EC orders removal of 6 Central Force jawans posted as Arjun’s bodyguards

first_imgKolkata: The Election Commission on Sunday ordered the removal of 6 Central Force jawans, who had been deputed as bodyguards of BJP candidate Arjun Singh, who is contesting the elections from Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency. The decision comes in the wake of the scuffle at Halishahar between Singh and the police.A TMC party office was ransacked at Halishahar on Sunday. Blaming BJP for the same, Trinamool leaders subsequently alleged that Singh was using the Central Force jawans to impose his will in the area. Meanwhile, on his way to attend a meeting with Special Police Observer Vivek Dubey at the District Magistrate’s office in Barasat, Singh said that he will conduct an ‘operation’ on May 6 when Barrackpore will go to polls. “I conduct various types of operation during every election. Tomorrow I will also conduct a new one as well,” Singh said, in an apparent jab at the Opposition. Additional CEO Sanjay Basu said that a report has been sought from the district election office on Singh’s statement. The Commission will examine the statement soon. Dinesh Trivedi, who is contesting from Barrackpore on TMC’s ticket, relied on the administration to counter any such ‘operation’ conducted by his rival. Trivedi also attended the meeting convened by the Special Police Observer. “The administration is there to take care of any ‘operation’ he (Singh) was talking about. I don’t want to comment on his statement,” Trivedi said.last_img read more

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Trump more cautious than his top advisers on Iran

first_imgWashington: President Donald Trump says he hopes the US is not on a path to war with Iran amid fears that his two most hawkish advisers could be angling for such a conflict with the Islamic Republic. Asked Thursday if the US was going to war with Iran, the president replied, “I hope not” a day after he repeated a desire for dialogue, tweeting, “I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon.” The tone contrasted with a series of moves by the US and Iran that have sharply escalated tensions in the Middle East in recent days. For the past year, national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been the public face of the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran. The friction has rattled lawmakers who are demanding more information on the White House’s claims of rising Iranian aggression. Top leaders in Congress received a classified briefing on Iran Thursday, but many other lawmakers from both parties have criticized the White House for not keeping them informed. Iran poses a particular challenge for Trump. While he talks tough against foreign adversaries to the delight of his supporters, a military confrontation with Iran could make him appear to be backtracking on a campaign pledge to keep America out of foreign entanglements. Lawmakers and allies, however, worry that any erratic or miscalculated response from Trump could send the US careening into conflict. Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal last year and reinstated sanctions on Tehran that are crippling its economy. Tensions rose dramatically May 5, when Bolton announced that the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group would be rushed from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf ahead of schedule in response to “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” without going into details. Since then, four oil tankers, including two belonging to Saudi Arabia, were targeted in an apparent act of sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, according to officials in the region, and a Saudi pipeline was attacked by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen. The US also ordered non-essential staff out of Iraq and has dispatched additional military assets to the region. The Senate will receive a classified briefing on Iran on Tuesday, according to Jim Risch of Idaho, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. The House has requested a classified briefing as well. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said briefings are necessary because informing leaders “is no substitute for the full membership of the Congress.” She said a failure to inform lawmakers is “part of a pattern” for the Trump administration “that is not right,” because the power to declare war resides with Congress. “I hope that the president’s advisers recognize that they have no authorization to go forward in any way” against Iran, Pelosi said. Trump has dismissed suggestions that any of his advisers, particularly Bolton, are pushing him into a conflict. “John has strong views on things, but that’s OK. I actually temper John, which is pretty amazing isn’t it?” Trump said recently when asked if he was satisfied with Bolton’s advice. “I have different sides. I mean, I have John Bolton, and I have other people that are a little more dovish than him. And ultimately I make the decision.” Mark Dubowitz, an advocate of a hardline policy toward Iran and chief executive of the Federation for Defense of Democracies, said, “Trump is smart to let these advisers play the roles they play and it really does help him lay the table for negotiation, but ultimately, it comes back to his ability to oversee a negotiation and do so wisely and judiciously, and that’s an open question.” Tensions started to spiral last year when Trump pulled out of a deal the US and other world powers signed with Iran during the Obama administration. The deal lifted economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing of its nuclear programme. Trump agreed with critics of the deal that it didn’t address Tehran’s work on ballistic missiles or its support of militant groups around the region. His administration reinstated sanctions that had been lifted under the deal the Europeans and other signatories are still in it and has piled on more. Trita Parsi, an adjunct associate professor at Georgetown University who advised the Obama administration on Iran, thinks the Iranians are trying to exploit Trump and Bolton’s divergence on foreign policy issues. He cited a recent tweet from Hessamoddin Ashena, an adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, directed squarely at Trump and Bolton, who is easily recognized in public by his white, bushy mustache. “You wanted a better deal with Iran. Looks like you are going to get a war instead. That’s what happens when you listen to the mustache,” the Iranian adviser said.last_img read more

