Morocco’s Fez, world’s sixth most romantic city

first_imgFez, Morocco – Fez, Morocco’s spiritual capital and third largest city has been selected by the world’s sixth most romantic city. “It’s easy to be seduced by a place as beautiful and exotic as Fez. The ancient fortress city is famous for exquisite tea gardens and gorgeous tiled mosques, sensuous spices and stunning sights,” said report.“It’s the perfect background for a romantic retreat. The Sofitel Palais Jamai has one of the most breathtaking views, and is tailored toward romantic getaways,” it added. This is not the first time that Morocco’s most ancient city is selected in top ten of the world’s most romantic cities.In 2012, it was selected the world’s fifth most romantic city by the’s Venice top list of the world’s most romantic cities, followed by Barcelona and Florence.The top ten list of the world’s most romantic cities is a follows:Venice: ItalyBarcelona: SpainFlorence: ItalyKyoto: JapanBruges: BelgiumFez: MoroccoJaipur: IndiaLisbon: Portugal Monte Carlo : MonacoParis : France.Last May, Two New York Times’ journalist, made a four-day trip to Fez. The newspaper’s journalists were astonished by the city’s architecture, culture and warm welcome.“Once the capital of Morocco, Fez remains a cultural and spiritual locus; the medina, named a Unesco World Heritage site in 1981, is said to be one of the largest car-free urban zones in the world,” they said.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributedlast_img read more

Green Morocco Plan, Essential To Boosting Rural Agriculture Output: Official

Rome – Morocco’s strategy to promote agricultural development, Green Morocco Plan, aims at boosting output of rural family and smallholder farming through providing better technical support, Secretary General of the Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry, Sadiki Mohammed said.Speaking at the 38th session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), held on February 16-17 in Rome, Sadki said that the Green Morocco Plan aims at opening up hard to reach mountainous zones through reducing poverty by increasing agricultural productivity.He said rural areas are at the heart of sustainable development efforts and initiatives aiming at ensuring food security. In this respect, Sadki also thanked the IFAD for its support of the Green Morocco Plan. The event, was also an opportunity for Sadki to shed light on various achievement of the Plan, notably the accomplishment of MDG1 before the set deadline of 2015.He said Morocco’s agricultural experience is becoming a model for other African countries, adding that Morocco spares no effort to disseminate its experience through south-south cooperation. read more

Morocco’s Tourism Minister Qualifies Statement on Decriminalization of Homosexuality

Rabat – Lahcen Haddad, Morocco’s Minister of Tourism, issued an official statement on Thursday qualifying his earlier statements in an interview calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Morocco.After a video in which he expressed his opinion in favor of decriminalizing homosexuality in Morocco went viral on the internet, the minister released a statement clarifying his position and the stance of his party regarding the issue.“For more information and to inform the public opinion, I should say that the Popular Movement party of which I am a member, has not taken a position on this matter and that this issue was not on its agenda.One of the founding principles of the party is freedom with respect to the traditions and values of our society, and the debate around this question should respect values and be in conformity with the new Constitution,” the minister added. In an exclusive interview with CNN Arabic at the headquarters of his ministry in Morocco last October, the minister stated that “we should de-criminalize this [homosexuality and consensual sex out of wedlock] because it falls within the framework of protecting individual freedoms.”The minister added, however, that “if this phenomenon poses a threat to society or to the family, a consensual solution must be found.”The minister added that homosexuality and consensual sex out of wedlock falls within the framework of personal freedoms as long as homosexuals do not display their sexual orientation in public venues.Sexual relations out of wedlock are punishable by law in Morocco. Article 489 of the Moroccan Penal Code punishes sexual activities between people of the same sex by prison terms of six months to three years. read more

Marrakech Celebrates 30 Years as UNESCO World Heritage Site

Rabat – The city of Marrakech celebrates its 30th anniversary of becoming an UNESCO World Heritage Site.The Moroccan ‘Red City’ commemorates on December 18-20 30 years since UNESCO declared the old town area of Marrakech as World Heritage Site in 1985.Over the past three decades, Marrakech, Morocco’s fourth largest cities, has been maintained and rehabilitated structurally, including its world-famous medina, its gardens and various historical sites, considered a world patrimony. The celebration this weekend takes place at Ben Youssef Madrasa, the historic center of the medina, Telquel news reported.Several Moroccan personalities have been invited to the unique celebration including politicians, culture experts and those responsible for “preserving the heritage” of Marrakech.Among personalities attending the city’s 30th anniversary were Amine Sbihi, Minister of Culture, and Belkaid Larbi, Chairman of the Board of the City of Marrakech, the report noted.Maintaining its classification as World Heritage Site has been both a rewarding and challenging task for the ‘Red City’ UNESCO officials highlighted during the ceremony.“The city faced a difficult challenge: ensuring sustainable and economic development and meeting the challenges of the tourism sector, while ensuring to preserve this environment and unique cultural heritage” Michael Millward, spokesman of UNESCO said.“All the inhabitants of Marrakech and Moroccans in general must take ownership of this place, to be proud of and work to preserve it,” he added.A World Heritage Site is a physical location, man-made or found in nature, that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as being of special cultural or physical significance.According to UNESCO’s website, Morocco has 9 cultural locations that have been declared World Heritage Sites since 1981, namely the Medina of Fez (1981), the Medina of Marrakech (1985), the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou (1987), the Historic City of Meknes (1996), the Archaeological Site of Volubilis (1997), the Medina of Tétouan (1997), the Medina of Essaouira (2001), the Portuguese City of Mazagan (El Jadida) (2004), and Rabat. read more

