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King Mohammed VI Congratulates Donald Trump on His Election as President

Rabat – King Mohammed VI has sent a message of congratulations to Donald Trump following his election as President of the United States of America.In this message, the Sovereign expressed to Trump His best wishes for success in this new mission and endeavors to lead the American people towards further progress and prosperity.“Your election as President of the United States of America attests to the American people’s trust in you and the high esteem in which they hold you, thanks to your true commitment to serving their lofty interests and your extensive professional experience,” the King said, adding that these qualities will enable Trump not only to help them make further achievements in all fields, but also to consolidate the country’s status as an influential global player. King Mohammed VI also seized this opportunity to highlight the close friendship and mutual esteem between the two peoples, as well as the solid, historic bonds between the two countries, expressing His determination to work with Trump to achieve optimal implementation of the strategic partnership between the Kingdom of Morocco and the United States of America.“I am also keen to enhance dialogue, coordination and consultation between our two countries on all issues of common interest, particularly with regard to the growing challenges posed to world peace and security, in order to counter all forms of extremism, violence and terrorism and to help find just and peaceful solutions to conflicts and tensions around the globe,” the Sovereign stressed.King Mohammed VI also expressed His appreciation for USA’s continued support and keen interest in the major structural reforms initiated in the kingdom with a view to promoting Morocco’s comprehensive development, as well as in efforts aimed at achieving peace and stability in the region and in the various initiatives to build an integrated Maghreb Union that can help protect the region against the security threats it is facing and ensure the progress and prosperity of its peoples. read more

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Weekly Direct Shipping Service Launched Between Morocco and Russia

Rabat – The worldwide shipping group CMA CGM has launched a new linking service between Morocco and Russia called “AGAX,” allowing the delivery of vegetables and fruits in eight days without any stopover. In a communiqué published on the official website of the the shipping group, on Tuesday, CMA CGM  said that this service was created in partnership with its subsidiaries OPDR and ComanavThe group noted that it will provide the fastest transit times on the market by linking Agadir and Saint Petersburg. “Southbound, the ports of Hamburg and Rotterdam still act as important hubs and offer various transshipment and intermodal opportunities,” said CMA CGM.The group went on to say that besides this new service, it maintains a position on the Morocco-Northern Europe/Russia trade with two other weekly lines: DUNKRUS and CISS.“From March 16th, the following rotation will be operated in partnership with SEAGO with 3 x 868 TEU vessels (two being operated by CMA CGM and one by SEAGO): Casablanca – Agadir – St. Petersburg – Hamburg – Rotterdam – Casablanca,” it added.Exportation deals between Russia and Morocco have risen over the past few years.The Association of Fruit and Vegetable Exporters and Producers said in 2015 that the exports of fruit and vegetable from Morocco to Russia increased from 14 to 20 percent“There was a strong demand, especially for tomatoes, cucumber and slightly less for peppers. Cherry tomatoes are also increasing in demand. Russians imported from Southern Europe,” said Saad Silimani, president of the association. read more

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Real Madrid Outraged at Barcelona Footballer Gerard Pique

By Safaa KasraouiRabat – Barcelona (FC) Defender, Gerard Pique, has taken everyone by surprise by criticizing Real Madrid’s values following the France Vs Spain friendly match, which took place Tuesday at France Stadium, in France.The 30-year-old player explained his opinion by mentioning that people were talking about the arbitrary mistakes made during FCB vs Paris Saint Germain final round of c1 match, which ended with a 6-1 victory in favor of FCB on March 8. “Everybody talks about the mistakes of the match, but when Real Madrid had won the champions league last season on a clearly offside goal, nobody talked,” said Pique.He added, “I don’t have a personal problem with Real Madrid players, but i would never work for Real Madrid, because I don’t like Real Madrid values,” he added.The statement of the FCB player did not go unnoticed on the side of RMD players. For his part, Real Madrid defender, José Igancio Fernandez Iglesias, commonly known as Nacho, said that “Real Madrid is used to such allegations, we focus on our case, some people share their opinion and others do not, but I am proud the values I have acquired since I have joined the club.”According to a media report by Goal platform, Real Madrid defender, Sergio Ramos, has also expressed his thoughts concerning Pique’s allegation, saying that he was not surprised by it. He added that he would be surprised if this comment had been uttered by Lionel Messi.He continued, saying that Pique’s comments will change nothing in Real Madrid. One can appreciate him as great player, Ramos explained, but that doesn’t mean that his club would really be disturbed because of to Pique’s statement. read more

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Press Freedom Morocco Ranks Near the Bottom

Rabat – Morocco was ranked 133rd in press freedom out of 180 countries by the latest World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).Morocco slipped down two places from 2016.The index said that this low ranking resulted from authorities’ use of political and economic pressure to deter local independent media outlets from covering sensitive subjects. The report added that even international media members have become targets. The index, released annually since 2002, pointed out that Morocco expelled a growing number of foreign reporters in 2016 for lacking official filming permits.Topped by Norway and bottomed by North Korea, the index said that in Western Sahara, where the Polisario Front continues to abuse human rights, journalists are threatened and prosecuted when they attempt to report human rights violations.According to the RSF, which published a corresponding analysis, two recent international major events, the Brexit campaign and Donald Trump’s rise to power in the United States, were marked by high-profile media bashing. The United States ranked at 43rd, falling two places, and the United Kingdom at 40th.In Africa, Namibia topped the list, ranking 24th followed by Ghana at 26 and Cape Verde at 27. read more

