MOSCOW — A Russian court has released from jail a U.S. investor who faces charges of embezzlement and has placed him under house arrest.Michael Calvey had been behind bars since February on charges of embezzlement from a Russian bank in which his investment firm Baring Vostok has a controlling stake.Baring Vostok has said the case results from a dispute between bank shareholders. Calvey denies wrongdoing.Thursday’s decision came a day after Russia’s Investigative Committee asked to change his detention terms. The application cited his charitable work, investments in Russia and a large number of people supporting him.Calvey’s arrest shocked the Moscow business community because he had avoided political controversy and helped develop Russian tech companies.His house arrest will be valid for three days, then its extension considered.The Associated Press read more

Rabat – In its 2018 annual report, published Wednesday, September 11, the Moroccan Court of Auditors criticized the budgetary and accounting management of the Ministry of Equipment, Transport, Logistics, and Water.“The Ministry does not have a clear policy or written measures defining the responsibilities and the annual qualitative and quantitative objectives for the rationalization of expenditure at the administrative level,” says the report.The Court of Auditors also made numerous observations on the ministry’s overestimation of prices in purchase orders. Read Also: Court of Auditors Reveals Shocking Lack of Food Safety in MoroccoThe ministry has apparently purchased “32 GO Kingston USB” storage devices for MAD 720 per unit.  The devices are sold on the market for MAD 200 maximum. The Court also pointed out the purchase of “HP Color Laserjet Toner CP52255” at a unit price of MAD 16,800, while its market price does not exceed MAD 2,000.”In the same report, the ministry replied to the Court’s observation on the purchase of printer toners at MAD 16,800, saying that “this price concerns 4 cartridges per lot in A3 format and not in A4 format; the A3 cartridges’ unit price is MAD 3,500.”The ministry’s response added that “ the prices included in the order form have been especially adopted after consulting three suppliers.” As for Kingston 32 GB USB storage devices, the ministry explained that the price paid, estimated at MAD 720 (MAD 600 Tax-Free), is “the price of a high quality storage memory made of unbreakable metal and not that of normal storage memories with a limited lifespan.” The ministry again mentioned that “the order forms were adopted after consulting three suppliers.” read more

Rabat – The WorldFood Moscow International Food & Drink Exhibition opened on September 24. Morocco was among the 1,762 exhibitors at the event.According to Maghreb Arab Press, the participation of the kingdom in the four-day event (September 24-27) aims to “strengthen the country’s presence in the Russian market and build partnerships in several agricultural production and export chains.”The 320-square-meters Moroccan stand highlights Morocco’s agri-food sector.  At the stand, 17 national companies showcased their assets to the 30,710 exhibition visitors and buyers. As mentioned on the exhibition’s website, the event connects, every year, thousands of businesses from around the world with Russia’s key food and drink buyers, including retail representatives from Russia’s leading supermarket chains and food manufacturers.WorldFood Moscow ExhibitionWorldFood Moscow is a major exhibition serving the global food and drinks industry. “Since its inception in 1991, it has grown to become the entry point for international manufacturers looking to enter the vibrant Russian market,” says the exhibitions’ website. read more

Rabat  – Rabat’s Court of First Instance sentenced Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni to one year in prison on Monday, September 30.Moroccan police arrested Raissouni and her fiance on August 31 for “illegal abortion and premarital sexual relations.”The court also sentenced Raissouni’s fiance to one year in prison for participating in “illegal abortion and premarital sexual relations.” The doctor who allegedly conducted the abortion for Raissouni received a sentence of two years in prison. The court announced the verdict nearly one month after the trial was set to begin. The court frequently postponed sessions for more evidence and defense preparation requests.Myriam Moulay Rachid, the lawyer of the convicted doctor, Jamal Belkeziz, presented evidence during the trial’s last hearing on Monday, September 22, that her client did not perform the abortion.She claimed that at the time of examination, a blood test on Raissouni showed a level of 13,585.9 milli-international units per milliliter (mIU-mL) for the “pregnancy hormone” Beta HCG, a level below the threshold of 30,000 mIU-mL that confirms pregnancy. The lawyer argued that the HGG level was “unavoidable proof that acquits all the alleged culprits of abortion in this case.”On September 5, the public prosecutor of the Rabat Court of First Instance issued a statement on Raissouni’s arrest, emphasizing that the journalist was arrested for nothing other than an illegal abortion.He announced that the police arrested Raissouni at the entrance of a building they were monitoring.The prosecutor said that they suspected the clinic of conducting illegal abortion in the building. Raissouni’s case stirred public debate about the lack of individualism.Feminists and activists signed a manifesto, initiated by prominent Moroccans Leila Slimani and Sonia Terrab, to criticize Morocco’s laws criminalizing sexual relations and abortion.International NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, also condemned the arrest, calling for the immediate release of Raissouni.The 28-year-old journalist writes for the Arabic-language daily Akhbar Al Yaoum. Moroccan law criminalizes both sex outside marriage and abortion in cases where imminent danger to the mother’s life cannot be proven.It remains to be seen whether Raissouni will appeal the court’s verdict. read more

