Capturing the beauty of everyday life

first_imgDilip Banerjee, a noted name in the world of photography, is coming up with a solo exhibition of photographs that seeks to narrate a visual journey of people in India and other geographies. Dilip says that the stories of his pictures are not a black and white tale but are better described in shades of grey which lend itself to many interpretations. Titled ‘The Song of The Road’, the show will be held from May 20 -24, at the Nehru Centre, 8 Audley Street, London. Also Read – The Puja carnivalElaborating about the work that will be exhibited, he says, “My photographs will depict images across four decades capturing fleeting moments of people I have come across – their stories of affection, struggle, despair, sorrow. In war and peace, in politics and sports, in market places and homes. While technology has closed distances, unequal distribution of wealth has widened the gap in humanity. My pictures hold out the stark differences that exist today, in many senses a paradox for the society we live in,” says Dilip. Also Read – Wave City brings special offers this NavratraBanerjee did not have any formal education in photography, and most of his learnings have come from his observations in life. “Filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen and their ability to hold up the truth in simple frames has often led me in my work.” Recalling one of the best trips that gave him exotic moments to capture, Banerjee says, “While my work across the years has taken me to many places, I consider my travails to Afghanistan as one of the most fascinating ones as I first travelled soon after 9/11. I travelled to Afghanistan almost five times over a decade to chronicle the struggle of the people, its culture and landscape. While terror strikes and bomb blasts still make headlines, it’s the story of the resilience of the people that has struck me most.” Some other notable travel documentation by the photographer include ‘Rediscovering the silk-route’ where he travelled by road and documented the people, culture, and architecture of the central Asian region. He also travelled as a photo-journalist with the first group of Asian caravan to Gaza –Palestine and documented the entire journey. He was invited by UC Berkeley in October 2005 to hold a solo exhibition. The topic for the exhibition was ‘India on the move’ where he tried to capture the India growth story through my pictures over the years. His photographs were highly appreciated and acclaimed.last_img read more

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BJP will get more than 280 seats, NDA’s tally 300 plus: BJP leader P Muralidhar Rao

first_imgNew Delhi: Dismissing his colleague Ram Madhav’s assessment that the BJP will need the support of allies to form government, senior leader P Muralidhar Rao says his party will get more than 280 seats while the NDA’s tally will be 300 plus. Regional leaders like BSP supremo Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav are irrelevant in the national context, the BJP’s national general secretary told PTI. Taking a potshot at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Telangana counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao, he said everybody is thinking of becoming prime minister regardless of the numbers their parties might get in the elections. Discussing Madhav’s comment in a recent interview that the BJP will require the support of allies to form the next government, he said, My entire party does not agree with him. It is not me alone. My party president, my PM candidate and my party have expressed the opinions disagreeing… And I have also learnt that he has changed his view after his interview.” Rao said the BJP has got a clear advantage and this perception has increased phase by phase. So, in my view, we will either not be less than 300 (with NDA allies) or 280 plus on our own, Rao said. We will be calling it NDA government. In 2014 also, we formed the NDA government but we had our own majority. So the same situation will continue, he said. Modi said in a rally in Bihar this week that the BJP will cross the 300 mark on its own. According to Rao, the Congress and opposition parties have been unable to put up a united front to fight the BJP. Though they were desirous of giving a united fight, they could not translate it into action, the senior party functionary said ahead of the last round of the seven-phase election on May 19. To a question on the party’s probable tally in Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats, Rao said the BJP is seen as a party with a “Delhi advantage”. Because of this, people think Mayawati is no choice for Delhi. Akhilesh Yadav is no choice for Delhi. Even the voters of these parties think… why should we vote for this party when they are not relevant in the Delhi context,” he said. Referring to the SP-BSP alliance in UP, Rao said their politics will not work in the state and the BJP will be able to improve its position in UP and the entire north India. I don’t see a great deficit or shortfall (there), Rao said, when asked whether the BJP will be able to maintain its 2014 tally of 71 in Uttar Pradesh. Reacting to KCR’s reported statement that the next prime minister should be from south India, Rao said everybody is thinking of becoming the prime minister, whether or not they have the numbers. When he (KCR) is saying so he must be having his own name (for becoming the PM). Mamata Banerjee is contesting 42 seats in Bengal… She is also available for PM. So everybody is thinking (of becoming the pm), he said. Rao said the party will get all the seats in Rajasthan this time too. In a state like Rajasthan where we had 100 per cent seats, all 25, we cannot win more seats. So our entire effort is to retain that number and achieve that number again. With the kind of feedback we are getting in MP and Rajasthan, we will be able to get the same number if seats we had in 2014, he said. The party got 27 of 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh in the last general election. Talking about Bihar, he said Modi wave is at its peak in the state. The feedback is our alliance is going to do very well in Bihar and we will be adding one or two seats to our previous result as we are going to do in Karnataka, Rao said. BJP has joined hands with Nitish Kumar-led JD (U) and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party in Bihar. Rao said the issues of corruption and the Rafale jet deal raked up by the Congress and the opposition parties has gone against them. Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and all the opposition parties will realise this after May 23 results. I have gone to many parts of the country and there I have talked to people and there they are not willing to accept that Modi can be corrupt… So attacking him has not given any advantage to Congress or to the entire opposition, Rao said.last_img read more

