NAFTA Ministers head home from negotiations with uncertainty looming

first_imgWASHINGTON – The politicians leading the NAFTA negotiations left Washington without a deal on Friday, under a cloud of question marks about the continental trading relationship.Canada’s Chrystia Freeland and Mexico’s Ildefonso Guajardo returned home after a week-long round with plans to reconvene around May 7 in hopes of obtaining an agreement this spring.Left unresolved are questions of whether an agreement is possible soon, how extensive it might be and whether the United States might in the meantime slap its neighbours with steel and aluminum tariffs — set to take effect Tuesday.That ambiguity appears destined to linger a little longer.”The imposition of these tariffs is the president’s decision,” one administration official said Friday.”We’ll decline to comment or get ahead of his decisions or announcements.”Hopes for some clarity about upcoming U.S. policy will turn not only to Trump, but also to U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer who is to deliver a rare speech to a pro-business crowd Tuesday before leaving on a high-stakes trip to China.Top-level NAFTA talks will resume after his return from Asia.In the meantime, civil servants will continue to work on the technical details of the negotiation, after having been in Washington for two weeks, working through last weekend.Freeland said there were real advances this week, especially on autos.“If you know a Canadian trade negotiator, please give them a hug. Because they are working 24/7, people are cancelling holidays, people are working weekends,” Canada’s foreign affairs minister said.“At the political level … we will be going home to consult on the significant progress we’ve made this week. Then we will be meeting again in a week or so in Washington.”A number of other chapters are on the verge of completion, said Guajardo. He specifically mentioned state-owned enterprises, technical barriers to trade, financial services and the environment.But numerous irritants remain: ”Too many issues,” is how he described it earlier this week.Just between Canada and the U.S., issues like dairy, dispute-resolution mechanisms, a proposed five-year sunset clause, and intellectual property remain unresolved.The difference on intellectual property was underscored Friday.The U.S. downgraded Canada in its annual rankings on IP performance, allegedly for poor policing of counterfeit goods, weak border checks, online piracy protections, broad use of educational exemptions from copyright laws and policies aimed at reducing drug prices.In lowering Canada to the so-called priority watch list category, the report said: ”There were no known criminal prosecutions for counterfeiting in Canada in 2017, which makes Canada a striking outlier among OECD countries.”In the past, the Canadian government has brushed off this annual report as a wish-list produced on behalf of companies by the United States government.All this is happening as the window narrows for a NAFTA agreement in 2018. In addition to the Mexican election, the procedural deadline to get a deal that can be voted on by the current Republican-controlled U.S. Congress is weeks away.As for the threat of impending tariffs, America’s neighbours reject the idea of using steel and aluminum as a pressure tactic during the negotiations.“Entirely separate (issue),” Freeland said.“There is no justification whatsoever for tariffs or quotas on Canadian steel or aluminum as a national security consideration. We continue to hold that position.”The Trudeau government did, however, announce new protections this week to restrict imports of over-produced Chinese steel onto this continent, which is the broader goal of the Trump administration.last_img read more

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Doubts greet Macron letter to quell French yellow vest anger

first_imgPARIS — Yellow vest protesters and political rivals say a sweeping “letter to the French” from President Emmanuel Macron doesn’t go far enough to quell national anger at his policies.Macron’s letter explains how he’s addressing the movement’s concerns through a “grand debate” in local meetings around the country starting Tuesday. The debate will focus on taxes, public services, climate change and democracy.Yellow vest representative Jeremy Clement told BFM television Monday that the letter “settles part of the problem” but doesn’t go far enough to address sinking purchasing power.Protester Jerome Rodrigues told CNews television that Macron failed to recognize “the urgency” of concerns of low-income workers and retirees.Others criticized Macron for ruling out a restoration of France’s wealth tax. Opposition lawmakers also criticized the letter.The Associated Presslast_img read more

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Officials working on a plan to accept donations after Ridgeview Apartment fire

