Petition to cancel Site C fails

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A petition that sought to ask the provincial government to cancel building the Site C dam has failed.The petition was filed by Ion Delsol Moruso and was given an approval in principle by Elections BC on May 3rd. The petition papers were issued to canvassers on July 3rd, who had 90 days to collect signatures from at least 10 percent of registered voters in each of the province’s 87 ridings.“The purpose of the initiative draft Bill is to stop construction of the Site C Dam project currently underway on the Peace River,” stated Moruso in his petition application. “The draft Bill states that the May 2014 Joint Federal-Provincial Review Panel report on the project was found to have unsupported claims and procedural inconsistencies and that a November 2017 BC Utilities Commission report concluded that the project is not needed for future energy power in British Columbia. The draft Bill would require the Site C Dam project to be cancelled, and would come into effect on Royal Assent.” Then Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer said that the initiative petition application is the eleventh to be approved since the Recall and Initiative Act came into force in 1995.Site C was initially approved by the then-BC Liberal government in December 2014 and had been under construction for over two years when the Liberals lost a confidence vote in the BC Legislature last June. After the NDP formed a minority government, Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announced that Site C would be subject to a fast-tracked review by the B.C. Utilities Commission.In their Final Report, the BCUC did not say outright whether construction on Site C should be cancelled or continued but did say that the project was running over its original $8.9 billion budget. Premier John Horgan announced last December 11th that construction on the 1,100-megawatt project would continue, with a revised budget of $10.7 billion.last_img read more

Devotees throng Belur Math on Ramakrishnas birth anniversary

first_imgKolkata: Thousands of devotees visited Belur Math on Friday to celebrate the 184th birth anniversary of Sri Ramakrishna.Special puja was held at the Math. The birth anniversary was observed in all the centres of Ramakrishna Math and mission throughout the country and abroad. In Kamarpukur, the birthplace of Sri Ramakrishna, the devotees visited the temple and took part in the celebration. There were special launch and bus services to ferry passengers to Belur Math. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersA special puja was held in private centres and other institutions as well. Rakamrishna Math and Mission authorities have decided to scrap the age-old fireworks display on March 17 at the public celebration as a part of the drive against environmental pollution. There will be cultural programme in the evening. Life of Sri Ramakrishna is an inspiration for scholars and common people and it continues to inspire scholars all over the world. Two noble laureates, Rabindranath and Romian Rolland, had also written about Sri Ramakrishna. Tagore had shared a dais with Sri Ramakrishna and had delivered a lecture during his birth centenary in 1936. Scholars such as Keshab Chandra Sen, Shivnath Shastri, Brojendranath Sil had visited Sri Ramakrishna and were enthralled by his words. His presence of mind, sharp sense of humour and deep understanding of society had made him a popular figure in Kolkata. He also inspired Girish Chandra Ghose, father of Bengal stage to carry on with his vocation. Modern scholars feel that Sri Ramakrishna’s views on universal religion can help to resolve the crisis of the modern world.last_img read more

Amid electric vehicles push Govt missing out on lowhanging fruits

first_imgNew Delhi: A Rs 10,000 crore scheme to subsidise sale of electric and hybrid vehicles as part of efforts to curb pollution is welcome, but the government is missing out on low-hanging fruits like Auto LPG, that can have an immediate impact on urban air quality, Indian Auto LPG Coalition (IAC) said.The association urged that the government should provide a level playing field to other cleaner gaseous fuels like Auto LPG as well. Rather than subsidies, the government should provide simple policy-level interventions like lowering GST for Auto LPG, it said. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”We are certainly missing the larger picture here. Larger picture does not necessarily mean only looking 25 years hence. In today’s context, it should have meant allowing each clean fuel to play a role, particularly in the context of its feasibility and the necessity of providing our country with solutions that can be implemented effectively today. “With Indian cities continuing to be amongst the world’s most polluted, there is a dire need to provide solutions for today,” IAC director general Suyash Gupta said. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostIn a statement, IAC said the government has decided to put its thrust only on electric vehicles (EVs), ignoring other more readily available alternatives. “Almost 65 per cent of Indian power is still sourced from fossil fuels while EVs as a realistic alternative is almost two decades away. Do we not need solutions today? Can we wait for 20 more years for cleaner urban air? The answer, unfortunately, is a no,” he said. Under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME)-II scheme, subsidies would be offered based on the battery capacity of the vehicle, ranging from buses and cars to three-wheelers and motorbikes costing less than Rs 15 lakh. Auto LPG association contends that it does not need any subsidy allocation from the government — just a level playing field through policy interventions such as lowering GST on Auto-LPG from 18 per cent to 5 per cent, reducing GST on conversion kits from 28 per cent to 5 per cent and a quick reform of the anomalous type approval norms governing the retro fitment industry, the statement said.last_img read more

