No farmer to be jailed for loan default: Rahul

first_imgJatara (MP): Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said no farmer will be jailed for not repaying loan and 22 lakh youth will be provided government jobs in a year if his party comes to power at the Centre.Hitting out at Narendra Modi, Gandhi said that after completion of half of the Lok Sabha poll process, the Prime Minister’s face has “withered”, and claimed the PM will lose the elections and Congress would come to power. Addressing a rally here in Tikamgarh district of Bundelkhand region in Madhya Pradesh, Gandhi again targeted Modi over the controversial Rafale jet deal and blamed the NDA government’s decisions of demonetisation and implementation of GST for “large-scale unemployment” in the country. “When the Congress comes to power in 2019, no farmer will be sent to jail for not repaying bank loans,” Gandhi said, while promising to provide government jobs to 22 lakh youth in one year and recruit 10 lakh youth in panchayats. He said if the Congress comes to power, it will bring a provision of “no permission” for first three years to those starting new businesses. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra Singh”There will be no need to take any government permission for youth to run any business for initial three years,” he said. Gandhi claimed the prime minister was speaking with “fear and hesitation”. “Look at Narendra Modi’s face. Half of the election is over. Modi is going to be defeated, his face is withered. He is speaking with hesitation and fear. The Congress is forming the (next) government,” he said. “And remember one thing, the money he stole from our Air Force in the Rafale scam and gave Rs 30,000 crore to Ambani…action will be taken and you will see two names will come out one Anil Ambani and second Narendra Modi,” he said. He said lakhs of youth lost jobs due to demonetisation and GST as production in factories stopped because of lack of demand in the market. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadHe said the Congress will deposit Rs 3.6 lakh in bank accounts of five crore poor families in five years, “unlike Modi who promised Rs 15 lakh to them but did not deposit a single penny”. He claimed that the party’s proposed ‘NYAY’ poverty alleviation scheme would “jump-start” the Indian economy. “I am not here to speak lies. Our NYAY scheme will jump start the economy. The Congress government will deposit Rs 3.6 lakh in the bank accounts of each poor family in five years,” he said. “Modi gave crores to 15 rich people of the country…and you were told to stand in queues while he termed demonetisation as a fight against black money….” Gandhi said.last_img read more

