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Humanitarian crisis for Pakistans displaced far from over – UN official

The Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan for 2010, put together by the Government, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other aid actors, will enable continued assistance in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) for at least another six months. UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan Martin Mogwanja urged the international donor community “to keep up their invaluable contributions to enable the humanitarians to continue assisting the people in need in Pakistan.”A total of 3.1 million people from NWFP and FATA were displaced in 2009 due to Government operations against militants in these areas. The funds sought for the response plan just launched will not only response to the needs of the internally displaced persons (IDPs), but also support those who have returned to their places of origin, those who never left and the families who opened up their homes to host the displaced.“Considering that the number of IDPs from Orakzai Agency has risen nearly tenfold in the last two months, the emergency in Pakistan seems far from over,” said Mr. Mogwanja. In addition to providing relief to the IDPs, the main humanitarian activities in 2010 will include the distribution of food, the rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure and assistance to farmers who lost their crops due to hostilities and displacement. The largest share of the requested funds – $195 million – will be needed for food-related projects, since a large part of the affected population will continue to depend on food aid. Other priority areas include shelter and non-food items, health, water and sanitation, agriculture and the coordination and management of IDP camps, among others.As of 31 December 2009, last year’s $680 million appeal was 71 per cent funded. Those funds enabled the humanitarian community to reach more than four million people in need of assistance with vital relief including food and drinking water. 9 February 2010The top United Nations humanitarian official in Pakistan has called on the international community not to forget the vulnerable civilians displaced in the country’s northwest, urging donors to contribute to a $537 million appeal launched to meet immediate relief needs. read more

On final leg of Asia visit SecretaryGeneral Ban meets with Chinese leader

“They discussed a wide range of topics, including climate change, the Millennium Development Goals, the Korean Peninsula and Africa.” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, said at his daily briefing.Mr. Ban and President Hu also spoke about China’s involvement in global affairs, according to the spokesperson.“The Secretary-General noted that China could play a greater role in peacekeeping and in the search for political solutions to African crises, including in Somalia and Sudan,” Mr. Nesirky said.The Secretary-General arrived in Beijing after visits yesterday to Shanghai and Nanjing. In Shanghai, he delivered the closing speech at the Shanghai Expo, where he praised the city’s reputation as one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities and said that the Expo helped highlight China’s innovations in a number of important fields. In Nanjing, the Secretary-General received an honorary doctorate from one of the world’s oldest centres of leaning and delivered a speech to students at the university.China is the last leg of the Secretary-General’s four-nation Asian tour, which also included visits to Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam. 1 November 2010On the final leg of his Asia tour, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon arrived in Beijing today, meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao on a wide variety of topics of mutual interest. read more