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Fort St. John Residents have already started to ask how they can help those affected by the fire at the Ridgeview Apartments Saturday night.At this time, there is no official way to make donations, but that is being worked on.  According to officials with the Emergency Social Services have said they are working on a plan with the Fort St. John Salvation Army and the Red Cross.Once the details of the plan have been ironed out, officials will share how you can donate.  There is also a Facebook page that has been set up to help those affected by the fire.  You can find the page here. If you are a resident of that apartment building, make sure you contact your property manager to received help from the Provincial Government and the City of Fort St. John.A fire broke out at around 11 p.m. Saturday night at the Ridgeview Village Apartments on 86 street.  The official cause is not known at this time, but eyewitnesses suggest it started on a balcony of one apartment building.If you have any pictures, video or information you’d like to share with us about the fire, email news@moosefm.calast_img read more

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Together For LNG Campaign gives voice to supportive British Columbians

first_imgVANCOUVER, B.C. – The Together For LNG Campaign (T4LNG Campaign) will give a voice to the tens of thousands of British Columbians who share that LNG development in B.C. is the key to a good future for the province.The campaign demonstrates to the public and elected representatives that there’s a broad base of support for LNG projects amongst the citizens of B.C.A coalition of workers, First Nations, students, educators, businesses and others feel the LNG Project will offer economic and social benefits to First Nations, government revenues, education and other services, by providing well-paying jobs for British Columbians. “By unlocking our world-class energy asset, B.C.’s liquid natural gas (LNG) industry will play an important role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by helping many Asian countries transition off coal,” said Chris Gardner, President of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association. “The strategic development of a strong LNG sector will also provide tens of thousands of jobs in construction, maintenance, and operations for people in B.C. and across Canada, and important revenue contributions to all levels of government.  LNG is the perfect opportunity for industry and government to work together to achieve great outcomes for Canada.”Paul de Jong, President of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, adds: “The liquid natural gas (LNG) that Canada has in such large supply is a key factor in worldwide demand for clean energy, strategic development of a strong LNG sector also provides for tens of thousands of construction, maintenance and operations jobs for Canadians, and provides robust contributions to provincial and national GDP. LNG in Canada is the perfect venue for industry and government to work together to achieve great outcomes,” de Jong says.T4LNG believes that the Campaign will build a community of interest to change the narrative around LNG. By working together, the public can let our elected leaders know there’s a broad base of support for LNG development. The coalition believes B.C. has the opportunity to help the world transition to a greener future, create prosperity at home and greatly reduce our global carbon footprint moving forward.Paul de Jong, President of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, adds; “The liquid natural gas (LNG) that Canada has in such large supply is a key factor in worldwide demand for clean energy.“LNG not only offers skilled workers the opportunity for employment while building the plant but also the opportunity for apprentices to learn the skillsets from their mentors. We will not only be building an LNG plant, but building career paths for hundreds if not thousands of young British Columbians who want to work in the construction industry,” says Tom Sigurdson, Executive Director of the B.C. Building Trades.“Blueberry River First Nation is a small community that plays a big role in LNG,” says Judy Desjarlais, President of Topnotch Oilfield Contracting and a member of the Blueberry River First Nation in northeast B.C. “All the communities in this area have signed off on it. A lot of us own businesses and a lot of us are benefiting from the work that’s happening in our backyard.”Ramona McDonald, President of Complete Safety Services in Fort St. John says LNG jobs will make a huge difference in the lives of First Nations peoples. “Probably 50 percent of my employees are of aboriginal descent. When they can go out and buy Christmas presents for their children because they’ve had a job and were able to make money, that brings me joy,” says McDonald. “We shouldn’t be in poverty, we shouldn’t see people suffering in this country, because we have what it takes to get everybody working again.”Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead framed the LNG conversation in terms of higher values. “Communities are built around quality of life, ‘health and happiness,” he said, “Health, education and economic opportunities are the pillars. We are a province built on resource development. It is the foundation for these pillars. We all need to support responsible resource development.”last_img read more

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BC Agricultural Critic visits Peace Region to hear farmers concerns

