Foes of Enbridge Line 3 pipeline file appeals in Minnesota

first_imgMINNEAPOLIS — Opponents of Enbridge Energy’s plan to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota have filed appeals to challenge the state Public Utilities Commission’s approval of the project.Environmental and tribal groups filed initial notices Wednesday with the Minnesota Court of Appeals against the commission’s decision to grant a certificate of need for the project.Filing a joint appeal were the Red Lake and White Earth Ojibwe tribes, Honor the Earth and the Sierra Club. Also filing was Friends of the Headwaters. Planning to file Thursday are the Youth Climate Intervenors, a group of teens and 20-somethings with official status in the proceedings.Canada-based Enbridge says Line 3 is the most-studied pipeline project in Minnesota history, and that it believes the courts will reaffirm the PUC’s decisions.Steve Karnowski, The Associated Presslast_img read more

As ball drops minimumwage workers in NYC will see pay rise

first_imgNEW YORK — The lowest-paid workers in New York state will have something to look forward to in the new year: a higher minimum wage, with the biggest boost coming to employees in New York City, who will make at least $15 per hour.For workers struggling in this expensive city, it’s a cause for celebration, an extra bit of cash to help with the daily fight to make ends meet, even as rents and other costs continue to rise. For some business owners, it’s a burden as they try to figure out how to cope with higher labour costs.In New York City, the $15 hourly rate kicks in on the last day of 2018 and will apply to fast-food workers and employees of businesses with 11 or more people; those businesses currently must pay a minimum wage of $13.That includes people like Jose Amador, 70, a full-time worker at a Brooklyn grocery store.As it is now, he has to stretch hard to support his family — he has four kids ages 3 to 15 — on the $2,500 he brings home each month. Almost half is eaten up by rent. The rest barely covers utilities, food and transportation.In a city where a 30-day subway pass alone costs $121, even an additional $2 an hour “can make a difference,” he said in Spanish, speaking through a translator.“I will be able to have more breathing space,” he said, and maybe even save some money for emergencies.If his children ask him for something, maybe the reply won’t have to be, “I can’t afford that,” he said.But for business owner Sam Lam, it means more worry. This is the sixth time New York’s minimum wage has risen since 2013, when it was $7.25.The owner of two Queens laundromats, he has balanced his budget by cutting back on worker overtime, slashing little perks like company lunches and holiday bonuses, and raising prices. Since he has fewer than 11 workers at each independent business, his minimum-wage workers will see pay go from $12 to $13.50 in 2019 before hitting the $15 mark in 2020.“I am in a very stressful situation,” said Lam, 54, who also works as a hairdresser.Workers in New York City’s Long Island suburbs will see their minimum pay go from $11 to $12 on New Year’s Eve before jumping to $15 in 2021. The rest of the state will see the minimum wage go up 70 cents, to $11.10, with further increases phased in over several years.If the experience of Seattle, where some companies had to pay $15 per hour starting in 2017, and San Francisco, where it went to $15 for all workers on July 1, is anything to go by, it’s neither going to be a magic bullet that puts low-wage workers in a secure position, nor a stake in the heart of businesses, said Jacob Vigdor, a professor at the University of Washington who has been examining the impact of wage increases.“The general sense is that the fears of what a higher minimum wage might have done to business were exaggerated,” he said. “I think it’s also fair to say the hopes of what a minimum wage might have done to workers were also exaggerated.”Workers who were already in minimum-wage jobs did see a bump up in their pay, he said. But the rate of new workers entering the low-wage market had gone down, meaning businesses were adapting by doing things like having fewer workers on a shift or adjusting operating hours.Researchers who studied one group of low-wage workers said they didn’t report feeling more economically secure, Vigdor said.“However much more they were earning, their expenses were going up just as fast, if not faster,” he said.State officials estimated that more than 900,000 people would be earning the $15 an hour wage when fully implemented in New York City.Samantha Marturana, co-owner of the Buttermilk Bakeshop in Brooklyn, said that when the lowest paid of her workers gets a pay hike to $15, it will have a ripple effect. Employees already getting paid more now because of seniority or special skills will expect a raise.She and her co-owner could avoid the pay hike for a year by laying off a worker, but they’d rather not, she said. Instead, the business might try to expand product offerings or market more to drive sales.Flavia Cabral, 56, is planning, too. As a part-time fast-food worker, she’s looking forward to buying toys for her grandson, maybe having a little extra to buy the things that were out of range before, like a pair of good quality shoes, or being able to give some money to her daughter for her college expenses.“Now I have a little release from the thinking, the pressure,” the Bronx resident said. “I have hope.”Deepti Hajela, The Associated Presslast_img read more

