October 12

Morocco to extract uranium from its phosphates by 2015

first_imgRabat- Morocco’s 2015 Uranium Recovery from Phosphates draft project was approved on the Thursday.The committee on Foreign Affairs, National Defense, Islamic Affairs and Moroccans residing abroad approved last Thursday in the lower of house of the parliament a draft project concerning a Moroccan-French cooperation agreement on peaceful use of nuclear energy. The draft project consists of uranium exploitation and recovery from phosphates.According to the Minister-Delegate for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Mbarka Boubid, this agreement is an opportunity to strengthen ties between Morocco and France on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Last November, Morocco’s minister of higher education, Scientific Research and Executive Training Lahcen Daoudi announced that Morocco would start extracting uranium from its phosphate by 2015. The Moroccan Minister confirmed a statement made few months ago by Mustapha Terrab, CEO of the Cherifian Office of Phosphates, who had said that Morocco’s project of extracting uranium had reached a “very advanced stage.”Morocco is the largest phosphate exporter, and holds 75% of world’s reserves of phosphates (85 billion tons).© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

October 12

Japan WWII soldier who hid in jungle until 1974 dies

first_imgTokyo–  A Japanese soldier who hid in the Philippine jungle for three decades, refusing to believe World War II was over until his former commander returned and persuaded him to surrender, has died in Tokyo aged 91.Hiroo Onoda waged a guerilla campaign in Lubang Island near Luzon until he was finally persuaded in 1974 that peace had broken out.Leaflet drops and other efforts to convince him the Imperial Army had been defeated were unsuccessful, and it was only a visit from his former commanding officer, who ordered him to lay down his arms, that brought an end to his one-man war. Onoda was the last of several dozen so-called holdouts scattered around Asia, men who symbolised the astonishing perseverance of those called upon to fight for their emperor.Their number included a soldier arrested in the jungles of Guam in 1972.Trained as an information officer and guerrilla tactics coach, Onoda was dispatched to Lubang in 1944 and ordered never to surrender, never to resort to suicidal attacks and to hold firm until reinforcements arrived.He and three other soldiers continued to obey that order long after Japan’s 1945 defeat.Their existence became widely known in 1950, when one of their number emerged and returned to Japan.The remaining men continued to survey military facilities in the area, attacking local residents and occasionally fighting with Philippine forces, although one of them died soon afterwards.Tokyo and Manila searched for the remaining two over the next decade, but ruled in 1959 that they were already dead.However, in 1972, Onoda and the other surviving soldier got involved in a shoot-out with Philippine troops. His comrade died, but Onoda managed to escape.The incident shocked Japan, which took his family members to Lubang in the hope of persuading him that hostilities were over.Onoda later explained that he had believed attempts to coax him out were the work of a puppet regime installed in Tokyo by the United States.He read about his home country in newspapers that searchers deliberately scattered in the jungle for him to find, but dismissed their content as propaganda.The regular overflight by US planes during the long years of the Vietnam war also convinced him that the battle he had joined was still being played out across Asia.It was not until 1974, when his old commanding officer visited him in his jungle hideout to rescind the original order, that Onoda’s war eventually ended.Asked at a press conference in Japan after his return what he had been thinking about for the last 30 years, he told reporters: “Carrying out my orders.”But the Japan that Onoda returned to was much changed. The country he had left, and the one he believed he was still fighting for, was in the grip of a militarist government, bent on realising what it thought was its divine right to dominate the region.Crippled by years of increasingly unsuccessful war, its economy was in ruins and its people were hungry.But the Japan of 1974 was in the throes of a decades-long economic boom and in thrall to Western culture. It was also avowedly pacifist.Onoda had difficultly adapting to the new reality and, in 1975, emigrated to Brazil to start a cattle ranch, although he continued to travel back and forth.In 1984, still very much a celebrity, he established a youth camp, where he taught young Japanese some of the survival techniques he had used during his 30 years in hiding, when he lived on wild cows and bananas.He returned to Lubang in 1996 on a visit, reportedly at the invitation of the local government, despite his having been involved in the killing of dozens of Filipinos during his three-decade battle.He made a donation to the local community, which was reportedly used to set up a scholarship.Until recently, Onoda had been active in speaking engagements across Japan and in 2013 appeared on national broadcaster NHK.“I lived through an era called a war. What people say varies from era to era,” he told NHK in last May. “I think we should not be swayed by the climate of the time, but think calmly,” he said.last_img read more

