Morocco Touts Economic Zones for Aerospace Investment

Rabat- Morocco has achieved significant growth in the aeronautical sector since attending its first Farnborough Airshow in 2010, the aviation outlet AIN reported.Morocco’s Investment Development Agency (AMDI) will attend Farnborough Airshow to present the advantages Morocco has as a manufacturing destination for the aerospace industry. The airshow began July 16 and will continue until July 22.The aviation news outlet thoroughly highlighted Morocco’s advantages for the aerospace industry. Low labor force costsMorocco has been successful in touting its inexpensive labor force and political stability to motivate international investments.“Due to its political stability, solid infrastructure, and strategic location, Morocco is rapidly becoming a regional manufacturing and export base for international companies,” the Aerospace Industry in Morocco said.China, more than other countries, has benefited from Morocco’s advantages of investment in various sectors.In an April 2017 statement, the AMDI expected “the arrival of 200 Chinese companies operating in a variety of areas including the manufacturing of cars, the aeronautics industry, aviation replacement parts, electronic information, textiles, the manufacturing of machines, and many more. Total investment by companies in the [free economic] zone after 10 years is expected to reach $10 billion.”Since the aviation sector is developing, especially in the manufacture of ancillary and spare parts, Morocco could be an attractive destination for companies seeking to invest in the aerospace industry.“The Kingdom of Morocco is a dedicated industrial partner. The Boeing Eco-System is indicative of our ability to plan and execute large-scale projects in the aerospace sector and launches a new era of aerospace in Morocco,” Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and Digital Economy, told the publication.Economic free zones ideal for aviationAIN has listed many economic locations in Morocco which provide an important platform for Morocco’s growing aviation sector. These include Casablanca’s Aéropole Nouaceur and Midparc free zones, in addition to Tangier, Kenitra, Oujda, and Salé, which have aerospace facilities.Midparc said that Morocco is a “competitive platform for export” with an average monthly wage of $327, which is “almost ten times lower than in Spain.” The Aviation Professions Institute (IMA) gives vocational training for professionals in the sector. “IMA’s medium-term objective is to train 800 persons per year in aviation and aerospace professions thanks to a tool of international standards, set up as a result of a partnership between the GIMAS (Group of Moroccan Aviation and Aerospace Industrialists), the UIMM (Union of Metallurgical Profession Industries) and the state of Morocco,” Midparc said.AIN noted that the Midparc Free Zone claims to host aviation companies such as Boeing, Dassault Aviation, EADS Aviation, Ratier Figeac, and Safran.In addition to more than 110 international aeronautical and aerospace companies operating in Morocco, AIN cited a recent briefing of the US’s export.gov. It said “Morocco boasts nearly 11,500 aviation professionals, of whom 50 percent are women. [Morocco’s] aerospace industry…plans to double its capacity and number of operators and create 23,000 new jobs by 2020. The Casablanca Free Zone in Nouaceur…is a designated industrial integrated platform with special support for investors in the aerospace sector.”Stephen Orr, vice president of Operation Morocco Manufacturing praised the future of aerospace and employees’ development.“Bombardier’s Moroccan facility today produces wing components, slats, ailerons, winglets, flaps, fuselage parts, fuselages, nose extensions, doors, floors, nacelles, and subassemblies for various programs of regional aircraft and business jets,” a Moroccan Bombardier spokeswoman told AIN.In late 2017, “Boeing and RAM announced orders for four 787-9 Dreamliners, worth $1.1 billion at list prices. RAM’s fleet consists of 737s, 767-300ERs, 787s, and a 747-400”, AIN reported. read more

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Moroccan ExBoxer Saves Plane From Violent Passenger

Rabat- A former boxer, Tarik Sahibbedine, took down a violent passenger threatening to hijack a Lufthansa plane.Sahibbedine recounted the story to his friend, Arnaud Romera, a sports journalist, who was the first to share it on social media:It all started Friday, August 24, on a Lufthansa flight from Munich to Paris when a passenger threw an angry tantrum. The passenger became aggressive with a flight attendant who refused to serve him any more alcohol, and the 46-year-old French-Moroccan knew that it was time to intervene to save the plane’s 200 passengers.First, Sahibbedine tried to talk the angry passenger into calming down, pulling the curtains at the front of the plane to prevent passengers from panicking. However, the situation nearly got out of hand. The boxer noted to news outlets France Info and le Parisien that the aggressive passenger, who appeared to be in his 20s, had the attitude of a mentally unstable man.The aggressor, threatening to open the cabin door and hijack the plane, was about to attack the cockpit when the boxer tackled him to the ground. Other passengers joined in the effort and immobilized the young man.“I didn’t have time to be afraid…. I told him if you move, I’ll break your jaw,” Sahibbedine stated.Following the incident, French police reportedly sent the passenger to undergo a psychiatric test as part of their investigation. read more

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Few SNCLavalin rivals have been granted DPAs contrary to CEOs claims

