End of an era as Japan’s beloved Akihito abdicates

first_imgTokyo: Emperor Akihito of Japan formally stepped down Tuesday, the first abdication for 200 years in the world’s oldest monarchy, as his son Naruhito prepared to take the Chrysanthemum Throne and usher in a new imperial era. In the “Room of Pine” in Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, the popular 85-year-old performed the abdication ritual in the presence of the imperial regalia — an ancient sword and sacred jewel that are considered to legitimise an emperor. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange frameworkIn his final speech, Akihito offered his “deepest heartfelt gratitude to the people of Japan” and said he would “pray for the peace and happiness of all the people in Japan and around the world.” Despite near-constant rain in Tokyo, several hundred wellwishers congregated outside the Palace during the historic ceremony attended by around 300 people, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and around a dozen members of the royal family. “I feel overwhelmed emotionally,” said a tearful Yayoi Iwasaki, a 50-year-old bank employee, standing outside the palace. “In the past, enthronements followed the death of emperors and people weren’t sure whether they should be happy and celebrating, but with this transition, I am sure that we can celebrate while welcoming the new era,” she said.last_img read more

Congress has won elections in Delhi more times than it has faced defeat: Sheila

first_imgNEW DELHI: The Congress has won elections in Delhi more times than it has faced defeat, says former chief minister Sheila Dikshit though she does not want to speculate on the number of seats the party will win in the national Capital. She says she will be satisfied only if the party romps home in all seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Delhi but a “clearer picture” on which party is leading in the city will emerge in the next 8-10 days.Eight-one-year-old Dikshit, who is involved in a keen contest in the North East Delhi seat against Delhi BJP chief and sitting MP Manoj Tiwari and AAP candidate Dilip Pandey, has been busy campaigning for the polls. “I never rest during daytime. I am contesting parliamentary elections after a long time but I am used to election campaigning. The most important thing is to reach out to the people,” said Dikshit. Also Read – Odd-Even: CM seeks transport dept’s views on exemption to women, two wheelers, CNG vehiclesDikshit, who opposed an alliance with the AAP, says, “The Congress is an old party. It has always fought on its own in Delhi and won (elections) more often than it lost. But that is the game of politics. So, I felt we should not ally with a party (AAP) which is confined to one area (Delhi).” She justifies her stand saying, “We are contesting in all seven seats. If an alliance had happened, we would have got 2-4 seats only.” Dikshit successfully led the Congress in the 1998, 2003 and 2008 Assembly polls, but the party suffered a rout in the 2013 elections under her. The Congress could not even open its account in the 2014 Lok Sabha and the 2015 Assembly elections. Asked about her rival Tiwari, she says, “I do not even know him.”last_img read more

Delhi reels under intense heat, mercury expected to cross 40 degrees Celsius

first_imgNew Delhi: Delhiites woke up to a hot Wednesday morning, with the maximum temperature expected to cross 40 degrees Celsius. The Safdarjung observatory, recording of which is considered the official figure for the city, said the minimum temperature has settled at 23.6 degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature is expected to hover around 42 degrees Celsius. The relative humidity recorded at 8.30 AM was 39 per cent. The weatherman has predicted mainly clear sky with dusty winds during the day. On Tuesday, the maximum temperature was recorded at 41.2 degree Celsius and the minimum temperature was recorded at 21.8 degree Celsius.last_img read more

UNSC: US Ambassador Highlights Morocco’s Experience in Fighting Violent Extremism

New York – US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power highlighted, on Thursday, efforts made by Morocco to counter violent extremism.Power, who was speaking before the UN Security Council, underlined that Morocco is striving to spread a moderate Islam to face violent extremist ideologies.Morocco is striving to face extremist ideologies through the values of respect and dignity, while preaching a moderate interpretation of Islam, said Power during a debate on “the role of youth to fight violent extremism”. The debate, chaired by Crown Prince of Jordan Hussein Abdullah whose country assumes the rotating presidency of the UN body for April, was attended mainly by UNSG Ban Ki-Moon. read more

