UNICEF rushing emergency aid to cholera victims in northern Iraq

30 August 2007The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is providing life-saving assistance to thousands of victims of a cholera outbreak in northern Iraq, as local authorities and their partners try to limit the spread of the infectious and often fatal water-borne disease. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is providing life-saving assistance to thousands of victims of a cholera outbreak in northern Iraq, as local authorities and their partners try to limit the spread of the infectious and often fatal water-borne disease. Yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO), which is leading the UN response to the outbreak, reported that Sulemaniyah governorate experienced close to 5,000 cases since 10 August, with 10 deaths reported and 51 confirmed cases in Kirkuk. Two hospitals in the stricken governorate also reported treating 2,000 diarrhoea cases. To help area hospitals treat the overwhelming number of victims, UNICEF has delivered medical supplies including 15,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts, which are critical to prevent death from the dehydration caused by severe diarrhoea. In addition, 4,000 safe water kits are being delivered today to families in Sulemaniyah, where significant numbers of displaced people are also at risk. UNICEF’s team is also helping to run a comprehensive monitoring and community awareness programme to better detect cases and help families stay away from contaminated water, the likely source of the outbreak. The agency is appealing to families in the affected areas to ensure that children are kept away from areas contaminated with raw sewage, always wash their hands with soap and only drink water that has been purified or boiled. Serious problems with water quality and sewage treatment are being blamed for the outbreak. Local reports indicate that only 30 per cent of the population in Sulemaniyah has an adequate water supply. If the epidemic spreads, there will be an urgent need for additional support including delivery of additional oral rehydration salts, water purification tablets, short-term water tankering and hygiene promotion campaigns. read more

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Nepal election preparations in good order – UN envoy

8 April 2008The preparations for Thursday’s Constituent Assembly polls in Nepal are in good order, despite some serious acts of violence and violations of human rights during the election campaign, according to the top United Nations official there. Ian Martin, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal, told a news conference today that while there had been clashes and violations of the election Code of Conduct, which had resulted in fatalities, these should not be allowed to distort the whole picture.“It is important to emphasize that in many districts, many constituencies, peaceful campaigning has been going on throughout this election campaign,” Mr. Martin said. “That is a very considerable feat for an election more complicated than any Nepal has carried out before.” Mr. Martin went on to issue five appeals related to the conduct of the election and its aftermath. He called for armed groups who had claimed responsibility for violent acts to call off those efforts; for political parties to respect the election Code of Conduct; for both Government and Maoist army personnel to remain in their barracks or cantonments; for voters not to be influenced by threats or inducements; and for all Nepalis to be patient during the voting and counting.Questioned by journalists, Mr. Martin said that given Nepal’s electoral history, some re-polling was likely, but that he hoped incidents would not be exaggerated and there would be no over-reaction. In that context, he called on the media to be “as objective as it possibly can” in its reporting. He said that it was “crucial” that election day passed off in such a way that the people of Nepal saw the result as credible, and called for all parties to “respect the result, and also respect the framework within which the decisions are made.”Once elected, the Constituent Assembly will be tasked with drafting a new constitution for the country, which has emerged from a decade-long civil war that claimed an estimated 13,000 lives until the Government and the Maoists signed a peace accord in 2006. read more

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UN experts explore mercenary activity in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

The two-day regional consultation is being carried out by the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination, which reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.The gathering brings together government representatives, experts, academics specialized on private military and security companies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as a representative from a private military and security company. Experts hope to gain “a regional perspective about the current practices related to mercenaries and private military and security companies registered, operating or recruiting personnel in the region,” according to a news release issued ahead of the visit. They will also share information on steps countries in the region have taken to introduce legislation and/or other measures to regulate and monitor the activities of such companies on the global market. Discussions will focus on, among other things, general guidelines, norms and basic principles for the regulation and oversight of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the global market to encourage the further protection of human rights. The Group is composed of five independent experts, serving in their personal capacities. They are Alexander Nikitin (Russia), Amada Benavides de Pérez (Colombia), José Luis Gómez del Prado (Spain), Shaista Shameem (Fiji) and Najat Al-Hajjaji (Libya). It will present its recommendations and conclusions at a future session of the Human Rights Council. 17 October 2008A group of United Nations experts have gathered in Moscow today to begin discussions on current practices in the Eastern European and Central Asian regions relating to the use of mercenaries and private military and security companies, as well as measures for the regulation and oversight of such entities. read more

