INLDs strength falls in Haryana Assembly Speaker removes Abhay Chautala as LoP

first_imgChandigarh: In another setback for the INLD, the Haryana Assembly speaker Tuesday removed Abhay Chautala as the Leader of Opposition after strength of party legislators dropped to 15 following resignations of two of its leaders.”I have removed Abhay Singh Chautala as the Leader of Opposition as the number of MLAs of his party has come down from 17 to 15. The number of MLAs of their party came down to 15 after I accepted resignation of two INLD MLAs Ranbir Gangwa and Kehar Singh Rawat,” Speaker Kanwar Pal told PTI. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Hathin MLA Rawat joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in New Delhi on Monday. Earlier this month, one of Indian National Lok Dal’s senior leaders and sitting MLA Gangwa too had joined the BJP. “Gangwa and Rawat had submitted their resignations to my office before they joined the BJP. As there were holidays in between… I accepted their resignations now,” he said. The speaker said that he will write to the state president of the Congress party, which has a strength of 17 MLAs in the 90-member House and has emerged as the principal opposition now, to forward the name of their party legislator so that new Leader of Opposition can be named. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KIn the 90-member Assembly, ruling BJP’s strength rose to 48 MLAs after the recent Jind bypoll win while Congress has 17 members. After Gangwa and Rawat joined the BJP, the INLD’s strength dropped to 15 members. One member each belongs to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), five are Independents while one seat fell vacant after the demise of INLD leader Jaswinder Singh Sandhu earlier this year. INLD secretary general Abhay Chautala had resigned as the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly on Saturday and sought disqualification of four of party legislators who were supporting fledgling Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) for alleged anti-party activities. When asked about Abhay Chautala’s resignation on Saturday, the Speaker said that Gangwa and Rawat had submitted their resignations much earlier and after accepting these he had acted on this and removed the senior INLD leader as the Leader of Opposition. Abhay Chautala had told reporters on Saturday that he has demanded disqualification of MLAs – Naina Chautala, Anoop Dhanak, Pirthi Nambardar and Randeep Phogat who have sided with the JJP. He had also sought disqualification of Gangwa. When asked to comment on what will be the fate of those INLD MLAs who were supporting the JJP, the Speaker said, “There is a process for this which will be initiated. These four MLAs will be asked to clear their stance with regards to JJP. If they say they have joined JJP, then appropriate action will be taken.”last_img read more

Changes in laws on political funding have serious repercussion EC to SC

first_imgNew Delhi: The Election Commission informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it had written to the Centre saying the changes made in several laws relating to political funding will have “serious repercussions” on transparency.It also said that the changes in the FCRA 2010, will allow unchecked foreign funding of political parties which could lead to Indian policies being influenced by foreign companies. EC, which has filed affidavit in the apex court, said that on May 26, 2017 it had written to the Ministry of Law and Justice about its views that the changes made in the Income Tax Act, the Representation of People Act and the Finance Act would be against the endeavour to have transparency in funding to political parties. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The affidavit, filed by Director (Law) of the EC Vijay Kumar Pandey, said the EC had informed the ministry that “certain provisions of the Finance Act, 2017 and the corresponding amendments carried out in the Income Tax Act, the RP Act, 1951 and the Companies Act, 2013 will have serious repercussions/impact on the transparency aspect of political finance/funding of political parties”. The reply was filed in petitions challenging the issuance of electoral bonds by the government. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KReferring to its communication with the ministry, it said: “It is evident that any donation received by political party through an electoral bond has been taken out of the ambit of reporting under the contribution report as prescribed under section 29 C of the RPA. “In a situation where electoral bonds were not reported, it cannot be ascertained whether the political party has taken any donation from government companies and foreign sources.” On changes to the Foreign Regulation Contribution Act (FCRA) 2010, it said they allowed donations to be received from foreign companies having majority stake in Indian companies provided that they follow the guidelines pertaining to foreign investment in the sector in which they operate. “This was a change from the existing law barred donations from all foreign sources as defined under the FCRA. This would allow unchecked foreign funding of political parties which could lead to Indian policies being influenced by foreign companies,” it added. In response to ADR’s plea which also sought directions that no political party should accept any donation in cash, ECI said that the Income Tax Act has been amended with a new clause stating that no cash donation exceeding Rs 2000 was received by such political party. “ECI has been relentlessly working towards curbing the abuse of power during elections for which purpose it has time and again issued several instructions in the past to candidates as well as to political parties for furnishing the correct information relating to donations received and expenditure,” it said.last_img read more

