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US sanctions Argentinabased online pharmacy

WASHINGTON — United States is designating the Argentina-based online pharmacy Goldpharma and eight Argentine citizens as significant foreign narcotics traffickers.The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control says Goldpharma sells illicit opioids to customers located in the United States through its nine entities located in Argentina, Colombia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.All property in the United States of designated entities will be blocked, including seven companies in three states and four condominiums in Miami.Five of the Argentine individuals designated have been indicted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.The Associated Press read more

Military seeks further restrictions of airspace near station

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The U.S. military is seeking to expand restricted airspace around Alaska’s Clear Air Force Station.The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Sunday that the U.S. Missile Defence Agency’s plans for a new Long Range Discrimination Radar include a proposal to increase restrictions beyond those of the existing radar facility north of Healy.Public meetings to inform pilots and others about the proposed changes are scheduled this week in Anchorage, Anderson and Fairbanks.Officials say the agency already prohibits airplanes from flying in the immediate vicinity of the station about 112 miles (180 kilometres) southwest of Fairbanks.Officials say additional restricted airspace is needed at Clear to protect aircraft from a high-intensity radiated field from the new system.Owner and pilot groups say they are evaluating the proposal.___Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.comThe Associated Press read more

New UN group launched to curb biological weapons threat

20 August 2007The United Nations inaugurated a new unit today to further bolster its efforts to reduce the threat to the international community posed by weapons of mass destruction. The Implementation Support Unit (ISU) – which will help States Parties in their efforts to bolster implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention – was launched today in Geneva as part of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. The decision to form the ISU was taken in December 2006 at the Sixth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, and is a landmark since the Unit is the first institutional support mechanism created to support global efforts to curb biological weapons. The Convention entered into force in 1975, and is the first multilateral disarmament treaty which bans an entire category of weapons. Unlike nuclear and chemical weapons treaties which both are supported by well-established international organizations – the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organization for the prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), respectively – no such support exists for biological weapons, until now. “The Unit will harness resources, force connections, develop networks and identify opportunities,” said Ambassador Masood Khan of Pakistan, who is chairing the 2007 Convention meetings. “It will make an important and innovative contribution to our collective effort to reduce the terrible threat posed by biological weapons.” The ISU is mandated to provide administrative support, including acting as a focal point for States Parties who submit information, to States Parties, as well as promoting confidence-building measures. It is also tasked with furthering support for the ban on biological weapons and to convince non-adherents to joining the Convention. “Much of the mandate of the Unit is concerned with facilitating communication among States parties and, upon request, facilitating contacts with scientific and academic institutions, as well as non-governmental organizations,” said Sergio Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. “Clearly, the most States Parties make use of such services, the better they work.” The inauguration of the ISU, which will be funded by States Parties to the Convention, coincided with the start of a meeting among experts to strengthen implementation of the treaty. The Convention entered into force in 1975, and is the first multilateral disarmament treaty which bans an entire category of weapons. read more

Ban Kimoon reports steady progress towards deploying hybrid force in Darfur

5 September 2007The United Nations is making “steady progress” towards setting up its landmark hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur with the African Union (AU), but complex logistical challenges lie ahead and Member States need to provide military contributions before further benchmarks for deployment can be met, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the mission says. The report on the deployment of the force, known as UNAMID, notes that the UN and AU have established a multidisciplinary transition team in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state and the future headquarters of the mission. The team has already begun implementing deployment plans on the ground.But given the nature of Darfur, a vast, impoverished and remote region on Sudan’s western flank, “enormously complex logistical operations” are still necessary before deployment, Mr. Ban writes.The construction of safe accommodation and office facilities for UNAMID staff that meet UN safety standards will be critical, he states, adding that so too will be the transfer of equipment and assets from the existing AU mission in Darfur, known as AMIS.Mr. Ban stresses that UN Member States must now step up and urgently provide the outstanding military contributions that are necessary for UNAMID to fulfil its mandate.The Security Council authorized the creation of UNAMID on 31 July in a resolution that called for a force of nearly 20,000 military personnel and more than 6,000 police officers. It will be the largest peacekeeping force in the world.The force is being sent in to try to quell the violence in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.2 million others forced to leave their homes since 2003 because of fighting among rebel groups, Government forces and allied militia known as the Janjaweed.Violence has erupted again in recent weeks, and in his report Mr. Ban voices deep concern about the deadly clashes between tribes in South Darfur state, attacks against local police in South Darfur and Government attacks against villages in North Darfur and South Darfur, all in the past month.The Secretary-General also calls on the Sudanese Government to facilitate expeditious land acquisitions so that UNAMID can construct staff accommodation and to ensure smooth visa arrangements for visits of delegations from UNAMID troop and police contributors.Last month, a three-day joint planning session of the UN and AU concluded that it is vital “to create an early and visible improvement in the security situation in Darfur” as authority transfers from AMIS to UNAMID to ensure that public confidence in the new mission is enhanced from the start.To achieve that, the UN and AU have agreed to deploy an early-effect capability in Darfur ahead of the transfer of authority date of 1 January next year. The capability will include one infantry battalion, four reserve companies, up to 60 liaison officers and military aviation resources, as well as one formed police unit and 40 individual police officers. read more