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Over a Third of Moroccan Exports Directed to ECOWAS

Rabat – In 2016, more than a third of Morocco’s exports to Africa were directed to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), making it the main African regional economic community destination of Moroccan exports.The imbriglio on Morocco’s membership into the ECOWAS is not clearing up anytime soon. While the 52nd Summit of the ECOWAS heald earlier this month was supposed to bring more light to the matter, the sudden postponement of the Moroccan file came as a surprise for many.Several local and international media presented diplomatic and political issues as the reason behind the delay of Morocco’s membership verdict, however, the answer could simply lay in numbers. While a preliminary version of the study conducted by the ECOWAS on the implications of Morocco’s integration was leaked before the latest corrections and re-readings, the study revealed the latest figures on trade between Morocco and the countries of the region.In 2016, 37.3 percent of Moroccan exports to Africa were directed to ECOWAS, which made the latter the main African regional economic community destination for Moroccan exports.Over the 2014-2016 period, more than 60 percent of Morocco’s exports to ECOWAS consisted of manufactured products, including fertilizers, building materials, paper, cardboard, machinery, equipment transport, drugs, metal packaging, metal structures and shoes.The other third consisted of food products, especially fish and wheat flour. At the country level, Côte d’Ivoire alone absorbs around one fourth of Morocco’s total exports to ECOWAS. Senegal came in second with 15.1 percent, followed by Nigeria with 11.7 percent.To a lesser extent Mali, Guinea, Ghana, but also Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo were also important destinations for Moroccan exports within the community.Yes, but …While the impact study produced is generally in the favor of Morocco, the kingdom’s membership to this common market of 350 million consumers must be done gradually.As Morocco is less economically protectionist than the member countries of ECOWAS, access to this market will be more difficult, especially for agricultural and industrial products. In most ECOWAS countries, the average customs fees exceeds 20 percent. However, this figure hides a great disparity between these two sectors.Goods such as pharmaceuticals exported by Morocco to the West-African community are exempted from customs duties, while other exports such as fertilizers, construction materials, machinery and transport equipment are subject to relatively low to moderate taxes at less than 10 percent. It is therefore not surprising that these products constitute the bulk of Moroccan exports to ECOWAS.On the other hand, products such as textiles, clothing, tobacco, sugar, meat, vegetables, soap and cocoa are among the most protected by tariffs between 20 and 35 percent. This is the result of the common external tariff (CET) in effect since 2016 within the ECOWAS.This mechanism comprises five categories: “basic social goods, including essential medicine” which are exempted from customs duties, “essential goods, raw materials and specific inputs” which are taxed at 5 percent, “inputs and intermediate products” which are taxed at 10 percent, “final consumer goods” taxed at 20 percent and “specific goods for economic development” taxed at 35 percent.These products, which are currently strongly protected by the ECOWAS, are certainly those on which Morocco hopes to gain export positions. “However, it would be useful to examine the impact that duty-free exports of Moroccan products could have on the import revenues of the countries of the community,” states the impact study presented at the last summit of the regional organization.Admittedly, ECOWAS already enjoys relatively good access to the Moroccan market, but there are still several products that are extremely protected by the kingdom. These include clothing and accessories, shoes, leather, vegetables, tobacco, dairy products, beverages and spirits, which are taxed by a minimum of 25 percent duty. This finding suggests that the expected gains for ECOWAS will be small.However, a closer look at the expanded organization in Morocco shows that it would gain diversification to export a wide range of high value-added products. Especially since this dynamic will be carried by two countries: Morocco and Nigeria, two economic growth powers that can pull the African market to prosperity. read more

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Most actively traded companies on the TSX

The Canadian Press Some of the most active companies traded Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange:Toronto Stock Exchange (15,378.62, up 12.57 points).Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB). Health care. Up 53 cents, or 5.97 per cent, to $9.41 on 22.7 million shares.Nighthawk Gold Corp. (TSX:NHK). Materials. Up four cents, or 10.67 per cent, to 41.5 cents on 11.6 million shares.The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings. (TSX:TGOD). Health care. Up 32 cents, or 8.6 per cent, to $4.04 on 10.7 million shares.Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Industrials. Down five cents, or 2.5 per cent, to $1.95 on 8.6 million shares.Aphria Inc. (TSX:APHA). Health care. Up 36 cents, or 3.82 per cent, to $9.79 on 7.3 million shares.Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX:WEED). Health care. Up $3.12, or 4.87 per cent, to $67.22 on 6.2 million shares.Companies reporting:SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (TSX:SNC). Down $13.49 or 27.8 per cent to $35.01. SNC-Lavalin’s CEO says ongoing diplomatic tensions between Canada and Saudi Arabia are hurting the company’s bottom line and forcing it to consider a possible retreat from the oil-rich state as SNC share prices plunged to a three-year low. Amid an international row that has only escalated since last summer, Neil Bruce cited Ottawa’s recent granting of asylum to a Saudi teenager as the latest likely blow to business, spurring him to order a review of where the engineering and construction giant conducts operations, with an eye to “predictability.”Organigram Holdings Inc. (TSX-V:OGI). Up $1.14 or 19.16 per cent to $7.09.  Licensed cannabis producer Organigram Holdings says net revenue in its latest quarter hit $12.4 million, up from $2.4 million from a year earlier, due to the launch of recreational pot sales in October. Organigram says its sales during the three-month period ended Nov. 30 marked a record quarterly high and amounted to more than what the company has historically sold to medical patients in an entire year. The Moncton-based company also reported that during what was its financial first quarter it sold 1.7 million grams of dried flower, up from 195,075 grams during the same period a year earlier. read more

