Death toll in Mexican pipeline fire rises to 109

MEXICO CITY — The death toll in a massive fire at an illegally tapped pipeline in Mexico has risen to 109 after ten more injured people died at hospitals.Mexico’s Health Secretary said Friday that 10 victims who were severely burned died between Wednesday and early Friday.Jorge Alcocer said hospitals continue to treat about 40 injured victims.The victims were gathering gasoline from an illegal pipeline tap in the central state of Hidalgo a week ago Friday when the gas ignited, littering an alfalfa field with charred bodies.About half of those who initially survived have since died of their injuries.A total of 14,894 illegal taps were found throughout Mexico in 2018The Associated Press

MoroccoEU Relations Wont Be Affected by ECJ Ruling Official

Rabat – On Wednesday, Morocco’s ambassador to the European Union (EU), Ahmed Reda Chami, reaffirmed the importance of the strategic EU-Morocco partnership in light of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on the EU- Morocco fisheries deal.The Moroccan diplomat, was quoted by Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) saying that the court has confirmed the validity of the fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco, and “distanced itself from the political opinion of its advocate general [Melchior Wathelet].”On Tuesday, the ECJ confirmed the validity of the fisheries agreement, separating the court opinion from specific ECJ members, such as Advocate General Melchior Wathelet, based Luxembourg-based ECJ, who said that the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement should be declared null and void because it includes Western Sahara. Chami told the press that the ECJ has crushed the goal of Polisario and its supporters, who were previously appealing the EU agreement with Morocco.“The determination and willingness of both parties to move forward transcend anything that is likely to strain their longstanding partnership,” said Chami.The Moroccan diplomat added that the EU and Morocco maintain contact in a “climate of serenity and trust” to tailor their agreements to the rulings of the European Court of Justice.Chami echoed a statement made by Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita, who told Le360, “nothing in the [ECJ’s] verdict challenges the political legitimacy of Morocco to conclude agreements regarding the Moroccan Sahara with the EU.”Backing Bourita’s argument, Chami said that Morocco will not accept any agreement that does not involve its southern provinces.Underscoring the importance of the agreements between the two parties, Chami said that the EU and Morocco share a strong desire to strengthen their partnership.“Beyond the commercial aspect, the Morocco-EU partnership is reinforced by various agreements at different levels,” including police cooperation with Interpol, migration, crisis management in the Mediterranean, security issues, and the fight against terrorism and extremism.Chami, who is also the president of the Morocco-EU friendship group in the European Parliament told MAP, “it is with a serenity that we can approach the next trade negotiations between the EU and Morocco.”In a joint statement issued after the ruling of the ECJ on Tuesday, February 27, Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, and Bourita “took note of the verdict handed today by the EU Court of Justice” on the fisheries deal between the two parties andhave agreed to further reinforce their political dialogue and preserve the stability of their trade relations.Fishery ties between Morocco and the European Union date back to 1988. Negotiated four years ago, the fisheries agreement provides annual permits without restriction, according to the European Union. Since that time, partnerships between the two entities have expanded to involve protocols from different fields, including trade activities.Morocco Keen on Preserving its SovereigntyDuring the government council meeting today, Morocco’s Head of Government, Saad Eddine El Othmani, stressed that Morocco always strives to preserve its “sovereignty, unity, and belonging to its southern provinces,” in whatever agreement the country signed.Commenting on the ECJ’s ruling, El Othmani said that this matter is “being followed by King Mohammed VI personally.”El Othmani noted public interest in this topic, adding that he has been following the matter with the Ministries of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs.The Moroccan head of government emphasized that the EU and Morocco are determined to preserve their partnership and its future.El Othmani added that Morocco “is flexible in negotiation, cooperation, and partnership and is proud that its international relations are diverse and balanced.” read more

