Lebanon and Israel must do more to achieve permanent ceasefire – UN

“The Secretary-General condemns all violation of resolution 1701, whether in the form of rocket launches, air land or sea violations, the active maintenance of an arms depot or the use of surveillance equipment on sovereign Lebanese territory,” Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams told reporters after briefing the Security Council on the latest developments. Resolution 1701, adopted by the Council in August 2006, called for an end to hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah, respect for the so-called Blue Line separating the Israeli and Lebanese sides, disarming of militias and an end to arms smuggling. Hizbollah, which has not disarmed, is part of a new unity government formed in Lebanon yesterday. The rocket launches into Israel, the almost daily Israeli flights over Lebanon, the arms depot maintained by Hizbollah and the apparently Israeli surveillance equipment left on Lebanese territory raise the spectre of a potential escalation. But the cessation of hostilities that followed the adoption of 1701 “has actually held remarkably well,” Mr. Williams said, calling this a tribute to the UN peacekeeping force known as UNIFIL, the Lebanese and the Israelis.“To the best of my knowledge… probably no other country in the world – probably, I may be wrong – is subject to such an intrusive regime of aerial surveillance [as Lebanon],” he noted. “Now we also have other events, the discovery of listening devices which almost certainly seem to have been left by the Israelis. Are these violations? Yes, of course they’re violations of 1701.”He called for more to be done to safeguard what has been achieved in the past three years. “While welcoming the parties’ stated commitment to resolution 1701, which is critical, we also stress the need for more tangible steps to facilitate forward movement in the direction of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution,” he said.“Lebanon, Israel and the international community must be vigilant and undertake greater efforts in the coming period to allow us to move forward.”Asked whether he would categorically say that there was no arms smuggling into Lebanon, he replied: “No I would not say that… it’s an established fact that Lebanon does not have an active border control regime in the way that most countries have on their borders.”He cited UN missions in 2007 and 2008 that called the borders “very, very porous. Now that’s an objective and scientific assessment of what pertains on the borders. What they were not in a position to say is what may or may not come across the borders,” he added.As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon did yesterday, Mr. Williams congratulated the new national unity government, noting the challenges facing it in the economic, political and social fields as well as in exercising its authority throughout the whole country. 10 November 2009Despite recent “worrying incidents” in southern Lebanon, where Israel and Hizbollah militants battled fiercely three years ago, talk of a new war is alarmist, but all sides must do more to translate the cessation of hostilities into a permanent ceasefire, a senior United Nations official warned today. read more

UN agency invested nearly 6 million this year to aid Kyrgyzstans most

This is the largest amount ever spent by the agency in a single year in the Central Asian nation, WFP stated in a news release. The funds were spent on activities such as buying food and leasing transport, which were required to respond to the needs of those affected by the crisis in April and the impact it had on markets and livelihoods.“Supporting local markets as much as possible is a cornerstone of WFP engagement in a country and a fundamental component of our humanitarian response policy,” said Rasmus Egendal, WFP Representative and Country Director. “This type of ‘investment’ helps to stabilise markets and create employment.”The violent uprising in April that ousted former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev as well as the ethnic clashes that erupted in southern Kyrgyzstan in June uprooted thousands of people and left them in need of humanitarian assistance. Throughout the year, WFP distributed 20,000 metric tons of food, of which 8,500 was bought through Kyrgyz companies. The agency, which began its operation in Kyrgyzstan in 2008, hopes to extend its support to local companies and food producers in the coming year as it continues to reach out to people who are chronically food insecure. 29 December 2010The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) spent nearly $6 million this year in Kyrgyzstan, where it is assisting 240,000 conflict-affected people in the south and 380,000 other vulnerable people in six out of seven of the country’s provinces. read more

Markets update at midafternoon

On the markets at midafternoon (ET):In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 70.95 points to 15,204.08.The Dow Jones industrial average was up 38.07 points to 21,930.50.The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 11.48 points to 2,469.07.The Nasdaq composite index was up 51.04 points to 6,419.35.The Canadian dollar was trading at 79.88 cents US, up from Wednesday’s average price of 79.33 cents US.

