Pakistans flood survivors need stronger support stresses UN refugee chief

The floods, which began in late July, are the worst disaster in living memory for the South Asian nation, resulting in the death of more than 1,000 people and leaving millions homeless. “This is unprecedented. Nobody was prepared for such a level of destruction and for such difficult conditions for the people affected,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said after a two-day visit to the flood-affected areas. “Everybody is doing their best, but the best everyone is doing cannot match the dramatic needs that we are facing,” he stated, appealing to the international community for “a stronger engagement and stronger support for us all to do better and to do more.”Mr. Guterres visited flood-affected Afghan refugees and Pakistani villagers in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkwa (KPK), one of the worst-hit areas.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that over 4.3 million people in the province are affected by floods and over 192,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged. “A lot of progress has been made, but the way ahead is still long,” said Ahmed Warsame, head of the provincial sub-office of the UN refugee agency, known as UNHCR. “We need to ensure that we meet the needs of all flood-affected communities and reach out to those most vulnerable to ensure they have access to humanitarian assistance.”Nearly 1.7 million people in the province have received access to clean drinking water thanks to the efforts of UN agencies and their partners. Over 1 million people have received emergency shelter in the form of tents and tarpaulins, and more than 1.2 million have essential medicines. Mr. Guterres met Afghan refugee elders in the devastated Azakheil refugee settlement in KPK’s Nowshera district, which once housed more than 23,000 refugees but is now completely destroyed, according to UNHCR.Azakheil is one of 16 Afghan refugee villages across Pakistan to be destroyed or badly damaged in the floods. The High Commissioner told the elders he had been reassured by senior Pakistani officials that the flood-displaced Afghan refugees would not be forced to repatriate. In addition, he visited the village of Khat Karoona Saidabad, which lies between the Swat and Jinda rivers in Charsadda district. The small community of 56 families was badly hit by the floods; not a single house remains untouched and most are totally destroyed.UN agencies and their partners received 67 per cent of the nearly $460 million sought as part of the initial Pakistan flood response plan to carry out relief efforts. A revised plan will be launched tomorrow in New York.To date, donors have provided about half of the $120 million that UNHCR appealed for in August. “My hope is that the international community will understand the needs and fully correspond to the dramatic situation,” said Mr. Guterres. 16 September 2010As the United Nations prepares to launch a revised appeal for funds to tackle Pakistan’s devastating flood crisis, the world body’s top refugee official today urged the international community to provide stronger support for the victims of the disaster. read more

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UNICEF rushing relief supplies to floodhit Indian states

24 September 2010The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners are assisting the Indian Government in rushing relief supplies to millions of people who have been uprooted from their homes in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Uttarakhand by heavy floods. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners are assisting the Indian Government in rushing relief supplies to millions of people who have been uprooted from their homes in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Uttarakhand by heavy floods.The agency has supplied tarpaulin sheets, jerry cans, water purification tablets and mosquito nets, among other items, to more than 8,000 displaced families in Uttar Pradesh. It has also pre-positioned its supplies in 10 high-risk districts to help 10,000 families. Nearly 1.7 million people in Uttar Pradesh have been affected by heavy rainfall and floods in the major rivers of the state, UNICEF noted in a news release. The state Government there has set up 276 relief posts to distribute food and health supplies.Meanwhile, the breach of support embankments of the Gandhak River has resulted in the flooding of 35 villages in Gopalganj and Siwan districts in Bihar. UNICEF sent supplies to Gopalganj, including 282 bags of bleaching powder, 208,000 water purifying tablets, 5,000 oral rehydration salt sachets, 1,000 hygiene kits and soap, following a request by the state Government. In Uttarakhand, close to half a million people in 369 villages across the state have been affected. A number of roads including national highways have been damaged or blocked due to landslides. The central government has rushed in relief to the affected areas and deployed battalions from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to Haridwar and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand, Gopalgunj in Bihar and Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. read more

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UN voices concern at fighting between militias and Southern Sudan Government