Finally, China nods

first_imgChina’s retreat from providing international protection for Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and its patron Islamabad, marks a milestone in the political and diplomatic war on terror with potential reverberations beyond the subcontinent. For a decade, Azhar was cast as the touchstone of Pakistan-China friendship and flag-bearer in a proxy war on India. That finally ended on Wednesday when Beijing wilted under growing international pressure and revulsion towards terrorism and agreed to the Security Council sanctions committee branding him the terrorist he is. Also Read – A special kind of bondTotally isolating them, none of the other 191 other members of the UN – including some who advocate “your-terrorist-is-my-freedom-fighter” policy in other cases – had joined Pakistan and China in backing Azhar. India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said that India’s persistent “subterranean” diplomacy helped achieve this. Now the next milestone in the political and diplomatic war on terror – it is still only that and not an all-out war – will be a global one if that consensus against terrorism can be extended to the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that was proposed by India in 1996. Also Read – Insider threat managementWork on it has been stuck on the most basic issue – defining terrorism, with some making a false distinction between “freedom-fighters” and terrorists. It escapes them that the mark of terrorism is the method – the wanton killing of civilians including children – and not the ideology. Arriving on a consensus on the convention is the challenge before Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative Rohan Perera who heads the UN’s working group on eliminating international terrorism. China’s turnabout, despite its words of sympathy for Islamabad, may force Pakistan to take a long-overdue inward look at its policy of classifying terrorists as bad and good – those creating mayhem within the country and those in India. That schizophrenic policy has taken a toll on Pakistan, whose diplomats like to point out that their country has suffered the most from Islamist terror. Yet Islamabad – or specifically its military overlord – was willing to pay the price to keep its army of proxies. For the world, that was too high a price. Pakistan’s strategic doctrine that its nuclear weapons provided immunity against Indian retaliation against its war by terror was tested in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack in February that killed more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel. While that attack itself stung the world, the Indian air retaliation against terror camps and Pakistan’s counter-attack in which an Indian plane was downed showed the international community how fragile the situation is. China had reluctantly gone along with a Security Council press statement condemning the Pulwama attack, which was short of a formal resolution, and it was expected that it might relent on Azhar. But it vetoed in March for the fourth time his listing as a terrorist by the sanctions committee that deals with Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and their affiliates. That re-energised the US, Britain and France to pursue the option of having the Security Council itself declare him a terrorist under sanctions of financial freeze and travel ban. They circulated a US draft resolution and lobbied hard, with Washington declaring it will utilise all available resources. If that resolution were to come up, China would have had to publicly veto it and defend Azhar, which probably gave it pause. China had claimed that it was not convinced by the evidence that Azhar was connected to terrorism, but suddenly it said the evidence it rejected was now convincing. Besides its ties with India, the Afghanistan developments were another incentive for Washington. With negotiations taking place with the Taliban for a settlement, the US would want a complete wind-down of terrorism in the region to protect Afghanistan, and also to ensure that Pakistan does not turn its other proxies fighting Afghanistan towards India. As for China, it was time to recognise its own risks. It has an Islamist terror problem in the Uighar region and beyond, and its support to JeM and Azhar was not buying it goodwill with them. As its One Road, One Belt initiative advances, Beijing will have to ensure the safety of its multi-billion-dollar investments along with it, while ensuring that pan-Islamist terror does not ply the road. Already, China has faced terror attacks in Pakistan, where its workers and resources have been targeted and even its consulate in Karachi attacked last year. Under these circumstances, it had to come out openly against all forms of terrorism if it were to credibly protect its investments elsewhere and even itself. This was the moment for it. Even afar in Sri Lanka, where it has billions invested and loaned, China saw Islamist terrorism’s potential to disrupt the island’s stability with consequences for it. And no doubt, the Sri Lanka suicide bomb massacres on Easter sunday added to the international community’s pressure on China. Sanctions committee chair Dian Triansyah Djani, a soft-spoken Indonesian diplomat with a self-deprecating sense of humour, was able to deftly coalesce these developments into a consensus against Azhar. In the subcontinent, Pakistan now faces the stark choice of complying with the sanctions against Azhar – and those imposed earlier on JeM and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba – or continuing to defy international opinion, perhaps by even spawning new proxies. Perhaps if China has had a true change of heart, it could move Islamabad away from the proxy war. Then in a post-election India, there may be an opportunity for a fresh start having met New Delhi’s prime condition of abandoning terrorism. (The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

Kejriwal assails Tiwari during campaigning

first_imgNEW DELHI: AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday asked the residents of North East Delhi if they have ever seen the face of BJP MP Manoj Tiwari. The Chief Minister held a road show which started from Sonia Vihar in support of AAP candidate Dilip Pandey. “In the last five years has Manoj Tiwari shown his face to you? Dilip Pandey is still not an MP but everyone here already knows him,” said the Delhi CM.The CM added that despite the fact that Pandey is not yet an MP he kept working for the residents of North East Delhi. “If you knock his door at night 2 PM he will respond. He does not know only one thing, he can not dance like Manoj Tiwari,” said Arvind Kejriwal. He added that Tiwari is a good dancer but Pandey is a person of work. “This time do not vote for a person who is a good dancer but vote for a person who will do the work for the people,” said the CM. He also said that in this election people should vote for the party which has worked in the sectors of education, health and other development works. Also Read – Odd-Even: CM seeks transport dept’s views on exemption to women, two wheelers, CNG vehiclesHe waved and smiled at the crowd as his open vehicles surrounded by hundreds of supporters passed through the narrow lanes of East Delhi neighbourhoods. Delhi Chief Minister took an e-rickshaw at Patparganj to hold the roadshow in the narrower lanes of the area. Kejriwal would be holding roadshows for all the seven candidates in Delhi. On Sunday, he would take out a roadshow in West Delhi, on May 6 in North-West Delhi and on May 8 in New Delhi Lok Sabha seat. Delhi will be voting in the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha elections on May 12.last_img read more

