Five issues the parties are ready to fight over as campaign begins

first_imgThe Liberals’ pitch on this front is less about cutting people’s costs and more about what they’ve done to increase government supports, from the 2016 Canada Child Benefit that consolidated multiple family-oriented programs and increased benefits for nine out of 10 recipients to their measures on making home-buying more affordable. They point to statistics showing that 278,000 children have been lifted out of poverty on their watch.Underlying the promises is an economic red flag that indicates why many voters feel stretched: Canadians have some of the highest levels of consumer debt in the developed world.JobsThe cost of living might not seem as scary to people who feel as though they have secure jobs that pay well, but urban Canada hasn’t been exempt from the disruptions of the “gig economy” and the decline in manufacturing jobs that have been the mainstays of small and medium-sized centres’ economies for generations. For example, General Motors’ announcement last winter that it would close its Oshawa factory hit hard. The Liberals tout their carbon price — and the rebate taxpayers in the affected provinces get in compensation — as an economist-approved way to reduce Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions with maximum efficiency. People who lead low-emissions lifestyles actually get rewarded with hard cash, they point out.The New Democrats and Greens would both toughen the rules on industrial emitters, but are broadly OK with the direction the Liberals took with their carbon tax. On the flip side, the Liberals’ decision to spend billions of dollars buying the Trans Mountain pipeline to get the project past regulatory hurdles hasn’t helped them with environmentalists.The Conservatives call the Liberal carbon policy an additional burden on overtaxed consumers that doesn’t account for people who have to spend a lot on home heating and driving gasoline and diesel vehicles. They vow to replace it with a system requiring big industrial emitters to spend on green technology.AffordabilityClosely related to environment policy are the cost of living and what the government should be doing to help Canadians who feel they can’t make ends meet. The Conservatives have put this issue at the heart of their campaign, settling on “It’s time for you to get ahead” as their slogan. Besides getting rid of the carbon-price backstop, they promise to cut taxes on home heating and parental benefits paid under employment insurance, among a raft of pledges aimed at reducing Canadians’ bills.The New Democrats have talked up a plan to cut cellphone costs, a large expense in many household budgets. OTTAWA — Here are five issues the major federal parties have been preparing to fight this election over.Climate changeLiberals and Conservatives seem eager to campaign on the Trudeau government’s signature environmental policy: the price on carbon-emitting fuels in provinces that don’t have equivalent systems of their own. It applies in Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, and the Liberals have said it will cover Alberta starting in January. The tax starts at $20 per tonne of carbon-dioxide emissions and is to rise to $50 a tonne by 2022.center_img Albertans have been angered by a lack of progress on oil pipelines, which means their oilsands products sell at a steep discount against world prices because they’re hard to get to buyers, kneecapping the provincial economy. China has made it all but impossible for Canadian producers to sell products like canola there (more on that below).Nevertheless, Canada’s unemployment rate in May was the lowest it’s been since the 1970s, and has since ticked up just slightly. Average wages are near record highs.Canada and the worldJustin Trudeau declared after his 2015 election that Canada was back, newly keen on multilateralism and doing its bit internationally. Then the bottom fell out: U.S. President Donald Trump’s unpredictability, China’s new assertiveness, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and designs on the Arctic, Britain’s being consumed by its departure from the European Union — all make Canada’s efforts to navigate global politics much tougher than in 2015.Canada reached a new North American free-trade agreement with the U.S. and Mexico, which is either the successful result of standing firm against a mercurial U.S. president in a largely defensive action or a capitulation to American demands on multiple fronts. The view largely depends on one’s political stripe.China is furious with Canada over its arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant. In response, China detained two Canadians there and obstructed agricultural imports. Canada has assembled lots of international support, but has not seen any of those retaliatory measures undone.Trudeau has had successful summits, including a chummy appearance this summer in Montreal with Donald Tusk, outgoing president of the European Union Council. He also had a disastrous trip to India, where the lasting memories were of him and his family in Indian-style garb, and the invitations to receptions sent to Jaspal Atwal, a Sikh separatist who was convicted of trying to murder an Indian politician on Vancouver Island in 1986.EthicsThe Liberals came into office promising openness, transparency and good conduct. Under the previous Conservative government, parliamentary secretary Dean Del Mastro was convicted of violating the Canada Elections Act and sentenced to jail time. The criminal trial of then-Conservative Sen. Mike Duffy ended in his acquittal by a judge who found he’d been the victim of scheming in the Prime Minister’s Office to get out from under a scandal over senators’ expenses.Nobody from Trudeau’s government has gone on trial, but the Liberal leader himself has twice been found to have violated the conflict-of-interest law — once over a vacation he took at the private island of the Aga Khan, the wealthy religious leader and philanthropist, and another in the SNC-Lavalin affair.That affair led to a slew of resignations — Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from cabinet, followed by their eventual expulsions from the Liberal caucus, Trudeau’s closest aide Gerald Butts, and the early retirement of Canada’s top bureaucrat — and preceded a sharp drop in Liberal poll numbers last winter.Wilson-Raybould described a months-long campaign out of the Prime Minister’s Office to get her, as Canada’s attorney general, to arrange a deal with SNC-Lavalin to head off a prosecution over allegedly corrupt dealings in Libya. Trudeau has said his priority was saving jobs at the Quebec engineering firm and that although he and his aides didn’t recognize how Wilson-Raybould was receiving their efforts, they ultimately had their hearts in the right place.The Conservatives link the SNC-Lavalin debacle to the failed prosecution of former vice-admiral Mark Norman over leaked information on a shipbuilding contract, saying both are evidence of Trudeau’s ruthlessness.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Mayawati attacks govt over farmers cane dues

