Phoenix Software International® Expands IBM® z/OS® JES3 Source Code Licensing Agreement

New derivative works to bring additional functionality to JES3plus , JES3 and JES2

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Dec. 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Phoenix Software International, Inc., today announced it has expanded its source code licensing agreement with IBM for IBM z/OS JES3. As part of the agreement, Phoenix Software International plans to build on their initial JES3 source code license to add additional components in the Bulk Data Transfer space. This enables Phoenix Software International to bring to market a new set of product offerings, including derivative Bulk Data Transfer (BDT) components, File–to–File for JES2, JES3 and JES3plus environments and System Network Architecture (SNA) Network Job Entry (NJE) for JES3 and JES3plus environments, planned for 2021.

The BDT File–to–File element allows users of one z/OS system to copy or move MVS Sequential and Partitioned Data Sets to or from another z/OS system over a traditional SNA network or one that is carried over an IP infrastructure using Enterprise Extender (EE) technology. File–to–File supports a structured schedule for the copy/move operations and works with any z/OS system no matter which JES is in use. The BDT SNA/NJE element allows z/OS systems using JES3 or JES3plus to transfer jobs and job output over those same SNA–based networks.

JES3plus V1R0, the first release of Phoenix Software's JES3 derivative product, became available earlier this year offering a solution for z/OS customers wishing to remain on JES3 based functionality. Functional enhancements are being field tested now and are expected to be made generally available to customers in the first quarter of 2021.

To read the full story, see the Phoenix Software International Blog post:

For more information about JES3plus, visit

About Phoenix Software International

Phoenix Software International, Inc. (, is a systems software development company providing advanced software applications to enterprises around the globe. The company offers a wide range of solutions to modern business challenges.

Press Contact:
(310) 338–0400

Phoenix Software International® Expands IBM® z/OS® JES3 Source Code Licensing Agreement

New derivative works to bring additional functionality to JES3plus , JES3 and JES2

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Dec. 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Phoenix Software International, Inc., today announced it has expanded its source code licensing agreement with IBM for IBM z/OS JES3. As part of the agreement, Phoenix Software International plans to build on their initial JES3 source code license to add additional components in the Bulk Data Transfer space. This enables Phoenix Software International to bring to market a new set of product offerings, including derivative Bulk Data Transfer (BDT) components, File–to–File for JES2, JES3 and JES3plus environments and System Network Architecture (SNA) Network Job Entry (NJE) for JES3 and JES3plus environments, planned for 2021.

The BDT File–to–File element allows users of one z/OS system to copy or move MVS Sequential and Partitioned Data Sets to or from another z/OS system over a traditional SNA network or one that is carried over an IP infrastructure using Enterprise Extender (EE) technology. File–to–File supports a structured schedule for the copy/move operations and works with any z/OS system no matter which JES is in use. The BDT SNA/NJE element allows z/OS systems using JES3 or JES3plus to transfer jobs and job output over those same SNA–based networks.

JES3plus V1R0, the first release of Phoenix Software's JES3 derivative product, became available earlier this year offering a solution for z/OS customers wishing to remain on JES3 based functionality. Functional enhancements are being field tested now and are expected to be made generally available to customers in the first quarter of 2021.

To read the full story, see the Phoenix Software International Blog post:

For more information about JES3plus, visit

About Phoenix Software International

Phoenix Software International, Inc. (, is a systems software development company providing advanced software applications to enterprises around the globe. The company offers a wide range of solutions to modern business challenges.

Press Contact:
(310) 338–0400

UPDATE – dSPACE and LeddarTech Join Forces to Deliver Key Tools Enabling Deployment of ADAS and AD Systems

PADERBORN, Germany, and QUEBEC CITY, Canada, Dec. 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — dSPACE, one of the world's leading providers of simulation and validation solutions, and LeddarTech , a leader in Level 1 to 5 ADAS and AD sensing technology, have entered into a partnership to jointly drive forward the development of LiDAR technologies for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and Autonomous Driving (AD). This close cooperation will lead to high–precision simulation tools and models to support and significantly accelerate the development and validation of optimally tailored LeddarEngine–based LiDAR sensors and related ADAS & AD systems.

These tools enable customers to simulate their own LeddarEngine–based LiDAR sensor designs versus integration of third–party black box LiDARs. Simulation more specifically helps designers efficiently explore various LiDAR sensor architectures and components in development of their own optimal LiDAR design and validate the resulting performance within specific application use cases. This validation includes physically accurate simulation of the LiDAR and the vehicle environment, including objects in motion (e.g., vehicles, pedestrians), the road and other static objects (e.g., traffic signs, curbs).

"The right testing strategy, the right models and ready–to–use interfaces for simulation and reprocessing are key building blocks," said Dr. Christopher Wiegand, Product Manager at dSPACE. "This partnership with an industry leader in solid–state automotive LiDAR and sensing solutions enables our customers to accurately and quickly perform validation tasks for LiDAR–based applications. Without reliable simulations, automated driving systems (SAE Levels 3–5) cannot be achieved."

"The collaboration between dSpace and LeddarTech will yield enhanced simulation tools that will greatly ease and accelerate the development of optimized LiDARs," stated Michael Poulin, Vice–President, Strategic Partnerships and Corporate Development at LeddarTech. "We are delighted to welcome dSpace as a new member of the Leddar Ecosystem, supporting the mass deployment of automotive LiDAR within cost–efficient and safe ADAS & AD systems."

About dSPACE
dSPACE is a leading provider of solutions for developing connected, autonomous and electrically powered vehicles. Particularly automotive manufacturers and their suppliers use the company's end–to–end solution range to test the software and hardware components of their new vehicles long before a new model is allowed on the road. dSPACE is not only a sought–after development partner in vehicle development. Engineers also rely on our dSPACE know–how in aerospace and industrial automation. Our portfolio ranges from end–to–end solutions for simulation and validation to engineering and consulting services as well as training and support. With approximately 1,800 employees worldwide, dSPACE is headquartered in Paderborn, Germany; has three project centers in Germany; and serves customers through regional dSPACE companies in the USA, the UK, France, Japan, China and Croatia.

