Rahul Gandhi mocks PMs Make in India says Made in China rules

first_imgSalem (TN): Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” slogan, saying the country’s market was now flooded with Chinese products.Addressing a poll rally here, he referred to unemployed youth of Tamil Nadu, saying Modi had hurt them in the last five years, giving “huge amounts of money from the banks to the richest people but not to them.” “He gave you an empty slogan called Make in India but wherever we look we see Made in China products,” he said. Be it phone, shoes or shirt “you see made in China,” he added. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM'”Now we want real made in India and real made in Tamil Nadu,” Gandhi said. Under Modi, “Make in India” if a young Tamil entrepreneur wanted to start a business he had to knock on the doors of different government offices where “he had to pay bribes,” the Congress chief alleged. “By the time he got his permissions the business is already failed,” he said. Hence, the Congress came up with a new idea in its manifesto for entrepreneurs, he said adding “when you want to start a new business you will not have to take permission from any government department for three years.” They could take the permission once the business was established and till such time the focus could be on making the business work and consolidating it, Gandhi said. “Once your business is established take permission.” Terming the GST as Gabbar Singh Tax again, he said it comprised five different taxes and a tax rate of 28 per cent wherein “even weavers had to pay tax if they had to buy thread or material.” The moment his party was voted to power it will be removed and we will give you a “real GST, (envisaging) one tax, minimum tax and a simple tax.”last_img read more

Appointment of poll Observer illegal EC receives complaint

first_imgKolkata: The Chief Election Commissioner has received a complaint on Monday from an advocate who has expressed concern regarding the arbitrariness of the Election Commission over the appointment of Central Police Observer Vivek Dubey and Ajay V Nayak as the Special Observer for Bengal in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.The letter addressed to the Chief Election Commissioner highlights that the EC is empowered to nominate an Observer under Section 20B of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and states: “The Election Commission may nominate an Observer who shall be an officer of the government to watch the conduct of the election or elections in a constituency or group of constituencies and to perform such other functions as may be entrusted to him by the Election Commission.” He states that it is “abundantly clear from the provision above, that a person who may be nominated as an Observer, ‘shall be an officer of the government’. The phrase ‘shall be’ as used in Section 20B of the Act is mandatory and has been used in the present tense and therefore, a retired IPS officer does not fulfill the mandatory requirement as laid down under Section 20B of the Act.” The letter further mentions: “Hence, under Section 20B of the Act serving officer of the government can only be appointed as an Observer and it is unequivocally clear that a retired officer is barred from being appointed as an Observer since he ceases to be an officer of the government after his retirement.” Vivek Dubey and Ajay V Nayak who were nominated by the Election Commission have retired from government services in 2015 and 2018 respectively. They “cease to be an officer of the government and hence their nomination is patently illegal, null and void and contrary to the provisions of the Act”. In such a circumstance, all actions taken by them are “illegal, null and void ab-initio and hence any and all actions taken in pursuance of Vivek Dubey and Ajay V Nayak’s recommendations are also void ab-initio and ought to be reversed and/or set aside immediately.” The advocate has demanded immediate steps to “remove Vivek Dubey from the position of Central Police Observer for the states of West Bengal and Jharkhand and Ajay V Nayak from the position of Special Observer for the state of West Bengal and to immediately reverse/set aside all actions taken pursuant to their recommendations by the Election Commission of India”.last_img read more

