New Delhi: The Finance Ministry has approved 8.65 per cent rate of interest on Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) for 2018-19 as decided by retirement fund body EPFO, benefitting more than 6 crore formal sector workers. “The Department of Financial Services (DFS), a wing of Finance Ministry, has given its concurrence to Employees Provident Fund Organisation’s (EPFO) decision to provide 8.65 per cent rate of interest for 2018-19 to its subscribers,” a source privy to the development told PTI. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”The DFS has approved the proposal subject to fulfilment of certain conditions related to efficient management of the retirement fund,” the source said further. Earlier in February, the EPFO’s apex decision making body Central Board of Trustees headed by Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar had decided to raise the interest rate on EPF to 8.65 per cent for 2018-19, which was the first increase in the last three years. The interest rate on EPF was hiked to 8.65 per cent for the last fiscal from 8.55 per cent provided in 2017-18. The EPFO had earlier reduced the interest rate in 2016-17 to 8.65 per cent from 8.8 per cent in 2015-16. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostAfter the Finance Ministry concurrence, the Income Tax Department and the Labour Ministry would notify the rate of interest for 2018-19. Thereafter the EPFO would give directions to its over 120 field offices to credit the rate of interest into subscribers’ account and settle their claims accordingly. According to the EPFO estimates, there would be a surplus of Rs 151.67 crore after providing 8.65 per cent rate of interest for 2018-19 on EPF. There would have been a deficit of Rs 158 crore on providing 8.7 per cent rate of interest in EPF for last fiscal. That is why the body decided to provide 8.65 per cent rate of interest for 2018-19. The EPFO had provided a five-year low interest rate of 8.55 per cent to its subscribers for 2017-18.
Imphal: Contending that the BJP does not pay heed to its ideas and suggestions, the NPF, a partner in the saffron party-led alliance in the state, has convened a meeting of its leaders on Saturday to decide if it would continue to stay in the coalition or withdraw support. Denying the allegation, the BJP said it has extended all possible cooperation to its partners to ensure smooth functioning of the government. The NPF has four MLAs in the 60-member Assembly. Even if the party pulls out, it wouldn’t impact the BJP-led coalition, which currently has 29 legislators in the House. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra Singh Eight of the 28 Congress MLAs, who had won the 2017 polls, defected to the BJP last year, taking its tally from 21 to 29 in the Assembly. The other parties in the ruling coalition are NPP (4), LJP (1), Independent (1) and AITC (1). Talking to PTI, Awangbou Newmai, the state unit chief of the Naga People’s Front (NPF), claimed that the BJP “looks down” on its alliance partners. “The BJP has never respected the spirit of alliance since the formation of government in 2017. There have been instances when their leaders have refused to consider our members as alliance partners,” he said, without elaborating. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroad Newmai also said that the saffron party did not live up to the promises it made to its coalition partners. “The NPF has always considered the BJP as its big brother, but that did not stop the saffron party from bluffing to us. We haven’t got our due respect,” he claimed. Rebutting Newmai’s assertions, Ch Bijoy, the spokesperson of the BJP, said the NPF had maintained that it did not want any ministerial berth while joining the alliance, but now, it seems, the party has several demands. Of the four NPF MLAs in the Assembly, Loshii Dikho, who won from the Mao Assembly seat, is a cabinet minister. “The allegations made by the NPF are totally baseless and unfounded. All possible cooperation has been extended to our coalition partners for smooth functioning of the government,” he added.
Jincheon: Indian women’s hockey team defeated hosts South Korea 2-1 in the first match of the three-match bilateral series to begin its short tour on a confident here on Monday. Young striker Lalremsiami (20th minute) and Navneet Kaur (40th) scored for India, while Shin Hyejeong (48th) found the net for Korea. High on confidence after its impressive outings in Spain and Malaysia earlier this year, India made a strong start against the hosts. After missing out on an opportunity to score from a penalty corner early in the first quarter, India scored a splendid field goal through Lalremsiami in the 20th minute. Also Read – We will push hard for Kabaddi”s inclusion in 2024 Olympics: RijijuThe visitors’ second goal came in the 40th minute when Navneet struck beautifully to extend the lead. While the hosts won five penalty corners in the course of the match, and a penalty stroke in the last quarter, they managed to convert only one set piece in the 48th minute through Shin Hyejeong. It was India’s experienced goalkeeper Savita who made commendable saves to keep her team’s lead intact. “Considering this was our first match, I think the result was good but the performance can be better. We tried some new things in the match and it was interesting to see how we handled the change,” India’s chief coach Sjoerd Marijne said after the game. “We must bring our technical skills to a higher level in order to play faster and that will be one of our priorities for the next match.” India will play its second match of the tour on Wednesday.