About LeddarTech
LeddarTech is a leader in environmental sensing platforms for autonomous vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems. Founded in 2007, LeddarTech has evolved to become a comprehensive end–to–end environmental sensing company by enabling customers to solve critical sensing and perception challenges across the entire value chain of the automotive and mobility market segments. With its LeddarVision sensor–fusion and perception platform and its cost–effective, scalable, and versatile LiDAR development solution for automotive–grade solid–state LiDARs based on the LeddarEngine, LeddarTech enables Tier 1–2 automotive system integrators to develop full–stack sensing solutions for autonomy level 1 to 5. These solutions are actively deployed in autonomous shuttle, truck, bus, delivery vehicle, smart city/factory, and robotaxi applications. The company is responsible for several innovations in cutting–edge automotive and mobility remote–sensing applications, with over 95 patented technologies (granted or pending) enhancing ADAS and autonomous driving capabilities.

Additional information about LeddarTech is accessible at and on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Daniel Aitken, Vice–President, Global Marketing, Communications, and Product Management, LeddarTech Inc.
Tel.: + 1–418–653–9000 ext. 232

Bernd Schfers–Maiwald Ulrich Nolte
Vice President Corporate Communications Senior Communications Manager
Rathenaustrae 26 Rathenaustrae 26
33102 Paderborn 33102 Paderborn
Tel: +49 5251 1638–714 Tel.: +49 5251 1638–941
Fax: +49 5251 16198–714 Fax: +49 5251 16198–1448
E–mail: bschaefers– E–mail:,

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at–b301–4b74–aea5–ea32de5a39ae

Entera Bio Announces FDA Approval of IND Application for EB613 – an Oral Human Parathyroid Hormone (1-34) for the Treatment of Osteoporosis

BOSTON and JERUSALEM, Israel, Dec. 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Entera Bio Ltd. (NASDAQ: ENTX), a leader in the development of orally delivered large molecule therapeutics, announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed the company's Investigational New Drug (IND) application for EB613, orally delivered human parathyroid hormone (1–34), or PTH and informed Entera that it may proceed with its initial U.S. clinical trial. EB613 is positioned as the first potential drug candidate that could provide a patient friendly, once daily, oral, bone building (anabolic) treatment for osteoporosis patients.

"There is a clear and compelling need for an oral PTH treatment that builds bone in patients with osteoporosis. With enrollment in the ongoing Phase 2 clinical trial of EB613 complete, we look forward to reporting the final biomarker data in the first quarter of 2021 and the final bone mineral density data from this trial in the second quarter of 2021," stated Arthur Santora, MD, PhD Chief Medical Officer of Entera. "Subject to the successful completion of the EB613 Phase 2 clinical trial, we intend to enter into a dialogue with the FDA to discuss the design of a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial in order to ensure we meet all of the FDA's requirements for potential approval under the 505 (b)(2) regulatory pathway."

As part of the IND filing, Entera provided to the FDA data from a total of more than 70 subjects from two previously completed Phase 1 trials conducted in Israel during the development of EB613 and from an additional 35 subjects that participated in Entera's EB612 studies in Israel, including a 4 month hypoparathyroidism trial. EB613 is currently in a dose–ranging, placebo–controlled study in postmenopausal female subjects with osteoporosis, or low BMD, that is being conducted at four leading medical centers in Israel.

About EB613

EB613 is an orally delivered human parathyroid hormone (1–34), or PTH, drug candidate positioned as the first potential once daily, oral, bone building (anabolic) treatment for osteoporosis patients. Teriparatide for injection (marketed under the brand name Forteo ) was approved in the U.S. in 2002 for the treatment of osteoporosis in men and postmenopausal women who are at high risk for having a fracture and is taken daily via a subcutaneous injection. Entera Bio completed enrollment of a 6–month phase 2 study in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, or low BMD evaluating multiple doses of oral EB613 (and placebo) on BMD of the spine and proximal femur (hip), and anticipates reporting top–line BMD efficacy and safety results for the trial in the second quarter of 2021.

About Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, which leads to greater fragility and an increase in fracture risk. Osteoporosis is also a silent disease, often displaying no signs or symptoms until a fracture occurs, leaving the majority of patients undiagnosed and untreated, representing a high unmet medical need. The debilitating effects of osteoporosis have substantial costs and osteoporotic fractures create a significant healthcare burden. An estimated two million osteoporotic fractures occur annually in the United States, and this number is projected to grow to three million by 2025. The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) has estimated that eight million women already have osteoporosis, and another approximately 44 million may have low bone mass placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis. In US women 55 years of age and older, the hospitalization burden of osteoporotic fractures and population facility–related hospital cost is greater than that of myocardial infarction, stroke, or breast cancer.

About Entera Bio

Entera is a leader in the development of orally delivered large molecule therapeutics for use in areas with significant unmet medical need where adoption of injectable therapies is limited due to cost, convenience and compliance challenges for patients. The Company's proprietary, oral drug delivery technology is designed to address the technical challenges of poor absorption, high variability, and the inability to deliver large molecules to the targeted location in the body through the use of a synthetic absorption enhancer to facilitate the absorption of large molecules, and protease inhibitors to prevent enzymatic degradation and support delivery to targeted tissues. The Company's most advanced product candidates, EB613 for the treatment of osteoporosis and EB612 for the treatment of hypoparathyroidism are in Phase 2 clinical development. Entera also licenses its technology to biopharmaceutical companies for use with their proprietary compounds and, to date, has established a collaboration with Amgen Inc. For more information on Entera Bio, visit

Forward Looking Statements

Various statements in this release are "forward–looking statements" under the securities laws. Words such as, but not limited to, "anticipate," "believe," "can," "could," "expect," "estimate," "design," "goal," "intend," "may," "might," "objective," "plan," "predict," "project," "target," "likely," "should," "will," and "would," or the negative of these terms and similar expressions or words, identify forward–looking statements. Forward–looking statements are based upon current expectations that involve risks, changes in circumstances, assumptions and uncertainties. Forward–looking statements should not be read as a guarantee of future performance or results and may not be accurate indications of when such performance or results will be achieved.

Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those reflected in Entera's forward–looking statements include, among others: changes in our interpretation of the interim data from the ongoing Phase 2 clinical trial of EB613, the timing of data readouts from the ongoing Phase 2 clinical trial of EB613, unexpected changes in our ongoing and planned preclinical development and clinical trials, the timing of and our ability to make regulatory filings and obtain and maintain regulatory approvals for our product candidates; a possible suspension of the Phase 2 clinical trial of EB613 for clinical or data–related reasons; the impact of COVID–19 on Entera's business operations including the ability to collect the necessary data from the Phase 2 trial of EB613; the potential disruption and delay of manufacturing supply chains, loss of available workforce resources, either by Entera or its collaboration and laboratory partners, due to travel restrictions, lay–offs or forced closures or repurposing of hospital facilities; impacts to research and development or clinical activities that Entera is contractually obligated to provide, such as pursuant to Entera's agreement with Amgen; overall regulatory timelines, if the FDA or other authorities are closed for prolonged periods, choose to allocate resources to review of COVID–19 related drugs or believe that the amount of Phase 2 clinical data collected are insufficient to initiate a Phase 3 trial, or a meaningful deterioration of the current political, legal and regulatory situation in Israel or the United States; the availability, quality and timing of the data from the Phase 2 clinical trial of EB613 in osteoporosis patients; the ability find a dose that demonstrates the comparability of EB613 to FORTEO in the ongoing Phase 2 clinical trial of EB613; the size and growth of the potential market for EB613 and Entera's other product candidates including any possible expansion of the market if an orally delivered option is available in addition to an injectable formulation; the scope, progress and costs of developing Entera's product candidates; Entera's reliance on third parties to conduct its clinical trials; Entera's expectations regarding licensing, business transactions and strategic collaborations; Entera's operation as a development stage company with limited operating history; Entera's ability to continue as a going concern absent access to sources of liquidity; Entera's expectations regarding its expenses, revenue, cash resources, including the amount of cash and cash equivalents as of September 30, 2020 referenced above, which has not been audited or reviewed by Entera's independent registered public accounting firm and should be viewed in the context of all other available information regarding Entera's results of operations, liquidity and financial condition; Entera's ability to raise additional capital; Entera's interpretation of FDA feedback and guidance and how such guidance may impact its clinical development plans; Entera's ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approval for any of its product candidates; Entera's ability to comply with Nasdaq's minimum listing standards and other matters related to compliance with the requirements of being a public company in the United States; Entera's intellectual property position and its ability to protect its intellectual property; and other factors that are described in the "Special Note Regarding Forward–Looking Statements," "Risk Factors" and "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" sections of Entera's annual and current filings which are on file with the SEC and available free of charge on the SEC's website at Additional factors may be set forth in those sections of Entera's Quarterly Report on Form 6–K for the quarter ended September 30, 2020, filed with the SEC in the fourth quarter of 2020. In addition to the risks described above and in Entera's annual report on Form 20–F and current reports on Form 6–K and other filings with the SEC, other unknown or unpredictable factors also could affect Entera's results. There can be no assurance that the actual results or developments anticipated by Entera will be realized or, even if substantially realized, that they will have the expected consequences to, or effects on, Entera. Therefore, no assurance can be given that the outcomes stated in such forward–looking statements and estimates will be achieved.

All written and verbal forward–looking statements attributable to Entera or any person acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements contained or referred to herein. Entera cautions investors not to rely too heavily on the forward–looking statements Entera makes or that are made on its behalf. The information in this release is provided only as of the date of this release, and Entera undertakes no obligation, and specifically declines any obligation, to update or revise publicly any forward–looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Can Agricultural Apps Bring Indonesia’s Farmers Back to the Fields?

Farmers in Indonesia’s West Java province. Indonesia’s agriculture sector is facing two major issues – decreases in both the number of farmers and irrigated rice fields. Credit: Kanis Dursin/IPS

Farmers in Indonesia’s West Java province. Indonesia’s agriculture sector is facing two major issues – decreases in both the number of farmers and irrigated rice fields. Credit: Kanis Dursin/IPS

By Kanis Dursin
JAKARTA, Dec 10 2020 – When his friends prodded him to use an agricultural app in July, rice farmer Mustafa reluctantly downloaded RiTx Bertani into his smart phone. Four months later, he feels happy to have given the technology a try.

“I started using the application in early September when I planted rice on 0.7 hectare of irrigated land,” the 41-year-old told IPS last month in a phone interview from Bondowoso regency in East Java, a one-hour flight east of the capital Jakarta.

“I cannot tell yet if it helps boost production or not, but I am very happy with the technology. It helped me detect and identify a rice disease in late September. We had always called rice diseases brown planthopper before and used the same medicines to control the disease. Thanks to the technology, we now know different rice diseases and can use appropriate insecticides to deal with them,” said the father of two.

Developed by start-up tech company PT Mitra Sejahtera Membangun Bangsa (MSMB), RiTx Bertani is designed to help farmers deal with climate change and other problems they may have through digital technology. RiTx comes from the words agriculture technology, while Bertani literally means farming.

Another farmer, Kurlufi, meanwhile, said he downloaded the application in 2018 but uninstalled it shortly after as he found it less helpful for his chilli crop. Earlier this year, he decided to reinstall it as the price of chilli suddenly dropped.

“The price of chilli has dropped sharply since the coronavirus hit the country in March. I looked for alternative crops when the application suggested that my field was suitable for cucumber,” the 42-year-old father of two told IPS from Banyuwangi regency, also in East Java.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has killed 18,366 people as of today (Dec.10) has forced people to work from home and plant vegetables at their backyards, driving down the price of food crops due to low demand.