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Norwegian prince promotes UN antipoverty targets during visit to Mongolia

4 November 2008Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is conducting a three-day visit to Mongolia as part of his efforts to promote the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is conducting a three-day visit to Mongolia as part of his efforts to promote the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).The Crown Prince began his visit to the Asian country yesterday, touring a community development centre in the Khoroo district of the capital, Ulaanbaatar, where many families have moved in search of new opportunities, according to a press release issued by UNDP.The community development centre aims to provide education and other opportunities to children in a district plagued by high unemployment and poverty, poor sanitation and a lack of basic social services.UNDP has provided leadership training for the local residents who have helped establish the centre, which also offers vegetable growing, nutrition training and classes for school drop-outs and children with disabilities.“Today, Mongolia stands at a crossroads to decide whether it will make full use of its economic growth to reach the Millennium Development Goals,” the Crown Prince said, referring to the targets that are supposed to be achieved by 2015.Since becoming a Goodwill Ambassador in 2003, the Crown Prince has visited Burundi, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and Tanzania for UNDP. read more

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African Union mission positive about deployment of UN troops in Darfur

7 November 2008An African Union fact-finding mission to Darfur, aiming to mend the increasingly fraught relationship between Chad and Sudan, visited the hybrid United Nations-AU operation in the war-torn region today. The AU fact-finding team, led by former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya, follows accusations from both Khartoum and N’djamena that the other side has been supporting insurgencies in its country. Attacks by Chadian rebels on N’djamena in February preceded similar rebel assaults on Omdurman, near Khartoum, in May, leading to the escalation of tension between the two countries. The fact-finding team met with the UN-AU mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in the context of AU efforts to normalize the relations between the two States after Sudan’s announced it was cutting off ties with Chad, claiming that it has helped Darfurian rebels attack the Sudanese capital. The fighting in the western Sudanese region of Darfur has significantly affected eastern Chad, where Sudanese civilians escaping the Darfur conflict comprise the majority of the estimated 315,000 refugees in that area. “There is now an opportunity to move forward … It seems that there is a national consciousness that the Darfur issue has to be dealt with,” Mr. Buyoya said in an interview UNAMID radio. “UNMIS [UN Mission in Sudan] before and then UNAMID have done a lot to protect the Darfur people and to assist the peace process in Sudan,” he added. “The Government of Sudan, the African Union and the United Nations have reached a comprehensive agreement on the deployment of UNAMID.” UNAMID has been in place since January, but only about 10,000 military personnel have been deployed so far, well short of the roughly 26,000 troops, military observers and police officers expected when the operation reaches full deployment. read more

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Group of 77 developing countries critical to overcoming global crises Ban says

“The crises that erupted last year highlighted the interdependence of economies and countries,” Mr. Ban said in remarks read out by Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro to the Group, which was established in 1964 by 77 States, but now represents more than 130 countries, usually including China.“As we move into 2009, these global challenges remain. They threaten to undo the progress made towards the development goals of the last decade,” he added, stressing that efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that aim to slash poverty and other ills by 2015 required the hard work of all.In that light, Mr. Ban stressed the importance of cooperation between developing countries and expressed appreciation for the Group’s strong support for his efforts to strengthen the development pillar of the UN. He promised to continue to work to increase the effectiveness of those efforts across the systemHowever, peace and security, development and human rights – the fundamentals of the UN Charter – are interdependent, especially in Africa, where people “so desperately need peace for development.”“I sincerely hope that Sudan’s leadership of the Group of 77 and China will accelerate efforts to find an acceptable resolution of these conflicts,” he said.Also addressing the handover ceremony, General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto recalled his association with the caucus since its inception and listed some of its achievements.Mr. D’Escoto said he looked forward to working with the Sudan Chairmanship in a spirit of “collective responsibility” with other groups and Member States to enhance the relevance and vitality of the General Assembly.“This is the best way to promote more effective multilateralism and deepen our cooperation and demonstrate our leadership on complex issues, including the ongoing reform of the United Nations,” he said. 23 January 2009The cooperation of developing nations is critical to overcome the concurrent crises in finance, climate change, global health and extreme poverty, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the ‘Group of 77’ States today, at a ceremony where the leadership of the powerful caucus passed from Antigua and Barbuda to Sudan. read more

