Recalling that last year’s UN Millennium Summit had pledged to address war, poverty and environmental pollution, Mr. Annan said, “Nowhere in the world are those challenges more acute than here in Africa, so it is more than fitting that the entire UN family should be meeting here to discuss how we can work most effectively for the implementation of the Millennium goals.”Without action, international targets would “hardly do more than express a wish or an aspiration,” the Secretary-General stressed during a press conference. He observed that the impact of those targets would depend on an “unprecedented effort” by Member States and the UN family. “We, the family, are here to discuss how each of us can best play our part, and we are here to discuss how we can spur our Member States to play theirs to the full,” he said.Noting that the ultimate responsibility in ensuring that the Millennium goals translate into reality rests with Member States, Mr. Annan expressed hope “that as the UN system meets here in Nairobi, an equally lively debate is also taking place in capitals about how we can meet our obligations and commitments.”During his press conference, Mr. Annan was asked to react to the decision by United States President George W. Bush to reject the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions. “I regret the US decision, but I think that gives us one more reason to fight in a more determined manner to bring environmental issues into focus,” the Secretary-General replied. “We need to take steps to halt climate warming — it is a fact.”Twenty of the 25 UN agencies, funds and programmes are represented at the highest levels at the two-day meeting of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC), which meets twice a year.Over the course of this morning’s session, the participants discussed the need for a mobilization of all actors against AIDS in Africa. A substantial part of the meeting tomorrow is expected to focus on ways of strengthening system-wide support for sustainable development on the continent.After the morning session, the Secretary-General spoke with some 2,000 UN staff working in Nairobi. He also met briefly with two of the aid workers who had been just released from captivity in north Mogadishu, Somalia.According to a UN spokesman, the two remaining captives — British nationals Bill Condie and Roger Carter — have been visited on a regular basis by a local staff officer of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who reported that they are in stable condition.
Under the new accord, OPEC’s Fund for International Development will finance WHO-backed projects in 12 sub-Saharan African countries, where almost 80 per cent of the global burden of HIV/AIDS is concentrated. The region hosts more than 28 million adults and children living with HIV/AIDS – nearly 10 per cent of the population in sub Saharan Africa. Worldwide, there are an estimated 40 million people living with the disease.WHO Director-General Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland pointed to “encouraging signs” from countries such as Senegal and Uganda that the epidemic could be brought under control in Africa, but cautioned that more resources were needed to sustain these kinds of successes. “New alliances such as this one with the OPEC Fund are showing the way,” she said.”In recent years, the OPEC Fund has grown increasingly distressed at the scale of human suffering and the extensive loss of life caused by HIV/AIDS,” said Y. Seyyid Abdulai, who heads that Fund. He also drew attention to the disease’s devastating socio-economic impact. “By destroying human capital, eroding productivity and reducing growth AIDS is undermining decades of efforts to promote economic and social development, reduce poverty and improve living standards.”
“This is going to be a huge task,” said Khaled Mansour, a spokesman for the World Food Programme (WFP), referring to the agency’s $1.3 billion, six-month operation in Iraq. “The main goal is to keep the public distribution system going – a system on which about 60 per cent of the Iraqi population heavily depend for their monthly food rations.”Speaking to reporters in Amman, Mr. Mansour also predicted that the WFP Iraq effort “could evolve into the largest humanitarian operation in history and bring about 1.6 million tons of food.”Thomas McDermont, the Regional Director for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), cautioned that his agency’s work on behalf of young Iraqis would only succeed with adequate funding. “We are in need of financial assistance if we are to do our work properly.” Working with other UN agencies and international partners, UNICEF will focus its work in Iraq on water and sanitation, education, protection of vulnerable children, nutrition and health. The UN Development Programme (UNDP), which has been working in Iraq for more than 25 years, is preparing to help in the aftermath of the conflict, focusing on emergency infrastructure repairs, jobs creation and coordination of the effort to rid the country of landmines, according to the agency’s Christine McNab. “Reconstruction activities immediately after the end of hostilities must focus on basic humanitarian needs,” she stressed. Speaking for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Sten Bronee said that agency “must work to ensure that countries bordering on Iraq are able to receive any desperate Iraqis who may seek asylum.” Governments in the region already shelter more than half the more than 400,000 recognized Iraqi refugees in the world, and UNHCR is helping to prepare for a possible new influx.For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working to cope with the medical impact of the fighting. “The conflict will increase the vulnerability of a large number of people and increase their health risks -people unable to access sufficient nutrients, clean water, air, sanitation, shelter or medicines,” noted WHO Representative Ala’a Alwan. In response, the agency plans to provide essential care to those in need.Speaking for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Ziad Rifai pointed out that “war or no war, more than 2,000 Iraqi women give birth every day.” He called on donors to support the agency’s bid to provide reproductive health care to all women affected by the conflict.
Ross Mountain left the Iraqi capital yesterday after completing his assessment of the country’s major humanitarian and reconstruction issues, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters today in New York. Mr. Mountain held talks with UN national staff in Baghdad, as well as the leadership of the Iraqi Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). He also met with L. Paul Bremer, the United States’ Civil Administrator in Iraq, and his British deputy, Sir Jeremy Greenstock.The envoy is now in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to attend a conference where the International Reconstruction Facility for Iraq will be launched. The forum aims to allow governments to help rebuild Iraq’s economy and infrastructure through projects administered by UN agencies and the World Bank.
