Telecom equipment maker AlcatelLucent to cut 10000 jobs worldwide in costcutting effort

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by The Associated Press Posted Oct 8, 2013 4:56 am MDT PARIS – Telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent SA said Tuesday that it plans to cut 10,000 jobs worldwide over the next two years, the latest cost-cutting drive from the loss-making company.The job cuts are part of a restructuring plan to make the French-American company more competitive. The plan is to reduce fixed costs by cutting 1 billion euros ($1.36 billion), or about 15 per cent, by the end of 2015. Under the plan, the company will reallocate research investment to next-generation technology and cut investment in older technology.The company has struggled since its inception in 2006, when France’s Alcatel and the U.S.’s Lucent merged. The savings anticipated by combining research and development costs and reducing staff were quickly offset by pressure to lower prices amid increasing competition from the likes of China’s Huawei Technologies Co. and Ericsson AB of Sweden. Last year, the company lost 1.37 billion euros ($1.86 billion), and a new chief executive took over earlier this year.Alcatel said the job cuts would be presented to its European works council on Tuesday. The cuts will come from all of the regions in which the company operates: 4,100 positions will be cut in its Europe, Middle East and Africa region, 3,800 in the Asia-Pacific zone and 2,100 in the Americas.In a sign that the layoffs will likely face stiff resistance, especially in Europe, elected officials from western France, the site of an Alcatel-Lucent plant, urged the company to abandon the restructuring plan. The officials said in a statement that they feared the local plant would be closed and accused the company of reneging on promises to keep it open.Investors appeared at first glance to be backing the plan. The company’s share price was trading 1.5 per cent higher in morning trading in Paris. Telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent to cut 10,000 jobs worldwide in cost-cutting effort read more

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Lawsuits VW employees tried to cover up emissions cheating

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman discusses a lawsuit against Volkswagen, Tuesday, July 19, 2016, in New York. He is joined by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, right. The states are suing Volkswagen and its affiliates Audi and Porsche over diesel emissions cheating, alleging that the German automakers defrauded customers by selling diesel vehicles equipped with software allowing them to cheat emissions testing. In response, the company said, “The allegations in complaints filed by certain states today are essentially not new and we have been addressing them in our discussions with U.S. federal and state authorities.” (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) ALBANY, N.Y. – New York, Massachusetts and Maryland are suing Volkswagen and its affiliates Audi and Porsche over diesel emissions cheating, accusing the German automakers of defrauding customers, misleading regulators and then seeking to cover up the deception.The lawsuits, announced Tuesday, allege that numerous employees and executives at Volkswagen knew that diesel vehicles had been equipped with software allowing them to cheat emissions testing, and that after regulators began investigating several employees tried to cover it up by eliminating data about the software.“The allegations against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche reveal a culture of deeply-rooted corporate arrogance, combined with a conscious disregard for the rule of law or the protection of public health and the environment,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “These suits should serve as a siren in every corporate board room, that if any company engages in this type of calculated and systematic illegality, we will bring the full force of the law — and seek the stiffest possible sanctions — to protect our citizens.”In a statement, Volkswagen said it is already in talks with authorities regarding “a comprehensive national resolution of all remaining environmental issues arising from the diesel matter.” The company also noted that it has agreed to buy back or modify affected vehicles, create a $2.7 billion environmental trust and invest $2 billion on infrastructure for zero-emission vehicles.“The allegations in complaints filed by certain states today are essentially not new and we have been addressing them in our discussions with U.S. federal and state authorities,” the company said. “It is regrettable that some states have decided to sue for environmental claims now, notwithstanding their prior support of this ongoing federal-state collaborative process.”The legal action seeks “substantial penalties” that would be based on a calculation of the duration of the alleged violations.While news of the rigged emissions tests first erupted a year ago, the new legal action makes several new allegations — most notably about the involvement of Volkswagen engineers and executives. The suit alleges that Volkswagen submitted false emissions data to regulators and sought to eliminate evidence when an investigation began.“This ‘clean diesel’ was nothing more than a dirty cover up,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. “… Volkswagen acted as if it was above the law.”Volkswagen also issued “sham” recall notices to some car owners and dealers in an effort to “turn down” the software, according to the New York lawsuit. Instead, some owners were told the recalls were needed for upgrades and “optimize” emissions.At one point, when California regulators announced plans for emissions tests that threatened to expose the devices, the company’s top engineer emailed colleagues seeking help, according to the lawsuit, writing. “Come up with the story please!”Additionally, just before the scandal broke, in August 2015, eight employees in the engineering department “promptly deleted or removed incriminating data about the devices from the company’s record” after being advised of the likelihood of legal action by a senior company attorney, according to the lawsuit.The suit also claims that former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn and a top executive at Audi knew of the devices by spring 2014. The two leaders, the suit alleges, “had ample notice of the existence of unlawful illegal devices and did nothing to prevent both Audi and Volkswagen from repeatedly deceiving regulators, and the American public, for another 17 months.”Schneiderman and Healey detailed the case at a Tuesday news conference in New York City. The two Democrats are the top law enforcement officials in their respective states, and each state will file its own lawsuit.Last month, the German automaker agreed to spend up to $15.3 billion to settle consumer and government lawsuits over the emissions cheating, first disclosed in 2015.Schneiderman and Healey say that settlement did not resolve claims regarding violating state environmental laws and did not cover all the affected vehicles.Maryland officials announced their lawsuit separately.“Their disregard for the health of our citizens and their disregard for our environment must be punished,” Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a statement.Some 25,000 affected vehicles were sold in New York state and 15,000 in Massachusetts, according to the lawsuits. As of October, about 13,000 such vehicles were registered in Maryland, officials said. An estimated 600,000 were sold across the country.The prosecutors say consumers who purchased one of the vehicles believed they were buying a “green diesel” car, even though the vehicles illegally emitted pollutants linked to respiratory disease, elevated ozone levels and smog. by David Klepper, The Associated Press Posted Jul 19, 2016 8:31 am MDT Last Updated Jul 19, 2016 at 8:40 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Lawsuits: VW employees tried to cover up emissions cheating read more

