Proliferation of illicit small arms leads to culture of violence and impunity

In his opening address to the UN Small Arms Review Conference, which runs from today until 7 July, Mr. Annan said that “significant progress” had been made in dealing with the problem of illegal guns since a Programme of Action was endorsed by all Member States in 2001 – but important challenges remain.“The problem remains grave. In a world awash with small arms, a quarter of the estimated $4 billion annual global gun trade is believed to be illicit. Small arms are easy to buy, easy to use, easy to transport and easy to conceal. Their continued proliferation exacerbates conflict, sparks refugee flows, undermines the rule of law and spawns a culture of violence and impunity,” he said.“The majority of people who die directly from conflicts worldwide – tens of thousands of lives lost each year – and hundreds of daily crime-related deaths can be traced to illicit small arms and light weapons. These weapons may be small, but they cause mass destruction.”Since the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons was adopted five years ago, nearly 140 countries have reported on its implementation, while a third of all States have made efforts to collect weapons from those not legally entitled to hold them, Mr. Annan said. Other progress included increased cooperation among and within regions to stem the flow of illicit weapons across national borders.“Clearly, much has been accomplished, and much is currently being done. Yet important challenges remain,” he said, highlighting in particular the urgent need for Member States to introduce or update legislation meeting the standards outlined in the Programme of Action.“Countries also require better stockpile management and security procedures to reduce weapons pilferage. And we must reach agreement on a realistic and effective approach to end-user certification. Without such certification, any effort to regulate the trade and brokering in small arms and light weapons will be found lacking.”General Assembly President Jan Eliasson, who also spoke at the opening of the Conference, echoed the Secretary-General’s remarks, calling for “much more” to be done to curb the illicit trade that also “hinders efforts to promote reconciliation in post-conflict areas.”“The importance of this Review Conference cannot be overstated. We must maintain the momentum generated by the 2001 Conference. We must ensure that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons remains high on the agenda of the United Nations.”He voiced hope that participants would agree on measures to strengthen the implementation of the Programme of Action. “It is only through our joint, tangible and effective efforts on the ground, that we will be able to combat the scourge of illicit trafficking of small arms,” he said.The Conference opened with the election of its President, Sri Lankan Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam. This was followed by several addresses at the ministerial level, including by Austria on behalf of the European Union, Iran, Mozambique and several other countries. More than 2,000 representatives from governments, international and regional organizations and civil society will take part in the two-week event. read more

Volatile security in Darfur limiting UN aid workers access to needy

Direct attacks against humanitarian workers, acts of banditry and fighting among rebel groups mean the UN has access to less than 80 per cent of beneficiaries, well below the rates achieved in 2004, according to UNMIS.The mission said it is also worried that the security conditions inside some camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) are so poor that humanitarian operations there have been placed at risk. In Zamzam camp in North Darfur, the presence of arms belonging to elements of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), one of the region’s rebel groups, is raising concerns. Last Thursday IDPs killed three government workers and a police officer at Zalengi camp in West Darfur.The reports come as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, completed a two-day tour of South Darfur as part of his regular visits to the three states in the region.Mr. Pronk met South Darfur’s governor and members of the local government yesterday, also holding talks with local UN staff and non-governmental organization (NGO) workers and inspecting a government-run camp for about 13,500 IDPs at Sureif.Scores of thousands of people have been killed and more than two million others have been displaced since 2003 because of fighting between Sudanese Government forces, allied militias and rebels that has led to claims of civilian massacres, rapes and other atrocities. read more

UN agency criticizes forced return of refugee by Azerbaijan

“In the absence of indications justifying this decision, UNHCR considers her forced return to Turkey to be contrary to Azerbaijan’s obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and a clear violation of the principle of non-refoulement,” UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said in Geneva today. Non-refoulement prohibits States from returning a refugee or asylum seeker to territories where there is a risk that his or her life or freedom would be threatened on account of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.The refugee in question, whose name was not reported, had spent the last two years in detention in Azerbaijan, initially on charges of illegal entry into the country, and subsequently on the grounds of an extradition request by a court in Istanbul. “She was extradited despite UNHCR’s and the Government of Germany’s repeated interventions on her behalf to the Government of Azerbaijan,” Mr. Redmond said, adding that the agency had only received only a limited explanation from them despite persistent inquiries since the 13 October extradition.UNHCR, he said, is seeking assurances from the Government of Azerbaijan that refugees and asylum seekers from any country will in the future be treated with full respect of Azerbaijan’s international and national legal obligations concerning refugees and asylum seekers. read more

Over half Kosovos missing accounted for mostly through body identification –UN

“It is of the highest priority to find the missing persons and identify the bodies,” UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Director of Justice Albert Moskowitz reported. The UN has run the province ever since Western Forces drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid atrocities committed in ethnic fighting. “Up to date, there are around 530 individuals whose remains have not yet been identified. To clarify the fate of the missing is a long and sensitive process and it is of special importance for the families affected. It is also essential to find the missing in order to help stabilize the region,” Mr. Moskowitz added. A total of 5,206 people were reported missing after the conflict. By the end of last month, 2,150 persons (Kosovo Albanians, Kosovo Serbs and other ethnic minorities) where still listed missing, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). From 2002, the UN Office on Missing Persons and Forensics (OMPF) succeeded in reducing the number by over 50 per cent. OMPF was created in 2002 as a division in the UNMIK Department of Justice. Today, the office consists of 55 staff members who work to clarify the fate of the missing persons. As of 1 December, 1,807 missing persons have been pronounced dead and have had their remains returned to their families. In addition, about 100 missing persons have been identified, but the families have chosen not to accept the bodies until other members of their families or communities are found so that they can be buried together. OMPF has developed a Memory Project to create a public record of the experiences of the families of the missing. The first initiative used theatre to explore the painful issues facing the families and was compiled into the publication Voices. The second, an oral histories initiative, video-records interviews with the families to build a historical archive. read more