Casablanca Orders 50 Citadis Trams for Line 2 Project

Taroudant – Casablanca Transports reportedly signed a 100 million euro contract with the French multinational company Alstom to buy 50 Citadis trams, power supplies, and signaling for Line 2 of the Casablanca tramway project underway.Alstom, which holds interests in the electricity generation and rail transport markets, supplied the initial fleet of 74 Citadis trams for Casablanca first Line 1 which opened in 2012.The construction of the second line of Casablanca tramway was launched early this month, with opening expected in late 2018. The second line (T2) will run from Ain Diab to Ain Sebaa railway station via the El Fida and Derb Sultan districts.“This line should serve Hermitage, Mers Sultan, Al Fida, Derb Kabir, Hay Al Amal, Hay Al Farah, Hay Tissir, Hay Jamal, Laayoune, Hay Massira, Hay Mohammadi, Dar Lamane, El Badr El Bassma and Ain Sbaa,” announced the deputy project owner of Casa Transports.According to Railway Gazette, “the design will be similar to that of the existing fleet, which consists of 32 meter long trams operating in pairs with a capacity of 606 passengers per coupled pair.”“The trams are to be designed at Alstom’s Saint-Ouen site and manufactured in La Rochelle, with bogies coming from Le Creusot, traction equipment from Ornans and Sesto, onboard electronics from Villeurbanne, and circuit breaker cabinets from Tarbes,” the same source added.France through its “Réserve Pays Émergents” fund financed 65% of the order while the remaining 35% should be paid by the Moroccan state. read more

Video: Barcelona Fans Lash out at Ronaldo, Tell Him ‘Go to…

Rabat – Barcelona’s fans directed homophobic and racist statements toward Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo during the El Clasico game with Barcelona.In a video posted on YouTube, the crowd were heard chanting “Vete a Marruecos,” or “Go to Morocco,” in reference to the player’s regular visits to Morocco.The Portuguese superstar was subjected to insults and offensive gestures throughout the game by Barcelona’s fans. Some Barcelona fans were even caught on video giving the finger to Ronaldo while he performed his famous jump after he scored the goal which won the game in favor of Real Madrid.Spanish media reported that the Barcelona crowd had singled out the Portuguese player with abusive homophobic slurs throughout the game, chanting at Ronaldo the word “maricion,” a derogatory term used to describe a gay man.In response to these “homophobic” abuses, the Spanish Observatory, a gay rights group, has filed a complaint with the State Commission against violence in sport in Spain.Director Francisco Ramirez hopes that the vile chants will be punished via legal action, and stressed that the homophobic abuse was unacceptable regardless of Ronaldo’s sexual orientation.Amid speculation about Ronaldo’s alleged homosexual relationship with Moroccan kickboxer Badr Hari, the president of King Mohammed VI’s Fans Association Mehdi Benkirane revealed the purpose behind Ronaldo’s frequent trips to Morocco.According to the same source, Ronaldo is said to be planning to build a first-class African hotel for international celebrities in Marrakech.“After a thorough investigation, as an expert and a manager of several national and international celebrities, I concluded that Ronaldo comes to Morocco neither to visit Badr Hari nor any other prominent celebrity — He comes for the sake of his investments in the kingdom,” Benkirane said. read more

Malmo Shooting Draws Attention to “Major Crisis” in Sweden

Rabat – Three people were shot, one killed when gunmen opened fire on a car in Malmo, Sweden, police said.The shooting happened in a residential neighborhood Sunday night adding to the growing concern about gun violence in Sweden’s third largest city. There are over 8,100 Moroccans living in Malmo.The identities nor conditions of the other three injured victims were not readily known. It is reported that several gunmen on scooters opened fire on the victims who were in a car. The gunmen then fled the scene.One Malmo resident, Samiuddin Ahmadi, told broadcaster SVT that two stray bullets entered his apartment, narrowly missing his son, reported Fox News World.Like Sweden’s other major cities, Malmo has seen a rise in gun violence in the past decade, often connected to feuds between rival gangs.Malmo gained infamy for its “no-go zones” in which refugees and immigrants, mostly from Muslim countries, have made it nearly impossible for Swedish police and firefighters to operate. These public safety departments basically have no jurisdiction to control neighborhoods. When police arrived residents throw rocks and make their duties almost impossible.Last month, more than 70 cars were set on fire by arsonists over several days in Malmo. The police managed to arrest only one suspect while investigating those attacks, reported Rt.comThere are now 55 identified areas in several Swedish cities where the police have significant problems in tackling crime. There were only 50 “no-go zones” in February providing evidence that the negative reaction by refugees to police and firefighters is increasing.“We have a major crisis. Many colleagues are choosing to quit,” police officer Peter Larsson told the Norwegian broadcaster NRK. “A drastically worsened working environment means many colleagues are now looking for other work.”Sweden by far has the most liberal laws regarding refugee relocation in the European Union. The Scandinavian country receive more refugees per capita than any other European country.In 2015, 163,000 refugees applied for asylum in Sweden. Syrians accounted for 51,00, Afghanistan 41,000 and Iraq 20,000, the rest are also from predominantly Muslim nations. Sixteen percent of Sweden’s population – or 1.6 Million people — were born in another country.The shooting in Malmo came two hours before reports began circulating of an explosion in Heleneholm, a kilometer away from the scene of the shooting, The Express reported.It is not yet known if the two incidents are linked. read more

