Racing against clock UN seeks 81 million to feed hundreds of thousands

6 September 2007In a race against time, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) launched an urgent appeal today for $81 million in new donations for another major operation to feed more than 230,000 Sudanese refugees and 150,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in eastern Chad, who depend entirely on the handouts for their daily survival. In a race against time, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) launched an urgent appeal today for $81 million in new donations for another major operation to feed more than 230,000 Sudanese refugees and 150,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in eastern Chad, who depend entirely on the handouts for their daily survival. To reach its targets, WFP needs to set in motion, by next month at the latest, a programme to buy and ship 79,000 metric tons of food to eastern Chad, where refugees uprooted by the war in Sudan’s Darfur region and Chadians displaced by related conflicts have sought refuge in more than a dozen camps and villages. The new operation entails mobilizing ocean-going transport as well as a fleet of 8,000 trucks to travel overland, either from Douala Port in Cameroon or along the 1,800-kilometre Libyan corridor across the Sahara desert. “Given the long lead time for deliveries to Chad, we need to have this operation rolling by October,” WFP Country Director Felix Bamezon said. “And as soon as the food arrives here, WFP will be in a real race against the clock to deliver before the rains start in June. That might seem a long way off now, but from June 2008 onwards, roads will become impassable and will be officially closed.” He noted that pre-positioning for this year’s rainy season, currently underway, had been completed successfully, with sufficient stocks to feed refugees and IDPs until November. But he added that the increased demands for 2008 required new donations to be confirmed by next month to ensure that food is pre-positioned before the onset of next year’s rains. “Donors need to act now to avoid the risk of any delay in providing food for hundreds of thousands of people who entirely depend on WFP for their daily survival,” Mr. Bamezon said. The total cost of WFP’s entire emergency operation in Chad for the two years running from January 2007 to December 2008 is $186.3 million. The agency supplies monthly rations to the refugees and IDPs, and also helps local host populations, under pressure from the influx, to meet their food needs. Security and the current rainy season combine to confront humanitarian agencies in Chad with a particularly challenging environment at the moment. The UN’s Humanitarian Air Service, run by WFP, provides a vital air link for over 60 UN agencies and non-governmental organizations and needs continuous support to increase capacity, flights and access to new IDP sites. read more

Global rice production to rise by 18 per cent in 2008 says

Global rice production is expected to increase by 1.8 per cent – or 12 million tonnes – this year, easing a tight supply situation in key cultivating countries, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today. Assuming normal weather conditions, sizable production increases are expected in all the major Asian rice-producing countries – Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand, where supply and demand are currently rather stretched. “The international rice market is currently facing a particularly difficult situation with demand outstripping supply and substantial price increases,” said FAO Senior Economist Concepcion Calpe. She added that higher rice production in 2008 could reduce the pressure, but short-term volatility will probably continue, given the very limited supplies available from stocks. “This implies that the market may react very strongly to any good or bad news about crops or policies,” she stated. Production is also expected to rise in Africa, Latin America and the European Union, while it may contract in Japan, one of the few countries where producer prices fell last year, the agency said. Meanwhile, the forecast for Australia is “dismal,” in light of extremely low water availability, and a decrease is also expected in the United States, owing to competition from more profitable crops. According to FAO, global rice prices have risen by about 20 per cent since January, reflecting the limited supplies available for sale. Prices are not likely to rise further in the coming months, with the arrival of new rice harvests in Brazil or Uruguay, as well as in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Viet Nam. “So far, prospects regarding these crops are positive,” said Ms. Calpe. 2 April 2008Global rice production is expected to increase by 1.8 per cent – or 12 million tonnes – this year, easing a tight supply situation in key cultivating countries, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today. read more

