Over 63000 public hoardings banner and posters removed

first_imgNEW DELHI: More than 63,000 public hoardings, banners and posters carrying images of party leaders or any political references have been removed in the city in accordance with the model code of conduct for the general elections, officials said on Friday. The Election Commission had announced the schedule for the polls on Sunday. The election is due on May 12 in Delhi.”In 72 hours from the time of announcement of election dates, 63,449 hoardings, banners and posters have been removed from various public places,” according to data shared by the office of the Delhi’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO). Officials at the CEO office said, “As many as 30,533 such publicity material have been removed from areas falling in the jurisdiction of the New Delhi Municipal Council.” From areas under the three municipal corporations, the number of hoardings and other materials removed are – North Corporation 4,945, South Corporation 22,419 and East Corporation 3,141, officials said. In areas falling under the Delhi Cantonment Board, 2,411 hoardings and banner have been removed. “Under violation of the model code of conduct, up to March 15, a total of two FIRs/DD entries have been lodged against political parties, one each against the AAP and the BJP,” Delhi CEO office said in a statement.last_img read more


India criticises West for trying to subsume SouthSouth aid coop

first_imgUnited Nations: India has cautioned that attempts to “subsume” the South-South cooperation in the international aid architecture are not helpful and do no justice to the future potential of cooperation between developing nations. South South cooperation is about developing countries working together to find solutions to common development challenges, according to the United Nations Office for South South Cooperation. It describes the exchange of resources, technology and knowledge between developing countries. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalIndia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said: “More and better South-South cooperation now is on account of the global South enjoying more rapid and sustained economic growth. Yet, South-South cooperation retains its distinct nature and values, as well as diversity of forms and flows. It defies easy categorisation”. The trajectory of global growth and the declining share of ODA during the last decade or so has seen attempts to subsume South-South cooperation in the international aid architecture, he said on Thursday at the second high-level United Nations Conference on South-South cooperation in Buenos Aires. “Such efforts are not helpful. They do no justice to either its historical heritage or its future potential. Let us not venture to strait jacket South-South cooperation into a format that it cannot fit into,” Akbaruddin said. He told the conference that over the last decade, India has extended Lines of Credit of about USD 25 billion to more than 60 countries of the South. All projects follow universally recognised norms and do not create unsustainable debt burdens while ensuring skill and technology transfer to help local communities maintain and sustain assets created, the envoy said. PTIlast_img read more


American Scientists Win 2017 Nobel Prize for Groundbreaking Biological Rhythm Discovery

Rabat – A trio of American scientists have won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries of the molecular mechanisms that govern human beings’ biological rhythms.Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young were awarded the prize for research that explains “how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions,” said the Noble committee.They based their research on flies, isolating the gene that governs the daily biological rhythm of living organisms. “They showed that this gene encodes a protein that accumulates in the cell during the night, and is then degraded during the day. Subsequently, they identified additional protein components of this machinery, exposing the mechanism governing the self-sustaining clockwork inside the cell. We now recognize that biological clocks function by the same principles in cells of other multicellular organisms, including humans,” explained the committee.“With exquisite precision,” the trio’s discovery revealed that our biological clock “adapts our physiology to the dramatically different phases of the day. The clock regulates critical functions such as behavior, hormone levels, sleep, body temperature and metabolism.”Jeffrey C. Hall was born in 1945 in New York. He earned his Ph.D. in 1971 from the University of Washington in Seattle and was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena from 1971 to 1973.He joined the faculty of Brandeis University in Waltham in 1974. In 2002, he became a partner with the University of Maine.Michael Rosbash was born in 1944 in Kansas City. He received his PhD in 1970 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Over the next three years, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Since 1974, he has been a professor at Brandeis University in Waltham, USA.Michael W. Young was born in 1949 in Miami. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975. Between 1975 and 1977, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University in Palo Alto. Since 1978, he has been a professor at Rockefeller University in New York. read more


India becomes worlds 2nd largest LPG importer after China

NEW DELHI — India has become the world’s second largest importer of liquefied petroleum gas as its government pushes cleaner alternatives to traditional cooking fuels such as firewood and cow dung.Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan says imports of LPG grew 12.5 per cent over the past five years to 12 million metric tons (13 million tons) in 2018-19, surpassing Japan and putting India in second place behind China. India’s financial year runs from April to March.He says demand for LPG is projected to rise 34 per cent from 2014 to 2025.Traditional fuels such as wood and cow dung cause heavy pollution and health problems for millions of villagers.India imports LPG mainly from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iran.The Associated Press


