UN agency calls for safety of Afghan hospitals and medical staff

“WHO would like to take this opportunity to call on all actors involved in the conflict to respect the neutrality of health facilities and health workers,” Peter Graaff, the Country Representative for the World Health Organization (WHO), told a news conference in Kabul. This year WHO is focusing on the safety of health facilities which are most needed during emergencies but too often become casualties themselves.The campaign – “Save lives, make hospitals safe in emergencies” – highlights the important work of health facilities and workers, and promotes the need to ensure their safety. It underscores the importance of investing in health infrastructure that is able to withstand natural hazards, conflicts or a deteriorating situation. Hospitals in Afghanistan are vulnerable due to the geographical situation of the country, which makes it prone to natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes, but also due to the ongoing conflict in the country. According to WHO, hospitals are among those buildings that have to survive during any natural disaster or conflict so that resulting casualties can be reduced. A poorly constructed hospital, which collapses during an earthquake because it was not built to the required specifications, increases the risk of death and injury. At today’s news conference held at the Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital, one of the oldest in the capital, WHO and the Afghan Ministry of Public Health stressed the importance of ensuring the safety and protection of hospitals and staff. “In recent years 50 health workers have lost their lives while providing services due to the conflict and 41 health workers were either killed or kidnapped,” said Dr. Nadira Hayat, Deputy Minister of Public Health. Mr. Graaff thanked all health workers, especially those living in remote and difficult circumstances, for their hard work and commitment to helping the Afghan people. 6 April 2009A senior United Nations health official today called for medical facilities and staff to be protected in Afghanistan, speaking on the eve of World Health Day, which this year focuses on ensuring the safety of hospitals. read more

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Ban urges Member States to rally behind Chilean quake relief efforts

10 March 2010United Nations Member States must play their part to help Chile rebuild after last month’s deadly earthquake and tsunami, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today as he announced he has tasked senior UN officials with ensuring coordinated support for the emergency and recovery phases in the wake of the disaster. Briefing an informal plenary meeting of the General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Ban noted that Chile had been extraordinarily generous in helping Haiti during its time of need when a catastrophic earthquake struck that Caribbean country in January.The Secretary-General said that now is the moment for the UN and the international community to stand with Chile and its people.Hundreds of people were killed and numerous buildings and roads were destroyed or damaged after one of the most powerful earthquakes in history, measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale, struck the South American country on 27 February. A subsequent tsunami inundated part of the coastline.Mr. Ban, who visited Chile last weekend to assess the situation first-hand, said today that as the magnitude of the devastation becomes clearer in the days and weeks ahead, the UN should be ready to increase its engagement with the Chilean Government to help with relief and reconstruction efforts where required.He said he has asked John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, to ensure there is coordinated support both in the emergency phase after the quake and in terms of longer-range disaster management.Mr. Ban has also tasked Helen Clark, the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), to work closely with the Chilean Government, the World Bank and others to launch a post-disaster needs assessment.Meanwhile, in an address yesterday to the McDonnell International Scholars Academy in New York, the Secretary-General said the recent experiences of Chile and Haiti demonstrated the worth of disaster risk reduction and national capacity. Far fewer lives were lost in the Chilean quake, even though the tremor was much stronger than the one in Haiti.He added that he hopes that the international outpouring of support for Haiti following its disaster will continue “long after the media focus shifts elsewhere – and in other places that don’t attract such attention.”In a related development, a UN expert panel in Geneva earlier this week stressed that the rights of the displaced must be “an essential component” of Haiti’s recovery and reconstruction processes.An estimated 1.9 million Haitians are internally displaced persons (IDPs), two months after the quake struck, and the panel said those people’s rights “should serve as benchmarks for all recovery efforts.”The panel included Walter Kälin, the Secretary-General’s Representative on the Human Rights of IDPs, and Michel Forst, the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti. read more

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UN partners with nonprofit group to provide computers to Palestinian children

