By Shaquile GoffRabat- Beginning November 20, Moroccans will be able to book a cruise to Brazil. Macroisiere, a Moroccan online cruise reservation business, reached a deal with MSC cruises, the largest privately owned cruise service in the world. The cruise service agreed to add Casablanca as a stop on one of its itineraries to meet the growing demand of wealthier Moroccans for luxury vacations. Moroccans will be able to sail on a 12-day cruise from Casablanca to the cities of Santa Cruz and Tenerife in the Canary islands, before crossing the Atlantic and stopping in the Brazilian cities of Salvador, Ilheus, and Rio de Janeiro. Moroccans also receive a complimentary return ticket from Brazil to Morocco courtesy of Royal Air Maroc. Read Also: Morocco, France Forge More Cooperation on Security, MigrationThe MSC Poesia is making the inaugural trip. It set sail from Marseille, France, on November 12, and will conclude its journey on December 2.Casablanca has previously been a popular sightseeing destination for European cruises, but this is the first time Moroccans will have an opportunity to join the journey from Casablanca and travel via cruise ship from Morocco to Latin America.The decision comes as Morocco attempts to modernize its business and entertainment industry through foreign investment.The companies also predict Moroccans will receive the new route well because Brazil does not require Moroccan citizens to get a visa before entry, according to Moroccan business magnate Ismael Belkhayat.
Rabat – The European Parliament adopted the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement in a plenary session in Strasbourg today.The fisheries agreement received 415 votes in favor and 189 votes against.According to Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), 49 MEPs were absent for the vote. Morocco and the EU signed the fisheries deal on January 14, one of the final steps in the process before ratification at the EU Parliament. The deal will allow European vessels to fish in Moroccan waters for a set amount of compensation.Read Also: EU Parliament’s Fisheries Committee Adopts EU-Morocco Fisheries DealThe deal covers the fishing area from parallel 35 and Cap Spartel in northern Morocco to parallel 22 and Cap Blanc in southern Morocco, including the waters off Western Sahara.The agreement specifies the fishing areas and access conditions for EU vessels. It also increases the EU’s financial contribution from the previous agreement’s annual payment of €40.0 million to €52.2 million.In addition to the fisheries agreement, the European Parliament also adopted the EU-Morocco agriculture deal on January 16.At the EU Parliament, 444 MEPs voted for the renewal of the agreement.Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani said that the adoption of the agriculture agreement required intense efforts.After the adoption of the agreement, the High Representative of the EU Federica Mogherini commended the partnership between Morocco and the EU.She added that the two partners are aspiring to make a qualitative leap in their ties to build a regional partnership, particularly in the Mediterranean, the Arab world, and Africa.The adoption of the two agreements comes despite Polisario’s threats to hamper the agreement process.Polisario threatened to appeal to the European Court of Justice and the United Nations.The Moroccan government, however, emphasized that it had already informed the UN of the adoption of the agriculture agreement.Morocco’s Permanent Representative to the UN Omar Hilale said the EU decision would create a “legal structure that would facilitate many economic and development activities and opens the way for arranging other cooperation aspects between the two parties.”
The Canadian Press CALGARY — Colliers International says a rising trend of “reverse migration” is starting to bring office tenants back into Calgary’s core, resulting in a decline in the downtown vacancy rate during the first three months of the year.The commercial realtor says the vacancy rate slipped to 25.23 per cent from 26.45 per cent in the last quarter of 2018, thanks to tenants moving back downtown to be closer to clients or to take advantage of aggressive terms being offered by landlords.It says it expects the trend to continue through the year driven by numerous small transactions as most tenants needing more than 20,000 square feet with upcoming lease expiries this year and next have already completed transactions.The report is the second in two weeks to note the improvements in the market which has ballooned by more than four million square feet of new space since 2014 despite an oil price crash that year that led to thousands of oil and gas employee layoffs.Real estate firm CBRE estimates the downtown office vacancy rate improved to 26.5 per cent in the first quarter from the peak of 27.8 per cent last spring, thanks to a net gain in leasing of almost 290,000 square feet, the most since the third quarter of 2014.Neither real estate firm expects a quick fix to Calgary’s one-in-four downtown office vacancy rate — Colliers predicts it could improve to 24.4 per cent by the end of 2020 while CBRE regional director Greg Kwong says he expects no change through 2019.
