NEW DELHI: Delhi Chief Electoral officer on Monday said that any action against BJP East Delhi candidate Gautam Gambhir for allegedly possessing two voter identity cards can only be taken if the poll authorities receive a complaint in this regard. The Aam Aadmi Party’s East Delhi candidate Atishi has moved court against the cricketer-turned-politician alleging that he had enrolled as a voter in Rajender Nagar and Karol Bagh Assembly segments in violation of the Representation of the People Act. Also Read – Odd-Even: CM seeks transport dept’s views on exemption to women, two wheelers, CNG vehicles”We have come to know through media reports that Gambhir is registered as a voter at more than one place in Delhi. We have not received any complaint in this regard yet. Once we receive a complaint, we will initiate an inquiry and suitable action will follow,” Delhi’s Chief Electoral officer Ranbir Singh said. The Election Commission carries out a routine exercise to detect and delete duplicate entries in the electoral roll before elections. Asked if the authorities failed to detect duplicate entries in Gambhir’s case, an official said, “The process of deleting duplicate entries is carried out through a software. The poll panel cannot be blamed if the software fails to detect such anomalies.” Gambhir, however, rejected the allegation, saying he possesses only one voter identity card. “I have only one voter ID card from Rajender Nagar. I used to live with my maternal grandparents as a child at Ramjas Road (in Karol Bagh), but I never voted from or applied for any voter identity card from there,” he had said.
Madrid: Former Brazil striker Ronaldo has rubbished the idea of a European Super League replacing the Champions League, suggesting that Europe’s top clubs are using it as a means of extracting more money for themselves. European soccer’s governing body UEFA this week met with representatives from some of the continent’s major clubs to discuss the proposal of replacing the elite competition with a league featuring promotion and relegation. But in a week where Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur produced stunning comebacks to reach the Champions League final in Madrid, Ronaldo suggested that any new tournament would struggle to replicate the kind of excitement currently on offer. Also Read – We will push hard for Kabaddi”s inclusion in 2024 Olympics: Rijiju”I personally don’t think there will be a European Super League. What they’ve managed to achieve with what the Champions League represents today is something that would take so much time to even get close to,” said the Brazilian, who is president of La Liga side Real Valladolid, at a news conference. “I think that very soon there’ll be an agreement in which the biggest clubs will start receiving more and more money and they’ll be happy with that. Also Read – Djokovic to debut against Shapovalov at Shanghai Masters”For me it would be a stupid idea to try and create a new competition given all the success that we’ve seen in the Champions League.” Ronaldo, who scored 34 goals in 37 appearances for Barcelona between 1996 and 1997, also defended his former club’s season following their dramatic collapse at Anfield. “Look at the season they’re having. They’ve reached the semis of the Champions League, won La Liga with a number of games to go, they’re in the final of the Copa del Rey and that’s not something you can just forget and throw away,” he said.
Islamabad: Pakistan expects to resume talks with India to finalise the agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor once the new government takes charge in New Delhi, according to a Pakistani media report. The Kartarpur Corridor links Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in Punjab. The corridor, once operational, will provide a visa-free access to Sikhs from India to their holiest Shrine located inside Pakistan. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghPakistan expects the resumption of talks on the Kartarpur Corridor once the new government takes charge in India, official sources were quoted as saying by the Express Tribune on Sunday. The last phase of six-week long general elections in India is scheduled to take place on May 19 and final results would be announced on May 23. A senior Pakistani official said there was no delay on Pakistan’s part. “It is India that is not willing to engage at this juncture,” the official added while requesting anonymity. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadHowever, the official said Pakistan was confident that India would resume talks after the elections. The two countries, nevertheless, held technical level talks at Zero Point (Kartarpur) on April 16. The Indian team was supposed to pay a return visit to Pakistan in April but New Delhi pulled out of the meeting at the last minute citing concerns over the committee formed by Pakistan to facilitate the Sikh pilgrims. India as expressed concerns over the presence of several Khalistani separatists in the ten-member Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) appointed by Pakistan on the Kartarpur Corridor. Last November, India and Pakistan agreed to set up the border crossing linking Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district. Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four km from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. The Shrine is visible from the Indian side of the border and everyday a larger number of Sikh devotees gather to perform Darshan or sacred viewings of the site.
Washington – The expulsion by Algeria of Syrian refugees, including women and children, to Moroccan borders was condemned by US experts as immoral and shocking, all the more as this act comes at a time where the international community, and not only the Arab-Islamic nation, is concerned by the serious humanitarian situation in this country.“How can civilized nations turn their back to desperate Syrians seeking refuge” wonders Peter Pham, head of the Atlantic council’s African center, who called this a “regrettable gesture”.While stressing that he was not surprised by this act, the expert noted that the Algerian regime has been for a long time disregarding all international conventions related to refugees’ rights by allowing a guerilla group to sequester on its territory (Tindouf camps) populations for cynical considerations. Peter Pham also argues that by expelling Syrian refugees, the Algerian authorities are violating neighborliness principles and seriously jeopardizing the region peoples’ aspirations to economic integration.For Joe Grieboski, chairman of the administrative board of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy (IRPP), Washington, considers that this “immoral” expulsion of Syrian refugees experiencing an extremely vulnerable situation is a “typical” practice by Algerian authorities who are once again “shying away from their international obligations”.“It is no surprise”, says Grieboski, knowing that for three decades now Algerian authorities have not been concerned and did not show any sign of humanitarian feeling for sub-Sahran refugees on its borders not for the plague of populations sequestered in the Tindouf camps.This deportation is actually a form of support to Bashar Al-Assad’s regime and shows that the Algerian regime does not heed the tragedy experienced by the Syrians, he went on.By expelling the Syrian refugees, Algerian authorities fail to show any empathy for a humanitarian tragedy, he charged.