How Sustainable is Moroccos Cities Without Slums Program

By Dana LegerRabat – The Cities Without Slums initiative intends to eradicate slums from 85 cities across Morocco in an effort to end unsanitary housing, social exclusion, and to lessen the chance of homegrown violent extremism in Morocco. Far behind schedule, if and when it reaches completion, will it be enough?Background, intentions, and progressKing Mohammed VI established the Cities Without Slums program in 2004 in the wake of the 2003 Casablanca terrorist attacks, when 12 suicide bombers from the shantytown of Sidi Moumen, a poor suburb of Casablanca, killed 45 people and injured hundreds more. The program was originally set to be completed in 2011, having received EUR 90 million from the European Commission. The tasks of the program include building sufficient, affordable, and sanitary housing for families to relocate to as the old slums are demolished. Seven years late, it has reached about 68% completion.Today, 58 of the 85 targeted cities across Morocco are “slum-free” as declared by the Ministry of National Planning, Urban Planning, Housing, and Urban Policy. The most recent city to receive such status is Settat in central Morocco.Sidi Moumen SlumsWhy eradicate slums?Often, people with low amounts of income struggle to find suitable housing that is close enough to commercial centers that are necessary for daily life. With few options for commuting from farther locations into a city on a daily basis and without the necessary funds to live inside a city, living in a slum becomes the only option.Unsanitary housingAccording to the 2011 Constitution, Moroccan citizens have an essential right to housing, water, a healthy environment, healthcare, and social security. On the other hand, slums often lack a combination of water supply, electricity, sewage, or waste management, and often unreasonable numbers of people are housed together in small spaces.MarginalizationPeople living in slums are marginalized, meaning their needs and desires are often not met by their local government or society. Marginalization creates a feeling of otherness and of social exclusion as an entire sub-group of people is ignored by their community and/or seen as lesser.Higher chances of violent radicalizationMarginalization is often one of the first of many characteristics an individual experiences on the road to violent radicalization. There are a number of factors and paths that may lead to such an end, but in shanty towns and slums, a multitude of factors that are thought to raise the chances of an individual becoming violently radicalized are present. According to research by Dr. Audrey Heffron Casserleigh at Florida State University, some of the factors that create higher chances for an individual to become violently radicalized include lack of education, unemployment, and social exclusion.That is not to say that every, or even most, individuals within a marginalized group, or those who are radically religious, or those who are affected by each of these factors will become a terrorist actor. It is perfectly possible and most common to hold radical beliefs and/or be a part of communities affected by these circumstances and yet be nothing close to a terrorist. Communities such as these simply have a higher chance than others to become locations for recruitment.According to Casserleigh, the difference lies in the fact that terrorist actors are intolerant of those who go against their moral absolutes and are motivated by something bigger than the act itself, whether it be a political, religious, or social motivation. In addition, those who commit terrorist acts make a rational decision to do so when they believe that alternate measures have already been taken and failed, and they feel that there is no other way left to make their voice heard.One strategy to reduce the likelihood of individuals feeling such extreme voicelessness is community engagement for all groups. The Cities Without Slums program exemplifies this strategy as it aims to bring marginalized people into mainstream society through housing solutions.SustainabilityThe question that remains is whether the program will ever be completed, and even if so, what preventive measures will be taken to deter the return of slums to Moroccan cities?Morocco has been rapidly urbanizing for decades. UN-Habitat predicts that urban Morocco will continue to grow by 290,000 inhabitants every year until 2030. The problem is most likely not going to disappear by simply demolishing slums and relocating families. The program is struggling to keep up with its current number of households in need, and with every year, more are added.Beyond that, not only is affordable, sanitary, and available housing an issue within itself, but people also settle in shanty towns such as Sidi Moumen because there are not sufficient employment opportunities and education. Morocco has an official unemployment rate of 10.5 percent and a literacy rate of only 68.5 percent. If there were more of a focus on these issues as well in order to attempt to solve the problem at the root, there would be better chances of sustaining “slum-free” cities.The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial views.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission. read more


