FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Charlie Lake Fire Department responded to a fire at the Canfor lumber mill Monday night.At 19:27 the Charlie Lake Fire Department was paged out to a structure fire at the Canfor lumber mill. Upon arrival, the Duty Officer found that employees had extinguished the majority of the fire.The Fire Department responded with three apparatus and 12 firefighters. Three firefighters entered the building and found and extinguished several hot spots. Crews were on scene for about two hours and there were no injuries.
The Report also says that within that population increase, the senior population in Fort St. John is expected to increase by 124 percent.Peace Holdings says our area is facing housing challenges when it comes to senior housing and this is an issue that the Government should be focusing on.“The Fort St. John area is facing housing challenges in that it has an aging stock and limited options that can accommodate seniors’ evolving needs. This is certainly a hot button topic in other Northern B.C. communities and beyond, as housing affordability continues to be a hurdle faced by many. The aging population in Fort St. John presents a particular challenge, in that the issue of affordability is compounded with the unique needs of the aging population.”According to a recent report from Save Our Northern Seniors, it says there are 346 people living in Senior Housing, with 256 currently on the waitlist.In order to face this issue, Peace Holdings is in the process of designing a community in Fort St. John that is specifically designed for seniors.Through a series of open houses, Peace Holdings had the opportunity to listen to concerns from members of the public on what they feel is important when it comes to the need in senior housing. Assisted and supportive living was found to be the most important need that should be included in future planning.Source Peace Holdings Inc.Peace Holdings says they will continue to engage community members, and work with stakeholders and the Government in order to ensure we are changing and adapting as needed throughout the process.For more information on this Report and senior housing in Fort St. John, you can contact Peace Holdings at 778-580-7122 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Peace Holdings Inc. has released its Findings Report on Senior Housing in Fort St. John.Within the Findings Report, it focuses on the need, the opportunities, and the concept for senior housing.According to the Report, seniors are the fastest growing demographic in the area. They say the population of people in Fort St. John is expected to increase by 47 percent, from 34,513 to 50,893 by the year 2041.
United Nations: UN chief Antonio Guterres is “continually” monitoring the situation between India and Pakistan and his office is available to both parties, his spokesperson has said. Spokesman for the Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric was asked if the UN chief had spoken with the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan to de-escalate tensions between the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours. “The Secretary General and members of his staff are in touch have been in touch with the parties at various levels. We continually monitor the situation and [are] available to the parties,” Dujarric told reporters here Thursday. Also Read – Imran Khan arrives in China, to meet Prez Xi JinpingEarlier this week, Dujarric had said that the Secretary General had not spoken with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan over the situation between the two nations but had expressed his concern to officials on both sides on the need to de-escalate tensions. “We’re fully aware of the situation. The Secretary General has had no calls with those two Heads of Government as far as I’m aware, but he’s had contacts with both sides to express, I think, his concern and the need to do as much as anyone can to de-escalate the tensions,” Dujarric had said at the daily press briefing Tuesday. Also Read – US blacklists 28 Chinese entities over abuses in XinjiangWhen asked if the Secretary General is planning to get involved to try and mediate a de-escalation, Dujarric had said last week that “as always”, the Secretary General’s good offices are always “available should both parties or all parties, depending on the situation, agree to do that”. Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district in February 14.
Kolkata: The state Transport department has decided to ply AC trams between Nonapukur and Shyambazar via Dharmatala on a regular basis shortly.The department has already introduced two AC trams with modern facilities in the city, which are currently used as joyrides. The initiative aims to promote tourism and revive the 130-year-old tram system in the city. Local residents will be happy to see the new avatar of trams once they hit the streets. AC buses, introduced by the state transport department, are also hit with the commuters. The introduction of AC trams will give a boost to the transport system in the state. “People, who commute by trams on a regular basis, will be extremely happy on the introduction of AC trams on the Nonapukur and Shyambazar route,” a senior official of the transport department said. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThere are plans to introduce a few more AC trams on certain routes. Some new AC trams will also be built at Nonapukur workshop of the state transport department. The department is also trying to enhance the speed of trams, said a source. The AC trams would ply at a stretch of 8.44 km between Nonapukur and Shyambazar via Dharmatala. The trial run of these trams has already been conducted on the Nonapukur and Shyambazar route. Altogether, there would be six trips on the route and there are around 24 seats in each tram. According to a source, the fare of AC trams has been fixed at Rs 20 upto 5 km and Rs 25 if the distance exceeds 5 km. About 40 to 45 trams are being run by the Transport department on various routes in the city. A month ago, the state Transport minister Suvendu Adhikari launched the two AC trams. The trams have been built at a cost of Rs 25 lakh each. The exterior of the trams was built at the Nonapukur workshop. The trams are fitted with 5.5-tonne ACs each.
New Delhi: Teenage Indian shooting stars Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary smashed the qualification world record before clinching the 10m air pistol mixed team gold in the 12th Asian Airgun Championship in Taoyuan, Taipei on Wednesday. Their feat came exactly a month after they won the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup stage gold in the same event in Delhi. The 17-year-old Manu and 16-year-old Saurabh shot a combined score of 784 in the qualification round, breaking the record set by Russians Vitalina Batsarashkina and Artem Chernousov at the European Championships five days ago. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh The Indians then went on to win the five-team final with a score of 484.8. Hwang Seongeun and Kim Mose of Korea won the silver with a score of 481.1 while Wu Chia Ying and Kou Kuan-Ting claimed the bronze for the host country with a score of 413.3. A second Indian team comprising of Anuradha and Abhishek Verma also reached the finals and finished fourth with a score of 372.1, the National Rifle association of India (NRAI) said in a statement here.
