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Pulwama attack Pakistan says no terror camps exist on 22 locations shared

first_imgIslamabad: Pakistan on Thursday said it has examined 22 “pin locations” shared by India but found no terror camps and claimed that there are no links to nail 54 people detained in connection with the Pulwama terror attack as it shared the “preliminary findings” with New Delhi. Pakistan is willing to allow visits, on request, to these locations, the Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement. “While 54 detained individuals are being investigated, no details linking them to Pulwama have been found so far,” it said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details “Similarly, the 22 pin locations shared by India have been examined. No such camps exist. Pakistan is willing to allow visits, on request, to these locations,” the FO said. It said that in consistent with its commitment to cooperate, Pakistan on Wednesday shared “preliminary findings” of its investigations with India along with a set of questions. “Subsequently, the diplomatic corps in Islamabad was briefed as well,” the FO said. India handed over the dossier to the Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan in New Delhi on February 27 with specific details of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)’s complicity in the Pulwama attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel on February 14 and the presence of JeM terror camps and its leadership in Pakistan. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday The FO said soon after receiving the dossier, Pakistan constituted an investigation team, detained a number of people for investigation and initiated work on the technical aspects of social media content, a main basis of the Indian documents. The Indian dossier contains 91 pages and six parts, out of which only part two and three pertain to the Pulwama attack, it said. “Other parts are generalised allegations. Pakistan is focusing on those parts which relate to Pulwama incident,” it said. The FO claimed that during the course of investigations, all aspects of the information provided by India have been thoroughly examined including the “confessional” video of Adil Dar, “claim” of responsibility for the attack, Whatsapp and Telegram numbers used to share videos and messages in support of the Pulwama attack, list of 90 individuals suspected of belonging to a proscribed organisation and 22 pin locations of alleged training camps. Service Providers have been requested for data including relevant details of activities and contacts of the GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) number provided by India, it said. A request for assistance from Whatsapp has also been made to the US government, it said, adding that the said additional information and documents from India would be essential to continue the process of investigations. “Pakistan remains committed to taking this process to its logical conclusion,” the FO added. Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after the suicide bomber of JeM killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14. India launched a counter-terror operation against a JeM training camp in Balakot. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured its pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.last_img read more

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Income tax and GST offices to stay open today

first_imgNew Delhi: Tax offices, for both income tax (I-T) and GST, will remain open on Sunday as the departments race against time to meet the revenue collection targets. “As per past practice, all field offices of CBIC (Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs) will remain open during the last weekend of the current financial year also on March 31, 2019, for assisting the taxpayers in all matters,” CBIC said in an office memorandum.In an office order, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) asked its field offices to facilitate filing of tax-returns by the taxpayers by opening additional receipt counters, wherever required, on 31. “The last date for filing belated/ revised tax-returns for assessment year 2018-19 is March 31, 2019.” “The financial year 2018-19 also closes on (March) 31. In view of the closed holidays March 30 and 31, being Saturday and Sunday, I-T offices throughout India (including the ASK Centres), shall remain open on March 30 and 31 during normal office hours,” the CBDT said.last_img read more

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No model code violation by Niti Aayog in sharing dist level data

first_imgNew Delhi: The Election Commission has found no violation of the poll code in Niti Aayog sharing data with the prime minister’s office on places where PM Narendra Modi was set to campaign for the Lok Sabha elections. Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena said the commission has disposed off the complaint as the prime minister is exempted from the provision that bars ministers from combining official visits with campaigning. The exemption to the prime minister was given in October, 2014. “It was not a one time exemption but a standing instruction,” Saxena told reporters here. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghSources later said, the Niti Aayog had not shared any political data but district-level data with the prime minister’s office (PMO). The EC had written to Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on May 4 flagging the allegations made by the Congress and the AAP. Asking Kant to furnish the reply “immediately”, the EC had referred to the allegations that the Niti Aayog has asked officers in various states and Union territories to provide to the PMO write ups about destinations of the prime minister’s campaign. The EC also responded to a question on the Congress’s fresh complaint against information allegedly sought by an officer of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade from the Commerce Ministry on Start Up India, claiming that it was meant to be used for BJP’s manifesto.last_img read more