“At a time when the number of children returning to school is surging, more resources are needed to keep up the momentum,” Jean Arnault told a ceremony at the Amani school. “A huge funding gap of some $173 million exists for this year alone.”The money is needed to build new schools, improve teaching materials, develop fresh curricula and hire more teachers.Compared to last year, the number of girls attending school – a practice that was banned until the Taliban were toppled from power – has increased by 30 per cent. Mr. Arnault said the emphasis on women’s education in the new Afghan Constitution should give further impetus to this positive trend. Referring to radical elements opposed to girls’ education, Mr. Arnault said, “it is distressing to hear periodically about the actions of a few who continue to burn schools in different parts of the country.”“Let this be an opportunity once again to condemn these acts,” he said, stressing that those responsible “will not be able to sway parents or slow the country down.” Also today, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced a joint effort with the Afghan Ministry of Education to bring learning closer to home for 500,000 female students across the country by developing 10,000 community-based schools in areas lacking a formal school facility. The schools will be based in existing local structures, such as a public building, the mosque or even private homes, according to UNICEF, which will also provide tent classrooms to villages where no alternative is available for housing classes. Last year more than 4 million children were enrolled in formal education in Afghanistan, including 1.2 million girls. In the 2004 academic year, UNICEF estimates that up to 5.5 million children will return to school as demand for learning continues to grow. The community-based school programme is one element of a broad campaign to bring an additional 1 million girls into school by 2005.
Answering questions in his first meeting with reporters at UN Headquarters in New York after his return from three weeks’ holiday, Mr. Annan called the hostage-taking at the school in Beslan “terrorism, pure and simple.”Even without what happened in Beslan, we are all aware of the terrible toll terrorism has taken on people and nations around the world, and the need for the international community of nations to come together and work to confront this phenomenon,” he added. “I think what happened in Russia underscores that point even more.”Asked how he assessed future UN operations after the United States elections in November, Mr. Annan reiterated his oft-repeated call for multilateralism and the important role the UN has to play in that field.”I think we are working well with this administration, and we did work well with the previous administration, and I am confident we’ll work well with the next one,” he said. “I think many Governments around the world believe that the only way to deal with some of the crises we are confronting is through multilateral efforts, and the UN has an important role to play, and many governments consider the UN an important institution.”Pointing to the European Union as a great example of how regions and governments have demonstrated that coming together to work together enhances the progress of countries and individuals, he added: “So I think on the question of multilateralism, I think the world is on our side.”
“This situation has caused a number of deaths, which worries us and is of concern,” UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva told a news briefing today in Kabul, the Afghan capital, noting that confirmed deaths from disease alone had reached 211.The situation is being tackled through a winter coordination group that meets every other day, bringing together Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Deputy Special Representative Ameerah Haq, officials from nine Government ministries, the United States-led coalition forces, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) representing the donor community, he said.One of the most affected areas is the central province of Ghor, where the World Food Programme (WFP) has managed to distribute 182 tons of food through local implementing partners from supplies that had been pre-positioned last September in anticipation of a possible winter need.Because access has proven so difficult WFP is considering new food airdrops, possibly starting today, with the Government and the coalition forces, following a series last week to relieve another isolated area, the southeastern province of Zabul.WFP managed to get a land convoy into Ghor’s Shahrak district on Sunday with 18 tons of wheat, pulses and oil and another convoy with 25 tons of food is expected to reach the area in the coming days. Snow equipment is also on its way to free a six-truck relief convoy carrying 140 tons of food that has been stuck in snow for the last three weeks, 60 kilometres from its final destination – the isolated districts of Saghar and Tulak.Meanwhile, the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) has coordinated snow clearance programme with the Ministry of Public Works in 12 provinces, covering 27 mountain passes. But strong winds and avalanches have interrupted work in clearing four passes in the Central Highlands. With the Shibar pass and the Salang tunnel closed, all roads leading to the north are now closed.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), meanwhile, has supplied over 40,000 vulnerable families across the country with blankets, plastic sheets, sleeping mats, lanterns, soap and disposable diapers for families with young children.
Sálvano Briceño, Director of the secretariat of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), welcomed the fact that the final communiqué of last week’s G8 Summit of industrialized nations spoke of the need to reinforce such measures, noting that it was the first time that the G8 had mentioned the issue.He urged governments to implement the “Hyogo Framework for Action: 2005-2015,” adopted at the UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan, in January, which calls for putting disaster risk at the centre of national policies, strengthening the capacity of disaster-prone countries to address risk, and investing heavily in disaster preparedness.Many countries implemented the international strategy and a good example was Cuba where Hurricane Dennis had hit strongly right in the middle and would have caused many more victims if the country had not been well prepared, he said. There were also no victims in the United States because of the preparations, he added. The damage from Hurricane Dennis has already been witnessed and it is clear that it is going to be a heavy hurricane season, Mr. Briceño warned.Elizabeth Byrs of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Dennis had devastated some 600 kilometres of Cuban territory. The official figure of persons killed in Cuba was 10, but if the hurricane, which affected some 8 million people out of the total population of 11.1 million, had hit a country which was less prepared, there could have been thousands of fatalities, she added.OCHA has released $50,000 for emergency response coordination and the purchase of relief items in Cuba.In June, Caribbean countries held a regional workshop in Cuba to plan a strategy for this year’s hurricane season. UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland attended the meeting and said his office in partnership with ISDR and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) was planning to establish a regional centre in Panama to help countries become more prepared for natural disasters.”We cannot prevent hurricanes,” he said then, “but we know when and where they will hit and can send experts to work with national authorities before they hit.”