CAIRO – Four Shiites were killed in Abul-Nomros in June after residents attacked a house in the city on claims of its association with spreading Shiite doctrine.Egyptian security forces have arrested the main suspect in the killing of a top Shiite leader in Egypt.Ragab Khamis was arrested on Thursday in a house in Abul-Nomros, west of Cairo, for involvement in the killing of Sheikh Hasan Shihata, the spiritual leader of Shiites in Egypt.Four Shiites were killed in Abul-Nomros in June after residents attacked a house in the city on claims of its association with spreading Shiite doctrine. The killings have sparked outcries across Egypt, amid calls for bringing the perpetrators to justice.There is no official estimate of Shiites in Egypt, but a 2006 report by the US Department of State estimated the number of Shiites in Egypt at around 740,000.By Ahmed Gamal
Rabat – Manchester United’s manager Van Gaal wants to bring the club glamour and impetus by signing the most expensive soccer players in history, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.While a war of words is taking place between Real Madrid and Manchester United over the collapse of De Gea’s move to the Spanish capital, the British side is convinced that future business will not be affected.A report by The Mirror said Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have been long-term targets for Manchester United, placing higher priority on the Welsh athlete. The Red Devils are reportedly plotting a 12-month charm offensive to coax the Spaniards into selling Bale.Manchester United already inquired about Bale’s potential availability at the start of the summer and were told that he will be staying with Real Madrid and be given more of a central role by their new coach, Rafael Benítez.Meanwhile, United are committed to keep testing Madrid’s resolve over 26-year-old Bale staying at the Bernabeu.According to the same report, there is a possibility at Old Trafford that Ronaldo could follow the Welshman, if tensions with manager Rafa Benítez escalate.The two clubs have regularly dealt with each other over transfers in recent years, with David Beckham, Gabriel Heinze, Ronaldo and Javier Hernandez moving to Madrid, as well as Angel di Maria arriving in the opposite direction.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission
Rabat – The father of the fishmonger who died after being crushed in a garbage truck compactor says that the death of his son is “a hideous crime,” but should not “cause instability in Morocco.”Amid the social media uproar Morocco following the tragic death of Mouhcine Fikri, the father of the victim made a statement calling on Moroccans to seek peaceful and efficient solutions.The statement came in an interview with the Arabic-language news source, Hespress, in front of the victim’s house in the city of Imzouren, 20 km away from Houceima where Mouhcine died. The father, Ali Fikri, stated that high-ranking officials guaranteed that those responsible for the incident will “be brought and get their punishment.”Ali Fikri also expressed worry that an innocent person might be punished by mistake, adding that the authorities have promised thorough investigations into the circumstances of his son’s death.According to the same source, the father clarified that contrary to what news sources claim, the fish was not thrown in the garbage truck but remained in the fishmonger’s truck. His son climbed the back of the garbage truck to protest the decision to confiscate the merchandise.Commenting on the protests in Morocco’s major cities following the incident, the father of Mohcine said the protests should not turn violent and spiral out of control.“I don’t want my son to be the cause of upheavals in Morocco, especially at this specific time,” adding that neither his son, nor Moroccans “want uprisings in the country.”Edited by Patrick Shaffer
Rabat – A Saudi Delegation has visited the Samir oil refinery in Mohammedia as part of Saudi Aramco’s interest in acquiring the Moroccan firm and expanding into African and European markets. The Saudi delegation comprising officials and investors in the oil sector made the visit to the Refinery to explore its eight new industrial units, which include Hydrocracker Oil to Gasoline Conversion Unit, and Liquid Sulfur Unit.The visit reflects Aramco’s interest in acquiring Samir Refinery and turning it into a hub to refine oil and market its derivatives in the African and European markets.The Saudi delegation assessed the outstanding technical condition of the industrial units at the firm, which has not operated for two years but is still maintained. Officials at the Moroccan firm confirmed that their Saudi counterpart showed interest in turning the refinery into a hub to strengthen its market share in Africa and Europe. Najib Rami, general secretary of the union’s trade union office told local press that the Moroccan firm would be a great asset for Aramco, as it represents one of the most advanced refineries in the Mediterranean region and the African continent.“We at SAMIR are looking forward to the arrival of the new investor to resume petroleum refining activities and to start supplying the Moroccan market with gasoline, gas, and lubricants,” the same official added.Rami pointed out that the Moroccan refinery could be transformed into a regional platform due to its technical capabilities, strategic location in the African market and proximity Europe. He explained that the workers are aware of the responsibility that awaits them and confirmed that are ready to resume activity.