SecretaryGeneral congratulates first President of Nepal

22 July 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today congratulated Ram Baran Yadav on his election as the first President of the Republic of Nepal, and called on all parties in the Asian country to cooperate in forming a new government. Dr. Yadav was elected by Nepal’s Constituent Assembly on Monday. The election was the latest move towards establishing a federal democratic republic in Nepal, which emerged from a decade-long civil war in 2006. An estimated 13,000 people were killed in fighting between Government and Maoist forces. The 240-year old monarchy was abolished in May.The UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) is currently scaling down its presence in the country. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ian Martin, told the Security Council last week that the leaders of the three largest parties wanted UNMIN to continue after the expiry of its current mission on 23 July as a special political mission, to assist in taking the peace process forward. read more

Religious minorities continue to suffer in many countries UN expert says

“At national levels, I see that religious minorities continue to suffer, and the more despotic a regime, the more suffering of religious minorities,” Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on the freedom of religion or belief, said in an interview with the UN News Centre.At the same time, she pointed out that violations of this basic human right – which manifest themselves in, among others, not being allowed to gather together for worship, desecration of religious sites, and being prevented from making pilgrimages – do not just occur in countries with certain types of political systems.“One would have imagined that such incidents only take place in countries which have been unfortunately left behind, where political systems and social values have remained stunted,” she stated. “But these also take place in countries which have very good democratic credentials and which have progressed both socially and politically.” In more multicultural and diverse societies, tensions can be expected to arise, she noted. “But the kind of animosity that one sees is inhuman. And the way we have received reports of how people kill each other in the name of religion and the manner in which that killing is done… shows the venom people have towards each other simply because of difference of religion or belief,” she added. “And I think that really is very frightening.”One example of this is India, which, with its multitude of cultures, languages and religions, “oozes” diversity, she said, noting that the country is a vibrant democracy and has many people who are committed to secularism. “And yet some of the worst forms of killings have taken place there,” said Ms. Jahangir, referring to the communal tensions and violence that the South Asian nation has witnessed over the years. The Special Rapporteur added that violations are perpetrated not just by individuals or groups but also by States themselves. “There are still States that heavily discriminate… that persecute religious minorities. And these minorities live in perpetual threat,” said Ms. Jahangir, who continues to receive reports of arrests, torture and intimidation by “States and their agents.”The groups that she receives reports about include the Baha’is in Iran, Buddhists in Tibet and Ahmadis – a religious group that identifies itself as Muslim – in a number of countries. An important related issue, and one which Ms. Jahangir highlighted yesterday in her speech to the General Assembly’s third committee (social, humanitarian and cultural), is the compulsory mentioning of one’s religion on official identity cards or passports, which she stressed carries a serious risk of abuse.“I don’t think there is any reason to indicate religion on identity cards or passports,” she reiterated today. “But there can be a situation where, for the purposes of governance and for the purposes of giving affirmative action, like in India and Pakistan, people have to identify their religions, or for census purposes.“Now that might be necessary, but it’s not necessary for them to always carry this passport or identity card that shows their religion,” she added. 23 October 2008Religious minorities in different parts of the world continue to be persecuted and discriminated against based on their beliefs, with some living in “perpetual threat,” according to an independent United Nations expert, who added that the problem is prevalent across a wide range of countries. read more

Ban warns of dangers of losing cultural differences as world grows closer

16 November 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today cautioned against the erosion of diversity and rise of discrimination as the forces of globalization and technology bring disparate communities across the world closer together, in a message marking the International Day for Tolerance. In his message for the Day, observed annually on 16 November, Mr. Ban said that Internet chatrooms and social networking sites enable us to connect with more people than we can hope to meet.“Global branding and the growth of international social and cultural movements expose us on a daily basis to the tastes, opinions and habits of our fellow men and women,” said Mr. Ban. He said that there are more ways than ever to communicate and to benefit from cross-cultural exchanges. “And as we grow closer, there is also a danger that the human propensity to build walls will assert itself, separating people into ‘us’ and ‘them.’”All too often these divisions lead to the victimization of some of the most vulnerable groups in society, defined along lines of nationality, ethnicity and religion among other markers that single out minorities.“Tolerance does not mean indifference or a grudging acceptance of others,” said Mr. Ban. “It is a way of life based on mutual understanding and respect for others, and on the belief that global diversity is to be embraced, not feared.”On behalf of the “most vulnerable communities, and for all humanity, let us work together to promote tolerance,” he urged. read more

