Latest round of UN climate change talks kicks off in Germany

2 June 2008Talks on strengthening international action on global warming have begun in Bonn, Germany under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Talks on strengthening international action on global warming have begun in Bonn, Germany under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).The two-week round of negotiations will focus on furthering governments’ commitments to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, and will include discussion on how industrialized countries can meet their emissions reduction targets beyond the first commitment period of the Protocol, which ends in 2012.“There is a huge global consciousness that urgent international action needs to be taken this year and the next. So we can expect good progress at this meeting,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer.In Bonn governments will also discuss ways to facilitate the transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries, reduce emissions from deforestation, increase investment for climate change, and improve the emissions trading system established under the Kyoto Protocol.“These are all key areas in the international response to climate change, both for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as for adapting to the inevitable impacts of climate change,” Mr. de Boer said. More than 2,400 participants, including government delegates from 172 countries and representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions are attending the two-week meeting. The aim of the negotiations is to create a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012. The UNFCCC talks are scheduled to wrap up at a convention to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009. read more

History no longer a good indicator for weather forecasts says top UN

26 August 2009With the onset of climate change, relying on history is no longer an accurate way of predicting weather patterns, the head of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said today. In the past, forecasts were made by taking statistics of past decades into account, but “now with climate change, these statistics are changing,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told UN Radio.In some areas, global warming will make rainfall less frequent, making the past an unreliable predictor for future precipitation levels, he said, while heat waves, on the scale of the massive and deadly one which engulfed Western Europe in 2003, “might occur more frequently.”But Mr. Jarraud stressed that “there are many lessons to be learned from the past,” highlighting the value of climate statistics.The WMO is organizing a week-long conference in Geneva, Switzerland, kicking off on 31 August, on how to best use climate predictions to adapt to climate change.When socio-economic decisions – such as those involving health, food security and transport – are made by governments, the private sector and others, it is essential that they are based on “the best possible scientific information,” the WMO chief said.Next week’s meeting, he said, seeks to “bridge the gap” between those who possess this kind of information with decision-makers around the world. read more

Nearly 2840 deaths attributed to H1N1 virus reports UN health agency

Gregory Hartl of the World Health Organization (WHO) told a news conference in Geneva that there are also at least 254,000 laboratory confirmed cases of the virus, adding that this number far understated the actual number of cases. “With the virus circulating so widely around the world, it is unfortunately to be expected that there will be deaths as the volume of cases and deaths is increasing,” he said.At the same time, there is no indication that the virus has mutated or changed its behaviour, said Mr. Hartl, noting that the virus is not causing more severe illness than before.According to the latest update issued by WHO, tropical regions of South and South-East Asia continue to experience geographically regional or widespread influenza activity (India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia). Many countries in the region are reporting increasing or sustained high levels of respiratory disease, and a few, including Thailand and Brunei Darussalam, have begun to report a declining trend in the level of respiratory diseases. Although many countries in temperate regions of the southern hemisphere (Chile, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand) have passed the peak of their winter influenza epidemic, sustained influenza activity continues to be reported in South Africa and in the southern and western parts of Australia, noted WHO.Meanwhile, in Canada and the United States, influenza activity remains low overall. However, regional increases are being detected in the south-eastern United States.Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro noted that countries, supported by the UN, have been preparing for the pandemic and it is vital to sustain these efforts. “There is a risk that if we do not sustain preparedness, or we do not strengthen response mechanisms, health systems will be severely affected, especially in developing countries that are challenged with many other problems as well,” she said in an interview with UN Radio.Ms. Migiro said that by the end of August, the H1N1 virus had been confirmed in 20 African countries, particularly in South Africa. “Why it has not spread that much is because that we are not really starting from zero with this pandemic,” she stated, adding that global responses to influenza over the past few years has helped to strengthen preparedness and response systems. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed the UN response to the H1N1 pandemic today during a meeting with WHO Director General Margaret Chan in Geneva, the last stop of a three-nation trip that also took the UN chief to Austria and Norway. 4 September 2009There are now at least 2,837 deaths attributable to the pandemic H1N1 which continues to be the predominant circulating virus of influenza both in the northern and southern hemispheres, the United Nations health agency reported today. read more