UN nuclear agency seeks ways to boost nutrition among worlds poor

15 August 2008The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been exploring avenues to tackle the issue of nutritional deficiencies in the world’s poor. The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been exploring avenues to tackle the issue of nutritional deficiencies in the world’s poor.Biofortification – a fairly new tactic to improve nutrition through conventional plant breeding techniques – was the focus of an IAEA meeting held this week with a group of scientists and institutions called HarvestPlus.IAEA “uses nuclear techniques to evaluate bioavailability and efficacy in humans,” said Lena Davidsson, who heads the Agency’s Nutritional and Health-related Environmental Studies Section.Unlike traditional means to add nutrients to food in the processing stages, biofortification seeks to do this while staple plants are being grown, and these new crops could reach those who lack access to centrally processed fortified foods.“With our biofortification strategy, we try to put more vitamins and minerals into the foods staples that the poor are already eating in large amounts, said Howarth Bouis, Director of HarvestPlus.IAEA has teamed up with the scientists in a four-year project in Asia and Latin America: HarvestPlus develops biofortified foods, while IAEA tests the body’s ability to use the nutrient-packed crops.Under this scheme, some women in Bangladesh have replaced the typical white-coloured sweet potato with a biofortified orange one that is higher in beta-carotene. A sophisticated stable isotope technique will measure their vitamin A levels to determine how the biofortified products could combat nutritional deficiencies.Compared to more traditional tests, stable isotope techniques allow more sensitivity and specificity in their measurements. read more

UN tribunal upholds 35year jail term for leader of breakaway Croatian Serb

The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which sits in The Hague, reaffirmed the trial chamber’s decision in June last year to find Milan Martić guilty of 16 counts of crimes against humanity or war crimes.Between 1991 and 1995 Mr. Martić served as president or in other senior positions with the self-proclaimed Croatian Serb entity known as either the Serbian Autonomous Region of Krajina or the Republic of Serbian Krajina.The ICTY found that Mr. Martić participated in a joint criminal enterprise that aimed to create a unified Serb territory by forcibly removing non-Serbs living in the areas under his control, and the convictions included murder, torture, deportation, persecutions, attacks on civilians and wanton destruction of civilian areas.The breakaway state lasted from 1991 until 1995, when Croatian forces brought it back under control of Zagreb.Both defence lawyers and the prosecution appealed against various parts of the findings, and the tribunal rejected nearly all of the grounds and ruled that those grounds it upheld did not warrant a revision of the length of the jail sentence.Mr. Martić will remain in the detention unit of the ICTY in The Hague until arrangements are finalized for his transfer to the State where he will serve the remainder of his sentence. 8 October 2008The United Nations war crimes tribunal set up after the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s today upheld a 35-year jail sentence of a former political leader of rebel Serbs in Croatia who was convicted for his role in a campaign of ethnic cleansing. read more

Security Council welcomes peaceful staging of legislative polls in GuineaBissau

Last Sunday’s polls were held on schedule “in an orderly and peaceful manner,” and both the Government and the people deserve commendation for their efforts, the Council said in a press statement read out by Ambassador Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica, which holds the presidency of the 15-member panel this month.“The members of the Security Council expressed their appreciation for the dedicated efforts of the National Electoral Commission in organizing these elections, and the contribution of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) and other multilateral and bilateral partners to the process,” Mr. Urbina said.He added that the major political parties and leaders must respect the election results and resolve any related concerns peacefully and in a way that conforms with the rule of law.Guinea-Bissau is one of a handful of States on the agenda of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, which aims to help poor countries avoid sliding back into war or chaos. The country has struggled to combat growth in drug trafficking and organized crime, and also to sustain economic growth and political stability amid a series of civil conflicts and coups d’état in recent decades.Today’s press statement called on the international community to “continue to support Guinea-Bissau on its path to peace and security, particularly through the implementation of the Peacebuilding Commission’s integrated peacebuilding strategy.” 20 November 2008The Security Council today welcomed last weekend’s legislative elections in Guinea-Bissau and called on the political parties in the troubled West African country to respect the results. read more

In wake of Mumbai attacks Ban reaffirms role of UN in countering

Mr. Ban spoke by telephone this morning with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, conveying his deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and the wounded in the Mumbai attacks.Media reports say at least 172 people died in the attacks in India’s commercial capital and largest city, which began on the evening of 26 November. The terrorists struck a series of sites across the city, including a major railway station, two luxury hotels, a café, a cinema and a Jewish centre.In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said that he and Mr. Singh agreed it was critical to bring the perpetrators of the attacks to justice and “that all should fully cooperate in this effort.”Mr. Ban and the Security Council both issued statements last week in the immediate wake of the attacks condemning the events.Today’s statement noted that “while commending the courage and resilience shown by the Government and people of India, the Secretary-General reaffirmed his condemnation of terrorism and his determination to provide a lead role for the United Nations in dealing with this global menace.” 2 December 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today reaffirmed his determination for the United Nations to play a lead role in dealing with the menace of terrorism as he stressed the need to bring the perpetrators of last week’s coordinated deadly attacks in Mumbai to justice. read more