Smith’s classy 89 not enough as New Zealand win WC warm-up

first_imgBrisbane: Will Young stroked a masterful 130 to steer an under-strength New Zealand to a seven-wicket win over Australia in a World Cup practice match Wednesday, outshining a classy unbeaten 89 from Steve Smith. The visitors chased down their 278 target with 10 balls to spare, inflicting the first one-day defeat on Australia in 10 games, although this was not counted as a full international. Young, who is uncapped and not part of New Zealand’s World Cup squad, was eventually run out after smacking 11 fours and two sixes in his 132-ball knock. George Worker (56) and Tom Latham (69 not out) were also among the runs as New Zealand, missing Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill and Trent Boult, made 283 for three in reply to Australia’s 277 for six. Australian pace spearhead Mitchell Starc made his long-awaited return from injury and was the pick of a lacklustre bowling attack, taking 2-14 off five overs with trademark yorkers before being withdrawn from the action. It was his first match back since tearing a muscle three months ago. Earlier, former skipper Smith was the star attraction with his 89, including four big sixes, in only his second game in Australian colours since his one-year ban for ball-tampering expired. He came to the crease when Shaun Marsh was out for 28 and was in fine touch in a major boost for Australia ahead of their World Cup defence in England. Usman Khawaja and Glenn Maxwell were also in form, scoring 56 and 52 respectively. But David Warner, who made 39 on his return from the “Sandpapergate” scandal in the first of the three unofficial matches in Brisbane on Monday, did not fare so well.last_img read more

King Mohammed VI Grants Plots of Land to 5 Raja Players

first_imgCasablanca- King Mohammed VI has recently granted plots of land to five members of Casablanca’s Raja football team, according to daily Assabah’s issue of Tuesday, March 18.  King Mohammed VI recently granted five Raja football players plots of land, of 300 m2 each, in reward for their achievements for Morocco during the Fifa Club World Cup 2013.In the run up to the final, after a string of victories, the Green Team qualified to play the final match against Bayern Munchen.  Raja was the first African team ever to qualify for the FCWC final. According to daily Assabah, the Royal Cabinet informed the five Raja players that the Moroccan sovereign had decided to grant each of them a plot of land worth MAD 150,000. Although Raja lost the final match to Bayern Munchen, its qualification to the final was deemed “a historical event,”and all Moroccans across the kingdom celebrated Raja’s unprecedented achievement. In contrast, the 2014 CAF Champions League was not as successful for the Raja team as the FCWC 2013. The Eagles were eliminated in the second round by the Guinean team, Horoya Conakry.Edited by Elisabeth Myers© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributedlast_img read more

Moroccan Minister Abdellah Baha Dies in Train Accident

Rabat – Moroccan Minister of State, Abdellah Baha, died on Sunday in Rabat.The influential leader of the Party of Justice and Development was hit by a passing train while he was checking the same location where Ahmed Zaidi, one of the charismatic leaders of the USFP, died last month.Earlier in the afternoon, the same source said that the right hand of Abdelilah Benkirane, the head of the government, had a serious car accident. Mr. Baha has served as deputy secretary general of the Justice and Development Party (PJD), since 2004. He was MP for Rabat for three consecutive terms, beginning in the 2002 legislative elections.This native of Souss was vice-speaker of the House of Representatives (2007), Head of PJD Group (2003/2006) and President of the Commission of Justice, Legislation and Human Rights (2002/2003).Member of the Executive Office of the uniqueness and Reform Movement (MUR), he was director of publication of the daily “Attajdid”, as well as “Al Islah” and “Arraya.” He was 60 years old. read more

Two Brazilians, a Mexican Arrested for Robbing Bank in Casablanca

Rabat – Two Brazilians men and a Mexican were arrested on Wednesday for their alleged involvement in a robbery case in a bank in Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city.According to H24, the General Directorate of National Security said in a statement on Friday that one of the defendants, a Mexican, was arrested on the scene after seizing a plastic suitcase that an agent of a money transfer company had deposited. The suitcase contained over $2,000.The same source said that the other accomplices managed to flee before they were arrested while trying to leave the country. “The intense police investigations and the transmission of an international arrest warrant against other accomplices led to the arrest on the same day of two Brazilians aged 41 and 34 respectively while trying to leave the country at the Port of Tangier-Med,” the statement said.The suspects have been placed in custody pending the completion of the investigation under the supervision of the competent public prosecutor.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission read more

