North America Stay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.. Sun, 29 Mar 2015 10:38:26 +0000 SRA Framework 2.0 en-gb US welcomes Israel release of Palestinian tax revenue imageWASHINGTON: The United States welcomed Israel's decision on Friday to release frozen tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority, three months after freezing the payments to protest unilateral Palestinian moves towards statehood.

"We certainly hope both sides would be able to build on this," State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said.

"We think it's an important step." Rathke told reporters at a briefing the move will benefit the Palestinian people and said that having a functioning Palestinian Authority is important to stability in the West Bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said the funds would be sent for humanitarian reasons and in line with "Israel's interests."

The move may be seen as a bid to build bridges, particularly with the White House, which criticized hawkish comments about the Palestinians that Netanyahu made in the run-up to his election victory this month.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) North America Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:26:30 +0000
Mexico unveils national strategy ahead of Paris climate talks imageWASHINGTON: Mexico on Friday said it will cap its greenhouse gas emissions by 2026, becoming one of the first countries to formally submit its national climate plan the United Nations ahead of a key climate summit in Paris in December.

Mexico's Foreign and Environment Ministries presented the national climate submission in Mexico City, unveiling a strategy to begin reducing emissions by 2026, leading to a 22 percent reduction in greenhouse gases below business-as-usual levels by 2030.

Mexico set its targets unconditionally, without requiring financial support from developed countries. After Mexico unveiled the targets, President Enrique Pena Nieto and US President Barack Obama announced a new joint climate policy task force to "further deepen policy and regulatory coordination in specific areas" including vehicle fuel efficiency, appliance standards and electricity grid modernization.

The White House praised Mexico for being the first major emerging economy to submit its national strategy to the United Nations.

The United States is expected to submit its own plan early next week.

"Mexico is setting an example for the rest of the world by submitting an INDC that is timely, clear, ambitious, and supported by robust, unconditional policy commitments," the White House said in a statement.

Mexican Foreign Minister Jos? Antonio Meade said he hopes the UN climate summit in Paris will help the world meet a UN goal to avoid a 2 degree Celsius rise in temperatures.

Originally, the hope had been that many countries would accept a UN invitation "for those ready to do so" to submit their national plans by March 31, leaving time to compare and perhaps toughen them before Paris.

"We now expect many, many more countries to submit their INDCs over the coming days, weeks and months," said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the UN Secretariat.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) North America Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:04:34 +0000
Two missing, 25 hurt after NY building collapse imageNEW YORK: Two people were missing on Friday after an explosion brought down three buildings and damaged a fourth property in New York's popular East Village, injuring 25 people, city officials said.

Preliminary indications suggest the incident, which triggered a fire that lingered into a second day, was gas-related, raising fresh concerns about safety in some of Manhattan's older buildings.

Police listed two people as unaccounted for early Friday. Local media identified them as a young man on a date at a sushi restaurant, in the building where the explosion happened, and a bus boy.

Twenty civilians and five uniformed personnel were injured, city hall officials said Friday, raising an earlier injury toll of 19.

Four civilians were taken to the hospital in a critical condition.

The blast ripped through a commercial and residential building at 121 Second Avenue, triggering its partial collapse and the partial collapse and full collapse of two adjoining properties.

City hall said that all three buildings were destroyed, as any remaining portions would have to be knocked down.

Dramatic cell phone footage broadcast by TV channel PIX11 showed panicked people running in fear from the sushi restaurant.

"What happened? Oh my God!" one woman is heard yelling. Bystanders bend over a person lying amid debris.

Fire personnel were still working to extinguish the fire after daybreak on Friday, officials said.

The Red Cross set up an emergency site in a school to support those made homeless and a hotel also offered three free nights to people living in the immediate vicinity.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the initial impact appeared to have been caused by plumbing and gas work at the site.

Last year, eight people were killed when a gas explosion leveled two apartment buildings in East Harlem in northern Manhattan on March 12, 2014.