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Researchers Canadian firm helping Bahrain censor the web

by Raphael Satter, The Associated Press Posted Sep 21, 2016 2:27 am MDT Last Updated Sep 21, 2016 at 8:40 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email LONDON – Researchers have identified a Canadian company at the centre of a small Arab nation’s online censorship system — a finding that sits awkwardly with Ottawa officials’ public support for digital freedoms.Specialists from Internet watchdog Citizen Lab said in a report published Wednesday that web filtering firm Netsweeper Inc. is helping block news and opposition websites in Bahrain, a Gulf Arab monarchy which has been wracked by unrest since pro-democracy protests were stifled there in 2011.Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert said the discovery undermines Canadian leaders’ forceful condemnations of online censorship.“Canadian policymakers have been quite vocal about saying that this is wrong,” Deibert said in a phone call ahead of the report’s release. “Yet here we have a Canadian company that’s doing precisely that.”Netsweeper, based in Guelph, Ont., did not return a call and other messages. In 2011, a company spokesman was quoted as saying there was “no good conversation for us to have” about allegations of censorship.Citizen Lab said the banned Bahraini sites include ones run by opposition and human rights groups as well as sites critical of Islam. Gambling and pornography sites also were blocked.Netsweeper’s suspected role as Bahrain’s censorship provider first came to light after the firm appeared to win a contract for a “national website filtering solution” earlier this year. Researchers at Citizen Lab said they confirmed the company’s role there by scouring Bahrain’s Internet space for Netsweeper installations and trying to access blocked sites from a server in the country.The researchers drew on clues such as lines including the words “Netsweeper” or “netsw” returned during Internet scans and a tell-tale line of code in the web addresses thrown up by blocked sites.Canadian government officials — who are promoting an upcoming Dubai trade show which Netsweeper is supposed to attend — said in a statement that while they could not comment on specific companies, “we expect Canadian businesses to operate lawfully and according to Canadian values.”Based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, Citizen Lab has made a specialty of exposing the companies behind surveillance and censorship in the Middle East and beyond. Last month, its discovery of Israeli-made spy software targeting an Arab dissident’s iPhone prompted Apple to issue a worldwide security update. Citizen Lab has been tracking Netsweeper’s work for years.Bahrain’s Information Ministry did not reply to emails seeking comment.___Online:Citizen Lab’s report: https://citizenlab.org/2016/09/tender-confirmed-rights-risk-verifying-netsweeper-bahrain Researchers: Canadian firm helping Bahrain censor the web read more

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Global stocks edge up as investors look to Trump remarks