American Show “Prison Break” to Film in Rabat, Casablanca, Ouarzazate

Rabat – The fifth season of the “Prison Break” series is currently filming in three cities of Morocco – Casablanca, Rabat and Ouarzazate – according to a report by Huffington Post Maroc.  do not be surprised if you come face to face with the Scofield brothers in the coming weeks.The newspaper cited a filming permit approving the show’s cast and crew to work in the three cities from March 28th to June 17th, 2016“Prison Break” started in 2005. Every episode in the first season attracted almost 10 million American viewers to tune in to Fox during the hour-long show. By the show’s fourth and final season, the audience has dwindled down to 3 million weekly viewers on average. In January, Fox announced a nine-episode event continuing the character’s stories. The principal actors in the original cast confirmed their return soon after. The next nine episodes will take place five years after the end of the last season.The hero of the saga, Michael Scofield was thought dead, but is actually imprisoned in Yemen. The reboot will begin with his friends’ plans to try and free him from incarceration. Thus, the scenes shot in Morocco will probably be used to portray the Middle East.The Atlas Studies in Ouarzazate have been used for the filming of several Hollywood TV shows and movies over the past decades. Season three of the show “Game of Thrones” and the film “Gladiator” were shot at the studies, among others. read more

Fatima Nejjar and Omar Benhammad Given Two-Month Suspended Prison Sentence

Casablanca — Former MUR officials Fatima Nejjar and Omar Benhammad have been handed a two-month suspended prison sentence.Though they were initially place in detention and later granted a temporary release, the Benslimane court gave the two a suspended prison sentence and fined 500 dirhams each as of Thursday, November 24.With a suspended prison sentence, Nejjar and Benjammad will not see the inside of a jail cell, but they must not commit even the most minimal of infractions for fear of seeing actual prison time. Quick reminder: Fatima Nejjar (62) and Omar Benhammed (63), the two former vice presidents of the Movement of Unity and Reform (MUR), the PJD’s religious wing, were caught committing adultery aboard a car parked on the beach in Mohammedia on the night of August 20.Nejjar, a widow with six kids, and Benhammad, a married man and a father of seven, had reportedly been together, though they were not officially married. They had discussed the idea of marriage but had been met with opposition from other members of the PJD and their respective families. Many close to the party had evoked the idea that Nejjar and Benhammad may have been the victims of a setup aimed at creating controversy before the October 7 legislative elections. Since their temporary release, the two suspended MUR members have gotten married, though this didn’t dissuade the justice system from giving them a sentencing on Thursday. Meanwhile, if the pair was indeed sought out as part of a set up, the PJD didn’t suffer much from it, winning the October elections by a landslide. read more

Syrian Forces Reclaim Aleppo in Civil War

by Adam BrownRabat – In comments published Thursday, President Assad said that Syrian forces’ victory in Aleppo will be a “big gain”, but will not bring about the end of the civil war.Since 2010 Syria has been in the midst of a bloody civil war and Aleppo has been deeply divided since 2012, split into sections controlled by rebels and sections controlled by the Syrian government. This week, Assad’s troops have been pushing further into the rebel-held part of eastern Aleppo. The conflict has been defined by extensive civilian casualties and aid organizations have been working to provide support to potential evacuees. “More than 30,000 of the estimated 275,000 residents of the besieged eastern part have fled to western Aleppo” (New York Times).  Organizations such as the International Committee for the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have coordinated to complete an evacuation and relocation that ended Wednesday night.Rebels called for “a five-day humanitarian pause”, but the request has been ignored. Assad has stated that he will no longer consider truce offers, stating that they come when the rebels are in a “difficult spot”. He went on to say that he does not believe that liberating Aleppo, “will be the end of the war”Other governments are working to coordinate a cease fire in order to expedite the process of removing civilians and rebel forces from the city. “Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov…said military experts and diplomats would meet Saturday in Geneva to work out details of the rebels’s exit from Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods”.Reports indicate that the bombing and shelling operations continue in the face of evacuation attempts. read more