Kurlufi owns 0.95 hectares of farm land. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, he has planted cucumber on 0.6 hectares of his field for two successive seasons, harvesting eight kilograms of cucumber seeds in the first season and 18 kilograms in the second. Each season last for almost three months.

“I sold the seeds for Rp450,000 (US$32) per kilogram to a local company,” he said.

“I find the technology very useful for people who have no prior or little experience in farming. In my case, it helps me decide what crops to plant and when to hire workers to do the pollination as it provides weather forecasts for the next six to seven days,” Kurlufi added.

Mustafa and Kurlufi are two of 11,000 farmers in eight provinces in Indonesia using RiTx Bertani, one of dozens of agricultural apps currently available as the government promotes Smart Farming 4.0 or digitised agriculture.

MSMB project manager Rizal Dwi Prastyo said they have both hardware — in the form of on-field sensors, which are connected to the internet — and software — in the form of the RiTx Bertani app.

“Users have to submit detailed information about their fields, including the size, borders, latitude, and longitude for the sensors to locate. Once the sensors detect the fields, they immediately measure the soil’s moisture and air temperature and feeds those information to the internet,” Prastyo told IPS from Yogyakarta, a 50-minute flight east of Jakarta.

One sensor, which costs approximately $2,700, covers an area of 10 hectares of land.

Based on the soil’s current moisture, Prastyo said, agriculture experts at the company provide suggestions to farmers through the app on what crops suit their land best for the next planting season.

“Throughout the season, the sensors measure soil moisture and air humidity every 10 minutes and upload them into the internet. Users can read the feeds through the app under the sensor menu. Farmers need this kind of information to apply fertiliser or spray pesticides, if needed,” he continued.

The application, Prastyo said, also allows farmers to record all farming activity and save them under a record menu so they know exactly when next to apply fertiliser or spray pesticides or insecticides. Farmers can also ask for additional assistance through the online forum.

Activist Said Iqbal of non-governmental organisation People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty welcomed the use of apps in farming but said he doubted that digitised agriculture would improve the welfare of farmers and help the country achieve food sovereignty in the immediate future.

“Digitising the agriculture sector is unavoidable now but the root of the matter is farmers find no incentive to boost production. Why? Because they control on-farm activities only, while upstream and downstream activities are controlled by big businesses. It has become a public knowledge that intermediaries or traders earn more than twice of farmers’ earnings,” he said.

He also said most farmers in Indonesia were small holders, with each owning an average of 0.2 hectares of irrigated land. “Because of that condition, many farmers choose to sell their productive land and work as cheap labour, further reducing irrigated fields, especially on Java Island,” Iqbal said.

Another activist, Tejo Wahyu Jatmiko of the Alliance for Prosperous Village, agreed with Iqbal, saying that Indonesia’s agriculture sector was facing two major issues – decreases in both the number of farmers and irrigated rice fields.

Quoting a report by the Central Statistics Agency or BPS, Jatmiko told a webinar in Jakarta that the country had only 33.4 million farmers in 2019, down from 35.6 million in 2015, while irrigated fields stood at 10.68 million hectares in 2019, down by 700 hectares from 2018.

These conditions have resulted in fluctuations in rice production, forcing the government to import rice to meet the needs of over 270 million people. BPS reports show that the country imported 444,508 tons of rice in 2019, down from 2.25 million tons in 2018, 305,270 tons in 2017, and 1.28 million tons in 2016.

However, in terms of sustainable agriculture, Indonesia has a score of 61.1 out of 100,where 100 is the highest sustainability and greatest progress towards meeting environmental, societal and economic Key Performance Indicators. This is according to the Food Sustainability Index, developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition

In a bid to increase farmers’ welfare, since 2017 President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has promoted farmer corporation, where farmers are organised into business ventures, founded and financed by farmers themselves, with the aim of controlling both on-farm and off-farm activities in the agricultural sector.

Dr. Syahyuti, a researcher with the Indonesian Center of Socio-Economic and Agricultural Policy of the Ministry of Agriculture, said under the corporation concept, farmers are also involved in the provision of seeds, fertiliser, agricultural machines, and capital with on-farm activities, and buying, milling, and selling rice in off-farm activities.

Based on experiences in some sub-districts, Syahyuti said farmers corporations increased farmers’ income by 72 percent.

While the government is working to organise farmers into business groups, Mustafa is upbeat that digitised agriculture will help increase the number of farmers in Indonesia.

“I notice the number of people tilling land in the district has increased since [using] the RiTx Bertani [app]. Many of them are young and unexperienced. I get the impression that with the technology arming is no longer a dirty job, but a lifestyle that more and more people embrace,” Mustafa said.


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Ferns N Petals Launches Exclusive Gifts Collection for Christmas 2020

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Established in 1994, Ferns N Petals is a major gifting portal in India. In Dubai and all across the UAE, the brand is a renowned name for the past 5 years. Keeping in mind the crucial times of the pandemic, the company has launched an exclusive Christmas gifts collection on their website. Christmas is a festival which is celebrated all around the world with great splendour. This year, the pandemic has affected the celebration style of all festivals. Ferns N Petals brought some respite by launching its Christmas collection. Now, you can avail online delivery for Christmas gifts in Dubai and all around the UAE.

With its Christmas collection, the company has made the process of sending gifts to family and friends an easy and safe task. Customers can choose from personalised gifts to delectable cakes that will make for a remarkable gift. The online gifting portal offers exceptional delivery services, and customers can send gifts to any corner of the country by sitting at their home and being safe amidst the pandemic.

Talking about the launch, Mr Rajesh Kumar, Business Head– Ferns N Petals UAE, said, "We have launched exclusive gifts for Christmas & the holiday season. The new launch includes a wide range of gift baskets, plants, seasonal flowers, ornaments, personalised and home decor items. We understand that Christmas is going to be slightly different this year due to the current pandemic situation. To help our customers, we launched a wide range of decoration product lines for offices and homes, which will allow them not to miss the experience of witnessing the amusement park decorations on Christmas eve. We have a huge range of edible items which include personalised cakes, plum cake, ginger house, chocolates, log cakes and more. In addition to this, we have a wonderful poinsettia plant & Christmas tree range which is perfect for gifting as well as decorating your homes."