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Airbnb criticizes Hawaii attempt to subpoena host records

HONOLULU — Airbnb criticizing Hawaii’s attempt to subpoena 10 years’ worth of invoices, receipts and other records from the home-sharing platform’s island hosts.It calls the move unprecedented and a “massive intrusion” that violates state and federal law.The company says in a court filing Wednesday that Hawaii has failed to show why it should be allowed to “invade the privacy rights of Airbnb and its users on this massive scale.”Hawaii asked a court last year to allow the subpoena to help officials find which hosts haven’t paid the state’s equivalent of hotel and sales taxes.The state needs the court’s permission to serve the subpoena because its investigation targets a group of taxpayers and not specific individuals.A hearing on the issue is scheduled for next week.Audrey McAvoy, The Associated Press read more

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Photos of the Day King Mohammed VI in Parisian Boutiques

Rabat- King Mohammed VI continues to pop up in photos around Paris. The sovereign was newly photographed with fans in two Parisian boutiques.Among the many recent photos showing King Mohammed VI’s good health during his stay in the French capital, Mehdi Benkirane shared four new photos on his official Facebook page on Thursday and Friday. The three photos show Mohammed VI posing with three men in a space that seems like a store selling hair products, while the fourth photo features the King side-by-side with a man in a clothes shop. Throughout the previous weeks, the king was photographed with several local and international fans in various locations: Rabbi Israël Goldberg, French singer Maître Gims, an optician, a woman in a Parisian garden, and passers-by in a Parisian pharmacy and a jeans shop earlier this week.Thanks to the daily photographs, Moroccan nationals and fans of the sovereign can rest assured knowing that the King’s heart surgery recovery is progressing smoothly. read more

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Craigslist founder donates 15 million for journalism ethics

PASADENA, Calif. — The founder of Craigslist has become a major supporter of journalism, and he’s just donated $15 million more.Craig Newmark is giving $10 million to Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and $5 million to the Poynter Institute in Florida. In both cases, the donations are to promote programs about ethics in the digital age.Newmark says is philanthropy has nothing to do with the perception Craigslist was harmful to journalism because the online classified ad site siphoned away a major revenue source for newspapers when it was launched in 1995.David Bauder, The Associated Press read more

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Congress urged to fully open banks to marijuana industry

LOS ANGELES — Banking officials are urging Congress to fully open the doors of the U.S. bank system to the legal marijuana industry.Most Americans live in states where marijuana is legal in some form.But most banks don’t want anything to do with pot money for fear it could expose them to legal trouble from the federal government, which still considers marijuana illegal.That conflict forces many businesses to operate only in cash, making them targets for crime and creating problems with paying taxes.A proposal in Congress would allow pot businesses to access banking services, while sheltering banks from prosecution for handling pot money.Some banking officials urged lawmakers at a House committee hearing Wednesday to pass the measure. Others say it wouldn’t work because pot remains illegal at the federal level.Michael R. Blood, The Associated Press read more

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Just For Laughs Comedy Festival Returns to Agadir

Agadir’s festival of humor is back! Rabat – The 2018 “Juste pour rire” (Just for Laughs) festival in Agadir will welcome, from August 9-12, more than 30 Moroccan and foreign humorists at the Verdure amphitheater.The festival is organized by the association Just for Agadir, in partnership with the communal council, the regional council of Souss Massa, and the regional council of tourism. “After the success of the first edition, the festival returns this year with a generous program to confirm its vocation as a crossroads, where Amazigh, Arabic and French-speaking artists meet,” the organizers said in a statement made public by MAP. The festival will begin August 9 with the gala “Ait Tgemi” gathering Amazigh artists. The public will experience comedians Rachid Aslal, Mustapha Sghir, Mohamed Kimroun, Anas Machati, Ahmed Ntama, Hamid Achtouk, Hassan Boumeska and Mohamed Zouf.The evening of August 10 will see the “family” gala with artists Eko, Haytam Miftah, Oussama Ramzi, Zouhair Zair, Seif Eddine Setif, Les Inqualifiables and Zouhimself. The festival’s program also includes a show called “Rachid Comedy Show” with Rachid Allali, Abdelkader Sector, Bassou, Driss and Mehdi, El Mehdi Chehab, Azzedine Fettouhi, and Soufiane Naaoum.On the closing night, the public will meet “Les invités” (the guests), a show bringing together ??French comedians, such as Booder, Nidhal Saadi, Tareek, Ines Reg, Oualas, Sparrow, Walid Sax, and Paul Sere. read more