National Womens DayYear in Review The New 2018 Violence Against Women

Rabat- It is no secret that the news cycle has a selective memory, and Morocco is doing a great disservice to itself by allowing headlines and the social media sphere to be dominated by its lapses in human rights — especially when it can do better. The country’s National Women’s Day on October 10 is an opportune time for the government to look beyond superficial celebrations, and make a staunch commitment to a zero-tolerance policy on violence and discrimination against women to elevate women’s legal status. One of the marking points in 2018 for women is the passage of  Law no. 103-13 on combating violence against women, in September 2018, after more than a decade of advocacy by civil society organizations. Read Also: Law 103-13 on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Morocco: A Missed Rendezvous with Democracy?Progressive legislation but loopholes exist Morocco’s violence against women law provides protective measures for violence survivors but gaps persist. While it contains a detailed definition of violence against women that encompasses the broad range of forms of violence, including physical, psychological, sexual, and economic, the law does not provide a definition of domestic violence or criminalize marital rape. The Law allows for protection orders that prohibit an accused person from contacting, approaching, or communicating with the victim. However, contrary to the recommendations of the United Nations, the Moroccan law predicates protection orders on survivors filing criminal claims, which is not possible for all survivors because of the requirement and the social and familial pressure against bringing criminal cases. Further, the legislation’s provisions permitting the protection orders to be cancelled in case of reconciliation adds undue pressure on survivors to drop the claim. To its credit, protection orders are issued in addition to rather than in lieu of other legal remedies.The law also establishes service and protection measures for survivors, such as medical care and shelters, as well as psychological therapy for the perpetrator. Yet, the available measures can only be issued during a criminal prosecution or after a criminal conviction or after a criminal conviction. The law also increases penalties for existing criminal offenses but does not criminalize marital rape. It does, however, increase penalties for some forms of violence in the penal code when committed within the family and establishes new crimes including forced marriage, squandering money or property to circumvent payment of maintenance or other dues arising from a divorce, expelling or preventing a spouse from returning home.The Law, obligates public authorities to take prevention measures, including programs to raise awareness on violence against women. It also provides for specialized units to serve the needs of women and children in courts, government agencies, and security forces, and local, regional, and national committees to address women’s and children’s issues. Snapshot of the Moroccan Legal Framework on GBVIn general terms, Morocco is noted for its progressive stance toward legal reforms on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) relative to other countries in the MENA region.  In recent years Morocco has taken substantial steps and civil society has made great strides in establishing legal reforms.The status of women and the legal context for gender-based violence are addressed primarily in the Moroccan Constitution, the 2018 Law no. 103-13 on combating violence against women, the Penal Code, and the Moudawana. There is no clear prohibition of domestic abuse in the civil, criminal, or family codes. The Constitution establishes the primacy of international law obligations over national law and therefore binds Morocco to CEDAW and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Thus, women must rely on general battery provisions in the penal code. Some argue that the 2011 Constitution’s prohibition of “all violations of physical or moral integrity” extends to domestic violence, though this is not explicitly articulated. Reform of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP) also helped in this regard.  Beyond the Law?While Law 103.13 is a significant step towards the conscious elevation of women’s legal status in Morocco, the realization of the rights contained therein are subject to several limitations when it comes to implementation. Notably, the justice system is splintered along geographic lines because of the disparate treatment, remedies, and access afforded to women in urban and rural regions. Conservative rural areas of Morocco have less access to civic education and legal literacy, and thus many women in rural areas are not aware of their legal rights. Consequently, rural women are often unaware of the legal opportunities available to them and remain untrusting of formal justice systems. While social realities must be considered by legislators, the law has an educational function and sets norms for what society thinks is right and what is wrong.  To harness the transformative power of the law, it is crucial that those responsible for enforcement are also held accountable for following through with their obligations in accord with the letter of the law.* Leila Hanafi is a Moroccan-American international development lawyer, is a Board member of Morocco World News, recipient of doctorate in law from the UK, principal of ARPA International Law firm www.arpainternational.org read more


Moroccan Actor Says Theres No Healthcare in Morocco Because of MoneyHungry

Rabat – Moroccan actor Youssef Joundy strongly criticized the Moroccan health sector when his four-year-old son was a subject to a medical error.Joundi wrote on his Facebook on December 26 that his four-year-old son fell at school, so he took him to a hospital in Casablanca.He said the doctor who treated his son is “ignorant” and  the hospital he went to is a “ souq (market) for trafficking citizens’ health.” Read Also: Human Rights NGO Calls Morocco’s Public Health Sector Obsolete, in Need of ReformsEven after multiple visits to the hospital, the doctors asserted that his son had no serious injury. However, distrustful of the doctors and their diagnosis, he took his son to a specialist. After x-rays, doctors found out that his son had a broken elbow.“I told the doctor that they told me that my son does not have anything wrong. He told me everything is clear in the x-ray,” he added.He said, “an ignorant doctor in a souq called a hospital, caused my son a surgery.”While the actor was thankful for the success of the surgery, he strongly criticized the health sector saying that there is no “healthcare in Morocco.” He added that some doctors are only after money.Many Moroccans have been criticizing the public health sector. In October, dozens of Moroccan doctors condemned the lack of equipment and health sector in Morocco generally.In its 2016-2017 annual report, made public on August 27, the Court of Auditors identified irregularities in many hospital centers across the country.The annual report condemned long delays for appointments in Moroccan hospitals, which can exceed 10 months. read more