Pickandpay TV model could end up meaning Canadians have less choice not

OTTAWA — Canadian TV subscribers may be rejoicing as they prepare for Tuesday’s launch of new, regulator-mandated basic cable and satellite packages.But a group that advocates for Canada’s broadcasters says consumers will ultimately see fewer channel choices.And Friends of Canadian Broadcasting says the vast majority of TV viewers will likely see their monthly bills increase under the so-called pick-and-pay system.Effective March 1, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is requiring TV service providers to offer customers a basic lineup of channels for no more than $25 per month.Customers can then top up their channels one at a time, or in small theme packs.Come Dec. 1, TV companies must offer both options.The so-called “skinny basic” packages must include at least 10 local or regional channels, as well as educational programming. But even that requirement will disappear once the full pick-and-pay regulation takes effect.Initially, some consumers who don’t watch a lot of TV will benefit, says Friends of Canadian Broadcasting spokesman Ian Morrison.But eventually, there will be less consumer choice because some channels that are no longer supported through subscription fees will go under, Morrison predicts.Will cheaper basic plans compel cord cutters to give old-fashioned TV another try?How Canadian TV producers fear pick-and-pay may actually hurt their chances for Mad Men-type hitsCheaper cable – but at what cost? More expensive Internet could be on the way for“The end result is that there will be fewer Canadian choices,” said Morrison.“You’re starting with choice in the sense of saving a few bucks on your cable/satellite bill, and ending up with fewer Canadian choices.”The bigger TV service providers — Bell, Rogers and Telus — were waiting until March 1 to officially unveil the channels included in their trimmed-down basic packages.But Shaw Cable, which dominates the TV market in Western Canada, and Quebec’s Videotron are already advertising their $25 basic packs on their websites.Shaw’s package, which it calls “Limited TV,” features 40 channels, including programming from U.S. networks, ABC, NBC, Fox and PBS. Videotron’s basic cable doesn’t offer the American channels.Market research conducted in late 2015 by media analysis consulting firm Nordicity found that only a small percentage of Canadian TV viewers would switch to a smaller basic service over the next few years, once given that choice, broadcast lawyer and consultant Peter Miller said in a recent interview.“Most Canadians will stick with their current packages because most Canadians do look at multiples of channels,” said Miller.“We estimate that by 2020, 15 per cent of Canadians would pick one of those smaller sets of (TV) packages with the small basic.”Nordicity also estimated that the average consumer would be willing to pay an additional $20 for discretionary channels — either individually or through add-on bundles — on top of the $25 maximum that can be charged for the smaller basic service.The CRTC said the move toward full pick-and-pay is focused on consumer choice, not on cost of service.“In a pick-and-pay environment, some channels may be more expensive on an individual basis because they will no longer be cross-subsidized with others in large packages,” the regulator said in a statement Monday.“So prices for certain channels may be higher than expected.”Cross-subsidization happens when service providers offset the costs of carrying more expensive channels with the lower costs of their less-expensive channels by offering them together as a bundle.Still, the regulator will be monitoring the new pricing models introduced by service providers to ensure consumers aren’t being gouged, CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais suggested in a speech last week to a Toronto business audience.“Cable and satellite companies should not view this change as an opportunity to replace business practices designed to maximize profits from captive customers with newer forms of anti-consumer behaviour,” said Blais.“Instead, I urge them to make the products they sell even better for Canadians, and put viewers — their customers — back in control of their televisions. This is their moment to shine.” read more

Walmart Canadas COO Lee Tappenden to take over as Canadian head in

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Walmart Canada says it will have a new CEO on Aug. 15, when Lee Tappenden is promoted to the role.Tappenden joined Walmart Canada in 2010 and has held several senior positions since then. He’s currently chief operations officer, a position that’s often seen as a prelude to becoming CEO.He will succeed Dirk Van den Berghe, who was appointed to the position in August 2014.CNW Group/Walmart Canada Walmart using customers as ‘leverage,’ Visa says as battle over credit card fees heats upWalmart Canada to name new CEO amid global management shakeupWalmart stores in Canada will no longer accept Visa because of ‘unacceptably high’ feesPrior to joining Walmart’s Canadian subsidiary, Tappenden held a number of global leadership roles including chief merchandising officer with Walmart Japan and vice-president of merchandising for the company’s international division.As head of Walmart Canada, Tappenden will report to the president and CEO of Walmart International, David Cheesewright.Bob Hakeem, Walmart Canada’s chief administrative officer, will become its chief operations officer. read more

Home Capital repays 2 billion line of credit from Berkshire Hathaway

TORONTO — Home Capital Group (TSX:HCG), the Toronto-based alternative mortgage lender that was on the verge of collapse earlier this year, says it has repaid a $2-billion line of credit from Berkshire Hathaway.The company was given the financial lifeline last month by Berkshire Hathaway, which is headed by Warren Buffett, as it was trying to regain investor confidence following a run on deposits from customers.When it provided the line of credit, Berkshire Hathaway also bought a $400 million stake in Home Capital.Home Capital says proceeds from asset sales helped it repay the line of credit, bringing down the amount of interest expenses it faces as it continues to strengthen its liquidity position.The lender, which provides mortgages to borrowers who don’t qualify for a loan from the big banks, faced allegations earlier this year from Ontario’s securities regulator that it misled investors in its handling of a scandal involving falsified loan applications.It has since settled that case and a separate class-action lawsuit filed by investors.The Canadian Press read more

