Vatican Chooses Hope as Motto for Pope Francis Visit to Morocco

Rabat – The Vatican has chosen a logo for Pope Francis’s upcoming visit to Morocco scheduled for March 30-31.The visit came at the request of King Mohammed VI. The pope will visit Rabat and Casablanca on his 26th visit outside Italy. The Vatican chose “Servant of Hope” as the motto of the pope’s upcoming visit to Morocco because he “is known as the Servant of the Servants of God,” Vatican News reported January 8. The motto is shown under Pope Francis’ name The Vatican selected the logo out of 50 logos in a competition.The logo features symbols of “a cross and a crescent” representing Christianity and Islam. It highlights “the interreligious relations between Christians and Muslims.”The logo has the colors red and green which symbolizes Morocco’s flag and yellow and white as background colors for the Vatican.It also shows the name “Morocco” written in Arabic as an honor to the Arabic-speaking country for hosting the pope.The logo has the colors red and green which symbolizes Morocco’s flag and yellow and white as background colors for the Vatican.Prior to his two-day visit to Morocco, the pope plans to visit the UAE February 3-5. In an address to diplomats on Monday in the Vatican, Pope Francis said that his visits to the UAE and Morocco “represent two important opportunities to advance interreligious dialogue and mutual understanding between the followers of both religions.”Read Also: Moroccan Christians Wish to Welcome Pope Francis with Public PrayersIn November 2018, Rabat’s Archbishop Cristobal Lopez wrote a letter to Christians in Morocco on Pope Francis’s visit to Morocco.Lopez explained that the pope wants to meet the people of Morocco and “His Majesty the King, in the spirit of an interreligious Islam-Christian dialogue,” which both sides seek to promote.The pope’s visit will be the second of its kind from a pope to Morocco after the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1985. King Hassan II invited Pope John Paul II as an opportunity to build a bridge between Muslims and Christians. read more

Net migration into UK from EU falls to neardecade low

LONDON — Net migration into Britain from the other 27 European Union countries has fallen to near-decade lows, suggesting Brexit uncertainty has made the country a less attractive destination for the bloc’s workers. However, net migration from non-EU countries has risen to its highest since 2004.Figures released Thursday by the Office for National Statistics show that the difference between those entering the country and those leaving fell in the year to September to 57,000, its lowest since 2009.Net migration from the EU has fallen since Britain voted to leave the EU — it hit a peak of 189,000 in the year to June 2016, when the referendum took place. Immigration and its impact on wages and communities was one of the big issues behind the Brexit vote.One of the perks of being a member of the EU is that people can live and work anywhere in the bloc. That right was taken up enthusiastically by many of the former Soviet bloc countries in the region after they joined the EU at different times since 2004.After Brexit, or at least after any transition after the scheduled Brexit day on March 29, that freedom will ostensibly end. However, as with so many other Brexit-related issues, it’s unclear what a future immigration system in Britain will look like, not least because no Brexit deal has been agreed in Britain’s Parliament. There’s now speculation that Brexit will be delayed or even that a second referendum could be held on whether to leave the EU.“The overall story the data tell on EU migration is clear: Britain is not as attractive to EU migrants as it was a couple of years ago,” said Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.The decline in net migration is not just about Brexit.The fact that many EU economies, particularly those in the 19-country eurozone, have recovered economically has lessened the need for many to search for opportunities abroad.The relative attraction of Britain financially has also diminished. After the Brexit vote, the pound’s value sank. Though the pound has recovered in recent days to trade at 21-month highs against the euro, it’s still significantly weakened.Sumption also noted that EU net migration happened to be unusually high in the run-up to the referendum, “so at least some of this decline would probably have happened anyway even without Brexit.”At the same time, net migration to Britain from non-EU countries rose in the year to September to its highest level since 2004, due in part to an increase in the number of students from non-EU countries.Overall, net migration into the country stood at 283,000 in the year to September.Pan Pylas, The Associated Press read more