Two of the bestselling small SUVs on the market today are the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. The CR-V is currently Edmunds’ top-ranked small SUV. The Toyota RAV4, meanwhile, is redesigned for 2019 with new looks and new technology features. Both offer a comfortable ride quality, lots of available options and impressive fuel economy. But which one will be the better choice for you? We compare them to find out.COMFORTOn the highway and in the city, the Honda CR-V scores high for ride quality. It drives over bumps and potholes smoothly, yet it is still composed when going around turns. The CR-V’s seats, in both the front and the back, have comfortable cushions and adequate lumbar support. You can do long road trips in a CR-V, no problem.The RAV4 is impressive in the comfort category, too. But there are some drawbacks. Depending on the size of the driver, the seats can become pretty uncomfortable after a few hours. The ride quality is good with the RAV4 as well, but the Honda is a bit smoother over broken city streets.ROOMINESSThe CR-V and the RAV4 are very similar when it comes to exterior and interior dimensions. There isn’t a clear winner here, but the Honda’s interior has more movable, slidable and clever storage solutions for your small personal items. Folding down the rear seats provides up to 75.8 cubic feet in the CR-V and 69.8 cubic feet in the RAV4.Headroom and legroom in both vehicles are impressive. The CR-V and the RAV4 can fit four adults without issues. And in a bind, a fifth can even be squeezed into the centre backseat position without much compromise.FUEL ECONOMY AND POWERThe CR-V has two available engines: a base 2.4-litre non-turbocharged four-cylinder (184 horsepower) or a turbocharged 1.5-litre engine (190 horsepower). We prefer the turbocharged engine for its higher fuel economy and improved acceleration. With front-wheel drive, the 2.4-litre CR-V engine is rated at 28 mpg combined (26 city/32 highway). The turbocharged engine gets 30 mpg combined (28 city/34 highway).All RAV4s use a non-turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder with 203 horsepower. It’s more powerful than either of the CR-V engines, but real-world acceleration is a bit slower than the CR-V with its turbocharged engine. The front-wheel-drive RAV4’s EPA-estimated fuel economy is 30 mpg combined (26 city/35 highway).There is something the RAV4 has that the CR-V does not: a hybrid variant. The RAV4 Hybrid costs more but offers more power and dramatically improved fuel efficiency at an EPA-estimated 39 mpg combined (41 city/37 highway). It also comes standard with all-wheel drive.FEATURESBoth vehicles are well-equipped with much of the modern technology you’d expect. The materials quality and construction, especially on higher trim levels, are more upscale in the CR-V.As for infotainment, Apple CarPlay is standard in the RAV4. You have to upgrade to the CR-V EX (just above the base LX trim level) for CarPlay compatibility. The EX, however, offers Android Auto connectivity as well, which is a feature that isn’t available on the RAV4 at any trim level.For safety, both cars feature all of the latest driver aids, including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. On the RAV4, those features are standard on all trim levels. On the CR-V, only the EX trim and above get them as standard.PRICINGHow much do you have to pay for all this? A base RAV4 LE with the features listed above has an MSRP of $26,595, while a bare-bones Honda CR-V LX is $25,935. (Both prices include the destination fee.) And at the top of their respective ranges, it’s a similar story, with a RAV4 Limited priced at $35,995 and a CR-V Touring ? both with all-wheel drive ? at $35,195.EDMUNDS SAYS: The Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 are excellent choices for a small SUV. They are both comfortable, quiet and reasonably priced. The Honda edges out the Toyota in several categories, ultimately making the CR-V our choice between the two. But the RAV4 Hybrid might win you over if fuel economy is a priority.___Travis Langness is a reviews editor at Edmunds. Twitter: @travislangness. This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds.Related links:— Edmunds: 2019 Honda CR-V Review https://edmu.in/2CmhpfA— Edmunds: 2019 Toyota RAV4 Review https://edmu.in/2suTE0a— Edmunds Article: 2019 Toyota RAV4 Ultimate Test Drive https://edmu.in/2Egqo4r— Edmunds Video: 2019 Toyota RAV4 Ultimate Test Drive https://bit.ly/2RFPCRGTravis Langness, The Associated Press
LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking a compromise with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn in hopes of securing a divorce deal with the European Union.Justice Minister Rory Stewart told the BBC on Monday that differences between the two aren’t as great as some suggest, but the government can’t accept a customs union that would prevent Britain from negotiating trade deals with other countries. He says May’s agreement can achieve “a great deal of what Jeremy Corbyn is interested in without taking away that option of having other trade deals.”Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, but Parliament has rejected May’s divorce deal. EU leaders have rejected any changes to the legally binding withdrawal agreement.The impasse risks a chaotic departure that would hurt the economy.The Associated Press
Rabat – Ozy Media, which earlier this year touted the North African country as “the new emerging African power,” would answer with a resounding “yes. But Ozy is not alone in this thinking.The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also looks upon Morocco’s economic prospects favorably. Similarly, the World Bank hails Morocco as a promising market for doing business, despite minor, persistent structural and bureaucratic issues.In August, the World Bank Vice-President for the MENA region called Morocco “a bright spot in a dark region,” an allusion to what Moroccan policymakers call, somewhat boastfully, “Moroccan exceptionalism.” AMCI and the promise of scientific cooperationWith all the fuss about Morocco’s diplomatic assertiveness in Africa, one element of Morocco’s successful African turn is often overlooked and unmentioned: soft power through scientific and cultural diplomacy.True, the country’s bold economic ventures in African markets, or even its Malikist cultural activism in Francophone and Muslim sub-Saharan Africa, have borne fruit in targeted parts of the continent. But when it comes to Morocco’s return to the African Union, the Morocco International Cooperation’s (AMCI) initiatives deserve the bulk of the credit, many AMCI scholars told Morocco World News.While Morocco is known to be the second-highest African investor in Africa, few would know that the North African country is also the leading African provider of scholarships to African students.As of December 2016, AMCI had agreements with 111 countries, of which 46 are African countries. AMCI’s uniquely assertive presence is most pronounced in Francophone Africa. Every year, AMCI provides thousands of scholarships for university and vocational degrees. Guinea, for example, sends over 100 of the top performers on the national exam to Moroccan institutions annually.For high-performing students without the means to attend a university in Canada, France, England, or the U.S., Morocco is a liberating prospect. “[It’s] a windfall,” said Youssouf Kourouma, an AMCI scholar, who has recently completed a master’s degree in international law at the University of Hassan II, Mohammedia.For thousands of low-income sub-Saharan students like Kourouma, “a well-earned Moroccan degree amounts to rosy career prospects.” When graduates of top Moroccan faculties return to their home countries, he explained, they usually land a well-paying job.Kourouma said that it was all worth it, as the five years he’s spent in Morocco have been enormously formative.“It has been a total paradigm shift,” he began. “In addition to the traditional academic components that the program entailed, I’ve learned a lot as a person. The daily travails, the monthly hustle to make ends meet before AMCI’s bimonthly MAD 1500 stipend—all of it has made me more mature and intellectually equipped for my future career,” he said.Morocco’s involvement and influence expands to other fields like civil society and public administration. In a recent interview with a group of journalists during an AMCI-sponsored cultural event at its headquarter in Rabat, AMCI’s director general, Mohammed Methqal, expressed satisfaction with Morocco’s presence on the continent.Ambassador and general director Mohammed MethqalIn addition to the thousands of scholarships for young students, “Africa’s future leaders,” the AMCI program has accompanied and “contributed to the training of more than 5,000 public officials from 30 different countries,” Methqal said.Relying on a combination of human capital promotion, technical assistance, and support for sustainable development projects, AMCI is currently the sharpest weapon in Morocco’s diplomatic arsenal towards the rest of Africa. As Rabat attempts to charm both African markets and popular opinion, it has grown aware of the limits and defects of hard cash diplomacy.“While economic diplomacy can provide political clout in regional politics, scientific and cultural diplomacy allows you to influence people’s perception of you,” said Kourouma, adding that “AMCI scholarships have played an enormous role in how sub-Saharans view Morocco.”Aside from the knowledge acquired in Moroccan classrooms, international experiences with Moroccan teachers and classmates changes “many of the stereotypes we entertain about Moroccans and their outlook on the rest of Africa.”