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Month: October 2019

Gaza members of UN factfinding mission hear testimonies during Geneva hearings

6 July 2009The fact-finding mission tasked by the United Nations Human Rights Council with probing rights violations committed during the recent Gaza conflict began the Geneva round of public hearings today, following a similar exercise held in the Gaza Strip last week. “The purpose of today’s interviews was to hear from victims, witnesses and experts from southern Israel and the West Bank,” UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.The mission had wanted to hold hearings in the West Bank and in southern Israel, where the population had been on the receiving end of rocket attacks launched from Gaza, but that had not been possible since the Israeli Government has so far not cooperated with the mission.Testimonies were given both in person and by videoconference to the four-member team, led by Justice Richard Goldstone. Among those who came in person to address the panel were the mayor of the Israeli town of Ashkelon and the father of missing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. During the 28 and 29 June hearings in Gaza City, the team heard accounts from people who had been badly injured in attacks and from victims who had lost many members of their families, as well as from people who had lost their livelihoods.Experts also gave testimonies on the psycho-social effects, particularly on health, children and education, of the fighting that took place between 27 December and 18 January.The panel is expected to compile its report in August. read more

Humans undermine natures help in war on climate change UN agency warns

Humankind is undermining a crucial natural ally in the battle against climate change through its activities in the world’s oceans and marine ecosystems, such as seagrasses, salt marshes and coastal wetlands, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).These ecosystems absorb and remove large quantities of global warming carbon emissions from the atmosphere each day, yet “the ocean’s carbon capture and storage systems are being undermined by human activity, thereby harming their ability to ‘sequester’ greenhouse gas emissions,” the agency said in a statement ahead of the release next week in Cape Town, South Africa, of a report on the issue.The Blue Carbon report, compiled in collaboration with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), puts some hard figures on the carbon-capturing potential of the marine environment and on the impact of marine degradation on climate change. It also outlines the way markets might begin paying developing countries for conserving and enhancing the marine environment’s carbon capture and storage services (CCS) and the links between healthy oceans and adaptation to climate change. Currently, several developed countries are considering spending billions of dollar on CCS at power stations while the CCS services of natural systems, such as the seas and oceans, are tested and probably more cost effective. The report is being launched some 60 days ahead of the crucial UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen, where it is hoped States will adopt a new to treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period expires in 2012, with even steeper reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. 7 October 2009Humankind is undermining a crucial natural ally in the battle against climate change through its activities in the world’s oceans and marine ecosystems, such as seagrasses, salt marshes and coastal wetlands, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). read more

UNESCO partners with TripAdvisor to help preserve World Heritage sites

23 October 2009The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has teamed up with TripAdvisor, the largest global online travel community, to mobilize support to preserve natural and cultural sites inscribed on its World Heritage List. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has teamed up with TripAdvisor, the largest global online travel community, to mobilize support to preserve natural and cultural sites inscribed on its World Heritage List. “Because of TripAdvisor’s excellent reach to their member community, we can, together, raise awareness of World Heritage as well as receive member feedback about sites,” said Francesco Bandarin, Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre. “This certainly helps us flag site issues and provides useful information on how World Heritage travellers engage with the sites and their communities. We are looking forward to partnering with TripAdvisor on this initiative,” he added in a news release announcing the two-year initiative. TripAdvisor founder and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Kaufer pledged to donate up to $1.5 million over the next two years to help UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre monitor the conservation of the 890 natural and cultural sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. The Centre also provides technical and administrative support for States that have ratified the 1972 World Heritage Convention, enabling them to translate its provisions into action. “We’re calling on the world’s largest travel community to help preserve the places around the world that we all love,” said Mr. Kaufer. “In support of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, we will give not only dollars but also the collective wisdom and support of TripAdvisor’s millions of travellers, and their trusted insights. We’re eager to build global awareness about World Heritage sites, and about sustainable and responsible travel.” More than 25 million online visitors use its TripAdvisor’s websites every month to find and share travel information. read more

