12 Oct

Italy probes mystery death of Berlusconi sex trial witness

first_imgRome: Italy is investigating the mysterious death of a former model and witness at Silvio Berlusconi’s sex trial, with a newspaper suggesting on Saturday she may have been poisoned with a radioactive substance. Milan prosecutor Francesco Greco said an investigation had been opened following the death on March 1 of Moroccan-born Imane Fadil at one of the city’s hospitals. The 33-year-old had been brought to the hospital on January 29 with unexplained stomach pains. Also Read – US blacklists 28 Chinese entities over abuses in XinjiangFadil was one of the witnesses who testified at the trial of the former Italian premier and media mogul on charges of having sex with an underage prostitute at one of his notoriously hedonistic bunga-bunga parties. According to Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily, the hospital had run a battery of tests to determine the cause of her failing health, but finding nothing, had sent off samples to a specialised laboratory in the northern town of Pavia. Also Read – Want to bring back US forces engaged in endless wars: TrumpThe results came back on March 6, five days after her death, suggesting the presence of “a mixture of radioactive substances which are not normally available for purchase”, the paper said, citing unnamed sources. Fadil’s lawyer, Paolo Sevesi, said she had spoken to him about “her fear of having been poisoned,” the AGI news agency reported. The former model first hit the headlines in 2012 when she gave detailed testimony about the goings on at Berlusconi’s orgiastic parties at his villa in Arcore near Milan. She testified that the first time she went to a party, she saw two young women in nun costumes stripping in front of the then prime minister. Later, she said he himself handed her 2,000 euros (USD 2,600) in cash, telling her: “Don’t be offended.” Berlusconi has faced a string of charges over the so-called Rubygate scandal linked to his parties and the underaged prostitute Karima El-Mahroug, also known as “Ruby the heart-stealer”.last_img read more

12 Oct

Iran allowed to continue advanced nuclear research

first_imgWASHINGTON — White House releases details of Iran nuclear deal amid calls for transparencyThe White House has released a summary of the deal reached between six major world powers and Iran to curb its nuclear program. Iran has denied it wants to use the program to eventually build nuclear weapons but agreed to scale it back after the international community applied strict financial sanctions.It allows Iran to continue research and development on its nuclear centrifuge technology, announcing the conclusion of technical talks on the implementation of an interim deal pausing Iran’s nuclear program. The deal, signed  in Geneva in November, is to go into effect on Monday and to last for six months while Iran and the P5+1 – the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany – attempt to negotiate a comprehensive agreement to end the long-standing crisis.The agreement is seeking to hold the most advanced parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for an easing of western economic sanctions on Iran. Iran has accepted to halt 20 percent of enriched uranium until January 20 and start diluting half of its uranium stock of which 20% was already enriched, according to the deal.The White House summary said a “Joint Commission” had been established by experts from Iran, P5+1 countries and the EU as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor the implementation of the agreement. Some of the limited and temporary easing of sanctions against Iran will include the release of $6 billion in relief which is a small part of total $100 billion that will still be restricted.The Undersecretary of the US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has informed the lawmakers regarding the details in a closed meeting. Some congress members said the plan is already increasing their concerns. Republican senator Lindsey Graham, known as the most critical of Obama administration’s foreign policy claimed “I am more worried than ever after the briefing,” IAAE has asked to keep the technical details secret, according to White House spokesman Jim Carney.last_img read more

12 Oct

Moroccan National Debate Team Dominates National University Championships

Rabat – The Moroccan National (HIgh School) Debate Team competed and won Silver Medal and came in second position this weekend against Morocco’s best university teams.In a full day tournament this past Saturday, hosted by The Great Debaters of Morocco in Rabat, five young debaters pulled off a stunning victory, a glimpse of things to come in Thailand.The Great Debaters of Morocco, Morocco’s first national debate association, has been running a national University debate tournament for the past two years. The organization, founded by Rajae Boujnah and Younes Ahaddad, encourages political, social and cultural debate among Moroccan youth, and works to expand the limits of dialogue and discussion in Moroccan culture. The tournament this weekend was hosted at L’Ecole Nationale Architecture, Morocco’s premier school of architecture. The most prestigious universities in the country competed for the golden cup: ENSA Tetouan, INPT, ESI, and Cadi Ayyad University are the foes that the Moroccan National Debate Team faced.The Moroccan National Debate Team was defeated by Cadi Ayyad University, whose three excellent debaters took home the gold in a hard-fought final round.The five debaters from the Moroccan National Debate Team were by far the youngest competitors at the tournament–Rim Belkouadssi, for example, just turned fifteen years old! They were also the only high-school team in a tournament that represent the best of the best Moroccan universities. But the team more than held their own, beating three university teams to take home the silver medal at the national university debate championship and the gold medal for best coaching.That this young team should so successfully compete against Morocco’s finest university teams speaks volumes about their debating potential. Saturday’s win makes them officially the best high school debate team in the country, and the second-best university debate team! In fact, their competitors were so impressed by the performance that they all came to the team after the end of the competition to shake their hand and congratulate “the best team at the tournament.”Congratulations to Yassine Youssfi, Zakaria Jebari, Rim Belkouadssi and Ghali Bengebara, Morocco’s best young debaters. This is only a preview of things to come, so stay tuned for more victories–both at home and abroad!© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed read more

