Indonesia owns majority control over Freeports mine

first_imgJAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia has finalized transfer of majority control over giant gold and copper mine from Freeport-McMoRan.President Joko Widodo on Friday announced the landmark deal worth $3.85 billion to take over a 51.2 per cent stake in PT Freeport Indonesia from the U.S. company has been completed by PT Inalum, a state-owned mining company.The two sides have been on a collision course since a presidential regulation in 2012 imposed a limit of 49 per cent on foreign ownership of companies issued new mining licenses. Foreign investors with ownership greater than 49 per cent were required to sell shares to state-owned enterprises or privately owned Indonesian companies.Freeport-McMoRan initially owns 90 per cent of the Grasberg mine since it began operating in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua in 1973. The rest is owned by the Indonesian government.The Associated Presslast_img

EC asks parties to desist from using photo of soldiers in campaign

first_imgNew Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) on Saturday asked political parties to desist from displaying photographs of defence personnel in their poll campaign in view of a picture on social media showing image of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in a political poster.In a letter to political parties written on Saturday, the EC referred to its December 2013 guidelines in which it had called upon all political parties to advise their candidates and leaders “to desist from displaying photographs of defence personnel or photographs of functions involving defence personnel in advertisements or as part of their election campaign”. Also Read – Squadrons which participated in Balakot air strike awarded citations on IAF Day”The commission reiterates the instructions for strict compliance,” the letter said.The 2013 letter referred to the defence ministry informing the poll panel about photographs of defence personnel being used by leaders and candidates of political parties and had sought instructions from the poll panel.The commission had said it was of the view that photographs of defence personnel and of functions of defence forces should not be associated with advertisement or campaigning by political parties.Wing Commander Varthaman had shot down a Pakistan Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft on February 27 during an aerial engagement with Pakistan Air Force but his plane too was hit and he landed in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. He was later released by Pakistan as a “peace gesture”.last_img

Arab summit to showcase unity against Trumps Israel policy

first_imgTunis: Leaders meeting in Tunisia for the annual Arab League summit on Sunday were united in their condemnation of Trump administration policies seen as unfairly biased toward Israel but divided on a host of other issues, including whether to readmit founding member Syria. This year’s summit comes against a backdrop of ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen, rival authorities in Libya and a lingering boycott of Qatar by four fellow League members. Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir skipped the meeting as they contend with mass protests against their long reigns. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USRepresentatives from the 22-member league minus Syria aim to jointly condemn President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israeli control over the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 war, and Trump’s decision last year to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. At the opening of the summit, King Salman said Saudi Arabia “absolutely rejects any measures undermining Syria’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights” and supports the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with east Jerusalem as its capital. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsHe added that Iran’s meddling was to blame for instability in the region. One of the few things that have united the Arab League over the last 50 years is the rejection of Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights as well as east Jerusalem and the West Bank, territories seized in the 1967 war that the Palestinians want for their future state. The international community, including the United States, largely shared that position until Trump upended decades of US policy by moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem last year and recognizing Israel’s 1981 annexation of the strategic Golan plateau earlier this month. The Arab leaders meeting in Tunisia are expected to issue a statement condemning those moves but are unlikely to take any further action. That’s in part because regional powerhouses Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have cultivated close ties with the Trump administration, viewing it as a key ally against their main rival, Iran. Both face Western pressure over their devastating three-year war with Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and Riyadh is still grappling with the fallout from the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents last year. Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said Saturday that Arab ministers had voiced support in a preparatory meeting for a declaration that Trump’s Golan move violates the UN Charter, which prohibits acquiring territories by force. In Syria, small protests against Trump’s Golan move were held in different parts of the country and state media criticized the Arab summit. “The Golan is not awaiting support from the Arabs, and not a statement to condemn what Trump has done,” the Thawra newspaper said in an editorial that accused Arab leaders of taking their orders from the US and Israel. The Arab League is expected to consider readmitting Syria, a founding member that was expelled in the early days of the 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad. But officials speaking ahead of the meeting said it was unlikely Syria would be welcomed back anytime soon. The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus last year, and other Arab states have expressed support for restoring relations. But Saudi Arabia and Qatar have actively supported the rebels trying to overthrow Assad, and many other states view his government as an Iranian proxy that should continue to be shunned. In a rare sign of easing tensions across another regional rift, King Salman and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani sat at the same sprawling table when the heads of delegations met Sunday. It was the first time the two leaders have appeared in the same room since Saudi Arabia led the boycott of Qatar nearly two years ago over Doha’s ties to Iran and its support for regional Islamist groups.last_img