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American Jewish Leader urges King Mohammed VI to “stop” controversial anti-Israeli…

first_imgCasablanca- A global Jewish human rights organization addressed a letter to king Mohamed VI urging him stop a draft law that seeks to criminalize normalized relations with Israel.The draft law aims to strengthen the legal arsenal against “trade”, “financial”, “banking” and “insurance operations” with Israel. A restriction would also be placed on “the participation of Moroccans, both those residing in the Kingdom or in Israel, in activities held in the Jewish state. According to the draft law, which was presented by five parliamentary groups, the presence of Israelis in Morocco would be strictly prohibited, and would be deemed an “offense” punishable by “two to five years of imprisonment and a fine between MAD 100,000 and MAD 1 million.”Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, sent the letter to King Mohammed VI during his visit to the United States. In his letter, Dr. Shimon raised alarm about risks posed by the law on Morocco’s image as a country of tolerance best known for its warm ties with Jewish community around the world: “in your absence, various groups in your Parliament plan to damage Morocco’s reputation for tolerance, its standing as a Western ally and its long history of warm ties with the Moroccan Jewish Diaspora in the United States, Europe and Israel.”He recalled Morocco’s welcome of the Jews in the fifteenth century when they were expelled from Spain, along with the Muslims, and sought refuge in the country: “in 1492, your dynasty welcomed Muslim refugees, together with their Jewish neighbors, both expelled from Christian fundamentalist Spain. These Jewish immigrants contributed greatly to Morocco’s prosperity, just as their departure resulted in a sharp decline in Spanish power”.He also recalled that King Mohamed V, the grandfather of the current king, protected the Jews from the Nazi during the tough times of the second world war, highlighting that “over 250,000 of your former subjects still recall with affection the World War II protection they enjoyed from your grandfather, King Mohammed, in the face of the anti-Semitic laws of the Vichy-France administration. Thousands of Jews, most of them Israeli, now annually visit Morocco as tourists, pilgrims to Jewish grave-sites or business and cultural delegations.”The SWC’s director went on to explain the content of  the draft law when he said,“ Your Majesty, behind your back, a number of political parties aim to ram through Parliament a law, entitled ‘Criminalizing Normalization with the Israeli Entity.’ The law intends to prohibit all participation in activities of Moroccan citizens and residents in which Israelis or Israeli organizations are involved, with punishments of 2 to 5 years imprisonment plus fines of 10,000 to 100,000 euros. The relations to be penalized are listed as ‘economic, political, cultural, artistic or other contacts’”He also indicated the impact the draft bill could have, if approved, on the Moroccan economy and it image at the global level: “this law would not only endanger the Jews remaining in Morocco, it would set a precedent for the exclusion of other minorities, thereby wrecking Your Majesty’s 2011 newly enacted human rights based Constitution. Indeed, it may also deter foreign investment prospects, both current and future”.Dr. Shimon Samuelsargued that “the proposal includes ‘a declaration of diplomatic war’ against all countries that have citizens holding Israeli nationality, as well as against all Moroccans with family ties in Israel, in violation of anti-discrimination provisions of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), where Morocco holds an observer status.”He concluded by urging the king to interfere in order to stop the draft law and ensure that “this unconstitutional and damaging draft law remains a draft.”Meanwhile, the controversial bill continues to raise concern in Israel. Joel Rubinfeld, co-chairman of the European Jewish Parliament condemns the draft law because it “threatens the opening of Morocco to Israel,” adding that “we must not allow radicalism to take over us.Jewish News One, an English news channel deemed the proposed bill as “anti-Semitic”.On the other hand, Jacky Kadoch, president of the Jewish community in Marrakech-Essaouira insisted that the said bill does not have the slightest chance of being passed in the House of Representatives, believing that “the king will never approve of this law.”The Simon Wiesenthal Center is a global Jewish human rights organization that fights anti-Semitism. According to the center’s official website, the rights group is accredited as an NGO at international organizations, including the United Nations, UNESCO, OSCE, Organization of American States (OAS), the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO) and the Council of Europe. Based in Los Angeles, the Center maintains offices in New York, Toronto, Miami, Chicago, Paris, Buenos Aires, and Jerusalem.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or or redistributedlast_img read more

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Speaker Ryan to Trump: Muslims Are Our Best Allies to Fight…