Australia welcomes Lankas support to combat people smuggling

“The visit highlighted Australia’s commitment to combating the dangerous trade of people smuggling” theHigh Commissioner said. During the visit Mr Vardos highlighted recent statements by Australia’s Minister for Immigration andCitizenship, the Hon Chris Bowen, that people arriving by boat are subject to the “no advantage” principlewhich could include being transferred offshore for processing or remaining in detention. “People who arrivein Australia by boat will have no work rights while they await their claims to be processed. They will not beable to earn money” he said.Mr Vardos warned those contemplating the dangerous journey to Australia by boat: “People smugglers arelying to you. Don’t waste your money, don’t risk your life. There is no visa on arrival. There will be nospecial treatment, no speedy outcome and certainly no advantage given to those who come by boat”. The Australian delegation was led by Peter Vardos, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Immigration andCitizenship, and included senior representatives from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service,Australian Federal Police, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Attorney-General’s Department. Mr Vardos noted the commencement of transfers to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea with the firsttransfer on 21 November comprising of family groups who had arrived in Australia by boat. “Australia willcontinue to regularly transfer people who arrive by boat to Manus Island and the Pacific island nation ofNauru and will continue to return people where they do not engage Australia’s international obligations” hesaid.During the visit, the delegation met senior Sri Lankan officials including the Navy Commander, ViceAdmiral Jayanath Colombage, Inspector General of Police, N. K. Illangakoon, Secretary to the Ministry ofExternal Affairs, Mr Karunatilaka Amunugama, Solicitor General, Mr Wijetilleke, and Ministry of Defenceofficials.Discussions focused on joint cooperation between Australia and Sri Lanka to combat people smuggling andsteps to be taken to strengthen that cooperation, while also acknowledging the important contributions of SriLankan government agencies involved in combating people smuggling. The two nations’ officials alsodiscussed preparation for the forthcoming inaugural meeting of a Joint Working Group to address peoplesmuggling and border security issues. Australia today welcomed Sri Lanka’s continued cooperation to combat people smuggling following arecent visit to Sri Lanka by a high-level delegation of immigration and border security officials.Australia’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, H.E Robyn Mudie, said the visit on 22 to 23 November was ademonstration of the breadth and depth of Australia’s cooperation with Sri Lanka. The delegation also travelled to Trincomalee to meet with Navy officials and to visit an Australian-fundedDisplaced Persons Program (DPP) project which is supporting local community cooperatives in the dairysector to support livelihood development in Sri Lanka. read more

UNP proposal given to SLFP

It also proposes that the system of preference votes be abolished and the tenure of the Parliament and the Provincial Council fixed at five years. (Colombo Gazette) The UNP constitution also proposes as a novel system the executive powers of the President to be exercised on apolitical basis and to be subject to checks and balances. The opposition United National Party (UNP) today handed over its proposals for a new constitution to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).A UNP delegation including UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake and UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake handerd over the proposals to SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena. Under the Westminster system the Cabinet of Ministers will be restricted to 25 including the Prime Minister.The proposed constitution of the UNP also guarantees the freedom of expression and will be strengthened to include the right to information. The UNP had last month made public its proposed constitution which includes a British style Westminster system for the Cabinet. read more

CBK has no intention of returning to politics

Kumaratunga however said that she will assist those in power to rebuild the country without returning to politics. (Colombo Gazette)Audio Playerhttp://colombogazette.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/29.06.15.-Chandrika-Bandaranayaka-Voice.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga says she has no intention of returning to politics.Kumaratunga said that she is not “mad” to return to politics like some others who are attempting to return to power. “I have no intention to get back to power,” she asserted. Speaking to reporters in Kandy today, Kumaratunga said that she went home after 12 years in politics on her own free will. She claimed that those who are attempting to return to power are those who have things to hide and want to use the power of politics to hide the truth.The former President said that she had nothing to hide and that she was never involved in corruption or crime. read more

