WINNIPEG – The president and CEO of Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. (MTS) is leaving the company that is being taken over by BCE Inc. (NSX, NYSE: BCE).A statement issued Friday says Jay Forbes will leave once the Bell acquisition closes, expected on March 17.Forbes joined MTS in 2015.“With the arrival of the new Bell MTS combination, the time will be right for me to move on and pursue new opportunities,” said Forbes in the statement.BCE cleared its final regulatory hurdle to acquire MTS last month for $3.9 billion.The deal will also see the new company, to be called Bell MTS, establish a western headquarters in Winnipeg — the city where MTS’s head office now is. Staffing levels are still to be determined.The deal leaves Saskatchewan’s provincially owned telecommunications company, SaskTel, as the last regional carrier in Western Canada. by The Canadian Press Posted Mar 3, 2017 4:50 pm MDT Last Updated Mar 3, 2017 at 5:40 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Manitoba Telecom’s CEO to leave the company as it changes owners read more

High stakes for Trump on GOP health care bill WASHINGTON – As a new president who has vowed to keep his campaign promises, Donald Trump knows he’ll be judged on whether he can repeal the so-called Obamacare law and replace it with something new.Dealing with skepticism from conservatives and moderates alike, the White House is considering changes to the bill that might reassure conservatives, all in an effort to muscle through the GOP-backed health care plan in the House next week. Trump, who is not steeped in policy, has signalled that he’s open to negotiation in his first attempt working with Congress.“The House has put forward a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, based on the principles I outlined in my joint address, but let me tell you we’re going to arbitrate, we’re going to all get together, we’re going to get something done,” Trump said at a rally in Nashville on Wednesday night as supporters waved signs that read “Promises Made, Promises Kept.”On Thursday morning, the House Budget Committee voted to advance the health care bill, overcoming three conservative GOP lawmakers who voted against the measure. The vote was a sign of the challenge that GOP leaders face in getting it through the House.Trump is focused on delivering his “repeal and replace” promise and is likely to be flexible on the fine print dividing moderate and conservative Republicans in the policy fight, said a person familiar with the president’s thinking, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share private discussions.Speaking to reporters on Air Force One Wednesday night after the rally, Trump said he expected to get a health care bill through, adding: “It’s going to get all mixed up and we’re going to come up with something. We always do.”The approach reflects a keen awareness within the White House of how much is riding on the effort. Trump made repealing and replacing his predecessor’s health care law a core campaign promise, although he has acknowledged he was surprised at how complex the task would be. Failing to pass a bill while his party controls both the House and Senate would be a devastating blow to his party and the premise of his presidency — that he was a dealmaker the country needed.Still, Trump keeps stressing the legislation is far from finished, telling Fox News Wednesday that “We will take care of our people or I’m not signing it, OK, just so you understand. This is very preliminary.”That approach also has made some allies nervous that the transactional president may be more committed to striking a deal than passing the legislation as crafted by House Republican Speaker Paul Ryan. A bruising, independent analysis of the bill has underscored the political risks involved for some moderate Republicans. It’s a risk they’re unlikely to take without a commitment from the president.House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that Trump is deeply involved in efforts to scrap the Obama health law, and helping GOP leaders persuade reluctant lawmakers.Republican leaders’ task of striking a balance on a bill that will appeal to both conservative and moderate Republicans is proving difficult. Republicans hold a 44-seat margin in the House with five vacancies, meaning that if every Democrat opposes the measure, as expected, the GOP could lose 21 votes and still pass the bill.The findings by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that 14 million people would lose health care coverage in the first year alone and 24 million in all by 2026 applied pressure to moderate Republicans wary of being accused in the 2018 mid-term elections of ripping away health insurance.After the CBO released its findings, House Republicans such as Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Leonard Lance of New Jersey said they couldn’t back the current House plan because it would leave too many people uninsured and they were worried it would not pass the Senate.But if Republicans try to make improvements to help moderate members, that could alienate conservatives. The White House has been courting about 40 conservative House members who are part of the “Freedom Caucus” and have raised objections to the bill’s use of tax credits — which they liken to another government entitlement — and the timing on curtailing the expansion of Medicaid to states.GOP Rep Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who chairs the conservative Freedom Caucus that is demanding changes to the bill, said that contrary to claims by GOP leaders that Trump helped craft their bill and fully supports it, the president is open to alterations.“I think he is looking for amendments to be made to make it better,” Meadows said, adding that he’s been working directly with the administration, not with congressional leadership.Meadows and Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, co-authored an opinion piece published online Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, outlining steps to be taken to repeal the health law.Republicans, however, do not expect wholesale changes to the bill before it reaches the House floor next week.“I don’t think there’s enough room for him to cut and run from Ryan and do his own deal because the bill sits on a tight-rope,” said former Rep. Thomas Reynolds of New York, a Republican lobbyist. “There’s not a lot of room. They may be able to make some adjustments, but it’s more adjusting about how they cobble together” enough votes to pass the bill.___AP Congressional Correspondent Erica Werner contributed to this report. by Ken Thomas And Catherine Lucey, The Associated Press Posted Mar 16, 2017 3:41 am MDT Last Updated Mar 16, 2017 at 10:20 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email President Donald Trump speaks at a rally Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) read more