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UN political chief to travel to India and Nepal next month

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe will hold discussions on a range of regional and international issues while in India. In Nepal, he will assess efforts by the country’s political leaders toward concluding the key remaining tasks of the peace process and preparing for the departure in January of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN). The Mission was set up in 2007, a year after the Government and the Maoists signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), ending a decade-long civil war which claimed some 13,000 lives.Its mandate includes monitoring the arms and armies for both the Government and Maoist sides, providing technical assistance to the Election Commission, and assisting in monitoring the ceasefire. This will be Mr. Pascoe’s second visit to Nepal since the Security Council decided in September to conclude UNMIN’s mandate as of 15 January 2011. “He will be looking particularly at the status of decision-making and planning for reintegrating and rehabilitating combatants and for ensuring an orderly withdrawal of the Mission that leaves no critical gaps,” UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters. 24 November 2010The United Nations political chief will be visiting India and Nepal from 2 to 4 December, the world body announced today. read more

Read More UN political chief to travel to India and Nepal next month

UNbacked forum identifies areas of common ground on ending Somalias transition

“Above all, there was agreement on the need to place Somalis at the centre of the process, to act inclusively and in a spirit of partnership,” said Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia. The High-Level Political Meeting on Somalia that was held in Nairobi, the capital of neighbouring Kenya, was convened to exchange views and share information on a number of pertinent issues and to revive dialogue among Somali stakeholders.In a statement issued at the end of the two-day meeting, Mr. Mahiga noted that participants, who included the Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament as well as the leaders of two self-declared autonomous regions – Puntland and Gulmudug – and the country’s international partners, identified substantial areas of common ground.In particular, there was agreement on the need to end the transition according to the provisions of the Transitional Federal Charter, which calls for election of the President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament and his deputies before the end of the transition period, namely August 2011.In February, the interim parliament voted to extend its mandate by three years beyond the August deadline by which it was to enact a new constitution ahead of general elections. Mr. Mahiga had criticized the move at the time, saying it was made in haste and without the required consultations. Other tasks which need to be completed during the transition period include political reconciliation and building civilian and security institutions.On the extension of the Transitional Federal Institutions, Mr. Mahiga said that it was proposed that the Transitional Federal Parliament could be extended for a period of two years. “This was not seen as an end in itself, but as a requirement to complete certain critical tasks, including preparations for eventual national elections,” he said. Related to this, there was also agreement on the need to accelerate progress towards a new federal constitution, he added. Somalia – which has not had a functioning central government since 1991 – has been torn apart by decades of conflict and factional strife, more recently with al-Shabaab Islamic militants. The UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), which is headed by Mr. Mahiga, is tasked with helping Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon advance the cause of peace and reconciliation through contacts with Somali leaders, civic organisations and the States and organizations concerned. 13 April 2011A United Nations-backed meeting on Somalia concluded today with participants agreeing on the need to strengthen security and redouble efforts to combat extremism in the Horn of Africa nation, as well as complete a number of tasks before the transitional period ends in August. read more

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Peace in Afghanistan crucial for regional stability – Ban

3 November 2011Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stressed that establishing peace in Afghanistan will strengthen stability in the entire region and lauded regional efforts to find ways to enhance security in the Asian country as it prepares for the transition with the pull out of foreign forces in the next two years. “It has long been recognized that peace and stability in Afghanistan are essential for peace and stability throughout the region,” Mr. Ban said in a message to a regional conference on Afghanistan convened by Turkey in Istanbul yesterday. “We are all too aware of the many ways in which the prolonged conflict affects not only the Afghan people, but also their neighbours,” said the Secretary-General in a message delivered on his behalf by Staffan de Mistura, his Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). He said the conference was an encouraging initiative to strengthen regional cooperation as Afghanistan embarks on the transition process. “Transition is primarily a process by which the Government of Afghanistan will reinforce its sovereignty, ownership and leadership. “The Government has sought to do precisely that during preparations for this conference, by seeking to be not merely the subject but the catalyst. I applaud this vision, this leadership and the efforts to reach out to the country’s neighbours,” he added. Meanwhile, Mr. Ban has urged the international community to reaffirm its conviction that cultural diversity is humanity’s strength and not a weakness. “Cultural diversity is our common heritage. Its protection is an ethical imperative, inseparable from respect for human dignity,” the Secretary-General said in a message yesterday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity adopted by Member States of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) a decade ago. “Making the most of cultural diversity calls for new policies of inclusion and participation,” said Mr. Ban. read more