Under the partnership, the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) charity will distribute XO laptop computers in schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the agency said today.“Core to our mission is providing the world’s most isolated and vulnerable children access to modern forms of education and the opportunities that follow,” said Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC chairman and founder. “The XO laptop has a special place in children’s education in regions that are disrupted by ongoing political unrest and violence. With the XO, the children can continue to stay connected and gain the skills and knowledge required to participate fully and thrive in the 21st century – even when getting to school is impossible,” he added.Today in the city of Rafah, about 30 kilometres south of Gaza City, officials from OLPC, UNRWA, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local dignitaries, parents, teachers and children celebrated the deployment of the first 2,100 laptops at the Rafah Co-Education Elementary School D. The project is also supported by the Jordanian Hashemite Charitable Organization (JHCO) and the office of President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian National Authority.“Our partnership with One Laptop per Child has much potential to help us improve the way we work,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi. “It combines so much of what I consider to be to important priorities for UNRWA: concrete partnerships, innovative technology and new educational initiatives, bringing hope and a belief in a peaceful future for the next generation of Palestinians,” he said.OLPC has worked closely with UNRWA on teacher training and the development of localized software and content for the computers. Some 200 teachers have already been trained and more than 150 electronic learning modules are being adapted for use on the XO. OLPC and UNRWA are also collaborating on electronic textbooks and workbooks for a primary school curriculum.UNRWA has been the main provider of basic education to Palestinian refugees for over six decades. The agency provides primary schooling free of charge for Palestinian refugee children in the occupied Palestinian territory (West Bank and Gaza), Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. 29 April 2010A non-profit organization that helps make computers available to children is partnering with the United Nations to provide laptops to nearly half a million refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory. read more

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Deadly E coli outbreak caused by rare strain of bacterium UN confirms

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that the E. coli infection that has claimed the lives of 17 people in Germany and made more than 1,800 others in Europe sick is a rare strain of the bacterium.“The strain of enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) isolated from cases in the EHEC infection outbreak in Germany is a rare one, seen in humans before but never in an EHEC outbreak,” WHO said in an update on the outbreak issued yesterday.The molecular and genetic features of the pathogen will help authorities to identify cases in other countries that could be associated with the outbreak in Germany and to pinpoint the source of the outbreak, the agency said.“While epidemiological and laboratory investigations continue, the source of the outbreak still remains unknown,” according to WHO.The agency said it was not making any new recommendations for treatment, stressing that normal hygiene measures should be observed, including hand washing after toilet use and before touching food.“Anyone who develops bloody diarrhoea and abdominal pain, and who has had contact recently with northern Germany, should seek medical advice urgently,” it added.As of yesterday, 520 cases of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), including 11 fatal ones, and 1,213 cases of enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), including six deaths, have been reported by Germany, taking the total number of cases in that country to 1,733, including 17 fatalities.Globally, 552 cases of HUS, 12 of them fatal, and 1271 cases of EHEC without HUS, including six deaths, have been officially reported as of yesterday, bringing the total number of cases outside Germany to 1,823, of which 18 have been fatal, including one in Sweden.EHEC is a severe strain of E. coli bacterium that is commonly found in the gut of animals, mainly ruminants. It produces toxins, known as Shigatoxins or verotoxins, which damage blood cells and the kidneys, according to WHO.Symptoms include abdominal cramps and diarrhoea, which may be bloody. Fever and vomiting may also occur.Most patients recover within 10 days, although in a few cases, especially among young children and the elderly, the infection may lead to a life-threatening disease, such as HUS, which can lead to acute kidney failure, haemolytic anaemia and low platelet count. 3 June 2011The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that the E. coli infection that has claimed the lives of 17 people in Germany and made more than 1,800 others in Europe sick is a rare strain of the bacterium. read more

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Closing Bell TSX up oil and gold rise after sharp losses

