayed after Parliament rejected the Brexit deal Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the EU. If she gets it passed in another potential vote this week, Britain could leave by May 22. If not, it has until April 12 to indicate to the EU a “new way forward.”One of the group’s goals is to rally support for a second referendum on Brexit. There’s no majority for that in Parliament, but a big march in London on Saturday to demand one suggests momentum is growing. A retired academic’s online petition went viral last week, receiving over 5.6 million signatures in favour of revoking Brexit altogether.With many outcomes to Brexit still open, Tech for U.K.’s aim is to persuade those on the fence about the benefits of EU membership and give people who are opposed to leaving a way to express their views.“At the end of the day, it’s for those who might change their mind,” said Kiyana Katebi, founder of an IT consulting firm.Katebi helped develop the group’s first site, MyEU.uk , which shows people EU-funded projects in their neighbourhood based on their post code. The site had around 100,000 visitors in the first two days after its September launch.Another site, Finalsay.app , let British residents leave a voice message for their parliamentary representative with their “final say” against Brexit. Hey MP! lets people automatically send postcards to their lawmaker asking for another vote.It Costs EU reveals the portion of income tax going to the bloc while EU Worth It shows the amount of EU funding British districts receive, to counter claims Brits pay too much to the EU.Can I Move To Barcelona simply explains how Brits can still move to the Spanish city, or dozens of other EU destinations, under the bloc’s freedom of movement rules — a benefit that likely ends across the British border if Brexit happens.The group, while small, says they’ve have had an impact on sentiment but didn’t provide any numbers on site traffic or messages sent.“The point is to ask people the question: Do they really want this?” and then show them how Brexit will affect them, said Mike Butcher, Tech For U.K.’s co-founder.About 200-300 people have joined the group, Butcher said. They work on the projects on evenings and weekends and collaborate remotely.The group is using technology to counter what they see as misinformation surrounding Britain’s EU membership that may have contributed to the 2016 referendum vote result to leave.Since the referendum, Brexit opponents have raised concerns about the influence of Russian meddling and the role of social-media advertising using data harvested from Facebook.“One of the reasons that we lost in 2016 was that (the pro-Brexit camp’s) digital game was far superior to the people fighting to stay in. We’re playing catch-up,” said Eloise Todd, CEO of Best For Britain.On the other side of the argument, pro-Brexit groups flourish online, with names such as Get Britain Out, Stand Up 4 Brexit and Leavers of Britain using social media to promote their views.More than 1,500 U.K.-based tech executives signed Tech For U.K.’s open letter last year to Prime Minister May, warning that Brexit risks making it harder to hire tech talent and crimping funding from Europe. But for many volunteers, Brexit’s impact on the country transcends those concerns.At one of the group’s recent weekly evening meetups, in a tech company’s basement meeting room in Central London, the crowd of about 20 split into three groups.They ran through ideas and themes. Would Brexit make it harder for European musicians to play at Britain’s Glastonbury music festival? Could they build a site to get people in Ireland to write letters to relatives in Britain? Would microbreweries still be able to get imported hops?“We just need to think about various members of the public, what might tick their buttons,” startup founder James Tabor told his group. “This is about getting into the minds of the general public.”____James Brooks in London contributed to this report.____Follow Kelvin Chan at www.twitter.com/chanmanKelvin Chan, The Associated Press read more

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FAA expects Boeing update for troubled jet in coming weeks

U.S. aviation regulators say Boeing needs more time to finish changes in a flight-control system suspected of playing a role in two deadly crashes.The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it anticipates Boeing’s final software improvements for 737 Max airliners “in the coming weeks.”Boeing was expected to complete the work last week, but FAA says the company needs more time to make sure it has identified and addressed all issues.The FAA says once it gets Boeing’s completed proposal, it will conduct a rigorous safety review.The planes have been grounded around the world since mid-March.Boeing is making changes in an automated system that is designed to prevent the plane’s nose from rising, which can lead to a dangerous aerodynamic stall. Max crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people.The Associated Press read more

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Moroccan Woman Falls From a Mountain at Oued Kanar Park Near

