BRUSSELS – Britain and the European Union appeared to be inching toward agreement on Brexit on Monday, but British Prime Minister Theresa May faced intensifying pressure from her divided Conservative government that could yet scuttle a deal.Britain leaves the EU on March 29 — the first country ever to do so — but a deal must be sealed in the coming weeks to leave enough time for the U.K. and European Parliaments to sign off. May faces increasing domestic pressure over her proposals for an agreement following the resignation of another government minister last week.The British leader had been hoping to present a draft deal to her Cabinet this week. But no Brexit breakthrough was announced Monday after talks between European affairs ministers. The two sides are locked in technical negotiations to try to bridge the final gaps in a move laden with heavy political and economic consequences.May said talks were in their “endgame” but that negotiating a divorce agreement after more than four decades of British EU membership was “immensely difficult.”May told an audience at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London that “we are working extremely hard, through the night, to make progress on the remaining issues in the Withdrawal Agreement, which are significant.“Both sides want to reach an agreement,” May said, though she added she wouldn’t sign up to “agreement at any cost.”The main obstacle to a deal is how to keep goods flowing smoothly across the border between EU country Ireland and Northern Ireland in the U.K.Both sides have committed to avoid a hard border with costly and time-consuming checks that would hamper business. Any new customs posts on the border could also re-ignite lingering sectarian tensions. But Britain and the EU haven’t agreed on how to achieve that goal.“Clearly this is a very important week for Brexit negotiations,” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told reporters after the meeting in Brussels. “The two negotiating teams have really intensified their engagement … There is still clearly work to do.”And Martin Callanan, a minister in Britain’s Brexit department, said all involved were “straining every sinew to make sure that we get a deal but we have to get a deal that is right for the U.K., right for the EU and one that would be acceptable to the U.K. Parliament.”EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier didn’t speak to reporters Monday and a planned news conference with him was cancelled.Instead, EU headquarters issued a short statement saying that Barnier explained to the ministers that “intense negotiating efforts continue, but an agreement has not been reached yet.”Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the two sides “are getting closer to each other.”“But in negotiations there is only a deal if there is full agreement,” Blok said. “There is only a 100-per cent deal. There is not a 90-per cent deal or a 95-per cent deal.”Earlier, France’s EU affairs minister, Nathalie Loiseau, stepped up pressure on May. “The ball is in the British court. It is a question of a British political decision,” she said.The EU is awaiting Barnier’s signal as to whether sufficient progress has been made to call an EU summit to seal a deal.Rumours have swirled of a possible top-level meeting at the end of November. But Austrian EU affairs minister Gernot Bluemel, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said “so far progress is not sufficient to call in and set up another (summit).”In recent days there have been signs of progress behind the scenes, but all parties have remained tight-lipped about the developments, given the politically charged atmosphere.In Britain, pro-Brexit and pro-EU politicians alike warned May that the deal she seeks is likely to be shot down by Parliament.Boris Johnson, a staunch Brexit supporter, wrote in a column for Monday’s Daily Telegraph that May’s plan to adhere closely to EU regulations in return for a trade deal and an open Irish border amounts to “total surrender” to the bloc.The proposed terms are scarcely more popular with advocates of continued EU membership.Former Education Secretary Justine Greening on Monday called May’s proposals the “worst of all worlds,” and said the public should be allowed to vote on Britain’s departure again.“We should be planning as to how we can put this final say on Brexit in the hands of the British people,” Greening told the BBC.Johnson’s younger brother, Jo Johnson, resigned last week backing calls for a second referendum on whether the country should leave the EU. May has consistently rejected the idea of another nationwide vote on Brexit.___Jill Lawless reported from London.
CANBERRA, Australia — Shareholders on Monday gave final approval to the merger of television network Nine Entertainment and newspaper publisher Fairfax Media into an Australian media giant to be known only as Nine despite one shareholder’s late bid to stop the deal.Antony Catalano, a former chief executive of the online real estate listings portal Domain Group which is majority-owned by Fairfax, said he will ask the Federal Court on Nov. 27 to stop the merger.Catalano, who owns shares in both Domain and Fairfax, wrote to Fairfax chairman Nick Falloon late Sunday offering to buy 19.9 per cent of Fairfax and asking for Monday’s Fairfax shareholders meeting to be delayed.The Fairfax board said in a statement on Monday that it remained unanimously behind the merger with Nine.“The letter contains no actual proposal that could be considered by Fairfax shareholders as an alternative to the proposed scheme of arrangement with Nine Entertainment,” the statement said.The merger was supported by 81.5 per cent of Fairfax shareholders representing 88.6 per cent of shares. The deal had needed the support of at least 60 per cent of shareholders representing at least 70 per cent of shares.Falloon said that subject to court approval, the merger would occur on Dec. 7 and the new entity would begin trading on the Australian share market on Dec. 10.The merger would give Nine shareholders 51.1 per cent of the combined entity and make Nine chief executive Hugh Marks leader of the new company.Fairfax shareholders would own the remaining 48.9 per cent of the company, which will become Australia’s largest media player. The Fairfax family name which has been part of the Australian media landscape for 177 years appears set to disappear.Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Goodbye iPhones and Facebook feed. Hello power plants and bleach.Since stocks began tumbling two months ago, investors haven’t abandoned the market. At least, not all of it. In recent weeks, as they’ve pulled money out of funds that invest in go-go technology companies, they’ve also been buying utilities, companies that make everyday necessities for consumers and other stocks that tend to have smaller swings in price than the rest of the market.It’s part of a big shift in investor behaviour as fears about rising interest rates, a global trade war and slowing economic growth around the world have roiled markets. The S&P 500 plunged a combined 3.4 per cent Monday and Tuesday, with technology stocks again suffering particularly sharp losses, and the index has lost 9.6 per cent since setting its record on Sept. 20.Technology stocks’ fall marks a big turnaround from earlier this year, and from much of the bull market that began nearly a decade ago. After leading the market higher on the backs of their strong profit growth, Facebook and other big-name tech companies have recently stumbled on concerns that increased government regulation will dent their profits, on top of all the other concerns dragging on the rest of the market.Apple has slumped particularly hard on fears that its newest crop of iPhones isn’t as popular as expected after phone-part suppliers gave discouraging forecasts. Apple has plunged 19.7 per cent since the S&P 500 set its record two months ago, nearly double the loss of the index. Amazon, the third-most valuable U.S. company after Apple and Microsoft, has fallen 21.3 per cent over the same time, during which it gave a forecast for revenue growth this holiday season that fell short of Wall Street’s high expectations.After their years of eye-popping returns, those stocks had become some of the most popular to own among hedge funds, mutual funds and other investors. But just as they bought the stocks together on the way up, investors are now heading for the exits en masse as well.“There’s no doubt that tech companies are widely owned, people have made a lot of money on them and we’re finally seeing for the first time where the rotation is having some legs,” said Nate Thooft, senior portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management. “They’re selling the winners and redeploying the money somewhere else.”For now, at least, that somewhere else has been areas of the stock market seen as holding steadier during economic downturns. Last week, for example, investors plowed $1.47 billion into exchange-traded funds that focus on utility stocks. The thinking is that utilities’ customers will continue to turn on their lights and buy power regardless of how many tariffs get placed on Chinese goods.Utility stocks have not only held up better than the rest of the market in recent weeks, they’ve been among the few areas to thrive. Shares of Duke Energy and Xcel Energy have both climbed more than 7 per cent since the S&P 500 began its downturn after Sept. 20.Besides utilities, investors have also been putting money into real-estate stocks and companies that make everyday items for consumers, such as Church & Dwight. The maker of Arm & Hammer baking soda and Oxiclean stain fighters has climbed nearly 10 per cent over the last two months. Clorox, which last month reported stronger profit than analysts expected, is up 5.1 per cent.All these companies are common fodder for “low-volatility” ETFs that have surged in popularity in recent weeks as investors seek out stocks that have historically had smaller price swings than the rest of the market. Last week, $1.3 billion went into “low-volatility” ETFs.At the same time, nearly $500 million left technology stock ETFs. It’s a huge about-face in interest. As recently as two months ago, these ETFs had attracted $8 billion in net investment for 2018. But subsequent waves of selling mean they’re now down to $525.9 million in net investment for the year, according to Jefferies.“These things had outperformed the S&P by a mile over the last three years,” said Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide Investment Management. But that’s changed now. “On good days they’re not the leaders, and on bad days they’re the laggards.”Stan Choe And Marley Jay, The Associated Press
LISBON, Portugal — While some powerful European Union governments are uneasy about China possibly capturing control of the bloc’s critical energy and transport infrastructure, one of western Europe’s smallest economies is grabbing the opportunity with both hands.Chinese President Xi Jinping is due in Portugal on Tuesday for a 24-hour state visit. The Portuguese government hopes Beijing will invest in the country’s biggest Atlantic port and help expand national energy company Energias de Portugal overseas.France and other EU countries, and the European Commission, have deep misgivings about Portugal possibly signing up to China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative that seeks to link Asia to Europe, saying Beijing’s strategy could help fracture the EU.But Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva says Portugal is “very interested” in the multibillion-dollar infrastructure loan scheme.The Associated Press
UPDATE – As of 4:00 p.m., traffic on the Taylor Bridge is opened to single-lane alternating traffic.Continue to check drivebc.ca for updates.UPDATE – As of 3:00 p.m. Wednesday, RCMP say two vehicles were involved in a collision on the Taylor Bridge this afternoon. According to Police, no injuries were sustained from this collision.They say the bridge will be shut down until it is inspected for structural damage.Continue to check drivebc.ca for updates.FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – We have received word this afternoon that there is a vehicle collision on the northbound lane of the Taylor Bridge.Crews are currently on scene assessing the incident.Expect delays at this time as crews clear the scene. We will provide updates as they become available.