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – B.C. Agricultural Critic MLA Ian Paton joined local MLA Dan Davies on a two-day visit to tour the agricultural scene of the Peace Region.During Paton’s visit, they attended the B.C. Grain Producers’ Annual General Meeting, and a crop tour on Thursday, July 25, followed by a visit with local farmers on Friday, July 26.Being a farmer himself, Paton shares similar concerns with farmers when it comes to the Agricultural Land Commission; more specifically land rights. Paton feels that in order for the industry to thrive into the future, the Government needs to give farmers their land rights back in order for them to make the decisions as to what is best for their own land.According to Paton, the NDP Government has introduced a couple of bills that prevent farmers from making land decisions.“The NDP Government has brought two bills forward, last Fall Bill-52 and this was Spring Bill-15. What they’re doing is they’re giving way more control and power to the State, where the Agricultural Land Commission is now controlling what you can do on your farm, the size of house you can build on your farm. They’re starting to turn away the opportunities for farmers to have a second home on the farm… I’m a believer that if you want the next generation to take an active role in the farm, you’ve got to give the family members an opportunity to live on the farm.”Paton says Bill-15 has taken away the opportunity for landowners, within the Agricultural Land Reserve, to have the ability to go directly to the ALC to make an application to exclude land.Paton also suggests that Regional Panels need to be reintroduced in order to get an “on-the-ground” look at farming across the Province.last_img read more

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Group wants new agency to oversee oil and gas industry in British

first_img“A different set of rules” seems to apply for the fossil fuel industry, Parfitt said.To ensure compliance, the report recommends the creation of an arm’s length agency to oversee regulatory compliance and enforcement and that a single water authority be reinstated to regulate all water users in the province.“The amount of drilling and fracking that is going to occur to supply those plants is going to result in a huge, huge increase in gas industry activities in the northeast of the province,” Parfitt said.“So, this is a time that we need to get things right in terms of regulating the industry.”The report also says the provincial government should remove the commission’s powers to change regulations and compel it to release all information that is in the public interest.“At the end of the day, we still have to confront the fact that we still have a climate crisis in the world right now and we need to be finding a way to rapidly ramp down fossil fuel production in B.C. and around the world,” Parfitt said. The Canadian Press The report highlights examples of when the commission didn’t penalize companies to the fullest extent for the construction of unlicensed dams, leaking gas wells, contaminating water and violations of rules to protect endangered species, Parfitt said.Those examples show there is an extreme reluctance on the part of the industry regulator to hold the companies it regulates to account, he said.There will be a significant ramp up in oil and gas industry activities once liquefied natural gas plants are built on the B.C. coast, which will lead to an increase in drilling and fracking, Parfitt said.He said there’s been a reluctance on the part of one provincial government after another to deal with the Oil and Gas Commission. The commission and provincial government didn’t respond to requests for comment on the report released Wednesday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.The centre is a think tank that does not take corporate donations. It describes itself as a source of progressive policy ideas and says its values are rooted in social justice and environmental sustainability.The report says that before the commission’s genesis, companies had to apply to numerous provincial ministries and branches to obtain authorizations before drilling for natural gas could begin.These included the Forests Ministry, which issued permits to log forests for roads, pipeline corridors, well pads and more; the Ministry of Lands, which approved the occupation of Crown or public lands; the Heritage Conservation Branch, which issued archaeological permits; and the Environment Ministry, which handed out water permits and approvals governing industrial activities in sensitive fish and wildlife habitats, it says.Parfitt said after the commission was established in 1998 the review and approval of industry development applications accelerated.“The very first reports showed the Oil and Gas Commission was speeding up the approval process but not the compliance process,” he said. “The report looks at three significant indications of where the agency has failed to be tough on the companies that it regulates.” VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s Oil and Gas Commission isn’t taking action that would protect the environment in the public interest, favouring instead the companies it is intended to police, says a new report.Author Ben Parfitt accused the Crown corporation of serving the interests of the industry and a provincial government that promotes fossil fuel development ahead of the public interest.“What we have seen over the more recent years is that the commission’s job to ensure environmental protection and to ensure public health and safety and to ensure companies are following the rules, there is abundant evidence that the commission is failing to do that,” he said in an interview.last_img read more

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Oppn in disarray Cong confident of winning all 13 seats in Punjab