first_imgLucknow: BSP supremo Mayawati Monday hit out at the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh over rising cane arrears to farmers,asking why it cannot act tough against the erring sugar mill owners. “How can the UP sugarcane farmers be happy and prosperous when their arrears amount to Rs. 10 thousand crores ? This is a matter to ponder on. Anti-farmers and pro-capitalist BJP government need not make wrong claims,” Mayawati said in a tweet. “Why is BJP not acting tough against the mill owners like the BSP government and getting all the arrears of the farmers cleared?” she asked. On Sunday, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra attacked the Uttar Pradesh government over unpaid dues of sugarcane farmers and alleged that ‘chowkidars’ (watchmen) were only working for the rich and are not bothered about the poor. She had also shared a media report on Twitter that claimed the dues of sugarcane farmers had crossed Rs 10,000 crore in the state.last_img read more

Fire breaks out in 22storey building in Bangladesh several feared trapped

first_imgDhaka: Several people were feared trapped in a 22-storey building which caught fire in Dhaka’s Banani area on Thursday in the latest blaze to hit the Bangladeshi capital. The incident happened on Thursday afternoon in the building that houses several garment shops and internet service providers. The actual number of people inside the building when the fire broke out was not known. “The fire broke out at FR Tower around 12:52 pm on Thursday,”Ataur Rahman, an officer of the Dhaka Fire Service Central Control Room, was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune. “Twenty one firefighting units of the Dhaka Fire Service and Civil Defence are trying to douse the fire,” he said . Apart from the fire tenders, Bangladesh Air force helicopters and Navy commandos have been sent to the spot to douse the blaze. The blaze was such that over half a dozen people jumped off from various floors of the high-rise, while the ambulances on the ground immediately rushed them to the hospital, other senior officials at the spot said. While the actual reason behind the blaze was not known, eye witnesses and a government officer at the spot said that the fire broke out on the eight floor of the building and later spread to the other parts. However, fire service did not comment on what caused the fire. “Three units of Bangladesh Navy are working to tame the blaze. We have brought around 50 per cent of the fire under control,”Siraj, a Navy officer, said. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director Abdullah Ibn Zaid said that three Bangladesh Air Force helicopters are aiding the search and rescue operations, along with teams from the Bangladesh Army and Navy. “Many have taken shelter on the roof, and some are asking for rescue through windows, the paper quoted him as saying. The officials concerned have reported that several groups of people have already been rescued from the burning building. Last month at least 70 people were killed and over 50 injured when a fast-moving fire swept through an apartment buildings and chemical warehouses in Dhaka’s congested Chawkbazar area.last_img read more