The East Village is one of the most popular areas of New York, home to a large number of students and wealthy professionals, and stuffed with boutiques, restaurants, nightclubs and cafes.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) North America Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:30:06 +0000
US Senate threatens Iran with new sanctions imageWASHINGTON: The US Senate voted unanimously on Thursday supporting a non-binding measure to slap new economic sanctions on Iran should it violate terms of any nuclear deal it reaches with world powers.

In a symbolic measure aimed at building pressure on Tehran amid crunch negotiations over its atomic program, lawmakers voted 100-0 on an amendment introduced by Senate Republican Mark Kirk as part of an ongoing budget debate.

It does not carry the weight of law because budget resolutions are not binding legislation, but it signals senators' determination to act quickly should Iran fail to meet any requirements of the interim accord now in place, or a possible final agreement.

With Thursday's vote, the first on the Senate floor since talks began early last year, the measure's author intends to hold his colleagues to account.

"If we find out that there's further development in the Iran nuclear program, it will allow me to remind 100 senators that they voted with me today," Kirk told AFP.

The chamber's entire Democratic caucus came on board after a modification of wording that recognized the role of the US president in making a "determination" about Iran's compliance.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes April 14 on legislation that would require President Barack Obama to give Congress a say on any final deal reached between Iran and the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany.

Congress would have 60 days to review and, if it chooses, ultimately block the deal. The White House is opposed to such legislation, arguing a presidential signature is sufficient.

Kirk and Senate Democrat Robert Menendez have crafted separate legislation that would impose gradual sanctions against Iran should negotiations fail.

The text is on hold, to give the talks a chance to succeed, but Senate leadership is committed to a vote if the talks collapse.

Talks resumed in Switzerland Thursday between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

They are racing against the clock to complete the framework of deal by a self-imposed March 31 deadline. A final agreement is due by June 30.

Kirk said Paris's hawkish line on Iran -- notably from French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius -- has made the senator "a strong ally of the (Francois) Hollande government."

France, Kirk added, "has continually been the clear-headed, realistic nation throughout this process."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Fri, 27 Mar 2015 05:09:32 +0000
Death toll from Peru landslides climbs to nine imageLIMA: The death toll from landslides in three small Peruvian communities has risen to nine following the discovery of a young girl in a river on Thursday, an official said.

Roads were destroyed and homes wiped away or buried on Monday following torrential rain in the Chosica, Santa Eulalia and Cocachacra communities located around 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Lima.

"The ninth victim, less than 11 years old, the daughter of the Cocachacra mayor... was found Thursday in part of the Rimac River," public prosecutor Ana Maria Cuba told RPP radio.

Five of the deaths were reported Monday, while the remaining four, which include a mother and daughter buried under rocks and mud in Chosica, were found later.

Travel has been interrupted on the main road linking the communities to the Peruvian capital, but the route would be open again on Friday, the government said.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Fri, 27 Mar 2015 04:52:28 +0000
Mexico marks six months since 43 students vanished imageMEXICO CITY: Mexico marked six months Thursday since the disappearance of 43 college students, with a new protest planned by parents rejecting the investigation's conclusion that a gang slaughtered the young men.

The case has become the biggest challenge of President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration, with a Reforma newspaper opinion poll showing that his approval rating remained at a low 39 percent.

Relatives will lead a march in Mexico City and demand that the National Electoral Institute suspend the June 7 election in Guerrero, the southern state where the 43 students disappeared.

As long as the students remain missing and "the government is not rid of narco-politicians, it's not possible to have a civic celebration," said Meliton Ortega, uncle of a missing student.

Authorities say police in the town of Iguala abducted the aspiring teachers on the night of September 26 and handed them over to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, which killed them and incinerated their bodies.

Only one of the 43 students has been identified among the charred remains that were found in a landfill and a river in the town of Cocula, near Iguala.

Authorities have arrested around 100 people, including several Iguala and Cocula police officers, Guerreros Unidos gang members, and Iguala mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda.

The students say they had traveled to Iguala in hijacked buses to raise funds for their left-wing college.