October 12

King Mohamed VI Has Given Significant Impetus To Relations Between Morocco,…

first_imgMarrakech- King Mohammed VI has given significant impetus to relations between Morocco and the African countries as part of South-South cooperation within an encompassing tripartite strategic vision that includes the Kingdom, other North African countries, and African states to achieve promising value-added projects, said Minister-delegate for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mbarka Bouaida.The Sovereign has also developed a new concept of humanitarian diplomacy that is highly appreciated by the people of Africa, thanks to its positive impact that transcends official diplomacy, the minister said in an statement to MAP during her visit to Addis Ababa which hosts the 22th summit of the African Union (AU) on January 21-31.Recalling the Royal message of August 2013 at the first conference of ambassadors of His Majesty the King, the Minister said that the roadmap of Moroccan diplomacy emphasizes two priorities: economy and Africa. She said Morocco has invested heavily on the continent, noting that the Kingdom  has developed a multi-faceted approach based on political dialogue and strong economic cooperation.Bouaida also highlighted the partnership agreements signed, and the presence of public and private Moroccan organizations in many African countries carrying out projects benefiting the local population in the field of social housing, banking, energy and telecommunicationslast_img read more

October 12

Chinese Authorities Targets Muslim Uighurs with Beards

Taroudant, Morocco- Chinese authorities are targeting Muslim Uighurs with beards and veils in western China’s restive, Muslim-majority Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, according to Aljazeera. In an attempt to restrict Muslims the freedom to express themselves, the local authorities in the Muslim-majority region are rewarding locals who report their neighbors for “wearing beards.” In fact, “Informants in Xinjiang can earn up to $8,000 for reporting neighbors who wear beards, seen as a sign of Islam,” according to Aljazeera.Responding to a foreign reporter’s question about “why young men of the Uighur ethnic minority do not have beards”, a young Uighur man answered angrily: “It’s because the government doesn’t allow beards,” according to Associated Press. The Chinese government’s restrictions may be counter-productive though, as religious oppression may lead to extremism. “It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s self-perpetuating.The more they crack down on it, the more people re-Islamize. This is a pattern we see all over the world,” Joanne Smith Finley, an expert on Uighurs at Britain’s Newcastle University, was quoted by AP as saying.“The Chinese state has created a growing terrorist threat where previously there was none. It has stimulated an Islamic renewal where there wouldn’t necessarily have been one,” she added.In fact, the Chinese authorities in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region did not stop at prohibiting Muslim clothes and beards in public.Last year, the authorities hanged the Chinese flag over the Mihrab, a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla, the direction (Kaaba) that Muslims of the world face when praying, to force worshipers to bow before the flag every time they kneel down for their prayers.Also, during the holy month of Ramadan, the Chinese authorities imposed a ban on Muslim students, teachers, and civil servants in the northwestern province of Xinjiang from fasting.Students at Kashgar Normal College, located in the far west province of Xinjiang, were forced to eat and drink during daylight in Ramadan or face expulsion.Experts and human rights activists around the world are concerned that the infringements on personal freedom in Xinjiang could lead to extremism. read more

October 12

French Daily Le Monde Hails RAM Flights to Ebola-stricken Countries

Paris – Morocco’s decision to maintain its flights to Ebola-stricken African countries is in line with Rabat’s influential policy in the continent, wrote “Le Monde” newspaper on Wednesday.By keeping its flights to Ebola-stricken countries, Morocco is indisputably wining points as a major and responsible African actor, it said.Noting that stopping flights by several carriers towards countries affected by the epidemic hampers dispatching humanitarian aid, the paper underlined that many African countries, including Guinea, hailed the Moroccan decision. It also recalled that the Moroccan authorities took all necessary measures of precaution at the Kingdom’s access points. read more

October 12

New Traffic Laws in Morocco: What Everyone Should Know

By Myriam Ait MalkRabat – The Chamber of Representatives considered a new draft bill regarding traffic laws on June 20. The propositions in the draft bill include the addition of many new types of infractions, new types of motorcycle licenses and a reduction of cases in which vehicles are to be impounded.The draft bill, which was written and presented by the Ministry of Transportations, suggested three new types of motorcycle licenses, attributed depending on the power of the vehicle in question. Due to an alarming amount of motorcycle accidents, a new type of license called “AM” has been suggested. This addition would target citizens wishing to drive motorcycles of more than 50 cm3.Regarding the new infractions suggested in the bill, refusing to take a breathalyzer test will be illegal and could result in one year of jail time. If the perpetrator repeats the crime, the sentencing would be doubled.This draft also reinforces the prohibition of phone conversations and texting while driving. Furthermore, it guarantees that the driver’s license will not be taken away from him or her in an accident resulting in any type of injuries. The only exception would be if the driver shows signs of drunkenness or drug use.Last but not least, in regards to fixed fines, this new bill suggest a fine reduction of up to 50 percent if the driver pays right away or the same day. If the fine is paid within 15 days, the reduction can range from 29 percent to 33 percent.According to Telquel, this Bill will be voted on in plenary and will start its official course as soon as it is entered in the official record. read more

October 12

Study: Alaska Native non-profit contributed $10M to economy

JUNEAU, Alaska — A study found that a Juneau-based Alaska Native non-profit directly and indirectly contributed more than $10 million into the state economy last year.The Juneau Empire reports the McDowell Group, a research and consulting firm, found the Sealaska Heritage Institute generated the money through its employees, contractors, grants and visitors.About $9.2 million was spent in the City and Borough of Juneau.According to the study, the institute’s revenue last year was $8.16 million, so every dollar the non-profit took in turned into more for the state and city.The institute’s chief of operations, Lee Kadinger, says the study was an attempt to quantify what growth in revenue, programs and community support means for the city and state.___Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.comThe Associated Press read more

