Banyan Tree Choose Morocco For Their First Hotel in Mediterranean

London – Banyan Tree have chosen Tamouda Bay, an hour’s drive from Tangier, as the location for their first resort hotel in the Mediterranean and Africa, creating valuable jobs in the Moroccan tourism industry and attracting visitors to the region, thereby looking set to benefit the local economy.The resort, which is due to open September 1st, will comprise 92 luxury villas, some with direct access to the beach. Ranging in size from 200 to 423 square meters and each with their own secluded pool and garden, they will be the largest and possibly the most private villas in Morocco, according to the international operator which has a thirty year history of hospitality management.The property will include 8 spa treatment rooms, a hydro and vitality pool, hammam, yoga room, swimming pool and gym as well as a library, children’s club, ballroom and meeting facilities for up to 160 guests. Diners can eat in the privacy of their own villas, enjoying 24 hour service, or can choose from one of the resort’s four restaurants offering a range of Moroccan, Thai, Mediterranean and international cuisine.  Banyan Tree boasts a portfolio of more than 30 resorts and hotels, 70 spas, 90 retail galleries and 3 championship golf courses in 28 countries. read more

Maroc Telecom Awarded the IIA Certification for Internal Audits Activities

Rabat – Maroc Telecom received the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) certification for its internal auditing activities, awarded by the French Institute of Internal Audit and Control (IFACI), in accordance with the Professional Internal Audit Framework (RPAI) based on International Standards on Internal Auditing.Maroc Telecom is thus the first company listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange to obtain this certification, which attests that its internal audit activities meet strict criteria of independence and competence and contribute strongly to the continuous improvement of business processes.The IFACI certification ensures the telecommunications giant’s enforcement and compliance of the 25 requirements of the 2015 Internal Audit Professional Repository classified according to three levels: the resources available to Maroc Telecom’s Internal Audit (independence, objectivity, charter, ethics), the services it implements (risk-based audit plan, corporate governance, methodology and audit work) and the supervision and control of the audit (supervision, insurance program ND quality improvement). “This international recognition is a further guarantee of the professionalism of Maroc Telecom and reflects its stated willingness to align its audit and control activities with international standards,” the company said in a statement. read more

Young Moroccan Walid Ijassi Encourages Young Moroccan Entrepreneurs

Rabat – In 2016, the 19-year old Walid Ijassi of Rabat, Morocco won a global entrepreneurship competition. Now 20-year old Ijassi is encouraging the next generation of Moroccan entrepreneurs.The competition, the #AdamStart Entreprenurship Challange, is run by Adam Bradford, a 24-year-old businessman from the United Kingdom and supports young people looking to get their start-ups off the ground. The annual initiative is backed by the UK Secretary of State for Business and Energy Greg Clark, MP who explained in a press release, “this government believes that wherever you live and whatever your age, everyone deserves the chance to turn a great business idea in to a reality.”After winning the competition last year, Ijassi has been able to turn his idea into a successful reality. His business, POMM’it, turns waste from apples into agri-food and cosmetic projects. The business, which in addition to recycling apples, also provides employment opportunities for women is now spreading across the country. To celebrate Ijassi’s success, Bradford will visit Morocco later this month where he will present Ijassi with a prize during an event for business people.Ijassi, now 20, encourages other young Moroccans to apply and has called his experience with the competition as ‘life changing.’ He explained, “The competition has helped me gain more credibility and international media coverage and a unique opportunity to be mentored.”For other young Moroccans considering submitting an application, Ijassi shared some advice: “Before applying, make your idea/project well organized and make sure to underline the importance of your business to the world. Also make sure to define your action plan post-winning the competition and potential results following receiving the prize money. And even if only few hours are left for the deadline, APPLY!”The #AdamStart Entrepreneurship Challenge is open to young people aged 18-29. The deadline for submissions is July 31. read more