UN hails first ratification of African pact to protect millions of displaced

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warmly welcomed Uganda’s ratification of the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Africa, which was adopted in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, last October.“This first ratification, coming within the first four month’s of the Convention’s adoption, is an important milestone,” it said, noting that that 25 nations – or nearly half of AU Member States – had now signed the treaty, which needs 15 ratifications to come into force, a goal the AU has set for the end of this year.At the beginning of last year, an estimated 11.6 million people were internally displaced by conflict in Africa, nearly 45 per cent of the world’s internally displaced persons (IDPs)The treaty’s adoption “has come at a time when Africa is faced with complex and persistent internal displacement challenges affecting millions of people,” UNHCR said. “When ratified and implemented, the Convention will provide a critically important legal framework for protecting, assisting and finding solutions for millions of IDPs in Africa, as well as for the prevention of future displacement by addressing the root causes.”At its adoption in October, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said the convention served as a reminder that the responsibility to protect its own citizens is first and foremost an individual State responsibility but that where the State fails to do so, there is a collective African responsibility to act.“This represents the concept of ‘responsibility to protect’ in action. It demonstrates that national sovereignty is fully compatible with the responsibility to protect,” he told a news conference. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called the treaty’s adoption “a significant step forward in filling the unfortunate vacuum that has traditionally been the lot of internally displaced people…“It is very good to see Africa taking a leadership role in creating the first legally-binding instrument to protect and assist internally displaced persons across the continent,” she said. 19 February 2010The United Nations refugee agency today called on all African Union (AU) member countries to follow Uganda’s example and ratify the first legally binding international treaty to provide legal protection and aid to millions of people displaced within their own countries by conflicts and natural calamities. read more

Remaining nonselfgoverning territories must have full freedom of choice Ban says

“Our common challenge remains the full implementation of the Declaration,” he told the three-day Seminar in Noumea, New Caledonia, referring to the General Assembly’ landmark Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, which this year marks its 50th anniversary.“I urge all involved to undertake fresh and creative efforts toward this end. In particular, I encourage the administering Powers to work with the [UN’s] Special Committee [on decolonization] and the people in the Territories under their administration towards a genuine and action-oriented dialogue,” he said in a message delivered by Laura Vaccari of the UN Department of Political Affairs.“It is essential for the people concerned to understand the options regarding their political status and to be able to exercise their right to freely choose their future.”The seminar is only the second such event to be held in a Non-Self-Governing-Territory, highlighting the importance the Committee ascribes to hearing directly from their representatives about the issues they face.Committee Chairman Donatus St. Aimee from St. Lucia noted that New Caledonia is going through a challenging and complex process of determining its political future in close cooperation with the administering Power, France.“The Special Committee regards the hosting of the Seminar as a significant manifestation of the improved cooperation between the administering Power and the Committee in advancing the decolonization process in general and in the Pacific region in particular,” he said.The fact that 16 Territories remain 50 years after the Declaration, and after two Decades for the Eradication of Colonialism, suggests the need for “creative thinking” to move forward, he added. The forum, formally called the Pacific Regional Seminar on Implementation of the Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, marks the completion of the Second Decade.“At this seminar we are going to assess the socio-economic and political developments in the Territories with a view to working out, in cooperation with the administering Powers and representatives of the Territories, a realistic, action-oriented programme of work on a case-by-case basis for the way forward in advancing the decolonization process,” he declared.French High Commissioner Yves Dassonville said the support provided by France for the seminar highlighted its commitment to the UN in the area of decolonization. He voiced the hope that the visit would help the Committee to measure the socio-economic progress in New Caledonia, and the willingness of the community to build a common destiny based on shared values. Today’s meetings focussed on resolving the remaining challenges for Non-Self-Governing-Territories in the Pacific, which include American Samoa, Guam, New Caledonia, Pitcairn and Tokelau. 18 May 2010The world’s 16 remaining territories that still do not govern themselves must have complete freedom in deciding their future status, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a forum on decolonization today. read more