J Crew considers IPO for its younger sister Madewell

NEW YORK — Clothing retailer J. Crew Group Inc. says it’s considering a potential initial public offering for its successful Madewell brand.The announcement Thursday comes after the struggling company completed a review of the options for its business.It says a Madewell IPO, if pursued, could be completed as early as the second half of this year.Separately, it named Michael Nicholson, president and chief operating officer, interim CEO of J. Crew Group Inc. Retail veteran Mickey Drexler led J. Crew for more than a decade, helping it become a coveted fashion brand before it hit a multi-year sales slump. He severed his last ties with the company in January.J. Crew recently began to add a wider variety of styles. Meanwhile, Madewell has done well with its classic, quality clothing.Anne D’Innocenzio, The Associated Press read more

Sony Pictures Television forms closer ties with Wattpad storyteller platform

TORONTO — Sony Pictures Television is forming a tighter relationship with the Wattpad social media platform for storytellers, authors and writers.Toronto-based Wattpad will use its proprietary technology to identify writers that are likely to appeal to Sony Pictures Television and then act as a liaison between the creators and the multinational TV producer.A similar approach was used with a TV adaptation of the “Death is My BFF” book series by Wattpad author Katarina E. Tonks, whose work is being co-developed by Sony Pictures Television, Stampede Ventures and Wattpad. The head of Wattpad Studios, Aron Levitz, says creators retain all of the rights to their works but his company can help them make money from selling rights to the content.Under the new arrangement, Wattpad will provide Sony Pictures Television with an exclusive first-look opportunity that gives it a limited time to assess the work and offer an option fee that’s “similar or better” to industry averages.Wattpad isn’t disclosing financial details of its arrangement with Sony Pictures Television or the individual creators. The Canadian Press read more

UN African Union envoys meet with President of Sudan

18 February 2007Wrapping up a visit to Sudan aimed at reviving the stalled peace process for the strife-torn Darfur region, envoys from the United Nations and the African Union held talks with the country’s president, who indicated that he would support dialogue with different factions. Wrapping up a visit to Sudan aimed at reviving the stalled peace process for the strife-torn Darfur region, envoys from the United Nations and the African Union held talks with the country’s president, who indicated that he would support dialogue with different factions.The AU’s Salim Ahmed Salim and the UN’s Jan Eliasson on Saturday briefed President Omar Hassan Al Bashir on the outcome of the discussions they held with senior government officials and both signatories and non-signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA).President Al Bashir “stressed the commitment of the Government to support the dialogue with non-DPA signatories and expressed Sudan’s keenness to improve relations with Chad,” according to the UN Mission in the country (UNMIS), which said the Sudanese leader also pledged to boost humanitarian work and cooperate with UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The two envoys are expected to report in the coming days to their respective organizations on the outcome of their joint mission. Before departing on their visit, Mr. Eliasson and Dr. Salim said they “will be delivering a strong message” on the urgent need for an end to the political and humanitarian crisis engulfing Darfur, where at least 200,000 people have been killed and 2 million others displaced from their homes since 2003.A cessation of hostilities is seen as the first priority so that humanitarian operations can take place and the suffering of civilians can be alleviated. An estimated 4 million people across the vast and impoverished region now depend on aid for survival. read more