In his latest report on the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), which includes among other things recommendations on reducing the UN’s role, Mr. Annan also calls on international donors to maintain their humanitarian support and assist in the creation of public works programmes to allow ex-combatants, young people and others to find jobs.“There are still a number of potential threats to the stability of Liberia emanating mainly from several disaffected groups, including demobilized personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia who are dissatisfied with the severance and pension benefits, former members of the Anti-Terrorist Unit…former combatants, as well as deactivated members of the Special Security Service and Liberian National Police,” the Secretary-General notes.“The serious disturbances created by former personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia on 25 April, and by residents of Nimba County on 17 May, underline the fragility of peace in the country,” he says, referring to an attack in April on the National Defence Ministry and property disputes last month that saw residents take to the streets with machetes.Despite such problems however, Mr. Annan’s report also records the reduction in UN personnel that has already occurred this year but he was careful to emphasize, as he did in his March report, that further adjustments in the military component will be considered “without compromising the security of Liberia.”He also reiterates his “strong recommendation” for the deployment of an additional formed police unit, which is armoured and made up 125 officers from a single country, not only to respond to situations of public unrest but also to provide an opportunity for the Liberian Police Support Unit to gain further practical experience “to eventually take over those responsibilities from UNMIL.”The transfer in March of the former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who has been charged with war crimes, for trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone is described as the “most significant political development” during the past few months, and Mr. Annan says it “sent a strong message to other warlords in the region.”
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TSX tumbles, commodity prices slide amid Greek political turmoil by News Staff Posted May 8, 2012 5:03 pm MDT TORONTO – The Toronto stock market suffered a big triple-digit loss Tuesday as commodity prices retreated amid worries that Greece could run out of money next month.The S&P/TSX composite index fell 155.91 points or 1.3 per cent to 11,704.74 in a broad-based retreat, having recovered somewhat from a loss of well over 200 points earlier in the day. The TSX Venture Exchange declined 59.05 points to 1,338.37.The Canadian dollar fell 0.53 of a cent to 100.17 cents US after slipping below parity with the greenback earlier in the session, going as low as 99.77 cents US.Traders avoided risky assets after a prominent Greek politician called on the country’s two main party leaders to renege on their support for the multibillion-euro bailout that is keeping Greece afloat. Alexis Tsipras’ Radical Left Coalition came in a surprise second in Sundayâ€™s indecisive election and the country is struggling to form a new government.“The popular mandate clearly renders the bailout agreement invalid,” he said.Voters punished the two parties that have overseen the countryâ€™s harsh austerity measures and left no party with enough votes to form a government. Now, another election looks increasingly likely for the country, which is being supported by bailouts.But analysts warn that Greece could run out of money as soon as next month without a government to negotiate the next level of its financial bailout.U.S. markets also retreated but finished well off the worst levels of the day. The Dow Jones average came back from a 198-point plunge to close down 76.44 points at 12,932.09.The Nasdaq composite index slid 11.49 points to 2,946.27 and the S&P 500 index fell 5.86 points to 1,363.72.Commodity prices lost ground because if Greece canâ€™t stay solvent, it risks falling out of the eurozone, with potential knock-on effects throughout the global economy.As it is, the economies of many heavily-indebted eurozone countries are worsening as tough austerity measures adopted to rein in spending are crushing growth.“It highlights the bigger issue, which is that Europe has made some meaningful progress in addressing the capital issues of the banking system and reinforcing the banking system,” said Norman Raschkowan, North American strategist at Mackenzie Financial Corp.“But they havenâ€™t made the transition from the focus on austerity to the focus on growth and you canâ€™t cut your way to prosperity.”Shares sank nearly seven per cent on the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, and dropped a further 3.6 per cent Tuesday.Commodities have also suffered in recent weeks because of indications of slowing economic performance in the U.S. and China.The TSX energy sector lost 1.12 per cent as the June crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 93 cents to US$97.01 a barrel. It earlier went as low as US$95.52, its weakest level since late December.Crude has slumped about nine per cent since the beginning of the month on a deterioration of the global growth outlook. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) gave back 95 cents to C$30.69 and Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) was 45 cents lower at $29.77.Copper prices are also down sharply from May 1, losing 4.3 per cent. The July contract was down 10 cents to US$3.68 cents a pound on Tuesday. Copper is viewed as an economic bellwether as it is used in so many industries. The base metals sector gave back 2.16 per cent and Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) declined 81 cents to C$33.53 while Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN) lost 45 cents to $9.90.Railway stocks fell alongside commodity prices and mining stocks, with Canadian National Railways (TSX:CNR) down $1.85 to $82.20 and Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) off 80 cents at $73.69.The gold sector was also lower as bullion prices backed off, down $34.60 at US$1,604.50 an ounce, the lowest close since Jan 3. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) faded $1.53 to C$34.40 and Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) shed 96 cents to $36.71.Blue chips also contributed to the negative showing with the financial sector down 1.2 per cent. Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) lost 57 cents to $53.02 and TD Bank (TSX:TD) eased $1.23 to $80.42.On the corporate front, Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) gained 25 cents to $12 as the BlackBerry maker hired two veterans from the mobile computing industry for the key roles of chief operating officer and chief marketing officer.There was also plenty of earnings news to digest.Food company George Weston Ltd. (TSX: WN) said first-quarter net earnings attributable to shareholders grew 18 per cent to $124 million from $105 million in the quarter a year earlier. Sales increased one per cent to $7.22 billion from $ 7.15 billion a year ago but its shares dipped $1.35 to $59.13.Molson Coors Brewing Co. (TSX:TPX.B) (NYSE:TAP) reported net income from continuing operations fell 3.9 per cent to US$79.4 million, or 44 cents per share. But underlying earnings rose to US$85.3 million, or 47 cents per share. Net sales were up 0.1 per cent to US$691.4 million. Its shares fell 61 cents to US$41.43 in New YorkYellow Media Inc. (TSX:YLO) plunged four cents or 40 per cent to six cents amid a first-quarter loss of $2.9 billion as the struggling directory publisher wrote down the value of its assets. The company also cancelled its annual meeting planned for Tuesday in Montreal after it said the number of shareholder votes received would not be enough to reach a quorum. Revenues were $289.1 million compared with $349.4 million for the first quarter in 2011. Excluding the one-time charge, the company earned $57.5 million.