Real talks on Council reform may begin this year Assembly President says

The Council was last enlarged in 1965 when its membership was increased from 11, including the five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States – to 15, at a time when the UN only had 118 Members States.Today the UN has 192 members, but attempts over the past 18 years to enlarge the Council have become bogged down in how many additional seats should be created, whether some should be permanent, and whether these should have veto powers. At present the 10 non-permanent members are elected for two-year terms and have no veto powers.“The situation for the moment is quite complex still and I hope that during this year we will at least be able to bring the negotiations, real negotiations under way,” Mr. Deiss told a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York.He noted that Ambassador Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan, who has been overseeing the negotiations on Council reform, last month presented a paper giving an overview of the positions of all Member States, received further input and is expected to produce a new paper by March.The so-called G4 (Group of Four) – Germany, Brazil, India and Japan – have been considered potential new permanent members, while Africa is also seeking two permanent members.While decisions of the current 15-member Council are binding, those of the 192–member General Assembly are not, and many members have called for further empowering the Assembly.Outlining the Assembly’s programme in the coming months, Mr. Deiss cited a High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS from 8 to 10 June, a review of the work of key UN organs and revitalization of the Assembly, and high-level meetings in September on curbing non-communicable diseases, desertification and the follow-up to the 2001 World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa. 17 January 2011General Assembly President Joseph Deiss said today he hopes “real negotiations” may at last get under way this year in the almost two-decades-long process to enlarge the Security Council, bringing the United Nations body whose decisions are binding into line with the Organization’s current membership. read more

Côte dIvoire UN condemns firing at helicopter and killing of civilians

29 March 2011The United Nations peacekeeping force in Côte d’Ivoire reported today that one of its helicopters was shot at by forces loyal to the country’s President-elect and denounced the killing of a dozen civilians in the commercial capital, Abidjan, by another armed group. The United Nations peacekeeping force in Côte d’Ivoire reported today that one of its helicopters was shot at by forces loyal to the country’s President and denounced the killing of a dozen civilians in the commercial capital, Abidjan, by another armed group.“Elements of the Forces Républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI) fired at the helicopter, but failed to hit it,” said the mission, known as UNOCI, strongly condemning yesterday’s attack against the helicopter, which it said could be considered a war crime. The FRCI support Alassane Ouattara, who won the UN-certified and internationally recognized presidential elections last November.The attack took place while the helicopter was on a reconnaissance flight above the western Ivorian town of Duékoué, the scene of fierce fighting in recent days between the FRCI and forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, the former president who refuses to cede power despite losing to Mr. Ouattara at the polls.In another violent incident yesterday, the mission said pro-Gbagbo forces shot at innocent civilians in the Abidjan suburb of Williamsville, killing about a dozen people.A group of pro-Gbagbo youths also put a tyre around a young man and burned him alive in the Riviera area of Abidjan, while another gang savagely attacked two UNOCI staff members.“UNOCI condemns this wave of atrocities against civilians and warns that these acts will not go unpunished,” the mission said in a statement.“With the increase in human rights violations and barbaric practices, there are grounds for wondering whether President Gbagbo is still in charge of his forces and supporters. UNOCI believes it is imperative to end this spiral of violence by finding a definitive solution to the political impasse which stemmed from the post-electoral crisis,” it added.UNOCI urged authorities concerned to do everything in their power to identify those responsible for yesterday’s firing at its helicopter so that they can be held accountable for their action.The mission “reiterates its military impartiality and once again urges all the parties to quickly find a definitive solution to the post-electoral crisis in order to end the suffering of the Ivorian people,” it added.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), meanwhile, said a total of 116,000 Ivorian refugees have fled to eight countries in West Africa, with all but 4,000 of them having entered Liberia.“With each new clash in western Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia is in turn seeing new arrivals of refugees,” spokesperson Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva. She said Liberia’s western county of Grand Gedeh has over the past week received the largest influx of Ivorian refugees.People fleeing Côte d’Ivoire have also sought refuge in Ghana, Togo, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Nigeria, according to UNHCR.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the appeal for funds to assist refugees in Liberia has been revised with requirements almost tripled to $146.5 million for an estimated 150,000 refugees. Some $35 million has been received so far, according to spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs.The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced that it would focus on three tasks in Côte d’Ivoire – getting 800,000 children back to school; ensuring basic health care for mothers and children; and providing an estimated 1.5 million people in the north and west with reliable access to electricity and water.UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado told reporters in Geneva that the achievement of those goals would depend of the level of funding, saying that only about 20 per cent of UNICEF’s $33 million funding appeal had so far been met.According to Fadéla Chaib, spokesperson for the UN World Health Organization (WHO), a vaccination campaign against yellow fever was launched on 25 March and would continue until 1 April, targeting some 2 million people in south-eastern Côte d’Ivoire.Some 700,000 children between the ages of nine months and five years would also be given vitamin A and de-worming medication. Cote read more