first_imgChandigarh: The ruling Congress in Punjab is confident of winning all 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state as it faces a “faction-ridden” and “divided” Opposition in the hustings. Congress will be firing on all cylinders to take on the SAD-BJP alliance and AAP in the parliamentary polls beginning April 11. “We are seeing the opposition the way it is. Akali Dal has disintegrated and AAP has also broken into groups. BJP, within its cadres, has a lot of infighting,” said Asha Kumari, Congress Punjab affairs in-charge. Also Read – MP woman hangs herself after killing three children She exuded confidence that Congress will win all 13 seats in the state. To accomplish its ‘Mission 13’, Congress will highlight the achievements of its two-year regime and target the BJP-led Centre for its “failures” at the national level. Both Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will highlight the “non-performance” of the Punjab government on poll promises like farm debt waiver and smart phones for youths etc. It is going to be interesting to see how SAD fares in the elections in the backdrop of expulsion of Taksali (old guard) leaders Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Rattan Singh Ajnala and Sewa Singh Sekhwan. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ The three floated SAD (Taksali) late last year. SAD president Badal has described the leaders as of “no consequence”. The resignation of senior leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa from party posts in September last year also did not augur well for SAD. It came at a time when the party was facing heat over sacrilege of religious scriptures and pardon granted to Dera Sacha Sauda chief in a blasphemy case. The SAD, which claims to be the “only custodian” of Sikh issues, has rejected the Ranjit Singh Commission report, which dealt with sacrilege incidents in Punjab. It also accused the Special Investigation Team, probing the 2015 sacrilege and police firing incidents, of implicating party leaders at the behest of Congress. The going is likely to be tough for AAP as well, which has grappled with infighting and factionalism in the state unit. It is going to be an uphill task for the party to retain the four Lok Sabha seats which it had won in the 2014 polls despite a Modi wave across the country. Senior leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira parted ways with AAP after he was ousted from the post of the leader of opposition. Khaira, along with seven other MLAs, had formed a parallel ad hoc political affairs committee and declared the party’s state unit “autonomous”, before resigning from AAP in January this year. He floated a new party — Punjabi Ekta Party (PEP). The Progressive Democratic Alliance (PDA) comprising PEP, Bahujan Samaj Party, Lok Insaaf Party, suspended AAP MP Dharamvira Gandhi-led Punjab Manch, CPI and Revolutionary Marxist Party of India (RMPI) is also in the fray. The PDA has announced seven candidates for the parliamentary elections. Besides AAP’s four seats, Congress had won three, SAD won four and BJP bagged two in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. However, in 2017 Gurdaspur bypoll, necessitated by the death of BJP MP Vinod Khanna, Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar won the seat. Polling will be held in Punjab in single phase on May 19 and results will be announced on May 23.last_img read more