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Oslo – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has been awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to end decades of war with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said Friday.“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end,” the committee said in a statement.It added: “The award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process. This tribute is paid, not least, to the representatives of the countless victims of the civil war.” Santos’ administration spent four years negotiating a deal with the former guerrilla group FARC that would have ended five decades of war.The 2015 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet for its contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the 2011 Jasmine Revolution. read more

Francophonie Summit Calls on Palestinians, Israelis to Resume Direct Negotiations

Rabat – The 16th Summit of Heads of State and Government of Francophonie, which wrapped up Sunday in Antananarivo, called on Palestinians and Israelis to resume direct negotiations.“We call on the Palestinian and Israeli parties to resume direct negotiations to reach a two-state solution, Israel and a viable and geographically contiguous Palestinian State,” said the final declaration of the Summit, held on November 26-27 under the theme “Shared Growth and Responsible Development: Conditions for Stability Around the World and within the Francophone.”In this respect, the Heads of State and Government welcomed the forthcoming organization by France of an international conference on the peace process in the Middle East, expressing their support for the international efforts that contribute in seeking a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. This process should allow the existence of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security, within secure and internationally recognized borders, the same source added.According to the document, the solution should be based on Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515, the terms of the Madrid Conference, the Quartet Roadmap and the Arab Peace Initiative as adopted in the Beirut Summit. read more

Muslim Surgeon Who Treated Manchester Bomb Victims Stabbed in ‘Hate Crime’

Rabat – Syrian-Jordanian surgeon Nasser Kurdy, who volunteered to treat the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing, was stabbed from behind with a knife on September 24 while walking to a mosque.After the attack, Kurdy was taken to Wythenshawe Hospital, where he works as a consultant orthopedic surgeon, and received treatment for the three-centimeter wound on the back of his neck.“God was merciful to me yesterday. It could be a nerve, an artery, a vein, the gullet. The neck is the contact between the body and your head, but fortunately it was just the muscle,” the 58-year-old Muslim surgeon told British newspaper The Independent. Police confirmed that they had arrested Anthony Rook, a 28-year-old homeless man, as a suspect and are treating the offence as a hate crime.Rook has been charged with assault and possession of a lethal weapon and is due to appear at Manchester City Magistrates Court, Greater Manchester Police said.Kurdy indicated that he couldn’t exactly recall what the attacker told him, but was in “no doubt” the attack occurred because he was entering a mosque. Nevertheless, the surgeon forgave the attacker.“He is not representative of what this country stands for,” he said. “I have absolutely no anger or hate or anything negative towards him. I have declared it. I have totally forgiven him. He could be a marginalized person within his own community.”He continued to say that “people need to know there are Muslims like myself. I’ve worked hard, I’m a surgeon, I treat people. I have a wonderful community. My colleagues at work respect me and value my contribution. I’m sure people don’t get to see that, all they get to see is those crackpots.” read more

