Los Angeles: British actor Keira Knightley says the art of filmmaking interests her but she is not planning to turn to direction anytime soon. The actor also said she likes to be involved in the script writing process. “I don’t know, at the moment with a three year old, no. But maybe further down the line. I’ve worked on a lot of films, I’ve worked with a lot of wonderful directors and I’m really interested in how it’s all put together and I really like working with scripts and storylines. I think there’s certain areas that I’m confident I’d be okay in, and certain areas where I’m not as confident. “The problem is, as an actor what I’m meant to do is completely ignore the camera is there, so it’s taken me so long to completely ignore the camera there that now if you’re thinking about directing you need to be thinking ‘why are you there and what lens are you on’,” Knightley told Collider. The 33-year-old actor will next be seen in James Kent’s new drama The Aftermath.
New Delhi: The Election Commission is learnt to have issued a show cause notice to the Railways and Civil Aviation ministries over the use of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pictures on rail tickets and Air India boarding passes as prima facie it violates the model code of conduct. The code came into force on March 10 when the poll body announced the schedule for the Lok Sabha polls beginning April 11. Sources in the poll panel said prima facie the railways and Air India have violated the model code of conduct, and referred to clause VII of the code which states that “issue of advertisement at the cost of public exchequer … regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided”. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details In a complaint to the EC, the Trinamool Congress had recently claimed that the “…railway tickets issued by the Indian Railways contain achievements of the party in power at the Centre (BJP) with regard to Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and photographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which is being displayed at the cost of public exchequer and obviously to influence minds of the voters.” The display of photograph was part of an Urban Development Ministry advertisement campaign. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday A portion of the back side of tickets is often used for advertising. The railways had last week decided to withdraw the tickets carrying the photographs of the PM, sources in the ministry said. Nearly one lakh such tickets were printed and a few were remaining in the lot. The ministry is likely to reiterate the same position to EC, they said. The railways had said all its 17 zones have been directed against using the tickets carrying the picture of the prime minister. A boarding pass issued by Air India had pictures of PM Modi and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. The airline had said the passes featuring the photographs, which were third-party advertisements, would be withdrawn if they were found to be in violation of the Model Code of Conduct. Former Punjab DGP Shashi Kant on Monday tweeted a photograph of his boarding pass issued at the New Delhi airport, questioning how pictures of the two leaders could be on it. An Air India spokesperson earlier said the boarding passes seemed to be the ones printed during the Vibrant Gujarat Summit held in January and the photographs were part of the advertisement from ‘third parties’.
New York: Us director Jordon Peele is not interested in casting “white dudes” as leads in his films as he believes there are already too many movies focusing on them. The director, who made his debut with Get Out, has once again struck box office gold with Us, about a family terrorised by their doppelgangers. Peele said being a successful director gives him a chance to put minority faces on the screen. “The way I look at it, I get to cast black people in my movies. I feel fortunate to be in this position where I can say to Universal, ‘I want to make a 20 million horror movie with a black family.’ And they say yes,” Peele said while speaking to improv students at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: Priyanka”I don’t see myself casting a white dude as the lead in my movie. Not that I don’t like white dudes, but I’ve seen that movie.” With the success of black directors in Hollywood, Peele said it has brought about a renaissance in storytelling. “It really is one of the best, greatest pieces of this story, is feeling like we are in this time – a renaissance has happened and proved the myths about representation in the industry are false.”