3D printing makes spine surgery easier

first_imgNew Delhi: An orthopedic surgeon from All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) has developed 3D printing technology for complex orthopedic, spinal and reconstructive surgeries while saying it can help to reduce complications significantly, apart from aiding in difficult cases.With the help of the 3D images from the CT scan, expert can develop the stereolithograpy of the damaged bone. This can be of great assistance to doctors because even a minor mistake or miscalculation during the correction of the spine deformity can cause paralysis or deformity,” said Dr Bhavuk Garg. He also added with use of these “navigational template fit the vertebra perfectly’ and provide a great assistance to the surgeon to avoid any single mistakes. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder”Spinal deformities are usually associated with significant morbidity and mortality. These problems are very challenging to treat and have a great risk of neurologic complications because of hardware placement during corrective surgery. After the introduction of pedicle screws, scoliosis correction surgeries have witnessed a revolutionary shift, necessitating the placement of a screw within the pedicle with accuracy and safety,” he said. This precision is essential to avoid potential complications because of small bone geometry and the juxtaposition to the spinal cord, he added. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchings”Surgical time was significantly less in the 3D printing group compared with the freehand group , moreover blood loss was higher in the freehand group but not statistically significant, Dr Garg added. He also said that we found a statistically significant higher rate of accuratescrew positioning with 3D printing. In spite of a similar vertebral fusion span, more screws were inserted in the 3D printing group, which was possible because of enhanced safety, particularly at apical levels. “Soft tissues have to be stripped completely to make templates fit. Preoperative preparation of these templates takes around 10–12 hours per patient; however, the preoperative preparation is justified in view of statistically significant less surgical time and radiation exposure. Because bigger and less rotated pedicles do not require much surgical expertise and time compared with difficult ones, we are now using this technique only for difficult pedicles to save time and cost,” he added.last_img read more

AAP govt has no interest in development Puri

first_imgNEW DELHI: Had the ruling Aam Aadmi Party worked diligently in Delhi, it would not have been so much willing to firm up an alliance with the Congress, Union minister Hareep Singh Puri has said. The Union minister also rejected the AAP government’s claims of good work in the education sector, saying it has not opened any school since it came to power.Puri, who is the Housing and Urban Affairs Minister in the Modi government, sought to know the track record of the Arvind Kejriwal government in the national Capital. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder”They (AAP) do not have any interest in development. They have different approach… Had they worked in Delhi diligently, they would not have been so much willing to firm up an alliance with the Congress,” Puri said. On Friday, AAP leader Gopal Rai said the Aam Aadmi Party is capable of defeating both the BJP and the Congress in Delhi and an alliance is possible with the Congress only when it will be done on 33 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress announced that it will fight the Lok Sabha polls in Delhi alone, but maintained that it is still willing to have an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party provided that the tie-up is restricted only to the national Capital. Puri also charged the Arvind Kejriwal with creating impediments whenever his ministry has sent any proposal, be it RRTS projects and Metro Phase-IV.last_img read more

Rs 1 crore in cash seized from Dilip Ghoshs PA in Asansol

first_imgKolkata: Goutam Chattopadhyay, who claimed to be the personal assistant of BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, was arrested along with his associate from Asansol railway station late on Sunday night for carrying unaccounted cash of Rs 1 crore inside a bag.Both of them, in the face of police interrogation, said that they were bringing the huge amount of cash from Delhi and the money was supposed to be distributed among the voters ahead of the final phase of elections in the state. Chattopadhyay claimed himself to be Ghosh’s personal assistant during the police interrogation. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe incident seemed to have validated Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s claim who on repeated occasions accused the BJP leaders of distributing money among the people. During a recent rally, Banerjee had asserted that the Election Commission and police must check the cars of all leaders irrespective of their political affiliations. She also demanded surveillance of the vehicles of top BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She also made it clear that she would not mind if the police check her vehicle along with others. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayIt was learnt that Ghosh’s personal assistant Chattopadhyay, along with his associate Laxmikanta Shaw, was carrying a bag containing cash of Rs 1 crore at Asansol railway station on late Sunday night. They were loitering aimlessly on platform number 5 of the railway station when they were intercepted by the railway police. They found the cash and detained the duo for interrogation. As they failed to come up with any convincing answers, they were arrested. The matter was informed to the Income Tax department. Trinamool Congress leaders in the state have repeatedly alleged that BJP made money out of demonetisation and they were using the same in the elections to influence the voters. When media persons threw questions on them while being taken to court, one of them maintained that the money belonged to the BJP and they were bringing it for distributing among the voters. The duo was remanded to four days’ police custody after being produced before a court in Asansol on Monday. A probe is underway in the trail of ‘ill-gotten money’. Turn to P7last_img read more