NEW DELHI: The Congress decision to nominate star boxer Vijender Singh for the prestigious South Delhi constituency has come as a surprise to many but former chief national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu has not been taken aback at the development.The longest serving national coach in Indian boxing history, Sandhu was in charge when Vijender bagged the historic bronze medal in the middleweight categary at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Sandhu feels that Congress President Rahul Gandhi always admired and appreciated Vijnder’s skills inside the ring. “Gandhi is a boxing fan and liked to watch Vijender in action,” Sandhu said on Wednesday. “I remember, during the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Gandhi would sometimes come to the Talkatora Indoor Stadium unannounced to watch Vijender’s bouts. “Later, he would come to encourage our team members, speak to Vijender and leave. I found him to be a genuine boxing lover,” said the former coach. In 2015, Vijender turned a professional boxer under the WBO banner and has performed excellently since then — winning 10 bouts in a row. On July 16, 2016, Vijender took on Kerry Hope of Australia at Delhi’s Thyagaraj Sports Complex and Rahul Gandhi was present to watch the keenly fought bout. “As far I know, Vijender was in close contact with Gandhi. He would sometimes go and meet the Congress leader. But I don’t know whether that resulted in Vijender getting the party ticket in this election,” Sandhu said. Having two WBO titles, Asia Pacific Super Middleweight Oriental Super Middleweight, under his belt, Vijender now takes on BJP’s sitting parliamentarian Ramesh Bidhuri and Aam Aadmi Party leader Raghav Chadha in the political arena. Back in 2017, during an event organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce in Delhi, Vijender and Rahul Gandhi were engaged in an interesting conversation. Vijender, who was in the audience, had some questions for the Gandhi scion, and Gandhi had some interesting responses. To begin with, the professional boxer asked him that while a lot of politicians were seen inaugurating sport events, they are rarely seen playing any sport. Gandhi replied that he practised Aikido, which is a modern Japanese martial art, and also swims regularly. Vijender then suggested that Gandhi post videos of his sporting activities to inspire the youth. What was more interesting though was the second question which also won applause from the audience. The boxer wanted to know if Gandhi would tie the knot anytime soon or only after he became Prime Minister. The Congress leader almost ducked that, passing it on to “destiny and it will happen when the time is right…”, giving the audience something to laugh about. Vijender pressed and said: “Everybody is waiting for it. It will be quite something if you become Prime Minister and then marry.”
CAIRO – The jailing of three activists has triggered fears in Egypt of a return to the police rule that blighted the Mubarak era, eroding gains made in the march towards democracy.On Sunday, a court jailed Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Adel to three years for organising an unauthorised protest in a verdict seen as the military-installed government broadening the crackdown on dissent.It was the first such verdict against pro-democracy protesters since the July 3 overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi, whose Islamist supporters have borne the brunt of a deadly crackdown. The three and Alaa Abdel Fattah, a vocal critic of the police and the military detained on similar charges, were at the forefront of the movement that toppled long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak in 2011, beginning Egypt’s march towards democracy.But analysts say gains achieved since then are threatened by the targeting of such men and by other moves that could signal the return of a police state.Pursuing these activists “is a deliberate effort to target the voices who, since January 2011, have consistently demanded justice and security agency reform,” Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah Whitson said in a statement.“Almost three years after the nationwide protests that brought down Hosni Mubarak, security agencies feel more empowered than ever and are still intent on crushing the right of Egyptians to protest the actions of their government.”Activists have lashed out at the authorities for arming themselves with a new law banning all but police-sanctioned protests, calling it an attempt to stifle freedom of expression — a core value in the fight that toppled Mubarak.The interim authorities justified the overthrow of Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, as a response to massive protests against his turbulent year-long reign, which critics said was marked by power-grabs and economic mismanagement.More than 1,000 people have died in a crackdown on Morsi supporters and thousands have been arrested.The sentencing of Maher, Douma and Adel came days after Ahmed Shafiq, a premier under Mubarak, and the ousted strongman’s two sons were acquitted of corruption.That verdict underscores a sharp reversal of fortune not just for Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement, but for the pro-democracy movement itself.‘A significant step back’“These practices are far from the rule of law. In fact these practices are of a police state enforced more brutally than ever,” 14 Egyptian rights groups said in a joint statement.James Dorsey, Middle East expert and senior fellow at the Singapore-based S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said: “The jailing of activists is a significant step back in what Egypt has achieved since the toppling of Mubarak.“Yesterday’s (Sunday’s) verdict strengthens an atmosphere of caution, if not intimidation.”Dorsey said the regime is expanding the circle of people it is targeting beyond the Brotherhood.“It is signalling that it is not looking at broadening the rights and freedoms of the people,” he told AFP.Activists say the way the four were arrested, why they were detained, the acquittal of Shafiq and Mubarak’s sons and the midnight raid on an NGO last week to arrest Adel were all reminders of the Mubarak era.“In principle (the regime) is retaining an autocratic rule. This coupled with the protest law essentially means there is very little public space to express dissent,” Dorsey said.Experts now question the government’s intentions on the road map it announced to usher a democratic transition, the first step being the January 14 and 15 referendum on a new constitution, followed by parliamentary and presidential elections.Sunday’s verdict “is sabotage against the front that supports the road map,” said Hassan Nafea, professor of political science at Cairo University.He was referring to Maher’s April 6 youth movement which initially backed the road map after Morsi’s overthrow but on Sunday said it was withdrawing its support from the plan.“Now many questions are raised. Will the elections be free and democratic? Is Egypt heading towards a democracy?” asked Nafea.“The first test on the ground will be the referendum.”Dorsey remains hopeful, however.“The military… does not understand that in Egypt…there has been a fundamental shift. No matter what happens, people are willing to question. The regime can’t legislate away this fundamental shift,” he said.
