National Bank to build new head office building in downtown Montreal

first_imgMONTREAL – National Bank announced plans to build a new head office in downtown Montreal.The bank says its new headquarters will be at the corner of St-Jacques St. and Robert-Bourassa Blvd.It says the building concept will be finalized over the coming months through an architectural competition.The use of materials and services from Quebec and Canadian clients of the bank will be preferred in all facets of construction.The bank plans to be the sole occupant of the new building with a planned occupancy date of 2022.National Bank says the tower currently housing its head office will be put up for sale shortly with proceeds going to the future construction.Companies in this story: (TSX:NA)last_img

Aid group Ships not willing to save Mediterranean migrants

first_imgROME – Migrants in distress at sea have told their rescuers that several ships passed them by without offering assistance, a European aid group said Sunday while seeking safe harbour for a rescue vessel with 141 migrants aboard.SOS Mediterranee in a statement said that due to the recent refusal of Italy and Malta to let rescue vessels carrying migrants dock, ships might be now unwilling to get involved fearing they will be stranded with migrants aboard and denied a port to disembark them.On Friday the group’s chartered ship Aquarius, which it operates in partnership with Doctors Without Borders, rescued 141 people in waters off Libya. Of these, 25 were found adrift on a small wooden boat that had no motor and was believed to have been at sea for about 35 hours, the group said. The other 116 people, including 67 unaccompanied minors, were rescued later that day, it said.Nearly three-quarters of those rescued originate from Somalia and Eritrea. Many migrants recounted how they were “held in inhumane conditions in Libya,” where human traffickers are based, the aid group aid.It added that Libya’s rescue co-ordination authorities wouldn’t provide the Aquarius with “a place of safety” and asked it to request safe harbour from another country’s authorities.The Aquarius was sailing north in the Mediterranean Sunday in hopes of receiving docking permission from another country.SOS Mediterranee said that “in a disturbing development, rescued people on board told out teams they encountered five different ships which did not offer them assistance before they were rescued by Aquarius.”Aboard Aquarius is Doctors Without Borders project co-ordinator, Aloys Vimard, who elaborated.“It seems the very principle of rendering assistance to persons in distress at sea is now at stake. Ships might be unwilling to respond to those in distress due to the high risk of being stranded and denied a place of safety,” the statement quoted Vimard as saying.SOS Mediterranee said many of those aboard were extremely week and malnourished. Those rescued in recent years have said they receive scanty rations while kept in Libya to await the opportunity to leave on human smugglers’ unseaworthy boats.“What is of utmost importance is that the survivors are brought to a place of safety without delay, where their basic needs can be met and where they can be protected from abuse,” the group quoted Nick Romaniuk, its search and rescue co-ordinator as saying.In June, Aquarius was forced to sail north for days with more than 600 migrants to Spain after Italy and Malta refused it docking permission. Since then, other private rescue vessels have had to wait for days until some country agreed to let migrants disembark.Italy’s new populist government has vowed that no more private aid ships will bring migrants to Italian shores.Although arrivals in Italy of rescued migrants smuggled from Libya have sharply dropped off this year compared to previous years, some 600,000 reached Italian ports in the last few years. Italy demands fellow European Union countries take the asylum-seekers from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.The tiny EU island nation of Malta says it can’t handle large numbers of migrants.Cargo and other commercial vessels often have plucked migrants to safety from deflating rubber dinghies and rickety wooden boats. But with Italy’s crackdown, commercial ships risk being blocked for days at sea, unable to carry out their business. Recently a support ship for an offshore oil platform was left in limbo for days after rescuing migrants.SOS Mediterranee said the Libya rescue co-ordinationcentre didn’t inform it about migrant boats in distress despite knowing the Aquarius was nearby.“It was extremely fortunate that we spotted these boats in distress ourselves” on Friday, the group said.Frances D’Emilio is on twitter at www.twitter.com/fdemiliolast_img read more

