CHARLIE LAKE, B.C. – The Charlie Lake Pre-Christmas Market and Fundraiser is supporting Alaya McCormick at this year’s market.Alaya McCormick is a 15-year-old girl that attends North Peace Secondary School and is currently battling stage three cancer.Nicole Sztabkowski, an organizer for the Pre-Christmas Market, says she usually picks a charity that they will donate to within the community that is in need of assistance. “For this market, in particular, I’ve done a few, and I usually donate all the proceeds to different foundations. I chose her because I felt that the family needed a little extra help,”Sztabkowski says that all the money raised from the market will be going to McCormick.“How it works is, all the tables rentals that I collect, all after the hall is rented and paid for, all those sales go to her and as well, every vendor is asked to donate a door prize, and we sell the door prize tickets, and all of that money goes towards her as well,”Sztabkowski hopes the market will raise $2,000 for McCormick.So far, there have been a number of community events to help support McCormick and her family during cancer treatment.The Charlie Lake Pre-Christmas Market and Fundraiser takes place Saturday, November 10, at the Charlie Lake Hall.
Enbridge reported moving a record volume of 2.785 million bpd from Canada to U.S. in November and said it remains focused on finding incremental ways to increase capacity.Its Line 3 expansion project is expected to add 370,000 bpd to take the Mainline system to 3.225 million bpd capacity when it starts up in late 2019.The company estimates that oilsands production is about 450,000 bpd above local refining and pipeline capacity and forecasts that as much as 600,000 bpd in new output could be added by 2025.Enbridge announced $1.8 billion in new investments on Tuesday, including the $265-million purchase of pipeline and terminal assets in northern Alberta from oilsands producer Athabasca Oil Corp. The Calgary-based pipeline, utility and power company said it will also spend US$600 million to buy a 22.75 percent interest in the Gray Oak Liquids Pipeline, which is under construction and expected to deliver light crude oil to Corpus Christi, Texas, starting in late 2019.That project is expected to help supply an offshore shipping port in the Gulf of Mexico proposed by Enbridge with partners Kinder Morgan Inc. and Germany-based Oiltanking GmbH, the company revealed.Enbridge also committed about $800 million in spending on four natural gas transmission expansion projects in the United States that are to come into service in the 2020-23 time frame.The company said it will raise its dividend by 10 percent for next year and anticipates another 10 percent increase in its dividend for 2020.(THE CANADIAN PRESS) Oilsands giant Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has charged the system is a leading cause of the current “dysfunctional” oil market in Western Canada, where a lack of pipeline export space as production rises is blamed for recent steep discounts in oil prices.“We’re seeing pretty good interest in this concept around priority access,” said Enbridge CEO Al Monaco on a webcast from the company’s investor day in New York on Tuesday, adding negotiations with shippers have started in advance of a July 2021 expiry of the current agreement.He said shippers and Enbridge will both get toll and volume certainty if the new system is adopted.“And that’s part of this discussion. That the shippers will have an interest, we will have some interest, and it’s up to us to line those up,” he said.Enbridge plans to hold an open season to gauge shipper interest early next year and file an application with the National Energy Board to make the change, Guy Jarvis, president of liquids pipelines, said.He added he doesn’t think the regulator will deny permission because it allowed the Trans Mountain system, now owned by the federal government, to make the same switch from common carriage to a hybrid contract-spot shipper system. CALGARY, A.B. – Enbridge Inc. is proposing a fundamental change in how it assigns space on its Mainline pipeline system that will allow up to 90 percent of its capacity to be reserved for priority customers.The 2.85-million-barrel-per-day network of pipelines, the largest export option for Western Canadian producers, operates as a common carrier, where customers nominate the volume of crude they would like to ship each month.Those nominations have exceeded the volume available for much of 2018, leading to “apportioning” or cutbacks in all shipments, which have angered many producers.
VANCOUVER, B.C. – The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association is set to release what it calls a “trove” of heavily redacted documents disclosed by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service on Monday morning.They concern the BCCLA’s allegation that CSIS was monitoring the organizing activities and peaceful protests of Indigenous groups and environmentalists who were opposed to the now-defunct Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipepline project.The civil liberties association complained to the Security Intelligence Review Committee in 2014, alleging CSIS was monitoring those opposed to the pipeleine and sharing this information with the National Energy Board and petroleum industry companies. The CSIS watchdog dismissed the allegations, finding the spy service collected some information about peaceful anti-pipeline groups, but only incidentally in the process of investigating legitimate threats to oil industry projects.The BCCLA challenged the watchdog’s findings in federal court, leading to the review committee’s heavily censored report being released in Demeber 2018.Now, BCCLA says a confidentiality order by the watchdog has been partially lifted, allowing them to release the documents disclosed by CSIS, which will be published and made searchable on a website called the “Protest Papers.”
JAMMU: A teenager was killed and 32 others were injured Thursday in a grenade attack by suspected terrorists in the crowded general bus stand area in the heart of the city, officials said. This is the third grenade attack by terrorists in Jammu bus stand since May last year, viewed by security agencies as an attempt to disturb communal harmony and peace in the city. Mohammad Sharik, 17, a resident of Haridwar in Uttarakhand, who was among 33 people brought to the hospital, succumbed to splinter injuries in the chest, the officials said. Also Read – IAF Day: Tributes paid to soldiers killed in line of duty in JammuThe condition of four more injured persons was “critical” and two of them were operated upon by the doctors to save their lives, they said. The injured included 11 residents of Kashmir, two from Bihar and one each from Chhattisgarh and Haryana, the officials said. The person who threw the grenade has been arrested, police said, adding he is a Hizbul Mujahideen operative and had reached Jammu from Kulgam this morning. Police say they identified him using CCTV footage. Also Read – Shashi Tharoor writes to PM Modi: Don’t let your ‘mann ki baat’ become ‘maun ki baat'”Camera footage was examined and based on oral testimony of witnesses we were able to identify a suspect. He was wearing jeans and a red rucksack. We were on the lookout for anyone matching the description. The accused was arrested and he confessed to his crime. Hizbul commander from Kulgam had tasked him with the grenade attack,” said Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Manish K Sinha. The police said the grenade was under a bus at a bus stand in the heart of the city. Most of the injured, an officer said, are bus drivers and conductors. It is unclear if there were people inside the bus. Police parties along with sniffer dogs and forensic experts rushed to the spot and launched a search operation to catch the attacker, officials said. The attack comes a week after the Indian Air Force carried out air strikes on the biggest terror camp of Jaish-e Mohammad in Pakistan’s Balakot. Jaish has taken responsibility for the February 14 attack, surprising security forces who said the group’s top order in the state has been wiped out.