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed higher Thursday, led by advances in mining stocks that have sold off this week amid signs of slowing economic growth around the world.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 11,996.34 +49.05 0.41%S&P 500 — 1,541.61 -10.40 -0.67%Dow — 14,537.14 -81.45 -0.56%Nasdaq —  3,166.36 -38.31 -1.20%The S&P/TSX composite index gained 49.06 points to 11,996.34 after sinking to a five-month low Wednesday while the Canadian dollar gained 0.06 of a cent to 97.47 cents US.U.S. indexes were lower following sharp losses Wednesday as traders balanced a disappointing earnings report from investment bank Morgan Stanley, a positive read on the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week and a key manufacturing index that didn’t meet forecasts.The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits increased just 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 352,000. The slight gain kept applications at a level consistent with solid hiring and suggested that March’s sluggish hiring may have been temporary.But the Federal Reserve’s Philadelphia Fed index dropped to 1.3 in April from two in March. Economists had expected the manufacturing gauge to rise to four.The Dow Jones industrial average was 81.45 points lower at 14,537.14.The Nasdaq composite index fell 38.31 points to 3,166.36 and the S&P 500 index was down 10.4 points to 1,541.61, falling below its 50-day moving average of 1,543.Earnings at Morgan Stanley totalled $1.2 billion or 61 cents, down about 12% from a year earlier while revenue totalled $8.5 billion, down five% from a year earlier. Its shares were off 5.4% to US$20.31.It has been a very choppy week on the TSX, which sustained triple-digit slides Monday and Wednesday. Losses were led by steep drops in mining stocks as commodity prices retreated after the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for global growth to 3.3% this year from its forecast in January of 3.5%.The IMF data deepened pessimism about the strength of the global recovery as data released earlier in the week had shown growth in China slowing earlier this year and left the TSX down about 3.5% year to date.“I think the real challenge is that you see this ongoing rotation between sectors as people try to find some area that is going to do spectacularly well — but you’re in a two% global growth world,” said Norman Raschkowan, North American strategist at Mackenzie Investments.“So commodity prices aren’t going to go anywhere. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to collapse, it just means that you’re not going to get your earnings growth from commodity price increases and in the meantime, the problem many of the producers have is that their costs keep going up.”New York indexes have also had a volatile week and are off the highs of the year reached at the end of last week, when the Dow was up 13.43% year to date.Commodity prices were higher Thursday.The gold sector was the biggest advancer, up about 2.8% as the June contract gained $9.80 to US$1,392.50 an ounce. A rising U.S. dollar and the prospect of troubled eurozone countries selling off part of their gold reserves to tackle debt problems have sent gold to their lowest levels in over two years, with prices falling $140 on Monday alone.Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) gained 63 cents to C$28.58.Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) shares added 27 cents to $18.44 even after Moody’s Investors Service placed the miner under review for a potential ratings downgrade. The move came after a Chilean court last week ordered a halt to construction at Barrick’s $8 billion Pascua-Lama project due to environmental concerns. Barrick shares are down about 30% since April 5.Copper, viewed as an economic bellwether, continued to plumb 18-month lows because of falling demand prospects. On Thursday, the May copper contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange shed early losses to rise two cents to US$3.20 a pound. Copper has fallen about 12% year to date.The base metals sector was up 1.94% after steep losses on Monday and Wednesday. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) gave back 27 cents to C$25.15 while First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) gained 68 cents to $16.11.Oil prices have also lost ground this week following the Chinese and IMF data. But on Thursday, the May crude contract on the Nymex gained $1.05 to US$87.73 a barrel after touching a four-month low earlier in the morning, and the energy sector was up 1.18%. Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) advanced 35 cents to C$28.33.EnCana Corp. (TSX:ECA) ran up 59 cents to $19.48 as natural gas futures rose 19 cents, or 4.5%, to US$4.40 per 1,000 cubic feet as inventories grew less than expected last week. The last time natural gas hit that level was July 2011.Techs led TSX decliners Thursday with Celestica (TSX:CLS) down 13 cents to $7.90 while BlackBerry (TSX:BB) dropped 49 cents to $13.80.A technical problem that left some BlackBerry users unable to download content from its apps store has been fixed. BlackBerry says customers who were affected will gradually be able to regain access to the virtual storefront throughout the day. The company did not say how many BlackBerry users were affected by the short outage, which began Thursday morning.The TSX Venture Exchange added 9.34 points to 932.94.Here’s the news investors were watching today: Meltdown? 15% of world’s gold miners face collapse after plunge strips $169B off market valueCanada’s mortgage market headed for another 1990s downturn with growth to halve in 2 years: RBCWhy it’s a really good time to buy mining stocksCanadian deposits safe under bail-in, but no guarantee: CarneyON DECK FRIDAY ECONOMIC NEWSCANADAConsumer Price Index (March): Economists expect 0.3% rise from the month before, 1.1% year over year Wholesale Trade (Feb): Economists expect 0.3% rise CORPORATE NEWSUNITED STATESGeneral Electric Co Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 35¢ a share Honeywell Q1 earnings: Analysts expect US$1.14 Kimberly-Clark Q1 earnings: Analysts expect US$1.34 McDonald’s Corp Q1 earnings: Analysts expect US$1.27 Schlumberger Q1 earnings: Analysts expect US$1 read more

