Mamata tweaks election strategy

first_imgKOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has lately been inviting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a US Presidential-style debate, in full view of television cameras, has decided to go for a near head-on collision.Banerjee has brought forward her campaign schedule for Wednesday so that she can respond to PM Modi as it will be on the same day that he launches his second blitzkrieg of Bengal. PM Modi will hold a rally in north Bengal’s Siliguri Wednesday around afternoon. He will then fly to Kolkata and hold a mega rally at Brigade Parade Ground late afternoon. The venue for the Prime Minister’s Kolkata rally is the same where Banerjee’s grand alliance or mahagathbandhan rally was held on January 19. As per her earlier schedule, Banerjee was supposed to launch her election campaign from Cooch Behar in north Bengal on Thursday, April 4. But she has decided to head to the north Wednesday itself. She will reach her destination at around 4:00 pm. By then, PM Modi is likely to have finished his speeches in Siliguri and Kolkata and then, Banerjee is expected to respond to PM Modi’s attacks.last_img read more

Sri Lanka doesnt need foreign armies Minister

first_imgColombo: Sri Lanka has no requirement to bring in the US Army or armies of other countries in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday bombings, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said. His comments came as the country witnessed a spate of attacks on Muslim-owned homes and shops as well as mosques following the April 21 killings by Islamist militants on three churches, three luxury hotels and two other locations which claimed over 250 lives. The carnage was blamed by the Sri Lankan government on local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath which is believed to have ties with the Islamic State (IS) terror group. The IS claimed the attacks. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince Salman ‘snubbed’ Pak PM Imran, recalled his private jet from US: Report “We have no need to bring in the armies of the US or any other country. However, when taking measures against an international terror outfit, US intelligence agencies have vast experience and so do intelligence agencies of England, Europe and Australia,” Samaraweera was quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror on Wednesday. He said only the intelligence expertise of foreign countries was sought to contain the terror situation in the country. Also Read – Iraq military admits ‘excessive force’ used in deadly protestsThe Minister also claimed that security had been restored in the country. “If we love the country, we should allow students to go to schools and get back to our day to day life to restore normalcy. Not only Sri Lanka, even developed countries such as the US, the UK, New Zealand, France and Germany have faced international terror threats.” Meanwhile, Sri Lankan Air Force spokesman Group Captain Gihan Seneviratne said that helicopters would be deployed day and night to assist in controlling illegal assemblies and acts of violence in the country. “We have already taken measures to obtain aerial photographic evidence of those involved in such (violent) activities and to direct such evidence for legal action against lawbreakers,” he said, adding that helicopters would also be used to airlift troops for rapid response.last_img read more

Woman with rare mental disorder gets new lease of life

first_imgKolkata: An elderly woman from Ekbalpore, who was suffering from a rare mental disorder for many years, was given a new lease of life by the Institute of Psychiatry.The woman was admitted to the institute by her family members on April 30 after many doctors failed to cure her mental illness. During the past 26 years, the woman had developed some mental illness, which made her believe that her family members could cause her harm. The patient used to get afraid while interacting with her family members. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaShe believed that evil forces had killed her husband who was alive. The patient had been under the treatment of many doctors but her condition did not improve. Doctors said that the patient was suffering from schizophrenia. As her health condition did not improve, the family member took her to the Institute of Psychiatry. The hospital doctors didn’t go by the previous medication. They minutely examined the mental condition of the women it became clear to them that the woman had been suffering from a psychological disorder that not only creates fear but also makes her believe that her relatives had turned evils. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayAfter a prolonged treatment for nearly three weeks the patient is reportedly mentally healthy at present and has been released from the hospital. The patient no longer fears her family members and she has reportedly overcome all her mental illness that had made her life miserable for a very long time. The Institute of Psychiatry, which was established in 1817, is the third oldest mental hospital in the country and has cured persons with psychiatric illness for almost two centuries. The hospital had also played a significant role in training mental health professionals since 1989.last_img read more