New York – US House Speaker Paul Ryan distanced himself on Tuesday from Donald Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.The Republican party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee said that Trump’s statements are not what his party stands for, and more importantly not what the United States stands for.“This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for, and more importantly is not what this country stands for,” Ryan said.  The sitting House speaker went on to point out Muslim’s contribution to defending America and upholding its constitution and the values it stands for.“Not only are there many Muslims serving in our armed forces, dying for this country, there are Muslims serving right here in the House, working every to uphold and defend the constitution.”“Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islam terror are Muslims, the vast, vast, vast, vast majority of whom are peaceful, who believe in democracy, freedom, individual rights,” he added.Ryan statement comes after the controversial US presidential candidate Donald Trump released a statement on Monday in which he called “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”Trump repeated his Hitler-like proposal at an event in Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday night, as well as in an interview with CNN on Tuesday morning. read more

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The Latest: French businesses get ready for ‘no-deal’ Brexit

LONDON — The Latest on Brexit (all times local):3:30 p.m.France’s government has held a meeting with about 60 representatives of French businesses to detail a readiness plan as the risk of a no-deal Brexit is increasing.The plan aims at allowing businesses to identify the consequences and anticipate the costs in the event Britain leaves the European Union without a deal on March 29.Agnes Pannier-Runacher, deputy minister for economy and finance, said “we are aware that this is a very special situation for companies and especially the smallest ones … the countdown has begun, time is short, they must be ready.”France’s parliament adopted a law last week allowing emergency measures including things like extra customs officers after Brexit, and a temporary rule allowing Britons employed in France to keep their jobs.___9:30 a.m.Things are already tough for Victoria Mickleburgh, whose 3-year-old daughter Grace, has Type 1 diabetes and needs insulin every day to stay alive.Mickleburgh, 38, gave up her job as a management consultant to care for her daughter, who must be monitored constantly to make sure her blood sugar levels are steady.So for this family, the question of whether insulin and the equipment needed to deliver it will be available if Britain leaves the European Union without a Brexit agreement is more than just a political debate. Unlike produce or machinery, a delay in the supply of drugs from continental Europe could have dire consequences.“It’s a life or death situation,” she says.___8:50 a.m.Queen Elizabeth II has urged people to seek “common ground,” in remarks being seen as a veiled reference to the toxic debate surrounding Britain’s departure from the European Union.Though her remarks were similar to her Christmas Day address, the timing of her decision to revisit them Thursday is important.British lawmakers last week threw out the divorce deal Prime Minister Theresa May had struck with the EU, and attempts to find a replacement have been gridlocked.In her speech marking the 100th anniversary of the Sandringham Women’s Institute, the monarch urged people to respect other points of view and suggested “coming together to seek out the common ground and never losing sight of the bigger picture.”The queen remains publicly neutral and does not express her views.The Associated Press read more

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Germany barely avoided recession in Q4 with zero growth

FRANKFURT — Germany economic growth stagnated in the last three months of the year, skirting a technical recession but registering only zero growth as foreign trade made little contribution to Europe’s largest economy.The lacklustre figure reported Thursday by the state statistics agency followed a 0.2 per cent fall in output during the preceding third quarter. Business spending on machinery and equipment supported the economy in the fourth quarter and kept Germany from suffering two straight quarters of negative growth, one definition of a recession.The weak second half followed stronger performance in the first six months, leaving growth for the full year at 1.5 per cent.Slowing global trade amid U.S.-China trade tensions has been holding back Germany’s export-focused economy.The Associated Press read more

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Moroccan Artisan Product Exports Increase by 93% over Last Year

Rabat – Moroccan artisan product exports have performed well in January to July 2018, increasing by 93 percent from the same period last year.According to statistics from the Ministry of Handicrafts, Social Economy and Solidarity, Morocco’s handmade exports have increased notably.Brassware tops the list of artisan exports; demand abroad multiplied by 7.4 compared to the amount shipped in 2017. Pottery and stone also performed well. The jewelry industry posted a 99 percent increase in exports, followed directly by wood and wrought-iron sectors, whose sales rose by 82 percent.Exports of traditional carpets and clothing increased by 19 percent and 9 percent, respectively.The primary importers Moroccan handmade products are European countries. Italy imported the largest volume of artisan products, followed by Belgium.Handmade exports to the United States grew by 32 percent, which together with Arab countries accounted for 65 percent of total handicraft export turnover.Read also: Exports of Moroccan Handicrafts Record 32 Percent Increase in 2017 Efforts to preserve handicrafts industry The artisan sector is of a great importance to Morocco as it reflects the kingdom’s identity and heritage. The supervising ministry is deploying efforts to preserve craftsmanship by signing several agreements to promote handicraft products abroad and improving artisans’ working conditions.In 2017, the Ministry of Handicrafts signed three agreements.The first aimed to engage craftsmen in an English training program to improve their communication and the sale of their products. The supervising ministry signed the agreement with the American Embassy and the American Language Center.The second agreement signed by representatives from a number of Moroccan and American organizations aims to improve the quality of Moroccan handicrafts, the attractiveness of artisan products in the US market and matching handicraft products to contemporary trends.The third agreement reflects the ministry’s desire to preserve Moroccan heritage, especially carpet-making. The supervising ministry signed an agreement with the National Museum Foundation to launch a carpet museum in Marrakech.In June 2018, Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani received a delegation of the national trade unions who requested the expansion of health coverage to cover craftsmen, who constitute a large number of Moroccans. The request is still being examined. read more