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NonBJP opposition parties unlikely to meet on May 21

first_imgAmaravati: The non-BJP opposition parties are unlikely to meet on May 21 as Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee has requested TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu to fix a date after the declaration of results on May 23 for it, at the convenience of other parties.”Our leader is yet to take a call on this. It depends on the outcome of the elections. The meeting, though, is bound to happen after the 23rd,” a member of the TDP politburo said here on Monday. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghDuring their meeting on Thursday last, the AP Chief Minister reportedly suggested to his West Bengal counterpart that a meeting of the non-BJP opposition parties be convened on May 21 to discuss the post-poll strategy. She, however, expressed reservations over this, citing the impending counting of votes on May 23. TDP sources here aver that Mamata Banerjee expressed apprehensions over the safety of the EVMs stored in strong rooms across the country and, as such, there was a need for all opposition parties to keep a constant vigil to thwart the BJP’s “nefarious plans.” Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadShe also felt that opposition leaders should remain in their respective states to monitor the counting arrangements, as well as safety of the strong rooms. “Hence, she wanted the opposition meeting to be held after May 23. Anyway, the opposition meeting has to happen after the results are out,” the TDP leader said. Meanwhile, Chandrababu Naidu continued his tirade against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying a certain despondency has crept in in the latter. “His latest utterances are an indication of Modis despondency. He is talking about Rajiv Gandhi, who died 28 years ago. He is also trying to derive mileage from the sacrifices of Army men,” the TDP chief said at a meeting of the partys Nandyal Lok Sabha constituency leaders here Monday.last_img read more

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South Sudan conflict political not tribal Diplomat

first_imgKHARTOUM – The South Sudan ambassador in Khartoum insisted on Sunday that the ongoing conflict in his country between President Salva Kiir and sacked vice president Riek Machar is political in nature, and not motivated by tribal rivalries.Ambassador Mayan Dut Wol said five out of the seven members of the ruling party’s political bureau who supported Machar are from Kiir’s Denka tribe while the other two are from Machar’s Nuer tribe.This proves that “the conflict is about political differences among the ruling party leadership,” Wol told a press conference in Khartoum. Violence erupted in South Sudan, the world’s newest country, last week when Kiir accused Machar of standing behind a botched military coup.South Sudan has been rocked by violence since last Sunday when President Salva Kiir accused sacked vice-president Riek Machar of masterminding a coup.Machar has, for his part, denied any involvement in the alleged coup attempt.Ambassador Wol suggested the situation has now returned to normal, except in the two Unity and Jonglei States.Forces loyal to the sacked vice-president are currently controlling the oil-rich Bentiu, the capital of Unity State.Security conditions in Bor, capital of Jonglei State, a stronghold of Machar’s Nuer tribe, also deteriorated significantly, with heavy fighting reported.The Nuer tribe and Kiir’s Dinka tribe represent South Sudan’s two largest tribes. Together, they account for some 80 percent of the fledging country’s total population of 11 million.-No meddling-Ambassador Wol, meanwhile, denied any involvement of Sudan in the ongoing conflict in his country.“Any talk linking Khartoum with what is going on in Juba is incorrect and contrary to the truth and reality,” he insisted.The diplomat praised Sudan’s official position toward the events in his country.“The position of both, the government and people of Sudan, was positive toward the current situation”, he added.He said Sudan had not offered to mediate between the rival parties in South Sudan.“There is no mediating proposal from Sudan in this regard, but Sudan is a part of the IGAD, [Inter-governmental Authority on Development], who are currently mediating to end the current political crisis in South Sudan,” he said.The IGAD ministerial delegation returned to Addis Ababa late Saturday after failing to broker a political solution to the crisis in South Sudan.The delegation – comprised of the foreign ministers of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya and Uganda.last_img read more

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Morocco Seeks to Reduce Cannabis Cultivated Areas to Less than 30000

Rabat – Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad announced, on Wednesday in Rabat, that the huge anti-drug efforts made by Morocco will enable it, in the short run, to reduce cannabis cultivated areas to less than 30,000 ha, with a complete eradication in prospect.“Our goal, in the short run, is to reduce these surface areas to less than 30,000 cultivated hectares,” said Hassad at a joint press conference with communication minister, government spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi and minister delegate for the Interior Charki Drais.Morocco has always dealt with the issue of cannabis cultivation with transparency and resolve, away from any useless bidding, said the minister in response to statements by some Algerian officials on anti-drug fight. He added that Morocco has adopted a voluntary approach with the United Nations Office against Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to progressively reduce the cultivation and trafficking of cannabis, saying that a joint investigation with the UN body enabled to assess the cultivated areas to 134,000 ha, an area that have being reduced to 47,000 ha, that is a decease of 65%.He pointed out that the fight against the networks of drug trafficking led to the seizure, during the first six months of 2014, of over 100 tons of Chira and the dismantling of 98 trafficking networks. read more

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France Welcomes Moroccos Withdrawal from Guerguerat Region