Dont leave TMC for a few greedy leaders Mamata in Junglemahal

first_imgJhargram: If there were any doubts about the Trinamool losing ground in Junglemahal, they were dispelled on Sunday. After receiving a rapturous welcome, the chief minister Mamata Banerjee recalled the dark days when the region was in the grip of Maoist insurgency.Banerjee said her government has showered the impoverished Jangalmahal area, which had once become a den of Maoists, with many benefits and schemes to lift their standard of life. The Jangalmahal area comprises forested areas of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura districts. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange frameworkAdmitting that a few local leaders of the party may be “greedy”, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee Sunday urged people not to turn their anger against them into voting against the TMC, claiming that its central leadership is above such vices. “I cannot say 100 per cent workers of my party are good, maybe two per cent is bad and we take action against them,” Banerjee said addressing public rallies in three places of Jangalmahal region. She said a few local leaders in the region have become greedy but they have been identified and thrown out. Also Read – Trio win Nobel Medicine Prize for work on cells, oxygenBanerjee urged people not to leave the TMC and go to the BJP, the Congress or the CPI(M) for the fault of a few. Tribals constitute 38 per cent of the voting population in the area. It is said that the Mahato community may have gravitated to the BJP and Independent candidates. The state government’s decision of offering jobs to Chhatradhar Mahato’s two sons triggered discontent, instead of attracting the Mahatos to the ruling party, political analysts point out. Banerjee said her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, who is the TMC youth wing president, is in the party because of his concern for her. “Abhishek was a child when I was badly injured in an attack many years ago. Pained by my sufferings, he would roam about the house shouting slogans against the then chief minister Jyoti Basu seeking an answer on why I was attacked,” the TMC supremo said. Defending Abhishek’s rise in the party, she said the new generation should come forward and join politics to give a cleaner political environment.last_img read more

Foundation takes up initiatives for poll awareness

first_imgKolkata: To spread awareness about election, especially among the youths, Qari Ahmer Foundation (QAF) has taken several initiatives for the people of Kolkata. “I am casting my own vote. Are you also giving yours!”- is the slogan that is being spread by QAF to attract the attention of people. The foundation is also providing wheelchairs to help the physically disabled and senior citizens, who are members of Chittaranjan Avenue Evergreen Sporting club & welfare society and Palm Avenue Friend’s Garden, to cast their votes, said Zaid Anwar, Director, QAF. QAF was established to commemorate blind scholar Qari Anwarul Haque Ahmer Lucknavi, to promote literacy, secularism, pluralism and multiculturalism among underprivileged youths.last_img