UN reveals five winners of its Citizen Ambassador video contest

16 October 2009“Every day I want you to wake up and know that you work for 6.7 billion real people, one person at a time. People with children, and dreams, and stories.” With this moving message to world leaders, narrated over portraits she shot in North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Emily Troutman submitted a winning video to the United Nations’ “Citizen Ambassadors” contest.Launched on 23 September to coincide with the start of the General Debate segment of the General Assembly, the campaign invited world citizens – youth in particular – to voice their opinions to heads of State and government by creating a video response to the question: “If you had the opportunity to speak to world leaders, what would you say?”The winners of the innovative outreach campaign were announced today, with honours awarded to the five best entries. Chosen from more than 400 videos, a shortlist of 20 finalists were viewed by a panel of United Nations staff members representing the Department of Public Information (DPI), the Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the UN Development Program (UNDP).“Seeing this level of enthusiasm all over the world was a surprise,” said Eric Falt, Director of the Outreach Division at the DPI, who addressed a news conference alongside Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka.The five winners were selected this week in a judging session which was videotaped and posted on the United Nations’ YouTube channel. The winners, Ms. Troutman of the United States, Maricarmen Ortega of Mexico, Kirsty Matthews of Canada, Breno Coelho of Brazil, and Jeremy Walker of Canada, have been designated as “Citizen Ambassadors” for the UN.They have also been invited to visit the UN Headquarters in New York next week, where they will meet high-ranking officials, take a special tour of the complex, and enjoy VIP seating at the UN Day concert held in the General Assembly Hall on 23 October.Responding to her achievement, Ms. Matthews said: “Equality, sustainability and justice; these are the things that matter. I made this video to remind world leaders of that.”Ms. Troutman said she was compelled to submit a video because “real change is only created by hope and empathy, by strength and commitment [and] by listening to others.”The campaign is the latest in a series of initiatives launched by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that seek to increase awareness of the work of the UN and to engage a new generation of world citizens through enhanced use of the Internet and online social networking.This week also marks the launch of DPI’s “UN4U” programme, during which UN officials will visit public high schools throughout New York City to raise awareness about the Organization’s work and commemorate UN Day. The programme will be carried out in other countries as well, with a series of activities that include an outreach event involving 500 students in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, a photo exhibition in Bogota, Colombia, and a series of lectures aimed at more than 800 students in Dhaka, Bangladesh. read more

UN chief calls for peaceful polls in Togo

2 March 2010This week’s presidential election is a “crucial opportunity” for Togo to continue efforts to consolidate democracy, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, appealing for the poll to be unscarred by violence. The 4 March election also provides an occasion to “foster national cohesion, stability and sustainable development,” according to a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.“The Secretary-General calls on all political leaders and institutions to ensure that the election is credible and peaceful and reflects on the will of the people of Togo,” urging all segments of society to refrain from moves that could exacerbate tensions before, during or after the poll.He also reiterated the support of the UN for the electoral process in the West African nation.Hundreds of people died and thousands more were injured in violence which erupted after the sudden death of long-time President Gnassingbé Eyadéma and disputed elections in 2005, while tens of thousands of people escaped to neighbouring Ghana and Benin. read more

Demanding end to violence in Côte dIvoire Security Council imposes targeted sanctions

In unanimously adopting resolution 1975, the Council urged Mr. Gbagbo to immediately step aside, repeating the calls made for months following his UN-certified defeat in November’s presidential run-off, which was won by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara. Top UN officials have voiced growing concern about the situation inside Côte d’Ivoire, where up to 1 million people have been displaced – some internally, and some to neighbouring nations – since fighting first broke out in the wake of the polls, which were meant to reunite a country split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-held south and rebel-controlled north. Nearly 500 people are reported to have been killed, and the violence appears to have stepped up in recent weeks, including the use of heavy weapons. The Council “condemns in the strongest terms the recent escalation of violence throughout the country which could amount to crimes against humanity,” the 15-member body said in the resolution. The UN peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), which continues to protect civilians during this period of increased fighting to the best of its abilities in line with its mandate, has also been targeted, with a UN-marked bus damaged by stone-throwing demonstrators earlier this week. The Council condemned the use of Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI) and other media to incite discrimination, hostility, hatred and violence, including against UNOCI, and demanded that all parties abide “scrupulously” by their obligation to respect the safety of UNOCI and other UN personnel and ensure their freedom of movement. It decided to adopt targeted sanctions against those individuals who meet the criteria set out in previous resolutions, including those who obstruct peace and reconciliation in the country, obstruct the work of UNOCI and other international actors and commit serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. In addition to Mr. Gbagbo and his wife, Simone, today’s resolution imposed targeted financial and travel measures against Désiré Tagro, Secretary General in the so-called ‘presidency’ of Mr. Gbagbo; Pascal Affi N’Guessan, Chairman of the Ivorian Popular Front; and Alcide Djédjé, a close advisor to Mr. Gbagbo. Cote 30 March 2011With the post-electoral deadlock in Côte d’Ivoire now entering its fifth month and the crisis showing no signs of abating, the Security Council today demanded an immediate end to the violence against civilians and decided to impose targeted sanctions against former president Laurent Gbagbo, his wife and three associates. read more