Jammu: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a public rally in the outskirts of Jammu city on March 28 in support of party candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, a senior BJP leader said Monday. Sitting BJP MPs Jugal Kishore Sharma and Jitendra Singh are seeking re-election from the Jammu and the Udhampur parliamentary constituencies in the state. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a public rally to be held at Panchayat Doomi, tehsil Bhalwal, in Jammu on March 28,” BJP national vice-president and J&K in-charge Avinash Rai Khanna told reporters here. Khanna reviewed the arrangements of the rally at a meeting of party leaders here after inspecting the venue site. BJP state president Ravinder Raina and other senior leaders from the state were present in the meeting. The grand start of the BJP’s ‘Vijayrath’ in the region will take place from this rally, Khanna claimed. He told party leaders that people will be visiting in large numbers to listen to their popular leader and hence, adequate security and other arrangements should be ensured in connivance with the local administration.
NEW DELHI: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday in a rally for AAP’s East Delhi candidate Atishi said that within 24 hours of gaining full statehood, the Delhi government will make every contract worker full time. “Delhi government has 2 lakh vacancies. Our cabinet has passed files where we urged the Centre to give us more employees but they did not,” said CM Arvind Kejriwal.He also said that this election for the citizens of Delhi should be an election to get full statehood and not to elect a Prime Minister. “Do not think I am making false promises here. I have planned what we should do after getting full statehood. I am educated person and I do not have false degree,” said the Chief Minister. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderCM Kejriwal slammed the tenure of PM Narendra Modi and also reminded the PM about his promises to give full statehood to Delhi. “Last time you voted for PM Narendra Modi who can not handle Pakistan but wants to control Delhi police. Give the police to Delhi government and I promise you that if your daughter goes out at 11 pm, she will walk safely,” said the CM. Explaining the need of the full statehood the Chief Minister and also the Deputy CM Manish Sisodia linked it to the issue of education development. “After coming to power we have revolutionised the Delhi government education. The students are getting education of excellence and we will make every child literate in Delhi. But after school they are not getting chance in higher education because there is no seat reserved for our own children,” said Deputy CM Manish Sisodia. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsThe Deputy CM who also holds the portfolio of education minister explained that every state has near 85 per cent reserved seats for their own children but Delhi has no such provisions because it’s not a full statehood. “If Delhi becomes a full state then I promise you that if your child gets 60 per cent marks then also he or she will get admission. Whereas now after getting 95 per cent marks our own children do not get admission in Delhi colleges,” said the Deputy CM. East Delhi’s AAP candidate Atishi who have been the key brain behind the education reforms in Delhi also talked about why Delhi should become a full state.
Patna: The BJP-led NDA in Bihar – which has been accusing the opposition of stalling a bill envisaging 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies – has resorted to tokenism when it came to distribution of tickets to women in the general election. According to the list released by the NDA on March 23, only three women candidates have been allotted Lok Sabha tickets in the state – one each by alliance partners the BJP, JD(U) and the LJP. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ The opposition Grand Alliance – comprising the RJD, Congress, RLSP, HAM (S) and former Bollywood set designer Mukesh Sahni’s VIP – has so far named just nine candidates for the polls. Election to the 40 Lok Sabha seats will be held in seven phases in Bihar between April 11 and May 19. The ruling Janata Dal (United) has fielded Kavita Singh from Siwan constituency, while the Bharatiya Janata Party has nominated Rama Devi from the Sheohar seat. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K Veena Singh of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) is contesting the election from the Vaishali constituency. In 2014, too, the NDA had given three tickets to women, two by the BJP and one by the LJP, while the JD(U) which was then not part of the BJP-led coalition, allotted two seats for women. The BJP had contested 30 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the last general election, while the JD(U) fielded candidates in all but two seats. As per the seat-sharing arrangement in the NDA this time, both the BJP and the JD(U) are contesting 17 seats each, leaving six constituencies to the LJP. The parties, in their defence, claimed that women did not get adequate representation in their list of candidates as they were contesting fewer seats this time. Devesh Kumar, the state unit vice-president of the BJP, contended that the party believes in “empowering women”, but the seat-sharing arrangement in the state did not leave them with much of an option. “Yes, it is important that women should be given more tickets in elections, but since we are contesting fewer seats this time as compared to the last time, we had to take many factors into consideration. “The BJP government at the Centre believes in empowering women. One can clearly see that women are holding important portfolios at the Centre – External Affairs (Sushma Swaraj) and Defence (Nirmala Sitharaman). Our Lok Sabha Speaker (Sumitra Mahajan) is a woman,” he pointed out. Echoing similar sentiments, JD(U) spokesperson and MLC Niraj Kumar said, “It was difficult for the party to accommodate more women this time as it was contesting just 17 seats in the state.” The JD(U) spokesperson also listed the decisions taken by the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar in the interest of women, such as 50 per cent reservation in urban local bodies and panchayati raj institutions and 35 per cent reservation in all government jobs. “Our party has been strong votary of women’s reservation bill. If the bill is passed, it would become mandatory for parties to give women tickets,” he added. Two regional parties have shown a way out of chronic tokenism in their distribution of tickets to women this time. In West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress has fielded 41 per cent women candidates for the general election, which the Biju Janata Dal in Odisha has reserved 33 per cent of its tickets for women.