Canada Mexico shrug off Trump threat to blow up NAFTA

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s sudden threat to blow up NAFTA less than a week into its renegotiation isn’t drawing much of a response from the other North American countries, which are downplaying his remarks.Canada and Mexico say it’s a predictable event in the course of a trade negotiation.“As we said last week, trade negotiations often have moments of heated rhetoric,” said Adam Austen, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. “Our priorities remain the same and we will continue to work hard to modernize NAFTA, supporting millions of middle class jobs. …“Canada’s economic ties with the United States are key to middle-class jobs and growth on both sides of the border. Nine million American jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada.”The Mexican foreign minister described it as an obvious leverage play: “No surprise: we’re in a negotiation,” Luis Videgaray tweeted in response to Trump. “Mexico will remain at the table with calmness, firmness and in the national interest.”This comes after the president told a partisan crowd at a rally that he doubts a deal is possible. Trump said he’ll try negotiating but will probably wind up killing NAFTA.“Personally, I don’t think we can make a deal,” Trump told a campaign-style rally in Arizona on Tuesday night. “Because we have been so badly taken advantage of. They have made such great deals — both of the countries, but in particular Mexico — that I don’t think we can make a deal.“So I think we’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point.”He repeated it: “I told you from the first day, we will renegotiate NAFTA or we will terminate NAFTA. I personally don’t think you can make a deal without termination, but we’ll see what happens. You’re in good hands, I can tell you.”The president’s threat itself is no surprise. A common topic of hallway chatter at last week’s first round of talks last week was just when he might deploy that withdrawal threat, which many view as his principal source of negotiating leverage.The only surprise is how quickly it came.While he’s made the threat numerous times, this is the first time he’s done it since Canada, the U.S. and Mexico began talks last week.Insiders say they expect him to keep making these threats.It’s his main source of power to force the other countries to reach an agreement. One well-connected Washington lobbyist at last week’s talks said he was convinced the threat was coming: “Almost 100 per cent.”Robert Holleyman, former deputy trade czar under Barack Obama, said it’s an obvious move and he thinks the president made it too early. In an interview several weeks ago, Holleyman said it was a serious tactical error when Trump made the threat in April.He said Canada and Mexico gained valuable insight that will render Trump’s threats less powerful at the negotiating table. In April, the U.S. Congress pushed back against him, the business community fumed and his own cabinet members pleaded against it.“It was, at a minimum, terrible timing,” said Holleyman.“You do that at the 11th hour in the negotiation — that episode in April underscored the complexity of ending NAFTA.”A president might withdraw the U.S. from the international agreement without the support of Congress, but he could not single-handedly wave away the U.S. law that implemented NAFTA.An international economic law professor and former State Department lawyer said he believes it would ultimately end up in court. And he said U.S. courts would ultimately conclude that the president can’t rip up NAFTA without congressional support.That’s because the president can’t just erase the 1994 NAFTA Implementation Act passed by Congress. In addition, the U.S. Constitution makes clear that Congress has power over international commerce.“If the president were to rip up NAFTA and then sort of jack tariffs way up, I think somebody would be able to come in and say … ‘You’re actually violating U.S. domestic law’,” said Tim Meyer, a Vanderbilt professor, former government lawyer and one-time clerk for Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump appointed to the Supreme Court.“I think courts are going to be sympathetic to the idea that the president can’t ignore the legislation that implements these trade agreements. Congress has not repealed that legislation and they’ve given no indication they intend to.”Several observers suggest a presidential attempt to withdraw could set up a legal and political tug of war with Congress over the setting of new tariff schedules — and that would foster economic uncertainty. read more

Government declares day of mourning

The Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana and Religious Affairs M.K.B. Dissanayake, said that on the instructions of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his Ministry has made all arrangements to hold the funeral of the Mahanayake Thero under State patronage. The government has declared Monday as a day of mourning following the demise of the Mahanayaka of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya the most Venerable Weweldeniye Medhalankara Thero.The Mahanayaka of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya passed away on Wednesday afternoon at the age of 103. The government information department said that all liquor shops will be closed on Monday during the day of morning as the funeral of the monk will take place on that day.

