Rising food prices highlight need to boost investment in agriculture – UN

The head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today stressed the need to boost investment in agriculture to ensure long-term food security, while also calling for urgent structural changes to the global food system. “The food price and economic crises have had a severe impact on millions of people in all parts of the world,” FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said in an address to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Ministerial Forum on Agricultural Investment in Abu Dhabi. The global prices of most agricultural commodities have increased, many of them sharply, in recent months. In addition, FAO warned in its latest Food Outlook report that global food import bills may pass the $1 trillion mark in 2010, a level not seen since food prices peaked in 2008. “These trends can have severe implications for countries like the Gulf countries, which depend on commercial imports for a large share of their food consumption needs,” said Mr. Diouf. According to FAO, the number of hungry and malnourished people in the Near East and North Africa is currently estimated at 37 million, nearly 10 per cent of the region’s population. Mr. Diouf added that the rapid increase in hunger and malnourishment since the food crisis of 2008 reveals the inadequacy of the present global food system and the urgent need for structural changes. These could include short-term measures such as targeted safety nets and social protection programmes as well as reliable and timely information on food commodity markets. Small-scale farmers must be assured access to indispensable means of production and technologies – such as high-quality seeds, fertilizers, feed and farming tools and equipment, said FAO. Investment in agriculture is a must in the medium and longer term, the agency noted, stating that food-deficit countries must be given the necessary technical and financial solutions and policy tools to enhance their agricultural sectors in terms of productivity and resilience in the face of crises. While in the United Arab Emirates, Mr. Diouf also named Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the wife of the founder and the first President of UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, as Extraordinary Ambassador of FAO. Sheikha Fatima, who has been active in the fields of literacy, maternal and child care, the disabled, the elderly and orphans, has played “a pivotal role in consolidating and promoting the women’s rights movement in the Arab world,” said Mr. Diouf. In addition, Mr. Diouf and Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment and Water, announced the establishment of the UAE-financed “Sheikh Zayed Centre” at FAO headquarters in Rome. The new international multi-media conference centre will provide the live broadcasting facilities and capacity-building infrastructures necessary to continue the fight against hunger and to enhance knowledge sharing and e-learning throughout the organization. 23 November 2010The head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today stressed the need to boost investment in agriculture to ensure long-term food security, while also calling for urgent structural changes to the global food system. read more

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Chair of UN monitoring body voices concern at violations of Iran sanctions

10 December 2010The chair of the United Nations committee monitoring the arms embargo imposed on Iran over its nuclear programme voiced deep concern today that violations of the sanctions are continuing. Ambassador Tsuneo Nishida of Japan told the Security Council, which first imposed the sanctions in 2006, that the committee had received communications from two Member States who reported two separate incidents of violations of provisions of resolution 1747, which imposes a ban on the export and procurement of all arms and related materiel from Iran.In the first case, a Member State informed the committee that it had seized 13 shipping containers of illegal arms reportedly originating from Iran, and that a comprehensive report on the results of its investigations would be forthcoming.Another Member State informed the committee that authorities at one of its harbours had seized a container, originating from Iran and destined for Syria, holding the high-potential explosive “T4” or “RDX.” As in the first case, the Member State is carrying out further investigations, Mr. Nishida said, as he presented his final 90-day report, covering the period from 16 September to December 2010. “It is a matter of grave concern,” he said, “that the apparent pattern of sanctions violations involving prohibited arms transfers from Iran, first highlighted publicly by the Committee a year ago, is continuing.”Resolution 1737 of December 2006 banned trade with Iran in all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology which could contribute to the country’s enrichment-related, reprocessing or heavy water-related activities, or to the development of nuclear-weapon delivery systems.Resolution 1747 of the following year tightened the sanctions by imposing a ban on arms sales and expanding the freeze on assets. The Council imposed further sanctions against Iran in resolution 1803 in 2008. These included the inspection of cargo suspected of carrying prohibited goods, the tighter monitoring of financial institutions and the extension of travel bans and asset freezes, over its nuclear programme.Then in June of this year, the Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions through resolution 1929, in which it also decided that Iran shall not acquire an interest in any commercial activity in another State involving uranium mining, production or use of nuclear materials and technology.Iran’s nuclear programme – which its officials have stated is for peaceful purposes, but some other countries contend is driven by military ambitions – has been a matter of international concern since the discovery in 2003 that the country had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). read more

