US construction spending flat as commercial building falls

first_imgWASHINGTON – Spending on U.S. construction projects was unchanged in January, held back by a sharp fall in commercial real estate building.The Commerce Department said Thursday that spending on the construction of single-family homes rose 0.6 per cent, while apartment building fell. Construction of commercial projects, such as office towers and malls, fell 2.7 per cent. Construction spending on new power plants plunged 6.2 per cent.Construction spending rose in 2017 at the slowest pace in six years, as homebuilders have struggled to find enough workers and enough cheap land to build on. Total private construction fell 0.5 per cent in January.States and the federal government have made up for some of the decline, increasing their construction spending 1.8 per cent in January. Federal spending soared 14.9 per cent to the highest level in more than seven years.Spending on highway and road building rose 4.4 per cent and construction of schools increased 2.1 per cent.last_img read more

Trump Sanctions reinstated against Iran for WORLD PEACE

first_imgWASHINGTON – U.S. sanctions that kicked in early Tuesday against Iran are meant to pressure Tehran’s government into retreating from its support for international terrorism, its military activity in the Middle East and its ballistic missile and nuclear-related programs, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said.The first set of U.S. sanctions that had been eased under a landmark Iran nuclear accord target financial transactions involving U.S. dollars, Iran’s automotive sector, the purchase of commercial airplanes and metals, including gold.Additional sanctions on Iran’s oil sector and central bank are to be reinstated in early November.The sanctions went back into effect under an executive order Trump signed three months after he pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 international accord limiting Iran’s nuclear activities. Trump called the deal, signed by the Obama administration, “horrible.”John Bolton, the U.S. national security adviser, said Tuesday that the intent of sanctions is not to bring about Iranian “regime change.”“But we definitely want to put maximum pressure on the government, and it’s not just to come back to discuss fixing a deal that’s basically not fixable, dealing with the nuclear weapons aspect,” Bolton said Tuesday on Fox News. “We want to see a much broader retreat by Iran from their support for international terrorism, their belligerent activity in the Middle East and their ballistic missile, nuclear-related program.”“There’s a lot going on here that Iran needs to be held accountable for,” he said.In a morning tweet, Trump said the re-imposition of sanctions means, “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.”“I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”The stiff economic sanctions ratchet up pressure on the Islamic Republic despite statements of deep dismay from European allies. Trump said the landmark deal left the Iranian government flush with cash to fuel conflict in the Middle East.Iran accused the U.S. of reneging on the agreement and of causing recent Iranian economic unrest. European allies said they “deeply regret” the U.S. action.As the sanctions loomed, Trump said in a statement Monday: “We urge all nations to take such steps to make clear that the Iranian regime faces a choice: either change its threatening, destabilizing behaviour and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation.”Trump warned that those who don’t wind down their economic ties to Iran “risk severe consequences.”The Europeans didn’t like any of it.Despite Trump’s claims, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom said in a statement that the accord “is working and delivering on its goal” of limiting Iran’s nuclear program.The ministers said the Iran deal is “crucial for the security of Europe, the region and the entire world” and the European Union issued a “blocking statute” Monday to protect European businesses from the impact of the sanctions.A senior administration official, briefing reporters under ground rules requiring anonymity, said the United States is “not particularly concerned” by EU efforts to protect European firms from the sanctions.Bolton denied any worsening of U.S. relations with Europe, saying the administration has been in “constant communication with them” over the issue.“We all still share the same objective of making sure that Iran doesn’t get deliverable nuclear weapons,” he said.Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran still can rely on China and Russia to keep its oil and banking sectors afloat. Speaking in a television interview, he also demanded compensation for decades of American “intervention” in the Islamic Republic.Months of uncertainty surrounding the sanctions have already further hurt Iran’s economy. The country’s rial currency has tanked, and the downturn has sparked protests across the nation.The “Trump Administration wants the world to believe it’s concerned about the Iranian people,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter. But, he said, the re-imposed sanctions would endanger “ordinary Iranians.”“US hypocrisy knows no bounds,” he said.U.S. officials insisted the American government stands with the people of Iran and supports many of their complaints against their government.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said sanctions are an important pillar in U.S. policy toward Iran and will remain in place until the Iranian government radically changes course.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a firm foe of the Iranian government, said the sanctions symbolize “the determination to block Iran’s regional aggression as well as its continuous plans to arm itself with nuclear weapons.”He called on the countries of Europe to join the U.S., saying, “The time has come to stop talking; the time has come to do.”The U.S has long designated Iran as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism.___Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, and Ian Deitch in Jerusalem contributed.last_img read more