“There will be no tolerance for the kidnappings, harassment and terror carried out by criminal gangs,” UN Military Force Commander Maj. Gen. Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz said after over 700 UN soldiers from seven countries launched Operation Jauru Sudamericana, forming a secure perimeter around the Boston area to restrict gang movement. The soldiers then systematically began to control key points, including a building gang members used as to hold kidnap victims and for other criminal activities. “I will continue to cleanse these areas of the gangs who are robbing the people of their security,” Maj. Gen. Dos Santos Cruz added. The presence of UN peacekeepers will be the starting point for humanitarian, human rights and Haitian police activities aimed at stabilizing and rebuilding the area. Maj. Gen. Dos Santos Cruz recently announced he would intensify efforts against criminal gangs in the capital city. To help carry out this mission, an additional battalion of soldiers from Nepal will be used to conduct manoeuvres in the Cite Soleil area, notorious for its high crime rate. “Our aim is to provide a safe and secure environment where people can live without fear,” the general said. The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), set up in 2004 to help re-establish peace in the impoverished Caribbean country after insurgency forced then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to go into exile, has reported that armed criminal gangs are forcing children to take part in their operations, often under threat of killing them, and using them as human shields in confrontations with the police. “These children are being forced to become criminals,” the head of MINUSTAH’s child protection unit, Massimo Toschi, told a news conference yesterday. He presented a video, entitled ‘The lost children of Cité Soleil,’ with the testimony of one of these youngsters from the Port-au-Prince slum notorious for its high crime rate. Preventive measures should include promoting the fight against poverty, strengthening families, enabling these children to go to school and reinforcing the capabilities of the Haitian police child protection brigade, MINUSTAH child protection officer Carline Allen said. Lack of funding is also a serious concern. Haiti’s Social Welfare Institute, entrusting with caring for vulnerable children, had a budget of less than $450,000 last year, of which all but some $35,000 went on staff salaries. “It is easy to understand that no shelter, no project can be undertaken this institute,” Ms. Allen said. 9 February 2007United Nations peacekeeping soldiers in Haiti launched an early morning operation today in Port-au-Prince, the capital, to establish the strongest security presence ever in the Boston area in the continuing battle against criminal gangs. read more

Facing bitter cold and encountering polar bears, a British duo seeking to raise almost $500,000 for the United Nations refugee agency leads the Polar Race 2007, as the grueling 640-kilometre endurance race to the North Pole has reached its halfway point. Team Refuge, comprising Jake Morland and James Turner, is leading its nearest rival by almost seven hours after setting out from Canada’s Cornwallis Island earlier this month. “We’ve taken a bit of a battering over the last few days,” said Mr. Morland, who has worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees over the past seven years in places such as Iraq, Timor-Leste, Sri Lanka and Sudan. Mr. Morland hopes the money his team raises will be earmarked for a special trust fund to cover urgent medical evacuations for refugee children. “Rather than polar bears, the cold has been our biggest concern,” he added. “The thermometer may only read minus 20 but with wind chill that’s closer to minus 65! Just staying warm is a battle!” The team must pull heavy sleds carrying food and other survival items over the frozen arctic, and is learning how to use the sun to navigate and also how to differentiate snow which is safe to melt and drink from snow which is salty from the seawater. The duo is now busy repairing their equipment and resting at a re-supply station on Osborne Island, as they gear up for the second half of their journey. To deal with the demanding challenges of the race, Mr. Turner, teacher and long-time friend of Mr. Morland’s, said that he is dreaming of his arrival back in Ottawa, Canada, after the end of the race next month. “A pint of beer and food that isn’t boil-in-the-bag takes my mind off bruised feet and aching bones,” he said. “It also allows me to open my eyes and enjoy the surroundings.” However, the highlight of the race so far for Team Refuge has been its coming across three polar bears and two Arctic wolves. Recalling a close encounter with a polar bear, Mr. Turner said, “My first thought was surprise, then I yelled, ‘Bear! Bear! Bear!’ The bear and I looked at each other, he sniffed the air, turned and disappeared in to the ice rubble.” He added, “It was close.” Team Refuge, one of six teams competing in the race, is being sponsored by Arch Insurance, a European company, which has given the two men $80,000 to cover the costs of the race, allowing all funds raised by the pair to be donated directly to UNHCR. The public will be able to continue donating to Team Refuge for the rest of this year. The winning team of the Polar Race 2007 will be awarded the Wedgwood Blue Ice Trophy. 25 April 2007Facing bitter cold and encountering polar bears, a British duo seeking to raise almost $500,000 for the United Nations refugee agency leads the Polar Race 2007, as the grueling 640-kilometre endurance race to the North Pole has reached its halfway point. read more