Sixteen countries pledge support for UN initiative to reduce maternal mortality

19 May 2011Sixteen countries have announced concrete commitments aimed at drastically reducing current levels of maternal, newborn and child mortality, the United Nations reported today. Sixteen countries have announced concrete commitments aimed at drastically reducing current levels of maternal, newborn and child mortality, the United Nations reported today. The commitments, largely in the form of specific budgetary increases for maternity and natal care, and promises of increased medical coverage for mothers and children, were announced as part of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, a $40 billion programme that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched last year. The new commitments bring to 34 the number of countries making such public pledges, with 27 in Africa. Mr. Ban welcomed the announcement, saying the commitments build on recent momentum towards tackling women’s and children’s health problems. “Political and financial support for action on women’s and children’s health is reaching new and encouraging heights,’’ he said. Echoing those remarks, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said the world is now “on the verge of a tipping point” in the fight against maternal and child mortality. The new pledges were announced by Burundi, Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR), Comoros, Guinea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Tajikistan, Togo, and Viet Nam. The commitments, made with the support of THE Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank, UNFPA and the World Health Organization (WHO), focus on measures proven effective in preventing deaths, such as increased contraceptive use, attended childbirth, improved access to emergency obstetric care, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and greater childhood immunizations. Eight countries promised specific increases in the national budgets for medical care for women and children. Others announced specific goals in increasing the coverage area and numbers for such care. At least 10 countries making new commitments promised to increase the number of midwives. Every year, 358,000 women in the developing world aged 15-49 die of pregnancy and childbirth-related complications, 2.6 million children are stillborn, and a further 8.1 million die before their fifth birthday, including 3.3 million babies in the first month of life. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the pledges will also help with efforts to try to attain the social and economic targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have a deadline of 2015. read more