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Climbing the success ladder

first_imgOver the last two-to-three decades, the major success story of the Indian economy has been the stellar growth of its IT industry. But as the dividends from the sector reach the eventual inflexion point, India needs to build similar competencies in other industries to ensure sustained growth and prosperity. It is not acknowledged as often but the biotechnology industry seemed poised to take over the mantle. In the span of a decade beginning in 2007, the industry has grown exponentially in size from about $2 billion to over $11 billion in terms of revenue. By 2025, it is targeted to touch $100 billion. Also Read – A special kind of bondThe biotechnology industry, however, has been impacting Indian lives long before it grew so much in size. Back in the mid-1960s, advancements in biotechnology drove the Green Revolution, which enhanced farm yields and made the country self-sufficient in food production. A similar contribution from the sector was witnessed in the White Revolution when India became a milk-surplus nation and improved the nutrition level of its citizens. More recently, the meteoric growth of the Indian pharmaceutical industry is a result of process innovation that has given the country a cost advantage in the manufacture of drugs. Further, the growing energy needs of India’s rural areas have been increasingly met by biomass fuel. Also Read – Insider threat managementThese outcomes have been the result of years of concerted efforts by the Indian government to enable the growth of the industry. As early as 1986, Rajiv Gandhi, recognising the potential of biotechnology in the country’s development, set up the Department of Biotechnology, making India one of the first countries in the world to have a government department solely dedicated to biotechnology. Over the years, the Department of Biotechnology has set up 17 Centres of Excellence at higher education institutions across the country and has supported the establishment of eight biotechnology parks across different cities. The biggest contribution of the department has been in setting up the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) in 2012, which has successfully supported 316 start-ups in its six years of existence. Due to these efforts, the Indian biotechnology industry has flourished over the years. As of 2016, India had over a thousand biotechnology start-ups. To put matters in perspective, Australia has a total of 470 biotechnology companies. More than half of these start-ups are involved in healthcare – drugs, medical devices and diagnostics – while about 14 per cent is in agricultural biotechnology and about 18 per cent in biotechnology services. The Indian economy also has a distinct advantage with respect to its demography that can ensure sustained growth for the sector. More than half the Indian population is below the age of 25. On a global scale, the median age in India (26.5 years) is much below that of China (35.9 years) and the US (37.1 years). Effective utilisation of this demographic advantage will provide India competitive edge over all other emerging economies in the advancement of biotechnological research and development. However, a few challenges need to be addressed if India is to fuel the growth of its biotechnology industry and achieve its target of making it a $100 billion industry by 2025. First, India’s research and development expenditure is quite low at 0.67 per cent of GDP, not only compared to mature biotechnology economies such as Japan and the US (which stands at around 3 per cent) but also in comparison to emerging economies like China (which is at around 2 per cent). Second, and more specifically to the biotech pharmaceutical sector, there are a few India-specific challenges with the country’s IP regime. There are two main areas of contention for the industry in India’s approach to intellectual property. The first issue lies in Section 3(d) of the Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005, which sets a higher standard for patentability than mandated by TRIPS. The industry argues that India’s stricter standards for patents discourage innovation and dampens foreign investment. The second issue is that of compulsory licensing, which gives the government power to suspend a patent in times of health emergencies. Although India has used this option only once, the industry feels that such regulations keep investors clear of Indian markets. A third challenge lies in the risk involved in the Valley of Death, that is, the risk of failure in the transition of innovative products and services from discovery to marketisation. Most of the early research funding, often provided by universities or the government, runs out before the marketisation phase, the funding for which is mostly provided by venture capitalists. It becomes difficult to attract further capital between these two stages because a developing technology may seem promising but it is often too early to validate its commercial potential. This gap has a huge impact on the commercialisation of innovative ideas. Thus, the Indian government needs to act on these challenges facing the biotechnology sector. An increase in investment towards research and development and building human capital is the most crucial point of action. These initiatives have shifted the growth trajectories of countries like China away from India. As for the challenging IP regime, the government needs to come together with the biopharma industry and chalk out a middle ground that recognises the value of innovation and does not hurt its investment attractiveness. Finally, for the Valley of Death concerns, the government can build a mechanism where funding can be provided to select innovative ideas based on their national importance. Only such action-oriented steps can make biotechnology the next success story of the Indian economy. (Amit Kapoor is chair, Institute for Competitiveness. Chirag Yadav, a senior researcher, has contributed to the article. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

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Clashing clauses

first_imgA legal battle has convened between PepsiCo India and Gujarat farmers over the latter’s alleged use of a variety of potato – FL 2027, also called FC5 – on which PepsiCo claimed exclusive rights by virtue of a Plant Variety Certificate (PVC) under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001. While PepsiCo claims infringement of intellectual property rights by Gujarat farmers over the growing of potato variety used in its Lay’s chips, slapping a lawsuit of ₹1.05 crore each as damages, farmer groups have launched a campaign calling for government intervention. The farmer groups accompanied by civil society representatives have unanimously asserted that the law (PPV&FR) allows them to grow and sell any variety of crop or even seed as long as they don’t sell branded seed of registered varieties. Hence, framing their claims as “untenable”, they have demanded the withdrawal of all cases initiated against farmers by PepsiCo India. Both parties to the legal dispute forwarding their arguments based on the same law (PPV&FR) piques curiosity. While PepsiCo India has highlighted Section 64 of the PPV&FR Act, 2001 to claim infringement of its rights, farmer groups cite Section 39 of the same Act, which specifically says that a farmer is allowed “to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under this Act” so long as he does not sell “branded seed”. While the Ahmedabad commercial court gave PepsiCo the benefit of the doubt by restraining farmers from growing the specific variety, it also appointed a commissioner to prepare an inventory, take samples and send them to a government lab for analysis. Though PepsiCo has already conducted a lab assessment based on sample recovered by private detective company it hired to pose as customers in front of the farmers. So the court proceeding scheduled for today will predominantly have to decide on whether section 39 trumps section 64 of the same Act or not. PepsiCo already works with a large number of potato farmers to grow potato besides being the biggest buyer of chip-grade potato in the country. Apprehensions of a threat to its monopoly in the chip-grade potato market are therefore evident through the lawsuit initiated against the Gujarat farmers.last_img read more