Bombardier taking steps to avoid production delays due Quebec rail plant strike

by Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press Posted Nov 1, 2012 4:49 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Bombardier taking steps to avoid production delays due Quebec rail plant strike MONTREAL – Bombardier is taking steps to avoid delivery delays for a series of railway projects, including subway cars for Toronto and Montreal, after workers at its plant in La Pocatiere, Que., went on strike Thursday.“We are taking all measures to ensure that we deliver on our commitments to our customers,” Bombardier spokesman Marc Laforge said in an interview.He declined to specify how the company will avoid production delays, but said all measures will be legal.The plant northeast of Quebec City is building the sidewalls and roofs for an order from Toronto for 420 subway cars, interior finishings for 706 Chicago transit cars.Other contracts for 100 multi-level New Jersey transit cars and 54 multi-level cars for Maryland transit, along with nearly 500 Montreal Metro cars, aren’t yet in production.A spokeswoman for the Montreal transit authority said it is being updated daily by Bombardier on the state of negotiations.“Bombardier assures us that for now there is no impact on the contract to build Montreal Metro cars nor on the delivery schedule,” said Odile Paradis.The union says 332 members of the Confederation of National Trade Unions began the plant’s first strike in more than 30 years over concerns about sub-contracting, pensions and wages.“We gave negotiations a chance,” Mario Levesque, president of the Confederation of National Trade Unions manufacturing federation, said in an interview.“We negotiated intensively hoping that there would be an end to the deadlock but after a long session last night the workers decided to intensify pressure by launching an unlimited strike.”The union said a company proposal Wednesday stepped backward on key issues of sub-contracting and pensions. It said Bombardier also hasn’t responded to the union’s monetary proposals, including salaries.Levesque said workers accepted concessions in 2003 and 2007 to preserve their jobs and he thinks a protracted strike will have an impact on deliveries.“If it last two or three months there will certainly be problems with deliveries,” he added.The union has long complained that Bombardier isn’t honouring its commitment to create hundreds of jobs at the plant, saying it is “outsourcing” work to facilities in Ontario, the United States and Mexico.Levesque has said the company has failed to live up to an agreement signed in February 2010 that the union says guaranteed that Montreal Metro work would be done in La Pocatiere. He said some of the work is going to Bombardier’s plant in Mexico while other components are being shipped to outside companies in Quebec and Milwaukee, Wis.Nearly 96 per cent of union members gave the union a strike mandate last Saturday. The last contract expired Sept. 30, 2011.Bombardier also faces a strike of Learjet employees in Wichita, Kan., that’s in its fourth week.Bombardier’s shares closed at $3.76, down four cents in Thursday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. read more

Russia uncovers network of shell companies behind 235 billion in illegal foreign

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by The Associated Press Posted Jun 19, 2013 5:26 am MDT Russia uncovers network of shell companies behind $23.5 billion in illegal foreign transfers MOSCOW – Russia’s central bank has uncovered a network of shell companies that illegally funneled staggering sums of money abroad.Outgoing central bank chief Sergei Ignatiev told lawmakers Wednesday that 173 “one-day firms” smuggled at least 760 billion rubles ($23.5 billion). So-called one-day firms are shell companies that have been a favoured money-laundering technique in Russia.He said most of the transactions took place between 2010 and 2012, although some dated back to 2008. Ignatiev said he filed a request to police in May in connection with an unspecified ongoing criminal investigation.Ignatiev, who is to be replaced by presidential economic aide Elvira Nabiullina next month, told the Vedomosti business daily that $49 billion a year is laundered from Russia every year, half from a single criminal group he declined to name. read more

Maritime oyster mission hopes to crack open solution to devastating disease

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email HALIFAX – Eleven years after a fatal disease damaged Nova Scotia’s oyster industry, a maritime delegation is travelling to the United States to learn how New England’s aquaculture industry was so successfully revitalized.The aquaculture associations of both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are leading a group of about 16 researchers, industry delegates and government officials to Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for a week-long visit to discuss technology and policy approaches to battle MSX disease.“Basically it’s a mission to go down and see how the oyster farmers in New England are managing to operate what seems to be successful businesses in the presence of MSX disease,” said Bruce Hancock, executive director of the Nova Scotia Aquaculture Association.MSX is caused by a microscopic parasite and stands for Multinucleate Sphere X, which the disease was called when first discovered in Chesapeake Bay American (or Eastern) oysters in the late 1950s.It was not until 2002 that the disease was detected in the Maritimes, where it decimated the oyster industry in the Bras d’Or Lakes of Cape Breton, cutting the province’s oyster production in half in a single year.“In Nova Scotia we lost probably about 50 per cent of our oyster industry,” said Hancock. “It’s been 11 years since (then) and what we’d like to do is to see if there’s a way that we could try to rebuild the industry.”Hancock estimated the economic impact of MSX in Atlantic Canada to be about $1 million per year.The disease itself is not fully understood, said Hancock, including the vector by which MSX is spread.The parasite works its way through an oyster’s soft tissues, slowly weakening the animal over the course of a year or two until it dies.But MSX is only a health problem for oysters and has no effect on human health, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.“There are a lot of unknowns but what we do know is down in the States where they have had a history of MSX they’re finding ways of working around the disease,” said Hancock.New England has developed methods of raising disease-resistant oyster strains from hatcheries and has put in place government regulations that have prevented MSX from spreading to unaffected areas.The eastern American seaboard has also developed systems to grow their oysters more quickly in suspension, as well as triploid genetic varieties that are sterile and therefore channel energy into growth that would otherwise be spent on reproduction.“It’s not that the oysters they’re producing would never get MSX, it’s just that they grow faster and they’re a little bit more resistant to it, so you can get them up to market size before MSX gets itself established and the oyster can’t live any longer,” he said.There is also a role for rules and regulations, said Hancock.“This isn’t necessarily about government assistance or anything like that,” he said. “This is about government learning about how they’re regulating in the States so they can both move the industry forward but at the same time make sure that there’s no further spread of the disease.”Hancock said the delegation will include industry representatives from Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, as well as representatives from those provinces’ aquaculture associations.“A couple people are going from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,” said Hancock, “which is really nice to see.”A representative from each of the maritime provinces will also be in attendence, though Nova Scotia is the only maritime province in which MSX has so far been detected.“The ultimate (desired) result is that we can start rebuilding the oyster industry in MSX-positive areas,” said Hancock. “That’s what i want to see.” by Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press Posted Jul 28, 2013 7:00 am MDT Maritime oyster mission hopes to crack open solution to devastating disease read more