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UN envoy on sexual violence welcomes African commitment to eradicating the vice

31 March 2011The United Nations envoy on sexual violence in conflict today underlined the role of the African leadership in combating sexual violence in the continent, and welcomed the commitment expressed by the African Union (AU) to ensure that the problem is eradicated. “The scourge of sexual violence traverses all of geography and history. But without the political leadership of Africa, we will not succeed in eradicating this international crime,” said Margot Wallström, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.“It is essential that the commitment expressed by the AU Peace and Security Council also translates into concrete actions,” Ms. Wallström said in a statement two days after addressing a session of the AU Peace and Security Council dedicated to the issue of women and children affected by armed conflict.She also welcomed the AU’s decision to appoint a Special Representative on Women, Peace and Security and pledged her support for the envoy, who will serve as a point of contact to strengthen AU-UN partnership on the issue.“Some practical areas for such cooperation include ensuring that sexual violence is reflected consistently in curricula of the major peacekeeping training institutes in Africa, and in the training programmes of all African troop-contributing countries,” said Ms. Wallström.She lauded the decision to deploy advisers to AU peacekeeping and political missions to ensure that women, peace and security concerns are consistently reflected in monitoring and reporting, mediation efforts, and in peace processes and agreements, and commended the AU’s support for the appointment of more women as Special Representatives and its support for women’s involvement in peace processes.“In order to ensure concerted action, I strongly encourage the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council to include conflict-related sexual violence as an item on the agenda of their annual meeting,” Ms. Wallström added. read more

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Ban stresses need to address social inequity while promoting sustainable development

“One billion hungry people – one in five people without access to electricity – nearly 80 million young people out of work – 67 million children not in primary school – pervasive poverty – egregious disparities in access to sanitation and adequate health care,” said Mr. Ban in an address to the Fifth Meeting of his High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability.“This is not equitable. It is not sustainable. Nor can we live with deteriorating ecosystems. Science tells us that we are approaching, and increasingly over-stepping certain planetary boundaries. This, too, is not sustainable,” he said.The 21-member panel, which is co-chaired by President Tarja Halonen of Finland and her South African counterpart Jacob Zuma, is expected provide its final report next month after 16 months of work. It is tasked with finding ways to lift people out of poverty while tackling climate change and ensuring that economic development is environmentally friendly.“Your recommendations will help shape the UN system’s policies on sustainable development for years to come,” said the Secretary-General.“I look for your guidance on governance issues in particular. How can the UN system work more effectively – and with other institutions – to make sustainable development a reality?” He said the panel’s report will also be a major contribution to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil in June next year. He described the conference as “a once-in-a-generation opportunity that we cannot afford to waste.”“All the issues that will be on the table in Rio – climate change, demographics, water, food, energy, global health, women’s empowerment – are intertwined. And all the pillars that underpin the Rio process – stabilizing the global economy, safeguarding the environment, and ensuring social equity – are parts of a single agenda.“We cannot make progress in one without progress in the others. At Rio the world should act on this fundamental understanding,” he stressed, adding that the current economic crisis should not be an excuse for inaction. 13 December 2011Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today that sustainable development cannot be achieved without addressing social inequalities and called for fresh ideas and international commitment to fairly sharing global resources. read more

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Key foreign currency quotations

Quotations for key foreign currencies in terms of the Canadian dollar. Quotations are nominal, for information purposes only.Canadian dollar value on Friday, the previous day, three-months and one-year: Currency Fri Thu 3 months Year U.S. dollar 1.2132 1.2148 1.3503 1.2928 British Pound 1.6014 1.5899 1.7463 1.7192 Japanese Yen 0.0113 0.0112 0.0123 0.0126 Euro in U.S. 1.2035 1.2006 1.1216 1.1258 Euro in Cdn 1.4601 1.4585 1.5145 1.4554Quotations provided by the Bank of Canada

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Bank of Montreal to open tech campus in old Sears HQ at