Dimple to file nomination from Kannauj LS seat

first_imgKannauj (Uttar Pradesh): Samajwadi Party leader and parliamentarian Dimple Yadav will file her nomination on Saturday from here. She is seeking re-election from the Kannauj parliamentary seat and is the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party candidate. Samajwadi Party (SP) chief and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will be accompanying his wife Dimple Yadav, who was first elected from Kannauj in 2012 in the bypolls. The Yadav couple accompanied by politician-actress Jaya Bachchan has already left for Kannauj from Lucknow. They were headed down the Expressway, SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said. There will be a roadshow around after they reach the party office here ahead of the filing of nominations, he added. Polling for the Kannauj Lok Sabha seat will be held in the fourth phase on April 29.last_img

Political parties not interested in electoral reforms

first_imgHyderabad: Former Chief Election Commissioner T S Krishnamurthy expressed anguish on Tuesday that political parties were not evincing serious interest in taking up electoral reforms and claimed that they were “happy” with the status quo. On the ongoing Lok Sabha election campaign, he lamented that political parties have been indulging in “personal attacks” which could have been avoided. “But no party seems to give respect to that (the model code of conduct in force)”, Krishnamurthy, who oversaw the 2004 General Elections, Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra Singhsaid. “Unless there is some kind of respect for rule of law, we will have this kind of problems (like violations of model code and hate speeches), and I would say the need for electoral reforms is much more felt now than probably in the last elections,” he said. If political parties are serious about electoral reforms, they would have been listed in their manifesto, Krishnamurthy said. “They (political parties) are happy with the status quo”. Electoral reforms have been recommended by Law Commission, Election Commission, Goswami and Inderjit Gupta Committees, among others, but “they lie uncared,” he said. Political parties should take serious interest to take up electoral reforms in the long term interest of the country, he added. “Political parties should realise the need for urgent electoral reforms, particularly first-past-the-post system, criminals being prevented from contesting elections, separate law for political parties; all these are important. These are the things they should attend to,” Krishnamurthy said.last_img

Blazing sun fails to deter voters across Bengal

first_imgKolkata: A large number of people turned up at polling booths in all nine Parliamentary seats of Bengal, braving hot and humid conditions on Sunday, whereas two poll personnel fell ill due to excessive heat. The Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore had earlier predicted that the temperature would remain on the higher side on the day of the final phase of election. The mercury had started climbing from last Friday in the city. Along with the voters, the polling personnel also faced difficulties in conducting polls due to the high levels of humidity. The MeT office also said that the temperature may continue to go up in the city and some other South Bengal districts in the next couple of days. There is no prediction of rainfall at least in the next 24 hours, the weather office added. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaPeople were seen perspiring heavily while standing in queues outside various polling stations in Kolkata North and Kolkata South constituencies, during the afternoon hours. Many polling personnel had gone to the booths on Saturday, a day before the final phase of the polls, with ORS and other necessary items to fight the heat. Voters were found standing in queues outside polling booths with umbrellas to protect themselves from the blazing sun. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayMathurapur (SC) constituency recorded 78.52 percent polling till 5 pm, with 77.77 percent in Basirhat, 77.40 in Diamond Harbour, 75.81 in Joynagar, 74.41 in Barasat, 73.05 in Dum Dum, 70.97 in Jadavpur, 67.09 in Kolkata South and 61.18 in Kolkata North. Polling was conducted till 6 pm and latest data regarding the final poll percentage is yet to be compiled. The overall percentage of votes in the nine constituencies remained at 72.91 percent till 5 pm, which is expected to go up after the final tally.last_img