Paris – France welcomed Morocco’s announcement of a unilateral withdrawal from the Guerguerat region, stressing that this is an important step that eases the situation while taking into account the stability and interest of the region.“France calls on all parties to show responsibility and to unconditionally and immediately withdraw all armed elements from the region, in accordance with the ceasefire agreements,” spokesman of the French Foreign ministry, Romain Nadal, said.The French official underlined that his country supports a just and negotiated solution under the aegis of the United Nations and in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council, noting that France considers the autonomy plan submitted by Morocco in 2007 as “a serious and credible basis” for a negotiated solution.On Saturday night, the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, issued a communique in which he expressed his concern about the situation in the region and called on the parties to practice restraint and “take all necessary steps to avoid escalating tensions.” In a tacit reference to Polisario elements’ obstruction of Moroccan trucks crossing to Mauritania, the UN chief stressed that “regular commercial traffic should not be obstructed and that no action should be taken, which may constitute a change to the status quo of the Buffer Strip.”The UN chief urged “the parties to unconditionally withdraw all armed elements from the Buffer Strip as soon as possible, to create an environment conducive to a resumption of the dialogue in the context of the political process led by the United Nations.” read more

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Rabat and Casablanca Below Top 100 Cities with Best Quality of

Rabat – The Mercer firm has published its 2017 ranking of cities with the best quality of life, featuring Rabat and Casablanca for the second year in a row.The Moroccan capital comes 116th in the ranking, between Sofia and Asuncion. Rabat ranks 8 places ahead of Casablanca, which ranked 125th.In North Africa, the city of Tunis, ranked 114th, ahead of Rabat, while Algiers took 184th position and Tripoli 218th. “Dubai (74) continues to rank highest for quality of living across Africa and the Middle East, rising one position in this year’s ranking, followed closely by Abu Dhabi (79), which climbed three spots. Sana’a (229) in Yemen, Bangui (230) in the Central African Republic, and Baghdad (231) in Iraq are the region’s three lowest-ranked cities for quality of living,” the report said.Vienna took the first place for high quality of life. The authors of the report estimate that 1.8 million people living in the Austrian capital enjoy not only security and good job opportunities, but also the rich historical and architectural heritage of the country. Vienna is closely followed by Zurich, Auckland, Munich, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Copenhagen and Basel.The Mercer ranking is based on 17 criteria, including business climate, crime, public transport, infrastructure and access to safe drinking water. According to the firm, city infrastructure, which was ranked separately this year, plays an important role in multinational companies decisions on where to establish locations abroad and send expatriate workers.Easy access to transportation, reliable electricity, and drinkable water are all important considerations when determining hardship allowances based on differences between a given assignee’s home and host locations. read more

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Purchase of 2M by French Jewish Billionaire Revealed to Be Fake

Rabat – A media claim that the Moroccan state-run TV channel 2M would be bought by a Moroccan Jewish billionaire has turned out to be false.On Tuesday,  the Moroccan news outlet Barlamane published what it presented as an exclusive story, saying 2M, which has been facing financial difficulties for years, was to be purchased by French billionaire and media tycoon of Moroccan origin Patrick Drahi.The Casablanca-born businessman, who immigrated to France with his parents at the age of 15, is the owner of the Israeli news group i24News. He also a stakeholder in three major French media outlets: the TV channel BFM, the daily Libération and the weekly magazine L’Express. His fortune is estimated by Forbes to total USD 13 billion in 2017, making him the fifth richest man in France.After Maghreb Intelligence, a website specialized in economic news, also reported the news  on Tuesday, many other Morocco and foreign outlets also wrote about the story.Maghreb Intelligence said that Drahi and the Moroccan government were close to reaching an agreement about buying shares of Soread 2M, the company which owns the TV channel and other affiliated media outlets.The website claimed that 2M’s boss, Salim Cheikh, was set to leave the company. It also added the powerful news director, Samira Sitail, would keep her position for a while during the transition before assuming another one afterwards.However, the news turned out to be a hoax. Arthur Dreyfuss, the spokesperson of Altice, the Netherlands based multinational company founded and headed by Drahi, has denied the claims.Dreyfuss told TelQuel that Barlamane “did not even take the trouble” of getting in touch with them to verify the story.2M started as a private in company when it was launched in 1989, before the Moroccan state bought 68 percent of its shares in 1996.Despite having a large audience in comparison with other state-run TV channels, 2M has been suffering from financial difficulties for years.In 2012, MAD 260 million were allocated by the government to save 2M from bankruptcy.In June the government announced once again that it would inject MAD 220 million to help the company stay afloat.The fact that the company’s problems could not be solved during the last five years has raised serious questions about its management and future. read more

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Facebook GE and Charter Communications surge Hershey slips

