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UN: 12 November 2008The current financial turmoil, exposing the high level of interdependence among countries, could threaten to derail the momentum towards improving global health, the head of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) warned today.

“It is not yet clear what the current financial crisis will mean for low-income and emerging economies, but many predictions are highly pessimistic,” Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement. “In the face of a global recession, fiscal pressures in affluent countries may prompt cuts to official development assistance.”

Further, the spectre looms of poorer nations potentially slashing social spending in areas such as health, education and social protection, she cautioned.

The current crisis comes amid efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline, which Dr. Chan characterized as “the most ambitious drive in history.”

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GENEVA (ILO News) The global financial crisis could increase world unemployment by an estimated 20 million women and men, the Director-General of the International Labour Office (ILO) said today. “We need prompt and coordinated government actions to avert a social crisis that could be severe, long-lasting and global”, he added.

Based on revised global growth estimates by the International Monetary Fund (Note 1) (IMF), the UN and early reports suggesting rising job losses for most countries where data was available, ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said the ILO’s preliminary estimates indicated that the “number of unemployed could rise from 190 million in 2007 to 210 million in late 2009.”

Mr. Somavia added that “the number of working poor living on less than a dollar a day could rise by some 40 million – and those at 2 dollars a day by more than 100 million”.

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Washington: (Agencies-5/11/2008):  Democratic Senator Barack Obama has been elected the first black president of the United States.
 
 "It’s been a long time coming, but tonight… change has come to America," the president-elect told a jubilant crowd at a park in Chicago. 

 
His rival John McCain accepted defeat, saying "I deeply admire and commend" Mr Obama. He called on his supporters to lend the next president their goodwill. 
 
 There are also elections to renew the entire US House of Representatives and a third of US Senate seats.  

Democrats are expected to expand majorities in both chambers. 
 

They need to gain nine Senate seats to reach a 60-seat majority that would give them extra legislative power.
 
 In the presidential vote, under the US Electoral College system, states are allocated votes based on their representation in Congress.

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Washington:  (Agencies: 3/11/2008): The US presidential rivals have spent a hectic final day of campaigning criss-crossing the country in a last push for votes in key states. 

 
Republican John McCain, trailing in opinion polls, started early in Florida and was to finish in Arizona. He urged his supporters to fight on to victory.  

Democrat Barack Obama, at his last campaign rally in Virginia, told voters he had one word for them: "Tomorrow." 
 

Today voters will give their verdict and pick the 44th US president. 
 

In a symbolic opening to election day on the US east coast, Mr Obama defeated his rival by 15 votes to six in the hamlet of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. 

 
Both camps are keenly aware of the need to get voters out in the states that polls suggest remain in the balance.  Various polls suggest Mr Obama has a two- to four-point lead over McCain in electoral vote-rich Florida.

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UN: 29 October 2008 – United Nations agencies are taking part in emergency relief efforts in south-west Pakistan, where a powerful earthquake struck early this morning, killing and injuring hundreds of people and leaving many more homeless.

The quake registered 6.4 on the Richter scale – its epicentre was located in a mountainous area northeast of Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan – when it struck shortly after 4 a.m. local time. Aftershocks have also been reported.

Scores of people remain trapped under the rubble of their collapsed homes, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which said UN agencies are now working closely with national authorities and other aid groups to bring relief.

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UN: 27 October 2008 – Heart disease is the leading cause of death in rich countries, while pneumonia is the number one killer in poor nations, reveals a new study published by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) that provides countries with key data for decision-making, planning and setting priorities.

The latest assessment of the Global Burden of Disease provides features comparisons between deaths, diseases and injuries whether by region, age, sex or country income for 2004.

The WHO study also provides projections of deaths and burden of disease by cause and region to the year 2030, as well as details of the top 10 causes of death and estimates for over 130 disease and injury causes.

 
“It is vital that we have a global and regional picture of deaths, disease and disability,” says Colin Mathers, WHO’s Coordinator for Epidemiology and Burden of Disease and lead author of the study.

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DAMASCUS:  (Agencies-26/10/2008): A U.S. military official said U.S. military helicopters launched and attack by special forces targeting the network of al-Qaida-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria into Iraq. He added that The Americans have been unable to shut the network down in the area struck because Syria was out of the military’s reach.
 
 "We are taking matters into our own hands," the official told The Associated Press in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of cross-border raids.
 
The U.S. military in Baghdad did not immediately respond to a request for comment after Sunday’s raid
 Syria‘s Foreign Ministry said it summoned the U.S. and Iraqi charges d’affaires to protest against the strike. 

"Syria condemns this aggression and holds the American forces responsible for this aggression and all its repercussions. Syria also calls on the Iraqi government to shoulder its responsibilities and launch an immediate investigation into this serious violation and prevent the use of Iraqi territory for aggression against Syria," the government statement said

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UN: 22 October 2008 – More than 150 delegates from 71 countries are convening today at a United Nations conference in Nairobi to explore the roles of national bodies set up to protect or promote human rights in relation to the judiciary, law enforcement and monitoring of detention centres.

During the three-day meeting, national human rights institutions will also report on activities undertaken as part of the Dignity and Justice for Detainees Initiative.

Launched earlier this month by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, the initiative seeks to increase the pressure on States, parliaments, judiciaries and other relevant institutions to abolish – or at least reduce – arbitrary and unlawful detention.

Part of the campaign to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December, the scheme also seeks to ensure that conditions in prisons and other places of detention are brought in line with minimum global standards.

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UN: 21 October 2008 – The President of the General Assembly has announced he is setting up a high-level task force to review the global financial system, including major bodies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in response to the current turmoil that is affecting all countries, large and small.

Miguel D’Escoto has appointed Economics Nobel Laureate and Professor, Joseph Stiglitz, to chair the panel, which will also suggest steps to be taken by Member States “to secure a more stable global economic order,” according to a news release.

The composition and terms of reference of the task force will be announced soon after the holding of the Assembly’s special meeting on global financial crisis, scheduled for 30 October at UN Headquarters.

“There is a growing recognition that the current turmoil in the financial system cannot be solved through piecemeal responses at the national and regional levels but requires a coordinated effort at the global level,” the release stated

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UN: 20 October 2008 – The head of the United Nations labour agency has called for bold and innovative action to avert an unemployment crisis resulting from the current global financial turmoil, which could increase the number of jobless people worldwide by 20 million.

Preliminary estimates indicate that the financial crisis could increase the number of unemployed from 190 million in 2007 to 210 million in late 2009, noted Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

In addition, the number of working poor living on less than a dollar a day could rise by some 40 million – and those at $2 a day by more than 100 million. The sectors hit the hardest would be construction, automotive, tourism, finance, services and real estate.

Mr. Somavia added that the actual number could be even higher than the projections if the global community does not take immediate action to tackle the crisis.

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