UN maritime agency dedicates 2010 to the worlds 15 million seafarers

31 December 2009As merchant sailors around the world face the perils of pirate-infested waters off Somalia, the risks of accidents at sea or abandonment in port, the United Nations agency entrusted with setting comprehensive regulations for shipping is dedicating next year to the 1.5 million seafarers who serving the daily needs of more than 6.5 billion citizens of Planet Earth. “Our intention is to pay tribute to you, the world’s 1.5 million seafarers – men and women from all over the globe – for the unique, and all too often over-looked, contribution you make to the wellbeing of all of us,” UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said in a message announcing the decision.“We will do so with deep appreciation, in recognition of the extraordinary service you render every day of your professional life, frequently under dangerous circumstances, in delivering, to the more than 6.5 billion people of the world, the wheat that makes our daily bread, the gas and oil that warms our homes or moves our vehicles and the gifts we will share and enjoy with our families and friends over this Festive Season.”He stressed the important role seafarers play in helping to achieve safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans and reassured them “at the ‘sharp end’ of the industry, that we, who are responsible for the international regulatory regime and who serve shipping from ashore, do understand the extreme pressures that you face and that, as a result, we approach our own tasks with a genuine sympathy for the work that you carry out.”He underscored the efforts IMO makes to ensure that “you are fairly treated when ships on which you serve become involved in accidents; are looked after when you are abandoned in ports; are not refused shore leave for security purposes; are protected when your work takes you into piracy-infested areas; and are not left unaided when you are in distress at sea…1.5 million seafarers serving the daily needs of more than 6.5 billion citizens of the world! It is a fact that goes unnoticed or is taken for granted by most, but one that should be trumpeted loud and clear,” he concluded.“For seafarers the world over deserve our respect, recognition and gratitude and, during 2010, we at IMO are resolved to ensure that the world does take notice of your exceptional role and contribution and of the special debt that all of us owe to you.” read more

Global food prices drop to 11month low in October UN agency reports

FAO’s Food Price Index averaged 216 points last month, down 4 per cent from September, the agency said in a news release. The index is a measure of basic food prices at the global level. “The drop was triggered by sharp declines in international prices of cereals, oils, sugar and dairy products,” said FAO. “Meat prices declined the least.”The agency attributes the decline to an improved supply outlook for a number of commodities and uncertainty about global economic prospects. Most agricultural commodity prices could remain below their recent highs in the months ahead, according to FAO’s biannual Food Outlook report, which analyzes developments in global food and feed markets and was also published today.A record harvest is expected this year for cereals, states the Outlook, which forecasts a record 2,325 million tons – 3.7 per cent above last year. Cereal prices are expected to stay relatively firm well into 2012.FAO said that global cereal prices have declined in recent months, with the Cereal Price Index registering an 11-month-low of 232 points in October. Prices, on average, however remain 5 per cent higher than last year’s already high level.The agency added that recent floods and their impact on Thailand’s rice production has had limited consequences on the global market thanks to large reserves. Also, large global supplies of sugar have put downward pressure on sugar prices since June. Improved supplies also weighed on dairy markets while strong palm oil output and record sunflower seed crops have driven prices down in the oils sector in recent months.The Outlook notes that prices generally remain “extremely volatile,” moving in tandem with unstable financial and equity markets. “Fluctuations in exchange rates and uncertainties in energy markets are also contributing to sharp price swings in agricultural markets,” said FAO Grains Analyst Abdolreza Abbassian.High food prices, according to the Outlook, are putting pressure on the world’s poorest nations, with the food import bills of the least developed countries (LDCs) soaring by almost a third from last year. The global cost of national food imports is expected to approach $1.3 trillion this year.The new issue of the Outlook also includes a chapter on the new Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), established by the Group of 20 leading economies (G-20) earlier this year and housed at FAO headquarters in Rome.AMIS, managed by a joint Secretariat composed of nine international organizations, has the capacity to collect, analyse and disseminate information on a regular basis regarding the current and future food market situation and food policies. 3 November 2011Food prices dropped to an 11-month low in October, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today, while adding that they are still higher than last year and very volatile. read more

