Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson Through His G-Unit Film & Television Will Serve as a Producer for Proxima Media's 'Skill House' Alongside Ryan Kavanaugh

LOS ANGELES, July 12, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ryan Kavanaugh's Proxima Media is officially in production on SKILL HOUSE, the first installment in the R–rated horror film franchise starring social media phenomenon and TikTok star Bryce Hall. Since its spring announcement, CURTIS “50 Cent” JACKSON will also produce through his G–Unit Film & Television and star in the film. UFC veteran and BKFC and AEW star Paige VanZant has also joined the cast. And renowned Emmy–winning special effects artist Steve Johnson (GHOSTBUSTERS, BICENTENNIAL MAN, SPIDER–MAN 2) is delivering some of the most realistic guts and gore fans will ever see.

Additional cast includes Leah Pipes (SORORITY ROW, The Originals), McCarrie McCausland (Army Wives, The Originals), Ivan Leung (THE TENDER BAR, All American, Grey's Anatomy), Neal McDonough (CAPTAIN AMERICA, MINORITY REPORT, Yellowstone, Suits), John DeLuca (Spree, American Horror Story), and Caitlin Carmichael (MIDNIGHT IN THE SWITCHGRASS, EPIPHANY).

“This film is bursting with mavericks of entertainment, many of them spanning multiple genres and platforms,” notes Kavanaugh. Regarding producing with 50 Cent, Kavanaugh adds, “From a global rap and hip–hop music icon to a businessman, actor, writer, and producer – if anyone knows a thing or two about breaking the boundaries, it's 50 Cent. I'm honored to work alongside him as we watch Bryce do the same with his career.”

A saw–like take that breaks into the phenomenon of social media fame and culture, SKILL HOUSE offers an unflinching take on fame and what new celebrities are willing to do to attain it.

The Los Angeles–based film, which is being primarily shot in the original “Sway House,” looks at the world of social media fame and pushes the limits when “clicks” and “clout” become life or death literally.

With an expected early 2023 release date, the project is financed and controlled by Proxima Media, owned and operated by Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony–nominated mega–producer Ryan Kavanaugh. It is written and directed by horror film legend Josh Stolberg, co–writer of horror films such as SPIRAL: FROM THE BOOK OF SAW (starring Chris Rock and Samuel L Jackson), JIGSAW, PIRANHA 3D, SORORITY ROW, as well as the next SAW film (tentatively titled SAW X). Through his G–Unit Film & Television, Jackson will also produce alongside Kavanaugh, Alex Baskin, and Lifeboat Productions' Amy Kim and Jaime Burke. Daniel Herther, who oversees production and creative development at Proxima, will serve as executive producer alongside Jason Barhydt and Bobby Sarnevesht.

About Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson has carved out a thriving television and film career as both a best–in–class producer and star. In 2005, he founded G–Unit Film & Television, Inc., which produced a wide variety of content across numerous platforms and sold a myriad of shows to various networks. Among these is the critically–acclaimed #1 show on Starz, “Power,” in which he not only co–starred in but also served as executive producer and director. In October 2018, Jackson and Starz/Lionsgate closed an unprecedented deal for Jackson's G–Unit Film & Television, Inc. The partnership, touted as among the most significant deals to date for an Executive Producer in premium television, will focus on the expansion of the “Power” universe, recently announced spin–offs “Power Book II: Ghost,” “Power Book III: Raising Kanan,” and “Power Book IV: Force.” G–Unit Film & Television also produced the ABC hit “For Life” and recently launched the first season of the widely anticipated series “Black Mafia Family” for Starz, which was immediately renewed for a second season. G–Unit is also in development on scripted series “Family Affair” ABC, “The 50th Law” Netflix, Let Me Hear a Rhyme” at Peacock and “Unseen,” “Angel's Playbook,” “Moment in Time,” and “Queen Nzinga” at Starz. It was announced in May 2021 that “Confessions of A Crime Queen” was a straight–to–series order on Discovery+. Jackson is also currently in production on a BMF Docuseries at Starz and unscripted series, “Hip Hop Homicides,” at WeTV. The company is also building out its feature slate, starting with a 3 picture Horror deal in collaboration with Horror phenom Eli Roth and 3BlackDot.

About Paige VanZant
Paige VanZant is a mixed martial arts artist, former UFC fighter, bare–knuckle boxer, professional wrestler, author, and model. She has appeared on television in Dancing with the Stars and Chopped.

About Josh Stolberg
Josh Stolberg is a writer, director, and producer responsible for some of the most popular horror films today, including JIGSAW, PIRANHA 3D, SORORITY ROW, and most recently, SPIRAL. He has written films for Netflix, Disney, Lionsgate, and more. He is currently writing a Dwayne Johnson actioner at Netflix as well as the next installment of the popular Saw franchise.

About Lifeboat Productions
Amy Kim and Jaime Burke are award–winning producers with over 20 years of diverse experience. They have produced original content for all the leading streamers and studios with their most recent credits, including the upcoming series Surfside Girls for Apple+ and Amazon's Undone. Kim got her producing start with the Academy Award Winning Short Film, WEST BANK STORY and served as Head of Production for Michael Eisner's digital studio Vuguru before forming Lifeboat Productions with Jaime Burke in 2012. Burke started her film–producing career with such titles as THE POSSESSION OF MICHAEL KING and the indie horror classic, THE PACT. This is their second collaboration with writer/director Josh Stolberg.