Jerusalem panel urges pressing Israel over settlements

first_imgMARRAKECH- Muslim nations urged the international community Saturday to put pressure on Israel to stop building Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, as the end of talks in Morocco.The call was issued by the Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Committee amid heightened concern that the settlements undermine US-brokered peace talks that resumed in July after bogging down three years earlier over the construction drive.“The international community must… put pressure on Israel to stop the illegal and provocative settlement construction,” a statement said at the end of a two-day meeting in Marrakesh. That “will create a favourable context for the pursuit of peace negotiations” between Israel and the Palestinians, and for relations between Israel, its Arab neighbours and the Muslim world at large, the statement added.The committee was founded by the pan-Muslim Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in 1975 to resist the confiscation of Palestinian land and assets in Jerusalem.Chairman King Mohamed VI of Morocco opened the meeting Friday by calling for “a strong mobilisation of our own means and resources… to defend the Holy City.”Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas later claimed Israel was using the peace talks as a “cover” to expand settlements in the West Bank.Concern over the settlements returned to the fore last week when Israel announced plans to build 1,800 new settler homes in the West Bank, including annexed Arab east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.The announcement came only days after the latest peace mission by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who criticised the settlements as “illegitimate” and “unhelpful.”The controversial decision prompted Britain, Italy, France and Spain to summon Israeli ambassadors in protest, with the Jewish state calling in European ambassadors on Friday in a tit-for-tat move.After Israel unveiled its plans, a furious row erupted with the United States. Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon launched a bitter personal tirade against Secretary of State John Kerry for his “obsession” with brokering a framework peace deal by April.On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the EuropeanUnionof a “hypocritical” attitude toward the peace process, saying it should be more concerned by Palestinian militancy than Israeli housing construction.The international community considers all settlements to be illegal that were built on land seized by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War.last_img read more

Morocco explores Turkish investments opportunities

Istanbul – The 2nd edition of the conference on investment opportunities in Morocco will be held Tuesday in Istanbul, under the theme “Morocco, a strategic partner of Turkey in Africa,” according to the Moroccan Investment Development Agency (AMDI).Moroccan economic delegation, composed of twenty public and private institutions’ representatives will participate in this meeting, which aims to encourage their Turkish counterparts to invest in Morocco, promote the economic appeal of the Kingdom in such an emerging country which has achieved remarkable economic progress.Organized by AMDI in collaboration with the External Relations Council of Turkey (DEIK), the 2nd conference on investment opportunities in Morocco will be attended by many Moroccan economic institutions, including: – The General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM)– The Southern Provinces Development Agency (ADPS)– The Tanger-Med Special Agency (TMSA)– The Agency for Agricultural Development (ADA)– The Moroccan Association of Textile and Clothing (AMITH)– The Federation of mechanical and electro-metallurgical industries (FIMME).The event seeks to promote the image of Morocco as a coveted business destination in Turkey, and help Turkish businesses to explore the Moroccan investment opportunities through various presentations by Moroccan business and trade experts. read more

Minister of Justice Denies Rumors He Will Prosecute Facebook Users Who

Rabat – Moroccan Minister of Justice, Mustapha Ramid, denied rumors that he intends to prosecute Moroccan Facebook users who “like” terrorist-related content on the internet. An article published Thursday by news website Hespress suggested that Moroccan Minister of Justice and Freedoms, Mustapha Ramid has threatened to pursue anyone who “likes” terrorist-related content on the internet.The article was quoted by several online media outlets and was widely shared and commented on social media. The office of the Minister of Justice and Freedoms denied on Friday the news categorically, saying that the Hespress journalist who reported the news was not present during the discussions of the committee for Justice, Freedoms and Human Rights in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.In a statement, the office of the Justice and Freedoms Minister said hitting the like button on terrorist-related content cannot be considered as an expression of terrorist leanings. Nevertheless, it cannot be considered the opposite as well, pointing out that evidence is what reveals the truth regarding someone’s terrorist affiliations.The statement went on to add that unlike a true terrorist who would deliberately “likes” terrorist-related content online, the “like” button can also be accidentally hit by someone without prior intention.The news that the Moroccan authorities would pursue anyone who “likes” terrorist-related content online stirred quite a controversy, with social media users commenting widely this news regarded by some as “weird” and if true, a “crack down on the freedom of expression.”Others rushed in to demand the Justice Minister to provide more explanations of what is exactly terrorist-related content, asking if publishing articles about terrorism will lead one to serve time in prison. read more