Build a better life

first_imgMy son is in Class 8 and has become a smartphone addict. What do we tell him? Please guide.Mrs and Mr. R. Kashi, New Delhi It’s important to empower teens to take control of their own use of smartphones and maintain a healthy balance. This isn’t a one-time conversation. A few things you can do help provide guidance and support include the following: Educate: Talk openly about the benefits and potential pitfalls of screen time. Lecturing rarely yields positive results, but asking your teens for input about the pros and cons can spark lively conversations. How does too much screen time affect us physically, emotionally, academically and socially? What can we gain from using our smartphones responsibly? Also Read – Feel what you fearMake a plan: Talk about setting healthy limits and boundaries for the family and what checks and balances you can use to stick to them, like not allowing phone use during dinner. Remember, teens aren’t the only ones prone to overuse. What happens if parents are pushing the family screen time limits? Monitor use as a family: Teens look for workarounds when they feel like they’re being watched. Make monitoring a family goal so that teens own up to their usage and behavior online. There are several apps available to monitor how and when your teens use their phones. The iPhone now has a screentime setting. You can use this to track usage and set healthy limits for specific apps (e.g. xx hours per day for social media) and to shut down apps at a certain time. Talk with your teens about healthy and realistic limits. Also Read – HomecomingCreate a check-in policy: Phones, tablets, and laptops should be removed from the bedroom at night to curb sleep disturbance and insomnia. Create a plan to check devices in at a certain time in the evening and out in the morning. Establish screen-free zones: Meals, family outings, and social gatherings are examples of times when frequent checking negatively affects relationships. Set boundaries for screen use in these settings and stick to them. Model healthy boundaries: When parents are glued to their phones, teens learn that this is appropriate behaviour. Stick to the limits and boundaries you set. I have recently discovered that my younger brother is homosexual. My parents are not aware. I’m very nervous. Name withheld, Kolkata See my friend, don’t get nervous! Its fine! I understand, that ‘discovering’ this wasn’t a happy feeling but please don’t create any situation that will lead your brother to take a drastic step or make him feel awkward. If he’s really young, there could be a chance that this ‘phase’ will pass. But, if it doesn’t, please be mature enough to make him feel comfortable as this is his preference and being homosexual is never an offence or crime! Live and let live. My best friend’s parents got divorced. He is shattered. I feel very helpless. We are in the 7th standard. How can I help him? Dhruv Jha, Noida Just be extra kind and extra supportive towards him. Help him in whatever little ways you can. With his homework, taking him out to movies, bringing him over to your place for studies, sleepovers or simple chit-chat. Your parents can also help you be beside him. Why don’t you both join some salsa, music, art or something that interests you both? This is going to help him come out of this phase with ease. Good to see such a caring friend like you. I’m sure the clouds will fade and your friend will recover soon! (Send your questions to roopshashotm@gmail.com)last_img read more

My friend circle is limited

first_imgNew Delhi: Actor Sunny Leone, who is in the “best phase” of her life personally and professionally, says she enjoys having a small circle of friends. In her seven-year journey in Hindi filmdom, Sunny has created a name for herself. She often used to talk about being judged in the past. Does she still feel the same? “I have created a niche for myself with my own set of friends. I don’t really get out and party, so the circle is limited. I don’t know if I am yet judged, but back then also I was in a happy space and so am I now,” Sunny said. She married Daniel Weber in 2011, and together, they have three children. The couple adopted a girl child, Nisha, in 2017 from Latur and announced the birth of her twins Noah and Asher via surrogacy last year. Sunny finds it a little tough to maintain a balance between motherhood and work. “I have seen many parents maintain a balance. It is harder in my case, because every day is different. But once you become a parent, you automatically start strategising your schedule. “Looking at your child is the most beautiful feeling in the world. This is the best phase of my life,” she said. The 38-year-old actor made her Bollywood debut in 2012 with Jism 2 after which she featured in films like Ragini MMS 2, Ek Paheli Leela, Kuch Kuch Locha Hai, Mastizaade and One Night Stand. On the acting front, Sunny has been roped in for a horror-comedy titled Coca Cola. “The genre does interest me and I am excited to be a part of this project,” Sunny said, adding: “No one has a particular mantra with what will work and won’t work with the audience. For Coca Cola, I am sure we will match up to the audience’s expectations.”last_img read more