Gdim Izik Victims’ Families & Friends Create Coordinators Association

Rabat – The Association of the coordinators of Gdim Izik victims’ families and friends was founded Friday on the occasion of the Human Rights Day, celebrated on 10 December. The choice of this day to create the association stems from its belief that “the right to life is the most sacred human rights. The right to life of our 11 sons was savagely violated. They were murdered in cold blood while doing their duty during the dismantling process of the Gdim Izik Camp on November 8th, 2010, in the suburb of Laayoune city”, the association said in a statement.The association aims to inform about the victims of Gdim Izik, who were working as members of public forces; martyrs of the national duty. It intends to use all legitimate means, against all attempts to obliterate the horrible crime against our sons, preserve the memory of the victims and pay tribute to them; as the law must be definitely applied against the culprits.It also aims to represent the families of the victims in the different national and international forums and give voice to the real victims, and defend the legitimate interests of the victims’ families, according to the same source.Based on the above-mentioned objectives and following the decision of the Court of Cassation to refer the case of the murders to the Court of Appeal and schedule the hearing on December 26, 2016, the association decides to “take all necessary measures to follow and observe this trial and seek to join the plaintiff to inform the Court about the sufferings of the victims’ families and highlight and present their legitimate and rightful demands”.The association, which calls upon all bodies and persons who believe that it is a just cause to support the association, considers that referring the case to the Court of Appeal “is an important opportunity to highlight the sufferings of the victims’ families and to stand against all attempts to disregard the criminal nature of the acts, present the culprits as victims themselves or totally ignore the crimes against our sons who were actually the real victims”.It takes this opportunity to reaffirm that it believes that justice will be served in the court, as an effective judicial redress mechanism, which “will indeed highlight the criminal acts against our sons who were murdered by the perpetrators in a barbaric and inhuman way, mutilating, urinating on and distorting the corpses”. read more

Salaheddine Mezouar Replaces King Mohammed VI at the Arab Summit

By Thomas DupaquierRabat – The 28th summit of the Arab League opened this Wednesday, March 29 in Amman, Jordan, without the participation of King Mohammed VI. Minster of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Salaheddine Mezouar flew to Jordan to participate on behalf of King Mohammed VI. While most head of states of member countries are attending the meeting, Mohammed VI decided to abstain from the summit, being instead represented by the Foreign Affairs Minister Salaheddine Mezouar.The King had received a prior invitation from the King Abdallah II of Jordan, transmitted by the Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and Expatriate Affairs Nasser Judeh. In response, King Mohammed VI had voiced hope that Jordan would host a successful summit but never officially confirmed he would attend.King Abdallah II has personally travelled to Morocco from March 22nd to 24th to discuss the main challenges facing the Arab world today and to reiterate his invitation. King Mohammed VI had refrained from attending the last twelve summits but was expected to be present in the Jordanian capital.This absence comes a year after Morocco refused to hold the summit stating the ongoing challenges in the Arab World. Morocco had announced that hosting the Arab Summit would not enable taking any decision that could improve the situation of Arab peoples but rather would only be an occasion to take ordinary resolutions and deliver speeches, giving a false impression of unity and solidarity between Arab States.The 2016 Arab League summit was eventually held in late July in Nouakchott, Mauritania after the country adamantly supported holding the summit despite Morocco’s withdrawal. Holding the summit was a must for Mauritania in order to keep the Arab league running. However, only seven head of states attended the summit.Thus, the 28th Arab League Summit was generating a lot of expectations with the expected presence of almost all the member countries. In addition, the summit is also set to include the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, as well as leaders from the European Union, the African Union, the Arab Parliament and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.The Arab League is a political organization founded in March 1945, which seeks to help integrate Arab states economically, and solve conflicts involving members without asking for foreign assistance. Starting with only six members in 1945, the Arab League now counts 22 members, and 4 observer states.The members of the Arab League traditionally hold an annual summit in late March in one of the member countries to discuss current affairs in the Arab world and to plan joint Arab actions for the key issues facing the region.This year’s meeting is scheduled to address the latest developments in the Palestinian question, the Arab peace initiative, the crises in Syria, Libya and Yemen, the fight against terrorism, refugee issues, and ways to strengthen and consolidate inter-Arab relations. read more