India International Centre is coming up with an exhibition of Kanthas from the late 19th century till pre-independence; and contemporary Kantha created in the 1990s initiated by the renowned sculptor, late Meera Mukherjee. Titled ‘The Needle Reverence’ – a story stitched by the thrift of Bengali women, the art show will feature collection of Siddhartha Tagore and Mahesh Naithani as well as Meera Mukherjee’s kanthas from the collection of Dolly Narang. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainTo be inaugurated on April 3, at 5:30, by Jasleen Dhamija, veteran historian on Indian textiles, the exhibition is organised to honour Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay. It will be on view from April 4 to 12, 11 am to 7 pm daily at the Art Gallery, IIC Annexe, New Delhi. A creation that started as a way to make life more comfortable has overtime developed into a more detailed and amplified Kantha tradition. Most Kanthas were made by illiterate rural women who would stitch stories into the quilts. Conventionally, these women used a simple running stitch and basic embroidery techniques to create quilts in addition to embroidered cloths for their homes with running stitches along the edges. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardFor generations of Bengali women, the technique of the age old craft were and still are being passed down from mother to daughter. These women would often personalise their work by either putting their name on it or by illustrating their relationship with the person for whom the gift was intended. As has been stated in the book ‘The Scared Textiles of India’, kanthas are as diverse as there have been women designing and embroidering them. Subsequently, the craft took a backbench, like many Indian handicrafts. In the 18th and 19th century the East India Company ruled a considerable section of the country. Though Kantha continued to be practised amongst rural women, the recognition of the craft faded as by then England was printing its own Indian textiles, with machinery and newly developed synthetic dyes. In the post-independence period, there were many a great attempts to revitalize and restore the dying craft with a new life. And now for decades the embroidery craft has been a source of economic independence for rural women. A revolutionary for Kantha today, Shamlu Dudeja took a great initiative in the early ’80s to empower women. Dudeja has worked to incorporate Kantha in today’s market with home decor, urban furnishing and clothing such as sarees. She points out that “creating new Kantha means lots of experimentations and payment to the artists, especially from the semi urban areas”. Kantha embroidery is a popular force even in the fashion world now. With designers displaying beautiful works with a contemporary flair. Kantha has been around for ages however, there is a growing need to maintain its authenticity. Although, a great boon to the handloom sector, which is now the second largest employer in rural India, some fear that with the profit oriented markets, the age old Indian heritage of hand weaving communities may lose their genuineness. The exhibition at IIC is organised in collaboration with MATI – Management of Art Treasures of India; with the support of Art Konsult; The Village Gallery; and Art and Deal Magazine.
The ways in which the environment is exploited while catering to civilisational needs and wants is uncountable. From rocks to riverbeds, groundwater to oil, coasts to alpine forests, water to air, deep-earth mining to depleting ozone layer in the lower stratosphere, the cumulative impact has brought us to the days where Environment concerns & Climate Change have become a regular feature of social discussions. While adhering to the norms of Paris Agreement, which aims at limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, India, a developing nation, has numerous other environmental commitments that it must take to ensure a green future. With our capital being the most polluted in the world, the commitment to directing efforts towards protecting our environment is non-negotiable. The dystopian sky that Delhi has witnessed on two separate occasions stands as a glaring example of how, through uncontrolled progress, we are digging our own graves. But air is not the only issue. Depleting forest cover, polluted rivers, fragile river banks and coasts, poor waste management, et al, all add to our environmental concerns. While the present dispensation has taken prodigious steps to enhance the country’s infrastructure, it has not taken any concrete step to protect the environment or improve its gradually deteriorating trend. Significant increase in clearances to development projects inside wildlife protected areas bypassing necessary impact studies, from 260 in 2009-13 (under UPA) to 519 in 2014 – 18 (BJP phase), along with proposed policy changes – new forest policy and Coastal Regulation Zone notification that will allow corporate entities to take over land, forest, coast, water – do not augur well for the environment. Development at the cost of environment is a disastrous equation and its implementation will cost us tremendously – though very few realise it. Activists, environmentalists, experts on climate, etc., have been vocal about such intrusion into nature’s boundaries and yet they never make it to the desk of political parties as they rally around the country prior to elections. While conveying their so-called vision to the masses, their focus mainly revolves around the immediate societal needs and issues that will enable them to garner votes. Blaming just the political parties here is also wrong. These parties come up with sops and promises that comprise of prevalent issues which are mainly because of our discontent. Agrarian distress, unemployment, etc., are all prime poll agendas which have been conveyed to these parties by no one but us through our dissent. In the same way, should we advocate our displeasure at the way environment is being exploited manifold, the chances of it being picked up by them are far more. Hence, the blame is partially on us as well. Delhi has been clearly the victim of air pollution which sparked the AAP government to come up with the ambitious odd-even rule to half the number of cars on the capital’s roads and ensure comparatively fewer car-emissions – prime contributor to air pollution. But, even that did not prevent the second spell of hazardous air quality, following which the Graded Response Action Plan was drafted to combat air pollution in severe cases. While GRAP restores the hope of clean air, it is an emergency plan – a cure. How long can or should we rely on emergency plans, especially when all our lives we have heard the age-old saying that ‘prevention is better than cure’? Also Read – A compounding difficultyRecently, Congress in its manifesto for Lok Sabha polls included the environment. It recognised air pollution as a public health emergency. Congress promises to constitute, by law, an independent, empowered, and transparent Environment Protection Authority to establish, monitor and enforce environmental standards and regulations. At the same time, Congress plans on defending and advancing India’s interests in international negotiations on Climate Change and environment. Further, they promise to strengthen the National Clean Air Programme launched by Modi government to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20-30 per cent in at least 102 cities, including Delhi, by 2024. Congress’s mention of all the relevant environmental concerns in its manifesto definitely earns them brownie points over rivals, however, attracts criticism from experts over superficial promises due to lack of detail. It may enjoy the benefit of this doubt to the extent till it forms a government, should it win. Manifestos are a book of promises and as such the implementation part is where the entire picture changes. BJP’s grand promises and their lacklustre implementation is a testament to this realisation. While the voters may acknowledge the fact that Congress has included the environment in its manifesto when others haven’t – making them unique as of now, they are wary of the fact that it is the implementation of the promises that holds the key to progress and welfare. Mere promises are nothing but empty rhetorics aimed at amassing votes in a contest where everyone wants to run the country.
