Switzerland Denies Muslim Couple Citizenship for Refusing to Shake Hands

Rabat – The city of Lausanne in Switzerland has denied Swiss citizenship to a Muslim couple over signs of supposedly incompatible cultural differences.The town’s “municipality said it refused to grant the couple’s citizenship application over their lack of respect of gender equality,” Association France-Presse (AFP) reported Saturday, quoting the mayor of Lausanne, Gregoire Junod.According to some conservative interpretations of Islam’s Holy Scriptures, including the Qur’an and the hadith (the record of the deeds and words of the Prophet Mohammed), Muslims are prohibited from physical contact with people of the opposite sex. An exception to the strict interpretation of the Scriptures is only possible when the person of the opposite sex is a member of the devout Muslim’s family or close circle, for example a cousin or a male relative of a woman’s husband.According to the mayor of Lausanne, months-long interactions between the couple and a three-member commission led to the conclusion that the couple did not qualify for Swiss citizenship. Explaining his municipality’s ruling to deny the couple citizenship, Junod explained that “they did not shake hands with people of the opposite sex.” The mayor also mentioned that the couple “showed great difficulty in answering questions asked by people of the opposite sex.”‘A Swiss tradition’The municipality of Lausanne adheres to the laws of the Cantons of Vaud, Switzerland’s legal system that guarantees freedom of belief and religion. Although Junod acknowledged the Muslim couple’s right to religious and personal freedom, he argued that “religious practice does not fall outside the law,” a hint at the importance that Swiss tradition gives to handshake.In 2016, many in Switzerland were dissatisfied when a school in the north of the country ruled in favor of two Syrian brothers who refused to shake hands with their teacher, AFP reported. The two brothers had argued that their religious belief prohibited shaking hands with a person of the opposite sex.However, the brothers’ attitude and the school’s approval of it stood in stark contrast with “the Swiss tradition” that children shake their teacher’s hands as a sign of respect. “Amid the outcry regional authorities quickly overruled the school’s decision,” AFP noted.Commenting on the decision to deny the couple citizenship, Pierre-Antoine Hildbrand, the vice-mayor of Lausanne who was also part of the commission that questioned the couple, said that he was “very satisfied with the decision.” “The constitution and equality between men and women prevails over bigotry,” the vice-mayor argued.The couple has 30 days to appeal to a court for a possibility of overruling should the legal authorities deem the couple’s freedom of conscience more legally convincing than the Lausanne municipality’s adherence to tradition. read more

Morocco 2026 Guinea and Lebanon Voted Against Morocco Deliberately

Rabat – Lebanon and Guinea’s claims about FIFA’s electronic voting system have not convinced Morocco’s 2026 World Cup Committee. According to Morocco 2026, the countries deliberately voted against its bid on Wednesday’s vote in Moscow.A source within the Moroccan committee told Morocco’s sports news outlet Hesport that statements from Guinea and Lebanon denying they voted for the North American bid are attempts to cover up their change of heart at the last minute.“We were surprised by Guinea and Lebanon in the list of voters for the [North] American file after they promised to vote for us … we realize that there is no mistake, and they chose to let us down at the last moment after succumbing to the pressures of Americans and Saudi Arabia,” said the source. The anonymous  member of the committee added that Morocco “has refused” the apology from the two football federations “because the vote for the [North] American file was not made by mistake.” They said the justification “was not convincing at all.”The source added that the voting procedure was simple and easy, and both football federations have not filed a complaint to FIFA about the voting system.“The pressure was terrible before the vote and the  hours before the voting date saw high level collusion, so we can understand the position of those who disappointed us.”After the vote on June 13, the Lebanese and Guinan football federations claimed that they had not voted for the North American bid, United 2026.President of the Guinean Football Federation Antonio Souaré blamed the electronic voting system.Secretary General of the Lebanon Football Association Jihad El Shahf told Football Lebanon that his country voted for Morocco’s bid.Saudi Arabia launched a last-minute campaign  on June 11 and 12, pressuring countries to vote for United 2026.On Wednesday, several Arab and African countries voted for United 2026, including Kuwait, Bahrain, Namibia, South Africa, and Liberia.Morocco’s bid received 65 votes, while the joint bid of North America received a majority of 134. read more