Rabat – Moroccan Minister of Minister of Equipment, Transport and Logistics, Aziz Rebahh has arrived in Tichka, a village near Marrakesh in order to oversee the massive task of rehabilitation and reconstruction in the aftermath of the devastating floods that hit the region today.Unlike other ministers who used Facebook and other social media to show their sympathy with the flood-affected people, Aziz Rebbah decided to visit Tichka, one of many areas in the southern Morocco that was hit by floods during the past 48 hours.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Ride hailing firm Uber is raising the minimum age of its drivers in the Netherlands and taking other measures to increase road safety after a recent series of fatal accidents involving Uber drivers.Uber Nederland General Manager Thijs Emondts says in a statement Monday that the company is lifting the minimum age of drivers from 18 to 21 years.Uber also will insist that drivers have at least one year’s driving experience and will develop a mandatory traffic safety training course for all drivers under the age of 25.Rob Stomphorst, a spokesman for road safety organization Safe Traffic the Netherlands, says four people have died in recent weeks in crashes involving Dutch Uber cars. He says the circumstances of the crashes remain under investigation.Uber’s Dutch arm did not immediately return calls seeking comment.The Associated Press
Rabat – As Morocco assert its leadership in the field of sustainable development, the government has intensified efforts to eliminate plastic bags.Worldwide, studies by the Earth Policy Institute estimate that the population uses approximately 140 plastic bags per person annually.Moroccans used three billion plastic bags every year. Per capita, that rounds to 900 bags annually. The overuse of plastic bags in the country has led to an accumulation of trash on the streets, pollution, environmental damage, and the economic costs of remediating these problems. Many environmental activists have pushed for a nation-wide ban on plastic bags. Their efforts reached the governmental sphere in 2009, when the government banned black trash bags. In 2011, the Ministry of the Interior partnered with the Department of the Environment to establish the National Programme for Collection and Disposal of Plastic Bags. This initiative cost Morocco approximately 8 million dollars and sought to educate the populace about the harmful effects of plastic bags. In the fall of 2015, the Minister of Industry proposed Bill 77-15. Drawing upon the goals of the 2014 National Charter for Environment and Sustainable Development, the bill bans the import, export, manufacture, and use of plastic bags and imposes heavy fines on violators. On March 24, the government ratified a decree to apply the provisions of 77-15. The Minister of the Interior circulated a message regarding this ban to regional leaders last Tuesday.In the wake of the Minister’s letter, local leaders across Morocco have started to organize campaigns to dispose of plastic bags in their regions. Earlier this week, leaders in Taounate and Berkane convened meetings to hash out the details of the collection, destruction, and education processes.In Berkane, a city near Oujda, local leader Abdullah Hawdi held a conference on the morning of June 6. He plans to work with private and public actors to locate where plastic bags are distributed, collect and secure the bags, and use a cement plant in Oujda to incinerate them. Additionally, he hopes to distribute leaflets, banners, and articles to the local populace to emphasize the damaging effects of plastic bags.In Taounate, Hassan Bilhudfat announced on Tuesday that his regional committee hopes to clear the region of bags before the beginning of the COP 22 conference in November. He will follow a plan similar to Hawdi and emphasizes the importance of partnerships and media campaigns.Although some Moroccan leaders support the ban, others fear the economic impact of the law. Al Araby notes that this law could result in the loss of 50 thousand jobs in the plastics industry. Other economists across the world are skeptical about whether the benefits of plastic bag bans outweigh the economics drawbacks. The National Center for Policy Analysis found in a 2013 report that plastic bag bans save no money for cities; furthermore, the study notes that single-use plastic bags are often have a lower greenhouse gas potential that reusable bags.Other scholars, however, point to the high environmental costs of plastic bags. Especially in Morocco, where many bags are discarded outside and rarely recycled, they are likely to harm animals and damage the environment.Whatever the environmental and economic realities may be, plastic bag bans are generally viewed as a laudable and symbolic environmental development. If Morocco manages to achieve the ban in the coming months, it will further increase its environmental credentials as the COP 22 conference approaches.
Casablanca – The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, mispronounced name of the Tunisian, Beji Caid Essebsi as “Beji Caid Ezzibi”, which sparked humor on social media as it means “penis” in Arabic. The French-Prime Minister Manuel Valls arrived in Tunis on Monday, November 28 for a three-day visit to Tunisia. After a busy day, the Prime Minister gave a speech at a conference attended by senior officials of the country.Manuel Valls spoke about the bilateral relations and affairs between Tunisia and France as well as his meeting with the Tunisian President. As he stuttered to pronounce his name, the French PM ended up making a diplomatic blunder. “I have just met the President of the Republic, BCE as he is called here. Beji Caid Ezzibi,” said Manuel Valls, instead of the correct name, which is Beji Caid Essebsi.The lapse sparked the laughter of the attendees, as “Ezzibi” means penis in most Arabic dialects. The Prime Minister later explained that it was due to fatigue.“I heard your disapproving murmurs,” he said at the end of his speech. “Nothing escapes me, do not worry. I will soon speak Arabic if you want.”The conference on Monday and another one scheduled this Wednesday revolve around the theme of reviving investments in Tunisia both in the private and public sectors. Over 2000 participants from around 40 countries have participated in the event.The aim of these conferences is to discuss ways in which the Tunisian economy can be restored after the deterioration that followed the Arab Spring in Tunisia.