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Morocco Rejects Amnesty International’s ‘Biased, Inaccurate’ Reports

Rabat – Moroccan authorities mentioned Amnesty International annual report, “The State of the World’s Human Rights 2017/2018,” saying that the organization “ignores” the country’s positive developments. Amnesty International, say Moroccan authorities, brings forth false information and makes it appear as facts.The NGO mentioned in its analysis Morocco’s bleak record on freedom of expression represented in the arrest and sentencing of journalists and people who express their opinions on social media. In response, the Moroccan authorities stressed that they do not arbitrarily arrest people like the organization seemed to imply. Instead, they argued, individuals have been arrested for offences such as “incitement of terrorism, rape and other crimes.”Amnesty’s report also claimed that Moroccans are not free enough to be founders or members of civil society associations. Moroccan authorities criticized the statement for being “inaccurate.” They pointed out  that the report failed to mention that there are 140,000 active associations in the country.In terms of authorities’ crackdown on freedom of assembly, Amnesty International found only two cases.  Bu tit described the two cases as illustrations of excessive or unnecessary use of force. The two cases were only an exception and not the rule against which to measure the level of freedom of assembly in Morocco, according to Moroccan authorities.The fact is that no prison sentences have been imposed on peaceful demonstrators, as indicated in the report, but rather on practices and acts against the law.As for allegations of unfair trials and of torture, the report claimed the courts continue to convict activists after heavy trials, relying heavily on forced confessions. It did not, however, provide any basis or evidence to reach this conclusion.Read Also: Morocco Rejects Amnesty’s Report on Hirak Activists’ SentencesThe trials referred to in the report were not directly witnessed by the organization. The cases in question are still before the judiciary, which remains the only competent authority to do justice and provide reparation to litigants.Morocco is making efforts to regularize and integrate migrants by defining a legal framework for migration and asylum.  While a number of international human rights groups have applauded Morocco’s humanitarian efforts in the MENA region,, Amnesty International went the other way, according to the Moroccan government. Amnesty claimed that the authorities had launched a major campaign of discriminatory repression targeting thousands of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.It added that they raided random neighbourhoods and houses occupied by refugees and migrants, and illegally arrested thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, including children and pregnant women.Moroccan authorities retorted that this reflected the fact that the organization was not following the country’s actual efforts in this area, including the settlement of the administrative status of migrants and refugees in Morocco since 2013. Morocco’s response noted that Amnesty did not pay attention to the adequate and qualitative data presented by Morocco in response to the organization’s 2017 annual report.With regard to abortion and violence against women, the organization should greatly appreciate the adoption of the law on combating violence against women, instead of highlighting cases such as marital rape. For such cases, Morocco has taken the legislative decision to criminalize all forms of violence against women.As for the report’s comments on abortion, Amnesty did not take into account the evolution of national laws. It failed to mention the draft criminal law regulating the issue of abortion in a way that takes into account all cases adopted in advanced international comparative legislation.On consensual sex and homosexuality, the Moroccan authorities considered that equality and non-discrimination had constitutional status.To protect the psychological and physical well-being of all persons, national laws criminalize all forms of discrimination as well as acts of violence based on sexual orientation and identity.The authorities also said that protection from violence does not prevent the criminalization of sexual relations outside marriage, which is still socially unacceptable.Finally, the Moroccan authorities expressed their regret at the double standards when the report dealt with the human rights situation of Moroccan detainees in Tindouf.Read Also: Communications Ministry: Freedom House’s Net Freedom Report is BiasedAmnesty simply referred to the failure of Polisario to hold to account those responsible for human rights violations committed in the camps in the 1970s and 1980s. This constitutes blatant ignorance of the daily human rights violations and the tragic and inhuman reality that the inhabitants of the camps are currently facing. Amnesty’s report’s Algeria section was supposed to put its fingers on serious human rights and international law violations in these camps. Unfortunately, Amnesty chose to fire the bulk of its “biased” denunciations on Morocco alone. read more

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Vocational Training: King Mohammed VI Calls for Realistic Approach