Mumbai/New Delhi: GMR Infrastructure Wednesday said the Tatas along with Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC and another Singaporean fund SSG Capital Management, have picked up around 45 percent stake in its airports arm for Rs 8,000 crore. The deal values GMR Airports at over Rs 17,700 crore and post-deal, the group flagship GMR Infra and subsidiaries will hold around 54 percent in the airport arm, the consortium of new investors will own the close to 45 percent and the remaining will be held by an employees welfare trust. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalOf this, the Tatas will own around 20 percent by investing Rs 3,520 crore (which is around 45 percent stake of the total equity that the consortium will own in GMR Airports), GIC will pump in Rs 2,640 crore for 33 percent share of the diluted equity or 15 percent in GMR Airports and SSG will chip in with Rs 1,760 crore for a 22 percent of the diluted stake or around 10 percent in the company, GMR group told reporters in Mumbai Wednesday. The GMR group operates the country’s largest airport in New Delhi which has an annual capacity of 70 million and the 22-million Hyderabad airport, besides Mactan-Cebu in the Philippines (with 40 percent stake) and Crete in Greece in which it controls a little under 22 percent. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostSignificantly, the Tata group, which also runs the full service airline Vistara in partnership with Singapore Airlines and the low-cost AirAsia India, enters the booming airport business at a time when the Adani group has bagged the mandate to run as many as six government-run airports for a 60 year-period through an last month. As part of this transaction, GMR Infra intends to provide an exit to existing private equity investors who hold 5.8 percent equity stake in the airport arm and most of the proceeds from sale will be used to pare the group debt of Rs 20,000 crore, Saurabh Chawla, executive director finance and strategy at GMR Infra, said. Of the consolidated debt of Rs 20,000-crore, GMR Infra alone has about Rs 6,500 crore in its books, and GMR Airports has around Rs 2,000 crore as of the December 2018 quarter, GMR group chief financial officer Sushil Modi said. Paring of debt will help reduce consolidated finance cost by almost half from Rs 2,000 crore at the end of the last quarter, Modi said. “So, post-transaction, which should be completed in the next two months, consolidated debt would come down to Rs 12,000 crore-Rs 7,000 crore at the group level and Rs 1,000 in GMR Airport,” Modi said, adding helping the group flagship GMR Infra become PAT positive from the next financial year. The new capital of Rs 8,000 crore will consist of Rs 1,000 crore equity infusion into GMR Airports and Rs 7,000 crore towards picking up GMR Airports’ shares from GMR Infra and its subsidiaries by the consortium, Chawla said. The deal is subject to customary regulatory approvals, lenders’ consents and other approvals. The transaction will speed up GMR Infra’s plan to demerge its energy, highways, urban infra and transportation businesses, leading to separation of its airport business and the group will broadly have two main companies-those listed entities under one arm and those unlisted under another arm. “The Tata Group has identified GMR group and GMR Airports as a vehicle for their ambitions in the airports space. They also recognise the huge growth opportunities in the area,” Chawla said, adding aviation is a long-term business that demands investors have patient capital and deep pockets. While after this transaction the group’s holding in airports arm will come down to around 54 percent, Modi said over a period of time promoters’ will increase their stake to 62 percent by buying back a portion of the stake of the consortium to the tune of 8 percent.
Darjeeling: Discontent and confusion has surfaced in GNLF over support to the BJP candidate in the Darjeeling constituency. GNLF leaders in Kalimpong have set a precondition to the BJP in lieu of their support.GNLF steering committee member Maurice Kalikotey and other GNLF leaders held a meeting in this regard on Thursday. Later, while talking to media persons, Kalikotey stated that the leaders were compelled to call a meeting as there was constant pressure from the rank and file of the party, demanding answers behind the sudden support to the BJP. “It was resolved in Thursday’s meeting that if the BJP comes to power in the Centre, they will pass the 6th Schedule Bill in the very first session of the Parliament. This has to be incorporated in the national manifesto (not state or regional). Then only will we support them,” stated Kalikotey. When questioned on the scenario where the BJP fails to do the same, Kalikotey stated that there would be a similar meeting to chart the future course of action. Avoiding questions on whether the GNLF is in for a split, Kalikotey said: “Our late supremo Subash Ghising had made the demand for the inclusion of the Darjeeling Hills in the 6th Schedule. A memorandum of settlement was also signed with the government in 2005. It is our responsibility to ensure that his aspiration is fulfilled. We will go at it irrespective of support from other leaders.” The GNLF president and spokesperson were not available for comment. It may be mentioned that the GNLF has forged an alliance with bête noire Bimal Gurung and his men. Together, they have extended support to the BJP and the NDA. Incidentally, Gurung, who was a close confidant of Subash Ghising, had ousted him and the GNLF form the Hills in 2007 over the 6th Schedule issue. Following political unrest in the Hills in 2017 which culminated in a 105 day long bandh, Gurung, who has been charged in multiple cases, has been absconding.