Lawmakers in 9 states unite against offshore drilling

first_imgPORTLAND, Maine — A group of nine Democratic lawmakers from different coastal states say they will use their coming legislative sessions to try to block attempts at offshore drilling.The lawmakers’ announcement Tuesday comes as new and re-elected legislators are entering office. It’s also about a year after Trump’s administration announced plans to expand drilling. The state lawmakers say their bills will seek to limit the possibility of drilling off their coasts.The lawmakers represent Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island. They say their respective states must do more to encourage renewable energy rather than fossil fuel extraction.State legislatures are limited in what they can do to stop drilling beyond state waters, but the lawmakers say they’re showing a united stand against the practice.The Associated Presslast_img read more

Stage North to hold auditions for the first show of the next

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Stage North Theatre Society has chosen the first show of the next season, and they want you to be a part of it.The first show of the next season will be The Addams Family, a funny musical based on the characters created by Charles Addams.Stage North is looking for cast members to be a part of this show and will be holding auditions for anyone interested in taking part. Auditions for the show will be taking place at the North Peace Cultural Centre on May 31 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and on June 1 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.If you do not want to appear on stage but still want to lend a hand, according to Stage North, there are positions open for carpenters, painters, costumers, and more.For more information, you can send an email to stagenorth@stagenorth.ca.last_img read more

New Fish Creek Forest trails can now be developed

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C – With the completion of a wildlife study on the Fish Creek Forest trails, Council has given the go-ahead to develop the trail system based on the recommendations of the wildlife assessment prepared by Roy Northern Environmental Ltd.As the report concluded there would be minimal impact on local wildlife the development of new trails to replace the closed portion of the Silviculture trail at Fish Creek can now proceed.In February, Robin Langille, Director of Facilities and Grounds for the City of Fort St. John shared in his presentation to Council potential new trails to increase the length of the trail network and increase connectivity through the trails as the Silviculture trail was now closed. In the presentation an internal loop trail or the figure 8 trail was recognized as a potential solution to the trail system as Langille shares they found a trail that the footing of the trail has already had alignment and grading created, going on to share it has probably been used by people yet the ‘entranceway’ to the trail was not so noticeable and would require being opened up.Mayor Lori Ackerman addressed concerns with the new trail as it may have actually have been created by Wildlife. Ackerman shared she wanted to keep both wildlife and users of the trails separate from each other, to keep both safe by limiting opportunities to have surprise interactions.Ackerman went on to share the City needed to know in fact, if this is a game trail by involving a B.C. Conservation Officer or someone with Wildlife experience before the City staff proceeds with implementing the new trail system.To view the Report; CLICK HERElast_img read more

Balbir Singh Jakhar AAP’s 7th LS poll candidate, to fight from West Delhi seat

first_imgNew Delhi: The AAP Sunday declared its last candidate in Delhi for the Lok Sabha polls, with a senior leader saying the announcement was made seeing the Congress’s “irresponsible and indecisive” attitude towards an alliance here. Balbir Singh Jakhar will be the Aam Aadmi Party’s candidate for the West Delhi parliamentary seat. Names of candidates for the other six seats was announced by the party on March 2. Elections to the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi will be held on May 12.The results will be declared with the rest of the country on May 23. Also Read – Gurdwara Bangla Sahib bans single use plastic Delhi minister and AAP leader Gopal Rai said the party has waited long enough for an alliance with the Congress but seeing the “irresponsible and indecisive” attitude of the grand old party, the AAP has decided to declare the name of its seventh candidate. He announced the name of Jakhar at a press conference here. “The AAP has declared all its seven candidates. We waited for long that all parties would join hands to beat the government but the way the Congress is behaving, irresponsibly, and has been indecisive for the past three months, the AAP has decided to take its movement (for full statehood for Delhi) forward,” Rai said. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder On Thursday, he had said the AAP will fight the Lok Sabha polls on the issue of full statehood and it is “late now” for talks on an alliance in Delhi. “The country is disappointed with the Congress and our internal survey shows seven per cent vote share of the Congress. People feel that the Congress is not serious about Delhi, so the AAP has launched a mega campaign. “The Congress is confused and every one is giving different statements,” Rai said. Sources said the AAP was in talks with the Congress over seat sharing but both the parties wanted to contest from the same seats due to which a they could not reach a consensus. Moreover, Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit has not been in favour of an alliance with AAP but many leaders and workers in the Delhi Congress were in favour of an alliance. Announcing the name of Jakhar, Rai said he has been associated with the AAP since the Jan Lokpal Movement. He was the president of co-ordination committee All Delhi District Court Bar Association. The other six AAP candidates are Atishi from East Delhi, Guggan Singh from North-West Delhi, Raghav Chadha from South, Dilip Pandey from North-East, Pankaj Gupta from Chandni Chowk and Brijesh Goyal will contest from New Delhi seats.last_img read more