12 Oct

Moroccan Schools Lacking in Inspirational Speakers

Marrakech – School is not only a place of knowledge, but a place of motivation, inspiration and creation. If teachers are able to look at students as people before coming to school, they will be able to recognize that it’s not the school’s purpose to make students make something of their lives. Teachers will then see the need to inspire students to be creative and successful instead of bombarding them with lectures and homework.To help students along their desired life path, teachers and adults in general need to encourage and inspire them by providing them with appropriate help in achieving their goals. However this should be done only when necessary in order to foster independence in each individual student.Teachers discouraging students with fierce words can be as harmful as swords, converting teachers from inspiration and assistances into obstacles towards students’ goals. Some teachers highlight negative points and shortcomings in students without recognizing their strong and positive attributes. So it’s time for some Moroccan teachers, or rather people in general, to appreciate the good in others while shifting their focus away from shortcomings in their personalities.To better express this message, take the analogy of a bee eye over a fly eye as an example. That is to say, a bee eye, which is stemmed from the hardworking nature of bees, is appreciated more than a fly eye. As we know, bees are attracted to beautiful things like flowers and nectar and are never drawn to foul smelling rubbish. On the contrary, flies always choose rubbish and dirty things. Therefore, if people have a bee eye they will highlight the positive attributes in others and encourage them to go forward. Those with a fly eye will only see shortages in others.In several countries, people have started to realize and embrace the role of inspirational speakers in life and recognize that no one can benefit from pessimism and discouragement. Systems in some countries, like the United States, invite inspirational speakers into their schools to speak about reaching their goals despite life’s difficulties.They invite them not to teach, but simply to speak. To speak about success in life to others may be more important than teaching them how to succeed in life because it is motivational and inspirational.It then becomes appropriate to mention one of the most famous inspirational speakers, Nick Vujicic. This speaker is known for having no arms and no legs and has given inspiring speeches in several universities and schools in the United States. He talks frequently to students on how they can overcome difficulties and live up to their potentials. One of his videos is posted at the end of the article to provide an example of the extent to which inspirational speeches can actually work.Thus, when dealing with our friends, students, and members of our families, we should make sure that we encourage their efforts and support them in following their plans for a successful life, for individual success is not personal, but social. The success of an individual is at the same time the success of the society.To pave the way for a supportive society and a successful system of education that caters to an individual’s psychological health, schools should develop programs that invite inspirational speakers from around the world to Moroccan schools and institutions to talk to students about their experience with success and the way they can fight against hopelessness and discouragement.Instead of inviting thousands of singers, it’s better to invite hundreds of inspirational speakers, be it Moroccans or foreigners, to inspire students and encourage them to live up to their fullest potential.Edited by Jack Stanovsek read more

12 Oct

AfDB Loans Morocco €176 Million For 2nd Phase of Ouarzazate Solar…

Abidjan – The board of directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved, Wednesday in Abidjan, a funding, under two loans, for the second phase of the Ouarzazate solar complex project worth 176 million euros.According to a memo by the pan-African bank, the first loan, amounting to 100 million euros, was paid by the bank’s own funding, while the second, totaling 119 million US dollars, was granted by the Clean Technology Fund (which is part of the Climate Investment Funds) in its capacity as executive body.The second phase of the Ouarzazate solar complex project touches on the development of two new plants with a capacity of 350 MW and yearly production of an average of 1,100 GWh, said the memo. The project is part of Morocco’s solar program “Noor” which seeks to develop a capacity of 2,000 MW by the year 2020. It is aimed at securing energy supply for the population and productive sectors given the fact that Morocco imports 95% of its energy needs, it added.With MAP read more