Senate backs 854B bill to fund health education military

first_imgWASHINGTON – The Senate approved an $854 billion measure Thursday that funds much of the government, including $675 billion for the Defence Department.The bill combines military spending with disbursements for Health and Human Services, Education, Labor and other agencies.The bill was approved, 85-7, and now heads to the House.With the vote, the Senate has passed nine of the 12 mandatory spending bills for the budget year that begins Oct. 1. That’s a marked departure from recent years, when individual spending measures were routinely ignored in favour of giant spending packages that fund the entire government.The Senate had not passed a labour/health spending bill in more than a decade.The bill boosts military pay by 2.6 per cent and the National Institutes of Health by 5 per cent.Republicans cited defence spending in urging support for the measure, which accounts for about two-thirds of federal spending for the 2019 budget year. The 2.6 per cent military pay raise is the largest in nearly a decade.The 5 per cent boost for NIH is the fourth straight significant increase for the biomedical research agency. The measure would hike spending for Alzheimer’s research to more than $2.3 billion, essentially quadrupling spending levels from four years ago on a disease that requires hundreds of billions of dollars for dementia-related care.Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on labour and health, said that if the United States does not find a solution to the disease by 2050, “we will be spending about twice today’s defence budget on Alzheimer’s care.”The bill also would provide a $145 million increase for treatment of opioid addiction, bringing spending to $3.7 billion to confront what lawmakers called an epidemic of abuse.It would also boost spending for the Head Start preschool program and increase maximum Pell Grants for college education.Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the vote “shows what the Senate can do working together. We all know it’s not easy, but it works.”Some conservatives criticized Republicans for going along with Democratic demands for increases in non-defence spending that match the increase in defence spending. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank , said the bill “continues to fund wasteful and ineffective programs that should be curtailed or eliminated entirely” and omits several policy riders important to conservatives.Senate leaders from both parties have agreed to avoid attaching so-called poison pill proposals to spending legislation to ensure passage.The Senate rejected an amendment sponsored by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul to block taxpayer dollars from going to Planned Parenthood and other groups that perform abortions. Paul said the amendment offered Republicans who “profess pro-life values” a chance “to turn our words into action, stand up for the sanctity of life and speak out for the most innocent among us that have no voice.”Only 45 senators voted in favour of the proposal.Senate leaders also blocked an amendment by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that would have allowed the Senate to intervene in a Texas lawsuit that could upend health-care protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions. The Trump administration has said it will no longer defend key parts of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act in court.“What’s happening today in the Senate is disgusting,” Manchin said after the amendment was blocked. He said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “chose to play politics with the health care of millions of Americans,” including about 1.8 million people with pre-existing conditions in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky.“This is not a Democratic or Republican issue, this is life or death to many,” Manchin said.Manchin’s election opponent, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey, has joined states challenging the health care law.The House has approved a $675 billion spending bill for the Defence Department, but has not voted on a spending measure for labour, health and education. Senators from both parties have said they want to keep the two measures attached.__Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this story.last_img read more

Mnuchin says markets negative reaction to Fed overblown

first_imgWASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says that the negative market reaction following the Federal Reserve’s rate hike this week was “completely overblown.”Mnuchin says the market overreacted, with computerized program trading taking over and driving stock prices down further. In a Fox Business interview Thursday, Mnuchin says that he believed markets were disappointed in Powell’s comments at a news conference following the meeting.The Fed boosted its key policy rate for a fourth time this year but lowered its projections for further rate hikes from three to just two. However, this failed to calm investors’ concerns that the central bank is not taking into account warning signs that the economy is slowing.Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Presslast_img

