Canadian tech companies look to cash in on cannabis with innovations and

first_imgTORONTO – One of John Lem’s first hints that the technology behind his DNA testing company Spartan Bioscience could be a hit with cannabis users came years ago when an executive asked him if genetics could have caused a bad reaction to pot.The question intrigued Lem so much that he eventually applied Spartan’s technology to a new Toronto-based venture called Lobo Genetics. Through Lobo, he created a genetic testing device that fits in the palm of a hand and uses cells obtained through a cheek swab to measure a person’s ability to metabolize THC — the main psychoactive component in cannabis — and determine someone’s predisposition to short- and long-term side effects.Lobo believes it could be a hit with health-care practitioners and medical marijuana users, but has also recently experienced a flurry of interest from the recreational industry.“We thought the med pool was going to be first in terms of adoption, but dramatically on the rec side, there are a lot of potential opportunities,” Lem said.The boom Lem is seeing puts Lobo Genetics among a wave of tech companies benefiting from the Oct. 17 legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada.Already the pot tech industry has seen the debut of Toronto start-up Strainprint Technologies Inc., which makes it easy to track and manage the dosage and effects of pot, and California-founded Weedmaps, which helps users find locations throughout Canada where they can buy the substance. Also cashing in on the pot tech rush are Ottawa-based Shopify, which powers provincial and private marijuana e-commerce offerings, and cannabis companies like Lift & Co., which runs a reviews app.“There has been no shortage of entrepreneurs getting out there,” said Dan Skilleter, Lobo’s director of policy and communications. “The last year has been so busy for cannabis and certainly Lobo saw the opportunity.”Skilleter and Lem said Lobo has only launched on a pilot basis, but is already seeing enthusiasm.Those high hopes have spread to Winnipeg, where Save the Drive is readying a platform that allows people to hire a personal shopper to buy and deliver weed.Its chief executive officer Chanel Graham said it has yet to launch because of weed shortages and required changes to legislation, but legalization has already brought a spike in interest.“I am surprised how many people reached out right on Oct. 17, hoping that we were in operation,” said Graham. “We have had quite a few customers contacting us.”The same is true for cannabis-centric social networking platform High There!The Florida-based venture, which helps users find buds to, well, smoke buds with, said it has seen a 300 per cent increase in sign-ups since legalization and plenty of those new users are based in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.Over at Strainprint, chief executive officer Andrew Muroff said users in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto have flocked to the app it launched in 2016 the most.Strainprint, which has focused on medical marijuana users but works just as well for recreational users, unveiled an education resource the day before legalization to take advantage of the attention pot would garner.However, with its launch and legalization lining up, Muroff said, “We did see a lift, but it is hard for me to know if it came from legalization.”Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version misstated Strainprint’s launch date.last_img read more

Delays at Sturgeon Refinery add to Alberta heavy oil price discount woes

first_imgHe says the refinery contains some 7,000 pieces of equipment and getting them all to operate in concert is taking more time than expected, with the latest setback involving a heat exchanger that was apparently damaged during installation.Sturgeon, the first new refinery built in Alberta in more than 30 years, was completed 12 months ago and has since been producing diesel from synthetic crude upgraded at an Alberta oilsands mine.MacGregor says the refinery is benefiting as high discounts on prices on stranded Alberta heavy oil have also begun to affect light oil and synthetic oil, leading to its feedstock costing as much as US$30 per barrel less than usual.He says the refinery is currently producing between 35,000 and 40,000 barrels per day of diesel.“I think we’re going to be running on bitumen by the end of the year,” he said in an interview.“It will take a while to come up to full capacity because as we put bitumen into it, we’ll find other problems.” The refinery is a joint venture of North West Refining and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., which is to provide 25 percent of its bitumen feedstock. The rest is to come from the government-owned Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission. CALGARY, A.B. – A new refinery touted as part of the solution to Alberta’s oversupply of heavy oil likely won’t begin processing oilsands bitumen until year-end, several months later than expected.That means 80,000 barrels per day of diluted bitumen that would have been delivered to the $9.7-billion Sturgeon Refinery near Edmonton is instead joining the queue to be placed on overcrowded pipelines leaving the province.Ian MacGregor, CEO of co-owner North West Refining, Inc., says multiple equipment failures have prevented the startup of the part of the refinery designed to break down heavy, sticky bitumen into an upgraded oil that can then be converted into consumer products.last_img read more