TSX down miners back off amid tepid Chinese data NY up on

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TSX down, miners back off amid tepid Chinese data; N.Y. up on Bernanke comments TORONTO – The Toronto stock market closed lower Friday as mining stocks lost ground amid disappointing data from China.The S&P/TSX composite index declined 45.34 points to 13,548.85 as traders also looked ahead to the start of the U.S. fourth-quarter earnings season next week.The Canadian dollar rose 0.3 of a cent to 93.99 cents US.New York indexes were mixed amid bullish comments on the American economy from outgoing Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke.Bernanke says Americans’ finances have improved and the outlook for home sales is brighter. He also expects less drag from federal spending cuts and tax increases. Combined, those factors bode well for U.S. economic growth in coming quarters.The Dow Jones industrials rose 28.64 points to 16,469.99, the Nasdaq dipped 11.16 points to 4,131.91 while the S&P 500 index edged 0.61 of a point lower to 1,831.37.The coming week will see the first run of U.S. earnings reports trickle in from companies like resource heavyweight Alcoa Inc. on Thursday.Bloomberg News says that U.S. earnings are expected to rise just 3.7 per cent in the fourth quarter, excluding financial companies.Hopes are high that strong earnings can support the huge runup on U.S. markets last year, particularly after the Fed signalled last month that it is winding down a key area of stimulus.The U.S. Federal Reserve ended months of speculation last month and announced it would be cutting back on its US$85 billion of monthly bond purchases. Those purchases are credited with supporting a strong rally on stock markets in 2013, including a 30 per cent surge in the S&P 500 to a record high.Meanwhile, base metal prices backed off as China’s official non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to a four-month low, coming in at 54.6 in December from 56 in November. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.China is the world’s second-biggest economy and its double digit growth of the past and huge appetite for commodities had been a huge plus for a resource-based market like the TSX.But traders have had to get used to a more modest growth rate of between seven and 7.5 per cent as the Chinese government keeps the lid on growth in order to keep inflation under control.“The days of 10 per cent growth are gone and they’re gone mainly because the government doesn’t want it anyways,” observed Andrew Pyle, investment adviser at ScotiaMcLeod in Peterborough, Ont.He added that there are concerns that growth could even go below seven per cent.“China GDP growth going down below seven per cent would have a dramatic impact on resources in general, so it wouldn’t be just be base metals, it would be crude and everything else.”North American markets got off to a lacklustre start to 2014 trading Thursday amid a slate of data showing manufacturing sectors in China, the U.S. and Canada still expanding but at a slower pace.The base metals sector was down 1.4 per cent as March copper on the New York Mercantile Exchange lost three cents to US$3.35 a pound. Capstone Mining (TSX:CS) shed eight cents to C$2.92 while Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) lost 69 cents to $26.89.The gold sector gave up early gains to post a loss of about one per cent as February bullion gained $13.40 to US$1,238.60 an ounce. Goldcorp (TSX:G) faded 42 cents to C$23.71.Energy stocks also weighed on the TSX as crude fell six per cent this past week due to growing inventories in the U.S. and an expected recovery in Libyan production.The energy sector lost 0.6 per cent as February crude on the Nymex fell $1.48 to US$93.96 a barrel. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) shed 32 cents to C$35.03.Tech stocks were mixed with Celestica (TSX:CLS) ahead 11 cents to $11.12.But BlackBerry (TSX:BB) shares lost 12 cents to $8.09 as it said that it is suing Typo Products, a company co-founded by TV personality Ryan Seacrest, saying that its new iPhone case rips off the famous BlackBerry keyboard.Automakers also released December sales figures for the U.S.Chrysler said its U.S. sales rose six per cent in the final month of the year and posted a nine per cent rise for 2013.Ford’s sales for December in the U.S. rose 1.8 per cent, lower than the 5.9 per cent gain that was expected. Ford’s U.S. sales jumped 11 per cent in 2013 to nearly 2.5 million — a six-year high and its shares were seven cents higher to US$15.51.General Motors’ December U.S. sales fell more than six per cent, but the company still finished the year with a 7.3 per cent increase. GM shares fell 3.37 per cent to $39.57.North American markets closed little changed for the week with the TSX down 39 points while the Dow shed eight points.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly referred to certain U.S. companies as reporting financial results next week. by Malcolm Morrison, The Canadian Press Posted Jan 3, 2014 6:17 am MDT The fading name on the building in Toronto that used to house the Toronto Stock Exchange is pictured on August 18 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim read more

