King Mohammed VI Looks Forward to Turkish Presidents Visit to Morocco

Rabat – King Mohammed VI of Morocco said he looks forward to welcoming Turkish President, Recep Tayyip  Erdogan, in Morocco.According to Turkish media, the Moroccan monarch told Ismail Rustu Cirit, President of the Turkish Court of Cassation, on Wednesday, that he wants the Turkish President to pay an official visit to the North African country.“Please give my regards to President Erdogan and tell him that we want to see him in Morocco as soon possible,” King Mohammed VI reportedly said according to the President of the Turkish Court of Cassation. “King Mohammed VI expressed to me Morocco’s solidarity with Turkey in its fight against terrorism, following the terrorist bombings that targeted it recently,” he added according to Anadolu agencyRustu Cirit, who was accompanied by Turkey’s ambassador to Morocco, Ethem Barkan Oz, was among the personalities that King Mohammed VI received at the end of the religious evening he chaired in commemoration of the 17th anniversary of the late king Hassan II’s death.King Mohammed VI paid a private visit to Turkey in December 2014 where he spent the end of the year holidays. During his stay in Turkey, the Moroccan monarch, who was accompanied by his wife Prince Lalla Salma, Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan and Princess Lalla Khadija, was invited to a tea party with Turkish President and his family. read more

Salah Abdeslam Paris Terror Suspect Arrested Alive in Brussels

Rabat – The Main suspect of the Paris attacks was arrested today in Molenbeek near Brussels, Belgium media reported.Belgium Secretary of State for Asylum, Migration and Administrative Simplification confirmed the news in a tweet.We hebben hem.— Theo Francken (@FranckenTheo) March 18, 2016Salah Abdeslam, who was on the loose since the Paris Attacks was caught in a terror raid in Brussels area. “He was injured and arrested,” according to Reuters. Belgian official confirms #ParisAttacks suspect in custody. LIVE from Brussels:— Reuters Live (@ReutersLive) March 18, 2016Abdeslam was shot and wounded then was captured alive in an anti-terror operation. According to Belgium Police, one person was killed in the operation whose identity is still unknown.On big screens in #EU summit building, #Belgium PM @CharlesMichel seen dashing to his car amid reports of shootings in #Molenbeek— Peter Spiegel (@SpiegelPeter) March 18, 2016Prior to launching the Molenbeek operation, Belgium Prosecutors said that the suspect’s fingerprints had been found in an apartment that was raided on Tuesday.Salah Abdeslam, is a Belgian-born terrorist who has been on the run since he allegedly gunned down civilians during the Paris attacks of November 13.The 26-year-old member of so-called Islamic State (ISIS) was “Europe’s most wanted man.”Authorities have said Salah rented the black Volkswagen Polo used during the Paris attacks at the Bataclan concert hall, which claimed the lives of 89 innocent people.Shortly after the attacks, Abdeslam was stopped by the police in his vehicle at the Brussels border, where he was let go and allowed entrance into Belgium after checking his ID. read more

Life Sentence for Two Moroccan Soldiers Charged with Treason

Rabat – Two Moroccan soldiers accused of inciting soldiers and civilians to join the separatist Polisario Front from military bases in the Bir Gandouz region have been sentenced to life in prison following a martial court meeting in Rabat on July 5.Arabic-language daily newspaper Assabah announced in its July 6 edition that a life-in-prison sentence had been given to the sergeant and first sergeant.The two men were arrested by military police four months ago following conversations and messages shared on social media. The police then launched an investigation, which found evidence proving exchanges with Polisario members. Article 205 of the Military Penal Code, which came into place in July 2015, says that “anybody who a military tribunal finds to have been involved in inciting soldiers or similar [people] to rally the enemy, an association, rebel group or recruits for the benefit of a foreign party, will be punished by life imprisonment.” read more