UN resumes food deliveries in two Southern Sudanese states after assurances

WFP issued a statement yesterday saying it will renew food distribution in Lakes and Jonglei – ensuring an estimated 240,000 people in those two states receive critical rations this month – after receiving positive assurances from local authorities.Leo Van der Velden, the head of WFP’s Southern Sudan office, said the agency is “very pleased with the positive response we received from the Southern Sudan Rehabilitation Commission and State Governor [of Lakes], who assured us that no commandeering will be allowed to take place in his state.”Operations were suspended in Lakes when a truck was seized on 19 April by members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). The truck was later found empty and abandoned in a neighbouring state.Food distribution had also been suspended in seven of 11 counties in Jonglei after a national staff member for WFP was killed during an ambush on 22 April, but the agency said they have now resumed.WFP said it remains concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Southern Sudan, less than two months before it becomes formally independent from the rest of Sudan. Hundreds of people have died in clashes between the SPLA and rebel militia groups.The agency aims to reach 1.5 million people across Southern Sudan this year but said the general instability is hampering its ability to access many areas. 13 May 2011The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is resuming operations in two Southern Sudanese states where they were suspended last month after staff came under direct attack from combatants to the widespread fighting in the region. read more

General Assembly marks day honouring Buddha and his teachings

Buddha’s teachings “can guide our efforts to resolve the severe problems facing today’s world,” Mr. Ban said in a message marking the Day of Vesak, which is being celebrated today in many parts of the world. “His injunction against the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance is especially relevant to multilateral efforts to overcome the hunger that needlessly affects nearly a billion people in a world of plenty, the brutal violence that takes millions of lives each year, and the senseless environmental damage that human cause to our only home, the planet Earth.” The Secretary-General said that while this year’s theme to the Day of Vesak, socio-economic development, may sound modern, “its core is the very problem of human suffering” that Siddhartha Gautama [Buddha] sought to address more than 2,500 years ago when he left his palace, relinquished his worldly possessions and went out in the world.” Mr. Ban voiced gratitude for the support of many Buddhist organizations towards United Nations efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), “our blueprint for enabling all people to enjoy lives of dignity and opportunity.” The MDGs are a series of targets which world leaders have pledged to try to achieve by 2015, and they include halving poverty, halting environmental degradation and significantly reducing maternal and child mortality. The General Assembly held a special meeting today to mark the Day of Vesak, and Mr. Ban told the event that it was important to remember Buddha’s message of tolerance. “Let us respect all religions. And let us work for the well-being of all people,” he said. 16 May 2011As millions of people worldwide observe the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has paid tribute to the spiritual leader’s teaching on the need for compassion and solidarity with those less fortunate. read more