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Israeli warplanes strike Hamas base in Gaza witnesses

first_imgGaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) Israeli warplanes attacked a Hamas base in Gaza Strip, eyewitness said, shortly after an Israeli man was shot dead by a Gazan sniper while working on the border fence.The planes fired at a Hamas training facility in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis, with two more strikes reported east of Gaza City and another in the centre of the Palestinian enclave.last_img

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Minister of Interior Over 1122 Moroccan Jihadists in Syria

Rabat – Morocco’s Minister of Interior, Mohamed Hassad, revealed that the number of Moroccan Jihadist  in Syria, reached 1122 fighter, 200  of them were killed, while 128 were arrested after they returned to Morocco.This is the first time that the Moroccan Minister announces the exact number of Moroccan jihadist in Syria.During an oral session at the House of Representative on Tuesday, the Minister of Interior said that intelligence information estimates the number of Moroccan jihadists who travelled to Syria since 2011, at 1122 fighter, including 900 in 2013. Mohamed Hassad added that 20 % of the Moroccan Jihadists (200 persons) were killed during clashes with the Syrian army.

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Two Suspected Cases of Ebola in Casablanca

Rabat- Two Sub-Saharan Africans suspected of having the Ebola virus are causing panic in Casablanca. They are currently being quarantined at the Moulay Youssef Hospital.According to the Moroccan daily Asabah in its Monday edition, two Sub-Saharan Africans, a woman and a child, arrived in Casablanca on Saturday and are suspected of carrying the Ebola virus.Both patients were transported to the Moulay Youssef Hospital, which the Moroccan authorities chose based on recommendations from the World Health Organization to deal with suspected cases of the Ebola virus. The two people have undergone medical tests, the results of which have not been disclosed thus far. Prior to coming to Moulay Youssef Hospital, the two patients were admitted to Children’s Hospital and the emergency room of the University Hospital Ibn Rushd. The child was lying on a bed before symptoms of Ebola were detected. The child, according Assabah, vomited several times on the hospital bed, and it was not sanitized afterwards.After his transfer to the Moulay Youssef Hospital, a housekeeper was tasked with sterilizing the bed without using suitable products, which were unavailable in the hospital. The woman merely used bleach, according to the same source, which is not enough to prevent the spread of the virus.Edited by Timothy FillaPhoto courtesy of Brahim Taougar – Le360© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed read more

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Moroccan Association ArtiCultures Celebrates International Art Day on April 15

Rabat – The ArtiCultures’ Association and the Free Trade Union of Moroccan Artists of Salé (SLAPMS) will mark International Art Day, by organizing a collective exhibition of Plastic arts. The event is celebrated each year on April 15.The event will be marked by musical and poetic activities. “This event will highlight artists from all walks of life, each with their own artistic expression,” the organizers said.“This day has a high symbolic value, because celebrating art is nothing more than celebrating life in its noblest essence. With everything it can convey as messages of hope, openness and tolerance, it is indeed worth celebrating,” added the same source. ArtiCultures has also organized a visual arts workshop at the request of the Badil association for children with diabetes. The initiative targeted about 30 children suffering from the disease.“The art made by the children will be the subject of an exhibition in Paris,” the organizers said, in addition to making children aware of the benefits of opening up to the world.The art work produced by the children will be handed over to Fatema Binet Ouakka, member of the Board of Directors of the French National Council for Visual Artists (CNFAP), and the International Association of Visual Arts (AIAP) to be exhibited in Paris.The first International Art Day was organized in 2012 at the initiative of the International Association of Art (IAA), supported by UNESCO. read more

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Agriculture Ministry Devotes MAD 80 Million to Protect Cacti from Bugs

Rabat – The Ministry of Agriculture, Maritime Fishing, Sustainable Development and Water and Fishing announced June 19 its plan to “immediately” invest MAD 80 million into cacti to prevent them from being destroyed by cochineals.Under the Pillar II phase of the Green Morocco Plan, harsh measures will be put in place to protect the cacti and stop the spreading plague of cochineals, an insect that is commonly used to dye foods and clothes.A statement by the ministry said the program would be consolidated and accelerated to uproot and bury plantations that are currently heavily infested. Moreover, the program’s reinforcement will raise awareness of the topic and would establish a safe zone to avoid contamination. Instructions were also given to farmers by the National Office of Agricultural Advice (ONCA) to show them how to get rid of cochineals and stop them from spreading.The statement was published following a meeting chaired by agriculture minister Aziz Akhannouch over the weekend, which examined the scale of cochineal-infected cacti.160,000 hectares in Morocco are currently devoted to the cultivation of cactus, with the most prominent areas being Casablanca-Settat, Marrakech-Safi and Guelmim Oued Noun. read more