“There are very concrete things that the parties can do to protect civilians, who as we all know are suffering in this situation,” said Georgette Gagnon, the Director of Human Rights for the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), which wrapped up its mandate last week. “Both parties – but the Government in particular – have an obligation to protect civilians in this type of situation.” In an interview with UN Radio, Ms. Gagnon stressed that the Government could prevent civilians from getting caught in the fighting by giving them enough warning to leave areas before military operations are carried out there. “The Government could also ensure that the hospitals and the medical clinics are not militarized and not subject to attacks, and that everybody who needs medical care can get access to it in addition to other types of humanitarian assistance,” Ms. Gagnon said. “On the opposition side, we would say that they must do more to protect civilians and ensure that they are not placing themselves in areas where there are lots of civilians, making the area more likely to be attacked by the Government.” More than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began nearly 18 months ago. There have been reports of an escalation in violence in recent weeks in many towns and villages, as well as the country’s two biggest cities, Damascus and Aleppo. Ms. Gagnon said that civilians were particularly concerned about access to food, water, electricity, schooling and other types of medical services, especially in areas where the fighting has intensified such as the cities of Homs and Deir ez-Zor. “It was very distressing to see cities such as Aleppo or suburbs around Damascus being the subject of helicopter bombardments and other types of aerial attacks,” Ms. Gagnon said. “Huge amounts of people are fleeing areas and living as internally displaced persons in school in very poor conditions.” Earlier this month, the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry probing abuses committed during the country’s ongoing conflict, and working under a mandate from the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, issued a report which found that the Syrian Government and opposition forces have perpetuated war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ms. Gagnon stressed that while both parties had committed human rights violations, it was important to make a distinction on the types of violations incurred by each party. “We must be clear that the violations were different in scale, gravity and frequency and affecting civilians in different ways,” she said, adding that the Government’s use of heavy weapons in urban areas is affecting civilians “very seriously,” while opposition forces are detaining people illegally in some cases, and executing people who are alleged members of the Government. As head of the UNSMIS human rights team, Ms. Gagnon met with Government officials, civil society members, community leaders and members of the armed opposition. Initially set up in April for 90 days, the Mission’s mandate was extended by the Security Council until 20 August. read more