Razor burn Gillette ad stirs online uproar

first_imgNEW YORK — A Gillette ad for men invoking the #MeToo movement is sparking intense online backlash, with accusations that it talks down to men and groups calling for a boycott. But Gillette says it doesn’t mind sparking a discussion. Since it debuted Monday, the Internet-only ad has garnered nearly 19 million views on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter — a level of buzz that any brand would covet.The two-minute ad from Procter & Gamble’s razor brand shows men and boys engaging in bullying and sexual harassment and encourages men to “say the right thing” and “act the right way.” Taking on bullying, sexual harassment and toxic masculinity is a big task for a razor brand. Many critics took to social media saying it was insulting to men and laden with stereotypes.The uproar comes as Gillette battles upstarts like Harrys Razors, Dollar Shave Club, and others for millennial dollars. Gillette controlled about 70 per cent of the U.S. market a decade ago. Last year, its market share dropped to below 50 per cent, according to EuromonitorAllen Adamson, co-founder of branding firm Metaforce, called the ad a “hail Mary” pass from the 117-year-old company. But he added that online buzz, whether positive or negative, rarely makes a long-term difference for a marketer since memory fades quickly.“Getting noticed and getting buzz is no easy task, and they’ve managed to break through,” Adamson said. “Most advertisers advertise, and no one notices because there is so much noise in the marketplace, so just getting noticed Is a big win, especially for low-interest category like a razor.”On the flip side, it probably won’t sell many razors either, he said.Gillette’s ad echoes other attempts by major advertisers to take on social issues. Pepsi pulled an ad in 2017 showing Kendall Jenner giving a cop a Pepsi during a protest and apologized after an outcry that it trivialized “Black Lives Matter” and other protest movements. Nike polarized the nation with an ad featuring ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick who started a wave of protests among NFL players of police brutality, racial inequality and other social issues.Sales weren’t affected in either of those cases. When controversy does affect sales, it is usually over something more substantive than an ad. Lululemon saw sales tumble in 2013 after a string of PR disasters including manufacturing problems that caused their pricey yoga pants to become see through and fat-shaming comments from their founder. But even that was short lived.Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, said that much like Nike’s Kaepernick ad, Gillette likely knew the ad would garner online debate.“Nike knew what they were getting themselves into,” Torossian said. The ad with Kapernick was “making a lot of noise, and it can’t be a surprise to (Gillette) that this is making a lot of noise.”P&G, one of the world’s largest advertisers, is known for its anthemic spots that appeal to emotions during the Olympics and other events, often aimed at women, such as the tear-jerking “Thank You Mom” Olympics branding campaign and Always “Like a Girl” 2014 Super Bowl ad.Pankaj Bhalla, North America brand director on Gillette says the controversy was not the intended goal of the ad, which is part of a larger campaign that takes a look at redefining Gillette’s longtime tagline “The Best a Man Can Get,” in different ways. Another online ad features one-handed NFL rookie Shaquem Griffin.While he doesn’t want to lose sales or a boycott over the ad, “we would not discourage conversation or discussion because of that,” he said.“Our ultimate aim is to groom the next generation of men, and if any of this helps even in a little way we’ll consider that a success,” he said.Larry Chiagouris, marketing professor at Pace University, is skeptical.“Treating people with respect, who can argue with that, but they’re kind of late to the party here, that’s the biggest problem,” he said. “It’s gratuitous and self-serving.”Mae Anderson, The Associated Presslast_img read more

Manitoba Hydro board resigns prompting accusations from premier talk of lawsuit

first_imgPallister said he had spoken with board members but avoided meetings because he did not want to seem to be interfering in Hydro’s regulatory applications to the Public Utilities Board.Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont called the dispute a “full-blown crisis” and an indictment of Pallister’s leadership.Loren Remillard, CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, said the province needs to move quickly to appoint a new board to send a message of stability that “the core business is still responsible, sustainable, well-managed.”Pallister said a new Hydro board will be appointed soon. “Premier Pallister will likely cost all Manitobans, including Manitoba Metis citizens who pay hundreds of millions in taxes to the province each year, triple that in project delays, litigation and damages,” Chartrand said. “All Manitobans should question the path this premier is taking us down.”Manitoba Hydro is racking up billions of dollars in debt to build new generating stations and transmission lines, and is asking regulators to approve annual rate increases of up to 7.9 per cent for the next several years.The Progressive Conservatives opposed the plan while in Opposition, but said after winning the 2016 election that it was too late to reverse the construction projects.The Tories replaced the Hydro board less than two years ago with the nine members who are now resigning. WINNIPEG, M.B. — The board of directors at Manitoba Hydro resigned en masse Wednesday, leading to counter-accusations from Premier Brian Pallister and the spectre of a lawsuit from the Manitoba Metis Federation.Nine of 10 board members at the provincial Crown corporation issued a written statement in which they cited an inability to work with Pallister and his Progressive Conservative government. The only remaining board member is Tory backbencher Cliff Graydon.“For over a year we have attempted to meet with the premier to resolve a number of critical issues related to the finances and governance of Manitoba Hydro, including matters related to Hydro’s efforts to further develop its relationship with Indigenous peoples,” the statement read.center_img “Despite repeated attempts, we have not been able to have a meaningful dialogue with the government and we have reached an impasse. We have been informed the government intends to remove the chair and has therefore lost confidence in the board. Accordingly we have determined that it is necessary to resign.”Pallister, however, said the resignations stem from a dispute over a plan by Hydro to pay $70 million to the Manitoba Metis Federation so the organization won’t pursue concerns over a new transmission line to Minnesota.“I would describe it more as persuasion money,” Pallister said Wednesday. “To not push for extended environmental hearings on that line and also for acquiescence or non-participation in future such proposals that Hydro might make.”Pallister said when the government discovered the planned payment, it immediately objected.In a statement, federation president David Chartrand accused Pallister of using “race card” tactics.He said there was a negotiated agreement with the Hydro board that respected Metis rights and would save Manitobans millions in litigation costs and delays around Hydro projects.last_img read more