TORONTO — The Bank of Montreal is taking over a four-storey space in the Toronto Eaton Centre in a bid to attract the high-tech talent it needs to bring ideas to the market quicker.The bank’s plans, unveiled on Thursday, include an “urban campus” that will take over the former Sears Canada digs at the mall and house 3,500 employees when it opens in 2021.Chief executive Darryl White called it “central to the business transformation underway at BMO.”“We are changing the way we work all across the bank and through the strategic partnerships that we create…so that we can move faster and take new ideas to our customers quickly,” he said to a crowd of hundreds of his employees, who had gathered at the mall for the announcement.In recent years, the large Canadian banks have been competing for talent. Last year, Scotiabank opened its “digital factory” compete with a bowling alley and speakeasy to attract highly skilled workers.BMO declined to say what it was spending on its space, but called it a “meaningful investment.”It said the campus will offer “advanced digital technology, open floorplans, a variety of collaborative work areas and easy underground PATH access to other major BMO locations, public transit, and hundreds of restaurants and entertainment options.”John Sullivan, president and CEO of Eaton Centre-owner Cadillac Fairview, said the mall and bank had been discussing the campus for at least a year.He said Cadillac Fairview has invested more than $1.4 billion in the mall over the last six years with a goal of making it “the ultimate destination for retail, for office and for innovation.”“I look at this new lease and this new project that we are doing together with BMO and I think it is a culmination of all those efforts,” Sullivan said. read more

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UNP to push for elections in 2014

The UNP leader recalled that his party was ready to work with the government before the vote in Geneva and sign an agreement on national issues. “The UNP must get ready for an election in 2014. The government has tarnished the good image of the country and on the other side they have hit the people in their stomach. This regime is not leaving on its own,” he said. However he says the government disregarded the invitation from the UNP and in the process failed to put the country first.He says the government, instead, focused on the Mattala airport and not on more key issues including the implementation of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommendations. UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe says his party will push for an election in 2014 to remove the government from power.He says the government has failed to protect the country and so the time has now come to remove the government. Wickremesinghe also noted that while on one had the government was criticizing the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, on the other side they were inviting her to visit Sri Lanka.He says there is no point on criticizing the UN Human Rights Council when the government had failed to do its part.  (Colombo Gazette)CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO read more

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Six arrested over Pepiliyana attack Updated

Six suspects have been arrested over the attack on the Fashion Bug warehouse at Pepiliyana, the government information department said today quoting the police.Well over 500 people were involved in the attack, initially on a car sales center and then on the Fashion Bug warehouse next door at Pepiliyana, on Thursday night. The Bodu Bala Sena has denied responsibility over the attack on Fashion Bug. Addressing the media yesterday the monks said that they condemn the incident and want the police to arrest those responsible. (Colombo Gazette) The government had yesterday warned of attempts to create instability in Sri Lanka by stirring religious hatred among communities. Army, police Special Task Force members and riot police were deployed to the area to bring the situation under control. A statement by the government information department urged the public to exercise caution and avoid falling prey to rumors. The statement also said that both local and foreign elements were attempting to disturb the peace in Sri Lanka.The government said attempts are also being made to harm Sri Lanka’s good image overseas. The statement was made in light of the attack on the ‘Fashion Bug’ warehouse at Pepiliyana. read more

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Over 70 arrested during demo in India over Lankan refugees

The volunteers demanded grant of general pardon and release of all prisoners who have been imprisoned for more than 23 years, ‘who have been denied justice’, release of all political prisoners who are in jail for more than 10 years, and the closure of all special camps for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees and permission for them to join their families. The police erected a barricade at the junction of Azad Road and Central Jail Road and prevented the volunteers from proceeding towards the jail. (Colombo Gazette) Over 70 protesters were arrested in Vellore, Tamil Nadu yesterday during a demonstration staged over several demands. including the closure of all special camps for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.The Hindu newspaper reported that seventy-three persons comprising 65 volunteers of the Naam Thamizhar Katchi and eight of the Socialist Democratic Party of India (SDPI) were arrested as they attempted to lay siege to the Central Prison for men as part of a state-wide agitation. read more

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MR has several reasons to oppose budget

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa today noted that there were several reasons as to why he was against the 2016 budget, the main reason being privatisation.Rajapaksa also said that the budget for 2016 is historic as several changes have been made from the day it was presented to Parliament. He said that as of now no one is sure what is in the budget and what has been omitted.