The report, Global and regional estimates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence, represents the first systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women – both by partners and non-partners. Some 35 per cent of all women will experience either intimate partner or non-partner violence, according to the report, which was released today by the UN World Health Organization (WHO), in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council.It also finds that intimate partner violence is the most common type of violence against women, affecting 30 per cent of women worldwide, according to a WHO news release.“These findings send a powerful message that violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. “We also see that the world’s health systems can and must do more for women who experience violence.”The report details the impact of violence on the physical and mental health of women and girls, ranging from broken bones to pregnancy-related complications, mental problems and impaired social functioning.Among its key findings on partner violence was that globally, 38 per cent of all women who were murdered were killed by their intimate partners. Also, women who have experienced partner violence are almost twice as likely to experience depression or abuse alcohol. “This new data shows that violence against women is extremely common. We urgently need to invest in prevention to address the underlying causes of this global women’s health problem.” said Professor Charlotte Watts, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.Fear of stigma prevents many women from reporting non-partner sexual violence, the survey finds. Other barriers to data collection include the fact that fewer countries collect this data than information about intimate partner violence, and that many surveys of this type of violence employ less sophisticated measurement approaches than those used in monitoring intimate partner violence. “The review brings to light the lack of data on sexual violence by perpetrators other than partners, including in conflict-affected settings,” said Naeemah Abrahams from the South African Medical Research Council. “We need more countries to measure sexual violence and to use the best survey instruments available.”The study highlights the need for all sectors to work together to eliminate tolerance for violence against women and to better support women who experience it. New WHO guidelines, launched with the report, aim to help countries improve their health sector’s capacity to respond to the problem. “The report findings show that violence greatly increases women’s vulnerability to a range of short- and long-term health problems; it highlights the need for the health sector to take violence against women more seriously,” said Claudia Garcia-Moreno of WHO. “In many cases this is because health workers simply do not know how to respond.”The guidelines stress the importance of training all levels of health workers to recognize when women may be at risk of partner violence and to know how to provide an appropriate response. They also point out that some health-care settings, such as antenatal services and HIV testing, may provide opportunities to support survivors of violence, provided certain minimum requirements are met.WHO will begin to work with countries in South-east Asia to implement the new recommendations at the end of June. read more

Globally, around one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted each year, amounting to 1.3 billion tonnes – enough food to feed 2 billion people – according to a joint news release by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).The three-year project by the agencies is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation and focuses on food losses in developing countries, which can occur during harvesting, processing, transportation and storage as a result of inadequate infrastructure or lack of skills and technology. It will focus in particular on reducing losses of grains and pulses such as maize, rice, beans and cow peas – staple foods that play a significant role in global food security and have a major impact on the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers. Grain losses in sub-Saharan Africa alone are worth potentially $4 billion a year and could meet the minimum annual food requirements of at least 48 million people, according to a 2011 report by the World Bank, FAO and the United Kingdom’s Natural Resources Institute.The project will, among other things, identify critical points for losses in pulse and grain supply chains in Burkina Faso, DRC and Uganda, and identify and test potential solutions to issues such as ineffective harvesting and handling, storage moisture levels, attacks by rats, birds and other pests, and insect damage. “When some 840 million people are going hungry every day, we have an ethical responsibility to ensure that food produced is in fact consumed and not lost or wasted,” said Jong Jin Kim, Director of FAO’s Programme Support Division, speaking on behalf of the three agencies.“Reducing food loss and waste will make significant amounts of additional food available, and at lower environmental costs, which is also critical in view of the need to produce 60 per cent more food by 2050 to meet the demands of a growing population.” In total, food losses and waste account for about 30 per cent of cereals, 40-50 per cent of root crops, fruit and vegetables, 20 per cent of oilseeds, meat and dairy, and 30 per cent of fish produced each year, according to FAO. read more