Algerians Boycott Cars Made in Algeria

Rabat –#LetTheirVehiclesRust, #Manechriche (I will not buy), #Boycottez: these are some of the hashtags that have been circulating on social media since Algeria’s Ministry of Industry and Mines recently released the factory exit prices of vehicles assembled in Algeria, which have been deemed too expensive compared to imported cars. To reduce its imports bills, Algeria has set up in-country car assembly plants since 2012,  paving the way for foreign investments through automotive giants such as Volkswagen and Renault. And yet, Algeria currently finds itself in a dire financial crisis caused by the state collapse in oil prices and the emptying of its foreign exchange reserves. Three years after the opening of car assembly plants, vehicle prices skyrocketed in the North African state, as imports of auto parts continued to rise. In some cases, locally produced vehicles have increased in price from 50-90 percent higher than those of imported cars. According to ministry data, the factory exit price of Dacia Logan (Renault) in Russia was valued at  610,000 dinars, with an estimated selling price of 710,000 dinars. Meanwhile, its imported counterpart in Algeria, is estimated at DZD 1.14 million. The price of Hyundai i10 made in Algeria is roughly EUR 2,000 more expensive than the price of the same small car in France.The publication stirred a general uproar among Algerians, who quickly took to their accounts on social media, calling for a boycott of vehicles “made in Algeria.” They denounced a “disguised import,” and lambasted car dealers over their high-profit margin. Algeria’s Minister of Industry and Mines Youcef Yousfi said during a press conference held on March 17, that “car dealers now know they can no longer set prices as they see fit,” adding that the Algerian state “will keep an eye on the prices of vehicles mounted locally.”“We have asked all the local manufacturers to give us the prices–these prices will be displayed, and the State will ensure that the prices of locally produced vehicles are not higher than those imported,” the minister said. He added that at the same time, it is not the government’s responsibility to set prices for locally manufactured vehicles. However, they must not exceed the applied tariffs to imported vehicles.In response to the Algerian car industry’s proven inefficiency, several Algerian officials, such as the former Minister of Industry Mahdjoub Bedda, previously promised to “put an end to the current [assembly-based] production model.” read more

Struggling Dubai amusement park abandons Six Flags expansion

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A massive amusement park in Dubai says it is abandoning plans to build a $454-million Six Flags.DXB Entertainments, which runs Dubai Parks & Resorts, said in a statement filed on Thursday on the local stock market that a planned financial instrument was “no longer available and the Six Flags Dubai project cannot proceed at this time.”Plans for a Six Flags park long have circulated in Dubai.In 2016, Dubai officials say they planned to add the park chain, owned by the Grand Prairie, Texas-based Six Flags Entertainment Corp.The park near the site of Dubai’s 2020 World Expo, or world’s fair, has struggled since opening.Meraas Holding, a firm backed by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is the majority-owner of DXB Entertainments.The Associated Press read more

