My Name is Hiba and I am No More

By Halima OuamouchRabat – This painful tragedy was covered by most of the Moroccan news outlets and attracted the attention of a large and angry public especially on social media. It is noteworthy that Hiba was screaming and gripping the iron bars of her window while she was consumed by a merciless fire in front of a large crowd of helpless neighbors and passersby.    Hiba gained the sympathy and love of all Moroccans because nobody was able to save her.  Her mother was overpowered by the uncontrollable fires which stood between her and her own daughter.  On the street, the neighbors could only use their smart phones to capture the agony of Hiba and share it on social media.  Furthermore, the firefighters failed to be there on time. It is the firefighters who will be largely and unanimously criticized for their lack of engagement and sense of duty.  Read Also: Interior Ministry Report Says Firefighters Not to Blame for Death of Girl in House FireSince August 6, when this calamity exploded, Hiba has become a symbol of the weak citizen whose rights are usurped because of neglect and indifference.  Many social media users have condemned the carelessness of the firefighters as well as the callousness of the neighbors who lost their humanity when they raised heartlessly their smartphones in front of her.In the light of this sorrowful event, I have written the poem “My Name is Hiba and I am No More” which is an attempt to tell Hiba’s doleful story via the voice of Hiba herself.  My Name is Hiba and I am No MoreI am playing in my room, Never expecting my doom.While my toys are on the floor,A giant fire is consuming my door.As my walls are turning red,I swiftly jump on my bed.The flames are getting higherAnd the room, hotter and hotter.I miraculously leap to the Window;I can finally breathe, it’s my willow.My mom is screaming behind the fire,Desperately trying to get me out of this mire.Tremulously, I grip the Window’s iron barsOver the flashes of countless passersby.Sorry dad, I see you in the crowd,Your face with tears has glowed,But all wrapped in a shroud.To you, I’ll always be bowed.I wish I were a tiny bird to fly,Into the open skyWhich I can only seeBut will never reach even for a wee.And my mom is grieving over meWhile passive robots are filming me.My back, my hair are smoldering,The fire is mounting,But my hands to life are still holding.I am paralyzed and carbonizedWhile some of the crowds under my feet are galvanized.Skinny slow firefighters are showering me,But my mom is still grieving over me.I am no more,But I am sure,I’ll be passed on, just like a lore. read more

Vegas city officials approve marijuana consumption lounges

LAS VEGAS — Legal marijuana smokers will soon be able to find lounges where they can light up in Las Vegas — but not in casinos, or in places serving alcohol, or on the resort-lined Las Vegas Strip.The City Council on Wednesday approved allowing what proponents dubbed “social use venues” where people can consume marijuana in the urban core of Nevada’s sprawling casino playground.The move addresses a conundrum faced by adult tourists who have been able since July 2017 to buy marijuana for recreational use, but not consume it in public, in casinos or in hotel rooms.City spokesman Jace Radke says it will probably take several months for the 20 or so dispensaries licensed in the city to get permits to open consumption lounges.Ken Ritter, The Associated Press read more

UN agency urges measures to prevent forest fires

“Countries need to enhance collaboration, share their knowledge and increasingly target people, who are the main cause of fires, through awareness-raising and education,” said Peter Holmgren, FAO’s Chief of the Forest Resources Development Service, in a news release. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) presented a global strategy to enhance international cooperation in fire management to a meeting earlier this month in Spain of some 1,500 fire experts and planners from more than 80 countries. The strategy includes a global assessment of fire management detailing incidence and impacts in all regions, a review of international cooperation, and the voluntary guidelines in fire management. In the year 2000 alone, an estimated 350 million hectares of forests and woodlands were destroyed by fire, with sub-Saharan Africa and Australasia accounting for 80 per cent of the total area burned, according to FAO. The agency acknowledged that fire is an important and widely used tool in agriculture and in maintaining ecosystems, but warned that wildfires, which are frequently the result of negligence or arson, destroy millions of hectares of forests and woodlands, resulting in loss of human and animal life and immense economic damage. 31 May 2007A United Nations agency today urged countries to invest more in fire preparedness and prevention. read more