Morocco Postpones Hearing of Moroccan ExGuantanamo Prisoner

Rabat – A Moroccan court has decided to postpone the hearing of a Moroccan who spent over 13 years in Guantanamo.  The court of Rabat has postponed the hearing until November 4, 2015 to determine whether to free Younis Abdurrahman Chekkouri, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who was released and sent back to Morocco.After he was held without charge on the U.S. base in Cuba for more than 13 years, the Moroccan prisoner was released and sent back to his homeland, but he is currently detained in Sale prison, near Rabat, awaiting his release.According to the Associated Press, British human rights group Reprieve, which has provided legal assistance to him, said that the hearing was postponed because of “the need for more information about a letter from the U.S. Justice Department letter about any alleged involvement with a group known as Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group.” The Moroccan detainee has been detained in Morocco “based on the now-revoked U.S. allegations,” of involvement with the group, Reprieve said in a statement.In a letter sent on October 20 to Reprieve, the U.S Justice Department decided to drop almost every allegation it had originally made against Younous Chekkouri, for various reasons. It  “ultimately took no position on whether Mr. Chekkouri was affiliated with the GICM.”In the letter, the US Department of State concedes that several years ago the U.S “withdrew all reliance” on “all evidence identifying Chekkouri with the group known as Group Islamique Combatant Maroc, GICM.”

Donald Trump On Orlando Shooting I Called It And Asked For

By Tatiana FlowersRabat – While dozens of bodies were removed from Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last night, presidential candidate, Donald Trump seized the opportunity to gain political leverage in the race to The White House by posting on Twitter, “I called it.”His response to what is now the deadliest mass shooting in America has sparked outrage among many social media users and his need reinforce a ban on all Muslims after such a tragic event has led to a trail of arguments on his Twitter page.  To date, the shooter, Omar Mateen, has claimed allegiance to the Islamic State.  No definite proof of his involvement has been confirmed. Just after the shooting yesterday that left 50 dead and 53 injured, Donald Trump posted on Twitter, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness and vigilance.”Immediately, other social media users bashed him, calling him “inhumane,” “insensitive,” a “bigot,” and a “butt-plug.” One user wrote, “Imagine him as president giving a speech at a press conference today.”  Another said, “You’re the only person in America who would or could “appreciate the congrats” while families mourn 50 dead,”’ and singer, John Legend commented, “Trump is a truly awful person.”This afternoon, Trump is scheduled for an interview with Good Morning America, where he will further comment on the shooting.“What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning.  Our leadership is weak and ineffective.  I called it and asked for the ban,” Trump said.Last night, Omar Mateen’s identity was released.  Many republicans say Democrats are wrong; gun control is not the issue, “Islam is.”  Trump posted, “Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism? If he doesn’t he should immediately resign in disgrace,” which was then retweeted by his son, Donald Trump Jr.More radical opinions suggest containment — like a ban on all Muslims — won’t work either. Instead, a more drastic approach is necessary. “This containment garbage is getting people killed. You don’t contain evil.  You destroy it or it destroys you,” Bill O’Reilly of Fox News wrote.But amid all the crime and hatred, those who have lost loved ones are mourning.“Please let’s just all get along,” cried Christine Leinonen, the mother of Chris Leinon who was killed last night at Pulse. “We’re on this Earth for such a short time.”