Derek Vanstone, senior aide to Harper, named Air Canada government liaison AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press Posted Jul 19, 2012 4:02 pm MDT OTTAWA – A senior aide to the prime minister is taking a government affairs job with Air Canada, raising pointed questions about the strength of ethical rules that are supposed to guide the post-political actions of Parliament Hill staffers.Derek Vanstone, currently Stephen Harper’s deputy chief of staff, will become Air Canada’s vice-president of corporate strategy and government affairs in September, the Montreal-based airline announced Thursday.The hire was vetted by Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson; both Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) and the prime minister’s office said they were well aware of the ethical obligations facing Vanstone as he moves into the new role.“Air Canada understands that there are a number of post-employment restrictions for Derek with respect to federal government relations,” said airline spokeswoman Angela Mah.“Derek will be fully compliant with these restrictions.”The hurdles Vanstone needed to clear to get the job include a five-year ban on becoming a registered lobbyist and a mandatory cooling-off period that prohibits involvement with any company with which he’s had significant government dealings.The commissioner’s office wouldn’t comment directly on the case, and declined to discuss even generally how an individual with direct access to the prime minister could accept a government affairs job without being in breach of the act.NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus called the appointment unacceptable.“What we are seeing here is again the old boys club, the revolving door,” Angus said.“It’s a nudge-nudge, wink-wink system that you have a senior adviser to the prime minister who will just happen to be now coming back as the man opening the doors for Air Canada. This is what Mr. Harper said he would clean up — and he hasn’t.”The Conservative government was first elected in 2006 on a promise to build a stronger wall between ex-political staff and Parliament Hill.A slew of legislation followed, governing the activities of those seeking private sector jobs that could connect them with the government.Deputy Liberal leader Ralph Goodale said it is too easy for both the PMO and Air Canada to hide behind the approval of the ethics’ commissioner’s office.“Being technically in compliance with the rules is not the same thing as being appropriate,” Goodale said.“This doesn’t pass the smell test.”Goodale said his party will be writing to Dawson’s office to request a detailed explanation for the ruling.“She should explain to parliamentarians exactly how this is OK,” Goodale said. “And if does fit within the law, most certainly there are exemptions or exceptions that should be plugged.”Dawson has raised issues with some of the provisions contained in the act before.“…Ensuring compliance with the act’s post-employment provisions remains a challenge,” she wrote in her 2010-2011 annual report.Her office acts in concert with the lobbying commissioner, who found earlier this year that another of Harper’s deputy chiefs of staff had broken the rules. Karin Shepard concluded that Keith Beardsley broke a five-year ban on lobbying that applies to former public office holders.Beardsley was turned in by Harper’s then-chief of staff Guy Giorno.A House of Commons committee recently recommended 11 changes to the Lobbying Act to make it stronger.Vanstone will have responsibility for Air Canada’s relationships with all levels of government as well as community and industry affairs, company CEO Calin Rovinescu said in a statement.“I am pleased to announce Derek’s appointment to this key corporate strategy, industry and government affairs role,” Rovinescu said.“His solid experience and track record in the private sector and at the highest levels of government will further strengthen the management team’s ability to execute our corporate priorities.”Air Canada has been engaged in an often bitter labour dispute with most of its unionized employees in recent months.The threat of a lockout of pilots and a strike notice from the mechanics and baggage handlers prompted the Harper government to intervene with back-to-work legislation in both disputes.A spokesman for the prime minister said Vanstone was not involved in that legislation.“Derek had no involvement with Air Canada on any aspect of Bill C-33 or any other legislation affecting Air Canada,” said Andrew MacDougall.“We wish Derek well in his new role — he will be missed.”The Air Canada Pilots Association said the appointment wasn’t surprising.“It’s been evident to us for some time that Air Canada and the Harper government co-ordinate very closely,” said ACPA president Paul Strachan.“This appointment confirms that absolutely nothing has changed,” Strachan said. “Certainly, it will present excellent opportunities for further co-ordination between the government of Canada and the national airline.”Strachan said Vanstone spoke on behalf of Flaherty’s office in 2009 when a special pension funding protocol for Air Canada was negotiated.He was also working with Flaherty when other private sector companies, including The Canadian Press, were granted longer periods to pay back their pension obligations.Vanstone will fill a role currently performed by Duncan Dee, who is taking early retirement. His departure, following 15 years with the airline, was announced on June 6.Dee has been Air Canada’s chief operating officer, a position that’s often seen as second-in-command to the CEO and a potential successor to whoever is the chief executive.McGill University professor Karl Moore said Vanstone’s appointment will benefit Air Canada.“He has wonderful contacts and knows how the government runs,” said Moore, an associate professor at McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management.“It’s a win for Air Canada,” Moore said. “I don’t see any downside from an Air Canada viewpoint.”He said the unions also need to understand how the government operates and “how to appeal to it, which I think the unions are pretty good at, actually.”Last month an arbitrator decided in favour of the airline in the case of the mechanics and baggage handlers, putting in place a new collective agreement.The airline’s 3,000 pilots are still in the process of working through their dispute with a separate federal arbitrator. A decision is required by the end of this month.
Oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have been evacuated as a preventative measure ahead of Tropical Storm Isaac. As a result there has been a rising price for oil and a four month high for wholesale gasoline, Monday. About a quarter of all U.S. oil production and eight per cent of natural gas output from the Gulf of Mexico has been halted. The Louisiana offshore oil port, the single largest entry point for crude coming into the U.S., will be shut-down. Refineries on the gulf coast are also curtailing production as a preventative measure. The market is also being affected by the world’s second biggest refinery, located in Venezuela which has been closed after an explosion at two storage facilities which killed at least 39 workers. Crude oil futures have climbed above $97 dollars per barrel which is close to a three month high. Wholesale refined gasoline is up nearly four per cent at a four month high, $3.20 per gallon. Oil and gas rigs evacuated in the U.S. Gulf Coast ahead of Isaac by News Staff Posted Aug 27, 2012 7:42 am MDT business|gas|gulf of mexico|Isaac|market|oil|tropical storm|United States AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by David McHugh, The Associated Press Posted Nov 8, 2012 9:41 am MDT FRANKFURT – European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has warned that the economic outlook for the 17 countries that use the euro remains weak in spite of the “visibly improved” confidence in the region’s financial markets.Draghi spoke Thursday after the bank’s governing council left its key interest rate unchanged at the record low of 0.75 per cent.The ECB chief underlined the bank’s position that it has done enough to haul the eurozone out of its financial crisis by offering to buy up the bonds of countries struggling with their borrowing costs, such as Spain and Italy. He repeated his call for governments to get things moving by fixing their shaky finances and cutting the bureaucracy and regulations that block stronger growth.“Economic activity in the euro area is expected to remain weak, although it continues to be supported by our monetary policy stance and financial market confidence has visibly improved on the back of our decisions” to buy unlimited amounts of short-term bonds, Draghi told a press conference in Frankfurt.Stocks and bonds have risen since the ECB said it was willing to buy bonds issued by heavily indebted countries, lowering their borrowing costs and easing fears of a eurozone collapse. On Thursday, the interest rate for Spain’s benchmark 10-year bond on the secondary market — an indicator of investor wariness of a country’s economy— was at 5.8 per cent, up marginally on recent days but still way down from the unsustainable highs of 7 per cent it reached in July.However, the currency union’s economy still shows signs of struggling. The region’s gross domestic product shrank 0.3 per cent in the second quarter. The European Union’s executive commission predicts it will shrink 0.4 per cent this year, and, perhaps more alarmingly, grow a meagre 0.1 per cent all of next year. That means downturns and high unemployment into 2014 at least.Five eurozone countries are in recession — Italy, Spain Portugal, Greece and Cyprus.In theory, a cut to interest rates would stimulate the economy by making it easier for consumers and businesses to borrow, spend and invest. Yet low ECB rates and cheap ECB credit to banks are not getting through to the wider economy in the form of more loans. That’s often because businesses see no reason to borrow and expand production in a slack economy.However, some analysts expect the ECB president could cut rates further.“Draghi appeared to ease open the door to a cut in interest rates over the coming months and potentially as soon as December,” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight.The ECB has argued that it’s up to countries to push ahead with so-called structural reforms — ones that make their economy more productive in the long term. Those typically include breaking down job protections for established workers so that companies can hire and fire more easily, and be more willing to higher younger workers. Spain and Greece have jobless rates of 54.2 per cent and 55.6 per cent respectively for people under 25. ECB President Draghi warns growth to remain weak as bank keeps rates unchanged at record low
Houston Ship Channel fully reopens after collision of 2 vessels closed section since Monday This photo shows the damaged hull of the Carla Maersk, a chemical tanker, Wednesday, March 11, 2015 in the Houston Ship Channel. Three cargo tanks on the Danish-flagged Carla Maersk were ruptured when it collided with the Liberian bulk carrier Conti Peridot. A cause of the collision has not been determined. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Billy Smith II) by Juan A. Lozano, The Associated Press Posted Mar 12, 2015 10:18 am MDT LA PORTE, Texas – The Houston Ship Channel fully reopened Thursday morning after a collision between two vessels caused flammable gasoline additive to spill and forced a section of the major waterway to close for three days.A 4- to 8-mile section of the channel had been shut down since Monday, when the tanker Carla Maersk and the bulk carrier Conti Peridot crashed in foggy conditions. Nobody was hurt, but some of the Carla Maersk’s cargo — a gasoline additive called methyl tert-butyl ether, or MTBE — was spilled.While the unloading of goods and other economic activity continued in the ship channel during the partial closure, ships couldn’t enter or leave the 50-mile waterway.The ship channel was reopened at 8:35 a.m. Thursday.Forty-three vessels were waiting to depart the ship channel this morning and 47 vessels were waiting to enter, said Patrick Seeba, project director with the Greater Houston Port Bureau, a maritime industry trade organization.Officials “will focus on sailings for the next several hours before flipping the switch to arrivals,” Seeba said in an email.Crews had been measured in their efforts to clean up the spill and remove the Carla Maersk, which sustained significant damage and had been carrying approximately 216,000 barrels of MTBE. The additive is highly flammable and can be dangerous if inhaled in high doses.Crews finished transferring the remaining MTBE from the damaged tank and then moved the tanker early Thursday, Coast Guard Petty Officer Dustin Williams said.Officials were still trying to determine how much had been spilled. High-density foam was used to suppress flammable vapours from the damaged tanks and extensive air monitoring indicated no sign of vapours seeping from the vessel, according to the Coast Guard.The Conti Peridot had been removed from the collision site on Tuesday.