He further added, “Ferns N Petals is aiming to operate with full capacity at all the branches which will make it easier for the customers to order last–minute gifts. Customers can avail same–day delivery and midnight delivery of Christmas gifts in Dubai and UAE through our efficient delivery system.”

For more information please visit:

Media contact

Saurabh Singh
+971– 56 4041502
Manager – Digital Marketing
Ferns N Petals UAE

If Your Civic Space is Closed, your Human Rights Dissolve

Credit: Forus International

By Bibbi Abruzzini
PARIS, Dec 10 2020 – On Human Rights Day, civil society calls for the protection of civic space as a fundamental freedom, as more than 80% of the world’s population live in countries where civic space is closed, repressed or obstructed.

Protecting civil society and fundamental freedoms means protecting the rights to associate and assemble, to express views and opinions. Civic space is the bedrock of any open and democratic society. When civic space is open, citizens and civil society organizations are able to organize, participate and communicate, claiming their rights and influencing the political and social structures around them. But this is not the case for most citizens around the world, new data unveils.

A recent study on Enabling Environment, with data from over 40 National NGO platforms, by Forus, Cooperation Canada, and AidWatch Canada, finds that 40% of NGO platforms continue to face high levels of impunity in the use of excessive force against human rights, gender and environmental defenders, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Asia.

For 50% of NGO platforms, national laws and regulations are a key barrier to civil society activities in their country. In times of Covid, hurdles have multiplied, with 68% of NGO platforms noting that the health crisis was used to justify restrictions on their activities within the boundaries of legal and regulatory frameworks, and for 23%, the health crisis led to increased arbitrary restrictions.

We’ve been really alarmed and we’ve spoken loudly through our megaphones, wherever we have been able to speak up, to say that governments should stop using the state of emergency to crack down on civil society,” says Sarah Brandt from Globalt Fokus, the Danish national platform of NGOs.

Some groups are more subject to harassment or interference by the government than others. In Cambodia, media outlets are particularly targeted. In Spain, the Occupy movement and those fighting against la “ley mordazas” or “gag law” introducing limitations on protests and imposing administrative sanctions against demonstrators both online and offline. In Colombia, Chile and Argentina, organisations representing indigenous, social leaders and trade unions are routinely scrutinized and attacked. In the UK, organisations that work with migrants, refugees, and the Muslim community face continuous pressures. In Denmark, the organisations being targeted include anti-establishment groups such as ANTIFA and Extinction Rebellion.

With increased surveillance, persecution and violence, only half of NGO platforms turn to national governments as institutional channels to promote accountability for attacks on civil society, while over two thirds use Human Rights Councils and the judiciary system. This shows the crucial role played by human rights institutions, which continue to be guardians of fundamental rights and never cease upholding democratic values.

Credit: Forus International

Carlos Andrés Orellana Cruz, joined ASONOG, the Honduran national platform of civil society organisations, to support local communities defending their territory from mining projects in one of the world’s most infertile lands when it comes to human and civil rights.

The only way to protect ourselves is by protecting others. No struggle is or should be isolated, social change cannot happen in small groups of people seeking quotas of power, but in an active and mobilized citizen participation, with effective exchange of knowledge and commitment to principles of social justice and democracy,” Carlos explains.

In countries like Honduras, this is becoming increasingly difficult, as 2019 marked the deadliest year worldwide for frontline activists. In 2020, according to CIVICUS, attacks continued to target activists as well as journalists, and the Honduran government introduced a new criminal code enabling the criminalization of these actors. This dire context is coupled with the little support civil society receives from institutional channels. 42% of NGO platforms report examples of efforts by governments or other major development actor to actively discredit their work.

Lockdown has forced many protests off the streets, yet changes in the digital environment, including the implementation of new technologies, software and access to information, have positively contributed to an enabling environment for civil society, according to a third of NGO platforms interviewed in the study. In contrast, 40% have experienced mixed to negative impacts and 15% merely negative impacts, as online spaces exacerbate the risk of widening the digital gap, privacy breaches and crackdowns.

For activists like Yasmine Ouirhrane, former Young European of the Year and Founder & Podcast Host at We Belong, digital realms have opened new spaces for much needed cross-cultural dialogues. With her online platform and podcast she amplifies the voice of the “new daughters of Europe”, focusing on conversations with young women representing the diversity of the region, breaking stereotypes, navigating multiple identities, and challenging the conventional wisdom of what it means to “belong”.

As Youth, we have been great advocates for our own rights. We have been outspoken: raising our concerns, tweeting our moods, demonstrating during Fridays for OUR future, even gaining seats at the decision-making table,” says Yasmine. “Yet, not all of us can speak up, not all of us are heard, not all of us are seen. Stories remain untold. The road for inclusion is still long and it’s time that we reflect on the invisible youth, the ones that have no means or hope to engage”.

The Forus Enabling Environment study calls for the inclusion of civil society in policy dialogues especially in rural and regional settings, in local languages and using diverse and locally appropriate technologies.

Only 7,5% of NGO platforms indicated that their governments effectively support civil society organisations with more limited capacities and resources.

This needs to change. Promoting a healthy civil society means protecting fundamental human rights, essential to the creation and maintenance of civic space, but more importantly of a healthy and just society.

The new report by Forus , Cooperation Canada and AidWatch Canada was produced with the financial support from Bread for the World and the French Development Agency.


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Reduce Military Spending – the Much-Needed Response to Violence Against Women

The United Nations is conducting a 16-day social media campaign from 25 November to 9 December for its 2020 Campaign: 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. The 16 Days of Activism is a worldwide campaign calling for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence (GBV). Credit: International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA)

By Maria Victoria (Mavic) Cabrera Balleza
NEW YORK, Dec 10 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic is NOT the biggest pandemic the world confronts at the moment, despite over 69 million cases and 1.5 million deaths worldwide.1 If it’s not COVID, what is it then? It is violence against women!