UNESCO chief again deplores killing of Iraqi journalist

Continuing his effort to cast a spotlight on the unprecedented number of Iraqi journalists who have been killed since 2003, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today deplored the deaths last week of Reuters photographer Namir Nour-Eldine and his driver Said Chmagh.“These brave professionals have added their names to the all too long list of journalists and media workers killed in the exercise of their profession in Iraq,” said Koïchiro Matsuura of the deaths that occurred in the east of Baghdad on 12 July. “No other conflict has levied such a heavy toll on the press as the one in Iraq,” said the UNESCO chief, calling for “all authorities concerned (to) take measures to reinforce the safety of media professionals so as to halt this bloodletting and protect the basic human right of freedom of expression.”The two Reuters employees were killed in fighting between United States forces and insurgents. The circumstances of their deaths remain unclear. Iraqi police reported an explosion in the sector but did not say whether it was caused by a US air-strike or by a mortar attack, UNESCO said.The 22-year old Mr. Nour-Eldine worked as a photographer. Forty-year old Said Chmagh, the driver, was the father of four. Since March 2003, the Reuters news agency lost six employees in Iraq . According to Reporters without Borders, a total of 191 journalists and their collaborators have been killed in Iraq since the start of the conflict in 2003. 16 July 2007Continuing his effort to cast a spotlight on the unprecedented number of Iraqi journalists who have been killed since 2003, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today deplored the deaths last week of Reuters photographer Namir Nour-Eldine and his driver Said Chmagh. read more

Refugees from DR Congos Equateur province stream home – UN agency

Thanks to increased boat trips across the Oubangui river, more than 16,000 refugees have returned to their home districts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Equateur province in the country’s northwest so far this year, the United Nations refugee agency has reported.This figure represents almost many as returned in the three previous years combined, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which is preparing to phase out its assisted voluntary repatriation to Equateur by the middle of next year. UNHCR officials said the increase was possible because the agency had stepped up river return trips and was now taking people to two destinations simultaneously – Buburu and Imese.This year’s total return figure is expected to reach around 18,000, compared to just under 2,000 in 2004 when the programme started. Almost all of the returnees are coming from the Republic of Congo. “Even by African standards the return area is extremely remote,” said UNHCR Regional Representative Eusebe Hounsokou, while watching returnees board boats at the Republic of Congo town of Impfondo on the northern bank of the Oubangui river, which forms a natural boundary between the two Congos. From 1997-2002, Equateur province was torn by fighting between government troops and the rebel Congolese Liberation Movement which caused more than 60,000 Congolese to flee across the river. Peace has returned to the area and the military forces have been withdrawn from refugee return areas. The refugee agency has also used specially made wooden river boats called “balenaires” during repatriation. These long, thin vessels carry only 50 people each but are easier to navigate along the Oubangui and have helped boost return figures. “Repatriation numbers to Equateur province have peaked because we were able to run four repatriation boat convoys per week to two destinations in parallel, with up to 1,000 returnees per week,” said Ben Diallo, UNHCR’s head of office in Impfondo. Those returning still face hardship in an area lacking infrastructure and basic services, warned UNHCR, which conducts medical screening, vaccinates children against measles, and helps to rehabilitate health centres and schools while supporting income-generation projects in return areas. Since 2004, more than 136,000 Congolese refugees have repatriated to the DRC, mainly to South Kivu (59,000), Equateur (36,000) and Katanga (35,000) provinces. The majority have come back with UNHCR assistance. Some 310,000 Congolese refugees remain in countries like Tanzania (101,000), Zambia (56,000), Rwanda (45,000) and the Republic of the Congo (31,000). Fighting in the vast DRC’s North Kivu region has recently driven tens of thousands of others into Uganda. 25 October 2007Thanks to increased boat trips across the Oubangui river, more than 16,000 refugees have returned to their home districts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Equateur province in the country’s northwest so far this year, the United Nations refugee agency has reported. read more