Rabat – A Moroccan activist as young as 21-year-old, Yousra Kourki, died immediately after falling from a high summit of Oued el Kanar park, province of Chefchaouen.The tragedy happened on the evening of Sunday, July 28, when Kourki fell after trying to cross a dangerous passage. She sustained severe injuries to her spinal cord which caused her immediate death, according to several Facebook posts.The posts also state that Kourki’s body was recovered by passersby after the civil protection’s delayed arrival. Kourki was transferred to a Health Center in Stihat where she was pronounced dead due to her injuries. The deceased was a student of the Higher International Institute of Tourism of Tangier (ISITT) and an activist who dedicated her life to sharing knowledge and fighting for the neediest people, according to Facebook posts.She was also part of Tangier’s Young Leaders Council and the Choualla Association for Education and Culture.Internet users stated that the Oued el Knar park lacks basic security measures. read more

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Quebecs regulator says Bombardier exec compensation plan falls within the law

Companies in this story: (TSX:BBD.B)The Canadian Press MONTREAL — Quebec’s financial market regulator has found that Bombardier Inc. did not breach securities law in implementing its executive compensation plan.The Autorite des marches financiers says the plane-and-train maker’s roll-out of its Automatic Stock Disposition Plan likely incurred a negative perception, but did not violate securities legislation.The Montreal-based company said in November, when the investigation was launched, that the plan allows some of its senior executives to sell their vested shares as an added incentive in performance-based compensation, so long as the trades are made by independent securities brokers and in line with trading parameters.Under Canadian securities laws and Bombardier’s trading policies, senior executives face limits on their ability to sell shares in the company. The plan allows trades to be made in accordance with pre-arranged instructions given when the employee doesn’t have any material undisclosed information, the company said in August.The regulator, which in November called on the company to suspend all related trades, recommended that Bombardier reconsider the merits of maintaining the plan.Bombardier said in a statement that it will follow the regulator’s recommendation and ask its board of directors to scrap the compensation plan at their next meeting. read more

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Trans Mountain stake should go to Indigenous owners on route BC chief

The Canadian Press CALGARY — The chairman of a B.C. indigenous group seeking to buy a stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline says Ottawa should favour communities along the route when deciding who can make an ownership bid.Chief Michael LeBourdais of Whispering Pines Clinton Indian Band near Kamloops, B.C., says for that reason he supports the efforts of the Iron Coalition over rival Project Reconciliation.Iron Coalition announced Wednesday it is inviting First Nations and Metis groups from across Alberta to join its bid team, promising all resulting profits will be split equally among members.Project Reconciliation, on the other hand, is asking for support from Indigenous communities throughout B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan, and plans to place 80 per cent of the cash flow from the pipeline stake into a “sovereign wealth fund” to invest in environmentally friendly projects.LeBourdais says it makes more sense for his organization, the Western Indigenous Pipeline Group, and Iron Coalition to be owners of the pipeline because Trans Mountain brings oil and refined products from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C. — it doesn’t pass through Saskatchewan.Ottawa is to make a final decision on whether the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline can proceed by June 18, with a positive decision expected to accelerate attention to its vow to sell the asset it bought for $4.5 billion last summer.“Here’s the difference between us and Project Reconciliation,” LeBourdais said.“We’re the ones bearing all the risk because the pipe goes through my reserve, goes through my traditional territory. These are my rivers, my salmon. We’re bearing all the risk. So we should have more say.”He said communities in B.C. and Alberta are the “title and rights holders” when it comes to the pipeline. read more

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Ban Kimoon to witness Chicagos greening efforts during upcoming visit