American in Morocco How My Moroccan Face Helped Me Fit In

By Samantha TropperRabat – Living in the southern part of the US, I’m frequently made aware that my looks are unique. I am different, and people want to know why. But in Morocco, ironically, my experience was the opposite. I was the same.I have the same hair color and texture, the same skin tone, the same eye color and shape, even a fairly similar facial form as many Moroccan women I saw. People did not inquire about my family background. That is, until I started talking. I was in Morocco learning Arabic, but I was studying Modern Standard Arabic, not Darija (the Moroccan dialect). Not knowing Darija, I struggled to understand native Moroccans when they spoke to each other. But people still spoke to me in Darija.Leather tanneries in the Fez Medina. Photo by Samantha Tropper.I would respond in French, the language many Moroccans use with foreigners. Cue a pronounced look of surprise. “Oh, you are not Moroccan?” they would ask. They would be surprised again when I would say that I am American.I am not exactly the image that springs to mind when people envision a generalized American person.Morocco was not the first time I had this experience. I lived in Cairo for a few months in 2011, where I also fit in physically. I am familiar with the shocked expressions that come with discovering that I am, in fact, American, not North African.At that time, I was not sure how I felt about it all. But I have come to realize over the years and after more travel that this kind of assumption can seldom be negative. People love to fit in. People sometimes actively try to change things about themselves, whether they physically or in personality, in order to be accepted by their peers.I have done it. I have seen others do it. I feel like I would be hard pressed to find someone who has honestly never done that. It is not necessarily a bad thing. Read Also: Fez’s American Fondouk Promotes Equine WelfareSo if other people go to great measures trying to be the same, why have I felt awkward in the past about being assumed to be the same, when, in reality, their perception of similarity is inaccurate? Does that matter anyway? Of course, it matters that I am not actually North African. I would not pretend to be something that I am not. But it does not matter in the way that it matters that a dog is different from a snake because each one’s basic biological needs are vastly dissimilar.It matters because being American has brought me different life experiences than I would have had if I were Moroccan, simply because of geographical and cultural diversity. But it does not make it overly difficult to relate to others. I have one advantage over the “stereotypical” American, however: I have a connection.I do not mean a connection because of language or the fact that I studied the Middle East and North Africa in college. I had an automatic connection with many people I met in Morocco before they knew any of that. My connection came from a relational conclusion, however inaccurate, that they presumed when they first saw me.Even after finding out that I am American, people were still interested and friendly, perhaps more so than if there were no obvious similarities between us.I lost count of how many times I was told, in English, “You have a Moroccan face,” especially by taxi drivers. I quickly realized the statement was meant as a compliment, and I enjoyed taking it as such!Since I was able to converse in French instead of only English, some great conversations then ensued after the typical exchange in which I told them I was American. I felt like I had an advantage, a privilege even, simply because of how my genes made my face look, genes which have quite the opposite effect in the US.So how can that assumption be a bad thing? It usually is not. I can change it too, if I want.If I responded as if I were offended by the assumption, presumably the conversation would not usually go in a positive direction. Each party has a share in the outcome of that seemingly inevitable assumption. But it works out well.In fact, during my entire 7-week stay in various parts of Morocco, of all the copious times I was greeted with the same surprised look, nothing negative ever occurred.Because of this perceived connection, I felt more relaxed around people I met and felt more included in daily life. I was given the opportunity to engage in the culture on a deeper level, almost as a part of it, instead of only as an outside observer. It was a great feeling.For that, I am proud of and grateful for my “Moroccan face.”Merzouga desert-Morocco. Photo by Samantha Tropper. read more

US franchisee files suit against Tim Hortons alleging price gouging

Companies in this story: (TSX:QSR)The Canadian Press A company that entered into an agreement to open hundreds of Tim Hortons restaurants in Minnesota filed a lawsuit against the chain and its parent company today alleging they misled and over-charged the franchisee.Tim-Minn Inc. says it entered into an agreement with Tim Hortons USA Inc. and Restaurant Brands International to develop more than 280 of the coffee-and-doughnut chain stores in the state where there were previously none.Tim-Minn claims in a document filed in the U.S. district court for the district of Minnesota that it invested millions of dollars into the venture and can no longer operate it due to the actions of Tim Hortons and RBI.The plaintiff alleges the chain gave false and misleading financial representations, did not adequately support the planned growth and over-charged for mandatory purchases of inventory, equipment and supplies.None of the claims have been proven in court and RBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Tim-Minn is seeking a trial by jury and asking for monetary damages, legal fees and any other relief the court wants to grant in this matter. read more

Georgina Rodriguez Attends Ronaldos Award in Moroccan Caftan

Rabat – Wearing a Moroccan caftan and makeup by a Moroccan makeup artist, Georgina Rodriguez attended the 2019 Globe Soccer Awards in Dubai with her fiance, Cristiano Ronaldo, who received the Best Player of the Year award at the ceremony.Rodriguez wore a stunning gold-embroidered white caftan designed by renowned Moroccan designer Sophia Benyahia and wore famed Moroccan makeup artist Rasha Radi’s makeup.Radi said in a statement that Rodriguez had contacted her to do her makeup and described the 24-year-old model as a “kind, humble woman.” When Radi suggested Rodriguez wear a Moroccan caftan, the young model gladly embraced the idea.Radi shared pictures and videos of herself putting makeup on Rodriguez, who also wore a white headscarf. The award ceremony for the Portuguese footballer and Juventus’ forward Cristiano Ronaldo took place on Thursday in Dubai. The footballer also won the “Fans’ Award” at the ceremony.Other celebrities who have worn caftans include Oscar-winning Hollywood actress Meryl Streep, who donned an ivory-gold caftan made of Indian silk in her film “The Post” in March 2018.Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen, Hillary Clinton, Saudi Princess Ameera al-Taweel, and more have also posed in Moroccan caftans.The caftan was originally worn by Ottoman sultans, but due to the Ottoman Empire’s strong global influence in the last few centuries, various cultures have adopted it throughout the world, such as North and West Africa.The caftan reached Morocco after its spread through Andalusia, which first adopted it in the 9th century.Read Also: Morocco’s Princess Lalla Hasna Stuns with Crimson Caftan in TokyoMorocco later refashioned and added its unique touch to the caftan, creating what is now known as “the Moroccan caftan.” Today, caftans are embraced in the world of fashion. read more