“Safety of persons, environment and property continue to remain our highest priorities,” said Capt. Brian Penoyer, commander of the Houston-Galveston Coast Guard District.There have been no reports of fish kills or dead birds due to the spill, according to the Galveston Bay Foundation.No areas have been closed to the harvesting of fish, shrimp or crabs as a result of the chemical spill, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The agency said officials didn’t expect any long-term effects as MTBE does not build up in fish tissue.The cause of the collision remains under investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of the accident is expected to take a year.___Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at www.twitter.com/juanlozano70
by Frank Jordans, The Associated Press Posted Oct 15, 2015 2:47 am MDT Last Updated Oct 15, 2015 at 2:04 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email In this Sept. 25, 2015 photo newly appointed Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller speaks during a press statement after a meeting of Volkswagen’s supervisory board in Wolfsburg, Germany. Germany’s motor transport agency is ordering a mandatory recall of Volkswagen cars sold with software that enabled them to evade diesel emissions testing, as it was announced Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. Mueller has said a recall could start in January and be completed by the end of next year in Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn) German orders mandatory recall over VW emissions scandal, affecting 8.5M cars in Europe BERLIN – German authorities on Thursday ordered a recall of all Volkswagen cars fitted with emissions test-cheating software, a decision that will affect 8.5 million VW diesel vehicles across the 28-nation European Union.The Federal Motor Transport Authority announced that the recall would affect 2.4 million vehicles in Germany. Under EU rules, cars that are cleared in one country are automatically approved across the bloc, so the repeal also affects Volkswagen vehicles elsewhere in the union.Austrian authorities have already said some 363,000 VW cars there are affected by the recall.Volkswagen said in a statement that it would approach customers, who can already enter their car’s serial number on a special website to find out whether it is affected. Apart from the company’s VW brand, Audi, SEAT and Skoda cars can also be checked.The fix will be free for customers, it said.Also Thursday, U.S. environmental regulators said they expect to get a proposed fix from Volkswagen next week on about 90,000 of the 482,000 cars with the cheating software in the U.S. The fix must be tested before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will seek a recall. It’s unclear when the remaining U.S. cars would be fixed.In Germany, Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said Volkswagen would have to present replacement software for certain cars that have a 2.0 litre diesel engine this month and begin fitting vehicles with them next year.“VW is ordered … to remove the software from all vehicles and to take appropriate measures to ensure that the emissions rules are fulfilled,” Dobrindt told reporters in Berlin.The dpa news agency reported that the Motor Transport Authority, which answers to Dobrindt’s ministry, rejected a Volkswagen proposal for a voluntary recall.Dobrindt refrained from publicly criticizing Volkswagen, saying co-operation with the German automaker was “extraordinarily good.”He indicated that the recall may last through 2016 because vehicles fitted with smaller 1.6 litre diesel engines will require physical adjustments rather than just a software update.Those hardware changes, which may not be ready before September 2016, will determine the timeline, he said.In a letter to Dobrindt provided to The Associated Press, Volkswagen’s chief executive Matthias Mueller said the recall would “stretch through the 2016 calendar year.”The company recently disclosed the existence of further suspect software in 2016 diesel models. Dobrindt said additional tests were under way that would include examining emissions outside the lab.The U.S. EPA has authority to order automakers to recall vehicles that pollute more than allowed by law. But generally manufacturers agree to recalls when asked by the EPA, spokeswoman Laura Allen said. In 2012 and 2013, the latest years for which data is available, companies agreed to 67 emissions recalls covering about 4 million vehicles, she said.Asked about German media reports that more than two dozen Volkswagen managers had been suspended by the company amid signs that knowledge of the defeat devices was widespread, Dobrindt said his ministry had “no information about who decided where, when at Volkswagen about the use of such software.”Volkswagen has said that some managers had been suspended, but said the report Wednesday of up to 30 “lacks any basis.”Volkswagen has said around 11 million cars with the software were sold worldwide, 2.8 million of them in Germany. Dobrindt said only 2.4 million Volkswagen diesel cars with the software are still registered in Germany.Mueller, the CEO, said in his letter Thursday that a “concerted and reliable approach” by all EU members would be in the best interest of customers.Volkswagen faces possible fines after U.S. authorities discovered it had equipped 482,000 cars with software that disabled emissions controls except when the cars were being tested.___Tom Krisher in Detroit and David Rising contributed to this report.