The two-day visit beginning on Thursday is part of his tour of major US cities, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, Michele Montas, told reporters in New York.The Secretary-General will meet with Mayor Richard Daley to discuss his efforts to turn Chicago into America’s greenest city, Ms. Montas said. He will also visit a “green” building, stop by a local high school, and also attend events at the MacArthur Foundation, the Economic Club of Chicago, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Climate change – which Mr. Ban calls the “defining issue of our era” – was a key topic during the Secretary-General’s visit to the US city of San Francisco last July, and featured prominently in discussions with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.Ms. Montas also announced that Mr. Ban is planning to attend the Global Insight Summit, scheduled to take place at the fifth annual Jackson Hole Film Festival in early June in the US state of Wyoming.“The Global Insight Summit represents an unprecedented collaboration, bringing together entertainment leaders and UN officials to explore how film and television can be leveraged to bring awareness to global issues,” said Ms. Montas. 4 February 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be travelling later this week to Chicago where he will see first-hand how the major United States city is tackling climate change. read more

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Security Council hears briefing from committee monitoring sanctions on Iran

The head of the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme today updated the 15-member body on the panel’s latest work, including the efforts of States to implement those measures.Ambassador Yukio Takasu of Japan, in his first briefing as chairman of the committee, said that during the reporting period, 11 December 2008 to 10 March 2009, the Committee had received a number of reports from Member States on their implementation of sanctions and had also responded to notifications of the transfer of materials and queries seeking guidance.Iran’s nuclear programme – which its officials have stated is for peaceful purposes, but some other countries contend is driven by military ambitions – has been a matter of international concern since the discovery in 2003 that the country had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).Resolution 1737 of December 2006 banned trade with Iran in all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology which could contribute to the country’s enrichment-related, reprocessing or heavy water-related activities, or to the development of nuclear-weapon delivery systems.In March 2007 the Council adopted resolution 1747, further tightening the sanctions by imposing a ban on arms sales and expanding the freeze on assets. The Council imposed further sanctions against Iran in resolution 1803, last March. These included the inspection of cargo suspected of carrying prohibited goods, the tighter monitoring of financial institutions and the extension of travel bans and asset freezes, over its nuclear programme.In his briefing today, Mr. Takasu said that the Committee had received a letter from a Member State “seeking guidance with respect to its inspection of a vessel carrying its flag that had been carrying arms-related materials.” The Committee responded on 6 February, saying that the transfer of the material in question constituted a violation of resolution 1747 (2007) and, in a further exchange of letters, invited it to provide within 10 working days any additional relevant information regarding that transaction that might help the Committee carry out its mandate.Mr. Takasu also informed the Council that the Committee had received two notifications from the Russian Federation concerning the delivery of items for use in the nuclear power plant at Bushehr, Iran. As for the reporting requirement by States on their implementation of the sanctions, the Committee so far had received 91 reports under resolution 1737, 78 reports under resolution 1747 and 65 reports under resolution 1803, he said. 10 March 2009The head of the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme today updated the 15-member body on the panel’s latest work, including the efforts of States to implement those measures. read more

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Angola seeks UN aid to repatriate 60000 nationals from DR Congo

UN agencies have been providing thousands of tents, sleeping mats and blankets, training local health workers to treat malnutrition, and supplying agricultural tools and seeds to cope with the influx, which passed 50,000 people at the end of October, according to Angolan authorities.The number of expelled DRC nationals has significantly subsided in Kasais, Bandundu and Bas-Congo provinces, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported in its latest update today, but overall some 160,000 Congolese have been expelled from Angola since December. Most of the deported Angolans, two thirds of whom are refugees, had been living in Bas-Congo province, and the forced returns are in response to the waves of expulsions of the Congolese, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).So far, due to speedy resettlement, three out of four reception centres have already been closed in Angola’s Zaire Province, but a UNHCR team deployed there has not been given regular access, with the exception of three transit centres, and has thus been unable to assist with registration procedures as planned.Humanitarian agencies are considering launching an appeal to support those still in camps and the most vulnerable returnees who have left the camps, OCHA said.On 30 October UNHCR airlifted 2,250 tents, 5,000 sleeping mats, 4,000 blankets and a temporary warehouse from its stockpile in South Africa. In Zaire Province, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the non-governmental organization (NGO) Mentor have rapidly trained health workers in detecting and treating malnutrition. UNICEF has also provided therapeutic biscuits for malnourished children.The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is supporting the Ministry of Agriculture with the development of a programme to assist returnees with seeds and agricultural tools. Planting in the north is taking place now and the next season will be in February when the seasonal rains are expected. 18 November 2009Angola has requested the re-activation of a tripartite mechanism with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the United Nations refugee agency to repatriate some 60,000 Angolans still in DRC in the wake of the mutual expulsion of scores of thousands of each other’s nationals by the neighbouring States. read more