Group wants Alberta to show oil sands recommendations were followed

EDMONTON — Environmentalists are trying to force the Alberta government to show it’s followed through on previous recommendations to reduce the impact of oil sands mines before any more projects are approved.The Oilsands Environmental Coalition has asked the regulatory panel examining Shell’s proposed Jackpine expansion to check into the status of dozens of recommendations by previous panels.Those recommendations were conditions under which previous oilsands projects were given the OK, but there’s no information on whether they’ve been lived up to, said Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute.“There’s no accountability,” Dyer said. “We fear many of (the recommendations) have not been acted upon.“These were recommendations that the panel said had to happen for the project to be in the public interest.”The groups combed through the approvals for four major oilsands projects made by joint federal-provincial impact assessment panels. Each of those four panels concluded the projects would have no significant adverse environmental effects, provided the recommendations were followed.There are a total of 108 separate recommendations, although some repeated from panel to panel.The Pembina Institute, part of the coalition that filed the motion, then tried to find out how many of those recommendations had been implemented. They were unable to do so.“There’s no public registry,” said Dyer. “There’s no contact person.”Some of the recommendations have been met, such as the 2004 recommendation for a study into how much water the Athabasca River needs to stay healthy.Others haven’t. The water management framework based on that study remains stalled at phase one, more than a year after it was supposed to have moved forward.But the status of most of the recommendations, which involve everything from wildlife impacts to tailings management to emissions from mine vehicles, is simply unclear.Randall Barrett of Alberta Environment said recommendations dealing specifically with a project — allowable level of sulphur emissions, for example — are tracked very closely.But he said those dealing with larger issues, such as overall water use, are simply considered part of the government’s ongoing environmental monitoring work and are not tied as closely to project approvals.“We carefully track the high-consequence items that are used in the public-interest test for that project,” he said. “The other items relative to ongoing work, we consider those, but the timing on those is not tracked in the same way.”Barrett acknowledged that timelines for such issues often change and may not conform to those set out in project approvals.The coalition is arguing that hearings on Shell’s Jackpine expansion, which would produce 100,000 barrels a day, can’t proceed until the panel finds out what happened with those recommendations. Until that happens, Dyer said it’s impossible to know how the project will add to environmental impacts the oilsands region is already seeing.“We’ve got a cumulative effects problem that’s getting worse with every project that’s approved,” he said.Shell argues the coalition’s motion has come too late in the game and should be disregarded.“The time to make such a submission has long since passed,” it says in its own filing.A federal government submission filed last Tuesday argues the status of recommendations from previous panels isn’t relevant to this one, and points out no previous panel has been asked to deal with the issue.“This panel’s process is not intended to serve as a proxy for a fishing expedition by (the coalition),” says the letter. “Nor is it necessary that the panel perform an audit function related to the implementation of recommendations of prior panels.”The review panel will have to rule on the coalition’s request. A spokeswoman for the panel said there’s no timeline on such a decision.The issue arises as Alberta Environment considers a report into how its long-awaited “world-class” environmental monitoring program for the oilsands should be structured.Officials have confirmed Environment Minister Diana McQueen has received the report and discussed it with its authors. Among the issues it’s expected to address is the program’s independence.McQueen is expected to release the report in the coming we read more

Government MPs protest against resolution

Government parliamentarians staged a protest outside parliament today against the U.S sponsored resolution which will be taken for a vote at the UN Human rights Council in Geneva today.The government members carried placards and wore black armbands during the protest and walked around the parliament voicing anger against the resolution. The President invited all to join hands to develop the country and fulfill their obligations. He said the government has taken every possible step to strengthen the bonds among the people while safeguarding human rights, the government information department said.The President advised politicians to perform their responsibilities with diligence and without political considerations or politically motivated targets. He said that every politician and government official is duty bound to stand for the country while extending his utmost contribution to the development and betterment of the country. Prime Minister D.M Jayaratne and other senior government Ministers also took part in the demonstration. Meanwhile President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that no foreign intervention will be allowed and no one can meddle in the internal affairs of the country. read more

House adjourns over power tariff

Power and Energy Minister Pavithra Wanniarachi then explained why the government was compelled to introduce higher electricity tariffs. Parliament sittings were adjourned this afternoon after UNP members took to the well and protested over the recent electricity tariff hike.UNP MP John Amaratunga initially asked for a clarification from the government over the reasons behind the price hike. Subsequently several UNP members took to the well of the House and continued to protest against the new electricity tariffs.The UNP also demanded a one day debate on the tariffs and as the situation continued Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa adjourned sittings till tomorrow. (Colombo Gazette) The UNP later got involved in a verbal feud with the government benches on the tariff issue. read more