UN meeting ends with call for increased agricultural investment for rural poor

15 February 2008The annual meeting of the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has wrapped up with participants issuing a call for stepped-up investment to help poor rural farmers. At the two-day IFAD Governing Council meeting in Rome, delegates from the agency’s 164 Member States recognized the impact of climate change and soaring food prices on poverty-stricken smallholders in developing countries.Attendees suggested measures to ease the burden on the rural poor, including reducing transportation costs, establishing safety nets for those who purchase more food than they grow and increasing productivity through research and micro-credit programmes.“The major donor countries have not yet fully realized that the root cause of many social ills – youth unemployment, migration, urban slums and immigration, stem from the lack of investment in rural space,” IFAD President Lennart Båge told reporters.He appealed for more fund to support agriculture, since the vast majority of the world’s poorest reside in rural areas. Currently, only 3 per cent of all international aid is directed towards farming. read more

Ugandan agreement with rebels brings progress to long conflict says UN envoy

Joaquim Chissano, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the LRA-Affected Areas, informed senior officials at UN Headquarters of the breakthrough, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters today.The agreement signed this morning deals with mechanisms to implement the principles for accountability and reconciliation that both the Government and the LRA – which signed a ceasefire in 2006 to end two decades of fighting in northern Uganda – agreed to in June last year.The accord was reached after Mr. Chissano, a former president of Mozambique, arrived in the region on Friday to help with efforts to find a comprehensive agreement to end the conflict. After arriving in Uganda on Friday, he then continued on to Juba, southern Sudan, for further consultations.Juba is the site of peace talks between the two sides, which are taking place under the mediation of the Government of Southern Sudan. 19 February 2008The United Nations envoy for the peace process between the Ugandan Government and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) says a deal signed by the two sides early this morning represents real progress in the continuing negotiations towards ending the conflict. read more

UN helping to train human rights workers in Sierra Leone

21 May 2008The United Nations is helping to train nearly two dozen newly-recruited human rights workers in Sierra Leone. The UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) are taking part in preparing 23 new staff members of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone. The five-day induction, which began on 19 May, will provide a comprehensive understanding of the Commission’s mandate, as well as basic human rights concepts, standards and mechanisms at the national and international levels. The training will also deal with transitional justice, focusing on the findings and recommendations of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which, in 2004, made a number of recommendations regarding past abuses and violations and foster reconciliation in Sierra Leone, which is consolidating peace following a brutal, 11-year conflict. Following this introductory session, UNIOSIL will continue to assist the Human Rights Commission organize training courses on themes such as: complaint handling and investigation; mediation and counseling; monitoring and investigation; and advocacy. read more

Expulsion of UNICEF staff member in Sri Lanka brings dismay from UN

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement through his spokesperson today expressing his strong regret after the weekend expulsion of James Elder, the chief of communications for UNICEF in Sri Lanka.“The Secretary-General expresses his full confidence in the work of the United Nations in Sri Lanka, which includes making public statements when necessary in an effort to save lives and prevent grave humanitarian problems,” he said.“The United Nations is working impartially to assist the people of Sri Lanka, and the Government should be supporting and cooperating with its efforts.”The statement noted that Mr. Ban “will take up the issue with President [Mahinda] Rajapaksa at the earliest opportunity and will continue to urge him to implement all the commitments made in their joint statement after the Secretary-General’s visit to Sri Lanka in May.”UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman issued her own statement yesterday in which she said she was “extremely concerned and disappointed” by the expulsion.“UNICEF has always upheld the principle of impartial advocacy and communication on behalf of children as a fundamental part of its global mandate,” Ms. Veneman said.“Through Mr. Elder, UNICEF has consistently spoken out against the suffering of children on both sides of the intense hostilities earlier this year [between Government forces and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] and called for their protection. UNICEF unequivocally rejects any allegation of bias. UNICEF will continue to uphold its mandate in Sri Lanka, and elsewhere, to advocate and speak out on behalf of vulnerable children and women.” 8 September 2009The United Nations has voiced disappointment at Sri Lanka’s decision to expel a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) staff member from the island nation, saying the Government should be supporting the agency’s efforts to advocate on behalf of children. read more