Morocco Sterilizes the Mediterranean Fruit Fly

Rabat – The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that the Mediterranean fruit fly, sometimes referred to as the “medfly,” is threatening Morocco’s economy.The Mediterranean fruit fly is a pest species that threatens the growth and success of the citrus fruit industry, which plays a significant role in Morocco’s economy. The production of citrus fruit employs over 13,000 farmers and produces exports of $300 million per year.Miklos Gaspar, writing the new report for the IAEA, elaborates on the harm that the animal has caused to Morocco’s economy: “As medflies have made their home in Morocco’s citrus orchards and farms, the volume of the country’s citrus exports has been reduced due to direct damage to fruit and to increased production costs associated with the use of insecticides and post-harvest treatments, necessary for fruit exports.” Gaspar writes that farmers have seen indirect losses because importing countries have imposed quarantine restrictions. Additionally, farmers have faced environmental costs from using traditional, broad-spectrum insecticides.However, the European Union, which has been the main traditional export market for Moroccan citrus fruits, has increasingly lowered the acceptable levels of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables, because of food safety concerns.The IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have helped Morocco plan an eco-friendly strategy for combating the fruit fly.Action against the medfly: SterilizationThe IAEA, in cooperation with the FAO, has helped Morocco conduct a cost-effective and environmentally friendly approach. Gaspar writes that this effort is a “first victory in the ongoing campaign to suppress medflies.”“Moroccan counterparts have, under an IAEA technical project, received the training and equipment necessary to detect and respond to any incursion by other pests, which is a prerequisite for the sustained suppression of the  using the sterile insect technique (SIT), an environmentally friendly nuclear technique that can lead to the suppression or elimination of insect pests,” he explained.The sterile insect technique means mass producing and sterilizing insects for continuous aerial release over infested areas.The government is building a facility for producing, sterilizing, and then releasing male medflies. The IAEA and the FAO are supporting the construction of the facility, which will be near Agadir, in the heart of Morocco’s citrus-producing region. The organizations will also assist through the training, expert visits, and providing equipment.“Some of these species are as hard to control as the Mediterranean Fruit Fly, so giving them a chance to establish themselves and then an advantage by suppressing the medfly would be counterproductive,” explained Walther Enkerlin, an expert at the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture.Enkerlin said that in order for the SIT approach to be successful, the facility must meet a weekly production of 100 million sterile medflies per week, which will cover the 180 000 hectares in the Souss Valley where most commercial and wild citrus are found.According to Gaspar, an SIT intervention across such a broad area requires a sequential approach, so they have divided the total area into SIT blocks.“Sterile flies’ rearing and release are expected to start in early 2020 and pest suppression will be gradually implemented, advancing from one block to the next, until effective pest suppression is achieved,” He writes.However, without a system for repelling other pests, SIT usage would still leave room for another pest to replace the medfly and “devastate” Morocco’s citrus orchards.Controlling other pestsControlling medflies alone is not enough to help save Morocco’s fruit industry from damage and insecticides. Gaspar points out that invasive fruit fly species from neighboring countries could still undermine whatever success that sterilizing the medfly may bring. Other species include both the peach fruit fly and the oriental fruit fly.To mitigate this risk, Morocco and the IAEA have made a national surveillance network for the early detection of new fruit fly species. The National Office for Food Safety has built an emergency response in the event of a new pest incursion.The surveillance network covers eight sites, classified as high-risk points-of-entry, along the country’s borders, with 94 traps.Traps are also in 19 other risk sites, including fruit markets, tourist sites and some orchards close to risky areas.Read also: Black Crickets Invade Mecca’s Grand Mosque read more


American Airlines 1Q Earnings Snapshot

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL) on Friday reported first-quarter earnings of $185 million.On a per-share basis, the Fort Worth, Texas-based company said it had net income of 41 cents. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were 52 cents per share.The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 51 cents per share.The world’s largest airline posted revenue of $10.58 billion in the period, which did not meet Street forecasts. Eleven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $10.66 billion.American Airlines expects full-year earnings in the range of $4 to $6 per share.American Airlines shares have risen 4 per cent since the beginning of the year. The stock has dropped 26 per cent in the last 12 months._____This story was generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on AAL at https://www.zacks.com/ap/AALThe Associated Press read more