Muslim Women Line Westminster Bridge in Show of Solidarity

Toronto – Four days after Khalid Masood drove his rented SUV through crowds of pedestrians making their way across Westminster Bridge, ultimately killing 4 and injuring dozens more, a group of determined Muslim women joined participants on the bridge in a show of solidarity.It was a bright Sunday afternoon when 34-year-old Ayesha Malik decided to take her place on Westminster Bridge in support of the victims of last week’s terror attack. “As a visible Muslim, I think it was important to show solidarity with the principles we all hold dear, the principles of plurality, diversity and so on.”According to a report on BBC News, the event was organized by the Women’s March on London.Participants lined Westminster Bridge, linking arms to form a human chain. As big Ben struck 4 p.m., five minutes of silence were observed to show respect for the victims and their families. 40-year-old professional, Fariha Khan, spoke to Metro on Sunday about the impact of standing in the place where such unnecessary tragedy took place. “The feeling of what happened here on Wednesday was really strong. We thought of the ordinary people who were here and were mown down, standing here like this, it was very overwhelming.”Most of the Muslim women who attended opted to wear blue, the colour of peace. It made for a visibly moving tribute to the lives lost and forever changed by the violence of one individual.According to the same source, Sarah Waseem, a 57-year-old Muslim woman from Surrey, attended the event to support the viewpoint that Islam does not condone or encourage violence in any form. “When an attack happens in London, it is an attack on me. It is an attack on all of us. Islam totally condemns violence of any sort. This is abhorrent to us.”Many of the Muslim women who showed up, some accompanied by their daughters, decided to participate following a social media backlash which occurred against an hijab-wearing woman whose photo was posted online in the midst of the attack. The woman was criticized for appearing to walk calmly past a group of people tending to an injured pedestrian.The unidentified woman took to the media herself on Friday to explain the context of the photo and what her reality had been in that moment. In her statement she said, “Not only have I been devastated by witnessing the aftermath of a shocking and numbing terror attack, I’ve also had to deal with the shock of finding my picture plastered all over social media by those who could not look beyond my attire, who drew conclusions based on hate and xenophobia.”The young woman expressed sympathy for the victims and their families, explaining that the image didn’t show the complete picture of her experience that terrible day. For example, she said, it didn’t show that she had stopped to offer help and try to determine what had happened. “My thoughts go out to all the victims and their families.”People from all walks of life, all backgrounds and every description, took part in Sunday’s Westminster Bridge memorial march. Most described it as a small, proactive gesture to show support in the face of hate and intolerance. As Londoner Mary Bennett put it, “This is my city. It’s a very small gesture but life is made up of small gestures.” read more

Morocco Potential Host of 2018 World Islamic Economic Forum

Rabat – Morocco’s leading economic activity in Africa has made it a potential host for future editions of the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), says forum chairman Tun Musa Hitam.Upon the closure of the 13th annual WIEF, Musa Hatim said that Morocco is a suitable destination to host upcoming forums. “Morocco is a leader in economic development in the region [Africa]” explained the chairman of the business-centered forum.The 13th annual of the forum saw a presence of a Moroccan delegation composed of Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani, Minister of Governance Lahcen Daoudi, and the Moroccan ambassador for Malaysia, Mohamed Reda Ben Khaldoun, as well as journalists and other participants. Hatim said that his discussions with El Othmani have shown that Morocco is interested in WIEF’s “business strategy.”A source from the organizing committee told Morocco World News that the fact that El Othmani was invited to speak at the forum is an indicator that Morocco will host the event next year.Musa Hitam previously indicated in a press conference in Rabat that “Morocco is undoubtedly developing. The country’s interest in diversifying its business models proves that it is [determined] on pushing boundaries further, with Islamic Banking becoming a growing trend in Morocco.”“The WIEF could help the country push its boundaries even further, particularly since it brings together experts and stakeholders in the domain, open to share knowledge and build networks,” he continued.The World Islamic Economic Forum was held November 21 to 23 in Kuching, Malaysia, bringing together 17,000 forum members, including heads of state and business leaders from both the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds, to discuss the impacts and challenges of “disruptive change.” read more

