Huge Halifax convention centre officially opens five years after first proposed

first_imgHALIFAX – Following years of controversy and delays Halifax’s new convention centre officially opened its doors Friday, with officials voicing confidence the massive development can attract the needed business to keep it afloat.The convention centre is part of an estimated $500-million construction project that dominates downtown Halifax.Taxpayers are spending $169.2 million for the convention centre as part of a deal with the developer that is cost shared by three levels of government.First announced in July 2012, the entire one-million square foot development known as the Nova Centre, includes a hotel, office tower and public plaza. The Halifax Convention Centre, about the size of an entire city block, is to host its first event — the Canadian weightlifting junior nationals — on Jan. 20.“When we first announced the project I thought I knew the meaning of perseverance,” Joe Ramia, president and CEO of Argyle Developments, told a crowd of invited guests during a ceremony in the facility’s giant ballroom.“In hindsight at that point our journey had just begun and I had much to learn.”The convention centre was originally slated to open in January 2016, but Ramia signalled as early as November 2014 that the date would be pushed back to September of 2016. That date was later revised to spring of 2017 before it too was changed in a November 2016 announcement to December of 2017.At the time, Ramia said the delay was to allow for design changes and mechanical upgrades to the building. That cost the convention centre 22 events that had been booked for 2017.The project was also the focus of intense debate within the city with opponents calling it a misuse of public money and too big for the location. At one point surrounding businesses fed up with the noise and dust from construction launched and eventually abandoned a lawsuit intended to recoup some of their financial losses because of a lack of customers.On Friday, a small group of protesters stood outside the building and handed out leaflets as those invited inside filed in.“The new convention centre is still the wrong use of public money, the wrong development, the wrong location and will continue to eat up a significant amount of public money in the coming 25 years,” the leaflet from Halifax Sane Development states.Ramia took the criticisms in stride.“Well, you can’t always satisfy everybody. All you can do is the best that you can,” he said. “Everybody has a voice and we respect all voices.”Ramia said overall construction was about 98 per cent complete with the finishing touches expected to be ready by March. He said an announcement would likely come within a couple of weeks regarding an operator for the facility’s hotel.In late 2012, criticism was also levelled by the province’s then auditor general Jacques Lapointe, who said projections for the project “lacked appropriate analysis given the size of the proposal.”Lapointe also questioned whether enough convention business could be wrestled away from larger cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.Convention centre CEO Carrie Cussons wouldn’t address the auditor’s concerns, but said that 90 events had already been booked for the first year of operations.Cussons said that number included nearly three times more national and international events than have ever been hosted at the city’s much smaller convention facility.She also expressed confidence the facility could thrive over the long term despite doubts expressed in some quarters about the viability of the convention business.“Halifax is a unique and interesting destination that a lot of convention goers want to come to. I’m not really concerned about filling it (the convention centre) for the future.”Premier Stephen McNeil said he wasn’t worried about the facility’s future viability.“I’m very confident … it will continue to be able to support itself,” McNeil said.The convention centre’s 25-year lease with the province is expected to be inked by the end of January.last_img read more

Deep freeze offers only cold comfort for natural gas producing firms

first_imgCALGARY – Analysts say the cold snap that continues to blanket many parts of North America is driving short-term natural gas prices higher but the trend is unlikely to significantly affect either Canadian consumer bills or producer profits.Cold weather typically increases demand for the home heating fuel, which draws down storage levels and pushes prices higher, but the affect is being blunted this year because North America is awash in gas from U.S. and Canadian shale wells.Gerry Goobie, a principal with Calgary-based consulting company Gas Processing Management Inc., says higher prices are generally passed through to consumers but the distribution companies that buy the gas have long-term contracts to mitigate price spikes and can draw from storage to handle higher demand.GMP FirstEnergy commodity analyst Martin King says U.S. prices have recently rallied to about $3 per million British thermal units, but points out similar cold weather events in previous years would likely have resulted in prices spiking into the US$4 or US$5 per mmBTU range.King says Western Canada gas production fell by as much as two billion cubic feet per day on some days in the last week of December due to supply interruptions caused by extreme cold weather that froze gas well production equipment.last_img read more