Correction Ferguson story

Correction: Ferguson story AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by The Associated Press Posted Nov 28, 2014 12:04 am MDT FERGUSON, Mo. – In a Nov. 29 story and accompanying news guide about protests over the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case, The Associated Press misidentified the Ferguson street where a Friday night protest happened. It happened on South Florissant Road, not West Florissant Avenue, which is also a street in Ferguson.A corrected version of the story is below:15 arrested at demonstration in Ferguson15 arrested as protests return to Ferguson police department after mall shut-downsBy PHILLIP LUCAS and TOM FOREMAN Jr.Associated PressDemonstrators temporarily shut down three large malls in suburban St. Louis on one of the busiest shopping days of the year and then marched in front of the Ferguson police department to protest a grand jury’s recent decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown.Several stores lowered their security doors or locked entrances as at least 200 protesters sprawled onto the floor while chanting, “Stop shopping and join the movement,” at the Galleria mall in Richmond Heights a few miles south of Ferguson, Missouri, where Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Brown, who was unarmed, in August.The action prompted authorities to close the mall for about an hour Friday afternoon, while a similar protest of about 50 people had the same effect at West County Mall in nearby Des Peres. And several dozen demonstrators led to a temporary closure of the Chesterfield Mall.Later Friday night, a group of about 100 protesters marched down South Florissant Road in front of the city’s police and fire departments chanting, blocking traffic and stopping in front of some businesses.“I served my country. I spent four years in the Army, and I feel like that’s not what I served my country for,” said Ebonie Tyse, 26, of St. Louis. “I served my country for justice for everyone. Not because of what colour, what age, what gender or anything,” she said.Fifteen people were arrested, according to Missouri Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O’Connell. He said charges would include peace disturbance and impeding the flow of traffic, and two people would be charged with resisting arrest and one with assault.Monday night’s announcement that Wilson, who is white, wouldn’t be indicted for fatally shooting Brown, who was black, prompted violent protests that resulted in about a dozen buildings and some cars being burned. Dozens of people were arrested.The rallies have been ongoing but have grown more peaceful this week, as protesters turn their attention to disrupting commerce. Elsewhere on Friday, protests in Chicago, New York, Seattle and northern California — where protesters chained themselves to trains — were among the largest in the country on Black Friday.In Oakland, more than a dozen people were arrested after about 125 protesters wearing T-shirts that read “Black Lives Matter” interrupted train service from Oakland to San Francisco, with some chaining themselves to trains. Dozens of people in Seattle blocked streets, and police said some protesters also apparently chained doors shut at the nearby Pacific Place shopping centre.In Chicago, about 200 people gathered near the city’s popular Magnificent Mile shopping district, where Kristiana Colon, 28, called Friday “a day of awareness and engagement.” She’s a member of the Let Us Breathe Collective, which has been taking supplies such as gas masks to protesters in Ferguson.“We want them to think twice before spending that dollar today,” she said of shoppers. “As long as black lives are put second to materialism, there will be no peace.”Malcolm London, a leader in the Black Youth Project 100, which has been organizing Chicago protests, said the group was also trying to rally support for other issues, such as more transparency from Chicago police.“We are not indicting a man. We are indicting a system,” London told the crowd.Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday announced that he will call a special session of the General Assembly to provide funding for public safety efforts related to protests. A news release from his office said that due to the increased presence of the State Highway Patrol and the Missouri National Guard in the region, the state’s financial obligations for emergency duties are on track to exceed what had been appropriated.___Associated Press writers Jim Salter, David A. Lieb and Alan Scher Zagier in St. Louis, Mae Anderson in New York, Sara Burnett in Chicago and Kristin J. Bender in Oakland, California, contributed to this report. read more

Teams of computer coders gather to tackle CanadaUS border snags

WASHINGTON – Teams of computer programmers will gather in two cities this weekend to try developing software that slashes through the red tape that gums up trade across the Canada-U.S. border.The events in Toronto and Chicago stem from a business-community idea that governments should try using Silicon Valley-style hackathon gatherings to deal with the persistent problem of border delays.Dozen of people from academia, the private sector, and trade groups will form teams from Friday though Sunday and compete in an event titled ”Canada-U.S. Hackathon: Get North America Trading Again.”They’ll seek to design software that simplifies the import-export process, with $15,000 awarded in cash prizes in an event sponsored by the Canadian and American governments, industry groups, and corporate powerhouses like Microsoft, IBM and Amazon.One organizer says governments are experts at enforcing rules and monitoring the border — but private-sector innovators are far better at finding solutions to technical irritants.Another goal of this event, he said, is to bring smart, young people into the circle of government decision-making for tackling problems.”You bring a whole new group of people into the public-policy arena,” said Adam Schlosser, senior director and policy counsel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”Most folks in programming or in the startup scene — they’re not thinking public policy. They’re thinking of building the next app. Connecting those two can wind up solving a lot of problems.”If the first event works, he hopes it develops into an annual affair.The goal is to start small, with two very specific problems encountered by some importers and exporters. Future events could build on the platforms developed over the weekend, he said.Teams will be presented with two tasks.One involves a simpler way to refund cross-border book purchases — the countries have different import-export codes for various types of books, causing complications when the same book has to be shipped back.The other task involves designing software that would allow the importer of a product from a crowd-funding website to send sales data to two places simultaneously: the product-maker, and customs officials.The intellectual-property rights to the software will remain with the teams and they can license or sell it as they see fit — although it’s supposed to be compatible with government programs.An early promoter of the idea is delighted to see it happening.Maryscott Greenwood of the Canadian-American Business Council last year repeatedly urged members of both governments to try tackling border delays with the dot-com-era problem-solving model.The labyrinthine customs system currently in place complicates trade, stifles economic growth, and ties up border agents who could be working on more important things, she said.”The manner in which they ask for information (at customs) is like the 1970s,” Greenwood said.”It’s really hard to figure out even how to comply. You have to hire a specialist… Then the customs person has to interpret everything — so instead of actually doing their law-enforcement function and screening for bad guys and contraband they’re sitting there looking at binders full of information.”She identified the ultimate goal: ”Make it as easy to cross the border with a truck full of goods as it is to buy a book on Amazon. That’s the idea. And if you can do that, that will put hundreds of millions of dollars back into the economy — without costing anyone anything.”The White House has already convened one such event — for disaster-response. It resulted in more than 30 ideas to solve problems people had during the 2012 hurricane on the East Coast. Google and the home-rental app AirBnB wound up offering ways to use their platforms to notify and help people in disaster-affected areas.Greenwood later suggested using that model to tackle problems faced by members of her association. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce took a lead on the initiative, and helped organize this weekend’s events. Teams of computer coders gather to tackle Canada-U.S. border snags by Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press Posted Feb 25, 2016 2:44 pm MDT Last Updated Feb 25, 2016 at 3:34 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