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Drinking tea could boost food security UN agency says

28 June 2010Calling for more people in tea-producing countries to drink tea, the United Nations agriculture agency has spotlighted the potential for the industry to enhance food security by increasing farmers’ incomes. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), tea exports cover the entire food import bill of Kenya, the world’s largest tea producer after China. Meanwhile, earnings from tea exports constituted half of agricultural export revenue and 60 per cent of food imports in Sri Lanka, another top producer. “Tea can be an important contributing factor to a nation’s food security,” said Kaison Chang, Secretary of FAO’s Inter-Governmental Group on Tea, the world’s only tea authority. In a new report, the agency urged tea-producing nations to market the drink more heavily at home and to publicize its health benefits abroad, cautioning against increasing the size of tea plantations, which would dampen crop prices in the long run. “Scope for expansion in consumption in traditional import markets like the United Kingdom and Russia is quite limited but in the countries where tea is produced, the per capita consumption is much lower and so there is a lot more market potential,” Mr. Chang pointed out. Consumers in tea-producing countries drink just one-tenth of the amount of tea compared to people in mature import markets, FAO said. The agency’s composite price for tea – the indicative international price for black tea – climbed by 13 per cent last year, pushing prices to record levels due to droughts n some of the major tea-producing regions of Asia and Africa. read more

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AsiaPacific most prone to natural disasters but lacks preparedness – UN report

Countries in Asia and the Pacific are more prone to natural disasters than those in other parts of the world, with people in the region four times more likely to be affected by natural catastrophe than those in Africa and 25 times more vulnerable than Europeans or North Americans, a United Nations report released today shows.Future disaster risk reduction strategies in the region should be considered within broader development frameworks and multisectoral budgetary processes that address economic inequities and social and environmental imbalances, according to the study, which was unveiled at the 4th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Incheon, Republic of Korea.The first of its kind, the Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2010 – prepared by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) – notes that natural disasters had disproportionate impacts on human development in the region.The region lacked comprehensive natural disasters assessment capacity, the reports notes, adding that while it generated one quarter of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), it accounted for 85 per cent of deaths and 42 per cent of global economic losses due to natural disasters.In a video message to the Conference, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to include disaster risk in national development policies and strategies on climate change.“There are proven ways to reduce risks and cope with the aftermath of a disaster – compulsory and routine risk assessments … environmental protection … sound urban planning and building codes … early warning systems … public education and insurance,” Mr. Ban told delegates.The report considers the socio-economic impact of disasters, and suggests ways of reducing vulnerability to disasters to protect development gains. It emphasizes that disaster losses are linked to and exacerbated by poverty, and that the vulnerability of the poor stems from multifaceted socio-economic and environmental imbalances.“Unless these imbalances are addressed, people who are constantly exposed to disaster risk are more likely to remain poor and more vulnerable to disasters, perpetuating a vicious cycle from which it is extremely difficult to break free,” said Noeleen Heyzer, the Executive Secretary of ESCAP, in a joint statement with Margareta Wahlström, the UN Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction.During the conference, ESCAP will also organize a technical session on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.The conference follows the one-day pre-conference event on 24 October which looked into introducing innovative tools for reducing the impact of typhoon-related disasters in the region. 26 October 2010Countries in Asia and the Pacific are more prone to natural disasters than those in other parts of the world, with people in the region four times more likely to be affected by natural catastrophe than those in Africa and 25 times more vulnerable than Europeans or North Americans, a United Nations report released today shows. read more

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UN contest for best campaign to end violence against women opens for