Kenya UN scales up refugee training to improve assistance in camps

“Refugees have always had a role in making camps work. However, at Dadaab that role is being expanded,” said Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), during a press briefing in Geneva. “Hospitals, for example, have remained open throughout this difficult period, staffed by refugees, nationals, and a limited number of international staff,” he said.Part of the new strategy includes reaching out to different groups within the refugee population such as elders, the business community and youth so they can contribute in distinct ways. Mr. Mahecic stressed that refugee leaders and refugees working for partner agencies are being trained to identify individuals who require urgent attention so they can get life-saving assistance immediately.“In situations when international or national staff cannot get to camps the health posts are managed by refugee staff who have been trained over the years to provide basic medical services and refer more serious cases to the camp hospitals,” Mr. Mahecic said. “Refugee staff are also getting refresher courses on management of sensitive cases of sexual or gender-based violence,” he added.According to UNHCR, since the beginning of this year, over 150 vulnerable people and families have been identified by the agency and its partners, and brought to the agency’s offices in Dadaab where they have received medical and psychological help.Refugees are also helping to improve the camps’ conditions by building new latrines on sandy and rocky ground, and by collecting and transporting solid waste by donkey carts to allocated waste disposal sites.In addition, UNHCR is also engaging with young refugees to enhance their skills and work experience. “More than 30 camp schools remain open and are run by refugee teachers. Despite insecurity, the Kenyan National Exams took place in the camps at the end of last year and the results were an improvement in the average score in comparison to last year. The exams were made possible because the community patrolled the schools and guarded the gates,” Mr. Mahecic said.He stressed that UNHCR will continue to identify specific groups for outreach such as business and religious leaders, and would also strengthen awareness through radio and other means such as free mobile texting.The Dadaab refugee complex shelters more than 460,000 refugees. A third of this refugee population arrived in 2011 alone, fleeing the conflict, drought, famine and human rights abuses in Somalia. The camps in Dadaab opened two decades ago and were originally designed to host some 90,000 refugees. 27 January 2012The United Nations refugee agency today announced new strategies to ensure uninterrupted assistance and services in its largest complex in Kenya, including training and mentoring of refugees as well as involving them in the day-to-day running of the Dadaab camps. read more

Oil sands development about to exceed Albertas new pollution limits documents

“It’s the first real test of the (plan).”EDMONTON — Less than two weeks after Alberta enacted legally enforceable pollution limits for its oil sands region, industry figures already suggest they will soon be breached by emissions of two major gases causing acid rain.Regulatory documents for Shell’s proposed Jackpine mine expansion say annual levels of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide are likely to push past limits contained in the province’s Lower Athabasca Regional Plan if all currently planned developments proceed.The documents, filed late last week, also provide what may be the clearest picture yet of what impact two decades of development have had on northeastern Alberta.“It validates the concern that many stakeholders have raised about the cumulative pace and scale of development,” said Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute. “It’s the first real test of the (plan).”Shell filed the papers after the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency asked the company to give a clearer account of how the environment of the oilsands region has changed since development began and what part the Jackpine expansion would play. Written by environmental consultants Golder and Associates, the document estimates how levels of the two gases have grown over the years.Average annual levels of sulphur dioxide are estimated at about 20 times what they would naturally be over a large area from Fort MacMurray to about 100 kilometres north. Nitrogen dioxide is estimated to be at least 10 times pre-development levels — although the report acknowledges hard data from that time is spotty.And if all the projects that have been announced publicly or are in the regulatory process go ahead, the pollutants are projected to exceed what are supposed to be absolute caps.Sulphur dioxide will reach average annual concentrations of 21.1 micrograms per cubic metre of air, just over the plan’s limit of 20 micrograms. Nitrogen dioxide will reach 59.5 micrograms, well over the limit of 45.Randall Barrett, director of Alberta Environment’s northern region, said the projections are derived from models deliberately designed to overestimate emissions as a way to ensure caution.“It shows us we have to be very diligent in how we are setting pollution controls for any plants in this area, because the computer models are predicting that we are getting close or over some of the air quality (levels).”Regulators use the models to determine what sort of emission controls to impose on applicants, said Barrett.“What would likely happen is they would go to the most stringent type of air quality pollution control, because the models are predicting you could be over the limit.”Barrett said actual air monitoring data continues to show both sulphur and nitrogen dioxides remain well under their caps. If those gases increase as more facilities come on stream, the plan includes “trigger” levels that would require industry to improve its pollution controls.“This (modelling) is enforcing how important that monitoring is.”The government is obliged to act if pollutants exceed either the triggers or the absolute caps — an obligation that Environment Minister Diana McQueen has underlined.“It is a legally binding commitment that holds government accountable to Albertans,” she said when announcing the plan Aug. 22.In an emailed response, a Shell spokesman said the projections are based on assumptions that all planned developments are operating at the same time at full capacity. It adds that some of the proposals have yet to start the regulatory process.In the document, Shell points out the sulphur dioxide levels are concentrated in areas closest to its mines, regions that should be treated differently. Levels in “non-developed areas” remain below the government’s cap, it says.It also says elevated nitrogen dioxide levels are a result of “over-predicted” emissions from giant trucks used in the mines and suggests those emissions are being reduced as the vehicles are upgraded.Dyer says the government’s plan makes no provision for treating some areas differently than others. He also says contaminants in one area do ultimately spread throughout the region.An earlier Shell document acknowledges 23 small, mostly unnamed lakes, have already passed their critical load for acid.The document also lists cumulative effects that aren’t yet governed by the regional plan, such as wildlife impacts.Out of 22 indicator species — including birds, mammals and amphibians — 16 will suffer high or moderate negative consequences even under the current amount of development, it says. Some areas will suffer “moderate” biodiversity loss, even after reclamation efforts.Shell argues species will rebound as the area is returned to a more natural state and adds there should be enough undisturbed regions to maintain a healthy ecosystem. read more