Nizamabad (Telangana): Turmeric and sorghum farmers in large numbers have pitch-forked into the poll arena and are setting the political narrative in Nizamabad constituency of Telangana, giving a new twist to the re-election campaign of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Raos daughter K Kavitha. The constituency,where these crops are grown in a big way, hit the headlines after about 170 farmers filed nominations for the April 11 Lok Sabha elections in protest, alleging that the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi failed to ensure Minimum Support Price for turmeric and red jowar (sorghum) produce and in getting the Turmeric Board established. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details TRS Rajya Sabha member D Srinivass son D Arvind is contesting from BJP, while AICC Secretary Madhu Yashki Goud is in the fray from Congress in Nizamabad. TRS won eight out of the nine Assembly segments in the Nizamabad Lok Sabha constituency in the 2018 Assembly polls. The sitting MP said despite her repeated representations to the Centre, the NDA Government failed to set up the Board in Nizamabad. “Is it I who gives the Turmeric Board or the NDA government? I request farmers to question BJP leaders on the issue. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday I tried my level best to persuade the centre for the Board,” Kavitha had said at a public meeting. Gangadhar Baddam, a farmer who filed his nomination, said the TRS Government ‘failed’ to deliver on its poll promises such as support price for turmeric and red jowar. He further said despite several agitations, the Government did not heed to the demands and alleged that it even tried to suppress the stirs. He alleged that ruling TRS leaders threatened them with dire consequences if they contested the polls en masse. “We are contesting in the election as a mark of protest. The TRS failed to deliver us the promises it made during the 2014 polls. They promised Turmeric Board for the regions. It could not do it. It also failed to get us the minimum support price for turmeric and red jowar,” Gangadhar said, adding, the villages of all the 170 contestants are supporting their move. TRS leaders from the constituency could not be reached for the partys stand on the allegations. Madhu Goud said he is confident of winning the polls, given his earlier track record of developing the constituency. He was an MP for two terms from 2004 to 2014. “It is my strength first (for winning this election) and secondly the false promises made by Kavitha (of TRS party). The nominations of nearly 200 farmers reflect her failure as an MP. There is video evidence where she said she will not seek votes if she failed to ensure setting up Turmeric Board in the region,” Goud told PTI. He further said she also failed to open units of Nizam Sugar factories that are non-functional in the region for several years. Goud alleged that the TRS and BJP are hand in glove. The sitting TRS Rajya Sabha MP’s son is the BJP candidate here. The Chief Minister’s daughter is contesting on the TRS ticket. What proof do you require, he asked. Arvind said the growing ‘nationalism’ among the people would be one of the keys to success. He is confident of the ‘ground work’ he carried out during the past 18 months in the constituency in nurturing it. “It is majorly Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image, the amount of ground work I carried out and Kavithas failures,” he says, noting her ‘failure’ to get the Turmeric Board established. The constituency has total of 15.53 lakh voters. The Election Commission said polls in Nizamabad would be conducted through paper ballot as there are 185 candidates, a number which is much higher that what the EVMs can accommodate.