UAE’s Etihad Airways Delivers 1.2 Million Travelers Between Morocco, Abu Dhabi

Rabat – Etihad Airways of the United Arab Emirates has delivered 1.2 million passengers between Morocco and the UAE since the launch of direct flights the two countries in 2006.Etihad’s Vice President for Commercial Affairs, Mohammed Abdullah Al-Bloki, underscores the strong ties between Morocco and UAE, including language, common values, and cooperation in the fields of tourism and trade.In a statement to the UAE-based newspaper, Al-Ittihad, Al-Bloki expressed his gratitude to “the various governmental bodies in the Kingdom of Morocco for their great efforts to increase the level of close cooperation.” He further said that “We are proud of the great contributions made by the Moroccan talents and the various expertise in developing the work system.”Morocco’s Minister of Tourism, Handicrafts, and Air Transport, Mohammed Sajid, also commended Morocco-UAE relations in different areas, added Al-Ittihad.Sajid said that the Emirati carrier has accomplished many impressive successes globally, which place it among the best international airlines.The company’s increase in flights to Morocco corresponds with a growing number of tourists. Said added that this step will reinforce business ties between Morocco and the Emirati airway, opening a door for more business projects to serve the interests of both countries and enhance trade exchange.The airline launched its first Abu Dhabi-Casablanca flight on June 2, 2006, according to Al-Ittihad.“The airline provided [originally] four weekly flights between the two cities via the Airbus A330-200 and then increased to five flights per week.”In March 2013, Etihad Airways increased its flights to Casablanca and launched a new daily round-trip flight between Abu Dhabi and Casablanca. In 2016, the airline announced that it would expand its presence in Morocco by launching two new weekly flights between Abu Dhabi and Rabat to provide a direct link between the two capitals via an A340-500 airplane.Earlier this month, Etihad Airways also introduced its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to serve its daily flights from Abu Dhabi to Casablanca. read more

Gaza Massacre: Death Toll of Protesters Rises to 41

Rabat- While Israelis in Jerusalem celebrate the new US embassy’s inauguration, the Palestinian death toll in Gaza has doubled, as protests against the US embassy move continue.The Gaza protests began on Friday, May 11, in opposition to US President Trump’s decision to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The protests were met with Israeli gunfire from throughout the weekend into Monday, May 14.On Saturday, May 12, over 150 protesters were wounded and four were killed, including a 15-year-old boy, according to the Independent. So far, death toll of Palestinian protesters killed by Israeli soldiers along the Gaza Strip border has risen to 41–including several teenagers–while at least 1,900 protesters have been injured, as reported by the Gaza Health Ministry.In line with Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, the US embassy officially relocates to Jerusalem today. In the days leading up to the inauguration, protests erupted along Gaza border, including approximately 35,000 Gazans.According to the New York Times, the Israeli military has testified that some of the crowds of protesters planted explosives, adding that emergency men also hurried to extinguish a spreading wildfire. No Israeli injuries or deaths have been reported thus far.The current protests coincide with the anniversary of the Nakba (“Catastrophe”), which marks the mass expulsions of Palestinians in conjunction with the creation of the state of Israel. Approximately 700,000 Palestinians died during the event, nearly 70 years ago, in 1948.On Sunday in Rabat, protests emerged in support of the Palestinian people and denunciation of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capitalMeanwhile, the inauguration of US embassy’s opening in Jerusalem is moving forward as planned.Around 32 of 86 envoys participated in the inauguration attended by US president Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her Jewish husband Jared Kushner.According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, a delegation arrived earlier today, with representatives from Albania, Angola, Austria, Cameroon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Kenya, Macedonia, Burma, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, Serbia, South Sudan, Thailand, Ukraine, Vietnam, Paraguay, Tanzania, and Zambia.At @netanyahu’s residence tonight: @IvankaTrump, @jaredkushner, @stevenmnuchin1, John Sullivan, @JasonDovEsq, @USAmbIsrael, @AmbDermer (Pic: Haim Zach) pic.twitter.com/7me7NI1rzc— Noa Landau (@noa_landau) May 13, 2018 Wine accident. Behind the scenes @ Israel’s celebrations of U.S. embassy move. Jerusalem, 2018 pic.twitter.com/1TUbf62YjE— Noa Landau (@noa_landau) May 13, 2018 read more