About Proxima and Ryan Kavanaugh
Founder of Proxima Media, the controlling shareholder of Triller, Ryan Kavanaugh is one of the most accomplished, prolific, and honored executives in entertainment industry history. Using an intelligent model of film finance, he was dubbed the creator of “Moneyball for movies.” He produced, distributed, and/or structured financing for more than 200 films, generating more than $20 billion in worldwide box office revenue and earning 60 Oscar nominations. He is the 25th highest–grossing film producer of all time. His productions include Fast and Furious 2–6, 300, Social Network, Limitless, Fighter, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, and Mama Mia! Kavanaugh and Proxima pioneered an innovative finance deal for post–bankruptcy Marvel, making the studio and finance structure that led to Marvel Cinematic Universe. He built the SVOD (streaming) category with Netflix, which boosted that company's market capitalization from $2 to $10 billion. Kavanaugh is the co–founder of Triller, one of the three fastest–growing social media apps. He recently led the acquisition, merger, and re–launch of the social media and music app.
He also created the powerhouse television company, now known as Critical Content, producing hit shows like Catfish on MTV and Limitless on CBS, which he sold for $200M. The company had 40 television series across 19 networks before its sale. Kavanaugh has earned several achievements and awards, from Variety's Producer of the Year Award to The Hollywood Reporter's Leadership Award, from Fortune's 40 Under 40 Most Influential People in Business to Forbes' Fortune 400, Billion–Dollar Producer by the Daily Variety and the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Vanity Fair. Proxima and Kavanaugh are repped by Neil Sacker.


Synchronoss Extends Platform Support for Alibaba and Google Cloud

BRIDGEWATER, N.J., July 12, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Synchronoss Technologies, Inc. ("Synchronoss" or the "Company") (Nasdaq: SNCR), a global leader and innovator in cloud, messaging and digital products and platforms, today announced that its namesake personal cloud and email suite have been certified on the Alibaba Cloud and Google Cloud, respectively. In addition to Amazon AWS and Oracle OCI already in use, the new certifications provide customers with multi–cloud environments to deploy and scale Synchronoss Personal Cloud and Synchronoss Email Suite globally.

Synchronoss Personal Cloud and Synchronoss Email Suite are utilized by leading service providers around the world, supporting more than 250 million subscribers. Each service provider has its own specific requirements, including content security, data sovereignty, compliance, and cost. Supporting Alibaba and Google Cloud allows service providers to extend their deployment across multi–cloud environments and geographies while ensuring security, accessibility, and reliability. Synchronoss is well–positioned to deliver its products to customers throughout Asia and beyond now that Personal Cloud is certified on the Alibaba and Google platforms.

"Our global customers have specific requirements when it comes to performance, cost, compliance, and critically, data sovereignty," said Patrick Doran, Chief Technology Officer at Synchronoss. "By extending Personal Cloud on Alibaba and Email Suite on Google Cloud, Synchronoss is able to deliver secure, cost–optimized, in–country solutions that are reliable and scalable, upholding our strategy of supporting hybrid and multiple cloud environments."

"The combination of Synchronoss Email Suite delivered via Google Cloud provides customers with a highly–scalable and reliable solution that is easily accessible globally," said Gia Winters, Managing Director, Google Cloud. "We look forward to supporting Synchronoss with our infrastructure to keep pace with demand in key territories around the world across their product portfolio."

Leading Tier One service providers utilize Synchronoss Personal Cloud, Synchronoss Email Suite, or both to manage 250 million plus subscribers worldwide, storing and managing more than 142 petabytes of data.

About Synchronoss
Synchronoss Technologies (Nasdaq SNCR) builds software that empowers companies around the world to connect with their subscribers in trusted and meaningful ways. The company's collection of products helps streamline networks, simplify onboarding, and engage subscribers to unleash new revenue streams, reduce costs and increase speed to market. Hundreds of millions of subscribers trust Synchronoss products to stay in sync with the people, services, and content they love. That's why more than 1,300 talented Synchronoss employees worldwide strive each day to reimagine a world in sync. Learn more at

Media Relations Contact:
Domenick Cilea

Investor Relations Contact:
Matt Glover / Tom Colton
Gateway Group, Inc.


Malvern, Pennsylvania (USA), July 12, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Rajant Corporation, the pioneer of Kinetic Mesh wireless networks, and Epiroc, a leading productivity and sustainability partner for the mining and infrastructure industries, announce successful validation for both semi–autonomous and autonomous drilling. As part of the validation, deployment best practices guidelines were created to support the deployment of Epiroc drills with Rajant BreadCrumbs . Epiroc has a permanent deployment at their test facility in South Africa to demonstrate semi–autonomous and autonomous drills using Rajant BreadCrumbs.