Sudan protesters defiant after aborted bids to clear army HQ sitin

first_imgKhartoum: Thousands of defiant Sudanese protesters remained camped outside army headquarters for a fourth day Tuesday, after security forces abandoned two separate attempts to disperse them when soldiers fired in the air, witnesses said. Chanting “freedom, freedom,” crowds of men and women, who had spent the night camped outside Khartoum’s sprawling complex that also houses the president’s residence, urged top brass to back them in ending Omar al-Bashir’s three decades of iron-fisted tule. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US It is the largest rally since protests erupted following a three-fold increase in bread prices in December, before mushrooming into nationwide demonstrations demanding that Bashir step down. Early on Tuesday, members of the National Intelligence and Security Service and riot police fired tear gas at the protesters in an abortive bid to disperse their sit-in, protest movement organisers said. “There was heavy firing of tear gas after which army soldiers opened the gates of the compound for protesters to enter,” a witness told AFP. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls “A few minutes later a group of soldiers fired gunshots in the air to push back the security forces who were firing tear gas.” A second witness too said soldiers had intervened against the security force agents. Since the protests erupted in December, the armed forces have remained on the sidelines even as security agents and riot police have cracked down. Demonstrators have called on the army to protect them from the deadly crackdown, during their four days camped outside its headquarters. Later a group of soldiers returned to the complex with a body in their pick-up truck, witnesses said. “What is the price of martyrs?” shouted the demonstrators as the vehicle entered. It was not immediately clear whose body it was. Hours later, security forces made a second attempt to clear the sit-in, witnesses said. They fired tear gas and shot in the air as they approached the area, witnesses said, adding that soldiers intervened again firing guns in the air. Footage obtained by AFP in Paris shows a similar attempt by security agents on Monday to clear the sit-in, which also had to be abandoned after troops intervened. The images show troops firing machine-guns as protesters run in groups, some taking shelter behind army vehicles and chanting “Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest)”. Defence Minister General Awad Ibnouf vowed that the army would prevent any slide into chaos. “Sudan’s armed forces understand the reasons for the demonstrations and is not against the demands and aspirations of the citizens, but it will not allow the country to fall into chaos,” Ibnouf said on Monday, according to the official SUNA news agency. In a separate statement, army chief of staff Kamal Abdelmarouf said the military was “discharging its responsibility in securing and protecting citizens.” Officials say 38 people have died in protest-related violence since December. Interior Minister Bushara Juma said seven protesters died and 15 were wounded on Saturday when forces tried to disperse them. He said 42 security personnel were injured and 2,496 arrests made. The umbrella group spearheading the protests appealed to the army on Monday for talks on forming a transitional government. “We call on the Sudanese armed forces to talk directly with the Alliance for Freedom and Change for facilitating the peaceful process of forming a transitional government,” said Omar el-Digeir, a senior member of the group. Digeir said the protest organisers had formed a council to open talks aimed at agreeing a “transitional government that represents the wish of the revolution”. Reading from a statement, he also called on the armed forces “to withdraw their support for a regime that has lost its legitimacy” and to support the “people’s alternative for a transition to a civilian democratic government”. The rally outside army headquarters has been the largest since protests began on December 19. The European Union said an “unprecedented” number of people had come out calling for change since Saturday. “The people of Sudan have shown remarkable resilience in the face of extraordinary obstacles over many years,” the EU’s External Action Service said. “Their trust must be won through concrete action by the government.” The protesters accuse Bashir’s administration of economic mismanagement that has led to soaring food prices and chronic shortages of fuel and foreign currency. After a meeting chaired by Bashir on Sunday, Sudan’s security council said the demands of the protesters “have to be heard”. Bashir, wanted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide connected with the suppression of a now 16-year-old ethnic minority rebellion in the western region of Darfur, took power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989. He has responded to the unrest with tough measures that have seen protesters, opposition leaders, activists and journalists arrested.last_img read more