European Countries Seek to Ban FullFace Islamic Veils for Good

Casablanca – The ongoing question in Europe on whether or not the wearing of a burka or niqab should be accepted has started to receive long-term answers. The concern of taking away a women’s religious freedom has been swept aside for female equality and the fear of possible terrosim. Many politicians have demanded a ban of the veil that covers the face apart from the eyes. The ban is not to be seen as weapon of discrimination; rather, it aims to give the women a chance to assimilate into the culture of their host country and respect its public policies.As a matter of fact, The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has recently approved the ban on the full-body veil that was enacted in France three years ago. France is known to have the largest Muslim minority in Europe, with about five million inhabitants practicing the religion. Under the supervision of ex-President Nicolar Sarkozy, the ban took effect on 11 April 2011. For this reason, no woman, either French or foreign, has been seen with a burqa since the new law has been enacted. In most cases, the majority of the Muslim female community gave in and switched to the typical head-scarf; however, some of them have stood up for their beliefs and paid fines for violating the burqa ban.In June of 2011, Belgium introduced the ban of any clothing that obscures the identity of the wearer in public localities.Spain has not enacted a national ban, yet the city of Barcelona and two smaller towns in Catalonia impose bans.Britain is open-minded with regard to veils, since they do not posses a law to restrict them; but it is up to the schools and workplaces whether or not they want to follow a dress code.The Netherlands has attempted to impose a ban, but failed many times due to lack of strategy and the fear of violating civil rights. Either way, only around 300 women are expected to wear a niqab or burqa in the country.Italy went a step further from France and even displayed signs in several towns, which serve as a reminder to the local bans of the burqa and the niqab.In 2008, Denmark banned all sorts of religious symbols—such as the veil, turbans, and Jewish skull caps—in public institutions.Turkey has banned the head-scarf in official buildings, but the issue is deeply two-sided, since the country’s population is predominantly Muslim.  The wife and daughters of Turkey’s prime minister and president, for instance, cover their hair with a scarf.The situation in Germany is not as intense, since there is no national restricition of the burqa or niqab. However, many Germans find it challenging to accept an image of a woman hidden completely under a large piece of cloth. Women with a simple head-scarf, on the other hand, are allowed to teach at schools and are respected by most people.Russia is less tolerant and announced a ban of veils in 2013. The authorities believe that the dress code of Muslim women is a violation of Russian law.Switzerland joined  its neighboring countries to agree on the law enforcement against the veil, since it made the majority of its citizens feel uncomfortable.In light of the fact that the traditional Islamic veil is acceptable in most Europan countries, the bans of the burka or niqab are not that disastrous. Because of this, authorities believe that it is only for the good, in order to live peacefully and with no misunderstandings in a community full of diversity.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed read more

Algeria Cheb Khaled Under Fire for Performing at Princes Wedding

Rabat- Algerian singer Cheb Khaled, who obtained the Moroccan citizenship by royal decree, is said to be receiving harsh criticism from the Algerian people and local media for what they label as ‘’provocative participation’’ at Prince Moulay Rachid’s wedding.On Saturday, Cheb Khaled performed at Prince Moulay Rachid’s wedding at the royal palace in Rabat. His performance made headlines in Algerian newspapers and news websites, sparking a controversy.Algerian news outlets and social media users have criticized the singer for “his provocative participation at Moulay Rachid’s wedding, without taking into consideration the unprecedented political tension between Morocco and Algeria.” Multiple Algerian reports say that Cheb Khalid’s popularity has been in danger since he accepted to perform at Moulay Rachid’s wedding.On the other hand, Morocco’s Hespress quoted some Algerian activists as saying that “the Moroccan Authorities aim at fighting Algeria by using its own sons,” adding that “it’s a shame that Algerians are still proud of such an artist who turned his back on his country.”However, some Algerian social media users understood Cheb Khaled’s gesture. They said that his participation ‘’is not worth all this controversy, since he has become a Moroccan citizen, and it’s normal that he accepted to perform at the Moroccan Prince wedding.’’Cheb Khaled has been causing controversy in Algeria ever since he obtained Moroccan citizenship by royal decree. on August 20. In September 2013, the city of Oran in west Algeria decided to boycott Cheb Khaled, the king of Algerian Rai music. © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed read more

African Women Forum to Hold Special Meeting on March 13 in

Geneva – The next African Women’s Forum, an initiative of the Grans Montana organization, will hold a special meeting on March 13 in the southern city of Dakhla, on the fringes of the annual meeting of the NGO dedicated to Africa and South-South Cooperation.Through this meeting, the prestigious organization aims to enable African women take their roles in a thriving continent, one of the organizers said.The Grans Montana African Women’s Forum is an avenue for discussions, exchanges, reflections and sharing for women. The next special program will be dedicated to the crucial role of women in African economies. The Honorary Committee will be chaired by Director General, Irina Bokova, while ISESCO’s Director General, Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri will hold the vice-presidency.“Dakhla is a model for the future of Morocco and Africa and represents an exceptional strategic location as a hub for economy and trade”, forum’s founding president, Jean-Paul Carteron, said in a statement.Since its inception, the Grans Montana Forum has been endeavoring to promote women’s empowerment and the improvement of their fundamental rights. read more