Closing Bell TSX closes flat at end of positive week amid decline

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market gave up a modest gain to close little changed Friday while investors looked to the release of a disappointing read on U.S. home sales last month.The S&P/TSX composite index slipped 4.65 points to 14,205.72 at the end of a positive week for the Toronto market.The Canadian dollar continued to pile up losses for a third day, down 0.28 of a cent to 89.82 cents US as Statistics Canada said that December retail sales tumbled 1.8% from November. Economists had expected a drop of just 0.4%.The agency also reported that the Canadian consumer price index was up 1.5% in January compared with a year earlier.U.S. indexes were lacklustre as the National Association of Realtors said existing house sales dropped 5.1% in January following a 0.8% rise in December.It was the worst pace in 18 months as cold weather, limited supplies of homes on the market and higher buying costs held back purchases. The drop took the annualized rate of sales down to 4.62 million but analysts said one month of negative data doesn’t change the trend.“The concern that started to surface last year with the move in interest rates was whether we would see a big impact on mortgage financing — and we did see a temporary slowdown on the housing front,” said Mark Bayko, vice-president and portfolio manager at RBC Wealth Management.“That was cause for some alarm but, thus far, people remain fairly comfortable with the improving trend that has been in place now for quite some time.”The Dow Jones industrials fell 29.93 points to 16,103.3, while the Nasdaq lost 4.13 points to 4,263.41 and the S&P 500 index dropped 3.53 points to 1,836.25.Techs were the biggest TSX drag as BlackBerry (TSX:PBB) shed 24 cents or 2.3% to $10.17.The gold sector moved down about 0.4% even as April gold gained $6.70 to US$1,323.60 an ounce.Eldorado Gold Corp. (TSX:ELD) shares were 16 cents lower to $7.96 as the miner posted a US$687.6-million quarterly net loss amid lower values for its assets and reduced gold prices and output. Revenue was $231.7 million, down from US$350 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.The energy sector rose 0.23% even as the April crude contract in New York declined 55 cents to US$102.20 a barrel.March copper was up a cent at US$3.29 a pound and the base metals sector rose 0.19%.Thompson Creek Metals Co. Inc. (TSX:TCM) posted an adjusted net loss of US$28.5 million or 17 cents per share, missing forecasts for a loss of three cents a share. Revenue was also below expectations. But its shares rose 26 cents or 8.81% to $3.21 as it also said that it will suspend operations at its molybdenum mine in Idaho by the end of this year due to persistent low prices.In the U.S., Groupon plunged 21.88% after the online deals company said it expected to post a loss this quarter. The company also issued a weak outlook for the year.The TSX ended the week with a solid gain of 1.07%, reflecting general satisfaction with fourth-quarter earnings reports and positive U.S. manufacturing data on Thursday. The Dow faltered somewhat this week, down 0.3% but strong earnings reports have left the index up 2.57% for the month while the TSX has jumped 3.73% so far in February.The Canadian Press read more

Greenpeace says Resolute Forests defamation lawsuit is an attempt to silence critics

THUNDER BAY, Ont. — Greepeace has filed court documents saying a lawsuit against it is an attempt to silence its criticism of a forestry company’s harvesting practices.[np_storybar title=”How Greenpeace landed itself in serious legal trouble with its campaign against a forestry company” link=”https://business.financialpost.com/2014/07/16/greenpeace-resolute/”%5DTerence Corcoran: Interfering with economic relations is a far more serious bit of wrongdoing under Canadian tort law. Greenpeace lost its first attempt to get the economic relations part of the case removed, claiming there was lack of evidence in Resolute Forest’s claims. Keep reading. [/np_storybar]“Greenpeace states that the Plaintiffs’ claims for defamation and interference with economic relations, have no merit and in fact are being made to harass, intimidate and silence Greenpeace,” the environmental group said in a statement of defence filed Thursday.The papers were filed in response to a defamation suit brought against it last year by Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products.Resolute brought the case in 2013 after Greenpeace accused it of building roads and cutting trees in regions of Quebec it had promised it would stay out of under the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, an agreement on forest preservation and harvesting signed by environmental groups and Canada’s main forestry companies.Greenpeace later retracted allegations it had made about road-building, but Resolute accuses the group of repeating those charges nonetheless.Resolute also accuses Greenpeace of falsely claiming it had mishandled workers’ pensions, and that the group mischaracterized the amount of recycled fibre in Resolute products.Those claims were circulated to Resolute’s customers and at its annual general meeting. The company alleges they hurt its reputation and cost it a coveted eco-friendly certification.The full scope of the damage is not yet known by Resolute“The full scope of the damage is not yet known by Resolute,” says the statement of claim, which was also laid against two individual Greenpeace members. The lawsuit asks for $7 million in damages.Resolute has also filed a similar lawsuit against an environmental auditing firm claiming its draft report helped lead to the company losing its Forest Stewardship Council approved status. The company claims the two auditors made errors and were biased against it.The report has not been released, pending the lawsuit. Resolute is requesting a new audit be conducted.“The lawsuits against Greenpeace and Rainforest Alliance meet the classic profile of a SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation) because they have been brought to silence criticism of the company’s conduct,” said the Greenpeace documents.Greenpeace accused Resolute of filing the lawsuit in Ontario instead of their Quebec headquarters because that province has legislation against such litigation. Greenpeace says Resolute has lobbied heavily against introducing such a law in Ontario.It denies Resolute’s claims that it sought to damage the company and calls its statements fair comment.“Greenpeace’s objective has never been to cause harm to Resolute Forest Products, but rather to promote an explicit vision for the future of the boreal forest which includes Resolute Forest Products and other forest companies playing an important role as part of a diversified forest economy,” says its statement. — By Bob Weber in Edmonton read more