Morocco Netherlands elected to cochair Global Counter Terrorism Forum

Rabat- Morocco and the Netherlands were unanimously elected, on Thursday in Doha, to co-chair of the Global Counter-terrorism Forum (GCTF), the Foreign Minister said in a statement.The two countries follow the USA and Turkey which chaired the body since its inception in 2010, it added.This decision, unanimously taken by GCTF members during the 7th meeting of the Coordination Committee on Thursday in Doha, crowns the commitment of Morocco to activities by the Forum which has become a main platform to fight terrorism, the same source noted. This election testifies to the international community’s trust in Morocco and the recognition for the pertinence of its multidimensional national counter-terrorism strategy, the ministry said.The Global Counter-terrorism Forum is a consortium of nations including emerging economies such as India, China, Russia and 11 Muslim countries along with the European Union, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia. It was launched by Hillary Clinton on Sept. 22, 2011. GCTF is a major initiative to build an international architecture for dealing with 21st-century terrorism. read more

Minister of Industry Before We Had to Market Morocco Now Morocco

Rabat – Morocco is set on moving up the automotive industry ladder. The government aspires to blast off the Kingdom’s automobile sector to the fifth place in the global automotive industry.The Minister of Industry, Investment, Trade and Digital Economy, Moulay Hafid Elalamy, announced the plan at a press conference held last week following the meeting of the Investment Committee.“With our 620,000 annual vehicles in capacity, we are in the top 20 worldwide. We want to go to the top 5. To do that, we have to exceed 1 million vehicles. If we had 4 or 5 other manufacturers,” Elalamy told Medias24. Morocco no longer needs to prove itself to Korean or American investors, he explained. “They know Morocco, and the foreign investors in the country are the best ambassadors.”A study conducted by Ernest and Young asserted that Morocco is one of the three largest destinations for foreign direct investment in the automotive field. “Interestingly, the automotive sector emerged as the top FDI jobs creator in Africa in 2016,” explained the report.“The country has positioned itself as an export base for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In 2015, Ford Motor Co. and PSA Peugeot Citroen announced plans to expand operations in Morocco. Peugeot is planning a US$632m assembly plant near Kenitra, with capacity to build 90,000 vehicles a year, scheduled to start production in 2019. Following Peugeot’s investment announcement, Morocco expects its annual automotive exports to reach USD 10.2b by 2020,” said the study.Referring to the Ernest and Young study, the minister said that “We are in front of South Africa and it’s not bad. But my benchmark today is elsewhere. It is Spain and Romania, for example.”Elalamy was also pleased to announce that the majority of investments were made by Moroccans, assuring that foreigners and Moroccans were on an equal footing.“I am pleased that more than 90% of the reported investments are made by Moroccans. We encourage Moroccans to invest as much as possible. Foreigners also invest on an equal footing with Moroccans. In Morocco, unlike other countries, there is no discrimination.” read more

Senegalese Businesses Oppose Moroccos Bid to Join ECOWAS

Rabat – In an onslaught of recent articles, representatives of Senegalese businesses, labor unions, and civil society have called to block Morocco’s potential entrance into the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).The opponents claim that Morocco’s admission into ECOWAS would undermine local businesses and products, which would have no chance when competing with their Moroccan counterparts.“Morocco is knocking at ECOWAS‘s door,” wrote Senegalese online media outlet Dakar-Presse, quoting a local union of businesses and labor syndicates. The article insists that this door should not be opened, or otherwise it will signal the death of “the weak economies of the west African zone.” The Initiative Committee for Integration Monitoring (CISI), an organization that groups together businesses, labor unions, university professors, and NGOs, also voiced its opposition to Morocco’s admission to ECOWAS, saying they would rather see it as partner than a member of the bloc.“The Moroccan economy is very competitive,” said CISI head Zator Kane Diallo. “We oppose unbalanced relations that would suffocate our economy, destroy whole pillars of our productive sector, and export our jobs to Morocco.” Diallo added that the CISI is due to release a report on Tuesday detailing the projected impact of Morocco’s ECOWAS membership on local economic sectors.The committee explained to Dakar-Presse that the sectors that will mostly affected by this membership are “agriculture, industry, handicraft, commerce, services as well construction of buildings and infrastructure.”The Senegalese group pointed to the fact that Morocco’s GDP of USD 101 billion exceeds that of Senegal, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire combined.The competitiveness of products coming from Morocco arises also from the fact that the kingdom has signed free trade agreements with several countries, explained Mor Talla Kane, the executive director the Conseil National des Employeurs du Sénégal (CNES), a local union of businesses.“How can we identify their products? Technically, it’s impossible,” he said.Morocco’s plan to join the West African organizations faces opposition beyond Senegal, which for decades has been one of the closest countries to Morocco in the continent. Criticisms are also coming from Nigeria, a country with which Morocco has only recently improved relations, especially after the two sides agreed to build a gas pipeline across the western African Atlantic coast and increase cooperation in fertilizers.While some of Morocco’s detractors in Nigeria have issued similar economic arguments to those in Senegal, the country’s hardcore Polisario Front supporters point to Abuja’s historical support of the separatist organization and claim that Rabat is seeking to challenge the oil-rich country’s influence in ECOWAS and the African Union. read more