Casablanca Among Worlds Major Growing Financial Centres Business Insider

Rabat – Morocco’s economic hub Casablanca is among the 10 cities that are rapidly becoming major financial centres, according to Business Insider on Friday. The American news website ranked Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city, among the cities in the developing world that “are giving international investors access to some of the world’s fast-growing financial markets.”According to the same source, “Casablanca has moved up by 20 places in the ranks since it entered the index in 2014, and it improved by more than any hub in the Middle East and North Africa.” The 2015 Global Financial Cities Index ranked Casablanca in the 42nd position as one of the best performing financial centers in the world, up by 9 points from last year’s 51st position.“Riyadh and Casablanca showed the biggest gains in this competitive region,” says the GFCI report, a ranking of competitiveness published by the Z/Yen Group.Some of the fastest-growing cities are in East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, according to Business Insider. The ten cities are: Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Istanbul (Turkey), Johannesburg (South Africa), Seoul (South Korea), Casablanca (Morocco), Panama, Doha (Qatar), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Bangkok (Thailand), and Almaty (Kazakhstan).© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission read more

Morocco to Expand English Language in Moroccan Schools

By Soumaya El FilaliRabat – Minister of Education and Vocational Training in Morocco, Rachid Belmokhtar, declared in a speech on Monday during the tenth session of the Assembly for “Azziman Council,” that the Ministry has taken serious procedures to expand and improve the use of the English language among students in the Moroccan Kingdom.During the speech, Belmokhtar revealed that, in response and accordance with the reform project called for by King Mohammed VI, the Ministry of Education has adopted new approaches and methods to expand the teaching of the English language in Morocco. The aim of this initiative is to improve the level of pupils in the country’s newly adopted second foreign language of English.Belmokhtar continued saying, “We’ve tried to encourage the creation of English clubs in all high-schools to encourage students to be able to speak it,” adding that this step has achieved great success, as reflected in the students’ performance in the language.The Minister also proudly pointed out the “good” level of English exhibited by students who participated during COP22 in Marrakech.The critical success of the expansion and improvement of the use of the English language in the country is indisputable as Morocco has recently ranked first in the MENA region for English proficiency, even managing to outrank countries that list English as their official second language.The growth of the English language cannot be attributed to the Ministry’s initiatives alone, as Moroccans themselves have shown great interest in learning what is now considered most influential language in the world, knowing that it can open doors to new experiences and better job opportunities. read more

Kuwaiti Official Yells Get Out … Child Killers at Israeli Delegation

By Sana ElouaziRabat – Marzouq Al-Ghanim, Kuwait’s national assembly speaker, forced an Israeli delegation to leave a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union held on Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Russia, after describing them as “occupiers” and “child killers.”Replying to Israeli claims regarding Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli prisons, Al-Ghanim said that “what the parliamentary representative of this brutal occupation represents is the most dangerous form of terrorism: state terrorism.” He addressed the head of the Israeli delegation, saying, “If you do not feel shame, then do as you please.”“You should take your bags and leave this hall. Get out of the hall right now if you have an atom of dignity… you occupiers, child killers,” he shouted, inciting applause from the audience, before the Israeli representative walked out.Azzam Al-Ahmad, the head of the Palestinian delegation, praised the speech, telling Middle East Monitor that it shined “a light on the wounds Palestinians have suffered.”The heated speech went viral on social media and was widely praised among Arab Twitter users.???? ?? ?????:???? ??? ?????? #?????_??????????? ?????????? ?? ???? ?????? ????? ???????? ?????? ?? ?????.. @MarzouqAlghanim?????? ???? ????? ?????? ????? ???????? ???????? pic.twitter.com/of62phTPr1— ?? ??? ??? (@7amadQalam) October 18, 2017“Let history record the moment an Israeli delegation was kicked out of an international conference in Russia.”?? ???? ????? ??? ??????? ???????!???? ?????? ????? ????? ?????? ???????? ?????. #?????_??????— ???????? ??????????? (@Alaa_AlSaeedi) October 18, 2017“At a time of changing positions, Kuwait remains steadfast in its religion, Arab nationalism and justice.”????? ????? ???? ?? ??? ?? ??? ??? ???? ????? ?????? ?????? ???????? ?????? ????? ?? ??? ??????? ?? ?????? #?????_??????— Mohsen Alotaibi . (@Mohsen_alo97) October 18, 2017“I swear to God, I rejoiced seeing what this brave man did to the cowardly Zionist delegation that has caused terror worldwide.”??????? ???? ? ????? ?????? ??? ?????? ??? ????? ? ??? ?? ??? ????? ???????? ?????? ??? . ??? ??? ??????#?????_?????? pic.twitter.com/lTomBcpnnS— ???? ???????? (@92__almutairi) October 18, 2017“Honestly, Marzouq al-Ghanim represented Kuwait in the best way, to the point that his political rivals agreed with him.” read more