Moroccan Prominent Feminist Asma Lamrabet Leaves Morocco Indefinitely

Rabat – Moroccan biologist, author, and prominent Islamic feminist Asma Lamrabet announced her decision to leave Morocco  for an “indefinite period.”Lamrabet announced the decision on her Facebook account on Sunday, September 15. The post, which was met with a range of different reactions reads, “I am leaving Morocco for a destination far away for an indefinite period.” “A new experience to live for what left in my life span,” said the feminist as she expressed hope for a positive experience.One of her followers commented: “We are going to miss you Mrs. Asmae Lamrabet… Morocco has lost a new pearl.”“This is the best thing you did in your life, never look back … Goodbye,” another Facebook user wrote.Read Also: Islamic Feminist Asma Lamrabet Opens up About her ResignationLamrabet has not shared further details about what pushed her to leave Morocco, but last year was not her best.In 2018, the feminist made news headlines in Morocco after she decided to resign from the Mohammedia League for Scholars or Rabita Mohammedia of Oulamas due to disagreements over equality of inheritance between men and women.In a statement to Morocco World News last year, the feminist said, “I would say that my action, as a volunteer in the Rabita, for almost ten years had no other ambition than to serve my country and to promote this third way, that of a peaceful Islam, contextualized and in tune with universal humanist values compatible with our cultural values.”She also called on Moroccans to support “the legitimate rights of women for a Morocco of justice and equality.”In Islam,  a son inherits twice as much as a daughter, and similarly, a brother inherits twice the share of his sister. (However, in cases of uterine brothers and sisters, their shares will be equal.)Equality in inheritance has been a hot topic in Morocco. Moroccan activists and feminists are demanding reforms of the traditional inheritance system, and have continued to show determination in defending their stance.Born in 1961, Lamrabet is the founder of a working group for women’s issues and intercultural dialogue, and a major contributor to “Third Way” feminism, a movement that questions religious patriarchy and fights sexism in Islam.She is also the author of “Women and Men in the Qur’an,” in which she refutes and explains preconceived Islamobohic ideas about topics such as the treatment of Muslim women. read more


Stocks shrug off an early slide and turn higher led by tech

NEW YORK — Stocks shook off an early slump and turned higher in morning trading Wednesday, led by solid gains in Microsoft, Facebook and Google.Banks were still lower following a steep drop in bond yields. Bond yields fell after some surprisingly disappointing economic data in the U.S. including weak figures on retail sales and industrial production. Macy’s rose after turning in solid quarterly results.The early flip-flop marked the latest reversal for a stock market that has been whipsawed by worries over the worsening trade relationship between China and the U.S. and the fallout it may have on the broader global economy. The market plunged Monday, bounced back Tuesday and see-sawed in early trading Wednesday.Weak signals on economic growth drove investors to push bond yields sharply lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which is used to set rates on many kinds of loans including mortgages, fell to 2.38% from 2.42% late Tuesday.That drop in yields particularly hurts banks because it cuts into profit from interest on loans. Bank of America fell 1.2% and JPMorgan Chase fell 0.7%.Technology stocks were mixed. Microsoft rose 1.3%, but chipmakers, which are heavily dependent on China for sales, remained weak. Nvidia fell 1.4%.Safe-play stocks held up well. Real estate companies and makers of consumer products rose. PepsiCo rose 1%.Analysts have been warning that the stock market will remain volatile as long as the U.S. and China remain locked in their latest spat. The latest flare-up began early this week when President Donald Trump decided to raise more tariffs on Chinese goods. China responded with plans for its own increased tariffs on U.S. goods.The escalation surprised investors who had been expecting a resolution. That confidence was a key component of the stock market’s sharp gains so far this year.KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.3% as of 10:40 a.m. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 20 points, or 0.1%, to 25,551. The Nasdaq rose 0.7%POSITIVE FLOW: Progressive rose 3.7% after it gave investors a solid first quarter earnings report and renewed its stock buyback plan.The insurance company reported a sharp rise in written premiums.RECALIBRATING: Agilent plunged 9% after cutting its revenue forecast for the year following a disappointing first quarter. The scientific instruments maker reported first quarter profit and revenue that fell short of Wall Street forecasts.SHOPPING FOR PROFIT: Alibaba Group Holding rose 1.2% after the online retailer blew past Wall Street forecasts for first quarter profit. The Hong Kong-based company also beat revenue forecasts for the quarter.MACY’S: Macy’s rose 0.8% after reporting its sixth consecutive quarter of increases in comparable store sales. That is a key measure of a retailer’s health. The department store chain also blew past first quarter profit forecasts and reported higher online sales growth.Damian J. Troise, The Associated Press read more