Washington DC: NASA’s landmark twins study has revealed surprising and reassuring data about how one human body adapted to — and recovered from — the extreme environment of space, the US space agency said. The Twins Study, which took place from 2015-2016, provides the first integrated biomolecular view into how the human body responds to the spaceflight environment. It serves as a genomic stepping stone to better understand how to maintain crew health during human expeditions to the Moon and Mars, NASA said in a statement. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USRetired NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and his identical twin brother Mark, participated in the investigation, conducted by NASA’s Human Research Program and encompasses work from 10 research teams. Mark provided a baseline for observation on Earth, and Scott provided a comparable test case during the 340 days he spent in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Scott became the first American astronaut to spend nearly a year in space. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls”The Twins Study has been an important step towards understanding epigenetics and gene expression in human spaceflight,” said J D Polk, chief Health and Medical Officer at NASA Headquarters. “Thanks to the twin brothers and a cadre of investigators who worked tirelessly together, the valuable data gathered from the Twins Study has helped inform the need for personalised medicine and its role in keeping astronauts healthy during deep space exploration, as NASA goes forward to the Moon and journeys onward to Mars,” Polk said in a statement. Key results from the NASA Twins Study, published in the journal Science, include findings related to gene expression changes, immune system response, and telomere dynamics. Other changes noted include broken chromosomes rearranging themselves in chromosomal inversions, and a change in cognitive function. Many of the findings are consistent with data collected in previous studies, and other research in progress, NASA said. The telomeres in Scott’s white blood cells, which are biomarkers of ageing at the end of chromosomes, were unexpectedly longer in space then shorter after his return to Earth with average telomere length returning to normal six months later. In contrast, his brother’s telomeres remained stable throughout the entire period, the study found. A second key finding is that Scott’s immune system responded appropriately in space. For example, the flu vaccine administered in space worked exactly as it does on Earth, the US space agency said. A fully functioning immune system during long-duration space missions is critical to protecting astronaut health from opportunistic microbes in the spacecraft environment. A third significant finding, NASA said, is the variability in gene expression, which reflects how a body reacts to its environment and will help inform how gene expression is related to health risks associated with spaceflight. While in space, researchers observed changes in the expression of Scott’s genes, with the majority returning to normal after six months on Earth. However, a small percentage of genes related to the immune system and DNA repair did not return to baseline after his return to Earth. The study identified key genes to target for use in monitoring the health of future astronauts and potentially developing personalised countermeasures.
New Delhi: State-owned ONGC Tuesday said it continues to have strong financial position and sufficient funds to meet current and future capex needs, as it sought to allay concerns over its finances after successive acquisitions and government demands drained out its surplus. From a zero-debt company, Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) had to resort to borrowings in the past couple of years after the government asked it to acquire state-owned refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL), pay record dividend and buy back shares. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: IcraReacting to reports on the company’s ability to meet its capital requirements, ONGC in a statement said,”it has strong financials in place to finance its projects both ongoing as well as upcoming ones.” “The company’s operational plans and expenditure thereon have also been in line with its requirement,” it said. “There is no plan or item of expense that had to be deferred due to paucity of funds/ resources.” ONGC in 2017 bought Gujarat government firm GSPC’s 80 per cent stake in a complex KG Basin gas field for Rs 7,738 crore and in January last year, it acquired the government’s holding in HPCL for Rs 36,915 crore. Also Read – Ashok Leyland stock tanks over 5 pc as co plans to suspend production for up to 15 daysIn the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019, it paid hefty dividend to shareholders and completed a Rs 4,022 crore share buyback. The government was the biggest beneficiary of both dividend payout and share buyback. These acquisitions and payouts to the government have eroded ONGC’s cash reserves, which was about Rs 13,000 crore a couple of years back and has loaded its balance sheet with a debt of about Rs 20,000 crore. Without dwelling into financial numbers, ONGC said, “mergers and acquisitions are business decisions which have been taken by the companies to foster growth and true value accretion from such ventures gets reflected over a period of time. The acquisitions made by ONGC are going to strengthen the company’s growth trajectory.” The statement said ONGC on a standalone basis has “a very conservative debt-equity ratio which compares favourably with global benchmarks.” The rating of the company is also very strong compared with its peers in the industry, it said adding ONGC today is the largest integrated oil company in the country with a strong presence in the entire hydrocarbon value chain. “The company has also been relentlessly striving to strengthen its operations in line with the energy needs of the country. “Relentless efforts on the part of ONGC management are expected to translate into strong performance not only for its upstream business but going by the results of some of the joint ventures in pipeline and petrochemicals, the downstream units are also expected to contribute through their stronger results,” it added.