Morocco and the High Atlas Foundation Celebrate World Environment Day

By Yossef Ben-MeirMarrakech- World Environment Day is held annually on June 5th under UN auspices to highlight a particular area of environmental concern. The focus this year is on the unique challenges facing the world’s small islands in their battle with rising ocean levels – a far cry, it might seem, from the work of the High Atlas Foundation in Morocco.However, two vital messages can be gleaned from our involvement in sustainable development: firstly that diverse systems – ecological and social – are interconnected and ultimately interdependent and secondly, that knowledge applied in one type of environment can – and should – be translated into other situations. Climate change is a systemic environmental and social issue and no one measure will reverse its terribly alarming course. As in all environmental and developmental initiatives, sustainably addressing climate change requires both self-determined local actions and national and international commitments and policies that enable individuals and groups from all sectors of society to act in a way consistent with both their interests and that of the world.Not to promote the High Atlas Foundation as possessing a model approach – although we believe it to, based on results – we are dedicated day in and day out to realizing the environmental and developmental goals of local Moroccan communities, as well as those of nations where we are invited.Additionally we are committed to building partnerships at national and international levels in order to create the necessary awareness of policies so that local communities can both reap the benefits and undertake stewardship of their surrounding environment, which they are wholeheartedly in a position to do.Morocco is blessed with ocean and sea and with mountain ranges that are admired the world over. Nonetheless, in far too many places its mountains are crumbling, often causing villages to be abandoned and forcing families to relocate. The Kingdom’s mountainous regions are also where the greatest, most concentrated poverty is located.Therefore it is a national imperative, on a human and environmental preservation level, that these regions are transformed into breadbaskets of prosperity, which can only be done by fortifying them environmentally for many generations to come. Practically speaking, the inescapable tasks are to terrace, terrace, terrace, mountains and hillsides and plant, plant, plant upon them. To generate prosperity it is necessary to establish cooperatives, plant nurseries, secure organic certification process train and commercialize.Even without climate change and what it means for ocean and sea levels – of which we are reminded on this globally important day – and even without the further pertinent issue of desertification which threatens the Moroccan environment – the call to secure the mountains against their steady decline is one that should resonate nationally because of the majesty of the people and the place, and because the mountains are the environmental fortress of the country.For HAF this is a deep abiding calling – as it is, in broader terms, to benefit all regions of Morocco and to improve the conditions of all its inhabitants. In this spirit, we take our place in the wider scheme of things, knowing that our contribution makes a difference.Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir is a sociologist and president of the High Atlas Foundation, a Moroccan-U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing sustainable human development with marginalized communities. read more

Casablanca Ranks First Emerging Global Financial Hub report

Rabat- Casablanca was ranked first among the places being tipped by experts and finance professionals as the emerging global financial hubs likely to become significant in the future.In a recent Global Financial Center Index (GFCI) report published earlier this year, Casablanca’s ranking was still relatively low overall (62 out of 83). Yet, asked about the cities they believed will likely become more significant in the next few years, most finance professionals ranked the Moroccan metropolitan in the first position.“They’re putting a lot of work into it there,” said Mark Yeandle, associate director of Z/Yen Group, the company who published the GFCI report. “They have a sensible budget and a good team.” Casablanca aims to reach the objective of becoming the next big thing in global financial centers through its Casablanca Finance City Authority), which according to Hicham Zegrary, director of operations and institutional affairs at the CFCA, operates as “the gateway between Europe and Africa, and aims to take advantage of its geographical position and also act as a hub for North, West and Central Africa.”“The CFCA is working hard to position Casablanca as an international financial center by building its technology infrastructure and improving the legal environment in which business is done,” Zegrary added according to CNN.CFCA says it has managed to attract business heavyweights and over 100 companies, including BNP Paribas, American International Group (AIG), Clifford Chance, Silk Invest and Boston Consulting Group to name a few.Casablanca ranked first ahead of Busan (South Korea), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Shanghai (China), Kuala Lumpur (Singapore), Dalian (China), Dubai (UAE), Qatar and Luxembourg.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed read more

The Ministry of Culture Announces Submissions for Morocco Book Award 2015

Marrakech- The Ministry of Culture announced they are accepting submissions for the 2015 Morocco Book Award.The prize will be awarded at the opening of the twenty-first session of the International Exhibition of Books and Publishing in Casablanca from February 12 to 22.The Morocco Book Award covers several fields, including the humanities, social sciences, literature, art, linguistic studies, and poetry. The Ministry called on Moroccan writers, poets, critics, scholars, thinkers, and translators to participate in the contest. The candidates must submit eight copies of a book they published in 2014, either in Morocco or abroad.Additionally, if the book is translated, candidates need to submit the confirmation of the translation rights. Te deadline for accepting request applications will be January 7.Edited by Timothy Filla read more