Globally, 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 have been subjected to sexual and/or physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner in the past 12 months alone.2 The figure increases by 30 per cent if the violence experienced by women and girls in their lifetime is added.3

These numbers are likely underestimates, since many women do not report sexual and intimate partner violence due to stigma associated with it. The UN Women policy brief on COVID-19 and VAW points out that less than 40 per cent of the women who have experienced violence seek help.

Those who do, often turn to family and friends, and less than 10 per cent report to the police. This perpetuates a culture of impunity as perpetrators go unpunished.

The data clearly shows that violence against women and girls is a global emergency, which requires urgent action. It can take many forms, from human trafficking and sexual slavery, through rape and forced sexual acts, to bettering and sexual harassment—on the street, at workplace, school and online.

Harmful cultural practices – such as female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage are also forms of violence against women and girls. The list goes on.

Gender-based violence can happen to anyone, anytime, and anywhere. However, some women and girls are particularly vulnerable. Some of them are young girls and older women, women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex, migrant, refugee and displaced women and girls, indigenous women and girls, women and girls from ethnic and religious minorities, women and girls with disabilities, and those living in situations of conflict and humanitarian crises.

The threat of violence faced by millions of women and men around the world has been compounded by the security, health, and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are trapped at home with their abusers, while women’s shelters and domestic violence hotlines are struggling to meet demands.

As the world grapples with COVID-19, it is also past time to take concrete action to address the shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls.

United Nations response

There is no shortage in UN campaigns, programs, task forces and initiatives that all aim to end violence against women and girls

Groups such as the Group of Friends for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls and the Action Coalition for Gender-based violence bring together civil society, Member States, UN agencies, international organizations, and philanthropies provide space for sharing lessons learned, coordinating action and mobilizing resources to end violence against women and girls.

The Spotlight Initiative, a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations launched in 2019 has committed a record €500 million to end violence against women and girls.

Advocacy and communications campaigns such as the UNiTE by 2030 campaign managed by UN Women, call on governments, civil society, women’s organizations, young people, the private sector, the media, and the entire UN system to join forces in addressing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls.

There is also the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee), all of which have specific but related mandates that address violence against women and girls.

How effective is the UN response to violence against women and girls? The effectiveness of the UN response was put to a major test by the outbreak of COVID-19. The massive increase in the incidence of violence against women and girls is an indication that the response is ineffective—or at best—insufficient.

While one could argue that the weakness of individual Member States both in managing the pandemic and addressing violence against women and girls cannot be attributed to the UN, the shortcomings brought to light by the pandemic beg the question: how can the UN improve Member States’ compliance with and implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the International Labour Organisation’s Violence and Harassment Convention, and the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and its supporting resolutions?

All of these are powerful international laws that call on the UN and Member States to take concrete actions on this issue. However, the pandemic has demonstrated that actions taken to date have barely scratched the surface of the complex and pervasive issue of violence against women and girls. An effective and sustainable response requires structural changes, and a re-evaluation of global priorities!

The UN Secretary-General’s call

The current global priorities are most clearly visible if we follow the money. USD $1.9 trillion! This is how much the world spent to run military institutions in 2019, the largest annual increase in military expenditure since 2010.4 Let that sink in!!!

Meanwhile, women’s shelters are underfunded, many women—including victims of sexual violence—do not have access to quality healthcare, including maternal and reproductive health, and many women’s rights organizations are struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To end violence against women, Member States and donors need to put their money where their mouths are. It is not only the right and necessary choice—it is also a smart investment.

According to the World Bank, violence against women is estimated to cost countries up to 3.7% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—more than double what most governments spend on education.5

UN Women estimates that cost to be approximately $1.5 trillion6 – almost at the level of the record-high military expenditures. Preventing violence against women and girls first and foremost saves lives—but it can also save money.

In his 2020 report on Women and Peace and Security, the Secretary-General drew attention to the stark difference between soaring rates of military spending and the strains in social protection systems including the unavailability of necessary health care that disproportionately impact women and girls. It also underlined how bilateral aid to women’s organizations in fragile or conflict-affected countries has stagnated at 0.2 per cent of total bilateral aid ($96 million on average per year).

The Secretary-General’s report marks the 20th anniversary of Resolution 1325, arguably the most important international law that address violence against women and girls in conflict situations. It presents five goals for the next decade.

It called on the international community to “Reverse the upward trajectory in global military spending with a view to encouraging greater investment in the social infrastructure and services that buttress human security.”

Moreover, the Secretary-General urged Member States to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, control the availability of armaments; to promote the participation of women in all arms control and disarmament processes and forums; and to reduce excessive military expenditures.

The current context calls for renewed efforts to curb military spending, which has been a chief strategic objective of the women’s movement for peace, he further stressed.

Complementing his call for reduced military spending, the other goal presented by the Secretary-General is to galvanize the donor community for universal compliance with a minimum of 15 per cent of ODA to conflict-affected countries dedicated to advancing gender equality, and the remaining 85 per cent to integrate gender considerations, including multiplying by five the direct assistance to women’s organizations.

The reduction of military spending does not only represent the possibility of financial resources that could support women and girls who are victims of gender-based violence as well as predictable core funds to women’s rights organizations.

It is also an opportunity to generate stronger political commitment to disarmament and arms control and eliminate the threats posed by the estimated one billion small arms that are circulating globally. It can also lead to preventing the use of arms to commit or facilitate serious acts of violence against women and girls.

We, in the women, peace and security community as well as all actors working on gender equality, human rights, and the elimination of violence against women and girls must waste no time.

Let us all come together and seize the moment to present our evidence-based analysis, and policy recommendations in order to influence policy outcomes and decisions that divert weapons spending to fund civil society’s initiatives to end violence against women and girls, and COVID-19 response and recovery.