New Delhi: Afghanistan chief selector Dawlat Khan Ahmadzai Tuesday justified the unexpected sacking of ODI skipper Asghar Afghan ahead of the World Cup, saying the decision was taken looking at the long-term future of the team. The three-member selection panel led by Ahmadzai announced three captains for three formats last month, in a move that led to unrest in the team with star players Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi openly voicing their concerns over the timing of the decision. Also Read – We will push hard for Kabaddi”s inclusion in 2024 Olympics: Rijiju”We realised that we can’t win the World Cup at this moment under Asghar’s captaincy or anyone else who would have been in charge. We made the decision not just thinking about this World Cup, we are thinking about the 2023 edition. “We will be getting 10 matches with full members and we feel it will provide perfect training for the new captain (Gulbadin Naib),” said Ahmadzai, who is a former Afghanistan fast bowler, in response to a PTI query. Also Read – Djokovic to debut against Shapovalov at Shanghai MastersAsked about the need for announcing split captaincy less than two months from the World Cup, the chief selector said: “Like you are expressing your concern to me, there were concerns expressed by the players (Rashid and Nabi) and the entire issue was handled professionally. “They felt it was not the right time to change captaincy but later understood that it was in the best interest of the team.” Asghar was the captain in all formats but now Naib will lead the team in the 50-over World Cup, Rashid in T20s and Rahmat Shah in Tests. Ahmadzai insisted Naib is the right choice to captain Afghanistan in ODIs. “The team members, including Rashid and Nabi, are now happy for Gulbadin. He is not a new man. He has been playing for 17 years and has captaincy experience at the first-class and U-19 level. “Asghar himself has said that Gulbadin is like his younger brother who believes that Asghar’s experience will come in handy in the World Cup. They are a united front now. Changes happen. Sri Lanka also changed their captain,” said Ahmadzai referring to Naib, who has played 52 ODIs and 38 T20 Internationals. On a lighter note, Afghanistan CEO Asadullah Khan, who was sitting alongside the chief selector, said: “M S Dhoni also plays under Virat Kohli.” Leggie Rashid is Afghanistan’s biggest star at the moment, having tasted success in leagues all around the world including the IPL. Asked why he was not chosen to lead the team in the World Cup beginning May 30 in the UK, Ahmadzai said: “Rashid is not ready for all formats but he is ready for T20. He is too busy playing (all around the world).” The team, which made its World Cup debut in 2015, is currently preparing in South Africa. The chief selector said the aim is to make the last-four of the mega event and surprise a few teams.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed a plea seeking direction to the Centre and the Election Commission to debar Congress President Rahul Gandhi from contesting Lok Sabha elections till the issue of his citizenship is decided.A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi rejected the contention of the petitioners, who said that in a form along with the annual data of a UK-based company in 2005-06, it was allegedly mentioned that Rahul Gandhi is a British citizen. “If some company in some form mentions his nationality as British, does he become a British citizen,” the bench also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna told the petitioners. The plea had said that the petitioners were “dissatisfied” with the “inaction” of the Centre and the poll panel in “deciding the question of voluntary acquisition of British citizenship” by Gandhi in spite of a November 2015 communication by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in this regard. See P6
New Delhi: Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Thursday announced it will acquire iconic British toy-maker Hamleys for 67.96 million pounds (around Rs 620 crore) in an all-cash deal. Hamleys, a 259-year-old toy-maker, has struggled to generate profits in recent times. It reported a profit after tax of 2.44 million pounds in 2018 after suffering a loss of 11.24 million pounds in 2017. It is currently owned by Chinese fashion conglomerate C Banner International, which had acquired it for 100 million pounds in 2015. C Banner also owns the Chinese units of marquee consumer retail brands such as Steve Madden and Sundance. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: Icra “Reliance Brands Ltd, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, and C Banner International Holdings, a Hong Kong-listed company, today signed a definitive agreement for Reliance Brands to acquire 100 per cent shares of Hamleys Global Holdings Ltd, the owner of Hamleys brand, from C Banner International,” the company said in a statement. Reliance Brands would acquire 100 per cent equity shares of “Hamleys Global Holdings Limited (HGHL) for a cash consideration of GBP 67.96 million”, RIL said in a BSE filing. Also Read – Ashok Leyland stock tanks over 5 pc as co plans to suspend production for up to 15 days Hamleys started with a single-store shop, Noah’s Ark, in 1760. It now has 167 stores across 18 countries. Besides the UK, it has stores in China, Germany, Russia, India, South Africa and West Asia. Reliance Retail, Ambani’s flagship retailer, already has a pan-India franchise agreement with Hamleys to merchandise its famous toys. This acquisition will catapult Reliance Brands to be a dominant player in the global toy retail industry, the company said in a statement. In India, Reliance has the master franchise for Hamleys and presently operates 88 stores across 29 cities. Reliance Brands President and CEO Darshan Mehta said the worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand and business places Reliance on the front-line of global retail. Personally, it is a dream come true, he added. “Over the last few years, we have built a very significant and profitable business in toy retailing under the Hamleys brand in India. This 250-year-old English toy retailer pioneered the concept of experiential retailing, decades before the concept of creating unique experiences in brick and mortar retailing became the new global norm,” Mehta said. Hamleys was delisted from the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 2003 when it was taken over by Icelandic investment firm Baugur Group for USD 68.8 million. In 2012, it was sold for USD 78.4 million to Groupe Ludendo of France.? Hamleys opened it flagship Regent Street London store in 1881. This flagship store is set over seven floors covering 54,000 sq ft, with over 50,000 lines of toys on sale. It is considered one of London’s prominent tourist attractions, receiving over 5 million visitors each year.
Rabat – The US administration is considering Morocco’s development model as an “exceptional success” in the region, said Morocco’s minister-delegate for foreign affairs and cooperation, Mbarka Bouaida.In an interview with Morocco’s TV channel 2M, Bouaida said the visit paid by King Mohammed VI to the USA last week, has opened new prospects in Morocco-US partnership, recalling that the two countries started last year a strategic dialog process and have agreed to consolidate the Millennium challenge Account, the free-trade agreement and to hold the 2nd conference on development in Rabat in 2014.She also pointed out that the Moroccan and US heads of state have agreed to appoint a high-ranking personality to follow up implementation of all decisions made during their summit meeting. Inter-government and private agreements signed during this visit will lead to concrete results for both Morocco and Africa, she went on.
Paris – The approach of the King Mohammed VI on the African continent which links security issues to development was on the agenda of the Elysée Summit for peace and security in Africa, said, Saturday in Paris, Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar. In a statement to the Moroccan press, Mezouar noted that the resolutions of the Summit took into account the priorities and urgent matters, especially in the security field through the training of specialized response units, noting that there a concrete commitment to support European countries in this field.On the economic front, the minister noted that Africa can no longer be seen as a problematic sphere that needs donations and support, but as an area that needs investment, clear commitments to the development of its resources, and wealth creation. Regarding the issue of climate, emphasis was placed on the need to respect the commitments made to Africa, he said, stressing the importance of supporting the continent, including financial plan to promote renewable energy.The Elysée Summit for peace and security in Africa wrapped up Saturday with the adoption of a final declaration in which participants reaffirmed their commitment to security in Africa.Forty African Heads of State and Government attended the Summit which focused on three main themes, including peace and security, economic partnership and development and climate change.