Baccalaureate Exam Cheating Down 60 Percent Over 2016 Education Ministry

Rabat – The rate of cheating in Morocco has dropped by 60 percent in 2017 the baccalaureate exams, according the Ministry of Education.This announcement came during a presentation by government spokesperson Mustapha Khalfi to the Government Council on Thursday.Khalfi pointed out that the baccalaureate examinations throughout Morocco were held in positive conditions and noted that the significant decline in cases of cheating among baccalaureate was due in part to a number of measures taken by the ministry. For this year’s exams, the Ministry of National Education adopted a number of procedures such as issuing a law against cheating, the commitment system that the examinees approve, cheating detecting devises, he explained. Khalfi added that these measures would be strengthened to overcome cheating in the coming year.The government official also stated that 295,145 public education students  sat for the baccalaureate exams this year, representing 91 percent of the total candidates.The remaining 9 percent of candidates (30,640) came from private institutions.The official also highlighted that the most significant development in this year’s examinations is that a group of  143 candidates coming from four disciplines in the professional sector sat for the baccalaureate exams.Also in this session, the number of examinees who are not committed to public or private programs reached 89,425 individuals. read more

Moroccan Miloud Guiderk Wins 2017 Arts Council Norway Honorary Award

Rabat – The Norwegian Arts Council has awarded its 2017 Prize of Honor to Miloud Guiderk, a Moroccan artist, for his significant contribution to Norwegian art and culture, reported Maghreb Arab Press (MAP). “Miloud Guiderk received the Honorary Award for his commitment and authentic work in the field as a concert organizer for more than 40 years,” the Arts Council of Norway said on its website.This NOK 600,000 prize has been awarded annually since 1968 to people residing in the Scandinavian kingdom. The winners receive the award for their contributions to the development of art and culture in Norway. “The contribution of Guiderk is a driving force that has deeply marked Norwegian cultural life,” said Tone Hanse, President of the Council. She continued that Guiderk is a pioneer in his field, adding that he “made great strides in this direction through his undeniable efforts.”Guiderk told MAP he was “surprised by the award”, which represents “recognition” of the efforts he has been making for many years in order to promote the development of art and culture. Guiderk was born in Casablanca in 1947 and worked as pantomime as a part-time job. The artist has been working as a concert organizer for more than 40 years. read more

Tunisian Authorities Rescue 9 Moroccans Off Southeast Coast

Rabat – Twenty-two immigrants, including nine Moroccans, were rescued off Zarzis, southeastern Tunisia, Tunisian authorities revealed on Thursday.According to a statement by the Tunisian Ministry of Defense, the migrants had left Libyan port of Boukamech to return to the Libyan coast.The migrants are from Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Niger, and Bangladesh, reported Maghreb Arab press (MAP). The rescued migrants were then handed over to Tunisian National Guards for the initiation of the necessary legal proceedings.1,652 people were arrested in the first eight months of 2017 for non-regulatory migration, the majority of whom are Tunisian nationals, according to a report conducted by the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights ( FTDES).In September, 1,400 undocumented migrants were able to reach the Italian coast, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the Mediterranean. The IOM’s report concludes that the number of irregular migrants arriving in Italy has increased over the past three years ago.The United Nations had reported the death of more than 5,000 migrants in 2016, who were trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, mostly from Libya.A large group of Moroccans, who attempted to reach Europe by crossing from the Libyan coast, have been stranded in Libya for more than six months. This group is facing different forms of torture, arbitrary detention, and even slavery, reported Moroccan media. read more