OTTAWA — Canada’s national annual inflation rate was 1.9 per cent in March, Statistics Canada says. The agency also released rates for major cities, but cautioned that figures may have fluctuated widely because they are based on small statistical samples (previous month in brackets):— St. John’s, N.L.: 1.0 per cent (0.5)— Charlottetown-Summerside: 1.1 (0.4)— Halifax: 1.3 (1.1)— Saint John, N.B.: 1.7 (1.0)— Quebec: 1.2 (0.9)— Montreal: 1.9 (1.6)— Ottawa: 1.7 (1.7)— Toronto: 2.0 (1.9)— Thunder Bay, Ont.: 1.2 (1.0)— Winnipeg: 2.2 (1.8)— Regina: 1.6 (1.2)— Saskatoon: 1.6 (1.2)— Edmonton: 2.1 (1.6)— Calgary: 2.1 (1.4)— Vancouver: 2.5 (2.2)— Victoria: 2.7 (2.3)The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Instagram is launching a test in Canada this week that will make the “like” counts on posts private for some users.A spokesman for Facebook, which owns Instagram, says a select group of Canadian users will have the number of likes and video views removed from their Instagram feeds, permalink pages and profiles. The spokesman says users involved in the test will be able to see the like counts on photos and videos they upload, but the number will be concealed on other people’s posts.He says those in the test group can still see a list of people who liked a post, and for all other Canadians, it will be business as usual.He says the test, which is currently limited to Canada, is part of an effort to encourage users to focus on the photos and videos being shared, rather than how many likes they receive.The spokesman described the trial as exploratory, but noted that Instagram doesn’t always roll out features it tests.The Canadian Press
With college acceptances in hand, now comes the hard part: understanding your financial aid offers.These letters are notorious for being laden with jargon that differs from offer to offer, making comparison difficult. But you can learn how to interpret award letters to understand the costs and choose an affordable option.WHAT TO EXPECT FROM AID OFFERSFinancial aid offers should include all of the federal, state and school aid you can access. That could mean free aid, such as grants, scholarships and work-study opportunities, that doesn’t need to be repaid, and unsubsidized and subsidized federal loans, which do. If these aid types are grouped together without explanation, they can be hard to distinguish.Your offer also might include a parent PLUS loan as part of the award, but avoid using it if possible. These loans have higher interest rates than loans made directly to students. And unlike typical student loans, only parents can take them on, and they require credit history to qualify.Schools also must provide the cost of attendance, but that’s not the amount you owe. It bundles indirect costs like books, supplies and transportation, with direct costs such as tuition, fees, housing and food.The cost of attendance is usually an average, says Brenda Hicks, director of financial aid at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. Things like room and board could be pricier if you opt for a more expensive package, like a single room.WHY OFFERS ARE DIFFICULT FOR STUDENTS TO READSchools use different names to refer to the same type of loan.For instance, one college’s aid offer might list a “Federal Unsub Stafford Loan,” and another school’s might say “DL Unsubsidized Loan.” But they’re the same thing.Unsubsidized federal student loans are the only type of federal loan every student can access, regardless of financial need. They’re different from subsidized loans, which don’t accrue interest while the student is in school. Subsidized loans ease costs for students, which is why they’re given to those who demonstrate need.But among 455 college aid award letters, there were 136 different names used to describe the federal unsubsidized loan, according to a 2018 study by New America, a nonpartisan think-tank , and uAspire, a Boston-based college affordability non-profit .“How can we expect families and students to navigate this process if even the aid that everyone qualifies for is called something different?” says Rachel Fishman, deputy director for research with the education policy program at New America.There are two main obstacles for colleges in standardizing offers, according to Fishman: There’s no legal standard for language in award letters, and schools use different software to manage aid.In a push for more consistency, the U.S. Department of Education recently issued guidance on what schools should avoid, such as presenting the cost of attendance without a breakdown. There’s also bipartisan support in Congress to make aid offers more uniform, including two current bills.Some colleges have tried to address the problem, but others continue to use the same format they’ve used for years, says Brendan Williams, director of knowledge at uAspire.The financial aid office at the University of Nebraska Kearney overhauled its award letter last year, including colour coding each aid type and providing an estimated net cost. Net cost is the cost of attendance minus free aid. It represents the amount that borrowers will have to cover.Despite the changes, families still often want a walk-through, says Mary Sommers, the school’s financial aid director. “That’s OK, that’s our job,” she adds.HOW TO COMPARE FINANCIAL AID AWARD OFFERSTo compare financial aid award offers , experts recommend these steps:—Create a spreadsheet with separate columns for each school.—Under each column, start with the total cost of attending each school.—List each award type and amount.