By Peter J. HarbertRabat – African Lion 17 kicked off this week across Morocco as the international exercise in military cooperation seeks to strengthen interoperability among the US, Morocco and many other nations. 1,300 American, Moroccan, Canadian, French, German, British, Malian, Mauritanian, Senegalese, Spanish and Tunisian military personnel have come together to share insights and tactics with their peers to help build a strong regional and global defence partnership against instability in an attempt to help better contain it in the future. African Lion is an annual exercise hosted by Morocco and the US in Morocco to provide each nation with a better understanding of the tactics, techniques and procedures of each nation involved.The exercise provides US and European military personnel with the ability to train in unfamiliar but safe territory while also endowing African nations and Morocco specifically the opportunity to learn from the seasoned experiences of the American and European militaries.The exchange of procedures and techniques allows each nation to better its own understanding of how to deal with certain situations which may arise or to better help African nations contain regional instability.In the past, African Lion has been a platform for the involved nations to provide training for keeping a capable military under certain conditions, aerial manoeuvring and flight training, medical assistance, peace keeping operations, intelligence operations, countering violent extremism and terrorism and keeping borders safe among other things. It is a mutual cooperation exercise which will greatly aid all nations involved in one way or another. The exercise will conclude the 28 April.
Rabat – Marc Andre Ter Stegen has renewed his contract with Barcelona, committing himself with the Catalans until 2022.Barcelona announced on Monday that the German 25-year-old international goalkeeper had extended his contract with the team. The club added that the official signing of the contract extension will be held on Tuesday at the Club Offices.The German star managed to win nine trophies in three seasons with his current team, including Copas del Rey, Club World Cup, Spanish Super Cup and European Super Cup. Barcelona signed Ter Stege away from the German team Broussia Monchegladbach in 2014.According to FC Barcelona’s official webpage, the goalkeeper is “now without doubt one of the leading players in the world in his position.”The same source added that the youngster has recorded 71 wins, 10 draws and 12 defeats, conceding a total of 90 goals during his 93 official matches for Barcelona.#TerStegen2022Blaugrana until 2022 pic.twitter.com/CCTyQNegWu— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 29, 2017
By Ahlam BensagaRabat – Theater piece, “Allah Islah” written by Youssef Lahrichi and performed by 19H THÉÂTRE troupe addresses women’s situation in patriarchal families of Morocco through satire embodied in comical acts. Lahrichi’s theater piece, “Allah Islah” had a successful start on January 26, with another impressive showing on February 10. It is to have its third and last performance on February 23. “Allah Islah” was first performed on January 26 by 19H THÉÂTRE in Fédération des œuvres laïques (F.O.L.), Children Theater in Casablanca, and has been successful ever since. It attracted 360 spectators, reported 2M television channel. “The play has been successful so far […] it provides the audience with laughter as well as with subjects that interest them,” said Youssef Lahcini, the play’s writer and producer, to 2M.The piece portrays a mother, three daughters and an authoritative father who rules over the household.The father is a controlling character who uses fear-based tactics to dominate the female members who are forced to submit to the father’s wishes.Throughout the performance, it becomes clear that there is no direct communication between the girls and their father.Iman Hadi, 19H THÉÂTRE member who played the mother’s role told 2M, “The play tackles many problems that Moroccan families face, and primarily addresses the lack of communication within the family.” The play touches on the psyches of women with overly controlling fathers. Lahrichi told Telequel news website,“When girls are raised the way the daughters in the play are portrayed, they become ‘frustrated’ and ‘victimized’ members in society who lack confidence in themselves.”The play’s title “Allah Islah” refers to a Moroccan expression that literally means “may god repair.” Lahrichi explained to Telequel, “When we see parents accompanying their children we tell them ‘Alalh Islah’, which means may god bring out good from these children[…] sometimes we don’t raise children well so we can only hope for God to guide them the right way,”. The piece addresses realistic social issues about Moroccan women and patriarchy in a comical way to provide entertainment and send a “message” to the Moroccan society at the same time, Lahrichi told 2M.The theater piece received positive feedback from spectators, as 2M reported.A commentator said, “The performance was excellent […] the script is ingenious and well written. It talks about issues concerning women and family in Moroccan society.”“The play was full of laughter and full of ‘messages’,” said another.19H THÉÂTRE troupe will perform “Allah Islah” for the last time on February 23 in Casablanca’s Theater, Fédération des œuvres laïques (F.O.L.) at 8 pm.19H THÉÂTRE troupe was created in 2015 by a group of young artists and comedians in 2015; Rime Aitelhaj, Imane Hadi, Mehdi Boumalki, Ayoub Naim, Samya Mengad, Sadik Soukaina, Sanae Assif, Hicham Echouhani, Fatine Rahhou and Hind Bennani.
CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Just over two months since the Alberta government ordered an oil production cut, there has been an unintended result.According to monitoring firm Genscape Inc., crude by rail shipments fell by 56 per cent last week compared to three weeks earlier.The production cut was put in place to address a differential between Western Canadian Select and West Texas Intermediate oil prices.The plan has succeeded in that respect — with the differential at around $10 in favour of WTI — but now, less oil is being shipped on railways.“The answer is yes, there have unintended consequences, but maybe not all the consequences are a result of the production cuts,” said Dr. Robert Schulz with the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business.Schulz says there are many factors at play when you consider the world oil market.READ MORE: Suncor cites crude-by-rail woes as it calls for early end to Alberta oil cutsThe reduced shipments can also be partly related to storage space in the United States, refinery capacity, and even the political unrest in Venezuela.“There’s a whole supply chain here. In order to really identify what exactly one variable does, negates the fact that maybe some refineries are either up or down — which wasn’t part of the original forecast. So, for anyone to say this is exactly what’s happening, then I’d be disappointed that they don’t look at other variables as well,” said Schulz.But when it does come to shipping crude in rail cars, Schulz said the cost is a factor because companies need to pay around $8 more per barrel to ship on railways compared to pipelines.“If anybody wants to ship the oil they have to pay extra to ship it by rail. And if the differential is $8 a barrel, and you have to ship by rail, then you’re down to next to nothing.”This again underscores the need for increased pipeline capacity and improved market access around the world.“Because there’s no pipeline capacity that we could use to ship oil — not so much to the U.S — but to India and to China who really need the oil. That’s what our problem has really been,” said Schulz. “The solution is not going to happen in a day, because the Trans Mountain pipeline hasn’t been approved. And even if it were approved, it would still take another 18 to 24 months to get it running.”RELATED: November crude-by-rail exports set new record despite slower growth paceFinally, this may throw a wrench in the provincial government’s intention to buy thousands of more rail cars built to hold oil.“I certainly hope they haven’t already sent a purchase order up for thousands more if the price is down because you’d have a bunch of rail cars that are sitting empty.”WATCH: Alberta Premier announces cut in oil production
FRANKFURT — The operator of Frankfurt’s international airport says it is developing a concept for electric air taxi services.Fraport AG is working with Volocopter GmbH, which makes two-seat, multi-rotor electric aircraft that can fly with a pilot or autonomously.Actually operating such taxis to bring people to and from the airport will have to wait until the legal framework for autonomous flying is established and such aircraft can be certified for passenger use.Volocopter says its aircraft, based on drone technology and flight tested in Dubai, are quiet, safe and local emissions-free. The idea ultimately would be to operate pilotless when the legal framework is in place.The European Aviation Safety Agency says it is developing standards to enable certification of such aircraft.The Associated Press
Rabat- Nasser Bourita has said, during the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), that the number of global terrorist attacks decreased by 20 percent in 2017.Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita and his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok co-chaired the 9th GCTF Ministerial Plenary Meeting on Wednesday in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.Bourita pointed out that the number of terrorist attacks in the world was estimated at 10,900 attacks in 2017 which caused the death of 18,488 victims, down 20 percent compared to 2016. Bourita stated, according to Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), that member countries must take effective measures against the “misuse” of online social networks to promote extremist propaganda.“Our approach must remain strategic, with a long-term perspective that goes beyond territorial victories to face the foundations of terrorist and extremist ideologies,” he said.Bourita also warned of the threat that repatriated fighters and their families represent, calling for “extreme and continued vigilance” to detect actions such as incitement of people to carry out terrorist attacks.Bourita said that more attention should be paid to regions such as the Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The five regions were the target of 93 percent of the attacks in 2017.Read Also: King Mohammed VI: ‘Religious Coexistence is Real in Morocco’New GTCF initiatives against terrorismThe GCTF meeting produced two new GTCF documents for two current initiatives on fighting homegrown terrorism and handling the returning families of terrorist fighters. Morocco and the US will co-lead an “Initiative on Improving Capabilities for Detecting and Interdicting Terrorist Travel through Enhanced Terrorist Screening and Information Sharing.” The initiative was agreed on during the meeting. The terrorist travel initiative aims to help countries combat terrorist travel through the use of “Advance Passenger Information (API), Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, watchlists, and biometrics.” Morocco and the US have been allies in combating terrorism, especially within the framework of GCTF.In its newest Country Reports on Terrorism, the US Department of State praised Morocco’s efforts to combat terror threats globally, reiterating that the North African country has a “comprehensive counterterrorism strategy that includes vigilant security measures, regional and international cooperation.”In January 2018, the US Department of Defense gave Morocco arms equipment worth $18 million to reinforce the country’s special forces units combating terrorism, in light of the threat ISIS poses to North African countries. The US allocated $60 million as security assistance to allies in the MENA region.Meanwhile, the US and Germany will co-lead the initiative to “Counter Unmanned Aerial System Threats” to raise awareness of the “growing” threat that drones pose and make plans to tackle those threats.According to the US Department of State, “Both initiatives will produce a set of non-binding good practice documents for endorsement at the GCTF Ministerial in 2019.”The GCTF is a apolitical and multilateral counter terrorism platform launched on September 22, 2011, in New York. The objective of GCTF is to develop a strategic approach to counterterrorism and prevent the violent extremist ideologies supporting terrorism.