Gaza UN agencies mete out cash for shelter

24 February 2009Gazans whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the Israeli offensive that ended last month have, to date, received more than $7 million in cash from United Nations agencies in a distribution that began last week. Some 3,800 families have benefited so far from the distribution by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), according to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory. To meet long-term shelter needs of the displaced, UNDP plans for 10,000 families to get between $1,000 and $5,000 in cash aid, according to family size, current socio-economic status and level of home damage, the agency said last week.It adds that major repair of damaged houses cannot be done until construction materials are permitted into the Gaza Strip, where, it estimates, over 14,000 homes were totally or partially damaged in three-weeks of fighting. Israeli authorities have not allowed such materials to enter since last November, though the Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other UN top officials have repeatedly called on the country to fully open crossings into Gaza for humanitarian goods and reconstruction materials.Israel, which launched its operation with the stated aim of ending rocket attacks by Hamas and other groups, says it has restricted access to the Strip both in response to attacks and for other security reasons. read more

UN agency approves groundbreaking treaty to wipe out illegal fishing

A landmark treaty that aims to shut down ports to illegal fishing vessels has been approved by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the United Nations agency announced today.This will be the first ever legally-binding global pact that commits governments to prevent, deter and eventually eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by taking steps to guard their ports against ships engaged in such illicit practices and consequently preventing their catch from entering international markets.Eleven FAO members – Angola, Brazil, Chile, the European Commission, Indonesia, Iceland, Norway, Samoa, Sierra Leone, the United States and Uruguay – signed the treaty immediately following its approval by the agency’s Governing Conference.The “Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing” will enter into force once 25 countries have ratified it.“It’s a milestone achievement,” said FAO Assistant-Director-General for Fisheries Ichiro Nomura.“No longer will we solely rely on the ability of fishing nations to monitor behaviour by vessels flying their flags on the open waters of the oceans,” said Mr. Nomura. “Now countries are committing to taking steps to identify, report and deny entry to offenders at ports where fishing fleets are received. That’s a key back door that will be slammed shut with the new international treaty.”IUU fishing damages the productivity of fisheries and could lead to their collapse, FAO warned in a news release. Operating without proper authorization, catching protected species, using outlawed types of gear or disregarding catch quotas are among the most common unlawful activities. 25 November 2009A landmark treaty that aims to shut down ports to illegal fishing vessels has been approved by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the United Nations agency announced today. read more

UN envoy in Sudan to leave post at end of next month

19 January 2010The top United Nations envoy in Sudan has announced he will step down from the post at the end of next month after more than two years in the African nation. Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the head of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), issued a statement yesterday announcing the end of his tenure. A successor will be named soon.The former Pakistani ambassador has served as head of UNMIS since late 2007 and before that had been the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq.In a statement a spokesperson for UNMIS said Mr. Qazi was stepping down “after more than two years of a challenging but fulfilling and productive assignment.”The statement noted that Mr. Qazi was leaving at a time when the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the long-running north-south civil war in early 2005, was “firmly moving forward towards elections and the referendum.”National elections are scheduled to take place in April and a referendum is expected to be held next year to determine whether the south secedes or remains as part of Sudan.UNMIS added that its “support and technical expertise have played a vital role in keeping the agreement on track thanks to Mr. Qazi’s leadership that kept the mission focused on the mandate.” read more

UN agency says 63000 Somalis already uprooted by fighting this year

19 January 2010An estimated 63,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Somalia in just the first few weeks of this year due to ongoing fighting, the United Nations refugee agency reported today. Some 14,000 of them were uprooted in the capital, Mogadishu, where clashes last week between Government forces and Al-Shabaab and Hisb-ul-Islam militants left at least 10 people dead, including children.Similar clashes last year in the capital displaced hundreds of thousands of people, many of them for the second time in the course of a year in the strife-torn nation, which has not had a fully functioning national government since 1991.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) added that fresh fighting between the Government-aligned Alu Sunna Wal Jamma militia and Hisb-ul-Islam erupted in the central Somalia town of Belet Weyne on 9 January, reportedly killing at least 30 civilians and injuring another 50.Thousands have fled their homes and an estimated 11,900 have temporarily settled around Belet Weyne in what the agency described as “appalling” conditions. In the town of Dhuusamarreeb, in the central region of Galgaduud, renewed clashes between Alu Sunna Wal Jamma and Al-Shabaab early this year has forced some 28,800 people from their homes. They are now sheltering in surrounding villages and in urgent need of shelter, water and health care, said UNHCR.“As the struggle for control of the territory continues, insecurity makes it extremely difficult for aid workers to access the area and deliver vital assistance,” UNHCR’s Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva.According to the agency, there are some 1.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia, and more than 560,000 people living as refugees in neighbouring countries, mainly in Kenya, Yemen and Ethiopia. read more