Gang threatens BBC team in Maharagama

Following the Bodu Bala Sena convention in Maharagama the BBC team had decided to make an ‘on location’ recording regarding the convention. A BBC team covering the Bodu Bala Sena convention in Maharagama this evening were threatened by a gang following the event.The BBC team, which included Colombo Correspondent Charles Haviland, were doing a video recording opposite the ‘No Limit’ store in Maharagama when the gang approached them. A police team had later arrived at the scene but the abuse continued even in front of the police.The policemen refused to allow the BBC team to leave and some of the gang members took photographs of the journalists. However subsequently a senior police officer arrived at the scene and ordered the police to allow the BBC team to leave.Meanwhile a reporter of the Nawamani newspaper was also abused by a gang and handed over to the Maharagama police.He was released after being detained for several hours. (Colombo Gazette) However the gang which approached them hurled abuse at them using foul language in Sinhalese and refused to let them leave. read more

Attempt to spread racial hatred using Jaffna clash condemned

The TNA appealed to all students not to permit any recurrence of such incidents or anything that will hinder genuine reconciliation amongst communities in our country. The clash occurred when a welcome ceremony was held for new entrants to the Jaffna university yesterday. The IUSF urged university students to join hands against racial disharmony and prevent politicians from gaining the upper hand from such incidents.Meanwhile, the Tamil National Alliance expressed it’s deep shock over Saturday’s clashes that took place at the University of Jaffna.“We regret that several students have sustained injuries and that the Sinhala students had to be evacuated from the University and Jaffna as a precautionary measure,” the TNA said in a statement. Some Tamil students had opposed the Kandyan dance being staged to welcome the students and this led to the clash.IUSF said that if clashes take place based on a race or religion it will prevent more important social issues from being addressed. An attempt being made to spread racial hatred using the clash at the Jaffna university yesterday has been condemned.The Inter University Student’s Federation (IUSF), while condemning the incident, raised concerns over attempts by some groups to make use of the incident to incite racial hatred. The clash involved a group of Sinhalese and Tamil students of the Science Faculty of the Jaffna University. “Whilst inviting the students who have been evacuated to return to Jaffna, we urge the other students who remain to welcome them and assure them of their safety as they resume their studies We call upon the students and the authorities to work together in creating the right conditions for students from different backgrounds to live and study together in the University of Jaffna in the future,” the TNA said in a statement. (Colombo Gazette) read more

India urged to pass resolution seeking probe on Sri Lanka Army

T.C. Mani, coordinator of the Kootamaippu, said the Sri Lankan Government had not taken any steps to punish its soldiers involved and added that the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has to set up an international tribunal to punish those soldiers who were involved in war crimes. A large number of people participated in a protest staged in Tamil Nadu on Sunday demanding that the Indian Government pass a resolution seeking to try the Sri Lankan Army in the International Criminal Court for war crimes against Sri Lankan Tamils, The Hindu newspaper reported.Volunteers of Eezha Tamizhar Vazhuvurimai Kootamaippu and several social organisations supporting the Sri Lankan Tamils participated. He said the Sri Lankan Government had been delaying the setting up of an internal tribunal to try the soldiers for war crimesSo the Indian government had to take a note from the Tamil Nadu government, which passed a resolution in the Assembly seeking an international probe, he added. (Colombo Gazette) read more

American Airlines extends Boeing plane flight cancellations

WASHINGTON — American Airlines says it will keep the Boeing 737 Max plane off its schedule until Nov. 3, which is two months longer than it had planned.In a statement Sunday, American says the action will result in the cancellation of about 115 flights per day. It says it “remains confident” that the Boeing plane will be recertified this year. But some airline executives are growing doubtful about that timetable.United Airlines announced Friday that it was extending its cancellations until Nov. 3, a month longer than it had planned.United has 14 Max jets while American has 24 of them. Southwest Airlines, which has 34 Max jets — more than any other carrier — is cancelling about 150 flights per day.The plane was grounded in March following two deadly crashes.The Associated Press

