BJP pledges to legislate bill to prohibit and eliminate triple talaq, nikah halala

first_imgNew Delhi: The BJP on Monday pledged to legislate a bill to prohibit and eliminate practices like triple talaq and nikah halala and promised in its manifesto to give 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament and state assemblies through a constitutional amendment.Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday released the manifesto, titled ‘Sankalpit Bharat, Sashakt Bharat’ (Determined India, Empowered India), in the presence of BJP chief Amit Shah and other top leaders, including Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. In the manifesto, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) asserted it has determinedly taken substantive measures to ensure overall development of women and promote gender equality. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM'”Continuing our work, we will legislate a bill to prohibit and eliminate practices such as triple talaq and nikah halala,” the party said in the manifesto. The Narendra Modi government had introduced a bill to make practice of instant triple talaq by Muslim men a criminal offence. It, however, was not passed in Parliament due to stiff resistance by the Opposition. In the manifesto, the saffron party said that welfare and development of women will be accorded a high priority at all levels within the government. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K”The BJP is committed to 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament and state assemblies through a constitutional amendment,” it said. The party said it was committed to the empowerment and “development with dignity” of all minorities. The BJP is often accused by its critics of neglecting interests of minorities. The party said it was committed to bring transgender persons to the mainstream through adequate socio-economic and policy initiatives. “We will ensure self-employment and skill development avenues for transgender youth,” it said. For elderly, the BJP promised to strengthen the ‘Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana’ that would ensure that poor senior citizens in need of aid and assistive devices receive them in a timely manner. “To take forward the gains achieved under Sugamya Bharat, we will put in place a system of continuous accessibility audits and ratings for cities and public infrastructure, including airports, railway stations and public transport systems, to ensure that they are fully accessible, with collaboration with industry and civil society organisations,” the party said. It also promised to prioritise Divyang beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.last_img read more

Major fire at Delhi showroom, no injuries reported

first_imgNew Delhi: A major fire broke out early on Friday in a showroom in Delhi, a fire department officer said. The blaze was reported at around 2.50 a.m. in a showroom in Uttam Nagar. Some 25 fire tenders were rushed to the spot. “The fire was doused completely by 7.25 a.m. No casualty was reported . Cooling operation is underway,” the officer said. A short circuit is being suspected to be the cause, he added.last_img