Proposal to Swap Muslim Call to Prayer with Text Messaging Sparks

Rabat- A Ghanaian Minister’s proposal to replace Islam’s traditional call for prayer with text messaging is sparking acrimonious debates among citizens, with many calling the move a blatant violation of religious and minority rights.For the Science, Technology, Environment, and Innovation Minister, Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the idea for the proposal is to manage or decrease the “noise pollution” caused by the use of megaphones or loudspeakers during the call for prayer, which has been a source of complaint for many residents in the country’s capital, Accra.Speaking earlier this week at a news conference about the rationale of the proposal, the Ghanaian minister put forward the claim that replacing loudspeaker-based call for prayers with text messages or WhatsApp notifications will benefit both the environment and social cohesion. “In the house of worship, why is it that the house of worship would not be limited to the house of worship…why is it that time for prayer would not be transmitted with a text message or WhatsApp so the imam will sent WhatsApp message to everybody that the prayer time is up so appear,” the minister said.Speaking after the fact to a website the German news outlet Deutsche Welle, Mr. Frimpong-Boateng reaffirmed the government’s position. Although he admitted the move is controversial, he maintained his belief that resorting to texts on WhatsApp would prove effective in attaining the government vision. “I believe that it can help reduce the noise. It is potentially controversial, but it is something we need to think about,” he said.The move is believed to have been inspired by Rwanda, where the same law passed in March.In Ghana, however, where the Muslim population is much more significant than in Rwanda, the proposal has sparked acrimonious controversies, with the majority of Muslim community calling for the minister to step down from his position. The move particularly angered the imams, who see it as virtually impractical and improbable.Speaking to the press, an Accra-based mosque imam said that text messaging cannot be as effective as loudspeakers when it comes to waking people up for the dawn prayer.Another imam, conceding that the noise should be reduced, enquired about the practicality of said proposal: “How can I understandably text everybody who prays at my mosque for five times a day?” he asked, ironically adding that chances are that he does not even know the majority of the people who pray at the mosque, or their phone numbers.One Muslim cleric, however, welcomed the move, calling it a proposal for Muslims to adapt to the changing social norms. “It us possible for us to adapt text messages to call Muslims to prayer,” Sheikh Bagaya said.Outraged by the “unreasonable and unpractical” proposal, the spokesperson for the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Aremeyaw Sahibu, said during a radio interview that the move constitutes “a violation of our religious rights.”For Mr. Shaibu, the call to prayer is a founding tenet of the Islamic faith, a divine command that to which the community of believers must adhere.“For us, the impracticability is clear. The unreasonability is so clear…[The call for prayer] is something divinely determined, [and] beyond one’s wisdom from which we do not intend to depart,” the National Chief Imam’s spokesperson said, calling that the Environment and Innovation Minister unnecessarily controversial, as he “knew the consequences that such an act would create.” read more

World Cup Moroccan Fans Boo Saudi Fans Insult Turki Al Sheikh

Rabat – Moroccan fans in Russia did not hide their anger towards Saudi fans in St. Petersburg, Russia. Saudi Arabia not only voted for United 2026, but also campaigned against Morocco in the vote for the host of the 2026 World Cup.Besides setting the mood, chanting, and dancing to support Morocco for its first game against Iran, Friday, June 15, at 3 p.m. (Moroccan time), Moroccan fans did not forget to remind Saudi Arabians, especially the president of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, Turki Al Sheikh, of their betrayal by booing and insulting them.The fans perfectly represent the mood of millions of Moroccans taken aback by Saudi Arabia’s decision to vote for the trio bid of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, to organize the 2026 World Cup. While Moroccans were hoping all Arab countries would vote for Morocco’s bid, they were surprised to see that seven Arab countries voted for the United 2026 bid. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq all voted against the Moroccan bid.Upon the announcement of the final results of the vote, Moroccans took massively to social media to lash out at Saudi Arabia for “betraying” Morocco and “stabbing it” in the back. Saudi Arabia did not only vote for the United 2026, but it also embarked on a last minute campaign to pressure many Muslim and Asian countries to vote for the North American bid. read more