Japan father son win release before US trial in Ponzi case

LAS VEGAS — A father and son from Japan can be freed from federal custody to live with relatives in a rented Las Vegas apartment pending trial on fraud charges in what prosecutors call a $1.5 billion international Ponzi scheme, a judge decided Wednesday.U.S. Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach acknowledged a federal prosecutor’s argument that former MRI International Inc. executives Junzo Suzuki and his son, Paul Suzuki, had the money to flee the country before trial and could be motivated to avoid trial and the possibility of spending the rest of their lives in prison.Ferenbach also was told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could deport the two men if they’re freed.But the judge said that wouldn’t make sense after the 70-year-old father and 40-year-old son were extradited from Japan to the U.S. They arrived in custody in Las Vegas last week and pleaded not guilty to charges against them.Prosecutor Danny Nguyen told Ferenbach the Suzukis reaped a combined $22.5 million in four years of a scheme that led a jury to find company chief Edwin Fujinaga guilty in November of 20 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.In court documents, U.S. attorneys compare Fujinaga to the biggest-ever U.S. Ponzi schemers: Bernard Madoff in New York, Allen Stanford in Houston, Scott Rothstein in Miami and Thomas Petters in Minnesota. Prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence the 72-year-old Fujinaga to 50 years in prison. He’s due for sentencing May 23.Prosecutors said that from about 2009 to early 2013, more than $1 billion from more than 10,000 Japanese investors was wired to bank accounts in Las Vegas under Fujinaga’s control. Investors were told they were buying claims from a medical collection business.Fujinaga was found guilty of using new investors’ money to pay off previous investors while he lived a lavish lifestyle in Las Vegas, California and Hawaii.Nguyen said the Suzukis could face a theoretical sentence of up to 300 years in prison if they’re convicted of all charges.Defence attorney Junji Suzuki, representing Junzo and Paul Suzuki, told Ferenbach they were in Japan and “didn’t have an idea what Fujinaga was doing here in the United States.”Paul Suzuki also spent several years living and working in Hawaii, his lawyer said.Junji Suzuki is not related to his clients. He said they have few financial assets remaining after settling a civil lawsuit related to the MRI International scheme.“We are sincerely trying to make a resolution before this case reaches trial,” the attorney said.Ken Ritter, The Associated Press read more

The Latest Googles AI assistant becoming even more helpful

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — The Latest on Google conference in California (all times local):10:35 a.m.Google says its artificial intelligence assistant will get a series of updates this year, including one that lets it book rental cars and movie tickets for you.Google says Assistant will be able to book cars and tickets using online forms on Android phones later this year. The technology behind this, called Duplex, was released last year amid much fanfare and some worries about its ability to sound creepily human when calling restaurant to make reservations.Assistant will also be shrunk down on new Pixel phones later this year to a size that lets it understand and respond to some commands without sending information to Google’s servers.The AI is also learning to offer more personal suggestions to users by learning common contact names and addresses.Google announced the updates at its annual developers conference Tuesday in Mountain View, California.___10:25 a.m.Google CEO Sundar Pichai has kicked off the company’s annual conference by reiterating his intention to come up with more features to help make people’s live easier.The pledge made Tuesday before a crowd of about 7,000 computer programmers is part of Pichai’s efforts to diversify Google beyond its roots as a search.The search engine remains the main way that Google makes billions of dollars annually by selling digital ads that are targeted at the interests that people reveal through their search requests.Early announcements include features to automatically calculate tips and split the bill by pointing the camera at a receipt. Or point the camera to a physical menu to highlight popular dishes.Google is expected to unveil several products and other features unrelated to its search engine during the conference in Mountain View, California.___8:30 a.m.Google CEO Sundar Pichai is expected to showcase much-anticipated updates to the company’s hardware lines and artificial intelligence.Google will also likely address privacy updates as concerns about data sharing continue to plague the tech industry. Facebook dedicated much of its own conference last week to addressing privacy.Rumours suggest that Google may unveil a mid-range Pixel phone as a cheaper option to the flagship model currently on sale for $800.Pichai has a keynote scheduled Tuesday at the company’s annual I/O conference for software developers in Mountain View, California.Google says more than 7,000 developers will attend. The conference is focused on updates for the computer engineers that build apps and services on top of Google technology. I/O has also become a stage to announce new consumer products.The Associated Press read more