Driving licences vehicle RCs to come in card format only

first_imgNew Delhi: Going paperless, driving licences and vehicle registration certificates will now be issued as plastic cards in a standard format across the country. The option of providing a paper or booklet-based driving licence or registration certificate has been done away with, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said on Thursday. Under the new norms notified by the ministry, states would have an option to issue the two documents in the form of cards, which would be either made of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) or of Poly Carbonate. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in Sep”The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has prescribed a common standard format and design of the Driving Licence and the Certificate of Registration for the entire country. The option of providing a paper or booklet based driving licence or the registration certificate has been done away with,” the ministry said in a release. The specifications for the cards are high standard and would enable durable and quality cards, it added. According to the ministry, state governments have been given the option to decide on the type of material that can be used for making the cards. Further, states can prescribe whether it should be a chip-based smart card or a card with contact-less features such as QR code. “A QR code has been prescribed on the cards. This would enable easy linking and access and validation of the information on the cards with the SARATHI or VAHAN database,” the release said.last_img read more

SC sets aside Sreesanth lifeban

first_imgNew Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday set aside the BCCI disciplinary committee’s order imposing a life ban on former Indian cricketer S Sreesanth for his alleged involvement in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal.A bench comprising justices Ashok Bhushan and K M Joseph said the disciplinary committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may reconsider within three months the quantum of punishment to be given to Sreesanth. The bench made it clear that the former cricketer will get the opportunity of being heard by the committee on the quantum of the punishment. Also Read – Squadrons which participated in Balakot air strike awarded citations on IAF DayThe apex court also said that its verdict shall have no effect on the criminal proceedings pending against the former cricketer in the Delhi High Court, where the Delhi Police has challenged a trial court’s order discharging all accused, including Sreesanth, in the IPL spot-fixing case. The bench passed this order on Sreesanth’s plea challenging the decision of a division bench of the Kerala High Court which had restored the life ban imposed on him by the BCCI. Also Read – Don’t use ‘lynching’ to defame India: BhagwatA single-judge bench of the Kerala High Court had lifted the life ban imposed on the 35-year-old cricketer by the BCCI and had set aside all proceedings against him initiated by the board. Later, the division bench of the high court had restored the ban on a petition filed by the BCCI against the single-judge bench’s order. The BCCI had on February 28 told the apex court that the life ban imposed on Sreesanth was “fully sustainable in law” as he had “tried to influence” a match. Sreesanth’s lawyer had countered the arguments and had told the court that no spot-fixing took place during the IPL match and allegations levelled against the cricketer were not substantiated by evidence. Senior advocate Parag Tripathi, appearing for the BCCI, had referred to the recorded telephonic conversations in the matter and told the court it was clear that money was demanded and was “probably received” also.last_img read more

Discussing vast tourism potential in Assam

first_imgNo doubt Assam could be the best place for tourism, thanks to the green mountain ranges, tea gardens, rich culture, and the gigantic Brahmaputra. In order to make the state’s presence felt on a global level, the ongoing Rongali carnival in Guwahati hosted a seminar on ‘Assam as Tourist Destination’ recently, emphasising how rich heritage of the state could be used to woo the tourists.The seminar was attended by the various dignitaries from the tourism including PP Khanna, President ADTOI; Ranjit Das, President TOAA; Dipak Jalan, President HRAA among others. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainShyamkanu Mahanta, Chief Organiser of Rongali, said that the idea of conducting Rongali is to make Bihu a tourism festival of the state. “Like West Bengal, has become a destination for Durga Puja, similarly our dream is to make Assam destination for Bihu.” It was also mentioned that the tourism ministry of NE is also thinking about making Assam and North East as tea tourism and adventure sports destination. Ranjit Das, however, feels that Assam can focus on the adventurous side of it to cash in on the young footfall, who are much into trekking and adventure sports. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma Award”There is a renewed interest among the domestic and international visitors. Now, tourism here is not only restricted to wildlife. Rather, culture and cuisine are also high points. Recently, we had the opportunity of attending a workshop on eco-tourism policy, envisaged by the Forest Ministry, Government of Assam. If the policy is put in right perspective then many nature-based activities will open up for the tourists,” he added. PP Khanna believes that Assam has everything to make it one of the top tourist destinations in the country. Rajesh Prasad in his keynote, addressed to Prime Minister’s effort in promoting the rich craft of Assam. Bhaskar Phukan, MD, ATC emphasised on various ways which have been taken to promote Assam tourism. Now, it should also focus on cultural tourism, golf amidst tea garden and more.last_img read more