Mehdi Benkirane The Story of an Orphan

Rabat – 24-year-old Mehdi Benkirane is a Moroccan orphan who turned his tragedies into successful story of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. In order to learn more Mehdi Benkirane’s life, Morocco World News interviewed him to highlight his career and his startup organization’s main objectives.MWN: Could you please introduce yourself? Mehdi Benkirane: My name is Mehdi Benkirane, founder and president of Children of the Heart.MWN: What are your motivations behind creating this organization?Mehdi Benkirane: The drive I have for creating this organization comes from my adoptive mother. I was born as an orphan and I’ve never met my biological parents. My biological parents left me in a charity center in Fez when I was only four months old. Since I was a child, my adoptive mother used to take me to the charity center to see my orphan friends so I wouldn’t forget my roots. After many years of social work, I came up with the idea of creating a similar organization in Rabat.MWN: What are the requirements for someone who wants to join Children of the Heart?Mehdi Benkirane: Our doors are open to everyone, especially Moroccan youth because we are in dire need of youth. Joining us is very easy because we are not asking for any money upon joining, but rather basic materials like clothes, baby bottles and simple medicines. We are also trying as much as possible to provide our children with new clothing so that they don’t feel any more different from their outside friends than they already do. We really want to provide them with new items only.MWN: Do you receive any financial support from the government?Mehdi Benkirane: Unfortunately, the government does not provide us with any financial support; I only receive moral support from our Head of Governmen, Abdelilah Benkirane. I would love to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Othman Benjelloun and Mrs. Ghita Zniber for providing us with help whenever we needed it.MWN: What are Children of the Heart’s main goals or objectives?Mehdi Benkirane: We are asking the Moroccan government to ratify a proposal to protect orphans’ rights. If we protect today’s children, we will protect our future generations.MWN: Could you please elaborate more on your organization’s upcoming projects?Mehdi Benkirane: We are officially announcing today for MWN readers that we plan to inaugurate eighteen children centers across Morocco, starting in 2015 in collaboration with the National Observatory of Children’s Rights.MWN: Would you please share with our readers the best and worst moments of your life thus far?Mehdi Benkirane: To be honest with you, I wasn’t expecting this question. Well, I’d love to thank God from the bottom of my heart for my adoptive family, because I know that I’m lucky to even have a family. Eighty percent of orphans aren’t as lucky as I am and truly don’t have a home. I’m also extremely happy because I was able to finish my higher studies and achieve a dream I’ve had since I was a little boy. Since I was child, I’ve dreamed of being an animator and, Alhamdulillah, I recently accomplished this dream. I’ve started working at Société Nationale de Radiodiffusion et de Télévision (SNRT) three months ago. For the worst event in my life, I’d say that the threats I’ve recently received because of this famous movement in Morocco are probably the worst things to happen to me so far.MWN: Do you have anything special to add?Mehdi Benkirane: Love one another, be yourself, don’t let someone else to tell you what you are going to be or not going to be because God has created you and God doesn’t make mistakes.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed read more

Casablanca to Host 5th Hub Africa Forum in May

Rabat – Casablanca will host its 5th annual Hub Africa forum, with Gabon and the Ivory Coast as guests of honor.The symposium has chosen “Entrepreneur of African Integration” as the slogan for this year’s event. The 5th edition of the forum intends to bring together national and global investors to discuss the development of investment and entrepreneurial activities in Africa.This edition also aims to encourage young entrepreneurs with the aim of motivating their aspirations and objectives. The event is set to be organized under the patronage of King Mohammed VI and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in coordination with the NGE Impact and Maroc Export establishments.President of Africa Hub, Zakaria Fahim said that the fifth edition will be characterized by several activities, including roundtables and thematic workshops on the importance of technology and audiovisual means as key elements that can promote and speed up the economic pace in the African continent.Held annually since 2012, the Hub Africa forum offers a “multifunctional and multidimensional platform” for discussion between business leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors from Africa, Europe, and around the worl read more