Destination BC provides 4 million to support provincewide tourism projects

first_imgVANCOUVER, B.C. – Destination B.C. has announced that it is providing $4 million to support 57 tourism projects across British Columbia this year.Destination B.C. says this funding is through its Co-operative Marketing Partnerships Program which aims to increase collaboration and alignment of marketing activities across the province, including Northeastern B.C.Northeastern municipalities, which includes Fort St. John, Northern Rockies, Chetwynd, Pouce Coupe, Tumbler Ridge, Hudson Hope, Taylor, and Dawson Creek, are working collaboratively to develop and promote Northeastern B.C. tourism, such as highlighting the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark and the Alaska Highway Corridor. CEO of the Northern B.C. Tourism Association, Clint Fraser, says collaboration is a critical component when it comes to promoting tourism and that the Tourism Association looks forward to continuing to support the Northeast.“Collaboration is a critical component to successfully promote tourism experiences in the region. Northeast BC and the Alaska Highway are iconic travel destinations and access to funding through Destination B.C.’s Co-op Marketing Partnerships Program assists in developing inspiring content and promotional initiatives that elevate awareness of the region with travellers. We look forward to continuing to support the efforts of the Northeast BC Tourism Marketing Cooperative.”According to Destination B.C., in 2017 the tourism industry employed over 137,800 people with $4.9 billion in wages and has contributed $9 billion to the economy over the past decade.last_img read more

Airfares soar over 100 as airlines cancel flights

first_imgNew Delhi/Mumbai: Air passengers face the grim prospects of high air fares and fewer flight choices as several airlines cancel operations due to a number of reasons including the grounding of 737-MAX aircraft. According to industry insiders, some sectors have shown a rise of more than 100 per cent in last minute bookings. “With an unprecedented number of planes now grounded due to various factors, reduction in seat capacity has led to an increase in fares overnight. Last minute airfares on Wednesday increased to more than 100 per cent on some key routes like Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Chennai, Mumbai-Kolkata and Mumbai-Bengaluru as compared to same time last year,” said Aloke Bajapi, CEO and Co-founder, ixigo. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in Sep “Spot fares for Mumbai-Chennai are touching Rs 26,073 as opposed to Rs 5,369 the same time last year. High airfare patterns are expected to continue in the short term with Holi and summer school holidays round the corner, resulting in an increased demand.” Operations of airlines like SpiceJet and Jet Airways have been hit due to the government’s Wednesday decision to join a global grounding of 737-MAX aircraft following a crash in Ethiopia. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to Customs In India, SpiceJet and Jet Airways operate 17 Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft – Spice (12) and Jet (5). A part of Jet fleet has already been grounded due to other reasons. The grounding led SpiceJet to cancel 14 flights on Wednesday. This number is expected to touch 32 on Thursday. Apart from SpiceJet, Jet Airways, which faces financial challenges, has already grounded four more aircraft over non-repayment of dues to lessors, taking the total to 32. The company in BSE filings has said that its 19 aircraft were grounded in February over non-repayment of dues to lessors, while 13 aircraft were grounded this month, taking the total to 32. The Jet Airways Group operates a fle et of 123 aircraft. However, around 50 planes are said to be non-operational due to a host of reasons, including lack of spare parts. IndiGo faces massive turbulence of pilot shortage, leading to truncated flight schedule Earlier, the airline said that 30 of its flights which have been affected represent only 2 per cent of its network. It has decided to curtail its schedule till March 31, by about 30 flights a day. “As a proactive measure, IndiGo has decided to continue its curtailment until the end of March. This measure has already been implemented and passengers informed,” the airline said in a statement. “These medium term cancellations have been made to minimise the impact on passengers as alternative travel options have been offered well in advance. The operations will be normalised by the start of the summer schedule.” For sometime now, Air India has grounded 17 aircraft due to technical reasons. On Wednesday, the government had advised domestic airlines not to go in for predatory air fare pricing as several 737-MAX aircraft were grounded due to safety reasons. Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said: “We have advised the airlines… that they should not use it (grounding) as a reason to jack up their fares.” “They have promised they will go as per normal routine. DGCA has just said that it will be monitoring all the sectors very closely.”last_img read more

EC lets off Union minister Naqvi with warning for Modiji ki sena

first_imgNew Delhi: The Election Commission Thursday let off Minority Affairs Minister and BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi with a light rap for his ‘Modiji ki sena’ remark and “warned” him against using the armed forces for political propaganda. It also asked him to be “careful in the future” with his utterances. Addressing an election rally in Rampur on April 3, Naqvi had used the phrase ‘Modiji ki sena’ or Modi’s army. State election authorities had issued him a show cause notice. In his response, the minister had agreed that he had used the phrase. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details “The Commission … hereby warns Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to desist from using the references to defence forces for political propaganda and to be careful in future,” the order read. It reminded the BJP leader of its March 19 instruction asking politicians “to desist from using any reference to defence forces in their political campaign/propaganda”. A similar remark by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had earned him the ire of the poll panel on April 5. He too was asked to be careful in future with his utterances.last_img read more