NEW DELHI: The AAP Tuesday said its Lok Sabha candidates would file their nominations from Thursday even as uncertainty remained over a possible alliance between the ruling party in Delhi and the Congress. On the other hand after door-to-door campaign at East Delhi, AAP candidate from the constituency observed that 80 per cent of the residents neither know the name of BJP MP Mahesh Girri nor they have ever seen him. Senior AAP leader Gopal Rai said the party’s west Delhi candidate Balbir Singh Jakhar would file his nomination on Thursday while Chandni Chowk candidate Pankaj Gupta, East Delhi candidate Atishi and North West Delhi candidate Gugan Singh would file their nominations on Saturday. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderOn Monday, South Delhi candidate Raghav Chadha, North East candidate Dilip Pandey and New Delhi candidate Brajesh Goel would file their nomination, Rai said. He said before filing of nominations, a road show would be taken out by all the candidates and senior party leaders would also participate in it. Meanwhile, AAP East Delhi candidate Atishi alleged that sitting MP from East Delhi Mahesh Girri did not allow the Delhi government to set up a superspeciality hospital at East Delhi. “The MP did not allow the DDA to give us the land and now people throw garbage to that place,” said Atishi. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsShe also said that Girri made a false inauguration of East Delhi campus of IP university but did not do anything later Delhi govt had to interfere. “In the last five years at the meetings of police monitoring committee where he was supposed to represent the area attended only one out of sixty meetings,” alleged Atishi. She also said that the law and order situation at the constituency dropped severely in the last five years and also there have been various caste and communal violence took place at the ground level.
Colombo: Six children and three women were among 15 people killed when militants linked to the Easter Sunday bombings opened fire and blew themselves up during a fierce gun battle with security forces in Sri Lanka’s Eastern province, police said Saturday. The shootout occurred as the security forces continued their hunt for members of the National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ), the local terror outfit behind the April 21 coordinated blasts in which 253 people were killed and over 500 injured. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange frameworkThe Special Task Force and Army troops, following a tip-off, raided a house in Kalmunai city, about 360 km from Colombo, on Friday night, leading to the heavy exchange of fire with the armed group. As the heavily-armed men opened fire on troops, a civilian caught in the middle got killed. As the clashes intensified, three men are believed to have set off explosives. “A total of 15 bodies recovered, six men, three women and six children. At least four suspected suicide bombers are dead, and three others who were injured are in hospital,” a police spokesperson said. Also Read – Trio win Nobel Medicine Prize for work on cells, oxygenA police spokesman said that three suspected suicide bombers were among the 15 dead. “When the police were doing a joint search operation in Sainthamuruthu, gunfire was directed at them,” police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said. A suicide blast took place, and the body of a terrorist with a T56 assault rifle was also found at the site. A massive cache of explosives was also recovered from the spot. “Officials have recovered detonators, suicide kits, army uniforms and ISIS flags,” an army officer said. Meanwhile, the police said that curfew imposed in the Muslim-majority areas of Kalmunai, Chavalakade and Sammanthurai would continue until further notice. The police have arrested at least 76 people in connection with the attack so far. Twenty were arrested in the last 24 hours. Officials also seized one kg of explosives near a railway station at Wellawatta, a popular south Colombo suburb. The curfew was lifted for other areas at 4 am on Saturday. At the security council meeting held last night, it was decided that search operations to crack down on extremist terrorism must continue until the threat is eliminated. Security has been improved at hotels, schools and public places. Nine suicide bombers carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels on the Easter Sunday, killing 253 people. The Islamic State claimed the attacks, but the government has blamed local Islamist extremist group NTJ for the attacks. President Maithripala Sirisena said Friday that over 130 suspects linked to the Islamic State terror group have been operating in the country. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka needs new laws to deal with threats posed by local terror outfits linked to ISIS. Sri Lanka has a population of 21 million which is a patchwork of ethnicities and religions, dominated by the Sinhalese Buddhist majority. Muslims account for 10 per cent of the population and are the second-largest minority after Hindus. Around seven per cent of Sri Lankans are Christians.
Jaunpur (UP): The BSP and the SP Tuesday termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi “chowkidar (watchman) of capitalists” and asserted the two alliance partners will “shake the roots” of the ruling party. Addressing an election rally in favour of alliance candidates of Jaunpur and Machhlishahr seats, the alliance termed the Congress “anti-dalit”and alleged that the grand old party wants people to stay poor. “Both the BJP and Congress are anti-dalits… the Congress, which is claiming to provide Rs 6,000 (under its proposed ‘Nyay’ scheme) only wants people to remain poor and helpless,” BSP chief Mayawati told the gathering. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghTerming Modi the “chowkidar (watchman) of capitalists”, she alleged that he helped the rich become richer. “BJP is going out of power in these elections… it has failed to fulfil the promises made in 2014 to the poor and middle class… despite all this, how can the prime minister seek votes again,” Mayawati said and termed GST and demonetisation the cause of corruption. “Terror attacks are taking place and the government is busy taking mileage out of the Army’s valour,” she claimed. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadShe alleged that farmers in Uttar Pradesh are facing immense hardship because of stray cattle and blamed the Yogi Adityanath government for it. In his address, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav said, “The BJP is standing on a foundation of lies and our alliance will shake its very roots… perhaps the BJP is not aware of the alliance storm.” “This time, people will snatch the chair of the chaiwala-turned-chowkidar,” he said.