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TSX lower amid mixed earnings from banks Fed concerns

Canadian stocks were lower Thursday, pressured by the financial sector as the latest batch of earnings from Canada’s big banks disappointed, giving traders an excuse to take some more profits from a sector that has delivered sold returns all year.The S&P/TSX composite index fell 67.21 points to 13,237.71 with extra selling pressure coming from mining stocks amid falling commodity prices.The Canadian dollar was down 0.07 of a cent to 93.58 cents US.Toronto-Dominion Bank (TSX:TD) had $1.622 billion of net income in the fourth quarter, up from $1.597 billion a year ago. On an adjusted basis, TD earned $1.90 per share, up from $1.83 in the fourth quarter of 2012 but nine cents less than analysts had expected. TD also raised its dividend by a penny to 86 cents a share and a two-for-one stock split effective early next month. Its shares fell $1.80 to $99.95.Most of TD’s major units showed increases but net income from wholesale banking fell by 61 per cent to $122 million from a year earlier, due to lower security gains and higher non-interest expenses.Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY) had $2.119 billion of net income in its fiscal fourth quarter, an 11 per cent increase from last year. Adjusted diluted earnings per share was $1.42, four cents higher than analysts had forecast. Its dividend remains unchanged. But its shares fell 66 cents to $68.34 as Barclays analyst John Aiken pointed to both the wealth management and retail banking divisions as performing weaker than he expected.RBC also announced that Gordon Nixon intends to retire effective Aug. 1, 2014, after 13 years as president and chief executive.CIBC (TSX:CM) made $836 million in net income in its fiscal fourth quarter, down from $852 million in the same period last year. After adjusting for one-time items, earnings were $2.22 per share, seven cents ahead of estimates and up 8.8 per cent from a year ago. Revenue of $3.2 billion fell short of estimates of $3.26 billion and its shares slipped seven cents to $89.98. A dividend increase had been expected but its dividend was unchanged .U.S. indexes were lower on concerns about what the Federal Reserve will do with a key stimulus measure grew in the wake of more positive economic data.The Dow Jones industrials lost 22.03 points to 15,867.74 amid further positive news on the U.S. jobs front a day before the release of the government’s employment report. The Labor Department reported that applications for jobless benefits, which are a proxy for layoffs, dropped 23,000 last week to 296,000.Other data out Thursday morning showed that U.S. gross domestic product for the third quarter was revised upward to an annualized rate of 3.6 per cent from 2.8 per cent.The Nasdaq declined 1.84 points to 4,036.16 and the S&P 500 index was down 3.79 points to 1,789.02. Expectations for job creation in the government employment report moved higher after payroll firm ADP reported Wednesday that the private sector added 215,000 jobs last month. Prior to that report, markets had expected job creation of about 183,000.But while a stronger report would be welcomed as another sign of an improving economy, it would also raise concerns that the Federal Reserve is getting close to cutting back on its US$85 billion of monthly bond purchases, a program that has kept long term rates low and supported a strong equity market rally this year.On the TSX, the TSX financial sector was down 0.65 per cent. The component has been a drag this week as investors were also unimpressed with earnings from Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) and National Bank (TSX:NA). Still, the TSX financial sector started this week up more than 20 per cent year to date. Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) posts earnings on Friday. Its shares fell 76 cents to $62.94.The gold sector fell 2.2 per cent as December bullion fell $23.10 to US$1,224.10. Goldcorp (TSX:G) fell 63 cents to $22.30.Traders also looked to Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) a day after Peter Munk announced he will retire next year from the board of the world’s largest gold producer. Former Goldman Sachs executive John Thornton, who has shared the chairman’s duties with Munk since 2012, will be named chairman. Its shares fell 13 cents to $16.59. Munk’s departure is part of broad changes at the gold miner, including the hiring of a chief operating officer and the nomination of four new independent directors.Metals were lower as March copper declined three cents to US$3.22 a pound after the American jobs data, along strong housing and trade reports, helped push the metal up eight cents on Thursday. The base metals sector fell 0.9 per cent and HudBay Minerals gave back 14 cents to $7.70.The energy sector declined 0.3 per cent while the January crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 33 cents to US$97.53 a barrel. Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) gave back 38 cents to $36.72.In other earnings news, Dollarama Inc. (TSX:DOL) says its third-quarter overall sales increased by 14.2 per cent to $522.9 million while comparable-store sales were up 4.8 per cent. Net income was $61.7 million, up from $51.48 million a year earlier, while diluted earnings per share for the Montreal-based discount retail chain rose to 87 cents per share from 68 cents. Its stock fell $1.60 to $85.50. read more