NEW DELHI: In last seven decades, Delhi in the Lok Sabha elections has elected only seven women lawmakers compared to 60 men MPs, and over half of the Lok Sabha houses since Independence have seen no women representation from the national capital. However, Delhi did elect its first woman MP right in the first parliamentary elections and the winner was Sucheta Kriplani, a freedom fighter and an associate of Mahatma Gandhi.Kriplani contested from New Delhi on a ticket of the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party, founded by her husband Acharya Kripalani. She defeated Congress’ Manmohini Sehgal, a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family. In 1957, Kriplani switched to the Congress and was re-elected. After a long gap, she was followed by Subhadra Joshi of the Congress. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderJoshi, who was also the first woman MP from Punjab, was elected from Chandni Chowk seat, defeating Bharatiya Jan Sangh’s Ram Gopal Shalwale by over 45,000 votes in 1972. During the Emergency in 1975-77, she opposed every move by Sanjay Gandhi, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s son, to demolish structures in her constituency to “beautify” the city. She had earlier defeated Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1962 in Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh. After Joshi, Delhi elected Sushma Swaraj (South Delhi) and Meira Kumar (Karol Bagh) in 1996 and 1998 respectively. Sushma Swaraj (BJP) defeated Congress’ Kapil Sibal by 1.14 lakh votes and later Ajay Maken, also of Congress, by 1.16 lakh votes. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsMeira Kumar (Congress), who created history in 2009 when she was elected the first woman Speaker, defeated BJP’s Kalka Das in 1996 by over 41,000 votes. She defeated BJP’s Surender Pal Rathawal in 1998 but her victory margin shrunk to 4,826 votes. Similarly in 1999, Anita Arya (BJP) was elected from Karol Bagh, the only reserved constituency in Delhi, defeating Meira Kumar. Meanwhile, in 2004 and 2009, Krishna Tirath of Congress was the lone woman candidate to won from Delhi. In 2004, she defeated Anita Arya in Karol Bagh and BJP’s Meera Kanwaria in 2009 from North West Delhi. In 2014, amid a ‘Modi wave’, Meenakshi Lekhi won from the prestigious New Delhi seat and became Delhi’s seventh woman MP. She defeated Aam Aadmi Party’s Ashish Khetan by 1.6 lakh votes. It is worth mentioning that out of these seven women MPs, some of the Delhi women MPs held key positions during different governments. Such as Kripalani had later became India’s first woman Chief Minister –when she was given charge of Uttar Pradesh. Similarly Meira Kumar became the first woman Speaker of the Lok Sabha, while Sushma Swaraj was the first woman Chief Minister of Delhi. She is also the second woman to become India’s External Affairs Minister after Indira Gandhi. On the other hand, former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, Union minister Smriti Irani, author Jenis Darbari and AAP leader Rakhi Birla have also contested from Delhi but have not been lucky. Dikshit contested from East Delhi in 1998 but was defeated by BJP’s Lal Bihari Tiwari. She later served as Delhi CM for 15 years till 2013. Irani, who joined politics after working in television serials, lost to Kapil Sibal in Chandni Chowk in 2004. Similarly Jenis Darbari contested in 1999 and 2004 from South Delhi as an independent but lost. She was selected as Honorary Consul General for Republic of Montenegro in New Delhi. AAP’s Birla, who was later Deputy Speaker of Delhi Assembly, was defeated by BJP’s Udit Raj.
New Delhi: In February, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer B. Chandrakala found a LinkedIn fake account running in her name. After registering a case under the Information Technology (IT) Act, the police swung into action and got LinkedIn to shut that fake account. Under investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in an illegal mining case in Uttar Pradesh, Chandrakala was shocked to see the fake account being run on LinkedIn in her name using her photograph and designation and publishing objectionable obscene content. Not just fake accounts, there have been several cases of fraudsters impersonating staffing agencies on the LinkedIn platform and people keeping duplicate or multiple profiles with ease. The goal of such people, according to Bruce Johnston, a famed LinkedIn sales and marketing consultant, is to harvest email addresses from connections, identity theft, phishing, spear phishing and other scams and impersonation. The real game is to identify such problems first-hand — via Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled algorithms which the company has invested heavily in — in order to weed out bad actors quickly and act pro-actively, without waiting for users to flag such content. “As fake profiles can be replaced just as quickly as they are detected and stamped out, this is a real problem,” wrote Johnston in a blog post some time back. Human-centric AI and Machine Learning (ML) is helping — to a great extent — Facebook, Twitter and Google stamp out bad content, terror-related posts, political interference, misinformation, abuse and several other inauthentic behaviours even before users flag them. LinkedIn said that “one of the ways we ensure that accounts are real is by building automated detection systems at scale for detecting and taking action against fake accounts”. “Unfortunately, LinkedIn is the target of bad actors who constantly try to create fake accounts,” the company said in a recent blog-post. The company, however, does not have a satisfactory answer when it comes to identifying a person who is between jobs or has joined at some other place but keeps old or multiple profiles on the platform. “Members come to LinkedIn to connect with their community, learn from each other and access opportunity. The best way to do that is to keep their profile updated, including sharing news and insights,” says the Microsoft-owned platform. LinkedIn gives users the option to flag inappropriate or fake profiles on its platform – profiles that contain profanity, empty profiles with fake names, or profiles that are impersonating public figures. The company told IANS that while there may be multiple reasons why members take more time to update their profiles, it is possible for other members to report inaccurate information. “We take each report very seriously and our team reviews each case individually. If the information is inaccurate, we take action, which can include removing the content,” said a LinkedIn spokesperson. Specifically for fake accounts, said LinkedIn, it investigates suspected violations of our Terms of Service, including the creation of false profiles, and take immediate action when violations are uncovered. “A human element will always be necessary to catch fake accounts that have evaded our models,” said the company. “While we strive to take down fake accounts before they interact with our members, we also get signals from our members who report suspicious activity on the site,” the company added. It, however, appears that LinkedIn at the moment relies more on users than its AI and ML solutions to keep its platform sanitised.
Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Tuesday said systematically important non-deposit taking NBFCs offering foreign exchange transactions on individual accounts will be eligible to obtain Authorised Dealer (AD) Category-II licence from it. AD-Cat II means entities that are authorised by the RBI to deal in foreign exchange for specified purposes. These include upgraded full-fledged money changers (FFMCs), select regional rural banks, select urban cooperative banks and certain other entities. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalThe RBI noted that a large segment of population is increasingly getting connected with forex transactions on individual accounts. To increase the accessibility and improve the efficiency of services extended to the public for their day-to-day non-trade current account transactions, the RBI said “it has been decided that systemically important non-deposit taking investment and credit companies shall be eligible for Authorized Dealer- Category II (AD-Cat II) licence”. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostThe central bank further said NBFCs having a minimum investment grade rating are eligible for the licence. It also said NBFCs offering forex serives should have a board-approved policy on managing the risks (including currency risk) and handling customer grievances arising out of such activities. A monitoring mechanism, at least at monthly intervals, shall be put in place for such services, it added. The eligible NBFCs desirous of undertaking AD-Cat II activities should approach the RBI for the licence. The different types of Authorised Money Changers are AD-Cat I Banks AD-Cat II and FFMCs.
Rabat – Morocco has deplored Tuesday the plight of Syrian refugees, including women and children, expelled by Algeria and sent official protests to the authorities of that country, Moroccan Interior Ministry said in a statement according to MAP.“Moroccan authorities have raised the question of the expulsion of Syrian refugees (as was the case in the past with Sub-Saharan Africans) by the Algerian authorities to Moroccan territory through the eastern borders kingdom,” said a statement from the Interior Ministry.According to the same source, “Just during the period from 26 to 28 January 2014, Algerian authorities turned back 77 Syrian nationals, including 18 women and 43 children [some are less than two months old].” MWN with Agencies
Casablanca- Rape, in its most inhuman forms, still prevails in Morocco despite all efforts to combat it. A waitress was recently gang-raped in Meknes.According to daily Assabah, a 19-year-old waitress was kidnapped then gang-raped by four people in Meknes. The three suspects were presented to the Prosecutor on charges of kidnapping, violence and rape. The young waitress was kidnapped at 4:00 a.m. at the café where she works, before the eyes of the café owner and his customers. According to local police, the café clients could not intervene to save the girl as the three suspects were drunk and armed with swords they used to kidnap her. The waitress told the police that she had already been the victim of rape when she was 17, but never dared to report that to the police because of her fear of the consequences. The abolition of Article 475 of the criminal code, which allowed rapists to flee justice by marrying their victims, does not seem to change the bitter truth about rape in Morocco. The rate of violence and child rape are still high in the kingdom, and the reasons for that mainly are attributed on the lack of stricter laws to punish the perpetrators. © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed
Rabat- Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has upheld a 10-year in jail and 1,000 lashes sentence against jailed blogger Raif Badawi on charges of insulting Islam, according to Amnesty International.The sentence has caused uproar worldwide with human rights group Amnesty International describing it as a “dark day for freedom of expression.”Ensaf Haidar, Badawi’s wife who, along with their three children, have received asylum in Quebec, in Canada, told Al Jazeera that his family were “shocked by the decision.” “We had had some hope before that maybe he would get his sentence reduced,” she said. “I am very sad about this and very worried for Raif.”She expressed fear that the implementation of the flogging sentence “might resume very soon”.“I was optimistic that the advent of Ramadan and the arrival of a new king would bring a pardon for the prisoners of conscience, including my husband,” she told AFP.Badawi co-founded the Saudi Liberal Network Internet discussion group. He was arrested in 2012 in Jeddah, and later sentenced to seven years in jail and 600 lashes for allegedly insulting Islam. A judge also ordered the website shut after it criticized Saudi Arabia’s religious police.An appeals court later upturned the verdict and ordered a retrial. In May 2014, the court sentenced Badawi to 10 years imprisonment, 1,000 lashes and to pay a $266,000 fine.Badawi received the first 50 of the 1,000 lashes he was sentenced. Saudi authorities later postponed Subsequent rounds of public lashings on medical grounds, according to Amnesty.Amnesty International condemned the “abhorrent” decision to uphold the “cruel and unjust sentence.”“Blogging is not a crime and Raif Badawi is being punished merely for daring to exercise his right to freedom of expression,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.Saudi Arabia denounced the media campaign against the ruling, saying that “it does not accept any form of interference in its internal affairs and rejects (…) the attack on the independence of its justice system.”Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission
By Safa OthmaniTunis – October 7, 2016, is a very special day in Morocco, as over 15,000 will cast their votes for the party that best speaks up for their aspirations and needs.With nearly 30 political parties running the 10th parliamentary elections race since 1965, 1,400 lists will compete to win seats in the 395-member Chamber of Representatives. As soon as the electoral campaign kicked off on September 24, 2016, hundreds of thousands of Moroccans flocked to local election bureaus to register to vote.North Africans, particularly, but not exclusively, Moroccans, have been keeping tabs on the electoral process with a mixture of anxiety and enthusiasm, wondering deep inside whether their nominee will be in the lead for the next parliamentary term.Quoted by the Jadid Presse news site, Jameela, a native of Agadir city, in southern Morocco, said: “I’ve been keeping tabs on ongoing political developments with a deep anxiety.”