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Solar firm Day4 Energy to delist from Toronto Stock Exchange

BURNABY, B.C. — Solar power company Day4 Energy Inc. announced a plan Monday that will see its senior management acquire the company’s assets in exchange for $500,000 and assumption of its liabilities.The company will also delist itself from the Toronto Stock Exchange.Day4 has struggled with a difficult market in recent months, hurt by oversupply, falling prices and uncertainty regarding the future of government subsidies.[np-related]Under the deal announced Monday, a company indirectly owned by Day4 chief executive George Rubin and chief financial officer Douglas Keast will acquired the assets and liabilities.Day4 will have no assets or liabilities other than $500,000 cash once the deal is closed.The plan requires the approval by at least two-thirds of the votes cast by Day4 shareholders and must also be approved by the holders of Day4’s shares other than those shares held by George Rubin and Douglas Keast.Day4 produces solar panels for residential, commercial and utility scale installations. read more

Read More Solar firm Day4 Energy to delist from Toronto Stock Exchange

Chorus of oil sands critics grows online as Ottawa says halfway to

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be in New York today, pitching Canadian energy prospects to a leading U.S. think-tank.[np_storybar title=”Six-figure salaries no draw as young workers shun Canada’s oil and gas sector for ‘sexier’ industries” link=”https://business.financialpost.com/2013/05/14/young-workers-shun-oil-and-gas-sector/?__lsa=1ae4-ccdf”%5DThe Canadian oil and gas industry’s faltering reputation is hurting its ability to attract the country’s youth despite the promise of six-figure salaries. Read more. [/np_storybar]At the same time, critics of Canada’s green record are taking to the Internet to warn that the Alberta oil sands are an environmental threat.Speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations, Harper is expected to stress that Canada is halfway towards meeting its greenhouse gas emissions target. Many people in both countries, however, are wondering about the other half.As the Obama administration ponders the TransCanada Corp. proposal to build the Keystone XL pipeline to link the oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries, Harper’s government is trumpeting the steps it has taken to ensure pipeline safety, cut emissions and monitor oil sands pollution.This week, in advance of the prime minister’s Q-and-A with the council, the federal government took out ads in major U.S. publications and fired up a new website to promote its sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reducing emissions.“With these and other means, Canada is honouring its United Nations commitment under the Copenhagen Accord to a 17-per-cent reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by 2020,” the website says.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan “We estimate that as a result of our collective actions taken to date, Canada is already halfway toward closing the gap between what our emissions had originally been projected to be in 2020, and where we need to be to meet our Copenhagen target.”But critics, including Environmental Defence Canada, Equiterre, Forest Ethics Advocacy, Greenpeace Canada and the U.S. Natural Resources Defence Council, have set up their own Internet soapbox.They say OilSandsRealityCheck.com “presents peer-reviewed, easy to understand facts about the devastating impacts of the oil sands on climate, economy, human rights, land and species, air and water.”The trouble with Harper’s “halfway” claim is that it lumps together all the measures both provincial and federal governments have taken and the cumulative effect they will have on emissions by 2020.Numerous analyses suggest that closing the rest of the gap will take a near miracle, or some kind of national carbon pricing program.The federal Conservatives reject carbon pricing, although many provinces have already headed in that direction, either on their own or to comply with federal regulations.Something will have to give.Oil and gas are the largest source of emissions growth. Federal, provincial and industry officials have been negotiating for months to produce a plan that would curb emissions at a cost that does not disadvantage the industry.But none of the scenarios will take Canada anywhere near meeting its 2020 target, analysts say.Environment Minister Peter Kent, meanwhile, is looking at the handful of sectors not yet regulated. Commercial and residential buildings are key, he said in a recent interview, adding that he’s also hoping for international action in the aviation sector.Canada, he also noted, is now getting credit for reforestation efforts.But none of those this will give Canada more than a few megatonnes of carbon reductions each by 2020, well short of the needed 100 megatonnes.Canada could buy emissions credits from cash-short developing countries, but the government isn’t keen on that option.The Conservatives have also rejected suggestions that they limit emissions by freezing oil sands development and pipeline construction.This week, the International Energy Association said it expects oil sands production to increase by 1.3 million barrels a day by 2018, to a total of about 5 million a day.Canadian Press read more