Koch tackles poverty by coaching nonprofits on business

SEATTLE — Charles Koch’s latest initiative tackling poverty embodies both the wealthy industrialist’s business acumen and his distaste for big government.The 3-year-old Stand Together Foundation has taken centre stage in Koch’s empire as it recalibrates some of its wide-ranging operation and continues to downplay its more well-known conservative political agenda.A key part of this foray is infusing the work of private nonprofits with corporate principles and business management training. Koch also gives the charities grant money and extends his influence to help them expand.His Stand Together Foundation supports 140 private groups that help the needy with a path toward self-sufficiency.It’s part of Koch’s campaign to shed some of the political associations tied to the former “Koch Brothers” entity. Younger brother David Koch retired in 2018 due to health issues.___Sally Ho covers philanthropy and education. Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/_SallyHoSally Ho, The Associated Press read more

Somalia UNICEF speaks out against stoning death of 13yearold rape victim

Aisha Duhulow was stoned to death in a stadium full of spectators in the southern port city of Kismayo on 27 October after authorities found her guilty of adultery.But reports indicate that she had been raped by three men while walking to visit her grandmother in the capital Mogadishu. After the attack, Aisha asked for protection from prosecutors, who in turn accused her of adultery and sentenced her to death.“This is a tragic and deplorable incident,” said Christian Balslev-Olesen, UNICEF Representative for Somalia. “A child was victimized twice – first by the perpetrators of the rape and then by those responsible for administering justice.”According to media reports, Aisha pleaded for her life before she was forced into a hole, buried up to her neck and then pelted with stones by some 50 men until she died in front of more than 1,000 people.UNICEF said that this incident underscores the vulnerability of girls and women in the war-wracked Horn of Africa nation, where it says sexual and gender-based violence is commonplace and gender inequalities persist in access to essential services.“Authorities and institutions of civil society have a role to play in supporting and protecting the rights of every child,” Mr. Balslev-Olesen said, noting that this killing reflects the great effort that must be undertaken to protect the rights of Somali girls and women.“UNICEF is committed to promote the status of females and will continue to work with local authorities and partners to reduce the risks to them through the promotion of girls’ education, HIV prevention and support to services for survivors of all forms of sexual and gender-based violence.” 4 November 2008The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has deplored last week’s stoning to death of a 13-year-old Somali girl who was a victim of rape. read more

Challenges remain in runup to Copenhagen climate change conference – UN official

15 July 2009With only 144 days left until the start of the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, greater efforts are needed to ensure that countries “seal the deal” on a new pact to slash greenhouse gas emissions, an official with the world body said today. Countries attending the meeting of the Major Economies Forum (MEF) on 9 July made some headway on climate change, “but also highlighted areas where we have a lot to do before we reach agreement in Copenhagen,” Janos Pasztor, Director of the Secretary-General’s Climate Support Team, told reporters in New York.Leaders of over one dozen developed nations attending the MEF meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, said they recognize that the global average temperature should not increase more than 2 degrees centigrade, which is “a critically important goal” which these nations had never endorsed explicitly before, he said.They also agreed to set up a global partnership to spur the use of low-carbon technologies and to double public sector investment into research of these new technologies by 2015.Further, the leaders said that financial resources for both mitigation and adaptation must be scaled up dramatically, and although the stopped short of specifying amounts, they did agree to consider a ‘green’ fund, Mr. Pasztor noted.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions proposed by the Group of Eight (G8) leaders, “while welcome, are not sufficient.”Underscoring that “the time for delays and half-measures is over,” Mr. Ban stressed that “the personal leadership of every head of State or government is needed to seize this moment to protect people and the planet from one of the most serious challenges ever to confront humanity.”Heads of G8 countries agreed in L’Aquila to a long-term goal of reducing emissions by 2050, but Mr. Ban said that this target was not credible without “ambitious mid-term targets, and baselines.“In order to achieve such a global goal, developed countries must lead by example in making firm commitments to reduce their emissions by 2020 on the order of the 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tells us is required. It is disappointing to note that thus far, the mid-term emissions targets announced by developed countries in the MEF are not in this range.”To support countries in their bid to conclude a successor pact in December to the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012, Mr. Ban is convening a high-level summit – expected to be the largest climate change gathering this year – in New York on 22 September.It is hoped that this summit can foster trust among world leaders, Mr. Pasztor said today, adding that “we will not be able to address climate change without that trust.” read more