Barcelona: Lewis Hamilton will seek to complete a hat-trick of Catalan triumphs and regain the lead in this year’s drivers’ world championship as Formula One returns home to this year’s first European race at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix. The defending five-time champion is a single point behind his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the embryonic standings, following their unprecedented four successive season-opening one-twos. But, like his Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff, he is wary of any suggestion that rivals Ferrari are a fading force and knows that the Italian team, armed with an upgraded power unit being introduced two races sooner than planned, will mount a fierce challenge on the track where they shone in pre-season testing. Also Read – We will push hard for Kabaddi”s inclusion in 2024 Olympics: Rijiju”The results may seem to paint a clear picture, but the truth is that they’re too flattering,” said Wolff, who rejected the notion put forward by Ferrari’s four-time champion Sebastian Vettel that his team were now the underdogs. “The performance has fluctuated in the first four races. Our opponents were blisteringly quick in the winter testing here so this Spanish Grand Prix will be anything but easy.” The pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, where Sunday’s race is to be run, seems a long time ago now as Vettel and his new team-mate Charles Leclerc struggle to rediscover those dominant displays when it matters. Predictably, most of the teams will arrive in Spain with an array of updates for their cars that may make it more difficult to predict performance, but Ferrari appear to have chosen to adopt a downbeat approach in advance. Also Read – Djokovic to debut against Shapovalov at Shanghai Masters”Obviously, Mercedes are very strong at the moment so I am pretty sure they will be very strong as well in Barcelona,” said Mattia Binotto, the newly-installed team boss facing the challenge of ending Mercedes five years’ domination. “The last four races, on average, we were not quite there,” added Vettel. “So we are not the favourites.” Binotto added that Ferrari were pushing hard to catch Mercedes. “We will have a new power unit that we are introducing ahead of schedule,” he said. “This second specification was due to be taken to Canada and it’s only down to a big team effort that we have been able to do this.” Hamilton, almost perversely, has said he wants to see Ferrari lift their performance to ensure a thrilling season of competition for himself and Bottas, as their intra-team rivalry promises to turn into a scrap for the drivers’ title. After a winless year in 2018, Bottas has come back determined to prove his pace and power this year – he and Hamilton have two wins each, the Finn adding an extra point to his total by clocking the fastest lap in Australia. “Lewis has been world champion many times so being his team-mate is great for me,” said Bottas, revelling this year in the competition. “It’s a good reference and a benchmark and it also gives us an opportunity to have a very strong team. “On the other hand, it’s not easy. It’s so difficult to get ahead of him, but I know it’s possible. I see it as a great opportunity and I would not choose another team-mate even it made my life easier.”
New Delhi: The central government on Tuesday extended for five more years the ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a terror group that was behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.The ban has been extended under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, a notification issued by the Union Home ministry stated. India had banned the LTTE after the assassination of Gandhi in 1991. The ban on the group was last extended for five years in 2014. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange frameworkThe LTTE, a terror outfit based in Sri Lanka but has its supporters, sympathisers and agents in India, came up in 1976. Its objective for a separate homeland (Tamil Eelam) for all Tamils threatens the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, and amounts to cession and secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union and thus falls within the ambit of unlawful activities, the notification said. The LTTE’s continued violent and disruptive activities are prejudicial to the integrity and sovereignty of India, it said.
New Delhi: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party Chief N. Chandra Babu Naidu on Sunday met Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar at his residence here. The meeting was part of Naidu’s continued outreach to Opposition party leaders in order to firm up a non-BJP front ahead of the announcement of Lok Sabha poll results on May 23. However, what the two leaders discussed, was not clear. Naidu arrived in the national capital on Saturday evening, after meeting Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow. According to the Telugu Desam Party sources, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister is likely to meet UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her residence in evening. On Saturday, before leaving for Lucknow, Naidu held meetings with Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Pawar and Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) leader Sharad Yadav in Delhi. On Friday, he said that all parties, including rival K. Chandrashekhar Rao-led Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), were welcome to join the non-BJP Mahagathbandhan (grand-alliance). The TDP chief also met the Election Commission on Friday and accused it of being biased and pro-government.