—Add all free aid together first and subtract from the total cost to attend.Since you want to take all free aid first, what you have left is the amount you would need to cover with savings, income or loans. Compare this bottom-line amount with other schools on the list.You can also use tools like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Compare Schools tool or the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ Award Notification Comparison Worksheet .“Bottom line: I would encourage people to take a long look at that letter, read it all, make sure they understand it and reach out when they don’t,” says Hicks.If it’s unclear how to accept one type of aid or reject another, contact the school’s financial aid office.______________________________________________This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Anna Helhoski is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter @annahelhoski.RELATED LINKS:NerdWallet: How to read a financial aid award letter http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-college-financial-award-letterConsumer Financial Protection Bureau: Compare Schools tool https://www.consumerfinance.gov/paying-for-college/compare-financial-aid-and-college-cost/National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators: Award Notification Comparison Worksheethttps://www.nasfaa.org/award_notification_comparison_worksheetAnna Helhoski Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Food and lifestyles guru Martha Stewart says the recipe for success she has followed throughout her career also applies to cannabis companies — offer quality products at fair prices.Stewart spoke to about 650 cannabis industry leaders Tuesday at the World Cannabis Congress in Saint John, N.B.In February, Stewart joined Ontario-based Canopy Growth Corp. in an advisory role to help develop a new line of products.The company said it would use Stewart’s knowledge of consumer products while exploring the effectiveness of hemp-derived CBD and other cannabinoids as they relate to both humans and pets.Stewart says she was introduced to Canopy Growth by Snoop Dogg, a noted marijuana aficionado.Her ties to the rapper go back to at least 2015, when she baked brownies on “The Martha Stewart Show” with him and hinted that he could add some weed to the recipe.The crowd in Saint John roared with laughter when Stewart said Snoop Dogg is always high.The Canadian Press
Yussuf Munyakazi is alleged to have planned, instigated, ordered, participated in and otherwise aided and abetted the killing of Tutsi civilians who took refuge in several churches in Rwanda’s Bugarame commune, where he led an Interahamwe militia between April and July 1994.Mr. Munyakazi, who was also a prominent local businessman and farmer, was arrested in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2004 and brought before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).Announcing its decision yesterday to deny the prosecution application to refer the case to the Rwandan court system, the ICTR said that while the country has abolished the death penalty, its sentence of life imprisonment in isolation potentially contravenes international human rights standards.Additionally, the tribunal expressed reservations about Mr. Munyakazi’s right to a fair trial. In particular, it voiced concern regarding the independence of the judiciary. 29 May 2008The United Nations war crimes tribunal set up to deal with the 1994 Rwandan genocide has announced that it has turned down an application to refer the case of a former militia leader to the legal system of the small African nation.
“The United Nations urges both parties to immediately cease hostilities and requests humanitarian access to the affected areas in North Darfur,” the Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator said in a statement.Coordinator Ameerah Haq yesterday visited El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, and called on all parties to comply with their responsibilities to protect civilians and allow humanitarian access.“In this context, reports of incursions into Zam Zam IDP [internally displaced persons] camp earlier this week by Government of Sudan police are of concern and the Humanitarian Coordinator urges restraint by all parties,” the statement said.About 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed, either through direct combat or as a result of disease, malnutrition or reduced life expectancy, and more than 2.7 million others have been uprooted from their homes in the five-year conflict that pits rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen.A hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping mission to Darfur (UNAMID), which has so far reached less than half its mandated deployment of 26,000 troops and police officers, has not yet established a presence in the area of the latest clashes because of security reasons.Meanwhile, Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha today met in El Fasher with Minni Minawi, the leader of one rebel faction which has signed the Darfur Peace Agreement, and announced that they were turning a new page in their commitment to full implementation of the accord and the formation of a joint military committee to ensure an end to all hostilities.UNAMID brought Mr. Minawi from his base to El Fasher and back on board one of its helicopters. Mission deputy head General Henry Anyidoho said he hoped the announcement would attract the non-signatories of the peace agreement to join the process in a more comprehensive accord. 19 September 2008Fresh fighting between Government and rebel forces in the north of Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region has severely restricted the delivery of critical aid amid unconfirmed reports that thousands more people have been driven from their homes, the United Nations said today.