“It’s true that I sympathize with the Democratic Left, but I’ve heard that the Justice and Development Party is closer to people’s aspirations and concerns and, thus, enjoys a sweeping popularity,” added Jameela.Since the last legislative elections in 2011, the Islamist Party of Justice and Development, known by its French acronym PJD, has dominated parliament seats and led a government alliance of several ideologies.The PJD faces tough competition from the Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM), widely regarded as close to the palace.Analysts believe the PJD could win a second term in the 2016 although austerity policies that the government embarked on to boost public finances have started to weigh on Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane’s popularity.A poll published by Morocco World News in April and which was conducted by the Tariq Ibn Ziyad Initiative (TIZI) – “an independent, nonpartisan, and patriotic” organization – in partnership with the Morocco-based Averty institute found out that 44,9 percent of Moroccans, among a representative sample of 1,098, support Benkirane in continuing his five-year reign.Political forecasters believe, Benkirane’s charismatic character will help his Justice and Development Party to gain an outright majority.“Morocco’s Islamists have been standard-bearers for co-existence rather than rebellion,” Reuters wrote a few hours before the ballot lift-off.However “defeats for Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party and the overthrow of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood may tempt Morocco royalists to push back against PJD where the palace once ceded to Islamists as an escape value for tensions in the past,” Reuters noted down.In an Arabic article published by the al-Ain news site under the title “PJD and PAM Competing over Morocco’s Election Cake,” observers believe PJD’s popularity has seen a setback due to the pension law and rise in fuel prices.In a paradoxical twist reflective of the impossibility to forecast Morocco’s ballot offspring in purely conclusive terms, the same news site wrote: “PDJ’s chances to win parliamentary elections are higher compared to other political parties thanks to its organizational and financial potentials nurtured by a large spectrum of businessmen and the conservative bourgeoisie.”Morocco “is the region barometer”“Morocco’s political scene and that of North African nations are expected to undergo a watershed should Benkirane’s PJD party win another term,” Tunisian Analyst M. Ezzedine told Morocco World News.“Morocco is the region’s barometer since it is the only Arab country to hold multi-party elections on a sequential basis since its independence,” he noted“A metamorphosis in Morocco’s political texture means a change in regional and also, perhaps, middle eastern politics,” he added.Rabat-based political sociologist Mohammed Masbah, formerly a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center went through a similar line as he voiced his expectations about Morocco’s upcoming ballot.According to Masbah, the fact that Morocco is the only Arab country where Islamists have got consistently better results at the ballot box without stirring up domestic unrest and instability reflects Morocco’s ostensible commitment to political reforms, a tendency that ushers in a new era in the country’s journey towards democracy.Reports have also emerged on the probable surge of a new tide of voters for radical left wing parties, with a group of Moroccan citizens identifying with alternatives to the main socialist party.In Masbah’s view, the result of Friday’s election will determine the nature of the relationship between PJD party and Morocco’s far left. A new chapter of greater cooperation or conflict is awaiting Morocco around the corner.Offering an-in-between standpoint, other analysts said they believe the Federation of the Democratic Left led by Nabila Mounib might win a considerable number of seats in the ballot box.“This is a party that could offer Moroccans, and by the same token neighboring countries, a ‘third-way’ alternative,” said K. Nsir, a retired Tunisian University Teacher.“We, North Africans, are fed up with extremism overwhelming us from all directions,” added K. Nsir. “Why don’t we just pick up the ball from the middle of the pitch so that every party can score a goal? We’re awaiting the results of Morocco’s voting on tenterhooks.”Imad Agrili, 31, a painter from the rural town of Skoura, was voting for the first time and opted for the Federation of the Democratic Left. “They seem clean and transparent,” he said.For affiliates of the banned Islamist Adl wal Ihsan (Justice and Charity) movement, the election in Morocco is just futile and unproductive due to what they dubbed as “the centralization of power and the decision-making by the monarchy.”Political system makes hard for any party to win absolute majority Morocco’s multi-party political scene, not so much dissimilar to America’s “salad bowl” allegory, makes it almost impossible for any party to enjoy a sweeping majority. The fact that the most popular party can hardly gain over 20% of the overall votes, makes the winner in an ongoing chase for coalition-building initiatives between various parties to form majority blocs in the Parliament.Nonetheless, some now fear that the October 7 poll could give rise to a sort of distrust in the political process.Independent observers writing for the Morocco World News, said despite some peccadillos in the electoral process, voting has been so far carried out close to international standards.Bordered on the east by Algeria and on the south by Mauritania, Morocco has a population of 34 million, with Arabs constituting 70 percent and Berbers making up most of the rest.The main official language is Arabic. Berber language, which is spoken widely in the north and the south has been granted the status of official language by the 2011 constitution.The country’s new constitution, approved in a referendum in 2011, brought about a series of amendments that narrowed down the King’s political powers at the same time as they propped up the authority of the prime minister, endowing him/her with the privilege to assign government officials and dissolve parliament – powers previously endowed only to the king.Even if opinions among experts in North African affairs have often diverged vis-à-vis such a political dispersion reflected on Morocco’s ballot day, Morocco, to its credit, is among the few Arab countries that has been holding parliamentary elections on a sequential basis since its independence in 1965.Though far from being typical, elections in Morocco have saved the country from the serious landslides which rocked other neighboring countries like Libya and Egypt, where extremism has found a fertile ground to set up roots and flourish.“We are just hoping for the best” after the harsh campaign, said Fatima Ibn Abou, among dozens voting at the Mouad Ibn Jabal middle school in Casablanca where the prime minister is casting his ballot.Friday’s ballot will uncover the lineup of the upper chamber of parliament, comprised of 395 seats, 90 of which are reserved for women and youth. Definitive results are expected to come out Saturday.As more voters are likely to head out to vote before sunset, North Africans remain on edge for the ballot’s final upshots.