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Four years ago OMERS bought Civica for 635 million today it sold

TORONTO — OMERS Private Equity has signed a deal to sell software company Civica to investment manager Partners Group for 1.055 billion pounds or roughly $1.72 billion.The private equity arm of Ontario pension fund acquired Civica in 2013 when it was valued at 390 million pounds, or about $635,000,000.Civica provides business software to both government organizations and the private sector in highly regulated sectors around the world.OMERS manages investments on behalf of 470,000 members from city governments, school boards, emergency services and local agencies across Ontario. read more

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Markets update at midafternoon

On the markets at midafternoon (ET):In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 87.72 points to 15,561.84.The Dow Jones industrial average was up 20.11 points to 22,304.43.The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 5.67 points to 2,502.51.The Nasdaq composite index was up 58.67 points to 6,438.83.The Canadian dollar was trading at 80.43 cents US, down from Tuesday’s average price of 80.84 cents US.

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ICE Futures Canada quotes and cash prices

WINNIPEG — Grain quotes Wednesday for tonnes, basis Lakehead:Canola (Vancouver): Open High Low Close TueNov. 493.00 494.00 492.00 493.40 493.10Jan. ’18 499.10 500.30 498.20 499.70 499.40March 504.60 506.10 503.90 505.20 505.00May 507.20 508.70 506.80 507.80 507.50July 508.20 509.70 508.00 508.80 508.20Nov. 490.50 490.50 484.30 485.80 485.10Jan. ’19 0.00 0.00 0.00 487.50 486.80March 0.00 0.00 0.00 490.20 489.50May 0.00 0.00 0.00 490.20 489.50July 0.00 0.00 0.00 490.20 489.50Nov. 0.00 0.00 0.00 490.20 489.50Barley (Western): Open High Low Close TueOct. 0.00 0.00 0.00 145.00 145.00Dec. 0.00 0.00 0.00 148.00 148.00March ’18 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00May 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00July 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00Oct. 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00Dec. 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00March ’19 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00May 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00July 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00Oct. 0.00 0.00 0.00 151.00 151.00ICE Futures Canada cash prices:Feed wheat: Track Montreal CW: $240.00Canola:Thunder Bay No. 1 Canada: $503.40 (November 2017)Vancouver No. 1 Canada: $518.40 (November 2017) read more

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Police insist no political pressure

The police have insisted that investigations into the Kahawatte double murder were not hampered by political influence or pressure.A statement from the police media unit said that there were statements made that the police had delayed arresting the main suspects in the case owing to political influence. The police noted that investigations cannot be completed overnight and that with the arrest of the suspects the police had recovered several items connected with the crime.“There is no truth in reports that the delay to arrest the suspects was as a result of political pressure,” the police statement said. A mother and her young daughter were found dead in their house at Kahawatte early last month and three suspects, including a woman, were taken into custody this week over the incident. The police statement said that the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) managed to conduct the investigations successfully despite allegations there was a delay to arrest the suspects. read more