Spain Acts on Moroccan Intelligence Arrests ISIS Suspect

Rabat – A joint Spanish-Moroccan security collaboration resulted in the arrest of a Moroccan national in Spain with alleged ties to ISIS.The Spanish national police arrested a 21-year-old Moroccan individual on Tuesday, July 7, at a gas station in Vitoria, in northern Spain, El Pais reported.The suspect was accused of recruiting and indoctrinating people to join a terrorist organization. <br>Detenido en Vitoria un presunto terrorista del DAESHenVideosAccording to El Correo, the Moroccan national used audio-visual material to incite an individual to commit attacks in Spain.The Spanish outlet quoted police resources as saying, “In fact, it was Morocco which put the Spanish security forces on alert.” Following the North African country’s warning, the suspect “was subject to discreet surveillance.”The Interior Ministry later reported in a statement that the man was known for belonging “to radical circles of jihadist ideology in Algeciras,” where he usually resided.According to Europa Press, the Spanish interior ministry stressed that “the cooperation between Spain and Morocco and the constant alert of both countries is fruitful in operations that allow the deactivation of this type of threat on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar.”According to police investigations, the suspect was in contact with another individual who was arrested late last year in Morocco. Their ultimate goal was to commit attacks.Not the first arrest in VitoriaThe Spanish police have collaborated often with Moroccan authorities to arrest Moroccan nationals allegedly linked to terrorist groups.In February 2017, Spanish police arrested a 41-year-old Moroccan man, also in Vitoria, on suspicion of links to ISIS. A 36-year-old Spanish woman was arrested in Alicante on the same day.In the same month, Spanish authorities arrested two Moroccan nationals aged 25 and 27 in Barcelona. They were convicted of supporting ISIS financially through illegal activities.In March 2017, the Spanish interior ministry announced the arrest of three Moroccans in Roda de Ter, eastern Spain. The suspects were accused of inciting jihadists to carry out terrorist acts on social media. read more

51 Million Tourists Visited Morocco in JanuaryJune 2018

Rabat – Approximately 5.1 million tourists visited Morocco in the first six months of 2018, up 10 percent from the same period in 2017.According to statistics from Morocco’s Tourism Observatory, the number of foreign tourist arrivals increased by 10 percent from the same period in 2017, while the arrival of Moroccans living abroad increased by 1 percent.Morocco registered a notable increase in the rate of tourist arrivals from Italy, up 18 percent; Germany, up 13 percent; France, up 10 percent; Holland, up 8 percent; the United Kingdom, up 7 percent; and Spain, up 6 percent. In overnight stays, Morocco’s hotels and guest house registered an increase of 10 percent in the first half of 2018, with an increase of 13 percent for non-resident tourists and 3 percent for residents.Marrakech and Agadir recorded 56 percent and 55 percent, respectively, increases in overnight stays. Casablanca also showed a notable increase of 56 percent in overnight stays.The country’s overall occupancy rate of classified hotels reached 44 percent. Revenue generated from non-resident tourists in Morocco increased by 15.2 percent to reach MAD 31.2 billion at the end of June, up from MAD 27 billion a year earlier.Read also: Morocco Aims to Double the Number of Indian Tourists in 2019Chinese tourists increase to 120,000 An increasing number of Chinese tourists have visited Morocco since they were exempted from applying for visas in June 2016. Chinese passport holders are entitled to 90-day visas on arrival in Morocco.The Chinese People’s Daily noted that, since the start of visa exemption, Morocco has received a large number of Chinese tourists in all seasons. The newspaper added that, especially in the summer, “we can see the Chinese everywhere” across Morocco from north to south.According to the newspaper, approximately 120,000 Chinese tourists visited Morocco in the first five months of 2018. In 2017, 107,500 Chinese tourists arrived in Morocco, compared with 43,000 in 2016.The tourism sector is one of Morocco’s economic pillars, and the government aims to make the kingdom one of the top 20 destinations worldwide for China’s 500,000 tourists by 2020. read more

Musk promises to let Michigan students tour rocket factory

FLINT, Mich. — Tech billionaire Elon Musk surprised students by showing up at a school assembly in Flint, Michigan, and promising to take some of them for a tour of his Space X rocket factory in California.Musk and Flint Community Schools Superintendent Derrick Lopez also told the crowd of sixth- and seventh-graders Friday that they’d all be getting free laptops.The Elon Musk Foundation announced in December it was giving about $424,000 to help provide laptops as the city recovers from a crisis with lead-tainted water . The schools were also using a separate Musk grant of $480,000 to for water filtration.The assembly was held at Doyle Ryder Elementary but included students from several Flint schools. Musk is the CEO of Tesla Motors and the head of SpaceX.The Associated Press read more