Soccer Sabotage: Moroccan Coach Accuses Egyptian Team of ‘Intentionally’ Injuring Star…

Rabat – With the second leg of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) championship final only days away, Morocco’s Wydad Athlétic Club (WAC) and its Egyptian rival, Al Ahly, have sent each other a volley of messages on social media.The two teams are set to clash on Saturday in Casablanca at Mohammed V Stadium where one of the teams will be declared the 2017 tournament champion.Houcine Amouta, the Moroccan coach of Wydad, accused the Egyptian players of intentionally injuring Mohamed Ounajem, Wydad’s brilliant forward. Throughout the tournament, Ounajem had consistently been one of the star players of the Moroccan team.Playing against Al Ahly on Saturday at Burj Al Arab Stadium in Alexandria, Ounajem made a brilliant assist to Achraf Bencherki, who scored  the team’s only goal with a beautiful header.However,  Ounajem left the pitch during the first half of the game due to an injury. Speaking to Moroccan  media outlets afterward, Amouta accused the Egyptian players of targeting Ounajem on purpose.“Unfortunately they purposefully injured him because he was very dangerous,” he said.Amouta, 42, has previously coached the FUS of Rabat and Qatar’s team Assad, winning titles for the latter. Despite losing a key player, the outspoken manager expressed optimism that any of his players would give a great performances in Ounajem’s absence, as is expected in a game like this.Amouta made it clear that his team has no option but to win, adding that the club will do its utmost to keep the cup in Casablanca.“All Morocco is mobilized so that Wydad can win a cup, which Moroccan teams haven’t won for a long time,” he said.The last Moroccan team to win the CAF Champions League title was Wydad‘s longtime rival, Raja Club Athlétic (RCA), in 1999.In the years since, Moroccan teams subsequently failed to reach the finals, except for Raja in 2002 and Wydad in 2011.On Saturday, Wydad will have a chance to catch up with RCA and add a second  title to its list of accolades. Although Wydad managed to bring last week’s game to a 1-1 tie in the first leg, Al Ahly remains a tough competitor with 8 prior CAF Champions League titles.While the Egyptian media is optimistic that their team can snatch another title from the mouth of victory in Casablanca, Wydad will have to prove them wrong. read more

Morocco Celebrates Grand Opening of Museum of Contemporary African Art

By Sarah GoodmanRabat – The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) held an official international opening on Saturday, February 24, at the Maaden luxury compound in Marrakech. MACAAL is the first of its kind in North Africa: a nonprofit art museum that showcases not only contemporary Moroccan art but also artists from across the continent.The same weekend, Marrakech hosted the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, which debuted on the African continent after earlier iterations in London and New York. Though MACAAL launched locally in 2016, the museum’s February 24 international opening built on the momentum and crowds drawn to Marrakech for the weekend. Leila Alaoui, “Khamlia, southern Morocco #1”: The Moroccans Series. Courtesy of MACAALMACAAL was both founded and funded by Othman Lazraq and his father Alami Lazraq, a multimillionaire Moroccan property magnate and art collector. Othman Lazraq is the president of the museum, which now displays some of his family’s 2000-piece collection.The museum also avows an ambitious education and outreach agenda. “Our mission is to disseminate, educate, and popularize art in Morocco and within the continent, namely among younger audiences. We believe that culture is a shared asset that can be an outstanding lever for development,” according to Othman Lazraq.François-Xavier Gbré, “Archives I, printing works, Porto Novo, Benin”; Tracks Series, 2009-2016. Courtesy of MACAALTetouan-based, Los Angeles-born art historian Tina Barouti believes this is a trend across the continent, with museums such as MACAAL and the Zeit Modern Art Museum in South Africa creating “spaces by Africans to represent themselves on their own terms and soil.”Speaking to Morocco World News, Barouti noted that Morocco is uniquely situated at a “crossroads,” and that MACAAL’s “breathtaking” architecture and ambitious education programs demonstrate the ways that Morocco is asserting itself as African.Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden. Photo Credit: Sarah Goodman/MWN“We are seeing Morocco value its African identity by supporting not only emerging Moroccan artists but also emerging African artists. In this climate, it’s really important for North Africa to represent itself as African.”The Contemporary African Art Fair also held FORUM, a series of seven talks curated by Omar Berrada, a Moroccan writer, translator, and co-director of the Dar al-Mamûn library and artist residency.“There’s been a lot of talk about Africa in Morocco in recent years, for many reasons,” said Berrada, referencing to Morocco’s 2017 decision to rejoin the African Union after a 33-year absence. “There is a serious [Moroccan] interest in reclaiming a sense of belonging on the continent, which wasn’t the case five or ten years ago.”Joana Choumali, “Mme. Djeneba”: Hââbré, The Last Generation. Courtesy of the artist and 50 Golborne galleryMorocco has begun establishing itself as a both a destination for and a cultivator of contemporary African artists. In 2014, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI opened the kingdom’s first museum of modern and contemporary art in Rabat.However, Berrada continued, “it cannot only be based on economic investment—there needs to be cultural substance in terms of research, knowledge, and art production. For that to happen, there needs to be more presence, more exchange, more crossing of borders, until artists from all over Africa are more present here and vice-versa.”With 900 square meters for exhibitions divided between two floors, MACAAL creates an impressive space for African artists to display their works and promote cultural exchange.The Grand Opening also inaugurated the temporary photography exhibit “Africa is No Island,” available through August 24. It surveys works by 40 emerging and established photographers from across the continent and the wider African diaspora. As MACAAL explains, the exhibit examines “universally relevant cultural concepts of tradition, spirituality, family and the environment, within the context of modern African experiences and daily life.”The museum captured the new exhibition and the greater international opening on Twitter: “Africa is not an island but rather a connected territory, full of possibilities.”Mohamed El Baz, “A Love Supreme.” Courtesy of MACAAL read more