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Moroccans Not Allowed Driver Prevents 14 Year Old Girl from Entering

Rabat – 14-year-old Dounia finished her school day and headed to a bus station to go home. The Moroccan girl was prevented from taking the bus in Amsterdam for being Moroccan.Dounia was waiting for bus 38 in Amsterdam Noord, from Elzenhagen to Molenwijk, on November the 21st. The queue was long. The 14-year-old and an Egyptian schoolmate were waiting for their turn to enter the bus when its driver ordered her friend to wait outside.“At first he told my daughter’s friend that she has to wait outside. When my daughter tried to enter the bus, he blocked her too,” Dounia’s mother, Aicha Tapijt told Morocco World News.Dounia asked the driver the reason behind his request. “I would rather not have that kind of people on the bus,” he replied.The Netherlands-born girl proceeded to inquire as to what he meant. “Moroccans,” he answered. A Dutch passenger spoke against the driver’s discriminatory behavior and told him that she would get off the bus if the girls were not allowed in.Relentlessly, he let the two girls in and drove the bus to its destination.“My daughter didn’t have her phone with her. In the evening she told me about the incident.” Tapijt said.Furious, the mother contacted the bus company, GVB, to report the driver. “They did not answer me. The manager does not want to contact me and I can’t find his phone number.”Only when the story was reported by Dutch media did the GVB comment on the incident. “Nobody is allowed to be refused on board our vehicles because of their appearance,” the manager told the Amsterdam-based daily, Het Parool.He continued, saying that the company does not possess camera footage of the incident. “Camera images are erased after about 24 hours. Unfortunately, the report of this incident came in too late.”Tapijt reported the incident to the police, but they too couldn’t take action against the driver. “They told me that incident is not a crime and I can’t take legal action against the bus driver.”The mother reached out to the GVB’s customer service to file a complaint against the driver.  “We spoke to four bus drivers who were on duty around the time of the incident,” the customer service told her. However, according to the GVB, the drivers don’t match Dounia’s descriptions.But for Tapijt “finding him is very easy, because my daughter checked in the bus when she entered it. He was a blue eyed blond man, how hard is it for a man in Amsterdam to meet those description?”To this day, the mother continues reaching out to the authorities, hoping to identify the driver. “A man like him should be fired. The nature of his job requires him treat all passengers equally. How is my daughter any different?”Article 1 of the Dutch constitution states that “all persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted.”Tapijit sees that the Dutch Constitution seems only applicable to white Dutch. “The constitution seems to implicate that only white Dutch must be treated equally to each other. If you are an Arab, then that’s a different story.”“I face racial discrimination almost on a daily basis and I don’t want my daughter to be subjected to the same discriminatory behavior.”After being discriminated against, Dounia asked her mother whether there is “anything wrong with me.” “I told my daughter that she is like everyone else. I then decided to find the bus driver and make sure he is penalized for his actions,” Tapijit said. read more

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The Latest Diverse reaction to report on hotel tax

NEW ORLEANS — The Latest on a research group’s recommendation for possibly raising and re-directing revenue from hotel taxes in New Orleans to provide more money for infrastructure needs (all times local):3 p.m.A political group supporting New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is welcoming a research group’s recommendation that the city get more money from hotel room taxes.Wednesday’s Bureau of Governmental Research report says the city should get the equivalent of an added 1 per cent increase in hotel taxes to address infrastructure needs. It suggests that could be accomplished partly by raising the hotel tax, and partly by redirecting some existing hotel tax revenue.The head of a major city tourism organization has opposed redirecting hotel tax revenue. In a statement Wednesday, Steve Perry stressed the importance to city tourism of the Superdome and the Morial Convention Center — both of which get hotel tax revenue. Perry also said a full 1 per cent hotel tax could put the city at a competitive disadvantage.___10 a.m.An independent research group is recommending changes in the collection and distribution of hotel room tax revenue in tourism-dependent New Orleans.If implemented, the changes would bring an estimated $12.3 million annually to the city’s budget.Wednesday’s recommendation from the non-profit Bureau of Governmental Research feeds into an ongoing debate among, Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration, tourism leaders and state lawmakers. Cantrell wants the city to get a bigger share of hotel tax revenue that now goes mostly to tourism-related programs and structures, such as the Superdome.BGR says city government should get what amounts to a 1 per cent increase in the hotel tax. It suggests that could be accomplished partly by slightly raising the hotel room tax, and partly by redirecting some existing hotel tax revenue.The Associated Press read more