Sceptical argument

first_imgOn Saturday, the government filed its response to petitions seeking review of the Supreme Court’s December 14, 2018 order upholding the Rafale aircraft deal. Though the government had sought four weeks time, the court had only allowed four days before the matter was due to be taken up today. Four week’s time seems like an inflated request especially when the government managed to deliver its response in just four days as per the directive of the apex court. In its affidavit, the government argued that “the monitoring of the progress made by the PMO of this government-to-government process cannot be construed as interference or parallel negotiations”. Now the government cited a supervisory provision as exercised by the Prime Minister’s Office which cannot be considered, say by any stretch of the imagination, as parallel negotiation. A straight answer to allegations citing active involvement of PMO in the fighter-jet deal corroborated by MoD (Ministry of Defence) notes which were published by The Hindu and clearly outlined how “parallel parleys” had “weakened the negotiating position of MoD and the Indian negotiation team”. So if the review petitioners had a leaked MoD note, on which the government made several attempts to prevent its admissibility, it was only natural for the government to put forward the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s words that “it appears that PMO and French President’s office are monitoring the progress of the issues, which was an outcome of the summit meetings”. In a way, both of these pieces of literature are mere “selective” remarks. But the government asserted that these “selective” reports, based on some “incomplete internal file notings, procured unauthorisedly and illegally”, did not reflect the final decision of the competent authority. Well, it is definitely up to the apex court bench to decide how incomplete the internal file notings are, or seek the remaining part which would aid in establishing the complete note. The final decision of the competent authority would only be revealed once the complete notings are available and since part of those has already been admitted by the court for the review petition, legally or illegally at this point is irrelevant, there should not be any trouble in submitting the entire of it on government’s part. Also because it is the government who has argued that incomplete notings did not reflect the final decision. But it further asserted that the incomplete notings could not form the basis for a review petition. While it is invited to submit anything it has to, reminding the apex court of what ‘could not’ form the basis for a review petition currently remains out of the government’s hands. That is for the bench to decide. Further, the government, specifically disappointed due to its unsuccessful repeated attempts to prevent the court from admitting Rafale purchase documents published in the media for review petitions, cited the broader picture. It said that the April 10 order of the apex court to hear the review petitions based on media publishings of leaked documents implies that any secret document can be obtained through any means and put in the public domain without attracting penal action. The government exemplified its understanding by citing how “this could lead to the revelation of all closely guarded State Secrets pertaining to space, nuclear installations, strategic defence capabilities, operational deployment of forces, intelligence resources in the country and outside, counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency measures, etc. This could have implications in the financial sector also if, say budget proposals are published before they are presented in Parliament.” It cautioned that “such disclosures of secret government information will have grave repercussions on the very existence of the Indian State”. The government’s apprehensions regarding the misuse of the court’s action in Rafale review petition hearing which set a specific precedent might be real, but not relevant. The learned bench in the April 10 order had clearly outlined that “there is no provision in OSA and no such provision in any other statute has been brought to our notice by which Parliament has vested power in the executive arm to restrain the publication of documents marked secret or from placing such documents before a court of law which may have been called upon to adjudicate a legal issue”. In simple terms, it meant that the court is simply facilitating the matter which, much to the government’s discomfort, falls under legal purview. The media publishings have been included to aid in the judicial proceedings and not because a secret had to be disclosed to the general public. There is no reason for people to steal secret state documents and publish them unless those are controversial and involve instance of corruption or any other illicit activity, which then deserves to be in the public light. As for penal action, stealing is in itself punishable and hence stealing secret documents, in any case, attracts penal action without denial. The government can go ahead and investigate how the MoD documents got leaked to media but again, that remains irrelevant to the case. There has been no such recorded instance of disclosures of secret government information being procured through illicit means to be published in the media or produced before a court without any controversy swirling around it like in the case of Rafale. Also Read – A strong standpointWhile citing that the scope of the review petition is “extremely limited”, the government apprised the apex court that its December 14 judgement has no apparent error warranting its review. Having objected the admissibility of the leaked documents, the government had brought OSA to its rescue. When the court sidelined any privilege that the government might be seeking under OSA, the government’s latest response views it as “incomplete internal file notings” and points to the “selective” reports that the petitioners have used in the review petition, citing how the complete picture is not clear through those. It also cautions ramifications of allowing such documents to be considered for the case. Arguments made by the government, while not being wrong, sounds mere wordplay. From OSA to “incomplete” documents, the point has been to not allow review petitions on SC’s December 14 order which gave Rafale deal a clean chit. The government is viewing the court as someone who, through the review petition, is allowing people to take advantage of the provisions that remain exclusive to Rafale case. The government has for long objected the leaked documents instead of explaining those. Even in its affidavit, it cites what the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar had noted in context to PMO and French President’s office monitoring the deal but not what the leaked documents stated about “parallel parleys”. One wonders what the entire picture is regarding the competent authority because bits and pieces of something will not help in procuring truth. Today’s proceedings will definitely throw light on the incomplete file notings or the entire thread of exchanges between MoD and PMO if the government finds itself ready to apprise the court.last_img read more