Target Corp to get US16billion tax break in US for exiting Canada

TORONTO — Target Corp.’s swift exit from Canada will reap about US$1.6 billion in tax breaks for the retailer in the United States, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.The Minneapolis, Mn.-based company says it has already recognized the majority of the tax benefits in its first quarter filings and expects to book most of the rest before the end of 2015.The filings say Target made a “strategic shift” in its business when it chose to exit Canada.Target Corp eyes US$10-million settlement of data breach class-action suitTarget Corp considered Canadian retreat or partial closure in September, but didn’t decide for monthsTarget Corp. announced in January that it would close all 133 Canadian stores, most which opened in 2013 in phases beginning in Ontario, saying it would take years to turn a profit.The retailer has been in court to iron out the details of its departure, with a variety of creditors that include landlords, suppliers and others impacted by the closures.Liquidation companies have been overseeing the sale of Target’s inventory since last month. read more

CRTC unveils new proposal to make TV service contracts easier to understand

OTTAWA — Canada’s broadcast regulator issued its final thrust Thursday in a series of moves aimed at positioning consumers “in the driver’s seat,” ahead of the country’s broadcasters, offering up a draft code that would require cable and satellite companies to make customer contracts easier to understand.Broadcast service providers would also have to more clearly spell out fees and policies surrounding early contract cancellations and adding or removing individual channels under the code.In issuing the proposed code, the CRTC also said it expects closed captioning services for Canadians with disabilities, already available through regular television programming, to be included free of charge when those programs are broadcast online and on mobile devices.And it said described video — a talk-over service for visually impaired viewers — must be expanded, with a requirement that all programs aired between 7 and 11 p.m. include the service by September 2019.“Canadians will have access to compelling television content, the freedom to choose the content that meets their needs and tools to navigate a dynamic marketplace,” Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said.“They are now in the driver’s seat.”The CRTC received more than 13,000 submissions from individuals, interest groups and industry players since it launched a wide-ranging consultation process called Let’s Talk TV in 2013.From the get-go, the commission made clear its decisions would move regulation in a more consumer-friendly direction, away from favouring the commercial marketplace.It should come as no surprise, said John Lawson of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, given statements made by Blais when he was named by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to head up the regulatory body in June 2012.Terence Corcoran: CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais’ off-key, misguided ‘statement’CRTC chairman says report Bell manipulated news coverage ‘disturbing’CRTC’s mandatory pick-and-pay TV aims to give Canadians more choice, but is it too little too late?“When he was first appointed, he did a number of interviews and quite clearly said ’I’m here to do consumer stuff’,” said Lawson.It’s a welcome change for consumer advocacy groups like OpenMedia, which have been encouraging a change in direction since the days when former CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein declared in a public hearing that “citizen comments and concerns are out of scope” with the regulator’s mandate.“There’s definitely been a cultural change,” said OpenMedia campaign coordinator Josh Tabish.“That being said, they still have a long way to go to improve things.”Still, the decisions have sparked disappointment and even outrage on the part of some broadcasters.But they are not intended to invoke a negative reaction from industry, said Scott Hutton, the CRTC’s executive director, broadcasting.“It’s not putting down companies,” said Hutton.“It’s essentially looking at the Broadcasting Act and ensuring that everyone who is in the industry and everyone who should benefit from those objectives . . . get something out of it.”The TV code proposal follows on other recent CRTC directives that prohibited 30-day cancellation policies and required cable and satellite services to offer individual channel selection on top of a trimmed-down, lower-cost basic TV service.The regulator also announced a dramatic overhaul of what some critics had complained were protectionist rules governing the amount of Canadian television programming.The CRTC said last month it was eliminating the 55% daytime quota for Canadian programs that local TV stations must broadcast, but maintaining rules requiring that broadcasters spend to produce Canadian content.Thursday’s proposed code also comes on the heels of a dispute that went public this week between the president of Bell Media and Blais over the regulator’s so-called “pick-and-pay” system.The spat erupted after Blais announced the so-called “pick-and-pay” model for TV service.The Globe and Mail reported that, shortly after Blais released the decision last week, the president of Bell Media intervened to exclude the regulator from news coverage on CTV, the country’s largest private broadcaster which is owned by Bell Media parent BCE Inc.It was just the latest in a series of bitter disputes between Bell companies and the CRTC.Industry watchers say Bell, unlike most other telecom companies in Canada, is worried that the CRTC’s consumer-friendly approach is hurting its bottom line. And for good reason, say consumer advocates.“Bell has more to get mad about,” said Lawson.“They’re behemoth-sized,” he said, pointing out that Bell has moved over the years from being a telephone company to what is now one of the largest vertically-integrated firms in the country with business holdings in TV networks, satellite distribution, newspapers, cellular services as well as traditional landline phones.The regulator is accepting public comments on the draft TV service code until May 25.It wants to know what information consumers are looking for from cable and satellite providers when they sign up for service.It’s also asking how much notice cable and satellite companies should give customers before hiking prices and what constitutes a “reasonable time frame” for service calls. read more