Georgians displaced in South Ossetian conflict get Internet access thanks to UN

2 February 2010Thousands of Georgians displaced by the 2008 conflict with Russia over South Ossetia are getting access to computers for their education and livelihood purposes, thanks to an initiative by the United Nations refugee agency. “Knowledge is a key, and this programme is giving that key to IDPs [internally displaced persons] and refugees here,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative Peter Nicolaus said at the opening this past weekend of Georgia’s first Community Technology Access (CTA) centre in the new settlement of Karaleti in the Shida Kartli region, close to the breakaway region of South Ossetia.The region shelters about 30,000 people who fled their homes during the brief conflict in August 2008 and some 4,200 of the IDPs live in the nine settlements.UNHCR and its implementing partner, World Vision International, plan to open similar centres in the coming weeks in eight more settlements in Shida Kartli and two in north-eastern Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge, where some 800 Chechen refugees are rebuilding their lives with support from UNHCR and its partners.“Having access to the internet means I can stay up-to-date with new information and pass it on to my students,” said Sophio Melquoshvili, who now teaches in a primary school.Another IDP, Marika Gochashvili, used to be a nurse but cannot find nursing jobs in Karaleti. “So I am interested in learning as much as I can about ICT [information and communications technology] so that I can teach others,” she said.The CTA programme was announced last September at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative by UNHCR and its corporate partners, Microsoft and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Under the first phase, successful pilot projects were launched in refugee camps in Rwanda and Bangladesh. The centres in Georgia are being opened under the project’s second phase, which will see computer technology brought to IDPs in Georgia and up to eight other countries.The centres will provide classes for children and computer literacy courses and distance learning for youth and adults. Other services will include entrepreneurship training, business centres, employment services and career counselling. Where possible, CTAs will generate income to cover costs.Shida Kartli’s Deputy Governor Giorgi Avaliani applauded the opening of the centre and thanked UNHCR for helping the IDPs. “I am sure that new technologies, and access to those technologies, will change their everyday life,” he said, adding that the project “will have a very satisfying result.” read more

ICC chamber ordered to rule again on genocide charge against Sudanese leader

The pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today was ordered to reconsider adding the charge of genocide to the arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir issued last year.Mr. al-Bashir became the first sitting head of State to be indicted by the Court, which charged him with two counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity last March.But the chamber at that time rejected Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s application to charge the Sudanese leader with genocide, ruling that there was insufficient evidence. The ICC’s appeals chamber today found the standard of proof set by the pre-trial chamber to be too demanding at the arrest warrant stage, amounting to an “error of law,” according to a news release issued by the court, which is based in The Hague. The pre-trial chamber has been directed to decide anew whether or not Mr. al-Bashir should be charged with genocide.The United Nations estimates that an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million forced from their homes since fighting erupted in 2003 in Darfur, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen. In December, the ICC Prosecutor told the Security Council that indiscriminate bombings, rape and other crimes are continuing in Darfur, with the Government of Sudan still refusing to cooperate with his office and its indicted President and other suspects remaining at large.Soon after the arrest warrant for Mr. al-Bashir was issued, authorities expelled 13 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and revoked the permits of three local groups, dealing a blow to humanitarian efforts in the region.“The decisions to expel humanitarian workers and silence others by threats of expulsion, or the attempts at restricting the freedom of movement of UNAMID [joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur] are part and parcel of this policy to reduce the monitoring capacity of the international community,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said. 3 February 2010The pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today was ordered to reconsider adding the charge of genocide to the arrest warrant for Sudanese President President Omar al-Bashir issued last year. read more