Towards constructive targets

first_imgThe university recently declared a war on black carbon through a decision to ban fuel-burning vehicles in the campus. The decision has gone down well with most university staff and students. But some have started citing ridiculous reasons for removing the ban. Late on Wednesday evening, a friend from Kashmir University (KU) sent me some photos which he had taken near the university’s iconic Iqbal Library. He wanted to show me how serene the KU campus looks these days without cars honking and whizzing around — and parked on roadsides in the campus following a recent decision by the KU administration to keep the campus free of diesel and petrol-propelled vehicles. Also Read – Hijacking Bapu’s legacyThe photos looked soothing to the eyes and depicted an atmosphere of picture-perfect peace and tranquility, with students and academics walking in little groups of three, four or more in the campus. After all, when it comes to natural beauty and the charms of a university campus, KU can arguably take the crown, at least in South Asia. But oddly enough, some elements in the university , many of whom are academics, have started building pressure on the administration to remove this ban which aimed to make the campus healthier. For example, one staff member has raised questions about health emergencies, inter-departmental visits and offering prayers at the iconic Hazratbal shrine. All of these reasons do not hold water, considering that the university already has some electric cars and plans to buy more electric cars and e-rickshaws as part of its green mission even though the entire campus is just 1.06 square kilometres in area with a pretty good tree cover and comforting and restful gardens like Naseem Bagh. The Hazratbal shrine is just outside the main gate of the university. Also Read – The future is here!The ban was initially implemented for five days and was continued later as demanded by KUTA (Kashmir University Teachers Association). The association, as mentioned in the communication among KUTA members cited above, is in touch with the administration for making some more alternative arrangements in view of the continuation of the ban. Shakil Romshoo, who heads the Earth Sciences Department and is a strong proponent of the ban, wrote in response to the same post: “The movement and number of vehicles had increased a lot within the campus; and in absence of the regulation, it was going to get worse in future. All of us are enjoying the serene ambience of the campus since the ban was implemented. We need to be patient and support the initiative keeping in view the tremendous benefits of a vehicle-free campus.” He also cited the parking mess in front of each of the departments in support of his argument. Why KU needs to set an example In Kashmir, the government is struggling to cope with the proliferation of vehicles, for which lack of viable public transport is partly responsible. But in recent years, a growing middle-class has resulted in more vehicles on the roads. Thus, the number of vehicles has sharply increased. Bumper-to-bumper traffic on Srinagar’s roads are a common sight, especially in summers. The number of vehicles on the roads has doubled from over 7 lakh in 2010 to over 14 lakh (14, 881,90) in March 2017, as per the J&K Transport Commissioner’s office, foregrounding the need for better public transport. Widening of roads for accommodating additional vehicles and addressing traffic jams is the most common solution, which seems obvious to many people and policy-makers. But there is a fundamental problem with this idea as it involves more concretisation of land at the cost of the green area. Plus, many experts have argued that the widening of roads never addresses the problem as it encourages people to drive more miles and thus bring more cars on the roads. KU’s decision to ban vehicles inside the campus can set an example about why people should not become dependent on personal cars. The government can also take a leaf from KU’s decision and can improve public transport besides buying more electric buses in addition of the four buses it has got last month. The growing pollution in Srinagar is also a big concern and increasing traffic is one of the contributors to it. Romshoo, who was part of a study on growing pollution in Srinagar city, said that air quality of the Kashmir valley deteriorates significantly during autumn, with the level of PM2.5 touching 350 μg/m3 against the national permissible limit of 60 μg/m3. Romshoo said that vehicular traffic and biomass burning (burning of leaves and twigs for making charcoal) is also the main source of black carbon, which, he said, causes rapid melting of glaciers. “Average Black Carbon at Srinagar is the highest among all the observed high-altitude Himalayan sites,” he said while quoting from the study. Also, two years ago, the state government placed a ban on the burning of leaves iby ssuing circulars to various departments for its strict implementation. “With the onset of autumn, thick plumes of smoke rise up in different parts of the valley because of the open burning of abscised leaves, willow and poplar twigs releasing large amounts of air-borne particles (PM 2.5 and PM 10 which are particulate matter less than 2.5 microns and 10 microns) which include fine bits of dust, soot, harmful particles and toxic gases aggravating air pollution,” read the government order issued from the chief minister’s office. But this ban is affecting only the poor people who rely on burning of leaves and twigs for their livelihood. Why shouldn’t the middle class share the responsibility? KU has done well to bring the middle class under the polluters’ bracket! (Athar Parvaiz is an award-winning journalist based in Srinagar. He has extensively written on environment and climate change in recent years. Views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

Morocco’s big energy projects attract giant companies

first_imgRabat- Amid the political turmoil that engulfs Northern Africa and the reion’s shadowy prospects for investments, Morocco has established itself as an attractive destination for international oil and gas companies that are targeting the next Eldorado of fossil fuels.The unstable situation in North Africa and the potentials of big discoveries of oil and gas deposits have put Morocco on the energy map. Numerous giants in the sector have rushed in to acquire permits to explore Morocco’s onshore and offshore potentials. Chevron, BP, Cairn Energy, in addition to other smaller corporations out of a total of 29 firms operating in Morocco have all expressed interest in getting their share of the promising energy pie. In spite of talking basically about potentials and nothing tangible so far, the operating firms remain highly optimistic about the future of Morocco as an underexplored region. According to Reuters, discoveries off Brazil’s coastline have raised hopes that similar hydrocarbon formations lie unexploited off the African coast.“If we were not optimistic, we wouldn’t be here. There is prospectivity,” Mahdi Sajjad, Gulfsands Petroleum CEO told Morocco World News. “Morocco does present an opportunity that has to be explored; it has potential, that’s why we’ve decided to come,” he saidoOn the sidelines of a conference on investment opportunities in gas and oil in Morocco, held on Wednesday in CasabalancaAs a net energy importer, Morocco spends around MAD 100 billion to meet growing domestic energy needs. To alleviate the pressure resulting from the expensive bills, a strategy has been established aiming at diversifying Morocco’s energy sources by means of focusing on renewable energies: solar, wind and hydropower.Morocco, however, seems to be putting its fingers in too many pies, juggling at once two major projects: oil/gas and the renewable energies. “There is no collision at all between renewable energies and fossil fuels, they should complement each other and make energy affordable,” added Sajjad.last_img read more