Rajant is deployed on dozens of semi–autonomous and autonomous Epiroc drills globally, some of which include:

  • Semi–Autonomous
    • Anglo American "" Sishen
    • Anglo American "" Mogalakwena
    • Anglo American "" Los Bronces
  • Autonomous Drills
    • Exxaro – Grootegeluk

"Improving the operational safety and productivity of mining operations is the byproduct of Rajant Kinetic Mesh. It is the only industrial wireless network enabling machine–to–machine (M2M) connectivity and mobility in markets like open–pit and underground mining", shares Geoff Smith, EVP of Sales and Marketing for Rajant. "Unlike other wireless networks that are dependent on fixed infrastructure, Rajant mobile BreadCrumbs can communicate with each other allowing machines to interconnect which adds additional layers of connectivity and redundancy while Rajant networking software InstaMesh is self–optimizing to overcome the constant environmental changes, data loads, interference, and on–the–move requirements of modern mines."

Adds Brian Doffing, Epiroc's VP of Integration, "Rajant's unique technology offering has been instrumental in allowing our joint customers to scale their autonomous solutions. This includes not only Epiroc drills but opens the door for all connected equipment at the mine site."


About Epiroc

Epiroc is a leading productivity partner for the mining, infrastructure, and natural resources industries. With cutting–edge technology, Epiroc develops and produces innovative drill rigs, rock excavation and construction equipment, and provides world–class service, and consumables. The company was founded in Stockholm, Sweden, and has passionate people supporting and collaborating with customers in more than 150 countries. For more information, visit

About Rajant Corporation

Rajant Corporation is the broadband communications technology company that invented Kinetic Mesh networking, BreadCrumb wireless nodes, and InstaMesh networking software. With Rajant, customers can rapidly deploy a highly adaptable and scalable network that leverages the power of real–time data to deliver on–demand, mission–critical business intelligence. A low–latency, high–throughput, and secure solution for a variety of data, voice, video, and autonomous applications, Rajant's Kinetic Mesh networks provide industrial customers with full mobility, allowing them to take their private network applications and data anywhere. With successful deployments in more than 70 countries for customers in military, mining, ports, rail, oil & gas, petrochemical plants, municipalities, and agriculture. Rajant is headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania, with additional facilities and offices in Arizona and Kentucky. For more information, visit or follow Rajant on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Jax.Network unites with Syscoin in a merge-mining partnership

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, July 12, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Jax.Network, a blockchain merge–mined with Bitcoin, is proud to announce a strategic partnership with Syscoin. Both projects make use of Bitcoin merge–mining to secure their networks and offer incentives to miners in the form of additional block rewards on top of Bitcoin mining.

In anticipation of Mining Disrupt, two major Bitcoin merge–mined blockchain projects have joined their forces with the purpose of strengthening and enhancing the Bitcoin ecosystem. This collaboration results in co–sponsoring the booth at the aforementioned conference on July 26–28th. Come join us in knowledge–sharing and experience the world's largest Bitcoin mining expo!

"It's rare to find other projects who truly understand the overlooked benefits of merged mining, let alone provide their own real utility required to push the space forward by essentially making Bitcoin more valuable. It's always a joy to work with people who share your values, and Jax.Network aligns with ours at a core level. I look forward to seeing the reception to what we have in store to reveal at Mining Disrupt," Jag Sidhu, Syscoin Foundation President stated.

Such a partnership should propel the wider adoption of merge–mining, as it is "green" mining that simply reuses the energy already spent on mining Bitcoin. Thus, auxiliary networks not only benefit from higher security but also allow miners to earn more rewards without any loss of hashrate or increased operating costs.

Vinod Manoharan, Founder of Jax Network, had the following to say about the partnership: “There are a few projects that use a merge–mining algorithm and even fewer that merge–mine Bitcoin. Like Jax.Network, Syscoin is one of those unique projects. Thus, we decided to unite our efforts in an incredible endeavor that we will be revealing at Mining Disrupt. Find our co–hosted booth there to get all the details first!”

About Jax.Network

Jax.Network provides the technological infrastructure for a decentralized energy–standard monetary system. The Jax.Network blockchain is anchored to the Bitcoin network and issues two digital currencies JAX and JXN.

About Syscoin

Syscoin is a decentralized and open–source project founded in 2014 whose NEVM blockchain combines the best of Bitcoin and Ethereum in a single coordinated modular platform.

CONTACT Viktoriya Nechyporuk, Marketing Communications Lead
COMPANY Jax.Network
PHONE +380 67 657 0029

ScyllaDB Announces ScyllaDB V, Addressing Legacy NoSQL Challenges

PALO ALTO, Calif., July 12, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — ScyllaDB today announced ScyllaDB V, the latest evolution of its monstrously fast and scalable NoSQL database built for data–intensive applications that require high performance and low latency. ScyllaDB V introduces a host of performance, resilience, and elasticity enhancements that help gamechanging companies power instantaneous experiences with their massive datasets. These innovations for extreme scale are ScyllaDB's next step in resolving longstanding challenges of legacy NoSQL databases. ScyllaDB V enables real–time performance from gigabyte to petabyte scale.

ScyllaDB fuels high demand workloads in leading companies worldwide, including Comcast, Disney+ Hotstar, Palo Alto Networks, Starbucks, Instacart, and Discord. Its close–to–the–metal, shared nothing approach delivers greater performance for a fraction of the cost of DynamoDB, Apache Cassandra, MongoDB, and Google Bigtable. Such gains are the result of years of groundbreaking development and battle–hardened releases, which ScyllaDB V builds upon.