SecretaryGeneral voices sadness at toll taken by deadly wildfires outside Moscow

10 August 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep sadness today at the deaths and suffering caused by the wildfires that have been raging outside Moscow. Media reports say dozens of people have died because of the fires, which follow record-breaking temperatures in parts of Russia as well as prolonged drought conditions.In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban offered his condolences to the families of those killed or injured.“The Secretary-General is aware of the tremendous efforts being undertaken by the Government of the Russian Federation to bring the situation under control,” the statement noted. “He reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to assist in any way in this effort should it be required.” read more

Haiti UN peacekeepers support police in efforts to curb crime

31 October 2011United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti and local police officers have carried out a four-day joint operation to target criminals operating in two neighbourhoods of Port-au Prince, the country’s capital. Operation Hope, which ended last Friday, targeted known criminals in the Bel Air and Martissant neighbourhoods with the aim of disrupting their activities. According to a news release issued today by the mission (MINUSTAH), the operation involved the deployment of more than 2,100 troops – mainly Brazilian and Sri Lankan – and 600 police officers. In addition, ground and aerial equipment and assets were mobilized for the operation.MINUSTAH said the operation was meant to act as a deterrent for future criminal activities in those neighbourhoods. During the operation, Haitian authorities apprehended seven wanted criminal suspects, including several prison escapees.Security has remained a concern in Haiti since last year’s earthquake, which enabled the escape of about 6,000 prisoners. Since then, criminals have used the ensuing chaos to rebuild and increase their activities. MINUSTAH said it “remains firmly committed to bringing stability and security to the people of Haiti, in support of the national authorities.”Currently, there are some 8,900 military troops, 1,351 police officers and 2,940 members of formed police units (FPUs) in MINUSTAH. read more

TSX closes positive for first time this week on higher commodities and

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed higher on Friday for the first time this week as commodities rallied on the back of a strong increase in U.S. jobs last month.The S&P/TSX composite index ended the session up 156.09 points to 11,662.59 and the TSX Venture Exchange added 13.32 points to 1,186.95. The TSX is down 0.88% since last Friday. It will be closed Monday for the Civic Holiday.The Canadian dollar ended the session up 0.52 of a cent at 99.81 cents US after flirting with parity throughout the day.The U.S. economy generated 163,000 jobs last month, better than the 100,000 gain that was projected. But the unemployment rate rose to 8.3%, up 0.1%.[np-related]On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average increased 217.29 points to 13,096.17 and the broader S&P was up 25.99 points to 1,390.99. The Nasdaq gained 58.13 points at 2,967.90.Stock markets had been slumping all week after central banks in the U.S. and Europe opted not to take any new action to shore up the economy, as many investors had hoped.The TSX energy sector led gains, up 2.5%, as the September crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose $4.27 to US$91.40 a barrel.The metals and mining index was also ahead, up 2.1%, as September copper increased 7.7 cents to US$3.37 a pound. August gold was up $18.60 to close the session at US$1,609.30 an ounce.In corporate developments, Telus Corp. reported second-quarter profits of $328-million, up 1.2% from the same time last year, while earnings per share rose to $1.01 from 99 cents. Revenue at the company increased 4% to $2.7-billion. Its stock lifted 78 cents to $63.17.Fertilizer producer Agrium Inc. says profits jumped 20% in the second quarter as demand for its crop inputs business remained strong. The Calgary-based company reported net earnings of US$860 million or $5.44 per share for the quarter ended June 30, compared to net earnings of $718-million or $4.54 per share a year earlier. Revenue increased 10% to $6.8 billion. Shares were up 71 cents to $95.30.Investment dealer GMP Capital Inc. posted a second-quarter loss of $4.1-million as its revenue declined 7% to $67.7-million due to investor caution in the current economic environment. Shares increased eight cents to $4.83.Power Financial Corp. reported Friday a drop in its second-quarter profits to $433-million or 61 cents per diluted share for the quarter, compared with a profit of $507-million, or 71 cents per diluted share, a year ago. Its shares were up 32 cents to $24.88.The federal government has set a deadline of Dec. 31, 2013 for the environmental assessment and report on Enbridge’s controversial Northern Gateway pipeline project. A statement from the company released Friday defended its safety record and said it has the largest and most complex liquids pipeline system in the world. Shares in Enbridge dropped four cents to $39.86.European markets were higher on Friday, picking up some of the declines from the prior session, when the European Central Bank failed to deliver on its assurances it would do “whatever it takes” to help the region out of its debt crisis. read more