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Tahoe residents oppose new homes in path of wildfire danger

RENO, Nev. — During her career as a flight attendant, Laura Haneveld had a checklist to remind her what to do in the event of a fire.“The most important thing on an airplane is fire, whether you are on the ground or whether you are up in the air,” Haneveld said. “I’m very attuned to how quickly fire can take over and how you don’t think clearly.”Now retired and living in California’s Olympic Valley near Lake Tahoe, Haneveld still keeps a fire checklist.Only this time it’s to remind her and her husband, emergency room physician Ed Haneveld, what to take if they’re escaping a forest fire.“Forty years ago, we had a much healthier forest, now we are dealing with an unhealthy forest,” Haneveld said. “I see the potential for a real disaster.”That’s among the reasons Haneveld and many other Sierra Nevada residents oppose a proposed redevelopment plan for Squaw Valley Resort that would add about 1,500 bedrooms and additional retail and resort amenities to the valley over the next 25 years.The proposed redevelopment, along with another controversial plan for hundreds of homes near a two-lane highway near Truckee, comes as Californians are already reckoning with the dangers posed by development in fire-prone areas.Although even the developers acknowledge there are scenarios in which wildfire could burn through faster than people could evacuate, local officials have approved development plans over the objections of environmental groups and hundreds of residents who spoke out against the plans.Both are being challenged in court, and in one case a judge called the evacuation plan insufficient.“We are adding people, buildings, we are not adding any more ability to get out of here,” Haneveld said.The geographic features that make the scenic valley attractive to residents and tourists contribute to her evacuation worries.The main redevelopment area is approximately two miles west of California Highway 89 via the curvy, two-lane Squaw Valley Road.Most homes in the valley are on the north side of the road and the northern, southern and eastern ends are forested.In the centre, Squaw Valley Creek runs through a meadow, which rises toward the resort and ski area. Exposed-rock terrain towers up to 3,000 feet above the valley floor.From the ridges, skiers and snowboarders can enjoy views of Lake Tahoe to the east. In 2014 those same ridges would have provided a panoramic view of the King Fire, which started about 35 miles to the southwest near Pollock Pines and burned to within about eight miles.Haneveld’s greatest fear is there will be thousands of residents and visitors crammed into the valley when the next fire arrives and their attempts at evacuation will result in gridlock.“I think it is more the feeling of being trapped that is frightening,” said Haneveld, who recalled the stories of people fleeing the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, seeking refuge in a stream in November 2018.“I’ve certainly thought of that as a last-ditch effort, getting to the Truckee River,” she said.And it’s not the only controversial development that would put more traffic on roads in the forested, mountain terrain between Lake Tahoe and Interstate 80.Another would add several hundred homes and commercial properties near Northstar California Resort.The proposal, called Martis Valley West, generated similar complaints from people who worry that additional development in hilly terrain with narrow roads and heavy traffic would compromise residents’ ability to evacuate during a fire.“The biggest issue around here is there just simply is not room to safely build these monster developments,” said Robert Heinz, who lives on Dollar Point near Tahoe City.Heinz said he and his wife keep a packed bag at the ready in the event of a fire. But they worry their readiness would do them no good if traffic were at a standstill.“Depending on which way the fire is coming we would probably go in the opposite direction, but so would everybody else,” Heinz said.Critics say the projects show state and local governments need to pay closer attention to how developments will affect the ability of people to evacuate in the event of a disaster before approving new building.“We need to have a better way to capture suitable areas to develop in or non-suitable areas that can be taken off the table,” said Alexis Ollar of Mountain Area Preservation, a Truckee, Calif., based group that’s suing to block the Martis Valley development.Backers of the developments accuse critics of weaponizing deadly California fire disasters to stoke anti-development fears even as developers take steps to ensure their projects are suitable for fire-prone areas.“We have to learn to adapt and not live in fear,” said Ron Cohen, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. “I don’t believe in withdrawing from the mountains because of fire.”Ed Morgan, chief operating officer of Mountainside Builders, the developer behind Martis Valley West, said the project is already scaled down from the original proposal by about 1,300 units and shifted entirely to the west side of Highway 267 near Northstar, leaving more open space to the east.“I understand there are some groups that want nothing, but this is private property that has certain rights to develop with county plans,” Morgan said. “You don’t just walk away from that.”Both projects are in areas scientists and land managers call the wildland urban interface, or WUI.And while WUI areas don’t always correlate with greater risk of fire destruction, they do in California. That’s because the state, which is the most populous in the U.S., has vast amounts of mountainside land with overgrown vegetation that dries in the summer close to densely populated communities.In California, 75 per cent of buildings destroyed by wildfire are in WUI zones, according to recent research. In states such as Washington, which is wetter, and Montana, which is sparsely populated, that figure is less than 25 per cent.“There are a lot of buildings and there is a lot of woodland vegetation and they are close to each other, and there is a lot of fire,” said Anu Kramer, a wildfire scientist at the Silvis Lab at the University of Wisconsin who conducted the research. “When those things come together that is when you are going to see a lot of destruction.”Jennifer Montgomery, director of the California Governor’s Forest Management Task Force and a former Placer County supervisor, said the confluence of development, fire-prone terrain and congested infrastructure is a statewide problem.“It is not a question that is unique to Tahoe, it is a question that is broadly applied to the state of California,” Montgomery said.Montgomery was the lone vote on the Placer County Board of Supervisors against the Squaw Valley plan, although she said her concerns were more about congestion in general than fire evacuation specifically.“We need to have a significantly more robust public system that moves people in and out and stops the insane reliance we have on single-family passenger vehicles,” Montgomery said.