TransCanada raises quarterly dividend, reports Q4 profit up from year ago

Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP)The Canadian Press CALGARY — TransCanada Corp. raised its dividend as it reported its fourth-quarter profit rose compared with a year ago.The pipeline company says it will now pay a quarterly dividend of 75 cents per share, up from its previous payment of 69 cents per share.The increased payment to shareholders came as TransCanada reported a profit of $1.09 billion or $1.19 per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared to a profit of $861 million or 98 cents per diluted share for the same quarter a year earlier.Revenue totalled $3.91 billion, down from $3.62 billion.TransCanada says its comparable earnings for the quarter amounted to $1.03 per share, up from 82 cents per share a year earlier.Analysts on average had expected a profit of 96 cents per share for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon. read more

Bloomberg: Morocco a Top 22 Clean Energy Investor in 2018

Rabat – Morocco has invested $2.8 billion in renewable energy and is one of the 22 countries that have invested more than $2 billion in clean energy according, to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (NEF). Bloomberg NEF, a clean energy data provider, researching and reporting on energy trends at the global level, published the report, relayed by Moroccan media, last month.According to Bloomberg NEF, Morocco’s Noor Midelt project was the largest major solar project financed worldwide last year. The cost of the project has been estimated at $2.4 billion. Clean energy slowdownGlobal investment in clean energy reached $332.1 billion last year, down 8 percent for 2017. The drop is due to an 24 percent decrease in commitments in favour of solar energy, NEF’s date showed.The investment scale allocated to solar energy fell by 24 percent in 2018 compared to 2017. Despite this decrease in investments, photovoltaic capacity reached a record high—over 100 gigawatts for the first time.Bloomberg NEF noted that there have been strong contrasts between the clean energy sectors and investment trends.Wind energy investment jumped 3 percent to $128.6 billion, whereas solar energy investment fell to $128.6 billion. The contrast, NEF noted, was due to a sharp drop in capital costs.As a result, the global benchmark for the installation costs of a megawatt of photovoltaic capacity fell by 12 percent in 2018, as manufacturers reduced their selling prices in response to the oversupply of solar panels on the global market, concludes Bloomberg NEF.Morocco’s strong potential for new energyMorocco has a strong renewable energy potential given its varied geography.In Ouarzazate, central Morocco, the annual averages of daily global horizontal irradiation vary from 3.86 to 7.85 kilowatt hours per square meter per day, or 7.9 to 11.2 hours of sunshine per day on average. In terms of wind power potential, the annual average wind speed at 10 meters in the Tangier area, north eastern Morocco, is 10 meters per second. For the Dakhla area, in the Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra region, it varies between 7 and 8.5 meters per second. read more

Protesters at N.S. site expected to move belongings as court injunction clarified