Morocco Wins Gold and Silver Medals at Arab Math Olympics

Rabat – Three Moroccan students won gold and silver medals at the first Arab Mathematics Olympics which ended on Thursday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.Mohamed Khir won a gold medal and Nizar El Ghazal and Mohamed El Kafil won silver medals.The competition awarded two gold medals, three silver medals, and five bronze medals. All three Moroccan students came from the Regional Academy of Education and Training (AREF) of the Rabat-Sale Region. The contest involved questions requiring students to think outside of the box to solve mathematical equations and use Euclidean geometry and number theory, according to the organizing committee.Read Also: ShanghaiRanking: Morocco’s Cadi Ayyad University Best in Francophone AfricaThe Arab Mathematics Olympiads started on Sunday with competitors from 13 Arab nations, including Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.The event, organized by the Saudi Ministry of Education in partnership with the Arab League Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization, seeks to foster Arab students’ culture of innovation and creativity.Each member country in the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States nominates six students who must be citizens attending public or private school and under the age of 19 years and six months. read more

12665 Moroccan Fans Travel to Russia World Cup Abdelhak Lacheheb

Rabat – The Atlas Lions can count on the valuable support of Moroccan fans for the 2018 World Cup. The supporters who have landed in Russia are showing their unconditional love for the national team raising the Moroccan flag and expressing their joy, as shown on several pictures and videos on social media.How many Moroccans will chant for Morocco’s victory? Abdelhak Lacheheb, Ambassador of Morocco in Russia has the answer.“Until yesterday (Monday), we had the number of 12,665 Moroccan fans who will come from Morocco having obtained the Fan Id. We will have in addition to that 30,000 Moroccans living abroad who will also make the trip to Russia to push the national team,” he said to Moroccan outlet Le Matin. On the eve of their first game against Iran, the Atlas Lions, who landed in St. Petersburg, are getting ready to face Iran at 6 p.m. local time on Friday (3 p.m. in Morocco). The game will be broadcasted on IRIB TV 3, Sport TV 1, canale 5 italia TRT 1 HD, Cuatro beIN SPORTS HD 1 EN, ARD Das Erste HD, TF 1 HD, TVP 1 HD, RTS Two HD, SRF zwei HD, RSI LA 2 HD, TVP Sport HD, Telecin beIN SPORTS MAX 2 HD AR and beIN SPORTS MAX 1 HD AR.After the match against Iran, Morocco, placed in Group B, will meet the Portugal team June 20 at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, and will play against Spain on June 25 at the Kaliningrad Stadium. read more