30 March 2011A senior United Nations official has voiced “significant concern” at conflicts involving at least four separate militia groups in areas of Southern Sudan, which earlier this year voted to secede and become a separate nation. “While the Government of Southern Sudan has a responsibility to address a security threat within its territory, we urge it to do so in accordance with international humanitarian law,” UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) Regional Coordinator for Southern Sudan David Gressly told a news conference yesterday in Juba, the capital, referring to the violence in the Upper Nile region.“I am pleased to report that we have gained access to many of those areas in northern Jonglei State where the movement of our personnel and humanitarian agencies had recently been curtailed by these ongoing operations,” he added of the conflicts affecting Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states.Mr. Gressly said the core issue that has led to the fighting relates to the incomplete process of the re-integration of forces following two decades of civil war between North and South Sudan that killed some 2 million people and drove an estimated 4.5 million others from their homes.The war ended when the two sides signed a 2005 peace accord which culminated with the South voting for independence in a referendum of self-determination in January.“The ongoing violence in the greater Upper Nile region continues to be a source of significant concern for the mission,” Mr. Gressly said. “Pockets of conflict involving at least four separate militia groups dot the maps of Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states, and the SPLA (Southern Sudan’s army) has launched offensives aimed at containing those groups.”Referring to continuing inter-communal violence in Western Equatoria state between Dinka Atuot and Beli tribesmen, he noted that UNMIS military contingents have provided “a strong response” with ongoing patrols to deter violence and support humanitarian relief efforts. UNMIS is also looking actively at mediation support options through the Government and state governments concerned.Mr. Gressly reported that as of a week ago some 261,000 southerners had moved back to the country’s 10 southern states since the end of October last year, but the flow had decreased significantly in recent weeks, apparently due to the exhaustion of Government funds to assist returnees.He paid tribute to “one of the good success stories” of UNMIS, “the outstanding de-mining work” by the Mine Action Office, most recently clearing more than 5.6 million square metres of land with their implementing partners. “Over 18,000 kilometres of road have been surveyed and then cleared of any mines that have been found. So the bulk of all of the roads in Southern Sudan have been cleared. What remains is a great deal of work to clear unexploded ordnance,” he said, calling the clearance of landmines freshly laid by militias in a pattern that can take out convoys of vehicles in northern Jonglei state “the next big challenge.” read more

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BMO class action certified by court

TORONTO — A class action lawsuit accusing BMO Nesbitt Burns, BMO Investorline and BMO Trust Company of automatically converting any foreign currency that was paid into RRSP accounts into Canadian dollars without authorization has been certified by the Ontario Superior Court.The lawsuit alleges that BMO charged undisclosed or inadequately disclosed and unauthorized fees related to the foreign currency transactions.[np-related]None of the allegations have been proven in court.The Income Tax Act allowed foreign currency to be held in a registered account after June 14, 2001.The case is seeking reimbursement of the foreign exchange fees charged on the purchase and sale of foreign investments held in registered accounts and the fees paid related to the conversion of foreign currencies that were paid into the registered accounts.The Canadian Press read more

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TSX boosted by eurozone news BlackBerry debut

The Toronto stock market was higher Tuesday amid data that indicated the eurozone economy is improving and a positive reception for BlackBerry’s new Z10 smartphone.The S&P/TSX composite index gained 43.8 points to 12,761.42 while the TSX Venture Exchange was ahead 1.94 points at 1,218.44.BlackBerry (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) shares were up 91 cents, or 6.07 per cent, to $15.90 on the TSX as the new touchscreen device went on sale in Canada. It went on sale in the U.K. last week but won’t be available in the U.S. until mid-March.Chief executive Thorsten Heins says that he’s disappointed by the delay but respects the rigorous testing done by U.S. phone carriers.There was also major acquisition activity in the tech sector as computer maker Dell agreed to be taken private by its founder and a group of investors that includes Microsoft in a deal worth US$24.4 billion. Shareholders are receiving $13.65 per share for their stock. Dell shares inched up eight cents to US$13.35.The Canadian dollar was unchanged at 100.14 cents US.U.S. indexes were also lifted by solid housing data. The Dow Jones industrials advanced 114.8 points to 13,994.88 as U.S. home prices jumped by the most in 6 1/2 years in December, helped along by a low supply of available homes and rising demand.CoreLogic, a real estate data provider, says home prices rose 8.3 per cent in December compared with a year earlier.The Nasdaq climbed 16.51 points to 3,147.67 and the S&P 500 index gained 12.12 points to 1,507.83.Markit, a financial information group, said its purchasing managers’ index for the eurozone economy rose to a 10-month high of 48.6 in January from 47.2 in December.Though the index remains below the 50 mark that would indicate expansion, the survey echoes other findings that the worst for the eurozone economy may be over even though it continues to face a number of headwinds, including the serious government debt problems of many of its members.Meanwhile, Italy’s general election at the end of this month looks like it may yield a split parliament, which would make it more difficult to push through much needed economic reforms. And the Spanish government is embroiled in a corruption scandal over alleged secret cash payments that has raised questions over the future of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.Worries about the eurozone helped send North American markets lower on Monday, prompting some investors to take profits from strong gains racked up in January.There was also a further indication of an improving Chinese economy. HSBC’s Chinese purchasing managers index was firmly in expansion territory last month, coming in at 54, up from 51.7 in December.In earnings news, telecom provider Bell Aliant Inc. (TSX:BA) says it had $70 million of net income or 31 cents a share in the fourth quarter, a $10-million decline from the same period of 2011 and well short of analyst estimates. Adjusted earnings came in at 37 cents, four cents less than expectations.The regional telecom company’s operating revenue was also down, slipping 0.8 per cent to $695 million from $701 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 and its shares were up 52 cents to $26.07.Print and online publisher Yellow Media Ltd. is reporting adjusted net earnings of 70 cents per share in the fourth quarter. The $24-million adjusted profit, before impairment charges and a major gain on settlement of debt, was down from net earnings from continuing operations of $48.2 million or $1.53 in the same 2011 period. Its shares dipped four cents to $7.73.Toyota’s third-quarter profit jumped 23 per cent to 99.91 billion yen (US$1.09 billion), compared with the same period the previous year. Quarterly sales edged up nine per cent to 5.3 trillion yen ($58 billion). The world’s top automaker now expects fiscal year profit of 860 billion yen ($9.3 billion). It had initially expected a 780 billion yen ($8.5 billion) profit.Telecoms provided the TSX with lift as Telus Corp. (TSX:T) gained 54 cents to $67.41. Industrial stocks also helped take the TSX higher with Canadian National Railways (TSX:CNR) ahead $1.01 at $96.16.The energy sector was up 0.6 per cent with the March crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange up 82 cents to US$96.99 a barrel. Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) climbed 37 cents to C$44.04.March copper was ahead a penny at US$3.78 a pound and the base metals sector added 0.6 per cent. HudBay Minerals (TSX:HBM) ran up 27 cents to C$11.49.The gold sector rose 0.4 per cent while April bullion declined $1.70 to US$1,674.70 an ounce. Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) improved by 37 cents to C$32.68.In other corporate developments, Canadian discount retailer Dollarama Inc. (TSX:DOL) has entered into an eight-year agreement to help Central American chain Dollar City expand its network of stores and provide more products for sale. The Montreal-based company won’t take on operational responsibilities or make a capital commitment, but could eventually acquire a majority interest in the chain. Dollarama shares were ahead 12 cents to $60.25.WestJet Airlines (TSX:WJA) gained 47 cents to $22.30 as the carrier reported a record monthly load factor for January as the number of passengers grew 6.4 per cent to 1.5 million. Its planes flew 80.9 per cent full in the first month of the year, up one percentage point from 79.9 per cent a year ago.Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) will also report its monthly traffic numbers Tuesday, ahead of its quarterly results on Thursday.European bourses advanced following steep losses Monday with London’s FTSE up 0.75 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX ahead 0.46 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 up 1.31 per cent. read more