Rabat – The political barometer TIZI/AVERTY issued its second opinion poll on Tuesday, which noted a significant decrease of approval rating for Mr. Abdelilah Benkirane, Prime Minister of Morocco.The survey included 1,067 Moroccan participants questioned via internet, and it was distributed among 39 cities in Morocco. 35 percent of the respondents were from the Atlantic region (axis Casablanca-Rabat), 18% from the central region of the country, 25% from the North and 25% from the South.According to the Moroccan newspapers Akhbar Alyaoum, the approval rating of the head of the government decreased from 68% in June 2013 to 53% in January 2014, a drop of 15 points in six months, especially in South of Morocco. More specifically, the confidence in Mr. Abdelilah Benkirane has significantly decreased from 63 percent to 11%, and from 50% to 18% in the Atlantic axis (Casablanca-Rabat).This reduction has also been noticeable in the regions of Fes, Meknes and Tadla-Azilal from 48% support to 29% in the last six months.Edited by Zahra El Alami© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed
New York (UN) – The UN Security Council deemed, on Tuesday, that a mutually-acceptable political solution to the artificial dispute over the Moroccan Sahara and a reinforced cooperation within the Arab Maghreb Union will contribute to stability in the Sahel region. Reaching a political solution to the long-running dispute and a reinforced cooperation between the member states of the Arab Maghreb Union will contribute to the stability and security in the Sahel region, said the fifteen member states in resolution 2152, adopted unanimously and extending for one year the MINURSO mandate.This is the second time that the UNSC links the settlement of the artificial conflict to the crisis in the Sahel region. The UN has repeatedly warned against insecurity in the region and activities by terrorist groups which actively recruit to strengthen their presence and armory.
Rabat – Interior minister Mohamed Hassad announced, on Tuesday, the adoption of a joint decision, under the form of a circular, with the higher education ministry, allowing local authorities to enter universities in case of threat to security or public order to protect lives and goods. Speaking at the house of advisors, Hassad underlined that though this decision give the right to intervention to local authorities, the latter are required to work in coordination with university officials to establish an atmosphere of tolerance and quest for knowledge inside colleges.The circular also requires that university presidents and directors to see to it that rules and regulations on access to universities and organizations of activities are respected, he said.He noted the positive interaction and satisfaction of university professors, deans and presidents with that decision which will ensure security within colleges.
Rabat – Moroccan security services arrested 3 people Saturday in the eastern city of Berkane on suspicion of incitement to terrorism via a video published on the internet, the Interior ministry said in a statement.As part of the monitoring of terrorist threats, a video fomenting terrorism entitled “Appearance of Jund Al-Khilafa in the Maghreb Al-Aqsa “was spotted on YouTube, the statement said, adding that three individuals pledged allegiance in this video to “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi” and threatened to commit criminal acts, murders and torture similar to the terrorist acts of “ISIS” terrorists.Investigations of the General Directorate of Territorial Surveillance (DGST) led to the identification of the three individuals in the video. Following their identification, the National Squad of Judicial Police (BNPJ) arrested the suspects Saturday in Berkane, the statement added. Former detainees under counterterrorism law, the suspects planned to go to Libya through Algeria to coordinate with the leaders of “Ansar al Sharia”, before joining ISIS in the Syrian-Iraqi region to receive military and operational training in the prospect of transferring this criminal experience into Morocco, according to the same source.The 3 alleged terrorists will be brought to justice after the completion of the inquiry conducted under the supervision of the competent prosecutor.With MAP
Rabat – Lahcen Haddad, Morocco’s Minister of Tourism, explained the challenges and difficulties facing the tourism sector in the Kingdom.In an interview published in the weekly magazine Tel Quel in its July 10-16 edition, the Tourism Minister explained the slowdown in tourist activity and analyzed the causes leading to a remarkable decline in tourists visiting the Kingdom.When asked about his plans to address the 5.6% decline in tourism revenue, Lahcen Haddad refused to employ terms like “crisis” in the sector. Rather he referred to it as being a temporary slowdown, or “period of turbulence.” The Minister reassured the citizens that the difficulties observed in the first months of 2015 were anticipated in the projections.“The situation is complicated,” said the minister.“We hope to finish the year with a 1 or 2 percent increase against the 10 percent increase previously expected,” he added.On the other hand, the decline of Europe’s purchasing power “affects negatively on traditional tourism in Morocco,” the Minister said.According to the Minister, the number of French and Italian tourists, who constitute the largest number of tourists that visit the Kingdom, dropped significantly.However, despite the general decrease in the number of tourists, Haddad said that the sector “recorded a strong increase of German tourists (+ 18 percent), English (+ 6 percent) and Spain (+ 2 percent) tourists.”Haddad had previously said that the number of tourists traveling to Morocco had fallen in the wake of the terror attacks that targeted Tunisia. He called on tourists all over the world to make a difference between Morocco, the most stable country in North Africa, and other Arab countries.