October 12

Trade issues, oil slump and lower spending have slowed growth: BoC deputy

OTTAWA — A Bank of Canada deputy governor says the effects of U.S. trade unknowns, lower oil prices and weaker housing and consumer spending are behind the recent deceleration in economic growth.In prepared remarks of a speech today in Washington, Timothy Lane says this slowdown in Canada’s economic expansion is temporary.Lane says these factors along with the fiscal stimulus that has energized the American economy and, as a result, led the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise interest rates have been putting downward pressure on the Canadian dollar.He says the lower loonie will help support the Canadian economy through this period.Lane says uncertainty related to U.S. policies has kept business investment lower than where it should be at this point, given the overall strength in the Canadian economy.Last month, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz kept his benchmark interest rate unchanged at 1.75 per cent as the economy navigates what he described as a temporary period of softness created by a recent, sharp decline in world oil prices.Lane’s speech to the Peterson Institute for International Economics focused on explaining how Canada manages its foreign reserves, which he noted are about US$85 billion or five per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.He describes the size of Canada’s foreign reserves as modest yet adequate because the country has a freely floating exchange rate.One relatively recent development, Lane noted, is that other central banks and monetary authorities started adding Canadian-dollar assets to their reserve portfolios following the global financial crisis about a decade ago. Reserves in Canadian dollars are now about $200 billion, he said.The Canadian Press read more

October 12

Suspected Explosive Devices Mailed to Obama, Clintons, CNN

Rabat – The US Secret Service has intercepted “potential explosive devices” addressed to former President Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton.The US Secret Service on Wednesday reported that they discovered the packages in routine mail screenings, addressed to former President Obama in Washington, DC, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Rochester, New York.The press release added, “The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them.” “We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures,” said current White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.The new reports come one day after an explosive device addressed to George Soros, a frequent contributor to the Democratic Party, was found at his home in New York.Early reports by CNN anchors on Twitter are also stating the network’s New York office has been evacuated, and the New York police department’s bomb squad is at the scene. read more

October 12

Moroccan Singer Sina Goes Crazy on Social Media, Claims to do…

Rabat – Has she lost her mind? Moroccan singer Sina, known for her controversial statements and unique songs has struck again.On her Instagram account, Sina drove her followers crazy by posting some half-naked footage of herself while claiming that she is doing “a shooting for Vogue magazine.”Posting several videos of herself, Sina, who is in a studio in “her villa in Marrakech,” had a lot to say to her fans.Wearing red see-through underwear, the “superstar” explained that thanks to her “beauty,” “perfect body,” “intelligence,” and “talent,” she scored a cover with prestigious magazine “Vogue,” and will be photographed by a famous photographer called “Evan.”In a third video, the singer of “You are Handsome Like Angel” announced that she was pregnant and she has set up her own business, depriving her husband of income because she is jealous of other women.Then Sina said she is much courted by Hollywood. Speaking in English in a fourth (and last) video, the artist warned her competitors. “I am more beautiful than Shakira, Kim Kardashian, and Jennifer Lopez. I am the most beautiful woman in Morocco.”.Following her “crazy behavior,” people were quick to react, commenting on how “she lost her mind,” slamming her “inappropriate” outfit and asking her to go “seek treatment.”In 2013, Sina created a sensation after posting her first official video clip on Youtube, where she appeared singing in a suggestive way. The video went viral on Youtube, and received millions of views.Following her Youtube success, Sina was assaulted in her hometown Marrakech, but the incident did not stop her from her dream of being a superstar. read more