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Morocco’s Kenitra: a City of Contrasts

first_imgKenitra – Just moved to Kenitra? No worries at all. It is a magic place where you will start feeling at home day by day. Ambiance is a matter of environment and it affects new comers! You develop your own style and you “melt in.”  Kenitra City in Morocco. Photo by Mouloud Zoubir-MWNEverything is conveniently near: shopping, hospitals, colleges. The hospitals and colleges are not the best, but they’re not the worst in the nation. It has a high crime rate and lots of beggars for a city of its size, but you can still find nice neighborhoods with good places to see and great hospitality of people. Indeed, the social makeup of the entire city is captivating to those who dare interact with its denizens.Kenitra has much to offer. There are many good restaurants, and retail stores with somewhat reasonable prices. There is a gorgeous beach and an awesome lake. It has four seasons with hot summers and cold winters. It is surrounded by farms with organic and local vegetables and fruits. It has beautiful fountains along Mohamed V Avenue, the principal road, and some parks, but still lacks open spaces for children to play. Except for rush hour traffic, which is just as bad as other areas, you can get from point A to point B within a reasonable amount of time. Kenitra City in Morocco. Photo by Mouloud Zoubir-MWNEven with all its faults, its weaknesses, its malodorous days, Kenitra is [still a wonderful city to live in].  The real estate market in tKenitra is strong, with affordable housing. If you were to buy, you can own a home cheaply. Renting is also an option and the cost varies from one neighborhood to another. In almost every neighborhood, you can find newly constructed apartments really worth renting and living in. Unfortunately, there is a lack of local recreation and park services available to the community for free that would help to keep children off the streets, occupied, and give them some enjoyment. There is a need also for recreational places to go for adults, such as an affordable place for exercise, fitness and conditioning, as an alterntive to sitting in cafés and chatting for hours.Kenitra City in Morocco. Photo by Miloud Zoubir-MWNStill with children in mind, a question pops up in my mind: Why are families with very limited income opting for private schools and struggling hard to devote a large part of their budget to paying the tuition? This may be driven by the fact that the public school system in Kenitra, as in the rest of Morocco, is sinking deeper into crisis. Why? Teacher absenteeism, lack of infrastructure, drug abuse and crime are singled out as causes of the failure of the public schools. Only the poorest parents still send their children to public schools,not only in Kenitra, but everywhere in Morocco. This reality contributes significantly to widening the social gap and increasing the exclusion of the lower socio-economic  segment of society and deprives children of low-income families of opportunities for social development. The educational system in Morocco does not just need restructuring, but rather a profound change.Certainly, Kenitra is in need of free libraries to engage children in reading and give them access to a wide range of books. While there is one library in the La City neighborhood and another one in Saknia neighborhood, they are not enough. The two libraries are in fact empty most of the time because they do not offer any extra activities or programs in which children can engage in exploring their country and their culture through books and discovering new skills.With respect to higher education, Kenitra still does not have any private university. Ibn Tufail University is the only one in this city, founded in 1989, consists of the following institutions: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, Faculty of Law, Economics and Social Sciences, National School of Business and Management, and National School of Applied Sciences. it’s the university campus consists of University City and the Maâmora university residence. The harsh reality is that Ibn Tufail University, like others in the country, is also in deep crisis. It has become frozen in time, producing nothing but unemployable and ignorant graduates. In fact, for many, going to the university is simply a waste of time! Others have sought a more successful alternative, opting for vocational and professional training appropriate to the labor market.Kenitra City in Morocco. Photo by Miloud Zoubir-MWN“What a society deems important is enshrined in its art,” Harry Broudy, prominent American philosopher and educator,stated.  Art is such a large part of our everyday lives, and “art is something that makes us more thoughtful and well-rounded humans.” It is really sad to see people in Kenitra so engaged in everyday activities and completely ignore so many aspects of art in their lives. What I mean is that this city has great minds and talented youth, but unfortunately lacks the resources and guidance to allow them develop their skills and ideas. There are two youth centers in the city.  One is in Saknia, the other in Ouled Oujih. Though they contribute to many youth learning experiences, they still both lack design, structure and organization. While there is a school for music in Kenitra, I know of no school that offers art classes, drawing or craft courses for kids.Theaters, cinemas, and movies are special places for families to go and have a good time. Kenitra used to have three cinemas, however, two of them have gone dark and are now closed. The significance of the arts to a community and to the individual cannot be underestimated.  Everybody knows that music, dramatic and literary exposure help children grow and develop into interesting adults. But Kenitra lacks such programs. Most of Kenitra’s children have never seen a theater or been to the movies in their lives.The Kasbah of Mahdia. Photo by Miloud Zoubir-MWNYet, still on the subject of art, the region surrounding Kenitra has a rich and varied popular folklore that has been passed down orally from generation to generation.  Over time, it is being lost little by little, as it is reduced to folklore exhibitions which lose the context and original meaning reflecting all aspects of traditional local culture: the beliefs, customs, crafts and traditions of the people. Folklore, dance and music were associated with family celebrations, social or religious, but over time they are replaced by other kinds of modern music. Currently, in major celebrations such as engagements or weddings, there is traditional music mixed with modern music from other parts of the Arab world. Kenitra’s traditional music or popular music has been influenced by music from other regions of the country, including Berber-style music and Andalusian music.Kenitra City in Morocco. Photo by Miloud Zoubir-MWNNow what about sport in Kenitra? There are many famous names in sports who have come from Kenitra.  