Utah extreme stalking case hones in on Hawaii man

US Military Official US Shares Moroccos Concerns About Instability in Sahel

Rabat – Having met with senior officials in Morocco, Army General Stephen T. Townsend, the commander of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), said on August 29 that Morocco is a “strong” counterterrorism partner.During his visit to Rabat, Townsend emphasized to the press the importance of the relationship between Morocco and the US.The US official said that the relationship between the two countries is “based on a mutual commitment to security and sustainable development in the region.” “By training together with other African partners, the US military and the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces can improve our ability to work together and provide a safe, more prosperous future for the region,” he said.Townsend added that Morocco is a regional leader in security as it secures not only its own borders, but also brings security to the rest of Africa through training and peacekeeping operations.Read Also: Donald Trump: US and Morocco Still Have a Lot to Accomplish TogetherThe US military official also spoke about the worrying situation in the Sahel region,  emphasizing that the US share Morocco’s concerns about the instability in the region.Head of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) Abdelhak Khiame has long warned of the alarming situation in the Sahel.In a series of interviews,  Khiame explained that gangs and criminal networks consider the Sahel region a safe zone for terror cells.He said that a lack of security cooperation in the region is exacerbating the already fraught issue.In response to the threat in the region, Townsend said, “We are working with all of our African partners and international partners to try to solve this problem.”The US official reiterated the US acknowledgment of Morocco’s efforts to stand against extremism, radicalization, and terrorism.Morocco has modernized its security strategy. The surge of terror threats in Morocco urged Morocco to introduce in 2015 the BCIJ, who has been dismantling terror cells for years.The 2018 Global Terrorism Index listed Morocco among the least impacted countries by terrorism. Morocco’s counterterrorism strategy, according to the report, makes the North African country safer than powerful countries, including the US, ranked 20th, and France ranked 30th. Morocco ranked 132nd out of 163 in the 2018 terrorism index.In addition to Morocco’s efforts in curbing terrorism, Townsend also extolled Morocco’s cooperation under peacekeeping operations.Morocco contributes with more than 2,100 uniformed peacekeeping volunteers.Townsend also praised the annual African Lion exercise, the largest exercise that AFRICOM undertakes.Morocco has been hosting the exercise as the primary sponsor for years, Townsend said. He added that the next exercise will convene 3000 participants from 21 partner nations, including at least eight African partner nations. read more

US service companies grew at a slower pace in April

U.S. service companies grew at a slower pace in April, as business activity generally showed a levelling off.The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported Friday that its service index fell to 55.5% last month, down from 56.1% in March. Any reading above 50 signals growth.Companies surveyed for the index were mostly optimistic about overall business conditions but expressed continuing concern about finding qualified employees, the ISM said.The service sector, which is where most Americans work, has been expanding for 111 straight months, according to the ISM index.The Associated Press read more