TOKYO – Global stocks rose modestly on Wednesday as investors looked ahead to a press conference by President-elect Donald Trump for details on trade and clarifications about Russia’s role in the election.KEEPING SCORE: Germany’s DAX was up 0.3 per cent at 11,618 while France’s CAC 40 gained 0.1 per cent to 4,894. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.1 per cent to 7,283. U.S. shares were also set to drift higher, with Dow and S&P futures both up 0.1 per cent.TRUMP FACTOR: Investors are awaiting Trump’s first news conference in nearly six months, as questions fly over Russia’s role in the election year hacking of Democratic groups. Investors are awaiting news on Trump’s plan to disengage from his businesses and on his policy positions on international trade.THE QUOTE: “Trading is likely to remain cautious ahead of press conferences with Fed members on Thursday, and Trump tonight. There is little in the way of data to drive sentiment prior to these events,” Alex Furber, a sales trader at CMC Markets, said in a commentary.SAMSUNG: Samsung’s strong earnings forecast helped drive gains on the South Korean stock market, where the Kospi added 1.5 per cent to 2,075.17, its highest close in over a year. Samsung Electronics, the country’s biggest company, finished at a fresh record high of 1,914,000 won, up 2.8 per cent, lifted by expectations of strong earnings by its computer chip business.VW SCANDAL: Shares in Volkswagen were up almost 4 per cent after the company said it is in advanced talks to settle a criminal case over its emissions scandal by pleading guilty to unspecified charges and paying $4.3 billion in criminal and civil fines. While the sum is far larger than any recent case involving the auto industry, a settlement would help end uncertainty and the company is strong enough financially to be able to handle it.ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.3 per cent to close at 19,364.67. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.2 per cent to 5,771.50. South Korea’s Kospi was up 1.5 per cent at 2,075.17. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.8 per cent to 22,935.35, but the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.8 per cent to 3,136.75. Shares in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 25 cents to $51.07 a barrel in electronic trading, having lost $1.14 the day before. Brent crude, which is used to price oil sold internationally, added 24 cents to $53.88.CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 116.24 yen from 115.65 yen the day before. The euro fell to $1.0507 from $1.0607. The pound continued to weaken amid concern that Britain might break off completely from the European Union’s single market. The currency was at $1.2119, from $1.2177 the day before.___Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyamaHer work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/yuri-kageyama A woman walks past an electronic stock board showing Nikkei stock index at a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. Asian shares were mostly higher Wednesday morning on the back of a strengthening dollar and quiet trading ahead of remarks by president-elect Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama) by Yuri Kageyama, The Associated Press Posted Jan 10, 2017 8:26 am MDT Last Updated Jan 11, 2017 at 6:00 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Global stocks edge up as investors look to Trump remarks read more

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Oil industry will continue to lose money this year Conference Board of

by The Canadian Press Posted Mar 13, 2017 7:38 am MDT Last Updated Mar 13, 2017 at 8:40 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Oil industry will continue to lose money this year: Conference Board of Canada CALGARY – The Conference Board of Canada says the oil industry will continue to lose money for much of this year despite stronger financial conditions and the promise of new pipeline capacity.Economist Carlos Murillo says the sector has narrowed losses since hitting rock bottom with an $11-billion overall loss in the first quarter of 2016, but it won’t post positive numbers until the fourth quarter of this year.He says he expects the industry to recover to match its 2010 profit of around $13 billion by 2021.The board says in a report released Monday that capital investment this year is expected to fall to $22 billion from $27 billion last year as big construction projects in the Alberta oilsands and offshore Newfoundland are completed.The peak investment level was $62 billion in 2014.The board says benchmark light crude will average US$55 per barrel this year and rise to US$71 by 2021.Murillo predicts Canadian industry costs will jump by an average of 13 per cent per year between 2017 and 2021, in part because of pipeline transportation constraints that could force more producers to switch to crude-by-rail options.“The way we kind of look at it is, because the losses have been so large over the last couple of years, it takes a bit of time to get up there to the point that you actually are starting to make money again,” said Murillo.“Of course, improving revenues will help, but there are already cost pressures.” read more

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Descartes Systems buys Ohiobased MacroPoint trucktracking business

by The Canadian Press Posted Aug 15, 2017 7:29 am MDT Last Updated Aug 15, 2017 at 8:00 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Descartes Systems buys Ohio-based MacroPoint truck-tracking business WATERLOO, Ont. – Descartes Systems Group (TSX:DSG) has acquired an Ohio-based company that provides location-based truck tracking in a deal valued at US$107 million.Cleveland-based MacroPoint LLC uses on-board electronic logging devices, smartphones and other technology to track vehicles and identify opportunities for additional freight moves.It complements Descartes online logistics services that clients use to route, schedule, track and measure resources around the world.Based in Waterloo, Ont., Descartes paid US$87 million in cash and shares worth US$20 million to acquire MacroPoint. read more

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UN officials call for stronger global measures to counter nuclear terrorism