TRIPOLI – Libyans on Monday marked the third anniversary of their revolt which ousted dictator Moamer Kadhafi fearful for the future of a country plagued by lawlessness.Putting on a brave face, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who was briefly abducted last year by militants, said revolution had achieved the goals of “ending tyranny and securing freedom of expression”.“The February 17 Revolution is a challenge that Libyans must live up to,” he said in a speech to the nation broadcast on television Sunday night, acknowledging the “difficulties” ahead. Although no official ceremonies were organised for the anniversary, spontaneous celebrations have taken place since Saturday across Libya and are due to culminate in festivities later Monday in the capital Tripoli.The streets have been decked with Libya’s revolutionary flag, volunteers have cleaned up streets and painted over sidewalks, and multicoloured lights strung across the main roads.But for many Libyans there is little to celebrate.“There is noting to be proud about,” one Tripolitanian said on Twitter.University student Ahmed Fitouri agreed. “Nothing has been accomplished these past three years. We are stuck.”Three years after the uprising, Libya is still struggling to rebuild an army capable to end waves of unrest blamed largely on well-armed Islamists and ex-rebels.The government and the interim parliament, the General National Congress, have come under increasing criticism by Libyans who accuse them of corruption and failing to give them a better life.Common criminals roam the streets, while rival tribes in various parts of the country shoot it out to settle long-standing disputes.Politicians, security officials, journalists, judges and even the US ambassador have been gunned down in a wave of lawlessness that has grown since Kadhafi was captured and killed in October 2011.Disgruntled citizens have managed to blockade and shut down Libya’s oil terminals, threatening to bankrupt a government that relies almost exclusively on oil revenues to operate.Economy taken beatingOn the political front, the GNC, the country’s top authority, infuriated Libyans when it decided to extend its mandate by 10 months beyond a February 7 deadline.But deputies on Sunday said the parliament has reached consensus on holding early elections, apparently yielding to popular pressure and threats that divisions could unleash further unrest.The economy of oil-rich Libya has also taken a beating due to chronic security problems and industrial actions since the end of Kadhafi’s four-decade autocratic rule.The oil ministry and the World Bank estimate Libya has lost more than $10 billion in revenues because of the crisis that erupted last July when striking workers and pro-autonomy demonstrators in eastern Libya began blockading the country’s main terminals.Post-war reconstruction has been slow and major infrastructure projects put on the back-burner, while the multinationals have yet to make a return.The World Bank, in a report issued last month, stressed “the urgent need for economic diversification in order to ensure long-term financial and economic stability”.“We must set aside out differences on the occasion of this historic event, in memory of the martyrs who fell so that we can enjoy freedom,” said Tripoli University professor Ali Toukabri.Analyst Soufiene al-Machri blamed the impasse on politicians who are hanging on to power.
Casablanca – Jazzablanca presents its tenth annual festival this month in Casablanca, featuring the innovative sounds of six international performers from around the world.The six day festival runs from April 18-23. American guitarist, song-writer, compositor and singer Raul Midon takes stage on April 18, performing a mix of genres including soul, jazz, blues, R&B and Latino music. He has four albums under his belt: “Gracias a la vida” released in 1999, “State of Mind” in 2005, “A World within a World” in 2007 and “Pick Somebody Up” in 2009. Throughout his carrier, he has worked with eminent musicians and singers like Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Ricky Martin, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez and José Feliciano.British singer, song-writer and guitarist Charlie Winston performs on April 19. He has fascinated French fans with his “rakish Anglo troubadour look – acoustic guitar, jaunty hat, weather beaten voice – along with a streak of Gallic seen-it-all.” His Album “Hibo” released in 2009 ranked first in the French charts. He comes from a musical family: his parents are Jeff and Julie Gleave and his brother is Tom Baxter.Anouar Brahem will be playing oud on April 20. His twenty-year career is marked by innovation, fusing jazz, folk music and classical genres from the oriental and Mediterranean repertoires. He started recording in 1991 after he became famous in his native country, Tunisia. He released nine albums including “Conte de L’Incroyable Amour” (1991), “Le Pas Du Chat Noir” (2001) and “the Astounding Eyes Of Rita” (2009), to name a few. Anouar Brahem has also received a number of national and international awards.Grammy nominee, Candy Dulfer, is a Dutch smooth jazz and funk alto saxophonist who began playing at the age of seven. Her fourth album “For the love of you” (1997) was a major hit and remained in the Billboard charts for over forty weeks. She has played with many artists such as Lionel Richie and has performed all over the world from a young age. Dulfer will be performing on the Casa-Anfa stage on April 21, and bringing a feminine vibe to the festival — she is the only female performer participating.Afrobeat lovers will meet with the co-creator with Fela Kuti of the hugely popular and influential Afrobeat style on April 22, Tony Allen. Allen is one of the African continent’s most important artists. He has inspired generations of musicians worldwide and is a legendary figure amongst fans of funk, jazz, hip hop and African music. This self-taught kit drummer’s melodies are imbued with internal youth. During his 45-year career, he has worked with famous names like U2, Damon Albarn, and Gorillaz and Blu.The closing concert will be performed by Keziah Jones. The king of blufunk – a fusion between raw blues elements and hard, edgy funk rhythms, Jones is a Nigerian singer-songwriter and guitarist, heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix and Fela Kuti. He gained popularity in England and France with singles like “Rhythm Is Love” and “Beautiful Emile.”Since its first festival in 2006, Jazzablanca has become a key event for jazz music lovers around the world. Featuring varied and rich programming, more than 400 musicians have performed in the festival since its inception.