MONTREAL — It was a sunny Wednesday in March, and Neil Bruce was making his case for why SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. deserved a negotiated settlement over corruption charges tied to alleged dealings in Libya.After spending six weeks in the eye of a political storm over the actions of top government officials who had pushed to head off a criminal prosecution in the case, the CEO of Canada’s most renowned engineering and construction firm went on a press offensive.Flanked by a public relations team in a downtown Toronto boardroom, Bruce shared some internal data on the use of deferred prosecution agreements (DPA) by SNC-Lavalin’s rivals to illustrate the competitive disadvantage his firm faces.“We’ve calculated that about 75 per cent of these U.S. and European competitors have done DPAs in their own host country and are free to work in Canada,” Bruce told The Canadian Press on March 20.When pressed for details on this claim — made to at least one other news outlet — SNC-Lavalin told The Canadian Press it does not have a comprehensive list of competitors who have entered into DPAs. The firm did not share how it arrived at the number.The Canadian Press analyzed figures on corporate settlements from a pair of databases and found that only a handful of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.’s rivals or their subsidiaries have received deferred prosecution agreements. In the U.S. and United Kingdom, just one of SNC-Lavalin’s 16 main competitors listed in its 2018 annual information form is named as a DPA recipient, according to the databases that go as far back as 1992.Of 216 DPAs and non-prosecution agreements — which are similar, but more lenient — in the U.S. since 2014, only eight were granted to construction or design firms, and only three of those companies qualified as global players, according to figures in annual reports by law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.The U.K. has granted only four DPAs since legislation was passed in 2013, records from Fieldfisher law firm show.“Most of the activity in DPAs is extremely recent,” said Jennifer Quaid, a criminal law professor at the University of Ottawa. “There isn’t necessarily a long tradition of holding companies criminally liable in many European jurisdictions.”When asked about the discrepancy in the numbers, SNC-Lavalin stood by its figures.“SNC-Lavalin did internal research on the topic and calculated that about 75 per cent of its rivals have concluded DPAs in their host countries,” spokesman Nicolas Ryan said in an email.While none of SNC-Lavalin’s 16 competitors appear to have received DPAs in the U.S. or U.K. in the past five years, a few of their subsidiaries have, and several rivals accepted deals prior to 2014.In 2012, Tokyo-based Marubeni Corp. agreed to pay US$54.6 million in a DPA linked to its participation in a decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.Montreal-based engineering firm WSP Global Inc. bought Louis Berger in 2018 — three years after that company paid US$17.1 million to resolve charges it bribed officials in India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Kuwait.Aecon Group Inc.’s Tishman Construction Corp. accepted in 2015 a US$20.2-million DPA tied to an overbilling scheme. And SNC-Lavalin’s own WS Atkins, which it bought in 2017, acquired a subsidiary seven years earlier that reached a US$3.4-million DPA following allegations of bribing Qatari officials in 2009.In 2008, British construction company Balfour Beatty admitted to “payment irregularities” and paid a 2.25-million-pound penalty following a bribery investigation by the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office, avoiding charges in the process. Instead it got a plea bargain, which unlike a DPA involves a legal admission of guilt along with the bidding bans and steeper penalties that can come with it.The goal of a DPA, also known as a remediation agreement, is to encourage voluntary disclosure of criminal misconduct that might otherwise fly under regulators’ radar. By entering into a DPA, a company avoids prosecution while taking responsibility for breaches such as fraud or bribery of foreign officials and agreeing to conditions like overhauling its board and senior management, adopting a compliance program and accepting third-party oversight.DPAs also aim to slash costs and time for investigators in what can be lengthy, exhaustive criminal probes by cash-strapped government bureaus.“The big thing that corporations are worried about is stigma. They don’t like the stigma of being considered a corporate criminal, because that affects their sales and their public reputation,” said Russell Mokhiber, a corporate crime journalist and author.The difference between who gets a negotiated settlement and who doesn’t often comes down to size, says Susan Hawley, policy director at London-based non-profit Corruption Watch.“Large companies tend to get away with DPAs and the smaller companies get prosecuted criminally,” she said.She points to Rolls-Royce PLC, with which U.K. prosecutors pursued an agreement “for corrupt conduct spanning three decades,” as the state’s Serious Fraud Office director put it in February. The settlement — which emerged only after Rolls-Royce had been “found out,” Hawley said, not after self-reporting — drew renewed scrutiny of the practice.“Because the large corporations have the power, they have the power to demand and secure these agreements,” said Mokhiber. “You lose so many jobs in the economy, shareholders get hurt, innocent employees are punished, and so forth.”Companies in this story: (TSX:SNC, TSX:WSP)Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press read more

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The Angel in a Tan Djellaba Caring for Chellahs Cats