October 12

Australia and Morocco: Opportunity for Trade and Dialogue

By Isabella WangRabat – Distance previously kept Australia and Morocco apart, but with Australia’s new Rabat embassy and trade opportunities, bilateral relations are strengthening. The opening of the new Australian embassy in Morocco in June 2017 signified the burgeoning relationship between Australia and Morocco. Now emerges a partnership of opportunity and necessity from bilateral relations that have historically been scarce. Diplomatic relations only began 30 years ago in 1976 with a joint statement which announced intentions “to consolidate and strengthen mutual understanding and to stimulate cultural and commercial links.” Yet since then, little has been done to galvanize the intentions into actions. Rather, each country has sought to ascertain its presence within its own geographical region, asserting their significance through a geostrategically multifaceted identity. Morocco’s Maghreb identity is incredibly fruitful: its geography in North Africa has enabled the country to assert influence within the region while also fostering relations with Europe. Compounded with this is Morocco’s Islamic identity which has enabled the kingdom to forge a continuous dialogue with countries in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Australia has attained status due to the island’s geographical dominance of Oceania, which in turn has led to a fostering of relations with Southeast Asia. At the same time, Australia’s association with the Commonwealth and the West, heightened by a shared history in fighting wars has solidified the country’s relations with the UK, and more prominently the US.  With both Morocco and Australia’s growing influence, they now look towards further regions in order to achieve a network of bilateral relations and greater international sway. Like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle uniting, the bilateral relations between Morocco and Australia are ideal; each country’s distinct identity and regional influence provides a gateway for the new territories and relations the other desires. Opportunity for Trade and InvestmentAt the very basis of bilateral relations between Morocco and Australia is tangible economic gain through trade. With Morocco’s current concentration of trade in the EU region at 59.4 percent, the kingdom is overly dependent on the EU. In contrast, the European Union is not as reliant on Moroccan exports: Morocco sells 78.5 percent of its apparel exports to France and Spain, but these products are a miniscule portion of the two European countries’ imported clothing. For one of Morocco’s biggest export markets, France, the kingdom only comprises 0.7 percent of the garment imports. A plethora of opportunity awaits economic relations between Australia and Morocco. While both dominate specific sectors of the agriculture and mining industries, Morocco and Australia’s status within the global market is complementary rather than competitive: Morocco dominates the world’s phosphate and fishing industries while Australia heavily exports iron ore, coal, gas, and gold.  Yet as the Moroccan government noted, “Despite the advances in trade relations, the economic potential of Morocco-Australia relations remains unexploited.”As the impetus to improving economic potential, Morocco and Australia established the Australia-Morocco Business Council (AMBC) in 2017, which establishes a “platform of meetings, interaction and exchange of ideas, experiences and information on business opportunities, regulations, investment and market momentum between Australia, Morocco and their development zones.” The council makes efforts to bolster trade and investment links, while also emphasizing the strategic gateway that the partnership can be to open up economic relations with further regions. Signaling the efficacy of the council is Kasbah Resources, an Australia company which has finalized its production of underground mines in Meknes at El Hajeb, an area 55 kilometers southwest of Fez. The project has the potential to produce 750,000 tons of ore per year and has also brought the investment of Japanese companies, Toyota Tsusho and Nittetsu Mining, widening the breadth of Morocco’s investment relations. Can Morocco help Australia’s perception of Africa?Relations dependent on economic benefits are not enough. They craft a superficial interaction focused on narrow gains. For Morocco and Australia’s bilateral relations to truly hold impact, there must be genuine and meaningful dialogue, entrenched in an exchange of politics and ideology.  Such dialogue may impact Australia’s perception of Africa. Before opening its embassy in Morocco last year, Australia, held the least number of diplomatic posts in Africa—a mere eight—among the G20 nations. The reason behind the diplomatic deficit? Australia’s foreign policy on Africa has been defined by paralysis. Indecision and inaction have seized Australia’s engagement in Africa due to its inability to understand what it wants on the continent. Australia’s latest Foreign Policy White Paper, which establishes the framework for the government’s international aims, encapsulates both its inability to understand what it wants in Africa as well as an inability to truly understand the nuances of the continent. The paper lacks specificity and clarity when addressing its goals: it mentioned “Africa” only as a whole with specific mention only to “Morocco” in referencing the newly opened embassy. Such reflects Australia’s dominant political and public discourse on relations with African nations. Nikola Pijovic, a PhD scholar with the National Security College, Australian National University writes, “While the African continent is home to a very diverse set of 54 states, the traditional lack of foreign policy engagement with most of them, coupled with the general lack of knowledge about African states, allows Australian policymakers and the wider public to refer to the engagement with the continent in such generic terms.”Australia’s new focus on relations with Morocco could signify a closing of the ideological and rhetorical gulf between the realities of Africa and Australia’s perception of the continent. Australia-Morocco relations indeed signify a critical crossroads for Australia: to remain stuck in its indecision or to engage in a genuine dialogue with Morocco in order to truly understand the nuances of Africa. While the dominant narrative propagated by Australian politicians and diplomats stresses the nation’s support for the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, focusing on the 1970s-1990s, Australia’s relations with Africa also bear darker underpinnings. Until the 1970s, Australia directly supported the colonization of Africa and from the end of World War II also showed strong sympathy for “outnumbered whites” in South Africa and what was then Rhodesia.South Africa has been a primary locus of Australia’s relations in Africa, both political and commercial, due to their shared membership in the Commonwealth. The uneasy truth remains that Australia’s engagement with Africa is most prominent in South Africa due to continued colonialist sentiments, which emerges from policies focused on racial exclusion. The most recent Africa-related political activity has been a wave of conservative politicians from the incumbent Liberal Party stressing the need to help white South African farmers they believe are persecuted, even by means of a special visa category. At the same time, the rhetoric of politicians towards African residents in Australia, particularly to those of South Sudanese heritage, has resorted to stereotypes of violence and gangs. In an interview with Australian radio station 3AW, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had stated, “There is certainly concern about street crime in Melbourne. There is real concern about Sudanese gangs.” Similarly, home affairs minister Peter Dutton said people in Melbourne were “scared to go out to restaurants” because of “African gang violence.” Morocco: ideological and economic supporter of Africa As an integral part of Australia’s catchall understanding of “Africa” and as a nation which holds a multitude of historical, economic, and political bonds with African nations, Morocco presents an alternatively complex and refined view of Africa. King Mohammed VI himself has sought to play a dominant role in setting African foreign policy, making over 51 visits to 26 African states, with over 952 agreements and partnerships since his ascension to the throne. With growing relations with both Africa and Australia, Morocco has the potential to be a platform for genuine cross-cultural understanding which could inform Australia’s perception of Africa and demonstrate the richness and intricacies of the many African nations. The King emphasized in his 2016 royal speech on the King and People’s Revolution Day that Africa is a priority in Moroccan foreign policy: “For Morocco, Africa means more than just