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia name talks to restart after Greek polls

Matthew Nimetz, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the talks, made the announcement today after his meeting in New York with the President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Gjorge Ivanov, and the country’s main negotiator for the “name issue,” Zoran Jolevski. He added that he hopes to develop some momentum, which he believes was already developing during the summer with a number of ideas on the table.In July, Mr. Nimetz travelled to Athens and Skopje, where he held talks with government officials and conveyed his amended proposals for resolving the issue.The Interim Accord of 13 September 1995, which was brokered by the UN, details the difference between the two countries on the issue. It also obliges the two sides to continue negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General to try to reach agreement. 24 September 2009Talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the official name of the latter country will restart once the Greek elections are over and a new government is in place, the United Nations envoy dealing with the issue said today. read more

Security Council extends UN force for two months as talks with Chad

The two-month technical roll-over of the mission (MINURCAT), set up in 2007 to ensure the security of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Darfur, other displaced persons and humanitarian workers, comes after recent discussions between the world body and Chadian authorities.The Government of Chad had called for the withdrawal of the military component of MINURCAT, stating that it had served its purpose and that it was better for Chadian forces to take over security responsibilities. Last week UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy told reporters that a two-month extension, which was agreed with the Chadian Government, would “give some time to try to find agreement with the Chadian authorities on the future of MINURCAT in Chad.” Mr. Le Roy, who was recently in Chad to discuss the issue with the country’s leaders, added that many Council members have stressed the importance of keeping the mission on the ground.The 15-member body adopted today’s resolution unanimously. 12 March 2010The Security Council today extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic and Chad until 15 May, as discussions continue on the future of the operation. read more