Rabat – On a hot Friday afternoon, a dozen tour buses and vans line the long driveway of Chellah, one of Rabat’s busiest historical sites. Blue taxis make their way around the cul de sac, dropping off parents with their children before making a hasty departure. Tourists and locals alike swarm the front gate of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, navigating through the electric turnstiles being installed in preparation for Mawazine. A red carpet has been set on the floor for the music festival, and workers race to cover it with plastic tarps before Chellah’s visitors soil it with their dirty shoes.   Despite the flashy decor and high-tech security measures, Chellah remains frozen in time. Throughout the stone remains of the Roman city and the old Islamic complex, storks nest atop the exposed pillars and arches of the old Quranic school. A pair have proudly claimed the peak of the tall minaret of the old mosque, while dozens more make their homes in the “stork condos” just past the lower gardens. In Chellah’s eastern quarter, the white walls of the marabout tombs with their seafoam-green accents shadow le Bassin aux Anguilles–the eel pool. Legend has it that feeding boiled egg whites to the eels will bring fertility and easy childbirth, attracting women who wish to fall pregnant.In this lush corner of the medieval necropolis, Chellah’s cats find their sanctuary.A group of kittens in Chellah, Morocco. Photo Credit: Morocco World News/ Morgan HekkingCats can be found all throughout the site, but in the area surrounding the eel pool and the tombs, several dozen are gathered at any given time to eat, drink, and rest.Read Also: Moroccans Accuse Jazz au Chellah of Killing Cats and DogsA quick Google search of “Chellah’s cats” will produce dozens of images and blog posts from travelers who were captivated by these beauties and charmed by the new varieties of life that now occupy these crumbling ancient ruins. While the historical landmark is an attractive enough destination in its own right, animal-loving tourists are undoubtedly thrilled to discover that Chellah is also a paradise for stray cats.An angel in a tan djellabaLike the perpetual ruins of Chellah, the calm atmosphere surrounding the basin and the tombs is unchanging. Although the place is packed on this particular summer day, the cats lounging by the tombs appear unbothered. Five cats are perched on the low wall facing the pool of the sacred eels, legs tucked under their bodies and eyes closed, visibly content. A litter of seven-week old kittens lay on the ground next to the pool. A lone rooster clucks his way past the sleeping kittens and settles in the bushes. Upon first glance, all seems right in the world of Chellah’s cats.A cat posing for a photo in Chellah, Morocco. Photo credit: Morocco World News/ Morgan HekkingA closer look, however, will reveal that some of the cats are actually dirty, sick, and weak. Some have severe eye infections, others are very thin, and one kitten, visibly soiled, appears to be dead–that is, until you look close enough to notice his haggard breathing. Read Also: Man in Morocco Sets Fire to Cats Shelter, Kills at Least 25 CatsWhen I first visited Chellah on a rainy April day last year, the cats seemed healthy and well taken care of. And I, like most tourists, took this for granted. I remember seeing one kitten with an eye infection, and I watched as a woman in a tan djellaba applied medicine to the kitten’s eye. After finishing with the kitten, the woman brought out dry cat food, called croquettes, and distributed it among two terracotta tajines. A dozen cats, who had been quietly resting nearby, instantly perked up and flooded the feeding area. The woman smiled as she watched over them. “She’s an angel,” I thought. The woman in the tan djellaba left an impression on me, and I’m surely not the first to be captivated by her. As an animal lover, I am always happy to see Moroccans looking out for neighborhood strays. Doing so is no easy task, especially given the risks of disease and the high costs of food and medicine for cats and dogs. To see someone taking care of cats full-time was touching, and I wanted to learn more about this generous woman. After arriving in Rabat this June, I had the privilege of meeting her and hearing her story.A family legacy Fatima* has been in this corner of Chellah for ten years, entirely of her own accord. She has followed in the footsteps of her late father, who started caring for Chellah’s cats in the 1950’s. After he passed away, Fatima’s mother took his place until she fell ill a decade ago. Since then, Fatima has been carrying on this benevolent tradition. Every day, she takes care of the cats, feeds the eels, keeps the area clean, and preserves the integrity of the basin and the tombs.Tombs in Chellah, Morocco. Photo Credit: Morocco World News/ Morgan HekkingContrary to my own assumptions, she is not employed by the site’s administrators, nor does she get paid for any of the work she does. She is there as a volunteer purely out of love for the cats, and doesn’t work anywhere else to make up for her lack of pay. All that she can offer the cats comes from the donation bowl, the few dirhams she can make selling eggs to tourists who are looking to feed the eels, and the two or three dirhams to be made from selling candles sporadically brought to the tombs. Even though the cats of Chellah are adored by so many tourists, the administrators who benefit the most from their presence are largely uninterested in their wellbeing–and that of their caretaker.   Fatima had been living in the marabout tombs for almost six years, which allowed her to dedicate more attention to the cats and provide them with special care if they got sick. However, she was asked to leave by Chellah’s administration. “They told me, ‘it’s a historical site, not a living facility,’” she recalls. “The government wouldn’t approve if they found out.”Whatever it takesSince moving, her time with the cats is now limited to Chellah’s regular hours of operation, which are usually from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm. Working for ten hours without pay is no easy feat, especially when your work offers a lifeline to creatures that otherwise have to fend for themselves. However, Fatima does not complain about the lack of compensation for her time, and she has never asked the administration to give her an official position. She is there as a cat-loving volunteer–nothing more, nothing less. She loves what she does, even if it is taken for granted. Of course, donations are greatly appreciated, but Fatima is not concerned with money. “I don’t know how much it costs,” she says when asked about her cat-related expenses. “I don’t count. I just do whatever I can to take care of them.”A brief asideThe donation bowl on the ground has a decent amount of coins. Mostly ones, twos, halves, and quarters. Maybe a couple fives. Just a few feet away, the mossy floor of the eel pool is littered with change. Several ten dirham coins, distinguished by their size and gold details, catch my eye.I can’t blame visitors for wanting to throw coins into the pool. No matter where you’re from, tossing a coin into some form of water is almost an instinctual urge. Who am I to tell people where they should put their money? Of course, I’m biased. Personally, I would much rather offer my spare change to the kind woman who feeds the cats that I’m posting on my Instagram.I know that for my fellow American travelers, ten dirhams is only about a dollar, which seems like a meager addition to a steep food bill. But those ten dirhams can be the difference between feeding the cats croquettes or crumbs. I must admit, it broke my heart to see those gold-lined coins at the bottom of the pool. Dozens of mouths to feedFatima keeps track of every cat living near the basin and tombs. At present, she takes care of 33 cats on a daily basis, although cats from all over Chellah visit her for food.   “There used to be more than 40 here, but a lot of them died recently,” she sadly admits.  She explains that when the cats get sick, she either can’t afford their medicine or doesn’t know what to do for them. Without access to a veterinarian, she can only offer them basic or substandard treatment. For almost five years, Fatima’s efforts were abetted by a woman from an animal association in France. The woman, who was living in Morocco, would bring Fatima cat food, take sick cats to the vet, and help with anything else the cats needed. Additionally, the cats were vaccinated and sterilized by a local association in Rabat. But as the association struggled with its own bills and mounting debt, they had to stop helping Fatima. As for the French woman, she returned to her home country a few years ago. Since then, Fatima hasn’t been able to provide the same care. Without any formal assistance, Fatima relies entirely on donations. However, donations will never be enough to maintain the services provided through associations: sterilization and vaccinations cost about 1200 MAD per cat. On top of that, feeding 33 cats basic dry food or a rice-based mixture likely costs around 2000 MAD a month. Medicine for infections and other illnesses is yet another cost to consider. Even on a busy day, Fatima barely earns enough in donations to feed the cats. When she is short on funds, she has to improvise with food scraps. During this visit the tajines are peppered with stale chunks of bread. Empty promisesNot once throughout the 60+ years of her family’s involvement with Chellah have any officials stepped in to improve the cats’ quality of life. “I have never heard of the government coming to check on the cats,” Fatima says.  Consequently, it is up to generous visitors and animal associations to enable the proper care of these cats.Over a year ago, a member of a foreign animal association visited Fatima and promised to fund her work. But this promise was empty. “I never heard from him again,” she says. “He didn’t keep his word. ”Although Fatima is no stranger to disappointment, not all hope is lost.Once a month, a local resident brings her a large bag of croquettes and some pate, which is a type of wet food. She receives daily donations from visitors and has friends who stop by on occasion to offer their help. Perhaps as local associations get their footing, they will be able to resume sterilizing and vaccinating Chellah’s cats.   Looking after these animals, especially without the financial means to fully care for them, is undoubtedly emotionally exhausting. But Fatima doesn’t dwell on what she can’t provide for them; rather, she hopes her efforts will inspire others to treat their neighborhood strays with the same kindness they see at Chellah. The future of animal welfareAlthough there have been calls to develop the kingdom’s position on animal rights, Fatima is not optimistic about the future of animal welfare in Morocco. In order to reduce the stray population and end the widespread suffering of unwanted animals, reforms are needed locally and nationwide. However, in a country that also needs better schools, hospitals, and infrastructure, stray cats and dogs don’t place very high on the official list of priorities. Fortunately, there are people like Fatima all over Morocco. Moroccans in every city are caring for strays. Whether this be putting out food and water for cats, assembling makeshift shelters for dogs, or donating time and money to local animal associations, the social aspect of animal welfare is progressing every day. But until a large-scale government effort is made to improve the living conditions faced by animals in the streets, the cats and dogs inhabiting Morocco’s bustling medinas and quiet villages will have to rely on friendly neighbors to survive. If you would like to learn more about the fight for animal rights in Morocco, check out some of these organizations:  Association de Defense des Animaux et de la Nature (ADAN) – RabatLa Tribu des Quat’pattes – RabatSFT Animal Sanctuary – TangierL’association Mchichates read more