Jose Morinho Says He Will Not Leave Chelsea

Rabat – FC Chelsea manager, Jose Morinho, denied reports that his days at Stamford Bridge are numbered, saying he has no intention to quit the club under ‘any circumstance’ despite what he describes as the worst start a team of his has ever had to a season.Despite his club’s stuttering beginning of the Premier League – one win in four matches -, Morniho is adamnt he is in for long haul at Stamford Bridge, according to the Daily Star.“I don’t want to leave the club, in any circumstances. And the club doesn’t want me to leave, ” Morinho said. “The club is not going to sack me. Full stop.”Multiple British media reports claimed that Morinho’s relationship with Chelsea’s hierarchy has deteriorated after the coach’s row with medical staff and his dissatisfaction with Chelsea board’s efforts during the summer transfer window.British media even speculated that the Blues boss could repeat his 2007 departure from Chelsea after a disagreement with the Stamford Bridge hierarchy.Meanwhile, Morniho put an end to these speculations, emphasizing that this time around things are different than in 2007.“Why is it different from 2007? Do people think, if myself and Mr. Abramovich collided, I would be back three years later?,” Morinho said.“Just because I left it does not mean we collided. Right now we have one problem. We are not getting the results we expect to get.”“I have never had a start like this – four matches and just four points. I’m not happy – and I’m happy that I’m not happy,” Morinho concluded. read more

Morocco Officially Elected to Host 2018 African Nations Championship

Rabat – The African Football Federation (CAF) has officially chosen Morocco as host of the upcoming African Nations Championship (CHAN), scheduled to take place from January 12 to February 4, 2018.  Morocco submitted its candidacy to host the continental tournament on September 30 a week after the CAF stripped Kenya of the right to host the competition due to a lack of infrastructure.Following the decision of the African football body, Morocco, Ethiopia and Equatorial Guinea submitted their bids to host the tournament. Ethiopia eventually withdrew its candidacy. Prior to the announcement of the CAF decision, Morocco appeared the most favorite candidate to host the competition. Morocco chose four stadiums to host the tournament: Agadir’s Adrar stadium, Tangier’s Ibn Battouta stadium, Casablanca’s Mohammed V stadium, and Marrakech’s grand stadium.The CHAN brings together 16 national teams made up of players selected in their respective national championships. read more

UAE firm says it bought 3 tons of Venezuela gold

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An investment firm in Abu Dhabi says it has bought some 3 tons of gold from Venezuela amid that country’s political turmoil.Abu Dhabi’s Noor Capital posted a statement on its website early Saturday acknowledging the purchase after being called out in a tweet Thursday by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida.Noor Capital said it “does not engage in any illegal or prohibited transactions,” saying its Jan. 21 purchase was handled “per international standards and laws in place as of that date.”It added: “Until the situation in Venezuela stabilizes, Noor Capital will refrain from any further transactions.”The United Arab Emirates is a strong ally of the U.S., but has faced increasing criticism from American lawmakers over its conduct in the war in Yemen.The Associated Press read more

‘Michael Jackson was supposed to come to Morocco to visit me…

By Zoubida SenoussiRabat – Nadir Khayat – the Moroccan superstar “RedOne” – had a lot to say about his career, the music industry and more importantly his special bond with the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson.In an exclusive interview with the Arab media “Khaleej Times,” the Moroccan-Swedish songwriter opened up about his collaboration and friendship with international superstar Michael Jackson. The Grammy winner was in the recording studio with the King of Pop several times before his 2009 death and says the experience was like no other.“From the musical aspect, he’s a genius. He knew everything there is to know about music. A lot of times, I tend to direct the artist, but with Michael, before I was about to say what I was about to say, he knew what I was going to say,” Lady Gaga’s producer said, before revealing some interesting facts about Jackson’s love for Morocco.“He cared about how you are as a person; he wanted to know about your brothers and sisters, your mum, your country. He told me he’d been to Morocco, he loved Morocco. He told me he loved Moroccan food and wanted to meet my mum; he said he wanted to meet the mum who made this person, because (he said) you’re a beautiful person and he said he wanted to taste her food,” added RedOne.The singer of “Thriller” was supposed to come to Morocco to visits Khayat’s family after a concert in London. “Unfortunately that didn’t happen,” he lamentedRedOne continues to shine in the American music industry following the success of his 2017 international hit “Boom Boom,” already viewed more than 110 million times on Youtube.The video–shot in Marrakech, Chefchaouen, Tetouan, Merzouga, and Cabo Negro– features the Puerto Rican singer Daddy Yankee, Moroccan rapper French Montana, and American singer Dinah Jan. RedOne, not only produced the song, but also sings in the chorus.More recently, RedOne announced that he sent a song to FIFA to secure the official 2018 World Cup anthem. The producer has chosen American diva, Lady Gaga to perform his track for the World tournament. read more