Berlin to tighten rules for electric scooter users

Berlin plans to stop electric scooters from being left haphazardly on sidewalks and other anti-social behaviour that’s drawn the ire of residents in the German capital since the vehicles were made legal two months ago.City transport officials said Wednesday after a meeting with scooter providers that they’ll designate special on-street parking zones for the battery-powered vehicles, which are popular among tourists and young people.Berlin police will also step up patrols to prevent illegal behaviour such as doubling.Police say seven people have been seriously injured and 27 suffered minor injuries in scooter accidents since mid-June, saying most were due to riders behaving carelessly.In Paris, where about 20,000 scooters roam the streets , authorities recently proposed limiting speeds to 8 kilometres per hour (5 mph) in areas with heavy foot traffic.The Associated Press read more

Markets Right Now Stocks rise modestly led by tech

NEW YORK — The latest on developments in financial markets (all times local):9:45 a.m.Stocks are modestly higher in early trading on Wall Street Friday, led by health care and technology companies.There was little corporate news moving markets. Many companies are finishing up their third quarters and will report earnings starting in the middle of October.Drug maker Pfizer gained 1.9% and Apple rose 0.5%.Among the laggards, Netflix fell 2.6% and Halliburton dropped 1.4%.The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 40 points, or 0.2%, to 27,135.The S&P 500 gained 7 points, or 0.2%, to 3,014 and is within 12 points of its all-time high. The Nasdaq rose 16 points, or 0.2%, to 8,198. The major indexes are little changed for the week so far.The yield on the 10-year Treasury was flat at 1.77%.The Associated Press read more

Scientists from UN health agency arrive to help Gabon fight latest Ebola

WHO has received reports of 10 deaths from the deadly virus among a total of 12 suspected cases, the agency said today, noting that like previous outbreaks, the cases have been confined to the northeastern region of the country. “WHO and its partners will work with the Gabonese authorities to contain the disease and to prevent any potential spread in local communities,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, Coordinator of Global Alert and Response at WHO headquarters in Geneva. “It is very important that there is an effective and coordinated international response to this outbreak.” Gabon’s first verified Ebola outbreak occurred in December 1994 in gold mining encampments, WHO said. Two other epidemics were confirmed in February 1996, when 13 people became ill after butchering a dead chimpanzee they had found, and later that year in October. read more

GuineaBissau Annan proposes extending mandate of UN peacebuilding support office

In a letter to the President of the Security Council released today, the Secretary-General says that President Kumba Yalá requested the extension, until 31 December 2003, of UNOGBIS to allow the Office to continue its activities, especially in support of economic reconstruction and growth.The letter also notes that UNOGBIS has continued to carry out its activities in support of the authorities’ peace-building efforts and has played a constructive role in helping the Government to meet its multiple challenges.”This extension will allow UNOGBIS, in close cooperation with other entities of the United Nations system, including the Bretton Woods institutions, to contribute further to the consolidation of the democratic gains in Guinea-Bissau, to help its people lay the foundations for durable peace and sustainable development and to strengthen the country’s friendly relations with its neighbours,” the Secretary-General writes.Last October, Mr. Annan had requested that the Security Council prolong the Office’s operations, which were due to expire on 31 December 2001, until the end of this year. read more

General Assembly calls for meeting to emphasize traffic safety

Noting that traffic accidents killed an estimated 1.26 million people worldwide in 2000, and “disproportionately affect people in low- and middle-income countries,” the 191-member Assembly said a meeting next April would “increase awareness of the magnitude of the road traffic injury problem at a high level.”The resolution passed today said the meeting would launch a World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention, currently being developed under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO).The resolution also asked the UN specialist to develop recommendations for traffic safety and requested Secretary-General Kofi Annan to submit a report in time for the 2005 General Assembly session.”Road traffic injuries are a preventable and treatable problem,” the Assembly said. read more

Annan welcomes coalition agreement on new Cambodian government

The accord between the Cambodian People’s Party and the United National Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC) was signed today in the capital Phnom Penh nearly a year after elections were held.”It is [Mr. Annan’s] sincere hope that the agreement will be quickly formalized by the appropriate organs, so that a new government will be established as soon as possible,” a statement issued by a UN spokesman said.