UNbacked body says reconstruction plan for Afghanistan on track

1 May 2007The high-level United Nations-backed body tasked with overseeing the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year reconstruction blueprint for the war-ravaged country, said today that since its inaugural meeting last year, the implementation of the plan – which aims to bolster security, economic development and counter-narcotics efforts – is on track. However, the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) also noted that while the Compact is capitalizing on momentum to meet both short and long-term goals, it is necessary to translate these efforts into meaningful changes for a majority of Afghans.“Last year was successful,” said Ishaq Nadiri, JDMB co-chair, professor and senior economic adviser to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, referring to the problem-solving mechanism established and implemented. “We are glad that there is progress to report, but we must focus more energy on implementation to ensure that this progress soon becomes more evident on the ground.”He added that the Compact’s success was challenged unexpectedly by the unstable security situation in the south and south-east of the country.Meeting at the Afghan capital Kabul, the body welcomed increased commitments to meet the country’s most pressing needs. The number of Afghanistan National Police officers has been raised temporarily to 82,000, and enhanced coordination on energy issues has yielded beneficial results. In addition, the Government and its partners have made progress in attaining the benchmarks of the Compact, which was adopted last January.In terms of short-term targets, successes include the functionality of the National Assembly, the start of Government discussions with its partners on investment in natural resource harvesting and the coming into effect of four key laws regarding investment and the private sector.Regarding longer-term benchmarks, the JCMB reported that school enrolment has surged 12 per cent to 5.4 million students, of whom 35 per cent are girls. Over 80 per cent of Afghans now have access to basic health services, while 132 million square metres of land has been cleared of mines since last March.“In healthcare, in education, in community projects, in microfinance, in government revenue collection, in the modernization of the Afghan National Army – in each of these areas and many others we are moving forward,” said Tom Koenigs, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and JCMB co-chair.“But now, as the Afghanistan Compact enters its second year, we must look beyond this room and devote our attention to ensuring that the JCMB and its associated consultative mechanisms produce even more tangible outputs and visible action.”In another development, the head of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) met with President Karzai to discuss how to stamp out polio, once and for all in Afghanistan, which is one of the four remaining countries yet to eradicate polio.WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan met with President Karzai at the Arg, or Presidential Palace, in Kabul yesterday to discuss the next steps to stop the spread of the disease, including how to reach migrant, nomadic and displaced children so they can receive the vaccine.“Afghanistan can win the polio race,” President Karzai told Dr. Cho. “As we rebuild our country, we will ensure that no Afghan child will ever again be paralyzed by this terrible disease.”Afghanistan, which recently vaccinated over 7 million children against the disease, is the only country among those still affected by polio to not have reported any cases since last November.Dr. Chan’s visit is the first leg of a two-part journey to Afghanistan and Pakistan to encourage joint efforts to curtail polio transmission, which straddles the long and porous border between the countries, which are considered a single “block of transmission.”She also conferred with President Karzai on synchronizing plans with Pakistan to curb transmission of polio. Although Afghanistan has been polio-free so far this year, Pakistan has reported cases which are genetically related to the virus detected in Afghanistan last year.During her stop in Afghanistan, Dr. Chan met with NATO and the International Security Assistance Force to investigate ways of negotiating pauses in the fighting to allow medical workers to vaccinate children, since the security situation in the southern region of the country and in areas bordering Pakistan makes it hazardous for health professionals to operate.“Days of Tranquillity and a sense of security for health workers are indispensable for Afghanistan to protect its children from polio and to lead the world towards the complete eradication of this disease,” Dr. Chan said.Last year, the country reported 31 cases of polio, up from just nine in 2005, and most of the new cases were in the Southern Region.Afghanistan still needs almost $20 million to meet its immunization needs for 2007 and 2008.The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a worldwide effort spearheaded by WHO, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Rotary International and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was launched in 1988 when over 125 countries were impacted by polio. read more

In Chad UN mission starts training local police

8 April 2008The United Nations mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) is launching a programme tomorrow to train 77 Chadian police and gendarmerie commanders in law and order and respect for human rights. After an intensive four-week course, the officers will form part of the Détachement Integré de Sécurité (DIS) working in refugee camps, internally displaced person (IDP) sites and major towns in eastern Chad. MINURCAT is targeting a total of 850 personnel to eventually make up the DIS. According to a Security Council resolution last year, MINURCAT is tasked with selecting, training, advising and facilitating support to the DIS. Meanwhile the European force, EUFOR, is responsible for providing a security umbrella in the areas where MINURCAT conducts its activities. MINURCAT was set up by the Security Council last September to help protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid to thousands of people uprooted by insecurity in the northeast of the CAR and eastern Chad, and in the neighbouring Darfur region of Sudan. read more

Lack of fuel rising food prices hampering UN aid efforts in Gaza

2 May 2008Fuel shortages and rising food prices are placing heavy burdens on the lead United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees and forcing it to cut back on life-saving activities in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, its spokesperson said today. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is currently facing a shortfall of more than $117 million in its General Fund, hampering efforts to provide emergency and regular food aid to nearly one million refugees in the West Bank and Gaza alone, spokesperson Matthias Burchard told reporters in Geneva. Regarding the fuel situation, he said that although the Agency has received enough fuel to allow it to resume food aid distribution in Gaza, the haphazard supply is making it impossible to carry out any planning. And it is worried that it is again running out of fuel today. According to UNRWA, the streets of Gaza are virtually empty of cars and public transportation has stopped. As a result, enrolment in UNRWA schools – which provides education to nearly 200,000 children – is now basically limited to those who are able to walk to school.“Apart from all the other hardships, it is particularly heart-wrenching that education, once the trump card of Palestine refugees, proudly referred to also by its donors, is now reduced to who can still walk to school,” Mr. Burchard told reporters in Geneva.UNRWA’s Director of Operations in Gaza has called the humanitarian situation in Gaza “shocking and shameful,” and said the solution to reverse the current trend of human misery and violence is access for people and supplies to get into and out of Gaza. read more