Sri Lanka reiterates no foreign judges but only technical assistance

The Minister said the army should not be used to achieve political goals and added that the army will continue to safeguard the country’s National security. (Colombo Gazette) He said that some groups are attempting to give the impression that a war crimes investigation will take place in Sri Lanka with the participation of foreign judges. He also said that the resettlement of war displaced people in the North and East will take place.Some political parties have been saying the army will not be withdrawn from civilian property to resettle the displaced families. The Government today reiterated that it will not agree to have foreign judges in the domestic accountability process over the war, but will accept technical assistance.Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faizer Mustapha said that President Maithripala Sirisena has been very clear that war crimes did not take place in Sri Lanka. “The President has said earlier and even now that he will not invite foreign judges but will accept technical assistance,” he said. read more

Cop who cracked down on protests picked to cleanup Sathosa

“Today I am appointing retired SSP Ranagala to ensure discipline among rank and file at Lanka Sathosa” the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said today. A former Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) who was best known for cracking down on protests by students and civil society in the past, has been appointed as a management expert to crackdown on corruption at state owned Sathosa.The Ministry of Industry and Commerce said that former SSP Premalal Ranagala has been brought in to commence the clean-up of Sathosa in order to make the institution a viable entity again. “We have minimised Lanka Sathosa losses in a big way. Sathosa shops do not charge VAT from essential items. Computerisation of the Lanka Sathosa network has to go ahead. Computerisation clearly cuts down on costs and will eliminate pilfering, stealing and mishandling of stocks. I am appointing retired SSP Premalal Ranagala today to Lanka Sathosa as a management expert to ensure Lanka Sathosa discipline among rank and file. He will also personally investigate all corrupt and mishandling activities that are taking place within Sathosa. Area managers and managers need to focus on their tasks without worrying of loss of stocks and pilfering. Retired SSP Ranagala will ensure there will be no such events in future,” the Minister said.Ranagala previously served in Colombo South, Ampara, Matara, and Badulla. He was also in-charge of the police 119 hotline response service. (Colombo Gazette) Minister Bathiudeen made the announcement while addressing a special training session for 300 Sathosa area managers and managers held at the SLFI today. read more

Mahanama and Dissanayaka further remanded in bribery case

President Maithripala Sirisena’s former Chief of Staff K Mahanama and former State Timber Corporation (STC) Chairman P. Dissanayaka have been ordered to be further remanded till June 19 by the Colombo Magistrate’s Court.Mahanama and Dissanayaka had been arrested for accepting a bribe of Rs.20 million over a land deal. Mahanama and the Chairman of the State Timber Corporation, P. Dissanayake were arrested at the car park of a Colombo hotel recently while accepting the bribe from an Indian businessman. (Colombo Gazette)

Female inmates at Welikada prison suspend rooftop protest

The inmates had demanded that their concerns be looked into, including delays to hear their cases. (Colombo Gazette) Female inmates at the Welikada prison have suspended a roof-top protest.The protest was suspended following discussions held today between the female inmates and the authorities. Earlier, an official had been appointed to look into the issues faced by female inmates of the Welikada prison.The official was appointed after several female inmates launched a protest on the roof of the Welikada prison yesterday.

China offers support to develop Sri Lankan economy

Sri Lanka’s three-year extended arrangement was approved on June 3, 2016, to the amount of about US$1.5 billion, or 185 percent of quota in the IMF at that time of approval of the arrangement.Chinese Ambassador Cheng XueYuan reiterated his countries support to the development of the Sri Lankan economy and pledged their support in Sri Lanka’s efforts to re-engage the IMF in a sustainable manner.The meeting was attended by the Secretary to the Treasury Dr.R.H.S. Samaratunga, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mano Tittawella and other senior Finance Ministry officials. (Colombo Gazette) He will be in Washington from 14 – 16 January 2019 to resume negotiations with the IMF on the Extended Fund Facility.The IMF had in November decided to suspend funding for Sri Lanka as a result of the political crisis. Samaraweera will visit Washington next week for talks with the IMF. The Minister apprised the Chinese Ambassador about the Sri Lankan Governments plan to re-engage with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and thanked the Chinese Government for their continued support extended to Sri Lanka. China has offered support to develop the Sri Lankan economy, following talks held in Colombo today.The Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mangala Samaraweera met with the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Cheng XueYuan and a Chinese delegation at the Treasury today. read more