3 Moroccans Selected among Obama Foundations Young African Leaders

Rabat – Three Moroccans gathered in Johannesburg last week to begin the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a one-year leadership training program sponsored by the Obama Foundation to “inspire Africa’s future leaders.”This year, three Moroccans were part of the carefully selected group of 200 young leaders from 44 African nations: 27-year-old Zineb Lahbabi, 31-year-old Hayat Essakati, and 34-year-old Ayman Cherkaoui are all young entrepreneurs or activists fighting for “a better Morocco.”“My goal is to raise civic awareness. I am convinced that social justice and economic development have a lot to do with how our civic behaviors,” said Lahbabi. On July 13, President Obama took to his Facebook account, writing: “This week, I’m traveling to Africa for the first time since I left office…. In South Africa, the Obama Foundation will convene 200 extraordinary young leaders from across the continent and I’ll deliver a speech to mark the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.”‘A Master’s degree in just five days’“The program’s diversity is its primary richness,” Lahbabi, an activist and young leader, told Francophone outlet Telquel. Lahbabi extolled the program’s spirit, describing it as a platform that brings together bright youths who, despite their multiple backgrounds, are like-minded in their ambition to be drivers of change in their countries and communities.“The program focused on soft skills like leadership and storytelling, but it also entailed some more technical aspects like lobbying and public policies. I feel like I’ve just completed a Master’s degree in just five days.”Ayman Cherkaoui compared the program to spending a nice time in a “fabulous” holiday reserve in Greece. “I feel rejuvenated,” the 34-year-old said, speaking of the program’s training sessions as an energizing trip to re-engage with what inspired him in the first place.Inspiring line-up and speechesCherkaoui was especially grateful for the unique opportunity to meet some of the most recognizable names in African politics, including Sudanese- British businessman Mo Ibrahim, Ghanaian diplomat Kofi Annan, Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote (Africa’s richest man), and former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.In his Mandela lecture in Johannesburg on July 18, President Obama spoke about the inescapable necessity to commit to democracy, putting a special highlight on the rise of “strong men politics”—politicians who brazenly lie and undermine democratic institutions, he said. Later speaking to the Obama Leaders, as the YALI participants are called, President Obama urged them to be strategic in their thirst for change and to never give up on their aspiration to make an impact in their countries and in Africa as a whole. “Be bold, but be realistic,” he said.“It was a very powerful moment. He [Obama] gave us practical pieces of advice on the challenges that we will encounter. He gave us examples from his own political career and encouraged us to persevere in the pursuit of our missions,” said Lahbabi. read more

Londons Friendliest Bus Driver Ahmed Serhani Gets His Own Film

Rabat – Bus 214 through Camden town is known to Londoners as “the happy bus,” driven by Ahmed Serhani. Serhani, of Moroccan origin, is an inspiring person who brightens his passengers’ day with his ready smile and amiable attitude.Joe Bloom, a painter and filmmaker from London, encountered Serhani’s friendliness at work and started to film the way he exchanged greetings with passengers and easily interacted with them.Bloom, who knew Serhani since he was a young boy, decided to make a six-minute film of the bus driver. Bloom told British media: “I was studying at the Glasgow School of Art when I decided Ahmed would make a great subject for a film. I would get on the bus a lot and always chat with him.”“I’d known him since I was a boy, and when I left university I decided it was time to make him the subject of a film and celebrate the way he brings smiles to the faces of everyone he meets,” he stated.Read Also: Video of Bus Driver in Casablanca Holding Umbrella Goes ViralThe six-minute film is named “Ahmed Serhani, A portrait.” It will premier at the London Transport Museum in 2019.In the film, Serhani talks about how much he loves his job. Serhani has worked as a bus driver in London for twelve years. To him, the people who ride with him are not just “customers” or “passengers,” but are his friends and family because they are part of his everyday life.Life is not all “hunky-dory” for Serhani who, like everyone else, has problems to deal with. But Serhani says his philosophy of life starts with a “smile.” He said, “You have two options; smile and get on with your life, or cry. Whether you smile or cry, the problem is still there. So what option would I choose? Smile, of course.”Read Also: Scottish Woman Living in Imlil Delivers Touching Testimony about MoroccoWhen Bloom showed the film to Serhani’s family members who still live in Morocco, they were very proud of Ahmed.People who rode with Serhani posted comments on social media like: “He is the nicest person, every time I get on his bus, or see him in passing, I am greeted by his lovely smile; he really brings out the positive energy in everyone, so happy that Joe did this film.”Commenters also thanked Bloom for making the film: “Thank you so much for showing Ahmed the recognition he deserves. I’ve known him since I was little and our family has considered him a long time friend. He always made my day when I got on his bus.” read more