1 Worldometer, “COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic”, Updated 9 December 2020. Accessed from
2 UN Women, “COVID-19 and Ending Violence Against Women and Girls”, 2020. Available at:
3 World Health Organization, “Global and Regional Estimates of Violence Against Women: Prevalence and Health Effects of Intimate Partner Violence and Non-Partner Sexual Violence”, 2013. Available at:
4 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, “Global military expenditure sees largest annual increase in a decade—says SIPRI—reaching $1917 billion in 2019”, 27 April 2020. Available at:
5 World Bank, “Gender-Based Violence (Violence Against Women and Girls)”, 25 September 2019. Available at:
6 UN-Women, “COVID-19 and ending violence against women and girls”, 2020. Available at:


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ClearOne Expands Middle East Distribution with New Redington Partnership

SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As Middle East AV markets continue to grow, ClearOne, ClearOne (NASDAQ: CLRO), a global provider of audio and visual communications solutions, begins its newest partnership agreement for distribution of Audio Conferencing, Visual Collaboration, and AV Networking throughout the Middle East with Redington, a multi–billion dollar end–to–end supply chain solutions provider for all categories of Information Technology, Telecom, and Digital Lifestyle products.

"We are excited to represent ClearOne for distribution across Middle East. The current changes in the environment have resulted in an increased demand for unified communication solutions and a brand such as ClearOne will definitely help businesses across the region collaborate better with its wide range of solutions," said Jeetendra Berry, President– IT Volume Distribution (Middle East), Redington Gulf. "Redington will provide these solutions through its network of System Integrators and IT resellers who are keen on offering these solutions to businesses in the region."

"Our partnerships around the globe provide a strong network of organizations teamed with ClearOne to make AV professionals successful," states ClearOne Chair and CEO Zee Hakimoglu. "Redington's highly respected reputation as a go–to IT resource for their robust reseller channels is built upon a strong foundation of customer focus that creates a winning solution for everyone involved."

# # #

About Redington
Established in 1993, Redington has traversed an eventful and exciting journey to evolve from very humble beginnings into the company we are today. The incredible journey has seen us emerge from one brand, one product category, and one market into a US $7.3 billion distribution and supply chain solutions provider to over 230+ international brands in IT and Mobility spaces, serving 37 emerging markets.

About ClearOne
ClearOne is a global market leader enabling conferencing, collaboration, and network streaming solutions. The performance and simplicity of its advanced, comprehensive solutions offer unprecedented levels of functionality, reliability, and scalability. Visit ClearOne at

Education Cannot Wait Interviews H.E. Mr. Stanislas Ouaro, Minister of National Education and Literacy, Burkina Faso

By External Source
Dec 10 2020 (IPS-Partners)

H.E. Mr. Stanislas Ouaro became the Minister of National Education and Literacy of Burkina Faso in February 2018 after a long academic career. Between 2012 and 2018, Mr. Ouaro was the President of the Université Ouaga II. Prior to that, the eminent mathematician held several teaching and administrative posts with Ouagadougou University. Mr. Ouaro is widely published, and has also served as the President of the Réseau pour l’Excellence de l’Enseignement Supérieur en Afrique de l’Ouest (Network for Excellence in Higher Education in West Africa). A leading advocate for education and equality, Mr. Ouaro has been awarded several academic awards in Burkina Faso and elsewhere.

In this incisive interview, the minister explores the upcoming Education Cannot Wait-financed multi-year resilience programme and the triple threat of Conflict, COVID-19 and the Climate Crisis, which have come together to displace over 1 million people in Burkina Faso. Learn more about ECW-financed programmes in the Sahel and Burkina Faso.

ECW: Please tell us about the situation in the education sector in Burkina Faso. What are the key challenges and priorities?

H.E. Mr. Stanislas Ouaro: In Burkina Faso, the education sector is suffering the negative effects of the security and health crises. The security crisis is characterized by terrorist attacks resulting in the deaths of students and teachers, as well as the destruction of education infrastructure. This has resulted in the closure of more than 2,300 schools and a massive displacement of populations estimated at more than one million people, including school-age children and youth. As for the COVID-19 health crisis, this resulted in the closure of all schools in Burkina Faso for several months. The education system is therefore faced with many challenges, including the reopening of closed schools, the schooling of displaced children and maintaining the continuity of education for all learners.

To meet these challenges, a certain number of priority actions are envisaged within our department through the National Strategy for Education in Emergency Situations, which is our reference framework for education in emergencies (EiE). This involves promoting access and retention through (i) the reopening of closed schools, (ii) increasing the capacity of schools in areas hosting displaced communities, (iii) the rehabilitation of damaged buildings, (iv) the establishment of temporary learning spaces, (v) relevant supplies to school canteens to take into account internally displaced students, (vi) the provision of textbooks and school kits for schools hosting displaced children, (vii) increasing coordination and steering capacities of the education sector, (viii) training teachers on the EiE/INEE standards approach and on education curricula in emergency.

In addition, the operationalization of “Educational Radio and Television” will ensure the continuity of education in areas that are hard to reach or with poor infrastructural coverage. In addition to this, the creation of an emergency fund for EiE will increase the resilience of the education sector in the face of these crises.

ECW: Your partnership with Education Cannot Wait has been instrumental in delivering emergency responses in the education sector. As we now move forward with a multi-year education investment that addresses both humanitarian and development needs in the education sector, what are your expectations on the ECW Multi-Year Resilience Programme (MYRP) which will be launched soon and why is it so crucial today.

H.E. Mr. Stanislas Ouaro: I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Education Cannot Wait for their unwavering support in our efforts to support education in emergencies. As for our expectations, we would like the multi-year programme to help improve access, quality, and the management and resilience capacities of communities. Regarding access, we hope this programme can help to diversify learning opportunities in areas affected by insecurity through the creation of temporary learning spaces and the promotion of education alternatives. These interventions should also facilitate access to school for many children from vulnerable households, minority groups, children living with disabilities, girls, etc. In addition, through interventions adapted to the emergency context, we would like to improve the quality of learning, protection and retention of students. Strengthening the technical and logistical capacities of state actors responsible for coordinating EiE activities is also a key expectation. Finally, the multi-year programme should help strengthen the resilience capacities of local communities. Indeed, due to the scarcity of resources and the recurrence of humanitarian crises, it is important to equip beneficiary communities with essential skills to prevent the occurrence of crises or to respond to them effectively.