Highway 97 closed between Dawson Creek and Chetwynd

first_imgUPDATE – The highway is now open to single lane alternating traffic.UPDATE – #BCHwy97 now open to single-lane alternating traffic 7 km south of the junction with #BCHwy52 due to vehicle incident. More info: https://t.co/qm49wgJRby #YDQ— DriveBC NE (@DriveBC_NE) June 29, 2018DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Highway 97 is closed between Dawson Creek and Chetwynd after a motor vehicle collision. The closure is 7km south of the junction with Highway 52 in Arras and there is no detour available.  Officials believe the highway will re-open between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.CLOSED – #BCHwy97 in both directions 7 km south of the junction with #BCHwy52 due to vehicle incident. Assessment in progress, no detour available, next update at 6:00 PM More info: https://t.co/qm49wgJRby #YDQ— DriveBC NE (@DriveBC_NE) June 28, 2018There is no official information on what happened in the collision.  Drivebc.ca, says the next update on the road, will be published at 6 p.m.If you’re in the area, let us know what you see, email news@moosefm.calast_img read more

Altagas signs agreement with Kelt Exploration

first_imgIn a release, Altagas said that the additional natural gas liquids will increase utilization in AltaGas’ existing liquids pipelines, positioning the company for an expansion of the North Pine fractionator to 20,000 barrels per day – which already has regulatory approval, and to provide additional propane supply to the Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal.The Commercial Arrangements provide Kelt with firm processing of 75 million cubic feet per day of raw gas under an initial 10-year take-or-pay arrangement and includes raw gas gathering, liquids handling, field fractionation and propane marketing arrangements including export through Ridley Island.The expected commercial operations date of the Townsend Deep Cut Facility is expected in the fourth quarter of 2019. The infrastructure investment for expansion and increasing the capture area of the Townsend site is estimated to be $180 million.“We have significant investment opportunities ahead of us, with Gas being the primary growth driver followed by U.S. Utilities over the next few years,” said David Cornhill, Chairman and Interim Co-Chief Executive Officer of AltaGas. “Our presence in the two most prolific gas plays; the Montney and Marcellus/Utica—positions us to participate in energy export projects on both coasts of North America. Additionally, the recent NEB approval of the TransCanada North Montney expansion will enable producers to move ahead with their growth plans. AltaGas with its strategic infrastructure in Northeast British Columbia is well positioned to be a part of that growth.”Under the terms of the Commercial Arrangements, Altagas said Kelt has the option during the first three years of the initial take-or-pay term to commit to additional firm processing at Townsend Deep Cut, up to a total of 198 million cubic feet per day for a term of its choice, with an additional minimum take-or-pay commitment of ten years.AltaGas will construct 198 million cubic feet per day of deep cut natural gas processing capacity at the Townsend Complex. This will consist of the proposed and permitted 99 million cubic feet per day of deep cut capacity and the proposed and permitted modification of an existing 99 million cubic feet per day shallow cut capacity to enhanced NGL recovery. CALGARY, A.B. – AltaGas Ltd. announced today that it has entered into definitive agreements with Kelt Exploration Ltd. to provide an energy infrastructure solution for the liquids-rich Inga Montney development located in northeast British Columbia.Altagas says that the Commercial Arrangements underpin the expansion of its Townsend Complex, including the addition of a 198 million cubic feet per day of processing capacity at the Townsend Deep Cut Facility.Kelt announced in early July that it had signed a letter of intent with Altagas to process 75 million cubic feet per day of raw gas under a 10-year arrangement at AltaGas’ proposed Townsend Deep Cut Gas Plant.last_img read more

Local MLAs host Roundtable Discussion on Northeast BC Forestry

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A roundtable discussion on Northeast B.C. Forestry was held on Thursday, July 4, at the Northern Grand Hotel.Hosting the roundtable was MLA Dan Davies, MLA Mike Bernier, and MLA John Rustad, Critic for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development.This roundtable was in response to the forestry crisis that communities across the Northeast are currently facing. In attendance at the meeting were local elected officials, industry representatives, and various stakeholders.Davies says, during the roundtable, they talked about how the Province got into this position of losing its competitiveness, not only in the forest sector but throughout the natural resource industry.“A lot of it was talking about how we got to this position was one big focus of it. A lot of it has come down to the last couple of years where we’ve lost our competitiveness, not only in the forest sector but also in oil and gas, mining – all across the sectors.”According to Davies, thousands of families will be affected by the announced shutdowns and curtailments of mills across B.C.Davies says they have heard nothing from the NDP Government, other than for the Minister of Finance to say that there is no money to support the workers.Davies strongly feels that something needs to be done now to help sort out this situation of being non-competitive and is calling on the Government to take action before more mills are shut down and more people are affected.last_img read more