Rabat – Yesterday, King Mohammed VI chaired a working meeting a the Royal Palace of Rabat to discuss programs to upgrade vocational training and improve options and teaching methods.Education and vocational training have been hot topics at the government council’s weekly meetings at the request of King Mohammed VI.In addition to health and social disparities, King Mohammed VI has been calling on Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani’s cabinet to make more efforts to ensure better education to guarantee students job opportunities after graduation. The King also urged the government to upgrade programs for vocational training, which he believes could increase employment.“Vocational training is a powerful lever for employment, provided  it receives the attention it deserves and as long as it is given a new status as well as a broader scope,” King Mohammed VI said in a speech. Yesterday, the monarch met with senior officials, including El Othmani.During the meeting, King Mohammed VI asked for a realistic approach that “rigorously sets priorities according to the needs of the national economy and the labor market, and the social expectations and aspirations of Moroccans,” according to a statement from the royal office.The government promised that it is finalizing its vocational training program and it will be “elaborated in accordance with the royal guidelines.”Read Also: EU, Morocco to Advance Cooperation in Vocational TrainingKing Mohammed VI tasked a commission with proposing concrete solutions to provide job opportunities for young Moroccans.According to the commission’s statement, it will present its proposal at the next and final meeting.The King ordered the creation of a committee to elaborate specific solutions to curb youth unemployment on October 1.The vocational training project aims to create new training programs for sectors with high economic potential and improve training in more traditional sectors, such as handicrafts or agriculture.The projects are a series of four-month training programs, to assist young people working in the informal sector with enhanced technical and language skills.Four weeks after King Mohammed VI ordered the creation of the commission, El Othmani asked the monarch to give his commission more time to find solutions for unemployment.The unemployment rate remains high among young people aged 15-24, at 27.5 percent.A statement issued this year by the High Commission for Planning (HCP) notes that  Morocco’s overall unemployment rate fell slightly, from 10.2 percent to 9.8 percent, from 2017 to 2018.Another recent statement from HCP said that Morocco’s working age population, aged 15 and older, numbered 25,950,000 people in 2018, but the active population of people employed or seeking employment was 11,979,000. The unemployment rate of those with a vocational training certificate is 23.9 percent: 36.5 percent for women and 19.3 percent for men. read more

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Stocks move broadly higher, led by technology companies

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks moved broadly higher in early trading on Wall Street Thursday as technology stocks offset declines in the banking sector.Apple rose 2.8 per cent as it continues to announce new products. Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants soared 6.4 per cent after reporting earnings that were far better than analysts were expecting.Biogen, a major biotechnology company, took a 29 per cent nosedive after stopping a trial for an Alzheimer’s drug. Other health care stocks also fell. JPMorgan led a decline in banks with a loss of 1.8 per cent.Bond prices continued to rise, sending yields lower, a day after the Federal Reserve said it expected the economy to slow down and that it no longer expected to raise interest rates this year.KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 62 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 25,806 as of 10:20 a.m. The S&P 500 index rose 0.3 per cent and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.4 per cent.BIOGEN BOMBS: The biotechnology giant plunged after the company halted development of a highly anticipated Alzheimer’s drug. The company and its partner determined that the drug would likely be ineffective.Like its peers, the drugmaker spends heavily on research and development in the hopes that revenue from a successful drug will make up for the costs.GUESS NOT: Clothing retailer Guess gave investors a disappointing fourth-quarter report and forecast, sending shares 14.5 per cent lower.The company’s fourth-quarter profit and revenue both came up short of forecasts. Its profit forecast for the year also fell far shy of Wall Street’s expectations.Damian J. Troise, The Associated Press read more

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‘Smecta’ Medicine May Cause Lead Poisoning, Says French Agency

Rabat – In February 2019, the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) decided not to recommend the use of Smecta for children under two, or to pregnant and breastfeeding women.In recent weeks, the recommendation caused concern in Morocco. Medical professionals and users of the medicine alike, want clarification on whether the medicine is safe for adults, and whether it will remain on the market in Morocco.According to ANSM’s website, this recommendation applies to all diosmectite medications used to treat diarrhea, gastric burns, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. The recommendation targets Smecta and its generics. The cause of concern is the presence of lead in these clay-based medicines. Highly absorbent, clay obtained by soil extraction for medical purposes captures many impurities and small amounts of heavy metals, such as lead, naturally present in the environment.Despite the cleaning process the clay undergoes to be transformed into drug, tiny quantities of the metal persist.Following new international recommendations on drug-acceptable thresholds for heavy metals, the ANSM asked laboratories marketing clay-based medicines to ensure that there is no risk of lead passing through blood in treated patients, and especially in children.In response, IPSEN Laboratories provided a clinical study on the subject. The results indicated that there is no risk of lead passing into the blood of adults treated with Smecta for 5 weeks.However, ANSM states that this risk can not be ruled out for children under two. Therefore, it is recommended as a precaution not to administer Smecta or its generic Diosmectite Mylan to children under 2 years of age.In 2018, Smecta ranked fifth in IPSEN ’s sales reaching €126 million in revenue, says Statista website.The ANSM’s recommendation caused concern and confusion in Morocco.Dr. Mohamed Lahbabi, president of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Pharmacists of Morocco (CSPM), explained to Moroccan channel 2M.ma that “the ANSM has only recommended to no longer prescribe Smecta to children under two.”Lahbabi also criticized the “false information” relayed by certain Moroccan newspapers and news sites.He further reprimanded “the amplification of the ANSM’s warning and of the information relating to the prohibition of sale and withdrawal of Smecta from Moroccan pharmacies.”World Health Organization (WHO) defines lead as “a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children.”WHO considers that “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe.” read more