27 September 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated his hope that the nuclear and other outstanding issues faced by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will be resolved through dialogue, as he met on Sunday with a top official from Pyongyang. During his talks with Vice Foreign Minister Park Gil Yon, Mr. Ban took note of the reported intention of the DPRK to engage in both bilateral and multilateral dialogue with concerned parties regarding the nuclear issue, according to the Secretary-General’s spokesperson.The United Nations Security Council imposed additional sanctions on DPRK in June after previous demands that the country not conduct any further nuclear or missile tests went unheeded. Mr. Ban – who has previously called on Pyongyang to engage in dialogue, including through the Six-Party Talks that bring together the DPRK, the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States – encouraged the country to respond positively to the recent initiatives by the concerned parties. During today’s talks, held at UN Headquarters, Mr. Ban also voiced concern about the humanitarian and human rights situation in DPRK.He highlighted the need for proactive efforts to enhance donor commitments to meet the country’s serious food security needs, and encouraged DPRK to increase access and information sharing.
However, the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2009: Year-end Update also found that considerable uncertainties remain about the extent and durability of the recovery. Published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the report said that the region’s recovery depends very much on external factors. Key to the region’s exports, for example, will be the recovery of demand in developed countries.According to the report, which examines progress since the launch of ESCAP’s flagship publication in March, China is forecast to experience the fastest growth in 2010, of 9 per cent, driven by public and private investment. The domestic-demand led economies of India and Indonesia are also forecast to grow fast, at 7.5 per cent and 5 per cent respectively, driven by domestic consumption and investment, it added.Also, major export-led economies are expected to experience substantial growth recovery next year, although not to the levels seen before the crisis: Singapore (3.5 per cent), the Philippines (3.5 per cent), Taiwan Province of China (3.5 per cent), Thailand (3 per cent), and Malaysia (2.5 per cent).The report added that it is too early to withdraw existing supportive policies, and encouraged greater intra-regional cooperation to improve the ability of countries to better weather such crises in the future. “The aftermath of the crisis has revealed the shifting axis of global growth to within the region and the need to devise regional supporting mechanisms through greater macroeconomic, trade and investment integration,” said Nagesh Kumar, ESCAP’s Chief Economist.“Asia and the Pacific also must take a leading role commensurate with its importance in the global economy in discussions on reforming the international institutional and regulatory architecture,” he added. 30 November 2009A year-end update released today by the United Nations regional arm in Asia and the Pacific shows that the region is leading the global economic recovery, with the growth rate in 2010 forecast at 6.3 per cent – the highest in the world.
23 April 2010The head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today described as “unacceptable” the fact that 850,000 people still die from malaria every year even though simple insecticide-treated mosquito nets could significantly reduce mortality if made readily available to all people in regions where the disease is endemic. The head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today described as “unacceptable” the fact that 850,000 people still die from malaria every year even though simple insecticide-treated mosquito nets could significantly reduce mortality if made readily available to all people in regions where the disease is endemic.“As we commemorate World Malaria Day 2010, there are only 250 days left to meet the challenge set by the UN Secretary-General for all endemic countries to achieve universal coverage with essential malaria control interventions by 31 December 2010,” said Ann Veneman, UNICEF’s executive director said in a statement ahead of the day, which will be marked on Sunday.“It is unacceptable that around 850,000 people annually still die from a mosquito bite. Of those who die from malaria each year, nearly 90 per cent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa, and the majority of those deaths are children under five years old. This shocking disparity is even more unacceptable,” she added.Ms. Veneman acknowledged that there had been a significant increase in insecticide-treated bed net (ITN) coverage in several African countries, largely due to widespread national distribution campaigns with an emphasis on reaching those most in danger of contracting malaria.“Evidence shows that malaria control interventions work, but they need to be scaled up even more to achieve the 2010 goal. The dual approach in the fight against malaria – from better coverage of ITNs to increased use of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) to treat patients – is what is needed to help save hundreds of thousands of lives,” Ms. Veneman said.Strong collaboration among governments, donors, international organizations, the private sector, civil society and faith-based organizations, have driven much of the success in combating the disease, she added.She said a successful anti-malaria campaign could lead to other benefits including reducing pressure on health centres, cutting down mortality rates among those infected with HIV/AIDS because malaria further weakens AIDS patients, and improving the health of pregnant mothers and that of their babies.In a related development, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) reports that a new evaluation of malaria rapid diagnostic tests will help health workers quickly identify patients who have the disease and need immediate treatment, putting into action the agency’s recent recommendation that malaria diagnosis be confirmed before treatment.The malaria product testing evaluation programme recently completed a new assessment of the performance of 29 rapid diagnostic tests and found that 16 of them met minimum performance criteria set by WHO, the agency said.“These rapid tests have been a major breakthrough in malaria control,” said Robert Newman, director of WHO’s Global Malaria Programme. “They allow us to test people who cannot access diagnosis based on microscopy in remote, rural areas where the majority of malaria occurs,” he added.In 2008, just 22 per cent of suspected malaria cases were tested in 18 of 35 African countries reporting data. Universal diagnosis would enable health workers to identify which patients with fever have malaria and need life-saving antimalarial drugs, and which ones have other causes of illness and require alternative treatment. With 38 tests that now meet minimum performance criteria, malaria-endemic countries and donors have a wider choice of tests which have been assessed for quality and reliability.