__NEW HOMES, BUSINESSES AND A WATERPARKAlthough the two proposals are from unrelated developers, their development timelines and proximities to busy highways between North Lake Tahoe and Interstate 80 raise similar concerns among critics, particularly when it comes to fire safety.Combined, they would add about 1,500 housing units and more than 330,000 square feet of commercial space.The Squaw Valley proposal calls for the redevelopment of about 93 acres at the base of Squaw Valley Resort.Located at the western end of Olympic Valley, the resort was the home of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games and, more recently, is known for attracting elite skiers and snowboarders.The resort’s 25-year redevelopment plan calls for an additional 850 units supporting nearly 1,500 bedrooms, nearly 300,000 square feet of commercial space that would include restaurants, retail and a 90,000-square-foot Mountain Adventure Camp with a waterpark and other year-round amenities capable of hosting 1,200 guests.If development plans come to fruition, additions to the resort plus growth in the surrounding community could increase the number of people in the valley from about 5,800 to nearly 9,500, at full capacity. That’s in addition to day visitation, which peaks in the winter during ski season when fire danger is low. Although amenities in the proposed development are designed to attract visitors throughout the year.According to the plan, both new and existing visitors and residents would access homes and the resort via Squaw Valley Road, which connects to California Highway 89 at the east end of the valley.The proposed Martis Valley West development is located along Highway 267 about seven miles northeast of Olympic Valley as the crow flies and about 20 miles by road.Currently undeveloped, the proposal calls for up to 760 homes and 34,500 square feet of commercial space.Once built, people driving out of the development could choose to take 267 north to Truckee or south over Brockway Summit to King’s Beach.Although the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved the plans, both development proposals remain tangled in litigation from environmental groups.In the case of Squaw Valley, Placer County Superior Court Judge Michael Jones rejected arguments by the environmental group Sierra Watch that the county performed inadequate analysis of the project and violated California’s Brown Act, which covers the public’s right to participate in government decisions.Sierra Watch is appealing the rulings.In the case of Martis Valley, Jones ruled in favour of environmental groups on the issue of fire evacuation, while rejecting their other arguments against the plan.“The (environmental impact report) identifies the area as a very high fire hazard severity zone but then fails to present a sufficient analysis to address the impacts of the Project on emergency procedures,” Jones wrote.Both the environmental groups and the developer are appealing aspects of Jones’ Martis Valley ruling.___‘RECIPE FOR CATASTROPHIC DISASTER’Environmental groups, and some residents, accuse both projects’ developers and the county of overlooking or downplaying the impact new development could have on people’s ability to evacuate during a wildfire.In Squaw Valley, developers and officials acknowledge it’s possible a fire could approach faster than thousands of people could drive out on Squaw Valley Road. Or, depending on the direction, a fire could block access to the road.In those scenarios, officials and the developer say residents and visitors would need to take refuge at the resort.Allen Riley, chief of the Squaw Valley Fire Department, said the acres of bare pavement and village area would be sufficient harbour for people to survive a quick-moving fire, although evacuation would be the first choice.Under the redevelopment plan, much of the surface parking is slated to be used for structures, including parking garages, that could be used for shelter after construction is completed.Riley cited communities in Australia as well as Rancho Santa Fe and Pepperdine University in California as places where shelter-in-place strategies have worked.“Certainly, our first option is to have enough time, enough heads-up, to evacuate the valley,” Riley told the audience at a public meeting about fire safety. “We’re comfortable in saying that we have an area (at the resort) that can work as a really good safety zone if needed.”Critics say that’s not good enough.Isaac Silverman, an attorney for Sierra Watch, rejects the idea that shelter-in-place is right for Squaw Valley just because it has worked in parts of Southern California and Australia.“Those are scrub chaparral environments, they’re not conifer forest environments,” Silverman said. “There’s a particular kind of firestorm that’s created in a forest.”With Martis Valley the concern centres on the capacity for 267 to handle traffic during an emergency.Although the project plan calls for emergency and seasonal secondary access roads to the development, those roads would also connect to 267, a highway that’s already crowded with traffic between Lake Tahoe and Truckee.According to project documents, it would take an estimated 1.3 to 1.5 hours to evacuate the development, enough time for a fast-moving fire to burn through.“In other words, the Project’s location and design are a recipe for catastrophic disaster,” environmental groups argued in court papers.A potential increase in traffic also worries residents near the lake who would might also need to evacuate.“You’ve got a narrow, tree-lined canyon from Kings Beach over 267,” Heinz said. “It would be an absolute death trap.”___DEVELOPERS: DON’T BLAME US FOR BIGGER PROBLEMSDevelopers behind the projects acknowledge they’re looking to build in high fire hazard areas with traffic problems.But they argue the problems will exist with or without the new development, as will solutions.Cohen said he’s planning to co-ordinate drills in Squaw Valley that will test the community and the resort’s readiness to shelter-in-place during a disaster.He said the resort already has access to ample amounts of water and personnel who could help direct people during an emergency.“The correct approach for this place, development or not, is shelter-in-place,” Cohen said. “I think there are people in Paradise who will tell you they should have had that. If there had been shelter-in-place … fewer people would have died in their cars.”The city of Paradise did have two designated gathering points for residents, and some rode out the firestorm in the Paradise Alliance Church. The second spot was a parking lot beside a senior centre, which burned. At one point, with the road out of town blocked, firefighters also began directing residents to a grocery store parking lot, where they survived.Eight of the Camp Fire’s 85 fatalities occurred in vehicles and two other bodies were found near vehicles, while the majority of human remains were discovered inside homes, according to Butte County’s final count. Wildfire and public safety experts generally agree that early evacuation is always the first and best strategy in the path of wildfire.At Martis Valley, Morgan said developers are satisfied with their evacuation plan despite the court ruling it was inadequate.On appeal in court and during an interview the developers pushed back against the notion they don’t have an adequate plan.“Of course, in the wake of the Camp Fire and other recent disasters, no one disputes the seriousness of the wildland fire threat, or the need for serious planning to prepare for such disasters,” Martis Valley West attorney Whit Manley wrote. “The (environmental impact report) served its function by ensuring the debate was fully informed.”Benjamin Spillman, The Associated Press read more