12 Oct

Moroccan Politician: Sweden’s Decision “Comforts” Morocco, Repairs Broken Ties

New York – Following the official announcement made by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström on Friday that Sweden has no intention to recognize “Western Sahara” as a State, Moroccans all over the world have found “comfort” in the Scandinavian country’s position.“The government does not intend to recognize the Western Sahara and its position is consistent with the assessment of previous governments in this regard,” the Minister said, according to MAP.Moroccan political analyst and member of the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS) M’hammed Grine discussed how the position adopted by the Swedish government not to recognize the Polisario-led state supports Morocco’s plan for a resolution to the conflict. “The announcement of the Swedish Government’s rejection of the idea of recognizing the independence of the Sahara that was under discussion for several months comforts us in Morocco, because it ends the trend in some Swedish political circles to push the country to support an openly hostile position against Morocco,” Grine emphasized in a statement to Morocco World News.“This situation was the source of a great crisis between Morocco and Sweden,” the Moroccan politician said, adding “we can only welcome this happy outcome because we want Morocco and Sweden to have good relations reflecting fruitful cooperation and friendship between our peoples.”According to Minister Wallström, “the criteria required under international law to recognize Western Sahara [as a state] are not fulfilled.”  Grine said he sees this as a “wise decision, because a serious country such as Sweden should not be embarking on the support of a separatist adventure doomed to failure,” he said.By virtue of the Treaty of Algeciras of April 7, 1906, all Western powers, including Sweden, signed and committed to preserving Moroccan territorial integrity when the so-called Western Sahara was part of Morocco.“Sweden did not embrace a separatist utopia, supported by Algerian hegemonic temptation completely outdated in a precarious regional geostrategic context carrying enormous risks,” Grine stressed.The PPS member pointed out that the lack of a resolution to this conflict creates a bigger threat in a “tense international and regional environment” for it poses higher “risks of destabilization in a region that is already a favorite for various destabilizing activities such as terrorism, hostage-taking and trafficking of all kinds, weapons, drugs, illegal immigration, smuggling, etc.”Sweden’s decision should be seen as a step toward the implementation of Morocco’s autonomy plan for the Sahara in order to reach a mutually acceptable political solution.“There is a deep diplomatic trend that unites more and more serious players in the international scene around the Moroccan proposal which is considered a serious and credible basis to reach a political solution to the conflict,” politician Grine said.Proponents of the Polisario separatist movement have tried their best to spread their ideology throughout African and European countries.“The actions of the opponents of Morocco’s territorial integrity have multiplied in recent times and are becoming a sort of ‘diplomatic guerrilla warfare,’ which looks more like a rearguard battle,” Grine noted.The Polisario and its supporters have tried to undermine Morocco in Africa but have turned out to be unsuccessful, according to the Moroccan politician who described Morocco’s success as a “major player in diplomacy, commerce, trade, and economy.”Grine went on to add that this time the separatists have targeted the European Union, especially the Scandinavian countries, which are unfamiliar with what is happening in Morocco,” to raise their case for recognition of the self-proclaimed SADR.According to Grine, these Northern European countries are supposedly easier prey due to “some political forces that continue to see things through stereotyped ideological blinders and filters.”“When approaching the end of the separatist myth, the opponents of the territorial unit and their base will increase their maneuvers, to keep us constant, especially vigilant and proactive,” Grine told Morocco World News. read more

12 Oct

Danish Princess Refuses to Wear Headscarf During Visit to Saudi Arabia

By Jonathan WalshRabat – Princess Mary of Denmark has refused to wear a headscarf during an official visit to Saudi Arabia this week, despite it being mandatory for all women in the country.The Australian-born royal follows both Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama who also decided against wearing the headscarf during previous visits to Saudi Arabia. Opting to wear a respectful long black top and trousers, pictures show the 44-year-old alongside her husband, Prince Frederik, touring the country and meeting with representatives during a five-day trip.Michelle Obama in particular was criticized in both the United States and Saudi Arabia for not wearing the headscarf during a visit in January 2015. During her visit, ‘#MichelleObamaImmodest’ trended on Twitter in both countries, as many claimed she had a lack of respect for local customs.The Danish royal visit to Saudi Arabia has been widely criticized by politicians and activists alike in Denmark, who claim that it is not appropriate to engage with the country given their human rights record.“The timing could not be worse. Saudi Arabia celebrated the New Year by beheading 47 people, after a year that saw a huge increase in the number of capital punishments and also reduced freedom of speech,” said Trine Christensen, a member of Amnesty International Denmark.“Sending a delegation of the reported caliber at this time sends a very symbolic signal that what is going on is acceptable.”Opposition MP Mette Gjerskov similarly agreed, stating, “Saudi Arabia is one of the most fundamental regimes in the world, where women are not allowed to drive and where death sentences are given for being homosexual.” This, he argued, was reason enough not to have diplomatic relations with the country.Laws in Saudi Arabia prevent women from undertaking basic tasks such as going to a restaurant alone or working without the permission of male family members. read more