Saudi cleric says women driver ban guards against evil

first_imgRiyad- The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia said a ban on women driving in the conservative Gulf state protects society from “evil”, in remarks published in the press on Thursday.Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh, in a speech delivered Wednesday in the western city of Medina, said the issue of giving women the right to drive should not be “one of society’s major concerns”.The kingdom’s most senior cleric called for “the matter to be considered from the perspective of protecting society from evil” which, according to him, included letting women drive. His comments came as activists said they had been assured by Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef that authorities were reassessing the controversial Saudi ban on women drivers.“Rest assured that the issue is being discussed, and expect a good outcome,” the minister was quoted as saying on Wednesday by Aziza al-Yusef, who met him along with fellow activist Hala al-Dosari.The absolute monarchy is the only country in the world where women are barred from driving, a regulation that has drawn condemnation from the international community.Prince Mohammed stressed that the ban was “a matter to be decided by the legislative authority”, Yusef told AFP.Saudi Arabia has an all-appointed consultative Shura Council, with no elected parliament. The council makes recommendations to the government, but the king remains the absolute legislator.“We expect a royal decree that gives us this right,” Yusef said.At least 16 women were stopped by police during a driving protest day last month, and were fined and forced along with their male guardians to promise to obey the kingdom’s laws.In addition to the driving ban, Saudi women are forced to cover themselves from head to toe and need permission from a male guardian to travel, work and marry.last_img read more

Libya bomb kills electricity plant manager

first_imgBENGHAZI- A bomb killed an electrical power plant manager Thursday in eastern Libya, while authorities also found the head of a man who had been kidnapped for ransom.Adam al-Mansouri was killed when a bomb placed under his car exploded in the city of Tobruk, near the Egyptian border, a local official said.“Unknown individuals placed an explosive device under his car,” the official said, adding that Mansour had just left his office when he was killed. The attack was the first of its kind in Tobruk, which has so far been spared the violence that has plagued much of Libya since long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi was toppled in 2011.Meanwhile, in the long-lawless city of Benghazi, cradle of the uprising, authorities found the head of Attia al-Naili, the 65-year-old father of a special forces commander, a military source told AFP.“Attia al-Naili was abducted two months ago and it looks like his abductors, who had demanded a ransom of one million dollars (730,000 euros) to release him, executed him,” the source said.He said the head was found in a plastic back on the street where Naili lived.A medical source said the head was being kept at a local morgue while a search was underway for the man’s body.Naili’s son, Salem, heads a special forces unit called Saiqa and had been accused by the jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia of having been involved in fighting with them last month.But the Islamist group denied responsibility for the elder Naili’s death.Militants have targeted security forces and foreigners, as well as judges, political activists and the media, with 300 people reportedly killed in the past month in Benghazi and neighbouring Derna.last_img read more

Four Islamists killed south of Algiers ministry

first_imgALGIERS – The Algerian army killed four armed Islamists overnight in an ambush south of the capital, the defence ministry announced Thursday.“During an operation carried out by a unit of the ANP (Algerian army)… four terrorists were eliminated at around midnight, during an ambush” on a road near Berrouaghia, in the Medea region, 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Algiers, the ministry said.Weapons recovered by the soldiers included a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a Simonov semi-automatic rifle and two grenades. Last week, the ministry said two jihadist militants were killed in a mountainous part of Medea, which was a heartland of the Islamist insurrection during the devastating civil war of the 1990s.Violence attributed to Islamists has declined considerably in recent years.But groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb continue to attack strategic targets in the eastern Kabylie region, around the capital and in the south, where around 40 hostages were killed during the siege of a remote desert gas plant one year ago.last_img read more