Moroccan Teachers of French Not Good In French Study

Rabat – A Moroccan study has found that teachers of the French language in Morocco do not have a good mastery of the language of Molière.The study, conducted by l’Observatoire National du Développement Humain (ONDH), a state body in charge of analyzing the impact of human development programs and policies, and the World Bank, covered 300 primary schools across Morocco.In addition to teachers of the French language in the regions of Marrakech-Safi, Meknes-Fez and Rabat-Salé-Kenitra, teachers of other subjects were also put to the test. The primary schools’ teachers were given grades based on their mastery of the subjects they are teaching to pupils.Teachers of French received grades below average, getting only 41 out of 100. Their Arabic language counterparts did relatively better with 55 out 100. Math teachers performed better, receiving 84 out of 100.The report painted a bleak picture of the situation of public education in Morocco, pointing to the low quality of education in public schools in comparison with private ones.In public schools, the study further noted that 36 per cent of pupils lack the basic pedagogical educational tools. Fifty-eight per cent of public schools suffer from a shortage of basic infrastructure.In Morocco, French remains the language of economic activity and a prerequisite for several job seekers.However, with the deterioration of education in public schools in recent years, many families are turning to private schools to ensure that their children get a better education in the language of Molière.The hegemony of French remains, nonetheless, contested by many. While some people advocate for more incorporation of English in public educations, others slam the cultural influence France exerts through its language at the expense of local languages that represent Morocco’s identity, namely Arabic and Amazigh. read more

President Zuma Underlines Importance of Reinforcing Ties with Morocco

Johannesburg – South African president Jacob Zuma underlined the importance to reinforce relations with Morocco, an African country that had supported the fight of South African people against apartheid. “Morocco is an African nation and we need to have relations with them,” said Zuma in an interview issued Sunday by south African daily “News24”. Morocco will send its ambassador back to Pretoria as a first sign that the two countries are raising the level of their diplomatic representations in the capitals of the two countries, the south African president added. This development came following the meeting on Wednesday in Abidjan berween King Mohammed VI and president Zuma on the sidelines of the 5th African Union-European Union Summit. “We never had problems with them (Moroccans) anyway,” Zuma went on to say, recalling the support of the Kingdom for the south African people in its fight against racial segregation. Morocco was one of the countries in which former president Nelson Mandela had acquired military experience in the early 1960s, Zuma said, stressing that “they (Moroccans) helped us a great deal.” “That is why, when Mandela was released from prison, he felt it was important for him to go to Morocco and say thank you to them”, Zuma added. During their meeting in Abidjan, King Mohammed VI and president Zuma agreed to work together for a promising future, especially as South Africa and Morocco are two important poles of political stability and economic development, respectively in the extreme north and the extreme south of the continent. They also agreed to maintain direct contact and to launch a fruitful economic and political partnership in order to build strong, lasting and stable relations, and to go beyond the situation that had characterised bilateral relations. President Zuma and the King have decided to raise the level of diplomatic representation through the appointment of high level ambassadors in Rabat and in Pretoria. read more

King Mohammed VI Snubs Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Rabat – A government source close to the dossier told Morocco World News that it was not MBS who snubbed Morocco, but the other way around.News circulated last week of MBS snubbing Morocco as a destination in his ongoing world tour. MBS, the argument went, was punishing Rabat for diverting from Saudi strategic guidelines, especially in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and in the Saudis’ feud with Qatar.Earlier this week, however, the Espace MRE outlet said Morocco snubbed the Saudi prince instead. Read Also: MBS Snubs Morocco as Saudi Arabia Seeks to Emerge from Post-Khashoggi BacklashAccording to the MWN source, Morocco decided that it was not ready to host MBS at such a critical juncture.Although the original article is no longer accessible—probably taken down for some obscure reasons—Morocco World News contacted a source who has been briefed on the information.Requesting anonymity, the source emphatically confirmed that Morocco did in fact raise concerns about hosting MBS. However, in his usual diplomatic tone, the King did not decline MBS’s request outright, the source said.Instead, King Mohammed VI reportedly brought up his “busy schedule” at the time MBS requested for the visit and an audience with Mohammed VI, suggesting that a meeting between the two was not going to happen. The visit to Morocco was therefore “not appropriate.”But still, the Moroccan monarch reportedly proposed that MBS meet Moulay Rachid, the King’s diplomat brother, provided that the Saudi prince wanted to proceed with the visit despite the concerns Morocco had raised.MBS rejected King Mohammed VI’s alternative.Weeks after the reported exchange, Saudi Arabia made public the news of MBS’s “world tour,” including Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, and Algeria.Morocco was the great absentee on the princely list, leading to speculations that Saudi Arabia was taking punitive steps towards Morocco’s numerous positions that do not align with Riyadh’s strategic interests.MBS, persona non grata?Morocco has remained a strong Saudi ally over the years.Despite recent incidents that led the two kingdoms to give each other the cold shoulder on a number of shared interests, reports that MBS snubbed Morocco carried weight in Arab politics. Rabat has a reputation as a strong Saudi ally in North Africa, and yet it was the only country in the Maghreb that did not feature on MBS’ list of visits.In Rabat’s eyes, however, MWN’s source confirmed, international reputation matters.The source did not elaborate further. But the unfolding of events in countries planning to receive MBS helped make the point: The Khashoggi murder carries significance in how many perceive MBS.As the world has concentrated on Khashoggi’s murder, MBS’s reputation is fatally tarnished. The once all-powerful and charismatic young Saudi prince has become persona non grata for many in the international community.When Algeria and Tunisia confirmed that MBS was expected there, a wave of protests erupted to challenge the governments for hosting the Saudi prince.Taking to the streets, Tunisian activists said MBS was “not welcome” in their country.“It is a shame that Tunisia, which has witnessed a democratic transition and a revolution against tyranny and dictatorship, will receive a criminal whose hands were stained with the blood of Saudis and Yemenis,” one of the activists said. read more