12 Oct

Abortion: Why I’m Pro-Choice

Casablanca — When the issue of abortion was brought up in the third and final U.S. presidential debate, I sighed. “Here we go again,” I said to myself, because it was 2 A.M. in Morocco and I was adamant about having to live stream the debate. I knew what Donald Trump had to say was going to disappoint me. And it did. Trump again reiterated his pro-life stance, calling abortion “[ripping] the baby out of the womb” and Hillary again had to condemn his scare rhetoric and defend women’s rights to choose.Watching that debate unfold made me think of the status of abortion rights in my own country. I am proud of Morocco for amending the penal code in June; it finally made abortions legal in cases of incest, rape and birth defects. That said, nowhere in Morocco can you get a legal abortion if you don’t fall in one of the exempted categories detailed in the law’s latest amendment.Now before you all attack me in the comment’s section (perhaps there’s no way to avoid that part), I know we live in a Muslim country and I know that the laws of Islam are infused in the laws of this country. I was surprised, however, to find out that the majority of Islamic theologians have permitted abortion for up to 120 days from the start of the pregnancy. As for what is actually said in the Qu’ran, the killing of humans is condemned, but abortion itself is never explicitly discussed. It also says, “Kill not your children for fear of want. We shall provide for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin.” But after all is said and done, the debate surrounding what is considered a “human” or “child” is a messy one, and it seems like what is said in the Qur’an is not explicit in its discussion of abortion and can therefore be open to interpretation.For many pro-lifers, life begins at conception. This is why abortion remains illegal in many countries, including Ireland, Poland and many African and Middle Eastern countries. For pro-life activists and pro-life politicians, abortion at any point, however early in the pregnancy, is considered murder. As a Boston University student, I remember walking past a Planned Parenthood center on my way to a friend’s place and being stopped by a pro-life activist. “If you’re ever thinking about abortion, please call us,” she said. “Abortion is murder,” she added. She gave me a flower and a pamphlet, and I walked away.Planned Parenthood, if you haven’t heard of it, is a U.S. national non-profit that provides a whole array of health services for women, way beyond abortions. As I walked away from the woman, I felt bad for all the women who had to be walking in there, having just made the difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy for whatever reason. I also felt bad for women who were probably just going in for a routine breast exam or a pap smear, but had to be stopped by those activists before going in and listen to them bash the non-profit that was about to provide them with essential healthcare. Nonetheless, it was interesting to hear those activists’ perspectives; they seemed to really think of abortion as murder.While I can appreciate those pro-lifers’ efforts to “defend another human life,” I don’t think it’s right to call women who get abortions “murderers.” Based on scientific evidence, I’ve come to believe that a first trimester embryo is not a full-fledged human. That embryo or fetus is not sentient; it does not have feelings and, therefore, I would not qualify abortion as murder. But I know that a lot of people don’t agree. This is a deeply controversial, deeply personal topic — and that is why I’m pro-choice.I believe the woman should have the right to decide, for herself, if she considers that embryo human and if she wants to abort it or not. I don’t think the laws of a nation should impose a specific point of view on people that may have varied points of view. And while I maintain great respect for Islam as a religion and for those who choose to follow it, I also believe in the human’s and the citizen’s right to choose what they want to do with their bodies.Making abortion illegal does a few things:1) It doesn’t make it stop, it just makes it unsafe. Every day in Morocco, 600-800 women get illegal abortions, many of which are unsafe, leading to deaths that could otherwise be prevented.2) It strays away from the real problem: the lack of sex education in this country. Even though the Moroccan Ministry of National Education and Moroccan Modern Industries (IMM) signed an agreement in 2014 for the implementation of sex education in Moroccan schools, not much has actually taken place, even though 61% of Moroccans are in favor of sex education.3) It feeds the high rate of illiteracy in the country which, if you were wondering, affects approximately 30% of the population. When teenagers don’t get the sex education they need, they are bound to make mistakes. Even when they are careful, accidents happen. But because abortion is outright illegal, except for the few that are allowed, many choose to give up school. Often times, the children born out of these situations are also not able to go to school, and thus continues the vicious cycle of illiteracy, unwanted pregnancies, and so on.4) This is the most important one: It takes away a woman’s right to do what she wants with her own body. This is a major slippery slope. Call me crazy, but it feels like if men were the ones getting pregnant, abortion would probably be legal, and pills and condoms would likely be distributed in schools.Before you start typing up an angry comment about how Morocco is not the only country where abortion is illegal (I know this is the case) or about how women shouldn’t even have sex in the first place (what about men?), please consider this:I am not telling anyone what to do. I respect each person’s right to live their lives however they wish to. I am simply sharing my perspective, one that I know may not be a popular one. Finally, and most importantly, I am simply supporting a woman’s right to choose. read more