Catalonia’s President Sued for ‘Rebellion’ Against Spain, Risks 30 Years in…

Rabat – Spain‘s public prosecutor’s office will begin legal proceedings against Catalan President Carles Puigdemont next week for “rebellion,” said a spokesman for the public prosecutor, after the Catalan Parliament declared its independence this Friday, reports the AFP.“The prosecution will file a complaint next week for rebellion against Carles Puigdemont,” an offense punishable by a prison term of up to 30 years, the spokesman told the AFP, adding that this procedure could “perhaps be extended to the rest of the Catalan government and the office of presidents” of the Catalan assembly.The resolution proclaiming Catalonia an “independent state taking the form of a republic” was approved Friday afternoon by 70 votes out of 135. The parliament member who opposed independence left the hemicycle and for the most part boycotted the ballot. Puigdemont then announced that the Catalan parliament’s decision was “legitimate,” assuring that he had received a “validated mandate from the ballot box.” Soon after the news broke out, Spain’s senate gave Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy unprecedented powers to impose direct rule on the region.Rajoy is expected to start dissolving the Catalan government by firing President Puigdemont.On October 22, Rajoy revealed his plans to impose direct rule on the region. He also promised to fire elected leaders, including Puigdemont. After his announcement, over half a million Catalans took to Barcelona’s streets to protest the announced measures.Puigdemont described Rajoy’s plans as the “worst attacks against the people of Catalonia since General Franco’s dictatorship.” Puigdemont was alluding to a time during the Civil War (1936-1939) in which the military dictator Francisco Franco dissolved Catalonia’s autonomy for resisting his rule.Puigdemont also accused the Spanish government of attempting to “eliminate the Catalan self-government and its democracy.” read more

Greek Anarchist Group Attacks Saudi Arabian Embassy in Athens

By Sana ElouaziRabat – Members of the Greek anarchist group Rouvikonas reportedly targeted the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Athens in the early hours of Thursday, to protest against Riyadh’s involvement in the Yemeni Civil War. A video footage recorded by the group featured at least six assaillants wearing motorcycle helmets throwing projectiles and paint at the fences of the embassy . “At about 0400 GMT, a few people caused damage to the outside of the embassy… They threw some paint,” a police source told AFP, adding that “an investigation was underway.”In  a statement, the group claimed responsibility for the attack and said that it was in response to Saudi Arabia’s brutal regime and its involvement in the conflict in Yemen.“What ISIS has been doing, which rightly caused global revulsion, has been happening in Saudi Arabia for decades, in broad daylight, and it is accepted by the ‘civilized’ world,” the statement said.“Adulteresses are beheaded in the middle of street, thieves are amputated in front of howling crowds, women are totally subjugated, dissidents and gays disappear and are executed.”Rouvikonas also lambasted the leftist Greek government of Alexis Tsipras for its attempt to sell Greek army tank shells to Saudi Arabia earlier this week.Since their emergence in 2015, members of Rouvikonas have claimed dozens of acts of vandalism and assaults against state offices, financial agencies, media organizations, and politicians, mainly in Athens, causing damage to property but so far without injury.In July 2016, they threw paint at the front entrance of the Turkish Embassy in central Athens following the failed coup that resulted in a government crackdown with arrests of military personnel, members of academia, and political opponents of the Turkish government.In October 2017, the group also broke into the Spanish embassy, distributing leaflets in which they denounced the “repression” of Catalan population. read more

Morocco 2026 Campaigns in Central Asia

Rabat – Morocco is more than ever decided to hold the 2026 World Cup. After campaigning in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, Morocco 2026’s organizing committee is setting its sight on Central Asia, with the aim of convincing that part of the world that the kingdom’s bid is the more deserving one in this 2026 scramble.As the defining hour for the vote approaches, the fierce competition to win the hearts and minds of the FIFA community is nowhere near its end. According to recent reports, an important Moroccan delegation has paid a working visit to Kazakhstan, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. Moroccan officials spoke to their central Asian counterparts in terms of lending their support and vote to the North African country’s bid.The delegation was headed by Morocco’s ambassador to Russia and convened other Moroccan diplomats who, armed with their knowledge of the diplomatic world, are now engaged in campaigns aimed at persuading their counterparts of the merits and potentials of Morocco’s bid. This Central Asian episode is said to be an important step in the country’s global plan to counter United 2026’s—USA/Canada/Mexico—recent orchestrated campaign to disparage Morocco’s organizational capacities as well as its financial, socio-cultural, and a score of other assets related to the hosting of the FIFA World-Cup.And while the North American trio is showcasing its huge stadiums and ‘formidable’ infrastructures, Morocco is reported to be campaigning in terms of “smart” and compelling  efforts that foreground the historical, touristic, and socio-cultural “marvels” that the country “can offer” to the many fans and teams who will be visiting during the 2026 edition. read more