Most actively traded companies on the TSX

Some of the most active companies traded Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange:Toronto Stock Exchange (16,140.35, up 52.80 points).Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB). Health care. Up 91 cents, or 7.63 per cent, to $12.83 on 34.8 million shares.Crescent Point Energy Corp. (TSX:CPG). Energy. Down three cents, or 0.75 per cent, to $3.96 on 27.4 million shares.Alacer Gold Corp. (TSX:ASR). Mining. Down two cents, or 0.53 per cent, to $3.75 on 23.6 million shares.Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Industrials. Up a penny, or 0.35 per cent, to $2.86 on 16.8 million shares.Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) Mining. Down a penny, or 0.06 per cent, to $17.43 on 16.2 million shares.ARC Resources Ltd. (TSX:ARX). Energy. Up four cents, or 0.43 per cent, to $9.41 on 16.2 million shares.Companies reporting major news:Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO). Energy. Down 37 cents, or 1.01 per cent, to $36.39 on 2.4 million shares. The company says it has slowed the development of a $2.6-billion oilsands project because of uncertainty due to the Alberta government’s oil production curtailment program and other challenges. First production from the Aspen in-situ project had been expected in 2022 but will now likely be delayed by at least one year, Imperial said.Air Canada (TSX:AC). Transport. Down 23 cents, or 0.72 per cent, to $31.66 on 2.9 million shares. Canada’s largest airline says it is suspending its financial guidance for this year following the decision by regulators in Canada and the United States to ground the Boeing 737 Max aircraft until further notice. Air Canada said Friday that, “in light of the current uncertainty,” it is suspending the forecast it provided last month for its 2019 financial year.The Canadian Press read more

Hundreds of Sudanese flee to town in Central African Republic UN says

30 May 2007Some 1,500 Sudanese refugees have sought refuge in a single town in the Central African Republic (CAR), claiming that Sudanese Government forces and armed militias attacked their town two weeks ago, a United Nations spokesperson said today. Several UN agencies have just completed an assessment mission to the town of Sam Ouandja, in northeastern CAR, the spokesperson, Michele Montas, said today in New York. “The agencies say the number of refugees continues to grow,” Ms. Montas said. “The majority of them are women and children, who have travelled the 200 kilometres between the two towns on foot.”The World Food Programme (WFP) is providing a one-month initial food ration for the refugees who have already arrived in the town, and the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) along with he UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is providing non-food items, Ms. Montas added.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a news release saying the influx of refugees is ongoing. “We did not find evidence of the presence of armed elements in the group and the refugees assured the mission that everyone originates from DaFak in Sudan and no Chadian nationals among them,” said Bruno Geddo, Representative of UNHCR. “We will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure the civilian and humanitarian character of the operation,” he added.“Considering that the majority of the refugees appear to be women and children, WFP will provide emergency food assistance, while at the same time carry out an assessment of the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable individuals among the local population in Sam Ouandja,” said that agency’s Representative in CAR, Jean-Charles Dei.“Beyond the need for humanitarian assistance, the United Nations remains highly concerned about the protection of civilians and calls for the national authorities to continue to facilitate humanitarian access to displaced populations in need,” said Jean-Sébastien Munié, OCHA chief in the country.UN officials have frequently warned that the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region is threatening to engulf the CAR as well as Chad – a caution Mr. Munié repeated today. “The arrival of these refugees from Sudan is another evidence of the spill-over effect and the regional dimension of the conflict in Darfur,” he concluded. read more