Rooted Everyday to Organize Biodiversity-Themed Creative Writing Contest

Rabat – Rooted Everyday, an environmental campaign focused on the Mediterranean, is launching an environment-themed writing competition on April 2. The short story competition is open for writers over 18 from the Mediterranean ecoregion: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Greece, and Lebanon. Candidates should submit a 3000-word story encouraging “awareness, understanding and the protection of Mediterranean culture and biodiversity.” The deadline for submitting stories will be on June 24, and the winners will be announced on October 1, 2019. Stories can be either in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, or Greek.There will also be a competition for children and young adults aged between 7 and 18. Candidates for that category should be from schools in Morocco’s High Atlas mountains, Greek Island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea, Montados in Portugal, and Shouf mountains in Lebanon. The campaign has selected experienced readers and judges from each country to look for stories that address the conservation issues within the Rooted Everyday campaign. The prize includes a certificate, a selection of books, promotional support for the winners to share their stories on the campaign’s platforms and have them featured in an e-book.According to the organizers, the contest’s main objective, is to show the value of biodiversity and traditional practices in the Mediterranean.The prize is set to celebrate the rich biodiversity in the aforementioned ecoregions, “and to tell the stories of the people whose livelihoods depend on traditional and sustainable practices.”The campaign mentioned Morocco’s High Atlas Mountain landscapes which are home to a rich cultural heritage, including endangered traditions and economically important plant species looked after by indigenous Moroccan Amazigh people.Lily Mordechai, MeDINA’s Scientific Secretary, said:  “We chose to make creative writing part of the campaign because storytelling is a powerful tool that is authentic … By engaging writers and creative individuals we hope we will not only raise awareness but also hear stories of how people experience and perceive biodiversity and heritage in the Mediterranean.” read more

McConnell proposes raising minimum age for buying tobacco

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he plans to introduce legislation to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 nationally.The Senate leader said Thursday his bill will cover all tobacco products, including vaping devices.The Kentucky Republican represents a state that for generations was a leading tobacco producer in the U.S. Tobacco production has dropped dramatically in Kentucky in the past decade.McConnell says his bill will continue to hold retailers responsible for verifying the age of anyone buying tobacco products. He says about a dozen states have already enacted laws raising the minimum legal age to 21.McConnell made the announcement in Louisville, at the office of an organization that promotes health initiatives in Kentucky. He intends to introduce the bill next month.Bruce Schreiner, The Associated Press read more

The Latest: EU regrets US decision on Iran sanctions

FRANKFURT — The Latest on the U.S. move to end Iran sanction exemptions (all times local):3:10 p.m.The European Union is criticizing the U.S. decision to impose sanctions on countries that buy Iranian oil and warns that the move could damage an international effort to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons.European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic expressed “regret” Tuesday over the U.S. decision and that it “risks further undermining” the Iran nuclear deal.U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of that pact last year, saying it does nothing to stop Tehran developing missiles or destabilizing the Middle East.Since then, the EU has put measures in place to side-step U.S. sanctions on Iran, including a way to keep financial supply lines to Tehran open and protect European businesses operating there.___3:05 p.m.Global oil prices are climbing in the wake of the U.S. move to impose sanctions on countries that buy Iranian oil.And analysts said Tuesday that prices could keep heading higher.The U.S. announced the sanctions last year to push Iranian leaders to renegotiate an agreement aimed at keeping them from developing nuclear weapons. But some countries got temporary waivers that allowed them to import Iranian oil. The U.S. now says those waivers expire May 2.Among those affected are China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday the U.S. is counting on ally Saudi Arabia to ensure sufficient supply.New York Mercantile Exchange rose 10 cents to $65.65 per barrel while international Brent crude rose 14 cents to $74.18 per barrel.The Associated Press read more