being part of a geographical area, or having historical bonds with the continent. Africa also means sincere affection, appreciation, close human and spiritual relations as well as tangible solidarity. Furthermore, Africa is the natural extension of Morocco and the embodiment of the country’s strategic depth.” The King’s speech in fact addressed colonialist roots to Africa’s problems and public perceptions, saying, “The problems plaguing African peoples today, such as backwardness, poverty, migration, wars and conflicts, in addition to despair and succumbing to extremist and terrorist groups, is the result of the disastrous policy adopted for decades by colonial powers.” He continued in perpetuating a respectful optimism for Africa, “Despite the extensive damage caused by colonialism, I believe Africa has the means to ensure its development and to take its destiny into its own hands, thanks to the resolve of African peoples and to the continent’s human and natural resources.”It is in both the countries’ national interests for Australia to foster deeper relationships with Africa. As Australia has said, but not acted upon, “The Government is also working to expand and diversify commercial links with Africa. Africa’s population of 1.2 billion will double by 2050 and its growing urban middle class is creating new demand for goods and services.” Morocco benefits greatly from foreign investment and development in Africa, particularly with Morocco’s various infrastructure projects across North Africa. As analyzed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), “in Africa, Morocco has a comparative advantage… and the potential to play an active economic, security, and diplomatic role.”Further dialogue with Australia would also enable a thriving and accurate discourse to spread to Southeast Asian countries. With more coverage on Morocco’s and Africa’s opportunity and prosperity could come a shift in the narrative on Africa: it is no longer a locus of poverty in need of aid, but rather a continent of burgeoning states on the rise and establishing its status internationally. China has embraced the change in the narrative with its national newspaper People’s Daily shifting its news coverage on poverty reduction in Africa to that of bilateral relations and diplomacy. Morocco’s relations with China has solidified the narrative shift: deviating from its traditional aid projects in Africa, China was able to orient the traditional conceptions of economic policy in Africa through a strategic partnership with Morocco. The bilateral relations were supported by a plethora of joint ventures in late 2017: the Chinese Haite group and Morocco’s BMCE bank signed a deal to invest $1 billion in an industrial and residential park in Tangier.King Mohammed VI’s historic visit to Bali in December 2017 for the 10th Bali Democracy Forum entailed talks with 58 countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. There, the King engaged in talks to “promote and foster regional and international cooperation in the field of peace and democracy.” The forum highlighted the efficacy of Africa’s changing narrative and a dialogue inclusive of Morocco’s insights.  An opportunity to understand Islamic culture Underpinning the growing relations between Morocco and Australia is also the convergent focus on terrorism and extremism. Described by Australian Ambassador to Morocco Berenice Owen-Jones as a “haven of stability,” Morocco’s image as a liberalized and democratic Arab nation presents Australia an opportunity to collaborate on issues of counter-terrorism and security.  Questioned by Australia’s Joint Standing Committee, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade responded that “an embassy in Morocco would increase Australia’s capacity to engage with a significant player in North Africa, including in the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.”Australia has relatively sparse ties to the Arab world, whereby its policy and monolithic understandings on the MENA region are derived from its alliances with the US and China. For example, at the end of 2014, Australia used its position on the UN Security Council to vote down a resolution for Palestinian statehood; Australia and the US were the only nations to vote down the resolution out of the 15 nations on the council. Very often, fundamental misconceptions, founded on Islamophobia pervade the political discourse in Australia. The former prime minister, Tony Abbott, had defended people’s rights to target Muslims and Islam, claiming “Islamophobia hasn’t killed anyone, Islamist terrorism has now killed tens of thousands of people. That’s why it’s absolutely critical that there be the strongest possible response at every level.”A study by Australia’s Charles Sturt University found that 79.6 percent of hijab-wearing women and 47.7 percent of their children are the direct or indirect targets of Islamophobic attacks. Despite only 2.2 percent of Australia’s population identifying as Muslim, prominent politicians capitalize on negative stereotypes and fear-mongering within their political rhetoric. Pauline Hanson, a Queensland senator and One Nation Party leader delivered a speech in late 2016, provoking fears that Muslims and Sharia law were invading the country: “Australia is now seeing changes in suburbs predominantly Muslim. Tolerance towards other Australians is no longer the case. Our law courts are disrespected and our prisons have become breeding grounds for Muslims to radicalize inmates.”Hanson went on to claim, “Muslims want to see sharia law introduced in Australia. This law is a totalitarian civil code which prescribes harsh feudal rules imposed on everything, firstly for Muslims, later for everyone.”She also called for an end to halal certification and for a ban on the construction of any further mosques, stating that the country was not safe with its current non-prohibitory policies. Need for dialogue between Morocco and AustraliaAustralia’s fear of Islam is present even in the country’s perception of Morocco, as manifested by its smart travel tips for the kingdom. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warns Australians to “exercise a high degree of caution in Morocco because of the threat of terrorist attacks. Terror group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) identifies the Maghreb region, which includes Morocco, as a target for terror attacks.”The department also claimed, “There is a general threat of kidnapping against Westerners in North Africa, including Morocco.”Yet, Morocco has experienced no terrorist attack since 2011, and kidnapping is scarce. Other countries, like the US, have refuted the hyperbolized dangers portrayed by Australia, presenting the reality that both terrorist attacks and kidnapping are rare. Compare Australia’s travel advisory for Morocco with its advisory for Spain, a country which experienced its latest terrorist attack just last year in August 2017 and fervently disruptive demonstrations in December 2017. Despite Spain’s more riotous and precarious conditions, Australia deems Spain more secure than Morocco with a basic notice: “Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behavior, as you would in Australia.”Morocco has the opportunity to enlighten Australia with a nuanced understanding of the Arab world. This would also align with Australia’s interests to “collaborate further on counter-terrorism and security issues” as outlined by a press release announcing the appointment of Australia’s new ambassador to Morocco. Understanding Islamic culture is the crux to combatting Islamic terrorism. With the help of Morocco, Australia can move beyond a fearmongering discourse which often obfuscates the real issues. The need to root out fears of Islam was exemplified in a conference hosted in Australia’s capital Canberra, featuring Youssef Amrani, delegate-minister for foreign affairs and cooperation. Amrani’s focus on reforms, centered on inclusive human development particularly in the religious field to promote a tolerant Islam, is a noteworthy lesson for Australian politics. Amrani aptly highlighted to Australia the nuances and complexities of Islam. When addressing the various current crises in the MENA region, Amrani emphasized the need for “a more comprehensive, coherent and pragmatic regional approach, in tune with the realities of each country in the region and in line with the aspirations and legitimate needs of the people.”It is this enlightening message to Australia which animates the possibility of Morocco and Australian relations. Amrani closed the conference by emphasizing Morocco and Australia’s common commitment to the values of dialogue, peace, and openness. Indeed, the future of Australia and Morocco’s bilateral relations depend upon a continual cross-cultural dialogue. This requires honest and genuine feedback with an openness for change so that Australia and Morocco can bridge not only the physical but the ideological distance between them. read more