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WhatsApp discovers spyware that infected with a call alone

WhatsApp says a vulnerability in the popular communications app let mobile phones be infected with sophisticated spyware with a missed in-app call alone.The Facebook subsidiary says “an advanced cyber actor” infected an unknown number of people with the malware, which it says it discovered in early May. A WhatsApp spokesman who would not be further identified said an amount in the dozens at least would not be inaccurate.WhatsApp said the attack had all the hallmarks of a private company known to work with governments to infect phones.The Financial Times identified the company Monday as Israel’s NSO Group, whose Pegasus software is known to have been used against rights activists.WhatsApp said it contacted human rights groups, quickly fixed the issue and pushed out a patch.Frank Bajak, The Associated Press read more

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Illinois, Lake County sue silicone plant after fatal blast

WAUKEGAN, Ill. — Illinois and Lake County are suing the owner of a Chicago-area silicone factory that exploded last month, seeking to force the company to identify the nature and extent of chemical pollution in the area and limit the environmental impact of the deadly blast.Attorney General Kwame Raoul said Friday that the lawsuit seeks an injunction to require AB Specialty Silicones factory to immediately secure the Waukegan site and ensure all remaining chemicals are removed, the Lake County News-Sun reported.“This explosion was tragic, and my thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones as a result,” said Raoul. “As the community continues to recover from the trauma of this event, I have filed this lawsuit to protect residents and the environment from any chemical contamination.”In the same statement, Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim noted his office intends to “work diligently with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to seek remediation of any environmental impacts as a result of the explosion.”The lawsuit alleges the May 3 explosion released an unknown amount of chemicals into the environment, causing air contamination. Four factory employees were killed in the blast.In addition, chemicals and water used to fight the fire leaked into the storm sewers, which polluted a wetland and Osprey Lake about a mile away, according to the complaint.AB Specialty officials said they are shocked and disappointed by the lawsuit and that the company has co-operated in the cleanup effort.“(For) nearly a month we have worked in full partnership with all regulatory, state, local and federal agencies on our shared goals of securing the site, protecting the Waukegan community, and ensuring it is safe for our employees to return to work,” the company’s officials said in a statement.Raoul’s lawsuit is based on a recommendation from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and that agency is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to handle any immediate dangers to public health and the environment.“Beyond the immediate devastation caused by this catastrophic explosion, our investigation has identified the release of chemicals impacting the environment and visible impacts to nearby wetlands and Osprey Lake,” Illinois EPA Acting Director John J. Kim said in the statement, adding that the legal action is “an important step to ensure the full extent of contamination is identified and proper remediation is made.”___Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.comThe Associated Press read more

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Mitsubishi in talks with Bombardier regarding possible regional jet deal

The Canadian Press Companies in this story: (TSX:BBD.B) MONTREAL — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. says it is in talks regarding a possible transaction involving Bombardier Inc.’s regional jet business.The comment by the Japanese company came after a media report that it was in advanced negotiations to acquire Bombardier’s CRJ program.Mitsubishi cautioned that no decision has been made on any possible transaction.Earlier this year, Bombardier chief executive Alain Bellemare said the continuation of its regional jet program hinged on whether the company could fill up the CRJ’s partly blank order book.Once a cash cow for the Montreal-based company, the CRJ now loses money.Bombardier sold a majority stake in its C Series commercial aircraft program last year to Europe’s Airbus SE, which rebranded it the Airbus A220. read more

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Rapid series of natural manmade crises threaten millions in Horn of Africa

Numerous simultaneous natural and human-made emergencies in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, ranging from drought, floods, polio and fighting to the ills these crises engender such as water-borne diseases and displacement, are threatening millions of people with disastrous humanitarian consequences, according to a United Nations report issued today. Although the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated $57.6 million to life-saving aid, the complexity of the overlapping emergencies requires additional, timely funding with a view to sustained humanitarian assistance and early recovery, says the report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).“The cumulative impact on people’s lives of this string of overlapping crises in the region can hardly be overstated,” acting UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Wahlström said of this latest overview of emergencies in the Horn of Africa, which has left little or no time for recovery in-between shocks. “Thousands are displaced by recent flooding and conflict in Somalia, Rift Valley Fever is taking its toll in terms of human lives and loss of livelihoods in Kenya, and Acute Watery Diarrhoea is spreading in Ethiopia. Some of the areas worst affected by this multitude of crises are also practically inaccessible for humanitarian workers,” she added, referring to flooding, closure of borders and generalized insecurity. Beginning with drought in late 2005 that decimated livestock and stretched to the limit resources in the mainly pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities in north-eastern Kenya, south Somalia and southern Ethiopia, the extreme weather crisis changed character with the heavy flooding in the second half of 2006, covering roughly the same areas. Drought affected 7 million people and the floods at least 1.5 million of the same people. In December 2006, fighting in Somalia and the simultaneous outbreak of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) caused serious economic losses in livestock and further exacerbated an already grave situation. RVF, a viral haemorrhagic disease that has killed at least 95 people in Kenya, is feared to be spreading rapidly into inaccessible areas in Somalia.Acute watery diarrhoea in Ethiopia following the floods has sickened more than 51,000 people, killing 556 of them, and malaria prevalence is also high due to stagnant water. A yet unknown fatal camel disease is suspected to have crossed the border between the Somali Region of Ethiopia and the conflict-affected Hiran and Gedo regions in Somalia. Although the overall impact in terms of loss of life is as yet unknown, the immediate adverse effect on people’s health, nutrition, protection and security is evident and the more disturbing as humanitarian access to affected populations is hindered or hampered by flooding and/or security measures.Security for aid workers remains uncertain in Somalia. There have been incidents of aid staff being harassed and detained by the Ethiopian military which is backing the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in ousting Islamist groups, and some aid flights have been refused landing permission.There are concerns of a resurgence of warlords’ power in southern Somalia with reports of armed militia setting up checkpoints on roads leading out of Mogadishu, the capital, and extorting money from travellers, the overview warned. Incidents of rape by militia have also been reported. 19 January 2007Numerous simultaneous natural and human-made emergencies in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, ranging from drought, floods, polio and fighting to the ills these crises engender such as water-borne diseases and displacement, are threatening millions of people with disastrous humanitarian consequences, according to a United Nations report issued today. read more