Western Sahara: Former Moroccan Minister Addresses Letter to John Bolton

Secretary General of Morocco’s Istiqlal Party Nizar Baraka has addressed a letter to  the US national security adviser, John Bolton who said in keynote speech at the Heritage Foundation on December 13 that he was concerned and “frustrated” that the territorial conflict in Western Sahara conflict has still not been resolved.Baraka, who also served as a minister of Finance and Economy, said that  that he shared the same “sense of frustration” expressed by Bolton, “but not for the same reasons.”“For Moroccans, our frustration is deeper as it extends for more than 62 years, because the independence granted to Morocco in March 1956 was a limited independence, so we continued to struggle to complete the territorial integrity of our country, to include our Sahara regions,” Baraka added. Read Also: Bolton ‘Frustrated’ With UN Failure to Resolve Western Sahara DisputeThe former minister added that Morocco is frustrated to see that the “Moroccan Sahara issue is still stalling in the corridors of the United Nations, despite the historical facts that prove the spiritual, cultural, political and administrative ties that have always connected the inhabitants of the southern provinces to the kingdom of Morocco.”Baraka said that Morocco is “really frustrated” as the international community gives the Polisario Front more worth than deserved regarding the representation of the Sahrawi people.He added that censuses made under the auspices of the UN “confirmed that the vast majority of Sahrawis live in Morocco’s territories.”Read Also: Morocco on Alert after Terror Attack on 2 Scandinavian Tourists“The real representatives of the people of the Sahara are the elected [ Saharawis] in the local and regional councils and parliamentarians, who were democratically elected,” he said. Commenting on Morocco’s autonomy plan, Baraka said that Moroccans are frustrated that the Moroccan initiative which presents a mutually acceptable political  solution has not seen the light 11 years after it was submitted to the United Nations.Baraka also condemned the living conditions in Tindouf camps in Algeria, where thousands of Sahrawis live in “unbearable conditions.”Baraka said that Sahrawis who live in “poverty” in the Tindouf camps are “deprived  of their right to freedom of movement, because despite the resolutions of the United Nations and the Security Council, UNHCR has not yet been able to conduct a census” of the Sahrawi population living there. During his address at the Heritage Foundation, Bolton criticized the UN peacekeeping mission for have failing to fulfill their mandates, including the UN mission in Western Sahara, also known as MINURSO.“Ladies and gentlemen, 27 years of deployment of this peacekeeping force, 27 years and it’s still there? How can you justify that? I have got to know over the years the Saharawi people, I have enormous respect for them, I have enormous respect for the government and people of Morocco and Algeria, is there not a way to resolve it?” Bolton said. read more

Mezouar Succeeds Bensaleh as CGEM President

Rabat – The results of a vote has shown that former Minister of Foreign Affairs Salaheddine Mezouar won 77 percent of the vote for the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM) president.Out of the 6,635 votes, Mezouar won 5,173 votes compared to the 1,432 votes for his rival Hakim Marrakchi on Tuesday. Mezouar succeeded Miriem Bensaleh, who assumed the office for six years.Bensaleh completed the two-term limit with two three-year terms beginning in 2012 and 2015. On the sidelines of the election of the new CGEM president, Bensalah delivered a goodbye speech. Bensaleh said that her experience as  president of the CGEM helped her on a personal level. “I did the job,” she said.Bensaleh added that she worked to ensure transparency in the administration procedures in CGEM, emphasizing that she is satisfied with the achievements and the work she accomplished within CGEM. She added that “our demands to the government have led to the restoration of confidence in the business community and good governance.” Bensaleh is finishing her term amid a major boycott of three prominent companies, including her own mineral water company: Sidi Ali.During his election campaign, Mezouar pledged to boost business confidence and local investment. “I am carrying  a very ambitious but at the same time realistic program that aims primarily to boost business confidence and domestic investment.” Mezouar’s program aims to support fragile economic bodies “that suffer relatively and need tools and measures to regain their energy to continue to develop.”The President is elected by the elective general assembly for a period of no more than three years.Mezouar, a Moroccan politician and businessman, was born in 1953 in Meknes. Mezouar is the former president of the National Rally of Independents (RNI).Mezouar is also the former Minister of Industry, Trade, and Economy and  former Minister of the Economy and Finance. Mezouar also held the position of president of the Moroccan Association of Textile and Clothing Industries (AMITH) and president of the Textile and Leather Federation within the CGEM. read more

FIFA 2026: Tight Competition as Saudi Arabia’s Last-Minute Lobbying Outraged Morocco