By Safaa KasraouiRabat – Real Madrid’s striker, Alvaro Morata, has no clue regarding his future with his squad when his contract comes up for renewal.Most recently, the 24-year-old player scored 3 goals for his club during Wednesday’s game against Leganes. Several international outlets have been talking about Alvaro leaving his current team at the end of the season. Morata, however, has refuted all rumors saying that he has no future intentions. He added that he is choosing to focus on achieving his objectives as an important part of his team.“I feel good at Real Madrid and that is what important,” said MorataHe also said that he is trying to take advantage of any opportunity he has when he plays, adding that he has dreams of winning everything possible with his team.“I am scoring goals and helping the team. It’s important for me personally to continue this way and support my team,” he added.According to Spanish outlet, AS, Chelsea coach, Antonio Conte, is ready to do anything to sign Morata. Conte would reportedly be willing to offer GBP 65 million to make a deal happen.A press report issued by Tuttomercatobweb has promoted this news, stating that Chelsea club president, Roman Abramovitch, might use Zinedine Zindan’s interest in Eden Hazard and include Alvaro Morata in the deal.
Rabat – The construction site of the Tangier-Casablanca high-speed rail line has reached 90 percent completion, according to Abdelkader Amara, Minister of Equipment, Transport, Logistics and Water. Amar visited the sites of the future HST railway station in Tangier, the maintenance workshop, and the El Hachef viaduct.The construction works of the HSL Tanger-Casablanca line increased by 1 percent during the month of August. “It now has an overall turnover rate of 92 percent,” the Minister confirmed to MAP. “This mega-project will promote Morocco’s entry into an advanced phase of HST technology, while allowing it to be ahead of several countries and to set itself up as a model on the field at the African and Arab levels.”ONCF General Director Mohamed Rabie Khlie said the first tests at 320 km per hour of this high-speed train will begin during the month of September on a 120-kilometer stretch. He also ensured that “the preparation for operation is progressing according to the agreed schedule, in particular in terms of training drivers, maintenance personnel and commercial staff,” while pointing out to the MAP that “civil engineering works are already completed, while those of railway equipment will be completed before the end of 2017.” The first half of 2018 will be devoted to the testing of the certification of the system and to its running-in, while “the commercial commissioning of the project is planned during summer 2018,” the minister said.Amara also recalled that “the El Hachef viaduct, with an investment of MAD 1.092 billion, constitutes the longest viaduct of the line with 3.5 kilometers, and one of the most spectacular works of the project,” adding that it presents “impressive technical characteristics and illustrates the magnitude of the component of this large-scale project, noting that it has 12 viaducts, 169 road bridges and railway bridges and more than 100 hydraulic structures, realized at 80 percent by Moroccan companies.”The new Tangier station will be built on an area of ??10,500 m² with 77,000 m² of outdoor facilities. It will include passenger traffic areas, counters, boarding rooms, and shops. The project, with a budget MAD of 360 million dirhams, currently sits at 65 percent completion.The high speed train maintenance workshop will accommodate up to 30 HST. It will spread over 12 hectares including 20,000 m² of covered buildings. Inaugurated by the king in September 2015, it required an investment of MAD 640 million.
Rabat – Moroccan-German journalist Souad Mekhennet will receive the 2017 Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism, the Chicago Journalists Association (CJA) announced on October 11.Mekhennet, the first Muslim to win the award, was chosen for her work investigating Islamic extremism, resulting in her book, “I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad.”The award was set up by the parents of Daniel Pearl, an American journalist for the Wall Street Journal who was kidnapped and killed by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002. The prize will be given to Mekhennet on November 10 at the CJA’s 78th Annual Dinner.Mekhennet, who was born and raised in Germany to a Moroccan father and a Turkish mother, is currently working for American news outlet The Washington Post.CJA posted on their Twitter official account that the association “is proud to honor Washington Post Security correspondent and author Souad Mekhennet who ventured ‘Behind the Lines of Jihad’ to interview the world’s most wanted.”CJA added that “[Mekhennet] will become the first Muslim reporter to receive the prestigious Daniel Pearl Award.”The Daniel Pearl award was created in 2002 as a tribute to Daniel Pearl. It aims to reward journalists for their courage and integrity in journalism. Among the people who received this award of the award, Wolf Blitzer, a German-born American journalist and television news anchor who has been a CNN reporter since 1990, Martha Raddatz, a American repoter with ABC News and Lara Logan, a South African TV and radio journalist and war correspondent.Please join us for our 78th awards dinner! We’re excited to honor the following #journalists: @smekhennet, @Sneedlings and @RobStaffordNBC! pic.twitter.com/81IF2dhxmV— Chicago Journ Assoc (@CJA_Updates) October 16, 2017Published in June 2017, “I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad,” is a memoir where Mekhennet investigates into Islamic extremism in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.The 368-page memoir discusses the reporter’s personal experience as a Muslim reporter with a bicultural identity. As a Muslim, Mekhennet has had access to some of the most wanted members of jihadist groups, including Al Qaida and ISIS, who have refused to talk to Western reporters.Throwing aside any fears, she was frequently told to “come alone, not to carry any identification,” and to “leave her cell phone, audio recorder, watch, and purse at the hotel.”The journalist’s memoir became the Washington Post bestselling book after it was published on June 13. In her memoir, the journalist gives detailed information about her assignments across the Middle Eastern, Europe ,and North Africa, to terrorism and extremist groups, including in Syria and Iraq.The journalist says she was committed in her memoir “not to take any side, but to speak about all sides and challenge them equally.”The Moroccan journalist has worked for internationally renowned media outlets, including The New York Times, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, The Daily Beast and German television ZDF. She currently works at The Washington Post.