Portuguesespeaking countries join forces with UN to fight HIV

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), signed an agreement yesterday in Lisbon with Domingos Simões Pereira, the Executive Secretary of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP).The memorandum of understanding aims to strengthen cooperation between the two bodies so that the human rights of people living with HIV are promoted and infection rates in Portuguese-speaking countries can be reduced.CPLP’s members are Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe, and Timor-Leste.“South-South cooperation among Portuguese-speaking nations can help achieve universal access to HIV prevention treatment, care and support and eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV,” said Mr. Sidibé. “We can learn from each other, especially when we share a common vision in changing the course of the AIDS epidemic.”Under the agreement, civil society groups and networks that assist people living with HIV will receive technical, political and financial support and channels will be established so that groups operating in different countries can share their experiences and knowledge. 18 March 2010The United Nations agency that tackles HIV/AIDS and eight Portuguese-speaking countries that are home to an estimated 223 million people have agreed to strengthen their cooperation against the deadly disease. read more

Lack of funding hampering aid efforts for Iraqs most vulnerable UN warns

So far, only $22.3 million – or 12 per cent – of the required $187.7 million sought for the 2010 humanitarian action plan for Iraq, which was launched six months ago, has been received, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).“We appeal to donors not to give up on their commitment to the Iraqi people and to help pave the way for Iraq’s future development,” urged Christine McNab, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country. The lack of funding has already resulted in the World Food Programme (WFP) suspending food distributions to 800,000 pregnant and nursing women and malnourished children, as well as to 960,000 schoolchildren.In addition, the livelihoods of 500,000 drought-affected people in the Suleymaniyah and Dahuk governorates are threatened, and some have started to become displaced.While there was a plan to support 22,500 vulnerable IDP families with emergency shelter, this will now have to be suspended as well, OCHA noted. “Thousands of households will therefore be left to continue living in desperate shelter conditions, unable to be protected from often severe climatic conditions and vulnerable to sickness through inadequate water and sanitation provision,” the Office stated in a news release.The funding shortage for Iraq is part of a nearly $5 billion shortfall faced by UN agencies and their partners this year in responding to humanitarian crises spanning the globe. The appeals to help 53 million people in 34 countries – amounting to a total of $9.5 billion – are so far only nearly half funded. The inflow of resources for 2010 is only lagging slightly behind that of recent years, despite earlier fears that the global recession would sap resources earmarked for disasters.Launching the mid-year review of the appeals last week, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes asked donors to persist in their efforts to ensure that “people struck by disaster or conflict receive the help they need for the rest of the year to stay alive, avoid recoverable harm, and restore dignity and basic self-sufficiency.” 19 July 2010The United Nations humanitarian arm warned today that a lack of funding is hampering efforts to assist vulnerable Iraqis, with food distributions to hundreds of thousands of pregnant women and schoolchildren already having been suspended. read more

Floods kill two and destroy scores of homes in southern Sudan –

27 July 2010Heavy rain in southern Sudan’s Jonglei state has caused floods that have killed two people and destroyed more than 130 homes during the past 10 days, a United Nations agency has reported, saying that those affected are in need of shelter material, food and drinking water. The most affected area is Akobo county, where three schools badly damaged by the floods are in urgent need of reconstruction and two others will require renovation, according to a situation report issued yesterday by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and its aid partners. “It is expected that these floods will continue until early September based on the frequency of the rains, which means there will be more displacement and ruining of the harvest,” according to the report. The humanitarian team in southern Sudan will continuously monitor the situation for signs of disease outbreaks because floods can create unhealthy living conditions. read more

Ban voices concern over plans for further settlements as he meets Israeli

“The Secretary-General emphasized that it was vital to break the current diplomatic stalemate, resume negotiations and produce results,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.Mr. Ban and Mr. Netanyahu also discussed the latest report on Security Council Resolution 1701, which was aimed at ending the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The discussions also touched on the current proposals on the issue of the village of Ghajar, the northern part of which is occupied by Israel.The Secretary-General expressed hope that Israel will take further measures to ease the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza.Mr. Ban and Mr. Netanyahu also reviewed the regional situation, including Iran, the spokesperson said. 8 November 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, today discussed the ongoing efforts to move the Middle East peace process forward, with Mr. Ban expressing concern over plans to build more Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. read more