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UN nuclear watchdog proposes timeout by both sides on Irans nuclear programme

The head of the United Nations atomic watchdog agency is calling for a “timeout” on the Iranian nuclear issue, with Iran suspending uranium enrichment and the international community suspending sanctions over a programme that Tehran says is for producing energy but which others maintain is for making nuclear weapons. A key to resolving the issue is a direct engagement between Iran and the United States similar to that with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei stressed in several interviews over the weekend in Davos, Switzerland, where he attended the World Economic Forum. “I call on all parties to take a simultaneous timeout. Iran should take a timeout from its enrichment activity, the international community a timeout from the application of sanctions, and parties should go immediately to the negotiating table,” he said. “The right track is dialogue, negotiation.” The US led successful efforts in the Security Council last month to impose sanctions, maintaining that Iran’s nuclear programme was aimed at weapons production, a claim Tehran consistently denies. In recent reports, Mr. ElBaradei has noted that although the IAEA has not seen any diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, it also cannot conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran. The crisis began with the discovery in 2003 that Iran had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). “North Korea is a good example,” Dr. ElBaradei said, stressing the need for US-Iranian talks. “For years, things were not moving. Only when the US talked directly with the North Koreans, we had a positive report. If we are able to talk to the North Koreans, we ought to be able to talk to the Iranians,” he told CNN. He voiced hope that he would be able to report positively to the IAEA Board of Governors on the implementation of nuclear safeguards in Iran at its next meeting beginning 5 March at IAEA headquarters in Vienna. “I’d like to report we’re on the right track,” he added. “The right track is dialogue, negotiation… The key to the Iranian issue is a direct engagement between Iran and the US. If I report negatively, and we have escalation and counter-escalation, we are on the wrong track.” On reports that Iran has banned 38 IAEA inspectors, Dr. ElBaradei told CNN that Tehran was not banning inspectors, but attempting to lower their number. “This reduced somewhat the flexibility we have, but I should say we have over 100 inspectors in Tehran, so we have enough people to do the job,” he said. “It is in the interest of Iran for us to be able to do our work and to be able to show that they are transparent and they are proactive.” 29 January 2007The head of the United Nations atomic watchdog agency is calling for a “timeout” on the Iranian nuclear issue, with Iran suspending uranium enrichment and the international community suspending sanctions over a programme that Tehran says is for producing energy but which others maintain is for making nuclear weapons. read more

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Côte dIvoire maternity hospital renovated with UN help

19 April 2007A small town in Côte d’Ivoire today received the keys to a renovated maternity hospital from representatives from the United Nations peacekeeping operation, known as UNOCI, in the West African country. Thanks to the efforts of UNOCI and the non-governmental organization (NGO) Femmes Côte d’Ivoire Experiences, the town’s three-room unit – comprising a consulting room, a birthing room and a recovery room – was refurbished.The town of Raviart, located in the former so-called Zone of Confidence separating the Government-ruled south and rebel-held north, will benefit from the work since it will give “the area a modern maternity hospital to allow women to give birth in proper conditions,” said Abdourahmane Ganda, from UNOCI’s civil affairs coordination division.UNOCI representatives based in the Abidjan and several offices in the western and eastern zones attended the festive handover.Praising the Mission for its contributions to bringing peace to the country whose civil war officially ended in January 2004, local representatives called on UNOCI to assist in other projects geared towards developing infrastructure.UNOCI has nearly 9,000 total uniformed personnel in the country with a mandate to monitor the cessation of hostilities and movements of armed groups, help in disarmament and dismantling of militias and contribute to the security of the operation of identifying the population and registering voters. read more