Atlantic premiers pledge cooperation to grow regions clean energy sector

SAINT JOHN, N.B. – Atlantic Canada’s premiers pledged Wednesday to grow the region’s clean-energy sector, saying a new partnership will be developed this summer.After a meeting in Saint John, N.B., New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said the goal is to ensure the region has access to reliable green energy at competitive rates.“It may mean there is more co-operation in buying and trading energy between our region,” Gallant told a news conference. “It may mean that we are going to work together to export more to markets in the region or the United States.”The new plan will address transmission capacity needs, look at ways of supporting the development of renewable energy sources, promote energy efficiency for the commercial and residential sectors, and explore opportunities for getting federal and private sector funding.Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said there are economic benefits to ensuring green energy produced in Atlantic Canada can be exported to U.S. markets.McNeil said that capacity is poised to grow through development of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador and tidal energy generation in the Bay of Fundy.“It will be sizeable, stable energy sources … that will allow us to have an export commodity that will actually bring back much needed revenue to invest in other things in the region,” said McNeil.The premiers said the energy partnership would also help the four Atlantic provinces achieve regional and national goals to reduce carbon emissions.As well, McNeil said he is willing to discuss possible co-operation on carbon pricing.However, he said such an approach could prove challenging.“We’ve been all working at different paces to continue to reduce our greenhouse gas output,” he said. “Some of us have achieved it in different ways and at different levels, so it’s hard at this point for all of us to start at the same point.”Gallant agreed the four provinces have more work to do.“We would recognize the benefits if we could all have the same system, but we also are realistic and we recognize that we all have different economic realities and challenges,” he said.Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball said his province is focused on reining in its massive deficit, now at $778 million.“We will be participating,” said Ball. “But … our first year in office was really about strengthening the financial foundation of our province.”Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan did not attend the meeting — the fifth involving Atlantic Canadian premiers in less than a year.At their most recent meeting in Corner Brook, N.L., in February, the four provinces pledged to strengthen trade ties with the United States as President Donald Trump looks to rearrange his country’s trade deals, including the North American Free Trade Agreement.The premiers also discussed efforts to reduce health costs. Atlantic premiers pledge co-operation to grow region’s clean energy sector New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant, flanked by Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc, left, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball, right and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, hosts a meeting of Atlantic premiers in Saint John, N.B. on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan was not at the event but participated by telephone. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan by The Canadian Press Posted Apr 12, 2017 12:12 pm MDT Last Updated Apr 12, 2017 at 3:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

Structure of United Nations needs adjustment Bruneis Crown Prince tells General Debate

“In terms of the fundamental work of the United Nations, we see no need to undertake what our theme here describes as ‘adjustment,’ the Crown Prince and senior minister in his country’s prime minister’s office said in his remarks to the third day the 67th Assembly’s General Debate, taking place at UN Headquarters in New York, and referring to the Assembly’s theme ‘Bringing about adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations by peaceful means.’“It is in the structure of the organisation that we see a need for some things to be ‘adjusted.’ The reason appears clear to many of those of us who are small both physically and politically,” he added. “We see it as a twentieth century structure designed to meet twentieth century realities.”Noting that media reports headline the “supposed defects, failures and setbacks” of the United Nations, the Crown Prince stated that the world body’s current structure appears “far too often to be the deep-seated cause of the headline news I referred to.”“We see it as a twentieth century structure designed to meet twentieth century realities,” he said. “It is personified in the sixty-four years of suffering by the ordinary people of Palestine and in all other desperate situations in which the root causes of conflict and confrontation are still buried in the last century.”He added, “Simply put…this must change. In our globalized world, we are all equally inter-dependent and equally responsible. But, like many other members of this Assembly, we believe that the current structure does not truly reflect this. As such, it needs adjusting so that ancient political fault lines are repaired.”The Crown Prince pointed to the approach of regional bodies, which operate from a basis of consensus, rather than compromise and confrontation, citing the example of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. “That is what we have accepted in our own region of Southeast Asia,” he said.In terms of the work of the United Nations, the Crown Prince flagged three areas which his country finds important, and in which the world body is helping create a “world in which the people it represents can look to a better future. One of hope rather than anguish, confidence instead of fear, and trust in the place of despair.” The three are: sustainable development, the ongoing efforts to achieve the anti-poverty goals known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the continued wide-ranging efforts of UN agencies and programmes, such as the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).“We observe an enormous contribution by the United Nations to the welfare of future generations,” he noted. “I would therefore like to express our deep satisfaction with the work of our United Nations agencies and international bodies.”Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah is one of scores of world leaders and other high-level officials presenting their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October. read more