NEW YORK — Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily on Thursday:Microsoft Corp., down $1.95 to $104.43The technology company reported mixed results, showing growth in its cloud-computing business, but weakness in its key personal computing segment.Facebook Inc., up $16.27 to $166.69The social media company reported robust earnings and revenue, with 9 per cent growth in its monthly user base.MasterCard Inc., up $7.11 to $211.13The credit card company reported better-than-expected financial results, with growth in key purchase volume measures.General Electric Co., up $1.06 to $10.16The industrial conglomerate reported strong revenue growth, while also announcing a $1.5 billion settlement related to the financial crisis in 2008.Charter Communications Inc., up $41.14 to $331.05The cable company beat Wall Street’s revenue forecast as it added more internet customers.ConocoPhillips, up $2 to $67.69Energy company stocks rose along with the price of oil.United Parcel Service Inc., up $4.21 to $105.40The package delivery service reported a boost in revenue during the key holiday shopping period.PulteGroup Inc., up 57 cents to $27.81Shares of homebuilders jumped following new data showing sales of new U.S. homes soared in November.The Associated Press read more

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States look to boost oversight of struggling small colleges

POULTNEY, Vt. — After 185 years of educating students on its campus of brick buildings on Poultney’s main street, Green Mountain College announced last month it would close after this academic year, leaving hundreds of students scrambling to figure out where to go next.The liberal arts college, which saw enrolment drop 43 per cent over the last decade, is going the way of some other small schools that have struggled to stay afloat amid a shift toward more career-oriented training and, particularly in college-rich New England, a decline in the number of high school students.“I’m definitely just sad and disappointed,” said Lauren Coye, an environmental studies major from Plaistow, New Hampshire. “I mean this community is so great and I fell in love with the campus as soon as I came here, and the farm and the goats and everyone in town, too.”She and her friends thought they had another year and a half together, she said. “Now it’s only four months,” she said.To help protect students, state officials in the region have been looking into increasing their oversight of private, independent colleges. The plans have met resistance from college leaders, who worry financial woes could be publicized before they are at serious risk of closing.In Massachusetts, where at least 17 colleges have closed or merged over the past six years, state education officials are moving forward with a plan to screen colleges every year and gauge their risk of closing. If the state concludes a school might not finish the next academic year, it would be required to notify students and prepare a plan to help them transfer elsewhere.The state moved to intervene after the abrupt shutdown of Mount Ida College, which announced last April it would be closing just weeks later. The news blindsided students.In Vermont, officials took notice when Burlington College folded in 2016 under the weight of debt from a real estate deal, leaving student records behind. The state Agency of Education had to take over the records, which was costly, said Rep. Lawrence Cupoli, vice chairman of the House Committee on Education. The following year, the Legislature had the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges set up an agreement with its member schools to house student records if a school went out of business.Vermont legislators last year considered requiring that a school placed on probation for financial reasons by its accrediting agency inform the state of its status and submit a plan for student records, setting money aside if necessary. That bill did not pass but lawmakers hope to take up similar language this session.“With the recent news about Green Mountain College and concern about what’s happening around New England, it does seem appropriate for us to continue to look at a response,” said Rep. Kathryn Webb, chair of the House Education Committee.The Massachusetts plan has drawn outrage from some college leaders.Helen Drinan, president of Simmons University, said it seems like an overreaction to the Mount Ida closure, which she described as “one really bad incident.”“It feels like a heavy step,” said Drinan, whose school faced financial hardship in 2008 but bounced back. “Anybody caught in that net is going to get a lot of attention that may or may not be deserved, and that may or may not seal their fate. That just doesn’t seem right.”Carlos Santiago, the state’s commissioner of higher education, said he understands the concern from some institutions and plans to work with them to finalize the screening process.Nationwide, at least 64 four-year private, non-profit institutions around the country have closed or announced pending closures since 1995 and 12 have opened, according to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Moody’s Investor Service said in December the outlook for the U.S. higher education sector remains negative because of constrained tuition revenue growth.The U.S. Education Department and college accreditors have their own processes to measure the finances of schools and place struggling institutions under greater scrutiny, but officials in Massachusetts say the process has failed to raise alarms soon enough in the past.As of Dec. 1, more than 500 schools were under heightened monitoring by the federal agency, including Green Mountain College but not Newbury College, a Massachusetts school that announced Dec. 14 it would shut down after this academic year.Green Mountain College, which saw its undergraduate population drop to just 428 students this fall, explored potential partnerships and ways to boost revenue before announcing its closure. A group of alumni and parents is raising money to try to keep the school from closing, but many students are already making other plans. The school said it has arrangements with some other colleges that will take in students, including Prescott College in Arizona.Students knew that the school was in trouble, said sophomore Kyle Patterson, of the Red Bank-Middletown area of New Jersey, so he made plans to attend Paul Smith’s College in New York.“I just felt bad for everyone else who didn’t have a plan,” he said.____Binkley reported from Boston.Lisa Rathke And Collin Binkley, The Associated Press read more