No longer just about black or white Kunal Kemmu

first_imgNew Delhi: Actor Kunal Kemmu is kicked about the response he is getting for his “grey” character in the multi-starrer film “Kalank”. He says it is a great time to be an actor as it is no longer just about essaying black or white roles or being a hero or villain on screen. “The way we conceive, develop and make films today is completely different from how we did 20 years ago. The makers and the audience as well have evolved and we are making films that are breaking genres,” Kunal told IANS in an email interview. Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: Priyanka “Characters are written differently and it’s no longer just about black or white, hero or villain. Hence, it’s a great time to be an actor and experiment with various characters and different kinds of films.” Kunal, who essayed the role of Abdul in “Kalank”, finds appreciation from critics and fans as a validation of his hard work. The 35-year-old actor made his debut as a child artist in the TV series “Gul Gulshan Gulfaam” in 1987. He ventured into the world of cinema with filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s movie “Sir” in 1993. Also Read – Salman Khan remembers actor Vinod Khanna Kunal then went on to star as a child artiste in movies including “Raja Hindustani”, “Zakhm”, “Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke” and “Dushman”. It was in 2005 that he played the male lead in “Kalyug” and was later seen in multi-starrers like “Dhol”, “Golmaal 3” and “Goa Goa Gone”. Has he found his comfort zone in multi-starrers? “It’s not really always been about whether it’s a multi-starrer or a solo film. Depending on the script, the character or the production house and the director involved, we do films. I haven’t done solo films for a while because I haven’t got any interesting scripts coming my way,” he said. Kunal, who is married to actress Soha Ali Khan, added: “So, it’s not a conscious decision or attempt and yes, when we do a multi-starrer, it is less load on your shoulders but the hard work is the same.” Looking back at his career, Kunal says he is happy the way things went for him. “I am very thankful and will always be for getting the chance to do the work which I like to do and keep getting offers to do different kinds of films. My journey could have been better, it could have been worse, but I don’t want to mourn over what happened, what went right or wrong. “I am just happy that I can still continue doing what I enjoy,” he said. Kunal is looking forward to working in his upcoming movie “Malang”, which also stars Anil Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapur and Disha Patani.last_img read more

Breaking another glass ceiling

first_imgWhen Laibi Oinam got in the front seat of a second-hand auto-rickshaw as a driver almost a decade ago, she received a lot of negative attention from people in her home state of Manipur in northeast India. But her life took a new turn in 2015 when her struggle to get passengers and earn her daily bread to support her ailing husband and young sons caught a filmmakers attention. Now in her 50s, Laibi has bought herself a new auto-rickshaw, her younger son is inching closer to his football dream and she enjoys respect in the same society that once looked down upon her for driving an auto and breaking another glass ceiling for women without really knowing it. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainLaibi says that she didn’t take up the job of an autodriver in 2011 to challenge stereotypes. Her husband’s deteriorating health and sons’ education demanded more money. What she earned by working in a brick kiln was insufficient. So, she collected money through chit fund and bought a second-hand auto. “I rented it out to others but we didn’t get much money out of it. Meanwhile my husband got unwell, so I decided to start driving,” Laibi said. Whether it is fighting for a cause or selling vegetables or handloom weaving, traditional male bastions, women in Manipur have always been in the forefront of society. But the same can’t be said about autodrivers. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma Award”When I started driving auto in 2011, I used to wear phanek (traditional wear of Manipuri women). Later on, I changed to pants as people often refused to take rides because of my gender and outfit,” said Laibi, who learnt how to drive on a Vespa. Since the sight of women autodrivers was not a common one in Manipur, it caught the attention of film director Meena Longjam. “I met her in 2012. It was an accidental encounter. There were many male autodrivers in the market and then there was this one woman waiting to get passengers in her auto. I had never thought that a woman could drive an auto in Manipur,” said the Madras Christian College alumnus. An article on Laibi piqued Meena’s interest. “Someone had written an article on her. Then I thought of talking to her. Also, I remember back in 2011, there was an economic blockade in Manipur for so many months that it crippled all of us. I thought of sending out a message to people through my film. “I wanted to show how despite all the problems in the state, a woman is working hard to support her family,” said the filmmaker. The documentary Autodriver is barely of 30 minutes but Meena gave about three years of her life to it. “While talking to her, I noticed that Laibi has big dreams for her children. Though one of her sons had to drop out of a Sainik school due to her financial condition, she still dreams big. She wants her elder son to become an IAS officer and younger son a footballer. “Her journey is very emotional. She does all the household chores and then heads out to earn money as an autodriver – a challenging job for a woman in Manipur,” she added. The emotional story connected with many. It even bagged the best social issue film in the non-feature category at the 63rd edition of National Film awards. “Now I am a known face. A lot of people have started supporting me. Even traffic police officials don’t bother me much. My younger son is studying in a football academy in Chandigarh. The elder one is almost done with his graduation. I earn around Rs 1,000 per day,” said Laibi. She also revealed that the amount is almost twice what she earned when she started out on her challenging journey.. So once her sons start earning, will she quit driving? About that, Laibi said, “I know how to make ‘phee’ (traditional Manipuri handloom long scarf) but I don’t enjoy doing it. I think I will drive my auto all my life. I like driving. It suits me.”last_img read more