UN tourism chief unveils plan to step down early

13 June 2008The head of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced today that he is stepping down at the start of next year to ensure a smooth transition before the scheduled end of his final term in office. Francesco Frangialli, Secretary-General of the Madrid-based agency, told its Executive Council that membership of UNWTO had expanded to 153 States during his leadership, and more States are expected to join soon.He said his main achievements as Secretary-General included the creation of a universally accepted system to measure the impact on tourism on national economies, and the adoption of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism to encourage responsible and sustainable tourism.Last year the number of international tourists worldwide climbed to 898 million arrivals, a 6 per cent jump on the previous year’s totals. Every major region experienced an above-average increase. read more

UN maritime force takes part in rescue after ship sinks off Lebanese

Members of the maritime task force of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had rescued at least 35 survivors and recovered the bodies of eight others by 5 p.m. local time today, according to a press release issued by the peacekeeping operation. Three more people have been rescued by other ships in the area.The cargo ship, known as Danny F II and carrying livestock, sent out a distress signal last night after it capsized about 10 nautical miles from the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. Media reports say the ship had been sailing from Uruguay to Syria.UNIFIL dispatched three ships – the frigate Zeffiro, the mine hunter Laboe and the supply ship Mosel – to the scene last night and the mission said the rescue operation is ongoing, but is being hampered by difficult weather conditions.Survivors of the sinking are being provided with immediate medical care aboard the UNIFIL ships before they are transported ashore in Lebanon.“This is a very tragic incident and our UNIFIL maritime task force peacekeepers are doing their utmost to save the lives of the victims,” said Major-General Claudio Graziano, the Force Commander of the mission. “We hope that our joint efforts with the Lebanese navy will help minimize the number of casualties.”The maritime fleet has been deployed since 2006 in the wake of that year’s war between Israel and Hizbollah, and is tasked with helping the navy secure its territorial waters and prevent the unauthorized entry of arms or related material by sea into Lebanon.Last week the task force rescued a crew member from a merchant ship that had sunk off the southern Lebanese coast and in 2008 the force rescued 14 people from a disabled vessel. 18 December 2009The United Nations maritime task force serving off the Lebanese coast is taking part in a search-and-rescue operation today to try to save the lives of the crew of a cargo ship that sank last night in rough seas. read more

Iraqi Christians fleeing religious violence in Mosul receive UN support

“Protection remains an ongoing concern for the Christian community as well as other vulnerable groups remaining in Mosul,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported yesterday.Fleeing families told OCHA that while many Muslim residents in Mosul had shown sympathy to the plight of the Christian community, continued threatening telephone calls and demands for bribes had caused them to flee.Some women interviewed by OCHA also said they felt pressured to wear the hijab, a veil worn by Muslim women, so as not to be identified as a Christian. The number of people displaced rose from 720 families or 4,320 people on 1 March to 866 families or 5,196 people just three days later. The World Food Programme (WFP), through its partner Islamic Relief, distributed 50 kilograms of wheat flour per family to 638 families in different locations in Ninewa governorate, which includes Mosul – Iraq’s second largest city. Additional families received food assistance through WFP’s programmes for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the neighbouring Dahuk and Erbil governorates. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), through it cooperating partner, International Medical Corps, has announced plans to conduct an awareness campaign on child protection for all IDPs in the areas of displacement.In addition, the Kurdistan Regional Government has issued directives to local universities to facilitate the enrolment of affected Christian students after they reported that they were not attending classes in their hometown.The humanitarian effort is overseen by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with support from OCHA, local Iraqi authorities, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and other UN agencies. 9 March 2010The United Nations and local authorities in northern Iraq are providing food, hygiene kits, kerosene and other humanitarian aid to hundreds of Christian families who fled their homes in the city of Mosul following targeted intimidation and violence. read more