Rabat – As national federations convene for the 68th FIFA Congress, politics and geostrategic calculations are quickly transforming the sporting experience into an exercise of usurpation and heavy politicking.Not satisfied with casting its own ballot for the United Bid, the US-led North American trio, Saudi Arabia is now using its financial resources and spiritual authority to convince some other Muslim-majority countries to back North America at the expense of Morocco 2026.What was started as a competition between two bids promising to serve the interests of the game and fans has become a venue for permanent extortion and backstage diplomatic tricks, exposing the toxic politicization of sport. No easy victory in sightIf anything, none of the two bids will have it easy today.Whereas Latin American federations decided that they did not have time to listen to Morocco’s arguments on June 11 and 12, the African bloc, in its crushing majority, showed almost the same disinterest during the North American presentation on June 12.African federations mildly and “politely” applauded the United (North American) bid after its presentation, according to the Associated Press. The American outlet underlined that the show was just a formal display of respect, as many African federations seemed already resolved to favor the continent’s representative.Before the presentation, CAF president Ahmad Ahmad put in final efforts to rally a considerable African bloc in favor of Morocco, urging Africa to “show cohesion.”“There is a moral obligation to remain within our family,” Ahmad declared, conceding however that “of course it is an individual choice.”Europe for its part seemed divided. There is no bloc voting in sight, although French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet declared he is “confident that half of UEFA” will vote in Morocco’s favor.Saudi Arabia’s never ending United 2026 lobbying“This feels like being stabbed in your back by a brother,” some diplomatic sources have been quoted as saying, referring to news that the Gulf king actively lobbied for the United bid on June 11 and 12. The goal was to convert many Muslim countries to commit to the North American bid.Bristling with Riyadh’s intense efforts to undermine the Moroccan bid in Muslim circles, some Moroccan officials have explained that although the Saudis are entitled to their decision to endorse the United bid, it is much less comprehensible that “a fellow brother” could go to such lengths to turn other Muslim countries against a bid representing shared values and traditions.“The muscular Saudi lobbying” has already succeeded in changing the position of about ten national federations who were either wavering or considering a Morocco 2026 vote at the FIFA congress to be held within few hours, others reported.Arabophone outlet Goud, for example, quoted Moroccan diplomatic sources and representatives in Moscow as saying that Saudi lobbying for the North American bid was far more significant than Canada’s entire campaigning efforts.Tension between Saudi Arabia and MoroccoThough Riyadh is known for being America’s most strategic ally in the Muslim world, it is now a known secret that that the Gulf country’s anti-Morocco 2026 agenda has much to do with Rabat’s position in the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is understood that Saudi Arabia is frustrated with Rabat’s “objective neutrality” in the Gulf crisis.Others have also pointed out Morocco’s reluctance to send troops to Yemen despite numerous requests from Saudi authorities. As a result, they argue, Riyadh has chosen to vent its frustration on the North African’s dream to host the footballing world’s most prestigious tournament.On social media, the outrage caused by the Saudi Arabia Football Federation’s last-minute intrusion into the pre-voting procedures cannot be overstated. Many Moroccans appeared to have had it with the Saudis’ disregard for their “national cause.” Some went as far as asking Moroccan authorities to review the country’s diplomacy towards a “circumstantial ally.”“It is just a matter of time. Rabat is taking its time to know the intention and priorities of the new Saudi authorities. In the end, Morocco’s national interests will always prevail,” a source at the foreign affairs ministry said under conditions of anonymity.Afghanistan and Pakistan are believed to be among the ten Muslim countries whose change of heart is said to have come about as a result of Saudi Arabia’s pro-United 2026 lobbying. And since FIFA will make public the vote of each national federation, it remains to be seen the full extent of the Saudi damage to Morocco 2026. read more

Postmedia posts bigger Q2 loss as revenue from print operations continues decline

Companies in this story: (TSX:PNC.A, TSX:PNC.B)The Canadian Press TORONTO — Postmedia Network Canada Corp. says it lost nearly $5.1 million in the second quarter as its revenue dropped 7.5 per cent compared with last year as a result of shifting advertising and circulation patterns.The owner of the National Post and other newspapers reported $145.7 million in total revenue for the quarter ended Feb 28, including $28.2 million from its digital businesses and $110.8 million from print advertising and circulation.A year earlier, Postmedia’s total revenue fell by 10.8 per cent to $157.6 million, which included $26.4 million from its digital businesses and $123.7 million from print advertising and circulation.This year’s second-quarter loss amounted to five cents per share, compared with a loss of $1.25 million or one cent per share last year.The Toronto-based publisher has faced intense competition for advertising dollars and readers as consumers and advertisers make an industry-wide switch to digital media. Postmedia chief executive Andrew MacLeod says the company has made progress in slowing the decline in traditional revenue and reducing its long-term debt, which was $238.3 million at the end of the quarter. read more