Trump Applauds King Mohammed VIs Efforts to Promote Religious Tolerance

Rabat – US President Donald Trump has joined the list of world leaders who sent their congratulations to King Mohammed VI on the 19th anniversary of his accession to the throne.In his message, Trump lauded King Mohammed VI’s leadership in “international efforts to promote religious tolerance and fight against extremism.”The US President also welcomed the friendship between Morocco and the US, a relationship “based on an interest to promote peace, stability and economic opportunities.” Morocco deliberately works to prevent and control radicalism by ensuring that the practice of Islam remains unified, moderate, and stable throughout the country.Trump also expressed determination to continue to work with the King to reinforce ties between the two nations and to continue bilateral collaboration for a safer and more prosperous African continent.Trump’s congratulatory message came through US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said that his country “is proud to work with Morocco in the areas of security cooperation, culture and educational exchanges.”Pompeo also said that the US is interested in promoting economic opportunities in favor of both peoples.“We look forward to further deepening our strong relationship that has lasted for more than two centuries,” Pompeo added.The US secretary of state also reaffirmed the strategic Moroccan-American partnership, expressing interest in working together to “advance the vision” both countries share “for a secure North Africa and Middle East.”The two countries work together in multiple fields, including security.On June 29, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita welcomed US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan in Rabat, and both agreed to reinforce bilateral ties.The US official said that Morocco is a key partner in counterterrorism, expressing more interest in preserving the diplomatic ties to safeguard national security interests in the two countries.On Monday, King Mohammed VI chaired a reception ceremony for Throne Day in Tangier’s royal palace. Several former and current officials from different countries attended the ceremony. read more

Quebec 2 CanadianMoroccans Elected to Parliament

Rabat- Two Canadians of Moroccan descent have been elected to the Canadian Parliament in Canada’s latest provincial elections on October 1. Both represent the Canadian Liberal Party and won landslide victories in their respective electoral districts.Born in Marrakech, Moncef Derraji grew up in Morocco. Like many Moroccans, he left the country to seek greener pastures abroad. In Quebec, Canada’s francophone province, Derraji’s civic engagement quickly earned him recognition in his neighborhood and among his colleagues.Derraji, who worked in the private sector for nearly 14 years on the executive board of pharmaceutical companies between Canada and Morocco, made his political debut only in 2015. He was elected as chairman of the Quebec Rally of Young Chambers of Commerce (RJCCQ).Although a new-comer to Canadian politics, Derraji is a well-known figure in Moroccan elite circles, having conducted many economic missions in Morocco under the auspices of CGEM, the leading conglomerate of Moroccan business owners.Born and raised in Canada to Moroccan parents, Marwah Rizqy, the second newly-elected MP, is a more obscure name in Moroccan business circles. In Quebec, however, the tax law professor is not new to the political scene. She ran twice for office before her triumph on October 1. She spent the bulk of her life in Montreal but has also lived in Florida, in the US, where she earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in fiscal law. Currently a tax law professor at the Sherbrook University, Rizqy presented herself during her campaign as an “ardent fighter for employment and fiscal equity in Canada.” Over the years, Rizqy has received numerous accolades for her professional, academic, and civil efforts. Derraji will represent Montreal’s Nelligan electoral district, and Rizqy will represent Montreal’s Saint-Laurent district. read more

Home Depot sales cool along with real estate market

ATLANTA — Home Depot’s fourth-quarter profit is short of expectations with rising real estate prices cooling home sales.Shares fell 2.6 per cent Tuesday before the opening bell.The home improvement retailer earned $2.34 billion, or $2.09 per share, far short of the per-share earnings of $2.22 Wall Street was looking for, according to a survey by FactSet.A year ago the Atlanta company earned $1.78 billion, or $1.52 per share.The current quarter was also nicked by a one-time charge or 16 cents per share.Revenue climbed to $26.49 billion, from $23.88 billion, helped by an extra week in the quarter, but that too was short of forecasts.Home Depot Inc.’s sales at stores open at least a year rose 3.2 per cent, also short of analyst expectations of a 4.5 per cent jump.The Associated Press

SKorean ship detained for allegedly providing oil to NKorea

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Officials say a South Korean ship is being held at a domestic port over suspicions that it illegally provided oil to heavily sanctioned North Korea.A South Korean coast guard official said Wednesday the 5,160-ton P-PIONEER has been prevented from leaving Busan port since October over allegations that it was used to supply oil to North Korea through two ship-to-ship transfers last September in international waters in the East China Sea.An official from Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said it was the first time a South Korean ship was detained over allegations of violating United Nations Security Council Sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department rules preventing them from speaking to the press.Kim Tong-Hyung, The Associated Press read more