Competition Bureau loses bid to open up online real estate sites

OTTAWA — The Competition Bureau is reviewing the dismissal of a two-year-old complaint that it filed against the Toronto Real Estate Board.The bureau wanted to force the board to eliminate rules preventing brokerages from offering certain Internet-based real estate services.The complaint, filed on May 27, 2011, alleged the real estate board’s rules restricted competition by preventing its members from setting up “virtual office websites.”The bureau argued agents should be allowed to set up password protected websites to provide detailed market data from the Multiple Listing Service.The real estate board argued it was legally and morally bound to respect the contractual and private information of consumers on both ends of a deal.The Competition Tribunal dismissed the bureau’s application on Monday.“While I am disappointed that the tribunal has dismissed the bureau’s application, we will be reviewing the tribunal’s decision to determine our next steps,” interim competition commissioner John Pecman said in a statement. read more

Closing Bell TSX closes lower as US government shutdown looms

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed lower Monday as hopes faded that an 11th-hour deal would emerge on a compromise budget bill that would prevent a partial shutdown of the U.S. government at midnight.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 12,787.19 -56.89 -0.44%S&P 500 — 1,681.55 -10.20 -0.60Dow — 15,129.67 -128.57 -0.84%Nasdaq — -3771.48 -10.11 -0.27%The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 56.89 points to 12,787.19 as worry about the economic effect of such a shutdown depressed most sectors.A notable exception was the real estate sector, which ran ahead 1.9% as Brookfield Property Partners LP (TSX:BPY.UN) announced it wants to buy out other shareholders of Brookfield Office Properties Inc. (TSX:BPO) in a stock-and-cash deal it valued at US$5 billion.Brookfield Property Partners already owns a 51% stake in Brookfield Office Properties. Brookfield Office Properties shares ran ahead $2.45, or 14.17%, to $19.74 while Brookfield Property Partners units were a penny lower at $19.99.The Canadian dollar closed flat at 97.06 cents US as Canada’s economic growth in July came in better than expected.Statistics Canada reported that the economy grew by 0.6% in July, rebounding from a 0.5% decline in June. The bounce — one of the biggest since the recession — was one-tenth of a point better than estimates.New York also closed in the red but off the worst levels of the session as a midnight deadline loomed that would result in cuts to non-essential government services.The Dow Jones industrials was down as much as 171 points Monday before finishing the day 128.57 points lower at 15,129.67. The Nasdaq fell 10.11 points to 3,771.48 and the S&P 500 index lost 10.2 points to 1,681.55.Some analysts suggested that losses were limited by the conviction that the two sides will have to compromise.“It’s much ado about nothing,” said John Stephenson, portfolio manager at First Asset Funds Inc.“Ultimately, (President Barack) Obama is not going to defund Obamacare, the Republicans will reduce the tax on medical devices and a few other things so they can claim a victory. And then eventually it will be resolved.”An even more worrisome deadline comes up Oct. 17. That is when the U.S. government hits its debt limit and will begin running out of cash to pay its bills.“The concern is government has become so polarized that if they cannot pass (a budget), there’s a greater chance that the debt ceiling battle will go to the brink or possibly lead to a default,” said Alec Young, global equity strategist with S&P Capital IQ in New York.The base metals sector led declines, down 1.22% while December copper dipped a cent at US$3.32 a pound. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) gave back 42 cents to C$27.68.The information technology sector was also a drag as BlackBerry continued to lose value, down 18 cents to $8.10.Telecoms were also a major weight with Telus Corp. (TSX:T) down 38 cents to $34.14.The energy sector was down 0.5% amid major dealmaking in the component.Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. (TSX:PRE) intends to buy Calgary-based oil and gas company Petrominerales (TSX:PMG) in a proposed deal worth roughly $1.6-billion. Petrominerales shareholders would be paid $11 per share plus they’ll get one share of a new Brazil-focused exploration and production company called ExploreCo that will be based in Calgary.Petrominerales shares jumped $3.96. or 51.16% to $11.70 while Pacific Rubiales fell $1.20 to $20.34.Worries about the economic impact of a U.S. government shutdown punished oil prices and the November crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was down 54 cents at US$102.20 a barrel after recovering from even greater losses earlier in the session.Prices also declined in the wake of data showing that Chinese manufacturing activity ticked up more slowly than expected in September.A survey by HSBC Corp. showed that China’s manufacturing activity expanded marginally this month, rising to 50.2 from August’s 50.1. But it surprised analysts by coming in much lower than the 51.2 in a preliminary version earlier this month.The gold sector was slightly higher as December bullion declined $12.20 to US$1,327 an ounce.In other corporate developments, engineering firm SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) has put up a “For Sale” sign on its stake in AltaLink, which owns more than half of Alberta’s electricity transmission grid. The plan is part of a broader strategy of reducing its investments in infrastructure assets and SNC’s shares gained $1 to $42.35.Traders were also focused on Italy where Prime Minister Enrico Letta faces a confidence vote on Wednesday after ministers from former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right bloc pulled out of the five-month-old government. Italy has high debts that have compelled successive governments to instigate wide-ranging economic reforms. TOP STORIESWhat a U.S. government shutdown means for CanadaBrookfield Property to buy Brookfield Office in $5-billion deal that will create real estate giant Canada’s economy rebounds with biggest growth in 2 yearsSiemens CEO cuts 15,000 jobs, no word yet whether Canada’s 4,500 employees affectedBlackBerry’s desperate breakup fee seen deterring buyersWHAT’S ON DECK TUESDAY ECONOMIC NEWSCANADA9:30 a.m.RBC Manufacturing PMI (Sept) UNITED STATES8:58 a.m.Markit manufacturing PMI (Sept): Economists expect a reading of 53.1 10 a.m.ISM index (Sept): Economists expect a reading of 55, slightly down from last month Construction spending (Aug): Economists expect 0.4% rise CORPORATE NEWSUNITED STATESWalgreen Co Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 72¢ a share read more

