Former Air Force chief to be in charge of Sri Lanka cricket

Goonetileke, who joined the Sri Lanka Air Force in 1978 as a helicopter pilot rose to the rank of Air Chief Marshall, Commanded the Air Force and thereafter served as the Chief of Defense Staff, serving the Sri Lankan defense establishment for 35 plus years. “I am sure, his entry will strengthen the security program, we have placed in order to continue our cricketing calendar, without any hindrance.’’ said Shammi Silva, President of SLC.“We take security as our top priority, when it comes to any form of cricket, since having a secure environment helps teams and players to engage in healthy competition,’’ the SLC President further added. He will also be in charge of the strategic review of Sri Lanka Cricket’s security program. Former Air Force Commander Roshan Goonetileke has been recruited by the Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC) as the Chief Security Advisor of SLC, in order to strengthen the security program covering all forms of cricket.His role will be to help enhance SLC’s security affairs related to all international inbound and outbound tours, security of the national and junior squads, players, coaches, ground security and also spectator security. His new appointment came into effect from 17th May, 2019. (Colombo Gazette) read more

McMaster graduates travel to Japan to learn about 2011 nuclear disaster

Five McMaster University graduates have traveled to Japan to learn more about the country’s 2011 nuclear disaster.The students arrived in Japan last Wednesday for a 10-day visit to the Fukushima region, according to the Canadian Press. They plan to visit the nuclear plant that melted down and stay with families that were devastated by the tragedy.Their trip is part of the Fukushima Ambassador Program, which teaches students from around the world about the physical, economic and social consequences of the nuclear disaster.

Liz Weston Is your wealth dripping away

As a spokesperson for the insurance industry, Loretta Worters often gives tips to homeowners on preventing water damage. Some of her knowledge comes from personal experience.Worters says she had owned a home in Bellmore, New York, for only a month when she noticed the clothes washer in the basement was taking an awfully long time to fill.“I went downstairs and I was up to my ankles in water,” says Worters, vice-president of communications for the Insurance Information Institute.Appliance and plumbing failures are a leading cause of household water damage, which is far more common than you may think. Homeowners are six times more likely to suffer property losses from water than from theft and seven times more likely than from fire, says Kelly Greene, a risk consulting manager from Chubb Personal Insurance who led a session on property damage at the Financial Planning Association NorCal conference in May. (“Water damage” is different from flooding, which is rising water that affects two or more properties.)“When you ask people (if they’ve had water damage), if they haven’t, chances are they know someone who has — a friend or family member or neighbour,” Greene says.Water damage accounts for $1 billion in insured losses annually for homeowners and renters, with claims averaging more than $10,000 each, Worter says.But not all water losses are covered by insurance . While a sudden event, such as the hose that burst on Worter’s washing machine, would be covered, a slower leak typically wouldn’t be. A homeowner could end up paying thousands of dollars, or more, to fix the damage and remediate any mould.“That’s a maintenance issue,” Worters says. Insurance doesn’t typically cover problems caused by issues a homeowner should have detected and fixed, such as termite damage or a leaky roof.Yet while most homeowners have smoke detectors to alert them to fires, and many have alarm systems to help deter theft, relatively few take steps to prevent catastrophic water damage. Even in the multimillion-dollar homes Chubb covers, less than 2% have automated systems that can shut off the water if there’s a leak, Greene says.That’s a problem for the insurer, since water damage makes up 45% of its total homeowners claims, and losses over $1 million have more than tripled since 2015, Greene says. Chubb now encourages policyholders to install water leak detection systems, which attach to water mains and can cost $500 to $3,000, Greene says.But there are lower-cost and free ways homeowners can head off problems:Locate the main shut-off. Adults and older children should know where the main water supply shut-off valve is and how to turn it off, Worters says. You don’t want to have to search for it in an emergency. The shut-off is often near the water meter or where the main water line enters the home. Water-using appliances like toilets and dishwashers typically have shut-off valves as well.Regularly check supply lines. Look for leaks in the supply lines to sinks, toilets and hot water heaters, and inspect hoses that connect to washing machines, dishwashers, ice makers and pull-out spray faucets. If you find rubber hoses, consider replacing them with braided metal versions that are more durable. Braided metal hoses typically cost $10 to $30 each — and it’s a fairly easy do-it-yourself project to install them. (Just remember to shut off the water and unplug the appliance first.)Don’t run water appliances overnight or when you’re not home. A burst hose can pump 600 gallons of water an hour into your home while you’re sleeping or away, Worter says. Consider shutting off the water entirely when you’re on vacation, Greene says.Stay on top of home maintenance. Clear gutters and make sure downspouts funnel water away from your house’s foundation. Inspect roofs for missing shingles and other damage. Prevent ice dams, the ice that forms along roof edges that can cause water to back up under the shingles. Replace cracked caulk or sealant around tubs and showers.Install alerts. Higher-end leak detectors such as Phyn Plus and Flo by Moen can monitor your water usage for anomalies, connect with smart home systems and alert you to problems through phone apps. If you’re not ready to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars, though, you can buy a three- or four-pack of basic sensors at hardware stores or online for less than $40. Place them on the floor near washers and hot water heaters, and the shrieking alarms will alert you to trouble.____________________________________________________This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: lweston@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lizweston.RELATED LINK:Understanding homeowners insurance http://bit.ly/homeowners-insurance-101Liz Weston Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press read more