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TSX advances traders optimistic about lastminute US debt deal

The Toronto stock market turned slightly higher mid-morning Wednesday as traders hoped that Republicans and Democrats were set to announce a last-minute deal to avoid hitting the U.S. debt limit.The S&P/TSX composite index was up 16.08 points at 12,947.54, held back by weakness in the mining sectors.The Canadian dollar rose 0.17 of a cent to 96.51 cents US as the U.S. dollar weakened just hours before the debt limit is reached. At that point Washington will lose its ability to borrow and will be required to meet its obligations by relying on cash in hand and incoming tax receipts.U.S. indexes were sharply higher as traders also took in earnings from toymaker Mattel, Bank of America and PepsiCo that beat expectations.The Dow Jones industrials jumped 177.89 points to 15,345.9, the Nasdaq was ahead 40.62 points to 3,834.63 and the S&P 500 index was up 19.8 points to 1,717.86.Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were hoping to come to an agreement later Wednesday to raise the debt ceiling and end a partial government shutdown and, if possible, hold votes later in the day.Negotiations between the two Senate leaders resumed after House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner tried to write legislation that would satisfy GOP lawmakers, especially conservatives. He crafted two versions of the bill, but neither made it to a House vote because both faced certain defeat.Boehner’s inability to produce a bill that would pass in his own chamber likely means he will have to let the House vote on a Senate compromise, even if that means it passes with strong Democratic and weak GOP support.Threats of a downgrade to U.S. debt also provided added incentive to get a deal done.Ratings agency Fitch warned after the close Tuesday that it was reviewing the government’s AAA credit rating for a possible downgrade, though no action was near. The firm, one of the three leading U.S. credit-ratings agencies, said that “the political brinkmanship and reduced financing flexibility could increase the risk of a U.S. default.”Commodities were generally off the worst lows of the session but the gold sector led decliners, down almost two per cent while December gold bullion in New York turned negative, losing $2.40 to US$1,270.80 an ounce. Goldcorp. (TSX:G) faded 53 cents to C$24.44.The base metals component eased almost one per cent as December copper on the Nymex dropped two cents to US$3.28 a pound. First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) gave back 32 cents to C$18.54.Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN) jumped 11 cents or 5.16 per cent to $2.24 in the wake of reports of strong exploration results at a platinum mine project in South Africa.The industrials sector was down 0.2 per cent after SNC-Lavalin Inc. (TSX:SNC) said it now expects consolidated net income in fiscal 2013 to be in the range of $10 million to $50 million, sharply lower than earlier guidance in the range of $220 million to $235 million. Among other things, the engineering company blamed a number of money-losing legacy contracts and a $75-million charge related to a restructuring of its European operations. Its stock fell $2.31 , or 5.23 per cent, to $41.82.The energy sector was ahead 0.36 per cent and the November crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange erased early losses to trade up 52 cents at US$101.73 a barrel after closing Tuesday at its lowest level since early July. Niko Resources (TSX:NKO) climbed seven cents to C$3.30.It was a heavy earnings day in the U.S. PepsiCo posted earnings of US$1.91 billion, or $1.23 per share. That compared with $1.9 billion, or $1.21 per share, a year ago. Not including one-time items, the company said it earned $1.24 per share, seven cents better than analysts’ forecasts. Revenue rose two per cent to $16.91 billion, less than the $17.02 billion Wall Street expected. The company stood by its full-year earnings forecast and its shares gained $1.31 to US$81.91.Bank of America Corp. earned $2.5 billion, or 20 cents a share, in the July-September period, up from $340 million a year earlier and beating the 19 cents expected by financial analysts. Third-quarter revenue slipped to $22.2 billion from $22.5 billion, coming in close to the analysts’ forecast of $22 billion and its shares ticked up 22 cents to $14.46.Mattel’s third-quarter net income rose 16 per cent to $422.8 million, or $1.21 per share. That was up from $365.9 million, or $1.04 per share, in the prior-year period, buoyed by higher sales of American Girl and Monster High products and strength in all regions. Its performance beat Wall Street expectations and its shares ran ahead $1.61 to $43.16.European bourses were turned largely positive with London’s FTSE 100 index up 0.35 per cent while Frankfurt’s DAX was 0.55 per cent higher. The Paris CAC 40 was off 0.25 per cent. read more