“The prospect of terrorists acquiring nuclear materials is one of the most unnerving threats imaginable. Yet some have already stated their hopes of obtaining nuclear weapons. Still others may be working in the shadows to achieve this goal,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the high-level meeting on countering nuclear terrorism, held on the margins of the 67th session of the General Assembly. “We must use all our tools to contain this nuclear genie. As we confront other challenges relating to nuclear disarmament, we cannot allow these arms to proliferate to non-State actors or terrorists.” Mr. Ban noted that countries have already taken steps to address this threat, namely through the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and Security Council resolution 1540. The Convention, which has been ratified by 82 States, enhances international cooperation to prevent nuclear terrorism and to prosecute and punish perpetrators of such acts. Resolution 1540 imposes binding obligations on all States to establish controls preventing the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and their means of delivery. Mr. Ban urged all countries that have not done so to become party to the Convention and fully comply with resolution 1540, and emphasized that nations must build on these foundations by adhering to international instruments and a rigorous review mechanism, as well as by increasing their capacity to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related materials. The Director General of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, underlined that international cooperation is vital, and reiterated the IAEA’s readiness to help countries improve nuclear safety and its role in coordinating international efforts on nuclear security. “Terrorists will exploit the weakest link in any security system. The challenge is global, so the response must be global. Continued shortcomings in nuclear security need to be addressed urgently,” Mr. Amano said. While there are mechanisms in place to make it more difficult for criminals to traffic nuclear and radioactive material, there are still key risks such as the possibility of terrorist detonating a dirty bomb using conventional explosive and a quantity of nuclear material, which would have serious consequences, Mr. Amano said. “This would not be a fully-fledged ‘nuclear bomb’, but such an attack could lead to mass panic and cause considerable economic disruption. We must therefore maintain the utmost vigilance in protecting nuclear and other radioactive material and nuclear facilities.” Mr. Amano encouraged countries to work with the IAEA to establish networks of nuclear security support centres and improve nuclear security. In addition, he urged countries to take part in the International Conference on Nuclear Security, which will take place in Vienna next July. “The IAEA is committed to intensifying cooperation with all of you in this room to help make the world safer from nuclear terrorism,” he said. read more

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Iraq UN envoy calls for demonstrations to be carried out peacefully and

“We call on the protesters to refrain from violence and to maintain the peaceful character of their demonstrations and on the security forces to show the utmost restraint in maintaining law and order,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Martin Kobler. In a news release from the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), which he heads, the UN official also called on all sides to engage, without delay, in a “peaceful and constructive” dialogue in accordance with the Iraqi Constitution and law. The protestors have voiced a number of grievances they see as violations of their human rights and have also raised a number of demands, according to UNAMI, which noted that the Government has acknowledged that peaceful protest is a constitutionally guaranteed right of all citizens of Iraq. “UNAMI is committed to support the political and human rights of all Iraqi citizens, as well their social, cultural and economic rights, in the framework of the rule of law,” the UN mission added. Established as a political mission by the UN Security Council in 2003, UNAMI is mandated to help with advancing inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation, as well as assisting in the electoral process, among other duties. read more

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Amidst new violence in Bangladesh UN chief urges restraint respect for rule

“He calls on all concerned to respect the rule of law, exercise restraint and to express their views peacefully,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement. Mr. Ban is hopeful that the recent steps to initiate dialogue continue, the spokesperson added, and urges all parties to ensure an environment “conducive to credible and peaceful elections.”The latest outbreak of fighting has reportedly killed at least a dozen people and injured many others.Earlier this year, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernández-Taranco said the South Asian country was witnessing “a significant increase” in the number of violent incidents after more than 30 people died and 60 others were injured in clashes between police and protesters in the capital, Dhaka.At the time, he called on all stakeholders to work together to create a conducive environment that would allow free, fair, credible, inclusive and non-violent elections to take place.General elections in Bangladesh are due to be held within 90 days after the expiration of the Parliament, which was due to be dissolved last week in accordance with the country’s constitution. That would require elections to be held between now and the end of January 2014. read more

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As violence in Libya escalates UN mission says country risks allout war