The Latest Boris Johnson wins race to be UK prime minister

LONDON — The Latest on the race to become Britain’s next prime minister (all times local):12:05 p.m.Brexit hardliner Boris Johnson has won the race to lead Britain’s governing Conservative Party, and will become the country’s next prime minister.He defeated his rival Jeremy Hunt overwhelmingly in a vote of Conservative Party members.He will be installed as prime minister in a formal handover from Theresa May on Wednesday.The victory is a triumph for the 55-year-old Johnson, an ambitious but erratic politician whose political career has veered between periods in high office and spells on the sidelines.Johnson has vowed that Britain will quit the European Union, “come what may,” on the scheduled Brexit departure date of Oct. 31 even if it means leaving without a divorce dealBut he faces a rocky ride from a Parliament determined to prevent him from taking the U.K. out of the bloc without a withdrawal agreement.___8:30 a.m.Britain’s governing Conservative Party is set to reveal who the name of the country’s next prime minister, with Brexit champion Boris Johnson the strong favourite to get the job.Party officials will announce Tuesday whether Johnson or rival Jeremy Hunt has won a ballot of about 160,000 Conservative members.The winner replaces Theresa May, who announced her resignation last month, and will officially become prime minister on Wednesday.It will be a huge upset if the winner is not Johnson, who has wooed Conservatives by promising to succeed where May failed and lead the U.K. out of the European Union on the scheduled date of Oct. 31 — with or without a divorce deal.Several Conservative ministers have already announced they will resign to fight any push for a “no-deal” Brexit.___Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit and the Conservative Party leadership race at: https://www.apnews.com/BrexitThe Associated Press read more

Alaska ferry union rejects contract offer considers strike

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A union serving Alaska’s ferry system says it has been unable to reach terms for a new contract and may consider a strike.Anchorage television station KTUU reports that 86% of the members of the Alaska’s Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific voted against a proposed contract offer by the administration of Gov. Mike Dunleavy.The union represents about 430 workers across the ferry system.In a media advisory Tuesday night, the union says the contract cancels 28 negotiated settlements reached over three years and requires mandatory overtime instead of hiring more workers. The two sides also disagree over a pay increase.The union is one of three representing ferry workers.The state Department of Administration in a release says the union has rejected “numerous fair and fiscally responsible contract offers.”___Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.comThe Associated Press read more