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UN commission hears calls for major policy push to promote energy efficiency

30 April 2007Delegates to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development meeting in New York today proposed a wide range of measures aimed at helping to bring modern energy services to the poor, reduce energy waste and cut climate change-causing greenhouse gases. Delegates to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development meeting in New York today proposed a wide range of measures aimed at helping to bring modern energy services to the poor, reduce energy waste and cut climate change-causing greenhouse gases. “We need a major policy push to promote energy efficiency, to generate new energy technologies, and to promote advanced and cleaner technologies,” said José Antonio Ocampo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, in an opening address to the two-week session. Long-term energy solutions, together with the interlinked issues of climate change, industrial development and air pollution, are at the core of the Commission’s agenda. “This gathering can craft thoughtful, focused policy decisions to advance progress on several fronts: providing affordable, modern energy services to the poor, helping countries industrialize on the basis of cleaner production processes, and designing energy systems that contribute to confronting the global challenge of climate change,” Mr. Ocampo told participants. Underlining the importance of the issues before this year’s session, Commission Chair Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Industry of Qatar, reminded delegates of their “historical responsibility to current and future generations to make progress here.” This session marks the 20th anniversary of the Brundtland Commission report, Our Common Future, which put sustainable development on the map as an integrated process that balances social, economic and environmental concerns. “Every group has its own agenda, every country has its own interests,” Mr. Al-Attiyah said, adding, however, that he firmly believed that “there is strong political will among Member States to make real progress here during this session, and there exists a lot of common ground.” Emphasizing the need for action, Mr. Al-Attiyah said that “with one third of the world without access to modern energy, our world is not a sustainable one; neither will our world be sustainable if the current patterns of consumption and production continue.” Pakistan’s UN representative Farukh Amil, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, called for the provision of new and additional financial resources for development, equitable international trade and financial systems, and the transfer of technology. He pointed out that official development assistance fell 5.1 percent in 2006 compared to 2005. The meeting at UN headquarters in New York is attended by more than 90 ministers and 1,500 representatives of non-governmental organizations. It ends on 11 May. read more

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DPR Korea independent panel making headway into reviewing UNDP activities

7 December 2007An independent panel announced today that it is making headway reviewing allegations about the activities of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) that are not being considered by an existing probe by the UN Board of Auditors. The External Independent Investigative Review Panel – led by Miklos Németh, the former Prime Minister of Hungary and a current member to the Advisory Council of Transparency International – “is making substantial progress,” it said in a statement.The three-person Panel said has collected information and data, studied many documents provided by different sources, interviewed individuals both within and outside UNDP and has established a comprehensive investigation of all issued covered by the Terms of Reference.The Panel, whose creation was announced in August, will also examine documents from the agency’s DPRK office, which are en route to New York and will be kept in a secure area upon their arrival.Although the original intention was for the body to submit a report by the end of this year, it announced today that due to the “significant work still ahead of the Panel, it has concluded that it will not be able to complete its task before the end of this year.”Instead, it will finish its work and submit its final report at the end of March 2008, at the very latest, today’s statement said.In January, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ordered the Board to audit amid allegations aired in the media that funds used by UN agencies to help in humanitarian efforts in the DPRK were being channelled improperly to the Government in Pyongyang, including to its nuclear programme.The first phase of the Board’s investigation into the operations of UNDP, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) found there had been no large-scale or systematic diversion of UN funds.But the Board said that its second phase will not cover the full range of allegations and issues raised specifically about UNDP’s work in the DPRK, and the Panel led by Mr. Németh was created as a result.That body’s other two members are Chander Mohan Vasudev, formerly Permanent Secretary of Public Expenditure in the Indian Ministry of Finance, and Mary Ann Wyrsch, former UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees who is also currently the Chair of UNDP’s Audit Advisory Committee. read more