Algerian Minister Algeria May Not Be Gas Exporter by 2022

Rabat – Algerian authorities are sounding the alarm bell for the energy-rich nation, saying that the country may lose its gas exporter status as early as 2022.Mustapha Guitouni, Algeria’s energy minister, made the announcement in a speech yesterday. Guitouni said that Algeria may not be able to meet the requirements of the international market if exportation continues at its current pace. If nothing changes now, the country’s gas depletion ratio will reach “irreversible” proportions by 2022, the minister announced. The minister, who said he is “worried about the future” of the country’s gas reserves, said that the worrying developments are mainly due to excessive national consumption. The country must strike a balance between moderately satisfying its internal energy needs and keeping its stature as a leading gas exporter, Guitouni offered.“If we continue to consume [gas] as this rate, by 2022 we will not able to export to foreign markets; we will only have enough for our internal needs…. Algeria produces 130 billion cubic meters of gas and half is consumed on the national market,” he said.Meanwhile, he added that of the total volume of gas that the country produces, “30 percent have to be kept in the wells to keep the system active.” In addition, the state “heavily subsidizes” gas consumed by Algerians, putting a great financial burden on the also: Morocco to Get Full Ownership of Gas Pipeline Linking Algeria to EuropeAnd bearing in mind that gas consumption on the national level has risen by 10 percent annually in the past five years, the government is spending enormous sums to maintain the consumption level of Algerian households at its current level, Guitouni suggested.Last year, Algeria produced 100 million cubic meters of gas on a daily basis. Nearly half of that number, 45 million, was used by Algerian households. The minister worried that consumption level is rising more rapidly than production level, and the government will not be able to sustain the current configuration of Algerian gas market.But what will Algiers do to both satisfy the consumption demands of its population and maintain its exporter status?The minister suggested one option is to introduce new tax measures on gas consumption. The objective is to either curb national consumption level or decrease the state’s subsidy burden. But the measure will unlikely be fully implemented, given Algeria’s “rentier regime” whose survival mainly depends on state largesse and generous tax cuts.Guitouni’s alarming predictions come a month after the publication of an equally grim study on Algeria’s economic prospects. But the report’s predictions are even more sinister than the minister’s, as the findings indicated that deep economic crises would hit the North African country as early as 2019 if bold and radical changes are not implemented. read more

The Latest Carrier All 3 crew members died in plane crash

ANAHUAC, Texas — The Latest on the crash of a Boeing 767 jet freighter into Trinity Bay in Texas (all times local):4 p.m.The owner of a Boeing 767 cargo plane that crashed into Trinity Bay in southeast Texas has confirmed that all three members of the aircraft crew died in the crash.In a statement issued Sunday afternoon , Atlas Air confirmed the deaths and said its “primary focus is working to provide the families of those affected with care and support.”Atlas Air said it was flying flight 3591 for Amazon. The jumbo jet had departed from Miami and was likely moments from landing at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston when witnesses said it crashed nose first into the bay. The wreck happened about 12:45 p.m. Saturday, about 35 miles (55 kilometres) east of Houston.Aside from the crew members, searchers are focused on finding and recovering the black boxes that investigators hope will provide clues to the cause of the crash.___9:50 a.m.Search and recovery crews have recovered one body from the site where a Boeing 767 cargo plane crashed into a coastal bay near Houston with three people aboard.The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook that the body was recovered late Saturday night from the waters of Trinity Bay.Atlas Air said it was flying flight 3591 for Amazon. The jumbo jet had departed from Miami and was likely moments from landing at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston when witnesses said it crashed nose-first into the bay. The crash happened about 12:45 p.m. Saturday, about 35 miles (55 kilometres) east of Houston.Aside from crew members, the searchers are focused on finding and recovering the black boxes investigators hope will provide clues to the cause of the crash.The Associated Press read more

West Fraser misses first quarter analyst expectations as earnings plunge

VANCOUVER — West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. says earnings dropped significantly in the last quarter as the company felt the impact of lower production and demand.The company says it lost $5 million or seven cents per share in the quarter ending March 31, compared with earnings of $197 million or $2.53 per share for the same period last year.Adjusted earnings were $22 million or 32 cents per share for the quarter, compared with $229 million or $2.96 a share for the first quarter last year.Analysts had expected adjusted earnings $36.3 million or 56 cents per share according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.The company says earnings were hit by lower demand in the key spruce-pine-fir sector as U.S. housing starts lagged because of wet weather across major construction markets.B.C. producers including West Fraser have announced several rounds of production curtailments as they grapple with limited wood fibre supply in the province and depressed demand. Companies in this story: (TSX:WFT)The Canadian Press read more