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Japan India send water purification tablets inflatable boats

Separately two Indian Navy ships, INS Sutlej and INS Sunanya, have brought to Sri Lanka inflatable boats, outboard motors, generator sets, tarpaulins, diving equipment, medical supplies, consumables, rations, drinking water and water purification tablets.The Government had this week sought urgent foreign assistance as the death toll from the floods and landslides rose and the number of displaced also increased. Japan and India have sent water purification tablets and inflatable boats as part of the urgent relief supplies to assist the families affected by the severe weather in Sri Lanka.The Foreign Ministry said that Japan has sent emergency relief items through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), including blankets, plastic sheets, sleeping pads, polyethylene water tanks, water tanks, water purifiers, generators, electrical cables and electric plugs. Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera briefed the diplomatic community on the disaster situation and on the urgent requirements.Several countries, including China, India, Pakistan and the US have offered assistance to Sri Lanka. (Colombo Gazette) A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that a technical team has also been sent from Japan to conduct rapid assessments. Meanwhile an Indian Air Force C-17 aircraft transported tents, tarpaulin sheets, water filters, life straws, electric generators, emergency lamps, torches, rain coats, umbrellas, folding mattresses, inflatable boats with outboard motors and medication against epidemics for 10,000 people. read more

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New political party cannot be registered now says polls chief

Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya says new political parties cannot be registered at this moment since elections have been declared in the Pudukuduirippu and Maritimepattu Pradaeshiya Sabha divisions.Deshapriya said that a group of former and current Parliamentarians met him today and discussed the barricades in place to register a new political party. Deshapriya said that the major barricade is that since elections have been declared in the Pudukuduirippu and Maritimepattu Pradaeshiya Sabha divisions a new political party cannot be registered. Deshapriya said that a new political party can register only when the Department of Elections calls for applications.However he said applications cannot be called for now since elections have been declared in Pudukuduirippu and Maritimepattu. Among those who attended the discussion are former Ministers Basil Rajapaksa and G.L Peiris and Parliamentarian Udaya Gammanpila. Asked if the joint opposition is recognised by the Department of Elections, Deshapriya said that the joint opposition is not listed with the Department of Elections. (Colombo Gazette) read more

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Sri Lankan among freak thunderstorm asthma victims

‘We know that in an emergency every second counts,’ Hennessy said in a statement on Sunday.‘That’s why we’re giving our paramedics the new resources they need, where they are needed most.’A woman in her 40s died at the Northern Hospital on Friday evening, the Herald Sun reports.The unprecedented natural disaster overwhelmed the state’s emergency services and lead to more than 500 people being hospitalised, and more than 8500 treated for complications.There is still one person in intensive care following the freak thunderstorm – and four of those are in a critical condition.The most recent victim of the devastating weather event died in hospital, previous victims died directly after the storm – as their families desperately attempted to revive them while waiting for ambulance crews to arrive. (Colombo Gazette) ‘This was a tragic and unforeseen event and hospitals are continuing to treat seven people for a variety of respiratory and other related conditions,’ the department said in Tuesday’s statement.‘Ambulance paramedics, emergency services staff and dedicated doctors, nurses and pharmacy staff saved the lives hundreds of Victorians who received treatment as a result of their symptoms.’This comes after the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Health Minister Jill Hennessy announced a $500 million funding boost for the state’s ambulance services, in a report by AAP. ‘All up, we waited an hour and 10 minutes, and my dad was conscious for about 45 minutes trying to breathe,’ he said.‘They [000 dispatchers] kept saying on the phone, “They are on their way”. But he never recovered from that time.’ Across last Monday and Tuesday, hospitals treated more than 8,500 people. A Sri Lankan is among victims of a freak thunderstorm asthma in Australia, the Daily Mail reported.Ranjith Peiris, 58, died in the Northern Hospital’s intensive care unit on Tuesday morning after he lost consciousness while waiting for an ambulance. But it took an ambulance 70 minutes to arrive and take him to hospital. Authorities are now investigating whether public alerts should have gone out about the unfolding crisis as one person remains in a critical condition in intensive care.A devastated Roshan said his father was liked by everyone.‘Everyone remembers dad’s smile. Dad was ­always smiling, he would always have a joke and a drink with his friends,’ the son said.The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services said the thunderstorm was ‘a tragic and unforeseen event and hospitals [were] continuing to treat 12 people for a variety of respiratory and other related conditions, in addition to those in ICU care’. His son, Roshan, said the grandfather, from Roxburgh Park, was initially conscious for about 45 minutes during his asthma attack. read more

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Section of Sri Lankan Muslims condemn criticism of ancient rituals