4 May 2007Although primarily known for its work in curbing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is also working to save the lives of babies and women with cervical cancer in Haiti. The IAEA said in a news release that it is putting its expertise in nuclear science and radiation to use in the Caribbean country to curtail infant malnutrition and bolster cancer treatment.Haiti has the highest rates of mortality for both infants and children under the age of five in the Western hemisphere, with poverty, civil conflict and insufficient knowledge of proper diet being the root causes of malnutrition.“We get Kwash babies every day,” said Jessy Colimon Adrien, Chief of Paediatrics at the General Hospital in the capital Port-au-Prince, referring to Kwashiorkor, a severe form of malnutrition.IAEA has joined forces with the Haitian Ministry of Health to use nuclear science to improve infant nutrition, focusing on the advantages of breast milk, which is both healthy for infants and is low-cost. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months.Together, they will conduct studies using stable and non-radioactive isotopes to identify breastfeeding patterns in Haiti, and the findings will allow the Government to better understand the causes of infant malnutrition and how to cure it.“Culturally mothers do not believe that breast milk is enough for the baby and they try to introduce foods early like leafy tea, juice, crackers and porridge,” Joseline Pierre Marhone, who heads the Food and Nutrition department in the Ministry of Health, said.Inadvertently, by feeding the infants such foods, the mothers expose their babies to bacteria and viruses causing diarrhoea and other infectious diseases.“The IAEA studies will help us know how many mothers breastfeed exclusively,” she added.The studies will use a safe and non-evasive method with stable isotopes measuring quantities a mother’s milk. Mothers will be given a dose of deuterium, also referred to as heavy hydrogen, to ingest in a glass of milk. This mixes with the mother’s body water and is transferred to her baby via human milk.Over the following two week period, saliva samples will be taken from both the mother and the baby to determine whether the baby is consuming food and water from sources other than its mother’s milk, the amount of human milk it has ingested and the nutritional status of the mother.IAEA’s efforts are building on the schemes of other UN agencies – such as the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), WHO and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) – and other international organizations, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).In the past decade, IAEA has provided $1.66 million to support nutrition programmes worldwide. By 2009, an additional $1.6 million has been earmarked for countries including Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Eritrea, Madagascar and Burkina Faso to train staff and extra equipment to reduce child malnutrition.The agency also hopes to help combat cancer in Haiti by providing assistance in building a national cancer treatment centre equipped with the technology necessary to diagnose and treat the disease.According to WHO, despite patchy national figures, Haiti has one of the highest incidences of cervical cancer in the world, with a rate three times higher than that of its neighbour the Dominican Republic and 12 times higher than that of the United States.The success rate in cures for women with cervical cancer is 65 per cent when treated with radiotherapy, but there are no radiation therapy centres in Haiti.“It’s frustrating,” said Jean Cornely, a gynaecologist at the General Hospital. “Often we’re forced to send patients home to die. They die in a very bad situation.”In more affluent countries, early detection through screening and simple treatment can effectively combat the disease, but adequate treatment is not available in Haiti.“Cancer is seen as a disease of the rich, the aged,” noted Massoud Samiei who heads IAEA’s Programme of Action on Cancer Therapy (PACT). “More than half of new cancer cases occur in developing countries, where it is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality.”Radiotherapy can also help alleviate pain in patients with advanced cervical cancer, and even a short dose of radiation can stop bleeding, help control bladders and relieve severe pain.IAEA is supporting the establishment of a cancer treatment centre equipped with the capacity and technology to deliver radiotherapy, and to this end an architect has created a blueprint for the new centre pro bono. Once built, IAEA will provide radiotherapy units and diagnostic equipment. The centre will treat roughly 2,000 patients a year, half of them women afflicted with cervical cancer.IAEA is sending young local doctors to Canada for three years of training in oncology, and will also send nurses to be trained as radiotherapy technicians.“Haiti is making important steps in the planning and design of what will be a very complete cancer facility that will be used not just for treatment, particularly for radiotherapy, but also for diagnosing cancer,” said IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of Technical Cooperation.Dr. Cetto recently met with President Rene Preval and other Haitian officials regarding boosting technical cooperation between IAEA and Haiti. “We have been having serious talks with the various authorities to make sure they take the decision as early as possible to go ahead with the comprehensive integrated approach on cancer therapy which involves national financing to construct this facility.” read more