Ford workers in Russia protest planned closure

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Ford workers in Russia have started work-to-rule action over plans to close a plant.Mikhail Sergeyev, head of a trade union which represents around a third of the St. Petersburg plant’s 900-strong workforce, has told The Associated Press on Monday the work-to-rule will continue until Ford negotiates, and it’s already causing disruption.Sergeyev says his union is pushing for more generous layoff packages equivalent to twice a worker’s annual salary.Ford said last month that it’s leaving the Russian car market and closing two assembly plants and an engine plant, after years of lacklustre sales. Ford will keep making vans at another site through a joint venture.Organized industrial action is uncommon in Russia, where many unions have close ties to management, though the auto industry is a rare exception.The Associated Press read more

IMF forecast Global growth will weaken this year to 33

WASHINGTON — The International Monetary Fund is downgrading its outlook for growth in the United States, Europe, Japan and the overall global economy and points to heightened trade tensions as a key reason.The IMF expects the world economy to grow 3.3% this year, down from 3.6% in 2018. That would match 2016 for the weakest year since 2009. In its previous forecast in January, the IMF had predicted that international growth would reach 3.5% this year.For the United States, IMF economists downgraded their growth forecast for this year to 2.3% from 2.9% in 2018.The IMF’s World Economic Outlook comes on the eve of meetings in Washington this week of the fund and its sister lending organization, the World Bank.In Europe, the IMF expects the 19 countries that use the euro currency to expand 1.3% collectively in 2019, weaker than last year’s 1.8% growth or in any year since 2013.Japan is expected to eke out 1% growth this year, up from 0.8% in 2018 but slightly down from the fund’s earlier forecast.The IMF foresees the Chinese economy growing 6.3% this year, down from 6.6% in 2018. But the fund’s latest 2019 outlook was a slight upgrade from the 6.2% growth it had forecast for China in January.China’s prospects brightened, the fund said, after President Donald Trump decided to suspend a planned increase in tariffs on $200 billion worth of U.S.-bound Chinese exports.Still, the fund is expressing worries about tensions between the world’s two biggest economies, which have traded tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of products in a fight over China’s aggressive push to supplant American technological supremacy. The prospect of Britain’s messy departure from the European Union also weighs on the global economy.The IMF expects growth in world trade to drop to 3.4% this year — a sharp slowdown from the 4% it had expected in January and from 3.8% trade growth in 2018.Paul Wiseman And Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press read more