Banks wont take sides in Trump subpoena fight

NEW YORK — Two banks that have done business with Donald Trump say they aren’t taking sides in a fight between the president and House Democrats over access to his financial records.Lawyers for Deutsche Bank and Capital One filed letters in court Tuesday stating that they won’t take a position in Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block them from responding to Congressional subpoenas.Deutsche Bank’s lawyer said the dispute is between Trump and Congress — not the banks.A hearing is scheduled for May 22.Lawyers for House Democrats have agreed to let the banks delay their response to the subpoenas until after there’s a ruling.Trump wants the banks barred from responding to subpoenas from two House committees that have demanded records as part of investigations into the Republican’s private business dealings.The Associated Press read more

Stocks tumble on trade war anxiety Dow down as much as 400

NEW YORK — Stocks tumbled Thursday on Wall Street as investors’ anxiety over the U.S. trade spat with China increased and put the market on track for its third straight week of losses.The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 400 points. Every sector in the S&P 500 index fell except for utilities. Investors sought safety in the bond market and the yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped to 2.33 per cent, the lowest level in more than a year.The market has been highly volatile this month as the U.S. and China escalate their dispute over trade. The two sides have broken off negotiations and appear set for long standoff. Investors are concerned a prolonged trade war could hurt the U.S. economy and corporate profits. The broad S&P 500 index is on pace for its worst month of 2019.Trade-sensitive technology stocks again led the losses. Many tech companies do significant business with China and this week face the additional headwind of proposed restrictions on technology sales to Chinese companies by the Trump administration. Apple fell 2.1% and Microsoft fell 1.2%. Chipmakers, including Intel, Broadcom and Nvidia, all fell broadly.Banks also fell broadly in the sell-off. JPMorgan shed 2.1% and Bank of America slid 2.5%.Energy stocks slid as the price of oil plunged 4.8% to $58.50 a barrel.Investors fled to safer holdings. Utilities were the only companies making gains. The sector is considered less of an investment risk and more money gets shifted into those stocks when people are concerned about volatility and a slowdown in economic growth.The U.S. and China concluded their 11th round of trade talks earlier this month with no agreement. Instead, the U.S. moved to increase tariffs on Chinese goods, prompting China to do the same. The trade dispute escalated further after the U.S. proposed restrictions on technology sales to China, though it has temporarily backed off.China is looking for ways to retaliate and has reached out for support from Russia and its neighbours in Asia. Both the U.S. and China have made overtures about continuing trade talks, but none are scheduled.Markets in Asia and Europe also saw steep losses.KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 1.4% as of 10:20 a.m. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 370 points, or 1.4%, to 25,408. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.6%.BRAZIL CALLING: Avon shares soared 9.3% after Brazilian cosmetics maker Natura announced that it is buying the beauty products company for $3.7 billion in stock.The deal would create the world’s fourth-largest group of beauty products. Natura also currently owns retail stores like The Body Shop.ENTICING PROFIT: Victoria’s Secret owner L Brands surged 13.8% after blowing away Wall Street’s first quarter earnings forecasts.The company, which also owns Bath & Body Works, gave investors a surprise profit on better-than-expected revenue.Damian J. Troise, The Associated Press read more

Security Council calls for greater cooperation to attain LebaneseIsraeli peace

The Security Council today voiced grave concern at persistent reports that the arms embargo along the Lebanese-Syrian border has been breached, militias in Lebanon are re-arming and there have been increasing Israeli violations of Lebanese air space, and urged all sides to cooperate fully with the United Nations to achieve a permanent ceasefire. In a presidential statement read out by Ambassador Pascal Gayama of the Republic of Congo, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, the 15-member panel stressed the need to work for the region towards a long-term solution in line with the resolution ending last year’s war between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hizbollah. The statement reaffirmed the Council’s “full support for the legitimate and democratically elected Government of Lebanon” and condemned any attempts to destabilize the country. But it said it was concerned by recent reports that the arms embargo on the Lebanese border has been breached and that both Lebanese and non-Lebanese armed groups and militias have rearmed. The statement reiterated the call for all militias and armed groups in Lebanon to disband and disarm after noting recent Lebanese Government information about the activities of such groups, especially the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) and Fatah Intifada. Council members also expressed concern about Hizbollah’s statement that it retains the military capacity to strike all parts of Israel, and calls on all parties to refrain from statements and activities that could jeopardize the cessation of hostilities.” They added that Hizbollah is yet to return the two Israeli soldiers it abducted last year before the war began, and called for the soldiers’ immediate return, as well as for greater efforts to settle the issue of Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel. Today’s statement also welcomed the recommendations of the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team (LIBAT), which travelled to the region earlier this year. The Council said it looked forward to implementation of those recommendations. The statement also referred to an increase in Israeli violations of Lebanese air space, and appealed to all parties to respect the cessation of hostilities imposed after last year’s conflict and the Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel. Turning to border delineation issues, the presidential statement took note of recent progress on the Shebaa Farms, including Mr. Ban’s announced intention to hold talks with the parties on that question and the “solid progress made by the cartographer towards a provisional determination of the geographical extent of the Shebaa Farms.” 3 August 2007The Security Council today voiced grave concern at persistent reports that the arms embargo along the Lebanese-Syrian border has been breached, militias in Lebanon are re-arming and there have been increasing Israeli violations of Lebanese air space, and urged all sides to cooperate fully with the United Nations to achieve a permanent ceasefire. read more