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UN panel pays 240M to Kuwait oil firm for Iraq war losses

BERLIN — A U.N. panel overseeing compensation claims by countries and organizations affected by Iraq’s 1990-1991 invasion of Kuwait says it has paid $240 million to the Gulf state’s national oil company.The United Nations Compensation Commission said Tuesday that the latest tranche brings to $48.3 billion the amount it has paid out since 2005. Iraq must currently set aside 1.5% of its oil export sales for the compensation fund.The panel has approved 1.5 million claims brought by over 100 governments and international organizations, with all but one fully paid out.The remaining claim, which includes the latest payment, comes from the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation. Some $4.1 billion of its $14.7 billion claim for oil production and sales losses resulting from damage to the country’s oil fields remain to be paid.The Associated Press read more

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San Francisco prosecutors turn to AI to reduce racial bias

SAN FRANCISCO — In a first-of-its kind experiment, San Francisco prosecutors are turning to artificial intelligence to reduce racial bias in the courts, adopting a system that strips certain identifying details from police reports and leaves only key facts to govern charging decisions.District Attorney George Gascon announced Wednesday that his office will begin using the technology in July to “take race out of the equation” when deciding whether to accuse suspects of a crime.Criminal-justice experts say they have never heard of any project like it, and they applauded the idea as a creative, bold effort to make charging practices more colorblind.Gascon’s office worked with data scientists and engineers at the Stanford Computational Policy Lab to develop a system that takes electronic police reports and automatically removes a suspect’s name, race and hair and eye colours. The names of witnesses and police officers will also be removed, along with specific neighbourhoods or districts that could indicate the race of those involved.“The criminal-justice system has had a horrible impact on people of colour in this country, especially African Americans, for generations,” Gascon said in an interview ahead of the announcement. “If all prosecutors took race out of the picture when making charging decisions, we would probably be in a much better place as a nation than we are today.”Gascon said his goal was to develop a model that could be used elsewhere, and the technology will be offered free to other prosecutors across the country.“I really commend them, it’s a brave move,” said Lucy Lang, a former New York City prosecutor and executive director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.The technology relies on humans to collect the initial facts, which can still be influenced by racial bias. Prosecutors will make an initial charging decision based on the redacted police report. Then they will look at the entire report, with details restored, to see if there are any extenuating reasons to reconsider the first decision, Gascon said.Lang and other experts said they look forward to seeing the results and that they expect the system to be a work in progress.“Hats off for trying new stuff,” said Phillip Atiba Goff, president for the Center for Policing Equity. “There are so many contextual factors that might indicate race and ethnicity that it’s hard to imagine how even a human could take that all out.”A 2017 study commissioned by the San Francisco district attorney found “substantial racial and ethnic disparities in criminal justice outcomes.” African Americans represented only 6% of the county’s population but accounted for 41% of arrests between 2008 and 2014.The study found “little evidence of overt bias against any one race or ethnic group” among prosecutors who process criminal offences. But Gascon said he wanted to find a way to help eliminate an implicit bias that could be triggered by a suspect’s race, an ethnic-sounding name or a crime-ridden neighbourhood where they were arrested.After it begins, the program will be reviewed weekly, said Maria Mckee, the DA’s director of analytics and research.The move comes after San Francisco last month became the first U.S. city to ban the use of facial recognition by police and other city agencies. The decision reflected a growing backlash against AI technology as cities seek to regulate surveillance by municipal agencies.Jocelyn Gecker, The Associated Press read more

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UN voices dismay at deaths of Somali asylumseekers off Mozambican coast

11 June 2010The United Nations refugee agency expressed sadness today after learning of the deaths of nine Somali asylum-seekers who drowned while attempting to reach Mozambique, an increasingly popular route for Somalis trying to flee the violence and suffering in their homeland. The nine Somalis were part of a larger group of 77 attempting to reach Mozambique by boat when they were forced – apparently by crew members – into the sea on 30 May, according to Melissa Fleming, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).“Some people were rescued by fishermen while 36 others who refused to leave the boat were eventually taken to [the town of] Palma,” Ms. Fleming said, commending the fishermen and local authorities for saving lives.UNHCR has dispatched a team of officials to Mozambique to find out more about what happened in the latest incident, as Ms. Fleming reported that nearly 2,000 Somali men are estimated to have reached north-eastern Mozambique by boat since the start of the year.“Most report having travelled directly from Mogadishu and Kismayo, with many claiming that they fled to escape forced recruitment by al-Shabaab militants,” the spokesperson said, referring to the Islamist group fighting Government forces in Somalia, which has not had a functioning national government in two decades.Some of the Somalis – as well as a small number of Ethiopians – had already travelled to Mombasa, Kenya, before attempting to reach Mozambique by sea.“Most Somalis only stay a few days or weeks at Maratane refugee camp in northeast Mozambique before attempting to move on to South Africa, where they believe they will have better opportunity,” Ms. Fleming noted.Maratane is home to about 7,700 refugees and asylum-seekers, but most of its population hails from Burundi, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).UNHCR said it is working with Government officials across Mozambique to deal with the upsurge in arrivals by sea from Somalia, providing logistical and technical support to help relocate the asylum-seekers.Violence continues to engulf Somalia, particularly its southern and central regions, and UNHCR estimates that almost 40,000 people have fled the country since the start of the year. Already more than 580,000 Somalis live as refugees in neighbouring countries and at least 1.4 million others are internally displaced. read more

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UN appeals for more funds to help millions of droughthit people in