12 Oct

April 10-16 Must See Cultural Events

Rabat – April is by far the busiest month for cultural events around the world. Read our cultural agenda as we feature concerts, theatrical performances, exhibitions, conferences and other events and discover the major cultural events taking place in Morocco this week.Exhibition “Tsawar m3aya” and Conference of Plantu in RabatUNESCO and Cartooning for Peace, in partnership with Rabat’s Institut Français, invite the public to the inauguration of an exhibition entitled “Tsawar M3aya” (Imagine with me). It will also feature a conference animated by Plantu, a cartoonist for the newspaper Le Monde and President of Cartooning for Peace. “Tsawar M3aya” is an educational project based on press design and caricature, targeted at reflecting “the context, challenges and aspirations” of Moroccan Youth.It is inspired by “Dessine-moi la Méditerranée,” an educational exhibition published by Cartooning for Peace in 2015. Through press design and caricature, it has provided an outlet to explore the major problems of the Mediterranean. The event will take place on April 11, 2017 at the BNRM.For more information, check Networks of Mediterranean Youth.La VeuveJoyeuseAre you a fan of Opera? If yes, then the Moroccan Philharmonic Orchestra invites you to “La VeuveJoyeuse,” a performance that fuses reason and emotion.The Moroccan Choir and the Milan Ballet will join the Moroccan Philharmonic Orchestra to offer the public a colorful show combining theatre, song and dance. The event will take place on April 15 at the National theater Mohammed V,in Rabat. For more information, contact 05 22 77 74 74.Hello Africa!“Hello Africa!” is a cultural day organized by a group of engineering students from the Hassania School of Public Works underthe theme “All to build the Africa of tomorrow.” It is “a colorful event” that promises to bring together Sub Saharan, Moroccan and foreign youth, as well as other high-caliber figures in a celebration of African culture.It will also highlight the cultural and artistic heritage of Africa and the role of African youth in the development of the continent. The event aims to establish a meeting point for African students and also present an occasion for a fruitful exchange of ideas on African issues. The event is set for April 16, at École Hassania des travaux publics, in Casablanca.For more information, contact Sara Qoradi.Health, Ethics and Islam by Professor Tariq RamadanCasablanca’s Rotary Club Hermitage is organizing a conference with acclaimed philosopher and writer,Tariq RAMADAN,on the issue of ” Health, Ethics and Islam.”The conference is organized for the benefit of people with cataracts (an eye condition that results in blurred vision) in the region of Imouzzer. The money raised from this conference will make it possible to organize a socio-medical caravan to treat and educate aboutcataracts in this region. The event will be held on April 15, at ESITH, in Casablanca. For more informaion, check Rotaract UM6SS.Festival of Colors ”Holi”JLM FSJES AGADIR celebrates the coming of spring by organizing the first edition of “Holi Festival of Charity” to assist the Widowed Women in Basma Association to create income-generating projects for women who have lost their spouses. Event organizers invite you to “make this Holi a great moment of happiness, colors, entertainment, and charity” The event will take place on April 16 at the Agadir Stirrup Club, Agadir.For more information, checkJLM FSJES Agadir.Khalil Nemmaoui – Solo ExhibitionLe Comptoir des Mines Galerie invites you to an exhibition of photographer, Khalil Nemmaoui, a photographer specializing in the visual portrayal of silence. Nemmaoui captures moments of contemplation and solitude. He searches for traces of man in desert landscapes, where only the realm of spirituality reigns. Attendees are guaranteed to be confronted with unusual elements, fused with a mystical, almost sacred monumentality. The exhibition will take placein April at the CM Galerie, in Marrakesh.For more information, check  CM Galerie.Concert GREY STARSBelgian band, Gray Stars,recent performers atthe Jazzablanca Festival, are holding a concert in Tangier.”The Gray Stars” represent a new wave of fusion music in the Maghreb, promoting a crossbreeding of genres where a multitude of traditional Maghreb and Western rhythms interweave. The musicians push the limits and venture into every musical corner. The concert will take place on 16 April at the Tabadoul, in Tangier.For more information, check Lfréksh.If you would like to see your event in our Cultural Agenda, feel free to email us at moroccoworldnews@gmail.com. To ensure inclusion, please include the date, time, a brief description of the event, and a link to more information.  We look forward to hearing about unique and diverse events for our weekly listing. read more

12 Oct

“King and Princess of Style” Steal Public Attention in Miami

Rabat – King Mohammed VI and Lalla Salma has proven their love of stylish attire all over again. Simple, creative, and elegant, their latest look has been captured in multiple photographs taken by Moroccan admirers and residents in Miami, where the royal family is currently enjoying a private holiday. The “Princess of the Hearts,” as some call her, has appeared along with her husband in a stylish youthful look in gray jeans, a black shirt and a grungy black jacket, in a shop that appears to be selling jewelry and toiletries on one of Miami’s biggest streets.In another picture, Lalla Salma appeared in natural look, wearing a beautiful long white dress. She stood next to a Moroccan  couple and their daughter and son, while the king, whose off-duty “laid back” style has ceased to surprise us, wore a chic floral shirt with matching jeans.The family of Moroccan immigrants with whom the pictures were taken said that King Mohammed VI was keen on knowing about their lives in America, before kindheartedly accepting to take pictures with them.There’s no doubt to why Lalla Salma has been described as one of the most beautiful first ladies in the world. Her traditional fashion-forward look fused with a youthful twist has continued to catch the attention of the public.As for King Mohammed VI, his fashionable wardrobe and casual outfits has earned him praise and appreciation from fashion lovers and the royal family admirers. read more

12 Oct

Achraf Bencharki to Leave Saudi Football Club Al-Hilal

Rabat – Al-Hilal Football Club of Saudi Arabia has decided to give up on Moroccan football player Achraf Bencharki just a few months after he signed a USD 5 million contract with the club.On Saturday, several Moroccan news outlets including Lions de l’Atlas reported that the newly elected president of Al-Hilal FC, Sami El Jaber, announced that the departure of Bencharki “is one of his priorities.”Al-Hilal fans have been allegedly accusing Bencharki of delivering “disappointing” on-field performances, especially given his transfer cost from Wydad of Casablanca. During his last game against the Saudi team Al Ahli, Bencharki missed several key passes and potential goals which angered Saudi fans. Bencharki’s performances have been making international headlines after the CAF Champions League final game. The multi-position player helped set up a fabulous goal against the Egyptian Al Ahly on November 4.During the game, Bencharki sent an assist to Oualid El Karti, who scored the winning goal for Wydad of Casablanca at the 69-minute mark.The talented footballer also played a key role in helping the Moroccan team win the continental title during the African Nations Championship (CHAN 2018).Bencherki’s transfer to the Saudi club made football headlines in the past month and created a heated debate between those who support his move and those who wanted him to turn down the lucrative Al-Hilal FC contract. read more