There is Said Aouita,.a former world record holder and the only athlete in history to combine medals at both 800m and 5000m sprints. Youssef Chippo, the international soccer player, is also from Kenitra. Amina Ait Hammou, famous as an olympic athlete, was also from this city. The Kenitra Athletic Club (KAC) has been prominent. Kenitrians love it and are proud of it. The club is popular for earning the fifth best record in winning the Moroccan Soccer League, four times, as well as for players like Mohamed Boussati who holds the record scorer in the Moroccan Soccer League, after he scored 25 goals during the season 1981/1982. Again, Kenitra, and the region as a whole, have produced youth with good potential, but they are not equipped or organized to motivate them and move forward. The Municipal Stadium, the only one in this region, is also too tiny compared to the size of this region.Kenitra is indeed a small town, with great history, culture, and an active, young population. There are so many things that are unique and special in this city. That is the reason why I want to go deeper in talking about it. So, let’s dig further into its profile.Kenitra City in Morocco. Photo by Miloud Zoubir-MWNThe city is located on the south bank of one of the largest Moroccan Rivers, “Oued Sebou,” 12 km (or roughly 7 miles) inland from the Atlantic Ocean, at the level of Mehdya beach. This is a newer city, unlike the imperial cities of the Kingdom, since its creation dates back only 120 years. However, many historians relate it to the Kasbah of Mehdya, a temple built by Hanoun in the sixth century and was used by the Phoenicians.Kenitra City in Morocco. Photo by Miloud Zoubir-MWNIt was founded by the French General Louis Hubert Lyautey in 1912, named Port Lyautey after him.  It opened for trade and became the best river port in Morocco. In 1956, with the independence of Morocco, the name changed to Kenitra. In 1970, a major US Naval Air Station was established and shared by the Moroccan military till 1991.Kenitra is now the capital of the Gharb–Chrarda–Beni Hssen region, one of the richest in Morocco, situated in the Northwest of the Morocco, on the Sebou River. Its population is approximately 400 thousand inhabitants, and its surface area is 103,55 km 2 (approximately 39  square miles). Its climate is mild and humid during winter and hot and dry in the summer.It has a diversified transportation network connecting it to other cities of Morocco. This network is boosted by the motorway linking Kenitra to Tangier, Casablanca and Fes. It is half an hour far from Rabat: the administrative capital of Morocco, and one hour from Casablanca, the economic capital of Morocco. It is two hours from Fez: the spiritual capital of Morocco, and four hours from Marrakech: the touristic capital of Morocco. The TGV (High-Speed Train) line now connects Kenitra to Tangier in just 1 hour. Rabat Airport is located in just 25 km (about 15 miles) from Kenitra. The Kenitra port on the Sebou River is the first and only river port of Morocco.This city has natural resources that add to its assets. Maamora forest, the largest in Morocco, extends over 125,000 ha (482.63 mi²), with the dominant species of Cork oak and eucalyptus.  The lake at Sidi Boughaba, 10 km away from the city, constitutes a very important biological and natural reserve.It also has significant water resources, estimated at 6.75 billion m3 (238.37400036 cubic feet), about half of it — 3.5 billion m3 (123.60133352 cubic feet) — reserved for irrigation.This city represents an area of dominant influence over markets in different sectors. This influence varies from one industry to another, but also from one period of time to another.Agriculture is the most active sector in the region, employing half of the population, though still not totally developed and mainly depending on irrigation. It supplies the Moroccan market with not only the agricultural produce (especially citrus fruits, vegetables, and cereals, primarily wheat), but also a significant amount of livestock composed of cattle, sheep and goat.Fisheries: Kenitra has a very important potential in this sector, though still in need of improvement in its whole structure. It employs just about 2,377 people and the quantity of seafood caught is not yet enough to satisfy the market.Industry: The food industry is the dominant industry in this region, mainly in transformation and conditioning of seafood and agricultural produce. Other sectors that play a significant role as well in the economy of this region are the chemical and para-chemical industry, the metal and mechanical industry, the textile and leather industry, and the electric and electronic industry.Tourism: This region has all the potential of a beautiful tourist site, with 140 Km (86.992  miles) of coastline with beautiful beaches of Mehdia, Moulay Bouselham, Bikmeur, large dunes and plains of cork oak, the biological sites(nature reserves) of Merja Zerga and Sidi Boughaba as well as the historic sites built by the Romans of Thamusida and Banasa. The Kasbah of Mehdia, which looks like a big square one hundred meters wide, marked by towers at the four corners and in the middle of each side, looking up to the sea and the river, is a big attraction to all visitors of Mehdia.  Khabbazat in the old medina, as well as all the neighborhoods around the city (Ville Haute, Ouled Oujih, Fewarat, Maghrib Arabi, Berrami, Ismailia, Seyad, La Cigogne, Saknia, Assam, La City), are also a point of interest for visitors, especially after the creation of many big shopping malls and centers like Asswak Assalam, Marjane, and others.Kenitra has also a good hotel infrastructure, Maamora Hotel (3 stars), Safir Hotel, and Assam Hotel, as well as several other smaller hotels, welcoming every year more and more tourists.Kenitra City in Morocco. Photo by Miloud Zoubir-MWNDuring this decade, additional attention is given to Kenitra and the region as a whole. Many projects have been launched recently and will make Kenitra a major hub of economic and social development, which could have a positive effect on other communities in the region.The Municipal Council, its local team, headed by the Secretary-General and under the supervision of the Mayor, are all aware of the importance of an effective infrastructure that will contribute to economic prosperity and improve quality of lives. They all know that Kenitrians need clean air, potable water, as well as security. They need efficient buildings, a reliable power grid and capable mobility solutions.Kenitra’s urban landscape had seen significant expansion in the last decade. The city’s boom has spurred a need for housing. Many real estate projects have been created by the property developers in collaboration with the banks and other financial institutions, benefiting from tax incentives, such as eliminating capital gains and inheritance tax on real property, designed to stimulate the sector. It is a push by the government to improve accommodation options for lower-income segments of the population and to encourage social housing which has dramatically increased. As a result, Kenitra has recently witnessed the highest increase in real estate prices as well as the most sales. Large industrial projects as well as commercial places and metropolitan facilities have been established and gradually changed the city’s way of life.Now there is the challenging need to keep the balance of the character of neighborhoods, the preservation of open space and the capacity of an area’s transportation networks to absorb more people. It is also high time to reform education, develop better school designs and accommodations, add recreation and community centers and entertainment facilities.With all its faults and weaknesses, as John Ed Pearce once said about “home,” Kenitra is “a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”Photo by Miloud Zbir/Morocco World News Photos by Moroccan Photographer Mouloud Zoubir for Morocco World News© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributedlast_img read more