Moroccan Jewish Community Flocks to Essaouira For Hiloula of Pinto

Rabat – Hundreds of members of the Moroccan Jewish community came from across the world on Thursday, September 19 to celebrate the Hiloula of Rabbi Haim Pinto on the anniversary of his death in the Jewish Cemetery of the city.The event is a religious meeting which takes place annually in September in Morocco’s coastal city of Essaouira. Traditionally, the four-day event convenes Jews from America, North America, Latin America, and all of Europe.Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) reported that the event is an opportunity  for the members of the Jewish Moroccan community to express attachment to their motherland, Morocco, a “haven of peace, and land of tolerance.” Speaking at the event, Rabbi David Pinto said, “Morocco is our homeland. It is our country that we all love and cherish more.”He added, “I am so happy and so proud to meet again this year in Essaouira.”Read Also:Over 50,000 Israeli Tourists Visit Morocco Every YearThe rabbi said that each member of the Jewish community in Morocco is an “ambassador for Morocco and elsewhere. Many people came only out of curiosity to hear, discover, and appreciate this beautiful and blessed country.”The event attracts  more than 1,500 Moroccan Jewish pilgrims annually.In addition to the Moroccan Jewish community abroad, Morocco is still home for 2,000 Jews.Of the 14.7 million Jews in the world, 2,000 Jews live in Morocco, statistics from the Jewish agency said in September 2018.Morocco’s government has long reiterated its commitment to coexistence and tolerance between religions in Morocco.King Mohammed VI echoed this commitment during Pope Francis visit to Morocco in March 2019. In a speech in front of the Pope and hundreds of attendees, the King spoke about coexistence and the “exceptional” rich diversity underpinning Moroccan civilization.“It is reflected by the mosques, churches, and synagogues which have coexisted in the cities of the Kingdom since time immemorial.” read more

Franchise fatigue continues with ‘Men in Black’ and ‘Shaft’

LOS ANGELES — “Men in Black: International” is the No. 1 movie in North America this weekend but the Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth-led reboot isn’t exactly a franchise-revitalizing hit.Hampered by poor reviews, Sony Pictures on Sunday estimates that the film earned only $28.5 million in ticket sales nationwide over the weekend.“The Secret Life of Pets 2” got the No. 2 spot in its second weekend with $23.8 million. Disney’s “Aladdin,” now in weekend four, took third with $16.7 million. “Dark Phoenix” placed fourth with $9 million and “Rocketman” coasted to fifth with $8.8 million.All performed better than the weekend’s other new sequel “Shaft,” which also struggled to find an audience in North America in its first weekend, opening in sixth to only $8.3 million.Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press read more

Ban deplores heinous terrorist attack in Pakistani capital

“He expresses his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of this appalling attack, as well as to the Government and people of Pakistan,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement. Media reports say the bombing killed at least 40 people and wounded some 200.“No cause can justify the indiscriminate targeting of civilians,” today’s statement added. 20 September 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned today’s “heinous” terrorist attack on the Marriott Hotel in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, which has reportedly killed and injured a large number of people.

Actress takes starring role in UN campaign to eliminate violence against women

17 November 2008Academy Award-winning actress and activist Charlize Theron said today she was honoured to go to work for the United Nations on the Secretary-General’s “UNite to End Violence against Women” campaign after being inducted as a UN Messenger of Peace. Ms. Theron was introduced by Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro as a UN Messenger of Peace with a focus on ending violence against women in a ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York. “Charlize Theron is much more than a movie star. She is a great humanitarian who is using her capacity [and her] celebrity to draw attention to the plight of millions of nameless women who are suffering from violence and abuse,” Ms. Migiro said at the ceremony.Underscoring the importance of the actor’s task, Ms. Migiro highlighted the case of a 13 year-old girl who was stoned to death in Somalia in front of a huge mob last month for reporting her rape to local authorities.“She was brutalized twice first by her attackers [and] then by the authorities. Tragically this type of violence in perpetrated to various degrees all around the world,” the Deputy Secretary-General added.Ms. Theron told reporters after the ceremony that it was hard to ignore violence growing up in her native South Africa, where one in three women will experience rape in her lifetime. “Being born and raised in a country like South Africa, living in a country where it was very evident to me that violence against women and children was something that wasn’t going to go away, and as a matter of fact it has just gotten worse,” she said.“I really look forward to working with this great Organization and its wonderful people to get a strong message across, a message of no acceptance of this any more,” she added.The actress will be working on the Secretary-General’s campaign to end violence against women which was launched earlier this year and runs until 2015 to coincide with the target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight internationally agreed objectives including gender equality. At least one out of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime, one in five women worldwide will become a victim of rape or attempted rape, and up to 130 million women have been genitally mutilated, according to a press release issued by the campaign.“I think we’re at a time where people just want to join together and cause change. People don’t want to live like this any more,” Ms. Theron told reporters. read more