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In the Bank of Canada governors words excerpts from Poloz interview

OTTAWA — Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz sat down for an interview Wednesday with The Canadian Press. Here are some selected excerpts of that conversation, in Poloz’s own words.—On whether the Bank of Canada has studied the potential economic impacts of legalized recreational cannabis:“We have not. I see this primarily as a job for (Statistics Canada) to tell us what the economy looks like, including or not including that industry. At first blush, you think of a largely grey market or even black-market sector becoming part of the normal system. We’ve got articles that study the underground economy and how much of a role cash plays in that economy, and presumably that kind of analysis will be disrupted by the legalization of cannabis. But I have no priors on how that’s going to look. It sounds like it would make GDP go up, but only because you’re measuring something that used to be not captured.”—On whether the bank has made changes to its communications strategy following recent criticism over its approach:“We’ve certainly evolved a fair bit in the last three, four years on the communications front, I think positively. There are several different things that we’ve done that add to the transparency around what we do. Certainly, the opening statement has evolved quite a lot. It used to be kind of reading the press release or parts of it anyway. Now, it’s giving more of what I think central bank minutes hope to give you, which is what we talked about, what we debated or deliberated. Whereas, actually, minutes usually give you thousands and thousands of words that you already know and it’s really hard to shake out the actual conversations that took place. We’ve been purposely quite honest about what things were on the table and what things we’re really trying to wrestle with or learn more about in order to make these decisions and I think that’s been a positive.”—On forward guidance about future interest-rate decisions:“Forward guidance, in its conventional this-is-what-we-commit-to-do — slightly conditional. Conditional on these outcomes is usually the form. What it does is it causes the market to kind of collapse in on that outcome. And the market no longer takes new information and processes it in its conventional way and gives you a reading on what the market thinks. So, there’s a presumption in the forward-guidance world that the central bank already knows everything that matters and so the market is just supposed to perform really tranquilly, you know, in this very orderly fashion. Whereas, in fact, there’s all kinds of valuable analysis in those reactions of the market to news, which a central bank can learn a lot from.So, what I’d rather is have the market doing exactly what we’re doing: watching new data, knowing what matters and what doesn’t matter, and sifting it. And in the market they respond by re-positioning their portfolios or laying down their positions and we can read from that what the market thinks about the new data and that really helps us. But if we’re in a world where we’re just telling them, ‘Oh by the way, next time we meet we’re just going to do this, that or the other thing,’ they don’t bother doing that. And why would they? They’re still looking for outliers, they still would do something.I’m not saying that markets are not doing anything in the U.S., for example, where there’s a fair bit of forward guidance. But they do it in a less unfettered way. So, I think that’s a big plus for us to have the independent market — two-way market. But one of the downsides is whenever you do something, a certain percentage of people will be surprised by it because they were on the other side of that two-way market. But I think from the point of view of how the economy functions, it’s very beneficial.”— read more

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Trudeau wont begin free trade talks during China visit next week officials