Thonda and Sonia discuss 13A

According to Tamil media reports, the Indian government had assured Thondaman that houses will be built with Indian support for the estate workers. Minister and Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) leader Arumugam Thondaman and India’s Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi have had discussions on various issues including on the 13th Amendment to the constitution.Thondaman met Gandhi in New Delhi yesterday and discussed issues faced by the estate community in Sri Lanka, most of who are of Indian origin. An Indian government delegation will also visit Sri Lanka to meet with teh estate community to look into their well-being. Thondaman had also met Indian Union Minister V. Narayanaswamy during his Delhi visit yesterday. read more

UNP accuses UPFA of marketing Maithripala

“The majority of the UPFA candidates are those who are accused of corruption, fraud, thuggery and spreading fear psychosis. They do not represent the thinking of President Maithripala Sirisena.  The group that broke away from the UPFA along with President Maithripala has come forward to contest this election as candidates of the United National Front.  It is now too late for the UPFA to guarantee their future by taking cover under President Maithripala’s image,” he added.Karu Jayasuriya said that throughout the whole election campaign, the UPFA based their propaganda on slogans connecting the diaspora, division of the country and federal administration and when it was found that these slogans have lost validity they resorted to staging hilarious dramas by exhibiting vials of poison and empty pots. (Colombo Gazette) “It shows that those who shouted the slogans can’t do without Mahinda have now changed the slogan to can’t do with Mahinda. The group which tried to convene the SLFP Central Committee and oust the President and his loyalists from the party has now started marketing the image of President Maithripala Sirisena; as their final trump card,” he said. The United National Party (UNP) has accused the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) of marketing President Maithripala Sirisena ahead of the Parliamentary election as a last resort to win public support.Former UNP Parliamentarian Karu Jayasuriya said that the UPFA campaign commenced with the slogan “can’t do without Mahinda” then they changed it to “we rise with Mahinda” and now they have abandoned both slogans and have started using the photograph of President Maithripala Sirisena to boost their campaign. Jayasuriya also said that what the UPFA leaders should understand is that President Maithripala Sirisena is not merely an individual, but an icon of a program of action and the real representatives of the movement who stand for good governance, guaranteeing the supremacy of law and creating a righteous society are candidates contesting the elections from the United National Front for good governance and not from the UPFA. read more

Rameswaram fishermen strike against Lankan navy

Every time the Lankan navy confiscated a boat, families of the boat owner, five fishermen who worked in the boat and those engaged in offloading and transportation lost their livelihood. The Lankan authorities have confiscated 55 fishing boats so far this year, he said.Last year, the Lankan navy had confiscated more than 80 boats and after they were released the State government helped to bring back the boats, spending about Rs One lakh per boat but 18 boats could not be salvaged, he pointed out. The fishermen are feared drowned as the search teams, including INS Parundu, the Indian naval air station and the Mandapam station of Indian Coast Guard (ICG) could not trace them so far, P Sesu Raja, leader of a fishermen association said and urged the government to pay compensation to the families. Fishermen in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu launched an indefinite strike yesterday demanding that the authorities trace four fishermen, who went missing after their boat sank on November 29 and also protested against repeated arrests by the Sri Lankan navy.As decided at the meeting of 11 fishermen associations on Tuesday, about 4,000 fishermen struck work after anchoring the 750-odd mechanised boats at the fishing jetty, The Hindu newspaper reported. The four fishermen, Sudalaimani, Anthonysamy, Ramasamy and Muniasamy were fishing south off the Katchatheevu islet at the early hours of November 29 when their boat sank after water seeped into the vessel.Feared drowned The fishermen were reluctant to venture into sea as they faced the threat of abduction at the hands of Lankan navy, he said.The strike was also in protest against repeated attempts by Lankan navy to prevent the fishermen from exercising their traditional rights in the waters in the Palk Bay by arresting them, he said. read more

Experts committee to be appointed on Glyphosate usage

An experts committee is to be appointed to decide on the usage of Glyphosate, Agriculture Minister Duminda Dissanayake said.He said the decision to appoint the experts committee was taken by the cabinet today. Parliamentarian, the Venerable Athuraliya Rathana Thero and Ministers Rajitha Senaratne, Navin Dissanayake and Duminda Dissanayake will serve as observers in the committee. (Colombo Gazette)