Lack of funds forces UN refugee agency to halt TimorLeste operation

The last international staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have now left the young nation, which the UN helped shepherd to independence in 2002, leaving behind only a small core of national staff to help rebuild the skills of civil servants and to look after a handful of refugees from Asia and West Africa, the agency said in a press release issued today.“We accomplished a lot,” said Robert Ashe, UNHCR’s Jakarta-based regional representative. In the first three months following the April-May 2006 violence, the agency helped thousands of people in makeshift camps that had been set up in and around Dili.UNHCR, along with Australian peacekeepers, worked to ensure that the airport in the capital, Dili, resumed functioning in the early days after the looting and fighting, which left at least 25 people dead and 150,000 displaced.After Dili Airport was taken over by internally displaced people seeking shelter, UNHCR set up a nearby tent city which allowed the facility to return to its intended function.Last September, UNHCR provided more than 1,500 lightweight family tents, plastic sheeting and other relief items to the Government, which estimated that some 1,500 houses were destroyed or badly damaged in Dili alone. The agency says the situation remains grim for many of those still displaced, which the Government says could be as many as 100,000 people, with at least 25,000 of those in the capital. Mr. Ashe added that last Saturday’s peaceful parliamentary election, for which the votes are still being counted, offered hope for a brighter future if the new Government could focus on the issues of internally displaced people, poverty and employment. 3 July 2007The UN refugee agency has ended its emergency operation in Timor-Leste owing to a lack of funds, bringing to a close nearly 14 months of vital assistance to some 150,000 people displaced following the outbreak of factional violence last year. read more

UN health crisis experts meet to boost Africas response to emergencies

According to WHO, this year alone, more than 95 per cent of African countries have experienced a humanitarian crisis. This makes it all the more important to strengthen efforts to not only respond to emergencies but to prevent them from happening or be properly prepared when they do.“If we can continue to improve how countries in Africa prepare for and respond to disasters, the health of millions of people will be improved and secured,” said Omar Khatib, African regional adviser for WHO’s Emergency and Humanitarian Action (EHA) programme. Improving how countries prepare for recurrent disasters was a key focus of the annual EHA review that brought together about 50 WHO humanitarian experts from throughout Africa to Zanzibar, Tanzania, beginning on 6 October.“This meeting has identified ways to further strengthen the way national health systems can function during and after a crisis,” Dr. Khatib said. “Our goal as humanitarians is to reduce avoidable suffering and death. “To do so we must keep improving the way in which we work with countries, help countries to strengthen their capacities and build stronger ties with the donor community to ensure they continue their valuable support to alleviating the health problems faced by millions of Africans,” he added.Dr. Khatib emphasized the need to continue working with other WHO units to strengthen Africa’s capacities to be able to meet persistent and future emergencies, such as annual flooding and drought, communicable disease control and malnutrition related to the global food security crisis.Participating in gathering, which WHO considers “the most important meeting for the organization’s health crisis team on the continent,” were experts from Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Burundi, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Liberia, Kenya, Niger, Chad, Madagascar, Botswana, Rwanda, Mozambique, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Congo and Algeria.Also attending the weeklong meeting were members of the Health Action in Crises cluster from WHO headquarters in Geneva. 10 October 2008Experts with the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) have identified ways to further strengthen the way national health systems in Africa – where most of the world’s humanitarian crises are occurring – function during and after emergencies such as disease outbreaks, flooding and malnutrition. read more

Sri Lanka bombed hospital now empty UN says

4 February 2009A hospital in the zone of fighting between the Government and rebel forces in north-eastern Sri Lanka, which has been the scene of heavy shelling and aerial bombardment for several days, was empty this morning, the United Nations reported. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UN staff said that bombings took place for several hours yesterday, and the hospital was empty this morning after intense military operations overnight. The hospital was shelled numerous times on Sunday, resulting in the killing of 11 people altogether, including one nurse, Gordon Weiss of OCHA said on Monday. The hospital has around 600 patients, with new people arriving all the time of which hundreds are critically injured and cannot be treated. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is continuing its negotiations to allow a food convoy into the Vanni region. With the last batch of supplies having reached the area on 29 January, the agency has been told that the earliest this can happen is Friday. An estimated 250,000 civilians are trapped in areas of northern Sri Lanka where fighting continues between Government forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). read more