Ending complacency key to fighting discrimination UN rights chief says

“You cannot defeat discrimination by shutting your eyes to it and hoping that it will go away. Complacency is discrimination’s best friend,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told a news conference in Geneva, ahead of this year’s Human Rights Day.The theme of this year’s Day, observed annually on 10 December, is “Embrace Diversity: End Discrimination,” and Ms. Pillay shared how she confronted her own prejudices in an earlier stage of her life shaped by the fact that she grew up in apartheid-era South Africa.“We all, and here I include myself, have a tendency to hold ingrained prejudices against certain people because of the group they belong to rather than because of who they actually are as individuals.“It is my hope that starting on this Human Rights Day, people will begin making an extra effort to think about these issues, and about how they as individuals can take action in their own homes, in the workplace and in society at large to first of all identify discrimination, and then tackle it, wherever it raises its ugly head,” said the High Commissioner.As part of the commemoration of the Day, Ms. Pillay will be in South Africa to preside over a panel of high-level judges sitting in the first ever World Human Rights Moot Court competition at the University of Pretoria. Students worldwide will argue a fictional human rights case on the principle of non-discrimination at the event organized by the university and supported by the UN human rights office.Then on 10 December she will speak, along with representatives from the Government, civil society and academia, at a public celebration planned for Freedom Park, which will also feature a performance from South African singer Yvonne Chaka-Chaka.The Day, which commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly in 1948, will be marked with numerous other events worldwide. 8 December 2009The United Nations human rights chief today called on individuals everywhere to consider how they can fight discrimination beginning in their own homes and workplaces, stressing the need to overcome complacency which only contributes to the scourge. read more

UN agency spotlights plight of pregnant women in Pakistani flood zone

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) warned today that thousands of flood-affected pregnant women face the risk of death and disability unless relief efforts can be scaled up quickly to meet their needs.Nearly 500,000 women in the flood-affected zone are pregnant, according to UNFPA estimates. Every day, some 1,700 go into labour and more than 250 experience complications that call for life-saving medical intervention.Most of those made homeless by the floods still lack access to proper health services, including skilled delivery assistance, according to a press release issued today.UNFPA cited the case of Noor Bano, 32, to illustrate the plight of pregnant women in Pakistan. She was anaemic and exhausted when her labour pains started on Sunday. Her flight from the flood had included a three-hour trek carrying two small children and two days sheltering beneath a bridge without food or water.She ended up in a camp in Sukkur visited regularly by a UNFPA-supported medical team. The team gave Ms. Bano a prenatal exam and left a telephone number. Ms. Bano’s mother-in-law called, and community midwife Farzana Sarki came quickly to help Ms. Bano deliver her sixth baby in the family’s tent.It was Ms. Sarki’s 18th delivery in two weeks. Since early August, UNFPA has deployed obstetricians and midwives in 23 mobile teams and 14 health centres in flood-affected areas. They have attended 1,500 births, treated 300 women after suffering miscarriages, and referred nearly 200 mothers to hospitals for delivery by caesarean section.Shahnaz Seelro, Ms. Bano’s neighbour in the camp, gave birth before reaching the camp – in the trailer of a truck hired to carry her family away from the flood. With no skilled birth attendant, her life would have been at risk had anything gone wrong.Maternal mortality is high in Pakistan in even normal times, according to UNFPA. Some 320 women die for every 100,000 live births, according to UN figures. Trauma, malnutrition and poor hygiene make flood survivors more vulnerable.As part of the coordinated humanitarian response to Pakistan’s emergency, UNFPA is focusing on safe delivery and other reproductive health concerns. It is helping to assess needs for basic services as the floods continue to displace people, and for restoring damaged health centres and hospitals after waters recede.“We urgently need to scale up reproductive health care to the flood victims,” said Naseer Nizamani, UNFPA’s deputy representative in Pakistan. “The number of women who still lack assistance is enormous.”Besides supporting health authorities in flood-affected provinces, UNFPA is conducting reproductive health training and offering critical supplies to local groups providing health care. 7 September 2010The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) warned today that thousands of flood-affected pregnant women face the risk of death and disability unless relief efforts can be scaled up quickly to meet their needs. read more