Top UN official in DR Congo deplores recent fighting in North Kivu

The clashes that broke out in North Kivu in the early hours of 28 August between the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC) and the National Congress for People’s Defense, known by its French acronym CNDP, was the first major incident since a peace agreement was signed between the parties in January.Alan Doss, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUC), condemned the fighting “in the strongest terms,” stressing that any military action by the signatories of the Actes d’engagement reached in January constitutes a violation of the ceasefire.“MONUC calls on the parties to exercise restraint, return to their original positions and avoid any action that could lead to a further escalation of violence,” the mission said in a statement.The mission has dispatched patrols to the area and has been in touch with officials on both sides since the incident. Meanwhile, officials from the UN, European Union and Rwanda met on Wednesday in Kigali in preparation for a meeting of the Joint Monitoring Group – through which DRC and Rwanda review efforts to tackle threats to peace and stability in their region, as agreed in a communiqué issued last November.They discussed a number of issues, including disarmament and repatriation of the DRC-based armed group FDLR (Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda), ahead of the meeting which will take place on Monday in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa. 29 August 2008The top United Nations official in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has strongly condemned the recent fighting between the Congolese army and rebels in the country’s east, stressing that it goes against the ceasefire signed earlier this year. read more

Combating desertification could help tackle other global crises – UN official

29 October 2008While global attention is focused on crises ranging from energy to food security to climate change, a senior United Nations environmental expert today highlighted the “silent” crisis of desertification or land degradation, which, if tackled properly, can actually help address these other issues. “The land can be… an opportunity to solve most of the ongoing global crises,” Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), told a news conference in New York.The 2005 Convention aims to promote effective action through innovative local programmes and supportive international partnerships to combat desertification, which is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. Caused mainly by human activities and climatic variations, desertification puts at risk the health and well-being of 1.2 billion people in more than 100 countries.Mr. Gnacadja stressed that “the nexus between land degradation and climate change is clear.” Global warming is likely to lead to more extreme weather events, such as droughts and heavy rains, which could lead to soil erosion and loss of land cover.At the same time, land degradation releases carbon into the atmosphere, worsening global warming and climate change. “If we want to tackle climate change challenges, we must look to the untapped potential of the soil to sequester carbon,” said Mr. Gnacadja, calling it a “win-win” situation. “By doing that, we are improving biodiversity of the soil ecosystem and improving the productivity of the soil, therefore impacting the livelihoods of affected populations.”Improving land productivity will also boost the capacity to produce more food and therefore tackle the issue of food security. “We are also making the world much more able to produce more agro-fuels,” he added.“An ecosystem is like a bank account,” Mr. Gnacadja noted. “If we keep on withdrawing, and we don’t invest by feeding the soil and enabling it to regenerate, we are moving towards bankruptcy.”The Second Global Assessment of Land Degradation and Improvement, issued this year, found that an additional 24 per cent of global land had been degraded in the period from 1981-2003. However, what was really worrisome is that these lands are mainly in humid areas where rainfall is not an issue.The Assessment also found that 16 per cent of land had been improved, including some of the drylands in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and Australia. “We know that drought and land degradation are predictable, and land degradation is reversible when the tipping point is not reached,” Mr. Gnacadja said, adding that the social and economic impacts on livelihoods are, therefore, to a large extent the result of “public and even global policy failure.” This includes the failure to scale up good practices, to spread available information and knowledge, and to mobilize the required resources. read more