SC stays Delhi HC order disallowing black money law to operate retrospectively

first_imgNew Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday stayed the Delhi High Court order which had held that the 2016 black money law cannot be allowed to operate with retrospective effect from July 2015 to book and probe offenders. A vacation bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra also stayed the May 16 order of the high court, which had restrained the Income Tax (I-T) department from taking any action against VVIP chopper scam accused Gautam Khaitan, against whom a black money case has been lodged. Also Read – More good air days in Delhi due to Centre’s steps: Javadekar “Notice. The impugned order (of the high court) is stayed,” the bench said while agreeing to hear the appeal of the Centre against the high court order. The bench issued notice to Khaitan and asked him to file his response to the government’s petition within six weeks. The Delhi High Court, in its interim order, had stayed the Centre’s notification to make operational the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, with effect form July 1, 2015.last_img read more

Google Arabic content ranks eighth on the internet

first_imgDubai- Arabic is currently ranked the “eighth language in terms of growth and usage on the internet,” a Google spokesperson told Al Arabiya News.Arabic content dropped from the seventh spot 2012, according to the company, adding that it makes up only 3 percent of overall internet content.“There’s a huge gap between the number of people who speak Arabic and the amount of content available online,” Maha Abouelenein, head of communications at Google for the Middle East and North Africa, told Al Arabiya News. There are up to 630 million Arabic-speaking users around the world, she added.Fayeq Oweis, Google’s language services manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said that “Arabic speakers, or people who’d benefit from Arabic content, are 6-7 percent of the world population.”English remains the most used language on the internet, according to the company.Abouelenein urged the creation of Arabic content “because we want the internet to be relevant to those who speak Arabic.”Oweis said that a lot of Arabic content is simply unavailable online.“We have a rich heritage and history, probably not all of it available [online], and even if it is available, it’s either in closed forums or… not searchable,” he said.VideoAbouelenein said that Google-owned YouTube’s partnership program – which the producing company of popular political satirist Bassem Youssef is part of – is intended to support Arabic content producers.“The majority of uploaded content on YouTube in MENA is in Arabic… with YouTube partnership program covering the UAE, KSA, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Morocco,” said the company spokesperson.Top categories for videos produced in the Arabic language “are across general entertainment like comedy music and movies,” according to Google.Source: Al Arabiyalast_img read more

Moroccos Ministry of Education Launches a Project to Videotape Lessons

Rabat – With a view to democratizing educational services and providing equal opportunities for all Moroccan students, the Ministry of Education has launched a project to videotape lessons.The Ministry has invited teachers and directors of schools, academies, and regional delegations to submit a tender to participate.Video courses will be presented by selected instructors on a voluntary basis. The Ministry of Education will train the volunteers for two days, and then they can start videotaping lessons outside official school hours. The videos will be required to follow specific standards; for instance, they may not exceed 15 minutes in length. After the approval of a coordinating team, the videos will be published on the Ministry’s WebTV and will be categorized according to their academic cycle and educational level, subjects, and curriculum.Making the most of the growing use of the Internet, the Ministry is trying to provide multiple educational resourses for students. This program opens doors for them to improve their levels and skills, especially for those who cannot afford private lessons. read more

Hassan II Mosque Among the Worlds Most Beautiful Mosques Telegraph

Rabat – Daily British newspaper the Telegraph has ranked the Grand Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca and the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech among the world’s most beautiful mosques.The Grand Hassan II Mosque, named after the late King of Morocco Hassan II, is ranked seventh out of twenty-five mosques seen by the British newspaper as the world’s most beautiful.“The Grande Mosquee Hassan II proudly supports the world’s tallest minaret, at 210 metres,” said the newspaper in its description of the mosque. “The World’s third largest mosque, it is the only such building in Morocco that non-Muslims can enter. It stands proud on the seafront in Casablanca, and the seabed is visible through the glass floor in the hall,” the Telegraph added.The Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech landed in the 25th spot. The mosque, which stands near the Djemaa El-Fna Square in the center of the Red City, is one of the “most intricate and impressively decorated minarets in Sunni Islam,” according to the British newspaper.Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran is ranked 1st as the most beautiful mosque in the world. Built in the early 17th century under the reign of Shah Abbas I, the mosque does not have a courtyard or minaret. It was initially intended for the exclusive use of the Shah’s entourage and his spouses.It is followed closely by Nassir al Molk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Aya Sofya, Turkey, Blue Mosque in Cairo, Egypt, Ibn Tulun Mosque, Egypt, Al Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem and Al Haram Mosque in Saudi Arabia.Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, the second holiest site in Islam in Medina, Saudi Arabia rounded up the top ten.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission read more