Fiat Chrysler in talks with Aurora on autonomous vehicles

DETROIT — Fiat Chrysler is in talks to produce self-driving commercial vehicles with Aurora, an autonomous vehicle company led by former Google, Tesla and Uber executives.FCA and Aurora have a deal to lay the groundwork for a partnership to use Aurora’s self-driving system globally in Ram and Fiat vehicles used for deliveries and other duties.The partnership would not affect FCA’s deal to provide hybrid Chrysler minivans to Waymo, the autonomous vehicle spinoff from Google.Aurora is developing hardware, software and data services. It was started in 2017 by former Google autonomous vehicle chief Chris Urmson, former Tesla Autopilot head Sterling Anderson, and ex-Uber autonomous vehicle leader Drew Bagnell. Aurora already has partnerships with Hyundai and Volkswagen.FCA says there are no plans to use Aurora’s system in passenger vehicles.The Associated Press read more

More Palestinians die after being denied access through Israeli checkpoints UN reports

The latest incident occurred in August when a 76-year-old woman from Barta’a a-Sharqiya in Jenin district with heart problems died after Israeli soldiers refused to allow her to pass a gate in order to reach the hospital in Jenin, the Humanitarian Monitor Report for August said. The Monitor, a monthly report of key humanitarian indicators and field observations collected by UN agencies, noted that July and August witnessed the highest total number of Israeli settler incidents against Palestinians in the occupied Territory in 2007, 37 and 30 respectively, a significant increase over the previous two months and considerably higher than the 2006 monthly average of 20. Children under 18 also continued to be victims of Israeli-Palestinian violence and of conflict within the Palestinian community, with a three-fold increase in deaths in August compared to July. Since the beginning of the second Intifada (Palestinian uprising) in 2000, 48 people have died after they were denied passage through an Israeli checkpoint. The vast majority of those deaths, 34, occurred during 2001 and 2002. After international condemnation, the number of deaths then dropped dramatically to an average of 2 or 3 per year, but from 1 January to 31 August this year five people have died because they were unable to access medical attention, the Monitor said. “The figure also corresponds to a disturbing increase in the number of delays and denials of ambulances at checkpoints,” it added, noting that while in 2006 there was a monthly average of 10 delays or denials of ambulance access, the monthly average for 2007 is 53. “Under international humanitarian law there is an obligation to ensure that the sick, aged, feeble, and expectant mothers be accorded particular protection and respect,” the Monitor said. “The IDF (Israeli army) claims that soldiers are informed of a special procedure related to persons requiring medical treatment, which is intended to expedite their crossing at checkpoints. “By obstructing ambulances and denying people medical care in emergency situations, soldiers not only violate those procedures, but also contribute to the unnecessary deathsof the sick and wounded,” it added. On settler incidents the Monitor noted that on 2 August, two Israeli settlers from Mitzpe Ya’ir outpost in southern Hebron district attacked a UN vehicle carrying three UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) employees and two Israeli journalists. One settler broke the windshield of the vehicle, injuring one OCHA employee in the eye. Israeli soldiers and police intervened and detained the two settlers. “The issue of settler violence against Palestinian civilians will be an issue of particular concern in the coming months as Palestinians throughout the West Bank attempt to harvest their olive crop,” it said. On Palestinian children, the Monitor reported a three-fold increase in those killed in August compared to July – 11 to four – bringing the 2007 total to 70, 47 per cent of whom were killed by the Israeli armed forces, 44 per cent by Palestinians and 9 percent by unexploded ordnance. In August, eight were killed by the IDF, two by a Palestinian Qassam rocket that exploded in Palestinian territory and one in internal violence. Of those killed by the IDF, two, aged 9 and 12 years, were allegedly present near a rocket launcher and were hit by a surface-to-surface missile fired by Israeli soldiers. As previous reports have noted, the Monitor stressed that the continued closure of the principle Gaza crossing points at Karni and Rafah have had a significant impact on the daily lives of Gaza’s 1.4 million residents. The closure has been effective since June following the defeat of Fatah forces by Hamas, which resulted in a break down in Israeli-Palestinian coordination mechanisms at the crossings. On the West Bank, Bethlehem and Hebron-area farmers have been severely affect by the inability to effectively market their grape harvest due to tightened Israeli internal closures, including denial of access to their lands especially around Israeli settlements, and the loss of markets in Israel, abroad, Gaza and the northern West Bank. 28 September 2007An increasing number of Palestinians have died after being denied passage through Israeli checkpoints, according to the latest United Nations humanitarian report on the occupied Palestinian territory. read more