‘Mahagathbandhan’ announces seat-sharing formula in Bihar

first_imgNew Delhi: Finally, Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) made it official its seat-sharing formula on Friday.Interestingly, top leaders like Tejashwi Yadav, Upendra Kushwaha, Sharad Yadav and Jitan Ram Manjhi gave a miss to the much-awaited press conference to announce the seat-sharing pact and it was announced by state leaders of alliance partners only. As it was first reported by the Millennium Post that Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) — the key constituent of the Grand Alliance — would get lion’s share, so Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD will contest on 20 seats out of total 40 seats and Congress has settled with nine seats in the state. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’While talking to reporters in Patna, RJD national spokesperson Manoj Jha and RJD state president Ram Chandra Purve said that former JD(U) president and NDA convener Sharad Yadav will be contesting on an RJD symbol and merge his party Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) with it after the Lok Sabha polls. Recent entrants to the Mahagathbandhan Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) and Mukesh Sahni’s Vikasheel Insan Party (VIP) will field their candidates on five and three seats respectively, while former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM) has been given three seats, including Aurangabad, which was once represented by former governor Nikhil Kumar. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KLeaders of all the alliance partners of the Mahagathbandhan, including Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) president Madan Mohan Jha was also present at the press conference. The candidates were also announced for the Lok Sabha seats that would go to polls in the first phase, for which filing of nominations will end on March 25 and votes will be cast on April 11. In the first phase, the polls would be held on Gaya, Nawada, Aurangabad and Jamui seats. The Mahagadbandhan candidates for all the four seats are Jitan Ram Manjhi from Gaya, Vibha Devi, the wife of RJD’s notorious leader Raj Ballabh Yadav who is serving a jail term for raping a minor, Upendra Rai from Aurangabad and Bhudev Choudhary from Jamui seat. In the first phase, the HAM will contest on two seats — Gaya and Aurangabad – out of its total share of three seats, while RLSP would contest on one – Jamui – out of its total share of five seats and RJD on one — Nawada — out of 20 seats. As per sources, the seat-sharing pact was delayed as Congress and HAM had locked their horns over Aurangabad seat. Notably, former Delhi Police Commissioner Nikhil Kumar had represented Aurangabad Lok Sabha seat in 2004 on the Congress ticket. The NDA is likely to field its sitting MP Sushil Kumar Singh from Aurangabad, Veena Devi from Nawada, Chirag Paswan from Jamui. While announcing the seat-sharing decision, Bihar RJD chief Ram Chandra Purve said, “CPI(ML) will contest one seat from the RJD quota. Five seats have been allocated to the RLSP and three to VIP and HAM(S) respectively. Jitan Ram Manjhi will contest from Gaya.” On being asked ‘how can you say’ ‘all is well’ when your leader (Tejashwi Yadav) doesn’t come, RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha said, “Am I nothing in my party? You are making me insignificant? If format changes at the last moment, it’s a party’s decision, do not question that.” RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav had on Wednesday said that Bihar’s Mahagathbandhan’ is intact, rubbishing rumours that all was not well in the ‘grand alliance’. He had called it “a union of hearts and not just of parties (dalon ka nahin, dilon ka gathbandhan hai). “There is no heartburn among the alliance partners,” he had averred.last_img read more