Jews Practice Their Religion Freely in Morocco AntiSemitism Rising

Rabat – A new report published by the US department of State said that Moroccan Jews face no hindrance in practicing their religion in Morocco and live in safety throughout the country.The report on “International Religious Freedom Report for 2014” stresses that Jews practice their religion freely across Morocco, in coherence with the Moroccan constitution, which guarantees the freedom of thought and practice of one’s religious affairs.Moroccan law also allows Jewish private schools to teach Judaism. There is also a “separate set of laws and courts with authority over personal status matters for Jews, covering issues such as marriage, inheritance, and other family matters,” according to the same report. Morocco hosts an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 Jews, approximately 2,500 of whom reside in Casablanca. The Rabat and Marrakech Jewish communities each have approximately 100 members, according to the source.Although the small minority of Jews living in Morocco is considered as Moroccan and does not suffer any form of persecution, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict has an impact on the way some Moroccan Muslims view their fellow Moroccan Jews, causing an increase in cases of anti-Semitism, according to the US department of state.The report notes that there were reports of public anti-Semitism. On July 11, 2004, a man attacked Rabbi Moshe Ohayon, who was walking to his synagogue in Casablanca, allegedly in response to the conflict in Gaza.The attack occurred during the Israeli deadly air offensive on Gaza in July 2014, which caused an outrage around the world.The same individual threw stones at another Jewish citizen, a few days later. In November, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison, over anti-Semitism charges. read more

Moroccan Central Bank Reduces Interest Rate For First Time Since 2014

Rabat – In an attempt to stimulate an economy hurt by low agricultural output and decreased non-agricultural activity, the Moroccan central bank cut its benchmark interest rate on Tuesday for the first time since December 2014.According to Bloomberg Business, policy makers reduced the rate – the minimum amount of interest an investor can demand for non-government securities – from 2.5 percent to 2.25 percent, according to a statement by Bank Al-Maghrib.The central bank also lowered its growth forecast for this year to 1 percent from 3 percent and lowered the inflation forecast for 2016 to 0.5 percent, compared with 1.6 percent last year, the American news site reported. The central bank said the rate cut will take into account “the central inflation projection, weak non-agricultural growth, the continued reduction of the budget deficit and the strengthening of foreign exchange reserves.”During the press conference revealing the change, Central bank Governor Abdellatif Jouahri declined to give a time-frame for the country’s transition to a flexible exchange rate.Last year, Morocco said the country would change to a flexible exchange rate system, in which the value of the currency would be determined by its supply and demand. Currently, the kingdom uses a fixed-rate system controlled by monetary authorities. Officials had said the change would help Morocco become a regional financial hub.The International Monetary Fund has been guiding Morocco on the official process for the transition. The country’s business lobby has been working with the central bank to protect small businesses from the change, Jouahri told reporters. read more

European Peoples Party Reiterates Support to Moroccos Territorial Integrity

Rabat – The president of the European People’s Party (EPP), Joseph Daul, reiterated here on Monday the support of his party to Morocco concerning the Kingdom’s territorial integrity and human rights.Daul, who commended the stability of Morocco, said that the Kingdom is a strategic and distinguished partner in the region, the House of Advisors (Higher house) said in a statement following talks between EPP’s president and two members of the higher house’s bureau.Talks focused on the good cooperation between the European Union and Morocco and the means to strengthen them, the statement added. According to the same source, the two sides stressed the need to multiply visits and exchange views on various issues of common interest.Talks also focused on the importance of the European support to the deep reforms undertaken by the Kingdom in various fields under the leadership of HM King Mohammed VI, and which enabled Morocco build a democratic model of development.On this occasion, Ahmed Touizi and Rachid El Maniari highlighted Morocco’s efforts in the fight against terrorism and extremism, stressing the importance of the Moroccan autonomy proposal in the southern provinces and its role in securing the stability of the region.The EPP has the largest Group in the European Parliament.With MAP read more