Northern Gateway hearings to address marine emergency response

Canada has a good safety record. Having said that, there are important things we can learn from different jurisdictionsVANCOUVER — Despite years of planning for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and myriad legislative changes that will affect the project, the regulations and best practices from other jurisdictions where tankers tread have not been put in place for British Columbia, studies find.One review of legislation in Washington state, Alaska, Norway and other jurisdictions that see the type of tanker traffic that the West Coast can expect if the pipelines are approved found room for improvement.“Canada has a good safety record. Having said that, there are important things we can learn from different jurisdictions,” said Darryl Anderson, whose Wave Point Consulting has published several papers on the issues around the pipeline proposals in British Columbia.The shipping industry is well-regulated in Canada, Anderson found, but the maritime sector too often makes improvements in response to a critical incident, he said.Alaska, Washington and Norway “have a much more robust regulatory system and a much more robust assessment of risk prior to something happening, so you don’t just have to rely on a marine incident to bring about change.”In particular, Anderson and his colleague, Joe Spears, recommend an independent agency responsible for conducting oil spill risk assessments and directing investment in spill prevention and response.They suggest more stable funding for maritime policy measures, required emergency response drills, and the use of Canadian-flagged vessels for bulk oil transport.Enbridge experts will return to Prince Rupert, B.C., on Monday, to resume testimony under oath about the $6-billion dollar pipeline project.First up, they will be answering questions about one of the most contentious issues facing the Northern Gateway project: planning and response to marine oil spills.The company has committed to “extended responsibility” for emergency response along the marine transportation routes. That would include spill response capacity even in the event of third-party tanker spills, but extended responsibility would not include clean-up costs or compensation.“The tanker owner would remain the responsible party if a spill were to occur along the marine transportation routes,” Northern Gateway confirms in documents filed with the review panel.John Carruthers, president of Northern Gateway Pipelines, said the company has gone well beyond the regulatory requirements in order to ease concerns.“I think people have questions and from a project perspective we’re answering them. And I think there is recognition that some of the questions being asked are broader than any one project, and I think it’s appropriate for government to be looking at it from that broader perspective,” Carruthers said.Commitments have been put in place by government and the company to guard against incidents, including the use of marine pilots familiar with the local area, cutting-edge navigational systems, and spill response capacity that is more than three times the Canadian standard.“I think it’s important to look around the world and take best practices and that’s certainly what Northern Gateway has done,” Carruthers said, citing the commitment to marine spill response.“That’s not something a pipeline company would typically take on, but we did … beyond what’s required by regulation. We certainly have looked around the world to build on what’s being done elsewhere.”Opponents of the Northern Gateway proposal — as well as Kinder Morgan’s plan to double the capacity of its existing TransMountain pipeline from Alberta to Metro Vancouver — fear a catastrophic oil spill off the B.C. coast.It’s a huge concern, said Brenda Belak, a lawyer for West Coast Environmental Law.Industry funds totalling $1.3-billion may not suffice for clean up and compensation, she said.“Once the bitumen is offloaded onto a ship and the ship starts sailing out of the port, the pipeline operator is no longer responsible in that case. It’s the ship operator,” Belak said.It would be very difficult to hold the shipping company legally liable, she said.“Very few of them are registered in Canada.”There are means to ease concerns and ensure project safety, Anderson said, but the debate around the Northern Gateway project has become very polarized.“In these other jurisdictions, they have much more debate about the best practices and they don’t just get into good, bad, are you for it or against it? They have an understanding that there’s a trade-off involved and we’re not having any of that discussion in Canada.”The hearings in Prince Rupert continue on and off in Prince Rupert over the next four months. The joint review panel must submit its report to the federal government by the end of the year. read more