Marrakech 2 Years in Prison For 11YearOld Girls Rapist

Casablanca — A 40-year-old man accused of raping an 11-year-old girl multiple times was just sentenced by a Marrakech court to two years in prison. The little girl, reports the Moroccan daily Al Akhbar, was the man’s wife’s little sister, who was forced to go live with them after her parents were killed in a tragic car accident only 8 months prior.According to the same source, the man was arrested after the girl’s teachers alerted authorities, who found out that it wasn’t the man’s first run in with the justice system for a sexual violence related crime. The man would have reportedly been assaulting the girl since the night of her parents’ accident, reports Al Massae, and threatened to hurt her if she ever said anything.Many have took to their keyboards to call out the court’s decision to sentence the Marrakech man to a mere two years. On a Le360 Facebook post about the case, one commenter wrote: “Only TWO YEARS for a recidivist who assaulted a little 11-YEAR-OLD girl…do our judges not have kids…?”Another discussed the message this kind of sentencing sends to the community, saying, “And this is why Morocco is full of pedophiles who think they can do anything. What a shame. Our justice is shameful.”Sexual violence has long been a problem in Morocco, but the issue has especially come to light in recent years after multiple cases of rape called attention to Article 475 of Morocco’s penal code. Though the law, which allowed rapists to marry their victim in order to escape prison, has since been amended, the country still has a long way to go in terms of standing up for victims of sexual violence.

Juventus Names Moroccan Player Mehdi Benatia Best Player of November

Rabat – The Italian football team Juventus has named Moroccan football star Mehdi Benatia as its player of the month of November.The title recognizes the footballer’s great performances with his Italian team in their most decisive games, including those against Spanish rival FC Barcelona and the Italian team Crotone.Benatia is also the captain of Moroccan national football squad, wit whom he delivered great performances during the World Cup qualifier games. The 30-year-old footballer scored a magnificent winning goal against Cote d’Ivoire on November 11 in the last qualifier game in Abidjan. The game finished with 2-0 victory for the Moroccan team, who thus booked a place for the 2018 World Cup second round that will take place in Russia next summer.International football bodies have commented on the footballer’s professional football skills, including FIFA.Highlighting the footballer’s strength, FIFA said in its statement welcoming Morocco back to the World Cup that “in captain Mehdi Benatia, a powerful and composed center-half, Morocco possesses one of the best defenders in Africa.”

Airbnb names Fred Reid head of transportation

SAN FRANCISCO — Home-sharing company Airbnb has hired veteran aviation executive Fred Reid to explore future partnerships with airlines and other providers.Reid has served as the founding CEO of Virgin America, president of Delta Airlines and president and chief operating officer of Lufthansa. Most recently he was president of Kitty Hawk’s Cora program, which is developing autonomous, electric “air taxis.”Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky says the company doesn’t want to start its own airline or sell tickets. It wants to partner with providers who make travel easier and more fun.The hire is part of Airbnb’s goal of becoming an end-to-end platform that gets people to its properties and helps them plan what to do when they arrive.Airbnb is preparing for an initial public offering as early as this year.The Associated Press

Boycott Has Damaging Consequences for Company and Morocco Centrale Danone DG

Rabat – The General Director of Centrale Danone, Didier Lamblin, has opened up about the consequences of the boycott campaign and the company’s decision to reduce milk orders from Moroccan farmers by 30 percent.“It makes me sad because the situation has damaging consequences for the company and the country,” said the chief executive of the company in an interview with Media24.He added that the company “spared no efforts” to reconcile with customers during the holy month of Ramadan. “Despite the efforts…attacks continue against the quality of our products after all the accusations.” On Monday, Centrale Danone informed its farm partners that they would be purchasing 30 percent less milk due to the consequences of the boycott that has been ongoing for five weeks.Recalling the Centrale Danone letter addressed to the Moroccan farmers on Monday, Lamblin said that company has not “given up” on any of the partners.“We have continued to collect all the milk produced and we pay the same price as before,” he added.An  ‘untenable situation’The director general of the company confessed that Centrale Danone has failed at all attempted to keep its level of purchase the same. Lamblin said that the company first attempted to use unsold milk products to produce other dairy products, including milk powder and butter.“However, we had an alert in the company, Saturday, May 26, that it has become untenable and that we had to reduce the order.”Defending his company, Lamblin said that Centrale Danone had been planning several projects to serve the interests of small farmers during the early days of the boycott.“I was announcing wonderful things at the Agricultural Show [in Meknes] to help 20,000 of our small products double their income.”He also pledged other projects in concert with the government to “revive the consumption of fresh dairy products.”‘We cannot share numbers’When asked about the reasons behind the estimated 30-percent reduction in volume, Lamblin refused to share data with the news source, emphasizing that the information might be announced officially later.However, the chief executive of Centrale Danone did not deny that the impact of the boycott is “very significant” and has led to the adoption of several measures, including stopping all donations to foundations and the freezing investment and recruitment.In addition to the reduction of milk orders, Centrale Danone has also terminated all temporary contracts of less than six months “to cope with the numerous shutdowns of production lines and the reorganization of our truck tours.”‘People don’t know what the boycott is about’According to Lamblin, some people are supporting the boycott campaign without knowing what is it about.“What concerns us is when we ask people who boycott why they do so, many say they do not know and they are just supporting the boycott.”Lamblin claimed that Centrale Danone is a “collateral victim of the boycott,” adding that the company has been present for decades in Morocco. He also denied that the company increased prices five years ago “despite difficulties.”Despite the resistance of the boycott, Centrale Danone has refused to meet the demands of consumers and lower its prices. Instead, the company will reduce the milk orders from Moroccan farmers.“There was no attempt to reduce anything or change prices during my time at the head of Centrale Danone,” he said.Moral boycott for Centrale Danone?According to Lamblin, Centrale Danone should make more work to show consumers what the company has done for the country. He further explained that the company understands that boycotters want changes to their  prices and ways of communication, adding that the company “should be more humble and show consumers all the good initiatives Centrale Danone has been taking.”The ongoing boycott, which started on April 20, targets also Sidi Ali mineral water and Afriquia gasoline.