Gas driller backs off demand to have man thrown in jail

MONTROSE, Pa. — A gas driller has backed off its demand to have a Pennsylvania homeowner thrown in jail after he agreed to talk to the company’s lawyers next month.Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. claims Dimock resident Ray Kemble and his former lawyers tried to extort the company through a frivolous federal lawsuit. Cabot also claims Kemble violated a 2012 settlement agreement by speaking ill about the company. Cabot is suing the law firm and Kemble for $5 million.Kemble and others have accused Cabot of polluting their water supplies. Cabot denies that.The company sought jail time for Kemble after he didn’t show up for a deposition. Kemble appeared in court using a walker Monday. He says he is unable to sit for long periods after cancer surgery. Cabot agreed to give Kemble time to recover.Michael Rubinkam, The Associated Press read more

Trump Underestimates Sahara: Just ‘Build a Wall!’ to Block Migrants

Rabat – Amid increasing migratory pressure on Spain, Donald Trump gave Spain his opinion on how to curb undocumented movements.Trump suggested that the Spanish government should follow his policies regarding migration and build a wall across the Sahara desert.Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell shared Trump’s suggestion at a lunch event in Madrid earlier this week, according to the Guardian. When Borrell argued that the Sahara stretched for 3,000 miles, Trump responded, “The Sahara border can’t be bigger than our border with Mexico.”Trump and his wall promise has sparked a concern since his US election campaign in 2016.Trump vowed that he would build a “big beautiful wall” across the US-Mexico border, which is 2,000 miles long.In June, Trump received international backlash when the US government separated migrating children from parents, some asylum seekers after crossing the border. Some parents were sent to jail while their children were held in foster care as “unaccompanied minors.”The border issue was also a concern in the United 2026 World Cup joint bid between the US, Canada, and Mexico.Fans and international media wondered how the US would manage the issue of borders as a host of the 2026 World Cup.The Spanish government has not yet commented on  Trump’s suggestion, but, a spokesman for the foreign ministry confirmed the foreign minister’s remarks about the conversation, but said, “We won’t be making any further comment on the minister’s remarks.”In recent months, Spain has been complaining about the surge of undocumented migrants who take hazardous journeys to reach the Eldorado.A report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) shows that 77,555 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2018. Out of those, 33,611 came through Spain.The report shows Spain as the leading destination for migration in 2018.Spain has outpaced, according to the report, Italy and Greec, with over 43 percent of all undocumented migrations from the Mediterranean in 2018. read more

King Mohammed VI Receives Akhannouch to Examine Agricultural Employment

Rabat – King Mohammed VI has received Minister of Agriculture Aziz Akhannouch to discuss agricultural employment in rural areas especially for youth.The King received Akhannouch Friday at the Royal Palace in Marrakech.“During the reception, His Majesty renewed his hopes and ambitions for rural areas by creating new activities that generate employment and income opportunities, especially for young people,” the Royal Cabinet said in a statement. “This can be done through broadening the scope of agricultural investment to all categories, while promoting the emergence of an agricultural middle class and making agricultural land more accessible to productive investment by gradually providing an additional one million hectares of collective land to the beneficiaries,” added the statement.In his speech at the opening of Parliament for the new legislative year, the King emphasized the importance of using communal agricultural land (sulaliyat) for investment projects. It would “serve as a powerful lever for improved economic and social conditions, especially for rights holders.”“This should make it possible to secure at least one million additional hectares of this land,” the King said.King Mohammed VI stressed the need to boost agricultural employment to improve living conditions and consolidate stability in rural areas.King Mohammed VI believes that providing employment for youth in rural areas, especially the rural middle class, could serve “as a lever” for the country’s economic and social development, in the same way as the middle class does in the city.Following the King’s instructions, Minister Akhannouch announced on October 15 the government will distribute 1 million hectares of land to small farmers to develop Morocco’s rural areas.Akhannouch described the initiative as a “takeoff for the rural world” in Morocco.According to the Royal Cabinet’s statement Friday, the monarch reaffirmed the importance of integrating labor issues, reducing disparities, fighting poverty, and rural emigration into the priorities of the agricultural development strategy.King Mohammed VI instructed the minister of agriculture to submit a strategic and comprehensive reflection on the development of the agricultural sector. read more