Read More Chorus of oil sands critics grows online as Ottawa says halfway to

Pershing Square to sell 59 million Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd shares in

CALGARY — Pershing Square Capital Management has announced a public offering of more than 5.9 million shares of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. that would have a value of more than $880-million at market prices.The deal makes good on a pledge by activist investor Bill Ackman back in June to divest seven million CP shares within a year, taking advantage of a big run-up in the railway’s stock.Ackman led a bruising proxy fight against the railway’s previous management aimed at wringing greater value out of CP stock.Since ousting former CEO Fred Green and replacing with veteran railway executive Hunter Harrison, the company stock has been on a roll.The issue closed up more than 10%, or $13.79, at a best-ever $148.53 on Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange after CP reported record earnings and revenue and its best-ever operating ratio, a measure of a railway’s efficiency.The stock fell 58 cents to $147.95 on Thursday.The offering of just under 5.97 million shares by funds managed by Pershing Square will be underwritten by Credit Suisse, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.The Canadian Press read more

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Markets update at midafternoon

On the markets at midafternoon (ET):In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 22.28 points to 15,120.12.The Dow Jones industrial average was up 30.46 points to 22,029.45.The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 3.54 points to 2,468.15.The Nasdaq composite index was up 11.11 points to 6,334.12.The Canadian dollar was trading at 78.87 cents US, up from Tuesday’s average price of 78.40 cents US.

Read More Markets update at midafternoon

Canadas inflation is up but retail sales are down

OTTAWA — Canadian consumer prices picked up their pace last month as the annual inflation rate moved up from very low levels and closer to the Bank of Canada’s ideal target of two per cent, Statistics Canada said Friday.Higher gasoline prices helped push the annual inflation rate in September to 1.6 per cent, up from 1.4 per cent a month earlier and away from its two-year low of just one per cent in June, the agency said. Excluding gas prices, inflation was 1.1 per cent.The inflation-targeting central bank scrutinizes inflation ahead of its rate decisions. Its next benchmark rate announcement is scheduled for next Wednesday.However, only one of the bank’s three preferred measures of core inflation, which seek to look through the noise of more-volatile items, increased last month while the others stayed put.Statistics Canada also released numbers Friday that showed retail sales contracted 0.3 per cent in August, after increasing 0.4 per cent in July. Retail sales volumes in August recoiled 0.7 per cent.Excluding sales at gas stations and auto dealers, the report said retail trade was down 1.3 per cent in August. Sales were also down 2.5 per cent at food and beverage stores and 2.4 per cent at furniture and home furnishings stores.The retail sales data suggests the economy is starting to show signs of slowing down, as widely expected, following its red-hot performance in the first half of the year.On inflation, the report highlighted gasoline, travel tours and air transportation as the biggest upward contributors to consumer prices. The downward pressure was led by cheaper electricity, women’s clothing furniture.The report also found that consumer prices rose in seven of the 10 provinces in September. read more