OTTAWA — As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prepares to travel to China next week, officials say Canada is still contemplating the challenges associated with pursuing a free trade deal between the two countries, officials say.The prime minister leaves Saturday for his four-day trip — a return visit that at least one analyst says is shaping up to be a very “ordinary” excursion.“There are a number of considerations still to be had. The government is weighing the challenges and opportunities,” a government official who briefed journalists on Friday said when asked about the possibility of Trudeau launching trade talks in Beijing.Canada attempts to smooth Japan’s ruffled feathers after Trans-Pacific trade standoffTime for Canada-China trade talks as Trudeau trip nears, say Poloz and NaultThe officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with the terms of Friday’s briefing, say the focus of the trip will be deepening economic ties and attracting more Chinese investment to Canada.Trudeau will meet Monday with Chinese Premier Xi Jingang and will also have meetings with senior Canadian and Chinese executives.China is anxious to start formal free trade talks after several rounds of exploratory discussions, but Canada is still assessing its position, officials say.The government recently released the results of consultations with more than 600 businesses, academics and civil society groups.Some of those surveyed said a pact with China could kill Canadian jobs, including in manufacturing, and reduce the ability to compete against lax labour standards, lower environmental requirements and Chinese state subsidies.“The trip has to be understood as an ordinary trip in extraordinary times,” said Paul Evans of the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia.Evans said Canada is likely biding its time amid the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which reached an impasse earlier this fall when the United States tabled a series of proposals that Canada and Mexico deemed untenable.“Canada will try and tread water for a little time longer,” while the Chinese will be “increasingly frustrated on this,” Evans said.In announcing the trip earlier this week, Trudeau’s office made no mention of free trade, and government officials have said no decision has been made on whether to pursue such negotiations.“A strong relationship with China is essential to creating jobs, strengthening the middle class, and growing the Canadian economy,” Trudeau said in statement.“I look forward to meeting again with China’s leaders to strengthen our relationship and set the stage for even greater trade and investment co-operation.”Canada intends to continue frank dialogue with China on topics like human rights and good governance, the statement said. read more

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Congress against Ealam

India’s ruling Congress party does not support a separate Ealam sate in Sri Lanka, the Hindu newspaper reported.Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) president B.S. Gnanadesikan said his party strongly believed that a solution to the ethnic question should be found within a united Sri Lanka. Reacting to the demand for Eelam by various Tamil leaders, including DMK president M. Karunanidhi, Mr. Gnanadesikan said that any aggressive stand by political leaders in Tamil Nadu would not be in the interests of Sri Lankan Tamils, the Hindu reported. “It will unnecessarily create suspicion among Sri Lankan political leadership and will not augur well for the Tamils. So, I appeal to the Tamil leaders to exercise restraint.” “We cannot interfere with the internal affairs of another country. But, India is committed to the rehabilitation of the Sri Lankan Tamils, who suffered at the hands of both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Army in the last 20 years. The priority is to find a home for them and ensure education for their children.” read more

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Modi administration firm on bridge across Palk Strait linking Sri Lanka

After the execution of the project, this arid and backward district, which earned the dubious distinction of ‘Thanni illa kaadu’ (waterless jungle) and choicest destination for punishment postings would turn into one of the wealthiest districts in the country, he said. Once the project was executed, Danushkodi, which became a ghost town after the 1964 cyclonic storm, would flourish and the extension of a four-lane highway from Paramakudi to Rameswaram would be automatically implemented, he said. Indian Union Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan has said the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was firm in its proposal to build a bridge across Palk Strait, connecting Dhanushkodi, the eastern tip of Rameswaram island and Talaimannar in Sri Lanka, The Hindu newspaper reported.He said the project was at the preliminary stage but the Indian Government was firm in going ahead with the project and realise the dream of Mahakavi Bharathi. The Sri Lankan government is expected to give its nod for the project, Mr. Radhakrishnan said, replying to a question. Rejecting a suggestion that the Centre was delaying the construction of a memorial for the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at the burial site at Pei Karumbu, near here, he said the Centre had just received clearance from the State government and the memorial would emerge as one of the best in the country.Replying to a question, Radhakrishnan said the NDA after coming to power at the Centre in May 2014, had secured the release of fishermen, whenever they were arrested by the Sri Lankan navy on charges of poaching. The External Affairs Ministry was taking steps to work out a lasting solution to the vexatious issue, he said. The question of retrieving Katchatheevu would be decided if the islet came in the way of working out a lasting solution to the fishermen issue, he said, answering a question. (Colombo Gazette) read more

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Top US official holds key talks in Colombo on US foreign assistance