Federal deficit came in at 19 billion last year final report on

OTTAWA — The federal government ran a shortfall of $19 billion in the last fiscal year, virtually unchanged from the previous year, Ottawa’s annual financial report card shows.The deficit for 2017-18 was slightly smaller than the federal government predicted in February’s budget.However, the Finance Department’s fiscal monitor estimated in May the federal books would post a deficit of just $16.2 billion for last year.To confuse matters, the government says it has changed the way it calculates its pension liability — a fix officials say has been at the top of the list for auditors for years. And that led to revisions of 10 years’ worth of budget numbers.Weaker than expected economic data not seen delaying Bank of Canada rate hikeGood thing there’s a lot more to the Canadian dollar than oil these daysPopulism and protectionism holding back Canada’s growth, EDC warnsAs a result, the slim surplus Conservatives left with much fanfare in 2014-15 is now noted as a small deficit.Tax revenues rose year-over-year, but it was less a windfall than what officials described as a “new normal” after the Liberals created a new tax bracket for high-income earners. The Finance Department says there was a $9.9-billion increase in personal tax revenue from the previous year.Beyond 2017-18, Morneau’s February budget predicted an $18.1-billion shortfall for this fiscal year — a number that’s expected to gradually shrink to $12.3 billion in 2022-23, including annual $3-billion cushions to offset risks.Following the 2015 election, the Liberal government abandoned campaign pledges to run annual deficits of no more than $10 billion and to balance the books in four years — by 2019.Instead, Morneau has been focused on reducing the net debt-to-GDP ratio — also known as the debt burden — each year. After the pension-related revisions were taken into account, the debt ratio dropped to 31.3 per cent of GDP in 2017-18, from 32.0 per cent a year earlier.The latest numbers for 2017-18 pushed the overall national debt to $671.3 billion.The document didn’t provide a long-term outlook for the debt burden, but officials say internal projections still show the measure on a downward track, even if the numbers have shifted slightly due to accounting changes.Morneau has cited a weaker-than-expected economy for the bigger shortfalls as well as a need to make investments to lift Canada’s long-term growth.But the economy has delivered a strong performance for more than a year and the lack of a road map to return to balance has drawn criticism, particularly from the opposition Conservatives.There are concerns over the Liberals’ deficit-spending plan at a time of economic expansion and warnings it could find itself far deeper down the deficit hole in the event of a recession. read more

Abkhazia Georgia Security Council urges steps to break impasse extends UN mission

Acting unanimously, the Council adopted a resolution which blamed the deterioration on “ongoing violence, hostage-taking incidents, the rise in criminality and the activities of illegal armed groups in the conflict zone, which constitutes a constant threat to the peace process.”In renewing UNOMIG’s mandate, the Council expressed its intention to conduct a thorough review of the operation at the end of the extension, “in the light of steps taken by the parties to achieve a comprehensive settlement.” The Council expressed strong support for the efforts of Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his Special Representative, Dieter Boden, with the assistance of the Russian Federation, to stabilize the situation and achieve a comprehensive political settlement, including a settlement of the political status of Abkhazia within Georgia.The Council also recalled the Special Representative’s intention to submit a draft paper on the distribution of constitutional competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi “as a basis for meaningful negotiations, and not as an attempt to impose or dictate any specific solution to the parties.” The Council expressed deep regret the Special Representative has not been in a position to submit the paper to the parties, stressing that it would serve as a starting point for negotiations on a comprehensive political settlement.The resolution also stressed the need to accelerate work on the draft protocol on the return of the refugees to the Gali region and measures for economic rehabilitation, as well as on the draft agreement on peace and guarantees for the prevention and for the non-resumption of hostilities.The parties, particularly the Abkhaz side, were called upon to move beyond the impasse and engage in negotiations on the core political questions of the conflict and all other outstanding issues in the UN-led peace process. The Council also urged the parties to work together in order to clarify recent kidnapping incidents, secure the release of the remaining hostages, and bring the perpetrators to justice.The Council also expressed concern at the “disturbing tendency” by the parties to restrict the freedom of movement of UNOMIG, and called upon both sides to ensure the security and freedom of movement of UN and other international personnel. read more