Barclays sets aside millions to deal with Brexit uncertainty

LONDON — British bank Barclays says it set aside 150 million pounds ($196 million) to deal with economic uncertainty as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.The bank said Thursday that bad loans in its credit card and corporate lending businesses may increase amid “anticipated economic uncertainty in the U.K.” Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29, ending more than 40 years of free trade with the bloc.The comments came as Barclays said recent restructuring efforts delivered “improved performance across the group” last year.Barclays says fourth-quarter pretax profit jumped to 374 million pounds from 93 million pounds a year earlier as it cut costs and set aside less money to cover past misdeeds. The bank’s net loss shrank to 76 million pounds from 1.29 billion pounds.The Associated Press read more

Bourbon Street battle: Jumbo beer seller sues over trademark

NEW ORLEANS — It’s a Bourbon Street battle of jumbo beers, just before Mardi Gras’ climactic weekend: Huge Ass Beers vs. Giant Ass Beer.The New Orleans Advocate reports that the Huge Ass Beers creator is suing another string of bars and clubs on the famous New Orleans street for marketing a rival draft beer pour as Giant Ass Beer.The lawsuit filed Tuesday in New Orleans federal court alleges trademark infringement and seeks a restraining order barring the sale of Giant Ass Beer, as well as damages.An attorney for the owner of the three businesses that sell Huge Ass Beers’ plus-sized pours says his client has no comment.Representatives of the operators of the businesses that sell Giant Ass Beer didn’t immediately respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.___Information from: The New Orleans Advocate, http://www.neworleansadvocate.comThe Associated Press read more

Business Highlights

___Boeing to make safety feature standard on troubled Max jetsBoeing will make standard on its troubled new airliner a safety feature that might have helped the crew of a jet that crashed shortly after takeoff last year in Indonesia. The equipment alerts pilots of faulty information from key sensors. It will now be included on every 737 Max as part of safety improvements. That’s according to a person familiar with the changes. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Boeing and federal regulators are still discussing details of the upgrade.___Consumers should soon see benefit of Fed’s patience on ratesNEW YORK (AP) — It was only a few months ago that interest rates were marching higher and bearing down on everyone from home buyers to stock investors. But rates began easing early this year after the Federal Reserve opened the door to a slower pace of rate increases. On Wednesday, the Fed surprised the market when it said it may not raise rates at all during 2019. The impact should soon filter out to consumers across the economy, and the effects will likely reverberate for a while.___Facebook left millions of passwords readable by employeesSAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook acknowledges that it stored millions of user passwords for years in a readable format that its employees could access. The social media company disclosed that it didn’t encrypt the passwords after a security researcher posted about the issue online. Facebook says there is no evidence its employees abused access to the data. The company says the passwords were stored on internal company servers and no outsiders could access them.___Top US general to meet with Google on China security worriesWASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. military officer plans to meet with Google representatives next week amid growing concerns that American companies doing business in China are helping its military gain ground on the U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford says efforts like Google’s artificial intelligence venture in China allow the Chinese military to access and take advantage of U.S.-developed technology.___One more time: Levi Strauss goes public againNEW YORK (AP) — Levi Strauss & Co., which gave America its first pair of blue jeans, has gone public for the second time. The stock is listed under the ticker “LEVI” and opened for trading on Thursday up 31 per cent. The 166-year-old company previously went public in 1971, but the namesake founder’s descendants took it private again in 1985. The latest IPO comes as the iconic brand is staging a comeback under its CEO Chip Bergh even as it faces increasing competition and a changing retail landscape.___Grudgingly, Europe says Brexit delay is still possibleBRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders are grudgingly leaning toward giving the United Kingdom even more time to ease itself out of the bloc. But they warn that if Britain’s Parliament spurns the offer, a chaotic exit from the bloc is just over a week away.___US average mortgage rates fall; 30-year at 4.28 per centWASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, giving an incentive to potential buyers as the spring homebuying season opens. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage declined to 4.28 per cent from 4.31 per cent the previous week.___MillerCoors sues Anheuser-Busch over corn syrup adsMILWAUKEE (AP) — MillerCoors has filed a lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch, saying its St. Louis-based rival wants to “frighten” people away from Miller Lite and Coors Light by claiming those beers have corn syrup. The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Wisconsin federal court but the feud between the country’s two largest brewers began when Anheuser-Busch aired commercials making the corn syrup claim during this year’s Super Bowl. Corn syrup is a fermentation aid used by several brewers.___You dumped cable? Comcast hopes to reel you back inNEW YORK (AP0 — Comcast is launching an aggregated bundle of existing streaming-TV apps for $5 a month. The new service, “Flex,” brings together apps customers already pay for, like Netflix, Amazon’s Prime video or HBO, and free services like YouTube, Pluto and Tubi, and lets them search for TV shows and movies across the different services. All these apps are already available through a Roku or other platforms. Comcast hopes customers will pay for its version, which comes with a 4K HDR box and a voice remote.___S&P 500 ends 2-day losing streak as tech leads stocks higherNEW YORK (AP) — Technology companies powered a broad rally for U.S. stocks Thursday, snapping the market’s two-day losing streak. Apple and chipmakers led the wave of buying, helping to drive the technology sector to an overall gain of 2.5 per cent. Retailers and industrial companies also notched solid gains, offsetting losses in banks. Levi Strauss soared as the jeans maker went public for the second time. The latest gains come a day after the Fed said no longer expects to raise interest rates this year.___The S&P 500 index rose 30.65 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 2,854.88. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 216.84 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 25,962.51. The Nasdaq composite, which his heavily weighted with technology stocks, climbed 109.99 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 7,838.96. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 19.25 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 1,562.41.The Associated Press read more