More than 2,700 entries from 40 European countries – prepared by both creative professionals and ordinary members of the public – have been submitted in the contest, and three winners will be selected, either by a seven-member jury of experts or by votes from Internet users.One of the three prizes being awarded in the “VOTE to Say No – UNiTE to End Violence against Women” competition will go to the campaign which receives the most public votes, and Internet users have until 31 July to vote.The competition is an initiative of the UN Regional Informational Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC) in Brussels, other UN Information Centres (UNICs) across Europe and the UN Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (UN Women) and is designed to boost the global effort to end violence against women.“Joining in the efforts to stop violence is everybody’s responsibility. Governments, private enterprises, civil society groups, communities and individual citizens can all make essential contributions. Men and boys must be active in encouraging respect for women and zero tolerance for violence,” said Michelle Bachelet, the Executive Director of UN Women.According to the UN, up to 70 per cent of women have experienced violence at some point in their lives. The extent of the problem prompted Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to launch the global campaign “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” in 2008.“We live in a world of violence. Violence against women is all the more intolerable because of the contradiction between love and brutality, the rejection of equality,” said Jacques Séguéla, Vice President of advertising company Havas and one of the jury members. “There will never be enough of us to mobilize against this scourge that neither time nor modernity has managed to defeat,” he added.Afsané Bassir-Pour, the Director of UNRIC, praised the enthusiasm with which Europeans joined the competition on the WeCanEndPoverty campaign last year.“Because the subject of this year’s competition is, alas, a real tangible issue for every nation, we can expect the same enthusiasm and creativity to put the spotlight on it,” she said. 19 July 2011Public voting is under way in a United Nations contest aimed at finding the best advertising campaign to promote awareness in Europe about the battle to defeat gender-based violence, which affects more than two out of every three women worldwide. read more

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Closing Bell TSX ends slightly higher Wall Street falls sharply amid retail

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed slightly higher Tuesday but New York finished the session sharply lower amid deep disappointment with the earnings and outlooks of retailers.The S&P/TSX composite index was ahead 10.45 points to 14,525.19.The Canadian dollar dropped 0.36 of a cent to 91.75 cents US.The Dow Jones industrials tumbled 137.55 points to 16,374.31 as the poor showing in the retail sector reinforced concerns about economic performance and the view that with so many stocks fully valued there isn’t much of an impetus for investors to drive stocks higher.The Nasdaq declined 28.93 points to 4,096.89 and the S&P 500 index was down 12.25 points to 1,872.83.Office supplies company Staples posted an adjusted first-quarter profit of 18 cents a share, three cents below expectations as restructuring charges continued to hit results and its shares retreated 12.55% to $11.71.Other retailers pressuring New York included Dick’s Sporting Goods, which skidded 18% after the firm lowered expectations for the second quarter and full year due to weakness in the retailer’s golf and hunting divisions.And Urban Outfitters fell more almost 9% as the firm said profit dropped 20% in the first quarter.“(Retailers) are improving at the margins but the issue is maybe they aren’t as robust as people were expecting or hoping,” said Kevin Headland, director of the portfolio advisory group at Manulife Asset Management.“Most economic recoveries are usually led by the consumer and this year you haven’t seen that.”Home Depot fared better as quarterly earnings ex-items amounted to 96 cents per share, three cents short of estimates. Revenue rose 3% to $19.69 billion, but missed estimates of $19.97 billion. It also raised its full-year earnings forecast and its shares gained $1.46 to $77.96.Meanwhile, Target has fired the president of its troubled Canadian operations, Tony Fisher. Target is trying to fix its operations in Canada, its first expansion outside the U.S., which have been hit with cost overruns and losses. It is also trying to recover from a massive data breach in the U.S. In New York, Target shares were down $1.68 to US$56.61.Canadian retailers also got caught up in the downdraft with Canadian Tire (TSX:CTC.A) off $1.24 to C$105.47 and Hudson’s Bay Co. (TSX:HBC) 32 cents lower to $17.30.The quarterly earnings season in Canada has pretty much wound up and now traders are waiting for results from the big Canadian banks.Royal Bank (TSX:RY) and TD Bank (TSX:TD) kick off the stream of earnings on Thursday and analysts are expecting another solid if unspectacular quarter.Analysts don’t believe the earnings will yield another leg up in stock prices for the big banks, all of which are very close to their 52-week highs.“Most expectations are for earnings to be normal, benign, a lot of importance will be put on those banks that have divisions in the U.S.,” Headland said.“So banks will come out with regular type of earnings, nothing really surprising to the upside or downside.”On the commodity markets, the energy sector was flat as June crude contract in New York lost early gains and declined 17 cents to US$102.44 a barrel.The base metals sector rose 0.12% with July copper losing two cents to US$3.14 a pound.June bullion edged up 80 cents to US$1,294.60 an ounce and the gold sector gained about 0.3%. read more