Rallying gold and oil prices give TSX a tripledigit boost loonie strengthens

first_imgTORONTO – Surging gold and oil prices helped give Canada’s main stock index a triple-digit boost on Wednesday, as the loonie strengthened against a weakening greenback.The S&P/TSX composite index advanced 111.80 points to 15,328.27, led by strong gains in the gold, base metals, materials and energy sectors.The March crude contract climbed US$1.41 to US$60.60 per barrel and the April gold contract soared US$27.60 to US$1,358.00 an ounce.South of the border, American stocks capped off their fourth day of gains amid a U.S. government report Wednesday that consumer prices rose by 0.3 per cent in January at a rate faster than economists expected.But there were few signs of the worries about inflation that sent stocks falling on Feb. 2 after reports of greater U.S. wage growth caused investors to worry about faster inflation — and the likelihood that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates more rapidly, making it more expensive for businesses and individuals to borrow money.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 253.04 points to 24,893.49. The S&P 500 index added 35.69 points to 2,698.63 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 130.11 points to 7,143.62.Wednesday’s consumer price numbers were tempered by retail sales figures also released Wednesday showing that Americans cut back on purchases of cars, furniture and a variety of other products in January and the U.S. Commerce Department also lowered its estimate for shopping in December. The surprise slowdown comes after a three-month stretch of sizzling consumer activity, from September through November, which had fuelled the most robust holiday sales in a decade.“I think the fears of the economy overheating have been a little bit balanced out with the combination of these two numbers,” said Katie Nixon, chief investment officer for Northern Trust Wealth Management.The Canadian dollar closed at an average trading value of 79.61 cents US, up 0.24 of a U.S. cent.Elsewhere in commodities, the March natural gas contract was down a cent at US$2.59 per mmBTU and the March copper contract was up seven cents to US$3.24 a pound.– With files from The Associated Press.last_img read more

Correction Zodiac KillerDNA story

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO – In a story May 3 about the Zodiac Killer investigation, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the killer was dubbed Zodiac because of astrological symbols he included in letters sent to police and media. The killer referred to himself as Zodiac in the letters.A corrected version of the story is below:DNA match sought to Zodiac Killer after break in other caseCalifornia detectives want to use DNA tracing technology to try to zero in on the infamous Zodiac Killer after investigators used the method to arrest a suspect in another old serial killing caseNorthern California detectives still trying to identify the infamous Zodiac Killer who targeted victims in the late 1960s and taunted investigators with letters say they hope to try the same DNA tracing technology recently used to arrest a suspect in another string of cold-case serial slayings — those blamed on the Golden State Killer.But first they have to get a better DNA profile.Several months ago, the Vallejo Police Department sent two letters written by the Zodiac Killer to a private lab in hopes of finding his DNA on the back of the stamps or envelope flaps that may have been licked. They are expecting results soon.“They were confident they would be able to get something off it,” Vallejo police Detective Terry Poyser told the Sacramento Bee.Poyser said he hopes a full DNA profile will be found that will enable detectives to try the same DNA sleuthing techniques that were used to arrest Joseph DeAngelo last month. Authorities suspect he committed at least 12 murders and 50 rapes in California between 1976 and 1986.Investigators uploaded DNA collected at one of the crime scenes to an open-source genealogical website and found a partial match to a distant relative of DeAngelo’s. From there, they painstakingly constructed a family tree dating back several generations before they zeroed in on DeAngelo.Some privacy advocates say they are concerned with the process and worry about future abuses, but detectives investigating the Zodiac Killer say they hope the technique will help solve one of the most vexing cold cases in the country.“That’s a great idea,” said Gary Harmor, founder and director of the Serological Research Institute, a private DNA lab. “I think we’ll see more investigations use this technique.”Detectives in Southern California are testing DNA collected from a double-murder and rape to see if they can be tied to DeAngelo. Another man, Craig Coley, was recently cleared of those crimes after spending 38 years in prison in the murder of a 24-year-old college student and her 4-year-old son in 1978.The Zodiac Killer fatally stabbed or shot to death five people in Northern California in 1968 and 1969, then sent taunting letters and cryptograms to the police and newspapers. The Vallejo police are the lead investigators because the first two victims were killed there.The killer referred to himself as Zodiac in some of the letters.Various pieces of evidence, including a rope used to tie a victim as well as the letters, have been tested unsuccessfully for the killer’s DNA profile. Poyser said recent advances in DNA testing prompted investigators to seek a match on two of the killer’s letters.Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan said the samples were sent to the lab as a matter of routine. Sampayan, a former homicide detective, said police submit samples every couple of years in hopes that advances in DNA testing will finally yield a profile detectives can use.“It was coincidental,” Sampayan said of the new DNA test occurring at the same time as the breakthrough in the Golden State Killer case.“There will come a time when we get a match,” he said.The 2007 movie “Zodiac,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr., renewed widespread interest in a case that has always had a cult following of amateur detectives and cryptographers who sought to crack the killer’s code.One of those amateur sleuths, Tom Voigt, said the key to solving the Zodiac killings is mimicking the Golden State Killer investigation, which included forming a full-time task force dedicated to the case and exploiting publicly accessible DNA databases.Voigt said the Zodiac case was being investigated part time by a Police Department in a city that filed for municipal bankruptcy.“There’s a formula to follow,” Voigt said. “And it’s to simply copy what happened to the Golden State Killer.”last_img read more