October 12

Loblaw Companies Ltd. reports Q4 profit up from year ago, revenue edges higher

BRAMPTON, Ont. — Loblaw Companies Ltd. reported its fourth-quarter profit improved compared with a year ago when it was hit by restructuring and other one-time charges.The retailer says it earned a profit of $221 million attributable to common shareholders or 59 cents per share for the quarter ended Dec. 29.That compared with a profit of $31 million or eight cents per share in the same quarter a year earlier.Revenue totalled $11.22 billion, up from $10.99 billion.On an adjusted basis, Loblaw says it earned $1.03 per diluted share from continuing operations, up from $1.02 per diluted share in the final quarter of 2017.Loblaw says the results included a decline in its financial services business, offset by an improvement in underlying performance of its retail operations and the favourable impact of the repurchase of common shares. The Canadian Press Companies in this story: (TSX:L) read more

October 12

AFD Gives Morocco €50 Million Loan to Increase Access to Potable…

Rabat – The French Development Agency (AFD) has granted Morocco a €50 million loan to extend and improve potable water in the northern provinces of Morocco.The National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) signed the agreement with AFD on Friday at a ceremony in the presence of ONEE Director General Abderrahim El Hafidi and AFD Director in Morocco, Mihoub Mezouaghi.The agreement hopes to increase access to safe drinking water in the rural areas of the provinces of Al-Hoceima, Driouch, Nador, and Taounate, ONEE said in a statement Monday. ONEE also hopes the loan will boost production in urban areas, increase storage autonomy in the four provinces, and improve the performance of the drinking water supply.The extension and improvement program will benefit a population of approximately 300,000 inhabitants, nearly half of them in rural areas. It also hopes to promote resilience to climate change mobilize additional  resources.Read Also: AfDB Approves €117 Million Loan for Moroccan Drinking Water ProjectsONEE noted that the new loan confirms the two parties’ will to strengthen their cooperative relationship.Including past loans, the French bank has loaned Morocco €275 million to increase access to drinking water and sanitation.In June, the head of ONEE in the Fez region, Mohammed Berkia, announced that ONEE is undertaking projects to solve the problem of potable water in the northern Rif region and provide supplementary water for laundry and other uses.To increase the water supply in rural areas of the Rif, Berkia said ONEE will invest MAD 330 million to build 13 new dam reservoirs.The projects also include treating seawater and preserving it in a 2,000-cubic-meter tank. read more