Investigators believe Abarca ordered police to intercept the students over fears they would disrupt a speech by his wife, and that the gang confused them with members of a rival criminal group.

Human rights groups have criticized the investigation, saying it relied too much on witnesses instead of physical evidence to conclude that the students were killed.

"We express our concern over the recent attempts by the Mexican government to discredit and not take into account the recommendations and observations of international human rights organizations," Amnesty International and other rights groups said in a joint statement.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) North America Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:55:58 +0000
UN boosts peace force for Central African Republic imageUNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Thursday decided to boost the UN force in the Central African Republic by 1,050 peacekeepers as the country prepares for elections.

The 15-member council unanimously adopted a French-drafted resolution that provides for an increase of 750 military personnel, 280 police and 20 corrections officers.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had asked for the troop increase in February, arguing that the additional forces would help enhance security during and after the elections.

Presidential and legislative elections are due in July and August, capping CAR's long road to recovery after the violence that was unleashed following a March 2013 coup.

The 9,000-strong MINUSCA force was deployed in September, taking over from an African Union-led mission.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) North America Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:44:26 +0000
US Ebola patient's condition improves: NIH imageWASHINGTON: An American healthcare worker in treatment after becoming infected with the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone has improved and is now in serious condition, the National Institutes of Health said Thursday.

The patient, who has not been identified, was evacuated from Sierra Leone on March 14 and brought to the NIH's Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland just outside Washington for treatment.

"The status of the patient with Ebola virus disease being treated at the NIH Clinical Center has improved from critical to serious condition," the NIH said.

The medical charity Partners in Health said the patient is a clinician who worked in Sierra Leone, which along with Liberia and Guinea is struggling to emerge from the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

The NIH's clinic is equipped with state-of-the-art isolation facilities and is staffed with infectious disease and critical care specialists.

The NIH is the premier US medical research center in the United States.

An American nurse, Nina Pham, was treated at the clinic after she was infected with the Ebola virus at a Texas hospital by a Liberian, Thomas Eric Duncan, who had initially been misdiagnosed.

Pham was declared free of the Ebola virus on October 24, but Duncan died.

More than 10,000 people have died of the virus since the outbreak was identified in early 2014.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) North America Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:43:13 +0000
Bill Clinton to lead US delegation to Lee Kuan Yew funeral imageWASHINGTON: Former president Bill Clinton will lead a delegation from the United States to the state funeral of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding leader who died at age 91 on Monday.

Henry Kissinger, a former US secretary of state, will also be in the party sent by President Barack Obama, a White House statement said Wednesday.

Lee, who oversaw the city-state's transformation from a poor British colonial outpost into one of the world's richest societies, will be cremated on Sunday after a state funeral expected to be attended by several Asia-Pacific leaders and other world figures.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Thu, 26 Mar 2015 05:06:24 +0000
US officials in Cuba on telecoms follow-up imageHAVANA: A US delegation was in Cuba, following up on the reestablishment of normal telecommunications links as part of their bid to normalize relations, authorities said on Wednesday.

The team was being led by Daniel Sepulveda, deputy assistant secretary of state and coordinator for international communications and information policy, the communications ministry said.

Deputy Communications Minister Jose Luis Perdomo briefed Sepulveda and his colleagues on Cuba's computer systems and cybersecurity, a ministry statement added.

Earlier this month, Cuba's state phone company Etecsa said a direct interconnection had been established with the United States, initially for international voice calls, for the first time since 1999.

The connection was set up through a February deal signed with New Jersey-based firm IDT Domestic Telecom.

It was the first agreement signed between Cuban and American companies since the announcement on December 17 that the two countries would renew diplomatic ties after more than 50 years of hostility.

The telephone link between the two countries has been interrupted and restored numerous times since Fidel Castro came to power in the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and began nationalizing American-owned companies in the 1960s.

But this is the first time the connection has been restored since February 25, 1999, according to Cuban authorities.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Thu, 26 Mar 2015 04:36:20 +0000