Death Review Panel releases recommendations on reducing youth suicide

first_imgThe Panel, chaired by Michael Egilson, included 19-panel experts with expertise in youth-related services, such as child welfare and mental health.According to Egilson, suicide is the leading cause of death among youth in B.C. and says that almost 70 percent of serious mental health issues emerge before the age of 25.To view the Review Panel’s full report, you can visit the B.C. Coroner Service’s website. VICTORIA, B.C. – The Death Review Panel has released key recommendations to the B.C. Coroners Service into child and youth suicides.According to a report, the Panel identified three key areas to reduce child and youth suicide deaths and improve public safety.The Panel recommends that the Province adopts a mental well-being strategy as part of social-emotional learning for students, identify and distribute provincial best practice youth mental health guidelines, and expand youth mental health services.last_img read more

Morocco Algeria Top Africas Arms Importers Report

first_imgRabat – Morocco received 22% of Africa’s global arms imports while Algeria headed the region’s ranking, with 36% of Africa’s imports, according to a new report.In a tight arms race, Algeria and Morocco represented the two leading weapons procurers on the African continent over the last four years, according to The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)’s report.The report asserted that Algeria and Morocco have been heading the Africa’s arms importers rankings for the last 4 years, with arms imports to the continent shooting up by 53 percent in 2009-2013 compared with 2004-2008. Algeria was ranked the top African arms importer and tenth in the world, making up 36% of Africa’s imports, while Morocco was ranked the second in Africa with only 22% of Africa’s arms imports.The report said that Morocco became world’s 10th recipient, and it has remained France’s second largest recipient importing 11% of the French exports, after China which imports 13%.According to the report, Russia was by far the largest supplier to Algiers. It supplied 93 percent of Algerian arms imports, while France was the second supplier to Algeria with 3%.Heading the Arab list, United Arab Emirates was ranked the world’s 4th largest arms importer after India, China and Pakistan despite the fact that its imports decreased in the last year.The largest stockpile of arms belongs to India, which remains by far the biggest buyer of arms in the world, importing nearly three times as many weapons as its nearest rivals China and Pakistan over the last five years. According to SIPRI, the United States remained at the top of the arms sellers’ table for 2009-2013, accounting for 29 percent of global exports, followed closely by Russia at 20 percent.Germany retained third place as the largest exporter of submarines, SIPRI said. German exports to Africa rose 53 percent, and Algeria, Morocco and Sudan were the biggest buyers.SIPRI used a five-year cycle to even out fluctuations caused by a big order during any specific year. The institute bases its data on public sources as well as government and industry reports.Edited by Jessica Rohan© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributedlast_img read more

Western Sahara Guatemala CELAC call on parties to show political will

New York (UN) – Guatemala and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) called on Tuesday in New York parties to the conflict over the ‘Western Sahara’ to “show political will and cooperate in order to provide a platform conducive to dialogue” stressing their support for UN efforts for a “just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.”The deputy permanent representative of Guatemala to the UN Monica Bolanes Peres underlined her country’s support for UN efforts aimed at helping the parties to the conflict “to reach a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.”For Guatemala it is “necessary to urge the parties to continue to show political will and cooperate in order to provide a platform conducive to dialogue with the aim to engage in a more intensive and substantial stage of negotiations in accordance with the relevant resolutions”, the Guatemalan diplomat added during a meeting of the UN 4th Committee. The settlement of this issue is necessary for “the stability, security and integration of the Maghreb”, she noted.Speaking on behalf of CELAC which consists of 33 states, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the UN reiterated support for “efforts aiming at promoting more intensive and substantial negotiations under the auspices of the UN and in accordance with the Security Council resolutions in order to reach a final solution to this issue.” read more