Two Hamilton officials leaving the city for jobs in Toronto

A council meeting this evening at Hamilton City Hall saw regular city business overshadowed by the departure of a key city official.The city is losing its city manager to Toronto.Toronto Mayor John Tory announced the hire this morning, although he noted that the news was already circulating on Twitter.56 year-old Chris Murray got the top bureaucrat job in Hamilton in 2009. He was a city planner by trade and the city’s director of housing at the time, but since taking the helm he is credited with modernizing Hamilton government, smoothing relations between staff an elected officials, and with helping the city through challenges like the Pan Am Games, the Waterfront development and the LRT.He’ll go from overseeing 7,800 workers to 34,500. Murray told CHCH today it wasn’t an easy decision to leave Hamilton.Murray says Toronto sought him out. He thinks mostly because of the work culture he’s helped create at city hall and the relationships he’s managed to cultivate. Corporate Services Manager Mike Zegarac will act as city manager until a replacement is found.Murray starts in Toronto on August 13.Another Hamiltonian moving to a Toronto job is the focus of part of the debate at city hall tonight.City council is expected to decide what to do about Ward 7 now that Councillor Donna Skelly has been elected to provincial government.Other options could be appointing a former city councillor to hold the position for a few months the way Bob Morrow did after Bernie Morelli’s death, or allowing citizens to apply for the temporary post.Most councillors seem to think those are expensive and time consuming options given the pre-election timing. read more

OPP nab school bus driver with open container of liquor

A 59-year-old school bus driver has been charged after police found an open container of liquor on board a school bus. Ontario Provincial Police say they were alerted by numerous community members about a local school bus driver who may be consuming alcoholic beverages while driving. Officers stopped the bus on a road in Tiny Township and had the driver take a roadside screening test.Michael Binseel had his license suspended for three days and was fined $198. He is also charged with driving a motor vehicle with an open container of liquor.Police say no one else was on the school bus when it was pulled over. read more

Millennial Money Make renting work for your financial goals

“Renting is just throwing money away.”“Renting is like paying someone else instead of paying yourself.”You may have heard these opinions from family and friends, but it’s not that simple. In some areas (looking at you, San Francisco), renting is far more economical than buying a home. But renting can be used to fatten your credit profile as a steppingstone to your financial goals.MILLENNIALS WANT TO BUY BUT FACE BARRIERSMillennials are delaying homeownership and staying in rentals longer than previous generations, multiple studies show.Student debt — that bane of millennial existence — is one factor pushing back the age of homeownership. Rising rents and home prices coupled with slow wage growth also make it hard to save for a down payment.The vast majority of Americans — 9 out of 10 — still equate homeownership with personal success and economic security, according to a survey released in July by the website Apartment List. The survey of a nationally representative sample of people found both renters and homeowners believe there is a social stigma associated with renting.HOW TO MAKE RENT WORK FOR YOUYou cannot fully control how much money you make. But your credit score — the key to qualifying for rewards credit cards, financing a car or even a home — is largely under your control. Rent payments can be used to beef up your score.For many millennials, rent payments are a great way to demonstrate responsible behaviour to potential creditors. But rent payments — unlike credit card, mortgage and loan payments — don’t automatically appear on credit reports. And your credit scores rely on what’s in your credit reports.There are two ways to get rent added to your reports:— ASK YOUR LANDLORD. Two of the three major credit bureaus — Experian and TransUnion — accept payment information from landlords. Both bureaus’ websites have a simple process for landlords to sign up.— DO IT YOURSELF. You can use third-party companies such as RentTrack, Rock The Score and others to report rent payments directly to one or more bureaus for a monthly fee.A 2017 TransUnion study followed 12,000 renters for a year. Scores rose 16 points on average within six months after rent reporting began, says Maitri Johnson, vice-president of multifamily at TransUnion. The largest increase was for scores below 620, generally considered bad credit.With rent reporting, payments show up on your credit report like any other account. Positive payments help your score; missed or late payments can damage it. If there are errors, you can dispute them with the bureaus.WHAT TO KNOWRent reporting lets you get credit for something you’re already doing. Better credit can get you a cash-back credit card or a cheaper car loan, saving you money in the short term and strengthening your finances for the long term. But rent reporting also has some drawbacks:— NOT ALL CREDIT SCORES FACTOR IN RENT PAYMENTS. FICO 8, the most widely used score by lenders, and the FICO versions used in mortgage lending do not use rental information to calculate scores. But newer versions, such as FICO 9 and FICO XD, do. VantageScore, FICO’s main competitor, also uses rental payment information.“Even if it’s not something considered in your score, it’s still cosmetically on your credit report,” says John Ulzheimer, a credit expert who has worked at Equifax and FICO. “A lender considers information in good standing and that’s going to benefit you as an applicant.”— REPORTING IS NOT FREE. If you use a reporting service, you’ll pay a monthly fee ranging from $6.95 to $9.95 depending on the company, plus a one-time enrolment fee of $25 to $95. Extras like adding past rental information cost more.OTHER WAYS TO BUILD CREDITUlzheimer points out that traditional credit-building methods are more effective than rent reporting: They don’t cost much, payments are typically reported to all three credit bureaus, and they influence all types of FICO scores and VantageScores.— You can become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card, preferably someone with a long history of responsible credit use.— You can get a secured credit card, which requires an upfront deposit. Charge a small amount on it every month and always pay on time.— You can apply for a credit-builder loan, available at credit unions. Your monthly payments are reported to the credit bureaus. The money you borrow is released to you once the loan is paid off.___________________________________This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Amrita Jayakumar is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: ajayakumar@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ajbombay.RELATED LINK:NerdWallet: How to report rent to credit bureaus http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-rent-and-creditAmrita Jayakumar Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press read more