Canadian couple find lost ticket… turn into last-minute lottery millionaires

first_imgMontreal: A Quebec couple won 1 million Canadian dollar (USD750,000) in the lottery after finding a winning ticket that had been forgotten in a book for months, the province’s Loto-Quebec organization said Wednesday. Nicole Pedneault and Roger Larocque only realized last weekend that they had a winning ticket from an April 5, 2018 drawing. While looking through a book about Japan to help her grandson with a school project, Pedneault noticed something had fallen from the pages. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USIt was a lottery ticket the couple had bought for Valentine’s Day last year. “If my grandson hadn’t asked me to give him some things for his presentation, I wouldn’t have ever found the ticket,” Pedneault said. “The first thing I did when I found the ticket in the book was go look at the deadline for claiming winnings on the Loto-Quebec website,” she said. The ticket was still valid, but not for long — only until Friday. “It’s all just by chance that we found it at the last minute like that,” the winner said as she claimed her check.last_img read more

I also love those temporarily blinded by hate: Rahul

first_imgNew Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that hatred was cowardice and he loves all living beings including those temporarily blinded by hatred. Gandhi made the remarks in a tweet on a day he created a surprise by saying he loved Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Hatred is cowardice. I don’t care if the entire world is full of hatred. I am not a coward. I will not hide behind hate and anger. I love all living beings, including those temporarily blinded by hatred,” Gandhi said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details Earlier in the day, speaking at an event in Pune, Gandhi virtually brought the house down on Friday when he said: “I love Narendra Modi.” In a free-wheeling live interaction with over 5,000 college students, Gandhi took wide-ranging questions from the gathering, largely pertaining to jobs, education, healthcare and some even personal. Answering a poser from a student, he paused and said: “I love (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi. I really do, seriously. I have no anger against him. I love him. But he has anger towards me.” The comment was greeted with thunderous cheers and applause from the students, stunned even the hosts and the media, coming as it at the height of the Lok Sabha election season when both the ruling and opposition sides are firing poisonous darts at each other. Some students also raised slogans of Modi, Modi.last_img read more

Bringing together diverse styles of music

first_img‘Under the Banyan Tree on a Full Moon Night’ brings together dynamic and diverse styles of music for the audience – to witness performances by musicians under the tranquil repose of a banyan tree with minarets of the iconic Qutub Minar as the backdrop. The Baithak-style evenings, where moonlight and music blend to recreate the poetic charm of traditional musical gatherings, offer audiences an intimate experience with the like-minded and an opportunity to engage with the musicians. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainWith the April leg of this series, ‘Under the Banyan Tree on a Full Moon Night’, produced by Teamwork Arts will return to the Capital on April 20, to celebrate the sounds and styles of Folk. From small groups gathering around the proverbial fire to sing about topics intrinsic to their experience, folk music has grown into the heart of every community’s shared history. In a way, all music finds its roots in folk. Signature melodies, instruments and concepts form the basis of this rustic genre. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardThe first performer of the evening, Mooralala Marwada, is a Sufi folk singer from the Janana village of the Kutch District in Gujarat who comes from a long line of Meghwal singers. He sings the poetry of Kabir, Mirabai, Ravidas and others in the Kaafi-style which has evolved and been adopted by the Hindu singers of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. He has also been featured on the Kabir Project. Followed by a presentation by Arya’s Kabir Café, a neo-folk fusion band that plays the poetry of 15th-century Indian mystic Kabir in a substrate of Indian folk music, mixed with Rock, Reggae, Pop and Carnatic music. The band which includes members like Neeraj Arya, Mukund Ramaswamy, Viren Solanki, and Poubuanpou Britto KC has performed over 700 shows in India and across the world. This bespoke concert series is the perfect place to enjoy fantastic performances in a stunning venue in the company of a discerning group of music aficionados.last_img read more

Vigyan Prasar to strengthen science outreach strategy

first_imgKolkata: In a fresh bid to popularise science among the masses, Vigyan Prasar – an autonomous body under the Department of Science and Technology, is all set to communicate with people in regional languages, a scientist said. Apart from English and Hindi, all publications and online content of Vigyan Prasar, will be available in regional languages also, the scentist said on Friday. “For greater outreach, Bengali, Tamil and Marathi languages have been selected initially,” Rintu Nath, the scientist of Vigyan Prasar said while speaking at the seminar on ‘Science communication, popularising and outreach in Bengali – the road ahead’. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja “We met about some 36 organisations (government and private) enaged in promoting science and technology in West Bengal. The work done by the organisations overlap at times since they work in silos,” he said. Vigyan Prasar has decided to act as a common platform in order to create a shared ecosystem by engaging all the organisations, and give a fillip to streamline communications already taking place through these forums, for better dissemination of information.last_img read more