Ethalaya Editors house searched

The journalist said that the police had questioned him about some missing documents from the police headquarters. Priyantha said that he had given the police a statement for three hours and denied having in his possession any stolen police files.He also said that he had refused to divulge to the police where he received information pertaining to the police mentioned in some of his articles. In the year 2000 Priyantha was arrested and detained by the police over his writing while in April this year he was questioned twice by the CID.In March 1999 he was abducted and assaulted and then dropped off on the road. (Colombo Gazette)Report by Indika Sri Aravinda The House of the Editor of the Ethalaya and Gindara (Fire) magazine Srilal Priyantha was searched by the police this afternoon.He said that a police team had initially attempted to arrest him but later took down a statement from him and then searched his house. The police had attempted to arrest him using a Court order obtained from the Gangodawila Magistrates Court. read more

Probe on processions held violating polls law

Investigations are being held with regards to processions staged soon after the accepting of nominations for the August 17 Parliamentary elections closed on Monday.Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said that video footage and photographs of the processions are being analysed. Local election monitors reported election law violations at several locations around the island as the deadline for accepting of nominations for the August 17 Parliament elections ended on Monday afternoon. The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) said that processions including several vehicle processions were reported after the main political parties handed over their nomination papers to the respective District Secretariats.CaFFE Executive Director Keerthi Tennakoon said that most of the election law violations were reported from Kurunegala, Galle and the Vanni Districts. He said that in the Galle District at least six processions were held in violation of election laws disregarding orders issued by the Department of Elections and the police.Tennakoon said that in the Kurunegala District several processions were held outside the town while in the Vanni District a candidate had attempted to travel by procession using over 120 vehicles from Silavathura to Vavuniya but was stopped at three locations by the police. (Colombo Gazette) He said that the police had been advised not to use force to disperse the processions and instead to take video footage of the processions and file legal action on the accused later. read more

Two Lankans detained with US dollars at Mumbai airport

Further investigation is in progress. Since the beginning of this month, AIU has seized foreign currency worth about Indian Rs 80 lakh on the departure side of Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai, which were being illegally smuggled out of the country. (Colombo Gazette) Officials said the currency was cleverly concealed in pockets of three trousers which were kept in their hand bags. Two Sri Lankans were detained by the customs department at the Mumbai airport while they were trying to smuggle out US dollars to Colombo, India Today reported.On examination by the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) officers, two Sri Lankan nationals Aathil Abdul Jabbar and Mohammed Ramzan were found carrying foreign currency notes of 31,000 USD equivalent to Rs 21.23 lakh while departing to Colombo by Jet Airways flight. The officers seized the currency under provisions of the Customs Act, 1962 read with Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 and Foreign Exchange Management (Export and Import of currency) Regulations, 2015. read more