Vowing support for Government new UN envoy arrives in Afghanistan

28 March 2008Pledging to boost assistance to the Government of Afghanistan, the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for the war-ravaged nation touched down in Kabul today. Pledging to boost assistance to the Government of Afghanistan, the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for the war-ravaged nation touched down in Kabul today.“I come to Afghanistan with the utmost respect for its people, religion and history and I am grateful for the support and confidence of President [Hamid] Karzai and the international community,” said Kai Eide, calling on the international community to rally behind efforts to rebuild the country.“Afghanistan has been calling for stronger coordination of international assistance – we need to better respond to this demand,” he noted, adding that the Security Council has recently sharpened UNAMA’s mandate.“In the past there has been much focus on the security situation,” Mr. Eide observed. “This needs to be balanced with the political dimension of our work to deliver much needed peace, stability and visible progress for all the peoples of Afghanistan.”The Special Representative will meet with President Karzai and other key Government and UN officials over the coming days before departing for an international meeting on Afghanistan in Bucharest, Romania, next week. read more

Counting of votes in Zimbabwean polls must be transparent says Ban Kimoon

1 April 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need for “the utmost transparency” during the counting and tabulation of votes from last weekend’s presidential and parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe. In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said he had been closely following the situation in the Southern African nation, where the results are still emerging after voters went to the polls on Saturday.“As the counting and tabulation of votes continues, he calls for continued calm and he urges the utmost transparency be exercised so that the people of Zimbabwe can have full confidence in the process,” the statement said.In the presidential poll, the incumbent Robert Mugabe is facing Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni. If a winning candidate does not receive more than 50 per cent of the total vote, then a run-off race is required. read more

UNbacked scheme seeks to insure poor farmers against extreme weather

17 November 2008A new United Nations-supported scheme seeks to provide financial support to poor rural farmers facing the impact of climate change and natural disasters. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have joined forces with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the $1 million initiative.“Poor people in rural areas are vulnerable to the harsh effects of natural hazards, such as drought and floods,” said Ulrich Hess, WFP’s Chief of Risk Reduction and Disaster Mitigation Policy, who is also the team leader of the project.“Weather index-based insurance can dramatically improve their ability to predict and cope with the impact of severe weather events exacerbated by climate change,” he added.Natural disasters and extreme weather events can perpetuate poverty cycles for poor farmers, while droughts and flooding can thwart development and drain countries’ financial resources.Three quarters of all of the world’s people living on less than $1 a day live in rural areas of developing countries. Most of them rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, but do not have the financial capacity to withstand natural hazards.The programme’s funds will be put towards assessing other insurance schemes and determining how to boost access to them.“Affordable insurance can help improve the livelihoods of poor, rural smallholders by enabling them to protect themselves and their financial security, in the event of a crisis,” said Kevin Cleaver, Assistant President of IFAD’s Programme Management Department.Insurance programmes have been successfully rolled out in countries including Ethiopia, Malawi, Nicaragua, Honduras and India. read more