TSX rises in choppy trade as investors eye Ukraine conflict Bank of

TORONTO — Gold stocks helped push the Toronto stock market slightly higher Wednesday as investors continued to monitor the standoff between Russia and Ukraine.They also digested disappointing U.S. private sector employment data two days before the release of the government’s jobs report for February.The S&P/TSX composite index rose 11.48 points to 14,301.34.The Canadian currency was ahead 0.49 of a cent to 90.58 cents US amid general U.S. dollar weakness as the Bank of Canada announced it was leaving its key rate unchanged at 1%. The bank also made no changes to its neutral bias stance, meaning it believes the next policy move could equally be either a hike in rates or a cut.Also, Quebec premier Pauline Marois confirmed that Quebecers will vote in a general election, which is expected to be held on April 7.U.S. indexes were largely tepid as payroll firm ADP reported the private sector created 139,000 jobs during the month, short of the 160,000 that was expected. Economists looked for Friday’s report to show that overall, about 150,000 jobs were created last month.The Dow Jones industrials dipped 17.84 points to 16,378.04, the Nasdaq was 2.47 points higher to 4,354.44 while the S&P 500 index added 0.74 of a point to 1,874.65.It’s been a volatile week on markets, which started the week off with losses after Russian troops invaded Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula over the weekend. Russia has key military installations there and many people are Russian speaking.But markets calmed down Tuesday after Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops participating in military exercises near Ukraine’s border to return to their bases. He also said he hopes that Russia, which does not recognize the new Ukrainian leadership, won’t need to use force in eastern Ukraine.On Wednesday, the European Union announced it is proposing to provide Ukraine an 11 billion euro aid package in loans and grants over the coming years.In earnings news, media company Torstar Corp. had $20.6 million or 26 cents a share of quarterly net income, little changed from $21.1 million a year earlier. Revenue from Torstar’s newspaper and book divisions was $366.5 million, down seven% from $395.7 million a year earlier, although the media divisions revenue was up from the third quarter and its shares jumped 41 cents or 8.13% to $5.45.Laurentian Bank of Canada had $35.5 million of net income in its fiscal first quarter, up eight% from a year earlier. Adjusted earnings were $39.3 million or $1.29 per share compared with $39.1 million or $1.30 per share last year and its shares slipped 15 cents to $46.35.The gold sector led gainers, up 0.55% while April bullion edged up 50 cents to US$1,338.40 an ounce.The base metals sector was ahead 0.4% with May copper unchanged at $3.22 a pound.The tech sector led decliners, down 0.8%.The energy sector lost 0.2% while April crude in New York declined 49 cents to US$102.84 a barrel. read more

Amazonca adds industrial scientific supplies to its online store

TORONTO — Amazon.ca is now selling scientific and industrial supplies such as microscopes, power tools and 3D printers as the company looks to expand its offerings in Canada.The new category of business, industrial and scientific supplies is aimed at hospitals, universities and business looking for commercial supplies.The popular online retailer has added several new categories of products to its Canadian store over the past 12 months, including clothing, shoes and wearable electronics.Amazon gets more clicks than Canadian web retailers, but it isn’t hurting sales — yetAmazon Canada to sell clothing, shoes starting ThursdayAmazon.ca spokeswoman Katie McFadzean said the company offers more than 100 million items in more than 30 categories in Canada and is constantly working to expand selection.Amazon’s American store offers a much wider range of products and, for Americans, the company’s Prime premium shipping membership also gives them access to a library of streaming content that is unavailable in Canada.Amazon has expanded into two new office spaces in Canada over the last two years, one in Vancouver and one in Toronto. The company said last March that it was testing delivery drones at an facility in rural British Columbia. read more

SNCLavalin slashes another 950 positions amid restructuring including 600 in Canada

