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UN trade report calls on governments to improve environment for ecommerce

The 2015 edition of the Information Economy Report (IER), published by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), analyses trends and international policy issues related to information and communications technology and its links with trade and development.“As the digital economy expands and more business activities are affected, it becomes more important for governments to consider policies that can help to harness e-commerce for sustainable development,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi, specifying that governments need to improve areas including information and communications technology infrastructure, the legal and regulatory environment, and develop skills in their populations.The report includes a B2C (Business-to-Consumer) E-commerce Index, which draws on data to assess e-commerce readiness and help States to formulate their national e-commerce strategies. Through the Index, governments can identify their relative strengths and weaknesses. In Africa, for example, internet penetration levels need to rise to promote e-commerce readiness.Making information and communications technology work for development requires more than expanding the infrastructure, the report says. In order to foster productive and inclusive use of information and communications technology, governments need to create legal, institutional and policy frameworks and generate the necessary skills in government, business and civil society and the Index measures progress in those areas. Among developing countries, States at the top end of the Index are in East Asia, including the Republic of Korea and Singapore, with larger countries such as Brazil, China and Russia performing better than predicted, suggesting that large markets facilitate e-commerce.Business-to-consumer e-commerce, valued at $1.2 trillion, is currently much smaller than business-to-business (B2B), which is worth $15 trillion, but is growing at a faster rate, especially in Asia and Africa, and is expected to double in size to $2.4 trillion by 2018.To enable that, postal networks will be vital and the report measures data on home postal delivery as an indicator of countries’ readiness to engage in B2C e-commerce. In Latin America and the Caribbean and in Asia and Oceania, the extension of postal home delivery was found to be particularly important.“Posts are seeing the mail makeup changing, with more merchandises making their way through their networks,” said Bishar A. Hussein, the Director General of the Universal Postal Union (UPU). “They must prepare for this growth by adapting their products and services, processes and infrastructure.”The UNCTAD report also notes that growing concerns over cybercrime affect the willingness of both buyers and sellers to make transactions online, with research showing that the enactment of laws to facilitate security and trust in online transactions varies considerably globally, with significant gaps in many developing countries.Although the United States is by far the most targeted country, accounting for almost half of known cases of cybercrime, information security is a rising concern for governments, enterprises and consumers around the world, especially given that $3.5 billion was lost in supplier revenue due to online fraud in 2012.UNCTAD’s report calls for interoperability of legal measures between States, with 117 countries having enacted cybercrime legislation. Ensuring international compatibility of e-transaction laws remains a challenge and the report says the legal recognition of e-signatures, electronic contracts and evidence at a national level should ideally be extended to those originating in other jurisdictions. read more

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UN strongly condemns DPRK ballistic missile launch over Japan

Convening a formal meeting this evening immediately following urgent, closed-door consultations, the Security Council issued a Presidential Statement through which it condemned the DPRK for its “outrageous actions” and demanded that the North-East Asia country “immediately cease all such actions.” “The Security Council stresses that these DPRK actions are not just a threat to the region, but to all UN Member States,” the statement continued, expressing the 15-member body’s grave concern that the DPRK is, by conducting such a launch over Japan, “as well as its recent actions and public statements,” deliberately undermining regional peace and stability and have caused grave security concerns around the world. Moreover, the Council demanded that the DPRK abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes “in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and immediately cease all related activities” and not conduct any further tests or provocations.Earlier today, Secretary-General António Guterres also condemned the latest ballistic missile launch, in violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions. “The launch undermines regional security and stability and efforts to create space for dialogue,” said a statement issued by UN spokesperson Eri Kaneko. According to press reports, early Tuesday morning, the DPRK launched a ballistic missile that travelled some 2,700 kilometers, flying over Japan before crashing into the Pacific Ocean. “The Secretary-General calls on the Government of the DPRK to fully comply with its international obligations and to work to re-open channels of communication,” the statement said, adding that Mr. Guterres remains in close contact with all parties concerned. read more