Jeep Commercial Showing Woman in Hijab Causes Backlash

By Kristina FriedA number of conservative Americans have taken offense at a Jeep advertisement that ran in the United States during the Super Bowl this past Sunday. The commercial depicted scenes from all over the world set to the classic American folk song, “This Land is Your Land”.At one point in the commercial, a woman is shown wearing a hijab, standing in the foreground of a mountain range. The shot lasts approximately two seconds, and is preceded and followed by shots of India, China, Brazil, and Australia, among others. The commercial caused a backlash among the more conservative groups in the United States, with certain individuals taking to Twitter to voice their displeasure.Several people questioned why Muslims should be included in the commercial on the grounds that they behead people. User artie_rx tweeted,Die RT @artie_rx: This Land is Made for You and Me? Why didn’t that Jeep commercial show any Muslim savages beheading innocent people?— From Oakland W/ Love (@RFWavekiller) February 2, 2015And fellow twitter user Not Bruton Smith must have been thinking along the same lines, tweeting,You better not drive that #jeep in the Arab Muslim countries. They will chop your head off— Not Bruton Smith (@NotBrutonSmith) February 2, 2015Other complaints included the inclusion of Muslims but the supposed exclusion of Israeli Jews, with twitter user Lady4Yeshua asking,Most? RT @Lady4Yeshua “@Jeep; why could you show Arab Muslims, but not Israeli Jews? In most Arab countries, women aren’t allowed to drive!”— Ali M Latifi (@alibomaye) February 2, 2015Tweets like these were soon countered by defenders of the commercial. Twitter user Linda Sarsour played upon the common misperception that Muslim women are not allowed to drive, tweeting,Muslim women and jeeps and ya’ll thought Islam said we couldn’t drive. ???????? #CreepingSharia #SuperBowl2015— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) February 2, 2015In fact, it is only in Saudi Arabia that a law preventing women from driving is in effect.Still others referenced the commercial’s inclusivity, with user Wardah Khalid tweeting,Loved the @Jeep ad. If you can’t deal w/ the fact that Muslims are a part of this gorgeous world, then kindly move to another planet. #SB49— Wardah Khalid (@YAmericanMuslim) February 2, 2015 read more

When Algeria Plays the Hate Game

By Majid MorciliSan Francisco – The organizing committee of the 13th World Social Forum (WSF), taking place in Tunis, has “vigorously” denounced the Algerian delegation’s attacks on members of the Moroccan delegation taking part in the event, highlighting that these provocations are a “flagrant denial” of the principles of the Forum’s charter.The organizing committee of the WSF said in a statement that they have “followed with great concern the incidents that took place during the day of 25 March in the forum space and disrupted the course some”, adding, “activities such incidents, which were caused by several groups of participants of the Algerian delegation, despite the warning and the call of the committee published March 24, is a flagrant denial of the principles of the charter of the WSF.” The organizing committee of the WSF asked the involved groups to respect the Charter of the WSF, recalling the forum space “is not the place of conflicts between governments settling of scores, but a space for debate, of exchanges and convergence of social movements for another possible world.”Citing statistics regarding the participation of Algerian civil society at the WSF, Hedhili, a member of the organizing committee, said that the number of Algerian associations registered in the forum reached, 72 associations in February 2015. The committee was stunned to see that the number later rose to more than 800 associations and organizations. This is vivid proof that the Algerian regime is spending millions of dollars financing Polisario propaganda all over the globe, but in vain. This regime claims that the conflict is between Morocco and the Sahrawis, and thinks it is only the honest broker.The coordination committee of the WSF has decided to file a complaint against the Algerian participants following this incident.The Presidency of the Republic of Tunisia was informed of the attack, and a protest letter was sent to Algeria’s ambassador to Tunisia. read more

GCC Praises Morocco Efforts in Facilitating the Signing of Skhirat Agreement

Riyadh   –  Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) foreign ministers, who held here on Wednesday a meeting with Morocco and Jordan, praised the keen efforts made by Morocco in facilitating the signing of Skhirat Agreement between different Libyan parties.In a statement, the ministers expressed the hope that Libyan parties will reach a final agreement on the formation of a government.They called for speedy implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2174 on Libya, and expressed their concern about the increasing attacks and violence in Libya. The meeting also called on the Libyan government and the elected parliament to adopt policies that take into account the interests of all Libyans and their aspirations for peace, reconciliation and economic prosperity.Morocco was represented at the meeting by Foreign Affairs and Cooperation ministry’s inspector general, Ali Al-Azrak. read more