MONTREAL — SNC-Lavalin is eliminating 950 jobs around the world, including 600 in Canada.The Montreal-based engineering and construction firm says all of the employees affected have been notified, with most having already left.The company says the downsizing in Canada mainly involves employees in Ontario and Alberta, followed by Quebec, and follows the elimination of 4,000 positions in 2014.SNC-Lavalin Group Inc’s stock undervalued, analyst says, after company posts better-than-expected Q4 profitRumoured SNC-Lavalin takeover of John Wood Group would be ‘misallocation of capital,’ analyst warnsThe latest cuts are part of a larger restructuring announced last November by CEO Neil Bruce to adapt to a weaker economy.SNC-Lavalin expects to save $100 million per year from a series of efforts, including workforce reduction.The job losses touch several areas of operation including the weak oil and gas sector in Western Canada.The company has nearly 40,000 employees around the world, including almost 12,000 in Canada.The Canadian Press read more

IKEA recalls Gothem lamps after reports of electric shock from worn cables

BURLINGTON, Ont. — IKEA Canada has received three reports that one brand of table and floor lamps may cause electrical shocks.The retailer says it hasn’t received any report of injury but is recalling all three models of Gothem (GOTH’-em) lamps.It says customers should immediately stop using the lamps and return them to any IKEA store for a full refund. Proof of purchase will not be required.The Gothem lamps have been sold by IKEA since last October.About 1,260 pieces have been sold in Canada and 53,000 worldwide.IKEA says the metal body of the lamps can become electrified if the cables are damaged.Loblaw pulled French’s ketchup because it was ‘cannibalizing’ PC brand sales, leaked memo revealsChipotle Mexican Grill Inc says food-safety fallout will lead to its first-ever quarterly lossLoblaws to re-stock French’s ketchup after social media backlash read more

Chip Wilsons Kit and Ace lays off some of its head office

TORONTO — Kit and Ace, the clothing company started by the family of Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, is laying off a number of its head office staff and closing stores in three countries.In a statement, Hold It All Inc., the Vancouver-based holding company which owns the brand, said the layoffs and showroom closures in the U.S., Australia and the U.K. come as the company moves to simplify its business plans and operations.Chip Wilson’s casual apparel chain Kit and Ace hit by more layoffsChip Wilson is antagonizing Lululemon executives again by urging them to buy Under ArmourFounded by JJ Wilson and Shannon Wilson in 2014, the company is shifting focus to its Canadian locations and global e-commerce platform.Kit and Ace laid off 35 people at its head office last February and faced another round of layoffs in September.The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.The Canadian Press read more

Financial market highlights on Tuesday SPTSX 1520237 up 7368

Highlights at the close Tuesday at world financial market trading.Stocks:S&P/TSX Composite Index — 15,202.37, up 73.68 pointsDow — 21,613.43, up 100.26 pointsS&P 500– 2,477.08, up 7.17 points (record high)Nasdaq — 6,412.17, up 1.36 points (record high)Currencies:Cdn — 79.96 cents US, up 0.04 of a centPound — C$1.6319, up 0.16 of a centEuro — C$1.4592, up 0.27 of a centEuro — US$1.1667, up 0.26 of a centOil futures:US$47.89, up $1.55(September contract)Gold futures:US$1,252.10 per oz., down $2.20(August contract)Canadian Fine Silver Handy and Harman:$21.481 per oz., down 2.6 cents$690.61 per kg., down 84 cents read more