MPs face summer recall for new NAFTA approval if no U.S. progress next week

OTTAWA — The Canadian Press has learned the Liberal government is prepared to recall Parliament this summer to ratify the new North American trade agreement.The government wants to move “in tandem” with the United States toward final legal approval of the new agreement, says a senior government official who wasn’t authorized to speak for attribution because of the sensitivity of the process.The source says Canada does not want to get too far ahead of the Trump administration in ratifying the new deal, and that it is not clear obstacles in the U.S. Congress can be overcome before the House of Commons’ session expires next week.Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is in Washington today for meetings with U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and she will be on Capitol Hill on Thursday for talks with Republican and Democratic lawmakers.The government expects to have a better sense of the way forward for Canada after those meetings.U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence promised to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement by “the summer” during his recent visit to Ottawa, while the Mexican ambassador to Canada has said his country’s Senate will give final approval at its own extended legislative session this coming Monday or Tuesday.The Canadian Press read more

Melting of mountain glaciers accelerating according to new UNbacked report

Mountain glaciers around the world melted from 2000 to 2005 at 1.6 times the average loss rate of the 1990s and three times that of the 1980s, with much of the accelerated change attributable to human-induced climate change, according to tentative figures in a new United Nations-backed report released today. “This is the most authoritative, comprehensive and up-to-date information on glaciers world-wide and as such underlines the rapid changes occurring on the planet as a result of climate change,” UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said, noting their importance as sources for many rivers upon which people depend for drinking water, agriculture and industrial purposes. “The findings confirm the science of human-induced climate change, confirmation that will be further underlined when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change unveil their next report on 2 February. These findings should strengthen the resolve of governments to act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and put in place the medium to longer term strategies necessary to avert dangerous climate change,” he added. According to the figures, the 2000-2005 period saw an average thickness loss for a set of reference glaciers of 0.6 metre water equivalent, confirming the trend in accelerated ice loss during the past two and a half decades and bringing the average reduction since 1980 of the 30 reference glaciers of nine mountain ranges to about 9.6-metres water equivalent. On average, one metre water equivalent corresponds to 1.1 metre ice thickness. The results come from glacier mass balance measurements collected by scientists all over the world and published by the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) in Zurich, Switzerland. The WGMS collects standardized glacier data which are considered to be among the best natural indicators of climate change. Scientific measurements relate to the so-called ‘net mass balance’ of glaciers, which can be seen as their overall ice thickness change. The long-term monitoring of glacier mass balance produces one of the most essential variables required for the regular assessment reports on global climate monitoring. As such, the glacier mass balance data are an important contribution to UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report. The preliminary data on glacier change for the year 2005 from 80 glaciers was reported to the WGMS from the majority of the glaciated mountain ranges of the world. Of these, 30 glaciers have continuous mass balance measurement series since 1980. Comprehensive data for the year 2006 are not yet available, but as it was one of the warmest years in many years in many parts of the world, it is expected that the downward trend will continue. “Today, the glacier surface is much smaller than in the 1980s, this means that the climatic forcing has continued since then,” Michael Zemp, a glaciologist and research associate at the WGMS said. “The recent increase in rates of ice loss over reducing glacier surface areas leaves no doubt about the accelerated change in climatic conditions.” 29 January 2007Mountain glaciers around the world melted from 2000 to 2005 at 1.6 times the average loss rate of the 1990s and three times that of the 1980s, with much of the accelerated change attributable to human-induced climate change, according to tentative figures in a new United Nations-backed report released today. read more

UN fund to benefit over 1 million victims of unrest in Central

1 October 2008More than a million people struck by violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), including 110,000 who have been uprooted from their homes, will receive life-saving assistance under funding announced today by the new United Nations Common Humanitarian Fund. “The pooled fund will help to make humanitarian action in the country more efficient and better coordinated,” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said of the $2.5 million allocated to 16 priority projects focusing on health care, access to water, the survival of infants and the young, and aid to help those displaced to return home. “Thanks to the fund, aid organizations on the ground can channel the money where it is most needed and respond to a breaking emergency faster than ever,” added Mr. Holmes, who is also Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.CAR has been hit by violence in several regions from rebels and a spill-over of instability in the north from neighbouring Chad and Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, and the new funding will target 110,000 displaced people, 83,000 more who recently returned to their devastated villages and 1 million others affected by the unrest.Overall, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have launched a $114 million aid programme for CAR in 2008, of which donors have so far funded 80 per cent. read more