New Round of Libyan Political Dialogue Starts in Morocco

Skhirat – A new round of Libyan political dialogue, hosted by Morocco and facilitated by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) with the aim of ending the political crisis and military conflict in the country, started Wednesday in Skhirat (outskirts of Rabat).Participants are expected to present their remarks regarding the overall framework outlined in the “Draft Agreement on the Political Transition in Libya”, which includes the key issues of forming a government of national concord and security arrangements, including a ceasefire and withdrawal of armed groups from the cities, the UNSMIL said in a statement.Significant progress has been achieved in earlier rounds, the last of which ended 26 March, the UNSMIL said, adding that since then, participants had the opportunity to consult with their constituencies and key stakeholders on a proposal on a comprehensive solution to end the conflict in Libya.UNSMIL believes this round may be decisive in consolidating the significant progress achieved so far.“The Mission is confident that the Libyan participants are coming to the talks in a spirit of reconciliation and determination to reach a political agreement to bring peace and stability to Libya”, the statement notes. read more

Morocco Takes Part in the First ‘Student Welcome Day Madrid’

Rabat – The Embassy of Morocco in Madrid took part in the first “Student Welcome Day Madrid 2015,” which was held on October 10, at the famous Cibeles Palace in the center of Spain’s capital.The event aimed to greet foreign students who are based in Spain and to offer them a podium to share and exchange their history, culture, and traditions. It also aimed to consolidate the cultural and social ties between Morocco and Spain.Photo courtesy: Madrid Student Welcome DayMoroccan representatives prepared a booth to present Moroccan handicrafts and history. The stand was distinguished by the throng of visitors who were mesmerized by the diversity of Moroccan culture and customs. Several dignitaries and prominent sportsmen visited the booth, including the mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, and the legendary Spanish footballer, Emilio Butragueno, as well as the president of the Foundation of Atletico Madrid, Adelardo Rodriguez.The event also supplied a stage for Moroccan artists to represent Moroccan culture through their artworks and performances. The stage included the performance of the Moroccan rapper and finalist of the French version of the musical contest Yann’sine Jebli, who was accompanied by the Moroccan dance group ‘Madrocco.’Photo courtesy: Madrid Student Welcome DayIn addition, a Moroccan graffiti artist also impressed the audience with a piece of art, in which he symbolized surfing in Morocco.Morocco’s ambassador to Spain, Fadel Benyaich, chaired the event along with international student representatives.Around 75,000 foreigners participated in this event, including Moroccan students. read more

Morocco Helped USA, Denmark to Thwart Terrorist Attacks

Rabat –  In addition to France and Spain, Morocco has helped many other countries to thwart terrorist attacks, including the United States and Denmark, Director of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), Abdelhak Khiame, said according to Maghreb Press (MAP).“Thanks to the efforts of our teams, several planned attacks have been foiled in the world. Besides France, we have also provided intelligence to Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark and even outside Europe, the United States”, Khiame said in an interview published Friday by the French-speaking weekly “Maroc Hebdo “.BCIJ Director recalled the valuable cooperation between Moroccan and French services and their Spanish counterparts, which has led to the arrest of the alleged mastermind of the terrorist attacks of 13 November in Paris, as well as the dismantling of terrorist cells in the cities of Nador and Sebta. In contrast, he deemed “poor” or “non-existent” cooperation in the Maghreb, warning against the dangers that threaten the border region.“Algeria refuses to cooperate with us. Yet, the dangers that threaten the region are transboundary, and it is important to work together”, he said.In recent years, Morocco has emerged as prominent player in the fight against terrorism at the regional and global levels.Since it was hit by a terrorist attack perpetrated by Al Qaeda in May 2003, Morocco put in a place a holistic approach aimed at fighting terrorism. In addition to the security aspect, the Moroccan approach aims to address the root causes of terrorism through the promotion of the true Islamic values of tolerance and openness, the training of imams, as well as the launch of sustainable development initiatives that aim to lift large segments of the Moroccan population out of poverty.According to figures released by the BCIJ earlier this week, Morocco dismantled 25 terrorist cells in 2015 and four in 2016. The most dangerous terrorist cell so far was the one dismantled last week, which aimed at carrying terrorist attacks against high-ranking Moroccan personalities, as well as sensitive public venues. read more