Joint UN African Union mediator hails pact between Government Darfur rebels

18 February 2009The Joint African Union-United Nations Chief Mediator tasked with resolving the conflict in Darfur has congratulated the Sudanese Government and a key rebel group for making strides in the process to bring peace to the war-ravaged Darfur region. Yesterday, representatives of the Sudanese Government and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), meeting for the first time in two years, signed the “Agreement of Good Will and Confidence Building for the Settlement of the Problem in Darfur” in Doha, Qatar.In a statement, Joint Chief Mediator Djibrill Yipènè Bassolé underlined “that it is now essential that both parties respect and implement this agreement to thereby crate propitious conditions for a peaceful and rapid resolution of this conflict.”He stressed that inclusive dialogue is essential for a durable peace, adding that he will continue his talks with all parties to ensure broad participation in ending hostilities.Noting that the “essential part of the process remains ahead,” Mr. Bassolé also said yesterday that it is crucial to reach a “global, comprehensive and inclusive peace accord that will bring lasting peace to Darfur and end the suffering of its population.”More than six years of fighting between the Government, allied militia and rebel groups have led to over 300,000 deaths and uprooted over 2.7 million people in Darfur.The Joint Chief mediator called on Qatar and regional partners to contribute humanitarian relief in the short-term as well as to the reconstruction of the region once a peace pact has been reached.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the Government-JEM agreement, calling it a “constructive step in the ongoing efforts to negotiate a peaceful conclusion to this long-running conflict.”He also underscored “that until the parties renounce hostilities, the situation in Darfur cannot improve,” according to a statement issued yesterday by his spokesperson. read more

On eve of nuclear summit Ban renews call for global nuclear disarmament

“Our shared vision is within reach” for a nuclear-free world, Mr. Ban told a gathering last night at Riverside Church in New York. “We know the world is watching,” he added. “Let it heed our call. Disarm now!” Representatives from more than 100 countries, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are slated to attend the latest five-yearly review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), starting tomorrow in New York. “We know that nuclear disarmament is not a distant, unattainable dream,” the Secretary-General said at last night’s event. “It is an urgent necessity, here and now. We are determined to achieve it.” He pointed that this almost become a reality more than two decades ago when the leaders of the United States and the then-Soviet Union came very close to agreeing to eliminate nuclear weapons. “It was a dramatic reminder of how far we can go – as long as we have the vision and the will,” the Secretary-General, who has made nuclear disarmament a top priority since his first day in office, underscored. The last NPT review conference in 2005, he said, failed “utterly,” and the world cannot afford to fail again given that there more than 25,000 nuclear weapons on the planet and nuclear terrorism continues to pose a threat. Further, the UN chief said, these has been no movement in setting up a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, while the nuclear plans of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) are complicating global efforts to curb proliferation. But there is cause for renewed optimism today, he underscored, thanks to a series of recent events, including the announcement by the US of its nuclear posture and the conclusion of a US-Russia START treaty accompanied by serious cuts in their arsenals. Mr. Ban said that at the upcoming review conference, which runs from 3-28 May, he plans to call on all countries, especially the nuclear-weapons States, to pursue a treaty on disarmament under international control, as stipulated by the NPT. “These negotiations are long overdue,” he underscored. “We should not have unrealistic expectations for the conference. But neither can we afford to lower our sights.” The Secretary-General added, “what I see on the horizon is a world free of nuclear weapons.” 2 May 2010With the curtain on a major non-proliferation summit set to rise tomorrow at United Nations Headquarters, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed for a renewed global commitment towards nuclear disarmament. read more

UNESCO chief speaks out against killing of Mexican journalist

Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartas, 27, was found dead in his car on 6 July near Apatzingán, a city in the western state of Michoacán.According to the non-governmental organization (NGO) Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Mr. Olivera received a telephone call summoning him to the scene of an accident. His body was found several hours later, with three gunshots to the head, and his office was later broken into.He was the editor of the Apatzingán-based El Día de Michoacán, a daily, and founded ADN, a local press agency. He was also a correspondent for Quadratin, a national agency.Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), called on Mexican authorities to find the perpetrators of the murder and end impunity.“After this latest attack on freedom of information, Mexican justice must be given the necessary means to take action,” she stressed.Some 200 journalists protested Mr. Olivera’s killing in Morelia, the capital of Michoacán, according to Quadratin. 16 July 2010The head of the United Nations agency mandated to protect the freedom of expression today condemned the murder of a Mexican journalist specializing in covering crime, bringing the total number of media professionals killed so far this year in the country to eight. read more