Libyan soldier killed as army again under fire

first_imgBenghazi — Gunmen on Thursday opened fire on a vehicle in Libya’s second city Benghazi killing a soldier, witnesses said, in the latest attack on the army in the country’s volatile east.The killing comes on the final day of a three-day Benghazi strike in protest over militias after a shootout on Monday between a jihadist group and the army left seven people dead and 50 wounded.Three soldiers were shot dead in the city on Wednesday and the bodies of two more were found in the nearby town of Derna, officials said. Thursday’s attack was carried out by gunmen in a vehicle, who fired a volley of bullets at two soldiers as they got into a car after leaving a cafe, witnesses said.“The soldier died after being shot in the head,” said a medic at Benghazi’s Al-Jala hospital.Witnesses said the second soldier escaped unharmed.Benghazi city council declared the three-day strike after an army patrol came under attack near the headquarters of Ansar al-Sharia, a jihadist group blamed for the 2012 attack on a US mission in which the ambassador and three other Americans were killed.Libya has seen mounting unrest since the toppling of long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011 by a ragtag assortment of rebel brigades, many of which have since been transformed into militias that defy the weak central government.last_img read more

Morocco Doctor Arrested For Fake Baccalaureate Degree

Rabat – A female physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology was arrested on Thursday in the city of Al-Faqih Bin Saleh on grounds of forging the baccalaureate degree.According to Maghreb Press Agency (MAP), the accused presented a falsified baccalaureate degree in order to obtain a diploma equivalency to a PhD in gynecology and obstetrics she obtained from an Eastern European country.The academic level of the accused does not exceed the first year of the baccalaureate. The same source pointed out that prior to her arrest by elements of the judicial police, the accused “doctor” was engaged in the profession in a private clinic in the city of Al-Faqih Bin Saleh.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed. read more

The King Asked Me to Ensure Transparency of Elections Minister

Marrakech- What matters the most in the upcoming Moroccan elections is credibility and transparency, and that the elections reflect the policy of the country, Mohammed Hassad, Minister of Interior, said on Friday in Rabat.During a discussion of the Interior Ministry’s budget within at the upper house of parliament, the Minister underlined that respecting the agenda and credibility of the upcoming elections is one King Mohammed VI’s top priorities.Hassad said he has received instructions from the king to make sure that the elections are held in transparency. The Minister highlighted the judiciary’s decision to repeat some district elections in the past, such as the elections in Moulay Yakoub, near Fez, which were repeated four times, to ensure transparency in elections and the respect of democratic rules Hassad said that territorial administration officials were given strict instructions to conduct the elections in good conditions, and to not favor any political partyDuring a meeting of the Interior Committee, Hassad promised that authorities would ensure election transparency by following up on complaints with the courts. He also called on political parties to submit documented evidence of electoral violations, discouraging them from merely issuing accusations without arguments.Edited by Timothy Filla read more

Export Potential of Fruits and Vegetables to Russia Remains Important Minister

Agadir – Morocco’s fruits and vegetables export potential to Russia remains important, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Aziz Akhannouch, said Thursday in Agadir.“This potential should allow Morocco to improve its position in the Russian market,” said Akhannouch who was speaking at the opening of Morocco-Russia Business Forum, adding that the kingdom is stepping up efforts to diversify its agricultural supply to this market.Russia accounts for nearly 15% of the total value of food exports from Morocco to reach 1.6 billion dirhams in 2015, said the Minister, adding that agricultural exports increased by 35% between the two export seasons 2014/2015 and 2015/2016. Concerning the fisheries field, Russia is the 13th customer of Moroccan exports of seafood products with a turnover of nearly 300 million dirhams in 2015, noted the Minister. read more

Injaz Al Maghrib Association Meets Partners for Review and Goal Setting

By Safaa KasraouiRabat – Injaz Al Maghrib Association met with its volunteer advisors and partners December 20th for it’s annual discussion of both its yearly outcomes as well as its 2017 goals.On this occasion, Chairwoman and CEO, Laila Mamou, expressed her heartfelt thanks to the volunteer advisors and partners specializing in the entrepreneurship education involved in the projects. She also took the opportunity to present the association’s annual management report. Since its creation in 2007, 27,845 young people have been trained by 1,190 volunteer counselors between 2015 and 2016, an 56% increase compared to the last year.The association hopes to reach 200,000 young participants by the year 2020. To aid in reaching this goal, Mamou speculated that, ”the association ought to focus more on long programs for a better result.”A long program stretches out over six months, two hours a week. This can lead to challenges including finding volunteer counselors or recommending people who actively serve the association,” she noted. She also pointed out that, Injaz Al Maghrib’s first goal is to assist as many young people as possible in taking advantage of the experienced volunteer advisors and fully committed partners, all of whom will play a critical role in the association’s 2020 timeline.From 2015-2016, 10.900 young people benefited from the association’s long programs. The association ultimately wants to see their interaction with these young people go beyond their current training programs so that, in time, they might be able to create their own businesses. With this goal in mind, the association’s ”Smart Start” program was launched for the exclusive benefit of young people, who’d successfully completed the flagship program of Injaz Al Maghrib Association.A total of 18 project owners benefited from this program from 2015-2016 and it should also be noted that the association is in the process of preparing seed projects for the financing of start-ups with the Attijariwafa bank’s Private Equity fund. read more