The Latest Congressional panel readies tech antitrust probe

SAN FRANCISCO — The Latest on antitrust concerns in the technology industry (all times local):3 p.m.The House Judiciary Committee is launching a bipartisan investigation into competition in the digital industry.The committee’s statement Monday, coming as news emerged of possible antitrust investigations of the Silicon Valley giants, didn’t name any companies. But it was clearly aimed at Big Tech. It referred to a small number of dominant and unregulated platforms with extraordinary power over online commerce, communication and information.The probe will examine if tech companies are using anticompetitive practices, among other concerns. The investigation comes just days after reports that the department of Justice is preparing to investigate Google over antitrust concerns.The panel promises a sweeping review of market power held by technology giants, which would be the first time Congress has done such a thing.___10:30 a.m.The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Federal Trade Commission will lead any antitrust investigation into Facebook as part of an arrangement that would give the Justice Department oversight of Google.The FTC and the Justice Department both oversee antitrust issues in the U.S. and must establish who will take the lead in different investigations. Citing unnamed sources The Journal said Monday that the FTC secured the rights to begin a potential investigation into whether Facebook engaged in what it called “unlawful monopolistic behaviour.”The report Monday said the Justice Department, in turn, will lead the Google probe.The FTC is already investigating Facebook for possible privacy violations . The FTC declined to comment Monday and Facebook did not immediately respond to a message for comment.The Associated Press read more


UN sustainable development forum ends with call for more investment in research

16 May 2008The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) wrapped up its annual session today by emphasizing the need for ramping up investment in research and development in innovative and sustainable agricultural technologies and infrastructure in poor countries. The Commission, concluding two weeks of discussions in New York, examined the obstacles and barriers that have prevented sustainable development in the areas of agriculture, land use, rural development, drought, desertification and Africa. Countries will now follow-up on these issues with policy recommendations at next year’s meeting. The session also provided a foundation for international discussions on the global food crises that will take place in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) – of which the CSD is a subsidiary body – next Tuesday in New York, and at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome in early June. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in an address earlier this week, said that “after a quarter century of relative neglect, agriculture is back on the international agenda, sadly with a vengeance. The onset of the current food crisis has highlighted the fragility of our success in feeding the world’s growing population with the technologies of the first green revolution and subsequent agricultural improvements.” The Secretary-General stressed that agriculture needs invigorating. “We need to work together to develop a new generation of technologies and farming methods which make possible a second green revolution, one which permits sustainable yield improvements with minimal environmental damage and contributes to sustainable development goals.” Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang said: “We do need to address the runaway food prices as an emergency. We need to take quick, targeted action to deliver emergency food aid to the people in need.” But he added that crisis management was not enough. “We need to make sure it does not happen again.” Many countries expressed concern that a number of factors had contributed to the present situation, including climate change, unfair trade policies, poor land management, biofuel production, and a lack of roads and access to markets in rural agricultural areas. Almost 60 ministers attended the CSD, along with 680 representatives from 126 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Representatives from civil society, including women, farmers, science, business, children and youth, local authorities, workers and trade unions, indigenous peoples and nongovernmental organizations participated far more extensively than in the past. Participants also elected Gerda Verburg, the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality in the Netherlands, as the next chair of the CSD – the first time that the subsidiary body of ECOSOC will be led by a woman. read more


Escalating violence in Zimbabwe unacceptable says UN political chief

“It is of utmost importance that the violence is stopped immediately and that humanitarian assistance is facilitated, not prevented,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said.Attending a round table on Zimbabwe at UN Headquarters on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Pascoe added that the country is currently so polarized that whatever the result of the election, a “winner-takes-all” strategy will not bring peace and stability to the country. “We must be prepared to send a strong message to ensure that the will of the Zimbabwean people is respected and to call for renewed efforts to restore security and the rule of law in the country,” he stressed. President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are set to face each other in the run-off scheduled for 27 June. The Southern African nation has been beset by deadly violence since the first round of the presidential election on 29 March. Many MDC activists have reportedly been killed or injured in recent weeks and human rights defenders and staff with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) harassed.Commenting on the humanitarian situation, Mr. Pascoe said that the current political crisis is compounding an already deep social, economic and humanitarian crisis, in a country where as many as 4 million people are vulnerable and in need of help. While the Government has now lifted the suspension of field operations for NGOs running supplementary feeding schemes and those involved in AIDS-related issues, the humanitarian space remains very restricted, he said. Mr. Ban has dispatched another senior UN official, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios, to Zimbabwe to discuss these issues with the parties. Mr. Menkerios has met with Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai, as well as the Foreign Minister, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, church leaders and civil society groups, including human rights organizations. 19 June 2008The top United Nations political official today called the escalating violence in Zimbabwe “unacceptable,” adding that, should current conditions prevail, it would be difficult for the international community to recognize the outcome of next week’s run-off presidential poll. read more