Ban welcomes approval of new chief for UNs inhouse watchdog

28 July 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the General Assembly’s approval of Carman Lapointe-Young of Canada as the new head of the United Nations internal watchdog office. Ms. Lapointe has served since February 2009 as the director of the Office of Audit and Oversight at the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Prior to that, she was the Auditor General of the World Bank Group, and has held a number of oversight positions in the private sector in Canada.She possesses “the breadth and depth of experience and expertise required for this demanding position,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, told reporters at UN Headquarters.Ms. Lapointe succeeds Inga-Britt Ahlenius of Sweden as Under-Secretary-General for the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), which was set up in 1994 as an operationally independent office that reports to the Secretary-General and the Assembly on protecting the Organization’s assets, and conducts audits of UN operations worldwide. The end-of-assignment report submitted by Ms. Ahlenius as she concluded her five-year term earlier this month included an attack against Mr. Ban’s leadership, with Ms. Ahlenius alleging he undercut the independence of her office, thwarted the hiring of her own staff, and set up a competing internal investigations unit.That report, however, contains “many inaccuracies, misrepresentations and distortions,” the Under-Secretary-General for Management, Angela Kane, said today.She added that transparency and accountability are essential to the work of the Organization, and OIOS is critical to advancing this effort.“The new chief will be expected to build up the OIOS team, filling vacancies and taking on responsibilities of the department that in recent years have unfortunately gone unmet,” said Ms. Kane. “We are all committed to taking prompt action that will help the office carry out its vital work.” read more

Top UN official urges all Member States to ratify landmark disability convention

“In the past year, the number of signatures and ratifications of this legal instrument has more than doubled,” Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang told a meeting of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into force in May 2008. “These results represent remarkable progress in a short period of time.”Nevertheless, a key challenge to the convention’s full implementation is the fact that fewer than half of all Member States have ratified it, he said.“Today, I call on the remaining Member States to become States Parties to this convention. Commitment to the convention from the full UN membership is a crucial first step toward bringing about widespread and lasting change.”“As you know, persons with disabilities are more likely to be poor and to lack access to equal social, health, educational and employment services,” he added. “It is the international community’s collective responsibility to address these inequalities.”“We must advocate for increased recognition and protection of their human rights, including the right to education. We must adapt our communities to their needs wherever possible. We must also change the hearts and minds of the public about the abilities of persons with disabilities.”Another key challenge was how to address disability needs during times of natural disaster and armed conflict. “We, the international community, need to ensure that in humanitarian operations, these persons receive prioritized access to aid. Reconstruction efforts should include accessible buildings and transportation systems,” he said.“The added costs to doing so are minimal, and they bring untold benefits – and hope – to persons with disabilities.”Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, reflected on the same theme in a statement read out to the event on her behalf. She said an informal session held by States parties on this issue had been particularly timely.“This year has seen many humanitarian crises around the world; notably in the earthquakes in Haiti, China and Pakistan; the earthquake and tsunami in Chile; and more recently, the floods in Pakistan. Regrettably, human rights considerations are often neglected in such crises and their relevance questioned as an immediate priority in the planning and implementation of relief operations. It must not be so.”Reflecting that concern, the three-day meeting of States parties will include a panel discussion, organized in collaboration with the International Disability Alliance, on this issue.During their three-day meeting, States are also expected to renew and expand the size of the committee from 12 to 18 members – reflecting the increase in parties to the convention.The convention is the culmination of years of global efforts to ensure that the rights of the world’s persons with disabilities are guaranteed and protected. It asserts the rights to education, health, work, adequate living conditions, freedom of movement, freedom from exploitation and equal recognition before the law for persons with disabilities. 1 September 2010A senior United Nations official today called on all UN Member States to become party to the world body’s landmark convention protecting the rights of the estimated 650 million people with disabilities, which has already acquired 146 signatories and 90 ratifications. read more