King Mohammed VI to Start a Tour to West Africa

Rabat – King Mohammed VI is expected to start a West African tour that will also take him to southern neighbor Mauritania, reported Spanish news agency EFE.The regional tour, whose specific dates have not yet been disclosed, aims to amplify Morocco’s influence in Africa through the signing of bilateral agreements, the same source said, adding that the kingdom is seeking to strengthen economic cooperation with these countries and to fight against terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and religious extremism.According to the same source, the Monarch is planning to create an African Development Organization for which there is already a mobilization of various embassies and consulates. In February 2014, Mohammed VI, accompanied with a large delegation, kicked off a four nation West Africa tour to Mali, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Gabon. The visit resulted in the signing of a series of agreements on bilateral cooperation in the social and economic spheres. read more

Tunisia denies more allegations of hosting US military base

Rabat – Recent reports have caused Tunisia to once again reject the allegations of agreeing to host a U.S. military base for the fight against ISIS in Libya, creating more questions for some regarding relations between the U.S. and Tunisia.Reports claiming that Tunisia had begun to obtain U.S. surveillance systems for what would be a U.S. military station in the city of Haouaria have sparked the debate, and many have either expressed denial or support for the idea.According to the Italian newspaper report, the base would serve as a substitute for the Naval Radio Transmitter Facility Niscemi, a U.S. navy telecommunications station in Niscemi, Italy. The Niscemi station’s operations have been frequently interrupted since 2012 after becoming the target of protests from local residents who disproved the installation of MUOS, a U.S. satellite system, for fear of potential environmental and health consequences caused by the radio waves.The reports also suggested that Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi talked about bringing the surveillance equipment to Haouaria during his visit to the United States in May.In response to the allegations, the spokesman of the Tunisian Presidency, Moez Sinaoui, told radio station MosaiqueFM that “Tunisia’s doctrine since independence has been to reject any establishment of a foreign military base in the country.”While logistical support from the U.S. is important to Tunisia, hosting a military base would bring “catastrophic” results for the country, according to Dr. Mazen Cherif, a security expert and head of the Tunisian Center for Global Security Studies.“Tunisia is the world’s top exporter of terrorists… Hosting the U.S. base would only invite more jihad in Tunisia,” said Cherif.Mondher Thabet, a political analyst, also dismissed the allegations saying hosting a U.S. military base has been “off the table” for years.“A U.S. military presence on Tunisian soil is a non-negotiable matter. But I do back logistical, intelligence, technological, and training cooperation with the U.S.,” said Thabet.These claims come soon after a recent report in the Wall Street Journal saying that the U.S. is currently discussing with North African countries about positioning drones at a base on their soil to prevent further expansion of ISIS in Libya.Maj. James Brindle, a Pentagon spokesman, told Al Arabiya News that such a station in North Africa “would be for surveillance, not kinetic” and would be “a sovereign host government facility to which the U.S. is granted access.”“We work closely with our African partners to counter violent extremism, address security challenges and promote regional stability, and will continue to do so,” Brindle stated, also noting that “no final decisions have been made.”© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission read more