“WFP so far has 44 per cent of the resources it needs to feed 5.22 million people in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and the Karamoja region of eastern Uganda from April through September,” said Josette Sheeran, the WFP Executive Director.“The shortfall will hamper our efforts to provide food where it is needed most,” said Ms. Sheeran, who is currently in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, on a fact-finding mission.The number of hungry people in the Greater Horn of Africa has risen as drought, rising food and fuel prices and conflict take their toll.The drought began with the failure of the October to December short rains last year in eastern parts of the Horn of Africa, pushing an additional 1.4 million people into hunger. More people may need food aid if the current long rains – from March to May – are not sufficient, Ms. Sheeran said.“I am very pleased that in areas of abundance in the region farmers are selling their produce to WFP so that it can be used to help the poorest in drought-stricken areas,” she said, adding that WFP bought food worth $139 million from Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia last year.Food prices have started rising in areas that rely on the short rains for most food production, with maize now costing between 25 and 120 per cent more in some remote parts of the region. Cereal prices over the next six months are expected to increase by 40 to 50 per cent, she said.Rising international food and fuel prices have compounded the pressure on the poorest, many of whom are yet to recover from the 2007-2009 drought in the region. 2 April 2011The head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today the agency is facing a huge deficit in the funds required to continue to assist more than five million people in five countries in the Horn of Africa who are experiencing severe food shortages as a result of a prolonged drought. read more

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UNESCO condemns murder of magazine editor in Dagestan Russia

19 May 2011The head of the United Nations agency charged with promoting press freedom today deplored the murder in Dagestan, Russia, of the editor of an Avar-language magazine. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), citing information from the non-governmental organization (NGO) Reporters Without Borders, said the editor Yakhya Magomedov was shot four times as he left the home of his brother, a police officer, near the northern city of Khasavyurt.Mr. Magomedov was the editor of Avar-language version of As-Salam, which is also published in Russian and six Caucasian languages and distributed by volunteers. The magazine covers Islamic beliefs and practices.“The news of Yakhya Magomedov’s killing is troubling,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “The death of a journalist in violent and unexplained circumstances is always a setback for freedom of expression and freedom of the press. I deplore this killing and call on the authorities to investigate this murder and bring those responsible for it to justice.” read more

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Sad history of slave trade can help mankind learn common humanity –

“Each of us must be empowered to learn about this past and to reclaim it, as a necessary step in building new common ground,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in a message to mark the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.“Managing cultural diversity and fighting prejudice and racial discrimination raise high stakes in globalizing world,” she said, adding that the Day was an opportunity to reflect on the tragedy of slave trade, and to pay tribute to those who struggled for its abolition in the light of the universal recognition of human rights.This year’s observance of the Day carries special importance in that it is also the 10th anniversary of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance which was held in Durban, South Africa, where the slave trade was acknowledged as a crime against humanity, Ms. Bokova noted.The year has also been declared the International Year for People of African Descent. “This is a chance to examine the effects of the slave trade, whose ignominious practice has in part shaped the face of modern society, across all regions of the world. This history can also nourish our thinking about our multicultural and multiethnic societies today,” she said.UNESCO has been playing a leading role in fostering understanding and recognition of the slave trade. Since the establishment of the Slave Route project in 1994, the agency has worked to break the silence on the slave trade and slavery.The agency will today launch an international design competition for the permanent memorial to the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade that will be constructed at UN Headquarters in New York. The memorial will symbolise universal recognition of the tragedy that befell not only Africans and people of African descent, but humanity as a whole.It is estimated that more than 12.5 million Africans were transported to the Americas and the Caribbean and enslaved.The Day will be marked with various events across the world that range from a workshop on the slave trade for educators in Ghana, exhibitions in Senegal, Argentina and Granada, to a symposium in Trinidad and Tobago whose theme is “The contribution of people of African descent in the development of Caribbean society.”In the United Kingdom, several museums will have commemorative events, including exhibitions and panel discussions.In Canada, the Black Coalition of Quebec has chosen “A History to Discover” as the theme of week-long events in Montreal that began last week. 23 August 2011The head of the United Nations agency tasked with conserving the world’s cultural heritage today exhorted mankind to learn the history of the dehumanizing transatlantic slave trade to discover their common humanity and intensify the fight against prejudice and racial discrimination. read more

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Tennis ace heads to preschool in Serbia to highlight UNICEF campaign

27 September 2011Novak Djokovic, the world’s top tennis player and a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador, has visited a kindergarten in his native Serbia to spotlight the agency’s efforts to promote early childhood education in a country with low enrolment rates. Mr. Djokovic, who became a national ambassador for UNICEF a month ago, toured the Pcelica (“Little Bee”) kindergarten in Smederevo yesterday and played with some of the children who attend the centre.“I had a lot of fun… they were so eager to play and ask questions and show their little talents,” he said in a Twitter message. “I hope to see more of these kinds of institutions which integrate children from all areas, and children with disabilities and Roma children.”Fewer than half of Serbian children aged between three and five attend pre-school, and the rate is as low as 10 per cent among some vulnerable groups, according to a press release issued by UNICEF.Working with the Serbian Government, the agency has launched a five-year strategy to expand existing services and to develop specialized programmes to encourage early childhood education among marginalized groups.“The starting line is not the same for all children,” Mr. Djokovic said after the visit. “Those born into poverty or on the margins of society require our extra support to realize their dreams. Pre-school programmes are essential to give every young child the maximum possibilities to succeed in his further education.”Lesley Miller, the acting country representative for UNICEF, said the agency was especially pleased that Mr. Djokovic – who has won four Grand Slam singles crowns during his career – has chosen to focus on early childhood education.“Our goal is that all children, and especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, have a good start in life,” she said.Earlier this month, another national ambassador for UNICEF in Serbia, the female tennis star Ana Ivanovic, held a class for pupils from 10 primary schools to promote the importance of reading books. The class was held as part of an anti-bullying programme known as “Schools without Violence.”Ms. Ivanovic, who was formerly ranked number one in the world, told the pupils about her favourite books and those titles that have made the biggest impact, and handed each child a book at the end of the class as a present to encourage further reading. read more

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Ban calls on youth to act now to ensure planets sustainable future