Libya UN chief calls for concerted efforts to address grave humanitarian crisis

“Within Libya itself, the picture is especially grave,” Mr. Ban told the Cairo Conference on Libya, which he co-convened with the League of Arab States to discuss the ongoing fighting in the North African nation pitting Government forces against rebels seeking the ouster of Colonel Muammar Al-Qadhafi. He reported that in the cities of Misrata, Brega and Zintan, where the fighting has been particularly intense, access to basic services and basic commodities such as food, water and health care has been largely cut off.It is estimated that nearly half a million people have left Libya since the conflict began earlier this year. Many people remain stranded at camps and transit points in neighbouring countries. Mr. Ban said he intends to establish an international presence in the capital, Tripoli, as soon as possible, and that UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos may visit the city in light of the dire situation.“I have also called on all neighbouring countries to keep their borders open to receive those fleeing the conflict,” he said. “We must be careful not to allow large concentrations of refugees awaiting evacuation to build up along the border, particularly given the fragility of the situation in the region.”The fighting in Libya started out as protests against the Qadhafi regime, and is part of a broader pro-democracy movement across North Africa and the Middle East that has led to the downfall of long-standing regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. Stressing that early planning and preparations are essential, Mr. Ban said that, in tandem with its diplomatic efforts, the UN has launched a process of contingency planning to help the Libyan people rebuild their future.“We must expect this work to span the full range of peacemaking, peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction,” he stated. “This complex process will require a concerted effort from the United Nations. It is essential for the international community to remain engaged and united. “We must continue to speak with one voice; we must continue to work with patience and determination in common cause on behalf of the Libyan people,” he said, echoing the comments he made to the meeting of the International Contact Group on Libya, which took place yesterday in Doha, Qatar. 14 April 2011While swift and decisive global action saved thousands of lives in Libya, the humanitarian situation is deteriorating and requires concerted efforts by the United Nations and the international community, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today at a meeting in Egypt. read more

Four UN staff and two pilots killed in plane crash in Bolivia

Two Bolivian military pilots also died, said Robert Brockmann, the head of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in La Paz, citing information provided by the Bolivian Air Force. The UN victims were staff from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The next of kin have been informed, and the bodies of three of those killed are due to arrive in La Paz today, while the other three are expected in the capital tomorrow. The UN staff, – two men and two women – are all Bolivian nationals. UNODC gave their names as Leonardo Ivan Alfaro Santiago, Stephan Javier Campos Ruiz, Mariela Cinthia Moreno Torreblanco, and Patricia Olga Delgado Rua. Rescuers reportedly trekked for hours in thick rainforest to reach the burnt wreckage, which lay on a steep hillside deep in the jungle. UNODC operates in more than 150 countries around the world through a network of field offices. The agency tackles drug trafficking, corruption, money laundering and organized crime, among other issues. 7 May 2011All four United Nations staff in Bolivia whose plane disappeared during a flight to monitor coca production northeast of the capital, La Paz, were killed when the aircraft crashed on Thursday, a UN official said today. read more

Israeli barrier isolates Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem says UN report

11 July 2011Seven years after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that Israel’s construction of a barrier in the occupied Palestinian territory was illegal, a United Nations report released today shows that communities and households in East Jerusalem have been isolated by the wall. “As Palestinians in these areas have West Bank residency status, they have no right to live in the Jerusalem municipal area,” said the report prepared by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to coincide with the anniversary of the ICJ Advisory Opinion on the impact of the barrier in the Jerusalem area issued in July 2004.The report says that Palestinians “are forced to cross checkpoints to access educational and health services, and even to do their shopping. Their family members from the West Bank cannot visit them unless they obtain Jerusalem entry permits.”The report also highlights the impact of the barrier on Palestinian farmers, whose access to their land in the so-called “Seam Zone” behind the barrier is severely limited.“These farmers depend on Israeli-issued permits to access their land through gates which are only open for limited periods. This policy is devastating agricultural livelihoods throughout the West Bank,” according to the document. OCHA has over the past five years been issuing reports on the effects of the barrier on Palestinians on the anniversary of the ICJ Advisory Opinion.The report calls on the Israeli authorities to abide by the ICJ Advisory Opinion by ceasing construction of the barrier and to reroute constructed sections to the Green Line, dismantle sections of the barrier already completed, and to repeal the gate and the permit regime.“Only then will Palestinian communities cut off by the barrier be able to exercise their rights to freedom of movement, work, education, health and enjoy an adequate standard of living,” the report added.Although Israel has stated that the barrier is only a temporary security measure, the ICJ said that the specific route chosen is unnecessary to achieve its security objectives, with most of the wall running inside the West Bank, instead of the so-called Green Line, or 1949 Armistice Line. read more