NEW YORK — Apple has unveiled a new iPad that’s thinner and slightly larger than its current entry-level tablet.The new iPad Air will cost $499 and sport a screen that measures 10.5 inches diagonally. That compares with the standard, 9.7-inch iPad at $329.Apple has a higher-end Pro model starting at $999. The new iPad Air has several features found in older Pro models, but not the latest. For instance, the iPad Air has a home button with a fingerprint sensor, while the latest Pro ditches that to make more room for the screen.Apple is also refreshing its 7.9-inch iPad Mini.The Associated Press
Rabat – MP Amina Maelainine, whom Morocco’s ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD) recently punished for her association with a “scandalous” clothing choice, has said she will not be silenced by insincere criticism.Faced with criticism of hypocrisy from a number of Moroccans after pictures emerged in December of Maelainine walking unveiled while in Paris, PJD’s leadership lambasted the MP, who wears a veil while in Morocco.On Saturday, April 13, the party finally decided to punish Maelainine, also a PJD member, by removing her from her position as seventh vice-president in the House of Representatives. Maelainine, however, did not wait long to respond to what she perceives as an organized campaign against her personality and political convictions.Taking to Facebook on Monday, April 15, the demoted MP reminded her critics that a coordinated attempt to silence and sideline her from the party’s highest ranks will not take away her outspokenness and passion.Cheap heroism“That many people have been quick to comment, analyze, and repetitively seek glory on the back of Amina Maelainine is a sign of lack of character,” the MP lashed out. She added that her critics’ behavior since the Paris scandal is “reflective of their inability to take much more heroic roles by espousing more honorable political opinions and causes.”Maelainine rose to prominence in the aftermath of the 2011 general elections as the voice of the educated but virtuous and religious Moroccan woman.To those who have suggested that the PJD’s decision to demote Maelainine will further complicate the MP’s political future, making her gradually irrelevant in national political debates, Maelainine said she will continue her fight.“I want to point out that this is not the first time that the party’s secretariat general has opposed my candidacy for party leadership,” Maelainine wrote.According to Maelainine, the hype has more to do with a desire to use her to advance politicians’ own causes. As far as the MP is concerned, those who attack her only sought to paint her in a bad light to make themselves look more principled.However, while it “is normal” to prefer someone else over her for leadership positions, she stressed that critics’ “constant insinuations and selective condemnations” will not make up for their “lack of noble political convictions.”While Maelainine has remained uncharacteristically silent since mid-January, when the PJD started debating her political fate, it is not the first time that the outspoken MP has taken sweeping aims at her critics, both outside and within the PJD.In an interview with Moroccan weekly Al Ayyam in early March, Maelainine hinted at what other critics have called the “marketization of Islamic ethics.”The idea is that there is an inclination in Moroccan political circles, especially politicians who seek to appeal to a largely conservative and religious electoral base, to take more interest in “smear campaigns” and other “trivial issues” rather than discussing more pressing issues, according to Maelainine.She told Al Ayyam that there is a general tendency to “accord disproportionate importance” to people’s lifestyles and physical appearance rather than their actions and policies while in public office.Maelainine’s lost battleFor all of Maelainine’s defiance, it is unlikely that she will appeal to critics, most of whom were convinced of her “hypocrisy” from the very outset of the Paris scandal. For Moroccan liberals, the PJD has already been discredited as a genuine “Islamist party.”The Moroccan left has consistently held the view that the country’s ruling party only portrays itself—and falsely—as nationalist and Islamist in order to exploit the perceived gap between elites and “everyday Moroccans.”The party’s aim, critics have argued, is to take advantage of the voting capital of low-income Moroccans considered as more attached to the country’s religious and traditional values.Meanwhile, as the party seeks to wash itself of such criticisms of hypocrisy, Maelainine is increasingly viewed by many PJD members as a liability.In an interview with Morocco’s 2M television channel on April 14, justice minister and PJD frontbencher Mustapha Ramid said that “time is up” for Maelainine. Ramid said, “No one has the right to have two faces.”There are also reports that even Abdelilah Benkirane, former PJD leader and Maelainine’s traditional “protector,” is no longer supportive of his longtime “protegee.”Meanwhile, Maelainine, loyal to her feisty and defiant self, is adamant that even unanimous rejection from her party will not silence her.“I have worked hard, with devotion and engagement. I will continue this fight, which is not necessarily linked to holding leadership positions. I will continue fighting with the same passion and enthusiasm as before,” she wrote on Facebook.