ECW: Burkina Faso is facing the terrible triple threat of Conflict, COVID-19 and Climate Crisis. There are now over 1 million internally displaced persons and 20,000 refugees in Burkina Faso. Knowing what you know now, what is your message to children and youth in Burkina Faso?

H.E. Mr. Stanislas Ouaro: My message to children and young people in this context of both security and health crises is to have faith in the future. It may seem difficult, if not impossible, to hold on to hope in a context as complex as that of insecurity, but I would like to point out that faith is a powerful springboard for overcoming the trials that life places on us at times. While protecting us from relinquishing, it pushes us to cling to life, to dream of the world we aspire to and to fight to make our dream come true: a world where everyone occupies their rightful place in terms of the education they have received. Moreover, education can equip individuals with the knowledge essential to their permanent adaptation to an increasingly changing living environment. Conversely, the lack of education can plunge many children and young people into a certain vulnerability that could benefit terrorist groups who dream of embroiling them in their murderous madness. It is in this perspective that the State, together with its technical and financial partners, is doing everything to ensure quality education for all despite the specific circumstances of the emergency situation.

However, this dream cannot be realized without taking responsibility at the individual and collective level; that’s why I invite everyone to fully play their part. Moreover, our steadfast determination is to fight to guarantee them a quality education because it is the most powerful weapon to overcome ignorance. I firmly believe that by increasing the level of knowledge of individuals through education, we can bend the curve towards violence and hatred into the direction of a world of peace. Of course, it is a long-term struggle that requires us to dig deep within ourselves for the necessary resources to move forward, but together we will achieve it. We will certainly stumble, sometimes even fall, but we will always stand back up stronger, more determined and more convinced because we are fighting a fair fight.

ECW: During the Central Sahel Ministerial Roundtable convened in October, ECW pledged important seed funding to cover one-third of the total budget of the upcoming Multi-Year Resilience Education Programme in Burkina Faso (and Mali and Niger). What message would you like to share with donors in relation to the remaining $94 million funding gap and why is it urgent to fill the gap?

H.E. Mr. Stanislas Ouaro: Education cannot wait, as the name of your organization says. This is even more true in areas affected by crises such as in the Sahel, which is facing a gradual deterioration of the security situation. This has caused an increase in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and also refugees, and created huge gaps in terms of access to basic social services such as education and health.

In Burkina Faso, the number of IDPs increased from 779,741 in March 2020 to 1,049,767 in November 2020, an increase of approximately 34 percent. Children, who should benefit from basic social services in order to grow up in optimal conditions, constitute nearly 60 percent of IDPs. Unfortunately, resource mobilization does not keep pace with increasing needs. According to an overview of humanitarian needs published by OCHA, as of 30 July 2020, out of a total requirement of US$424.4 million, approximately 32.4 percent of resources have been mobilized, i.e. a funding gap of US$287 million needs to be filled.

When we compare the proportion of children in urgent need of education with the resources available, it seems imperative to once again seek support from donors. The need to fill this gap stems from the fact that if nothing is done urgently, more than 600,000 children will be deprived of education, protection and health. And, there is no need to explain how this could negatively impact the social equilibrium in this region and in the world in a few years. If we fail to create the conditions for the optimal and equitable development of children today, especially those who suffer the brunt of insecurity on a daily basis, it is the society of tomorrow that we are jeopardizing.

ECW: From your unique vantage point as Burkina Faso’s Minister of National Education and Literacy, do you have any words of advice for our readers around the world, who are committed to education for countries affected by crisis, like Burkina Faso.

H.E. Mr. Stanislas Ouaro: We are delighted to know that there are people around the world who are committed to the education of children and youth in areas affected by crisis situations, such as those in certain regions of Burkina Faso. It seems very easy to destroy; but building, and above all, educating girls and boys to become productive, responsible adults, is a long-term endeavor which requires a lot of love, patience, selflessness, self-sacrifice, etc. We would like to assure ECW’s readers that we are doing everything we can to ensure that children and youth in areas affected by crises and other natural disasters in our country can benefit from an accessible, safe, inclusive, protective quality education. We would like to point out that taking an interest in, and learning about, the education situation in areas affected by the security crisis in Burkina Faso is already a significant step. This is support that we appreciate, applaud and encourage! Talking about it with friends and relatives is already taking a form of action. This is how we will establish a chain of solidarity on an international scale to overcome the destructive forces which try to destroy what is the best in humanity: brotherhood and sisterhood. Together, we are never alone.

ECW: In conclusion, we would like to learn a bit more about you on a personal level. We know that you are a mathematician and graduated with your doctorate based upon your thesis, ‘Etude de problèmes elliptiques-paraboliques nonlinéaires en une dimension d’espace’. Could you tell us about the three books that have influenced you the most, and why?

H.E. Mr. Stanislas Ouaro: I will cite two books that have really influenced me in my life. These are the books “A quand l’Afrique” by Joseph Ki-Zerbo, and “Il s’appelait Sankara” by Sennen Andriamirado. For me these two books mainly have two things in common. First, they talk about two illustrious African politicians, President Thomas Sankara and the historian Joseph Ki-Zerbo. These two characters constitute benchmarks for the youth of our countries through the journey of their careers – and for their love of the African continent in general and for their country Burkina Faso in particular. Secondly, these two works tell us that Africa cannot be developed by people other than by Africans themselves, hence the famous statement of Joseph Ki-Zerbo: “One does not develop X or Y, one develops oneself.” According to both of them, Africa must conquer its identity and be proud of its contribution to the human adventure.


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