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2 Days Later El Othmani Informs Morocco of Train Accident Investigation

Rabat – Two days after giving condolences on Twitter for the Bouknadel train accident, El Othmani has officially commented on the accident.Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani commented on the October 16 accident during the weekly government council on Thursday in Rabat.El Othmani said that a judicial investigation is underway to determine the real causes of the “tragic derailment of a train on Tuesday in Bouknadel, and to establish responsibilities.” Read Also: El Othmani Tweets Condolences for Victims of Bouknadel Train AccidentHowever, El Othmani’s announcement tells the public nothing new. The public prosecutor of Rabat’s Court of Appeal and the Ministry of Interior had already opened an investigation at the request of King Mohammed VI on Tuesday.Talking about the investigation, El Othmani said that it should “establish responsibilities and draw lessons.” He added that “he was in direct contact with the ministers of interior and equipment, transport, logistics, and water.”Describing the accident as “tragic,” El Othmani finally expressed official condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery for the injured passengers.The accident claimed the lives of 7 people and injured at least 125 people on Tuesday. ONCF Director Rabie Khlie told journalists that the cause of the accident might have been a technical issue. However, the public is still waiting for the result of investigations to be revealed, especially after the leaking of an audio recording of a phone conversation between ONCF workers.Read Also: Leaked Recording Blames Bouknadel Train Accident on Track, SpeedingIn the recording, some workers implied that train drivers accelerated far above the speed limit for the area where the train derailed.Workers also said that they have complained since Friday, October 12, to ONCF about a problem on that stretch of track, but the company did not properly communicate the lowered speed limit.Tuesday’s accident was the third train accident in 2018.On January 13, a train coming from Settat, a town near Casablanca, crashed into a light pole at the Casablanca Port train station.On February 17, a deadly crash involving a freight train and a personnel transport vehicle killed at least 6 people and injured 14. read more

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Cannabis company Aphria says president Jakob Ripshtein resigning June 7

Companies in this story: (TSX:APHA)The Canadian Press LEAMINGTON, Ont. — Cannabis company Aphria Inc. says Jakob Ripshtein, the company’s president, is resigning.The company says Ripshtein will remain in his current role until June 7.The move came today as the company announced several new executive appointments including James Meiers as chief operating officer, Aphria Leamington.Meiers joins Aphria from Hain Celestial Group, Inc., a natural and organic products company with operations in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.The company also named Tim Purdie as chief information officer and chief information security officer, and Maureen Berry as vice-president, corporate human resources.Aphria is still looking for a permanent chief executive since Vic Neufeld announced in January he would be stepping away from the role. read more

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Mauritania UN refugee agency appeals for funds to aid refugee return

31 August 2007The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today launched a $7 million appeal to help 24,000 refugees voluntarily return to Mauritania from Senegal and Mali. This return “will help resolve one of the most protracted refugee situations in the world,” the agency’s spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told reporters in Geneva. The newly-elected Government in the West African nation, which has prioritized the return and reintegration of refugees, announced that it would invite refugees to return home on World Refugee Day, on 20 June this year. A long-standing border dispute between Mauritania and Senegal escalated into ethnic violence in April 1989, with 60,000 Mauritanians fleeing to Mali and Senegal. The programme, under which UNHCR will organize safe transport and provide initial reintegration assistance to refugees, which is expected to last 17 months, will kick off in October, but faces some major logistical challenges, such as the lack of adequate roads in Mauritania along repatriation routes. Most refugees returning from Senegal, a majority of whom live in rural areas where they have been granted access to land and public services, will travel across the 600-kilometer Senegal River to Mauritania. They will then require transportation on off-road vehicles to return to their places of origin which are far from the main roads. To minimize travel difficulties, the operation has been carefully timed to avoid the rainy season. “Due to limited absorption capacity and poor infrastructure in return areas we plan to repatriate up to 7,000 refugees before the end of this year,” Ms. Pagonis said, adding that other refugees will return next year. The initiative also seeks to bolster the welfare of impoverished communities which will absorb the refugees. “We plan to strengthen the existing education and health services and help to increase income from agriculture and animal husbandry,” she noted. According to early results of a UNHCR survey conducted in concert with Senegal, 24,000 Mauritanians residing in more than 250 different locations in Senegal have expressed their desire to return to 50 communities in four regions of Mauritania. Additionally, several hundred refugees in Mali have also said they wish to repatriate. The agency provided assistance to refugees in northern Senegal until 1995 and helped 35,000 returnees who repatriated voluntarily reintegrate. read more