By Monaim EL AzzouziRabat – More than 6000 Moroccan teachers are staging a hunger strike to protest against their exclusion from their legitimate right of promotion and to demand integration in the suitable grades based on their M.A and B.A degrees. The teachers’ feeling of oppression and exclusion stems from the fact that the Moroccan government promoted all teachers who hold M.A and B.A degrees and excluded, without any convincing excuse, the groups of 2012 and 2013 who hold the same degrees. The hunger strike represents an escalation of strike after teachers left schools and took to the streets in daily on-going protests and sits-in, leaving hundreds of thousands of students out of school for more than 40 days. In their statements on Facebook, some teacher stated that they would hang themselves to death if the government continues to deprive them of their legitimate rights and turn a deaf ear to their demands.The Moroccan government continues to use aggressive and unconstitutional police tactics to intimidate teachers from demanding their rights. The Moroccan public forces have sent tens of teachers to hospital and arrested nearly 40 of them in their different violent and brutal attacks starting from the beginning of the strike on November 19th. Instead of engaging in a serious dialogue, the ministry of education declared that it started replacing the teachers on strike and would lay them off if they did not go back to their classrooms.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed
JERUSALEM– Scores of Jewish settlers on Thursday stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in the city of Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem), a Palestinian official told Anadolu Agency.Backed by Israeli forces, about 32 settlers stormed the compound from the Al-Magharba Gate, provoking Muslim worshippers, said one Islamic Endowment Authority official.According to the official, Israeli forces expelled three worshippers and questioned three students “as part of Israel’s policy of harassing worshippers.”Israeli officials, meanwhile, were not available for comment. In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers – often accompanied by Israeli security forces – have stepped up their attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex. The frequent violations anger Palestinian Muslims and occasionally lead to violent confrontations.Jews refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.Israel occupied Al-Quds during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state.
Marrakech – More than 5,000 people descended upon Bab Ighli and Bab Jdid in Marrakech to attend the World Human Rights Forum held on November 28-30. Among those in attendance was a group of survivors of the Tazmamart prison in the Sahara in the south of Morocco near Errachidia.Six former military officers, members of the Moroccan Army and Air Force, were interred in Tazmamart Prison in the early seventies on claims that they had participated in a military coup d’etat against then Moroccan King Hassan II, the father of King Mohammed VI. The six were Air Force Chief Warrant Officer Maguti Al Moufadal, Air Force Sergeant Ahmed Bouhida, Air Force Sergeant Mohammed Bouamlat, Army 2nd Lieutenant Ahmed Marzouki, Air Force Lieutenant Mohamed Alzemmouri, and Army 2nd Lieutenant Moudine Abdelali Sefreoui.According to Chief Warrant Officer Al Moufadal, although not convicted of any crime, the men were sentenced to terms ranging from 3 to 5 to 15 years. Nevertheless, all of them ended up being incarcerated in the prison for almost 20 years. Three years later, upon their transfer from the prison in Rabat to Tazmamart in 1973, he said, four fellow military officers disappeared and have never been heard from since. The conditions at the prison were hard. With each prisoner kept in a cell 2.5 meters by 3 meters, the men “spent 18 years and four months in the dark,” according to Sergeant Bouamlat. “We had no light, no medicine, no good food, and no family visits,” said Sergeant Bouhida. “We didn’t go outside and we were given 5 liters of water in each 24-hour period.”The soldiers were released in 1991, as a result of international pressure, according to Al Moufadal. The story he tells is that one of the soldiers in the group imprisoned in Tazmamart had been married to an American woman. When she learned that her husband was in prison, she appealed to U.S. President Ronald Reagan and international human rights organizations to get her husband out. In the meantime, her husband had managed to get a letter to her which told about the other prisoners. Her husband refused to be released unless the others were as well.While 58 soldiers were sent to Tazmamart prision in 1973, only 28 were still alive when the six men were released. “Our liberty was by the grace of the U.S. and European countries, and national and international human rights associations, and we thank them,” said Bouamlat.Although the government provided some compensation to the soldiers after their release, the soldiers say it was insufficient. Bouhida now supports an extended family of seven on the money he earns from fixing pots and pans and pressure cookers.Morocco has engaged in significant reforms in the last decade in terms of its treatment of prisoners and prison conditions with enactment of the Equity and Reconciliation Act of 2004 and ratification of the UN protocol against torture. The fact that that these former prisoners can attend a human rights forum and raise such issues in the country that imprisoned them all those many years ago, is an indication that Morocco is moving in the right direction, although there is still much to do.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.