12 Oct

Bakery reconsiders helping fund retreat after racist emails

LA VISTA, Neb. — An Omaha-area bakery that has been helping fund a luxury religious retreat founded by billionaire Joe Ricketts said it is considering ending the relationship in light of emails that surfaced showing Ricketts making Islamophobic comments and spreading conspiracies about former President Barack Obama.Rotella’s Italian Bakery in La Vista told the Omaha World-Herald that it’s reevaluating whether to continue selling a roughly $3 loaf that benefits The Cloisters on the Platte near Gretna.Jim Rotella, the bakery’s vice-president of sales, said the move comes in light of emails published this week by Splinter News that feature Ricketts, who founded TD Ameritrade and is the father of Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts.Joe Ricketts opened the luxurious retreat centre, which resembles a country club and lake resort, in July. The silent, weekend retreats held at the sprawling campus are geared toward Catholics but are open to anyone of any faith.They’re also free of charge, and Ricketts had hoped the bakery’s bread sales would supplement donations to pay the centre’s bills. The bakery has been selling the loaves since June, with a portion of the revenue going to the retreat.Rotella didn’t respond to the newspaper’s questions about how much the bakery has made from the loaves and how much the retreat centre has received from bread sales. But he said the bakery “takes great pride in the diversity of our workforce and customer base.”“We believe everyone matters and value our role in helping feed and strengthen families and communities,” he said.Ricketts has apologized for the emails, saying that his comments don’t reflect his values and that he strongly believes “that bigoted ideas are wrong.”Ricketts hasn’t disclosed the retreat centre’s price tag, but building permits list costs of at least $20 million. Ricketts bought the property for an additional $13.6 million in 2014.___Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.comThe Associated Press read more

12 Oct

Western Energy sends drilling rig to southern U.S. as Canadian activity dries up

Companies mentioned in this article: (TSX:WRG)The Canadian Press CALGARY — Drilling companies continue to move rigs from Western Canada to the more active oilfields of the southern United States.Calgary-based Western Energy Services Corp. says it moved a drilling rig from Canada to the U.S. Permian Basin oil play in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico early this year and will likely move more rigs in the near future.It says the addition took its U.S. drilling fleet to eight rigs, including a drilling rig purchased and upgraded in the U.S. near the end of 2018 and also deployed in the Permian Basin.In November, the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling contractors said its members had relocated 11 of their rigs to the U.S. so far in 2018.Western, the fourth-largest drilling contractor in Canada with a fleet of 49 rigs, says its average rig utilization rate in Canada fell to 32 per cent in the last three months of 2018 from 38 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017 as customers cancelled drilling programs due to market uncertainty.It says operating days in the U.S. rose by 29 per cent and utilization improved to 71 per cent in the fourth quarter versus 63 per cent in the year-earlier period.“You have to follow the capital and go where the work is,” said Western CEO Alex MacAusland.“I expect our peers will (move rigs south) as well. It’s just not sustainable with the current pricing environment.” read more

12 Oct

Algeria Arrests Algerian Journalist with Undeclared €48,000 at Airport

Rabat- Authorities at an Algerian airport have reportedly arrested an Algerian journalist of Morocco’s Medi1TV carrying €48,000 in undeclared cash. The journalist’s identity has not yet been announced, except that she is a 40-year-old woman of Algerian descent, working at a Moroccan television channel, Medi1TV,  reported Algerian news site, L’Observateur d’Algerie.After a “thorough investigation,” Algerian police at Houari Boumediene Airport in the capital of Algeria, Algiers, stopped the journalist on September 3 as she was heading to Turkey with the large sum of foreign currency. Authorities seized the money and opened an investigation to examine the circumstances of the incident.The news outlet added that Algerian authorities have seized more than €1,200,000 since the beginning of September 2018, noting that the seizure from the journalist was the single largest seizure. read more

12 Oct

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman Resigns Over Gaza Ceasefire

By  Trista YoussefRabat – Fighting between Israeli and Palestinian forces, which  began on Sunday and ended with a ceasefire on Tuesday night, reached its worst levels since a 50-day war in 2014. The violence started when Palestinian forces fired rockets at Israel in response to a covert Israeli operation that killed seven Palestinians in Gaza. Two Israelis and at least 14 Palestinians were killed during the violent, two-day-long flare-up. Although never officially confirmed by the Israeli government, an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire announced by Hamas on Tuesday night is still in place.Read Also: Israelis and Palestinians Renew a Fragile CeasefireLieberman responded to the Israeli security cabinet’s decision to accept a truce with Gaza as “surrendering to terror.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the truce during a speech, saying: “At these moments, leadership is not about doing the easy thing. Leadership is about doing the right thing, even if it is difficult.” Lieberman told reporters in Jerusalem on Wednesday: “Despite the difference in opinion, I tried to stay a faithful member of the government for a long as possible…but it has failed.”Palestinians view the defense minister’s resignation as a political victory. Hamas Spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri called Lieberman’s resignation a “recognition of the defeat before the growing force of the Palestinian resistance,” which showed a “state of weakness that has overcome the Israelis.”Lieberman’s resignation removes the far-right Israel Beitenu party from Netanyahu’s conservative coalition, weakening the prime minister’s position in upcoming elections. The loss of five Israel Beitenu seats gives Netanyahu control over only 61 of 120 parliamentary seats. read more