PEI joins push for national securities regulator fifth province to sign on

OTTAWA – Prince Edward Island has joined Ottawa’s move to create a national securities regulator, bringing the total to five provinces who have signed onto the plan.The federal Finance Department said Thursday the province has signed a memorandum of agreement to join the Co-operative Capital Markets Regulatory System.The addition of P.E.I. follows a decision in July by Saskatchewan and New Brunswick to join B.C., Ontario and the federal government in establishing a national regulator.Canada is the only G20 country without a national securities regulator.The Finance Department said the participating jurisdictions will continue to work together to encourage the remaining provinces and territories to join the system.Alberta and Quebec have remained staunchly opposed to a national regulator.Under the current system, all 13 jurisdictions in Canada regulate their own capital markets and bond and securities issuances, although all except Ontario also belong to the so-called passport system by which the approval of one commission essentially allows for registration in another province.In September, the partners released consultation drafts of uniform provincial capital markets legislation and the complementary federal legislation for public comment.A national regulator will administer a single set of regulations under the proposed rules and would be funded through a single set of fees.Ottawa has long championed the idea of a national securities regulator, but the Supreme Court sided with the provinces in 2011 on who had jurisdiction. However, in its ruling the top court left the door open to federal-provincial co-operation.Ontario and British Columbia started the ball rolling last year when they began work with Ottawa to develop complementary provincial and federal legislation governing capital markets. read more