A top US official has had key talks in Colombo on US foreign assistance, the US Embassy in Colombo said.The Director of the Office of US Foreign Assistance Resources Hari Sastry has just concluded a visit to Sri Lanka. Sastry is one of the senior US Government officials who manages US overseas foreign assistance budgets, working closely with the Congress, the White House, and the US Agency for International Development and other parts of the State Department. US Government assistance totaled approximately $40 million last year. (Colombo Gazette) He was in Sri Lanka to see first-hand the impact that American support to the people of Sri Lanka is having in the daily lives of people and also affords him the opportunity to learn more about the challenges that are facing the rural people of Sri Lanka. read more

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Austrian returning from Lanka found to have C diphtheriae

Swabs taken on the day of admission in hospital and on day 7 in another hospital, yielded toxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae. On 30 Dec 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Reference Centre for Diphtheria and Streptococcal Infections at Public Health England (PHE), London, United Kingdom, confirmed the isolate as toxigenic C. diphtheriae (positive also by Elek test). A 60-year old Austrian has been admitted to hospital in Austria with cutaneous diphtheria, after returning from a one-month-vacation in Sri Lanka, promedmail.org reported.The patient showed signs and symptoms of infection of the tissues near a fingernail (panaritium). It has long been recognized that C. diphtheriae can cause clinical skin infections. Skin carriage of C. diphtheriae can act as a silent reservoir for the organism, and it has been found that person-to-person spread from infected skin sites is even more efficient than from the respiratory tract in causing classical respiratory diphtheria.The carriage of tox-positive lysogenic C. diphtheriae also poses a risk that non-toxigenic strains, which are regularly found in Austrian residents, could become lysogenized by introduction of a beta-phage-bearing strain. (Colombo Gazette) read more

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Rome deports Sri Lankan with expired residence visa

Investigations found that the Sri Lankan had already been asked to leave the country but he had failed to do so. A Sri Lankan in Rome has been deported for having an expired residence visa, viterbonews24 reported.The Sri Lankan was detained in Rome during a special operation and he was deported to Sri Lanka after it was found his residence visa had expired.

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MR says Lalith and Anusha followed instructions given by him

He also said that the mode of distribution did not enable the beneficiaries to be selected on political grounds. (Colombo Gazette) They have each been sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment, a fine of Rs. two million and either the payment of Rs 50 million in compensation to the TRC or a further two years of rigorous imprisonment. Rajapaksa says he had given instructions that sil redi be distributed to devotees observing sil on Poya days long before the declaration of the presidential election.“The purpose of the President’s Special Development Fund which had an annual budget of Rs. 1,000 million and was started in 2012, was to fill the gaps left by other ministries and to meet requests made directly to the President. The Coordinating Secretary for Religious Affairs of the Presidential Secretariat Ven. Watinapaha Somananda Thera was in charge of implementing the sil redi project. At the latter’s request, the Economic Affairs Ministry carried out a survey through Samurdhi Niladharis to identify the requirements of sil redi at temples countrywide. The suppliers were instructed to hand over the sil redi to a main temple in each Divisional Secretariat area from where they would be distributed to other temples. This was a project implemented countrywide, involving 11,021 temples. This was aid supplied to the temples, not to voters. No time frame was imposed on the temples to carry out the distribution. They could have been distributed either immediately or even a year later at the discretion of the Chief Incumbent of the temple,” Rajapaksa said. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa today asserted that former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and the former Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Anusha Pelpita had followed instructions given to them.The former Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and the former Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Anusha Pelpita were declared guilty by the High Court under Section 386 of the Penal Code of ‘dishonestly misappropriating’ a sum of Rs. 600 million belonging to the TRC by remitting the said sum to a bank account of the Presidential Secretariat to be used for the purpose of distributing sil redi during the last Presidential elections. “To say that this conviction and sentence has shocked the country would be an understatement. The judgement itself states that neither Lalith Weeratunga nor Anusha Pelpita had appropriated for their personal use any of the money used to purchase sil redi. From my point of view, they only carried out legitimate instructions issued to them by the President of the country. The verbal instructions given by me in this regard have been recorded in the form of minutes placed by Mr Weeratunga on correspondence with officials of the Presidential Secretariat. On 20 March 2014, Mr Weeratunga wrote a minute to the Senior Assistant Secretary of the Presidential Secretariat outlining eight projects that I had ordered funded through the President’s Special Development Fund during the year 2014. The sixth item on this list was providing ‘material aid’ to the devotees observing sil at temples on Poya days,” he said. read more

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Ranil to visit Singapore on Sunday to attend international summit