Rabat- The Moroccan Royal Family celebrate, on Friday, the twelfth birthday of Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan. The prince, who was named after his late grandfather King Hassan II, was born on May 8th 2003.King Mohammed VI ensures that his heir apparent accompanies him in most major national and international events, especially during visits of heads of state. Prince Moulay El Hassan also chairs major sports competitions, as well as the inauguration of international events hosted in Morocco.Last April 28th, he chaired the inauguration ceremony of 10th annual International Forum for Agriculture (SIAM), which was held in Meknes from April 28th May 3rd.
Paris – France aims at maintaining its position as Morocco’s key partner in all fields, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Thursday in Paris.Speaking at a joint press briefing with Head of the Government Abdelilah Benkirane at the end of the 12th French-Moroccan high level meeting, Valls said that the two countries are set to reinforce cooperation notably in the fight against terrorism and radicalisaiton.The French-Moroccan partnership acts as a safeguard to bilateral security of the two countries, he said. The French Prime Minister also pointed to the importance of the meeting as far as it enabled the drawing of a road map concerning a range of priorities for the two countries. In this regard, he stressed the importance of training saying that the agreements signed at the end of the meeting provide for new commitment of the French Development Agency (AfD) concerning funding to projects aiming at enhancing education and vocational training in Morocco.These commitments are also geared towards promoting the teaching of French in Morocco through launching the option of the Moroccan highschool degree in French, he said.The setting up of French educational institutions in Morocco will continue to enable Moroccan and African students to benefit from French know-how, he added.Concerning Africa, the French Prime Minister said that i twas agreed to work together with Morocco in joint projects in the continent. “We would like to encourage new French-Moroccan partnerships in Africa notably in fields relating to food security, economic investments and higher education”.Valls expressed satisfaction regarding French investments in Morocco where 750 French companies have generated 120,000 jobs.He said that Morocco and France are set to harmonise stands ahead of the COP 21 and COP22 negotiations.The 12th French-Moroccan high level meeting opened on Thursday in Paris under the co-chairmanship of Head of the Government Abdelilah Benkirane and Manuel Valls.
Taroudant – The National Committee for Monitoring the Protection of Personal Data (CNDP) warned Moroccan Internet users that social networking sites like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are tricking people into giving up their personal data.The CNDP called on Moroccans to be careful with the data they share online, which may be sold to “third parties for spying purposes.”Said Ihray, the Chairman of the National Committee, warned that “personal data have become a treasure for organizations that are active in the field of telecommunications, banks and insurance companies, which gain huge profits by selling people’s info to media agencies and intelligence services throughout the world.” During the seminar organized by the CNDP on Saturday under the title “The Role Of Civil Society in the Protection of Privacy and Personal Data,” Ihray said that Morocco must establish a private legal framework for the protection of personal data and give citizens the “right” to protect their personal data.Last year, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Inc., said that many of his biggest competitors, like Facebook and Google, are selling users’ personal data.While he didn’t explicitly name of any of Apple’s competitors, Cook said, “Some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information.”Cook alleged that these companies store all possible information about Internet users and attempt to monetize the data.According to Business Insider, citing a report by Dell SecureWorks, personal information is sold on the “dark web” for sums that vary from $12 for a single U.S. credit card with track data to bank credentials that may sell for $1,000.
Toronto – When he wasn’t being Bond, James Bond, he was being Roger Moore, talented actor who had inhabited the role of the dashing super spy in seven films. Moore succumbed to cancer at the age of 89, Tuesday, according to his official Twitter account, in his beloved Switzerland.His last appearance was on the stage of London’s Royal Festival Hall in November of 2016, just a short distance from where the actor was born.Moore’s children Deborah, Geoffrey and Christian, issued a statement saying “It is with a heavy heart that we must announce our loving father, Sir Roger Moore, has passed away today in Switzerland after a short but brave battle with cancer. The love with which he was surrounded in his final days was so great it cannot be quantified in words alone.” The statement confirmed that, of all his considerable career accomplishments, Moore considered his work for UNICEF to be his greatest source of professional pride.Moore famously, never took his turn as the dashing but deadly James Bond too seriously, at one time saying, “To me, the Bond situations are so ridiculous, so outrageous.” He regularly made fun of the character saying, “you have to treat the humour outrageously as well.”He came to the role in 1973 after fan-favourite Sean Connery grew tired of playing the part. Previously he had enjoyed years of success playing Simon Templar in the British series The Saint in the 1960’s.In 1991, Moore became a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, thanks to the late Audrey Hepburn. In 1996, he spoke at the World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children where he disclosed that he himself had been a victim of childhood abuse. He received several awards for his humanitarian work and in 2008, published his autobiography, My Word is My Bond.In accordance with Sir Roger Moore’s wishes, the funeral will be a private, family service in Monaco.