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Slovak foreign minister named to head UNs economic commission for Europe

18 December 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Slovakia’s Foreign Minister, Ján Kubiš, as the new Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), which promotes dialogue and cooperation among 56 nations on a range of issues, including economic integration, energy, environment and trade. Mr. Kubiš, who replaces Marek Belka of Poland, will take up his post in the middle of January 2009, a spokesperson for the world body announced today.The new Executive Secretary-General has served as his country’s Foreign Minister since 2006 and held the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Prior to that, he was Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).Mr. Kubiš has also served as the European Union’s Special Representative for Central Asia from 2005 to 2006, as well as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) from 1998 to 1999. read more

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ICC Prosecutor welcomes voluntary court appearance by Darfur rebel leader

17 May 2009One of the three rebel commanders alleged to have directed the deadly September 2007 attack against peacekeepers in the war-ravaged Sudanese region of Darfur will voluntarily appear in the International Criminal Court (ICC) tomorrow, a move welcomed today by the Court”s Prosecutor. One of the three rebel commanders alleged to have directed the deadly September 2007 attack against peacekeepers in the war-ravaged Sudanese region of Darfur will voluntarily appear in the International Criminal Court (ICC) tomorrow, a move welcomed today by the Court’s Prosecutor. Some 1,000 rebels attacked the Haskanita camp in South Darfur state on 29 September 2007, killing 12 peacekeepers serving with the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) – a predecessor to the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID – and wounding eight others. Last November, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo presented evidence against the three commanders, who “planned, led their troops and directed the attack and completely destroyed AMIS facilities and property, directly affecting aid and security for millions of people of Darfur who are in need of protection.” The Prosecution said that there are reasonable grounds to believe the three commanders bear criminal responsibility for three counts of war crimes for murder, intentionally directing attacks against personnel and objects involved in a peacekeeping mission and pillaging. Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, a member of the Zaghawa tribe of Sudan, will be the first person to appear before the ICC voluntarily in response to a summons and also the first to appear in relation to the investigation into the situation in Darfur, which was referred to The Hague-based Court by the Security Council in 2005. He arrived in the Netherlands today and at his initial appearance tomorrow, he will be informed of the crimes which he is alleged to have committed and of his rights. After the hearing, Mr. Abu Garda is free to leave the country, but will be required to return to attend a confirmation of charges hearing after which it will be determined whether or not there are substantial ground to believe that he carried out the crimes he is charged with committing.The names of the other two rebel commanders alleged to have led the Haskanita attack remain undisclosed. An estimated 300,000 people have died and another 3 million have been displaced in Darfur, where rebels have been fighting Government forces and allied Arab militiamen, known as the Janjaweed, since 2003. Today, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo paid tribute to the fallen peacekeepers, underscoring that their deaths were tantamount to “the perpetrators [attacking] the millions of civilians who those soldiers came to protect.” He added, “attacking peacekeepers is a serious crime under the [Rome] Statute and shall be prosecuted.” The Haskanita incident is the third case arising from the situation in Darfur. The ICC’s pre-trial chamber issued arrest warrants in May 2007 for Ahmad Harun, former Sudanese Minister of State for the Interior and now the Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs, and Ali Kushayb, a Janjaweed leader. In March, an arrest warrant was issued for Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, the first sitting Head of State to be indicted by the Court, for war crimes committed in the strife-torn Darfur region. On the heels of the announcement that Mr. Abu Garda will appear of his own accord before the Court tomorrow, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said today that “voluntary appearance is always an option under the Statute including for President Al-Bashir should he elect to cooperate.” Also welcoming the development is Silvana Arbia, Registrar of the Court. “The voluntary appearance of Abu Garda might serve to encourage other suspects currently at large to come before the Court to be heard with all guarantees of a fair trial,” she said. Meanwhile, UNAMID condemned an attack yesterday against a Sudanese military position in North Darfur. The three-hour attack was carried out by armed elements who are allegedly part of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) movement in the town of Kornoi and they are apparently in control of the area. Soldiers surviving the attack retreated to the town of Tina and Um Baru, where UNAMID peacekeepers provided them with water and medical assistance. UNAMID forces are monitoring the situation, but to date there is no confirmation of the identity of the attackers and no casualty toll has been confirmed. North Darfur state’s far west has recently witnessed deadly clashes between JEM and the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi (SLA/MM) faction. Condemning yesterday’s attack, AU-UN Special Representative Rodolphe Adada called “on all the parties to the Darfur conflict to refrain from the use of violence, to seek a peaceful resolution to their problems, notably through the Doha process, and to work towards a cessation of hostilities.” read more