Security Council calls for peaceful resolution of Somalias conflict

In a statement to the press following closed-door consultations, Ambassador Kishore Mahbubani of Singapore, which holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member body, said the members “emphasized the need for a peaceful solution in Somalia based on national reconciliation, and underlined the need for strong international support.”Looking to the wider geographical context, Council members “urged all regional actors to give their unequivocal commitment to the peace efforts for Somalia in good faith and to refrain from any negative actions, including those that may compromise the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Somalia,” the President said.Council members also encouraged members of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to move forward with the National Reconciliation Conference in Nairobi as soon as possible. In addition, they underlined the importance of expeditiously implementing Council resolution 1407, which requested a report on the establishment of a panel of experts to improve enforcement of the sanctions against the country. On the safety of UN personnel, members of the Council “strongly condemned the kidnapping of a UNDP [UN Development Programme] official in Mogadishu and called for his immediate release.”[On 29 April, a UN spokesman had announced that Professor Mohamed Ali Aborkor, who was working for the UNDP, had been kidnapped by unknown abductors.]Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today reported that the first organized refugee return convoy from camps in Ethiopia to northwest Somalia – known as Somaliland – took place on Thursday. Many of the returnees had lived in exile for over a decade, having fled to Ethiopia during Somaliland’s war of secession in 1988, according to UNHCR. Hundreds of thousands more fled following the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in Somalia and the ensuing outbreak of civil war in 1991.The refugee agency also reported rising tensions in the northeastern Kenyan border town of Mandera, where some 3,500 Somali refugees have gathered. UNHCR has requested the deployment of more police officers to the site to ensure the safety of refugees. read more

UN expert concerned at reported death threats to rights activists she met

In a statement released on Wednesday, Hina Jilani, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, voiced “deep concern” about a 7 June fax sent to 11 representatives of human rights organizations reportedly accusing them of being “enemies of the State.” Using violent insults and death threats, the faxed message signed by “True Guatemalans” told the group that they were only the first targets of a longer list. Reacting to the reported threat, Ms. Jilani sent on 11 June an urgent appeal to the Guatemalan Government, expressing deep concern “for the security and the physical and moral integrity of the human rights defenders.” She was joined in her appeal by Asma Jahangir, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions of the UN’s Commission on Human Rights. Both experts called for a thorough investigation of the death threats and protection for those named in the fax. During her six-day visit to Guatemala in late May, the Special Representative met with government officials as well as human rights defenders from various walks of life. Based on the information she gathered, she pointed to “the existence of a climate of fear.” According to her findings, human rights defenders faced “threats, intimidations, disappearance and even killings.” Those who were targeted included people seeking truth on past violations, those fighting for economic and social rights, those denouncing corruption, and indigenous people. “The perpetrators of these attacks are reportedly illegal clandestine groups,” she noted. “Allegedly, some of them have links with State institutions, in particular the police and the army.” In addition, Ms. Jilani expressed concern about “the lack of proper implementation of the peace accords, in particular the Global Accord on Human Rights,” which she said went together with “the persistence of impunity and an increased militarization.” While acknowledging that the Government had taken some concrete steps to deal with human rights issues, Ms. Jilani “considered these measures to be insufficient mainly because they suffer from lack of coordination and of political and financial support.” She urged the Government to implement the peace accords, particularly the human rights component, to put an end to impunity, and to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the allegations of violations against human rights defenders and the alleged existence of clandestine groups. read more