13 September 2010Fractures in Somalia’s leadership could potentially be extremely damaging to a country long ravaged by war, misrule and humanitarian suffering, the United Nations and its partners cautioned today, urging the heads of the nation’s Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) to maintain a united front. Augustine Mahiga, the Special Representative of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Boubacar Diarra, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia; and Kipruto Arap Kirwa, Somalia Facilitator for the InterGovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), issued their joint statement following a meeting with Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed in Mogadishu last week.“Many members of the international community have worked tirelessly to support the current administration and we know they join us in calling for the leadership of the TFIs to remain cohesive and focused on security and transitional tasks at such a critical time,” they said.Somalia’s transition phase ends next August, giving the current Government less than a year to wrap up its remaining priority tasks.“The end of the transition period will give Somalis the opportunity to determine a new political dispensation, but there is much work to be done before then,” the envoys said. “There is no time to waste.”Those who stand to gain the most from the current divisions are the extremists trying to take control of Somalia, they stressed, underlining the need for internal cohesion to foster peace and stability. The country has not had a functioning national government since 1991.Somali troops and peacekeepers serving with the AU’s peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) risk their lives daily to protect the TFIs and “to defend the integrity of the peace process,” the statement said.“The leaders and politicians need to demonstrate their unity of purpose to show they are working together to restore peace to Somalia.”
5 April 2011The United Nations rural development arm has lent Bolivia about $8 million to fund projects to alleviate poverty in two departments, the agency reported today following the signing of a financing agreement with the Government of the South American country. The United Nations rural development arm has lent Bolivia about $8 million to fund projects to alleviate poverty in two departments, the agency reported today following the signing of a financing agreement with the Government of the South American country.The UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said the Government will also contribute $4.3 million to the project, with beneficiaries providing approximately $2.9 million in co-financing.The poverty alleviation undertaking, dubbed “Plan Vida-Peep Pilot Project to Strengthen the Capacity of Communities and Families Living in Extreme Poverty,” will run for three years and will be implemented by Bolivia’s Ministry of Development Planning.“The project is designed within the framework of the Bolivian Government’s Plan to Eradicate Extreme Poverty,” said Francisco Pichón, IFAD’s Country Programme Manager for Bolivia. “The project looks to strengthen food security for those living in extreme poverty at the same time ensuring these families are able to find opportunities to improve their income,” he added.The scheme focuses primarily on poor rural families of Quechua and Aymara origin living in the northern Potosí and southern Cochabamba regions of Bolivia.“The activities will be conducted in full respect of the communities’ cultural identities and social structure. The authorities, administrators and project technicians will adopt participatory approaches, thus ensuring all stakeholders are included in the decision-making process,” said Mr. Pichón.More than 53 per cent of project funding will work to improve natural resource management and production systems, 16 per cent will go to community initiatives and 11 per cent is dedicated to strengthening productive infrastructure.The financing will also work toward strengthening organizations, improving citizens’ rights, monitoring and evaluation, and other operational costs.“The deterioration and fragmentation of traditional lands, coupled with lack of adequate technologies and natural resource management practices are some of the main causes of poverty among rural communities in these regions,” said Mr. Pichón.“The joint work with the Government of Bolivia to provide the communities involved with the tools and training they need will break the cycle of extreme poverty,” he added.