Unifor head Jerry Dias rules out boycott in campaign to save GM

OSHAWA, Ont. — The head of Unifor has ruled out a potential boycott of General Motors in the campaign to save the Oshawa Assembly Plant.Speaking at a union rally in front of GM Canada’s Oshawa office, Unifor president Jerry Dias says the union will never call for an outright boycott of GM products.Last week, Unifor’s Quebec director Renaud Gagne said there were no plans to boycott GM, but that it may be a solution the union will have to consider.The union also released an Ekos Research poll last week noting that 45 per cent of Canadians support an outright boycott of GM.Dias says he supports the products union members make at GM in Canada, but objects to the company’s shifting of production to Mexico.He says the union will have a press conference on Friday as it continues its fight to save the Oshawa plant that GM plans to shut down later this year.The Canadian Press read more

Fez Investigative Hearing of French Alleged Pedophile Postponed

Rabat – The Court of Second Instance in Fez has postponed the investigative hearing to evaluate the charges of sexual assault of minors levied against 58-year-old Frenchman until Monday, January 22.Asmae Kabba, a social activist following the case closely and who is President of the Moroccan Association Against Violence and Homelessness, an organization that provides support to sexual assault victims, confirmed the postponement to MWN on Wednesday.Kabba said that the investigative hearing had been postponed in the absence of one of the victims. The defendant is in custody of the Police in Fez. The social activist added that the National Observatory for the Rights of the Child chaired by Princess Lalla Meryem will also join the proceedings as a civil party to advocate on behalf of the underage girls. She said that she hopes that the intervention of the princesses’ association will help speed up the process and that the defendant “will get the punishment he deserves.”Hundreds of residents in the Fez medina took to the streets once again on Wednesday to stand in solidarity with the minor girls before the Court where the French tourist previously appeared on charges of rape and sexual assault of two girls aged 11 and 14.Earlier this month, the defendant, who arrived in Morocco approximately 18 months ago and has since been introducing himself to locals in Fez as a “tourist,” was arrested on January 1 in a tailor’s workshop in the Medina after allegedly committing the sexual acts on the two little girls.In a recorded interview posted on social media, the girls claimed that the 58-year-old defendant had been grooming them with money and toys, promising gifts from France. Their identities were concealed in the film as they are filmed from behind.“When I refused to comply with his orders, he threatened me and told me that he would slaughter my family,” said one of the girls in the moving interview.During the first hearing that took place on January 5, the defendant admitted to drugging and raping the two young girls. read more

Scuffles at Paris yellow vest protests on 13th weekend

PARIS — Scuffles have broken out between French yellow vest protesters and police in a 13th consecutive weekend of demonstrations.Police fired tear gas in Paris to disperse demonstrators near the Champs-Elysees avenue on Saturday afternoon as scuffles broke out.The protest in the French capital has passed the National Assembly and will end up near the Eiffel Tower.The yellow vest activists, who have brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets over the past three months, are now trying to achieve electoral success but the movement is politically divided and has no appointed leader.President Emmanuel Macron — the target of many demonstrators’ anger — seems to be clawing back support as he tries to quell the movement with a national political debate. Recent polls show Macron’s approval ratings rising.The Associated Press read more

FIFA Morocco Wins a Spot Ranks 41st in Football Worldwide

Rabat – The national football team won a place, ranking 41st in the International Football Federation (FIFA) ranking of June 2018, published on Thursday.Qualifying for the final phase of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Atlas Lions are fourth in Africa with 686 points behind Tunisia, 21st (910); Senegal, 27th (838); and Congo, 38th (706).Morocco is followed by Egypt, 45th (649); Ghana, 47th (624); Nigeria, 48th (618); Cameroon, 49th (614); and Burkina Faso, 52nd (604). The world ranking is still dominated by Germany (1558), ahead of Brazil (1431), Belgium (1298), Portugal (1274), and Argentina (1241).Last month, FIFA published a list of the teams that boasted the best records in the qualifying games for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The Atlas Lions made the list of the “defensive heroes hoping for [a] Russian repeat.” FIFA commended the Moroccan team’s near-miraculous defensive record that secured its ticket for the much-awaited World Cup tournament, which will kick off June 14.The Moroccan squad will play in Group B and will faceoff with Iran on June 15, Portugal on June 20, and Spain on June 25.This is the fifth time that the Atlas Lions have qualified for the World Cup; previously the Lions played in 1970 and 1986 in Mexico, 1994 in USA, and 1998 in France. read more