12 Oct

Moroccan Singer Mouad Boukioud Wins UAE’s Munshid Al Sharjah Award

Rabat – Moroccan singer Mouad Boukioud won the 2018 Munshid Al Sharjah competition in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.The 11th annual competition, which drew to a close on December 14, included 21 participants from various countries, including Algeria and Tunisia.Boukioud was rewarded with a prize of AED 250,000 (MAD 653,000), while Louqman Iskandar, the second-prize winner from Algeria received AED 100,000 (MAD 261,000). Tunisia’s Nafie Ayad, who took third place, received AED 50,000 (MAD 131,000). Read Also: Moroccan Teacher Nominated For Prestigious Global Teacher PrizeThe world-renowned artist, Sami Yusuf, attended and performed at the final ceremony.Sharjah Media Foundation organized the competition. The jury committee included religious singers Mohamed Thami from Egypt and Ahmed Boukater and Oussama Safi from the UAE.It is not the first time a Moroccan munshid (singer) has won the prize. Moroccan singer Yassine Lachhab won the grand prize of the 2017 Munshid Al Sharjah. read more

12 Oct

Imlil Murders: Danish People Donate to Men Who ‘Helped’ Police

Rabat – Danish news outlet B.T. reported that a group of Danish people collected money for Said El Ossoul and a fellow vendor, who allegedly contributed to the arrest of suspects in the murder of Louisa Vesterager Jespersen and Maren Ueland near Imlil in the Atlas Mountains in December.Said El Ossoul, who works as a merchant next to a Marrakech bus station, told B.T. that he is not asking for anything in return for reporting the suspects, who were attempting to escape from Marrakech after the killing of the Scandinavian tourists.“I am Moroccan, and my country means a lot to me. When I found out what they had done to the two girls, it hurt me in the heart. I could not sleep at all afterwards,” he said. Ossoul said that he is also “afraid.”Read Also:British Ambassador: ‘Appalling Imlil Murder Doesn’t Change the Beauty of Morocco’“You never know what sympathizers the terrorists can think of. I just hope the police are looking after me and my family, ” he added.Ossoul said that he will use the money collected for him to repair his house.“You have seen how my roof is falling together. When it rains, I and my family live in the middle of the water inside the house.”He added that he will also take care of his father and mother “who are both sick.”B.T. reported that a Danish individual named Tina Flensborg Jensen started  the initiative to collect money for Ossoul, and that 106 people donated.“I had no imagination at all to think that so many people would be involved. I just think I would do something for this poor man and his colleague,” Jensen said.Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) arrested three of the four main suspects on December 20. The first suspect was arrested on December 18.The spokesperson of the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN), Boubkar Sabik, commented on the alleged contribution of the two vendors, saying that the arrest was purely conducted in collaboration among Morocco’s security services. In his interview with Moroccan television channel 2M, Sabik denied that the men helped security services to arrest the suspects.He said that the police had specific information about the identities of the suspects before their arrest.However, he expressed gratitude to the men who believe that they have contributed to the arrest of the suspects, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between citizens and security agencies. read more