October 12

Amazon.com shares boosted by Warren Buffett’s comments

NEW YORK — Shares in Amazon are moving higher after billionaire investor Warren Buffett said his firm has been buying the online retailer.Buffett told CNBC Thursday that one of the money managers at Berkshire Hathaway has been buying Amazon stock.Buffett said the transactions would show up in a future regulatory filing, but stressed that he himself did not direct the purchases.Shares in the Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. rose 3% in morning trading Friday to $1,959.84, its high for the year. The stock is up 30% so far in 2019.Berkshire Hathaway Inc., based in Omaha, Nebraska, owns a range of businesses including insurance, railroads, jewelry stores as well as major investments in American Express, IBM and Wells Fargo & Co. Its annual shareholder meeting is Saturday.The Associated Press read more

October 12

Recent TimorLeste election was free and fair and reflected the will of

In accordance with the Electoral Law, all candidates had the opportunity to address any grievances through the existing electoral and judicial mechanisms rather than taking them to the streets, which also reflects well on public confidence in the national capacity to handle disputes peacefully, the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) said in a press statement. “UNMIT recognizes that, while the first round of elections was not perfect, the consensus assessment was that they were free and fair, reflecting the will of the voters. In addition, considering that these are the first national elections which the Timorese authorities have ever conducted, they should be seen as a significant achievement,” it stated. “UNMIT will continue to encourage calm, resolution of complaints through legal means, and respect for the outcome of the elections as announced by the national electoral authorities.” The UN’s statement came in response to the Sixth Report of the Electoral Certification Team, an independent body appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to assess whether the electoral process for this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections are proceeding in a satisfactory manner. This preliminary report indicates areas where additional improvements are still required, an issue that UNMIT has also raised with the authorities on several occasions and something it said it will continue to do. The UN has praised the non-violent nature of the 9 April voting and looks ahead to a similar response to next month’s run-off presidential poll on 9 May. 30 April 2007This month’s poll in Timor-Leste, the first in the country since gaining independence from Indonesia in 2002, may not have been perfect but it was “free and fair” and reflected the will of the voters, the United Nations said today, adding that it was a significant achievement for the tiny nation. read more

October 12

Haiti ECOSOC team urges investment in key sectors boosting public institutions

Aiming to strengthen the economy in Haiti and promote stability there, a team from the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is calling for investment in tourism, agriculture and the textile and assembly industry.In a report presented to ECOSOC today, the Ad Hoc Advisory Group dispatched by the Council to Haiti in April also called for strengthening public institutions in order to enable Haiti to optimize the major contributions announced by donor countries in recent months. The report provides recommendations to the Government and the international community on how to bolster development efforts in Haiti. The Group, headed by the Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN, also includes the Permanent Representatives of Benin, Brazil, Chile, Haiti, Spain and Trinidad and Tobago.“It is imperative that Haiti remains on the international agenda,” the report says, urging continued international support to foster stability. Poverty is endemic in Haiti, with 54 per cent of the population living in extreme poverty. The country also has the highest child and maternal mortality in the Western Hemisphere. Life expectancy is 52 years and women are in general more vulnerable than men. Evidence in the report makes clear that Haiti will not reach any of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of antipoverty targets to be achieved by 2015.At the same time, the Group cited progress since its last visit to Haiti two years ago, noting greater political stability and improved security. For example, the Group was able to visit the notoriously dangerous Cité Soleil neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince, which would have been too dangerous in the past. On the economic front, following a difficult period of negative growth and high inflation, reforms instituted by the Government have led to an expected growth rate of 2.5 per cent for fiscal year 2006 and a decrease in inflation from 38 per cent in 2003 to 8.6 per cent in February 2007.These figures “testify to the capacity of political authorities and the civil service to set up and follow a sound economic policy,” according to the report.While urging investment in key sectors of the economy, the report acknowledges that economic growth alone is not enough, and calls for strengthening Haiti’s State institutions. It also recommends that the adoption of a national poverty reduction strategy and calls for coordination mechanisms between donors and the Haitian Government as well as a system to track the disbursement of pledge funds. 20 July 2007Aiming to strengthen the economy in Haiti and promote stability there, a team from the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is calling for investment in tourism, agriculture and the textile and assembly industry. read more