New York – According to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, approximately 14 percent of children in Morocco suffer from obesity.The WHO conducted a two-year study published on Monday, during which the organization researched over 100 WHO member countries worldwide regarding the dangers of childhood obesity and laid out a set of recommendations for its prevention and treatment.There has been a significant rise in childhood obesity across the world in the last few years, affecting life expectancy, “reaching alarming proportions” and posing “serious challenges” to control of the condition. According to the study, Morocco is ranked among the top countries suffering from this phenomenon with 14 percent of Moroccan children suffering from obesity.Other countries in the MENA region ranked similarly. Algerian and Tunisian children suffering from obesity ranged from 10 to 14.9 percent, while Egyptian children ranked higher, with between 15 and 20 percent of children overweight. The North African country with the highest percentage of obese children was Libya, with over 20 percent of children under five years old overweight.Obesity in Africa has become a major problem, mostly affecting children of wealthy families living in poorer countries, due to cultural views that hold excess body weight in children as a sign of health.“In Africa, the number of children under five years old who are overweight or obese has almost doubled between 1990 and 2014, increasing from 5.4 million to 10.3 million,” the WHO report revealed.According to AFP, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Co-President of the WHO Commission highlighted the alarming results of the study during a press conference on Monday in Geneva.“Overweight and obesity affect the quality of life of a child,” Dr. Nishtar said, adding that “obesity can also have an impact on student achievement”.She went on to add that if these children remain obese as they grow up, the problem poses “major economic and health consequences for them, their families and society as a whole.”The same study noted that 81 percent of adolescents around the world do not exercise enough to get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.According to a 2014 report by the McKinsey Global Institute titled “How the World Could Better Fight Obesity,” obesity is one of the top three social burdens worldwide, costing $2 trillion annually, after smoking and terrorism, which cost $2.1 trillion.McKinsey noted that if obesity continues to grow at its current rate, half of the world’s adult population will be overweight or obese by 2030.Obesity in Morocco is an economic and social problem costing nearly MAD 24 billion per year, nearly 3 percent of the country’s GDP, the study revealed.
Washington – A partnership between Morocco, France and the Principality of Monaco with the aim of ensuring better protection of the Mediterranean Sea against climate changes was announced Thursday in Washington as part of “Our Ocean” conference, held on September 15 to 16.This partnership aims to strengthen the protection of the Mediterranean through the implementation of specific programs, minister delegate for the environment Hakima El Haite told the press.El Haite, who is also the special envoy for the COP22’s mobilization, made this statement at the end of a high-level meeting organized by the Presidency of COP21, and attended by the Ministers of the Environment of several Mediterranean countries, including Turkey, Libya, Malta, Palestine, Italy, Spain and Egypt and the European Union. The minister also said that this partnership was conceived as a “platform for debate” that will help set goals for the Mediterranean Sea and to exchange good practices in terms of protection of the Mediterranean, adding that this sea remains “vulnerable” to climate changes.In her turn, French Segolene Royal, President of COP21, said the partnership will strengthen the fight against pollution, noting that the goal is to set “rules of sustainable development “and to protect the Mediterranean Sea.The third edition of “Our Ocean” conference opened, on Thursday in Washington, with the participation of several countries including Morocco.This conference, initiated by US secretary of state John Kerry in 2014, brings together government officials, scientists, researchers and several NGOs. The event tackles key issues including marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and climate-related impacts on the ocean.With MAP