Markets update

On the markets at 9:50 a.m. (ET):In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index is down 30.79 points to 15,285.23.The Dow Jones industrial average lost 28.99 points to 21,380.56.The Standard & Poor’s 500 index shed 4.99 points to 2,434.08.The Nasdaq composite index dropped 27.71 points to 6,219.44.The Canadian dollar was trading at 75.72 cents US, up from Monday’s average price of 75.54 cents US.

BC premier and jobs minister sued by fired LNG advocate claiming 5

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s fired liquefied natural gas advocate is suing Premier John Horgan, the province’s jobs minister and a New Democrat MP in a lawsuit claiming $5 million in damages.Gordon Wilson alleges in a statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court that Horgan made defamatory statements to news media earlier this month by saying there’s no evidence of any written reports or briefings to back up his salary.The statement of claim says Jobs Minister Bruce Ralston told a media outlet Wilson’s contract was terminated because an internal review uncovered no documents to support $550,000 in payments since 2013.Wilson also quotes in the claim a Facebook post by British Columbia MP Rachel Blaney in which she implies taxpayers money could have been used to meet other needs, such as housing.Wilson says in his claim that information detailing his work on LNG was available on a government website but was negligently or wilfully overlooked and neither Horgan nor Ralston discussed any employment issues with him.Horgan cited the court case in declining comment, Ralston wasn’t available for comment and Blaney could not be reached on Friday.Ralston and Blaney say in separate Facebook posts their claims about there being no written reports were inaccurate, they regretted making the statements and apologize to Wilson.No statements of defence have been filed and none of the allegations made in the statement of claim have been tested in court.Wilson asserts that his termination soon after the NDP’s election victory was “political payback” for his support of former premier Christy Clark, who appointed him as LNG advocate.The statement of claim alleges Wilson has been seriously injured in character, credit and reputation and the comments have negatively affected his ability to obtain employment as a government or industry consultant or advocate. read more

Markets update at midafternoon

On the markets at midafternoon (ET):In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 68.64 points to 15,686.89.The Dow Jones industrial average was down 15.00 points to 22,366.20.The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 6.77 points to 2,516.83.The Nasdaq composite index rose 38.19 points to 6,491.64.The Canadian dollar was trading at 80.05 cents US, down from Thursday’s average price of 80.32 cents US.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leads the way as Canada courts Amazon