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Moroccan Entrepreneur Resorts to King After Being Asked to Give a…

Ratbat – Young Moroccan entrepreneur resorts to King of Morocco after being asked to hang out MAD 200,000 bribe to obtain new business authorization.A new video of a Moroccan expatriate in Gabon has recently swept across Facebook. The woman, a Moroccan entrepreneur, bitterly tells the shocking story of the obstacles she faced as a result of her desire to create a new business in Morocco. For three years, she has been struggling with officials in the Marrakech region for not giving them a MAD 200,000 bribe to authorize her new business.The woman says that when she first came back to Morocco to invest in her new business idea, she was victim to a number of obstacles, including sexual harassment. Without delving into the specifics of this incident, she pointed out that the Moroccan authorities helped her overcome it. “After this incident, I was shocked and I felt a great deal of injustice. However, my determination to establish this business, along with the support of my family made me defeat it,” said the Moroccan entrepreneur.The entrepreneur continues that when she submitted her project in the Marrakech region, the president of the commune asked her for a bribe:“What these people ask for is unconceivable. I am an entrepreneur and Moroccan citizen. I want to create something new in my country, and these people do not care if I decide not to carry on with this investment. This created enormous problems with my family and husband,” said the crying woman.The woman came over from Gabon to Morocco 14 times with her little son in the past two years to complete paper work for her business, wasting money to no avail.Throughout the video, the Moroccan expatriate stresses that Mohammed VI, Morocco’s monarch, has been working on facilitating the procedures for Moroccan expatriates to come back and invest in Morocco, yet “corrupt officials” do not hesitate to ask for bribes before authorizing projects.At the end, the Moroccan woman, calls on the king to intervene and assist her in overcoming corruption to finally create her new business.Edited by Natalie Yazhary read more

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Man Arrested in Kenitra for Selling Police Academy Entrance Exams

Rabat – A man who promised candidates access to entrance exams to Kenitra’s police academy in exchange for a feehas been arrested.The man was stopped by police near the academy in Kenitra last week, found to be carrying sums of money varying between MAD 15,000 and 30,000.The money was discovered to have been given to him by four policeacademy hopefuls accompanying him.An ensuing investigation revealed that the arrested man had promised them participation in the academy, for a fee. When he was arrested, the man also had a set of personal documents in his possession that did not belong to him.Currently in remand, the unnamed man hadpreviously been arrested for drug trafficking and accused of fraud and identity theft. The police have identified two of his accomplices, who they are in the process of arresting. read more

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Algeria and Morocco Clash Over Western Sahara Archival Request at UN

Rabat – Morocco’s United Nations representative, Yasser Halfaoui, denounced Algeria’s “relentlessness” on the question of the Western Sahara during the UN debates on information-related issues. The Algerian delegation brought up the subject despite it not appearing on the debate agenda.During a debate on information at the Fourth UN Commission in New York on October 25, the Algerian delegation, led by its deputy ambassador Mohammed Bessedik, filed a request to dig up a 1975 report on the Sahara dispute, which was digitized but not accessible to the public.Halfaoui expressed his puzzlement, not only at Algeria’s “malicious selectivity,” but also by the nature of the demand, which is “contrary to the UN practice and regulations.” The Moroccan representative explained that the content of UN digital archives is “the sole responsibility of the UN Secretariat and not of Algeria or any other Member State.” The Moroccan delegate went on to say that Morocco could also have asked for the publication of UN documents reflecting the degree of involvement of Algeria in the Sahara issue, “notably the Algerian proposal to partition the territory of the Western Sahara made to the former Personal Envoy James Baker, duly recorded in a report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council.”“Morocco does not follow this logic, and respects the theme of the debate and the mandate of the Department of Information,” Halfaoui said, according to the Maghreb Press Agency (MAP). In response to the “misrepresentations” made by the Algerian representative on the Green March, Halfaoui reminded the audience of the “glorious and historic glorious nature of this march,” through which Morocco recovered its southern provinces. He reminded the members of the United Nations the ordeal of the people of Tindouf in Algeria, “who are not refugees but are sequestered,” Halfaoui stated.He also stressed that the question of the Western Sahara was an issue of “completion of the territorial integrity of the kingdom and not a matter of decolonization.” Challenge the “observer status” brandished by Algeria, Halfaoui stated that “this country that created the Polisario finances and mobilizes its diplomatic and military apparatus against Morocco.”Halfaoui noted that Algeria’s attitude is additional proof that it is, in its own right, “part of the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara.” read more

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Fiat Chrysler profits soar on North American results

MILAN — Italian American automaker Fiat Chrysler says fourth-quarter net profits rose by 61 per cent, powered by North American sales of the all-new Ram 1500 and Jeep Wrangler.Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Thursday reported quarterly net profits of 1.29 billion euros ($1.46 million), compared with 804 million euros in 2017. Revenues rose 6 per cent to 30.6 billion euros.North America profits grew by 19 per cent to 6.2 billion euros, accounting for the lion’s share of the automaker’s global profits. The carmaker continued to have trouble in Asia, which swung to a loss due to market weakness in China and more competition in Fiat Chrysler’s core SUV market.Europe also lost ground, with profits dipping 44 per cent on lower shipments and weaker pricing, while Latin America more than doubled.The Associated Press read more

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El Othmani Receives Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez

Rabat – El Othmani received Sanchez this morning in Rabat, the Spanish embassy in Morocco wrote in a Twitter post.Minister of Human Rights Mustapha Ramid and Minister of the Interior Abdelouafi Laftit, and Minister of Culture and Communication Mohamed Laaraj also greeted Sanchez upon his arrival.The Spanish high official is visiting Morocco for the first time since he became prime minister in June and is accompanied by a delegation from Madrid. Sanchez is also expected to meet King Mohammed VI on his official trip to Morocco.Sanchez confirmed his intention to visit Rabat at the 26th Ibero-American summit in Guatemala over the weekend.Sanchez told the press that he is visiting Morocco because of the “historical ties” and the “strategic bilateral relations” that both countries enjoy.Presidente del Gobierno, @sanchezcastejon, departe con Jefe de Gobierno Marruecos, Saaddedine El Othmani, a su llegada a Rabat. @MAECgob @desdelamoncloa pic.twitter.com/MZBLo4z0Os— EmbajadaEspañaMarruecos (@EmbEspanaRabat) November 19, 2018He added that the visit will strengthen the bilateral ties linking the two nations on “common challenges.”He also described the visit as “very important.”Since he was voted in as Spanish prime minister in June, Sanchez has been a pro-Moroccan voice in the European Union, expressing Morocco’s concerns on migration issues.Llegada del Presidente @sanchezcastejon a Rabat. Comienza visita de trabajo y amistad a Marruecos. @desdelamoncloa pic.twitter.com/xPXB0iZips— EmbajadaEspañaMarruecos (@EmbEspanaRabat) November 19, 2018Sanchez also convinced the EU commission for migration to grant additional funds for Morocco to prevent irregular immigration to Spain.Read Also: Spanish Parliament Refuses to Host Polisario Meeting, Sanchez to Visit MoroccoThe visit also acknowledges Morocco’s strategic role in fighting irregular migration in line with the Spanish government’s agenda.Morocco is also an important trade partner for Spain. In February, the European Statistical Office reported that Spain remains Morocco’s main trade customer in terms of exports, which increased by 11.2 percent over the past year.Spain has been the primary export destination and importer of Moroccan goods since 2012. Spain is also calling the EU to speed up the process of the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement. Last week, the Spanish Minister of Agriculture Luis Planas called for a “rapid ratification” of the fisheries deal at the EU parliament.The Spanish minister asked them to approve it in the first quarter of 2019 to allow Spanish fishermen to fish in Moroccan waters. read more

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UK: UN Talks in Geneva Important for Moroccan-Algerian Dialogue

Rabat – In a tweet, the British representative said that the UK “would like to see progress towards resolving long-standing issues between Maghreb states,” referring to the Western Sahara conflict.On November 6, King Mohammed VI offered Algeria to engage in a frank and direct dialogue with Morocco to break the stalemate hindering Maghreb unity.He also said that Morocco is open to “any initiative or proposals” that would help to normalize the “much less than acceptable” relations between the two neighbors. The UK, according to Reilly, believes that the United Nations talks in Geneva scheduled for December  at the request of the personal envoy of the Secretary-General, Horst Kohler, is “important in this regard.”#UK Interested to see #Moroccan King’s proposal for mechanism for dialogue with #Algeria. UK would like to see progress towards resolving longstanding issues between #Maghreb states. #UN #WesternSahara talks in #Geneva next month important in this regard https://t.co/U97v846RR5— Thomas Reilly (@TSAReilly) November 20, 2018The UK was not the only country that backed King Mohammed VI’s proposal.  Earlier this month, the US Department of State said that rapprochement between Algeria and Morocco could help de-escalate regional tensions between Rabat and Algiers.Read Also: US: Morocco-Algeria Diplomatic Normalization Will Improve Security“The US Government has urged Algeria and Morocco to recognize that improved relations will help the two countries tackle common bilateral and regional issues such as terrorism, illegal immigration, drug trafficking and economic integration,” the Department of State told the state-owned news agency Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).Despite international leaders backing Morocco’s dialogue initiative, Algeria remains silent.Several Algerian parties responded to Morocco’s offer, especially when Moroccan parties announced that they would visit Algeria to meet with members of political parties.Algerian parties, including Ennahda, argued that steps to solve issues between the two countries should come from governments rather than political parties.Read Also: Qatar, France Welcome King Mohammed VI’s Dialogue Initiative to AlgeriaSpain, Jordan, France, UAE, the United Nations, and the African Union all commended Morocco’s initiative. read more

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Marrakech to host LXR Music Festival

LXR festival is a new international event in Marrakech dedicated to jazz, blues, fusion, rock, contemporary and classical music.The festival is produced by LXR Music Company that is an independent body devoted to support Jazz and Fusion groups with the purpose of distributing their albums.The LXR Festival Association aims to establish a Music Academy in Marrakech with the support of National and International Partners. Some of the objects of the project are the creation of a Media library rich with Albums, Vinyls, Books, DVDs, Scores, Software, and Instruments. The LXR Festival Association works on starting music lessons funded by the profits of the first edition of LXR Festival.Read also: Plan Your Trip Now: Marrakech’s Oasis Festival Set for September 2019For its first edition, the LXR Festival will introduce the audience to some outstanding names in jazz, blues, fusion, rock, contemporary and classical music.For instance, one of the great names performing in the festival this year is Youssef Dhafer. He is a Tunisian Oud player, composer, and vocalist. Dhafer is one of today’s jazz hottest stars. His music is a mixture of Arabic sacred sounds and jazz. As a young child, Youssef was exposed to various genres of music like Bach, Tchaikovsky, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles. But what really caught his ear was jazz. *“Jazz changed my life. It was like, this sounds like music that allows me to be myself.” Dhafer told the Irish Times.Other artists present during the first edition are the magical duo, Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita. The music of these two virtuoso musicians is a union of two cultures, Senegal and Wales. Keita and Finch are maestros of the kora and classical harp respectively.The alto saxophonist Logan Richardson is another brilliant artist performing in the festival.The New York Times describes his songs as, “sweeping and rhapsodic and don’t need a fixed rhythm to ground them.”The festival will also pay tribute to the late Randy Weston who celebrated Africa as the wellspring of jazz music. Weston was an esteemed American jazz pianist and composer whose music was inspired by his ancestral African roots.The first edition of LXR Festival brings a unique cultural experience to Marrakech, showcasing the finest international musicians through live performances of singing and instrument playing. read more