Central African Republic refugees pouring into Chad in dire need of help

6 February 2009Thousands of refugees from the strife-torn Central African Republic (CAR) have flooded into south-eastern Chad, fleeing renewed violence between the Government and rebel militia, the United Nations refugee agency announced today. In the last few days alone, up to 5,000 refugees have sought safety in the remote Daha village area of Chad after fighting, which flared up in CAR towards the end of December, intensified earlier this week, bringing the total number of refugees stranded in the area to around 10,000. “Most of the new arrivals are women and children,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Ron Redmond.“Many are sheltered under trees in the open. Others have constructed flimsy shelters that offer very little protection from the weather,” Mr. Redmond told journalists at a briefing in Geneva.Local authorities have reported to UNHCR that food is scarce and medical supplies have run out as a result of the sudden influx of new refugees. Highlighting the refugees’ dire need for assistance, Mr. Redmond said that “medical supplies are urgently needed – especially to treat malaria. Refugees as well as the local population of Daha – about 4,000 people – have little access to clean water.”An emergency relief convoy of 11 trucks and five light vehicles from UNHCR, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the German Government is scheduled to leave Abéché – the agency’s operations hub in eastern Chad – on Friday on a three-day, 720 kilometre trip south to Daha.The trucks will ship food, medical supplies and basic assistance items, including 2,500 pieces of plastic sheeting, 3,000 kitchen sets, 3,000 jerry cans, 4,000 blankets, 4,500 mats and soap. WFP is providing 15-day food rations for the 10,000 people and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is dispatching 20 tons of essential supplies – including vaccines against measles – and will conduct a health/nutrition assessment. “The main problem remains the logistical challenges to reach the area. Roads are in very bad condition and will become impassable once the rainy season starts in two months,” said Mr. Redmond. “We are exploring the possibility of using an airstrip in Haraze Manguiegne, 120 kilometres from Daha.”Last month the Security Council approved the deployment of some 5,500 UN blue helmets to replace European troops in areas of Chad and CAR, and boost the UN mission there, known as MINURCAT.Eastern Chad faces an acute humanitarian challenge with over 290,000 Sudanese refugees from the Darfur war, more than 180,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and a further 700,000 individuals among host communities in need of food, water and health care. read more

Central African Republic UN outlines options to tackle security threats

The UN Mission in the CAR and Chad (MINURCAT) was set up by the Security Council in 2007 to help protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid to thousands of people uprooted due to insecurity in the two countries and neighbouring Sudan. The Council voted in May to end the mission by 31 December, after the Chadian Government requested the move and said it would assume full responsibility for protecting civilians on its territory. “An urgent solution will have to be found during the next two months to fill the security vacuum following the departure of MINURCAT from the north-east of the Central African Republic,” Youssef Mahmoud, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative and head of the Mission, told the Council today. Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on MINURCAT, Mr. Mahmoud noted that the threat to civilians, internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and humanitarian workers in north-eastern CAR remains real. “The lack of sustained progress in combating security threats in north-eastern CAR is mainly the result of the weak presence of its armed forces and the lack of logistical and other means for its operations,” he added. Mr. Ban said in his report that the overall security situation in north-eastern CAR continues to suffer from inter-ethnic conflict, banditry and cross-border criminal activity. He outlined two options on how to mitigate the impact of MINURCAT’s departure in the area. The first option provides for a UN peacekeeping force in north-eastern CAR which would deter insecurity in the area and provide security for humanitarian actors until the Government has developed adequate capacity. The second option focuses on strengthening efforts to build State capacities for ensuring security and the rule of law, coupled with immediate measures to strengthen the capabilities of the national armed forces (FACA) in the north-east. Based on his assessment of the situation and the position of the CAR Government, Mr. Ban believes the second option is the most appropriate course of action. On Chad, Mr. Mahmoud noted that the Government has spared no effort to gradually assume its responsibility for the protection of civilians since the Council voted to end MINURCAT. “When necessary, vigorous actions have been undertaken,” he stated, adding that the UN-trained Détachement intégré de sécurité (DIS) has made considerable progress alongside the other security forces in providing protection for humanitarian activities. He said the sustainability of the DIS will be a “long and painstaking” process which will require the full attention of the Government and its partners. In addition, he reported that the humanitarian situation in eastern Chad remained a concern. Some 70 international humanitarian organizations continued to provide aid to the 255,000 Sudanese refugees and 168,000 IDPs in the area, and 64,000 CAR refugees in south-eastern Chad. An estimated 150,000 members of the host population also receive humanitarian assistance. 10 August 2010The United Nations has proposed strengthening the capacities of the Central African Republic (CAR) to enable it to effectively tackle security and humanitarian challenges when the world body’s peacekeepers withdraw from the country at the end of this year. read more