WASHINGTON — No retreat, no surrender is how President Donald Trump frames his decision to temporarily reopen the government while still pursuing a border wall deal.Some of his conservative backers have a different take, using words like “pathetic” and “wimp.”Other Trump supporters seem willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, while insisting that any ultimate government funding deal the president signs must include money for a wall.Trump defended himself Saturday from the conservative backlash to his decision to end the 35-day partial government shutdown without money for his promised border wall.He says if he doesn’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will shut down again on Feb. 15 or he will use his executive authority to address problems on the southern U.S. border.Deb Riechmann And Steve Peoples, The Associated Press
By Margot Eliason & Kawtar EnnajiRabat – The Moroccan parliamentary commission for teaching, culture, and communication has approved a new framework law for education. The framework law allows for technical subjects to be taught in foreign languages, and require Tamazight to be taught to all Moroccans.The parliamentary commission approved the framework law by a vast majority. 25 voted in favour of the new law, while two voted against the framework. There were also three abstentions. The commission was, however, divided on two controversial provisions. A number of members of parliament abstained from voting for Article 2 and Article 31, which were only approved by 12 and 11 votes respectively.Article 2 specifies that scientific and technical subjects can now be taught in foreign languages through a pedagogy called “Linguistic Alternation” (the equivalent of Content Language Integrated Learning).The article defines the “Linguistic Alternation” method as a “progressive educational choice used in multilingual education, in an aim to diversify the teaching of languages.” However, the framework stresses that this new method should be followed “while prioritizing Morocco’s two official languages [Arabic and Tamazight (Berber)].”Read also: Minister of Education Launches National Platform “Morocco Digital University”Article 2 adds that this reform “will be carried out through teaching some subjects, in particular scientific or technical subjects, or chapters of certain subjects in one or more foreign languages.” Article 31 relates to teaching Tamazight in school. It states that “upon completing high school, students should have mastered both Arabic and Tamazight in addition to two foreign languages.”The law also states that, “all foreign schools based in Morocco are required to teach Arabic and Tamazight to the Moroccan children enrolled in classes.” The framework does not appear to apply to foreign students. Choice of language in schoolsThe new framework law promotes multilingual education. The choice of foreign language, and its integration into the curriculum will then be a matter of choice for the school. Teaching in languages other than Arabic has raised controversy. Some schools already teach scientific subjects in French. Some say this entrenches disadvantage when it comes to accessing higher education which is delivered in French.In January 2015, the Higher Council of Education discussed prioritizing teaching English over French as a foreign language.For some, English is an “international” language which will provide students with a competitive advantage.“English is becoming more and more essential in higher education schools and universities,” Samir Benmakhlouf, CEO of London Academy Casablanca, told Moroccan newsource Le Matin in February.“The mastery of this language is crucial as the majority of international conferences and scientific journals are in English,” he added. “In the job market, it is the linguistic dimension that makes the difference between two otherwise equal candidates,” he explained.The Minister for Education Said Amzazi stated that the approval of the legal framework today was a “historical moment.”It is the first time that the education sector will have its own legal framework, which is a first step towards the Moroccan education system “taking off,” Amzazi told Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).The legal framework aims to promote access to equal education for all Moroccan children.
WASHINGTON — In a rare moment of bipartisanship in polarized Washington, President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders agreed Tuesday to work toward a $2 trillion infrastructure plan to rebuild roads, bridges, provide clean water and extend broadband coverage — but they put off the thorny matter of how to pay for it.Both sides seemed determined to show a willingness to work with the other, even as tensions between the White House and congressional Democrats have only intensified with the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report into Russia meddling in the 2016 elections. Democrats have multiple investigations of the Trump administration underway and Trump’s White House is strongly resisting them.But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said there was “good will in the meeting” — a marked departure from the last White House encounter between Trump, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which ended with Trump walking out in a huff. At Tuesday’s more muted meeting, by contrast, Trump at one point offered to share his Tic Tacs with Pelosi and she accepted, a Democratic aide recounted.“We did come to one agreement: that the agreement would be big and bold,” Pelosi said.Schumer added that: “In previous meetings, the president has said, ‘If these investigations continue, I can’t work with you.’” But this time, Schumer said, “He didn’t bring it up.”Schumer said the two sides agreed that infrastructure investments create jobs and make the United States more competitive economically with the rest of the world. Most importantly, Schumer said, “we agreed on a number.”