US Embassy in Colombo announces 2019 Green Card Lottery

The US Embassy in Colombo warned applicants to beware of scams, of persons or companies making claims of affiliation with the U.S. Government, andof those who promise improved odds of selection.  No third party assistance is needed to complete and submit an application.The only way to apply is online at www.dvlottery.state.gov. Beginning in early May 2018, applicants can go online to the Entrant Status Check page on www.dvlottery.state.gov to see if they have been selected for the Diversity Visa program.  Those selected will be asked to submit additional information and will be notified when they are selected for an interview. The program is the “2019” lottery because applicants enter in 2017, interview in 2018, and—if selected and approved—receive Green Cards in 2019.   The in-person interview will be with a U.S. Consular Officer, who will decide if the applicant is eligible to receive the visa – documents required will include medical and police clearance and payment of visa fees at the Embassy. (Colombo Gazette) The lottery application entry period is open from October 3, 2017 to November 7, 2017. The lottery is open to those born in qualifying countries – both Sri Lanka and Maldives qualify. Applicants can only apply once; multiple entries will result in disqualification. Applicants must meet all qualifications for the Diversity Visa Lottery. Applicants should keep the application confirmation number  received after applying. There is no cost to register for the Diversity Visa Lottery.  The US Embassy in Colombo today announced the start of the 2019 Diversity Visa Lottery Program, also known as the “Green Card” Lottery. The program will be open for online registration from October 3, 2017 to November 7, 2017.  The Diversity Visa Lottery allows randomly selected applicants the opportunity to interview for an immigrant visa and become legal permanent residents of the United States.   read more

Schools in Kandy to remain closed until further notice

The Ministry of Education announced that schools in Kandy will remain closed until further notice.The move comes as curfew continues to be imposed at different times in the Kandy administrative area following the recent violence. Meanwhile, the annual Trinity-St. Anthony’s cricket ‘big match’ has been postponed due to the prevailing situation in Kandy.  (Colombo Gazette)

President says he will not prorogue Parliament

President Maithripala Sirisena said that he will not prorogue Parliament under any circumstances.The President tweeted saying “I urge all Parliamentarians to uphold principles of democracy parliamentary traditions at all times. I will not prorogue the Parliament under any circumstances.”

Missing Guelph woman may be in Niagara Region

Guelph police are seeking the public’s help in locating a missing woman who may be in Niagara Region.Jacqueline Gorski, 34, was last seen on surveillance video on Clifton Hill near the Niagara Falls on May 6.Gorski is described as five-foot-four, weighing 111 lbs, with blonde hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a white ski style jacket, black pants and blue and purple running shoes.Police say she has been known to travel by cab and will travel long distances. Family members are concerned for her well being because she did not tell anyone she was leaving.Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to contact police..@gpsmedia Missing person case. Jacqueline “Jackie” Gorski may have come to @NiagaraRegion @NiagaraFalls Details https://t.co/iBB5wNufpD pic.twitter.com/a5hkbvaqs5— NRPS (@NiagRegPolice) May 16, 2017 read more

OPP says fatal transport truck collisions are up

Ontario Provincial Police say fatal transport truck collisions are up in all but two of the force’s six regions this year.The OPP says officers have responded to 33 transport truck-related collisions so far this year.That marks a 37.5 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.41 people have died in those crashes.OPP say they’ve investigated more than 3,600 transport truck-related collisions – 11 per cent of the total number of collisions so far this year.The force also says it has spent close to 4,300 hours on transport truck inspections and taken 658 vehicles off the road.These troubling statistics come as the OPP prepare for its “Operation Safe Trucking” campaign.“We continue to work diligently with our road safety and trucking industry partners toward our goal of reducing the number of transport truck collisions on our roads,” said OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes.“Despite our efforts, it takes a firm commitment to safe driving on the part of all transport truck drivers and other motorists in order to see a significant reduction in these types of collisions.”The campaign runs from July 15 to July 21. read more