SAMIR Refinery Al Amoudi Claims 15 Billion Compensation from Morocco

Rabat – Saudi billionaire Sheikh Al Amoudi is demanding that Morocco pay him back 14 MAD billion ($1.5) as a compensation for the Moroccan government’s supposed role in the downfall of the SAMIR refinery.Al Amoudi is the chief executive of Corral Morocco Holding AB, the Moroccan branch of the Sweden’s Corral Petroleum. Corral Morocco Holding AB held 67% of SAMIR’s assets, before the refinery’s financial problems led the Moroccan government 2015 to declare it bankrupt.Moroccan news outlet Medias 24 reported yesterday that the Saudi businessman is blaming the Moroccan government for neglecting and “violating” a number of contract terms with SAMIR. Key in Al Amoudi’s compliant is Morocco’s alleged role in facilitating the financial debacle that saw SAMIR stop most of its activities in 2015. Medias 24 notes that Al Amoudi handed the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) a memo on April 12 of this year.Read Also: Al Amoudi Lodges a Complaint Against Morocco In Washington, D.C.In the memo,  the Saudi billionaire is said to have provided documents that prove “violations” by the Moroccan government in its contact with Corral Morocco Holding AB. Among the many accusations Al Amoudi levelled at the Moroccan government is the failure to implement regulations and contract terms which would have made SAMIR more competitive. The memo argued that Morocco “allowed” SAMIR to go bankrupt.Medias 24 did not provide details about all of the Saudi’s claims, or the ICSID’s stance on the legal validity of Al Amoudi’s demands that Morocco compensate him as much as $1.5 billion. In the meantime, Morocco has not yet issued a response to Al Amoudi’s claims.The Saudi businessman lodged his complaint at the ICSID on March 14 of last year. Back then, as now, the Saudi billionaire vented his frustration on Moroccan authorities for the “organized indifference” that precipitated his company’s debacle.Al Amoudi claims that Morocco’s failure to commit to an investment agreement with Sweden is the primary reason SAMIR went bankrupt. That agreement included protection against expropriation, as well as equal respect of investments.However, Al Amoudi’s complaints contrast with the verdict of the Casablanca Commercial Court, which in November 2018 ruled that SAMIR’s board’ mismanagement was the main reason behind the company’s financial failures.SAMIR is currently in a dire situation.  Even after a Casablanca court in 2016 ruled that the company’s assets be liquidated, interest in SAMIR has been scant. Although there have been bidders, no offer has been completed to date. read more

Polisario Arrests New Sahrawi Activist in Rabouni Algeria

Rabat – The oppression of Sahrawi activists condemning human violations in the Tindouf camps continues. Following the arrest of journalist Moulay Aba Buzid in a demonstration held on Monday, June 17, the Polisario Front kidnapped a second Sahrawi activist in Rabouni on June 18.Pro-polisario news outlets reported that the front arrested Fadel Brika, who was taken to an unknown location after his arrest. A statement from the Saharawi Initiative for Change, quoted by FuturoSahara, described arrests of both activists as “arbitrary detentions,” as there were no arrest orders from the so-called judiciary authority of the Polisario Front.The arrests were carried out in response to comments and posts the opposition activists were sharing on their social media accounts.Read Also: Polisario Continues Kidnapping, Crackdowns on Sahrawi ActivistsThe pro-Polisario news outlets reported that the front intends to carry out further arrest operations in the coming hours to “silence opposition voices.”The arrest of Brika was confirmed by former Polisario member Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, who has been following the violations in Tindouf camps, Algeria.Commenting on the arrest of Abu Buzid, Mustafa Salma said: “Every Moment Buzid spends in detention does not only condemn Polisario, but also the high commission for refugees as he was arrested  immediately after he left their office.”Despite the pressure that the front continue to face in the wake of the disappearances of Polisario members and activists, the Polisario has refused to reveal the fate of several arrested activists. . “I challenge [Polisario] them to keep journalist Buzid hidden now,” concluded Mustafa Salma.The family of Ahmed El Khalil, a  Polisario member who went missing more than 10 years ago, has been calling on the United Nations to intervene as the front remains silent on his fate read more