Read More Canadas inflation is up but retail sales are down

US releases list reflecting tougher NAFTA negotiating positions

MEXICO CITY — The United States has published an updated list of NAFTA negotiating objectives to reflect some of its tougher-than-anticipated demands in a reminder of the difficult hoeing ahead as parties seek fertile ground for a deal.The U.S. trade czar’s office released the new list on Friday just as the three chief negotiators began meeting in Mexico City for their first encounter after an acrimonious round revealed huge differences.Sources say Canada and Mexico will start the months-long task of probing the U.S. for signs of willingness to compromise, though they expect little progress on the toughest sticking points for another few rounds.A new document from the American side illustrated those big gaps.The U.S. released an updated version of a July document published before negotiations started, in keeping with transparency requirements under American trade law. The new list includes tougher language on Canadian dairy, auto parts and Buy American rules, reflecting negotiating demands adopted in recent weeks.“(Our) objectives represent a serious effort to renegotiate the agreement to update its provisions to the best 21st century standards and rebalance the benefits of the deal so that each country succeeds. … If these objectives are achieved, the United States will obtain more open, equitable, secure and reciprocal market access and the entire NAFTA region will benefit,” says the document.Major changes from the previous version of the document released four months ago include:–On auto parts, ensuring that rules of origin promote production in North America as well as “specifically in the United States.” That reflects a U.S. demand at the last round that cars must include 50 per cent U.S. content and 85 per cent content from North America overall, to avoid a tariff.–Ensuring reciprocity in market access for public-works contracts. This reflects an American demand that would limit access to Canadian and Mexican companies to one dollar in public contracts for every dollar American companies receive in those countries.–Eliminating Canadian tariffs on imports of dairy, poultry, and egg products. The July document did not specifically mention eliminating Canada’s supply management system. But at the previous negotiating round in October, the U.S. requested supply management’s elimination within 10 years.All these demands, and some others, have been deemed non-starters by Canada and Mexico.But those two are starting to demonstrate a willingness to seek compromises on some areas. For instance, both Canada and Mexico say they could envision some form of review mechanism every few years to provide status reports on the agreement.That proposal falls short of the U.S. demand for a so-called five-year sunset clause. In the U.S. position, NAFTA should come with a proviso that the deal gets cancelled unless all parties endorse it after five years.A rare hint of potential compromise from the U.S. came in the portion of Friday’s document referring to that sunset clause. The new U.S. position paper avoids mentioning a five-year cancellation threat, and actually contains language much more palatable to Canada and Mexico.The new document describes the U.S. position on the so-called sunset clause the following way: “Provide a mechanism for ensuring that the parties assess the benefits of the agreement on a periodic basis,” which sounds closer to the types of periodic reviews Canada and Mexico might be willing to live with.Canada also intends to signal its willingness to review auto-parts rules. But again, it views the U.S. starting numbers to be well outside the bounds of an acceptable final compromise.“We’re willing to talk about rules of origin,” said one Canadian official. “But certain figures, or certain proposals, are just not-starters … There are certain starting points that are just unworkable.”It’s considered doubtful too much progress on the thorny issues will happen at the current round, which ends next week. Canadian officials say they anticipate progress on less-controversial issues like digital commerce, regulatory co-operation and labour and the environment.But they expect the more intense decision-making to ramp up in the first quarter of next year, as the talks get closer to the hoped-for deadline of March. In the meantime, they will be looking for signs of potential common ground with American negotiators and watching whether the U.S. president escalates his threats to cancel NAFTA.Canadian union leader Jerry Dias said the sides are frozen far apart. The Unifor boss met with Canada’s chief negotiator at the talks, and suggested Steve Verheul and his American counterparts weren’t doing much budging on the big issues.“He’s showing as much flexibility as the United States is,” Dias said, when asked about the chat with Verheul. Dias also said there’s little room for Canada to cede much ground: “Nobody’s going to capitulate to Trump. Trump is wholly unpopular in Canada and Mexico. So nobody really wants to make it look like a Donald Trump victory party.” read more