Breastfeeding is directly linked to reducing the death toll of children under five, yet only 36 per cent of infants below the age of six months in developing countries are exclusively breastfed, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).“With so much at stake, we need to do more to reach women with a simple, powerful message: Breastfeeding can save your baby’s life,” UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said on the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week, which is celebrated from 1 to 7 August. “No other preventive intervention is more cost effective in reducing the number of children who die before reaching their fifth birthdays,” he stated. Among the benefits of breastfeeding, UNICEF pointed out that the practice could lead to a 13 per cent reduction in deaths of children under five if infants were exclusively breastfed for 6 months and continued to be breastfed up to one year. “Breastfed is best fed, whether the baby is born in Uganda or England, China or Canada,” said Mr. Lake.However, while breastfeeding rates in the developing world are on the rise in two-thirds of countries with data, millions of infants are not benefiting from this life-saving practice. Therefore, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and their partners are using the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week to spur new and creative ways to raise awareness and reach a larger audience with the message of the benefits of breastfeeding.The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, which is an initiative of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, is “Talk to Me! Breastfeeding – a 3D Experience.” It emphasizes the importance of communication at various levels and between various sectors to promote breastfeeding.“Communication is key to attain progress,” said Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health. “This year’s theme for the World Breastfeeding Week highlights the opportunity of new communication technologies for making qualified support accessible to health care providers, mothers and families…“Protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding is important because, even though breastfeeding is natural, it is also a learned behaviour,” added Dr. Bustreo. 1 August 2011The United Nations and its partners are promoting the use of all possible means of communication, including social networking, blogs and even flash mobs, to get the message out on the benefits of breastfeeding beyond clinics and delivery rooms to the wider public.
Speaking by telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Ban appealed to him to immediately resume the transfer of Palestinian tax and customs revenues, in line with Israel’s legal obligations, according to information provided by the Secretary-General’s spokesperson.The conversation took place a day after Robert Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council that Israel and the Palestinians must refrain from provocations and submit concrete proposals to try to revive the stalled peace process.In his conversation with Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Ban also expressed his deep concern about Israel’s announcement of further settlement expansions, including in East Jerusalem, which he noted undermine current peace efforts and violate international law.But the Secretary-General welcomed Israel’s approval of $5.5 million in new UN construction projects in the Gaza Strip, while calling for further measures towards lifting the closure of Gaza, in line with an earlier Security Council resolution. 22 November 2011Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today the need to de-escalate the current tensions in the Middle East so that direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians can resume as soon as possible.
24 November 2011United Nations human rights experts spoke out today against newly adopted legislative amendments in Belarus, warning that the changes could severely curtail basic rights such as those of freedom of assembly, association and expression. The three independent experts issued a joint statement in Geneva in which they said the amendments recently adopted by the Eastern European country’s National Assembly could worsen the “current climate of fear and intimidation” in Belarus. Under the new laws, organizing public assemblies without the prior and explicit consent of the authorities is a criminal offense, and organizers also face reporting liabilities regarding the financial resources used for any assemblies. Public calls for initiating assemblies and disseminating information – including through social media platforms – about assemblies without permission is also banned. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are prohibited from storing funds in banks on foreign territory, and receiving foreign grants or donations could also be a criminal offense in some circumstances. One of the experts, Maina Kiai, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, described the amendments as representing “a direct affront to the exercise of fundamental civil and political rights which are at the core of any democratic society.” He noted that the changes to existing laws on public associations, political parties, public gatherings, the criminal code and the election code were done without proper consultation with civil society. Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, voiced particular concern with criminal sanctions for the “staging of seminars” or the distribution of “propaganda materials.” He said the measures “will undermine the ability of all individuals to disseminate information and to express their legitimate grievances and concerns peacefully.” Margaret Sekaggya, the UN expert on the situation of human rights defenders, stressed that defenders must be able to carry out their work without undue obstacles, including restrictions on funding. “When defenders are allowed to associate but cannot effectively seek, receive or utilize funding resources, the right to freedom of association becomes void,” she said. The three experts voiced fears that the amendments may be linked to the situation of Ales Bialiatski, the head of Viasna, a human rights centre. He is currently facing legal proceedings for alleged tax invasion.
CALGARY — The Alberta Securities Commission has slapped fines totalling nearly $54-million on two companies and three men.The watchdog says Dennis Morice, Milowe Brost, Gary Sorenson, The Institute for Higher Learning and Merendon Mining perpetrated a systemic massive fraud.Merendon Mining must pay $38.6-million to the ASC and pay $70,000 in costs, while IFFL faces $10 million in penalties and must pay $85,000 in costs.Morice has been ordered to pay a total of $200,000, Bross nearly $3.09-million and Sorenson $2.07-million.In addition to the financial penalties, all involved also face a variety of bans.The ASC says investment fraud is reprehensible and completely unacceptable and undermines public confidence in the whole capital market.