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Former UK PM Blair begins visit to Sri Lanka

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Sri Lanka today on what was said to be a private visit.He was accompanied by his wife and children and was expected to travel around the country during his stay. Tony Blair served as Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from May 1997 to June 2007. He was also the leader of Britain’s Labour Party (1994 to 2007) and the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield, England (1983 to 2007). Tony Blair is also the founder of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. An opinion article appearing on the Foundation website last week said that the inaction of the previous government led to increased persecution of religious minority communities in Sri Lanka but the situation has improved since the January 2015 election. The article also says with former-President Mahinda Rajapaksa running for prime minister at the election next week there is a risk of an increase in religiously-divisive rhetoric, or worse, violence against religious minority communities by members and supporters of Buddhist nationalist groups, particularly Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and Sinhala Ravaya.The article said that should Rajapaksa become prime minister, the international community and advocates of religious freedom should be prepared to monitor his actions and policies. (Colombo Gazette) read more

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Defence Secretary briefs top HRW delegation

Ms Meenakshi Ganguly, Director South Asia and Ms Tejshree Thapa, Senior Researcher of HRW were also present at the meeting. (Colombo Gazette) Discussions were also held on activities of HRW including training programmes conducted in relation to International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and avenues for future cooperation. A delegation of Human Rights Watch (HRW) led by Asia Director Brad Adams met with the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Karunasena Hettiarachchi at the Ministry premises for talks.The HRW representatives exchanged views with the Secretary on issues related to the follow-up of the resolution adopted in the Human Rights Council on the Reconciliation and Accountability process in Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Defence said. read more

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Pune police deport Lankan with suspected LTTE links

Subbiah had allegedly tampered with the passport of one Marimuthu Raju, a resident of Alangottal in Tamil Nadu, and pasted his own photograph. He was detained by the Intelligence Bureau at the airport here on suspicion before he could board a Frankfurt-bound flight on September 1. A police team handed over Subbiah to immigration officials at the Sahar international airport in Mumbai on Thursday night. He was put on a Colombo-bound plane around 3.10am. The Pune police deported Sudhan Subbiah (37), a Sri Lankan national having LTTE links, the Times of India reported.Subbiah was picked up from Lohegaon airport on September 1 while he was trying to fly to Germany on a fake Indian passport. Subbiah was under the observation of the Airport police station after the foreigners registration office restricted him from leaving Pune. The Sri Lankan embassy in Mumbai confirmed that Subbiah was a resident of Tiruvelli East, near Jaffna, and issued ham a temporary passport as he had lost the original one in Tamil Nadu.A police officier said, “After completing Class XI at Songuda Hindu College in Jaffna in 2000, Subbiah completed an automobile mechanic course at Kokwil Technical College, Jaffna. He worked at an LTTE army unit camp and received arms training before leaving it in 2005.” The officer added, “Subbiah used to ferret out landmines and undertook house painting contracts before leaving for Dubai where he worked as a supermarket salesperson till 2014. He came to Chennai in June last year on a tourist visa and lived in Valasaravakkam. He began looking for opportunities in Europe and, finally, landed a job in Germany.”Subbiah was sent back as senior police officials decided not to register a complaint against him as he would end up staying in India for an indefinite period, the official added. read more

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Joint opposition party leaders and Maithripala hold talks

Joint opposition Parliamentarian Kumara Welgama said that President Maithripala Sirisena assured at the meeting he would consult the Attorney General and legal experts on measures which need to be taken to remove Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.The joint opposition had told the President they will support forming a UPFA Government if Wickremesinghe is removed. (Colombo Gazette) Joint opposition party leaders and President Maithripala Sirisena met for talks today.The talks took place at the President’s official residence. read more

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ONUR says Sri Lanka is still looking for answers after years of