Inspector warned duck boat company of design flaws last year

first_imgA private inspector said Saturday that he warned the company operating duck boats on a Missouri lake about design flaws putting the watercraft at greater risk of sinking, less than a year before the accident that killed 17 people during a sudden storm.Steve Paul, owner of the Test Drive Technologies inspection service in the St. Louis area, said he issued a written report for the company in August 2017. It explained why the boats’ engines — and pumps that remove water from their hulls — might fail in inclement weather.He also told The Associated Press that the tourist boats’ canopies make them hard to escape when they sink — a concern raised by regulators after a similar sinking in Arkansas killed 13 people in 1999.The accident Thursday evening on Table Rock Lake outside the tourist town of Branson also is raising questions about whether storm warnings in the area went unheeded and whether any agency can keep boaters off the water when inclement weather approaches.“If you have the information that you could have rough waters or a storm coming, why ever put a boat on that water?” Paul said.A witness’ video of the duck boat just before it capsized suggests that its flexible plastic windows might have been closed and could have trapped passengers as the hybrid boat-truck went down. It does not show passengers jumping clear.“The biggest problem with a duck when it sinks is that canopy,” Paul said. “That canopy becomes what I’ll call a people catcher, and people can’t get out from under that canopy.”A spokeswoman for Ripley Entertainment, the company operating the duck boats in Branson, did not respond Saturday to telephone and email messages seeking comment. Spokeswoman Suzanne Smagala has noted that Thursday’s accident was the only one in more than 40 years of operation.An archived version of Ripley’s website said it operates 20 duck boats in Branson and described them as “built from the ground up under United States Coast Guard (USCG) supervision with the latest in marine safety.”In central Wisconsin, Original Wisconsin Ducks in the Dells has no plans to change how it operates after 73 years of safe rides, general manager Dan Gavinski said. But his company operates World War II-vintage boats, not the modified modern version.Since 1999, duck boats have been linked to the deaths of more than 40 people, with a troubled safety record on the road and water alike. Their height can obscure cars, pedestrians or bicycles from a driver’s view, and maintenance problems can be severe.Paul said he won’t know until the boat that sank is recovered from the lake whether it’s one of the two dozen he inspected for Ripley Entertainment in August 2017.The U.S. Coast Guard said the boat that sank was built in 1944 and had passed an inspection in February, The Kansas City Star reported . But Paul said the boat would have been heavily modified to make it longer so that only part of it dates to World War II. He said it would still have the design flaw he identified in his report.He declined to share a copy of his report with The Associated Press but said he said he is willing to make it available to authorities.“I’m sure eventually it will be subpoenaed,” he said.Paul said the duck boats he inspected — which the company had just purchased or repaired — vented exhaust from the motor out front and below the water line. He said in rough conditions, water could get into the exhaust system, and then into the motor, cutting it off. With the motor off, he said, its pump for removing water from the hull would not operate.“If you watch that video, that water is definitely being slammed up into that exhaust without a doubt,” Paul said.After the deadly sinking in Arkansas in 1999, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended doing away with the canopies and adding more floatation capacity so duck boats could remain upright and keep floating even if they took on water.The industry took little heed, said Robert Mongeluzzi, a Philadelphia attorney who has represented victims of duck boat crashes. The canopies can protect customers from rain or sun, he noted, and closed windows allow companies to heat the cabins, extending operating hours.The NTSB called the industry’s response to the recommendations disappointing, saying companies cited the cost of engineering and installing additional flotation capacity as prohibitive.“The duck boat is notoriously unstable and unsuited for what they were attempting to do with it,” said Daniel Rose, an attorney whose New York-based law firm has represented victims in several accidents. “It tries to be a boat and a car and does neither, really, except under ideal circumstances.”State officials said the Coast Guard regulates such craft; its officials did not immediately respond to requests for more information. Spokesmen said the Department of Transportation doesn’t regulate duck boats because they’re amphibious, and the Department of Public Safety doesn’t in this case because it’s a commercial vessel, as opposed to a recreational one.It’s also not clear that any agency had the authority to keep boats off the lake. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built it in the late 1950s, but its officials said they don’t have such authority.Witnesses have said the weather appeared calm before a storm suddenly whipped up strong waves and spray.But nearly eight hours earlier, the National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the western and central Missouri counties.A severe thunderstorm warning that went out at 6:32 p.m. specifically mentioned Table Rock Lake. The first emergency calls over the accident occurred just after 7 p.m.Meteorologist Elisa Raffa of KOLR-TV in Springfield said in a phone interview Saturday that her station was forecasting the threat of severe weather all morning.“This storm didn’t come out of nowhere,” she said. “That is what pains me. I feel like we did everything, at least we tried to do everything, by the book as meteorologists and we still had this horrible tragedy on our hands.”___Hanna reported from Topeka, Kansas. Johnson reported from Seattle. Jim Salter in St. Louis; Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; Roxana Hegeman in Wichita, Kansas, and James MacPherson in Bismarck, North Dakota, contributed.last_img read more