UN expert calls for urgent international food assistance to Sahel region

24 January 2012An independent United Nations human rights expert today urged the global community to take quick action to prevent millions of people in Africa’s Sahel region from slipping into a full-scale food emergency, warning that drought, poor harvests and rising food prices have left the region on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. “We must not wait until people are starving in order to act,” said Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food. “The world must respond immediately to avert a full-scale food and nutrition crisis,” he added, noting that most of the local governments affected have responded by declaring a state of emergency and requesting international assistance. The Sahel is an eco-climatic regional belt spanning the breadth of West and Central Africa and contains a number of countries which have been regularly afflicted by food insecurity. Last year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that several areas of the Sahel had been affected by irregular rains during the 2011 cropping season and that an early end to the rains would lead to a significant drop in production and increased food insecurity.As of today, Chad and Mauritania are experiencing a grain deficit of more than 50 per cent compared to last year. In Niger, the price of millet was 37 per cent higher in November 2011 than in the previous year and other key cereals are up to 40 per cent higher than the regional five-year average.Mr. De Schutter noted that the food crisis was the result of both natural causes and the lack of prevention.“This crisis may look like a natural calamity, but it is in fact a symptom of our failure to be better prepared and to react more swiftly to early warning signs,” he stated. “The failure of the international community to act, now and in the future, would result in major violations of the right to food.” The area currently affected by the crisis covers a vast swath of territory, including Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger but concerns have also been extended to other countries in the region such as Burking Faso and Senegal. In Niger, Mali and Mauritania alone, almost 10 million people will be affected. Among those most in danger, children face the highest risk of mortality linked to malnutrition, followed by pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girls. “The warning signs are all there. The lean season will come earlier and last longer than usual,” Mr. De Schutter warned, adding that the region would be more reliant on food imports. “This could spell disaster for the millions of people whose food needs will rise as their purchasing power plummets,” he noted.Mr. De Schutter also underscored the need for widespread preventive measures, calling on the international community to ensure that emergency food reserves be pre-positioned in risk-prone regions and emphasizing the need for further local investment in climate-resilient agriculture such as diverse farming systems and agroforestry. He nevertheless noted that the need for longer-term structural actions should not prevent swift and immediate action. “We have the technology to predict food shortages accurately, and we have learned some lessons from previous crises. Now we need the international response,” he said. “The world must not make the same mistakes it did in delaying its response to last year’s crisis in the Horn of Africa. We have a chance, and a duty, to save lives.” read more

What was said about top court rulings on digenous consultations

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Wednesday that the National Energy Board can fulfil the Crown’s duty to consult Indigenous communities about development projects but it must be done properly. In decisions on two separate cases, the high court decided the NEB had properly consulted when reviewing a plan to expand an Enbridge pipeline between Ontario and Quebec, but that it had failed to do so when it approved seismic testing in Baffin Bay and Davis Straight.Here’s some of the reaction to the rulings:“I’m thinking about the people in Clyde River today. They can finally breathe a sigh of relief and perhaps even dance a celebratory jig and communities across Baffin island can rest assured that those seismic companies will not blast through their waters, they will not threaten their food sovereignty and steamroll unapologetically over their rights.” — Farrah Khan, arctic campaigner, Greenpeace Canada, which aided Clyde River in its legal battle against the seismic testing.——“It represents a victory not only for this community and its future but a significant and notable step forward in bringing Canadian law into line with important international human rights standards. For far too long now governments in Canada across the country and their regulatory bodies have treated consultation with Indigenous peoples as a mere formality.” — Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.——“The government cannot continue to pay lip service to reconciliation and Indigenous rights while continuing to ignore the duty to consult and accommodate. It is insulting to see this government refuse, time after time, to walk the walk. They must immediately fix this broken process.” — NDP Indigenous and Northern Affairs Critic Romeo Saganash.——“That will certainly make it much more difficult in the future for the NEB to green light projects like this one, projects that have the potential to prove catastrophic for the Inuit people. Yeah, they can come back again and try again. We’ll be ready and we’ll be waiting.” — Clyde River lawyer Nader Hasan.——“The Chiefs of Ontario will continue to support the Chippewas of the Thames, and all other communities who are facing unwanted potential development on their lands. The fossil fuel industry will disappear over the next several decades, to be replaced by green energy. The real issue here is that we must preserve our lands and waters for future generations. This is the way forward in order to reverse climate change and the continued contamination of our lands, air and water. Our Peoples will continue the fight to save our planet for all our children.” Chiefs of Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day. read more