TSX higher amid strong Chinese data positive earnings

The Toronto stock market was higher Friday amid strong economic data from China and solid earnings reports from General Electric, Morgan Stanley and Google.The S&P/TSX composite index rose 74.87 points to 13,111.23 after closing above 13,000 Thursday for the first time in more than two years amid relief that U.S. lawmakers had reached an agreement to extend the debt limit, thus averting a possible default.The Canadian dollar was up 0.06 of a cent to 97.21 cents US as inflation pressures increased slightly in September.Statistics Canada said the Consumer Price Index rose by 0.2 per cent month over month in September. That was on top of a 0.1 per cent rise in August.The agency says the CPI was up 1.1 per cent in the 12 months to September, which matched the annual rate in August.U.S. indexes were mixed as the Dow Jones industrials dipped 2.42 points to 15,369.23 while the Nasdaq rose 35.66 points to 3,898.81 as Google’s stock price cracked the US$1,000 level.The S&P 500 index was ahead 6.57 points at 1,739.72 after hitting another record high close Thursday.There was positive news from the world’s second-biggest economy as China’s growth rebounded in the latest quarter to 7.8 per cent from a two-decade low of 7.5 per cent in the second quarter, helped by government stimulus measures.Telecoms led TSX advancers, up 0.7 per cent with Telus (TSX:T) ahead 48 cents to $34.98.The industrials sector rose 0.65 per cent. The aerospace division of Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B) says one of China’s top leasing companies is the previously unidentified customer for up to 30 of its new CSeries aircraft.The buyer, CDB Leasing Co. Ltd., known as CLC, placed a conditional order in July 2011. Based on list prices, the initial contract would be worth about US$1.02 billion, and at US$2.07 billion if all options were exercised and Bombardier shares gained 16 cents to $5.15.The energy sector rose 0.55 per cent as oil also advanced with the November contract in New York 31 cents higher at US$100.98 a barrel. Canadian Oil Sands (TSX:COS) gained 21 cents to C$20.61.Copper prices advanced in the wake of the data from China, the world’s biggest consumer of the metal. The December contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose one cent to US$US$3.30 a pound. The TSX base metals sector advanced 0.4 per cent and Rio Alto Mining (TSX:RIO) climbed four cents to C$1.80.The gold sector was the sole decliner, down a slight 0.05 per cent while December gold bullion lost $6.60 to US$1,316.40 an ounce after running ahead more than $40 on Thursday.In earnings news, General Electric’s net income fell nine per cent in the third quarter to $3.19 billion, or 31 cents per share, on revenue of $35.7 billion. Ex-items, GE earned 40 cents per share, five cents higher than forecast and its shares rose 49 cents to US$25.17.Investment bank Morgan Stanley said its third-quarter earnings almost doubled as the firm’s equity sales and trading revenue rose. The bank earned $1.01 billion, or 50 cents a share, after stripping out an accounting charge, a dime higher than analysts forecasts. Its shares gained 67 cents to $29.60.And after the close Thursday, Google Inc. posted earnings of nearly $3 billion, or $8.75 per share, for the three months ended in September. If not for its expenses for employee stock compensation, Google said it would have earned $10.74 per share, topping the average estimate of $10.36 per share among analysts polled by FactSet.Revenue for the third quarter rose 12 per cent from last year to $14.9 billion. After subtracting commissions paid to Google’s ad partners, Google’s revenue stood at $11.9 billion, about $227 million above analysts’ predictions and its stock surged $116.71, or 13.1 per cent, to $1,005.50.European bourses also advanced as London’s FTSE 100 index gained 0.6 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX rose 0.38 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 was ahead 0.77 per cent.In Asia, the solid Chinese data pushed Hong Kong’s Hang Seng up 0.9 per cent, China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 0.4 per cent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.7 per cent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 bucked the trend, dropping 0.2 per cent. read more

TSX jumps over 1 as oil prices hit highest level this year

TORONTO — Canada’s largest stock market finished the day with a healthy three-digit gain after crude prices hit their highest level this year.The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index climbed 171.10 points, or about 1.3 per cent, rising to 13,383.60.All sectors except one on the heavily commodity-weighted index were up, with health care stocks advancing four per cent, followed by metals and mining at 2.66 per cent and gold at 2.33 per cent.New York markets were much more tepid as the Dow Jones industrial average added 67.18 points at 17,073.95.The broader S&P 500 composite index was barely changed, up 1.77 points at 2,001.76 and the Nasdaq composite index lost 8.77 points at 4,708.25.The Canadian dollar was at 75.32 cents US, up 0.27 of a U.S. cent.Commodities were mostly higher, with the April crude contract gaining $1.98 to US$37.90 per barrel, its highest price this year.April natural gas was up two cents at US$1.69 per mmBtu, while May copper was unchanged at US$2.28 a pound.Investors shied away from bullion as the April gold contract fell $6.70 to US$1,264 an ounce. read more

WatchBank of Canada defends itself for staying silent before interest rate hike

OTTAWA — The Bank of Canada is defending itself amid questions about its public silence ahead of an interest-rate hike last week that caught many analysts by surprise.BMO chief economist Doug Porter is taking issue with the lack of public remarks by the central bank in the eight weeks before a rate increase that he says caused a fairly violent market reaction.In a note Friday to clients, Porter wrote that while he thought the case for a rate increase was strong, he felt the Bank of Canada’s silent summer created a great deal of uncertainty for markets ahead of the decision.Bank of Canada faces delicate balancing act on its next movesAfter rate hikes, housing braces for ‘biggest rule change of all time’David Rosenberg: In defence of the Bank of Canada’s rate hike volleyPorter argues that the rate hike caught many analysts off guard — and he points to one survey that found only six of 33 forecasters had anticipated the increase.But a Bank of Canada spokesman says market data before the hike showed roughly 50-50 odds of an increase — revealing that a much greater percentage of traders were correctly interpreting the bank’s most-recent messaging from early July.In response to Porter’s criticisms, Jeremy Harrison also says key figures showing surprisingly strong second-quarter growth were released less than a week before the rate announcement — during the bank’s pre-decision blackout period.He says the communications approach was not unusual because in three of the last four years the bank didn’t make any public remarks between the scheduled rate announcements in July and September. read more