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Zimbabwes electoral process must be peaceful and transparent – Ban Kimoon

“The Secretary-General is closely following the evolving situation in Zimbabwe, and has remained in contact with leaders in the region,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.“He reiterates his strong belief that future stages of the electoral process must be conducted in a peaceful, credible and transparent manner in the presence of international observers.”Last week, the top UN political official said the world body stands ready to support regional diplomatic efforts to end Zimbabwe’s political crisis, which began after the March presidential elections in which the incumbent Robert Mugabe was challenged by Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said that he was greatly concerned over violence in Zimbabwe, particularly from the Government’s side, though he added that there had been reports of clashes from both sides.Also last week, a group of UN independent human rights experts spoke out against the violence, noting that intimidation, violence and torture were being used to take retribution against MDC supporters.In a statement, the six rapporteurs said that there is reliable evidence that security forces, paramilitary groups and gangs have attacked the homes of MDC supporters, and of workers with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, in areas where the MDC received more votes than the ruling ZANU-PF party. They reported that at least 351 people have been hospitalized, nearly 300 homes have been destroyed through politically motivated arson, 15 women have been abducted, and several people have been murdered.As a result of the violence, which has been taking place mainly in rural areas, townships and farms, hundreds of families and individuals, mainly women and children, have been displaced internally or are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, the statement reported. 7 May 2008Voicing concern over reports of politically-motivated violence and intimidation against the backdrop of Zimbabwe’s ongoing stalemate, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for the next phases of the Southern African nation’s elections to be free and fair. read more

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Greater access to education key to combating child labour – UN

“Despite global progress in many areas, it is unacceptable that so many children must still work for their survival and that of their families,” Juan Somavia, Director-General of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), said today on the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labour.The ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) says that of some 218 million child labourers around the world, millions are either denied educational opportunities that would give them a better future or must balance work with education. “For too many children, particularly children of poor families across the world, the right to education remains an abstract concept, far from the reality of daily life,” Mr. Somavia stated. He noted that more than 70 million primary school-aged children are not enrolled in school. Many of these and other out-of-school children start working at an early age, often well below the minimum age of employment. And when a family has to make a choice between sending either a boy or girl to school, it is often the girl who loses out.“Our challenge is to offer hope to the child labourers of the world by making their right a reality, ensuring that they have quality education and training which can lead them towards a future of decent work,” he said. “This is essential to break the cycle of child labour and poverty. And it is a sound investment for individuals and society.” To tackle child labour, ILO is urging governments to provide education for all children at least to the minimum age of employment, as well as education policies that reach out to child labourers and other excluded groups.In addition, the agency is calling for properly resourced quality education and skills training, and education for all children and decent work for adults. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also sees education as the best weapon in the global fight against child labour and says recent data has provided hope. The number of children out of school has dropped from 115 million in 2002 to 93 million in 2006.The agency says part of this success has come from new initiatives to bring down the cost of schooling, making it more accessible to more children, including the School Fee Abolition Initiative (SFAI) launched by UNICEF and the World Bank in 2005 to support countries in implementing school fee abolition policies. The annual World Day is being marked in some 60 countries with events ranging from awareness-raising campaigns and artistic performances to competitions and photo exhibitions on child labour. 12 June 2008The United Nations is urging improved access to education as the right response to address the plight of the estimated 165 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 worldwide who are involved in child labour. read more

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Security Council extends mandate of AlQaida sanctions monitoring group

The Security Council today extended by 18 months the mandate of the monitoring team set up in 2004 to help track the application of the world body’s sanctions against the Taliban, Al-Qaida and their operatives.The eight-member Analytical Support and Sanctions Implementation Monitoring Team, based in New York, reports periodically to the Council.In a resolution, adopted unanimously, the 15-member body reaffirmed that “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to peace and security and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations.”Tackling the scourge requires the cooperation of all States and international and regional organizations, the Council stressed.It called on Member States to “continue their efforts to act vigorously and decisively to cut the flow of funds and other financial assets and economic resources to Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden and the Taliban and other individuals, group, undertakings and entities associated with them.”The resolution also directed the Council committee concerning Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions to review by 30 June 2010 the names of individuals and entities that it agrees are members of or associated with Al-Qaida, Usama Bin Laden and the Taliban on the so-called Consolidated List.Council members were also briefed on the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), which is tasked with observing the efforts of countries to combat global terrorism, by its head.CTED Executive Director Mike Smith presented a survey on the implementation of resolution 1373, which was adopted in the wake of the September 2001 attacks on the United States and calls on countries to adopt a number of measures to enhance their ability to counter terrorist activities nationally, regionally and globally. This resolution also established the CTED.In a related development, today marks the last day of the Council’s United States presidency, and Viet Nam will assume the monthly role beginning tomorrow. 30 June 2008The Security Council today extended by 18 months the mandate of the monitoring team set up in 2004 to help track the application of the world body’s sanctions against the Taliban, Al-Qaida and their operatives. read more

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