ScyllaDB is uniquely architected to capitalize on continuing hardware innovations. Modern infrastructure is fundamentally different than when legacy NoSQL databases were designed over a decade ago. Organizations now have access to servers with an increasing abundance of vCPUs, RAM, I/O, and fast NVMe storage. While legacy NoSQL databases are effectively insulated from the underlying hardware, ScyllaDB fully capitalizes on processor, memory, network, and storage innovation to maximize performance and use less infrastructure. Ultimately, this results in less admin and lower total cost of ownership. For instance, Comcast went from 962 Apache Cassandra nodes to only 78 ScyllaDB nodes. This efficiency results in anywhere from 2x to 10x cost savings over prior solutions.

"We not only anticipated this shift; we architected for it from the start," said Dor Laor, CEO and co–founder, ScyllaDB. "That's why we're so uniquely well–poised to tap the power of new technology such as AWS I4is and Nitro SSD storage. ScyllaDB V marks an inflection point in the evolution of NoSQL "" away from its roots in cloud–nascent infrastructure, and towards the future of low–latency, real–time distributed systems."

More on ScyllaDB V
ScyllaDB V is a series of releases across ScyllaDB Open Source, Enterprise, and Cloud (DBaaS) that focus on NoSQL innovations for extreme scale. Details are outlined in the ScyllaDB V web page. ScyllaDB Open Source 5.0 is the first milestone for ScyllaDB V. The 5.0 release will be introduced in a webinar on July 19.

Highlights of ScyllaDB V include:

  • Strong, immediate consistency for schema updates, topology changes, tables and indexes, and more. This eliminates schema and data conflicts, enables rapid and safe increases in cluster capacity, and provides a leap forward in manageability. These capabilities are based on a new underlying Raft consensus protocol implementation.
  • AWS EC2 I4i support with 2X the throughput (and lower latency) vs. i3 instances.
  • New IO model and scheduler provide fine–tuned balancing of backend database operations and read/write requests based on the disk's capabilities "" boosting throughput, reducing latency, and minimizing the impact of admin operations.
  • A fully asynchronous Rust driver that will serve as a unified platform for other drivers going forward.
  • WebAssembly for user–defined functions, which means that creating a UDF is as easy as providing its source code represented in WebAssembly Text Format.

About ScyllaDB
ScyllaDB is the database for data–intensive apps that require high performance and low latency. It enables teams to harness the ever–increasing computing power of modern infrastructures—eliminating barriers to scale as data grows. Unlike any other database, ScyllaDB is built with deep architectural advancements that enable exceptional end–user experiences at radically lower costs. Over 400 game–changing companies like Disney+ Hotstar, Expedia, FireEye, Discord,, Zillow, Starbucks, Comcast, and Samsung use ScyllaDB for their toughest database challenges. ScyllaDB is available as free open source software, a fully–supported enterprise product, and a fully managed service on multiple cloud providers.

Media Contact
Wayne Ariola

A Future Horror and the Hope of the Present

Sandy Recinos Executive Secretary against Sexual Violence, Exploitation and Trafficking in Persons (SVET) from Guatemala – Former congresswoman Rosi Orozco from México – Ann Basham Chief Executive Officer at Ascend ConsultingUnited State.

Mobile Units for the Prevention of Sexual Violence, Exploitation and Human Trafficking “UNIVET”, which allows sharing information, preventing these crimes and also promoting the culture of reporting among its inhabitants. Credit: Rosi Orozco

By Rosi Orozco
MEXICO CITY, Jul 12 2022 – This is an alert message: if nothing stops the wave of violence in Mexico, by the end of 2024 the country could exceed the figure of 150,000 missing persons.

Just on May 17, Mexico crossed a the ultimate horror border: officially there are more than 100,000 people who cannot be located. The equivalent of the evaporation of two and a half times the population of Monaco. Most of those people are victims of organized crime.

It is an old problem in Mexico, but it has taken a new turn in recent months: in its most recent report, the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances recognized that since 2006 the phenomenon has been concentrated in men between 15 and 40 years, but the pandemic changed that profile. Now, the great national drama focuses on girls and boys from 12 to 35 years old.

The coronavirus opened gaps in inequality and poverty like no other natural phenomenon. Sexual violence, human trafficking, and femicides increased in Mexico, and forced disappearances became an effective means to hide those crimes. Criminals act with a perverse idea: without a body, there is no crime and therefore no punishment.

The problem is so severe that the Mexican government has recognized that the number of girls and women has skyrocketed in recent months to more than 24,600 women waiting to be located. Many of them are not even 10 years old.

One of the latest national sorrows is a young woman called Debanhi Susana Escobar Bazaldúa, 18 years old, who disappeared on April 8 in Nuevo León, México, on a highway that reaches Texas, United States.

Her search kept the country in suspense after a photograph was released where she appeared alone and at dawn waiting for a taxi to return home after attending a party. The image became a symbol of fear and hope.

Magistrate Delia Davila and Former Congresswoman Rosi Orozco after a meeting with specialized judges to deal with human trafficking. Credit: Rosi Orozco

But after 13 days of searching, his body was found at the bottom of a hotel cistern frequented by human traffickers. While she was wanted alive, five more missing women were found. The causes of Debanhi Susana Escobar’s death are still unclear, but the family points to a crime of a sexual nature.