Princess Lalla Salma Inaugurates First Cancer Research Institute in Africa

Fez – Princess Lalla Salma, Chairwoman of the Lalla Salma Foundation for Cancer Prevention and Treatment, inaugurated, on Monday in Fez, the Cancer Research Institute (CRI), the first of its Kind in Morocco and Africa.After cutting the symbolic ribbon, Princess Lalla Salma followed a presentation on CRI and its research activities before visiting the different outbuildings of the institute, which is built at the Hassan II University Hospital in Fez with a budget of 15 million of Dirhams.This institute was carried out as part of a public interest grouping represented by the Hassan II University Hospital, Sidi Mohammed Benabdellah University in Fez and Lalla Salma Foundation. The creation of CRI is part of a series of strategic actions launched by Lalla Salma Foundation for Cancer Prevention and Treatment.This project, which is financed by Lalla Salma Foundation, aims to initiate, plan, coordinate and develop research programs related to the points of National Cancer Prevention and Control Plan (NCPCP).CRI, which is expected to become the database of the epidemiology in Morocco and Africa, aims also to develop partnerships between national and international institutions, public and private, for research on cancer.It will provide all researchers in Morocco with expertise, authentic data and resources to design their innovative research projects covering the domains of cancer research, notably basic research, clinic, epidemiology and human and social sciences.The establishment of this ambitious project is justified by the daily progression of this disease in Morocco and the deep gap between clinic practices’ evolution and research.As part of NCPCP goals, CRI targets the domains of prevention, early detection, therapeutic coverage, palliative care and patients’ follow-up conditions. The action of the institute is addressed to patients, their families and citizens.One of its kind, CRI aims to play the role of catalyst of progress in cancer research in Morocco and become a privileged destination for investments and projects to combating cancer.CRI aims also to support, enhance and promote multidisciplinary and innovative scientific research at the organizational and scientific levels. Its global approach, which includes different dimensions of combating cancer (sanitary, social and economic) and takes into consideration the various domains of intervention (research, training and care), makes of the institute a very promising project for research institutes in the region.During its first phase, CRI building is expected to welcome around 50 national and international researchers, industrial and socio-economic actors.The contribution of the Hassan II University Hospital and Sidi Mohammed Benabdellah University in Fez consists of providing important material and human resources. In addition, the project also benefits from the institutional support of Ministries of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Executives’ training and Health.The projects supported by CRI will be conducted in the research laboratories of different national universities and hospital centers. read more

Controversial Saudi Islamic School Closed Worldwide

New York – School has started for most students around the world.But students attending the controversial Islamic Saudi Academy have had to find an alternative.The Saudi-funded educational institution, which has academies throughout the world, have been systematically closed.In Bonn, Germany, it has been announced the school will close by year end.  The small school has 30 teachers and about 150 students from Arabic-speaking countries around the world. “We’ve waited a long time for this to happen,” Ralph Ghadban, a Berlin-based political scientist and Islam expert, who welcomed the end to the Saudi academy in Germany, told DW.But it doesn’t spell the end to the influx of radical Islamism to Germany, Ghadhan warned. “Some radical Muslims will send their children to certain boarding schools in Britain that are known for their radical interpretation of Islam.”In Virginia, the school had plans of moving its facilities to a growing Muslim community in western Farifax and nearby Loudoun County.  At one time, a conservative Christian group tried to stop the Islamic school from expanding. Now the school has closed voluntarily.Small, private and committed to an Islamic-based curriculum, the Saudi Islamic Academy which was founded in the 1980s has been accused of having Islamist leanings.In 2003, the school was investigated for ties to the terrorist network al Qaeda and other fundamentalist Muslim groups.The academy has also produced some notable terrorists.  Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was found guilty in 2005 of joining an al=Qaeda plot to assassinate then-President George W. Bush.  Ali was a graduate of the Saudi Islamic academy.The school’s curriculum was under investigation by the U.S. Congress for having material which was considered intolerant of other religions or which advocated violence in 2007.Even President Obama’s recent nominee for federal judge, Abid Qureshi, is being criticized for representing the Saudi Islamic Academy in past legal cases.  Pakistan-born Qureshi has become America’s first Muslim to be nominated to a federal judgeship.It is believed that the sudden closure of Saudi Islamic Academy is part of the Saudi governments part of the country’s “Vision 2030” program announced earlier this year.  The once cash-rich Arabian nation is making sweeping economic reforms, severely cutting spending and pushing for greater efficiency within the government.  The drop in oil revenues has forced the Saudi government to adopt a new “vision” for the future in order to survive.Henner Fürtig, the director of the Hamburg-based GIGA Institute for Mideast Studies, said the Saudi government is well aware of the controversies surrounding the academy and the accusations of “indoctrination attempts.”“It’s also an attempt to change the country’s image,” said Fürtig in DW read more