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Morocco Now Has Balkan Competitors for 2030 World Cup Bid

Rabat- The AP reported Friday that four Balkan countries have announced that they will make a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup.The heads of state from Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Serbia made the announcement at a regional meeting on the Black Sea.Morocco announced it would submit another bid to host the World Cup immediately after the North African country lost its chance to host the 2026 World Cup to a North American joint bid in June. Moroccan officials have not yet revealed whether the country will submit a joint bid or another solo bid.Speculations ran wild this summer about a potential joint bid between Morocco, Spain, and Portugal.In September, however, Portuguese news outlet A Bola reported that Portugal is not planning to bid for the World Cup with Spain.“Morocco will bid to host the World Cup in 2030—there is no doubt about that. But we have not yet decided on the co-hosts. The decision will be politically discussed,” said Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) President Fouzi Lekjaa.After Morocco said it would bid to host the 2030 World Cup, Algeria and Tunisia expressed their interest in a joint Maghreb bid.A joint bid might increase Morocco’s chance to host the World Cup. FIFA President Gianni Infantino told the press after the end of the 2026 World Cup bidding process that he prefers joint bids.Several other countries have shown interest in bidding to host the global tournament, including England and a joint bid from South America: Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay.In August, Cameroonian presidential candidate Joshua Osih said that he would nominate his country along with two sub-Saharan African countries to jointly host the 2030 World Cup if he wins the presidential election.Osih, however,  was defeated by his competitor, incumbent Paul Biya, who was re-elected on October 22. read more

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Ministry of Education Announces Distribution of Updated Textbooks

Rabat – The  Direction of Curricula at the Ministry of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education, and Scientific Research announced today, September 5, that the distribution of updated textbooks for the new academic year 2019-2020 will end by September 25.The updates concern 49 textbooks, out of the 390 textbooks that are approved by the ministry. The updated textbooks are used in the first four years of primary school, added Fouad Chafiki, Director of Curricula at the ministry in a press release.According to the director, 24 updated textbooks have already been printed and were distributed before September 5, while 17 more will be distributed from September 5 to 12. The press release said that 5 more textbooks will be available in bookstores between September 13 and 19. As for the final three textbooks, they will be distributed to bookstores across the country between September 20 and 25, added Chafiki.Around 100.000 textbooks remaining in stock from previous years will have summaries of the new books attached to them, explained the director.In 2018, the Ministry of Education announced updates to the textbooks for the third and fourth years of primary school. The updates will affect Arabic, French, history and geography, maths, and sciences.The updates are part of the ongoing reform of Morocco’s education system under the strategic vision 2015-2030 project.As school starts officially today, September 5, the updated textbooks will only become available for purchase 20 days after the start of the school year. read more

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CIBC reports Q2 profit up from a year ago, provisions for credit losses up

The Canadian Press TORONTO — Canadian Imperial Bank Of Commerce has reported a second-quarter profit of $1.35 billion, up from $1.32 billion in the same quarter last year.The increase came as a decline in profit at the Toronto-based lender’s Canadian personal and small business banking business was offset by gains in other parts of the bank.CIBC says its overall profit amounted to $2.95 per diluted share for the quarter ended April 30, up from $2.89 per diluted share a year ago.Provision for credit losses was $255 million, up $43 million from the second quarter a year ago.On an adjusted basis, CIBC says it earned $2.97 per diluted share for the quarter, up from an adjusted profit of $2.95 per diluted share.Analysts had expected a profit of $2.99 per share for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon. Companies in this story: (TSX:CM) read more

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States sue to stop $26.5 billion Sprint-T-Mobile deal