The death of the young woman who dreamed of being a lawyer strucked a chord in a country numbed to the horrors of human trafficking. And amid a pain that seems to make no sense, her father demanded that the life of Debanhi Susana Escobar be a symbol against the wave of missing women.

The mourning of Debanhi Susana Escobar’s family comes at a crucial moment for Mexico if we want to avoid reaching 150,000 disappeared people in the next two years.

On one hand, the Mexican Senate president, Olga Sánchez Cordero, close to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is promoting a series of reforms to the national general law against human trafficking that prevents the sexual exploitation of women in prostitution.

Senator Sánchez Cordero’s intention also seeks to punish whoever maintains a house of prostitution, which includes its administration, lease, or financing. That measure would meant a heavy blow to the human trafficking networks that make girls and women disappear.

This initiative comes as Mexico celebrates 10 years of the general law against human trafficking, promulgated in 2012. This law has been praised by international experts —such as the Spanish prosecutor Beatriz Sanchez, who is already studying Mexican legislation as an inspiration to create a comprehensive law and abolitionist in her country.

There’s another international experience on the southern border in Mexico from which we can all learn: in Guatemala a successful experiment is being carried out to stop sexual and labor exploitation with a novel approach.

For example, leaders like Justice Delia Dávila have taken on the responsibility of training judges to specialize in investigating human trafficking. The judges issue sentences in favor of the victims and work together with civil society, such as the World Vision organization.

In addition, Guatemala has a vehicle project known as UNIVET, which reaches the most remote communities to carry out prevention and education work for vulnerable girls, adolescents, and women.

In this way, Guatemala is at the forefront in Latin America by creating a national strategy against human exploitation, giving it the priority that this crime deserves, which is the second most lucrative globally.

The efforts in Mexico, Spain, France, Guatemala and dozens of countries with an abolitionist approach make us believe that it is possible to achieve what cynical voices tell us will be impossible: stop the trend of violence that will lead us to 150,000 disappeared people.

We have to do it for Debanhi Susana Escobar. For his family and the legacy they want to leave this country. For each missing person, for each survivor, for each future girl. For Mexico.

This is an alert message: we still have time. Let’s be brave and push for the changes that the most vulnerable need.

IPS UN Bureau


!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+’://’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’); Welcomes Global News as Latest Customer

TORONTO, July 12, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Global News, one of Canada's leading news organizations, has chosen, an AI–powered automation, optimization and prediction platform developed by The Globe and Mail, to automate their website content curation. Following their strong value of innovation, they will be using Sophi Site Automation to autonomously place digital content across their website.

Global News is extremely innovative in their approach to culture and has worked intensively with Sophi to drive culture change so much so that their editorial team sees the value of bringing AI into the newsroom and is looking forward to working with this new technology.

Sophi Site Automation analyses all of their content, from video to text, and shuffles each piece of content to place the most valuable content in the most valuable places on their digital properties in order to ensure their content helps them achieve their business goals.

Sonia Verma, Editor–in–Chief at Global News, said, "Our innovative and data–driven editorial team is looking forward to working hand in hand with Sophi to bring automation into our newsroom and drive powerful decisions that will help us better serve our audiences."

Gabe Gonda, VP at, commented, "Global News, one of Canada's preeminent news and information companies, is a phenomenal addition to our customer base. We are excited to help them marry their high level of talent with state–of–the–art ML technology that will help drive significant business results."

About Global News

Global News offers Canadians from coast to coast a host of news and information""from breaking news in their community to deep, engaging content that puts complex world issues in perspective. Global News remains committed to serving audiences with fact–based, accurate, and comprehensive news coverage. Canadians can turn to Global News as a trusted source of information on television, radio and online including the flagship newscast Global National and daily local newscasts across the country. Global News is a Corus Entertainment network.

About ( was developed by The Globe and Mail to help content publishers make important strategic and tactical decisions. It is a suite of AI and ML–powered automation, optimization and prediction solutions that include Sophi Site Automation, Sophi for Paywalls and Sophi for First Party Data. Sophi also powers one–click automated laydown of template–free print publishing. Sophi is designed to improve the metrics that matter most to your business, such as subscriber retention and acquisition, engagement, recency, frequency and volume.

Entrepreneurship Blooms in Villages Bordering Pakistan Desert

Naseem Bano at home educating her children using her mobile phone. Credit: Irfan Ulhaq/IPS - A global initiative inspired by FAO’s Director-General, Mr QU Dongyu, the Digital Villages Initiative (DVI) is being piloted throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The villages here are among many being showcased and sharing their advancements with other villages and rural areas in Asia and the Pacific, as well as other regions of the world

Naseem Bano at home educating her children using her mobile phone. Credit: Irfan Ulhaq/IPS

By Irfan Ulhaq
RAHIM YAR KHAN, Pakistan, Jul 12 2022 – Villagers living with a desert at their doorstep in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province are finding life more bountiful thanks to recent training on how to use their smartphones to buy, sell and gather information.

Agricultural entrepreneurs are bringing the digital age to these farm families, offering online applications and digital tools via the Internet of Things so they can work ‘smarter.’ For example, some apps deliver updated price information while others give access to tutorials on applying fertilizers or repairing equipment

Nadia Mujeeb, 30, who learned from the training how to access new makeup techniques from popular video websites, is now poised to open her own salon. “One of my friends told me about these websites that show new techniques for makeup. I started to practise on some of my relatives and after that worked I bought some basic tools and am ready to open my shop.”