Province to help fund homeless count in Fort St John

first_imgThe homeless count will occur over a span of 24 hours, beginning the night before April 18th and will include counts in shelters, RCMP holding cells, hospitals, and other known places where at-risk individuals stay overnight. During the day, the same procedure will occur; with mechanisms in place to avoid duplicating persons who have been counted already.Each person that is counted will be asked to complete a survey about their living situation to highlight needs for at-risk individuals, which can give feedback on potential future funding to help combat homelessness. The survey’s full results should be publicly available several months after the count is completed.The Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society is currently searching for volunteers to help with this year’s homeless count. Each volunteer must be available the day of the count, and for a training session that is taking place the evening of Tuesday, April 10th. A survey has been created to identify the commitments of each volunteer best and can be found at the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FSJ2018.The Province is investing $550,000 to fund the counts in the 12 communities and plans to report on the preliminary results by early summer. The Homelessness Action Plan is expected to be released later this year. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Province will coordinate homeless counts in up to 12 communities around B.C. including here in Fort St. John.The Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society announced earlier this month; they would take on coordinate Fort St. John’s first-ever homeless count.Homeless counts provide vital information, including the demographics and service needs of people experiencing homelessness. They also help establish a benchmark to measure the progress made to reduce homelessness over time.  Staff from the Women’s Resource Society also appeared before Fort St. John City Council Monday to talk more about the plan and how the community can help.last_img read more

Morneau says Trans Mountain pipeline talks happening behind closed doors

first_imgMorneau says any federal investment in the pipeline would first require closed-door talks with Kinder Morgan and the two provinces.The finance minister is expected to meet later today with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, and says he plans to reinforce the Trudeau government’s “resolute determination” to keep the project on track.He says that determination was confirmed Tuesday during an emergency federal cabinet meeting in Ottawa, although he won’t say whether penalizing B.C. financially – such as by withholding transfer payments – remains an option.“I’m not going to publicly negotiate with any one of the parties,” Morneau said after making a student work placement announcement at Toronto’s Ryerson University.“Public threats, in my estimation, aren’t helpful.” OTTAWA, O.N. — Regardless of what’s going on behind the scenes, Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the federal government isn’t about to divulge how it plans to salvage the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.Speaking in Toronto, Morneau says Ottawa is looking at several options to ensure the Alberta-B.C. pipeline gets built, including a potential financial stake in the project.Project architect Kinder Morgan upped the ante this week by declaring it would suspend all non-essential spending on the project until there is more certainty it won’t be blocked by British Columbia’s NDP government.last_img read more