10 December 2011Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called today on young people to help combat the multiple threats faced by the planet such as climate change and environmental destruction, to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come. “We have only this Earth, and it is up to us to preserve it,” Mr. Ban told young people at the closing ceremony of the youth event at the Alliance of Civilizations Forum in Doha, Qatar.“Our future is at risk, yours and mine, but also more broadly the future of humankind. You know the threats as well as I: climate change, environmental destruction, growing scarcities of essential resources – water, food, energy, the clean air we breathe,” he said.Mr. Ban stressed the global nature of these problems, and their need for global solutions. “You understand that, with just one Earth, we cannot afford to fight over religion, race, or any of the other categories that separate us,” he said. “We are, indeed, all under the same roof. We live at a unique moment in human history. We recognize the fragility of our beautiful planet. We recognize our vulnerability to changes in the air and resources around us,” he added.Mr. Ban underscored the importance of nations working multilaterally to tackle global issues and said events like the UN Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20) in Brazil next year are crucial instruments for international cooperation and progress.“In Rio, we hope to chart a new path for development – sustainable development, which means growth consistent with the limitations and opportunities of our natural world.”Mr. Ban made invited young people to join the UN and its campaigns for peace, human rights and environmental sustainability.“Let us, together, create a movement – a movement for change, a movement of all nations and all people, united, to advance the great causes of our day,” he said.The fourth annual forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations will start tomorrow and will count with more than 2,000 participants, including political and corporate leaders, civil society activists and faith communities who will meet to discuss joint actions to improve relations across cultures, combat prejudice and build lasting peace. read more

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Madagascar UNICEF warns of potential disease outbreaks after cyclone

17 February 2012The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) voiced concern today that waterborne diseases may soon spread in the areas of Madagascar that were pummelled by Cyclone Giovanna earlier this week. The provisional death toll from the disaster has reached 17, UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado told reporters in Geneva, with information not yet in from all cyclone-affected areas, which are largely concentrated in the east of the island country.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that almost 2,000 Malagasy have been displaced so far, including more than 500 residents of the capital, Antananarivo.Agricultural production has also been hit, with damage to key commercial crops such as banana, litchi and sugar cane.Ms. Mercado said waterborne diseases is now a key concern for aid agencies, with the cyclone having destroyed some water sources and hot and humid weather conditions now prevailing. An estimated 580,000 people live in the hardest-hit areas.UNICEF has begun distributing medicines, mosquito nets and other emergency materials, working with local authorities and partner non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to ensure the supplies reach those in need.Elisabeth Byrs, a spokesperson for OCHA, said authorities are monitoring the water levels of the five main rivers surrounding Antananarivo. The water levels are expected to rise but not yet to alert levels. read more

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Business owners continue to lose confidence in economy

A recent survey suggests confidence among Canada’s small and medium-sized business owners is at a three year low after dropping for the fourth consecutive month.The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says confidence in economic conditions among its members fell 1.2% nationally in July to 60.9. The last time it was lower was in July of 2009, when it stood at 58.6.Ted Mallett, chief economist for CFIB,  says the index’s current position in relation to gross domestic product puts it very close to the zero-growth mark, suggesting Canada’s economy is nearing a standstill.On Tuesday, Statistics Canada reported the economy had grown a disappointing 0.1% in May, leaving the pace of the recovery at slightly below 2% on an annualized basis.The CFIB says confidence declined in July even in resource-rich Alberta, which saw a drop of three points to 70.3.Saskatchewan businesses were the most confident in the country with an index reading of 72, while those in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia were at the low end at 52.7 and 54, respectively.Based on past results, the CFIB says index levels normally range between 65 and 75 when the economy is growing. read more

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TSX closes higher on ECB bondbuying program

TORONTO — Mining stocks led the way to a strong showing on the Toronto stock market Friday amid general relief over a plan to lower euro zone borrowing costs.The S&P/TSX composite index jumped 128.28 points to 12,268.01, while the TSX Venture Exchange climbed 18.41 points to 1,276.71.The plan by the European Central Bank to buy up government bonds raised hopes that greater financial stability in Europe will help the region get out of its economic slump, hopefully hike demand for oil and metals and send shares prices higher on the resource-intensive TSX.“Any indication of stability is positive, is viewed that we can get things back on track and get global economic growth back into a positive trajectory,” said Jennifer Dowty, portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.[np-related]It was a different showing in New York as traders considered vastly different employment pictures for Canada and the United States.Surging copper and a weak U.S. currency also helped push the Canadian dollar up 0.48 of a cent to 102.23 cents US as Statistics Canada said the economy created 34,300 jobs in August. That was much better than the approximately 10,000 new jobs that economists had expected.The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.3%, however.U.S. markets were slightly higher as a poor U.S. jobs report was expected to persuade the Federal Reserve to launch further stimulus.The U.S. Labour Department reported that only 96,000 jobs were created in August, less than the 125,000 that had been forecast. The jobless rate edged down to 8.1% from 8.3% but that was because of fewer people looking for work.And to top it all off, the department said 41,000 fewer jobs had been created in June and July than previously reported.The Dow Jones industrials was up 14.64 points to 13,306.64, while the Nasdaq composite index inched up 0.61 of a point to 3,136.42, weighed down by a revenue warning from chip giant Intel.The S&P 500 index gained 5.8 points to 1,437.92.Previous easing measures by the Fed have supported financial markets.The Fed’s intentions could become clearer next week when the central bank holds its next interest rate meeting.“It tilts the scale for some sort of action next week by (Fed chairman Ben) Bernanke,” Dowty said.“The market is certainly betting on it, suggesting if we don’t see action next week it will certainly create some volatility.”North American markets were set to end the week higher in the wake of the ECB’s move Thursday to get a grip on the euro zone’s debt crisis.The plan amounts to a commitment to buy unlimited amounts of short-term bonds from euro countries that request help. Ostensibly, the plan is meant to ease the financial pressures on Spain and Italy by giving them time to reduce debt and reform their economies.The ECB had been under pressure to take action after Spain and Italy became the latest countries forced to pay yields in the seven% range on their benchmark 10-year bonds earlier this year, a level that raised worries that they could be forced to seek bailouts.The ECB plan seemed to be working as Spain has seen its cost of borrowing fall since the announcement. The yield on Spain’s 10-year bond fell another 0.21 percentage point to 5.80% on Friday, the first time it’s gone below six% since May.Investors think Spain will make a formal request to tap the new program within weeks, which could ease the pressures in the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy.TSX gains were led by an 8% rise in the base metals sector as September copper ran ahead 13 cents to US$3.65 a pound. Teck Resources gained $2.48 to $29.51 while First Quantum Minerals jumped $1.95 to $21.92.The gold sector rose over 2% as bullion prices turned positive on the prospect the U.S. Federal Reserve will decide on another round of quantitative easing, which would see the central bank print more money to buy bonds. December gold was up $34.90 to US$1,740.50 an ounce and Barrick Gold Corp. rose 99 cents to $39.27 while Goldcorp Inc. improved by 70 cents to $42.06.The energy sector rose just over 2% as the October crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 89 cents to US$96.42 a barrel. Suncor Energy climbed 74 cents to $32.59 while Cenovus Energy rose 92 cents to $34.22.The ECB move helped push the TSX up 319 points or 2.66% this week.In corporate news, Garda World Security Corp. has agreed to be taken over in a $1.1-billion deal that would see the company taken private. Garda say a consortium formed by Stephan Cretier, its founder, chairman and CEO, and a subsidiary of funds advised by global private equity firm Apax Partners, is offering $12 per share in cash. That represents a 30% premium over the closing price of the company’s class A shares on Thursday. Its shares were halted Friday morning but at mid-afternoon had surged $2.74 or 29.78% to $11.94.Lululemon Athletica Inc. reported quarterly net earnings were $57.2 million or 39 cents per share. That compared with net earnings of $38.4-million or 26 cents per share in the second quarter of fiscal 2011. The Vancouver-based activewear retailer also reported revenue up 33% to $282.6-million. It also raised its full year revenue projection and its stock rose $8.11 or 12.03% to $75.50.Intel is cutting its third-quarter revenue forecast due to softer than expected demand for its chips amid difficult economic conditions. Intel chips go into about 80% of personal computers and into a vast number of servers as well, making it a bellwether for spending on computers. Its stock fell 90 cents to US$24.19. read more