Qualifying Draw for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Morocco in Group

Rabat – The Moroccan soccer team is in group “B” according to the draw for the 2019 African Nations Cup qualifiers that was made in Libreville on Thursday.Morocco is alongside host country Cameroon, Malawi and either Comoros or Mauritius.The group stage of qualifying starts in June and concludes in November 2018. Draw in full:A: Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Sao Tome/MadagascarB: Cameroon, Morocco, Malawi, Comoros/MauritiusC: Mali, Gabon, Burundi, Djibouti/South SudanD: Algeria, Togo, Benin, GambiaE: Nigeria, South Africa, Libya, SeychellesF: Ghana, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, KenyaG: DR Congo, Congo, Zimbabwe, LiberiaH: Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Central African Republic, RwandaI: Burkina Faso, Angola, Botswana, MauritaniaJ: Tunisia, Egypt, Niger, SwazilandK: Zambia, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, NamibiaL: Cape Verde, Uganda, Tanzania, Lesotho read more

Mohcine Jazouli Morocco Committed to a PanAfrican Migration Agenda

Rabat – Morocco’s deputy minister in charge of African cooperation has stressed that Morocco views immigration as a gain rather than a threat.Jazouli made the remarks at this year’s Forum of African Women Journalists in Casablanca on Friday, October 26.Titled “African Migrations, an Opportunity for the Continent, a Responsibility for the Media,” the forum discussed images often associated with human flows across and from Africa. At issue was also the responsibility of African media and political leaders to rise to the persisting challenge of African mobility. Meeting the challenges includes countering stereotypes and giving a balanced account of the reality of immigration, panelists concurred.While echoing the sentiment of stereotype-countering, Jazouli emphatically spoke of Morocco’s pan-African outlook in dealing with migration. He said that Morocco does not subscribe to the approach of countries that perceive migrants as threats to social and cultural identity.“Study after study have established that migrants play a vital role in sustaining the economy and society of their host countries,” Jazouli said. In countries that have historically relied on the flow of people, he explained, the importance of migrants “is palpable in all sectors.”But, the Moroccan official maintained, in times of doubt and crisis, “Migrants quickly become scapegoats. They are unjustly and sometimes shockingly, accused of threatening social stability and national identity.” Migration and security go hand in hand in a number of countries.Morocco, however, wishes to “reverse the current trend.” As Morocco goes beyond the “migration as insecurity” trend, its engagement with migration-related matters is to help “deconstruct stereotypes” and actively contribute to the emergence of a prosperous and respected Africa.Committing to an African agendaAt the 30th AU summit in January this year, King Mohammed VI presented his “African Agenda on Migration,” a fulfillment of his duties as the chair of the body’s policy framework on migration. The agenda prescribed cohesion and “unity of action.”Referring to the AU agenda on migration, Jazouli said: “The goal of the agenda is to propel Africa into a paradigm that sees migration as an opportunity for economic growth and a chance for the future of our continent. The creation of an African observatory on migration is consistent with that logic.”The mission of the observatory, Jazouli noted, is to define an African framework to “understand, anticipate, and act.”Jazouli’s comments come at a time when Morocco is being accused of racially profiling and discriminating against its growing sub-Saharan population.Gadem, a human rights advocacy group, recently published a report that pointed an accusatory finger at Morocco’s treatment of irregular migrants. According to the report, Moroccan police violently cracked down on migrants in northern Morocco, “gratuitously” expelling them in thousands.“All the testimonies we recorded spoke of violence and mistreatment,” a Gadem representative said at a press conference earlier this month in Rabat.Others have suggested that Morocco’s unprecedented brutalization of irregular sub-Saharans has its origins in the recently-signed Morocco-EU deal on migration. As Brussels has pledged €70 million to Rabat to help secure EU borders, Morocco had to keep its end of the bargain.But Jazouli was insistent on the pan-African foundation of Morocco’s immigration policy.Dismissing the narrative that Rabat’s migration policy is grounded in agreements with external partners, he said, “Morocco’s strategy with regards to migration sought to break away from any external diktat … Morocco’s national strategy [on migration] falls within the framework of the global compact on migration and the African agenda.” read more