UN agency head condemns murder of Kenyan journalist

The remains of Francis Nyaruri, who wrote articles on police corruption for the independent Weekly Citizen under the name of Mong’are Mokua, were found in western Kenya two weeks after the journalist’s disappearance, the UN Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said.“I condemn the murder of Francis Nyaruri,” said Koïchiro Matsuura, UNESCO’s Director-General. “I trust that this crime will be investigated and that its culprits will be brought to trial, not just for the sake of Francis Nyaruri but the sake of democracy and good governance. “Journalists like him carry out important, albeit controversial, work that contributes to debate and democracy,” Mr. Matsuura added.The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that Mr. Nyaruri, the second journalist to be killed in Kenya in the past year, had told colleagues that he had received threats before he went missing. 6 February 2009The chief of the United Nations agency that champions press freedom today condemned the murder of a Kenyan journalist who had investigated police corruption and whose beheaded body was found in a forest on 29 January. read more


UN envoy Bill Clinton to head to Haiti to promote investment

During his trip, Mr. Clinton will meet with President René Préval and Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis, and will also deliver the keynote address at a conference of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).Accompanying him on his visit, part of his ongoing efforts to support the Haitian Government create jobs and enhance the delivery of basic services, is Paul Farmer, his Deputy Special Envoy.Mr. Farmer, a physician and Harvard University professor, was appointed last month to his post. A founding director of Partners in Health since 1987, he has dedicated much of his life to improving health care for the world’s most vulnerable people. As a student in 1983, he worked in villages in Haiti’s Central Plateau, bringing modern health care to some of the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere.Starting with a one-building clinic in the village of Cange, Dr. Farmer’s project now extends to a multi-service health complex that includes a primary school, an infirmary, a surgery wing, a training programme for outreach workers, a 104-bed hospital, a women’s clinic and a paediatric care facility, according to the Office for the Special Envoy to Haiti.“Paul’s selfless commitment to building health systems in the poor Haitian communities over the last 20 years has given millions of people hope for a brighter future for Haiti,” said Mr. Clinton.Earlier this month, the former US leader told the Security Council that the country has “a remarkable opportunity” to overcome decades of misrule and neglect, but major hurdles remain and the international community must step up its support to ensure the Caribbean country can consolidate its gains.The outlook for Haiti was positive, he said, with a Government committed to building a modern State, large pledges of aid from donors, a diaspora willing to help and goodwill from the international community.“I am convinced that Haiti has a remarkable opportunity to escape its past,” Mr. Clinton stressed, noting that throughout the region, “there is a deep, wide sense that we can and should support” the country, considered the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. 30 September 2009The United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti, former United States president Bill Clinton, will embark on a two-day visit to Haiti tomorrow in a bid to boost private sector investment in the impoverished Caribbean nation. read more


SecretaryGeneral looks to Europe to help lead way on aid for developing

“Yet, overall, we must acknowledge that there is much more work to do,” he added in a message to the 2010 European Development Days in Brussels which was delivered by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan.“We know where we want to go. We know what needs to be done. Your gathering can harness new ideas and spur novel approaches on how to do it,” he said of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seek to slash a host of social ills, including extreme hunger and poverty, maternal and infant mortality, and lack of access to education and health services, all by 2015.Noting that great strides have been made to improve the quality of aid since the 2002 Monterrey Conference in Mexico on financing for development, he stressed that development cooperation is broader than aid alone. “Policies in such areas as trade, agriculture or migration must reinforce development objectives,” he declared. “The European Union has embraced policy coherence for development. It is important to translate this into national policy making.“Development cooperation is also broader than governments alone. It engages a vibrant, diverse and ever growing community. It needs to build on the successes and innovations of non- government actors. All need to work in unison. Likewise, many lessons can be learned from South-South cooperation.”While LDCs continue to confront significant levels of poverty and hunger, they also have abundant natural resources, young populations and huge capacities to create clean energy, he noted. “Next year’s upcoming LDC conference in Istanbul should launch a renewed partnership with LDCs, and I look to the European Union to help show the way,” he said. Last week, Mr. Ban called for cooperation on issues ranging from security to development between the UN and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the world’s largest regional security organization, which embraces 56 States stretching from the United States across Europe and Central Asia to the borders of China. 6 December 2010The European Union can help lead the way forward in development cooperation and achieve aid targets, especially for least developed countries (LDCs), despite stringent budget cuts, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today. read more