Motorbikes The Famous Means of Transport in Marrakech

Rabat – Marrakech, known as the Kingdom’s best tourist destination, is also described as “the capital of motorbikes,” since they are the most important means of transportation for the city’s residents.Motorcycles are largely used inside the ochre city by men and women alike, the young and the old, students, workers, and even professionals use motorcycles every day to go to their offices.The French-made MBK Swing and Libero brands used to be the most popularbrand used by the people in Marrakech after high speed scooters, which are now used widely, have been imported from China. Interviewed by Anadolu Agency, Abdul Latif Bahi, a public sector employee, said, “I had a normal bike and I started to use a motorcycle six years ago after getting a new job.” “The motorbike facilitated my daily life and I accomplish my needs quicker than before,” he added.The motorbikes are widely used in most of the cities of Morocco, but Marrakech, Morocco’s fourth most populous city, remains number one in terms of motorbike usage as a daily means of transport.“Motorcycle sales here in Marrakech reached 30 percent of total sales of motorcycles in the country, as Marrakech is known for its large usage of motorcycles. The city is helped by its geography, which is free of highlands and hills,” Mahdi Zureikm, owner of a motorbike shop in Marrakech, told Anadolu Agency.Even though most families in Marrakech own a car, a motorbike is a must have vehicle in every house for running errands very quickly or even take a trip through the narrow, windy streets of the old medina.Despite the effectiveness of motorbikes in Marrakech, high speed motorbikes, which have flooded the Moroccan market, have caused several road accidents that took the lives of many.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission. read more

China grants Ivanka Trump 5 trademarks amid trade talks

SHANGHAI — China has greenlighted five more Ivanka Trump trademarks as trade talks with her father’s administration intensify.The trademarks approved earlier this month cover various products and services from wedding dresses to brokerages and art valuations.Ivanka Trump closed her fashion brand last year. Her representatives say the China trademarks are needed to protect her name from squatters.Ivanka Trump’s expanding intellectual property holdings have long raised ethical concerns, particularly in China, where the courts and bureaucracy tend to reflect the will of the ruling Communist Party.Critics argue that by asking a foreign government for valuable intellectual property rights, White House officials could open themselves to pressure in government negotiations.There also is concern that the Trump family’s global trademark portfolio may provide lucrative opportunities once Donald Trump leaves office.The Associated Press read more

Authorities Attribute Prison Crowding to Pretrial Detentions

Rabat – Mustafa Ramid, the Moroccan minister of justice and liberties confirmed the continued overcrowding of the kingdom’s prisons and attributed the phenomenon to the now-common practice of pretrial detention and the delayed start of cases involving the prematurely arrested detainees. The minister called on King Mohammed VI’s judicial forces to avoid pretrial detentions requested by the prosecution unless the defendant has been caught red-handed in a crime, if judicial supervision will not be enough to prevent the defendant from escaping justice, or if the release of the suspect would lead to the obstruction of justice in another manner.Official data from the ministry charged with managing the nation’s prisons shows that nearly 40 percent of the inmates have been arrested before their trial begins, leading to significant population pressures. Ramid recently announced the contents of a draft amendment to the country’s criminal procedures which will further define the criteria for a pretrial arrest and put the process under judicial supervision, allowing the suspect to lodge an appeal against an unnecessary detention.The minister also advised the King’s agents to use the new recommendations to authorize arrests only when there is significant evidence binding the defendant to a crime.Habib Haji, the president of the Association for the Defense of Human Rights, said to Hespress that the King’s agents need to be trained on the criminal laws that apply during their investigations and the legal rights that the accused have the power to evoke.Haji said the agents “do not follow criminal procedures” and pointed out that they “do not need to arrest a suspect based on the gravity of the act – which would be illegal – but instead they need to [carry out the arrests] based on the gravity of the actor on the public order.”The human rights lawyer said he is surprised at “the level of danger the detentions present to students even though they can be arrested only at the order of education authorities” and added that the “implementation of the laws in the correct way would reduce pretrial detentions and lead to a decrease in incidence of violent arrests without a lawful reason backing the police action.”A report recently released by another human rights group in Morocco cited concerns about the prevalence of highly-crowded prisons in the kingdom. The report claimed that a prison in Marrakech holds more than 2299 inmates even though its maximum capacity dictates it can provide for no more than 700 prisoners. Another prison in Nador hosts 1177 prisoners, but was at maximum capacity at just 840. read more