Deputy UN chief arrives in Zambia for Great Lakes summit

13 December 2010Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro arrives in Lusaka, Zambia, today to attend a special summit to be held later this week on combating the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Great Lakes region. She will deliver remarks at the 15 December meeting, which will be attended by heads of State from the Great Lakes region, as well as hold bilateral meetings with the Zambian Government and other participating delegations. The summit is expected to adopt a number of measures to combat the illegal exploitation of natural resources, such as oil, diamonds, gold, silver and uranium, which has been linked to conflict in the region, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).While in Lusaka, Ms. Migiro will also meet with United Nations officials based in the city, as well as visit a project being carried out by the UN Country Team.Following her stop in Zambia, the Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Conakry, Guinea, to represent Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the inauguration ceremony of Alpha Condé, President-elect of Guinea.The inauguration ceremony is scheduled to take place on 21 December. read more

Afghan journalists killers must be brought to justice says UN official

Ahmad Omed Khpalwak, 25, was a freelance reporter for the Pashto service of the BBC and the Afghan news agency Pajhwok. He was among 19 people killed in a Taliban attack on 24 July in Tarin Khot, capital of the southern province of Uruzgan, which also left dozens of others injured. “The death of a journalist in the exercise of his functions is a loss for a country struggling for democracy and the rule of law,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in a news release. “I am deeply concerned about continuing violence and loss of innocent lives in Afghanistan and trust that the perpetrators of this heinous crime will be identified and brought to justice,” she added. One of the many tasks entrusted to the Paris-based UNESCO is to promote freedom of expression and freedom of the press, as well as to advise governments on how to foster an independent and pluralistic media. 2 August 2011The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has condemned the murder of an Afghan journalist and called for those responsible for his death to be brought to justice. read more

Ford ousts Chrysler as topselling automaker in Canada in June

TORONTO — Ford Canada said Wednesday it was the top selling automaker in Canada last month as it outsold Chrysler Canada by a wide margin in June, despite seeing a nearly 9% drop in sales compared with a year ago.The automaker said Wednesday it sold 30,543 vehicles last month, down from 33,450 a year ago.“Coming off a 23-year sales record last June, Ford of Canada still had a very positive month closing at number one,” Ford Canada president and CEO Dianne Craig said in statement.[np-related]Ford has sold 142,181 vehicles in Canada so far this year, up 1.3% from this time last year, with its F-series pick-up trucks making up almost a third of the month’s sales.Sales at Chrysler Canada crept up 0.5% in June compared with a year ago, helped by strong sales of the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan.The automaker sold 23,705 vehicles last month, up from 23,576 in June of last year.The company has sold 130,286 vehicles so far this year, up 7.1% for the same period last year, when it had sold 121,615.The Dodge Grand Caravan made up about a quarter of the overall sales, a new record for the minivan built in Windsor, Ont., Chrysler said.The Dodge Ram pick-up truck also made up roughly a quarter of the overall sales.Chrysler Canada said the June sales results marked the company’s 31st consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth and represents the longest sales streak in the company’s history.Toyota Canada sold 16,957 vehicles in June, 70.1% more than last June when it was affected by the fallout from the earthquake and tsunami that forced production cuts at the Japanese automakers.The company said it sold 6,978 trucks, marking its best June on record for truck sales.Meanwhile, Kia Canada said it sold 7,782 vehicles last month, 10% more than June of last year, in what the company called its best June ever for sales. Kia Canada has sold 39,298 vehicles this year so far. read more