New draft Bill to Expand Powers of US Border Agents on

Rabat – As Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prepares to meet US President Donald Trump for the first time, a little-talked-about Bill C-23 is wending its way through Parliament in Ottawa, according to the CBC, with nary a whisper heard until now.If Bill C-23 isn’t controversial yet, it should be. It began its life cycle during the era of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former President Barack Obama, as part of an initiative to open border cooperation between the two countries.The new bill will expand the rights and powers of US border control agents operating on Canadian soil, affording them the ability to search and even detain Canadian citizens and permanent residents on Canadian soil. It could potentially see Canadians being prevented from re-entry to their own country. A reciprocal agreement was passed in the United States in December, easily winning over both the Republican-controlled Senate and Congress. In eight existing airports spread across Canada, areas designated for pre-clearance allow Canadian citizens going to the United States to clear US customs while still on Canadian soil. These pre-clearance zones are where Bill C-23 will see itself acted out and that has Calgary immigration lawyer, Michael Greene concerned.Why the Concern?“A Canadian going to the U.S. through a pre-clearance area (on Canadian soil) can say: ‘I don’t like the way [an interview] is going and I’ve chosen not to visit your country.’ And they can just turn around and walk out,” Greene explains.Under Bill C-23, Greene continues, that same Canadian citizen or permanent resident would not be allowed to leave the interview. Instead they could be subjected to interrogation about their reasons for wanting to cancel their trip. “And that’s the part we think could be really offensive and goes too far,” he says.According to the CBC report, the new bill does come with a provision against “unreasonable delay” but this provides immigration attorney Greene little comfort.“What’s reasonable for them might be a very long interrogation. Whereas for the individual it may be ‘I’ll tell you why I don’t want to answer anymore questions and then I’m leaving.’ Well the problem is that if that person then tries to get up and leave, they can be charged with failing to cooperate, which, under this bill, is an offence they can be arrested for, and then charged and given a federal record.”Not So FastAs far as physical searches are concerned, right now when they are deemed necessary, they cannot be conducted without a Canadian officer being present. Here as well, Bill C-23 puts a new spin on things. If a Canadian officer is not available or disagrees the search is necessary, the US officer will be permitted to completed the search him/herself. Immigration attorneys such as Michael Greene worry that on an occasion where the Canadian officer refuses to take part in the search, the US officer will simply say “Fine, we’re going to do it anyway.”Toronto immigration lawyer, Howard Greenburg, is also urging caution regarding the upcoming proposed bill. His concern is rooted in the vagueness of the bill’s wording and how border agents on both sides will interpret it in different situations. He explains his position saying, “At some point it may change from a situation where you’re simply responding to a question, to a situation. Where you’re failing to respond to a direction of an officer. So the ambiguity is somewhat dangerous for the traveller.”Permanent Residents Read HereCurrently permanent residents of Canada and Canadian citizens enjoy an equal right to absolute entry back into Canada. Under Bill C-23, Canadian border agents would have the right to prevent a permanent resident or citizen from boarding a flight. The person would then be instructed to find a land route for his/her journey, where absolute re-entry would remain guaranteed.This still leaves a problem for Greene, concerning anyone who might travel to Europe or other major cities. In Greene’s opinion, the Bill C-23 effect will ripple out far beyond the continental borders of Canada or the United States. This has the potential to be catastrophic for some travellers who find themselves turned away from flights home to Canada. “… if they get denied at, let’s say, De Gaulle airport in Paris, they’re not going to be able to get to a land crossing to make the entry,” says Greene.Right now, Bill C-23 isn’t attracting much public attention or discussion. With Trump’s stand on immigration, however, and more Canadians learning the bill’s details, that could change, making the passage of the bill less certain than it perhaps was just a matter of weeks ago. read more

President Trump Refuses to Listen to Audio of Khashoggi Killing

By Josh BabbNew reports surfaced this past weekend that CIA officials had concluded that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) most likely ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor for the Washington Post. Khashoggi was last seen walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Trump, in an interview with Fox News, said on Friday that he had been briefed by CIA Director Gina Haspel regarding the agency’s investigation of the journalist’s murder, saying that the CIA will issue a briefing on it this Tuesday. Trump added the CIA assessment would be a “very full report” on “who caused it, and who did it.” Fox reporter Chris Wallace asked Trump as to whether he had heard the tape, who responded, “We have the tape. I don’t want to hear the tape. No reason for me to hear the tape.” He added, “I know everything that went on in the tape without having to hear it … It was very violent, very vicious and terrible.”When Wallace pressed the president on whether MBS had any role in the operation, Trump demurred, “Well, will anybody really know?” He continued, “You saw we put on very heavy sanctions, massive sanctions on a large group of people from Saudi Arabia. But, at the same time, we do have an ally, and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good.”Last Thursday the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 17 individuals who the Saudis had originally arrested in connection with Khashoggi’s murder. At least one member of the 17 was a close aide to MBS, often seen traveling with the crown prince.The Trump administration’s decision to stick by the embattled crown prince stems from the fact that Saudi Arabia is seen as a crucial ally in the administration’s policy goals in the Middle East, specifically in confronting Iran. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a foreign policy advisor, seems to have a particularly close relationship with MBS.  After weeks of denying any involvement in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, Riyadh officials issued a report last week saying Khashoggi died as a result of a botched operation by “rogue agents.” Coinciding with the report, Saudi prosecutors indicted 11 participants in the plot, saying they would seek the death penalty for five individuals. The Saudi investigation concluded that MBS had no prior knowledge of the operation, a claim which Turkish investigators have contested. read more