UN envoy warns of implications of trial of last child soldier held

Mr. Khadr, the last child soldier held in Guantánamo, was 15 years old when he allegedly threw a grenade that killed a US soldier. He faces war crimes charges at his trial. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, stressed in a statement that the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is clear that no one under the age of 18 should be tried for war crimes. Prosecutors in other international tribunals have used their discretion not to prosecute children, she added. “Since World War II, no child has been prosecuted for a war crime,” Ms. Coomaraswamy said. “Child soldiers must be treated primarily as victims and alternative procedures should be in place aimed at rehabilitation or restorative justice.” She noted that even if Mr. Khadr, a Canadian citizen, were to be tried in a national court, the standards of juvenile justice are clear – “children should not be tried before military tribunals.” In the past decade, the international community has worked together to protect child in armed conflict, the envoy said, with the US and Canada leading the way in creating and implementing such norms. “Without their support, we would not have been able to persuade the Security Council to create aWorking Group on children and armed conflict nor be able to release thousands of child soldiers around the world,” Ms. Coomaraswamy said. “I urge both governments to come to a mutually-acceptable solution on the future of Omar Khadr that would prevent him from being convicted of a war crime that he allegedly committed when he was child.” 10 August 2010The start of the trial of Omar Khadr – arrested in Afghanistan in 2002 for crimes he allegedly committed as a child – before the United States Military Commission in Guantánamo Bay today could set a precedent jeopardizing the status of child soldiers around the world, a United Nations envoy cautioned. read more

Possible threat to Earth by asteroids among issues at UN debate on

14 October 2010A United Nations working group is currently looking into how the Organization should respond to possible threats to the planet from near-earth objects, such as asteroids, a senior official with the world body said today. Mazlan Othman, the Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York that the working group – within the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space – is expected to come up with recommendations which would be presented to the General Assembly for Member States to make a decision on response to near-earth objects.“We now have a working group that has a multi-year work plan in the Committee to discuss this, and this working group will come up with a draft on how the UN should deal with this situation,” Ms. Othman, who is in New York to attend the Assembly’s discussions on international cooperation on the peaceful uses of outer space.She said the Vienna-based Committee is also discussing space debris, among other issues, and long-term sustainability of space exploration. “Any space debris is very dangerous not only to satellites but also to human life because of the International Space Station,” said Ms. Othman. Other topics on the Committee’s agenda include benefits of space technology, space and water, and space and climate change.She said she could not rule out the possibility that some kind of life may exist somewhere in outer space, given the large number of galaxies and extra-solar planets out there.“It is not surprising that there could be life on one of the stars,” Ms. Othman said in response to a reporter’s question, adding that she believed that if that was indeed the case, the UN, through UNOOSA would then support Member States in discussing the issue. read more

Security Council welcomes arrest of fugitives sought for crimes in the Balkans

Ratko Mladic, the war-time leader of the Bosnian Serb forces, was arrest yesterday in Serbia after evading capture for almost 16 years. He is awaiting transfer to The Hague, where he will stand trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).He faces numerous charges, including genocide, extermination, murder and inflicting terror on civilians, particularly in connection with the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the supposedly “safe haven” of Srebrenica in July 1995 in one of the most notorious events of the Balkan wars.Council members congratulated the Serbian authorities on the arrest, which is “a clear demonstration of cooperation from the Government of Serbia with the International Criminal Tribunal,” Ambassador Gérard Araud of France, which holds the rotating Security Council presidency this month, said in a statement to the press.“The members of the Security Council welcome Serbia’s intention to ensure the swift transfer of Mladic to the Tribunal in The Hague,” he added. They also shared the hope that the detention and transfer of Mr. Mladic “will help to bring the Western Balkans region closer to reconciliation and to their European perspective.”In addition, Bernard Munyagishari, who is wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, was arrested on 25 May in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).Mr. Araud said Council members congratulated the DRC authorities on the arrest and their cooperation with the ICTR, which was set up in the wake of the Rwandan genocide, during which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed, often by machete, in little more than three months.“The members of the Security Council reiterate their support for the search for the last fugitives from the ICTR and call on Member States to continue efforts to fight all forms of impunity in the Great Lakes region,” he said. 27 May 2011The Security Council today welcomed the arrests this week of two fugitives wanted by the United Nations tribunals set up to try those responsible for the worst crimes committed during the Balkans conflicts of the 1990s and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. read more