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Security Council renews international security force in Afghanistan for 12 months

20 September 2007Voicing its concern about increased violence and terrorism in Afghanistan, the Security Council has approved the extension of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the country for another year, with the Russian Federation abstaining on the vote. The other 14 Council members voted in favour of extending the mandate of the Force, which was established after United States-led forces ousted the Taliban regime in late 2001 to help Afghanistan’s then-interim authorities maintain security across the impoverished nation.In doing so, the 15-member body also called on Member States to contribute personnel, equipment and funding to strengthen the NATO-led Force and make it more effective.The Council also stressed the importance of improving Afghan security services in order to provide long-term solutions to security in the country, and encouraged ISAF and other partners to sustain their efforts to train and empower the National Police and other Afghan forces.Speaking before the vote, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin explained that while his delegation had traditionally supported ISAF and the continuation of its mandate, it could not support the current text because the new issue of maritime interception had yet to be clarified.“I should like to note that during the agreement of the draft resolution no clarity was made about the proposed new wording about the maritime interception component of the coalition Force which did not appear in all of the previous resolutions of the Security Council on Afghanistan,” he stated. “The maritime component is necessary exclusively to combat terrorism in Afghanistan and should not be used for other purposes,” he added. He also noted that there had been plenty of time to clarify his delegation’s concerns since the mandate of the Force did not expire until next month. “The unity of the Security Council has been sacrificed to undue haste.” read more

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UN seeks 38 billion for humanitarian emergencies in 24 countries

10 December 2007The United Nations today appealed for $3.8 billion to provide urgent support to 25 million people in humanitarian emergencies in 24 countries around the world, including Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The United Nations today appealed for $3.8 billion to provide urgent support to 25 million people in humanitarian emergencies in 24 countries around the world, including Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Speaking at the launch of the Humanitarian Appeal 2008 this morning in Geneva, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said that “many humanitarian crises involving conflict continue, in Somalia, Sudan, the occupied Palestinian territory, and the DRC to name just a few – and people living in such extreme circumstances will need continued generosity in 2008. “Floods, hurricanes, cyclones, and drought also struck more frequently in 2007, and this trend points to a future where aid agencies, and the world’s vulnerable poor, will have to respond ever more frequently to climate-related disasters,” he added. The Appeal is made up of ten consolidated appeals for the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, the DRC, the occupied Palestinian territory, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, the West African region and Zimbabwe. Some 188 organizations – including UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other international organizations – come together through the Appeal to meet the world’s major humanitarian challenges in a strategic, coordinated, effective and prioritized way. Mr. Holmes urged generosity among donors, noting that “although we know that legislators face many competing priorities, we are asking for merely a few cents of humanitarian aid for every hundred dollars of national income.” Also present at today’s launch were UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres; Secretary-General of CARE International, Robert Glasser; and Founder and Chairman of Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson.Citing some examples from the current year, he highlighted the important humanitarian work being done with the funds provided by these appeals, including the provision of safe water and sanitation to over 450,000 people in Somalia, as well as emergency job creation and cash assistance to 130,000 families in the occupied Palestinian territory. He noted that the 2008 Appeal does not account for the full amount of the funds required for the year, and that two or three additional appeals were expected to be launched in the coming weeks and months, including for Timor-Leste, Sri Lanka and Iraq. Nor does the consolidated appeal include the so-called “flash appeals,” which arise from individual natural disasters. “This year we issued 15 flash appeals, which is five more than in any previous year for natural disasters. We really see a very clear relationship between climate change and that number of appeals. Fourteen of the natural disasters are extreme weather related.” Also present at today’s launch were UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres; Secretary-General of CARE International, Robert Glasser; and Founder and Chairman of Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson. read more

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Widened G20 would include views of more nations SouthEast Asian nations tell