World Bank Approves $150 Million Loan to Support Entrepreneurship in Morocco

Rabat – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a total of USD150 million in funding on March 10 to support the Moroccan authorities’ plan to modernize the national identification system and and support innovative start-ups and job creation.The two operations, aimed at strengthening social and economic inclusion, will improve social programs through a better personal identification system and, on the other hand, remove barriers which prevent start-ups and small businesses from accessing financing, says the World Bank.Improving Social Programs According to the World Bank, “almost 5.3 million Moroccans, of which two-thirds from rural areas, live under the threat of falling back into poverty due to their socio-economic conditions.”With an envelope of USD 100 million, the Identity and Targeting for Social Protection Project is designed to help the most vulnerable by developing systems to ensure that social programs are better targeted and reach the most vulnerable Moroccans.The development objective of this project is to expand coverage of a unique identifying number for the Moroccan population and foreign residents, and to improve targeting of social safety nets in the Project Area.According to the World Bank, the project will “help double the impact of poverty reduction programs such as RAMED and Tayssir” and direct resources to only the most vulnerable households and individuals, resulting in estimated savings of more than USD 30 million per year. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of the Interior over a period of five years.“The current program will benefit nearly 9.3 million Moroccans from the most disadvantaged segments of the population enabling them to have greater access to social protection programs. With a better designed and managed identification system, Morocco will be able to implement more targeted social programs that can have tangible impact on the population” said Diego Angel Urdinola, World Bank Senior economist and Task Team Leader for the new project.Financing Startups and Innovative SMEsThe other project approved is a USD 50 million operation to improve financing opportunities for start-ups and innovative SMEs.The Financing Innovative Startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) project is to facilitate the increase of private equity and quasi-equity finance for innovative startups and small and medium enterprises.The project will support a financing program that will invest, along with private funders, in innovative start-ups and SMEs, as well as a selection of promising investments constituting “the highest contribution to net job creation in the Mena region,” according to the bank.The project will also address gaps in the supply of investment expertise and support needed to create viable startups by providing resources to ecosystem support providers for mentoring and investment-readiness programs. Overall, the project will improve Morocco’s innovative private sector through the creation of a venture capital market in Morocco.Fighting Social Exclusion“Both operations support the government’s commitment to reduce social exclusion and promote private sector growth“ said Marie Françoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Maghreb Country director, “improving targeting of social programs, strengthening social services and facilitating access to opportunities for entrepreneurs is the path to an inclusive growth that is beneficial to all Moroccans.” read more

Moroccan woman Nisrine El Kettani wins ‘Miss Arab Veil 2018’