2016 A Difficult Year for Moroccan Women

Rabat – Another year has gone by, and the fight for women’s rights in Morocco is still relentless. 2016 has been quite the eventful year, albeit a gruesome one for Moroccan women.As one sorts through every piece of news and events related to women issues this year, the lack of good accounts is baffling. Cases of rape, murder and violence have piled up, while actions against perpetrators of abuse have been very scarce.The list below describes a few of the year’s events that say a lot about the status of women in Morocco: 1. Mmi Fatiha, Scorched Alive in ProtestFaced by the tyranny of Kenitra’s local authorities, Mmi Fatiha found solace in flames. A humble crepe street vendor, Mmi Fatiha set herself on fire after being humiliated by a Qaed and his aids in the Moroccan city.According to several witnesses, a municipal official threatened the woman, saying he would “run her over with his car” after slapping her, confiscating her commodities and taking all her money.After being forced to the police station and undergoing investigations in poor conditions, Mi Fatiha would be let go to, soon after, immolate herself in an act of protest and desperation.2. Khadija Souidi: A Trial of Flames Martyred by her freed rapists, Khadija became the second Moroccan woman to set herself on fire this year.As she poured gasoline on herself on July 30, Khadija was ending a long-lived nightmare on her own terms. Late 2015, the then 16-year-old girl was kidnapped by 8 men who drove her outside the city of Ben Guerir to rape and torture her.Her assailants were arrested soon after, but immediately freed after a botched trial. As if Khadija hadn’t suffered enough, her rapists tracked her down and threatened her. They told her that if she didn’t drop the case, they would leak her rape tape.Anxious and desperate, and with her struggle being overlooked by authorities, the Moroccan woman set herself on fire on a summer day. The next day, she succumbed to her wounds in a Marrakech hospital.3. 2M’s Makeup TutorialWhat better way to deal with domestic violence than to teach women how to hide the evidence of their abuse? This is what the Moroccan local channel saw as adequate to broadcast on November 23, in anticipation of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women later that week.A perplexing lapse of judgment? A disturbing lack of tact? Or simply the honest reality of a deep discrepancy between a society that aspires to be modern and the obscurantism of a culture that is still deeply rooted in the values of another age? Interpretations can go as wild as interpretations can go.The channel later expressed its apologies, but the fact that the segment was even allowed to air in the first place is concerning.4. Hakkaoui: Respecting Women is a Sign of Virility!Bassima Hakkaoui, Minister of Solidarity, Women and Family, and the government’s spokeswoman for the time being, was the subject of controversy this past November when she said that “violence against women is proof of cowardice [while] respecting women is a sign of virility.”Soon after 2M’s makeup tutorial scandal, Madame the minister came up with the slogan within the context of the national campaign for the elimination of violence against women, which some feminist activists think is emphasizing some very dangerous and outdated stereotypes.Houria Essalmi, chairwoman of the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, expressed her indignation against Hakkaoui’s comments, who claimed that cowardice is not a crime, but violence against women is punished by law.According to many critics, the use of world “virility” in such a grave context reflected a deeply rooted macho culture and highlights the notion that women are a sexual object between the hands of men.5. El Hasnae: Another Martyr of DignityBarely 18, El Hasnae is a young Moroccan woman who refused to be the victim of sexual harassment inside her own home and by her own adoptive father.Outraged by what was happening to her, she left her house and spent several nights alone in a Rabat train station. The young Moroccan woman later got help from the Free Feminist Union (UFL), who helped her find refuge in a women’s shelter.One month later, however, the union that earlier helped El Hasnae found out that she, along with 15 other girls at the shelter, had been the victims of a collective rape from a group of men in Rabat. El Hasnae decided to return home, only to be found a few weeks later at the bottom of a well, dead.Murder, accident or suicide? We still don’t know.6. The 103.13 Bill: One Step Forward, Two Steps BackOn July 18, the Moroccan parliament voted for the second draft of the 103.13 bill on violence against women.While the draft has some new interesting additions such as the incrimination of sexual harassment, it is still far from delivering justice to Moroccan women. Vague and incomplete, the new draft was heavily criticized by many feminist associations, which accused it of legitimizing marital rape, only acknowledging physical violence against married women, and dismissing their social and economic rights, amongst other atrocities.As a reminder, the 103.13 bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives last July, was sent to the House of Councilors in August. No date has yet been set to discuss the bill.2016: A Difficult Year for Women’s RightsUnfortunately, this short list only represents a small percentage of the injustices perpetrated against women in Morocco. While the unadulterated violence portrayed this year does in fact depict the reality of women’s situation in Morocco, the other side of the coin shines as well.There is a silver lining. Amidst the abuse, the indifference and the oppression, are the voices of those who can no longer stand such darkness. The emergence of new young voices calling out the blunt oppression and the guilty silence of the authorities and society. Whether they were militants, activists, journalists or ordinary citizens, many were effective in calling out the injustice. Members of associations, movements or collectives — they all stepped out when needed in an effort to support the cause of Moroccan women.Respect and gratitude to those who refused to bow down in the face of violence and ignorance, and a lot of love to those who still suffer in the shadows, hidden from the rest of the world.Edited by Ghita Benslimane read more