Mujeeb, from another village on the outskirts of Rahim Yar Khan city, has also subscribed to many video channels to improve her English comprehension, which she says makes it easier to help her three children with their studies. “I even used an app once to guide a neighbour to contact a gynaecologist in Lahore for a maternal health issue,” she adds.

Located at the intersection of three provinces (Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan), Rahim Yar Khan is the centre of this agricultural area, known as one of the country’s largest producers of cotton and sugarcane. Sixty-five percent of people living here work in agriculture as their core occupation.

Now, agricultural entrepreneurs are bringing the digital age to these farm families, offering online applications and digital tools via the Internet of Things so they can work ‘smarter.’ For example, some apps deliver updated price information while others give access to tutorials on applying fertilizers or repairing equipment.

Recently the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Pakistan started offering training so that farmers and their families could take advantage of these digital offerings. After observing this in two villages in Rahim Yar Khan district, 800 kilometres south of the capital Islamabad, IPS traveled to other nearby communities close to the Desert of Cholistan (locally called Rohi), to meet men and women who had attended in-person and virtual sessions arranged by FAO in collaboration with local non-profit organizations.


Muhammad Iqbal on his tractor, which he repaired by following an instructional video online.. Credit: Irfan Ulhaq/IPS - A global initiative inspired by FAO’s Director-General, Mr QU Dongyu, the Digital Villages Initiative (DVI) is being piloted throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The villages here are among many being showcased and sharing their advancements with other villages and rural areas in Asia and the Pacific, as well as other regions of the world

Muhammad Iqbal on his tractor, which he repaired by following an instructional video online.. Credit: Irfan Ulhaq/IPS


Farmer Balam Raam says he was able to follow the new online pathways to a popular video website where he learned how to fix a broken tractor. “I repaired the faulty radiator of my tractor, which was much needed in the cotton sowing season and which also saved the cost of a mechanic,” he said in an interview.

Raam, 30, recently planted cotton on 51 hectares of land. He added that he’s now sharing his new knowledge about farm machinery with his fellow farmers, who are saving time working their fields because their equipment is in better repair.

A global initiative inspired by FAO’s Director-General, Mr QU Dongyu, the Digital Villages Initiative (DVI) is being piloted throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The villages here are among many being showcased and sharing their advancements with other villages and rural areas in Asia and the Pacific, as well as other regions of the world.

According to Muhammad Khan, FAO Project Lead in Pakistan for the 1,000 Digital Villages Initiative, “we have observed that the DVI is also attracting interest from different Internet start-ups as well as farmers, as they feel the DVI is helping them by raising the digital awareness of farmers.”

In some villages where the DVI provides training, internet connectivity via computer and mobile phones is sufficient. In others, the programme works with non-profits, donors and a Pakistan Government fund to install the infrastructure needed for connectivity.

Farmer Muhammad Iqbal, 32, says that although he’s been using a mobile phone since 2017, he was unaware of the various apps that could streamline his work. Today he buys seeds, fertilizers and pesticides online via his bank’s app. “I purchase these agriculture inputs online thereby saving travel expenses. Also, I am in contact with many agricultural product companies who offer me competitive rates, and because I am able to purchase the highest quality seed my per acre yield has increased.”


A farmer with his goats on the road near his village in Rahim Yar Khan district. Credit: Irfan Ulhaq/IPS - A global initiative inspired by FAO’s Director-General, Mr QU Dongyu, the Digital Villages Initiative (DVI) is being piloted throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The villages here are among many being showcased and sharing their advancements with other villages and rural areas in Asia and the Pacific, as well as other regions of the world

A farmer with his goats on the road near his village in Rahim Yar Khan district. Credit: Irfan Ulhaq/IPS


Naseem Bano has embarked on many ventures since being trained to use various cell phone apps. For instance, she is tutoring children in her village for free. She is also selling her embroidery to people in the area and is hoping to learn more skills online that will enable her to expand her business. One that she has already adopted is online banking, Bano adds in an interview.

Saif Ur Rehman, 35, is a farmer and runs an internet service provider in the same village. One of his aims in going online is getting the best price for his cotton crop. “I installed one application and started checking rates of crops in different agriculture markets in the region. Eventually I sold my cotton crop for 800 rupees per 40 kilograms as compared to 490 rupees per 40 kg at my local market.”

Like many of his neighbours, Shehzad Ali is a farmer who juggles other occupations. The holder of an engineering diploma, he runs a mini super store and uses a cell phone app to keep the business’ accounts. ”I recover the money from my customers and later pay my outstanding bills through this application,” he told IPS.

The World is Burning. We Need a Renewables Revolution

Solar power stations in plain areas, wind turbines in the distance. Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, China. Credit: Africa Renewal, United Nations

By António Guterres
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 12 2022 – Nero was famously accused of fiddling while Rome burned. Today, some leaders are doing worse. They are throwing fuel on the fire. Literally.

As the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ripples across the globe, the response of some nations to the growing energy crisis has been to double down on fossil fuels – pouring billions more dollars into the coal, oil and gas that are driving our deepening climate emergency.