Discover Tangier A CrossCultural Nexus

By Alexandra GrittaRabat- Tangier, nestled in the Strait of Gibraltar, is nicknamed the “Gateway to Africa” for its proximity to Europe. The city is a popular destination for cruise ships and is foremost a port city. It is connected to 174 ports from 74 countries on 5 different continents.One of Tangier’s appeals is that there are ferry rides from Morocco to Spain. In fact, you can see the edge of Spain from Tangier’s Cape Spartel, a promontory (and popular viewing point) located 300 meters above sea level. Tangier experienced a period of relative touristic obscurity after World War II compared to other areas of Morocco, but has been drawing more and more tourism. The increase is partly due to the appeal of its primary attraction—the Caves of Hercules, situated just 14 kilometers west of the city. King Mohammed VI has also been personally promoting the region as a tourist destination.Tangier has undergone increasing modernization, including the construction of the business district “Tangier City Center” and a new football stadium. In August, it will also host Brave 14, the first global mixed martial arts (MMA) event ever to take place in Africa and the final Spanish Super Cup football match.A new luxury port has been built adjoining the ancient medina (old city), which has also recently been restored. The port is an area more wealthy visitors can dock their boats at while touring the Mediterranean Sea. Additionally, palm trees have been planted in many of Tangier’s main streets in an attempt to decorate the city.Over the years, the city has been a link between various cultures. In the past, Tangier was both an Amazigh (Berber) town and a Phoenician trading center. It also passed through the hands of the Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, and the Umayyad Empire. A Carthaginian Empire settlement dating back to the 5th century B.C. called “Tingis” by the Greeks inspired Tangier’s current name.As of 1923, colonial powers considered Tangier a city of “international status” and it became a landing for diplomats, businessmen, and spies. It was also a mecca for gamblers and an “El Dorado” for the upper class. Essentially, Tangier was not under the jurisdiction of Morocco for a long period of time. From 1923-1928 it was deemed a “neutral demilitarized zone” under the joint administration of Spain, France, and the United Kingdom. Beginning in 1928, it also was administered by Portugal, Italy, and Belgium, and in 1929, the Netherlands joined on. The United States followed during World War II, using Tangier as its operation base for its Office of Strategic Services.As of 1956, Tangier was reintegrated into Morocco. Due to its complex administrative history, it became well-known for being a hub of cultural and religious diversity. According to popular legend, the demigod Hercules founded Tangier. Amazigh mythology suggests it was founded by Surfax, a different hero from Amazigh and Greek mythology.Things to do in Tangier:Caves of Hercules. This is Tangier’s main attraction. Legend has it that Hercules spent the night in a grotto in Tangier before embarking on his 11th out of 12 labors. He was charged to steal the golden apples of the Hesperides sisters, said to grant immortal life.The main cave has two entrances: one that faces the sea and one that opens toward land and is accessible to visitors. The cave gets its fame from its seaward-facing entrance, which is shaped like the continent of Africa and known as “The Map of Africa.”The site holds both mythological and archaeological importance. It is part natural formation and part man-made. The cave was originally much smaller, but the Amazigh people carved stone wheels out of the walls for millstone construction, considerably expanding the site, and the Phoenicians carved eye-shaped patterns into the walls.Before the site became a popular tourist attraction, it was used as a brothel in the 1900s.Admission to the cave is free and there is a snack shop as well as a cafe which overlook the sea. Visitors can also follow a set of stairs that lead down to a quaint beach. There is also a second, smaller cavern before the main entrance where visitors can pay a small MAD 5 fee to enter and take photos of the Greek-style decorations. A photo op with a parrot is available for an additional price, and guides charge MAD 5.Cape Spartel. This is a vantage point with a lighthouse located 300 meters above sea level. It is a great spot to take scenic photos and admire the Strait of Gibraltar. On clearer days, the edge of Spain, only 14.5 kilometers away, can be seen across the water.The “Battle of Cape Spartel” between the British and joint French and Spanish fleets took place in 1782, 29 kilometers off the coast of Cape Spartel. The battle was part of the American Revolutionary War, and the results were inconclusive.Church of Saint Andrew. Some tourists may appreciate a visit to the modest but historic Saint Andrew Anglican church. The church still read more