Fed will be patient in rate hikes amid global growth woes

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve says that in light of a slowing global economy and last year’s financial market turmoil, the central bank intends to remain “patient” in determining when to make future changes in its benchmark interest rate.The Fed’s semi-annual report to Congress on monetary policy stood in contrast to its last report in July when it signalled that it was on track to keep raising rates at a gradual pace over the next two years.The new report cites a range of risks to the economy that have developed over the last six months, as well as continued muted inflation as reasons to slow further hikes.Many private economists believe the Fed may raise rates at most only one more time late this year.Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press read more

Cyprus finance minister to leave post by years end

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus’ finance minister says he’ll leave the post he’s held since 2013 by the end of the year.Harris Georgiades said Friday his decision had nothing to do with the findings of an inquiry that partly blamed him for the demise of the country’s bad loan-laden Co-operative Bank.Georgiades said it was time for him to move on after nearly seven years at the post and defended himself against the inquiry’s findings which he called both “mistaken and unfair.”He said he still has the full backing of the Cypriot president who also criticized the inquiry as reaching “contradictory” conclusions.Georgiades was appointed finance minister in the immediate aftermath of a multibillion-euro rescue deal that Cyprus was forced to accept after a banking crisis nearly bankrupted the country.The Associated Press read more

Protests or Promotions Womens Rights Activists on March 8

By Stephanie Willman Bordat and Saida Kouzzi, Rabat – Happy Pancake Day! It is time to check out a couple of online videos for some recipes. Oh wait, no, that was this past Tuesday, March 5. Today is International Women’s Day.It never fails. Every year around mid to late February, the calls and the e-mails start. “What are you doing for Women’s Day?” Sigh, bang head on table, repeat. As an NGO working for over 19 years to promote women’s rights in Morocco, Women’s Day is about roll-up-the-sleeves, slow but steady efforts 365 days a year, not a one-off occasion for a concocted activity. The first Women’s Day was organized—not celebrated—in 1909, and emerged from the labor rights movement, with women mobilizing for a host of political and economic rights related to voting and the right to be elected to public office, as well as worker’s rights and employment discrimination issues.Women across the world, from England to Egypt have been arrested at March 8 rallies, when the day was about protests, not promotions—of either the personal or the commercial kind. On December 16, 1977, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution inviting member states to proclaim a “United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace” (emphasis added). To illustrate the rights-based context, on the same day the General Assembly also passed a resolution calling for a Draft Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).Given the tendency of certain current political representatives in Morocco to denounce the CEDAW as neocolonialism from the “West,” it is worth recalling that the original request for a United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was co-sponsored by 22 mostly African, Latin American, and Asian countries—one of which was Morocco.The original objectives of International Women’s Day were to highlight discrimination, inequality, and gender-based violence and organize concrete actions to address these violations of basic human rights. It is supposed to be a “lutte,” not a “fete.”At one memorable event long ago, a women’s group organized a bake sale in which women customers paid 65 percent of the prices men paid, to highlight experientially the wage gap between men’s and women’s earnings.Read Also: Law 103-13 on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Morocco: A Missed Rendezvous with Democracy?In the decades since, Women’s Day has been transformed into a commercial opportunity to be exploited for sales. The day now focuses on women as gender-coded consumers and service providers, not on their fundamental rights as human beings.To these companies with their special deals, fanfare, and decorated window displays, we say, if you are not respecting labor laws, paying a fair wage, or guaranteeing minimal hygiene and safety standards for your female workers, then you have no business “celebrating” Women’s Day. (We have a sneaking suspicion that your staff may actually be worked unpaid overtime today to enhance sales).To add insult to injury, we have seen discussions circulating recently on social media where men complain that Women’s Day sales are a form of discrimination against them and a violation of their Article 19 constitutional rights.Discrimination is not just any difference made between people based on categories such as sex. It is a “distinction, exclusion or restriction” which has “the purpose or effect of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Studies have shown that women pay more for similar products than men—it is called the “pink tax.” In addition, since women earn less than men, they pay a higher percentage of their income than men for the same product. So in reality, it is the everyday prices that are discriminatory, not the one day sales.These products are often highly overpriced the other 364 days a year, with their profits more often than not going into the pockets of male CEOs, since in Morocco, women represent seven percent of administrators of the largest public enterprises and only 11 percent of listed companies.The CEOs’ nod to Women’s Day is to make less of a profit than usual off of women who earn less all year round. But please tell us again how you really wanted to buy that specific beauty cream today specifically and how the fact that you do not get the same discount as women for a 24 hour period is a violation of your fundamental human rights.Unfortunately, it is not just private profit-making entities lowering the bar on International Women’s Day. Over the years, we have seen March 8 transformed by those who purport to support women’s rights—associations, the press, academics, activists, funders, and government representatives both domestic and foreign—into occasions for self-promotion. They plan last minute activities with no strategic objective hastily put together and built more around selfie opportunities than around rights-based advocacy. In Morocco, seven out of 10 women will experience some form of gender-based violence in her lifetime. On average, women in Morocco spend five hours per day on domestic work and caretaking for other household members, compared to 43 minutes for men.Women make up only 17 percent of the 395-member House of Representatives and 12 percent of the 120-member House of Councilors. Moroccan women earn 29 percent less than men, and unemployment rates for women are double those for men.Consumer products, social media posts, and shameless self-promotion are not going to help address these issues constructively or advance women’s rights. Women in Morocco and around the world face serious problems that need solving. For this, as the saying goes, we need a movement, not a moment.In the meantime, rendez-vous on May 4 for Star Wars Day.The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial views.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission. read more