At General Debate Turkeys Foreign Minister urges UN reform action on Syrian

The Security Council must be reformed in order to respond to the world’s “real needs,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said today in his statement to the United Nations General Assembly, adding that without reform, the UN body risked irrelevance. “The working methods and structures of the UN are not commensurate with the current realities of the world,” Mr. Davutoglu told the gathered delegates at the 67th Assembly’s General Debate at UN Headquarters in New York.“While we cannot resolve current problems, each year we find ourselves besieged by ever mounting new ones,” he continued, noting that in order to establish “a strong, efficient and credible” United Nations, “the long outstanding issue” of UN reform had to be tackled.Mr. Davutoglu pointed to issues on the global agenda, such as the unresolved political divisions between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities and the question of Palestine, saying that on many matters Member States “speak as one, yet we often fail to act in unity.” “The UN Security Council, with its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security, should become more representative and functional,” he stated, suggesting that only through reform could the Council “remain relevant in the enormous challenges we all face.” Turning to the continuing violence in Syria, where more than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad began 18 months ago, Mr. Davutoglu also exhorted the Security Council to break its diplomatic deadlock. “It is high time that the UN Security Council must take action as this Assembly called for. There has to be a solution to ensure the immediate safety and security of the Syrian people,” he said, adding that there was “no legitimate explanation” for the Council’s failure to reflect the will of the international community. A further 2.5 million Syrians urgently need humanitarian aid, according to UN estimates.The Turkish Foreign Minister also drew attention to the recent spate of protests in various cities around the world following the release of an anti-Islamic video produced by a US citizen, as well as cartoons published in a French magazine, and urged more global cooperation in the fight against the defamation of religions. “Islamophobia has also become a new form of racism like anti-Semitism,” Mr. Davutoglu said. “It can no longer be tolerated under the guise of freedom of expression.” The Foreign Minister called on UN Member States to establish denigration of all religions and their followers as a hate crime and prevent what he said were “reckless provocations.” “We need to craft a universal policy and legal instrument that while protecting free expression, should also ensure respect for religion and prevent the intentional insults against everyone’s faiths,” he said. Turkey’s Foreign Minister is one of scores of heads of State and government and other high-level officials who are presenting their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October. read more

CAR Security Council extends mandate of UN office calls on parties to

Calling on the Government and opposition groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) to abide by a ceasefire and other agreements that halted a rebel advance on the capital, the Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations peacebuilding office in the country until 31 January 2014.Through resolution 2088, adopted unanimously, the Council tasked the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BINUCA), to work with all parties to facilitate the full implementation of the agreements – signed in the Gabonese capital of Libreville on 11 January – as part of its mandate to help consolidate peace in the long-troubled CAR, including support for security reform and reintegration of ex-combatants.In December, following attacks on several towns in the country’s north-east, an alliance of rebel groups – known, collectively, as ‘Séléka’ – had taken major towns on the way to the capital, Bangui, before agreeing to start peace talks under the auspices of the regional group known as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).The resulting agreements included a ceasefire, statement of principles and a political pact that defines power-sharing arrangements and a period of political transition for the CAR. In today’s resolution, in that context, the Council welcomed the appointment of a representative of the opposition as the Prime Minister for a Government of National Unity.Expressing strong concern over security in the CAR, which it said remained “precarious,” the Council also welcomed the continued efforts of the ECCAS-led mission in the country, known as MICOPAX, calling on countries and all organizations in the region to help maintain stability in the area in cooperation with the CAR Government.Through the resolution, the Council underlined the Government’s responsibilities to maintain law and order, ensure respect for freedom of expression and other human rights, reform its security sector, and stressed the importance of bi-lateral assistance in those areas. It also strongly condemned continued recruitment and use of children in armed groups, killing and maiming of civilians, rape and sexual slavery and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence and abductions, and targeting of ethnic minorities perpetrated by armed groups, pointing, in particular to the continued threat of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).Addressing journalists at UN Headquarters in New York via video-link from Bangui, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of BINUCA, Margaret Vogt, welcomed the fact that the resolution stressed the need to have her office provide support for the implementation of the Libreville agreement. She also praised “the speed at which regional countries deployed troops to Bangui” to help stabilize the situation, and noted that the creation of a follow-up committee for the agreement is now in progress, but there are difficulties in making pact hold in the field, where violent incidents continue to occur. It was now critical to educate cadres throughout the country on the provisions of the agreement and to start disarmament and re-integration programmes in earnest, by overcoming obstacles that stalled them in the past year, as well as making progress in political and security-sector reform, Ms. Vogt said.“Of course all of this depends on availability of funds,” she added. “The international community now needs to engage more forcefully, both diplomatically and financially, to pull the CAR from the brink.” read more