“So, I would say that beyond the usual heavy ‘African investor’ and ‘thriving economy’ headlines about Morocco, the true architect of Morocco’s successful continental turn is the commitment the country has shown for advancing education levels and technical expertise in other African countries,” Kourouma explained.Even as Morocco left the then Organization of African Unity (now African Union) in 1984, Kourouma elaborated, it maintained some degree of connection to the rest of the continent. AMCI was especially useful at that moment of de jure rupture with the continent.By keeping the quota of African students as high as possible, even after institutional breakup with the continent, Kourouma argued, AMCI proactively gave Morocco a chance at redemption. “It kept Morocco continuously present in Africa, even as it seemed to think that its future belonged elsewhere.”In June, Guinea was among the few African nations that chose the U.S.-led “United bid” over Morocco for the 2026 World Cup. Guinean authorities, who said there was a mistake during voting, were adamant about their “uncompromising support for Morocco.”On Guinean social media, meanwhile, there was a storm of frustration and anger.Why betray such a devout friend, a country that has always been there for Guinea, opening its doors to Guinean students and citizens even when many countries, including in Africa, ostracized Guinea when the Ebola epidemic erupted?Questions were asked, names were named, and fingers were pointed. The Guinean Football Federation issued a statement that sounded both apologetic and regretful, though they maintained their position that there had been a mistake.This seemingly trivial episode, Kourouma argued, showed how successive generations of Morocco-trained Guinean youth and elite have impacted the West African country’s opinion of the North African country.“Thank you, Morocco.”“My stay in Morocco has helped me to reinvent myself, broaden my prospects, and expand my social and intellectual horizons,” Elhadj Ibrahima Barry, a first-year Guinean student at the elite Mohammedia School of Engineering, told Morocco World News.Barry ranked third in Guinea’s Baccalaureate, the national university entrance exam, and he was given a scholarship to elite classes prépas(higher school preparatory classes) in Fez. There, he spent two years intensely studying advanced mathematics and physics, in preparation for a place at one of the top engineering schools in Morocco.Reminiscing on his prépasyears, he said: “The teaching quality was incredible. I would definitely recommend Morocco as [study] destination.”Barry beams with smiles and laudatory remarks when he speaks of his prépas atmosphere, especially his “genius Moroccan classmates.”“There was so much sociability and hospitality,” he said. “Beyond the easy stereotypes I had been exposed to prior to coming here, I’ve discovered a predominantly welcoming and warm atmosphere at school.”“I am happy to have come here,” says Boubacar, an economics student in Tangiers. Boubacar, who is even more enthusiastic than Barry, seems more than happy. His elated tone speaks more of love than happiness; he has fallen in love with Morocco, at least that is what one gets from his incessant praise of the “education Morocco has given me.”“Morocco has one of the best education systems in the world,” he offered. “So being at a Moroccan school has been largely good for my intellectual and personal growth. Morocco has given me hope, and I am now confident in fighting for my dreams. Thank you so much, Morocco!” The Mohammed VI factorWhile AMCI’s achievements between 1986 and 2016 can be lauded, the true turning point came with King Mohammed VI’s sincere interest in African issues. Starting in 1999, Mohammed VI crisscrossed the continent, as he tried—and many times successfully—to sell Morocco’s vision of an “Africa that believes in its potential.”According to the latest AMCI figures, the King’s personal commitment to Africa has led to a revamping of Morocco’s Africa-focused programs. In 2017 to 2018 alone, Morocco granted over 5,000 scholarships to African students, almost a third of the total number of African students that Morocco hosted up to 2016-2017.The same period also marked a stupendous increase of African students receiving the AMCI stipend, from 6,500 students in 2017 to over 11,000 to this day, Methqal explained.He noted that “the royal vision for prioritizing South-South and intra-African initiatives” has been a determining factor in doubling Morocco’s engagement for sustainable development in the continent.Others see the King’s “personal engagement” through a combative lens. It has been, they argue, the coup de forcein Morocco’s silent rejoinder to its African detractors.“Whenever anyone questions Morocco’s commitment to Africa or defies Morocco about storming out of the continental union, the kingdom can calmly present AMCI’s achievements and King Mohammed VI’s personal investment in sub-Saharan Africa. It shows that they never really left Africa,” said a Malian doctoral student who requested anonymity.He added, referring to the sea change that Mohammed VI’s Africa-focused rhetoric has brought to Moroccan society: “People who feared me in 2009, or sometimes threatened me, now approach me with smiles. They even call me ‘my African brother.’ To say that that is progress is an understatement,”