Ban urges world to pull together through UN to reach great goals

23 September 2010The “great goals” of the world are within reach, but will only be achieved when the international community pulls together through the United Nations to secure a better future for everyone, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told dozens of world leaders gathered today at the annual opening of the General Assembly’s high-level meeting in New York. The “great goals” of the world are within reach, but will only be achieved when the international community pulls together through the United Nations to secure a better future for everyone, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told dozens of world leaders gathered today at the annual opening of the General Assembly’s high-level meeting in New York.Stressing the need for a principled and pragmatic stand “against forces that would divide us,” Mr. Ban told the 192-member Assembly’s General Debate at UN Headquarters it was time to translate promises into reality on issues ranging from eradicating poverty and tackling climate change to eliminating nuclear weapons and promoting the empowerment of women.“This is a season for pulling together, for consolidating progress, for putting our shoulder to the wheel and delivering results. Real results for people most in need, as only the UN can do.”He described the current era, beset by the recent financial and food crises and increasing political polarization, as “difficult times” in which the world is being tested to live up to its ideals.“The world still looks to the United Nations for moral and political leadership. The great goals are within reach. We can achieve them by looking forward, pulling together, uniting our strength as a community of nations in the name of the larger good.”Mr. Ban welcomed the results of this week’s UN summit on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the set of targets for defeating poverty, hunger, disease and other global ills, all by 2015.Yesterday he also launched a Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, with countries pledging around $40 billion to slash rates of maternal and child mortality, one of the key targets of the MDGs.Summit participants “agreed on a responsible and mutually accountable partnership – a partnership that will better the lives of billions of people within our generation. Our challenge is to deliver on this promise, to turn hopes into realities.”Mr. Ban cited climate change, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and gender equality as among the most important issues that the world must deal with.In a wide-ranging address he also outlined the UN’s ongoing efforts to resolve conflicts or reduce tensions in places such as Somalia, Sudan, the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East.In addition, the Secretary-General spoke of the UN role in humanitarian operations, whether in dealing with long-term problems or in response to major disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti or the floods in Pakistan. read more

UN envoy calls on Israel to preserve health of Palestinian detainee on

10 February 2012The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process today called on Israel to do everything in its power to preserve the health of a Palestinian detainee who is on a hunger strike and to resolve the case. Khader Adnan has been refusing food since 18 December in protest at his detention without charge, according to media reports. Early this month, a military court reportedly ordered that he be held in administrative detention for four months. Special Coordinator Robert Serry called on the Israeli Government “to do everything in its power to preserve the health of the prisoner and to resolve the case while abiding by all legal obligations under international law,” according to a statement issued by his office. During his recent visit to the region, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody with the Palestinian Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs.Mr. Serry’s office is following up on some of the issues related to the question of prisoners, particularly on the use of administrative detention.The statement noted that administrative detention “should only be employed in exceptional circumstances, for as short a period as possible, and without prejudice to the rights guaranteed to prisoners.” read more