First Ladies join forces at UN to prevent new HIV infections among

Around 1,000 babies are infected with HIV each day, 90 per cent of whom are in countries in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). HIV is also the leading cause of maternal mortality in developing countries.At today’s event, held on the opening day of the UN High-Level Meeting on AIDS, the First Ladies agreed to advocate for comprehensive access to maternal and child health services and to advance 10 action steps on return to their respective countries to ensure that children are born free from HIV and to promote life-saving HIV services for women and children.“Women and girls must be at the centre of the AIDS response,” said Michel Sidibé, the Executive Director of UNAIDS and co-host of the event. “When women protect themselves from HIV, they protect a whole new generation from HIV.”Among the 10 steps is supporting efforts to increase the number of centres providing free maternal, newborn and child health services, including treatment to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to children.“The fact that, in still too many places, HIV-positive women are denied the right to give birth to healthy babies is a global injustice that we can end by 2015,” said Ban Soon-taek, the wife of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The First Ladies event was co-hosted by Mrs. Ban, Mr. Sidibé and Azeb Mesfin, First Lady of Ethiopia and President of the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS.It is one of several events taking place in conjunction with the three-day High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly that brings together some 30 heads of State and government, along with senior officials, representatives of international organizations, civil society and people living with HIV, to chart the future course of the global AIDS response. 8 June 2011Thirty First Ladies from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean joined forces today at the United Nations to mobilize support to achieve the goal of zero new HIV infections among children by 2015. read more


UNbacked court for Sierra Leone war crimes charges five with contempt

Two convicted former leaders of the group known as the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council that was active in Sierra Leone in the 1990s – Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu (aka Five-Five) – were served with their indictments in Rwanda’s Mpanga Prison, where they are serving lengthy sentences for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone.Also facing charges are Hassan Papa Bangura (aka Bomblast) and Samuel Kargbo (aka Sammy Ragga), who live in Sierra Leone. The four are charged with two counts of attempting to bribe a witness to recant his testimony.Mr. Kamara faces an additional count of disclosing the name of a protected witness, “in knowing violation of an order of a Chamber,” according to a news release issued by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).Based in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, the court was set up in 2002 to try those most responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law in the civil wars that plagued the country, starting in 1996.In a separate order, the Trial Chamber charged Eric Senessie on nine counts of attempting to induce prosecution witnesses in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor to recant the testimony they gave before the Court.No arrest warrants have been issued and all the accused have sought guidance from the court’s defence office on obtaining counsel.The charges followed separate independent investigations ordered in March by the Trial Chamber to determine whether allegations raised by the prosecution provided sufficient grounds to initiate contempt proceedings.If convicted, the accused could serve up to seven years in jail, fines of up to two million leones (approximately $500), or both. 7 June 2011The United Nations-backed court set up to try suspects indicted for war crimes in Sierra Leone today charged five people with contempt of court for allegedly interfering with prosecution witnesses who testified in two separate trials. read more


Nepal must improve conditions of former indentured labourers UN says

6 September 2011The United Nations and local partners in Nepal today called for immediate steps to better the lives of over 100,000 bonded labourers and family members, who have seen scant improvement in their often deplorable conditions since the Government abolished the system in 2008. “Three years after signing of the agreement, freed Haliyas have yet to receive promised relief and rehabilitation, and have yet to be issued with identity cards,” the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) and the UN Human Rights Office in Nepal said in a joint statement with their partners, using the Nepalese term for the labourers.“Consequently, the freed Haliyas continue to face difficulty in accessing basic needs including food, shelter and health services, thus forcing them to live in often deplorable conditions. This has a particular impact on the families of the Haliyas, including women and children. The lack of access to alternative livelihoods, as promised in the agreement, has also compelled many Haliyas to continue as bonded labourers with their former landlords.”The Haliya system was practiced in the hill districts of Nepal’s mid- and far western regions, affecting more than 100,000 persons, including children. Most of them are Dalits, often considered ‘untouchables’ at the bottom of the Hindu caste system, as well as indigenous peoples who have long been targets of all forms of discrimination. Most Haliyas are landless and worked for landowners to pay off the principal and interest of loans taken by their ancestors. As they did not earn cash, they were unable to pay the debts, which were then passed on to the next generation.The agencies noted that the draft Haliya Prohibition Bill had not been passed, and the Government had yet to form the high-level Haliya Emancipation and Rehabilitation Commission as agreed, stressing that tangible outcomes have yet to be achieved since the liberation of Haliyas was formally declared in the agreement of 7 September 2008.They called for the immediate, effective and timely implementation of the 2008 agreement, including enactment of the Haliya Act in line with international standards and Haliya rehabilitation in a comprehensive and sustainable manner.The Nepalese partners of the two UN agencies are the National Human Rights Commission, the National Dalit Commission and the National Women Commission. read more