Washington DC – The latest abrupt changes at the helm of Algeria’s Presidential security apparatus add to the mounting fears that a developing power struggle among ruling clans in Algeria could plunge the country into political and security chaos. As concerns grow over the health of President Bouteflika, the succession rivalry between the Presidential camp led by Bouteflika’s brother Saïd and the Military camp led by the Intelligence Chief General Toufik Mediene has intensified to levels not seen before.The swift decision to dismiss the Chief of the Republican Guard, Major General Melliani, and the head of Presidential Security, Major General Mejdoub and the Director of Internal Security Major General Bendaoud stunned, perplexed and panicked the Algerian public. Furthermore, newsIn a bizarre and disquieting move, the fired Generals learned of their fate through the media. In a country where the armed forces is “the supreme leader”, sacking high ranking officials in this manner is an affront to the institution which begs the question: Who made the decision to fire? According to AFP news agency, the Algerian daily Al-Watan reported that the sacking was a result of “errors” and “negligence.” It spoke of an “accident” last week in which two security guards sparked panic at the Zeralda presidential residence west of Algiers by firing shots.Was it an attempt coup d’état, a turf dispute between clans, or just disciplinary actions that led to this rude dismissals? Algiers is rife with conspiracy theories and anecdotes but short on facts and official statements.The absence an official bulletin announcing the firing is a sign of a fractured and nervous military establishment concerned for its feature in a post-Bouteflika reign. Furthermore, some Algerian news sites have reported that before the end of the summer the Presidency will publish a list of purged military officers who will be “asked: to retire.As the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and defense minister, President Bouteflika is the only authority who can issue such orders. However, is he healthy and of sound mind to render such verdicts? The answer is NO.How can a leader who has been only shown, but not heard, on national television in few engineered video clips rule a byzantine country like Algeria? In the absence of official statements, it will be safe to assume that Bouteflika has been physically diminished and lost some of his functions. As such, his brother Saïd must be running the presidency behind closed doors.Saïd Bouteflika, 57 years old, holds the officials position of special advisor to the president. He has been his “brother’s keeper” since the President’s aneurysm. According to several Algerian activists, some close to the military establishment, Saïd is the brain behind the throne.With Each clan trying to stock key positions with leadership loyalist to its camp hoping to emerge stronger in the new era, some observers view these changes in key security positions as a maneuver by the Bouteflika camp led by Saïd to consolidate power and centralize decision-making at Al-Mouradia (Presidential Palace).The acrimony within the Algerian ruling clans is nothing new. However, the quick and insulting manner in which these high ranking military officials were fired is an ominous sign that the decades long delicate power sharing agreement between the Presidential camp, the Military establishment (i.e. the National Armed Forces or ANP) and the Intelligence agencies (i.e. the Directorate of Intelligence and Security or DRS) is on the verge of collapse.If this is the case, Algeria will inter a turbulent and a dangerous zone that will further jeopardize the security and stability of North Africa and Southern Mediterranean.Algerians have been frustrated with the lack of political and economic reforms. The economy has been beset by slumping oil revenues. The decline in hydrocarbon income will reduce government subsidies which in turn will lead to social upheaval and insecurity.Europe and the United States never voiced concerns that President Bouteflika is too ill to govern. The upheaval in Libya, the deteriorating security situation in Tunisia and the political turmoil in Egypt should serve as a lesson to the West. Yet, Western governments are more interested in Algeria’s oil and gas riches than its political stability.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permissionThe views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
Moscow, Russia – In its end-of-year official report, the Russian Foreign Ministry indicated that Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has made a substantial contribution to resolving conflicts and crises in Mali, Somalia, Sudan and the Central African Republic and many other African countries.Russia also provided targeted humanitarian relief aid to Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cameroon. The report, however, did not state the total amount that was spent on humanitarian aid to Africa in 2015.With regards to health, Russia’s contribution to the international effort to fight the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa (mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) was estimated at around $60 million, according to an international department head of Russia’s health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor. Russia continues participating in the joint effort to create a vaccine against the Ebola virus, which is expected to be ready for mass use in early 2016, the director of the Health Ministry’s department Marina Shevyreva said. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the deadly Ebola virus has killed some 11,300 people in West Africa.Last February, to ease the situation of refugees who have been streaming from neighbouring states into Cameroon, the Russian government delivered provided food aid for refugees amounting to US$ 2.5 million (1.3 billion CFA francs).According to statistics issued by the Cameroon government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, around 300,000 refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic have sought refuge in Cameroon.The Republic of Burundi on May 13 last year saw a coup attempt and as a result threw the country into chaos. Burundi descended into violence after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he was running for a third term. The decision to run for a third term in office was seen by opponents as a contradiction to the constitution. Coup leader General Niyombare is currently on the run. The failure of their coup bid and re-election of Nkurunziza have not stopped the unrest in the country.Over the past years, Russia has played pivotal roles in helping resolve many multi-faceted conflicts on the continent. For instance last September, there was a three-way consultation, the first time within this format, with the participation of Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour and South Sudanese Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Benjamin Barnaba, to utilize the “Moscow platform” to continue the dialogue on the issues that remain in the relations between the two states.The joint meeting made some important decisions by the Sudanese and South Sudanese foreign ministers, above all, regarding the need to implement – to the maximum degree and as soon as possible – all the provisions of the document on the inter-Sudanese settlement that were signed over the past two or three years.Russia welcomed the efforts to stabilize the situation in the Republic of South Sudan, where a conflict has been ongoing since 2013, as well as the signing of a peace agreement between the South Sudanese government and the opposition last August.Russia supported them to continue advocating for a political, diplomatic settlement of all outstanding issues, among other things, by following a corresponding approach at the UN Security Council.Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, meeting separately with the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministers from Rwanda, Congo and Madagascar last year, stressed Russia’s preparedness to boost humanitarian aid to natural and man-made disasters regions as well as continue helping to find lasting solutions to conflicts in Africa.“We agree that various conflicts in Africa require heightened attention of the world community and the UN, primarily in order to support the approaches of Africans who know better than others how to approach complicated issues on their continent,” Lavrov told Rwandan Louise Mushikiwabo during a joint media conference held last October in Moscow.They further shared opinions on the events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the African Great Lakes Region as a whole, the Horn of Africa, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.As always, Russia has agreed on the need to contribute to the subregional organizations on the continent and to continue consolidating the peacemaking potential of the African Union (AU). In addition, Russia regularly provides funds for the annual training of about 80 peacemakers from African countries.“We will help strengthen the peacekeeping potential of African countries in the form of training peacekeepers from African countries and helping them equip their peacekeeping contingents,” Lavrov said in January last year after talks with Burundi Foreign Minister Laurent Kavakure.In all discussions and consultations held throughout 2015, both African and Russian sides have had in-depth exchange of opinions on key issues on the African agenda with a particular focus on easing crisis situations in Africa.Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed at a previous ceremony when receiving credentials from ambassadors of several foreign countries, including diplomats of several African states, that Russia has planned to give all necessary humanitarian assistance to conflict-stricken African countries.