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Nasheed faces arrest

Matters of major concern raised by Nasheed’s lawyers are : In view of the above facts his lawyers say they are extremely concerned for the personal safety of Nasheed should he enter the police premises.“Upon assessment of the facts surrounding the summons, we conclude that this summons is an attempt by the Government to thwart the progress of the Commission of National Inquiry and former President Nasheed’s participation in upcoming elections,” the lawyers said. 1. Former President Nasheed was selected as the official Presidential candidate of the Maldivian Democratic Party through party primaries held on 16 June 2012 by 32,305 votes (MDP membership is 48,393). The Waheed administration is currently demonstrating a clear pattern of abuse of power and tactics aimed at removing Nasheed from the upcoming Presidential race.2. President Nasheed resigned from office under duress. The factions of the police force, which are still in power, orchestrated the ouster of Nasheed from office. It is notable that the law categorically requires that in the case of a former President, he/she be addressed as “former President.” However, the police, in their letter addressed President Nasheed as “Mr. Nasheed” and this shows Police’s extreme disrespect towards Nasheed. Furthermore members of the security forces have openly issued death threats to Nasheed. Former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed is to be questioned by the police over allegations he is responsible for attacks on police property during political unrest in the country.According to his spokesman, Nasheed has been ordered to be present at the police headquarters on Thursday to respond to the charges raised against him. 3. The letter to summon Nasheed is baseless and fails to state any specific charges. The letter refers indirectly to attacks on police, vandalizing of police property and claims that their observations have led them to believe Nasheed is responsible for such events.4. The Commission of National Inquiry, the body charged with investigating the events leading to Nasheed’s resignation from office, is currently active in its ongoing investigation and is making rapid progress.5. There have been numerous calls for Nasheed’s arrest by prominent politicians within the ruling coalition, and numerous attempts have been made by the police to arrest him. 6. Nasheed has been assaulted by the police on various occasions since his resignation from office, and these instances are still being investigated by the Police Integrity Commission. “It is with deep concern that we note that President Nasheed has been issued a summons to appear at police Head Quarters on the 2nd of August 2012 in connection with a criminal investigation at a time when the political and legal environment of the country is under unprecedented stress,” his lawyers said in a statement. read more

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Lanka rejects resolution seeks vote

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland Monday said Sri Lanka had been alerted last year by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she met Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris. Nuland said the US was working with several governments on the resolution on Sri Lanka. (Colombo Gazette) “Just as the Government of Sri Lanka did not recognize the last HRC resolution, it rejects the new resolution. Sri Lanka intends to request a vote when the draft resolution is taken up at the Human Rights Council on 21st March 2013. Sri Lanka seeks the understanding and the support of HRC member states at the vote on this resolution,” the Minister said in his letter, seen in part by the Colombo Gazette.The US on Monday tabled the final version of the resolution at the 22nd session of the UNHRC in Geneva, with several co-sponsors including Austria, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway and Britain. Moreover, he says the precedent created by intrusive, biased and politicized actions such as the US sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka would pose a danger for all nations. The Minister has noted that the beneficiaries of such action would be none other than the divisive forces that seek to destabilize the hard won peace in the country. In a toned down document as compared to the previous drafts, the resolution requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to present an oral update to the at its 24th session.It is also seeking a comprehensive report followed by a discussion at the 25th session, on the implementation of the present resolution.The US said it had alerted the government last year on the possibility of taking action on Sri Lanka if there was no progress in human rights related issues. The Sri Lankan government has decided to reject the final draft of the US resolution and will seek a vote among members of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Thursday, the Colombo Gazette learns.In letters addressed to Foreign Ministers of UNHRC member countries, External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris said the Government of Sri Lanka believes that drawing disproportionate attention to Sri Lanka’s situation and introducing resolution that seeks to discredit, single out the country and humiliate are unhelpful and counterproductive to Sri Lanka’s current reconciliation process. read more

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Suspects arrested in Deraniyagala

At least 15 men who had arrived in a jeep last morning at the estate had attacked the 71 year old man identified as Nihal Perera. The police said that two others who were believed to be the security officers of the victim were injured in the attack. The police have arrested 4 suspects so far over the attack in Deraniyagala in which a superintendent of an estate in the area was killed, the police media unit said today.The police said that six police teams have been deployed to arrest several others wanted over the murder. The attackers had stabbed the victim after initially assaulting him and he succumbed to his injuries.The police media unit said that the vehicle used in the crime had also been seized. (Colombo Gazette) read more

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CPC chairman to resign

His resignation comes amidst the controvercy over the importing of substandard fuel to the country. The Chairman of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) Thilak Collure is to resign from his post, sources told the Colomboi Gazette.It is understood that Collure had tendered his resignation as he was to go oversaes. He also said that 25000MT of Octane 90 petrol from the same shipment had however been passed to be released to the consumer. (Colombo Gazette) Meanwhile Petroleum Resources Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said that the CPC had rejected 5000MT of imported Octane 95 petrol after two tests had found that it was contaminated. read more

Read More CPC chairman to resign