TORONTO — The Toronto stock market was flat Tuesday afternoon amid concerns about whether a U.S. stock rally may be running out of steam and indications of slower than anticipated economic growth prospects.The S&P/TSX composite index ticked 2.52 points higher to 13,460.58 as the Canadian dollar fell 0.39 of a cent to 95.47 cents US.The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development cut its 2014 forecast for global growth from 4% to 3.6%. The OECD cited U.S. fiscal uncertainty, the impact of the Federal Reserve tapering its asset purchases and weakness in emerging markets.U.S. markets were lower after indexes backed off Monday after hitting key technical levels, raising questions about whether American markets are due for their first serious retracement in two years.The Dow Jones industrials declined 19.66 points to 15,956.36, the Nasdaq fell 22.41 points to 3,926.65 and the S&P 500 index slipped 5.5 points to 1,786.03.Investors remained cautious a day after the Dow broke 16,000 and the S&P breached the 1,800 mark — both for the first time. The Dow alone has surged more than 20% this year and is up about 900 points since early October amid optimism that the Federal Reserve won’t be moving to cut back on its monthly US$85 billion of bond purchases until well into the new year.“You always have to be cautious when the market has gone up as fast as it has,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at 3MACS.“(But) any correction that could happen I would use it to buy the dips because valuations are still reasonable.”The TSX is up about 8.5% for the year so far, dragged down by the mining sector. Most other sectors have put in a solid performance, particularly financials, energy companies and industrials — companies Nakamoto thinks will likely take the TSX higher.“Much more of the direction of the TSX is going to be the financial and energy components because we have had such a correction in the mining sectors,” he observed.Commodity prices advanced and the energy sector was the strongest group, up 0.35% as December crude on the Nymex inched up 27 cents to US$93.30 a barrel. Bankers Petroleum (TSX:BNK) ran up 13 cents to C$3.86.Niko Resources (TSX:NKO) surged 26.39% to $1.82, recovering for a second day after plunging more than 50% Friday after it said that it had secured a “very high cost,” $340-million loan to avoid defaulting on debt payments and other obligations.The gold sector was up 0.25% while December bullion climbed $1.20 to US$1,273.50 an ounce. The sector has been a major drag this year, plunging about 45% as global inflation remains very low while economic conditions are gradually improving, making bullion less attractive as a hedge. Kinross Gold (TSX:K) advanced five cents to C$5.16.Financials were also positive as Manulife Financial (TSX:MFC) gained 20 cents to $20.06.The consumer sector was in focus Tuesday as Sears Canada Inc. (TSX:SCC) stock jumped $1.18 or 7.02% to $17.98 as the retailer said that it will pay its shareholders an extraordinary dividend of $5 per share. Sears also posted a quarterly net loss of $48.8 million or 48 cents per share, mainly due to severance and restructuring costs.Food company George Weston (TSX:WN) posted earnings ex-items of $1.38 a share, seven cents shy of estimates. Its shares declined 34 cents to $81.11 as the company also said overall sales rose 2.1% to $10.38 billion.The base metals sector led decliners, down 0.44% as December copper edged up one cent to US$3.16 a pound. First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) fell 30 cents to C$18.55.In other corporate news, Patheon Inc. (TSX:PTI) has received a friendly takeover offer that values the drug company at about US$1.4 billion, which is more than 50% above its recent market price. The offer of US$9.32 per share cash is coming from a group backed by Patheon’s largest shareholder, U.S. private equity firm JLL Partners. Patheon shares surged $3.72 or 62.6% to C$9.66.In the U.S., Home Depot Inc. reported net income of US$1.35 billion, or 95 cents per share, up from $947 million, or 63 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts expected earnings of 89 cents per share. Revenue rose 7% to $19.47 billion from $18.13 billion. Wall Street predicted $19.18 billion. Its shares gained 87 cents to $80.54.Traders are looking to the release Wednesday of the minutes from the latest Fed meeting held late last month for hints about when the central bank might start cutting back on its asset purchases, which have kept bond yields low and encouraged people to buy equities.