TORONTO — Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week:Crypto in courtThe Nova Scotia Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday regarding a stay order protecting QuadrigaCX from lawsuits. The widow of the failed cryptocurrency exchange’s CEO asked that a chief restructuring officer be appointed to oversee what remains of the company, saying her role as director has drawn “unwanted” online commentary suggesting she is trying to hide assets.Interest rate decisionThe Bank of Canada will make an announcement regarding its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday. Cooling economic growth and a slowing rate of inflation have analysts expecting the central bank to leave the interest rate unchanged at 1.75 per cent.Huawei dramaMeng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei Technologies, will appear in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday, where Canada’s authority to proceed with extradition to the United States will be discussed. Huawei said in February that it won’t abandon Canadian consumers, telecommunications companies and universities, even if the country’s government bans its 5G technology.Jobs numbersStatistics Canada will release its labour force survey for February and industrial capacity utilization rates for the fourth quarter of 2018 on Friday. The country saw a rush of 66,800 net new jobs in January in a gain fuelled by a hiring surge in the private sector, surprising analysts and economists, who had expected a gain of 8,000 jobs for the month.Housing startsCanada Mortgage and Housing Corp. will release preliminary housing start data for February on Friday. The federal housing agency previously reported that the annual pace of housing starts slowed in January, dropping less than was expected for the start of the year.The Canadian Press
BERLIN — Five well-known German companies, including the country’s only publicly traded soccer club, are donating 1 million euros ($1.1 million) each to Israel’s Yad Vashem memorial for the development of a facility to preserve, catalogue and store Holocaust-related artifacts.Borussia Dortmund managing director Carsten Cramer said Tuesday that the club thought the project important to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and the 6 million Jews killed by Nazi Germany, as well as fighting anti-Semitism today.Daimler, railway operator Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Bank and Volkswagen are also donating to the construction of the “Shoah Heritage Collections Campus,” which is scheduled to open in 2021.The memorial has collected more than 210 million documents, 500,000 photographs, 131,000 survivor testimonies, 32,400 artifacts, and 11,500 works of art since it was established in 1953.The Associated Press
TOKYO — A Japanese court has approved the detention of former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn through April 14 after his fourth arrest over financial misconduct allegations.Ghosn was taken into custody Thursday and is being held at the Tokyo Detention Center.Prosecutors’ request for the detention was approved by the Tokyo District Court on Friday. Prosecutors can ask for another 10-day extension.Ghosn was arrested Nov. 19 and released March 6 on bail.His lawyer Junichiro Hironaka said arresting his client again was unfair when Ghosn had cleared the bail conditions.The latest arrest is on suspicion that $5 million of funds sent by a Nissan subsidiary, meant for an Oman dealership, was diverted to a company effectively controlled by Ghosn.Ghosn, 65, says he is innocent of all allegations.The Associated Press
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.The news comes as some fashion companies are trying to capitalize on a burgeoning IPO market. Denim giant Levi Strauss & Co. returned to the public market in March as it stages a comeback even as it faces increasing competition and a changing retail landscape.Some fashion companies are also looking to split up their businesses. Gap Inc. said in late February that it plans to split into two independent publicly traded companies — low-priced juggernaut Old Navy and a yet-to-be named company, which will consist of the iconic Gap brand, Banana Republic and the lesser known Athleta, Intermix and Hill City. Last year, VF Corp. said it will be splitting its denim business anchored by Lee and Wrangler jeans into an independently traded company.J. Crew recently began to add a wider variety of styles as a way to turn around its business. Meanwhile, Madewell has done well with its classic, quality clothing. In its latest fiscal year ended Feb. 2, J. Crew sales fell 4% while Madewell’s sales soared 26%.Anne D’Innocenzio, The Associated Press