While explaining the duties of ONUR, he pointed out that ONUR was set up with a mandate to achieve national unity and reconciliation as it was a key commitment of 2015 Presidential campaign. To give effect to this commitment, the Government of Sri Lanka established this organization. The Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) says Sri Lanka is still looking for answers, even after long years of conflict.The Director General of ONUR, M. S. Jayasinghe, speaking during the International Steering Committee of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflicts held in Colombo said that reconciliation is also a spiritual philosophy and in a society where spiritual values are not considered, it is even more challenging to achieve the targets set in this regard. “ONUR is responsible for formulation and coordinating the implementation of the policies and programmes to build national unity and reconciliation. ONUR’s principle role is to ensure a long-lasting peace through non-recurrence of the factors which lead to an armed conflict. We all have a role to play in ensuring the prevention of armed conflict at all levels. It is not something the Government alone can do.” he added.He also stated that “We in Sri Lanka are still looking for answers. Even after long years of conflict, where everyone in our country irrespective of race, religion, and language has suffered, and we, as a nation, have all suffered collectively. But, unfortunately, some in our country still refuse to look at what unites us as human beings and work together for our common good” He said that it is the responsibility of all stakeholders to commit themselves to fulfil their duty towards achieving this target. In conclusion, it was highlighted that ONUR has been working according to a roadmap on National Unity and a multi-pronged approach to achieving national unity is important in the Sri Lankan context. In this regard, the process of building National Unity and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka is connected to many aspects affecting lives of people, whether they are from the North, South, East or West of the country. (Colombo Gazette) read more

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Twentyfour Indians employed in Sri Lanka arrested

Investigations had revealed that the Indians did not have valid visas to be employed in Sri Lanka.The Indians were employed in a factory with another group of Indians but it was found that the 24 Indians did not have valid visas to be employed in Sri Lanka. Twenty-four Indians who were employed in Ingiriya have been arrested by customs officers.The Customs Department said that the Indians were arrested following a raid last evening. They were taken to the Mirihana immigration detention centre last night as further investigations continue. (Colombo Gazette)Report by Indika Sri Aravinda read more

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Temple Trees to run on generators during power crisis

Speaking at an event today, the Prime Minister requested state institutions to make maximum use of power generators till the crisis is resolved.He also said that a committee appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena to look into the power crisis will submit a report soon. Temple Trees will run on generators during the power crisis, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said today.He requested all state institutions not to be a burden on the national grid during the ongoing crisis. The Prime Minister said that the report by the committee will be presented to Parliament. (Colombo Gazette) read more

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Hamilton child molester pleads guilty

A Hamilton child molester returned to court today. John Adam Greene, 29, pleaded guilty to charges of attempted murder, child abduction and aggravated sexual assault. This is in a Hamilton incident from May where he took a young girl, sexually assaulted her then doused her in bleach. There were also charges of robbery and failing to comply. Greene was escorted by two police officers and wearing an orange jump suit; his hair, gelled and messy. He made contact with the young girl’s family and then sat down. The entire time it looked as if he was picking at his wrist trying to cut himself. The court officers were looking and ready to step in to the box where he was sitting in case he was going to be doing anything. The Crown attorney read the agreed statement of facts and leading up to the incident, John Greene told his girlfriend that he “had an itch to hurt people and thought about killing someone.”Now that Greene has pleaded guilty to five charges including attempted murder of this young girl, he will have a sentencing hearing on January 5th in Hamilton. The Crown says at that time they will formally apply to make him a dangerous offender as well. read more

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Texas petrochemical facility fire creates millions of waste

DEER PARK, Texas — The cleanup of millions of gallons of waste and polluted water is far from over four months after a large fire burned for days at a Houston-area petrochemical storage site.The Houston Chronicle reports that Intercontinental Terminals Company, the facility’s owner, must abide by a 31-page management plan that underscores how waste is sampled and identified, stored and discarded.The March 17 fire at the company’s Deer Park site, located southeast of Houston, triggered air quality warnings. More than 21 million gallons of potentially hazardous waste and contaminated water have since been collected from the tank farm and Houston Ship Channel.The Harris County District Attorney’s Office filed water pollution charges in April against Intercontinental Terminals Company, alleging the fire caused chemicals to flow into a nearby waterway.___Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.comThe Associated Press read more