WatchWe will all lose Trudeau goes off script in China speech warns

“In this new era, we refuse to get left behind; instead we have chosen to lead. We know there are significant disruptions around the world, in our workplaces, within our borders in our countries.”Canada and China are still working towards starting formal free talks, a task that has been given to International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, who stayed behind in Beijing where Trudeau held meetings earlier in the week.Trudeau’s meetings in Beijing with China’s top leadership failed to move Canada-China free talks forward from a long round of exploratory talks to the start of formal negotiations. But both countries say economic bonds are stronger than ever as Trudeau was warmly welcomed by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.Trudeau had separate meetings and dinners with Xi and Li before jetting south, where he spent the first of two days glad-handing with business leaders from Fortune 500 companies.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a speech at the Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou, China, on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press GUANGZHOU, China — The world is at a “pivot point” and will fail unless countries embrace free trade and elevate their citizens who have been left behind by globalization, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Wednesday.Trudeau delivered that dire, anti-protectionist message to a high-powered business audience at a major international conference in this bustling southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.Trudeau came to the Fortune Global Forum, a Davos-style gathering of the world’s business elite, to sell Canada as good place for foreign investment, but he went off script and delivered a stern warning about the dangers of allowing protectionism and inequality to flourish.Terence Corcoran: Trudeau can’t land a trade deal — because he’s no free traderPush to launch Canada, China free trade talks falls flat in Beijing“We are at a pivot point in the world right now, where we decide whether we work together in an open and confident way and succeed or whether we all falter separately and isolated,” he said.“As that anxiety spreads, people start to turn inwards. They start to close off. They start to get fearful,” he added. “If that continues to happen, make no mistake about it, we will all lose.”Trudeau didn’t mention the Donald Trump administration in Washington, but he’s already spoken out in China on the need to save the North American Free Trade Agreement from demise. He was delivering the message to a gathering of business leaders meeting under the banner of “Openness and Innovation: Shaping the Global Economy,” that brought together the chief executives from the world’s biggest companies.In his speech, he singled out China as kindred economic spirit, saying it is “well aligned” with Canada to fight for liberalized trade.We are at a pivot point in the world right now, where we decide whether we work together in an open and confident way and succeed or whether we all falter separately and isolatedPrime Minister Justin Trudeau Trudeau began Wednesday with a meeting of Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang, who decried the forces of protectionism as like living in a “dark room.”Trudeau displayed a fond nostalgia for this city, which he visited 22 years ago he was a student backpacker. He told Wang the connections between this city and Canada run deep because many of the earliest Chinese immigrants came from this region.He returned to Shamian Island, a beautiful tree-lined garden oasis in the city, where families with young children, millennials, and many others strolled on the square cobblestone boulevard lined with green and pink foliage under a canopy of Banyan trees.Trudeau said he vividly remembered walking the streets of the picturesque neighbourhood, in what was once the city’s embassy district, during a visit with the Li Xi, the secretary of the Communist Party of Guangdong province, at an ornate yellow Spanish Colonial guesthouse with stained glass windows.Trudeau capped a whirlwind day by marking a much darker memory in the history of another city much closer to him: he took part in a candle lighting ceremony at the Canadian consulate to mark the 28th anniversary of the 1989 massacre at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, where a gunman killed 14 women. Trudeau renewed his friendship with billionaire Jack Ma, the founder of the Asian e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba, who praised the prime minister for a new policy that will speed the Canadian visa process for skilled workers.“It’s going to be huge news among the Chinese young people,” Ma told him.They have gathered at a 36-story luxury hotel that shoots through a dense haze overlooking the Pearl River, the grand waterway that winds through the busiest industrial concentration of companies on the planet — 70 million people in nine southern Chinese cities.Canada is no slouch either, the prime minister said.“We’re becoming the go-to economy for ambitious companies looking to take their business to the next level,” Trudeau said in his keynote address.He said Canada is becoming a world leader in artificial intelligence, robotics, and quantum computing. He said Canada is a stable and predictable destination for investment with a good banking system.The prime minister made it clear he wants Canada to move forward with the trade talks with China but said there needs to be an agreed framework that includes progressive elements such as gender, labour rights and the environment.“China and Canada share the belief that more openness and more collaboration is the right way forward. Closing our doors will only hurt our businesses, and our citizens,” Trudeau said.“The old model won’t cut it anymore.”Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is broadcast on a large screen as he delivers a speech at the Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou, China, on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. read more

Sri Lankans in Korea being registered

The Sri Lankan Embassy in South Korea has sought details of all Sri Lankans in that country as a result of the recent tensions prevailing between North and South Korea.External Affairs Ministry spokesman Rodney Perera told the Colombo Gazette that the Sri Lankan Embassy in South Korea has urged Sri Lankans to register with the Embassy so that the Embassy can keep track of them in the event there is a situation. Report by Easwaran Rutnam A spokesman for the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee called on all foreign organizations, companies and tourists in South Korea to prepare measures for evacuation in case of war.“The situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to a thermonuclear war” due to the hostile actions of the United States and South Korea and their moves for a war against the DPRK, the spokesman said. However he said that so far the South Korean authorities have not informed the Embassy to evacuate Sri Lankans in the country. Over 20,000 Sri Lankans are employed in South Korea. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) had today asked foreigners living in South Korea to consider evacuation, the Xinhua news agency reported. The DPRK said Friday that the current question was not whether, but when a war would break out on the peninsula. Pyongyang has told foreign embassies to consider possible evacuation if tensions flare up. (Colombo Gazette) The current situation “is seriously affecting peace and security not only on the peninsula but in the rest of the Asia-Pacific,” the spokesman said.The DPRK “does not want to see foreigners in South Korea fall victim to the war,” he said.According to the spokesman, the United States and South Korea are watching for a chance to start a war against the DPRK as they have introduced weapons of mass destruction into South Korea. read more