UN High Commissioner for human rights to visit Morocco next month

first_imgRabat – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, will pay an official visit to Morocco next May, Morocco’s ambassador and permanent representative at the UN office in Geneva, Omar Hilale, announced this Tuesday. The announcement was made by the diplomat during MAP’s forum themed “Morocco’s commitment for human rights”.last_img

Chicago Moroccan Among Most Influential Women in Business

New York- Moroccan women are becoming the country’s best ambassadors abroad, bringing pride to their fellow countrymen and countrywomen. After young Moroccan-American Nadine Hanafi was recently elected one of the US’s top young entrepreneurs, another Moroccan has added her name to the list of young Moroccan women who shine in their fields.Sophia Fouzia Leaguedi, a Moroccan resident of Chicago, was chosen as part of a group of the 15 most influential suburban women in business. The award was granted by the Chicago-based Daily Herald Business Ledger, which every year rewards women executives and business owners who excel in business management. Leaguedi was awarded during the 17th edition of the award, which was held last week in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago.The Moroccan businesswoman distinguished herself through her work as head of her own company, Ameroc Export Inc., which specializes in providing American companies with services to export their products to different parts of the world.Sophia graduated from Rabat’s Mohamed V University before pursuing a career in management and business at Los Angeles Pierce College.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed. read more

Moroccans Are Free to Convert to Another Religion Justice Minister

Rabat – Morocco’s Justice Minister, Mustapha Ramid, announced that citizens are free to choose their religion, saying that the law only punishes forced conversions.Moroccan citizens wishing to convert to another religion are allowed to choose another religion without having to fear going to jail, said Minister Mustapha Ramid during a conference, held on Monday in Rabat.“There is no article in the Moroccan criminal code that punishes converting to another religion,” Mustapha Ramid said. He went on to add that though the Moroccan constitution guarantees religious freedom, but any attempt to force someone to convert to another religion, or to shake the faith of Muslims is punished under Article 220 of the criminal code.“Under the article, a proselytizer may face six months to three years prison and a fine of 100 to 500 Dirhams for using the means of seduction in order to convert a Muslim to another religion, either by exploiting his/her weakness or his/her needs, or using for these purposes education, health, asylums and orphanage institutions,” Ramid explained.The Minister of Justice admitted that arrests of citizens for converting did happen across Morocco, but said that they were all released after police made sure they were not forced to change their faith.In January 2015, a man made the headlines in Morocco after he was arrested in Fez on grounds that he converted to Christianity.Mustapha Ramid confirmed during the conference that he intervened in this case and gave instructions to release him.He said that the man was released after being interrogated for eleven hours, mainly about his beliefs, his movements, and the organization that paid for his travel expenses.Edited by Timothy Filla  © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission. read more

Cristiano Ronaldos Family Members Enjoy Morocco

Rabat – After visiting Marrakech last year, family members of Real Madrid star, Cristiano Ronaldo, are paying another visit to Morocco.Hoje foi um dia bem passado com a família ????— Dolores Aveiro (@DoloresAveiro) April 11, 2017The mother of the Portuguese footballer took to Twitter on Wednesday to express her bliss, saying, “Today was a good day with [my] family [in Morocco],” captioning her post with a heart ahead of the flag of Morocco. She did not disclose where she and her relatives are staying.Following his frequent visits to Morocco, it has been discovered that Ronald is investing in Morocco. In February, it was reported that Ronaldo is planning to buy a hotel in Casablanca, Morocco’s economy capital. The hotel is reportedly located in the Ain Diab Corniche district, next to one of the giant shopping centers in Casablanca.In March 2016, Morocco World News reported that Ronaldo would build the premier first-class African hotel for international celebrities in Marrakech. The hotel’s complex will include a store for Ronaldo’s brand, CR7, his first fashion outlet in Africa.Ronaldo is also planning to inaugurate four hotels on the Spanish island of Ibiza. He is determined to become a businessman after he was ranked the highest paid sportsman n 2016, with annual revenues estimated at more than 82 million euros, followed by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi with 75 million euros. read more