Jhargram Police launch Lakhyabhed to help students with competitive exams

first_imgKolkata: In a bid to provide a platform for students to perform well in the competitive examinations and gain employment, the Jhargram District Police has launched a new project named ‘Lakhyabhed’.The project that was officially launched on February 1 already has 150 students getting free coaching for preparation of different competitive examinations like West Bengal Civil Services, Public Service Commission, Railways, Staff Selection Commission and others. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersThe project, a brainchild of Superintendent of Police, Jhargram, Arijit Sinha, is a holistic approach to help aspiring students achieve their dreams of civil service and ensure employment for them. “Apart from free training we will be providing information of all competitive examinations, their syllabi, assist the candidates in filling up forms and provide logistics arrangement to take candidates to their respective examination centres. All the services will be provided free of cost,” said Kunwar Bhusan, Additional SP (Operations), Jhargram, who is the nodal officer of the project. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaClasses are held thrice a week on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at two separate centres – Binpur police station and Jhargram Raj College. The duration of the training will be six months. The selection of students was done police station wise, through a written screening test that was held on January 15 at two centres in the district. 20 students who had performed very well during the screening, were handed over competitive examination books, bags and other equipment needed for their examination, free of cost. “The entire cost of running the project is being borne from the community policing fund allocated by the state government,” a senior police officer in the district said. The senior police official said that anyone interested to teach or guide the students is welcome in the Lakhyabhed initiative. At present, senior police officials in the district and faculties from various institutions in the district are taking classes on the basis of their specialisation in subjects. “There is no fixed duration of the classes that vary from one hour to three hours, depending on the work schedule of the faculties,” the official added.last_img read more

Virtual SIMs used in Pulwama terror attack India to seek US help

first_imgSrinagar: A request would be sent to the US to seek details from a service provider of “virtual SIMs”, which were used by the JeM suicide bomber behind the Pulwama attack and his Pakistan and Kashmir-based handlers, officials said.Piecing together probe from the site of the terror strike, searches carried out by the Jammu and Kashmir police and central security agencies at an encounter site in Tral as well as other locations, it was found that the bomber, Adil Dar, was in constant touch with the JeM across the border, they said. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The main mastermind of the audacious attack, Mudassir Khan, was killed in the encounter in Tral. Forty CRPF personnel were killed on February 14 when Dar rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into a paramilitary force bus at Pulwama in South Kashmir. India retaliated after the strike by bombing the Jaish terror group’s hideout in Balakot in Pakistan. It was a fairly new modus operandi where terrorists across the border were using a “virtual SIM”, generated by a service provider in the United States. In this technology, the computer generates a telephone number and the user downloads an application of the service provider on their smartphone. The number is linked to social networking sites like WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram or Twitter. The verification code generated by these networking sites is received on the smartphone and the user is ready. In case of Pulwama, Dar was in constant touch with the Jaish handler as well as Mudassir Khan using the same technology, the officials said. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KThey said the numbers used were pre-fixed with “+1”, the Mobile Station International Subscriber Directory Number (MSISDN) number used for the United States. The request to the US will include details of phone numbers that got in touch with the “Virtual SIM” and who had activated it, they said, adding that Internet Protocol addresses would also be sought. While the security agencies would attempt to find who had paid for the virtual SIM, they were also aware that the terror groups used forged identities, as was done during the the Mumbai 26/11 terror strikes. During investigation of the 26/11 attacks it was found that an amount of USD 229 was wired to Callphonex, via Western Union Money Transfer receipt number 8364307716-0, for activating the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) used during the strikes.last_img read more

Ombudsman sends notices to Pandya Rahul for deposition in sexist remarks controversy

first_imgNew Delhi: The Supreme Court-appointed BCCI Ombudsman Justice (Retd) D K Jain has issued notices to India players Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul to appear for deposition for their sexist comments on a TV chat show. Pandya and Rahul were provisionally suspended by the Committee of Administrators (COA) for their loose talk on chat show “Koffee With Karan” before the ban was lifted pending inquiry by the Ombudsman. “I have issued notices last week to Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul asking them to appear for deposition,” Justice Jain told PTI on Monday. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USHowever, it is not clear how the BCCI will co-ordinate with Pandya and Rahul’s respective franchises Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab to arrange for their deposition in between the ongoing IPL. It is learnt that they might depose ahead of teh April 11 clash between the two teams in Mumbai. “Both are playing IPL and the itinerary is packed with back to back matches and a gruelling travel schedule,” a BCCI official said. The Ombudsman, who is also the BCCI’s ad-hoc Ethics Officer, made it clear that for the matter to reach its logical conclusion, the duo needs to depose. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls”As per principles of natural justice, I need to hear their side. It’s up to them now to decide when they want to appear,” Justice Jain said. It is understood that both players have to appear in person and not through their legal representatives. The controversial episode was aired in the first week of January, triggering outrage, which prompted the COA to call the duo back from the tour of Australia handing them provisional suspensions. The two tendered unconditional apologies and their ban was provisionally lifted pending inquiry. Once Jain assumed his role, the COA handed over the matter to him for the completion of inquiry. Jain has also received a complaint about former India captain Sourav Ganguly’s alleged ‘Conflict of Interest’ in his dual role of being the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president and an adviser to IPL franchise Delhi Capitals. “I am supposed to receive a fresh set of complaints on various issues today. I don’t know whether the issue (Ganguly’s Conflict) is in this lot or not. As and when I get the details, I will have a detailed look into the matter,” said Jain.last_img read more