Annan calls for quick return to Iraqi rule with timetable for end

The day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly, and a clear timetable for the restoration of sovereignty with specific steps for the end of United States military occupation is essential if the growing impatience in the country is to be stemmed, according to a new report by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The report, to be formally presented to the Security Council tomorrow, lays out a blueprint for a full spectrum of activities where the UN can assist the reconstruction of Iraq. But, it makes clear that under its current Council mandate, re-establishing law and order and administering the country are not among them, these being the sole responsibility of the US-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). It enumerates the activities the UN will carry out in 2003 in the areas of humanitarian assistance, facilitation of national dialogue, assistance with the electoral processes and human rights, to be coordinated under a new UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), with a staff of over 300, both international and local. It also identifies other areas consistent with Council resolution 1483, adopted in May, where the UN could provide assistance in the future, including the constitutional process, judicial and legal reform, police training, demobilization and reintegration of former military forces, public administration, economic reconstruction and sustainable development, and technical assistance and advisory services to Iraqi ministries. “The challenge for the United Nations in Iraq is to find meaningful and effective ways to assist the Iraqi people in achieving their goals. Its aim is to help them participate in, and take ownership of, the definition of the policies and priorities that will shape the future of their country,” Mr. Annan says in the report, requested by resolution 1483, which mandated the appointment of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General. The report is an initial assessment of the UN role since the Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, took up his post at the beginning of June. He will address the Council tomorrow. Referring to Mr. Vieira de Mello’s wide ranging consultations with Iraqi society, the CPA and neighbouring countries, Mr. Annan reports: “He conveyed to all concerned the Security Council’s resolve that the day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly, and he has stressed the Security Council’s call for a government based on the rule of law that affords equal rights and justice to all Iraqi citizens without regard to ethnicity, religion or gender. “To this end, my Special Representative made clear the independence of his role and that the Coalition Provisional Authority, not the United Nations, was responsible for administering Iraq, for providing for the welfare of the people, and for restoring conditions of security and stability,” he adds. Welcoming the establishment last week of a Governing Council consisting of a wide spectrum of Iraqi personalities, Mr. Annan declares: “If some of the concerns that have been relayed to my Special Representative in these initial weeks of his mandate are to be allayed, and the growing impatience is to be stemmed, it is important that Iraqis are able to see a clear timetable leading to the full restoration of sovereignty. “There is a pressing need to set out a clear and specific sequence of events leading to the end of military occupation. My Special Representative stands ready to assist in the establishment of such a framework, working together with the Governing Council and the Authority,” he states. At UN Headquarters in New York today, Mr. Annan told reporters the Governing Council emerged out of extensive consultations with Iraqis and others and was broadly representative. “I think, given these circumstances, and the fact that you couldn’t possibly organize elections in Iraq today, it was a good method of putting together a Council and I hope the Security Council will see it that way and grant the group its support,” he said. In his report, Mr. Annan stresses that a common theme Mr. Vieira de Mello heard during his consultations was that “democracy should not be imposed from the outside, it had to come from within.” “The importance for the Iraqi people of moving quickly towards their own government cannot be overstated, not least in terms of getting the constitutional process off to a good start,” he writes. “My Special Representative, therefore, has strongly advocated that the Authority (CPA) devolve real executive authority to a broadly representative and self-selecting Iraqi leadership, including in policy- and decision-making, and in the preparation and execution of a budget. This advice was favourably received by the Authority.” Mr. Vieira de Mello also raised concerns over CPA actions in the human rights sphere, including the treatment of detainees, with US administrator L. Paul Bremer and “reminded him of the Authority’s obligations” under international law. Looking to “the way forward,” Mr. Annan reports: “Ultimately, the United Nations, as mandated in resolution 1483 (2003), is a resource at the disposal of the Iraqi people, whose interests are at the forefront of all our work. Iraq is rich in human resources. “Critical from the outset is placing qualified Iraqis in the lead in the planning and management of Iraq’s recovery. I endorse the approach taken by my Special Representative, which is based on the twin principles of inclusiveness and empowerment of the Iraqi people, and has capacity-building as its natural corollary.” read more

UN and international experts meet to chart future course of counterterrorism measures