In a statement, UNSMIL deplored today’s airstrikes reportedly conducted by the Libyan air force against militants based in the west Libyan city, warning that “these and other attacks will only worsen the security situation and will not help bring an end to the fighting.”“UNSMIL appeals to all sides to work towards de-escalation, and calls on them to take the courageous steps to stop this cycle of violence which, if it continued, will lead the country to chaos and all-out war,” the statement cautioned.The attacks – the latest spell of violence to rattle the beleaguered nation following the beginning of its civil war in 2011 which resulted in the ouster of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi –come on the heels of last week’s militant aggression against an oil installation in Sidra which left numerous storage tanks ablaze and at least 20 soldiers dead.At the same time, recent fighting in the neighbouring Nafusa mountains has left 170 people dead. In addition to the casualties, the fighting has also caused a humanitarian crisis with at least 120,000 people forced to flee their homes, resulting in consequent shortages in both food and medical supplies.Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Benghazi, an uptick in violence has seen 450 people killed since October as residents continue to face shortages in medical care. Moreover, upwards of 15,000 families – some 90,000 people – have been displaced.In its statement, the Mission reminded those advocating military escalation that they were “actively creating obstacles to a consensual political solution” to the current Libyan crisis and underlined that their actions remained in violation of UN Security Council resolutions on Libya. read more

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UNfacilitated Libyan political dialogue set to resume in Geneva

Libyan stakeholders will return to Geneva this week for a new round of United Nations-facilitated dialogue aimed at resolving the war-torn country’s longstanding political crisis, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has announced. “UNSMIL appeals to all the Libyan parties and invited participants to approach these talks aimed at ending Libya’s political and security crisis in a spirit of openness and reconciliation that is guided by the higher national interest of the Libyan people,” the UN Mission declared in a statement issued earlier today. The first round of talks took place last week at the Palais des Nations with stakeholders expressing their unequivocal commitment to a united and democratic Libya governed by the rule of law and respect for human rights. During the meetings, participants agreed an agenda aiming to reach a political agreement to form a consensual national unity government while also making security arrangements necessary to end fighting and ensure the withdrawal of armed groups from Libyan cities. There was also a call for confidence-building measures to safeguard Libya’s national unity and to alleviate the population’s suffering. In addition to the main political track established during last week’s dialogue, another meeting later this week will bring together municipal and local council representatives from cities and towns across North African country to discuss confidence building measures and ways to implement them, the statement continued. UNSMIL explained that it planned to convene a number of other tracks at a later stage which would include representatives from Libyan political parties, social and tribal forces, as well as the armed groups. read more

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Funding shortfall forces UN agency to make cuts in food aid to

A severe lack of funding is forcing the United Nations to implement deeper cuts in food assistance to vulnerable Syrian refugees across Lebanon and Jordan, the Organization has confirmed. According to a press release issued earlier today, the World Food Programme’s (WFP) regional refugee operation remains 81 per cent underfunded and requires an immediate injection of $139 million in order to continue helping “desperate” refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq until the end of the summer. “Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, we are forced yet again to make yet more cuts,” said Muhannad Hadi, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. “Refugees were already struggling to cope with what little we could provide.” The WFP explained that since the beginning of 2015 it has sought to prioritize available funds in order to ensure continued assistance to families most in need. The growing limitations on resources, however, have already forced the UN food agency to reduce its range of assistance to 1.6 million Syrian refugees in the five countries. “We are extremely concerned about the impact these cuts will have on refugees and the countries that host them,” Mr. Hadi continued. “Families are taking extreme measures to cope such as pulling their children out of school, skipping meals and getting into debt to survive. The long-term effects of this could be devastating.” The four-year Syria conflict has generated a steady outflow of almost 4 million refugees into neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, burdening those countries’ infrastructures and leading to overcrowded settlements where many refugees struggle amid high unemployment and precarious services. According to the latest data available, Turkey alone is host to 1,772,535 registered Syrian refugees – more than any other in the world – with about 259,000 living in 23 camps set up and managed by the Government. Meanwhile, the humanitarian impact of the crisis is only further compounded by the grim human toll which, as of today, counts 220,000 people killed and over one million injured since hostilities began. read more

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Searchlight of international scrutiny must focus on crimes of sexual violence in