Moroccos PPS Demands Public Apology for Shaming Belgian Volunteers

Rabat – A leftwing Moroccan political party, the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS), has issued a statement requesting a public apology for what it sees as the indignity and unfair criticism that a group of young Belgian volunteers recently faced from conservative circles in Morocco.News went viral earlier this week of a group of young girls from Belgium doing volunteer work paving a road in a village in the province of Taroudant, in southern Morocco.In a region deemed conservative, the girls’ attire sparked controversy. Footage that circulated online showed the young girls in shorts and t-shirts as they put cement on a street. Many conservative Moroccans felt offended by the girls’ choice of attire , saying it was inappropriate and offensive.In the girls’ defense, PPS says that the criticism the group faced was unfair and unworthy of Morocco’s democratic aspirations. According to the Moroccan party, the North African country has seen enough progress and political reforms in the past years for people to dress as they see fit.“In addition to harming our country’s reputation and the progress we have made in terms of individual freedoms, peaceful coexistence, and openness, these kinds of declarations constitute a deliberate incitation to extremism and the rejection of the other,” PPS’ statement said of the tide of criticism the girls encountered.For the leftist party, Morocco has chosen to project itself as an anchor of individual liberties and a safe place for diversity. While conservatives should be entitled to their way of life or life choices, the country’s recent reforms and aspirations to consolidate its democracy required them to respect others’ choices as well, according to PPS.The statement also pointed out that the type of judgment and public shaming the young Belgian volunteers experienced may discourage similar volunteering initiatives.The outsized condemnation of the girls’ attire and attitude is an indirect attack on the values and cultures of where they came from, PPS suggested.This, the statement went on to add, may sabotage Morocco’s thriving tourism industry as well as the country’s reputation for facilitating cultural exchanges and building social bridges. “The people who made those comments should take them back and publicly apologize,” PPS concluded.While PPS is perhaps the first major organized body to rise to the girls’ defense in an official statement amid tense controversy, the party’s points had already been raised by many Moroccans who have denounced the extremist rhetoric that some of the girls’ critics used.A member of Morocco’s ruling Islamist party faced backlash for appearing to use religious language to jibe at the girls and question the sincerity of their volunteering. But more telling was the reaction to the comments of a 26-year old school teacher who called for beheading the girls.Like PPS, many Moroccans warned that such extremist comments could harm Morocco’s reputation for openness, tolerance, and hospitality, and therefore scare off prospective European or Western travelers.