The United Nations views all forms of FGM as a violation of the rights of women and girls.The practice among the Dawoodi Bohras hit the headlines in 2015 when a court in Australia found two members of the Indian Dawoodi Bohras diaspora community guilty of cutting two girls. A Bohra religious leader was convicted of being an accessory.Since then, more than a dozen Bohra communities in Europe and the United States have passed resolutions against the practice.Although it is not mentioned in the Koran, the Bohras consider Khatna a religious obligation. Debate on the subject has long been taboo, campaigners say. Members of Sri Lanka’s Muslim communities have strongly condemned criticism of ancient cutting rituals performed on girls, saying it should not be classed as female genital mutilation, Thomson Reuters Foundation reported.According to the World Health Organization (WHO), FGM includes all procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. “It is completely false to associate FGM in Africa, where the clitoris is seriously damaged or removed, with khatna in Sri Lanka,” said Jamila Husain, spokesperson for a body representing the 3,000-strong Dawoodi Bohra community in Sri Lanka.“Khatna involves making just the mildest of nicks on foreskin of the clitoris as required by our religion. There is no clinical evidence to show that it has negative health impacts or causes any kind of psychological trauma.” The practice has no health benefits for girls and women, says the WHO, adding it can cause long-term physical and psychological harm. A U.N. report on FGM last year listed 30 countries where cutting is practised, almost all in Africa. However, campaigners believe FGM happens in at least 45 countries and is more widespread in Asia than commonly thought.Members of Sri Lanka’s Moor and Malay Muslim community – which number nearly two million and 60,000 respectively – say it is misleading and damaging to their communities to brand “a nick on the hood or prepuce of the clitoris” as FGM.“We do not mutilate or cut our girls. Our religion requires it and it actually helps to keep the area clean and hygienic and prevents infections,” said Asiff Hussein, vice president at the Centre for Islamic Studies in Sri Lanka. But representatives of Sri Lankan Muslim communities – such as the Dawoodi Bohras, Moor and Malay Muslims – who practice female circumcision or “khatna” – say the procedure their girls undergo cannot be compared to what happens in regions such as Africa, where the practice can involve sewing up the vagina. But two Bohra women interviewed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation said when they underwent the ritual as children it involved damage to the clitoris, and vowed that their daughters would not undergo the khatna.And in India, a group of women from the Dawoodi Bohra community have called for the government to ban the practice.The WHO classifies FGM into four types – full or partial removal of the clitoris, the removal of the inner folds of the vulva plus the removal of the clitoris, narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a seal and pricking, piercing, incising, scraping or cauterising the genital area. “In fact, this procedure actually helps women gain more pleasure during sexual intercourse.” read more

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ADB provides USD 50 million for health system enhancement project

Dr. R H S Samarathunga, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka and Ms. Sri Widowati, Country Director of ADB Sri Lanka Resident Mission on behalf of the ADB, today signed the Loan Agreement and the Grant Agreement to obtain USD 37.5 million and USD 12.5 million respectively at the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media. (Colombo Gazette) The objective of the proposed project will be achieved through the following key outputs; (i) primary health care enhanced in the fourprovinces through rehabilitation of PHC facilities in district hospitals (DH) and primary medical care units (PMCUs), procurement of vehicles for the medical officers for supervision and outreach services and Increased public awareness and behavior change to use primary health care, (ii) health and disease surveillance strengthened through adopting health information technology for continuity of care and Implementing of IHR recommendation, (iii) policy development, capacity building and project management supported. The Government has mobilized Grant and Concessional Loan assistance amounting to USD 50 million from the ADB to improve the efficiency, equity and responsiveness of the primary healthcare system in Sri Lanka in line with the National Strategic Framework for Development of Health Services (2016 – 2025).The proposed health system enhancement project will be implemented in four provinces namely Uva, Sabaragamuwa, Central and North Central with geographically, socially and economically deprived populations. The proposed ADB financing is comprised of a grant of USD 12.5 million and a concessional loan of USD 37.5 million. The total investment cost of the Project is USD 60 millionand the Government’s contribution to the project is USD 10 million. read more

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Taiwan assures Sri Lankan students after isolated incident