The G20 played a crucial role in helping to ameliorate the impact of the financial crisis, Singapore’s Foreign Minister George Yeo told the Assembly’s annual high-level debate.“Though not ideal, it is the most important driver of change we have right now,” he said, adding that the United Nations is “too intricate” to deal with such problems.But for the G20 to be effective and legitimate, “it is not enough for leaders to confer and make general exhortations,” Mr. Yeo stated.These gatherings should not be confined to the same nations every time, he said, calling for “variable geometry in membership.”The official proposed different participants for different subjects, stressing that “the views of small States, which comprise the majority of UN members, must not be ignored.”He emphasized that “a balance has to be struck between effectiveness and inclusiveness,” since a gathering that is too big would be too unwieldy, while a meeting that is too small would lack “representation and legitimacy.”Recognizing that power shifts never occur smoothly, Mr. Yeo called for a collective effort in putting a new global system into place.“We should not be lulled by the temporary easing of the global economy into thinking that the worst is behind us and that we can return to our old ways again.”For his part, Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah bin Haji Aman of neighbouring Malaysia said that while the G20 includes a greater number of nations than the Group of Eight (G8), “questions still remain as to how representative and inclusive it truly is.”Mr. Aman underscored that that “the choice between legitimacy and effectiveness is often a false one.”Malaysia, he said, was the first to call for reform of the Bretton Woods institutions and bolstering the international financial regulatory system in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.“This means that ideas and solutions are not the monopoly of the large and power,” the Foreign Minister emphasized. 28 September 2009The so-called Group of 20 (G20) industrialized nations must be reformed to strike the perfect balance between effectiveness and inclusiveness, top officials from Singapore and Malaysia told the General Assembly today. read more

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UN voices outrage at mass rape by rebels in eastern DR Congo

24 August 2010The United Nations is dispatching a senior staff member to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as senior officials express outrage at the recent rape and assault of more than 150 civilians by rebels based in the remote and troubled east of the country. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, condemned the attacks, saying they demonstrated the widespread level and systematic nature of sexual violence in the DRC.Mr. Ban and Ms. Wallström urged that the perpetrators be brought to justice and pledged to help authorities in the DRC to fight impunity against sexual and gender-based violence.A UN human rights team has confirmed that members of the Mai-Mai militia and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a group of ethnic Hutu fighters linked to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, carried out the attacks in a series of villages in North Kivu province over a four-day period ending earlier this month.At least 154 civilians were raped in 13 villages along a 21-kilometre stretch of road in North Kivu’s Banamukira territory between 30 July and 2 August, with the attackers blocking the road and preventing the villagers from reaching outside communications. Many homes were also looted.In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban stressed the need for all armed groups in the DRC to lay down their weapons and join the peace process. The country’s civil war officially ended earlier this decade but sporadic fighting continues in the east and rebels wage frequent and brutal attacks against civilians, especially in North Kivu and South Kivu.“The United Nations supports the efforts of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to fight impunity and ensure the protection of civilians from violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including all forms of sexual and gender-based violence,” the statement noted.Mr. Ban said he is immediately dispatching Assistant Secretary-General Atul Khare from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to the region, where he will look into the UN response on the ground.Mr. Khare is scheduled to meet with victims of the attacks, local community representatives and peacekeepers with the UN mission to the DRC (known as MONUSCO) who operate from a base in North Kivu.MONUSCO’s efforts to protect civilians are constrained by both the scale and remoteness of the area, which makes patrolling difficult. Roads are often in extremely poor condition.UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky also noted to journalists today that it is not uncommon for incidents involving civilians to go unreported given the locals’ fear of brutal reprisals from rebels.Ms. Wallström, who will be in charge of the UN’s overall response to the incident, issued her own statement in which she described the mass rape as “a very extreme case in terms of its scale and the level of organization.“This terrible incident confirms my general findings during my recent visit to the DRC of the widespread and systematic nature of rape and other human rights violations,” she added, noting that UN, civil society and NGO (non-governmental organization) sources also confirm this.Ms. Wallström said the sexual violence in the DRC is so grave and widespread that it requires priority attention from the international community.The Special Representative said the UN is examining ways of more rigorously monitoring the violence and other human rights violations so that perpetrators can be better identified and brought to justice. read more

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TSX up despite pullback in some oilsands stocks