By Zainab CalcuttawalaRabat – Abdi Mohamed, a 17-year-old Muslim boy from Kenya, was hospitalized Saturday night after two Utah police officers shot him in the chest and stomach near a homeless shelter.The shooting happened at 8:15 p.m. when police saw him arguing with a man while holding a broomstick, Fox 13, a local news source reported. After Abdi refused to drop the broomstick upon request, the officers proceeded to shoot him three times in the upper half of his body. Mohammed was one of two suspects in an alleged assault, according to a statement released by the Salt Lake City police department (SLCPD) on Sunday.“On Saturday, February 27, at approximately 8:00 p.m., officers witnessed two males with metal objects attacking a male victim,” the statement reads. “Officers confronted the two suspects and ordered them to drop the weapons. One of the males complied and dropped the weapon, the other continued to advance on the victim and was shot by officers.”In the aftermath of the shooting, 100 officers were dispatched in order to contain crowds who “shouted and threw objects at the police” as a response to the officers’ actions, Fox reported.Selam Mohammed, a friend of the victim who was accompanying him at the time, said the police gave him only one chance to surrender the broom before they began shooting.‘The police said ‘drop it’ once, then they shot him four times,’ Mohammed told Fox. “’We were trying to break it up before the police even came, but the police ran in on foot and pulled their guns out already… not even trying to tase him or anything.”“There is no doubt what happened is a tragedy for all involved and for our entire city,” the Mayor of Salt Lake City, Jackie Biskupski, said in a statement. Biskupski added that she recognizes that this is the third “significant use of force” incident for the city’s police department in the past month.The incident and footage from the two officers’ body cameras are being investigated by the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake. The results of the investigation will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s office for “a final determination on the shooting,” according to the statement by the police.The two officers involved in the shooting are currently on administrative leave, a SLCPD officer told The Guardian.
Paris – The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP22), scheduled for November 7-18 in Marrakech, could be a “decisive moment” in the history of climate governance, writes French daily ‘Le Monde’ in its Sunday issue, noting that “in all likelihood, the entry into force of the Paris climate agreement will take place in Morocco.”The paper, which recalls the fact that the European Union has given green light to ratifying the Paris Agreement, says that one year after the COP21 Summit, the Marrakech Conference could be a decisive moment in the history of climate governance.This hypothesis has gained some traction, especially with the adoption, on Friday, by the Council of European Environment Ministers in Brussels of a draft decision confirming the ratification of the EU of the said agreement, adds the paper, noting that the document also authorizes Member States to individually join the Paris text.
Rabat – After an intense month of consultations, heated debates, and wild speculations, the European and African Unions have finally cleared up the imbroglio about the participation of the so-called Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in their upcoming joint summit.During a joint press conference held November 22 in Brussels, Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini and her African counterpart Moussa Faki Mahamat announced the official participation of the Sahrawi separatist front in the summit, to be held November 29 and 30.For the EU, it was necessary that all countries of the AU be present at the summit in Abidjan, declared Mogherini. Regarding the previous debates on the participation of the self-proclaimed SADR at the event as a “complicated” matter, Mogherini lauded Faki’s “extraordinary capacity in solve the issue.” However, the vice president stressed that this decision “does not change our position on Western Sahara.”Would this mean that the question is definitely settled? At the level of the African Union, “we have solved the problem, and all AU members will take part,” affirmed Faki, while refraining from referring to the Polisario as a “member state.”According to Faki, welcoming the separatist front in the summit is a decision that Morocco has agreed on. “During my meeting with King Mohammed VI in Morocco, we discussed the matter, and I believe that from this point of view the position of the AU is accepted by all of its members,” explained the chairman of the AU Commission.On October, Faki was charged by the AU Executive Council to reach consensus on SADR’s participation in the summit. The chairman then began consultations with the incumbent AU president, Alpha Conde, Ethiopian President Alassane Ouattara, and the European Commission before traveling to Rabat early November, where he was received by King Mohammed VI.But despite contesting the presence of the self-proclaimed SADR, Morocco will attend the summit, represented by King Mohammed VI himself. While the Royal Cabinet had not confirmed the possible displacement, sources revealed to pan-African magazine Jeune Afrique that the kingdom will face Polisario head on this November.According to Le360.ma, King Mohammed VI is currently staying in Gabon, less than an hour and a half flight from Abidjan. The sovereign will also make a three-day work and friendship visit to Côte d’Ivoire starting December 1.