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Business Highlights

___WeWork CEO stepping aside amid questions about companyNEW YORK (AP) — WeWork’s charismatic but controversial CEO is stepping aside from the communal office-space company he founded, another moment of reckoning between the fast-growing startup and its disenchanted investors. The New York-based company said Tuesday that Adam Neumann will be replaced by two co-CEOs: Artie Minson, formerly co-president and chief financial officer, and Sebastian Gunningham, formerly vice chairman. Neumann will remain on its board as non-executive chairman.___Google wins case over EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ rulesBRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s highest court has handed Google a major victory. It says that the EU’s “right to be forgotten” rules that allow people to control what comes up when their name is searched online do not apply outside the 28-nation bloc. People in Europe have had the right to ask Google and other search engines to delete links to outdated or embarrassing information about themselves, even if it is true.___US home prices rise at slowest pace in 7 yearsWASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices rose in July from a year earlier by the smallest amount in seven years, as modest sales are forcing sellers to keep costs in check. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index moved up 2% in July from a year ago, down from a 2.2% annual gain in June.___Volkswagen bosses charged in Germany over emissions scandalBERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors have dealt a blow to Volkswagen’s efforts to put the 2015 emissions-cheating case behind it. They have charged the automaker’s chief executive, chairman and former CEO with stock manipulation for not telling investors at the time that the scandal was about to break. The charges come as VW pushes ahead with its shift toward zero-emissions vehicles and a new, more environmentally friendly image.___Feds: Engineer manipulated diesel emissions at Fiat ChryslerDETROIT (AP) — An engineer has been charged with conspiracy and fraud in an alleged scheme to fool regulators about engine pollution from more than 100,000 Fiat Chrysler diesel vehicles. Emanuele Palma is due in a Detroit federal court Tuesday on a raft of charges. Palma, who was a manager until June 2016 at an engine company owned by Fiat Chrysler, is accused of manipulating emissions during government tests to make it appear that engines were producing less pollution than they were.___World postal union rejects Trump’s favoured reform planGENEVA (AP) — In a showdown at a Universal Postal Union meeting, countries rejected the Trump administration’s favoured approach to an international mail problem that is making the U.S. consider leaving the 145-year-old body. Trump trade envoy Peter Navarro appealed at an emergency meeting to urge other countries to support Washington’s reform push. But delegates voted to reject the option 78-57 with nine abstentions. The U.S. says countries like China are not paying enough to send packages to the U.S.___Stocks fall as Democrats turn up heat on TrumpNEW YORK (AP) — Stocks dropped on Wall Street Tuesday as House Democrats met to consider a potential impeachment probe of President Donald Trump and a report showed a drop in consumer confidence. After a higher open, stocks declined as the Conference Board, a business research group, reported its consumer confidence index fell to 125.1 in September from a revised reading of 134.2 in August. That’s worrisome because consumer spending has underpinned the economy during a slowdown in manufacturing.___US consumer confidence drops as economic uncertainties riseWASHINGTON (AP) — Consumer confidence fell sharply in September, a likely indication that growing economic uncertainties are taking a toll on American households. The Conference Board, a business research group, says its consumer confidence index fell to 125.1 in September from a revised August reading of 134.2. Consumers’ assessments of both current economic conditions and expectations for the next six months slipped.___Top UK court: Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was illegalLONDON (AP) — In a decision that badly undermines Boris Johnson’s authority, Britain’s Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that he broke the law by suspending Parliament. The court blamed Johnson for squelching legitimate scrutiny of his Brexit plan. The historic move by Britain’s highest court offered a ringing endorsement of Parliament’s sovereignty and slapped down what it viewed as Johnson’s attempt to use executive power to silence the legislature.___Investigator says FAA training inspectors weren’t qualifiedA federal investigator says safety inspectors who set pilot-training standards for the grounded Boeing Max weren’t qualified, and the FAA misled Congress about the matter. But the Federal Aviation Administration isn’t backing down; it says all inspectors who worked on evaluating the Max were fully qualified for the work they did.___The S&P 500 index fell 25.18 points, or 0.8%, to 2,966.60. The Dow slid 142.22 points, or 0.5%, to 26,807.77. The Nasdaq lost 118.84 points, or 1.5%, to 7,993.63. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 24.64 points, or 1.6%, to 1,533.61.The Associated Press read more

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