UK to extradite Algerian exmagnate Khalifa to Algeria

first_imgLONDON- Rafik Khalifa, a former magnate from Algeria who once owned an airline and a string of companies, will be extradited to his homeland from Britain by the end of the year, British officials said Monday.“Mr Khalifa was refused leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on December 3. He will be extradited within 28 days of that date,” said a spokeswoman for the Home Office.Once considered the “golden boy” of  Algeria, Khalifa came from obscurity to build an empire including a bank, an airline and television stations, and employed 20,000 people in Algeria and Europe. He took refuge in Britain in 2003 when his business collapsed, costing the Algerian state and individual savers between $1.5 billion and $5 billion (1.1 billion and 3.6 billion euros).Algeria tried him in absentia in 2007, finding him guilty for criminal involvement and fraud and sentenced to life in prison, and demanding his extradition.He is to go into an appeal hearing on his return to Algeria.French authorities are also seeking to extradite Khalifa on fraud and embezzlement charges, but the Algerian request takes precedence.last_img read more

Real Madrid Eyes Moroccos Benatia

Rabat- Morocco’s defender Mehdi Benatia is likely to join Real Madrid during the summer transfer period, according to Spanish sports website El Mnudo Deportivo. According to the same source, Real Madrid’s manager, Carlo Anceloti, put the Moroccan defender on the list of his priorities, in the likely event Portuguese defender Pepe leaves the Blancos for Monaco.Benatia was one of the players coveted by F.C Barcelona over the summer. El Mnudo Deportivo reported last May that the Catalan club was ready to pay up to 35 million euros ($ 48 million) for As Roma defender. But Barcelona’s signing of French defender Jeremy Mathieu, makes his transfer to the Camp Nou unlikely.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

English Band Placebo in Rabats Mawazine Festival 2015

Rabat – Association Maroc Culture has revealed that English Alternative rock band Placebo will perform at the 14th edition of Mawazine Festival, which is scheduled to take place between May 29th and June 6th, 2015 in Rabat.Formed in 1994 in London by singer-guitarist Brian Molko and Guitarist-bassist Stefan Olsdal, the band have released seven studio albums that have sold around 11 million record worldwide.Placebo will meet their fans in Morocco on June 2nd, 2015 at the OLM Souissi stage in the capital Rabat. The 14th edition of Mawazine Festival will also see the participation of American Pop Rock band Maroon 5.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Spain Condemns Attack on Moroccan Embassy in Libya

Madrid-  The Spanish government condemned, on Monday, “in the strongest terms” the terrorist attack on the Moroccan embassy in Tripoli.In a statement by the Spanish Foreign Ministry, Spain stressed the need to uphold the principle of the inviolability of diplomatic missions and reiterated its full commitment to the fight against all forms of terrorism.The Spanish government calls on all the parties to the conflict in Libya to engage in negotiations under the auspices of the UN in order to reach an agreement on the formation of a national unity government that will restore political stability and put an end to violence, the statement went on to say. The main gate of the Moroccan embassy in Tripoli was targeted by a bomb attack early on Monday which did not claim victims but left material damage to surrounding buildings.The explosion came only hours after a similar attack on the South Korean Embassy in Tripoli claiming two lives. read more

Moroccos Nation Brand Drops from 48 to 44 Billion

Rabat – According to the 2015 annual report on the world’s most valuable nation brands, conducted by Brand Finance, a leading independent brand valuation and strategy consultancy, Morocco ranks 69th among the most valuable nation brands.Morocco dropped by 4 points, or 8%, compared to last year when it was ranked 64th.Morocco’s nation brand value in dollars was $44 billion having experienced a decrease of 4% compared to last year when Morocco had reached $48 billion. Brand Finance’s ranking takes into account criteria including foreign and domestic investment, tourism, goods and services, human capital, entrepreneurship, commercial competitiveness, and nation brand.The report states that nation brand could generate millions for countries, spurring them to strengthen their nation brands.The US remains the world’s most valuable nation brand. Its nation brand value reached $19,703 billion, having increased 2% over last year, according to the report.The US’s high ranking is attributed to its leading higher education system and to “soft power” arising from its dominance in the music and entertainment industries.Germany ranked third in the report. The recent revelations that millions of diesel vehicles may have been fitted with software designed to deceive emissions testers, dealt a blow to Germany’s nation brand this year.German’s nation brand dropped from 4,357 in 2014 to 4,166 in 2015, according to the report.Saudi Arabia ranked first at the Arab level and 22 internationally with a nation brand value of $506 billion, followed by United Arab Emirates and Qatar.Algeria ranked 56th with a nation brand value reaching 74 billion dollars, with an increase of 12% compared to last year.Edited by Elisabeth Myers © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission read more