Meanwhile all climate indicators continue to break records, forecasting a future of ferocious storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and unlivable temperatures in vast swathes of the planet.

Our world faces climate chaos. New funding for fossil fuel exploration and production infrastructure is delusional. Fossil fuels are not the answer, nor will they ever be.

We can see the damage we are doing to the planet and our societies. It is in the news every day, and no one is immune.

Fossil fuels are the cause of the climate crisis. Renewable energy is the answer – to limit climate disruption and boost energy security. Had we invested earlier and massively in renewable energy, we would not find ourselves once again at the mercy of unstable fossil fuel markets.

Renewables are the peace plan of the 21st century. But the battle for a rapid and just energy transition is not being fought on a level field. Investors are still backing fossil fuels, and governments still hand out billions in subsidies for coal, oil and gas – some US $11 million every minute.

Secretary-General António Guterres

There is a word for favouring short-term relief over long-term well-being. Addiction. We are still addicted to fossil fuels. For the health of our societies and planet, we need to quit. Now.

The only true path to energy security, stable power prices, prosperity and a livable planet lies in abandoning polluting fossil fuels and accelerating the renewables-based energy transition.

To that end, I have called on G20 governments to dismantle coal infrastructure, with a full phase-out by 2030 for OECD countries and 2040 for all others.

I have urged financial actors to abandon fossil fuel finance and invest in renewable energy. And I have proposed a five-point plan to boost renewable energy round the world.

Five-point plan

First, we must make renewable energy technology a global public good, including removing intellectual property barriers to technology transfer.

Second, we must improve global access to supply chains for renewable energy technologies components and raw materials.

In 2020, the world installed 5 gigawatts of battery storage. We need 600 gigawatts of storage capacity by 2030. Clearly, we need a global coalition to get there.

Shipping bottlenecks and supply-chain constraints, as well as higher costs for lithium and other battery metals, are hurting deployment of such technologies and materials just as we need them most.

Third, we must cut the red tape that holds up solar and wind projects. We need fast-track approvals and more effort to modernize electricity grids. In the European Union, it takes eight years to approve a wind farm, and 10 years in the United States. In the Republic of Korea, onshore wind projects need 22 permits from eight different ministries.

Fourth, the world must shift energy subsidies from fossil fuels to protect vulnerable people from energy shocks and invest in a just transition to sustainable future.

And fifth, we need to triple investments in renewables. This includes multilateral development banks and development finance institutions, as well as commercial banks. All must step up and dramatically boost investments in renewables.

We need more urgency from all global leaders. We are already perilously close to hitting the 1.5°C limit that science tells us is the maximum level of warming to avoid the worst climate impacts.

To keep 1.5 alive, we must reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by mid-century. But current national commitments will lead to an increase of almost 14 per cent this decade. That spells catastrophe.

The answer lies in renewables – for climate action, for energy security, and for providing clean electricity to the hundreds of millions of people who currently lack it. Renewables are a triple win.

There is no excuse for anyone to reject a renewables revolution. While oil and gas prices have reached record price levels, renewables are getting cheaper all the time.

The cost of solar energy and batteries has plummeted 85 per cent over the past decade. The cost of wind power fell by 55 per cent. And investment in renewables creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels.

Of course, renewables are not the only answer to the climate crisis. Nature-based solutions, such as reversing deforestation and land degradation, are essential. So too are efforts to promote energy efficiency. But a rapid renewable energy transition must be our ambition.

As we wean ourselves off fossil fuels, the benefits will be vast, and not just to the climate. Energy prices will be lower and more predictable, with positive knock-on effects for food and economic security.

When energy prices rise, so do the costs of food and all the goods we rely on. So, let us all agree that a rapid renewables revolution is necessary and stop fiddling while our future burns.

Antonio Guterres, a former Prime Minister of Portugal, is the Secretary-General of the United Nations

Source: Africa Renewal, United Nations

IPS UN Bureau


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The only true path to energy security, stable power prices, prosperity and a livable planet lies in abandoning polluting fossil fuels and accelerating the renewables-based energy transition.

Aid for Power in New Cold War

By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Jul 12 2022 – Long a means for powerful nations to influence developing countries, development finance has gained renewed significance in the new Cold War. Unlike during the US-Soviet Cold War, the rivalry now is between mixed market capitalist systems.

Development aid rivalry
After reneging repeatedly on development aid and climate finance promises, the G7 big rich nations dutifully lined up behind US President Biden’s Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) at their 2022 Summit in Schloss Elmau, Germany.

Anis Chowdhury

With a $200bn US commitment, the G7 promised to mobilize $600bn in public and private funds for infrastructure investments in developing countries to compete with China’s multitrillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The White House denounces BRI, claiming the PGII offers “values driven, high-quality, and sustainable infrastructure”. Hence, G7 funding is more likely to have strings attached, e.g., taking sides in the new Cold War.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman emphasized, “China continues to welcome all initiatives to promote global infrastructure development”, but insisted China is “opposed to pushing forward geopolitical calculations under the pretext of infrastructure construction or smearing the Belt and Road Initiative”.

US national security priority
At the 2021 G7 Summit, Biden had unveiled a similar Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative, insisting it would define the G7 alternative to China’s BRI. Based on his domestic Build Back Better (BBB) programme, B3W was soon ‘dead in the water’ when the Senate rejected BBB.