DR Congo UN envoy welcomes progress on Kivus while urging more action

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Alan Doss, speaking in Goma on Saturday, hailed the creation of a temporary ceasefire monitoring mechanism, which has as its focal point the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC).He also welcomed a recent Government order creating official follow-up bodies on the agreements, the reinforcement of MONUC blue helmets on the ground, and the transfer of the mission’s general headquarters from Kisangani to Goma. Mr. Doss called on all armed groups to respect the agreements, warning that signing alone would not automatically restore order in the Kivus. He emphasized the need to make good on all aspects of the agreement and reaffirmed MONUC’s readiness to monitor the ceasefire on the ground.The UN-backed Conference on Peace, Security and Development, held in Goma, North Kivu, ended with the signing on 22 January of ‘Actes d’engagement’ committing the Government and armed groups to end their hostilities.The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has estimated that over there are 800,000 displaced people in the North Kivu who have been uprooted either by last year’s fighting or previous conflicts. 11 February 2008The senior United Nations envoy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has welcomed progress in the follow-up to last month’s agreements on restoring order in the troubled Kivus, where fighting has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee in recent months. read more

SecretaryGeneral meets with Zimbabwean opposition leader over election crisis

Mr. Ban and Mr. Tsvangirai met for half an hour in Accra, Ghana, at the request of the opposition figure, the Secretary-General told journalists after the tête-à-tête. Mr. Tsvangirai complained about the deadlock in Zimbabwe, where the results of the presidential poll held on 29 March have still not been released, and the deterioration of the country’s humanitarian and political situation. “He told me that the military had been deployed around the country terrorizing people, and therefore many people had been running away from their homes and hiding somewhere, which had in turn created a very serious humanitarian situation,” Mr. Ban said. The Secretary-General added that Mr. Tsvangirai – who represents the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – also appealed to the UN and the African Union to intervene as he feels there has been no progress with the Southern African Development Community, which held a summit on the crisis earlier this month. “Upon hearing his complaint and briefing on the situation, I have expressed my deep concern about the post-electoral situation… I also expressed my deep concern about this continuing situation, where violence and polarization have now been prevalent, and I asked him to resort to peaceful means to resolve this issue, through dialogue.” Mr. Ban also said he would now consult the leadership of the AU on possible ways forward. Zimbabwe’s electoral authorities have already announced the results of the parliamentary elections that were held on the same day as the presidential poll, in which the incumbent Robert Mugabe was challenged by Mr. Tsvangirai. 21 April 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has held talks today with Zimbabwean opposition leader and presidential contender Morgan Tsvangirai over the protracted post-election crisis in the Southern African country. read more

Aid partners to assess state of Western Sahara refugees on UNled visits

17 March 2009Concern over malnutrition among long-term refugees from Western Sahara have sparked two assessment missions to their camps in western Algeria by humanitarian partners, the first of which embarks tomorrow, the United Nations refugee agency announced today. Staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) will accompany representatives of donor countries and their partners from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on a three-day mission to the camps of Sahrawi people, starting tomorrow.“The aim is to see first-hand the situation in the sites and to assess the overall conditions of the refugees,” UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond said in Geneva, noting that in the last survey conducted in 2008, 61 per cent of the children and 66 per cent of pregnant women in the camps were suffering from anaemia.Later this month, nutritionists from UNHCR and WFP will visit the camps to assess the current nutritional status of the most vulnerable refugees and to evaluate the current programmes and practices. The mission will also decide on whether to include additional foodstuffs with high nutritional value in the food assistance, specifically targeted to children, and pregnant and lactating women.As a result of the last survey conducted in 2008 by Médecins du Monde (MDM) and WFP in coordination with UNHCR, the UN refugee agency already provides supplementary food in addition to the 125,000 general food rations distributed by WFP, it said. WFP has also added supplementary and school feeding programmes to its operation, distributing fortified, blended foods to malnourished children, pregnant women and lactating mothers and is working to diversify its basic food basket.In the last five years, however, donor funding has been erratic and in 2008, UNHCR only received 39 per cent of its budget, and both it and WFP still need additional funding for 2009.Sahrawi refugees started arriving in Algeria in the mid-seventies. UNHCR has been providing assistance to this group since the influx into the Tindouf area in 1975-76 while WFP has been providing food assistance since 1986.Tomorrow’s mission will include ambassadors and diplomats from more than 19 countries, including Brazil, France, Indonesia, Italy, Switzerland, South Africa, Spain, Nigeria and the United States, as well as representatives of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO).Participants will visit two of four refugee camps and will meet with beneficiaries, refugee leaders and Algerian authorities, according to UNHCR. The refugees have been living in four desolate camps in south-west Algeria since the mid-seventies, when a dispute arose between Morocco and the Frente Polisario over the status of Western Sahara.Since 1991, the UN mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been tasked with monitoring the ceasefire between the two parties and organizing a long-stalled referendum on self-determination. read more