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Convoy begins trek to Ottawa from Red Deer

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – A pro-pipeline convoy started its four-day journey Thursday morning in Red Deer at Gorts Car Wash.The United We Roll Convoy for Canada is planning for around 100 trucks from Alberta and Saskatchewan as a core, to embark on the long drive to Ottawa, hoping to gain momentum along the way.RELATED: Indigenous pro-oil rally in Alberta stresses energy industry is vital for them“The goal is we’ve got trucks that are going to join us for as much of the trip as they can, you know, whether that’s city to city, or border to border, or whatever that might be, just you know much like a Terry Fox run, just to join when they can,” said Glen Carrit, the Lead Convoy Organizer.“Every peaceful, respectful Canadian is welcome, whether you wear a yellow vest, or blue coveralls, or a black hard hat, as long as you’re respectful and peaceful than your welcome. The radicals of any of those groups are not welcome.”Carrit says they are travelling in hopes that they will have their voices heard.WATCH: Truck convoy heads to Ottawa READ MORE: Pro-pipeline convoy to ‘wake up’ federal government to western Canada’s energy concerns“About how disappointed we are in the current government and we want Bill C-48, C-69 abolished, carbon tax and pipelines to have immediate action to be put in the ground,” he said.The plan is to arrive at Parliament Hill on February 19 and stage a rally.We are at the meeting spot in Red Deer. Trucks are gathering between 6 and 8. There is one truck here but it’s hard to say if it’s just waiting or part of the convoy. A bus has also showed up, likely for people are going and don’t have a truck ride. It’s minus 40 with WC. pic.twitter.com/gbkA6t6J9a— Jon Muma (@jonmuma) February 14, 2019 read more

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Cambodian PM says theres no threat of Chinese domination

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has defended his country’s close ties with China, declaring that a surge of Chinese visitors and investment does not put Cambodia at risk of becoming a kind of Chinese colony.Speaking Friday at a groundbreaking ceremony for a Chinese-funded hospital, Hun Sen said Chinese investors only want to do business and China’s foreign policy seeks friendship, not colonization.Chinese investors in Cambodia have attracted criticism in recent years as their influence in the country grows. Cambodia has become increasingly reliant on Chinese aid and investment, and at the same time has become a close political ally of Beijing, supporting its positions in regional and international affairs.China’s support has made Hun Sen less dependent on aid from Western nations, which criticize his authoritarian rule.The Associated Press read more

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Ramadan to Begin on May 6 in the US UK

Rabat – The Muslim community worldwide is preparing to welcome the holy month of Ramadan. In the United Kingdom, astrologists predicted Ramadan to start on the evening of Sunday, May 5, and to last through the evening of Tuesday, June 4, according to UK media. In the US, the first day of fasting Ramadan will be Monday 6 and end in the evening of Tuesday, June 4, according to the Fiqh Council of North America. Both nations will celebrate Eid al-Fitr on Wednesday, June 5. During the holy month, Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink, smoke or engage in any sexual activity from dawn to sunset.Ramadan is a special month for Muslims during which they get closer to God by reading as many verses as possible from the Qur’an and also performing special tarawih prayers after sunset.Ramadan can last from 29 to 30 days. The month ends when the new moon, signaling the start of the Islamic month of Shawwal, is spotted. read more

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French Woman Dies After Falling From Cliff in MarrakechSafi Region

Rabat – Moroccan authorities on Sunday found the body of a French national at the Tassa region in the province of al Haouz in the Marrakech-Safi region. The 69-year old  French Woman fell from a rocky cliff during a hike in the Takherkhort forest. The woman was accompanied by a group of people, Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) reported.The group accompanying the victim alerted the local authorities after her disappearance. After the notice,  local authorities declared a search for the victim, whose body was found at the foot of the rocky cliff.Authorities have opened an investigation to determine the circumstances of the incident.

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