TORONTO — The Toronto stock market snapped a three-session losing run to close higher Tuesday amid a heavy slate of economic data coming out this week and hopes for strong fourth-quarter earnings.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 13,596.93 +101.39 0.75%S&P 500 — 1,837.88 +11.11 0.61%Dow — 16,530.94 +105.84 0.64%Nasdaq — 4,153.18 +39.50 0.96%The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 101.39 points to 13,596.93.The Canadian dollar tumbled 1.05 cents to 92.83 cents US, its lowest close since Novembe, 2009, with the currency weakening amid data showing a growing trade deficit in November even as the greenback gained ground amid strong U.S. trade data.Statistics Canada said the country’s trade deficit went from $908 million in October to $940 million in November as merchandise imports edged up 0.1% while exports were unchanged.Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit fell in November to its lowest level in four years as gains in energy production and stronger sales of American-made airplanes, autos and machinery lifted exports to an all-time high.The trade gap dropped 12.9% to US$34.3 billion in November as exports rose 0.9%, aided by a 5.6% rise in petroleum exports. Imports dropped 1.4%. U.S. markets have had a negative start so far in 2014, but indexes closed firmly in positive territory Tuesday.The Dow Jones industrials jumped 105.84 points to 16,530.94, the Nasdaq ran ahead 39.5 points to 4,153.18 and the S&P 500 gained 11.11 points to 1,837.88.The most closely watched economic report of the week will come on Friday. Economists forecast that about 195,000 jobs were created in the United States in December.The reading will help the Federal Reserve determine how quickly it withdraws from a key stimulus program, its US$85 billion of monthly bond purchases. The central bank said last month it would taper those purchases by $10 billion starting this month.The greenback also strengthened a day before the release of the minutes from the Fed meeting last month.Analysts suggest that the dollar could rally if the minutes showed strong support by the Fed at the end of last year to start tapering. Likewise, lukewarm support for tapering could push the U.S. currency lower.Thursday marks the start of what will be a flood of fourth-quarter corporate earnings over the next few weeks with resource giant Alcoa leading off.Investors hope earnings will help justify the sharp, 30% run-up in the S&P 500 last year. But there has been a steady drip of revised expectations recently.“I don’t think they’re going to be as bad as the naysayers want to make out they are,” said Fred Ketchen, manager of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.“There has been enough caution expressed that when we really get into some of the numbers as we go through the first quarter and even into the second quarter, it wouldn’t surprise me if they show up a little bit better than expected.”Earnings from S&P 500 companies are expected to have risen 6.3% in the fourth quarter. That’s slower than the 9.3% growth analysts expected at the end of September, according to FactSet.That would follow third-quarter profit growth of $39.2 billion, compared with a gain of $66.8 billion in the second quarter.The tech sector led TSX advancers, up 1.5% with BlackBerry (TSX:BB) registering a solid gain for a second day, up 63 cents to $9.14 after CEO John Chen told Bloomberg TV that the smartphone maker plans to re-focus on keyboard-equipped phones. Chen said the company’s phones will ”predominantly” have physical keyboards in the future, rather than touch screens.Celestica (TSX:CLS) gained 16 cents to $11.45.The energy sector rose 1.13% as the February crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 24 cents to US$93.67 a barrel. Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) gained 59 cents to C$37.17 while Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) advanced 60 cents to $46.58.The consumer discretionary group was up 0.76% thanks largely to gains in auto parts manufacturers. Magna International (TSX:MG) improved by $1.86 to $87.31 and Martinrea International (TSX:MG) climbed 10 cents to $8.08.March copper was unchanged at US$3.36 a pound and the base metals sector was flat as HudBay Minerals (TSX:HBM) gained 15 cents to C$8.61.The gold sector moved into positive ground, up about 0.7% with February bullion off $8.40 at US$1,229.60 an ounce. Goldcorp (TSX:G) added 22 cents to C$24.12.In other corporate news, shares in Valeant (TSX:VRX) jumped $15.04 or 12.53% to $135.03 after the pharmaceutical company said Tuesday that it expects revenue of between $8.2 billion to $8.6 billion for fiscal 2014, an increase of 40%, and cash earnings between US$8.25 and US$8.75 per share. It adds it will continue to look for a big acquisition or a merger of equals.TOP STORIESBlackBerry CEO plots return to physical-keyboard roots in wake of costly touch-screen flopsValeant Pharmaceuticals wants to buy its way into the ranks of the world’s top 5 drugmakersTale of two economies? Canada’s trade gap ballons as America’s shrinks to 4-year lowDeep freeze lights fire under commodities markets as crop, cattle futures soarSamsung Electronics profit falls for first time in more than two years as smartphone momentum wanesWHAT’S ON DECK WEDNESDAYECONOMIC NEWSUNITED STATES8:15 a.m.ADP Employment Report (Dec): Economists expect 200,000 jobs gained, down from last month 2 p.m.Fed minutes from December meeting 3 p.m.Consumer credit: Economists expect US$14-billion, down from last month CORPORATE NEWSUNITED STATESBed Bath & Beyond Inc. Q3 earnings: Analysts expect US$1.15 a share Family Dollar Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 69¢ a share Monsanto Company Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 64¢ a share Constellation Brands, Inc. Q3 earnings: Analysts expect 91¢ a share