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French voyager named UNESCO Spokesperson for the Oceans

5 June 2009The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has named the renowned French seafarer, Maud Fontenoy, as its Spokesperson for the Oceans, ahead of the first UN World Oceans Day on 8 June. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has named the renowned French seafarer, Maud Fontenoy, as its Spokesperson for the Oceans, ahead of the first UN World Oceans Day on 8 June.Ms. Fontenoy, 31, famed for single-handedly rowing across the Atlantic in 2003 and the Pacific two years later, is tasked with raising awareness of the need to protect the ocean environment against major threats such as climate change, pollution and unchecked urban development of the world’s coastal areas. From 2006-2007, the navigator – who will serve as the new spokesperson for UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the World Ocean Network, a non-governmental organization – also sailed solo around the Southern hemisphere against the current.“When you sail around the world, you realize that the planet is not that big and that most of it is ocean,” said Ms. Fontenoy at a press conference held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris earlier this week. “You also see how much damage is being done to the ocean and understand how urgent it has become to protect it.”UNESCO-IOC was created in 1960 to promote international cooperation and coordinate programmes in research, sustainable development and the protection of the marine environment. read more

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Four new sites inscribed on UNESCOs World Heritage List

26 June 2009Four new sites – located in Burkina Faso, Iran, Kyrgyzstan and Republic of Korea (ROK) – have been added to the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), it was announced today. Four new sites – located in Burkina Faso, Iran, Kyrgyzstan and Republic of Korea (ROK) – have been added to the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), it was announced today. The addition of the Ruins of Loropéni in Burkina Faso and the Sulamain-Too Sacred Mountain in Kyrgyzstan marks the first time that these two countries have had sites inscribed on the List, the agency noted. The Ruins of Loropéni, situated near the borders of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, is at last 1,000 years old and is the best preserved of ten fortresses in the Lobi area and is part of a larger group of 100 stone enclosures that bear testimony to the power of the trans-Saharan gold trade. Kyrgyzstan’s Sulamain-Too Sacred Mountain, which forms the backdrop to the city of Osh, was revered for centuries by travellers along the ancient Central Asian Silk Routes. The site contains numerous places of worship, including two 16th century mosques, as well as caves with carvings depicting humans, animals and geometrical forms. Iran’s Shushtar water system can be traced back to the 5th century B.C. and one of its canals, Gargar, is still in use, providing water to the city of Shushtar. The site includes the Salâsel Castel, the operation centre of the entire hydraulic system, as well as the tower where the water level is measured, damns, bridges, basins and mills. Built over five centuries, beginning in 1408, the ROK’s Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty form a collection of 40 tombs scattered over 18 locations that honoured the memory of ancestors, showed respect for their achievements, asserted royal authority, protected ancestral spirits from evil and provided protection from vandalism. The inscription of the Joseon Tombs completes the two earlier series of Korean Peninsula royal tombs already inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List: the Gyeongju Historic Areas in the Republic of Korea, and Complex of Koguryo Tombs, in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The 21-member World Heritage Committee, which is meeting in Seville, will continue reviewing nominations for new additions of cultural and natural sites, as well as the state of conservation of properties already inscribed on the List, until 30 June. read more

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ICE Futures Canada Friday morning Canola prices higher barley unchanged

WINNIPEG — Prices were higher in mid-morning trading at ICE Futures Canada on Friday:Canola: July ’17 unchanged $573.30; Nov. ’17 $0.20 higher $518.60; Jan. ’18 $0.10 higher $522.40; March ’18 $1.50 higher $527.80; May ’18 $2.00 higher $530.00; July ’18 $2.40 higher $531.50; Nov. ’18 unchanged $487.70; Jan. ’19 unchanged $488.40; March ’19 unchanged $488.40; May ’19 unchanged $488.40; July ’19 unchanged $488.40.Barley (Western): July ’17 unchanged $138.00; Oct. ’17 unchanged $140.00; Dec. ’17 unchanged $140.00; March ’18 unchanged $140.00; May ’18 unchanged $140.00; July ’18 unchanged $140.00; Oct. ’18 unchanged $140.00; Dec. ’18 unchanged $140.00; March ’19 unchanged $140.00; May ’19 unchanged $140.00; July ’19 unchanged $140.00. read more

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Rimowa lays off 149 workers at Cambridge plant calls decision critical

CAMBRIDGE, Ont. — A luxury luggage manufacturer is laying off 149 workers at its plant in Cambridge, Ont.Rimowa, a German-based luggage maker, says the decision to cut the jobs was made to ensure the plant remains profitable.The company says it regrets the impact the layoffs will have on Cambridge residents.The Cambridge plant, established in 2008, was Rimowa’s first facility in North America.Rimowa said at the time that setting up shop in Canada was due to the skill of Canadian workers.Rimowa, which has production facilities in Germany, Czech Republic, Brazil and Canada, is known for its distinctive case shell luggage with shiny grooved sides. read more