Paris Denounces Ramadan’s ‘Insulting’ Presence at Gender Violence Event

Rabat – The prominent Islamic scholar and television commentator Tariq Ramadan, 56, surprised a Paris suburb municipal conference on “Combating Daily Violence against Women” when he showed up uninvited.Ramadan’s presence irritated attendees and organizers of the event. The municipality of Saint-Denis released a statement noting, “Neither the municipality nor the participants has invited Ramadan nor wished his presence.” The organizer of the event, Madjid Messaoudene, confirmed in a tweet that Ramadan had not been invited. French prosecutors indicted Tariq Ramadan on three charges of sexual assault of women in February 2018. Ramadan refused to leave the conference, even after being asked, according to the municipality. Ramadan’s refusal to leave was an “insult to the people shocked at his attendance,” the statement read.Attendees instead left in protest of the scholar’s “provocative” and “ignoble” presence.The municipality of Saint-Denis asserted, “The presence of Tariq Ramadan at the conference is unacceptable and indecent.” The municipality stressed that it was unjustifiable that a debate on such an important issue be “pestered” and “hijacked” by Ramadan’s provocative presence. Le Figaro journalist Fatiha Agag-Boudjahlat described Ramadan as a religious hypocrite, arguing that his presence was in itself violence against women.French authorities arrested Tariq Ramadan early in 2018 on allegations of sexual assault and rape. He was placed in solitary confinement and, according to his lawyers, denied medical care for his multiple sclerosis. Ramadan faces five rape charges. In October 2017, two women brought charges of rape against Ramadan over incidents in 2009 and 2012. A third women stepped forward and accused Ramadan of rape later. Ramadan acknowledged having relations with the woman but argued it was consensual. The case was dismissed.Ramadan served up to 10 months in jail during the investigation into the series of allegations against him. The French judiciary released Ramadan on a $340,000 bail in November 2018. Ramadan’s case drew a number of sympathizers globally. Thousands have signed a petition demanding Ramadan’s release, including American intellectual Noam Chomsky, Islamic scholar Amina Wadud, British journalist Peter Oborne, and Leila Ahmed of Harvard University. A French court denied Ramadan’s request for dismissal of the charges in July 2018.According to Ramadan’s supporters, the French justice system treated him differently from others with similar charges because he is Muslim.Read also: US Report Lists Violence on Women, Corruption As Concerns in Morocco read more