Sustainable economic growth crucial for development say top UN officials

6 December 2007Vigorous and sustainable economic progress is the best means to achieve development goals, top United Nations officials said today. “Robust global growth that is resilient to economic shocks and sustainable over the long-term is the best catalyst for development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” said General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim, referring to the eight targets to slash poverty and other ills by 2015.But this growth has been checked by the recent instability of financial markets, the credit squeeze and high oil prices, among other factors, he said in an address to a meeting aimed at sharing views of economic trends that could impact upon development.“The current challenges remind us that national governments and multilateral institutions must be ever vigilant and ready to take appropriate steps to ensure we can respond rapidly to changing international market conditions that may undermine growth,” Mr. Kerim noted.Although some sub-Saharan nations will not achieve many, or any, of the MDGs by 2015, some of the region’s countries “are demonstrating progress towards the MDGs is possible when strong government leadership, good policies and healthy institutions are combined with adequate financial and technical support from the international community,” he observed.Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro also stressed the necessity of “urgent and concerted action by political leaders” to reach development goals as seen in countries in Africa and elsewhere.“We need a strong and sustained effort by developed and developing countries alike to ensure that millions of people can emerge from extreme poverty and hunger,” she told an Assembly Debate on Development.Richer nations must boost their development assistance flows and increase debt relief, while developing countries must take full ownership of their development processes, she said.“Furthermore,” Ms. Migiro noted, “developing countries need to have access to open, fair, equitable and non-discriminatory trading and financial systems. It is imperative that the Doha trade negotiations conclude early and deliver on the promise to be a true development round.”Touting the benefits of the Doha round of international trade negotiations, Jagdish Bhagwati, the renowned economist and Columbia University professor, underscored the benefits of free trade for developing countries.“I think we have substantial evidence that in the long run, openness really pays off,” he said at a press briefing at UN Headquarters.The lowering of external tariffs has “been a very substantial achievement and that has coincided with very substantial growth in the developing countries which managed to take advantage of that opening,” Mr. Bhagwati said.Nobel prize laureate and fellow Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz emphasized the detrimental effects of bilateral trade agreements on multilateral ones.Speaking at the same briefing, he said that “the growth of bilateral agreements is really undermining the multilateral trade system that so many people worked so hard over 60 years to create,” as many issues are hidden into trade agreements that work against the interests of developing countries.Regarding climate change, which he characterized as “an issue of global social justice,” Mr. Stiglitz suggested an alternative framework to the current carbon tax system as well as a rainforest initiative – which he hopes will come to pass at the landmark UN Convention on Climate Change underway in Bali, Indonesia – to act as an incentive for developing nations to maintain forests. read more