UNICEF says children nearly taken out of Chad are in good health

30 October 2007Following the attempt by a French non-governmental organization (NGO) to fly them out of Chad, the 103 children held in an orphanage appear to be in good health and are doing fairly well, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported today. Following the attempt by a French non-governmental organization (NGO) to fly them out of Chad, the 103 children held in an orphanage appear to be in good health and are doing fairly well, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported today.The agency has supplied food and games for the children, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe said in New York. UNICEF has also dispatched 10 staff members – including the Head of the Child Protection Unit – to Abeche where the children are and is training 40 staff members to care for the children.Investigators are currently trying to determine where these children are from and whether they have living relatives. UNICEF emphasizes that all process involving the movement of children should be transparent, and that proper investigations should always take place to locate their relatives and to determine available options, such as children remaining with their parents, extended family or appropriate caregivers.According to media reports, nine French aid workers with the organization Zoe’s Ark will be charged with abduction and fraud by Chadian authorities.

General Assembly President notes progress in debate on UN management reform

In his closing remarks to the debate, Mr. Kerim said the dialogue over the past two days showed that both individual Member States and the UN Secretariat were willing to engage constructively to produce management reform.“There were several interesting discussions on specific issues and a number of proposals were made by both Member States and representatives from the Secretariat,” he said. “In particular, I would like to highlight the emphasis during the debate on the need for greater transparency and enhanced accountability as a means to promote trust and greater credibility.”Mr. Kerim, who convened the debate, noted that it was “only through further open and transparent dialogue [that] we will be able to improve our understanding of the different concerns held by delegations and move ahead in our collective responsibility to improve the capacity of the Organization to implement our decisions.”He added that he was “encouraged by the expressions of renewed commitment to achieving concrete progress in the near future on the priority areas of management reform.”During the debate yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the UN’s 192 Member States to support proposals to further strengthen the world body, especially in the areas of procurement, accountability and human resources.Mr. Ban said the UN was being called on, as never before, to do much more with fewer and fewer resources.“The only way we can embrace that future and do our good works in the world is to make ourselves more modern, more flexible and more efficient. In a word, to be better managed,” he said. 9 April 2008United Nations Member States are heading towards a common understanding of what path to take on management reform of the world body, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim said today after the Assembly wrapped up its first-ever thematic debate of the issue.

UN human rights chief welcomes United States court ruling on Guantánamo Bay

12 June 2008The United Nations human rights chief has welcomed today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court that the country’s constitution extends to foreigners being held in Guantánamo Bay and that they have the right to challenge their detention in the civilian court system. Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement that the detainees – some of whom have been detained for up to six years – have the right to a “prompt review” of the reasons for their detention.“The Supreme Court has sent a vitally important message that the protections afforded by fundamental human rights guarantees extend to these individuals and that effective remedies must be available to them,” she said after the announcement of a ruling in the case, known as Boumediene v. Bush.Ms. Arbour added that she welcomed the recognition by the court “that security and liberty are not trade-offs, but can be reconciled through the framework of the law, and that it is the courts that apply that law. This has long been the hallmark of American constitutionalism.”The High Commissioner had submitted an amicus curiae – or “friend of the court” – brief to the Supreme Court as part of the case, arguing as a matter of constitutional law for the same conclusion that the court reached today.After the ruling she said she hoped that, “now that these legal issues have been clearly and definitively settled, the civilian courts will be able to move promptly to assess the situation of individual detainees.”