FORT ELLIS, N.S. — Alton Gas says protesters were expected to remove their belongings from its Nova Scotia property Thursday evening as a temporary injunction imposed Monday is finalized over the next few days.The company is planning to store natural gas in huge underground caverns north of Halifax — a project that has prompted protesters to occupy a two-storey hut at one of its facilities near the Shubenacadie River.Lori MacLean, a spokeswoman for the firm, said it was expected the remaining protesters would move their belongings away from the site by 5 p.m.She said this is an “informal agreement” by the lawyers for two protesters — Dale Poulette and his partner Rachael Greenland-Smith — and the company on the meaning of a temporary injunction against the occupation of the site.However, MacLean said the company “isn’t planning on any immediate return to the river” before the injunction’s final wording is finished.Earlier this week, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge ruled that Poulette, Greenland-Smith and others must stop occupying the makeshift structure that blocks the main access road to the company’s pumphouse and control centre.However, Justice Gerald Moir also said that the protesters should be given an alternate site on the company property where they can still be seen by the public.He left the details of that site to be discussed and agreed upon by Alton’s lawyer and James Gunvaldsen Klaassen, the lawyer representing Poulette and Greenland-Smith.Gunvaldsen Klaassen confirmed in an interview that the parties have submitted a document to the judge in which most details are now confirmed, but he must resolve a “small point of difference.”He said his clients are no longer at the site and intend to abide by the terms of the judge’s order and the informal agreement as the details continue to be worked out.He said it’s expected the wording on where protesters can move to on the work site will be “probably be finished early next week,” after the court has finished its work.Dorene Bernard, one of the protesters at the site on Thursday evening, said in a telephone interview that people were removing some of their property during the evening.She said a ceremony was planned for 10 a.m. on Friday.Alton Gas is a subsidiary of Calgary-based AltaGas.It had initially planned to have construction completed between 2013 and 2018. However, the company recently asked the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to extend its cavern construction permit to Sept. 1, 2023The Canadian Press read more

Tycoon’s 3 children killed in Sri Lanka mourned in Denmark

HELSINKI — A funeral service has been held in Denmark for the three children of a business tycoon who were killed during the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka.Holch Povlsen, the owner of the Bestseller clothing chain, comforted his wife, Anne, and their surviving daughter, Astrid, as three flower-covered coffins were brought out of hearses at Aarhus Cathedral.The family was staying at the Shangri-La Hotel in the capital of Colombo when it was attacked. More than 350 people died in bombings in Sri Lanka on April 21.Members of the Danish royal family and Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen attended the emotional service Saturday.Holch Povlsen, 46, is the sole owner of the Bestseller clothing chain, the biggest shareholder of fashion retailer ASOS and the largest private landowner in Scotland.The Associated Press read more

Source: Fiat Chrysler, Renault in talks about alliance

NEW YORK — Carmaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and French automaker Renault are in talks about a possible alliance, as both companies seek to address technological and regulatory challenges in the industry.A person with knowledge of the matter confirmed the advanced discussions, first reported by the Financial Times. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations have not been made public.Fiat Chrysler has for months been the subject of merger speculation, with PSA Peugeot also reportedly interested in an alliance.Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley told analysts earlier this month that he expects further consolidation in the industry in the near-term.The talks come as Renault seeks a way forward in its partnership with Nissan and Mitsubishi, frayed since the arrest of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn in Japan.Alexandra Olson, The Associated Press read more