King Mohammed VI Receives US Ambassador at End of His Mission

Casablanca – King Mohammed VI received, on Tuesday in Casablanca Royal Palace, US ambassador Dwight L. Bush who came to take his leave of the sovereign at the end of his mission in Morocco.On this occasion, HM the King decorated Dwight L. Bush with the Alawite Wissam of First Rank (Grand Officer).This audience was attended by foreign minister Salaheddine Mezouar and HM the King’s Chamberlain Sidi Mohammed El Alaoui.

2017 Marrakech International Film Festival Cancelled

Rabat – The 2017 Marrakech International Film Festival has been cancelled, announced the festival’s organizers on Friday, but it is expected to continue in 2018.While no specific reasons for the cancellation were given, astatement released by the Foundation of the International Film Festival of Marrakech revealed that the decision was made “in order to allow the festival to advance in its mission not only to promote Moroccan cinema, but also to open up to other cultures, an unavoidable reality of the Seventh Art [cinema].”The period of suspension will be used to put in place new organisation that “takes into account the evolution of the digital world to better serve the vision and aims of the festival.” Charitable and cultural activities run by the non-profit foundation, including residences for Moroccan scriptwriters and campaigns to reinforce international links, will continue despite the cancellation of the festival.Rumors that the festival would be cancelled circulated weeks before the statement was issued on June 30, and were fuelled by knowledge that the contract of the festival’s co-organiser, The Public System Cinema, had expired and was not renewed.Since its inauguration in 2002, the festival has welcomed notable cinematic personalities, including Francis Ford Coppola, Charlotte Rampling, Martin Scorsese and Marion Cotillard. read more

Moroccan Women Activists to Continue Protests in Face of Police Brutality

Rabat – The activist movement Moroccan Women Against Political Arrest in Rabat said it is not giving up. After their initial protest was attacked by police officers Saturday, July 8, in Rabat, the female activists vow to continue to press the government for justice. At 7 p.m. on Saturday in the center of Rabat, several human rights activists gathered in front of the Moroccan parliament to denounce the politically motivated arrests of the Rif protesters, especially that of Silya Ziani, a prominent Amazigh singer and a leading voice in the Hirak movement. What started as a civil and peaceful protest soon turned violent, and local police forcibly dispersed the gathering. Old women, underage activists, journalists, all had a taste of police officers’ violence. One video from the protest showing a journalist from the newsdaily Lakome being kicked by a group of officers was massively relayed on social media and local press. “A great resistance of the fighters and militants in front of the cowardly repression of the women’s peaceful protest in solidarity with Rif detainee Sylya,” reads a statement made public by the organizing committee of the movement. “The public forces brutally confronted dozens of activists who participated in the campaign called Moroccan Women Standing Against Political Arrest before Parliament on Saturday, July 8, 2017. The authorities pushed, beaten, kicked, abused, insulted, and used other violent and humiliating ways against human dignity, without any notice directed to the attendees as required by the rulers.”However, despite the violent repression of their protest, “women’s mobilisation will not stop,” vows Khadija Ryadi, an activist with Morocco’s women’s movement, in a statement to Al Jazeera. “Moroccan Women Against Political Arrest in Rabat have insisted on forming a convoy from Rabat to the city of Casablanca on Wednesday (July 12) to form a peaceful women’s stand in solidarity with the Rif artist Sylia who will be submitted to the judiciary for investigation in the Court of Appeal in Casablanca.” On their Facebook page, the feminine movement called for “women fighters, men activists and all the liberals of this country to make this convoy a success. We will meet on July 12 at 9 am in front of the Central Office of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights in Rabat.”Ziani’s release is one of the group’s key demands. The singer was arrested on June 5 in Al Hoceima  before being transferred to Casablanca. Held in solitary confinement, Sylia is suffering from an “acute depression” according to her lawyers. The 23-year-old is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, July 12.The singer’s spirit could be felt throughout the protest, with a black-and-white portrait held up as a symbol as protesters chanted: “We are all Silya.” read more