TORONTO — The Toronto Real Estate Board says it has secured a permanent injunction to stop the now-defunct property listing site Mongohouse from sharing its real estate data.The board sued Mongohouse last fall, alleging the site was illegally accessing, copying and distributing its proprietary multiple listing service data.It says the Federal Court of Canada has issued an order against the operators of Mongohouse.com and affirmed TREB’s right to protect its data. Mongohouse filed a counterclaim last October to TREB’s lawsuit, claiming lost revenue from having to shut down the site and saying it sourced data from public resources. The popular website, which provided publicly accessible property listings and sold data, shut down Oct. 1 and remains offline.TREB says the operators of Mongohouse have acknowledged that they were not authorized to access the MLS system and that their actions were wrong in doing so.The Canadian Press
2 March 2007United Nations agencies are calling on governments everywhere to include refugees in their national HIV/AIDS policies and programmes and give them the same access to treatment as their own citizens. In a newly released four-page policy brief focusing specifically on actions needed to address the spread and effect of HIV on refugees and their host communities, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) also urged civil society to tackle popular misconceptions about refugees and the spread of the disease. “Far too often refugees face an untenable situation: they are no longer guaranteed the protection of their country of origin and do not receive assistance from host countries,” the brief says, noting that they often face the stigma of both their status as refugees and the common misconception that HIV prevalence is higher among them than in host communities. “Stigma and discrimination need to be tackled as an integral part of responding effectively to HIV among refugees and host communities,” it adds. “We advocate for refugees to access HIV services in the same manner as that of the local population,” UNHCR HIV/AIDS unit head Paul Spiegel said, noting that that some southern African countries already provide both refugees and the host population free antiretroviral drugs using government services. The brief also called on governments to ensure the protection of women and children from sexual or physical violence and exploitation. “Women and girls are often disproportionately affected by displacement. They need special attention in terms of HIV,” Purnima Mane, director of policy, evidence and partnerships at UNAIDS, said. The two UN partners also urged civil society to challenge stigmatization and discrimination against refugees, increase communication and cooperation between refugees and host societies, and strengthen the capacity of refugee community leaders and groups, including those of people living with HIV, for their rights. “The realization of human rights is central to reducing vulnerability to HIV infection and addressing the effects of HIV,” the policy paper notes, adding that international partners should lobby governments to meet their legal obligations towards refugees and implement strategies that reflect best practices in responding to HIV-related needs. In a related development, UNAIDS, the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson have announced grants to organizations in five countries to address links between gender-based violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS. “Violence against women and HIV are pandemics that deny women’s human rights and devastate individual lives and societies,” UNIFEM Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer said. “We welcome the opportunity to work through public-private partnerships to invest in innovative strategies. Scaled up, they can become part of national development strategies to achieve lasting change.” The grants to organizations in Botswana, the Dominican Republic, India, Nigeria and Vietnam will foster innovative strategies to raise awareness, uphold laws, provide medical assistance, train service providers and reduce stigma and discrimination to empower women. “Violence makes women more susceptible to HIV infection and the fear of violent male reactions, physical and psychological, prevents many women from trying to find out more about HIV, discourages them from getting tested and stops them from getting treatment,” UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said. The grants will be provided by Johnson & Johnson through the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, a multilateral funding mechanism administered by UNIFEM that became operational 10 years ago and has so far awarded some $13 million to 226 initiatives in more than 100 countries.