In vaping response, schools mull treatment with discipline

HARTFORD, Conn. — A glimpse of student athletes in peak physical condition vaping just moments after a competing in a football game led Stamford High School Principal Raymond Manka to reconsider his approach to the epidemic.His school traditionally has emphasized discipline for those caught with e-cigarettes. Punishments become increasingly severe with each offence, from in-school suspensions to out-of-school suspensions and, eventually, notification of law enforcement.But Manka began thinking about it more as an addiction problem, and less of a behaviour issue, after seeing the two players from another school vaping near their bus. “It broke my heart,” said Manka, whose school is now exploring how to offer cessation programs for students caught vaping or with vaping paraphernalia.“We’ve got to figure out how we can help these kids wean away from bad habits that might hurt their body or their mind or otherwise create behaviours that can create habits that will be harmful for the remainder of their lives,” he said.Schools elsewhere have been wrestling with how to balance discipline with prevention and treatment in their response to the soaring numbers of vaping students.Using e-cigarettes, often called vaping, has now overtaken smoking traditional cigarettes in popularity among students, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, one in five U.S. high school students reported vaping the previous month, according to a CDC survey .E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains high levels of nicotine — the addictive drug in regular cigarettes and other tobacco products — flavourings and other chemicals. Users inhale this aerosol into their lungs; when they exhale, bystanders often breathe it in too.Compared with regular cigarettes, the research on the health effects of e-cigarettes is painfully thin. Experts say that although using e-cigarettes appears less harmful over the long run than smoking regular cigarettes, that doesn’t mean they’re safe — particularly for youth, young adults, pregnant women or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.“Studies have shown that e-cigarette use among young people is potentially associated with an increased risk of progressing on to cigarette use and to vaping cannabis, which has become increasingly common in recent years,” said Dr. Renee Goodwin, a researcher and professor of epidemiology at the City University of New York and Columbia University who studies tobacco and cannabis use.Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can include other harmful substances, including heavy metals like lead and cancer-causing agents. The vaping liquid is often offered in a variety of flavours that appeal to youth and is packaged in a way that makes them attractive to children. And the long-term health effects, Goodwin noted, are unknown.Experts say the CDC classifies e-cigarettes as a tobacco product, and many schools lump vaping in with tobacco use in applying codes of conduct, treating offences similarly.In Connecticut alone, administrators dealt with 2,160 incidents in which students were caught vaping or with vaping paraphernalia in violation of school policies during the 2017-18 school year, up from 349 two years earlier. The schools issued 1,465 in-school suspensions and 334 out-of-school suspensions, according to the state Education Department.Nationwide, some schools have removed bathroom stall doors or placed monitors outside of restrooms to check students in and out. Others have installed humidity detectors that sound an alarm when vapour clouds are detected.Lawmakers are beginning to show similar concerns. Oklahoma has passed legislation to ban vaping on school property, and a dozen states have passed legislation to increase the age for smoking and vaping to 21.Nevertheless, some school districts have begun taking a more comprehensive approach by emphasizing treatment and prevention.The Conejo Valley Unified School District in southern California recently shifted from suspending students for a first offence to sending them to a four-hour Saturday class on the marketing and health dangers of vaping. A second offence results in a one-or-two-day suspension coupled with several weeks of a more intensive six-week counselling program that includes parents.“I think we are seeing quite a bit of success, basing it on the reduction this year in both the number of incidents reported on campus and the number of suspensions,” said Luis Lichtl, the district’s assistant superintendent.“The schools that seem to be most effective are those that are of course enforcing their disciplinary code — they can’t do otherwise — but are using that as the floor and not the ceiling,” said Bob Farrace, a spokesman for the National Association of Secondary School Principals.Linda Richter, an expert on vaping and adolescent substance use who works at the New York-based Center on Addiction, suggests that schools provide information about the health consequences and how companies have manipulated students to use vaping products by making it appear fun and cool. She said that two-pronged approach led to a successful decrease in the use of traditional cigarettes.“To expect a 13, 14 or 15-year-old to break an addiction by yelling at them or suspending them, it’s just not going to happen,” she said. “They need help, treatment, counselling, support, education and understanding.”Dr. J. Craig Allen, medical director at Rushford, a mental health treatment centre in Meriden, said suspending teens for vaping may be counterproductive.“If your solution is to send these kids home, what do you think they are going to be doing at home,” he said. “They are going to be taking rips off their Juul all day long to kill the time.”Thomas Aberli, the principal at Atherton High School in Louisville, Kentucky, said it began an intensive anti-vaping education program this year with the help of the American Association of Pediatrics. Teaching teens about how vaping companies have been courting them with flavoured products seems to be having an effect.“You could tell how angry they were getting with this sense of manipulation,” he said. “That was really a turning point for us in knowing the best way to approach this problem.”Other schools have continued to emphasize discipline in crackdowns on teen vaping.At the Mattawan Consolidated School District just outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Principal Tim Eastman recently wrote to parents that students found congregating in bathrooms or parking lots will be taken to the office and searched.“Anyone found with vaping equipment will face suspensions,” Eastman wrote. “Although this may seem extreme, the health and safety of our students is too important to ignore.”Eastman said the school is not currently providing those caught vaping with any additional education or medical intervention, but is considering it.Pat Eaton-Robb, The Associated Press read more

Proxy company advises shareholders against Saikawa at Nissan

TOKYO — An investor research company is advising Nissan shareholders to vote against the proposal to reappoint Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa as board director, saying the Japanese automaker needs a “break from the past” after the arrest of his predecessor Carlos Ghosn.Institutional Shareholder Services made the recommendation in its report for the June 25 shareholder meeting of Nissan Motor Co. in Tokyo.The report by the global company that offers proxy research and voting advice was published Monday and seen by media Wednesday.Ghosn has been charged with falsifying financial documents on retirement compensation and with breach of trust in diverting Nissan money for personal gain. He says he is innocent.The Associated Press read more

Grains higher, livestock mixed

CHICAGO — Grain futures were higher Wednesday in early trading on the Chicago Board of Trade.Wheat for July delivery rose 14.20 cents at $5.2160 a bushel; Jul corn advance 19.60 cents at $4.3120 a bushel; July oats was up 3.80 cents at $3.0320 a bushel; while July soybeans was gained 18 cents at 8.71 bushel.Beef was mixed and pork was higher on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.Jun. live cattle was up .05 cent at $1.1055 a pound; Aug. feeder cattle was off 2.83 cents at $1.3715 a pound; Jun. lean hogs rose .05 cent at .7915 a pound.The Associated Press read more