Walmart ups the delivery game with next day shipping

NEW YORK — Walmart is rolling out next-day delivery on its most popular items, increasing the stakes in the retail shipping wars.The nation’s largest retailer said Tuesday it’s been building a network of more efficient e-commerce distribution centres to make that happen. The next-day service will cover 220,000 popular items from diapers and non-perishable food items to toys and electronics. That’s nearly double the number of items it carries in its stores.Next-day delivery service will be available in Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas on Tuesday. In coming days, it will expand to southern California. The discounter plans to roll out the service to 75% of the U.S. population by year-end. It will also be adding hundreds of thousands more products as the program expands.The announcement comes just two weeks after online behemoth Amazon said it’s upgrading its free shipping option to Prime members who pay $119 a year to one-day delivery from two-day delivery. Amazon has declined to say when the switch will happen, but it already offers one-day delivery for some items in certain areas.Walmart says the new delivery program has been in the works for a while.“Customer expectations continue to rise,” said Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce division, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “We’re trying to get ahead of that.”The move will only increase pressure on other rivals that are already investing in millions of dollars to shorten the delivery window.Amazon changed consumer expectations when it launched its two-day delivery for Prime members back in 2005 and forced other retailers to step up their game. But analysts say Amazon then needed to cut the delivery time in half to make its membership more attractive since others like Walmart offered free two-day deliveries without any membership.Two years ago, Walmart began offering free two-day shipping on millions of items on its website for orders of at least $35. Target also offers free two-day shipping for those who spend at least $35 or use its RedCard loyalty card. Walmart has also been expanding same-day grocery delivery service fulfilled from its stores for a fee of about $10.Lore says it will be cheaper for the company to do next-day delivery versus two-day service because eligible items will come from a single fulfilmentcentre located closest to the customer. This means orders will ship in one box, or in as few as possible, unlike two-day deliveries that come in multiple boxes from multiple locations.Still, Walmart sells far fewer products than Amazon and its online U.S. sales are only a fraction of Amazon’s online global merchandise empire. Amazon has also been delivering more packages itself rather than relying on the post office and other carriers like UPS and FedEx. The company expects to spend $800 million in the second quarter to speed up deliveries and has expanded its fleet of jets. On Monday, it announced that it will be expanding an incentive program to its employees so they can quit their jobs and start their own Amazon package delivery businesses.Walmart has one big advantage over Amazon — its more than 4,700 stores.Walmart and Target have been turning their physical stores into shipping hubs, speeding up deliveries and helping to defray costs for services like curbside delivery and in-store pickup. Walmart has also been expanding the use of robots in its stores, which keep tabs on what’s on and not on the shelves. Meanwhile, Target has redesigned its staging area for packages to help speed up fulfilling curbside deliveries.________________AP Retail Writer Joseph Pisani in New York contributed to this story.Anne D’Innocenzio, The Associated Press read more

Former child soldier launches memoirs in UN effort to curb use of

16 February 2007The first-hand account of a Sierra Leonean child soldier’s odyssey from three years of vicious fighting, via a United Nations-supported rehabilitation centre, to a prestigious United States university has joined the arsenal of weapons the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is mustering to fight a scourge that at present entraps some 250,000 youngsters. A Long Way Gone, a memoir by Ishmael Beah, was launched at UNICEF headquarters in New York last night just days after the agency sponsored an international meeting in Paris at which 59 countries committed themselves to putting an end to the unlawful recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts wherever they occur. In his book Mr. Beah, now 26, recounts the tortuous and torturous journey that took him from the searing and brutal battlefields of civil war in his homeland, where fighters, even child soldiers, cut off the hands or feet of their foes, through a UNICEF-backed rehabilitation centre, to the calm and serene halls of academe at Oberlin College, Ohio, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 2004. He currently lives in New York. He tells how children, traumatized, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s have become the soldiers of choice, how as a 12-year-old he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence, how at age 13 he had been picked up by the government army and found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. At age 16, he was removed from fighting by UNICEF, and through the help of the staff at his rehabilitation centre he learned how to forgive himself, to regain his humanity and, finally, to heal in a story of redemption and hope. “Terrible things happen to children, but children are also resilient,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict said at last night’s launch. “They need encouragement, guidance and support; and with the proper care they can become outstanding members of society.” Radhika Coomaraswamy called Mr. Beah a “perfect example” of this. “His moving piece, painful in parts, is full of wisdom and understanding, pointing to the fact that children can heal, and when they do they can become a beacon of light for all of us. It is our duty to assist them and learn from them.” Since the mid-1980s, UNICEF has played a key role in advocating for and securing the release of children from armed forces and other armed groups in conflict-affected countries across the globe, including Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda. The agency provides life skills training, education, health care and counselling to support the reintegration of former child soldiers back into family and community life. UNICEF and its non-governmental organization (NGO) partners also provide care, technical guidance and financial support for the successful implementation of national programmes for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. The ‘Free Children from War’ conference hosted by UNICEF and the French Government in Paris on 6 February adopted the so-called Paris Principles, offering a detailed set of guidelines for protecting children from recruitment and providing effective assistance to those already involved with armed groups or forces. UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman said some 250,000 children are involved in conflicts around the world, where they are used as combatants, messengers, spies, porters, cooks and girls are forced to perform sexual services, depriving them of their rights and their childhood. read more