The Toronto stock market was higher as positive Chinese data lifted commodity prices and mining stocks and the energy sector advanced following Friday’s announcement clarifying takeovers by foreign state-owned energy companies.The S&P/TSX composite index gained 33.42 points to 12,193.01 while the TSX Venture Exchange climbed 0.19 of a point to 1,186.25.The Canadian dollar gained 0.34 of a cent to 101.25 cents US.Markets were, however, weighed down amid the surprise resignation of Italy’s premier, who was widely credited with restoring confidence in Italy as the country deals with a debt crisis and fiscal cliff worries.Prime Minister Mario Monti announced that he intends to resign by the end of the year, saying he found it impossible to lead after former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s party, parliament’s largest, dropped its support.The Dow Jones industrials were up 15.32 points to 13,170.45, the Nasdaq gained 5.75 points to 2,983.79 while the S&P 500 index dipped 0.48 of a point to 1,417.59.The federal government on Friday approved two high-profile deals. The state-controlled China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) got the green light for its $15.1-billion purchase of Nexen Inc. (TSX:NXY). And Malaysian state-controlled energy company Petronas can go ahead with its $6-billion acquisition of Progress Energy Resources Corp. (TSX:PRQ).Nexen shot up 14.17 per cent to $26.59 while Progress shares jumped 13.4 per cent to $21.96.However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made it clear that state-owned energy companies will find it extremely difficult to buy up Canadian oilsands producers in future.Shares in some of these companies found themselves the target of sellers since they can no longer realistically hope to be snapped up by foreign state-owned enterprises at fat share price premiums.For example, Meg Energy Corp. (TSX:MEG) was down 86 cents to $33.86 but Athabasca Oil Corp. (TSX:ATH) recovered most of an early loss, down a slight three cents to $10.22.Elsewhere in the energy sector, Spartan Oil Corp. TSX:STO) shares ran ahead 43 cents or nine per cent to $4.83 as it announced it has received an unsolicited takeover offer. No other details on the offer have been released. Spartan is active the Cardium light oil play in central Alberta and the Bakken light oil resource play in southeast Saskatchewan.Precision Drilling Corp. (TSX:PD) plans to cut capital spending to $485 million in 2013 from approximately $920 million this year while also instituting a quarterly dividend of five cents per share. Its shares were up four cents to $7.33.There was also mixed economic data from China, the world’s second-biggest economy. Export growth plunged to 2.9 per cent compared with a year earlier, while imports were flat, down from October’s 2.4 per cent growth.The figures were in line with analysts’ warnings that a trade rebound that began in August was unsustainable due to weak global demand amid Europe’s debt problems and a slow U.S. recovery.At the same time, the Chinese government reported Sunday that factory output increased 10.1 per cent from a year earlier, compared with the previous month’s rise of 9.6 per cent year on year. Retail sales rose 14.9 per cent, up from October’s 14.5 per cent. And electricity consumption rose 7.9 per cent in November from 6.4 per cent in October.Oil prices advanced amid data showing November crude oil shipments to China, the world’s second-biggest oil importer, were just below their all-time high. China imported an average of approximately 5.69 million barrels per day last month, just below February’s record-high 5.98 million barrels per day.The January crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 29 cents to US$86.22.The metals and mining sector gained 0.57 per cent while copper prices also advanced sharply with the March contract ahead by five cents to US$3.71 a pound. China is the world’s biggest consumer of the metal, which is viewed as a global economic barometer. HudBay Minerals (TSX:HBM) gained 15 cents to $9.92.The gold sector was up 0.7 per cent while bullion prices also picked up with the February contract up $8.70 to US$1,714.20 an ounce. Iamgold Corp. (TSX:ABX) improved by eight cents to $10.72.Worries about whether the U.S. can head off going over the so-called fiscal cliff at the end of the month continued to cast a shadow over markets.The fiscal cliff is a combination of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and automatic, across-the-board spending cuts due to take effect in January. The worry is that the shock from both measures would cut economic growth significantly and likely push the U.S. back into recession.At the same time, the interest rate on the Italian government’s 10-year bond, an indicator of how risky investors consider a country’s ability to pay down its debt, rose 0.33 percentage points to 4.8 per cent following Monti’s surprise decision to resign.Also adding to investor unease was an announcement from Berlusconi that he was going to run for the premiership.European bourses were mixed with London’s FTSE 100 index up 0.1 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX added 0.03 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 were off 0.06 per cent. read more

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Rogers mistakenly posts high level financial data online then removes it

TORONTO — Rogers Communications Inc. has removed some “high level” financial information from one of its websites after it was accidentally posted there by an employee.A Rogers’ spokeswoman says the financial information, which included annual revenues, was not related to its upcoming fourth-quarter financial results.The information was briefly posted and removed last week from the website of Rogers Ventures Partners, which invests in technology startups.Rogers says the information also included the size and the scope of the Toronto telecom company.It included annual revenue in specific divisions of the company “rounded up to hundreds of millions of dollars.”Rogers wouldn’t say if the employee was disciplined, adding that it does not comment on human resources matters.“The appropriate action would have been taken with the employee,” spokeswoman Patricia Trott said Wednesday from Toronto.“The employee posted some very broad-based, high-level annual information on the Rogers Ventures’ website,” Trott said.“The information is not material to our upcoming earnings, but in the spirit of being prudent and cautious, we removed the information from the site.”Rogers plans to announce its fourth-quarter earnings for fiscal 2012 this Friday.The Canadian Press read more

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