Extending Haiti mission Security Council backs campaign against gangs

15 February 2007Extending the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) by another eight months, the Security Council today endorsed its recently stepped-up campaign against armed criminal gangs and called for the operations to continue. In a resolution adopted unanimously, Council members agreed to extend the force – comprised of almost 8,400 troops and police – through 15 October to help establish stability in Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The resolution specifically requested that “MINUSTAH continue the increased tempo of operations in support of the HNP [Haitian National Police] against armed gangs as deemed necessary to restore security, notably in Port-au-Prince,” the capital. Since December, MINUSTAH has undertaken a series of military operations aimed at dislodging the country’s gangs from areas that they control and use to terrorize the local population, carrying out kidnappings, thefts, rapes and drug-running activities. The problem is most acute in the densely populated slum districts of Port-au-Prince such as Cité Soleil and Martissant, where some of the gangs have been operating for years, long before MINUSTAH arrived in 2004. Last Friday, in the most recent major operation, more than 700 UN troops entered the Boston area of Cité Soleil to try to dismantle the band of a gang chief. While he was able to escape, other members were arrested and large amounts of weaponry and ammunition were seized. One person was killed and two UN peacekeepers were injured. David Wimhurst, a spokesperson for the Mission, told reporters today that the operations would keep going “until we have really dislodged” the gangs. He said the gangs’ activities in Port-au-Prince were holding the rest of the country hostage, soaking up headlines and deterring outsiders from undertaking investment and development. “Peacekeeping in Haiti is a Band-aid. The cure to what ails Haiti is development,” he said, noting that whenever MINUSTAH troops or police units enter a former gang area, they establish a presence and encourage the Haitian state to follow so that the area can stabilize and locals’ living standards can improve. MINUSTAH is conducting military-style operations because the HNP does not yet have close to enough qualified officers to carry out operations or to prepare files against suspects that are of a standard that can be brought before a court. The situation is made worse by what Mr. Wimhurst described as the “pretty lamentable” state of the Haitian judiciary and penal system. Corruption is widespread among judges, who are paid about $200 a month, jails are overcrowded and individuals are often detained for months without charge. But Mr. Wimhurst said Haiti had posted important gains in the past two years, including the successful staging of local elections last year, and that the Mission’s work had to be seen as a long-term project. He said that MINUSTAH had been the subject of a particularly virulent misinformation campaign orchestrated both inside and outside Haiti by supporters of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. UN peacekeepers have been accused of deliberately targeting civilians and of firing from helicopters during operations, both of which were untrue, he said, adding that MINUSTAH made strenuous efforts to investigate every genuine allegation that its troop had killed or injured a civilian. He added that, aside from the gang members, locals in Cité Soleil and Martissant were largely supportive of the recent wave of aggressive operations, and had applauded UN troops as they patrolled following last Friday’s operation in Boston. read more