Facility where incapacitated woman gave birth to shut down

PHOENIX — A long-term care facility in Arizona where an incapacitated woman was raped and later gave birth is shutting down.Officials with Hacienda HealthCare announced Thursday that its board of directors determined it’s not sustainable to keep operating its intermediate care facility in Phoenix.The facility serves infants, children and young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities who require a high level of medical care.Hacienda officials say they’re working with state agencies to develop a plan to move 37 patients to other facilities. Hacienda’s skilled nursing facility will stay open.A prosecutor is investigating after a 29-year-old incapacitated woman gave birth on Dec. 29. A former licensed nurse has been charged with sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse.The Associated Press read more

Spanish Civil Guard Rescues Moroccan Stowaway Minor on Ferry

Rabat – Spanish maritime services have rescued a Moroccan minor who was “hidden as a stowaway” in a hole on the side of the Miramar Express ferry for the mooring line. The ferry operates between Nador in northern Morocco and the Spanish town of Motril on the Mediterranean coast in the province of Granada.Authorities took the minor “ashore to carry out the legal procedures.”According to 20 Minutos, the Motril Civil Guard has rescued 524 migrants in December who were trying to reach the Spanish coast. Of those, 498 were sub-Saharan African migrants and 26 were from the Maghreb. read Also: Spain’s Civil Guard Arrest 3 People on Board a ‘Go-Fast’ BoatTo ease the pressure of migration on Spain, Morocco has dismantled a dozen irregular migration networks throughout 2018.More than 1,500 migrants had died in the Mediterranean in 2018 as of August while trying to reach Europe, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).The number has undoubtedly increased in the past few months.In September, a video went viral of a young Moroccan trying to get to Spain by crossing the Mediterranean Sea on a tube.The minor was paddling just with his hands before he was saved by a Spanish fishing boat. read more

Morocco Returns to the African Telecommunications Union after 34 Years

By Isabella WangRabat – ATU has reinstated Morocco as a member at a preparatory meeting in Nairobi. Morocco’s membership will enable Morocco and other African nations to develop their telecommunications systems.The African Telecommunications Union (ATU), also known by its French acronym UAT, announced the move on Tuesday, August 14, in Nairobi. The ATU is a specialized agency of the African Union which combines the telecommunications providers of its member countries to increase the development of Africa’s information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure. The ATU stated in a note, “The Secretary General of the UAT confirms that the request for return of the kingdom has been accepted and that the member countries have been notified of the return of the Kingdom of Morocco.” Only last year in 2017 was Morocco readmitted to the African Union. It had been more than 3 decades since Morocco had left the continental body in 1984 after a majority of the member states recognized the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Since the ATU was at the time a specialized agency under the African Union, Morocco became separated from what was at the time the ATU. Only after Morocco’s separation from the African Union in 1999 did the ATU become a fully-fledged Union and gain its current name. The announcement occurred during the 4th Regional Preparatory Meeting of the Africa Group of the Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Communication Union (ITU). The meeting was held for two days, August 13-14. The Moroccan delegation was led by Sidi Mohammed Drissi Melyani, the technical director of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ANRT). Also in the delegation were representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; the Ministry of Industry, Investment, Trade, and Digital; the Ministry of Economy and Finance; as well as the National Agency for the Regulation of Telecommunications and the Moroccan embassy in Nairobi. The regional meeting aimed to finalize African joint contributions before their adoption at the Plenipotentiary Conference of the ITU, to be held from October 29 to November 16, 2018, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Possible benefits of Morocco’s re-entry According to analysis by the US Department of Commerce,Morocco’s telecommunications market is one of the most mature in Africa due to its numerous international and local providers. Morocco’s goals to invest in hardware and networking infrastructure aligns with the goals of the ATU. The mission of the ATU “to promote the rapid development of the ICTs in Africa in order to achieve universal service and access to broadband” will greatly benefit from Morocco’s membership. Morocco’s membership will bring expertise for the ATU while also helping Morocco’s goals to foster ICT development. In October 2017, members expressed great interest in Morocco’s strategies in telecommunications and digital technology at the 3rd annual Digital Africa Conference.  When discussing the possibility of an integrated digital ecosystem within Africa, the Moroccan ambassador to France, Chakib Benmoussa, underlined Morocco’s efforts to develop the sector and how this would enable greater cooperation policies between Morocco and other African countries.  As a further testament to cooperation in telecommunications, the 2020 Digital Morocco Plan, launched in 2016 seeks to accelerate the digital transformation of Morocco and make Morocco a regional hub. It entailed stimulating digital activities in telecommunications throughout francophone Africa and strengthening Morocco’s digital exports to other nations in Africa. read more