The range of today’s global challenges requires a stronger United Nations that is more representative, transparent and effective, Portugal’s Prime Minister told the General Assembly today, calling for reform of the world’s leading multilateral forum. “The long-term success of a global organization such as the UN depends upon its capacity to respond to ever-changing challenges and new international players, by reforming, adapting and continuously reinventing itself,” Prime Minister José Sócrates stated in his address to the annual high-level general debate.Speaking on behalf of the European Union, whose chairmanship his country currently holds, the Prime Minister stressed the group’s belief that “only with a stronger Organization will we be able to live in a safer, fairer and more developed world.”Whether meeting internationally agreed development goals, combating the growing threat of climate change or responding to the range of threats to international peace and security, he stressed that “global challenges require global responses.”And no institution was better placed to forge global responses to common concerns than the UN, with its ability to convene the nations of the world to address shared problems and coordinate concerted action. Among the common concerns is climate change, which Mr. Sócrates called “one of the great global challenges facing mankind.” He stressed that “our response must be global, and collective.”The EU has already committed itself to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions – responsible for global warming – by at least 20 per cent. “But we want to go further,” he said, announcing that the Union was ready to raise its commitment to 30 per cent. He also highlighted the need to develop “a more responsible energy policy,” as well as innovative technologies to exploit new sources of energy and to improve energy efficiency. The Prime Minister’s call comes one day after an historic gathering of world leaders at UN Headquarters on the subject of climate change, ahead of a major summit to be held in Bali, Indonesia, in December. In his address to the Assembly today, Slovak President Ivan Gašparovic also highlighted the need for the UN to speed up its pace and reform.“We think it is necessary to make the work of newly-created structures and institutions more dynamic, and to set the UN to ensure targeted prevention and solution of concrete problems and conflicts,” he said.The President welcomed last year’s establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission, which was set up to help countries emerging from conflict avoid sliding back into war or chaos. He also noted changes to the work of the Human Rights Council and the UN Secretariat.But “UN reform cannot be complete without also reforming the structure and working methods of the UN Security Council,” Mr. Gašparovic said, noting that Slovakia – currently a non-permanent Council member – has been actively engaged on the issue.The number of permanent and non-permanent members should increase, Germany and Japan deserve permanent seats and the so-called countries of the global South should also acquire more seats to reflect today’s changed geopolitical realities. 25 September 2007The range of today’s global challenges requires a stronger United Nations that is more representative, transparent and effective, Portugal’s Prime Minister told the General Assembly today, calling for reform of the world’s leading multilateral forum. read more

7 December 2007The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has voiced concern at media reports that Angolan security forces in the northeast of the country have raped, beaten or tortured Congolese migrant workers before deporting them across the border. Praveen Randhawa, a spokesperson for OHCHR, told reporters in Geneva today that High Commissioner Louise Arbour was extremely concerned by the reports and had called on the Angolan Government to investigate and bring any perpetrators to justice.The reports that have emerged this week say that Angolan security forces based in Lunda Norte province, next to the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), have been committing abuses against Congolese migrants, especially women.Large numbers of Congolese have lived and worked for many years in Angola, including in its diamond mines in Lunda Norte. read more

16 March 2008With global glaciers – a vital water source for millions, or even billions, of people worldwide – melting at a record rate, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) urged countries to agree on a new emissions reduction pact. With global glaciers – a vital water source for millions, or even billions, of people worldwide – melting at a record rate, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) urged countries to agree on a new emissions reduction pact.According to the UNEP-backed World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), data from nearly 30 reference glaciers in nine mountain ranges indicate that between the years 2004-2005 and 2005-2006, the average rate of melting and thinning more than doubled.The centre, based at Switzerland’s University of Zurich, has been tracking glaciers for more than one century, and has noted that while between 1980-1999 average ice loss had been 0.3 meters per year compared to 0.5 meters after the start of the new millennium.“The latest figures are part of what appears to be an accelerating trend with no apparent end in sight,” said Wilfried Haeberli, WGMS Director.On average, one meter water equivalent corresponds to 1.1 metre in ice thickness, which suggests a further shrinking in 2006 of 1.5 actual meters and since 1980 a total reduction in thickness of ice of just over 11.5 meters, or nearly 38 feet. “There are many canaries emerging in the climate change coal mine,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director. “The glaciers are perhaps among those making the most noise and it is absolutely essential that everyone sits up and takes notice.”2009 will be a crucial year, with the “litmus test” coming in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the negotiations process for a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol is scheduled to conclude, he said. “Here governments must agree on a decisive new emissions reduction and adaptation-focused regime. Otherwise, and like the glaciers, our room for manoeuvre and the opportunity to act may simply melt away.”The WGMS research found that some of the most dramatic glacier shrinking has occurred in Europe with Norway’s Breidalblikkbrea glacier thinning by close to 3.1 meters during 2006 compared with a thinning of 0.3 meter in the previous year.However, some glaciers – such as Echaurren Norte in Chile – posted increases. read more