Some 115 million child labourers globally engaged in hazardous work – UN

The report, “Children in hazardous work: what we know, what we need to do,” cites studies from both industrialised and developing countries that indicate that a child labourer suffers a work-related accident, illness or psychological trauma every minute.The document, released as the UN prepared to mark the World Day against Child Labour, which falls on Sunday, says that although the overall number of children aged 5 to 17 in hazardous work declined between 2004 and 2008, child workers in the 15-to-17 age bracket rose by 20 per cent during the same period, from 52 million to 62 million.“Despite important progress over the last decade, the number of children in child labour worldwide – and particularly in hazardous work – remains high,” said Juan Somavia, the ILO Director-General.“Governments, employers and workers must act together to give strong leadership in shaping and implementing the policies and action that can end child labour. The persistence of child labour is a clear indictment of the prevailing model of growth. Tackling work that jeopardizes the safety, health or morals of children must be a common and urgent priority,” said Mr. Somavia.The ILO Global Report on child labour warned last year that efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour were slowing down and expressed concern that the global economic crisis could halt progress toward the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016.The new report calls for fresh efforts to ensure that all children remain in education institutions at least until the minimum age of employment. It urges countries to prepare lists of hazardous work as required by ILO child labour conventions.According to the report, urgent action is required to tackle hazardous work by children who have attained the minimum working age, but may be at risk in the workplace, and calls for training and awareness to ensure that they are informed on risks, rights and responsibilities in the workplace.The study notes that the problem of children in hazardous work is not confined to developing countries. Evidence from the United States and Europe also shows the high vulnerability of youth to workplace accidents.The ILO report concludes that while there is a need to strengthen workplace safety and health for all workers, specific safeguards for adolescents between the minimum age of employment and the age of 18 are needed.The measures need to be part of a comprehensive approach in which employer and worker organizations and labour departments have particularly critical role to play.So far 173 of the ILO’s 183 Member States have committed themselves to tackling hazardous work by children “as a matter of urgency” by ratifying the ILO convention on the worst forms of child labour.In a statement on the occasion of the Day, the independent UN expert on contemporary forms of slavery, Gulnara Shahinian, said the annual observance draws attention to the alarming extent of hazardous child labour and advocates for change. “On this day, we must reiterate our profound commitment to the global effort to achieve the complete elimination of the worst forms of child labour, which includes hazardous child labour, by 2016,” said Ms. Shahinian.“Poverty, conflict and harmful traditional practices are some of the main causes for children working. Child labour is in great demand because it is cheap, and because children are naturally more docile, easier to discipline than adults, and too frightened to complain.”The expert, who reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, stressed that the protection of children’s rights should be a high priority for Governments, which have the primary responsibility to provide families and communities with alternative livelihoods, access to social protection and basic services. 10 June 2011More than half of the world’s estimated 215 million child labourers are engaged in hazardous work which puts them risk of injury, illness or death, the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a new report unveiled today. read more

Comic book on UN antipoverty goals honoured with prize

27 October 2011A comic book produced by the United Nations to raise awareness and to educate children around the world about the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was honoured today with a prize at an awards ceremony in Monaco. A comic book produced by the United Nations to raise awareness and to educate children around the world about the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was honoured today with a prize at an awards ceremony in Monaco.The six organizations involved in the project were awarded the Special Jury Prize at this year’s Peace and Sports Awards for “Score the Goals: Teaming Up to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals.”The 32-page educational comic book features 10 football UN Goodwill Ambassadors – Emmanuel Adebayor, Roberto Baggio, Michael Ballack, Iker Casillas, Didier Drogba, Luis Figo, Raúl, Ronaldo, Patrick Vieira, and Zinédine Zidane – who become shipwrecked on an island on their way to playing an “all-star” charity football game in support of the UN. While on the island, the team has to tackle the eight MDGs along their journey towards being rescued. The MDGs are targets aimed at slashing global poverty by 2015 by combating hunger, disease, illiteracy, environment degradation and discrimination against women.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the award is a welcome recognition of how the UN family is working creatively with a wide variety of partners to deliver its educational messages and fulfil its mission towards achieving the MDGs. “By using the power of sport and the universal reach of football Goodwill Ambassadors, the UN organizations involved in ‘Score the Goals’ have succeeded in projecting the UN voice beyond its usual audiences, reaching the crucial constituency of children and youth,” he said.The book, primarily aimed at children between the ages of eight and 14, is currently available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, German and Korean.It provides an interactive way to help young people understand, familiarize and reflect about the MDGs as well as invites them to take action through several activities provided in an adjoining educational guide. The comic book was officially launched in January in Geneva by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Wilfried Lemke, and Mr. Casillas, the Spanish and Real Madrid goalkeeper.The project is the result of a joint effort led by the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP), in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), and the Stop TB Partnership. The prize was presented by Prince Albert II of Monaco in front of an audience of more than 500 prominent figures from politics, sport, the private sector and civil society who are participating in the 5th Peace and Sport International Forum. read more