“Originally, we had started a little lower. Even the president was eager to push it up to $2 trillion, and that is a very good thing,” Schumer said.White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, for her part, described the meeting as “excellent and productive.”Pelosi and congressional Democrats had asked for the meeting with Trump to discuss launching an ambitious building program that’s a top priority for the party and has been a rare area of potential bipartisan accord with Republicans. Trump, too, has long promised a big infrastructure plan.When Democratic lawmakers emerged, they said Trump agreed that infrastructure investments should go beyond roads and bridges and water systems to also include broadband.Democrats also put the onus on Trump to come up with a plan for how to pay for the package, and said they would meet again in three weeks, when the president will present his ideas. They noted that a bill is unlikely to pass the Senate “if we don’t have him on board.”Trump, at one point, said he liked the number $2 trillion because it sounded better than $1.9 billion, according to a Democrat who spoke about the meeting on condition of anonymity because the aide was not authorized to discuss details of the private session publicly.The meeting tenor was decidedly more low-key than the last Trump session with the Democratic leaders. During one exchange, when Pelosi tried to get the president’s attention as he and Schumer were having a side conversation, the speaker prodded, “If I may have your attention … Mr. President … Chuck … Kids …” That was according to the Democrat who described the meeting on condition of anonymity.The nation’s top business groups and labour unions support increasing the federal gasoline tax, currently 18.3 cents a gallon. It was last raised in 1993.Schumer said the president didn’t rule out tax increases to pay for infrastructure. Sanders’ statement did not address the tax issue. Instead, it described the U.S., without elaborating, as “foolishly prioritizing the interests of other countries over our own.”“We have to invest in this country’s future and bring our infrastructure to a level better than it has ever been before,” Sanders added.The meeting included a dozen congressional Democrats and numerous administration officials.Before the meeting, senior aides seemed intent on setting low expectations. Asked whether Trump supports raising the gas tax, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said “this president is the guy who lowers taxes.”And Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, said he hoped the conversations with Democrats would go well, “but if they don’t it would not surprise me.”More than one “infrastructure week” already has come and gone over the past two years with nothing to show for it. Still, advocates for an infrastructure package boost see a narrow window for action.“I think a deal can be had if everybody is willing to put their battle axes away for a period,” said former Republican Rep. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, who served as chairman of the House’s transportation committee for six years.Mulvaney indicated that won’t be easy.“To have an impeachment hearing on Monday, say, and then to think you’re going to talk infrastructure on Tuesday, that’s not how the world works, let alone Washington, D.C.,” Mulvaney said at a conference he was attending in California.Democrats insisted that they will proceed with their “oversight responsibilities” at the same they’re pushing for an infrastructure deal. “The two are not mutually exclusive, and we were glad he didn’t make it that way,” Schumer said.A compromise could offer political benefits to both sides. Trump’s re-election prospects are tied to a strong economy that would get another boost from new road and bridge projects. House Democrats have passed an array of bills that have gone nowhere in the GOP-controlled Senate.Committees in both chambers of Congress have started to lay the groundwork for an infrastructure bill through hearings, with Democratic lawmakers hoping to have legislation ready for consideration by June or July.___AP Writers Darlene Superville and Matthew Daly contributed to this report.Kevin Freking And Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
Rabat – The trial of a British woman for causing “public mischief” began today, Wednesday, October 2, in Famagusta, Cyprus. The 19-year-old accused 12 Israeli tourists of rape in July of this year, only to retract her complaint.Speaking to the Independent, Michael Pollak, a human rights lawyer with legal aid group Justice Abroad, claimed that she retracted her statement under duress, after a night of intense questioning by Cypriot police. Police then charged the 19-year-old with “public mischief.” After one month in jail, she was released on bail at the end of August. Pollak condemned the actions of the Cypriot police, saying; “The process by which they obtained a retraction statement from a vulnerable and young girl who had obviously suffered a lot was very worrying. She was kept in the police station for a long time overnight without access to a lawyer or without any other support.” He added that she is now suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of her ordeal and the months following the alleged rape. “Being imprisoned after she was the victim of such a serious crime added to the impact on her. It is amazing that in 2019 nothing is recorded in police stations in somewhere like Cyprus, which is part of Europe and a developed country.”Pollak described his client, the defendant in the case, as a victim. He explained that the initial attitude towards the woman from the Cypriot police means that a thorough investigation into the rape allegations never took place. Read also: France Wants to Expand Tariq Ramadan’s Alleged Rape Investigation“It seems that the Cypriot police have jumped to an incorrect conclusion before investigating and considering the evidence in this case and in doing so they have treated the victim of this terrible crime as a suspect. The effect of the Cypriot authorities prejudging this matter is they are now unable to investigate the serious allegations against the Israeli youths for rape,” said Pollak. The human rights lawyer added that the teenager, whose name is being kept out of the press until the trial’s verdict, wants to clear her name.Witness testimoniesThe Famagusta court heard witness statements from an Isreali tourist who overheard the 12 Israelis accused of the rape. “They were going to f**k her, all of them. They were talking about it and laughing that they were going to do orgies with her.” “They were saying this in a very bad and aggressive way,” the witness statement, which was read out in court, went on. The alleged rape took place on July 17 in an Ayia Napa resort at the hands of 12 Isreali tourists aged from 15 to 18. Police arrested the 12 tourists but released them without charge. They are no longer under investigation and have returned to Israel.Read also: Moroccan MP Supports Sexual Freedoms, Calls for Repealing Law Against AbortionThe Cypriot police have strongly denied forcing the defendant to retract her statement, adding that she wrote the retraction of her own volition. Meanwhile, Pollak told the Independent that; “After providing a further written statement, the police officer told her that he believed that she was lying about the allegations and that he wanted to help her. He told her to write a confession and that if she did not do so he would arrest her friends in Cyprus for conspiracy.”The legal team defending the British woman is moving to have the “public mischief” charges dismissed. However, if the court rules against her, she could face up to one year in prison.