UNs Ban urges accelerated action on healthrelated MDGs for women children

In remarks delivered to a special event held by the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and titled Meeting the Challenges of the Health MDGs and Beyond; International Center for Diarrheal Diseases Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) Innovative Approach, Mr. Ban told delegates that while much progress in achieving the Goals has been made, a great deal still remained to be done. “Time is passing and we must urgently accelerate our work. That takes commitment, political will, and a determination to focus efforts on where they can have the biggest impact,” he stated, adding that this was one reason why he made improving maternal and child health a priority of the MDG agenda. “We know that investing in women’s and children’s health yields high and long-lasting returns – for individuals, for families, for societies and for the future we want.”Pointing to a number of successes on the issue, the Secretary-General stated that since 1990, the mortality rate for children under the age of five plummeted by nearly half, while maternal deaths fell by 40 per cent. In addition, over 2 billion people in the world gained access to drinking water. Nevertheless, he noted, every two minutes, a woman dies in pregnancy or in childbirth while 19,000 children die every day from largely preventable causes. “If we want to see women and children survive and thrive, we must address inequalities and reach the most vulnerable in poor and underserved areas,” Mr. Ban stressed. “We have the technology and know-how to save and improve women’s and children’s lives – and we need to join our good ideas and efforts,” he said, calling the ICDDR,B one of the driving forces in that effort.The event – co-chaired by the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh, Abdul Moment and the Permanent Representative of Norway, Geir Pedersen–prompted Mr. Ban to reiterate his “sincere condolences” for the recent garment factory fire in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka which reportedly killed over 400 people. Mr. Ban, however, also highlighted Bangladesh’s progress towards the MDGs, noting that his visit to the South Asian country had been “amazing and inspirational” and that in visits with local health workers and representatives he had learned that Bangladesh took the issue of health “very seriously.” “I commend Bangladesh on its progress towards all the health MDGs,” he continued. “Thank you for being leaders in global health – leaders that can change the health of millions of people – and the future for us all.” read more

South Sudan amid ongoing tensions UN confirms situation back to normal at

According to information provided by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), around a dozen armed soldiers belonging to the SPLA advanced yesterday on the perimeter of the Bentiu camp in Unity state where over 47,000 people uprooted by the recent violence in the country are said to be sheltering. “The soldiers were asked not to enter the camp and did not get inside, but their presence resulted in panic among those sheltering at the site,” UN Spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters in New York. “No weapons were fired and the situation returned to normal several hours later,” he added. Mr. Dujarric noted that UNMISS reminded all parties of the “inviolability of UN premises” and said the mission had reaffirmed its “resolve to defend its protection of civilian sites and personnel.” South Sudan has experienced several bouts of violence over the past few months, including an incident in which the UN base in Bentiu came under fire resulting in the wounding of one child. Meanwhile, a prior attack caused hundreds of people to seek shelter at the nearest airport. Approximately 340 civilians took shelter with UNMISS troops, and then were escorted to safety.Political in-fighting between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, started in mid-December 2013 and subsequently turned into a full-fledged conflict that has sent nearly 100,000 civilians fleeing to UNMISS bases around the country. The crisis has uprooted some 1.5 million people and placed more than 7 million at risk of hunger and disease. read more

Eric Garner Michael Brown cases spark legitimate concerns about US policing –

Michael Brown, an African-American teenager from Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner, an African-American man from New York City, were both killed in separate incidents by white police officers after they had reportedly surrendered. Their deaths, and the grand jury decisions which followed them, have set off a wave of protests across the US against what many perceive to be a broader pattern of lethal police brutality directed at minorities, say the UN rights experts. “There are numerous complaints stating that African-Americans are disproportionally affected by such practices of racial profiling and the use of disproportionate and often lethal force,” the UN Special Rapporteur on racism, Mutuma Ruteere, said in a news release. “African-Americans are 10 times more likely to be pulled over by police officers for minor traffic offences than white persons. Such practices must be eradicated.”The UN experts welcomed US President Barack Obama’s proposed measures to address what has been described as “consistent allegations of inappropriate policing practices” through trust-building initiatives between police forces and the communities they are assigned to protect. But, the experts cautioned, such measures should also “recognize the need for training and to ensure that minorities are recruited into the police in which they are under-represented.” “The Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s cases have added to our existing concerns over the longstanding prevalence of racial discrimination faced by African-Americans, particularly in relation to access to justice and discriminatory police practices,” added human rights expert Mireille Fanon Mendes France, who currently heads the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.“We urge a comprehensive examination of all laws that could have discriminatory impact on African-Americans to ensure that such laws are in full compliance with the country’s international legal obligations and relevant international standards.”The Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák, meanwhile, expressed concern over the grand jury decision to avoid a trial process which, she said, would have ensured that justice take its proper course, particularly in light of the apparent conflicting evidence that exists relating to both incidents.“The decisions leave many with legitimate concerns relating to a pattern of impunity when the victims of excessive use of force come from African-American or other minority communities,” Ms. Izsák explained. Demonstrations in opposition to the grand jury decision on Eric Garner’s death spilled into their second consecutive night last night as protestors fanned out across New York, targeting the city’s most well-known locations, including Brooklyn Bridge and the ferry terminal to Staten Island, where Mr. Garner Lived. While the New York protests have been largely peaceful, according to media reports, confrontations between demonstrators and police in Ferguson have led to eruptions of violence including looting and the burning of cars. Both the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, and the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, urged protestors and police to allow for peaceful demonstrations and refrain from fuelling further violence.The Rapporteurs’ concerns follow a statement made by the UN human rights chief last week in which he expressed deep concern about the “disproportionate number of young African-Americans who die in encounters with police officers, as well as the disproportionate number of African Americans in US prisons and the disproportionate number of African-Americans on Death Row.”“It is clear that, at least among some sectors of the population, there is a deep and festering lack of confidence in the fairness of the justice and law enforcement systems,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said. read more