British Jets Bomb Saddam Hussein Palace Used by ISIS

Rabat – RAF’s heaviest bombs dropped on palace of Saddam Hussein’s in Iraq by tornado fighters where Islamic State were reported to have been training foreign recruits.British fighter jets targeted and bombed a former palace of Saddam Hussein’s in Iraq which was being used by Isis as a training centre for new foreign recruits, claims the UK Ministry of Defence.The attack was part of a co-ordinated alliance attack on the area following surveillance showing that Islamic State were using the palace as their main headquarters and a training centre. The British tornados armed with the RAF’s largest Paveway bombs targeted the complex on Monday afternoon, the MoD reports, successfully striking the headquarters and then the security centre, both located next to the Tigris river.“Daesh [Isis] has been losing followers and territory for months, and emphatic strikes like this show that we and the coalition will not waver” claims Michael Fallon, the UK defence secretary. read more

Police Find 2 Bodies of Scandinavian Tourists Near Mount Toubkal

Rabat – The bodies of two female tourists of Norwegian and Danish nationalities were found Monday in the province of Al Haouz in the Marrakech-Safi region, 10 kilometers from Imlil in the Atlas Mountains, according to a statement received by Morocco World News.Read Also: 2019 Travel Risk Map: Morocco As Safe As European Countries, US, CanadaThe victims’ bodies had evidence of violence with knife wounds. Police opened an investigation under the supervision of the public prosecutor’s office, added the statement.Morocco World News contacted the Danish and Norwegian embassies to ask for more information about the victims. Both embassies were unreachable. A tourist who spoke with Morocco World News on the condition of anonymity said that the Toubkal Park was closed due to the incident.“Our own guide has confirmed that he will need to check the status with the park authorities tomorrow morning, as we were due to trek in from Imlil tomorrow.”The tourist said that the victims allegedly had no guide and that they were camping “somewhere near the Club Alpin Français (CAF) refuge at the base of Toubkal.”The victims, he said, “allegedly were found decapitated, but I have no way of verifying the information.”The crime scene was swarmed by security officials, who rushed to the crime scene to identify the possible suspects. Mount Toubkal is the highest peak in North Africa and the Arab World, with a height of 4,167 meters. Toubkal is a popular destination for hiking and trekking. Read Also: Climbing Mount Toubkal in the Summer: A Tourist’s Guide on a Budget read more

King Mohammed VI Inaugurates Integration Center for Women Youth in Mediouna

Rabat – King Mohammed VI inaugurated a training and integration center for women and youth in Tit Mellil in Mediouna Province, Casablanca-Settat region on Saturday.The Mohammed V Foundation for Solidarity Carried out the MAD 9 million project.The project forms part of King Mohammed VI’s vision towards youth and women and his willingness to ensure the integration of young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The facility will also ensure the development of the situation of women and young people and provide them with various tools for better access to development.The project aims at opening up new prospects for the future of women and youth, who will benefit from a qualifying training to enter the job market and improve their living conditions.The King launched the construction works of the project on June 8 in 2017. The project fell within the framework of a participatory approach with representatives of civil society. It aims to support women and young people in Tit Mellil and to promote their access to different tools and means of social and professional integration.The center will serve as a platform, where youth and women will benefit from professional integration, cultural, educational and social activities that encourage empowerment.The project is built on a 3,640 square meter and includes, workshops in pastry-kitchen, sewing cutting, hairdressing-aesthetics, aluminum carpentry, building electricity, computer network and business training rooms, a library and a multimedia room.The project is the fruit of a cooperation between the Mohammed V Foundation for Solidarity, the Mediouna Provincial Council, the Office for Vocational Training and Promotion of Work and the Support of Association of the Tit Mellil Training and Integration Center for Women.Throughout the holy month of Ramadan, King Mohammed VI carried out the inauguration of several human development facilities across the country, including a training center in Rabat, a mosque in Sale, three humanitarian projects in Kenitra and a medical psychological center in Tit Mellil.The monarch has also sent a humanitarian aid to Palestine after the recent tension in the Gaza strip between Israel and Palestinians. read more