Money Madness AP analysis shows growing gap in NCAA payouts

HARTFORD, Conn. — Powered by Ja Morant’s no-look passes and Dylan Windler’s step-back 3s, March Madness has been a bonanza for the Ohio Valley Conference.The league placed two teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the first time in 32 years. Then Morant’s Murray State Racers and Windler’s Belmont Bruins both won games during the first week of play, making them darlings for underdog-loving fans everywhere.That’s over now — both teams lost their second tournament game. But the big payoff for the conference’s 12 schools comes over the next six years, a windfall of at least $6.77 million that starts in 2020 with a $1.1 million payment from the NCAA.Every year, millions of dollars are distributed to 32 Division I conferences by the NCAA based on what teams get into the tournament and how far they advance. Last year it was $216 million.The hoops showcase is the centerpiece of the NCAA’s revenue. And in recent years, the portion of those funds going to the five most powerful conferences in college sports have increased, according to an AP analysis of more than $3 billion in payments distributed from 1997-2018.For leagues outside the wealthiest, an upset or elusive at-large bid is like winning the lottery. Already at a huge disadvantage, it is becoming harder for teams in smaller conferences to keep up. Windfalls like the one heading toward the Ohio Valley have become even more important to mid-major hoops.“We have to take advantage of this moment,” Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner Beth DeBauche said hours before Murray State was eliminated by Florida State on Saturday. “We will start as soon as this tournament run ends, talking about what this means and how we can build upon it.”It all points to a long-term problem for mid-majors trying to compete as power conferences stockpile wins and at-large invites to the tournament: It takes revenue to build a program that can compete with the big boys. For those with less, it is becoming harder to generate more.“It is a vicious cycle,” Atlantic Sun Commissioner Ted Gumbart said.The 2018 tournament brought in $844.3 million in television and marketing rights, the vast majority from a contract with CBS and Turner Sports to televise the games. That deal grows annually, its latest extension worth $8.8 billion over eight years, starting in 2024.From 1997-2018, the Big Ten Conference has been paid the most at $340 million, while the Southwest Athletic Conference has earned $25 million, nearly the minimum it can earn given that all leagues make money from their teams that qualify automatically.Since massive realignment among college conference in 2012-2014, Power Five schools from the Atlantic Coast, Southeastern, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 have earned even more under the system of “units,” the term used by the NCAA to tally the performance payouts.How it works: Each distribution year is assigned a value for a single unit, which is then applied to bids and most wins earned by conferences over the previous six tournaments. The NCAA last paid $273,500 per unit for tournament results from 2012-2017.The Power Five conferences earned 47.5 per cent of NCAA Tournament units from 2002-13. From 2014-18, those same conferences — which also rake in billions from media rights deals, conference networks and post-season football — earned 55.3 per cent of NCAA Tournament units.Some of that has come at the expense of the Big East, which was picked apart during realignment and reconfigured from 16 teams to 10. Still, with a 12-year, $500 million television contract with Fox and no major college football to support, the Big East is in much better shape than others outside the Power Five.Units earned by the 26 other Division I conferences have fallen from 39.4 per cent from 2002-13 to 36.4 per cent since. The decline tracks with a falling number of at-large bids going to conferences outside the Power Five and Big East.“It’s discouraging because the challenges are increasing on a year-to-year basis,” said Doug Elgin, who has been commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference for 31 years. “The gap in resources between the high majors and everyone else is accelerating at an alarming rate.”The NCAA began its current system in 1991. It provided The Associated Press with unit values dating back to 1997, the earliest year for which it had reliable data. The AP calculated NCAA distributions, confirming figures since 2008 with detailed payouts provided by the NCAA and applying unit values to tournament results from earlier years. The AP also used formulas where provided by conferences to estimate how money was shared by schools, before expenses.Conferences are more concerned than ever about occasionally landing an extra at-large bid, and not just hoping to spring a major upset to earn a bigger piece of the pie.“If that window of opportunity is shrinking for all of us …. it really becomes an elevated concern more than it probably has been in the past,” America East Commissioner Amy Huchthausen said.___Associated Press data journalist Larry Fenn contributed to this report.___More AP college basketball: and D. Russo, The Associated Press read more