Moroccan National Defense Minister Receives Commandant of US Marine Corps

Rabat  – The Moroccan Minister Delegate for National Defense Administration, Abdeltif Loudyi, received the 37th Commandant of the US Marine Corps, General Robert B. Neller, on Monday during his working visit to Morocco.General Neller and the minister lauded the dynamic bilateral cooperation between Morocco and the US, exemplified by regular joint military exercises and trainings.The Lieutenant-General, Inspector General of the Royal Armed Forces, Fathallah El Ouarrak, also received General Neller at the FAR general staff headquarters in Rabat on Monday. The military generals pledged to deepen security cooperation between the two countries and continue to improve regional operations. Most recently, Morocco hosted the US Armed Forces in conjunction with military forces from Burkina Faso, Canada, Chad, Egypt, France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Spain, and Tunisia for the annual joint military training, African Lion.Trainings such as African Lion are designed to improve the interoperability of military forces across several global regions and promote mutual understanding of each nation’s tactics, techniques and procedures.General Neller has also served as the Commander of Marine Forces Command and Commander of the Marine Forces Central Command, prior to his rise to commandant in 2015. read more

Markets Right Now Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street

NEW YORK — The latest on developments in financial markets (all times local):___9:35 a.m.Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street led by declines in banks and industrial companies.Citigroup fell 2.2 per cent early Friday, and Boeing gave up 1 per cent after Indonesia’s flag carrier said it would seek to cancel an order of 49 of the company’s 737 Max 8 jets following two fatal crashes involving that model.Despite several down days this week the S&P 500 is still on track to close out its second weekly gain in a row.The S&P 500 index fell 11 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 2,842.The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 129 points to 25,832. The Nasdaq fell 28 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 7,811.Bond prices continued to rise. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.47 per cent.The Associated Press read more

Stelco pushes PM for help in dealing with changing landscape for steel

OTTAWA — Canadian steel producer Stelco is looking for more support from the federal government as the country’s steel and aluminum producers grapple with punishing U.S. tariffs imposed on exports of their products south of the border.Stelco Holdings Inc., president and executive chairman Alan Kestenbaum met with Justin Trudeau in Ottawa Thursday.While he thanked the prime minister for the government’s support of the metals industry since the imposition of American tariffs last year, Kestenbaum said steel producers are now facing new pressures.Stelco reported a surge in income and revenues in the final quarter of last year, despite the 25 per cent tariffs on steel imported from Canada that the Trump administration imposed last June.The company reported net income of $108 million on revenue of $648 million in the three months ending Dec. 31, compared with $16 million of income and revenues of $452 million during the same period in 2017.But the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) issued a report last week that could see Canadian import restrictions lifted on some steel products.The provisional safeguards announced in October, designed to shield domestic producers from a flood of imports into Canada resulting from the U.S. tariffs, were considered by the World Trade Organization as emergency measures and are set to expire in about a month’s time.Finance Minister Bill Morneau issued emergency import restrictions on seven products, arguing that they posed a serious threat to Canada’s steel industry.The CITT report, issued April 3, ruled the safeguards were warranted on just two of the seven products.The report is not binding on Morneau, who can choose to ignore some or all of the findings and make the safeguards permanent.“The measures that were put in place, the actions that were put in place, have enabled Stelco and other steel producers to really be able to operate well in this very, very difficult environment,” Kestenbaum said as he sat with Trudeau in the prime minister’s West Block office.“Today we’re here to talk about a changing landscape.”Kestenbaum suggested he was looking to Trudeau for help in preserving jobs in Canada’s steel industry.The prime minister told Kestenbaum his government is focused on supporting the steel industry and its workers as they continue to face what Trudeau described as “punitive” and “illegitimate” tariffs.Trudeau said officials from his government have been meeting “almost daily” with U.S. officials in attempts to have the duties lifted.In the meantime, the government is having discussions on how to support the metal industries, he said.The Canadian Press read more