Germany says EU will soon launch Iran funding scheme

BRUSSELS — Germany’s foreign minister says the European Union is on the verge of setting up an alternative channel to send money to Iran that would side-step U.S. sanctions against the Islamic republic.Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Monday that Germany has been working notably with Britain and France but also other EU partners in recent months to set up the “special purpose vehicle.”He says their aim is to ensure that “business not sanctioned by the U.S. can be upheld, and there is a suitable instrument for international payments.”The EU has struggled to keep alive the Iran nuclear since President Donald Trump pulled out of it last year. The bloc has already introduced measures to stop European companies from complying with the U.S. sanctions without authorization from Brussels.The Associated Press read more

Moroccan Public Hospitals to Face Crippling New Strikes

Rabat – A union of public sector doctors plans to launch “Doctors’ Week of Anger” October 15-20, calling for strikes October 11 and 26.The secretary general of the Independent Union for Public Sector Doctors, Almountadar Alalaoui, told a local newspaper,  “The public health sector in Morocco is witnessing a structural crisis … leading to the deterioration of health services.” Alalaoui said the union will strike Thursday, October 11, and Friday, October 26. Only intensive care units and emergencies will be excluded from the strike. The union will also refuse to do school health campaigns and autopsies. Alalaoui indicated that the “Week of Anger” is a reaction to the ministry’s lack of response to the demands of doctors from a series of protests in the summer. General physicians are protesting for the government to give employees at all pay grades the reference number 509, which enables them to advance to higher grades. Doctors also want the government to create two new pay grades above the current highest grade.The doctors also seek more resources, asking for more internship and residence posts, for adequate medical and lab equipment. They also complain of two many doctors resigning and the closure of some health services.Doctors plan to refuse to update periodic reports, patients’ records, and statistical data. They will also boycott administrative meetings and trainings. Doctors have agreed, however, to sign birth and death certificates.General physicians, early last September, began rounds of protests calling for a quick response to their demands. read more

CEOs of 7 big banks to appear in front of Congress

NEW YORK — The heads of some of the U.S.’ largest banks will appear in front of Congress Wednesday, for a hearing expected to produce political fireworks, but few policy changes.Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase will testify, as well as the CEOs of Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. The CEOs of State Street and Bank of New York Mellon are also slated to appear.It’s the most significant hearing on banks since Democrats took control of the House earlier this year.Banks have been trying to polish up their images ahead of the hearing, aware their record profits in 2018 could be a target for Democrats. Meanwhile, the banking industry’s lobbyists have been pushing Congress to further unwind the rules put into place after the 2008 financial crisis.The Associated Press read more

Algerias Judiciary Puts Former PM Ahmed Ouyahia in Provisional Custody

Rabat – The investigation judge at the Supreme Court in Algeria ordered the provisional detention of Algeria’s former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia. Ouyahia is suspected of involvement in many corruption cases. Dozens of people were waiting for Ouyahia’s arrival at the Supreme Court, throwing yogurts on the van transporting him to the prison. Algeria’s former minister of transportation, Abdelghani Zaalane, is also expected to appear before the court.Read also: Algeria’s Hostility to Morocco Expands Into its Education SystemOn Sunday, June 9, Ouyahia, along with other senior officials, were summoned by an investigating judge of the Algiers court for ‘granting privileges’ to the owner of a car assembly plant.It is the second time in two months that the former prime minister has appeared in court in connection with corruption investigations. Ouyahia was previously summoned on April 30 for ‘squandering public funds and undue advantages.” Since the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, several wealthy businessmen have been held in custody for benefiting from government contracts through their links with senior Algerian officials. read more

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand a roof too

PARIS — Dozens of public housing advocates are protesting outside the gutted Notre Dame in Paris to demand that France’s poorest be remembered after donors pledged $1 billion to rebuild the cathedral and its destroyed roof.Around 50 people from a French homeless association gathered Monday with placards reading “1 billion in 24 hours.” They chanted slogans directed at Bernard Arnault, the CEO of luxury group LVMH, who last week pledged 200 million euros ($226 million). Some chanted “Notre Dame needs a roof, we need a roof too!”Paris police monitored the peaceful protest but didn’t intervene.In addition to Arnault’s pledge, another billionaire, Francois Pinault, and his son pledged 100 million euros for the reconstruction effort from their company, which owns the Christie’s auction house and is the main shareholder for Gucci.The Associated Press read more