Deploring electionrelated violence in DR Congo top UN officials appeal for calm

1 December 2011Top United Nations officials today deplored the violence that marred this week’s elections in certain areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and urged all sides to exercise restraint and to resolve any differences through peaceful means. Top United Nations officials today deplored the violence that marred this week’s elections in certain areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and urged all sides to exercise restraint and to resolve any differences through peaceful means.Millions of Congolese went to the polls on Monday to cast their votes in presidential and parliamentary elections – only the second time since its independence in 1960 that the country held democratic elections. They are now awaiting the announcement of the preliminary results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).The UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) in DRC, which has been monitoring election-related violence, is investigating reports that more than 10 people have allegedly been killed by security forces and supporters of political parties, and many more wounded through the use of live ammunition, in the capital, Kinshasa, since 26 November.“Clearly, political differences cannot be resolved through killings, and security forces should not use disproportionate force in the conduct of crowd control,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. “Such violations, as well as violence committed by supporters of political parties, must be investigated and perpetrators brought to justice without delay.”Deploring the killings and other acts of violence committed over the past few days, Ms. Pillay stressed that political leaders from all sides have a crucial role to play at this important crossroads in the history of DRC.“It is their responsibility to resolve tensions through peaceful means,” she stated in a news release. “They must realize that they may be held criminally responsible for their actions as well as for acts committed by their supporters.”The High Commissioner urged all sides to exercise restraint and to resolve differences peacefully to prevent the country from sliding into a cycle of post-electoral violence.The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Roger Meece, also deplored the violence that marred the elections in certain areas throughout the country, and called on all political leaders and the general population to remain calm.He shared the concerns expressed by observers regarding the reported irregularities and the need to assess their impact on the electoral process, according to a news release issued by the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (MONUSCO).Earlier this month, UNJHRO issued a report that detailed numerous human rights violations during the pre-electoral period in DRC, and warned that such incidents could threaten the democratic process and result in post-electoral violence.The report documented 188 violations apparently linked to the electoral process that occurred between 1 November 2010 and 30 September this year, including acts of intimidation, threats, incitement, arbitrary arrests and violence.The violations most frequently infringed individuals’ freedom of expression, the right to physical integrity and the right to liberty and security of the person, as well as the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. read more

Western provinces have a pressing need for temporary foreign workers premiers say

IQALUIT, Nunavut — Western provinces have a genuine, pressing need for skilled labour and the federal government’s recent overhaul of its temporary foreign worker program goes too far, the interim Alberta premier said Thursday.“All of us agree that the changes are detrimental to our jurisdictions,” Dave Hancock said at the end of a brief western premiers’ conference hosted in Iqaluit, in the eastern Arctic, by Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna.All of us agree that the changes are detrimental to our jurisdictions“We will continue to talk to federal government about that. But we also want to talk more broadly with the federal government … on immigration policy, on labour market policy.”In the communique released at the end of their meeting, the western leaders chastised Ottawa on temporary workers.“Limiting the ability to hire foreign workers to address critical labour shortages will unduly punish responsible employers in Western Canada, particularly those in smaller and remote communities where Canadian workers are not readily available,” they said.They added that the government’s overhaul of its immigration system must be “responsive to the diverse needs of western Canadian jurisdictions.”The premiers also urged residents in their rural and remote communities to prepare to take advantage of increasing job opportunities from the ongoing energy boom.They emphasized, however, “the shared role of employers, industry and government in skills development and on-the-job training to build capacity at the local level, particularly in aboriginal and northern communities.”In Nunavut, however, such talk makes the Inuit uneasy.The traditionally nomadic Inuit are struggling to cope with Arctic development, fearing a loss of their way of life. They’re grappling with high levels of suicide and substance abuse.Late last month, the National Energy Board approved energy exploration, including seismic testing, in offshore Arctic waters despite protests from Inuit communities. They worry about the risks posed to whales, walruses, seals and other wildlife.The hamlet of Clyde River, on the northern reaches of Baffin Island, also recently said no to cruise ships that had hoped to drop anchor in the community. The hamlet council raised concerns that the presence of ocean liners would disrupt wildlife and pollute the environment.Not everyone is opposed. At Nunavut Day festivities on Wednesday, young people expressed optimism about Arctic development.“I believe it’s good because it can boost our economy,” said Joseph, a 14-year-old Inuit boy wearing a pro-seal hunt T-shirt.Hancock, Pasloski and N.W.T. Premier Bob McLeod travelled to Iqaluit, a Baffin Island boom town, to participate in Thursday’s meeting. Flooding kept Manitoba’s Greg Selinger and Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall away, while B.C. Premier Christy Clark had a scheduling conflict.Selinger and Wall dialed in to the meeting and the subsequent news conference. The leaders covered a number of issues.The premiers said provincial and territorial officials should work with the federal government to “consider ways to reduce the number of aboriginal children taken into care by child welfare authorities and to improve the quality of care.”They also urged the federal government to “broaden the definition of a ’disaster event’ to include multiple, smaller events that have large, cumulative impacts” and to increase federal disaster relief funds.They went over the need to improve domestic trade among provinces and territories and increase labour mobility, so that those seeking work can easily travel to regions of the country that have labour shortages. read more