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Bell insists Astral buy key to taking on foreign rivals

MONTREAL — Bell should be allowed buy specialty TV and radio station company Astral Media to get bigger to take on foreign online competitors like Netflix, BCE CEO George Cope said Friday as part of the telecom giant’s final pitch to CRTC.If the $3.4-billion deal is shot down, Astral’s assets will ultimately be split up, guaranteeing the continued foreign dominance in every way that online content is delivered, Cope said.Astral own 25 channels, including The Movie Network, HBO Canada and French -language Super Ecran, Family Channel and Disney Junior and more than 80 radio stations.“Canada should not have to wait any longer to deploy a viable, national multi-platform solution, backed by a company with the resources to compete against well-funded global competitors,” he said on the final day of the regulatory hearing.[np-related]If the acquisition is approved, Bell will have even more content from Astral to put on TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets of its own customers and to sell to its competitors. Bell bought the rest of the CTV assets it didn’t already own in 2010 to put more programming across the four screens.Meanwhile, the CBC objected in a last minute letter to the CRTC on Friday to Bell’s plans to set up a new, national French-language all-news service.CBC’s French-language service has RDI, a 24-hour all-news service and Quebecor runs French all-news service LCN. Bell’s proposed service would mean a third French-language all-news competitor based in Montreal.The CBC has objected to Bell using $20-million to start the all-news service from the more than $240-million it will contribute to what’s called a “tangible benefits” package — an additional financial obligation — if the deal is approved.Bell said it’s confident its French-language news service will go ahead.“I think we’d be surprised to see CBC or SRC (Societe Radio Canada) come forward and say that another voice of news for the French community isn’t a strong addition,” Kevin Crull, president of Bell Media division, said after the hearing.The use of the tangible benefits package by Bell to launch an all-news service raised some eyebrows, though.The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists told the CRTC that it would be “completely inappropriate” to use the money to fund the news service.“There are a number of great proposals for social benefits submitted for BCE’s consideration — including from the Broadcast History Museum and the Actor’s Fund of Canada,” said ACTRA president Ferne Downey.“These are worthy beneficiaries for whom even a little would mean a lot,” Downey said.During Bell’s final pitch to the CRTC, Cope played down the potential dominance of Bell would have.“As we’ve made clear, Bell’s share of English language TV viewing will be 33.5% following the Astral-Bell transaction,” Cope said.That’s under the 35% threshold set by the CRTC.Cope also said Bell makes its TV content available to its competitors, denying accusations the company has been an unwilling or difficult negotiator and has pushed up prices.Astral CEO Ian Greenberg says Canada needs its own online TV and movie service to compete with Netflix and the merger of the two companies would allow that.If it’s so easy to set up competitors to Netflix, why hasn’t anyone else in Canada already done that, asked Greenberg.“The answer is that it requires the scope only a transaction like this one brings,” Greenberg told the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.“Astral considered doing so, alone and in partnership, but we were unable to develop a viable business case,” he said.Greenberg added that competition won’t disappear because of the transaction and independent players will continue to emerge, saying, “After all, that’s how we got started.”Earlier Friday, several small TV, film and media companies spoke up in favour of Bell’s takeover of Astral, saying bigger is better to compete with online entertainment companies like Netflix and to get Canadian content a bigger audience.Bringing together Bell and Astral will only strengthen the Canadian broadcast system on all platforms, said John Brunton, chief executive and chairman of Insight Production Company Ltd.“Services like Netflix, Apple TV, YouTube, Google, Facebook — the list goes on — are just the tip of the ice berg of what we’re going to face in the next few years,” Brunton said.“I truly believe that our American counterparts will continue to find ways of dealing directly with Canadian consumers, which will eliminate Canadian companies in the process. The bigger and stronger our media companies are, the more likely our production community will thrive and prosper, in my opinion,” he said.Insight Production Company produces “Canada’s Got Talent,” “Canadian Idol, ”Big Brother Canada,“ ”Canada Sings,“ ”Intervention Canada“ and ”Top Chef Canada.“Brunton said he has produced 1,201 hours of programming with CTV and its associated specialty channels, which Bell owns.“BCE promotes creative and innovation. That’s been our experience.”The Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters said it also supports the deal because it will provide new opportunities to promote Canadian films and reach larger audiences.Association president Ted East said Bell’s announcement of a new service to compete with online Netflix will provide a platform for Canadian movies.“Having Bell Media as an enthusiastic supporter of Canadian feature films will be a critical component in their success in the decade ahead,” East said.But a small association of cable TV distributors spoke against the deal.The Canadian Cable Systems Alliance told the CRTC that Bell will have too much control over programming if it’s allowed to buy Astral Media and suggested that consumers will pay the price if competition is reduced.“This transaction would give Bell control over the marquee programming content, both English and French, that is available to Canadian consumers,” said Alyson Townsend, president and CEO of the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance Inc.There has been a long list of companies and groups that have come out against the proposed acquisition of Astral, a friendly deal valued at about $3.4-billion when it was announced March 16.BCE Inc. owns Bell Canada, the CTV television network, the former Chum radio stations and numerous specialty TV channels, as well as online sites for them all.Rogers, Quebecor and Cogeco Inc. have come out against the deal, while Calgary’s Shaw Communications supports it. read more