Actress plays down assault seen on viral video

The man places his foot on her neck and assaults her a number of times. A Sri Lankan model/actress has played down a video showing her being assaulted by a man.Piumi Hansamali told Colombo Gazette (Sinhala) that the assault had taken place some four months ago and that she had not filed a Police complaint. Hansamali is seen trying to get up but is pushed back to the ground.A witness is seen trying to mediate and stop the assault but the assault continues. The video going viral on social media shows her being pushed to the ground in a garden and assaulted by a man in the presence of at least one other person. Commenting on the video, Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva said that if the incident actually took place then it goes to show how inhumane some men in our society can be. (Colombo Gazette)Report by Ashanthi Warunasuriya read more

WatchWhy calls to split Facebooks social media empire are growing louder

The Financial Post’s James McLeod explains why Facebook’s co-founder and others have called for the company to be broken up and how Mark Zuckerberg is countering such calls. ‘Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American’: Facebook co-founder says it’s time to break up the company The fix for Facebook and other tech giants is difficult, but simple Facebook redesigns big blue app, doubles down on groups in shift towards privacy

Symphony offers sale on February show

Mary Lou FallisThe Niagara Symphony is offering a buy one, get one half off sale for its Winter Carnival performance Feb. 20.The Winter Carnival concert will feature soprano Mary Lou Fallis as a special guest star, as well as several surprises. John Morris Russell will be the conductor. Until Feb. 12, those who purchase one ticket can get a second for 50 per cent of the regular ticket price.Winter Carnival – a Saturday Night POPS! performance – will be 7:30 p.m., with a pre-concert talk at 6:45 p.m. The event is at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre.For tickets, contact the Centre for the Arts box office at 905-688-5550 x3257 and quote “winter” as the code.Other upcoming events:Promises Made and KeptBradley Thachuk – conductorDavid Louie – pianoSunday, April 11, 2:30 p.m.It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing!Diane Wittry, conductorSaturday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m.Sunday, May 2 at 2:30 p.m.For more information:Niagara Symphony Orchestra read more

Brock welcomes first GAPP cohort

Brock is hosting 21 students from Brazil as part of the new Graduate Academic Preparation Program.ESL Service’s first cohort of GAPP students took a break from their studies to enjoy dragon boat racing recently.GAPP, the new Graduate Academic Preparation Program, welcomed 21 students from Brazil for its intensive eight-week program this summer. The students are part of the Ciência sem Fronteiras (CsF) scholarship program and are sponsored by the Brazilian government.GAPP prepares international students whose first language is not English for the academic demands of graduate and other specialized programs at Brock University, which they will start in September. GAPP concentrates on the development of academic skills such as critical thinking and synthesizing arguments and ideas, researching, referencing and plagiarism, academic presentations, discussion and debate, development of specialized vocabulary, academic note taking, and research papers and literature reviews.While studying at Brock, CsF participants can participate in a 3-4 month unpaid research, lab-based, or industry internship starting in January. During the internship, students are part of Brock International’s University Mentorship (UM) program and become part of the community of visiting scholars who come to Brock to collaborate on research and other scholarly activities.Students study and intern in biotechnology, chemistry and engineering, health and medicine, and the humanities and social sciences. read more

Major German union urges members to join climate protests

BERLIN — One of Germany’s largest unions is calling on its members to join the weekly “Fridays for Future” protests calling for action on climate change.Verdi head Frank Bsirske told the WAZ newspaper on Monday he was calling on the union’s 2 million members to start taking part in the climate protests, which have attracted thousands weekly in cities across Europe and elsewhere in the world.Bsirske says “it’s about showing the flag — we need a much more consistent approach to climate change policy.”Thousands of young protesters have skipped school on Fridays to join the protests inspired by Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg.Bsirske says he’s not calling for union members to skip work but to join in after their shifts are done.___For more Associated Press stories about climate change, go to https://www.apnews.com/ClimateThe Associated Press read more