Washington, D.C. – While the UN Security Council’s new Resolution 2468 does not bring any major breakthrough that might suggest that the Security Council is moving decisively towards pressuring the parties to reach a mutually acceptable political solution, the new language it included gives a glimpse into the direction of the political process.For the most part, the resolution has maintained the same language and the same parameters of the UN-led political process as previous resolutions on Western Sahara, with an emphasis on “realism” and on the need for the parties to the conflict to cooperate in good faith with the United Nations Secretary-General’s personal envoy, Horst Kohler.The preamble of the resolution has once again given prominence to the Moroccan autonomy proposal in that it welcomes the “serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution.” Meanwhile, the resolution has simply taken note of the counterproposal submitted by Polisario without giving it any credit for advancing the political process. But this language should not be regarded as a victory for Morocco, since it simply uses the same language in all but one resolution on the conflict since the start of the political process in April 2007.Read Also: Western Sahara: UN Resolution 2468 Calls for Compromise, RealismThe only exception to this practice was in Resolution 2285 of 2016, when the Security Council settled for taking note of Morocco’s autonomy proposal and the Polisario’s counterproposal without praising Morocco’s efforts to advance the political process.Algeria no longer a ‘neighboring’ countryThat being said, the Security Council has once more included Algeria on quasi-equal footing with Morocco.The main significant change that the new resolution brings is the fact that it mentions Algeria five times in the resolution, three times in the preamble and twice in the operative paragraphs. Mentioning Algeria five times in the resolution carries political weight and suggests that the Security Council is moving progressively towards considering it as a full-fledged party in the conflict.Since the start of the political process until October 2018, Algeria had never been mentioned in any Security Council resolution on the conflict. It took Morocco a sustained diplomatic effort to convince the Security Council to come to terms with the obvious reality that Polisario would not exist without Algeria’s military, financial, diplomatic, and logistical support.The first time the Security Council included Algeria in a resolution on the conflict was in Resolution 2440 of last October. That resolution mentioned Algeria three times. That the Security Council mentions Algeria five time in its new resolution is a significant change that plays in Morocco’s favor.In addition, while in paragraph seven of Resolution 2440’s preamble the Security Council described Morocco and Polisario as “the parties” and Algeria and Mauritania as “neighboring states,” this time around that distinction has disappeared. The resolution has named the four parties on equal footing.New emphasis on compromiseThe other significant change lies in paragraph six of the preamble. In Resolution 2440, the council reaffirmed its commitment to assist the parties to “achieve a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.”The new resolution has the same language but adds the phrase “based on compromise.”Read Also: Making Sense of Security Council Resolution 2440 on Western SaharaThe Security Council reaffirmed “its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution, based on compromise, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara” in paragraph six of Resolution 2468.The new language indicates that the Security Council is stressing more than ever before that any resolution has to be reached “based on compromise.” The new resolution, in fact, emphasizes the need for compromise five times.To gauge the political weight of the new language, one has to compare it with the previous resolutions, especially the resolutions adopted between April 2007 and April 2017. During this period, with the exception of Resolutions 1754 and 1783 which made no mention of such term, the need for the parties to be guided with the spirit of compromise was mentioned as little as one time in all the resolutions.But the trend changed with Resolution 2414, which called for the need for compromise three times, and Resolution 2440, which mentioned that principle four times. While there has been an incremental call on the parties to be guided by the spirit of compromise, there has also been an incremental emphasis on the need for the parties to be guided by “realism” and a realistic approach.While in each of the resolutions adopted between April 2008 and October 2018, the need to show “realism” was mentioned only one time, this emphasis was strengthened since the adoption of Resolution 2440, which mentioned the principle twice.In addition, that resolution added new language that emphasized the need for the parties to “achieve a realistic, practicable and enduring political solution based on compromise.” This language has been confirmed in Resolution 2468.Realism might mean no referendumTo Algeria and Polisario’s dismay, the text indicates that the option of a referendum of self-determination and the approach of “winner-take-all” are off the table.This explains why Russia, which abstained from the vote, has expressed its displeasure with the language of the new resolution. In his explanation of the vote after the adoption of Resolution 2468, the Russian representative said that his country rejects “attempts to prejudge the course of negotiations or alter already agreed parameters.”The Russian representative voiced his concerns that the amendments in the new resolution “undermine the Council’s neutral role.” He added that all his attempts to restore “previously agreed language were ignored.”The same level of frustration was expressed by South Africa’s representative. While explaining why his country abstained, he said the new language gives “little clarity on the use of such terms as ‘realistic’ and ‘realism,’ as well as ‘compromise,’” and regretted that the new resolution attempts to “unduly influence the direction of the political process nor pre-empt any final status of the negotiations.”The South African diplomat further regretted that the new resolution makes no distinction “between the parties to the conflict – namely, Morocco and the Frente Polisario – and the neighboring States, Algeria and Mauritania.”Handling John Bolton effectivelyThis new development suggests that Morocco has adapted well to the presence of John Bolton in the Trump administration and has succeeded in thwarting all attempts to undo the diplomatic achievement Morocco has made in the past few years.A few days after the adoption of Resolution 2440 last October, Algeria signed a lobbying deal with Keene Consulting, owned by David Keene, Bolton’s friend and long-time Polisario supporter. Algeria has sought to use Keene’s friendship with Bolton to shape the new US policy on Western Sahara to its advantage.Read Also: Morocco Should Stay Alert to John Bolton’s Influence with TrumpBut in light of the language introduced in the new resolution, Algeria has so far lost this battle. Not only Keene Consulting and Foley Hoag—Algeria’s main lobbying firm—have failed to change the language of Resolution 2440 and remove any mention of Algeria in the new resolution. Instead, the Security Council has moved further to considering Algeria a full-fledged party to the conflict.This also suggests that despite appearances and the unpredictability of the Trump administration, Morocco can still rely on career diplomats and officials in the Pentagon and in the national security apparatus to speak on Morocco’s behalf, make the case for its strategic interests, and prevent any decision that might put the US-Morocco strategic alliance in jeopardy.What Russia’s abstentions meanDespite Morocco’s successful efforts to preserve its achievements, a final political solution to the conflict in line with Morocco’s approach is still out of reach. Yesterday’s vote on Resolution 2468 suggests that even if the US were to adopt a position clearly in favor of Morocco’s Autonomy Plan, Russia would not let that happen.That Russia has abstained in the past four resolutions that have been perceived as slightly in favor of Morocco indicates that if push comes to shove and the US tried to impose the Moroccan Autonomy Plan as the only basis for negotiations, Russia might use its veto power.What reduces the chances of a solution any time soon is that even in the US government there has been no unanimity on its Western Sahara position.More than two decades after the US urged Morocco to present an autonomy proposal and committed to supporting it as the only basis for a future solution, it has failed to honor its engagement.Because of the impact of lobbyists and interest groups in swaying US decision-makers and shaping their views on foreign policy and the existence of opposing views even within the State Department, the US position on the conflict has evolved from considering Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as the only feasible solution to the conflict to considering it as simply “a solution” that could help solve the conflict.With John Bolton in the Trump administration and his desire to leave his stamp on the conflict, the chances of American support for Morocco’s position on the conflict are nonexistent. Algerians are aware of that and will work harder than ever before to undo the progress that Morocco has achieved in recent years.Samir Bennis is the co-founder of Morocco World News. You can follow him on Twitter @SamirBennis.,Samir Bennis is the co-founder of Morocco World News. You can follow him on Twitter @SamirBennis.