BMW profit hit by antitrust case spending on technology

FRANKFURT — German automaker BMW says its profits fell 74 per cent in the first quarter as earnings were hit by a 1.4 billion-euro ($1.6 billion) set-aside for an expected anti-trust penalty from the European Commission and by higher up-front costs for new technology and factories.Net profit fell to 588 million euros from 2.28 billion euros in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue fell 0.9 per cent to 22.46 billion euros.The Munich-based company was able to slightly increase the number of vehicles sold to 605,333 and said Tuesday it expected “tailwinds” in the second half as more new models hit the market.The European Commission is investigating automakers on suspicion they colluded to restrict competition in the development of emissions-reduction technology. BMW disputes the allegations but says a fine is likely.The Associated Press read more

China closes ozone depleting chemical plants as part of UN initiative

3 July 2007China, the world’s largest producer of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and halon, has shut down five of its six remaining plants as part of international efforts to phase-out the two ozone depleting chemicals, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said. China, the world’s largest producer of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and halon, has shut down five of its six remaining plants as part of international efforts to phase-out the two ozone depleting chemicals, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said.The facilities were closed during a symbolic ceremony on Sunday organized by Chinese authorities in recognition of chemical companies’ efforts to stop manufacturing products that harm the ozone layer and as part of UNEP’s “Remembering Our Future” initiative. With Sunday’s action, the country is two and a half years ahead of the 2010 deadline imposed b the Montreal Protocol, which regulates levels of ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere. A weakened Ozone layer allows for dangerous ultraviolet radiation with harmful health effects, and UNEP estimates that without the Protocol, there could have been up to 20 million more cases of skin cancer and 130 million more cases of eye cataracts. The shut down of the five facilities, in Chiangshou City, near Shanghai, will bring China’s production of CFCs to just about 550 metric tons, down from 55,000 metric tons at its peak in 1998, UNEP said. China became the largest producer of ozone depleting chemicals following the shut down of plants producing these chemicals in developed countries in 1996. The closure of the Chinese plants now puts India and South Korea as leading producers of the two ozone depleting chemicals in Asia Pacific, the agency said. “With more t 95 per cent of the ozone depleting substances being phased out, the Protocol is among the great success stories of recent years,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “This success underlines how, with political will, creative financing mechanisms and the support for industry and NGOs, the international community can rise to the challenge of sustainable development.” Under the Montreal Protocol ozone depleting chemicals are being successfully phased out worldwide with assistance from the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund, which has financed activities in 140 developing countries, according to UNEP. Ozone chemicals like CFCs and halon have been phased out in developed countries by 1996 except for small essential uses. By 2010, production of ozone depleting substances will be banned in developing countries, including countries in Asia and the Pacific. read more

World turning towards multilateralism Ban Kimoon says in UN Day message

The world is moving in favour of the United Nations but the Organization must strengthen its ability to produce results in the areas of peace and security, development and human rights, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today in his first message to mark UN Day.“More people and governments understand that multilateralism is the only path in our interdependent and globalizing world,” Mr. Ban said in his message. “Global problems demand global solutions – and going it alone is not a viable option.”Noting that the demands on the UN “are growing every day,” the Secretary-General pledged to ensure that the UN makes progress on the most pressing current issues. He cited conflict prevention and peacebuilding, disarmament and non-proliferation, climate change, human rights and reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).“We will be judged in the future on the actions we take today – on results. On this United Nations Day, let us rededicate ourselves to achieving them.”Mr. Ban – who assumed the post of Secretary-General on 1 January this year – said he would work with Member States and civil society worldwide to ensure that the UN can play the fullest role possible in conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.He also pledged to mobilize political will on the key questions of aid, trade and debt relief to help poor nations reach the MDGs, the series of eight anti-poverty targets which world leaders have vowed to try to attain by 2015.“And I will continue to do all I can to galvanize global and decisive action on climate change,” he said, adding that the UN was the natural forum for building international consensus among both rich and poor countries on how to respond to the phenomenon.Turning to human rights, Mr. Ban said he would try to translate the “responsibility to protect” concept from word into deed to make certain that there is timely action whenever populations face the threat of genocide, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity.To achieve all of these tasks, the Secretary-General stressed the need to “transform the UN itself. We must adapt to meet new needs, and ensure the highest standard of ethics, integrity and accountability, so as to demonstrate that we are fully answerable to all Member States and to people around the world.” 24 October 2007The world is moving in favour of the United Nations but the Organization must strengthen its ability to produce results in the areas of peace and security, development and human rights, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today in his first message to mark UN Day. read more