Closing Bell Stock markets spike higher as Bank of Japan seeks to

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market ran ahead sharply Friday on relief that another major central bank is stepping up to help keep the global economic recovery on track.The S&P/TSX composite index jumped 154.63 points to 14,613.32 after the Bank of Japan unexpectedly expanded a key stimulus program.It will increase its purchases of government bonds and other assets in the world’s third-largest economy by between 10 trillion yen and 20 trillion yen (US$91 billion to $181 billion) to about 80 trillion yen (US$725 billion) in total annually.Bank of Japan’s surprise stimulus gives jolt to global markets: ‘Traders couldn’t be happier’Bank governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the increase was required to prevent a reversal into a “deflationary mindset” that the country’s leaders contend has held back growth for many years. The bank judged the move necessary in the wake of weakening consumer demand following a consumption tax hike and the recent substantial decline in oil prices, which have been exerting downward pressure on inflation.“At the very least it says central bankers are going to do everything they can to try to get growth going,” said Philip Petursson, director of institutional equities at Manulife Asset Management.“And that’s what it seems like in Japan — this is everything and the kitchen sink.”The Canadian dollar fell 0.6 of a cent to 88.72 cents US as Statistics Canada reported that gross domestic product dipped 0.1% in August against the flat showing that economists had expected.In New York, the Dow Jones industrials shot up 194.9 points to 17,390.32, and the S&P 500 index gained 23.4 points to 2,018.05 — both indexes ending the session at new highs — while the Nasdaq climbed 64.6 points to 4,630.74. The move by the Japanese central bank comes at a point when the U.S. Federal Reserve is winding up its marquee stimulus program. It announced Wednesday that quantitative easing would end at the end of October.Meanwhile, the TSX found support from the financial, tech and industrials sectors.The energy sector was also positive, up 2.1% even as December crude fell 58 cents to US$80.54 a barrel.Imperial Oil reported a 45% jump in quarterly profit to $936 million or $1.10 a share, up from $647 million, or 76 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 12.4% to $9.66 billion and its shares gained $2.42 to $54.23.The base metals sector also gained 2.1% as December copper dipped two cents to US$3.05 a pound.Gold prices have been a major casualty of the Fed move to end QE. That is because the program of massive bond purchases had elevated inflation concerns. Traders had bought into gold as an inflation hedge but the program is now wrapping up and inflation is tame in most parts of the world.“When you are absent inflation in any meaningful way, it’s a real challenge to hold onto what has long been known as the best inflation hedge,” added Petursson. “So the outlook for gold and gold companies continues to be negative.”Also working against gold and other commodity prices has been a higher U.S. dollar. A stronger greenback makes it more expensive for holders of other currencies to buy oil and metals, which are dollar-denominated.The Toronto gold sector is down about 15% this week alone, with December bullion falling  $27 on Friday to US$1,171.60 an ounce.The TSX ended last week ahead 69 points or 0.5% as stocks continue to claw back some of the losses racked up during a sell-off that peaked mid-October.The Dow industrials fared much better, gaining 585 points or 3.5%. read more

Barrick Gold Corp shares are sinking this morning after warning of 3billion

TORONTO — Barrick Gold Corp. shares were lower in pre-market trading, following its advance notice of a US$3-billion asset writedown.Barrick (TSX:ABX) says it will be writing down the value of its stalled Pascua-Lama mining project on the border of Chile and Argentina and its Pueblo Viejo gold operation in Dominican Republic by a total of between US$1 billion and and US$1.2 billion.It will also reduce the value of goodwill — an intangible asset related to some of its past acquisitions — by about US$1.8 billion.The Toronto-based company — one of the world’s largest gold producers — says it will provide an update on the writedowns on Feb. 17 when it reports detailed financial and operating results for the year ended Dec. 31.‘You can’t get weak in the knees’: Canadian miners continue to expand abroad despite brutal bear marketMetal price meltdown opens door for private equity to walk inAnglo American’s massive restructuring involving 85,000 layoffs shows miners bracing for prolonged downturnThe write downs are non-cash items that reflect the reduced long-term value of the assets.Its shares closed in Toronto on Thursday at $11.90 and in New York at US$8.32 before the announcement. The U.S.-listed shares were down three per cent from that level in extended trading before markets reopened Friday morning.Barrick also announced Thursday that it produced about 6.12 million ounces of gold and 511 million pounds of copper last year, both within Barrick’s expectations.It got about US$1.105 per ounce on average for the gold sold in the fourth quarter and US$1,157 per ounce for the year. For the coming year, however, Barrick assumes its realized price for gold will drop to US$1,000 per ounce in 2016. read more