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe will deliver the Keynote address on the 9th July 2018, at the summit to be held at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre covering the insight, trends and solutions concerning Urban Development and Environment protection. The theme for this years’ summit will be “Liveable & Sustainable Cities: Embracing The Future Through Innovation and Collaboration”, the 6th World Cities Summit in 2018 will explore how cities can be more liveable and resilient through better governance and planning, technology and social innovations, as well as collaborations with various stakeholders and with other cities. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe will be visiting Singapore on Sunday 8th  July 2018 to attend the World Cities Summit, Singapore International water week and Clean Environment Summit Singapore 2018.During his visit the Prime Minister is also scheduled to meet the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and High level dignitaries of the Singapore Government. The Prime Minister will be accompanied by Prof. Maithree Wickremasinghe, Minister of City Planning and Water Supply Rauff Hakeem, Minister of Housing and Construction Sajith Premadasa, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrema and Deputy Minister of Petroleum Resources Development Anoma Gamage. (Colombo Gazette) read more

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Mahinda appeals to Tamils and Muslims to support him

He said that the policy of the new Government will ensure it benefits the whole country. (Colombo Gazette) He also stressed that his relationship with President Maithripala Sirisena cannot be broken no matter what is said.Speaking here, President Maithripala Sirisena also assured that he will resolve the issues faced by Tamils in the North and East. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa today appealed to Tamils and Muslims in the country to support him.Speaking at a United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) rally in Battaramulla today, Rajapaksa assured that he will work towards addressing the issues of the Tamils and Muslims. read more

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Are Open Source Active Path Testing Tools Viable for You

VoIP SLAs: Can You Measure How Your Carrier Is Doing? Gary Audin June 14, 2019 Startup PhoneSentry tackles complex voice monitoring and alerting I use the term “active path testing” to refer to systems that send packets into the network to measure network characteristics. A simple ping test is the most fundamental active path test, but it doesn’t scale up to large networks very well. Active path testing is valuable because it directly measures network performance instead of inferring a level of performance from network monitoring data like SNMP. The important characteristics are packet loss, latency, and jitter. When NetNORAD detects a problem, Facebook can perform further analysis with another program, fbtracert, its version of traceroute. It has the ability to diagnose problems over equal-cost multipath topologies. NetNORAD — this is Facebook’s network monitoring system. Because Facebook needed a tool that would identify network latency and packet loss problems within seconds, it wasn’t able to use SNMP-based polling systems, especially at its scale. All Facebook servers run the ping responder program while a subset of servers run the pinger application, both of which are described on Facebook’s NetNORAD webpage. The network hierarchy consists of racks, clusters, data centers, regions, and backbone. To identity network programs, it runs tests between different parts of the hierarchy. The tests use User Datagram Protocol packets with different Differentiated Services Code Point priority values, providing coverage of quality-of-service (QoS) priority levels over the test paths. It condenses and records pinger response times in a real-time database from which monitoring programs perform analysis and generate alarms. SmokePing’s advantage is that you can monitor paths and important endpoints without installing an agent — it relies on ping for its measurements. This is a Perl program that runs on Unix-compatible machines. Installation is easy, and great to load on a monitoring server in each data center and in cloud implementations. This is a great tool for organizations with smaller networks in which the installation and monitoring won’t overwhelm the network team. Slattery_SmokePing.png I’ve written about active path testing in a NetCraftsmen piece about network management architecture and in the No Jitter post, “Network Visibility: Using Active Path Testing.” I generally recommend one of the path testing tools from vendors like AppNeta and NetBeez, because most organizations find that commercial systems are better for them over the long term. Unify Square Taps Cross-Platform Collaboration Management Beth Schultz April 25, 2019 Announces plans to bring Slack, Zoom, Workplace by Facebook under management, alongside traditional Microsoft suites SmokePing — this is a nifty little tool for tracking latency, jitter, and packet loss with an integrated alerting system. The display contains all the data for a selected site/path and timeframe. As seen below, the colored line shows the median round-trip time (latency), while the color indicates packet loss. The shadow around the median round-trip time shows the variance (jitter) in ping response times. See All in Monitoring & Management » There’s a tradeoff in doing active path testing. It adds traffic to the network. If the testing generates too much traffic, it can negatively impact the end systems and potentially the applications on those end systems, either client or server. Modern networks and servers have enough capacity to handle several test probes per second, which is sufficient to detect common problems. 10 Tips for Diagnosing Slow Applications Terry Slattery November 21, 2018 This post, the first in a series, explores possible causes in client-side processing and network transport. Slattery_ActivePathTesting.png I recommend doing a proof of concept if you’re serious about using open source network monitoring tools. You should understand what it takes to install, customize, and operate it. Automating the installation and customization may be necessary. Compare that experience with that of installing and using commercial software.Tags:News & Viewsopen sourceActive Path Testingnetwork testingNetNORADPerfSONARSmokeRingMonitoring & ManagementEnterprise NetworkingNews & Views Articles You Might Like balance-2108024_774.jpg SummaryOpen source has become a viable source for network management systems, although there’s a tradeoff between using a commercial product, with purchase and annual maintenance costs, and open source, which doesn’t cost anything to acquire but requires staff time to maintain. The network staff will need someone on the team to perform customization and software upgrades, which typically take longer with open source tools than with commercial tools. PerfSONAR is great for testing multiple Internet paths that traverse multiple ISPs. A matrix providing a summary of results, as shown below, allows easy identification of systems and paths that are experiencing problems. The minimum-loss-rate threshold is at the rate that I recommend to customers: 0.0001%, because that’s the rate at which TCP begins to experience significant performance degradation. NetNORAD would be a good candidate for larger organizations that have adequate development resources for fielding and supporting the tool. The pinger application is written in C++ while fbtracert is written in Go. PerfSONAR — this is a network testing measurement toolkit consisting of several traditional network tools. The tool suite includes ping, traceroute, tracepath, iperf, nuttcp, and owamp (one-way active measurement protocol), with a control, archiving, and display system that allows use of these programs for continuous path monitoring. The toolkit is excellent for continuously performing multidomain network diagnostics over Internet paths. Tests can be run from more than 2,000 PerfSONAR installations worldwide. Network testing between endpoints offers several advantages that other monitoring methods can’t match. A benefit of full-path testing is the inclusion of the last hop on both ends of a communication path. We want the ability to detect common problems that cause packet errors, like duplex mismatch, old cabling, and bad connectors. Another benefit of testing to the endpoints is the ability to validate the TCP/IP stack and interface operation. Ideally, the active testing system generates packets that are indistinguishable from real application traffic, enabling evaluation of access-control lists and load balancers in the same way as a real application. 6 Tips for Diagnosing Slow Applications Terry Slattery December 06, 2018 This post, the second in a two-part series, delves into possible causes for poor application performance — and how to check them. Open Source Path Testing ToolsSome organizations consider open source tools because they don’t have the budget to purchase commercial tools, while other organizations need to scale up to sizes that commercial tools typically can’t handle. Regardless of the reason, starting with an existing tool is more useful than creating something from scratch. This list of tools is representative of the types of tools available. Reaping the Value of Cloud Service Management Data Gary Audin April 05, 2019 In this Q&A with a Virsae executive, learn how access to big data can be a boon for UC and contact center improvements. Log in or register to post comments read more