Addressing an event commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson today stressed the importance of prevention and early response efforts, as well as the need to shift shame and stigma from victims to perpetrators.In conflicts around the world, women and girls, men and boys, are subjected to horrendous acts of sexual violence. These acts, rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, and sexual torture, constitute abhorrent violations of human rights and human dignity.A critical aspect of prevention is to hold the perpetrators accountable for their acts, he said. “Accountability is a powerful deterrent, as well as a moral duty to those afflicted. No one should think that that they can come out of this without accountability,” he added.Mr. Eliasson’s observations came at the official commemoration of the International Day. The programme included Zainab Bangura, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, UN Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, and Martín García Moritán, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN.In 2015, Argentina, together with the Offices of the Special Representatives on Sexual Violence in Conflict and on Children and Armed Conflict, presented an initiative of a General Assembly resolution establishing 19 June as the International Day.The aim of the Day is to raise awareness amongst the international community in order to prevent, combat and put an end to all forms of conflict-related sexual violence, especially against women, children, the poor, ethnic and religious minorities and other vulnerable groups, as well as assisting its victims and promoting accountability and fighting impunity of the perpetrators of those crimes.Mr. Eliasson said sexual violence is unique in often stigmatizing the victim, rather than the perpetrator of the crime, underscoring the need to shift the shame and stigma from the victims to those who command, those who commit, or those who condone these crimes.Social and economic reintegration support is imperative, and children born of rape need particular attention. Men and boys who have suffered sexual violence and live with life-long traumas need support as well.“And our preventive action must pay attention to the vulnerability of refugees and displaced people, who may be trafficked for sexual exploitation,” he said.Noting that 19 June, 2008, the international community decided to take action to elevate conflict-related sexual violence to the international peace and security agenda. This was done through the adoption of Security Council resolution 1820.“We must meet the new challenges on the horizon and keep the searchlight of international scrutiny on these crimes, which have been ignored for far too long,” he said. read more

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At global UN consultation health leaders underline need for action on migrant

The ‘Colombo Statement,’ adopted yesterday at the second Global Consultation on Migrant Health, aims to address the health challenges of increasingly mobile populations, now numbering about one billion – one in seven people on the planet.“Protecting the health of mobile populations is a public health and human rights imperative,” said the South-East Asia Regional Director at the UN World Health Organization (WHO), Poonam Khetrapal Singh. Highlighting the importance of the issue, Davide Mosca, the Director of Migration Health Division at the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM), added: “This can only be realized through the implementation of well-managed and coordinated migration policies, which include financial risk protection and equal access to quality health services.” The Colombo Statement also calls for mainstreaming migrant health into key national, regional and international agendas and promotes international solidarity for equitable migrant health policies, a shared research agenda and the development of global frameworks to ensure migrant health is protected. Furthermore, ensuring the highest standard of health for all, including for migrants and refugees are also a key component of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) pledge to leave no one behind. SEE ALSO: World leaders at UN summit adopt ‘bold’ plan to enhance protections for refugees and migrantsThis health issue most directly linked to targets 10.7 on facilitating safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people; and 3.8 on achieving universal health coverage under Goals 10 and 3, respectively. There is also an anticipation that the momentum generated by the Global Consultation will carry into the World Health Assembly – WHO’s governing body – where its member States will deliberate, among other health issues, priority actions to protect migrants’ right to health. The Global Consultation was organized in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, by IOM, WHO and the Government of Sri Lanka. read more

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Mine action is concrete step towards peace says UN chief on International

UNMAS says that mine action entails more than removing landmines from the ground; it includes five types of actions:Clearance: Removing and destroying landmines and marking/fencing off contaminated areasEducation: Helping people understand risks they face, learn how to stay out of harm’s wayVictim Assistance: Providing medical assistance and rehabilitation services to victimsAdvocacy: Advocating for a world free from the threat of landminesStockpile destruction: Helping countries destroy their stockpiles‘Equal opportunity killers’Most places affected by armed conflicts are contaminated by a variety of explosive hazards, said Daniel Craig, the UN Global Advocate for the Elimination of Mines and Explosive Hazards.Whether landmines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), artillery shells or cluster bombs, he said in his message on the Day: “They are equal opportunity killers.”“When triggered, they kill indiscriminately. Soldier or civilian. Male or female. Old or young,” he continued, explaining that over time they can more and more easily be detonated to the point when “they can easily be triggered by a child jumping a rope.”Mr. Craig, best known for his role as ‘007’ in the James Bond films, outlined how mines curtail freedom – the freedom to play, collect food and water, farm and even vote.“We the peoples of the United Nations must join forces to defeat these deadly devices and win the fight against fear and inhumane suffering.”“Join me. Join us. Let’s win,” said Mr. Craig. “An unprecedented volume of landmines and unexploded weapons contaminates rural and urban war zones, maiming and killing innocent civilians long after conflict has ended,” Mr. Guterres said in his message on International Mine Awareness Day, marked annually on 4 April.Noting that roads cleared of explosive devices enable peacekeepers to patrol and protect civilians, he said: “Mine action is vital.”“And when fields are cleared and schools and hospitals are made safe, normal life can resume,” he added.According to the UN Mine Action Service, or UNMAS, after nearly two decades of steadily diminishing casualty rates, the total number of people killed or injured by landmines and other explosive hazards in recent and current intense conflicts has leapt to its highest since 1999; the human suffering caused by mines, explosive remnants of war and other explosive hazards, including roadside bombs or booby traps, is devastating.Mine action, including clearance, risk education and assistance to victims is critical for advancing protection, peace and development.“In our turbulent world, mine action is a concrete step towards peace,” stated the Secretary-General. Mine action: protection, peace and developmentA series of events marking the Day began on Tuesday with documentarians who have filmed in Iraq and Afghanistan for UNMAS participating in a Facebook Live under the headline: “UNMAS Through the Lens.”On Wednesday at UN Headquarters in New York,Germany and UNMAS will host an event based on the theme of this year’s International Day, ‘Mine Action: Advancing Protection, Peace and Development.’A live demonstration and discussion on the technical aspects and impacts of IEDs will wrap up the commemoration on Thursday, 5 April. read more