National Energy Board grants Imperial Oil more time to build Mackenzie Gas

CALGARY — The National Energy Board is giving Imperial Oil until the end of 2022 to start building the long-delayed Mackenzie Gas Project, a pipeline that would ship natural gas from the Northwest Territories to northern Alberta.The board originally approved the project in December 2010 and the federal cabinet of then-prime minister Stephen Harper sanctioned it the next year.But one of the conditions was that construction had to start by the end of 2015.East coast ‘renaissance’: Oil producers flock to area, committing $1.2B in parcels after law changeFormer NEB chair says politicians should stay out of pipeline reviews as energy watchdog comes under siegeLast year, Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) asked the board for a seven-year extension on that deadline because low gas prices had forced the companies behind the project to delay development.In granting approval of the extension, the board said the project was still in the public interest.The decision now goes to the federal cabinet of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for final approval.The natural gas market has been transformed since proponents first filed for regulatory approval more than a decade ago, with shale formations in Canada and the United States providing a closer, cheaper and more abundant source of natural gas.Premier Bob McLeod of the Northwest Territories has been a supporter of the project, saying it would bring prosperity to the North, but some groups have opposed it on environmental grounds.The proposed $16.1 billion pipeline would run 1,200 kilometres from gas fields near the coast of the Beaufort Sea to the northern Alberta boundary, where it would link up with existing gas pipelines. read more

Investors see shine in gold amid rising tensions between US and North

TORONTO — Investors flocked to gold Wednesday against the backdrop of rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, offsetting some of the broad-based declines on the commodity-heavy Toronto stock index.The S&P/TSX composite index was down 39.02 points to 15,217.33, with most sectors finishing in the red while bullion stocks surged nearly 1.9 per cent.The December gold contract was ahead US$16.70 to US$1,279.30 an ounce. The precious metal is usually seen as a safe port in times of geopolitical uncertainty.“The fear trade, which is the gold trade, has helped buoy the Toronto Stock Exchange,” said Allan Small, a senior investment advisor at Holliswealth.“When there’s fear in the world, if there’s some sort of pending or possible negative event, people buy gold.”Some investors are on edge after U.S. President Donald Trump warned North Korea of “fire and fury.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later insisted the U.S. isn’t signalling it’s about to mete out a military response despite threats from North Korea suggesting it could attack Guam, a U.S. island territory in the Pacific.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 36.64 points to 22,048.70, the S&P 500 index inched down 0.90 of a point to 2,474.02 and the Nasdaq composite index lost 18.13 points to 6,352.33.Small attributed a large part of the Dow’s decline to disappointing earnings from Disney after the media giant reported a weak quarter, said it would pull its movies from Netflix and start two of its own video streaming services. The company’s stock (NYSE:DIS) dropped $4.15, or 3.88 per cent, to US$102.83.In currency markets, the Canadian dollar was trading at an average price of 78.71 cents US, down 0.20 of a U.S. cent. That marks the sixth straight trading day of declines for the loonie against a strengthening greenback.Elsewhere in commodities, the September crude contract was up 39 cents to US$49.56 per barrel, September natural gas advanced six cents at US$2.88 per mmBTU and the September copper contract declined two cents at US$2.93 a pound.Follow @DaveHTO on Twitter. read more

1 2 3 4 204