QUEBEC CITY, Que. – Canada’s new role in the fight against the Islamic State will involve ensuring Jordan and Lebanon remain stable, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said Friday after a meeting with his U.S. and Mexican counterparts.Dion promised that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will soon announce details of Canada’s new deployment within the American-led coalition. The Liberals promised during the election campaign to end Canada’s role in the bombing mission over Iraq and Syria.Canada’s role won’t focus solely on Iraq, said Dion, adding “we will see what to do about Syria.”“The two other countries we need to help to make sure they are stable, because they are so key for the region and are affected by the civil war in Syria and the situation in Iraq, and I am speaking of Jordan and Lebanon. These considerations will be in our plan.”Dion added that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offered suggestions about how Canada “can be more effective” in the coalition, whose members also include Britain, France and Australia.“The goal of Canada is to redeploy our efforts in a way that is optimal,” Dion said.Trudeau has been panned at home by the Conservatives and other critics for his plan to end Canada’s bombing mission, particularly after six Canadians were killed mid-January by a terror group linked to al-Qaida.Kerry said he is “absolutely confident” Trudeau will ensure Canada continues to make a “significant contribution that will make a difference.”“While they (Canada) have made a choice with respect to one particular component of that effort (the fight against ISIS), that does not reflect on the overall commitment or capacity to contribute significantly to the road ahead,” he said.Kerry, Dion and Mexico’s Claudia Ruiz Massieu also discussed other topics, including the economy, human-trafficking and climate change.Friday’s meeting in Quebec City sets the stage for a summit later this year featuring Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.The so-called Three Amigos were supposed to meet in Canada last year, but former prime minister Stephen Harper cancelled the summit.Speaking in Spanish, Dion confirmed to reporters that Canada will eliminate the visa requirement for Mexican citizens imposed by the Conservative government, but gave no timetable.Kerry noted that every day more than $3.5 billion worth of goods cross between the United States, Canada and Mexico.“We have to continue to do more,” he said, “to increase investment, reduce costs for trade, business, travel and make tourism easier without jeopardizing safety.” Dion says Canada’s new role against ISIS to ensure Jordan, Lebanon remain stable by The Canadian Press Posted Jan 29, 2016 2:00 am MDT Last Updated Jan 29, 2016 at 5:40 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Claudia Ruiz Massieu, left, and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion shake hands during a bilateral meeting at a North American Foreign Ministers Meeting, Friday, January 29, 2016 in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Rio Tinto, Turquose Hill get green light to expand Mongolian copper-gold mine by The Canadian Press Posted May 6, 2016 5:06 am MDT Last Updated May 6, 2016 at 5:40 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email BEIJING, China – Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto and a Canadian affiliate announced Friday that they’ve given a green light to the launch of the next stage of a multibillion-dollar gold and copper mine in Mongolia, following delays and political tension over revenue sharing and the foreign role in resource industries.The underground portion of the Oyu Tolgoi mine will go ahead after Rio Tinto, Vancouver-based Turquoise Hill Resources and the Mongolian government agreed on a US$5.3 billion investment plan.Construction will begin in mid-2016 and production should begin in 2020 or 2021.“Today is a historic milestone and a significant achievement toward realizing Oyu Tolgoi’s full value,” Turquoise Hill chief executive Jeff Tygesen said in a statement from Vancouver.He added that underground production is expected to begin about the time of a projected global deficit in supplies of copper — an important metal used for a variety of consumer, construction and industrial purposes.Oyu Tolgoi became a symbol of tense relations between Mongolia and foreign investors. Expansion plans were delayed by disagreements over how to share revenue in the impoverished but resource-rich country between China and Russia.Critics of government agreements with mining companies complain too little of Mongolia’s mineral wealth benefits the general public.Early stages of the massive project were begun by Turquoise Hill, then called Ivanhoe Mines, which later partnered with Rio Tinto — one of the world’s biggest mining companies. The Mongolian government currently owns 34 per cent of the complex and Turquoise Hill (TSX:TRQ) owns 66 per cent. Rio Tinto owns about 50.8 per cent of the Canadian company.An open pit mine at Oyu Tolgoi opened in 2013 with an investment of $6.4 billion and employs some 3,000 people.The latest agreement “is a clear demonstration that the country is back to business,” said the Mongolian prime minister, Chimediin Saikhanbileg, in a statement issued by Rio Tinto. He said the project will be “a catalyst for further investments that will strengthen Mongolia’s economy.”Minerals make up 94 per cent of Mongolia’s exports. With demand from China weakening as its economy cools, Mongolia’s own growth is forecast to fall below one per cent this year.In March, some 2,000 protesters who criticized foreign mining concessions gathered in the central square in the capital, UlaanBaatar, to demand parliament be dissolved and a new government formed.The investment “will transform Oyu Tolgoi into one of the most significant copper mines globally,” said Rio Tinto’s deputy chief executive, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, in a statement. “This is a long-term partnership, built to create mutual benefit.”— With files from Associated Press writer Joe McDonald
Addressing participants at the opening of the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, President of the General Assembly, John Ashe urged the international community to accelerate efforts to mobilize financial resources towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline and towards paving the way for a post-2015 development agenda.“Financing for development is the elixir – the lifeblood, if you like – that we need,” Mr. Ashe told Member States and representatives of institutions, civil society and the business sector.The overall theme of this, the sixth high-level dialogue on the issue, is “The Monterrey Consensus, Doha Declaration on Financing for Development and related outcomes of major UN conferences and summits: status of implementation and tasks ahead.” The Monterrey Consensus, adopted in that Mexican city in 2002, is a landmark partnership agreement for global development. It covered a number of topics, including domestic resource mobilization, foreign direct investment (FDI), trade, official development assistance (ODA), debt relief and systemic issues.It was followed in 2008 by the Doha Declaration, which emphasized, among other things, the need to urgently meet the agreed ODA target of 0.7 per cent of donor countries’ gross national income (GNI), and underscored the importance of strengthening the World Trade Organization (WTO) with special and differential treatment for developing countries.The current ODA is around 0.31 per cent of national income of developed countries, according to UN figures.Also addressing participants, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraged all countries to fulfil their pledges and meet their development assistance targets. “For many developing countries, and in particular the most vulnerable, predictable levels of ODA remain critical,” Mr. Ban said, adding that he was “deeply concerned” about the recent decline in ODA.Mr. Ban also emphasized the private sector’s vital role in financing and investing for a more sustainable and prosperous world. “A strong financial commitment to human solidarity today will improve prosperity and security tomorrow,” he noted.The two-day event consists of a series of plenary meetings chaired by Mr. Ashe where ministers and high-level officials are making formal statements on behalf of their countries.In addition, participants are part of roundtables and an informal interactive dialogue on the reform of monetary and financial systems and implications for development; and mobilization of public and private financing; the role of financial and technical development cooperation.The informal dialogue is focusing on the link between financing for development and achieving the eight MDGs and advancing the post-2015 agenda. In a report produced by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and released in July, the UN proposed a series of financial mechanisms to raise $400 billion annually for development needs, given the ODA declines as a result of to the global economic crisis.
With Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon headed to Russia and Ukraine as part of his diplomatic efforts to de-escalate current tensions, the Security Council heard senior United Nations officials in New York urge adherence to fundamental principles of the UN Charter, including respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and ensuring respect for the human rights of all.“It is in the spirit of the UN Charter that [the Secretary-General] now embarks on his mission to Moscow and Kiev,” said Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, who, alongside UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, briefed the Council on the latest events in the crisis-torn region. Mr. Ban’s first stop will be the Russian capital, where he will meet on Thursday with President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other senior officials, according to the Secretary-General’s spokesperson.On Friday, the UN chief will travel to Kiev, where he will hold talks with Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other officials. While in the Ukrainian capital, he will also meet with members of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission and representatives of civil society.Mr. Eliasson said that since his own mission to Ukraine at the beginning of the month, “the crisis has continued to deepen [and] tensions in Crimea and in eastern Ukraine continue to rise…we are now faced with risks of a dangerous further escalation that could have ramifications for international peace and security and have serious significance for this Council and for the United Nations.”Laying out a succinct timeline of the “fast-moving and serious” events, he told the Council: Crimean authorities had announced that close to 97 per cent of those who voted in Sunday’s referendum did so in favour of secession from Ukraine; subsequently, Crimea declared its independence, which in turn was recognized by Russia; Monday the European Union and the United States moved to apply targeted sanctions against Russian and Crimean officials.Further: President Putin has signed a treaty to make Crimea part of the Russian Federation; the Government in Kiev meanwhile has committed to never accept Crimea’s independence or annexation, stating that Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine; and yesterday, Ukraine’s Prime Minister expressed concern that the conflict in the Crimean peninsula is ‘shifting from a political to a military stage.’ “This followed reports that a Ukrainian officer was killed in front of a Ukrainian military base on the outskirts of Simferopol,” Mr. Eliasson continued, noting that after this incident, the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister planned to travel to Crimea today. In turn, the Crimean leadership has allegedly stated that Ukraine’s officials would be turned back. “This underscores the dire need for the immediate opening of direct dialogue between Moscow and Kiev.”He said that reports are emerging today that two Ukrainian naval bases in Crimea have been taken over by pro-Russian forces or unidentified groups. While initial reports suggest that the seizures of bases have so far occurred without bloodshed, such developments obviously carry grave risks. “The Secretary-General has constantly underlined the importance of avoiding further provocative actions and of refraining from incitement,” said Mr. Eliasson. “These latest events have heightened tensions and added new layers of complexity to an already precarious situation.’ Mr. Eliasson noted that in a wider perspective, all should recall that Russia and Ukraine remain neighbours, with close, often complex, historic, cultural, economic and political ties. “It is our view that it is in the interest of all of us that these two nations have positive ties, with each other and with the broader region. But the first step in that direction has to be based on immediate de-escalation and restraint in the present crisis.” Echoing some of the Secretary-General’s key recent messages, Mr. Eliasson said: “It is clear that we are at a crossroads. If positions continue to harden and rhetoric continues to sharpen, there is great risk of a dangerous downward spiral. …The focus must be to engage in direct dialogue between Moscow and Kiev aimed at agreeing on specific measures that will pave the way towards a diplomatic solution.”“I only wish to add that our primary diplomatic tool is constructive dialogue on the basis of the chapter in the Charter on pacific settlement of disputes,” said the UN Deputy chief, adding that the Organization will continue to play its role of promoting dialogue for a peaceful and joint resolution of this crisis, “which now has become more serious than ever.”Months of political unrest in Ukraine led to the removal by Parliament of President Viktor Yanukovych in February, followed by increased tensions in the country’s autonomous region of Crimea, where additional Russian military were recently deployed and a secession referendum was held on Sunday. Throughout the crisis, the Secretary-General and senior UN officials have consistently called for a solution that is guided by the principles of the UN Charter and that respects Ukraine’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“I condemn the killing of Taing Try,” said Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova. She noted that people and communities must be informed and require information from diverse channels, so they can make important personal and professional choices. “This is why the work of journalists like Taing Try is so essential and why it is so important that those responsible for his murder are brought to justice,” Ms. Bokova added. Mr. Try – a freelance reporter for local newspapers and a member of the journalist association “Khmer Bracheathibtey” or Khmer Democracy – was killed on 12 October in Kratie province.His name will be added to UNESCO’s dedicated webpage for journalists killed while on duty.He is believed to be one of several journalists killed in recent years while reported on illegal logging in the province, according to media sources.