NEW YORK — A group of state attorneys general led by New York and California filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to block T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion bid for Sprint, citing consumer harm.The state attorneys general said the promised benefits, such as better networks in rural areas and faster service overall, cannot be verified, while eliminating a major wireless company will immediately harm consumers by reducing competition and driving up prices for cellphone service.New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement that combining the two companies would reduce access to affordable, reliable wireless service nationwide and would particularly affect lower-income and minority communities in New York and other urban areas.Other attorneys general joining Tuesday’s lawsuit are from Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Virginia and Wisconsin. All 10 attorneys general are Democrats. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in New York.The lawsuit is an unusual step by state officials ahead of a decision by federal antitrust authorities. The Justice Department’s decision is pending. The Republican majority of the Federal Communications Commission supports the deal , though the agency has yet to vote.Too many “mega mergers have sailed through the governmental approval process,” so it’s up to the states to “step up,” James said at a news conference.“There’s no rule or regulation that we have to wait for the DOJ,” she said. She added the attorneys general will “continue to litigate whether the DOJ approves the merger or not.”Diana Moss, the president of the American Antitrust Institute and an advocate for tougher antitrust enforcement, said the states’ lawsuit could signal to other potential merger partners that there would be tougher enforcement from states even if the federal government permitted deals to go through.James said Tuesday that her office’s renewed focus on mergers and anti-competitiveness goes beyond the tech industry, though she did not elaborate.T-Mobile and Sprint have argued that they need to bulk up to upgrade to a fast, powerful “5G” mobile network that competes with Verizon and AT&T. The companies are appealing to President Donald Trump’s desire for the U.S. to “win” a global 5G race.Consumer advocates, labour unions and many Democratic lawmakers worry that the deal could mean job cuts, higher wireless prices and a hit to the rural cellphone market.Amanda Wait, an antitrust lawyer and former Federal Trade Commission lawyer, said states are acting because they disagree with what they have seen the federal government doing.“They see the FCC accepting certain remedies and concessions that don’t, in their minds, solve the problem,” she said.T-Mobile declined comment. Sprint and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.One famous example of when the states and federal government diverged on a big antitrust case was in the fight against Microsoft, although that was not a merger case. Several states dissented from the Justice Department’s settlement roughly 20 years ago, pushing for tougher sanctions to curtail Microsoft’s ability to use its dominance in the Windows operating system to thwart competition in other technologies.More recently, in the Bayer-Monsanto agribusiness merger, five states last year criticized the federal government’s approval.T-Mobile and Sprint previously tried to combine during the Obama administration but regulators rebuffed them. They resumed talks on combining once Trump took office, hoping for more industry-friendly regulators.T-Mobile has a reputation for consumer-friendly changes to the cellphone industry. T-Mobile and Sprint led the return of unlimited-data cellphone plans, for example.T-Mobile, trying to reassure critics, promised the FCC it would build out a 5G network and invest in rural broadband on a specific timeframe or pay penalties. It also promised to sell off Sprint’s prepaid Boost Mobile brand and keep price increases on hold for three years.That was enough for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to back the deal. The other two Republican commissioners indicated they would join him.But public-interest advocates said these conditions did not address concerns about higher prices and reduced competition— and would be difficult for regulators to enforce.The Justice Department evaluates deals using stricter criteria than the FCC’s “public interest” standard — namely whether they harm competition and raise prices for consumers. Staff attorneys at DOJ have reportedly told the companies they won’t approve the deal as proposed, but the ultimate decision lies with Makan Delrahim, the top antitrust official who is a political appointee.The state attorneys general said in Tuesday’s lawsuit that combining Sprint and T-Mobile would make the industry as a whole — Verizon and AT&T, too — less likely to offer plans and services that consumers like. And they say the companies have already been working to roll out 5G and don’t need to combine to do so.Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank owns Sprint, while Germany’s Deutsche Telekom owns T-Mobile.Tali Arbel And Mae Anderson, The Associated Press read more

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Citing flawed process UN expert says Iraq should not execute exVice President

16 March 2007After this week’s dismissal of Iraqi former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan’s appeal against the death penalty imposed by the country’s High Tribunal, an independent United Nations legal expert called on the Government to not carry out the execution, citing the “procedurally flawed legal process” that lead to the sentence. Leandro Despouy, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, issued a statement today saying that the High Tribunal “has violated international standards on due process” and “therefore is not in a position to sentence Taha Yassin Ramadan to death.”The Appeals Chamber of the High Tribunal, in its 12 February decision, did not address the “grave shortcomings” of the original trial which sentenced Mr. Ramadan to a life sentence. The Chamber described this decision as being “too lenient,” and sent the case back to the trial court for his sentence to be increased to death.On Wednesday, all nine members of the appeals court ratified Mr. Ramadan’s death sentence.The trial violated international human rights standards and principles, according to the Representative, “in particular the right to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal and the right to adequate defence,” as laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).Mr. Despouy, who has issued two previous press statements on this matter, is an unpaid expert serving in an independent personal capacity, reporting to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council. read more

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Ban Kimoon pledges UN support for GuineaBissaus parliamentary polls

9 July 2007United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has assured Guinea-Bissau of the world body’s support in organizing and monitoring the parliamentary elections to be held next year in the small West African country, which has witnessed rising political and social tensions, and a deteriorating economic situation. “The elections will be a test of the ability of the country to exercise democratic governance,” Mr. Ban says in his report to the Security Council on the latest activities the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS).They will also be “a key benchmark for the exit strategy of UNOGBIS,” which was set up in 1999 to help the country emerge from a devastating civil war, he adds.The holding of parliamentary polls next year follows the signing of a national political stability pact on 12 March by the three main political parties in Guinea-Bissau – the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde and Guinea, the Social Renewal Party and the United Social Democratic Party. The agreement led to the swearing in on 17 April of the Government of Prime Minister Martinho Dafa Cabi. Mr. Ban also notes that the repeated political crises besetting the Government continue to prevent it from focusing on improving the economic lot of the population, which lives in one of Africa’s poorest countries. Economic growth in 2006 declined to 1.8 per cent, and the outlook for the rest of 2007 is “grim,” he states. He commends the new Government for pledging to place the country’s finances on a “sound footing” and for quickly re-establishing working relations with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In addition, Mr. Ban urges the Government to redouble efforts to advance security sector reforms, noting that very little was achieved in that area in the months under review. Organized crime, particularly drug trafficking, presents “a new and growing” problem in the country, he adds. “The use of Guinea-Bissau as a transit point for illegal drugs from Latin America bound for Europe remains an issue of major concern to the authorities and international partners.” The report cites the interception in April, of 635 kg of cocaine in a vehicle carrying two military personnel and one civilian. The military personnel were handed over to the military authorities, and an investigation was initiated. However, the two officers were later released. “The human and material resources of law enforcement agencies are woefully inadequate to address this growing problem,” Mr. Ban warns. He notes that the Government has created a commission to probe the disappearance of 670 kg of cocaine, which was seized by the Criminal Investigation Police in September 2006 and transported to the vault of the Ministry of Finance for safekeeping. As a result of that investigation, the Director-General of the Criminal Investigation Police and another senior official were dismissed.The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will post a senior law enforcement specialist to Bissau to assist in the development of a country strategy to combat drug trafficking. The specialist, whose assignment will be funded by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), will operate under the overall supervision of UNOGBIS, according to the report. read more

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Ban Kimoon to send top UN humanitarian official to Kenya