Rabat – Morocco has summoned the Iraqi ambassador in Rabat to protest an Iraqi festival screening a documentary against Morocco’s position on Western Sahara.Morocco summoned the Iraqi ambassador because the Sulimani Film Festival in Iraq screened “3 Stolen Cameras,” which defends Polisario’s separatist ideology.The artistic director of the festival, Danar Omer, said that the Iraqi ambassador called him personally to inform him about Morocco’s position. Quoted by Rudaw, Omer said, “The Iraqi ambassador contacted me about this, saying that the movie was banned and asked why we had showcased it.”He added that the festival was “unaware of that issue, but it is a documentary film and its showcasing is normal.”In 2017, Morocco protested the screening of the “3 Stolen Cameras” in Lebanon at Beirut’s International Cinema festival.The documentary is a joint Sweden-Polisario project. The 17-minute documentary shows alleged Moroccan “violations of human rights” in Western Sahara.Morocco has closed its embassy in Iraq for security reasons. In 2005, Al Qaeda kidnapped two Moroccans in Iraq.Earlier this year, Akhbar Al Yaoum reported that the Moroccan embassy has plans to reopen.In recent years, both the Iraqi foreign affairs minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and the Iraqi ambassador have called for Morocco to reopen its embassy in Baghdad and reinforce Iraq-Morocco cooperation.
Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press OTTAWA — The head of the Bank of Canada says his trend-setting interest rate is low enough, at its below-inflation level of 1.75 per cent, that it’s delivering stimulative effects to the economy.But even in the stronger economy, governor Stephen Poloz said Thursday that the benchmark rate’s upward journey to its likely destination range of between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent is “highly uncertain.”The bank’s destination range — or neutral range — is an estimate of the preferred level for the interest rate when the economy is operating at full capacity and inflation is within its target zone of one to three per cent.In prepared remarks of a speech in Montreal, Poloz said the central bank will scrutinize incoming data in order to study how several important uncertainties unfold.They include, he added, the evolution of the impact of higher interest rates on indebted Canadians, how housing markets adjust to higher borrowing costs and stricter mortgage guidelines, whether business investment picks up its pace and the “highly uncertain” global trade environment.“Given these uncertainties, we have kept interest rates unchanged at 1.75 per cent since last October,” Poloz said in his speech to the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.“We will remain decidedly data-dependent as the domestic and international situations evolve.”The improved economy has encouraged the bank to raise its key interest rate five times since mid-2017 to keep inflation from creeping up too high — but it hasn’t introduced an increase since last October.“But with that rate still lower than inflation, it is clear that monetary policy continues to deliver stimulus to the economy today,” Poloz said.Statistics Canada’s December inflation reading was two per cent.Poloz has said the central bank will likely continue hiking rates once the economy builds new momentum following a soft patch largely caused by unexpectedly weak oil prices in late-2018.The bank’s next interest-rate announcement is March 6 — and many market watchers expect Poloz to leave the benchmark untouched until late this year.The governor’s speech Thursday walked the audience through the effectiveness and the limitations of the bank’s main policy tool: the key interest rate target.He shared an example on what would have likely happened if the bank hadn’t introduced five quarter-point increases to bring the rate up to 1.75 per cent.“If we had kept our interest rate at 0.5 per cent from mid-2015 until now, our models tell us that we would have seen stronger economic growth — no surprise there,” Poloz said.“By now, the level of (the growth domestic product) would be about two per cent higher than it is today.”However, he added that while such an increase may sound good, it would have pushed inflation to the top of the bank’s inflation range, and likely even higher.The bank would have then been compelled to raise rates “forcefully” to guide inflation back to its target over the next year or two, Poloz said.With lower rates over a longer period, he added every Canadian would have likely amassed about $2,000 more in additional debt.
Rabat – 2018 was a year full of big events in Morocco that impacted the political, social, and economic aspects of Moroccans’ lives. The events from 2018 listed below were major news in Morocco.April: BoycottMany Moroccans started a national campaign on April 20 to boycott three major companies in Morocco: Centrale Danone dairy, Sidi Ali bottled water, and Afriquia gas stations. The campaign aimed to speak out against rising commodity prices. The boycott lasted through the spring and early summer and negatively impacted the earnings of the companies it targeted. The main actor in the Moroccan dairy sector, Centrale Danone, experienced the largest loss this year. In September, Central Danone, which was the company most responsive to the campaign, decided to cut milk prices by 30 centimes, selling a 470-milliliter milk carton at MAD 3.20 instead of MAD 3.50.June: 2018 World Cup in Russia and 2026 bidAfter 20 years of not qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, the Moroccan team participated in 2018 World Cup in Russia (June 14-July 15) bringing joy and enthusiasm to Moroccan fans. Unfortunately, Moroccans did not achieve full happiness because the Atlas Lions were eliminated in the group stage.Morocco was placed in Group C which included Iran and two strong teams: Spain and Portugal.However, the Moroccan team played great games in the last two matches against Portugal and Spain after losing the first match to Iran (0-1) with an own goal. FIFA used video assistant referee (VAR) technology for the first time in the 2018 World Cup. Several football teams and fans were not satisfied with the “unjust” use of VAR throughout the Russia tournament due to the alleged mistakes referees made in using VAR.Morocco complained that VAR was not used to judge fouls in Morocco’s favor in its Portugal game (0-1), but the technology was used to allow an equalizer for Spain in Morocco’s last game (2-2).One day before the start of the 2018 World Cup games, Morocco lost its bid to host FIFA’s 2026 World Cup disappointing many Moroccans. Only 