Football star and UN envoy Marta spotlights efforts to empower Sierra Leones

The three-day visit that began yesterday is the first trip to Africa for Ms. Vieira da Silva, a Brazilian national known to her fans as Marta, since her appointment last year as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Development Programme (UNDP). As part of the visit, the five-time winner of the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year title is promoting local efforts that empower women, one of the eight internationally-agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which seek to end extreme poverty by 2015. “We all need to contribute to help defeat poverty,” said Marta, who is currently a forward player with the Western New York Flash. “UNDP works around the world making a positive difference in people’s lives, and I am proud to add my personal commitment to its work,” she added. She is visiting UNDP programmes, and meeting with young women and advocacy groups that are lobbying the national parliament to enact laws that ensure women’s quotas at all levels of political decision making, according to a news release issued at the start of the visit. “Women’s full participation in leadership and decision making is critical for the consolidation of peace and security, as well as meaningful for overall development in Sierra Leone,” said Mia Seppo, UNDP Country Director. “Marta’s visit will showcase some of the good work that has been done towards achieving these goals.” UNDP has been helping Sierra Leone to establish legal services aimed at women who experienced sexual violence or abuse, providing them with aid and advice on their rights and options for pursuing justice. Gender equality and women’s rights are vital issues for the post-conflict nation, where 73 per cent of women are illiterate, and females currently occupy only 37 per cent of secondary school places, and only 19 per cent of university slots. Marta is part of an elite roster of UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors that also includes soccer stars Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Iker Casillas and Didier Drogba, Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova and Spanish actor Antonio Banderas, among other world-renowned personalities. 1 September 2011The world’s top female football player and United Nations advocate Marta Vieira da Silva is on a mission to Sierra Leone to highlight efforts to empower women in the West African nation that is recovering from years of conflict. read more

Markets mixed ahead of ECB Thursday

The Toronto stock market moved higher Wednesday morning while a profit warning from package delivery giant FedEx added to worries about a slowing economy and what central banks can do about it.The S&P/TSX composite index rose 22.4 points to 11,964.1 while the TSX Venture Exchange added 0.14 of a point to 1,242.72.The Canadian dollar was 0.49 of a cent lower at 100.95 cents US as the Bank of Canada left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at one per cent while warning that rates will have to rise at some point in the future. The central bank also said that there is a widespread slowing of activity across most economies.The loonie seemed unaffected by Tuesday’s Quebec election which saw the pro-independence Parti Quebecois win the contest, but only securing a minority government.“Last night’s victory by the sovereign PQ party in Quebec has had little impact in currency markets, with election results largely foreshadowed in opinion polls,” said Mark Chandler, head of Canadian FIC strategy at RBC Dominion Securities.New York markets shed early losses and the Dow Jones industrials advanced 32.26 points to 13,068.2, the Nasdaq composite index was up 3.34 points to 3,078.4 while the S&P 500 index gained 1.22 points to 1,406.16.Nervousness about a slowing global outlook was heightened after FedEx cut its first quarter earnings guidance, pointing to weakness in the global economy. Its shares were down 2.2 per cent in New York to US$85.63.Both FedEx and larger rival UPS have warned about the impact of slower economic growth on their results. In July, UPS said customers were worried about what’s in store in the second half of the year. The delivery companies have cut or reduced the frequency of flights in Asia, as shipments both within the region and to Europe and the U.S. have slowed.Traders anxiously awaited Thursday’s interest rate announcement from the European Central Bank amid hopes the ECB will move to ease the eurozone debt crisis by addressing the high borrowing costs that have bedevilled some of the weakest members of the monetary union, particularly Spain. It is expected some sort of bond-buying program will be announced but it would come with strings attached.To be eligible for the central bank’s help, for example, countries would likely have to formally apply for assistance from the eurozone’s rescue facility and accept conditions on their budget policies, which many governments would be reluctant to do.Investor sentiment improved somewhat as Bloomberg News reported Draghi’s bond-buying program involves unlimited purchases of government debt.Europe’s economy also remains fundamentally weak. A survey of the eurozone’s services sector on Wednesday showed the sector continued to contract in August. The so-called purchasing managers’ index fell more than earlier estimated, suggesting the currency bloc is headed for a sharp drop in GDP in the third quarter.Markets also looked ahead to Friday’s release of the August non-farm payrolls report to see if a weak report would persuade the U.S. Federal Reserve to embark on another round of stimulus.The base metals sector led advancers, up 0.65 per cent while December copper on the Nymex was up five cents at US$3.52 a pound. Inmet Mining (TSX:IMN) gained 78 cents to $44.25 while Major Drilling Group (TSX:MDI) lost 26 cents to $8.72.The energy sector gained 0.37 per cent with the October crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange down 66 cents to US$94.64 a barrel.  Talisman Energy (TSX:TLM) climbed 12 cents to $13.86.Tech stocks were also supportive as Research In Motion Ltd. (TSX:RIM) improved by 11 cents to $6.65.The gold sector was slightly higher as December bullion lost 30 cents to US$1,695.70 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) added 16 cents to $40.23. Utilities led decliners as TransAlta (TSX:TA) fell 47 cents to $14.21.European bourses were mixed with London’s FTSE 100 index down 0.26 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX gained 0.45 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 was ahead 0.43 per cent.Earlier, in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 1.1 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.5 per cent, South Korea’s Kospi dropped 1.7 per cent while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.6 per cent. read more