Resolution presented after talks US

After consultation with partners including those who will join us as co-sponsors, we tabled a draft resolution on Sri Lanka for consideration by the Human Rights Council (HRC) at its 19th Session. We have taken this step upon careful reflection and after extensive dialogue and bilateral engagement at the highest levels of the U.S. government. Three years since the end of the conflict, it is our belief that the government of Sri Lanka must take concerted actions on the ground to foster national reconciliation and accountability. The U.S. Government has provided humanitarian and development assistance to facilitate post-war reconciliation, and we believe that HRC action can further assist in this aim.After consulting broadly with delegations from all regions and incorporating many helpful suggestions to the initial draft, we have introduced a moderate, reasonable, and balanced resolution text as a basis for further discussion and collaboration with our many partners in the Human Rights Council. In this regard, we reiterate our long-expressed willingness to work in partnership with the government of Sri Lanka on this resolution, and on the broader issues of reconciliation and accountability. Full statement: The United States (US) says the draft resolution on Sri Lanka which was presented to the UN Human Rights Council this week, was done so after consulting other countries including those who will co-sponsor the resolution.The US Ambassador to Geneva, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, told the Council that the US firmly believes that action now in the Council reflects the international community’s ongoing interest in and support for action on the ground in Sri Lanka. This resolution is not intended to condemn; indeed, it acknowledges the contributions of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which has made many constructive recommendations to the Sri Lankan government. However, many international and domestic observers share our conclusion that the government has not yet promulgated a credible action plan for implementation of those recommendations, nor has it taken the additional needed steps since the war to foster national reconciliation.Our intention is clear: we want the countries of the world to join in encouraging the government of Sri Lanka to take the steps needed to ensure meaningful and lasting national reconciliation after a long conflict, to reach out sincerely to the Tamil population and bring them back in to the national life of Sri Lanka, and to ensure accountability for actions taken during the war.Time is slipping by for the people of Sri Lanka. Together with the international community we want to work with Sri Lanka in order to bring lasting peace to the island. We firmly believe that action now in this Council reflects the international community’s ongoing interest in and support for action on the ground in Sri Lanka. Numerous international and domestic observers have echoed our concern that the government of Sri Lanka must now establish domestic processes that will sow the seeds of lasting peace on the ground. With this resolution, the countries of the world can extend their hand of cooperation to help all the people of Sri Lanka achieve that goal. read more

Thonda submits resignation letter

Thondaman, the Minister of Livestock and Rural Community Development, is a Member of Parliament representing the Nuwara Eliya District.He is the leader of the Ceylon Workers’ Congress and an advocate for the Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka. (Colombo Gazette) The resignation was over some posts in the government sector, sources told the Colombo Gazette.President Rajapaksa had sent Minister Maithripala Sirisena to meet Minister Thondaman in an attempt to settle the dispute. Minister Arumugam Thondaman has submitted his resignation letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.The letter was submitted this evening. However the President has not accepted the letter. read more