65 countries voted for Morocco’s bid to the 134 countries which voted for the United (North American) bid at the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow.Many Moroccans were surprised that some Arab countries—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Jordan, Iraq, Bahrain, and Lebanon—voted against Morocco. Morocco, however, was able to count on the support of Algeria, Tunisia, Qatar, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Yemen, and Oman.Read Also: Top Moroccan Achievers of 2018June: Hirak Rif trialOn June 26, the judge of Casablanca’s Appeals Court pronounced sentences in the case of 53 detained Hirak Rif activists. The Hirak Rif leader, Nasser Zefzafi, received 20 years in prison. Other leaders of the protest movement, such as Nabil Ahemjik, El Boustati, and Samir Ghid, received the same heavy sentence.The court sentenced dozens of other Hirak activists to between 1 and 15 years in prison. The court convicted most of the activists of “undermining the internal security of the state” and “preparing a conspiracy against internal security,” following their participation in protests which broke out in the northern Al Hoceima province in 2016 and 2017. Many citizens condemned the sentences because they found them “very heavy and unfair.” Zefzafi was also selected as one of the three finalists of the EU’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.August: Reintroduction of compulsory military serviceOn August 20, the Moroccan Council of Ministers approved a draft bill to reintroduce mandatory military service. The delegate minister in charge of the National Defense Administration, Abdellatif Loudiyi, introduced the bill, saying it aims to “promote the spirit of sacrifice and self denial.” Many Moroccan youth and activists opposed “the legislative speed” which accelerated the ministerial council’s approval of Bill 44.18 “unlike other more important laws that have not been adopted yet.” Some Moroccan intellectuals stressed the need for the government to open public dialogue to discuss all aspects surrounding the mandatory military service.However, the government did not hold public hearings on the bill. On December 26, the House of Representatives in Parliament passed Law 44.18 at a plenary session. The bill has not yet been passed in the upper house.Both men and women aged 19 to 25 would be subject to 12 months of military service. Beginning in September 2019, 10,000 young people are expected to begin service in the military each year.September: Implementation of Law 103-13 on gender-based discriminationSeptember 12, 2018, was a historic day for Moroccan women, as the Moroccan court implemented Law 103-13 on eliminating violence against women.It took the government six years of consultation and public debate to pass the law published in the official gazette in February 2018. The law then went into effect on September 12.The law on the elimination of violence against women provides women the ability to file complaints of sexual harassment and ensures harassers receive harsher punishments.According to the law, people who sexually harass in public spaces, by use of words, acts or signals of a sexual nature for sexual purposes, can receive prison sentences ranging from one to six months and fines from MAD 2,000 to 10,000.Perpetrators of cybercrime, such as sexual blackmail, could face one to three years in prison and a fine ranging from MAD 1,000 to 20,000 if found guilty.Moroccan women have expressed positive feelings about the law, which defines any act of violence and harassment as a crime. But for some activists, the implications of the law are still vague since women do not know exactly what they should do if they are harassed.The activists assert that the “law has to put into place the implementing mechanisms.”Read Also: In Memoriam: Moroccan Celebrities Who Died in 2018October: Bouknadel train accidentOn October 16, a train heading to Kenitra from Casablanca derailed in Bouknadel, near Rabat, at about 10:30 in the morning. The accident killed 7 people, including the train’s engineer, and injured at least 125 people.After an investigation, the public prosecutor of Sale’s Court of First Instance blamed the driver for going 158 kilometers per hour.Many Moroccans expressed rage against ONCF, Morocco’s state-owned railway company, blaming it for the accident after a recording of a conversation between ONCF employees blaming faulty tracks, improper signage, and speeding went viral.October: GMT+1 year-round On October 26, the government adopted Draft Decree 2.18.855, adding 60 minutes to the standard time in Morocco, moving Morocco to GMT+1 year-round.The government adopted the change overnight, only two days before Morocco was set to turn back the clocks one hour with the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) October 28. The government’s last-minute decision to maintain GMT+1 year-round was based on “an evaluation study.” The decision, which according to the government was “a sovereign decision,” angered many Moroccan people who raised questions about whether a study was ever conducted.Many Moroccans took to social media to reject the move and express their worries about the long-term effects of the decision.October: UN Security Council’s Resolution 2440 On October 31, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2440 which extended the mandate of the UN mission, MINURSO, in Western Sahara for 6 months for the second time since 2008. The mandate had traditionally been extended for 12 months. The resolution mentioned Algeria for the first time since 2002 and since the start of the political process in the Western Sahara conflict.For the first time since 2012, the four parties in the conflict took part in a roundtable discussion. Morocco, Algeria, Polisario, and Mauritania all participated in the Geneva round-table December 5-6 to discuss a framework for negotiations. November: King Mohammed VI’s call for dialogue with Algeria In an unprecedented speech, King Mohammed VI showed a willingness to open the border with Algeria with “no need for third-party mediation.”On the 43rd anniversary of the Green March on November 6, the King expressed Morocco’s readiness for “direct and frank dialogue with Algeria to settle the transient and objective differences impeding the development of relations between the two countries.” He suggested the countries set up a joint political mechanism for dialogue and consultation.Many international officials ,such as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and former US Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley, lauded King Mohammed VI’s