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UK rebuked for arms sales to Sri Lanka

A cross-party parliamentary committee on arms export controls said that it could not guarantee that British-licensed armaments were not used during the Sri Lankan government bloody attempt to eradicate the LTTE. In the first nine months of 2011 the latest date for which figures are available, Britain licensed almost £1.5million worth of exports of which over £1.3million were military.Among the items exported were armoured vehicles, body armour and “decoying countermeasure equipment and components,” coming under the heading of “grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures.” Britain has been condemned for continuing to sell weaponry to the Sri Lankan government despite evidence showing that war crimes are committed by the Asian country’s military.Campaign Against Arms Trade (Caat) urged the coalition government to explain why it continues to license weapons for export to Sri Lanka irrespective of evidence of war crimes by the country’s military, the daily Morning Star reported.Britain has licensed over £3 million worth of military and “dual use” equipment for export to Sri Lanka since the country’s army defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009, according to the report. “The Arab Spring has bought world attention to the repression practised by governments against their own people. Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished brings a similar focus on the brutality exercised by the government of Sri Lanka against opposing forces and the thousands of helpless civilians trapped in the warzone”, said Caat spokeswoman Kaye Stearman.“We need to ask why the UK government continues to licence arms for export to Sri Lanka, given its long and proven knowledge of the situation.”Meanwhile, more than one year after the start of Bahrain’s democratic uprising, the repression continues, and so do the UK’s arms sales to the country’s regime. (Press TV) Both LTTE and the Sri Lankan government have been accused of committing atrocities during the conflict which is estimated to have killed up to 40,000 civilians. read more

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UNP UK branch youth slam MR

The youth front of the UNP branch in Britain have accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa saying his family members are using public money for their personal benefits.A statement by the UNP National Youth Front-UK Branch today (Monday) said that while the President’s family enjoy the heavenly lifestyle, the youth of the country suffer with rising unemployment and the cost of living. Comity members The new committee 2012 President.   Wijaya Sri bandaraVice President.   Madawa SenanayakaSecretary.   Darshan Daniel The main purpose of the meeting was to elect new office bearers for the forthcoming year and launch membership drive. The United National Party – UK Branch formerly accepted the newly elected committee to represent the UK branch young wing.Wijaya Sri Bandara was elected as a president of the organisation while Darshan Daniel was re-elected as the Secretary. Thushan Gunaratne retained his position as the treasurer. The UNP National Youth Front-UK Branch also condemned the burning of the national flag by separatist factions of the pro LTTE Diaspora a few weeks ago during protests in London. Asst Secretary.   Chatura Kosala BandaraMedia Secretary.   Manoj WijesingheTreasurer.   Thusan GunarathneOrganiser.   Dasitha GamageMembership Development Secretary. Malidu Dulan Weerasinghe “This culture should be immediately changed and the youth could play a major role in that process,” Darshan Daniel, Secretary of the National Youth Front said. Meanwhile the second Annual General Meeting of National Youth Front-UK Branch was held on 10 June 2012 at Moorespice Restaurant in Wembley Park.The event was attended by a large gathering who showed stern commitment to work together to promote democratic ethos of the United National Party at a time Sri Lanka urgently needs a regime change, the statement added. 1  Shanaka Fernando2  Chamath Bandara3  Malidu Obesekara4  Yasantha Sirinatha5  Vimuthi Bandara6  Lasitha Senanayaka7  Sachindra Bandara8  Indika Subasinhe9  Denelka Peris10  Hansika Weerasinghe11  Kevin Senevirathne12  Arjuna Samarasekara[slideshow] read more

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