The two-day meeting, which began with a minute of silence in honour of the victims of the Madrid attacks, aims to recommend concrete suggestions to strengthen the planning, coordination and execution of future joint activities, and move towards strengthening the exchange of information in a bid to stem the terrorist scourge.Today’s session addressed current and emerging threats, with two working sessions focused on the danger posed to civil aviation by Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS) and on the need to break the nexus between terrorism and organized crime.Tomorrow’s session will look at preventing the financing of terrorism; ratification and implementation of 12 international anti-terrorism instruments; border management issues; and coordination among key organizations at all levels.Speaking at the event, organized by the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said there is strong evidence of a close link between terrorism and organized criminal activities, including trafficking in drugs, firearms and human beings, as well as money-laundering.”These crimes both precede and accompany terrorist crimes, since terrorist groups operate in the same black markets where organized crime is active. We can weaken terrorist groups by going forcefully after their profit-oriented activities,” Mr. Costa said, underscoring the need to survey and monitor the multiple connections between terrorism and profit-driven transnational crimes.Ambassador Inocencio Arias of Spain, Chairman of the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), opened today’s meeting by calling for improvements in the way international organizations coordinate and collaborate in fighting global terrorism. He pointed to the collaboration between the OSCE and the UNODC as an example for other organizations to adopt.OSCE Secretary General Jan Kubi? said that focused, expert, technical anti-terrorism workshops such as those recently organized by the OSCE’s Action against Terrorism Unit were yielding concrete results. He joined other organizations represented at the conference in supporting the leadership of the CTC in ensuring cohesion in the collective actions of international, regional and sub-regional organizations. read more

HIVAIDS spread iodine deficiency threaten young Ukrainians UNICEF says

“We are faced with an obscene situation where those who are the most vulnerable are also the least likely to have the support they need to prevent HIV infection,” Executive Director Carol Bellamy said during an official visit to Ukraine. One UNICEF poll found that fewer than 70 per cent of Ukrainian teenagers knew that condom use was a means of preventing HIV infection. Most were also unaware that such practices as sexual abstinence, having fewer sexual partners and not injecting drugs also eliminated or lowered the rate of infection. Parent-to-child transmission of HIV rose to 13 per cent of total infections in 2001 from just 2 per cent in 1997. Some 57 per cent of infections are among males, but young females are increasingly becoming infected, UNICEF said. More than 80 per cent of people living with HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe are under 30 years old, unlike Western Europe and the United States, where only 30 per cent of HIV cases are among people younger than 30, the UN agency said. “Far too many young people face poverty, high unemployment and lack of hope – the lifeblood of the drug trade – which in turn feeds the HIV epidemic,” Ms. Bellamy said. “National and local leaders, with full support from the international community, must take immediate, concrete action to address the extreme vulnerability of young people to HIV infection.” On the question of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), only 20 per cent of households eat enough iodized salt to prevent them, UNICEF said. The deficiency is particularly acute in the north and west of the country and could impair the mental development of children. “Iodine deficiency disorders can be eliminated,” Ms. Bellamy said. “One teaspoon of iodine over a lifetime is sufficient to protect a person from IDD.” The challenge for Ukraine, beset with thyroid cancer because of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, is to enact legislation so that all salt produced in the country will be iodized, UNICEF said. read more

Arriving in DR of Congo UN peacekeeping chief notes progress

“I am greatly encouraged by the progress achieved. However, we should bear in mind that there is still a lot to achieve,” Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno said.He noted that it was his fifth visit to the DRC and he had visited often because peace in the vast African country was a high priority for the UN.Mr. Guéhenno is scheduled to hold talks with Congolese authorities and members of the International Committee to Support the Transition (CIAT) and to review the deployment in the east of peacekeepers from the Ituri and Kivu Brigades of the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC).On leaving the DRC, he is scheduled to go to Kampala, Uganda, and Kigali, Rwanda, to meet the Presidents of both countries and will end his trip with a visit to South Africa, MONUC said.