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Deescalation of fighting in Hodeida is key to longoverdue restart of Yemen

As Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths had sought to avoid a military confrontation in the port city of Hodeida in the past few weeks, which has been racked by fighting between Houthi rebels and government forces backed by a Saudi-led military coalition.However, in an exclusive interview with UN News, he pointed out that his “principal and over-riding responsibility” was to bring about negotiations to end the war. “Hodeida is an extraordinary and important issue,” he said, “but it is not more important than the issue of an overall political solution.”Confirming that avoiding an attack on Hodeida is one of his top priorities, Mr. Griffiths said that it was clear from discussions with all parties that the solution to the Hodeida crisis was “tied up intrinsically with a restart of political negotiations”.He cited as an achievement towards the political solution, an offer to give the United Nations a lead role in managing the Hodeida port. Both the Government of Yemen and the Ansar Allah leadership of the Houthi rebels have accepted this provision, dependent on an overall ceasefire in the governorate, he said.Regarding a timeline for the negotiations, Mr. Griffiths said he would like to get the parties together within the next few weeks. The restart of negotiations were “long overdue” and the Yemeni people expect it to happen as soon as possible, he said, adding that he hoped the Security Council would meet in the coming week.He also highlighted the importance of establishing a government of national unity as a priority for the ordinary people of Yemen, “all of whom cry out for peace”.Reiterating that all parties were called on to de-escalate the violence as part of their negotiations, he recalled his earlier statement to the Security Council that “it is the war that will stop us bringing the parties together”.Listen to our exclusive interview below. read more

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UN agencies urge Brunei to repeal new extreme and unjustified penal code

Underscoring that every person has the right to be “free from torture” and “cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment”, UNAIDS, the agency dedicated to tackling the virus, and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the sexual and reproductive health agency, warned the new penal code, which came into force in the south-east Asian monarchy on Wednesday, “will have a significant negative impact on overall health and well-being” there.“These extreme and unjustified punishments will drive people underground and out of reach of life-saving HIV treatment and prevention services,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS.The discriminatory laws further punish sexual orientation, same sex relations and reproductive health care. They will disproportionately impact women and create barriers to accessing health information and services, the agencies said.Every person, without any distinction on any grounds, has an equal right to live free from violence, persecution, discrimination and stigma of any kind – UNFPA chiefMr. Sidibé “strongly” urged Brunei to “suspend or repeal the amendments to the Shariah Penal Code”, which are based on an extreme interpretation of Islamic law, offering UNAIDS’ support to “ensure that laws are grounded in human rights, based on evidence and protect the most vulnerable”.Further criminalizing same-sex activities not only negatively impacts public health, but also increases stigma and gives license to discrimination, violence and harassment, they added.“Every person, without any distinction on any grounds, has an equal right to live free from violence, persecution, discrimination and stigma of any kind”, stated UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem.The UN agencies cited evidence showing that criminalized communities are more vulnerable to violence, less likely to access necessary HIV and other health services, and less able to protect themselves against HIV infection.Moreover, they pointed out that criminalizing minorities also works against reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), designed and agreed by 193 Member States, to leave no-one behind.     “Human rights are universal”, reminded Ms. Kanem. “Cultural, religious and moral practices and beliefs, and social attitudes must not be invoked to justify human rights violations against any group regardless of gender or sexual orientation”.Last December, Brunei called for improved data on key affected and higher-risk populations for greater outreach and better health-care provisions. The UN agencies criticized that Syariah Penal Code would undermine this endeavour.A dangerous trendBoth UNAIDS and UNFPA expressed concern over increasing conservative and discriminatory policies in a number of countries that risk violence, stigma and discrimination against people on the basis of gender, gender identity and sexual orientation.The noted that recent discussions with Governments in the Asia–Pacific region have highlighted the need to “put evidence-informed and human rights-based laws and policies in place”. The UN agencies stressed the need to repeal criminal laws against consensual adult sex and decisions on reproduction, adding that health services, including sexual and reproductive health services, must be “accessible, affordable and acceptable”.UNAIDS and UNFPA supported the calls of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the open letter of the five UN Nations human rights mandate holders to “suspend the implementation of the revised penal code and urge all governments to protect the human rights of all people”.International outcryThe harsh laws include stoning for sodomy and adultery, limb amputation for theft and public flogging for abortion also criminalizes exposing Muslim children to any religion other than Islam.High-profile celebrities such as George Clooney, Ellen DeGeneres and Elton John, have called for a boycott of Brunei-owned luxury hotels, including the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles and the Dorchester in London. read more