UN expert voices deep concern at extreme violence in Somalia

Extreme violence in Somalia, attacks and threats against the media and a lack of humanitarian access in the strife-torn country, where more than 700,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes, remain matters of deep concern, according to an independent United Nations expert. Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia Ghanim Alnajjar, who visited the Horn of Africa country last week, said his meetings UN staff, representatives of the international community, Somali civil society, clan and tribal leaders, and senior officials of the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFI) underscored the continued deterioration in the human rights situation. Civilians faced severe violations by all parties to the conflict including of the right to life, disappearance, torture, recruitment as child combatants and sexual and gender-based violence, as well as continued obstacles to the right to food, health and education. Mr. Alnajjar discussed the humanitarian needs of the civilian population, including the more than 700,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), and threats and attacks on aid workers, underlining once again the importance of preserving “humanitarian space.” Journalists and human rights defenders continue to live in an increasing climate of fear and intimidation, he noted. Since January, seven journalists have been killed and dozens more threatened into silence for their work. Several have fled Mogadishu, the capital, he said. Citing the lack of separation of powers in the TFI, he condemned the arrest of the President of the Supreme Court, Yusuf Ali Harun, and another judge as well as the dismissals of Attorney-General Abdullahi Dahir and his deputy, saying these steps disregarded rules and procedures and clearly violated the independence of the judiciary. Mr. Alnajjar also voiced concern at the potential negative effects of a conflict between neighbouring countries and highlighted new calls for the Security Council to establish a UN peacekeeping operation to further stabilize the country and allow for a phased withdrawal of Ethiopian forces. He was briefed about the intense violence and allegations of serious violations of human rights in Mogadishu over the past nine months since the TFI, backed by Ethiopian troops, expelled Islamist groups from the capital.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR reported today that it had begun distributing much-needed relief supplies 24,000 people in Afgooye, 30 kilometres west of Mogadishu, many of whom had fled intensified violence over the last two weeks. Plastic sheeting, blankets and jerry cans are being distributed over a three-day period. Nearly 65,000 people have fled the volatile capital since the beginning of June, 11,000 of them in September. Although the TFI said in May insurgents had been ousted after three months of fighting which uprooted almost 400,000 civilians, ongoing violence sparked a second wave in June. Only 125,000 people have returned to Mogadishu. More than 40,000 residents of Mogadishu have been displaced in Afgooye since February, and the 22 IDP settlements are feeling the pressure of the new arrivals. “Our staff report that families are still fleeing Mogadishu every day due to an increase in violence,” UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva today, reporting a new exodus after the TFI ordered residents of three northern districts to vacate their homes, claiming that they were backing insurgents after several soldiers and their commander were killed in a fight with insurgents there. Mogadishu is now divided into two parts, she said. The northern part is becoming deserted as residents flee clashes between the Ethiopian-backed TFI forces and insurgents, whereas the southern part is calm. The streets of northern Mogadishu are so empty during the day that only a handful of people can be seen, a UNHCR staff member reported. The Bakara market, once one of the biggest in East Africa, is barely functioning as it is regularly closed to vehicles because of insecurity such as fighting, assassinations and killings linked to robbery. “People are scared to walk close to the market with only the most desperate still going, risking their lives to sell a few vegetables as they have no other way of keeping their children from starving,” the staffer said. Somalia has been riven by factional fighting and has had no functioning central government since Muhammad Siad Barre’s regime was toppled in 1991. 28 September 2007Extreme violence in Somalia, attacks and threats against the media and a lack of humanitarian access in the strife-torn country, where more than 700,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes, remain matters of deep concern, according to an independent United Nations expert. read more

Attack on Afghan aid workers prompts UN call for better security

The three killed in yesterday’s attack in Jawzjan province in northern Afghanistan worked for Development and Humanitarian Services in Afghanistan (DHSA), which provides shelter for returnees and is a partner organization of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).A statement issued by the UN in Afghanistan noted that this is at least the fourth security incident targeting humanitarian workers in the country in the past two weeks. “This latest attack is one more example of the unacceptable toll that the conflict in Afghanistan is taking on civilians, and in particular on humanitarian workers whose sole objective is the delivery of relief assistance to people in distress,” the statement said.The UN added that the continuing attacks and threats have forced aid agencies to restrict their operations and thus adversely affecting their ability to reach those in need.“All parties to the conflict should honour their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure that this horrible incident is not repeated,” the world body stated.This was the second incident involving UNHCR in Afghanistan in the past couple of days.On Monday, cars carrying three agency staff members and one employee of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) were overtaking a military convoy when one of the military vehicles exploded. Although further details on the incident, which occurred in the country’s east, are not currently available, none of the UN staff members were injured. 24 June 2009The acting United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, Tekeste Tekie, today called for better security for aid workers, after three national staff of a local non-governmental organization (NGO) were killed when the vehicle they were travelling in was destroyed by a roadside bomb. read more

UNbacked gathering examining future of the fight against drugs in sport gets

26 October 2009A United Nations-backed conference tasked with identifying ways to eliminate drug cheats from sport kicked off in Paris today, focusing on the use of a $2.2 million donation to help national or international anti-doping projects. The three-day gathering of around 250 government representatives at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Headquarters will discuss the future of the fight against doping in sport with respect to an international anti-doping treaty.The 2005 International Convention against Doping in Sport, which promotes no advance notice, out-of-competition and in-competition testing, was adopted unanimously by UNESCO’s General Conference in October 2005.Ratified by 127 countries to date, it is the first worldwide binding legal instrument that imposes uniform rules, tests and sanctions against using performance-enhancing substances and methods.The Conference of States Parties to the Convention will examine the administration of the $2.2 million UNESCO-created Fund for the Elimination of Doping in Sport, which since 2008 has helped seven projects in Africa (Mali, Mozambique and Seychelles), the Americas (Barbados, Jamaica and Uruguay) and Europe (Albania). In addition, it is also slated to adopt a list of substances and methods banned in sport by 1 January 2010. It will also as examine the electronic system set up by UNESCO to monitor the implementation of the Convention. A report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) about the implementation of the World Anti-Doping Code will also be presented at the conference. The Code stipulates that any government which shall omit to ratify the Convention by 1 January 2010, or which shall subsequently not comply with it, shall no longer be admissible as a candidate for organizing sports events. read more