Indonesia shows proof Australia paid boat with Lankans

He said the boat had hit a reef and been stranded off Landu island, and if it had been high tide it would have been too dangerous for the local villagers to rescue the asylum seekers.In other revelations, the police officers told Fairfax Media the asylum seeker boat was intercepted by the navy warship HMAS Wollongong and an Australian customs boat in international waters. “The money is now being kept as evidence that this was not a made-up story,” said General Endang. “This is very unexpected. If it happened in Indonesia it would constitute a bribe.”General Endang said he had now handed the police investigation report to the National Police headquarters in Jakarta.“It is now up to HQ what to do next. It is out of our jurisdiction.” Indonesian police have shown the money they claim Australia paid people smugglers to turn a boat with 65 people, including around 54 Sri Lankans, away from Australia and towards Indonesia.Photographs of thousands of US dollars handed over to six people smugglers, which Indonesian police say is proof of bribery by Australian officials, have been provided to Fairfax Media, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. General Endang said the alleged payments could trigger a new kind of crime, where people smuggling syndicates would put fake asylum seekers on a boat in order to extract money from the Australian government. “We have given you the evidence,” said General Endang Sunjaya, the police chief of Nusa Tenggara Timur province. “It’s now up to you and other organisations to demand an answer from the Australian government.” And in a blistering attack, the head of the people smuggling division of Nusa Tenggara Timur province, Ibrahim, said sending 65 asylum seekers back to Indonesia on two boats with just a drum of fuel each was akin to “a suicide mission”, asking: “Where is the humanity?” However, they say the payments to the six crew allegedly made by an Australian official, Agus, took place on Andika near Greenhill Island in the Northern Territory. This could potentially make the payments subject to Australian law.General Endang said the six crew members had all sworn under oath they received about $US5000 ($A6460) from an Australian official to return to Indonesia. Their accounts were corroborated by asylum seekers who were separately interrogated.“We believe the payments happened,” said General Endang. “They all said the same thing: they were paid by Australian officials to return to Indonesia.” General Endang showed Fairfax Media the photographs of the cash, but they were provided for publication from another source.Mr Ibrahim, who interrogated the crew members until 2am on Saturday morning, said the captain, Yohanis Humiang, initially refused to return to Indonesia because the crew would not be paid by a people-smuggling agent until the boat reached New Zealand.The crew had been told they would be paid between 100 and 150 million rupiah ($A10,000 and $A15,000) when the 65 asylum seekers from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka landed in New Zealand.The revelation sheds light on a possible motivation for the controversial alleged payments by Australia to six people smugglers.Mr Ibrahim said the Andika had just passed Timor-Leste when it was intercepted.The crew members claimed Andika was blocked in international waters by HMAS Wollongong 92 and an Australian customs ship in a stand-off lasting several hours.Mr Yohanis, an experienced sailor, said Australian authorities could not arrest them because they were in international waters.He insisted Andika could make it to New Zealand, a journey he calculated would take 22 days from Pelabuhan Ratu in Indonesia to New Zealand if they travelled at a speed of eight knots.However, Australian officials said they were heading into bad weather and would be in danger if they proceeded.Eventually the crew agreed to be escorted to Greenhill Island in the Northern Territory, a two-day journey in which the Andika was sandwiched between the two Australian ships.Mr Ibrahim said it was here, on board the HMAS Wollongong, that the deal was struck.“Yohanis and the crew were insisting on continuing their journey to New Zealand or they wouldn’t get paid,” he said.Following negotiations with Agus, the crew reportedly agreed to a $US5000 payment each if they returned to Indonesian, he said.“The money was given with one condition: they go back to Indonesia, use the money for business and never do that kind of work ever again,” Mr Ibrahim said.He said the crew and Agus also agreed the Australian ships would guide the Andika back to the Java Sea so they could return to Pelabuhan Ratu.Once the agreement was reached the crew members returned to the Andika, he said, and Agus followed in a speed boat. He handed the crew their money in envelopes on the Andika, he said, an exchange that was witnessed by some of the asylum seekers.Nazmul Hassan, a Bangladeshi, told Fairfax Media he saw the captain put money in his pocket.Mr Hassan said the crew initially told Australian officials they couldn’t go back to Indonesia because they could be jailed for people smuggling.But he said after the meeting, Yohanis told them: “We have to go back. Australia want to pay for us.”“After the meeting, everyone looked happy and they agreed to the proposal,” Mr Hassan said.However, Mr Ibrahim said the Australians reneged on part of their deal and instead of taking the Andika to the Java Sea they went to Ashmore Reef.The asylum seekers were then transferred to the HMAS Wollongong and customs ship for two days.However, instead of returning them to the Andika, the asylum seekers were then transferred to two wooden boats, Jasmine and Kanak.Each boat was supplied with a drum of fuel (200 litres), limited food and water and a laminated google map of Rote island in Indonesia.Mr Ibrahim said: “Yohanis protested, ‘That was not the deal’; 200 litres isn’t sufficient to even reach Rote island.“But Agus said, ‘Agreement off, they have to head to Rote island.’”The two boats were released at the Indonesian border.“The immigrants then fought with the crew. They wanted to continue to New Zealand,” Mr Ibrahim said.Several hours later the Jasmine ran out of fuel. The asylum seekers transferred to the Kanak, which hit a reef near Landu island, in West Rote, where they were rescued by villagers.Village chief Semuel Messak told Fairfax Media he had asked his wife to cook for the people.“The police officer asked me, ‘Will it cost you a lot to feed all these people?’ I said, ‘It’s my money. If I let these people go looking cold and hungry, God will not see me in a good light.’”Mr Ibrahim is incredulous that a wealthy country such as Australia would push back boats with desperate asylum seekers to Indonesia, a country many considered Third World.He said Indonesia was doing its bit to fight people smuggling, with those found guilty facing sentences of 15 years’ jail.“We always co-operate with Australia, we process the arrests,” he said. “Despite everything, this happens. Why can’t Australians deal with [asylum seekers] like they are supposed to?“They are humans, they have problems with their country. Why can’t Australia either deport them or detain them until they are accepted by other countries the way Indonesia does?” read more