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Disneys first exclusively gay moment hits screens in Beauty and the Beast

first_imgIt built its reputation on princesses finding their prince, living happily ever after in storylines which set the benchmark for romance for generations of children.Now, Disney is to move firmly into a new era as it introduces its first “exclusively gay moment”, disclosing the new version of Beauty and the Beast will star a manservant exploring his sexuality. Matt Cain, editor-in-chief of Attitude magazine, said: “It may have been a long time coming but this is a watershed moment for Disney.“By representing same-sex attraction in this short but explicitly gay scene, the studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural – and this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world, even countries where it’s still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay. Luke Evans stars as Gaston and Josh Gad as Le Fou It stars Watson as book-loving Belle, revamped in this version to be an inventor in her own right and wear riding boots instead of impractical ballet shoes.The beast is played by Dan Stevens, best-known to British fans as Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey.Sir Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson star as a clock and a teapot, while Luke Evans will play Gaston and Josh Gad takes the role of a LeFou. Dan Stevens and Emma Watson star in the film “But it’s a step in the right direction and I applaud Disney for being brave enough to make it – and in doing so hopefully helping to change attitudes and bring about real social progress.”The new film, however, retain its central love story: the ostracised Belle and the cursed beast trapped in his castle and doomed to a life of loneliness.Speaking of the film’s central love story, and why Belle and the Beast eventually fall for one another, Stevens said: “It’s about that sense of persecution.“Belle is seen as a bit of a freak within her community, this girl who reads and invents things and is a bit too clever for the local Establishment. Luke Evans stars as Gaston and Josh Gad as Le FouCredit:Disney Le Fou sings about Gaston in the tavernCredit:Disney Josh Gad as LeFou in the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast With lines like “For there’s no man in town half as manly / Perfect, a pure paragon”, some forward-thinking fans had speculated there may be more to their relationship.Their hopes will be confirmed when the new version is released in the UK on March 17. Josh Gad as LeFou in the live action remake of Beauty and the BeastCredit:Disney “And that’s what has its pay-off at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”In the original 1991 animated film, LeFou is introduced as the hapless sidekick of Gaston, the swaggering ladies’ man who hopes to woo Belle with a series of ill-judged seduction techniques. This is a watershed moment for DisneyMatt Cain, editor-in-chief of Attitude The full interview is published in Attitude magazine now In an interview with Attitude magazine, director Bill Condon said: “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston.“He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. “And Josh [Gad, who plays LeFou] makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. LeFou is best-known to fans of the film for singing “Gaston”, a pub ditty aimed at cheering up the spurned hero. Le Fou sings about Gaston in the tavern A brief clip of the film released online on Tuesday shows a flamboyant Gad singing his ode to Gaston in a pink neck bow and winking at his drinking mates.Attitude declares Beauty and the Beast “Disney’s gayest film ever”, with a “same-sex surprise” for fans.It comes after years of pressure from some fans, who have petitioned for more represention of the LGBTQ community on screen.  He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelingsBill Condon, director “It’s only a first step towards creating a cinematic world that reflects the world in which many of us are now proud to live. LeFou in his 1991 incarnation Dan Stevens and Emma Watson star in the filmCredit:Disney The live-action version of Beauty and the Beast is already on course to be the most thoroughly modern film of its kind, with star Emma Watson discussing how she made the role of Belle more feminist. The team have now revealed one character, LeFou, will experience Disney’s first ever “gay moment” on screen, as he struggles with his feelings for ultra-macho leading man Gaston. LeFou in his 1991 incarnation The full interview is published in Attitude magazine now “And Beast is obviously persecuted because of his appearance.”Watson added: “‘I think it was really important actually for Dan and I to develop and understand why each of our characters feel like they don’t fit in.“I certainly felt watching the original that I wanted to know more about why Belle feels that she’s different and why she wants to be different and why she’s naturally different.”The full interview is published in the April issue of Attitude, out now. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

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