The world must come together to form a comprehensive plan to defeat the ideology of extremism that is the root cause of terrorism in order to win the battle of ideas and not just the battle of military might, said British Prime Minister David Cameron as he took to the General Assembly podium tonight. “Of course it is absolutely right that we should learn the lessons of the past, especially of what happened in Iraq a decade ago,” he said. “But we have to learn the right lessons. Yes to careful preparation; no to rushing to join a conflict without a clear plan.” Yet, Mr. Cameron continued, “We must not allow past mistakes to become an excuse for indifference or inaction,” he said, adding that the right lesson is that “we should act – but act different.” The poisonous ideology spewed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has nothing to do with Islam, which is peaceful religion that inspired countless acts of generosity every day. To defeat ideology of extremism, world leaders must deal with all forms of extremism, not just violent extremism, he said. “For Governments, there are some obvious ways we can do this. We must ban preachers of hate from coming to our countries. We must proscribe organisations that incite terrorism against people at home and abroad. And we must work together to take down illegal online material like the recent videos of ISIL murdering hostages,” said Mr. Cameron. He acknowledged that some will argue this is not compatible with free speech but people should ask themselves: “Would we sit back and allow right-wing extremists, Nazis or Klu Klux Klansmen to recruit on our university campuses?” Muslims around the world must reclaim their religion from “these sick terrorists.” Governments are responsible with showing young people the path to a better, more open and democratic future. The failure to meet people’s aspirations can create a breeding ground where extremist and even terrorist insurgency can take root. In Iraq, this means supporting the creative of a new and genuinely inclusive Government capable of uniting all Iraqis – Sunni and Shia, Kurds, Christians and others. In Syria, it must mean a political transition and an end to Assad’s brutality through a democratic government that looks after the interests of all its people. Recalling his meeting earlier today with Iranian President Rouhani, Mr. Cameron said that while there are some “severe disagreements,” Iran’s leaders could help in defeating the threat of ISIL. For its part, the United Kingdom is strengthening its ability to seize passports and strip British identity from dual nationals and enabling security services to apply strong constraints on those who pose a risk. read more

Addressing the 69th high-level debate in New York, Murray McCully highlighted fisheries management as one potential area for greater cooperation, particularly since the tuna harvested from the Pacific last year was worth other $3.3 billion.“Our objective is to see the owners of the Pacific tuna resource receive a significantly greater share of the value of that resource, and to ensure that it is sustainably managed for the future,” the Foreign Minister said. The UN recently held the third international conference on SIDS partnerships in Apia, Samoa, in which New Zealand participated. Among other issues highlighted in his address, the Foreign Minister noted the importance of action on climate change and shifting to renewable energies. New Zealand is campaigning for one of the five seats on the Security Council. Member States that will hold the non-permanent two-year seats will be elected by the UN General Assembly on 16 October. New Zealand has demonstrated in the past that it is a Council member that acts strongly, effectively and independent; champions the rights of small states and for the voices of all to be heard, Mr. McCully said. read more

In Madagascar, ‘despite the severe impact, aid workers on the ground estimate that the in-country response capacities, including prepositioned stocks, of the Government and its UN and NGO [non-governmental organization] partners could address the current needs,’ Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told journalists in Geneva today.Tropical storm Chedza has now killed some 14 people and displaced over 44,000 in Madagascar. A total of 101,000 people have been affected by the storm and attendat flooding. “There has been severe damage of infrastructure as nearly 4,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged,” said Mr. Laerke, adding that the storm also damaged eight health centres and 200 schools.Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is providing emergency food assistance to some 15,000 people affected as the storm passed over the southwest and southeast of Madagascar, as well as the country’s capital, Antananarivo, added Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for WFP, in the same briefing.Moreover, WFP has distributed two tons of nutritious energy biscuits to young children and vulnerable people who are accommodated in temporary housing in Antananarivo, as an addition to rations food received from local authorities to boost nutrition.According to Ms. Byrs, WFP will also assist 5,000 people staying in ‘very precarious’ temporary accommodations in a poor neighbourhood of Antananarivo, by providing 23 tonnes of rice, pulses and high energy biscuits. In addition, WFP has distributed 17 tons of rice, pulses and enriched oil in Manakara Vohipeno and the southeast of the country. Turning to Malawi, Mr. Laerke said that search and rescue operations continue with relief supplies being dispatched to affected areas, and such assistance includes food and non-food items and chlorine for water treatment in affected communities.WFP began to deliver maize, beans, oil and super-cereal – a fortified corn blend – from in-country stocks to those displaced in Chikwawa district of Malawi on Saturday. However, Ms. Byrs stressed that the stocks will need to be replaced once the crisis is over. Distributions continue in that district and emergencies rations are due to arrive in Malawi today from the WFP-managed Dubai Humanitarian Depot. The estimated number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) remains at 121,000, with at least 50 people killed and 153 missing. The number of IDPs may increase as need assessments are still ongoing, Mr. Laerke noted. In Mozambique, rescue activities are still ongoing, but mainly by air, as over 90,000 people have been affected by the floods in the central and southern parts of the country. According to Mr. Laerke, at least 2,500 people have been brought to safety by the national Civil Protection Unit. He also added that latest reports show that 34 accommodation centres are hosting more than 28,000 people, as over 10,000 houses and 383 classrooms have been destroyed. read more