WASHINGTON — The animated video begins with a photo of the black flags of jihad. Seconds later, it flashes highlights of a year of social media posts: plaques of anti-Semitic verses, talk of retribution and a photo of two men carrying more jihadi flags while they burn the stars and stripes.It wasn’t produced by extremists; it was created by Facebook. In a clever bit of self-promotion, the social media giant takes a year of a user’s content and auto-generates a celebratory video. In this case, the user called himself “Abdel-Rahim Moussa, the Caliphate.”“Thanks for being here, from Facebook,” the video concludes in a cartoon bubble before flashing the company’s famous “thumbs up.”Facebook likes to give the impression that it’s staying ahead of extremists by taking down their posts, often before users even see them. But a confidential whistleblower’s complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission obtained by The Associated Press alleges the social media company has exaggerated its success. Even worse, it shows that the company is inadvertently making use of propaganda by militant groups to auto-generate videos and pages that could be used for networking by extremists.According to the complaint, over a five-month period last year, researchers monitored pages by users who affiliated themselves with groups the U.S. State Department has designated as terrorist organizations. In that period, 38% of the posts with prominent symbols of extremist groups were removed. In its own review, the AP found that as of this month, much of the banned content cited in the study — an execution video, images of severed heads, propaganda honouring martyred militants — slipped through the algorithmic web and remained easy to find on Facebook.The complaint is landing as Facebook tries to stay ahead of a growing array of criticism over its privacy practices and its ability to keep hate speech, live-streamed murders and suicides off its service. In the face of criticism, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has spoken of his pride in the company’s ability to weed out violent posts automatically through artificial intelligence. During an earnings call last month, for instance, he repeated a carefully worded formulation that Facebook has been employing.“In areas like terrorism, for al-Qaida and ISIS-related content, now 99 per cent of the content that we take down in the category our systems flag proactively before anyone sees it,” he said. Then he added: “That’s what really good looks like.”Zuckerberg did not offer an estimate of how much of total prohibited material is being removed.The research behind the SEC complaint is aimed at spotlighting glaring flaws in the company’s approach. Last year, researchers began monitoring users who explicitly identified themselves as members of extremist groups. It wasn’t hard to document. Some of these people even list the extremist groups as their employers. One profile heralded by the black flag of an al-Qaida affiliated group listed his employer, perhaps facetiously, as Facebook. The profile that included the auto-generated video with the flag burning also had a video of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urging jihadi groups not to fight among themselves.While the study is far from comprehensive — in part because Facebook rarely makes much of its data publicly available — researchers involved in the project say the ease of identifying these profiles using a basic keyword search and the fact that so few of them have been removed suggest that Facebook’s claims that its systems catch most extremist content are not accurate.“I mean, that’s just stretching the imagination to beyond incredulity,” says Amr Al Azm, one of the researchers involved in the project. “If a small group of researchers can find hundreds of pages of content by simple searches, why can’t a giant company with all its resources do it?”Al Azm, a professor of history and anthropology at Shawnee State University in Ohio, has also directed a group in Syria documenting the looting and smuggling of antiquities.Facebook concedes that its systems are not perfect, but says it’s making improvements.“After making heavy investments, we are detecting and removing terrorism content at a far higher success rate than even two years ago,” the company said in a statement. “We don’t claim to find everything and we remain vigilant in our efforts against terrorist groups around the world.”But as a stark indication of how easily users can evade Facebook, one page from a user called “Nawan al-Farancsa” has a header whose white lettering against a black background says in English “The Islamic State.” The banner is punctuated with a photo of an explosive mushroom cloud rising from a city.The profile should have caught the attention of Facebook — as well as counter-intelligence agencies. It was created in June 2018, lists the user as coming from Chechnya, once a militant hotspot. It says he lived in Heidelberg, Germany, and studied at a university in Indonesia. Some of the user’s friends also posted militant content.The page, still up in recent days, apparently escaped Facebook’s systems, because of an obvious and long-running evasion of moderation that Facebook should be adept at recognizing: The letters were not searchable text but embedded in a graphic block. But the company says its technology scans audio, video and text — including when it is embedded — for images that reflect violence, weapons or logos of prohibited groups.The social networking giant has endured a rough two years beginning in 2016, when Russia’s use of social media to meddle with the U.S. presidential elections came into focus. Zuckerberg initially downplayed the role Facebook played in the influence operation by Russian intelligence, but the company later apologized.Facebook says it now employs 30,000 people who work on its safety and security practices, reviewing potentially harmful material and anything else that might not belong on the site. Still, the company is putting a lot of its faith in artificial intelligence and its systems’ ability to eventually weed out bad stuff without the help of humans. The new research suggests that goal is a long way away and some critics allege that the company is not making a sincere effort.When the material isn’t removed, it’s treated the same as anything else posted by Facebook’s 2.4 billion users — celebrated in animated videos, linked and categorized and recommended by algorithms.But it’s not just the algorithms that are to blame. The researchers found that some extremists are using Facebook’s “Frame Studio” to post militant propaganda. The tool lets people decorate their profile photos within graphic frames — to support causes or celebrate birthdays, for instance. Facebook says that those framed images must be approved by the company before they are posted.Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert at the University of California, Berkeley, who advises the Counter-Extremism Project, a New York and London-based group focused on combatting extremist messaging, says that Facebook’s artificial intelligence system is failing. He says the company is not motivated to tackle the problem because it would be expensive.