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Police search for Hamilton man

Police are looking for a missing Hamilton man.They say Jerry Bokma, 42, left his house on Pritchard Road on Friday at 4 p.m. They say from there he might have visited a business in the area of Barton Street East and Gibson Road.Bokma is described as white and six feet tall. He is 155 pounds and has brown/blonde hair that may be in a ponytail.He is said to have been wearing a green rain jacket, work boots and carrying a black backpack.Anyone with information is asked to contact Hamilton Police.

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Memorial proposed for Hamilton firefighters

A memorial to honour fallen firefighters in the city of Hamilton is being proposed for Gage Park.The project would cost just under $1 million, but will help remember the dozens of firefighters who have been killed in the line of duty.Fighting fires is a dangerous job.stan double“Sixty professional firefighters have passed away as a result of their occupation as firefighters in the city of Hamilton.”Every year members of the Hamilton Professional Firefighters Association go to the States to honour their fallen members. A firefighter hasn’t died in a fire in Hamilton in at least 30 years, but many have developed deadly cancers from breathing in harmful smoke.Stan Double of the Hamilton Professional Firefighters Association says a memorial in the city would be welcome, “Every year we travel to Colorado to memorialize those individuals, and it would be a pleasure to have a memorial in the city of Hamilton so we can do that in our own home town.”It’s “in the works.”Next week the public works committee will vote whether to approve plans for the $900,000 memorial in Gage Park.Cynthia Graham from the city of Hamilton says, “As staff that’s the location we’re recommending at this point, ultimately it’s up to committee and council to give us direction for the location.”The proposed memorial would be built in the northeast corner of Gage Park near the Children’s Museum. City staff looked at other parks throughout Hamilton but decided this location worked the best.“It’ll be generally be a flat plaza space with a vertical memorial wall where the names will be etched and there will also be a central public art figure to memorialize the fallen firefighters.”One of the fallen firefighters who will be honoured will be Captain Bob Shaw.“Bob Shaw was a firefighter and captain with the Hamilton fire department, in the fallout of the Plastimet fire of 1997, Bob succumbed to illnesses related to his occupation as a firefighter in the Plastimet fire.”This isn’t a done deal, it still needs to be approved by the committee next Thursday.The plans call for the memorial to use the gardens and outline that is already in place at the park. read more

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Hamilton police officer charged with forging documents

A Hamilton police officer has been charged for falsely signing administrative documents.42- year-old Darren Smith, an 18 year member of the force, has been suspended from duty and is scheduled to appear in court on July 18.He is charged with forged documents x2 and use of forge documents x2.Hamilton police say the incidents happened between November 30, 2017 and July 22, 2018.

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