Anandasangaree calls on TNA to join Government

Anandasangaree noted that right from the very inception certain religious dignitaries like the Venerable Maduluwava Sobitha Thera, the Venerable Omalpe Sobitha Thera, the Venerable Athuraliye Rathina Thera, former President Chandrica Bandaranayaike Kumarathunga, Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasingha and President Maithiripala Sirisena had repeatedly assured that they will take the responsibility of solving the ethnic problem to the satisfaction of all the parties concerned. “A silent revolution had taken place providing an excellent opportunity for all of us to sort out matters that could be sorted out. The minorities have innumerable problems all of which cannot be sorted out overnight or even in a short period. But certainly much can be done during the two year period the UNP and the SLFP have agreed to work as a National Government. The TNA also must take a quick decision and voluntarily join the National Government. That is what the Tamil people want and it is for that reason the Tamil People voted for the TNA. Since thirty to forty political parties, with varying policies, had been mainly responsible for creating this situation, a duty is cast on you to deal with the situation cautiously,” he said. The Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) has urged the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to join the National Government.TULF Secretary General V. Anandasangaree, in a letter to TNA leader R. Sampanthan, said that the minorities have innumerable problems all of which cannot be sorted out overnight or even in a short period. “My advice at this juncture is for you to trust them and give all cooperation to the National Government. Above all, why can’t we, who have wasted over half a century, now take a chance, on this good opportunity that has come on our way to get our longstanding problems solved?”Anandasangaree said. (Colombo Gazette) read more

US acknowledges complications in Sri Lanka war crimes investigation

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in an annual report last month Sri Lanka must rein in its military forces, prosecute war crimes and win the confidence of the Tamil minority.He also said witnesses must be protected under an effective transitional justice mechanism that should include international judges.Rajapaksa, while president, rejected international intervention in addressing rights abuses and denied visas for top U.N. officials who wanted to assess conditions in the South Asian country after the war ended in May 2009. Implementing a UN resolution calling for the investigation of alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka during a war with separatist rebels is complicated and needs more consultations to build confidence, a senior U.S. official said, according to the Reuters news agency.The United States along with other Western countries have long demanded an international investigation into the killing of thousands of ethnic minority Tamils in the final weeks of the war, in 2009, under then Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The U.N. resolution also calls for an inquiry into missing people and progress in reconciliation. “These are complicated issues and there needs to be a process of consultation with all in order to ensure these things are done in a way that earns confidence of the people,” Malinowski told a group of reporters in Colombo late on Thursday.He said the U.N. resolution respected Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.“Under the resolution, the government of Sri Lanka will determine the structure and the composition of the court,” he said, noting that Sri Lanka had made a commitment to include some international participation in the investigation. But President Maithripala Sirisena, who came to power last year, is facing resistance to an investigation from political rivals led by his predecessor, Rajapaksa.U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski said international participation in a special court had been emphasized because of “an erosion in the confidence” in Sri Lanka’s courts over the years. Sri Lanka has promised to implement the U.N. resolution adopted in October that calls for a special court with foreign judges to investigate. Both the military and Tamil rebels “most likely” committed war crimes including mass killings of civilians, during the 26-year war, the United Nations said in a landmark report last year. read more

Basnayake Nilame of Ruhunu Kataragama temple suspended

The Basnayake Nilame of the Ruhunu Kataragama Maha Devalaya, has been suspended after several complaints were filed against him.The Minister of Buddha Sasana, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, said that D.P. Kumarage was suspended pending an investigation against him. Kumarage has been suspended for three months to investigate at least 16 complaints against him. (Colombo Gazette)