Shutdown looms for UN air service for aid workers in West Africa

2 September 2008The future of the United Nations air service that helps relief workers to deliver life-saving supplies and assistance to hundreds of thousands of West Africans is in jeopardy because of a funding shortfall of more than $5 million, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported today. The future of the United Nations air service that helps relief workers to deliver life-saving supplies and assistance to hundreds of thousands of West Africans is in jeopardy because of a funding shortfall of more than $5 million, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported today.“As well as providing transport for aid workers, the humanitarian air service is also crucial for medical and security evacuations,” said Thomas Yanga, WFP’s Regional Director in West Africa.“A disruption of these operations in West Africa will have serious consequences for the people in need of assistance, and also for the security of our staff.”The rising cost of fuel, on top of limited contributions, has grounded some flights of the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in some countries.One plane has already suspended flights while another will fly on a limited schedule in the Central African Republic (CAR), where WFP is helping 300,000 people. The service – which needs $3 months to stay airborne for the next six months – may be forced to suspend operations this month.During the rainy season, UNHAS is often the only means of transporting aid workers, as roads are impassable and many parts of the country are cut off from Bangui, the capital.UNHAS for the West African coastal region, helping people in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, is also facing shutdown, with a $2.5 million funding shortfall needing to be filled if it is to continue its services until the end of the year.In June, WFP said it would have to scale back the operations of UNHAS in Sudan due to lack of funds, curtailing the ability of 14,000 aid workers to travel to Darfur and other parts of the strife-torn nation.

Kosovo should become UN Member State – Albanian President

In an address to the debate, Mr. Topi said any political, economic, military or diplomatic effort against Kosovo’s consolidation as a State “would be a hopeless attempt against the integrating processes towards NATO and the European Union.“It would be a regressive move against foreign investments and progress which we need so direly,” he added.Mr. Topi said “this new political, economical and social reality” that is Kosovo is an irreversible development, adding that formal recognition of it as a State “is to the interest of Kosovo, of Albania, of Serbia and of all its close and distant neighbours, of Europe and Mediterranean space.”He said the independence move would help with efforts in the region to promote the rule of law, encourage long-term peace and stability and spur closer integration with the rest of Europe.“The independence of Kosovo finally frees this part of Europe from the nightmare of war, of inter-ethnic conflicts, of ethnic cleansing and genocide; it fulfils and respects the free will of a people to break free from the political oppression, from historical injustices and inability to develop.”The President noted that Albania was helping the people and government of Kosovo – where ethnic Albanians outnumber other groups by nine to one – to build a society that is genuinely democratic, secular and multi-ethnic.He added that he was confident that the precise role of the UN peacekeeping mission to Kosovo, known as UNMIK, would soon be reconfigured to take account of the changed circumstances. 24 September 2008Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia earlier this year, deserves to be a United Nations Member State as soon as possible, Albanian President Bamir Topi told the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate tonight.

UN workers in Somalia released just hours after abduction

16 March 2009The four United Nations staff members who were abducted earlier today by unknown armed men in south central Somalia have now been released, the world body has confirmed. They were all released safely to UN security today at 22:10, local time, a UN spokesperson said.After they were released, the UN confirmed that the staff members are Ali Dekow of Somalia and Marc Andre Post of France, both of whom work for the World Food Programme (WFP), as well as UN Volunteer Paul Bampo of Ghana and Miragha Babayev of Azerbaijan, who both work with the UN Development Programme (UNDP).“The United Nations is very grateful for the efforts and intervention of the local authorities who used their influence and reach to ensure our dedicated staff was cared for and ultimately released safely and quickly,” stated UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Bowden.“This is an important affirmation that the UN presence and its activities in the surrounding areas is accepted and protected by the local communities and leaders,” he added.The staff members were on their way to the airport when their convoy was stopped by gunmen, according to a statement issued by the Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.No violence or shooting was reported to have occurred during the abduction, which took place in Waajid in south central Somalia. “The quick and positive resolution of this incident will ensure the aid operation can go on unhindered,” stated Mr. Bowden. “Waajid has been a longstanding and important aid hub serving relief activities in Somalia.” Somalia, which has not had a functioning national government since 1991, has been plagued by fighting and humanitarian suffering for decades. Continuing instability, coupled with drought, high food prices and the collapse of the local currency have only worsened the dire humanitarian situation in recent months.The UN estimates that some 3.2 million people, or 40 per cent of the population, are in need of assistance. At the same time, there have been several encouraging developments in recent weeks for the country, including the election of a new President and the creation of an enlarged Parliament.