Ban Kimoon urges political solution as Sri Lanka truce breaks down

Mr. Ban is “deeply worried” that the withdrawal from the accord comes amidst intensifying fighting in the North and increasing violence across the country, including the capital, Colombo, his spokesperson said in a statement today. “The Secretary-General urges all concerned to ensure the protection of civilians and enable humanitarian assistance to be provided to affected areas,” the statement added. In a report released last week, Mr. Ban highlighted the continued recruitment and use of children as soldiers, particularly by the Tamil Tiger rebels and a breakaway group known as the Tamil Makkal Viduthali Pulikal (TMVP)/Karuna faction. The report noted that “both parties have failed to cease the abduction, recruitment and use of children.” In addition, the LTTE and the TMVP/Karuna faction – which split from the Tamil Tigers and now supports Government troops – have also failed to “release all children associated with their forces and engage in transparent procedures for release and verification,” which includes allowing the UN Task Force on monitoring and reporting full access to military locations under their control. 3 January 2008Secretary-General has underscored the urgent need for a political solution to end the bloodshed in Sri Lanka following the Government’s decision to terminate the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement that halted a decades-long conflict with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). read more

Global militaries enlisted to combat climate change and save ozone layer –

20 November 2008The United Nations has recruited the help of militaries in several countries in a unique new partnership in the fight against climate change and the campaign to save the ozone layer. Australia, the Netherlands and the United States have offered their militaries’ assistance in the safe collection of stockpiles of unwanted, ozone-damaging substances, and their experts will provide advice on how to expedite the shipping of chemicals to disposal centres worldwide.This partnership, spearheaded by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Defense, could potentially slash by two-thirds or more the cost of disposing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are highly damaging to the ozone layer, a thin layer of gas high in the air that filters out the sun’s harmful rays.“The military in many countries have been at the forefront of efforts to phase out ozone-depleting substances (ODS),” said Marco Gonzales, Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “Their experience can be invaluable for developing countries facing similar challenges.”Many militaries already have competitively-priced contracts in place for storing these chemicals in old air conditioning units and other equipment, and it is hoped that this will serve as an incentive for civilians to take part in these low-cost programmes.Over 90 per cent of these harmful substances have been phased out already, but significant quantities of them are still kept in old equipment.A UN-backed gathering of 150 governments which are party to the Montreal Protocol and the Vienna Convention, both of which seek to protect the ozone layer, wrapping up today in Doha, Qatar, was warned that these containers could release several billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2015. read more

International donors conference could spur Haitis recovery says Ban

13 April 2009The international donors’ gathering for Haiti beginning today will kick off a process to help the impoverished Caribbean nation consolidate stability, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said. In a meeting earlier today with Haitian Prime Minister Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis, the two men discussed the conference hosted this afternoon and tomorrow by the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington.During these talks, the Secretary-General emphasized the fundamental importance of the gathering in demonstrating the international community’s commitment to work with the Haitian Government to help the country rebuild, said UN spokesperson Farhan Haq.Further, Mr. Ban, who is heading to Washington this afternoon to attend the conference, stressed that the reforms needed for the country to realize its economic potential must be implemented urgently.The two leaders also discussed the upcoming senatorial elections in Haiti and how to strengthen its institutions.During his visit to the country last month with former United States President Bill Clinton, the Secretary-General said that he saw reason for hope and optimism that the country will break out of its cycle of poverty, but that beyond international help, sustainable social and economic development is essential to Haiti’s success.In an opinion piece published in The New York Times on-line edition late last month, Mr. Ban appealed for investment in Haiti to allow the country to seize a “break-out opportunity for one of the poorest nations to lift itself toward a future of real economic prospects and genuine hope.”Haiti stands a better chance than almost any other emerging economy to not only weather the current economic storms but to prosper because of new US trade legislation, he wrote. HOPE II, as the act is known, offers Haiti duty-free, quota-free access to US markets for the next nine years. “No other nation enjoys a similar advantage,” Mr. Ban said. “This is a foundation to build on.”He has cited five interlinked challenges the country faces in securing stability: political dialogue extending State authority bolstering security the rule of law and human rights and socio-economic development.Last week, Hédi Annabi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Haiti, told the Security Council that security and development go hand in hand in the country and “if we are to succeed in our efforts, it is essential that there be an improvement in people’s daily lives, or at least a realistic hope of such an improvement.”Devastating successive hurricanes last summer have left $1 billion – equivalent to 15 per cent of Haiti’s gross domestic product (GDP) – of damage in their wake. The global recession has further eroded the country’s socio-economic situation, with remittances, which bring three times the amount of funds to Haiti as international aid, plummeting 14 per cent.To achieve growth and poverty reduction targets, partnership among the Government, international donors and the private sector is indispensable, Mr. Annabi told the Council in an open meeting. read more