UN rights expert urges Israel to release Palestinian detainee on hunger strike

21 February 2012An independent United Nations human rights expert today renewed his call on Israel to release a Palestinian prisoner who has been on a hunger strike for over two months to protest his detention and whose health is reported to be deteriorating. Khader Adnan has been refusing food since 18 December to protest his “humiliating” detention and treatment by Israeli security forces and his objection to Israel’s use of detention without charge, according to a news release issued by the UN human rights office in Geneva (OHCHR). “I am informed that Mr. Adnan’s health has already suffered irreparable damage, he is in jeopardy of dying at any moment,” said Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, after wrapping up a 10-day fact-finding mission to the region. “I reiterate my call on the Government of Israel to uphold Mr. Adnan’s rights, taking full account of the extreme urgency of the situation,” he added. The expert also stressed that “allegations of torture and other mistreatment should be promptly, independently and impartially investigated.” Torture and cruel and degrading treatment “is not only a grave violation of human rights and a war crime; it may also be subject to international criminal accountability, including through universal jurisdiction,” said Mr. Falk, who added that Mr. Adnan’s case is emblematic of the Israeli practice of detaining Palestinians without charges. “The Government of Israel calls this ‘administrative detention,’ but it is more honestly termed detention without charges, or arbitrary detention,” he said.During his recent visit to the region, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody when he met with the Palestinian Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs. According to information received by Mr. Falk, Israel currently has some 300 Palestinians detained without charges, and an estimated 4,400 Palestinian detainees in its prisons.Several experts on prison conditions that Mr. Falk consulted with raised concerns regarding physical, verbal and psychological abuse; lack of access to proper medical treatment; medical neglect; widespread use of solitary confinement for extended periods; overcrowding and decrepit cells; and the lack of family visits.“It is dismaying to note that these concerns have been raised for many years without producing reforms or well evidenced responses to the charges,” the expert stressed. “I will continue to investigate and report on the situation of Palestinian prisoners. And I would add that the violation of the rights of thousands of prisoners, Palestinian or otherwise, should be given the utmost priority by the international community.”During his visit, which included Egypt and Jordan, Mr. Falk was unable to travel to the Gaza Strip or to Israel. He was also unable to hear from Palestinian refugees elsewhere than Jordan, due to the prevailing situation in Syria and unwillingness of the Government of Lebanon to receive his mission.Mr. Falk, who reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity, will submit his full report on his mission to the region in June. read more

Aurizon Mines adopts poison pill to fend off hostile takeover by Alamos

VANCOUVER — The board of Aurizon Mines Ltd. has adopted a new shareholder rights plan, saying it wants to prevent Alamos Gold Inc. from using its voting power to defeat a better takeover offer from a rival company. Alamos already owns 16% of Aurizon and has offered to buy up the rest of its stock. Aurizon’s board is supporting a rival offer from Hecla Mining Co. and said Monday that its new rights plan will ensure all shareholders are treated equally. Comments by Alamos chief executive John McCluskey in a television interview on March 5 suggested his company is attempting to gather enough shares to block the Hecla bid, Aurizon said.Alamos has dropped a requirement that at least two-thirds of Aurizon’s shares be tendered to its offer and that could mean it will be able to torpedo any deal with less than a majority of Aurizon’s stock. A week ago, Hecla Mining announced a friendly takeover offer for Aurizon that was valued at $796-million, although only $513.6-million of that would be in cash. Aurizon CEO George Paspalas said the Hecla offer was better than the one from Alamos, both because there was more cash involved and because a combined Hecla-Aurizon would make more long-term sense. Hecla’s cash and stock offer, valued at $4.75 per Aurizon share, is 10 cents more than a hostile bid by Alamos Gold Inc. which was valued at $4.65 per share when it was announced. And the $513.6-million cash component is almost $210 million above the cap in the Alamos stock and cash bid. read more

Bell Media sells off Juicebox three Much specialty music services to Stingray

TORONTO — Bell Media is selling the Juicebox service for kids and three Much specialty music services to Stingray Digital Group.BCE Inc.’s media arm says the divestiture will allow it to focus on other services, including the coming launch of iHeartRadio in Canada.Financial terms of the deal with Montreal-based Stingray weren’t announced. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.Canadian entertainment and media sector in for a rough five years: PwCStingray Digital Group Inc plays to a bigger crowd with first acquisition since IPOStingray will rebrand the services, which are distributed through various TV distribution services from Bell, Rogers, Telus and others across Canada.Juiceboxtv.ca is a music video channel that promotes itself as a parent-approved place for kids.The other three services in the deal are MuchLoud, MuchRetro, and MuchVibe.Much hosted the iHeartRadio MMVA awards on Sunday. iHeartRadio, launched in the United States in 2011, has partnered with Bell Media to deliver digital content through a wide range of devices such as smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and automotive entertainment system. read more