TORONTO — As Canadian cities compete with each other — and dozens of jurisdictions south of the border — for Amazon’s new $50-billion headquarters, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pitched Canada to the company’s founder.In a letter addressed to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Trudeau makes a general case why any prospective Canadian suitors could prove attractive as the retail behemoth’s next corporate home.Trudeau’s letter, which starts with “Dear Jeff,” does not single out any of the bidding cities, which include major centres like Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa alongside acknowledged longshots like Halifax and Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.Instead, Trudeau outlines commercial, cultural and social reasons why Amazon should call Canada home to its new headquarters — dubbed HQ2 — and the 50,000 jobs expected to come with it.“Canadian cities are progressive, confident, and natural homes for forward-thinking global leaders,” Trudeau’s letter reads. “They are consistently ranked as the best places to live, work and play in the world.”Canada’s business advantages include costs among the lowest in the G7, universal health care that lowers the cost to employers, stable banking systems, and a deep pool of highly educated prospective workers from both at home and abroad, according to Trudeau.The letter also touches on increased government investment in skills development, culturally diverse, walkable cities and streamlined immigration processes — an apparent dig at U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies.At least one major bidder seized on that contrast as part of its formal proposal.“We build doors, not walls,” reads the cover letter from the group co-ordinating the bid from Toronto and several surrounding municipalities. “Those doors open to highly skilled economic immigrants and international students who can easily become permanent residents and citizens.”Toronto touts its diversity as one of its strengths alongside its lower business costs relative to similarly sized American competitors, expanding infrastructure and low crime rates.The city said it also ticks several of the boxes Amazon laid out when it solicited bids from North American cities last month.The company said it wants to be near a metropolitan area with more than a million people; be able to attract top technical talent; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and be able to expand that headquarters to more than 740,000 square metres in the next decade.Calgary, which can make many of the same claims, opted for a more irreverent tone in its approach to the company.Calgary Economic Development said city spokespeople flew to Seattle — where Amazon’s current headquarters is located — to erect a 36.5-metre-by-three-meter banner declaring “We’re not saying we’d fight a bear for you … but we totally would. ”The bid also included messages chalked onto local sidewalks, the city said. Examples included “Hey Amazon. We’d change our name for you. Calmazom? Amagary? Love, Calgary ;)”Calgary Economic Development did not reveal details of what its bid actually contained, but said it presented a strong case.“Calgary offers Amazon a unique value proposition for HQ2 with top quality human resources, turnkey real estate solutions, a low cost of doing business, and an exceptional quality of life,” it said in a statement. “As our sales pitch suggests, we will do more to help Amazon than any other city.”Halifax, too, was tight-lipped about the particulars of its bid, but said quality of life was a key focus.“If Amazon wants to give employees a city that they can fall in love with, I think Halifax is that city,” Mayor Mike Savage said Thursday. “If it comes down to … the inducements that a province or a city can offer, financial only, then we’re most likely not a player. But if it comes down to a bigger picture, which includes a number of things, then I think Halifax has a very competitive case to make.”One other dark horse candidate submitted a proposal that captured two of the trends common to several Canadian bidders.The northeastern Ontario city of Sault Ste. Marie is an unlikely suitor for the corporate giant, said city councillor Matt Shoemaker, who oversaw the city’s bid. But by teaming up with sister city Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., located mere kilometres across the Canada-U.S. border, he said the smaller community has much to offer.He said the two cities can compete in terms of infrastructure, expansion room and transport options, but said the real draw lies in its scenic location and access to the great outdoors.“You could canoe to work. You could kayak to work,” he said. “You could have recreational activities on the weekend that you would have to go to in a big city. Here, in Sault Ste. Marie, they’re at your doorstep.”The city is not alone in submitting a joint pitch with a neighbouring community.Windsor, Ont., has crafted a proposal with nearby Detroit, Mich., which mayor Drew Dilkens described as offering Amazon the best of both worlds.He said the company would have maximum flexibility to take advantage of taxation and talent advantages on both sides of the border, adding the cities could make it particularly easy for would-be employees to commute.“If there were campuses on both sides of the waterfront, we could physically connect it with a cable car,” he said. “That’s the unique part of this proposal is… giving Amazon the flexibility to scale where they think it works best for them.”The cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., have opted for a similar joint approach in their bid.Blair Patacairk, managing director of investment and trade with Invest Ottawa, said the bid hinges on the strong cluster of universities and colleges in the area as well as its evolving technology sector and capacity to meet Amazon’s logistical needs.But even if the bid does not succeed, he said the process of compiling the pitch has laid groundwork for the future.“We would love to win Amazon,” he said. “But if that didn’t come to pass, then we would look at the good best practices that came out of this…and put our best foot forward internationally on attracting business to Canada’s capital region.”Other Canadian centres bidding for HQ2 are Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal and Hamilton. read more