The White House’s claim that with the B3W, the “United States is rallying the world’s democracies to deliver for our people, meet the world’s biggest challenges, and demonstrate our shared values” has also been dropped from PGII.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

With few B3W details forthcoming, the European Union (EU) launched its own Global Gateway for developing countries in December 2021, promising €300bn in infrastructure investments by 2027.

At the EU-African Union Summit in February 2022, the EU announced €150bn financing for the Africa-Europe Investment Package, half the Global Gateway budget.

EU leaders have touted their Global Gateway, suggesting G7 initiatives should be not only complementary, but also mutually reinforcing. But the EU’s African priority is not necessarily shared by other G7 members.

EU funding of €135bn will be from the European Fund for Sustainable Development. The UK Clean Green Initiative, from the 2021 Glasgow Climate Summit, and Japan’s $65bn for regional connectivity may also not be additional.

Acknowledging scepticism about how much is new money, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged G7 members to present their pledges consistently to allay doubts about double-counting and the low grants share viz loans.

When the PGII was announced to replace the B3W, it “created significant confusion”. Making clear its purpose, the White House unequivocally asserted PGII will “advance U.S. national security”.

Far-fetched, risky, conditional
The G7 also urges using public money to leverage private sector funds. But such initiatives have previously failed to mobilize significant private funding – hardly inspiring hope of meeting the trillion-dollar financing gap.

The Economist has found blended finance – mixing public, charitable and private money – “starry-eyed” and “struggling to take off”. Even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank warn public-private partnerships (PPPs) incur contingent fiscal risks.

Worse, PPPs distort national priorities, favour private investors and worsen debt crises. They have also not improved equity of access, reduced poverty or enhanced sustainability.

Developing country debt crises typically involve commercial loans or private sector money. For example, the 1980s’ Latin American debt crises were triggered by US Fed interest rate hikes to kill inflation.

Private sector loans usually involve higher interest rates and shorter repayment periods than loans from governments and multilateral development banks. Unsurprisingly, they lack equitable restructuring or refinancing mechanisms.

Ignoring yet another UN resolution, powerful nations disregard developing countries’ appeals for fair and orderly multilateral sovereign debt restructuring arrangements. Similarly, the West refuses to fix unfair trade, tax and other rules disadvantaging poorer countries.

Trust deficit
Over half a century ago, rich nations promised 0.7% of their gross national income (GNI) as development aid. But total overseas development assistance (ODA) from rich Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) members has barely exceeded half the promised amount.

Worse, the share has actually declined from 0.54% in 1961, with only five nations consistently meeting their 0.7% commitment in many years. Oxfam estimated 50 years of unkept promises meant a $5.7 trillion aid shortfall by 2020!

At the 2005 Gleneagles Summit, G7 leaders pledged to double their aid by 2010, earmarking $50bn yearly for Africa. But actual delivery has been woefully short, with no transparent reporting or accountability.

Most development aid is neither transparent nor predictable. After some earlier progress in untying, aid is increasingly being ‘tied’ again – requiring recipients to implement donor projects or to buy from donor country suppliers – compromising effectiveness.

The US ranked lowest among the G7, giving only 0.18% in 2021. To make things worse, US aid effectiveness is worst among the world’s 27 wealthiest nations. Clearly, besides aid volume shortfalls, quality is also at issue.

The Syrian refugee crisis and Covid-19 pandemic have provided some recent pretexts to cut aid. Some powerful countries have turned to ‘creative accounting’, e.g., counting refugee settlement and ‘peace-keeping’ military operations costs as ODA.

Unsurprisingly, the UN Deputy Secretary-General is “deeply troubled over recent decisions and proposals to markedly cut” ODA to service Ukraine war impacts on refugees.

Controversies over what climate finance is ‘new and additional’ to ODA have not been resolved since the 1992 adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at the Rio Earth Summit.

G7 countries also fell far short of rich countries’ 2009 pledge to annually give $100bn in climate finance until 2020 to help developing countries adapt to and mitigate global warming.

The OECD’s reported $79.6bn in climate finance in 2019 was the highest ever. But OECD estimates are much disputed – e.g., for double counting and including non-concessional commercial loans, ‘rolled-over’ loans and private finance.

Cooperation, not conflict
Although China is new to development finance, it is now among the world’s biggest development financiers. Following broken promises and duplicity, even betrayal, China’s significance has increased as OECD donor funding declined relatively.

China is now a bigger player in international development finance than the world’s six major multilateral financial institutions together. Many developing countries have few options but to engage with, if not rely on, China.

Undoubtedly, there are justifiable concerns over China’s development finance and practices. These have included adverse environmental impacts, poor transparency and a high share of commercial loans – even if at concessional rates.

In 2019, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde suggested the new BRI phase would “benefit from increased transparency, open procurement with competitive bidding, and better risk assessment in project selection”.

Lagarde approved of China’s new debt sustainability framework and green investment principles to evaluate BRI projects. She expected “BRI 2.0 … will be guided by a spirit of collaboration, transparency, and a commitment to sustainability that will serve all of its members well, both today and tomorrow”.

The new Cold War may well spur more healthy and peaceful rivalry, inadvertently improving development aid and prospects for developing countries.

IPS UN Bureau


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