Hassania School to Feature Benefits of Electricity at Electro Day

By Amal El AttaqThe Hassania School of Public Works (EHTP) will host the second Hassania Electro Day on March 30. Located in Casablanca, EHTP is one of the most popular graduate engineering schools in Morocco. EHTP’s ElectroPower club will lead the event, which aims to answer questions from curious and passionate people about electricity. The club hopes also to innovate and reflect on the present and future challenges related to electrical energy. “We aim to make all visitors understand the wide application of electricity; it is not just electrotechnics, but also programming and industry,” said Rachida Ounarain, president of the EHTP ElectroPower club.EHTP was founded in 1971 by the Ministry of Public Works, to develop Moroccan professionals in sectors such as construction, water, information technology, electrical power, civil engineering, and meteorology.Read also: 35% of Moroccan Electricity Came from Renewable Sources in 2018Other than the ElectroPower club, the school has an Olympics club, a cultural club, a business forum, and others.The club is planning a range of activities, such as stands, workshops, training, and the sharing of experiences led by engineers for students. They will also host competitions and a conference under the theme “Electricity: The lifeblood of our modern world.” Ounarain stressed that electricity is a necessity in daily life.“If you gave a task for 100 people to do, those people will take more than 10 days to finish it. However a machine can do the whole work in 24h. This is the power of electricity,” argued Ounarain.The club aims to simplify concepts of embedded systems, electronics, and robotics because they believe that electricity faces many challenges today in Morocco. “While preparing for this conference, we tried to make the theme more general, so as to be useful for all students, even those who are not engineering students,” Ounarain told Morocco World News.The student related that the conference will focus on four main areas: medicine, astronomy, energy, and telecommunications. One conference guest, Leila Sedki, will give a presentation about how electricity contributes to energy and how Ibn Khaldoun contributed to astronomy. She stated that attendees are also going to meet startups and other companies to explain how electrical energy works.Ounarain added that the club’s team are still contacting their previous partners to be present in this year’s exposition, such as Fablab and Nextronic. “We are aiming to contact other companies and startups that are related to aeronautics, and still working in that,” said Ounarain.The event’s first competition will be for students’ projects. The best projects, in terms of idea and technicality, will win a prize of MAD 500.The second competition is called “Capture the Flag,” a hacking competition in which teams resolve enigmas to get a flag.The student related that the club has not selected a prize for the competition yet, but she promised it would be greater than the first.Regarding their future projects, she said that the club is working on another project called “the meeting,” which will match an engineering student with an engineer mentor who will try to share work experience and knowledge with the student.At the first Hassania Electro Day last year, called “National Day of Electricity,” 150 persons attended.According to Ounarain, last year’s theme was “connectivity and performance.” Several professors and engineers, such as Mohamed Elaaroussi, Benmir Fouad, Elbakri Mohamed, and Mohamed Reffadi, shared their expertise at the event. read more