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YoPro founders meet with Loblaws Galen Weston after video plea goes viral

“He listened, and he’s going to investigate it further,” said House. “That’s all he can do at this time.”In March 2010, the couple launched a lawsuit against Loblaw for $20 million, alleging that the grocer breached its contract when it launched its own similar product. House claims they and their families have lost $1-million in their dealings with Loblaw and have been left in financial ruin.None of the allegations have been proven in court.In a statement Friday, the company acknowledged that “mistakes were made” and that it retracted its original offer to the small business owners.“However in the overall context, these were outweighed by the significant effort made by colleagues to support the sale of YoPro in hundreds of the (Loblaw)’s stores in Ontario and Quebec for more than a year,” said the company.“Unfortunately for both parties, the product simply didn’t sell well.”It also refuted claims that their PC brand Greek yogurt bar products are similar to YoPro.Loblaw says it has been using the manufacturing process to make the bars since the 1990s and that the recipe was inspired by a House and Home magazine article from 2010.“Loblaw Companies remains committed to operating at the highest ethical standards and believes it has acted appropriately in this circumstance,” said the company.“Having said all of that we remain hopeful that this matter can be resolved without going to court.”House says the legal saga has also impacted her fiance’s health.In the video, she says she was on her way to a scheduled legal meeting when Delaney, who is blind, collapsed and had to be taken to the hospital.She never would’ve thought that the video would’ve gained so much publicity. After all, it was the first time she had ever posted anything on YouTube.“It was a very big decision (to do the video),” she said. “I couldn’t have imagined it would’ve ended up like that, with people sharing it as much as they have. I couldn’t have imagined that it would’ve gotten that big.”The Canadian Press TORONTO — The owners of an Ontario frozen yogurt company embroiled in a $20-million lawsuit with Loblaw Companies Ltd., met with the head of the grocery giant Friday, just days after an impassioned video about their business dealings went viral.Amanda House says although no settlement offers came out of the hour-long meeting with Loblaw executive chairman Galen Weston Jr., she was hopeful that communication lines are now open between her company YoPRO Treats Inc. and the supermarket chain.It was a step in the right direction“It was a step in the right direction,” said 35-year-old House, who attended the meeting at Loblaw headquarters in Brampton, Ont. with her company co-founder and fiance Chris Delaney and their lawyer.“It was just basically open communication and explaining to Galen what had happened. It was good to be able to express our side of it.”The meeting was arranged after Loblaw became aware of a video the Burlington, Ont., kinesiologist and personal trainer uploaded earlier this week to YouTube. In the nearly four-minute video, House makes an impassioned plea to Weston for help.She alleges that Loblaw, on two occasions, promised to sell the couple’s low-fat, high-protein frozen yogurt product at their stores in Ontario and Quebec but then unexpectedly reneged on their offers.House says their products were not placed in freezers at hundreds of stores as promised, but a small order was made for a handful of stores with little marketing and signage.The couple says at the end of Friday’s meeting, Weston said he would try to get back to them next week.Darren Calabrese/National Post read more

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ICE Futures Canada quotes and cash prices

WINNIPEG — Grain quotes Tuesday for tonnes, basis Lakehead:Canola (Vancouver): Open High Low Close MonNov. 490.20 493.90 489.60 493.10 491.50Jan. ’18 497.50 500.30 496.90 499.40 498.20March 503.70 505.90 503.70 505.00 503.30May 506.90 508.40 506.40 507.50 505.70July 507.50 509.40 507.50 508.20 506.40Nov. 487.20 487.20 483.70 485.10 487.20Jan. ’19 0.00 0.00 0.00 486.80 488.90March 0.00 0.00 0.00 489.50 491.60May 0.00 0.00 0.00 489.50 491.60July 0.00 0.00 0.00 489.50 491.60Nov. 0.00 0.00 0.00 489.50 491.60Barley (Western): Open High Low Close MonOct. 0.00 0.00 0.00 145.00 145.00Dec. 0.00 0.00 0.00 148.00 148.00March ’18 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00May 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00July 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00Oct. 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00Dec. 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00March ’19 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00May 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00July 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00Oct. 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00ICE Futures Canada cash prices:Feed wheat: Track Montreal CW: $240.00Canola:Thunder Bay No. 1 Canada: $503.10 (November 2017)Vancouver No. 1 Canada: $518.10 (November 2017) read more

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Colombo to be upgraded

“The Metro Colombo Urban Development Project and its successful implementation, together with other initiatives of the Government to develop Colombo, will help transform this city into a truly world class one”, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Gotabaya Rajapaksa said. The government, under the Urban Development Authority (UDA), is planning to upgrade Colombo with new walkways, bridges, sanitation facilities, cleaner beach areas, playgrounds and jogging tracks.Under the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project (MCUDP), the area surrounding Town Hall Square will be improved and the Crow Island Beach and Marine Drive beach will be cleaned and entrance gates will be setup together with a security hut, toilet facilities, parking, a waterfront court, children’s playground and seating arrangements. MCUDP is a USD 223 million World Bank funded three year urban regeneration program aimed at reducing the physical and socioeconomic impacts of flooding in the Metro Colombo region and improving priority local infrastructure and services.“The Metro Colombo Urban Development Project being launched today is a five year long undertaking that comprises three main components. The first main component addresses the various flood and drainage issues that the metro Colombo region suffers from because of its rapid, organic growth during the past several decades. Under this component, the city’s drainage infrastructure, including its micro drainage channels, primary and secondary canals and lakes will be rehabilitated,” Gotabaya Rajapaksa said. (Colombo Gazette) New public toilets will also be opened in close proximity to the Galle Road and other selected locations in the city for the public and tourists. read more

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Cops arrest 18 for betting

The police said that a case will be filed against all 18 suspects at the Dambulla Magistrate’s court next Tuesday.The Galewala police are conducting further investigations. The police arrested 18 people for betting for money in Galewala last night, the police media unit said today.According to the police media unit the betting center was raided by a police team in the area and the suspects were subsequently arrested.

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