“With our partners, we have been able to meet the initial basic needs of displaced populations, totalling around 310,000 IDPs [internally displaced persons] spread over 192 sites in the western and central provinces,” Mr. Ban told reporters after briefing a closed meeting of the Security Council today on his recent visit to Africa.“I am going to dispatch Mr. John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, to look after these issues.”The Secretary-General recently returned from a visit to Africa, where he met with both President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, telling both men that “they bear a particular political responsibility for the future of Kenya.”More than 800 people have lost their lives in the post-election violence.Mr. Ban said that he underscored the need by all Kenyan leaders to bring an end to the “unacceptable violence and killings” and to settle all problems peacefully.“I also appealed to all the political leaders to think beyond their individual interests or party lines, and to look to the future of Kenya as one country,” he added.The Secretary-General reiterated his support for the mediation efforts led by his predecessor, Kofi Annan, who heads the Panel of Eminent African Personalities.During his visit to Nairobi, the troubled nations’ capital, last week, Mr. Ban and Mr. Annan conferred on the roadmap for the talks between the Government and the opposition.“The parties are now talking and discussing practical measures to stop the spiral of violence, to address the humanitarian crisis, and to restore fundamental human rights and liberties,” the Secretary-General said.He noted that he has assigned several members of his staff to assist Mr. Annan’s team and pointed out that a UN Development Programme (UNDP) Trust Fund has been created in support of the peace efforts.“Needless to say, much more needs to be done,” Mr. Ban pointed out, urging donors to step up their contributions to address the problem.In a related development, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour will deploy a three-week fact-finding mission to Kenya beginning tomorrow to assess rights violations committed since last December.The team will travel around the country to gather first-hand information from victims, witnesses, Government officials, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and representatives of the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights, among others.“Truth and accountability are of critical importance in putting an end to the violence and preventing future human rights violations,” Ms. Arbour said.Meanwhile, an emergency United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) team has been deployed to the border region between Kenya and Uganda, where some 12,000 people have fled in the wake of the December elections.According to Ugandan authorities, these Kenyans are taking refuge in the south and south-east of Uganda.UNHCR is registering new arrivals, and its team will lead emergency response efforts and coordinate with local and central Ugandan authorities.The agency’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations Judy Cheng-Hopkins met today with Kenya’s Minister for Special Programmes who is overseeing the efforts to assist IDPs.Ms. Cheng-Hopkins assured the Government of UNHCR’s readiness to take part in efforts to help the displaced. 5 February 2008United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced plans to dispatch his top humanitarian official to Kenya, where more than 300,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to violence which has torn through the East African nation following last December’s disputed elections. read more

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Kosovo European police phase in as UN phases out

The move is part of the reconfiguration of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which was set up in 1999 to run Kosovo after NATO forces drove out Yugoslav troops amid deadly fighting with the majority ethnic Albanian population there.EULEX is set to police throughout Kosovo under the overall authority of the UN after UNMIK succeeded in establishing from scratch a local police force that is well respected in Kosovo and the region.The UN is neutral on the question of the status of Kosovo, which proclaimed independence in February this year in a move that Serbia rejects.In his latest report to the Security Council last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the reconfiguration of UNMIK in response to the “profoundly changed reality” on the ground.He noted the EU’s preparations to undertake an enhanced operational role with EULEX and said his Special Representative for Kosovo Lamberto Zannier was facilitating its deployment. 9 December 2008After nine and a half years of policing Kosovo, the United Nations mission has started phasing out its police component, handing over to European Union’s Rule of Law Mission known as EULEX. read more

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Security Council renews arms embargo and sanctions in DR Congo

30 November 2009The Security Council today extended and expanded the arms embargo and related sanctions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which have been in place since 2003, for another year. Council members voted unanimously to adopt a resolution continuing the regime of sanctions, which consists of an arms embargo against all armed groups that are not part of either the Government’s integrated army (known as the FARDC) or police units, through 30 November next year. The 15-member panel also extended the mandate of the Group of Experts dealing with the DRC for the same period, and expanded its remit to include the creation of recommendations on due diligence guidelines for the buying and processing of lucrative mineral products in the troubled African country. The Group of Experts has been asked to focus its activities on North and South Kivu, Ituri and Orientale provinces in the east of the country, which remains plagued by fighting and unrest since the end of the DRC’s brutal civil war earlier this decade. The mandate of the Council subcommittee dealing with the DRC has also been expanded to take account of changing notification requirements for UN Member States complying with the embargo and sanctions. read more

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UN probe into alleged massacre in remote northeast of DR Congo continues

29 March 2010United Nations inquiries are continuing into a recent massacre of civilians in the remote northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), reportedly by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a UN spokesperson confirmed today. The killings are reported to have occurred in the village of Mabanga in December, and human rights groups say at least 320 people were murdered. Machetes, axes and heavy wooden sticks were apparently used to carry out the killings.Martin Nesirky, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson, told reporters in New York that the UN cannot confirm the exact number of victims until the formal investigation by the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (known as MONUC) has been completed.The extreme remoteness of the area and the fact that witnesses may have moved were delaying efforts to gather reliable information, he said.Mr. Nesirky said that MONUC strives to provide protection to all civilians in the area, but given the vast size of the territory, peacekeepers were only able to concentrate their efforts on the most populated areas.The mission, however, continued to provide support to Government troops carrying out operations against the LRA, a notorious rebel group formed in Uganda in the 1980s whose leaders have been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on war crimes charges.Asked about MONUC’s strategy in dealing with the LRA, whose members often cross the border into the DRC and other neighbouring countries, Mr. Nesirky noted that the head of MONUC, Alan Doss, had reiterated that the area involved was equivalent to the size of Spain and protecting all civilians at all times was not feasible. read more

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