“We call upon all humanitarian partners in the health sector to adopt and disseminate this important guide, to help reduce suffering and increase the ability of adults and children with mental health needs to cope in humanitarian emergency settings,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Antonio Guterres, High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the new guide’s forward.According to the guide, worldwide close to 80 million people are impacted by humanitarian emergencies arising from natural disasters and armed conflicts, such as those in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and more recently, Nepal. WHO said it estimates 5 to 10 per cent of these people suffer from a mental health condition such as depression as a result of the emergency but “rarely have access to specialized health workers trained in assessing and managing their conditions.”Dr. Mark Van Ommeren, WHO specialist on mental health in emergencies, told reporters in Geneva that the guide is important because the rates of mental discordance during emergencies had increased and also because when people are experiencing emergencies, they usually live far away from specialists.The new Mental Health Gap Humanitarian Intervention Guide is aimed at non-specialist health workers so that they can better identify, assess and manage mental health needs.Contents include modules on assessing and managing such conditions as acute stress, grief, moderate-severe depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, and harmful use of alcohol and drugs.In emergencies, most people, adults and children, experience grief and acute distress, but “emergencies also trigger conditions such as depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or prolonged grief disorder, that can severely undermine a person’s daily functioning,” according WHO.Mental health expert Dr. Pieter Ventevogel, of UNHCR noted that promoting and preserving mental health and psycho-social well-being was part of the agency’s mandate but often it was difficult to put it in practice for several reasons, including the refugee mental situations and the reduced number of mental health professionals available in the area.“The Guide is the tool which will enable general health workers to identify and manage the most important mental health issues in refugee settings,” Dr. Ventevogel said. “All the health agencies in emergencies [have been] called on to train their staff in the use of that tool and include mental health as part of the standard mental package.”WHO said the new guide will be used in Syria, where the four-year conflict has displaced more than 7.6 million people within the country and left an additional 4 million seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. read more

Although there is a great risk of trafficking, so far there has only been anecdotal evidence, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) spokesperson Sarah Crowe told a news briefing in Geneva, giving the latest update on the situation.For the first time since the start of the crisis, the majority of those crossing from Greece into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia at Gevgelija, nearly 60 per cent, have been children and women, she noted.Germany and Sweden have the most thorough data on the numbers of unaccompanied children who have requested asylum – 60,000 and 35,400 respectively. More and more children and women are at risk at sea and need support on land through enhanced protection, health and welfare systems, she said. Effective guardianship programs for children on the move are needed every step of the way and reports of children who are not fully accounted for in these systems are extremely worrying, she stressed. Effective guardianship programmes for children on the move are needed every step of the way.Unaccompanied children are mainly adolescents 15 to 17 years old, coming primarily from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, Ms. Crowe said. In some countries, they are temporarily delayed, get frustrated and tend to move on, as they do not want to be detained in centres. UNICEF has no concrete evidence regarding violence experienced by children and women, Ms. Crowe said. The reunification rate for children lost in transit has been 100 per cent so far and there are no children who are definitively lost. UNICEF is waiting for a green light from the Greek Government to operate fully in Greece, since it now is only present through its national committee, focusing on advocacy and awareness-raising. read more