Budget to focus on affordable housing changes on supply demand regulation

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government will take steps in Tuesday’s federal budget to make home-buying more affordable with changes affecting supply, demand and regulation, The Canadian Press has learned.Finance Minister Bill Morneau has promised the budget will focus on ways to help improve housing affordability for Canadians, and particularly for millennials, who are now in their mid-20s to late-30s.The changes, along with expected measures on adult skills training, pharmacare and supporting seniors, will be included in the Liberals’ fourth and final budget before the October federal election.The budget’s housing measures could grab a lot of attention. Polls have suggested affordable home ownership is a key concern for millennials and could be a vote winner with the increasingly critical demographic.Morneau has heard housing-policy recommendations from numerous sources, including academic, real estate and mortgage experts, on how best to help more people buy homes.The budget will respond to issues in the housing-related areas of supply, demand and regulation, says a government source, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the plan ahead of its release. They declined to provide specifics on the measures.The government, however, faces a delicate task of introducing changes that avoid destabilizing housing markets, driving up prices or enabling already overstretched households to pile on more debt.Internal briefing documents show Morneau was warned in November that Canadians’ heavy debt loads are a key risk that have made abrupt shocks to incomes, house prices or interest rates a “significant concern.” The memo was obtained by The Canadian Press through access-to-information law.Morneau has been feeling pressure to act on housing.On the demand side, the real estate, mortgage and home-building industries have urged Ottawa to ease or eliminate stress tests that have tightened mortgage qualification rules and, as a result, cooled once-scorching markets in cities like Toronto and Vancouver.The federal changes, combined with provincial and municipal guidelines, were brought in to improve the quality of mortgage debt and to lower risks to the broader economy.Morneau has insisted the stress tests were needed as a way to keep prices in some markets from rising at an unsustainable clip. He’s shown no signs that he’s prepared to dial them back.There have also been industry calls for the reintroduction of insurance on 30-year amortization mortgages as a targeted way to help people at the lower end.But Paul Kershaw, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia, said many experts, himself included, have discouraged the government from weakening the stress tests or extending amortization out of fear such moves would only encourage people to borrow more.Kershaw is the founder of Generation Squeeze, a group dedicated to informing policy decisions about the socioeconomic challenges of younger Canadians.He wants policies that keep home prices from growing faster than earnings.“We’ve tolerated — not only that, we’ve celebrated — home prices rising a lot over the last decade,” Kershaw said.“And we need a government that says, ‘Nope, henceforth we want housing to be for homes first, investments second.’ ”He recommends Ottawa change “outdated” tax policy that shelters principal residences from taxation, thus exacerbating demand, limiting supply and pushing up prices.On regulation and enforcement, Ottawa could take steps to crack down on people who falsely claim a home is their primary residence as a way to dodge capital gains taxes.Morneau recently vowed to do more to enforce laws in another area that’s been directly connected to housing: money laundering.Last year, reports from an international anti-money-laundering organization and the RCMP warned that organized crime groups had bought luxury home sales in the Vancouver area to launder and hide their money.On supply, Kershaw said the federal government could create incentives to encourage more cities to raise their housing density targets. Ottawa could offer a larger share of infrastructure transfers — like those for transit — to municipalities that agree to allow the construction of more homes to be built per plot of land.To increase demand, Kershaw said the government could bump up the maximum, one-time withdrawal limit of $25,000 under the home buyer’s plan, which enables Canadians to borrow once from their own registered retirement savings plan to buy a home.Ottawa could also increase the non-refundable, $5,000 first time home buyers tax credit, which offers up to $750 in tax relief, he said.—Follow @AndyBlatchford on TwitterAndy Blatchford, The Canadian Press read more

Applications for US unemployment aid fall to 49year low

WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell to its lowest level since late 1969, a sign that employers are holding onto their workers despite signs of a slowing economy.The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless aid fell 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 202,000. That is the lowest since the week of December 6, 1969.Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the drop to such a low level indicates that companies are cutting very few workers. That’s a reassuring sign as other data, such as weak consumer and business spending, and sluggish growth overseas, points to slower U.S. growth this year.A report Wednesday from payroll processor ADP found that businesses added just 129,000 jobs in March, down from 197,000 the previous month.Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press read more