Algerias AntiGovernment Demonstrations Escalate Police Arrest 108

Rabat – Algerians are back to the streets to protest against the Bensalah-led interim government, saying they want an immediate and total break with the Bouteflika regime.On Tuesday, Parliament appointed Abdelkader Bensalah, the 77-year-old former president of the Council of the Nation, to rule the country during the three-month-long transition until the next election on July 4.While Bensalah is barred from running in the “transparent” elections he has promised, Algerians see his rule as an extension of the Bouteflika years. Thousands came out on Friday to mark the eighth week of protest against against the country’s political establishment.While protesters sang “peace, peace,” to suggest they were simply here to express disappointment at the turn of events instead of vandalize, police did not hesitate to fire tear gas.As they faced, undeterred, the riot police’s firing tear gas to contain them, they chanted “they will all leave,” an anti-government slogan suggesting that the youth-led movement want a total rupture from the old regime.‘Infiltrators’But yesterday was unprecedented in the ongoing anti-government fervor in Algeria. According to reports, an estimated hundreds of thousands faced the riot-police in Algiers in what has largely been described as “peaceful demonstrations.”Authorities later announced that 108 protesters were arrested in Friday clashes. There are also reports that 27 policemen were injured as demonstrations escalated.Algerian police using tear gas to disperse anti-government demonstrators. Photo: Ramzi Boudina/ReutersPolice claim that the “infiltrators” are using violence to influence the agenda of what started off as peaceful protests against former President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika.But analysts have denied those claims, with suggestions that the remaining Bouteflika clan, still controlling the country, is seeking to delegitimize the anti-Bensalah fervor.Despite perception that authorities will not hesitate to harshly repress protesters should they continue staging demonstrations, Algerians are undeterred because their “demands are clear,” Dalia Ghanem, a researcher at the Beirut-based Carnegie Middle East Center, told Aljazeera on Friday.“They know what they can achieve with their protests every Friday but also their daily protests. The momentum is here and the status quo is winding up,” Ghanem said.Until the Bouteflika entire regime fallsOther analysts, meanwhile, have suggested that Algerians have learned from the failed Arab Spring in Egypt and elsewhere. The idea is that Algerian protesters trust neither the army nor the remaining figures of the old regime.They fear that their revolution could be hijacked and will not relent until they cleanse the country of “le pouvoir,” a French word used in Algeria to refer to the restricted circle of generals, businessmen, and technocrats who “confiscated” Algerian politics during the two decades under Bouteflika.“The July 4 election has already been rejected by the people, which also refuses Bensalah’s nomination,” Algerian philosophy professor Mahrez Bouich said.According to Bouich, Algerians will not allow the political establishment to use the constitution to toy with Algerians by removing Bouteflika to only replace him with a kindred leader.“They will all leave,” one of the key slogans of the anti-Bensalah protests, has been interpreted as meaning that demonstrations will continue until Bensalah and all the remaining Bouteflika “gangsters” are ousted.As the youth asks for a fundamental regime change, it remains to be seen how far General Ahmed Gaid Salah, the army chief of staff who has already denounced the crowds’ “unrealistic slogans,” will go in repressing the visibly unfading tide of anti-government protests. read more

Moroccan Model Nora Attal And Family Pose for Vogue Italia

Rabat – Nora Attal, one of the world’s most sought after models, proudly displayed her Moroccan origins by posing with her family in the July issue of Vogue Italia. This marks her third Vogue feature, having already featured on the cover of British Vogue and Vogue Arabia’s September 2018 issue.In her family home in Larache, a town in northern Morocco, Attal posed with her parents, grandmother and brother and sister. The whole family was dressed in Chanel, which Attal models regularly. “Along with three generations of her family, 20-year-old Moroccan-British model Nora Attal returned to her native sun-bleached hometown of Larache, the laidback port city located on the north-western coast of Morocco,” Vogue Italia said.Read also: Winner of Miss Arab Next Top Model: ‘I’m Lucky to Be Moroccan’The shoot offers “an intimate glimpse into a little-seen familial side of Attal, in a setting that serves as a meeting point and crossroads for her family located in Morocco, Spain, and London.”Born in London to Moroccan parents, the young model is a rising star in the industry, having built an impressive resume since she was discovered by British fashion and documentary photographer Jamie Hawkesworth at her high school.She has become a favorite of designers such as Prada, Chanel, and Burberry, and walked at the world’s fashion weeks side by side with the likes of Gigi Hadid, Taylor Hill, and Stella Maxwell.Most recently, Alexander McQueen chose her as the face of its Women’s Spring/Summer 2019 campaign. read more