call. The African Union also praised the King’s offer.Countries like the US, Spain, France, the UAE, Qatar, Jordan, and Tunisia all backed Morocco’s dialogue initiative.However, Algeria has not officially responded to the King’s dialogue offer yet. Several sources from Algeria spoke anonymously about the Moroccan offer to the press. One anonymous source said that King Mohammed VI’s offer is “questionable” and “not sincere.”Read Also: Ali Squalli, Moroccan National Anthem Writer, Man of 2018November: Launch of first high speed train in AfricaOn November 15, King Mohammed VI and French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated Africa’s first high speed train (LGV) in Morocco, named Al-Boraq.The high speed train links Tangier and Casablanca in two hours and 10 minutes instead of the normal five-hour train ride. The train also makes stops in Kenitra and Rabat. The trip from Tangier to Kenitra now takes 50 minutes, while the trip from Tangier to Rabat takes 80 minutes.Morocco received loans from several countries, foreign companies, and financial institutions to construct the LGV, which cost €2 billion.Morocco’s railway company, ONCF, set promotion prices for passengers under certain conditions.Some Moroccans and MPs opposed the LGV, saying the country has more important priorities. They stressed the need to improve the already existing railway network and trains. They also called on the government and ONCF to extend the railway network to other parts of Morocco in the south and southeast.November: Launch of Mohammed VI-B satellite into orbitOn November 21, the French Arianespace satellite launching company launched into orbit the new Mohammed VI-B satellite from the Vega Launch Complex in Kourou, French Guiana.The Mohammed VI-B is the second satellite of Morocco’s Mohammed VI – A and B program to orbit. Mohammed VI-A was launched in 2017 and cost €500 million.The Mohammed VI-B satellite is capable of taking up to 1,000 images per day with a resolution of up to 70 centimeters and will be circulating in the same orbit as the first satellite, 620 kilometers above the earth.The satellite will be mainly used for mapping, surveillance, and agricultural activities. It will help with “prevention and management of natural disasters, monitoring changes in the environment and desertification, as well as border and coastal surveillance.”December: Imlil Murders Unfortunately, 2018 ended with a horrible double murder after terrorists murdered two young Scandinavian women near Imlil, 90 kilometers south of Marrakech in the Atlas Mountains. The crime took place on December 17 against Danish tourist Louisa Vesterager Jespersen and Norwegian tourist Maren Ueland who came to the area to camp near Mount Toubkal.Shocked and horrified by the act of terror, Moroccans condemned the murder and expressed sympathy for the victims’ families on social media, on the streets, and in front of the Norwegian and Danish embassies in Morocco.Moroccan authorities have arrested 23 suspects in connection with the murder. The first four appeared in a video online pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Police arrested the latest suspect, a man of dual Swiss and Spanish citizenship, on December 29.According to a statement from the general prosecutor, 15 suspects in the Imlil murder appeared before the investigating judge at Rabat’s Court of Appeals on December 30.
WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve is expected to end its latest policy meeting Wednesday by refining its new overarching message that it plans to be “patient” about any further interest rate hikes.The Fed is all but sure to keep its key short-term rate in a range of 2.25 per cent to 2.5 per cent, still low by historical standards. And most analysts think the policymakers will scale back their projection of rate hikes this year from two to one or perhaps even none.The central bank’s new theme of patience and flexibility reflects its calming response since the start of the year to slow economic growth at home and abroad, a nervous stock market and persistently mild inflation. The Fed executed an abrupt pivot when it met in January by signalling that it no longer expected to raise rates anytime soon.The shift toward a more hands-off Fed and away from a policy of steadily tightening credit has pleased investors and encouraged the view that the central bank is done raising rates for now and might even act this year to support rather than restrain the economy.Besides issuing a new policy statement Wednesday, the Fed will provide an updated economic outlook and Chairman Jerome Powell will hold a news conference. Powell is expected to note that while the U.S. economy is on firm footing, it faces risks from slowing growth and trade conflicts. Against that backdrop, the thinking goes, it would be unwise to keep raising rates.There is also anticipation that the Fed will specify when this year it expects to stop shrinking its huge portfolio of bonds, part of its balance sheet. Doing so would help keep a lid on loan rates.All of which suggests that the Fed may recognize that it went too far after it met in December. At that meeting, the Fed approved a fourth rate hike for 2018 and projected two additional rate increases in 2019. Powell also said he thought the balance sheet reduction would be on “automatic pilot.”That message spooked investors, who worried about the prospect of steadily higher borrowing rates for consumers and businesses and perhaps a further economic slowdown. The stock market had begun falling in early October and then accelerated after the Fed’s December meeting.President Donald Trump, injecting himself not for the first time into the Fed’s ostensibly independent deliberations, made clear he wasn’t happy, calling the December rate hike wrong-headed. Reports emerged that Trump was even contemplating trying to fire Powell, who had been his hand-picked choice to lead the Fed.But after the December turmoil, the Fed in January began sending a more comforting message. At an economic conference soon after New Year’s, Powell stressed that the Fed would be “flexible” and “patient” in raising rates — a word he and other policymakers have invoked repeatedly since — and “wouldn’t hesitate” to change course if necessary.Powell, appearing last week on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” denied that pressure from Trump had influenced the Fed’s policy shift. Private economists generally agree that a slowing economy and a sinking stock market, which eased Fed worries about any possible stock bubble, were more decisive factors.Economists expect the Fed’s updated forecasts to downgrade its estimate of growth in light of a slowdown in manufacturing and retail, sluggish housing and construction activity and global pressures, including an ongoing trade war.After sharply falling in December, stocks have rallied and recouped most of their late-year losses in trading since the start of 2019, a rebound credited larger to the Fed’s easier monetary stance.Some analysts say they think the Fed won’t raise rates at all this year if the outlook becomes as dim as they are forecasting.That view is supported by the CME Group, which tracks trading in futures contracts on the Fed’s benchmark rate. It says traders now put the probability of any Fed rate hike this year at zero and project a one-in-four chance that the Fed will actually cut rates by year’s end to help prevent a slowing economy from toppling into a recession.Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS — An attorney for JD.com founder Richard Liu said Monday that surveillance video showing the Chinese businessman in an elevator and walking arm-in-arm with a woman who has accused him of rape provides a different account of what happened that night.Two edited videos of Liu and his accuser were posted Monday to a Chinese social media site. One video shows the pair leaving a group dinner in Minneapolis on Aug. 30, with the woman getting up to leave after Liu gets up, then following him out the door. The other video shows the woman holding onto Liu’s arm as they walk to her apartment, where she says he raped her as she begged him to stop.Liu, founder of the Beijing-based e-commerce site JD.com, was arrested Aug. 31 in Minneapolis on suspicion of felony rape, but prosecutors announced in December that he would face no criminal charges because the case had “profound evidentiary problems” and it was unlikely they could prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.The woman, Jingyao Liu, a Chinese college student at the University of Minnesota, sued the businessman and his company last week. She alleged she was groped in Richard Liu’s limousine and raped in her apartment after a dinner at Origami, a Japanese restaurant in Minneapolis, in which she felt pressured to drink as Liu and other executives toasted her. At one point, Richard Liu said she would dishonour him if she did not join in, the lawsuit says.Richard Liu and Jingyao Liu are not related.It’s not clear who posted the videos, which were posted on Weibo under an account for Mingzhou Events. The clips are short and the content is edited, but Richard Liu’s attorneys in China confirmed their authenticity. The videos do not contain audio, and they do not show what happened in his limousine or in the woman’s apartment.Jill Brisbois, Richard Liu’s attorney in Minnesota, said in a statement to The Associated Press that the clips “further dispel the misinformation and false claims that have been widely circulated and clearly support the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office decision not to file charges against our client.”Brisbois said the videos speak for themselves and show events as they are happening. While the woman has alleged she was impaired and coerced to drink, she appears to be walking without assistance and linking her arm with the businessman.The law firm of Florin Roebig, which is representing the woman, said the clips that have been posted online, as well as the full surveillance videos, are consistent with what the woman alleged in her lawsuit and with what she told law enforcement. The lawsuit says the woman went to her apartment building with Liu to be polite and respectful, and believed he was simply walking her to the door.The clip in Jingyao Liu’s apartment complex shows Richard Liu and the woman walking through multiple lobbies and taking multiple elevators. Initially, Richard Liu’s female assistant is with them and the woman leads the way. At one point, the assistant does not get on an elevator with Richard Liu and the woman, and when they exit the elevator, she has her hand through his arm and he has his hands in his pockets.She leads him up a short stairway, then through another set of doors and continues to link her hand through his arm. As they get off another elevator, she leads him down a hallway to an apartment. She opens the door and goes in, and Richard Liu follows.The other clip features surveillance video from the end of the dinner at Origami. It shows Jingyao Liu seated at a table with other men, and Richard Liu is a few seats away, appearing to have an animated conversation with others at the table. One man at the dinner party is slumped over and appears to be passed out. The woman is seen talking to the man next to her, and when Liu gets up to leave, she gets up and appears to follow him. They walk out next to each other. Video from outside the restaurant shows her leaving with Richard Liu and his assistant.Richard Liu walks ahead and it appears the woman and Liu’s assistant have a brief conversation, then she follows Liu.Text messages previously reviewed by The Associated Press and portions of the woman’s interviews with police show the woman alleges Liu pulled her into a limousine and made advances and groped her despite her protests. The lawsuit says Liu forcibly raped her at her apartment, again over her protests and resistance. She texted a friend: “I begged him don’t. But he didn’t listen.”The alleged attack happened while Richard Liu was in Minneapolis for a weeklong residency as part of the University of Minnesota’s doctor of business administration China program. The four-year program in the university’s management school is geared toward high-level executives in China and is a partnership with Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management.Jingyao Liu is a Chinese citizen studying at the university on a student visa and was a volunteer in the doctorate program while Richard Liu was there. The Associated Press does not generally name alleged victims of sexual assault without their consent, but the Florin Roebig law firm has said she agreed to be named. She was 21 at the time of the alleged attack.Richard Liu, known in Chinese as Liu Qiangdong, is a prominent member of the Chinese tech elite, with a fortune of $7.5 billion. He is part of a generation of entrepreneurs who have created China’s internet, e-commerce, mobile phone and other technology industries since the late 1990s. The son of peasants, Liu built a Beijing electronics shop into JD.com, China’s biggest online direct retailer, selling everything from clothes to toys to fresh vegetables.___Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/amyforlitiAmy Forliti, The Associated Press