The issue came to light Tuesday, when local media reported that the student’s illegal employment was arranged by an agent, adding that a group of students had arrived in Taiwan from Sri Lanka on tourist visas.The Ministry of Education (MOE) later responded that the incident was an isolated case, adding that disciplinary action to be taken against the university could include the suspension of UKN’s right to recruit foreign students, a reduction in its student enrollment quota, or a cut in government subsidies for the next school year. Chen Chun-shen (陳俊賢), director general of the Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA), said the student visas were issued to a group of 69 students by its representative office in Singapore in October 2017. Taiwan has assured that an isolated case involving a Sri Lankan student will not affect future students from Sri Lanka seeking to study in Taiwan.The Taiwan Government clarified Thursday that a group of Sri Lankan students who arrived in Taiwan last year did so on student visas and not tourist visas as reported by local media, CNA reported. On Thursday, Chen said that the Sri Lankan students arrived in Taiwan between October and November last year, and in April applied for student resident permits.The director-general said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) was aware of the situation involving the student working illegally and observed that relevant authorities are still investigating the matter.The case will not affect future students from Sri Lanka seeking to study in Taiwan, Chen said. (Colombo Gazette) Chen’s response came in the wake of a recent incident in which a Sri Lankan student was found working illegally at a poultry processing plant while enrolled at the University of Kang Ning (UKN) in Tainan. read more

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Dangerous Facebook Game

A dangerous new Facebook game that’s become popular in the UK has police here sounding the alarm.It’s called the game of 72 but to parents, police and psychologists, it’s anything but a game.Game of 72 is a new game where teen’s are dared on Facebook or other social media to disappear for 72 hours.The challenge is to completely vanish for three days without telling anyone where you are and watch the fallout.

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97 vehicles in 400 pileup

(Updated)Sudden snow squalls were blasting much of Southern Ontario Thursday. It happened in Hamilton just before 10am — a blast of wind and a wall of snow — could be seen and heard in homes and businesses across the city. And if you were on the road, you were in it. One moment of a blinding wall of snow resulted in several crashes — one involving almost 100 vehicles on highway 400.A massive crash occured on the highway in Innisfil just south of Barrie. Environment Canada had issued a special weather statement warning that blowing snow would be a hazard to drivers during the morning commute — and weather is believed to have played a role in this crash. There are reports that as many as 96 vehicles were involved in the pile-up. Amazingly, there were no major injuries.This crash forced police to shutdown the 400 in both directions. And this is a very busy stretch of highway – with more than 80 thousand vechicles using the 400 each day.There is a part reopening of the highway so far. It was closed from hwy 9 north to Mapleview from here in Barrie. It has been opened northbound from highway 9 to highway 89. All southbound lanes are still closed.We understand that the OPP are still removing debris from that area and checking to see it the highway is safe. There has been extensive guardrail damage as can be imagined with almost 100 cars involved. They are trying to get some equipment involved to try and repair those guardrails.It may be a couple of hours yet before it’s opened southboundOnly 3 people were taken to hospital. But there was hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage. We asked people involved what it was like when it happened?“The eeriest feeling was when we had the impact and we stopped, hearing the cars that were banging behind. We could hear the cars in the back. That was the worst feeling.”“Running into the white out, you don’t know whether to keep your speed and maybe run into somebody or drop your speed and maybe get hit by somebody else. So when it cleared I saw a car and I hit and that’s where I stopped.”“He was driving and it was just a whiteout and everyone stopped and he stopped he didn’t hit the car in front of him but the car behind him hit him and three other cars hit him and so yeah, just chain reaction.”Sgt Dave Woodford is with the OPP. “I think a lot of people when they saw the snow squall come in they did slow down and put their four way flashers on because were seeing by the severity of the injuries. It was bad. You couldn’t see two feet in front of you.”There are still strong winds and whiteouts in Barrie this evening.People were pleased at how fast the OPP were on the scene and how fast the buses were there to take the people involved to warmth at Georgian Downs race track. They had tables set up with OPP officers to take crash information or to provide hot food or beveridgesThey’ve practised this scenario several times but it’s the first time they’ve put it into practise on such a large scale and they are pleased at how it worked out today. read more

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Careless disposal of smoking material causes fire at residential home

Careless disposal of smoking material is to blame for a fire in the Hamilton’s east end on July 21st.Emergency crews were called to a two and a half story home on Gage Avenue South just before 4:30 in the morning.Police placed tape marks in the area where the fire started on the upper level back deck. Broken windows and charred fencing show the damage.Hamilton Fire says the bulk of the blaze was contained to the deck. All residents were outside when crews arrived.There were no injuries reported and damage is estimated at $50,000.

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