Budget to tout Liberal economic record provide distraction from SNC furor

The Canadian Press OTTAWA — The Trudeau government will attempt to set the stage for this fall’s election — and provide some distraction from the SNC-Lavalin affair — with today’s end-of-mandate budget touting the Liberals’ economic record.The Liberal government’s fourth and final budget before the election is expected to include measures to help first-time home buyers, seniors and adult Canadians who want to return to school for skills training.It’s also expected to take an initial step towards a national pharmacare program and disclose details of previously announced tax credits and incentives, worth $595 million over five years, to help Canada’s ailing journalism industry.But Finance Minister Bill Morneau will also try to set the narrative for the coming election, arguing that years of deficit spending have put the economy on a stronger footing.Expect him to credit the Liberals’ investments in infrastructure and other spending measures for the creation of almost 950,000 jobs and the lowest unemployment rate in almost 40 years, and point to the Liberals’ enhanced child benefit for the lowest poverty rate in 10 years.Moreover, Morneau is expected to boast a better fiscal picture than he anticipated in last fall’s economic update, thanks to an increase in tax revenues despite surprisingly weak economic growth in the final three months of 2018.The budget is being presented in the midst of a continuing furor over allegations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his senior staff and others improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to end a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. The affair has so far cost Trudeau two cabinet ministers, his principal secretary and the country’s top public servant, although he continues to insist no one did anything wrong.The Liberal-dominated House of Commons justice committee is to meet behind closed doors today to discuss opposition demands for Wilson-Raybould, who’s already given nearly four hours of testimony, to be recalled. She has indicated she has more to say, particularly about the period between her mid-January move from Justice to Veterans Affairs and her resignation from cabinet a month later.However, the Liberal MPs on the committee sent a letter to the chair late Monday indicating that they’ll block any further investigation into the matter. They said they’ve heard enough after 13 hours of testimony from 10 different witnesses and they “believe that all rules and laws were followed.” The Liberal MPs said the “appropriate way forward” is to let the federal ethics commissioner conclude his own investigation into the matter.Today’s budget may at least give the Liberals a short respite from the SNC-Lavalin affair.But it will also draw attention to the Liberals’ failure to deliver on a major 2015 campaign promise, to run up annual deficits of no more than $10 billion before balancing the budget by 2019.Instead, the Trudeau government has posted deficits of more than $18 billion in each of the last two years and has offered no timeline for returning to balance. In his economic update last fall, Morneau projected annual deficits of between $18.1 billion and $19 billion over the next three years. read more

ANP Denies Looting Sand from Surf Beach near Agadir

Rabat – The National Ports Agency (ANP) has just published a denial following information circulating online indicating that the sand on the beach of Imsouane, north of Agadir, has been plundered.“It is only a project to dredge the sand accumulated in the port of Imsouane. This work is carried out periodically to preserve the depth of the basins and quays of each port in order to guarantee the safety of navigation and improve the operating conditions of the vessels,” said the ANP.The ANP Regional Directorate in Agadir “has drawn up an action plan to improve the operating conditions of the port of Imsouane.” The plan, which also aims to ensure the safety of navigation, includes the dredging of accumulated sand, which is a danger to fishers. “The sand extracted by this dredging is dumped into the sea to avoid it being plundered,” according to ANP.On March 13, the association Surfrider Foundation Morocco cited a source of the project team.“Mechanical shovels have been dredging the beach of Imsouane since December 12, 2018 in order to clear the access to the port… to improve the working conditions of fishers,” said the source.“The collected sand is deposited on the plateau north of Imsouane, a place called ‘la Cathedrale,’” added the source.Surfrider published a video on March 8 showing bulldozers carrying out sand extraction operations in Imsouane.Imsouane had until then been spared from “plundering operations widespread on other beaches.” Called one of the world’s most beautiful beaches in 2017 by Forbes, Imsouane is a popular spot for surfers. They are “afraid that this dredging operation could change the wave that attracts up to 100,000 surfers each year,” reports the website Surfsession. Removing sand could “alter the break-up by making the wave flatter.”The need for sand in Morocco stood at 45 million tons in 2015 and 60 million tons in 2020, the Professional Sand Association (APS) estimated.The Littoral Act adopted in 2015 prohibits sand extraction from beaches and dunes. It also regulates any exemptions that may be granted. On 23 June 2015, the Chamber of Councillors passed the Littoral Bill.The law prohibits damage to the natural state of the sea shoreline.  This prohibition does not apply to port areas, sea defences or public interest installations.Created in 2010 in Agadir, the NGO Surfrider Foundation Maroc is a association for the protection, promotion and sustainable management of the coast, waves and its users. It is an affiliate of the Surfrider Foundation network. read more