UN health agency issues new guidelines on HIV selftesting

Ahead of World AIDS Day, marked annually on 1 December, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines on HIV self-testing, which aim to help millions of people know their HIV status and get treatment.“Millions of people with HIV are still missing out on life-saving treatment, which can also prevent HIV transmission to others,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan in a news release. “HIV self-testing should open the door for many more people to know their HIV status and find out how to get treatment and access prevention services,” she added.According to a WHO progress report, lack of an HIV diagnosis is a major obstacle to implementing the Organization’s recommendation that everyone with HIV should be offered antiretroviral therapy (ART). The report says more than 18 million people with HIV are currently taking ART, but a similar number of people is still unable to access treatment, the majority of which are unaware of their HIV positive status. Today, 40 per cent of all people with HIV (over 14 million) remain unaware of their status.The new guidelines aim to help countries scale up implementation of HIV self-testing and assisted HIV partner notification services. Photo: WHO African Region HIV self-testing means people can use oral fluid or blood- finger-pricks to discover their status in a private and convenient setting. Results are ready within 20 minutes or less. Those with positive results are advised to seek confirmatory tests at health clinics. WHO recommends they receive information and links to counselling as well as rapid referral to prevention, treatment and care services.Between 2005 and 2015, the proportion of people with HIV learning of their status increased from 12 per cent to 60 per cent globally. This increase in HIV testing uptake worldwide has led to more than 80 per cent of all people diagnosed with HIV receiving ART.Men account for only 30 per cent of people who have tested for HIV. Testing also remains low among men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs, and people in prisons – who together comprise approximately 44 per cent of the 1.9 million new adult HIV infections that occur each year.The new WHO guidelines recommend ways to help HIV positive people notify their partners about their status, and also encourage them to get tested.Currently, 23 countries have national policies that support HIV self-testing. Many others are developing policies, but wide-scale implementation of HIV self-testing remains limited. WHO supports free distribution of HIV self-test kits and other approaches that allow self-test kits to be bought at affordable prices. WHO is also working to reduce costs further to increase access. Another highlight of this year’s World AIDS Day is the launch of the hands up for #HIVprevention campaign that will explore different aspects of HIV prevention and how they relate to specific groups of people, such as adolescent girls and young women, key populations and people living with HIV. read more

Marking Sport for Development Day Japanese athletes take UN Global Goals forward

“I believe Olympics and Paralympics symbolize peace. I hope for a day where everyone can live peacefully” says Taiki Morii, a silver medalist in Alpine skiing in 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Winter Games.The campaign has now gone beyond Japan, with Sally Conway of Scotland, who won the bronze medal in judo at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and Kreshma Rasikh from Afghanistan’s national women soccer team, joining the growing ranks of athletes disseminating their video messages on social media platforms.The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace was created by the UN General Assembly in 2013.In her message for the Day, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said that sport relies upon the concepts of respect, understanding, integration and dialogue, and it contributes to the development and fulfilment of individuals regardless of age, gender, origins, beliefs and opinions.“That is why sport is a unique forum for action and reflection to transform our societies,” she said. Video screen shotA collage of screen captures from video messages by Japanese athletes joining a United Nations-backed campaign to promote Sustainable Development Goals through sports. “Let’s use the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics as an opportunity to let the world know about the importance of SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals],” said Koji Murofushi, the gold medalist in hammer throw at the 2004 Athens Olympics, in his video message.The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 SDGs were adopted by world leaders in 2015 as a blueprint to achieve a healthy planet where people can live free of poverty and hunger by 2030.   “I often see poverty with my own eyes when I go overseas for tennis matches. Now, donation is probably the only way I can contribute but I support activities aiming to eradicate poverty,” said Mai Minokoshi, a professional tennis player, in her message.The campaign was launched by the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Tokyo and Japan Sports Agency, with the support of Sport for Tomorrow, a Government-private joint venture, to commemorate the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, annually observed on 6 April – the day the first modern Olympics was held in 1896.In the 2030 Agenda, sport’s role for social progress is acknowledged as “an important enabler of sustainable development.” read more

Chevrolet puts Motor Codes at heart of UKs best service campaign

The innovative deal offers buyers of all new Chevrolets a five-year warranty, five-years free servicing, five years roadside assistance, five years of free annual vehicle health checks and free MoT test cover until the car is five years old. “Motor Codes will form a key part of our customer-facing strategy as we push the Chevrolet brand forward from the strong base we have established in the UK,” commented Mark Terry, Chevrolet UK MD. “We are offering our customers the best ever commitment to quality and aftersales service and having the support of Motor Codes gives our offer even more credibility and essential reassurance.” The manufacturer’s ‘Five-Year Promise’ goes above and beyond the industry-wide standards set by Motor Codes, delivering its customers what it describes as the ‘UK’s best service campaign’. The integration of the Code by Chevrolet comes in the same week that Motor Codes revealed that 93% of its customers would recommend the garage to friends and family. The survey of over 3,700 motorists reflects the satisfaction felt by millions of Motor Codes customers, plus those that used the www.motorcodes.co.uk Garage Finder more than 200,000 times this year to find a garage they could trust. For a garage you can trust, use the Garage Finder at www.motorcodes.co.uk and for free independent advice, call the Motor Codes Advice Team free on 0800 692 0825.Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) “We’re delighted that Chevrolet has chosen to integrate Motor Codes with its latest high-profile campaign. The move reinforces the message that our Codes of Practice offer the confidence that motorists need to have in new cars, garages and warranties,” said Chris Mason, Motor Codes director. Chevrolet has been in the UK for five years and is celebrating by offering its customers a comprehensive aftersales package with the trust and reassurance of Motor Codes at its heart. read more