Norfolk General Hospital welcomes new chief of staff

Norfolk General Hospital has announced the appointment of Dr. Amir Sheik-Yousouf as the new chief of staff.“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Sheik-Yousouf to NGH,”  Tom White, chair of the NGH board of directors,  said in a press release. “We look forward to his energy and passion on our team and have the greatest confidence in his representing our hospital and community.”Sheik-Yousouf graduated from Rotman School of Business with an executive MBA in July 2017.He is a Fellow of the Royal College in Internal Medicine at the University of Toronto, previously working in an academic setting at Sunnybrook Hospital. He has worked in a community setting at the Milton District Hospital for the past five years and continues to maintain a practice in Milton.Sheik-Yousouf was born in the United Kingdom to parents of Mauritian descent. After completing high school he was awarded a full scholarship to study medicine at Nishtar Medical College, Multan, Pakistan. He completed his MBBS in 2004, worked on a one-year internship at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Science, and then immigrated to Canada in 2006.He takes over from Dr. Nancy Gabel, who has been in the chief of staff position for the past six years.White thanked Gabel for her commitment and dedication.Sheik-Yosouf will begin his duties on June 3. read more

Marking UN Day Annan says Nobel Prize should inspire greater action

“UN Day 2001 is a special day for every Member of the United Nations family, and for everyone who believes in the ideals of our Organization,” said Mr. Annan in his message marking the occasion. “This year, the United Nations has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for our work in promoting peace, defending human rights, and fighting poverty.”Mr. Annan said that honour should “encourage us to tackle our tasks with even greater determination.”The Secretary-General urged the UN family “to stay true to our mission, and to work harder than ever to alleviate suffering in every part of the world.” He pointed out that with old and new challenges confronting humanity, the UN “is more central than ever to creating a better and safer world for all.” The President of the UN General Assembly, Han Seung-soo of the Republic of Korea, pointed out that even as the great majority of human beings aimed to improve the conditions of life on this planet, a small minority was intent on sabotaging – and if possible reversing – progress.”We saw them in action on 11 September, but let us always remember that their capacity for evil is infinitesimally smaller than humanity’s collective capacity for good,” he stressed. As part of the commemorations for UN Day, a concert was planned at the Organization’s New York Headquarters featuring the Indian rock band Euphoria and the Pakistani folk rock band, Junoon, as well as a silent performance by French mime Marcel Marceau. The United Nations also used the occasion to draw the public’s attention to the reopening of guided tours at UN Headquarters in New York. Speaking at a ceremony to unveil new uniforms for UN tour guides, the Interim Head of the UN Department of Public Information, Shashi Tharoor, recalled that following the 11 September attacks against the US, the UN had to temporarily close to the public for security reasons. “The debut of the new uniforms on the occasion of United Nations Day provides us with an opportunity to welcome visitors back to the UN with a fresh new look,” he said. The new apparel was designed by Mondrian and Valleverde. read more