First Nation concerned about six leaks at oil sands project

This is a corrected story. The previous version said there were six bitumen leaks.COLD LAKE, Alta. — A First Nation says it is concerned about two other leaks at an oil sands project in northeastern Alberta, bringing the total in recent months to six.Chief Bernice Martial of Cold Lake First Nation said Monday that she is worried about the safety of drinking water, animals and vegetation in her region.In July, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. said a mechanical failure at an old well was behind ongoing bitumen seepage at its oilsands project on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range.About 1.5 million litres of bitumen has since been recovered from bush and muskeg in the area.The band said in a news release that it recently learned of two additional leaks of bitumen, but the Alberta Energy Regulator says they both involved produced water back in May and June.Spokeswoman Cara Tobin said the waste water from the two sites, about 8,000 litres in total, has since been cleaned up.Company spokeswoman Zoe Addington confirmed there have been no further bitumen discoveries.“Each location has been secured and cleanup of bitumen at the four other sites is ongoing,” she said in an email.The last report posted by the regulator tallies dead wildlife from the leak at two beavers, 46 small mammals, 49 birds and 105 amphibians.“Our future generations will not be able to enjoy what once was pristine Denesuline territory,” Martial said in a news release.“Animals such as wolves and bears are now migrating through our community, which is a safety risk and precaution. The environment is changing and definitely not for the positive.”CNRL has been ordered to limit the amount of steam it pumps into the reservoir while the regulator investigates.Gerry Protti, chairman of the regulator, said that the spill has significantly affected the company’s finances.“We’re working extremely hard to come up with the cause of the issue and resolution around it. But when you’re taking 40,000-plus barrels of production out of their cash flow, that has a direct impact,” he said Monday in Calgary.“But that shows the importance that the province is attaching to development occurring with the minimum environmental impact.”Last month, company president Steve Laut said he didn’t expect the ongoing spill would have a long-term impact on production.He said he’s confident the company can either repair problematic wellbores or adjust its steaming strategy to work around them. read more

CPP Fund gain on loonies drop delivers 45 return on investments in

TORONTO — The CPP Investment Board says the funds it manages for the Canada Pension Plan delivered a 4.5 per cent return, after costs, in the final three months of 2015.As of Dec. 31, which marks the end of CPPIB’s 2015-16 fiscal third quarter, the CPP Fund had $282.6 billion of assets — up from $272.9 billion at Sept. 30.CPP Investment board says it had $12.3 billion in net investment income over that three-month period, offset by $2.6 billion in cash outflows — following a seasonal pattern when payments often exceed contributions at the end of a calendar year.CPP Investment Board Mark Wiseman said the Canadian dollar’s depreciation against most currencies, and the fund’s investments in other countries, resulted in significant gains from foreign exchange.Canadian pensions facing down fierce competition to pursue global growth strategyCanadian pension funds pull back on infrastructure deals as prices climb beyond reason read more