“The whole infrastructure is fundamentally flawed,” he said. “And there’s very little appetite to fix it because what Facebook and the other social media companies know is that once they start being responsible for material on their platforms it opens up a whole can of worms.”Another Facebook auto-generation function gone awry scrapes employment information from user’s pages to create business pages. The function is supposed to produce pages meant to help companies network, but in many cases they are serving as a branded landing space for extremist groups. The function allows Facebook users to like pages for extremist organizations, including al-Qaida, the Islamic State group and the Somali-based al-Shabab, effectively providing a list of sympathizers for recruiters.At the top of an auto-generated page for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the AP found a photo of the damaged hull of the USS Cole, which was bombed by al-Qaida in a 2000 attack off the coast of Yemen that killed 17 U.S. Navy sailors. It’s the defining image in AQAP’s own propaganda. The page includes the Wikipedia entry for the group and had been liked by 277 people when last viewed this week.As part of the investigation for the complaint, Al Azm’s researchers in Syria looked closely at the profiles of 63 accounts that liked the auto-generated page for Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, a group that merged from militant groups in Syria, including the al-Qaida affiliated al-Nusra Front. The researchers were able to confirm that 31 of the profiles matched real people in Syria. Some of them turned out to be the same individuals Al Azm’s team was monitoring in a separate project to document the financing of militant groups through antiquities smuggling.Facebook also faces a challenge with U.S. hate groups. In March, the company announced that it was expanding its prohibited content to also include white nationalist and white separatist content— previously it only took action with white supremacist content. It says that it has banned more than 200 white supremacist groups. But it’s still easy to find symbols of supremacy and racial hatred.The researchers in the SEC complaint identified over 30 auto-generated pages for white supremacist groups, whose content Facebook prohibits. They include “The American Nazi Party” and the “New Aryan Empire.” A page created for the “Aryan Brotherhood Headquarters” marks the office on a map and asks whether users recommend it. One endorser posted a question: “How can a brother get in the house.”Even supremacists flagged by law enforcement are slipping through the net. Following a sweep of arrests beginning in October, federal prosecutors in Arkansas indicted dozens of members of a drug trafficking ring linked to the New Aryan Empire. A legal document from February paints a brutal picture of the group, alleging murder, kidnapping and intimidation of witnesses that in one instance involved using a searing-hot knife to scar someone’s face. It also alleges the group used Facebook to discuss New Aryan Empire business.But many of the individuals named in the indictment have Facebook pages that were still up in recent days. They leave no doubt of the users’ white supremacist affiliation, posting images of Hitler, swastikas and a numerical symbol of the New Aryan Empire slogan, “To The Dirt” — the members’ pledge to remain loyal to the end. One of the group’s indicted leaders, Jeffrey Knox, listed his job as “stomp down Honky.” Facebook then auto-generated a “stomp down Honky” business page.Social media companies have broad protection in U.S. law from liability stemming from the content that users post on their sites. But Facebook’s role in generating videos and pages from extremist content raises questions about exposure. Legal analysts contacted by the AP differed on whether the discovery could open the company up to lawsuits.At a minimum, the research behind the SEC complaint illustrates the company’s limited approach to combatting online extremism. The U.S. State Department lists dozens of groups as “designated foreign terrorist organizations” but Facebook in its public statements says it focuses its efforts on two, the Islamic State group and al-Qaida. But even with those two targets, Facebook’s algorithms often miss the names of affiliated groups. Al Azm says Facebook’s method seems to be less effective with Arabic script.For instance, a search in Arabic for “Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula” turns up not only posts, but an auto-generated business page. One user listed his occupation as “Former Sniper” at “Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula” written in Arabic. Another user evaded Facebook’s cull by reversing the order of the countries in the Arabic for ISIS or “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”John Kostyack, a lawyer with the National Whistleblower Center in Washington who represents the anonymous plaintiff behind the complaint, said the goal is to make Facebook take a more robust approach to counteracting extremist propaganda.“Right now we’re hearing stories of what happened in New Zealand and Sri Lanka — just heartbreaking massacres where the groups that came forward were clearly openly recruiting and networking on Facebook and other social media,” he said. “That’s not going to stop unless we develop a public policy to deal with it, unless we create some kind of sense of corporate social responsibility.”Farid, the digital forensics expert, says that Facebook built its infrastructure without thinking through the dangers stemming from content and is now trying to retrofit solutions.“The policy of this platform has been: ‘Move fast and break things.’ I actually think that for once their motto was actually accurate,” he says. “The strategy was grow, grow, grow, profit, profit, profit and then go back and try to deal with whatever problems there are.”___Barbara Ortutay reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writer Maggie Michael contributed to this report.___Follow the authors on Twitter at https://twitter.com/desmondbutler and https://twitter.com/BarbaraOrtutay__Have a tip? Contact the authors securely at https://www.ap.org/tipsDesmond Butler And Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), a regional arm of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), called today for the elimination of industrial trans fats from food supplies throughout the Americas in order to prevent heart attacks. Citing “conclusive evidence” that consuming trans fats increases the risk of heart disease and possibly the risk of sudden cardiac death and diabetes, nutrition and public health experts convened by PAHO said reducing such consumption by just 2 per cent to 4 per cent of total calories would prevent an estimated 30,000 to 225,000 heart attacks in Latin America and the Caribbean.The negative effects of trans fats “are completely avoidable through good education and information,” said Dr. Ricardo Uauy, President of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences and chairman of a task force on the issue.Trans fats are found primarily in foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils, whose texture and longer shelf-life make them attractive to food processors, but which have harmful effects on human health, according to the experts. Research has shown that trans fats contribute to heart disease by raising levels of “bad cholesterol,” lowering levels of “good cholesterol,” and damaging the cells in the linings of blood vessels, contributing to inflammation and blockage and leading to heart attacks.The PAHO task force suggested several measures to speed up the process of eliminating trans fats from food in the Americas, including eliminating industrial trans fat from food supplies and promoting unsaturated fats as an alternative. It also recommended that governments consider mandatory labelling of trans fat content in foods, and that public health advocates work with industry to speed the phasing out of trans fats and to promote healthier oils and fats in foods.The experts noted that several countries have begun to take action to reduce or eliminate industrially produced trans fats. Canada and the United States both require labelling of trans fat in processed foods and recommend that consumers reduce trans fat consumption to as little as possible. Meanwhile, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Uruguay are all considering proposals to reduce trans fat consumption by their populations. 7 June 2007The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), a regional arm of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), called today for the elimination of industrial trans fats from food supplies throughout the Americas in order to prevent heart attacks.