8 March 2007Erratic weather patterns in southern Africa, from searing droughts to raging floods, have devastated harvest prospects for millions of people and could spell yet another year of widespread food shortages, the severely under-funded United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today. Erratic weather patterns in southern Africa, from searing droughts to raging floods, have devastated harvest prospects for millions of people and could spell yet another year of widespread food shortages, the severely under-funded United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today. “All indications are that southern Africa could be heading for yet another year of critical food shortages,” WFP Regional Director Amir Abdulla said. “Assessments need to be carried out as soon as possible to determine the impact agricultural losses may have on these groups, but already the early indications for several countries are alarming.” Even without the additional challenges that would be posed by widespread erratic harvests in southern Africa, WFP faces a funding shortfall of about $97 million for current operations through to the end of 2007. WFP currently helps 4.3 million people in the region. Parts of Angola, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia have been struck by devastating floods which have destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of crops during the most critical growing stage. In stark contrast, Lesotho, Namibia, southern Mozambique, much of Swaziland and large swathes of Zimbabwe’s cropland have all been affected by prolonged dry spells which have withered and killed crops or reduced their development. Lesotho, for example, is expecting up to a 60 per cent decline in agricultural output over last year’s harvest. In addition, South Africa, usually the largest producer of maize in the region and one of WFP’s procurement points, is facing poor harvest prospects due to recent weeks of extreme heat and drought in some parts of the country and reduced harvests there could be especially problematic, particularly as maize prices have already started escalating. “For some parts of the region, it’s simply too late to hope that a late burst of rainfall will change people’s food supply outlook for the year ahead,” Mr. Abdulla said. One of the countries worst affected by dry spells is Swaziland, which is potentially facing a sixth consecutive year of poor harvests, perhaps the worst in 25 years. “We are now pulling together an assessment team to determine the extent of crop failure and the likely impact on the country’s food supply, but initial findings are grim,” Mr. Abdulla noted. Since 2002, WFP has been supporting about a quarter of Swaziland’s 1.1 million people with food to improve the nutrition of families hit by drought, poverty and HIV/AIDS. Even in a normal year, nearly half the population is classified as suffering from food insecurity. Parts of Zimbabwe, too, are of particular concern as early indications show that cereal crops in much of the southern half of the country have been decimated by a long dry spell in January and early February. But despite erratic weather, Malawi is expected to yield a bumper harvest again this year, while Zambia and northern Mozambique are also likely to produce good harvests that will represent buying opportunities for WFP as in previous years. Crops are usually harvested during April and May.
9 August 2007Two United Nations agencies have launched a $44 million programme to reduce female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) by 40 per cent by 2015 and to end the harmful traditional practice within a generation. Launched by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the initiative will encourage communities in 16 African countries with high prevalence to abandon the practice, which has serious physical and psychological effects. Partnering with the agencies will be Governments, religious leaders, reproductive health providers, media and civil society.UNFPA says that annually, between two and three million women and girls are subjected to FGM/C, the partial or total removal of external female genital organs for cultural or other non-medical reasons. More than 100 million women and girls worldwide have undergone the practice.Purnima Mane, UNFPA’s Deputy Executive Director (Programme), urged the international community to “do a better job to protect the millions of women and girls who are at risk every year.”Ending the practice will contribute to achieving international development targets, and will enhance the human rights of women and girls, contribute to their empowerment, improve maternal health and reduce child mortality, she added.In addition to many African nations, various forms of FGM/C have also been reported in parts of some Middle Eastern and Asian countries. It is also practiced in immigrant communities around the world.
27 May 2008The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict is visiting Chad and Central African Republic (CAR) to see first-hand the situation of war-impacted children in the two countries. In her mission from 26-31 May at the invitation of the Governments of the two nations, Radhika Coomaraswamy will look into child recruitment by State and non-State actors. She also intends to focus on key issues including the cross-border recruitment of children; the safety of humanitarian workers; the security of camps for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs); the increase of rapes and other sexual violence; and the culture of impunity that is widespread in the region. While in the two countries, Ms. Coomaraswamy plans to meet with Government officials, UN country teams, civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and children affected by conflict.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said that an estimated 3.8 million people would be classed as food insecure between now and the end of the year. During the peak of the hunger season, between January and March 2009, nearly half of the population of 12 million is estimated to be going to require food assistance. Mr. Holmes, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said there is a large resource gap and aid is needed now. Although several months of humanitarian service delivery were lost, there is still time to avert increased human suffering.In June, Zimbabwe suspended all field operations by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private voluntary organisations (PVOs) in the wake of a political crisis, now resolved through a power-sharing agreement.Since the ban was lifted over a month ago, NGOs and UN agencies have been re-establishing operations to provide life-saving assistance. Mr. Holmes said that current challenges include critical shortages of all basic services, including food, clean water, and health services. Critically under-funded sectors of the current UN appeal for Zimbabwe include emergency agriculture and education, while funding in health, water and sanitation also remains low. 2 October 2008The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating and will continue to worsen into next year, according to the top United Nations humanitarian official, who has called for urgent aid to avert increased human suffering in the Southern African nation.