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Families will be clobbered by London mayors new CO2 tax

Changes to the congestion charge will not significantly cut CO2, nor will they drive down traffic in central London. However, families who need larger cars could face bills of up to £6,000 a year. SMMT has re-stated these concerns today, following the mayor of London’s press briefing this morning. From 27 October, cars that emit more than 225 g/km CO2 will pay £25 to enter the central London charging zone. Band A and B cars, those that emit less than 120 g/km, will be eligible for a 100 per cent discount. The mayor did not make clear how long discounts would apply. Drivers of cars within bands C to F will pay the current £8 a day charge. The scheme has been billed as a gas-guzzler tax. However, families with some variants of popular cars like the Ford Mondeo, Renault Espace or Vauxhall Vectra will be forced to pay £25 a day just to drive within the zone. ‘This is totally disproportionate and does not present a consistent signal to consumers,’ said SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt. ‘The mayor has made it clear that charges will be varied in future and has not clarified the period in which discounts will apply. ‘We can be confident that this means higher charges and the gradual erosion of discounts for band A and B cars. I shall therefore be writing to the mayor seeking a three-year application period before any further changes are made to the scheme.’ TfL figures suggest a CO2 saving of up to 8,100 tonnes under the changes. That compares to total ground-based transport emissions in London of 9.7 million tonnes. In other words, the maximum benefit for the capital would be a CO2 reduction of just 0.084 per cent. This compares to average new car CO2 emissions which have come down by 13 per cent in a decade, saving an estimated million tonnes of CO2 each year. The biggest improvements have come in the 4×4 and MPV segments, down 20 and 24 per cent respectively. SMMT supports the mayor’s stated aim to reduce congestion. However, independent reports suggest that changes could encourage between 4-10,000 additional cars onto central London roads. That could mean more congestion and delays for drivers within the zone. Notes: 1. At €20 bn, the automotive sector is Europe’s largest investor in R&D, driving industry forward and helping deliver more sustainable motoring for the 21st century. Technological innovation has helped car and CV manufacturers slash CO2 and air quality emissions from vehicles. New diesel cars for example emit 95 per cent less soot from the tailpipe than those made 15 years ago and average new car CO2 has been cut by 13 per cent since 1997. Each vehicle made in Britain requires half the energy to produce than it did just five years ago, saving an estimated 700,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. Total combined waste to landfill down by more than half, from 80,399 tonnes in 2000 to 39,862 tonnes in 2006. For more details, download SMMT’s eighth annual Sustainability Report from the SMMT web site www.smmt.co.uk/category/reports/. Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) read more

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December van and truck registration figures

Trucks up, vans down at December and for the year too Registrations: down 22.0% in December and 10.7% to 346,873 in 2008.Trucks: up 5.8% in December, up 13.1% to 57,410 for the year. Vans: down 26.6% for the month and down 14.3% to 289,463 for the year. “The year ended well for truck registrations, while vans continued down, but not as fast as in November,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive. “After the abrupt end to buoyant registrations in 2008, we’re looking to the year ahead with caution rather than trepidation. Consumer and business demand will be low as we see the first big recession since the early 1990s. We hope spending will stabilise in the second half of the year; with costs falling, credit markets recovering and government policies supporting recovery. Confidence to invest in new vehicles should then return, but the revival may be slow, taking some years to repeat recent record volumes.”DownloadClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) read more

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Week In Westminster – Week ending Friday 1 February 2013

DOWNLOAD1. New car growth set to continue in 20132. Significant rise in engineering and manufacturing apprentices3. Treasury Committee states government must restore primacy of Budget4. OFT report points to competition working well in UK road fuel sector5. BIS publish ‘The Impact of FE Learning’ report6. Week aheadClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)

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