Opinion Moroccos Street Cats Are Not Cute

Rabat – While doing research for my recent piece about sterilization, I came across a VICE article about the cats of Marrakech. It was written in 2014 by someone named Tory Noll. “The best thing about Marrakech is its out-of-control cat population,” reads the first line of the article. The author mentions that she has “a soft spot for deformed and mangy cats,” so she’s particularly fond of those in Marrakech. The article is essentially a photo essay of the street cats in Marrakech. Each photo includes a caption and the names given to the cats by the author.  The first photo features a cat with a visible eye infection. The author describes the cat’s “wonky eye” as “cute.”Another photo features three kittens. “One of them was blind, which was super sad, but he seemed happy otherwise,” the caption reads. “They slept in a cardboard box. It could be worse!”The author also shares two photos of a pregnant cat. The first shows how large she is, while the second is a close-up shot of her face. “Babe alert! She’ll have no problem finding another dude to mate with,” the author writes. Is this person delusional? I wondered, suddenly enraged. Do people really think like this?It took me a few moments to realize my own hypocrisy and get down off my high horse. Yes, people really do think like this—I used to think like this. Even as a supposedly well-informed American student in Rabat, I was blissfully unconcerned with the nagging issue of animal welfare in the country. I actually loved seeing cats every day on my walk to school.  My wake-up call didn’t come until April of 2018, more than two months into my semester abroad. One of my school buildings was in Rabat’s old medina, and living nearby was a pregnant cat. When she gave birth, people from the neighborhood set up a cardboard box to house her and her newborn kittens. Residents also left cheese, milk, and meat scraps for the nursing mother. I thought this was cute. The mother cat with her babies in Rabat’s medina. Credit Morocco World News/Morgan HekkingThe box had been in the same spot for nearly four weeks. One day I approached my class building only to find that a neighbor had poured a bucket of dirty water out of her window directly onto the box, soaking the kittens and spooking the mother into abandoning them.  The kittens’ pitiful cries reverberated throughout the small alleyway for days. They were too young to be without their mother, who was lurking nearby but now refused to go near them. I will never forget how helpless I felt as I left my lecture one afternoon because their cries were insufferable. I found the wooden crate they had been trapped under and held their shivering, dirty bodies to my chest. Two of them were barely moving.    I didn’t know of a nearby vet, but even if I did, I had no way of transporting them. I didn’t know of a pet store where I could buy kitten formula, but even if I did, I couldn’t foster them at my host family’s apartment. I asked the employees at my school if they could call anyone for help. As far as I know, no calls were made. I reached out to a local animal association but received no response. I had no other resources to consult. The neighborhood’s residents, who had once cared so much for the mother cat and her kittens, could now only look on with sympathy. The kittens starved to death in a matter of days. They cried for help until they no longer had the strength. They spent their last moments cold, wet, and afraid. This is not cute. This tragedy is not an anomaly in Morocco. In fact, I’ve heard of much worse. A boy walking in Temara encouraged his dog to attack a kitten on the sidewalk. The dog gouged her face and punctured her stomach, and she died of her injuries. This is not cute. A man wheeling a cart of fruit near Rabat ran over a box of three-week-old kittens. One was crushed to death and the others were mangled. The man continued on his way. This is not cute.In Casablanca, a group of children picked up a stray cat by his tail and dangled him over a balcony. They dropped him to see if he would survive the fall. This is not cute. Thousands of unwanted kittens dumped on a garbage tip in Azemmour, and elsewhere throughout Morocco contract viruses which complicate and cause their eyes to crust over and pop out of their heads. This is not cute.A kitten in Azemmour suffers from serious infections in both eyes. Credit Anne HeslopIn Marrakech, I saw the bloodied remains of a dead cat lying atop a steaming pile of garbage. This is not cute. Being kicked and threatened with hot oil by restaurant owners is not cute. Living in the filth under a butcher’s meat display is not cute. Getting stuck in trash bins during a desperate search for food is not cute. Tails being ripped from bodies by passing cars and motorcycles is not cute.A female mother cat waits for scraps from a butcher. Credit Anne HeslopThe hunger, thirst, fear, and pain faced by Morocco’s street cats are not cute. Fighting for food and territory, being tormented by humans, and getting trapped in an endless cycle of pregnancy is not cute. Morocco’s street cats are suffering, and it is not cute.A cat searches for food amongst piles of rubbish. Credit Anne HeslopI used to play devil’s advocate. Well, they’re not all suffering, I would tell myself. A lot of people take care of them. Most Moroccans I know love cats. Look at the cats in the medina, they’re so happy and well-fed!Are some stray cats loved and cared for? Sure, you could say that. But you know what? I don’t care anymore. The street cats of Morocco have lost their charm to me. I no longer see them as cute. I only see their infected eyes and scarred faces; their injured legs and mangled tails; and their scrawny, dirty, starving bodies. This is not cute. It’s heartbreaking. A kitten with born with a disability also suffers from an eye infection. Credit Anne HeslopAnimal welfare isn’t a priority in Morocco, and it probably won’t be for a long time. I can’t blame anyone for this. The government has bigger fish to fry, and most ordinary people barely earn enough to provide for their own families, let alone the stray cats of their neighborhood. All I can ask is for my fellow foreigners to stop glorifying the disastrous animal overpopulation problem that is plaguing this country. Morocco’s street cats are not cute. They are suffering. And they will continue to suffer so long as we write off their misery as endearing. If you would like to learn more about animal welfare in Morocco, check out some of these organizations:  ERHAM – AzemmourAssociation de Defense des Animaux et de la Nature (ADAN) – RabatLa Tribu des Quat’pattes – RabatSFT Animal Sanctuary – TangierL’association MchichatesComme Chats et Chiens (CCCM) read more

Humana takes rare step of squashing Centene deal talk

Centene shares are tumbling after Humana took the rare step of publicly refuting reports that it’s interested in buying the company.Centene Corp., based in St. Louis, is in the midst of a $15 billion takeover of WellCare, another insurer specializing in government funded health coverage.Humana said in a prepared statement Monday that it will not make a bid for Centene, which specializes in running state-based Medicaid coverage programs. Humana is one of the nation’s largest providers of privately run Medicare Advantage plans.Companies normally do not comment on potential deals. But Humana Inc., based in Louisville, Kentucky, said it made an exception due to “significant investor speculation and persistent market rumours.”Centene shares dropped more than 8% in early trading while Humana’s stock climbed 5%.The Associated Press read more