UN global tobaccocontrol treaty on track to become law by end of

With the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) closing for signature this week, nearly 90 per cent of the world’s countries have signed the treaty, which requires them to restrict tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion, set new labelling and clean indoor air controls and strengthen laws clamping down on tobacco smuggling. The FCTC has become one of the most rapidly embraced UN conventions, with 167 WHO Member States and the European Community (EC) signing, and 23 countries ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding – thus making it law – just one year after the pact opened for signature in Geneva. More than half the required 40 ratifications are now in hand. “Although we have good reason to be confident, a relentless effort will still be needed for the foreseeable future,” WHO Director-General Dr Lee Jong-wook said. “Current projections show a rise of 31 per cent in tobacco-related deaths during the next 22 years, which will double the current death toll, bringing it to almost 10 million a year.” WHO urges countries that have signed to ratify the Treaty as soon as possible. “The sooner the 40 ratifications are in place, the sooner effective and coordinated actions within the Framework Convention at country level can begin,” said Catherine Le Galès-Camus, Assistant Director-General, Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. The treaty, adopted unanimously by all 192 Member States in May last year, is the first public health treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO. It was designed to become a tool to manage what has become the single biggest preventable cause of death. There are currently an estimated 1.3 billion smokers worldwide. Half of them, some 650 million people, are expected to die prematurely of a tobacco-related disease. read more

Talks on peace efforts in Sudan and Somalia highlight Annans visit to

In Nairobi, the Secretary-General met with the Kenyan negotiators dealing with Sudan and with Somalia. Afterwards he met one-on-one with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, followed by an exchange with their full delegations, according to a UN spokesman.At a press encounter later, the Secretary-General thanked the Kenyan Government for supporting peace efforts for Sudan and Somalia.Mr. Annan added that he and President Kibaki had also talked of the challenge of HIV/AIDS. “Today, AIDS has a woman’s face in Africa,” he said. “Each and every one of us must take on the challenge.”The Secretary-General then travelled outside the capital to talk to some 500 delegates at the Somali peace talks, and urged them to do all in their power to establish an inclusive government structure by 31 July.”Somalia cannot afford another false start,” he said. “Your people have the right to look to a better tomorrow. And tomorrow begins today.”In a separate development, the Secretary-General’s wife, Nane, visited a Nairobi slum with Kenya’s Health Minister, Charity Kaluki Ngilu. Mrs. Annan walked through the community and spoke to women and men living with AIDS as well as children orphaned by the disease.The two also visited the Kenya Network of Women with AIDS, a grassroots community-based organization of HIV-positive women who provide support for others affected by the disease.Later, Mrs. Annan visited Equity Building Society, a Kenyan micro-finance institution, and met clients who had received small loans to start or expand their businesses. read more

Lack of funds forces UN agency to halt food aid to 140000

Food distribution for 140,000 Azerbaijanis displaced by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia a decade ago will come to a complete halt next month because of a $10 million shortfall in aid sought for the three-year operation by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). “We have tried everything, even halving the rations last month, but we just don’t have enough food stocks left to go around,” WFP Country Director Rahman Chowdhury said. “Most of the displaced are so poor they don’t have the means to buy food. It’s a dreadful situation, especially in winter, when temperatures drop to minus 20 degrees celsius.” Three quarters of those affected are women and children, a large number of them still living in makeshift shelters like railway cars and dugouts. Only WFP ‘s school feeding programme that supplies food to 5,300 primary school children will continue, but on a limited scale. One essential ingredient of the take-home rations, which are being provided to the youngsters five days a week, is vitamin-fortified wheat soya blend, whose stocks will also run out in January, Mr. Chowdhury said. WFP sought $21 million for the operation, which started in January 2003. Since 1994, the agency has been pivotal in assisting hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis displaced by the conflict in which more than 600,000 people fled from Nagorno-Karabakh the region, now occupied by Armenia, to other parts of Azerbaijan. Most of the displaced live in remote areas of western Azerbaijan, such as Agjabedi and Imishli regions, where employment possibilities are extremely limited. read more