12 Oct

Companies rush to produce pot products, without the cannabis plant itself

TORONTO — Canadian companies are racing to get an edge in the new frontier of the cannabis industry — which does not involve the leafy green plant at all.An increasing number of licensed producers and biotechnology firms are moving towards synthetic production of THC and other cannabinoids in a lab, using ingredients such as sugar and yeast, eyeing the potential to produce these active compounds more cheaply than traditional cultivation and extraction.CannTrust Holdings Inc.’s chief executive Peter Aceto said the Vaughan, Ont.-based licensed producer has a short list of biosynthesis companies that it is in active conversations with, which could result in either a partnership or acquisition.“We do believe that cannabinoids will be created through biosynthesis, whether it’s yeast or sugar or other compounds, at scale at an extremely low cost… And do expect to be investing in that space in the not-too-distant future,” he said.Canada is on the verge of legalizing the next-generation of cannabis products such as edibles and topicals in the coming months, which will allow the industry to tap a broader range of consumers who aren’t interested in smoking dried flower.In turn, the demand for cannabinoids and isolates for use as an ingredient in consumer products is expected to grow “exponentially in the coming years,” said AltaCorp analyst David Kideckel.Synthetic cannabinoid production has the potential to disrupt the cannabis industry supply chain, he added in a recent note.“We believe that cannabis LP’s will begin to pay much closer attention to these companies’ technology and its application to their industry, as it offers the potential for significant advantages on an operational and cost basis, as well as product quality and purity.”Other Canadian cannabis companies have already made moves in this space. Moncton-based Organigram Inc. in September closed a $10-million investment deal with Hyasynth Biologicals, in a bid to boost its access to the Montreal-based company’s proprietary methods involving fermentation of yeast.Also last September, licensed producer Cronos Group Inc. announced a strategic partnership with Boston-based Ginkgo Bioworks Inc., also focusing on cannabinoid production via fermentation at commercial scale, in a deal worth roughly US$22-million.Cronos’ chief executive Michael Gorenstein said during a recent conference call that this partnership is key to its strategy of focusing on developing branded products and intellectual property, rather than the capital-intensive process of cultivation and production. He added that Cronos and Ginkgo will focus on synthetic production of THC, the compound which produces a high, and CBD, the non-impairing compound believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. The two companies through the partnership will also target six other rare cannabinoids, which are “economically impractical” to produce with high purity at scale through traditional cultivation and extraction,” he added.“We at Cronos believe that rare cannabinoids are key to product differentiation, but today are nearly impossible to produce commercially,” Gorenstein told analysts.Rather than using a solvent, carbon dioxide or another method to remove extracts from the cannabis or hemp plant, synthetic production of cannabinoids involves using a controlled chemical reaction to produce these coveted compounds. Synthetic production is already commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry, such as the use of yeast fermentation to biosynthesize insulin.One method of synthetic production is called biosynthesis, in which a biological organism such as bacteria, fungus or algae are used as agents to yield cannabinoids, AltaCorp said.It’s similar to brewing beer, where water, yeast and malted grain are combined and fermented to produce an alcoholic beverage. However, the yeast is instead genetically engineered to produce the necessary enzymes to yield cannabinoids instead.“We’ll remove the genes that tell it to produce ethanol, and then we’ll put in a new set of genes that will give it the machinery to produce THC,” said Kevin Chen, the chief executive and co-founder of Hyasynth.Biosynthesis has the potential to produce large quantities of cannabinoids, consistently, with a high level of purity and precision, according to AltaCorp. As well, at roughly less than $1,000 per kilogram, it is much cheaper than growing cannabis or hemp and extracting it, Kideckel wrote in a recent note.That’s a particularly attractive prospect as Canadian producers increasingly look at ways to reduce costs, such as outdoor growing in the warmer climes of B.C., as dried cannabis becomes a commodity.Lab-generated cannabinoids via synthesis will not replace plant-based extraction, but will be an added tool in companies’ arsenals, Kideckel added.Still, biosynthesis and other methods of synthetic cannabinoid production are still in the “early stages” and could take “years of research and development to perfect,” he added.In February, UC Berkeley synthetic biologists published a study in the journal Nature demonstrating how they used engineered brewer’s yeast to produce THC, CBD and other cannabinoids.Meanwhile, there has been a flurry of companies flooding into the biosynthesis space within the last six months, said Chen, who co-founded Hyasynth in 2014.“Everybody is jumping into this stuff now,” he said. “It went from us and two other companies to 20 companies.”Competitors include Vancouver-based InMed Pharmaceuticals and California-based Amyris Inc.The race is on, and Hyasynth is aiming to establish its own small-scale facility and be able to sell a product by the end of the year. The company is aiming to become an ingredient supplier, he added. However, Chen said there is “a lot to be nailed down, and it will be an ongoing process of improvement.”“We’re already pretty confident that we’ll get there.”Armina Ligaya, The Canadian Press read more

12 Oct

Morocco Postpones Safi’s Harbor Construction Deadline for More Than a Year

Rabat – A governmental decree of August 22 has postponed the deadline for the end of construction work on Safi’s new harbor. The decision to add one year to the previous deadline of July 30, 2019, comes after a series of severe delays in construction works.King Mohammed VI inaugurated the construction project of Safi’s new harbor on April 19, 2013. The harbor was supposed to be functional five years later, at the latest.The construction delays follow a series of technical norm infractions by the company responsible for the works, according to Assabah newspaper.    In July 2017, an accident caused 700 blocks of concrete forming the charcoal dock to crack, making it impossible for ships to moor. Since then, the dock has been reconstructed from scratch. Those responsible for the accident, which happened more than two years ago, have not yet been sanctionedThese delays have already cost the government in the region of MAD 500 million. These losses add up to an estimated MAD 600 million costs for the National Office of Electricity and Water (ONEE), along with the environmental damage caused by the duration of works.Abdelkader Amara, the Moroccan minister for Equipment, Transport, Logistics, and Water, is to be held accountable for these delays, according to Assabah. The newspaper speculates that his political future is under threat, and that the delays in the accomplishment of the project could cost him his position.The new Safi harbor is expected to contribute, when ready to operate, to the functioning of Safi’s new thermal power station, launched in December 2018, which requires 10,000 tonnes of charcoal daily. read more

12 Oct

Mexico president says government will help Pemex until 2021

MEXICO CITY — Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says his government will support the state-owned oil company with all the budget it needs and tax relief until 2021.López Obrador said Wednesday that by then, Petroleos Mexicanos will have recovered its footing, increased production and be able to finance the country’s development during the remainder of his term.Years of neglect during which governments funded themselves on Pemex’s profits rather than reinvesting in the company left it heavily indebted and facing declining production.López Obrador has made returning Pemex to its former stature a priority. He has sent the military after the organized crime rings that tap its pipelines and steal its fuel and promised to build a massive new refinery in spite of experts questioning the financial logic.The Associated Press read more