By Ahlam Ben SagaRabat – The Moroccan contestant of the “Miss Arab Veil” beauty pageant held in Cairo, Egypt between March 3 and March 4 has won the title “Miss Arab Veil 2018.”The newly crowned Miss Arab Veil took to her social media accounts, Facebook and Instagram, to share her happiness with the Arab world. “I’m so proud that I represented the Arab woman and raised the Moroccan flag,” El Kettani expressed in a video she shared on her Instagram page following her victory.El Kettani is a Ph.D. student in Civil Engineering, she told Akhbar Al Yaoum during an interview prior to her success, adding that she would try to balance her studies, career, and what would follow her success in the contest.El Kettani told Akhbar Al Yaoum in a previous interview that her purpose for participating in the Miss Arab Veil competition was to fulfill her dream of starting an organization that defends women’s rights and battles sexual harassment committed against women in the Arab world.El Kettani added that she aims to negate the stereotypical image of hijab-wearing women through her participation in the beauty contest.“I want to break the stereotype about the Hijabi woman and prove that she can also participate in contests as such and that she can prove herself in the Arab society,” she said.El Kettani added that she considered participating after some girls sent her messages on her Instagram account, encouraging her to take part in the beauty contest.The selection was built on a set of criteria such as etiquette, poise, modesty, and educational level, and El Kettani was first selected to participate based on these criteria, winning over the contest’s judges, who gave her 350 out of 400 points, El Kettani said.“It is a dream come true,” El Kettani articulated her joyful sentiments on her Instagram page.Miss Arab Veil is an annual beauty contest held since 2014 in Cairo, Egypt, exclusively for Hijabi participants. The contest was the idea of beauty expert Noha Hamdy who sought to promote tourism as well as Hijabi women in the Arab world, via the contest. read more

Vancouver home sales fall nearly 40 per cent in January, as prices pull back

Vancouver’s once red-hot housing market continued to cool last month as the number of home sales fell to the lowest level seen in January in 10 years.The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says 1,103 homes were sold in Metro Vancouver last month, down 39.3 per cent from the same month a year earlier.Month-over-month, January home sales were up 2.9 per cent versus December 2018.The board says last month’s home sales were 36.3 per cent below the 10-year sales average for January, and the lowest January sales figure recorded since 2009.The composite benchmark price for a property, which includes detached properties, townhomes and condominiums, dropped 4.5 per cent from a year ago to $1,019,600.Sales of detached homes fell 30.4 per cent year over year, while the benchmark price pulled back 9.1 per cent from January 2018 to $1,453,400.The benchmark price of an attached home last month dipped 0.3 per cent year-over-year to $800,600, while the benchmark price of a condominium fell 1.7 per cent to $658,600.The board says home prices across all property types have fallen over the region in the past seven months, pressured by the federal government’s mortgage stress test that tightened homebuying rules last year.“This measure, coupled with an increase in mortgage rates, took away as much as 25 per cent of purchasing power from many home buyers trying to enter the market,” said the board’s president, Phil Moore, in a statement.The Canadian Press read more

Scientists Find Oldest Bone-Knife in North Africa in Morocco

Rabat- Scientists have discovered a 90,000 year-old bone-knife made from an animal rib in Morocco.The bone tool, recovered in 2012 in the Dar es-Soltan 1 cave south of Rabat, is the oldest tool to have been shaped and used as a knife by the Aterian culture from the Middle Stone Age in North Africa, announced the Ministry of Culture and Communication on October 3.According to Natural History Museum, the bone, 13 centimeters long, came from a large mammal and had been shaped and sharpened for cutting soft material. “This find is significant because it shows how sophisticated bone tool technology was already around about 100, 000 years ago … It also shows the existence of a new type of bone tool, with no other example in the rest of Africa,” said researcher and scientist Silvia Bello from Oxford University.Moroccan scientist Abdeljalil Bouzouggar from the National Institute of Science and Technology (INSAP) suggested that “Aterians made specialised bone tools earlier than originally believed and more than 40,000 years before the Neanderthals.”According to the scientific journal PLOS One: “This tool and the technology used to create it are distinct from bone tools of similar age in southern Africa but similar to two tools known from the El Mnasra cave site in Morocco which is also of similar age.”One of the latest published scientific discoveries in Morocco came in March.Along with Bello and Bouzouggar, an international team of researchers from Rabat’s INSAP and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, including Louise Humphrey and Simon Parfitt, found the artefact.An international team of researchers sequenced the DNA from Homo sapiens in Morocco dating to approximately 15,000 years ago in Grotte des Pigeons, in northeast Morocco near Oujda.The Homo sapiens, dating to the Late Stone Age, had a genetic heritage similar to both Near Eastern populations and sub-Saharan African populations.In June 2017, 300,000 year-old fossils of the oldest-known remains of Homo sapiens were also found in Morocco, suggesting that Homo sapiens evolved in various locations across Africa. read more