October 12

UN agencies and partners distribute vital aid to Ugandan flood victims

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners have distributed more than 1,000 metric tons of food to nearly 82,000 Ugandans, with plans to provide food to an additional 25,000 people.The agency has warned that a major crisis could develop in Uganda, where widespread flooding is worsening road access to key regions in the north and in some places air deliveries are WFP’s only option.Last week the UN launched a $41 million flash appeal for Uganda, of which WFP needs $26.3 million to feed 300,000 flood victims, as well as provide for helicopters, boats and road and bridge repairs.Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has distributed emergency health kits to treat 11,000 people for three months, and is providing health care for 48,000 children for one month.The agency is also providing measles and polio vaccines, as well as insecticide-treated nets and water purification tablets. In addition, it has cholera supplies standing by for up to 10,000 cases. 28 September 2007United Nations agencies and their partners are providing food and health care to tens of thousands of people in Uganda, one of several African countries reeling from the aftermath of the worst flooding the Continent has seen in decades. read more

October 12

Repatriation of former Rwandan Hutu fighters from DR Congo picks up UN

4 February 2009The United Nations has repatriated 335 former Rwandan Hutu fighters and their dependents from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the past month alone as part of an effort to end a source of conflict since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. “As of today, another 219 Rwandan nationals are awaiting repatriation at UN-run facilities in north-eastern Congo,” the UN peacekeeping force in DRC (MONUC) said. Last month, in a move supported by MONUC, the DRC and Rwanda launched a joint military offensive against the Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), which consists of Rwandan Hutus who fled after the Hutu extremist genocide of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus and have since contributed to the turmoil in strife-torn eastern DRC. MONUC said the number of former Rwandan Hutu fighters willing to go back home continues to increase daily, adding that its doors remain open to those willing to join its voluntary disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and rehabilitation (DDRRR) programme.Most recently, the FDLR has been involved in the flare-up of clashes since late August mostly in North Kivu province, where the Congolese national army, the mainly Tutsi militia known as the CNDP and other rebel groups such as the Mai Mai have fought in shifting alliances, uprooting some 250,000 civilians on top of the 800,000 already displaced by violence in recent years.MONUC today welcomed the increasing number of children leaving the ranks of Mai Mai fighters since the start of the accelerated integration of armed groups into the national army. During the past week, the Mission’s child protection section separated 195 children from these groups in North Kivu. read more

October 12

Reinstating judges important step in restoring rule of law in Pakistan –

17 March 2009The United Nations human rights chief has welcomed the Pakistani Government’s decision to reinstate the former Supreme Court Chief Justice and other judges, who had been removed from their posts in 2007, as an important step in restoring the rule of law in the country. Navi Pillay also welcomed the Government’s pledges to free opposition activists and leaders who had been arbitrarily detained over the past week or so and to lift the ban on public demonstrations in the capital and provinces, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva today. “Reinstating all of the 60 judges who had been sacked by the previous administration was an important step in the process of restoring the rule of law in Pakistan,” he stated.“The current Government appears to be showing willingness to respond to concerns voiced by its people regarding their human rights and the integrity of the judicial system,” he said, adding that the High Commissioner calls on the Government to release all activists that had been arrested during the recent protests.Mr. Colville noted that since last year, Pakistan has taken a number of steps to promote human rights and the rule of law, including signing and ratifying global treaties and establishing a Ministry for Human Rights.“However, OHCHR did not believe that sustainable peace and political stability within Pakistan, and in the wider region, would be achieved without real and sustainable advances on the human rights front,” he said. Signing up to key international treaties was a very important step, but the challenge now is to ensure they were properly reflected in national law, and that the national laws are properly implemented, he stressed. Last week, amid growing political tensions in the country, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Pakistan’s leaders to solve all their differences through an honest dialogue to be able to deal with the multitude of challenges the country and the region face. read more

October 12

Ban reaffirms concerns over Myanmar in response to US senators letter

15 April 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today that he shared concerns expressed in a letter sent to him by a group of United States senators about the situation in Myanmar, particularly the continued detention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. “The Secretary-General and his Special Adviser have repeatedly called for her release and that of other political prisoners, and will continue to do so,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.The letter was sent by 10 women senators who urged Mr. Ban to pressure the South-East Asian country to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and to drop controversial election plans, according to media reports.“The Secretary-General continues to follow closely the situation in Myanmar to promote national reconciliation, democratic transition, and respect for human rights in accordance with the mandate given to him by the General Assembly,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson added in response.Following the return of Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari from Myanmar in February, Mr. Ban reiterated his call for the release of the hundreds of political prisoners still in detention, including the Nobel Peace Prize holding opposition leader.Mr. Ban also called for the resumption of dialogue between the Government and the opposition “without delay and without preconditions.”Mr. Gambari, who told the Security Council that there was some movement toward “tangible outcomes” from his 31 January to 3 February good offices visit, was prepared to extend the UN’s political facilitation, Mr. Ban added at the time.Although he said he has been given assurances that all political forces in Myanmar would be allowed to participate freely in multi-party elections scheduled for 2010, the Special Adviser has called on the Government to take steps to enhance their credibility Ms. Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for 12 of the past 18 years and her current period of detention started in 2003. read more