Brazilian Football Teams Plane Crashes in Colombia Killing 76

Beryl KessioRbat – A chartered plane carrying 81 people, including Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team and over 20 journalists, crashed in Colombia on Monday evening, killing 75 people.The team was traveling to Colombia to play in the final of the Copa Sudamericana against Medellin team Atletico Nacional. This matchup was going to be the biggest in the small club team’s history, since it had only entered Brazil’s top division in 2014. The first of the two-leg Copa Sudamericana final was scheduled for Wednesday but has now been suspended. Atletico Nacional has asked for Chapecoense to be awarded the cup.Chairman of the team’s board, Plinio David de Nes Filho, told reporters on Tuesday that Chapecoense dreamt of winning the coveted cup.“The dream was over this morning,” he said, choking back tears. “Yesterday morning I was saying goodbye to them,” he said. “They told me they were going in search of the dream to make this dream a reality.”According to Colombian aviation officials, the plane reported electrical problems as it flew near the towns of La Ceja and La Unión. The crash occurred in a mountainous area called Cerro El Gordo near Medellin, officials said.The plane went down in stormy weather but it is still unclear why the plane crashed. These heavy rains rendered the accident site accessible only by land, hampering rescue efforts.At least three soccer players, two crew members and one journalist survived, authorities reported. read more

American Airlines 4Q Earnings Snapshot

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL) on Thursday reported fourth-quarter earnings of $319 million.The Fort Worth, Texas-based company said it had net income of 69 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to $1.04 per share.The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.02 per share.The world’s largest airline posted revenue of $10.94 billion in the period, missing Street forecasts. Eleven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $11.01 billion.American Airlines expects full-year earnings in the range of $5.50 to $7.50 per share.American Airlines shares have declined slightly more than 1 per cent since the beginning of the year. The stock has decreased 46 per cent in the last 12 months._____This story was generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on AAL at https://www.zacks.com/ap/AALThe Associated Press read more

SDX Energy Makes Fifth Gas Discovery in Morocco

Rabat – The British gas company SDX Energy continues to outperform expectations. The UK-based company announced on Friday, March 9, a new gas discovery at the SAH-2 well in Sebou only a few weeks after it made a new gas discovery in the Gharb basin. “The well was drilled to a depth of 1,304 meters and found porosity of 33 percent, exceeding the initial forecasts of the company,” said the company in an official statement. The well, SAH-2, is the fifth discovered by the company and one of the seven wells drilled as part of its nine-well campaign in Morocco. According to the company, the well will be tested before being connected to the existing infrastructure. An update on the results of the tests will be announced next April.“The drilling operations will proceed with the eighth well, dubbed LNB-1, located at Lalla Mimouna,” Ecofin Agency said in a statement.SDX was granted a four-month extension to July 22, 2018 at its Lalla Mimouna permit, allowing it sufficient time to evaluate the results of its exploration drilling campaign.SDX is an international oil and gas exploration, production, and development company, headquartered in London with a principal focus on North Africa. The exploration company entered the Moroccan market in January after acquiring Circle Oil’s shares in Morocco for USD 30 million. The British company is now endowed with an eight-year permit to drill for gas in the Gharb basin. In addition, the company successfully renewed their permits for the Gueddari Northwest, Gueddari South, Sidi Al Harati Southwest, and Ksiri Center sites. These permits will expire in 2019, 2020, 2023, and 2023, respectively. In total, SDX Energy obtained licenses for seven drilling sites from the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines, which holds 25 percent of working interests of SDX Energy’s activity in Morocco.SDX’s portfolio also includes high impact exploration opportunities in Egypt. The group has a 50 percent working interest in two producing assets located onshore in the Eastern Desert, adjacent to the Gulf of Suez. These producing assets are characterized by exceptionally low operating costs, making them particularly resilient in a low oil price environment. read more

Mnuchin No plans yet for US China leaders to meet on trade

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin) says there are no plans yet for President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) to meet to finalize a trade deal.Trump has said no agreement will be final until he meets with his Chinese counterpart.Trump announced in his State of the Union address that he’ll travel to Vietnam, which borders China, at the end of February to meet with North Korea’s leader on nuclear issues. The trip will put Trump in the region just before a March deadline for the U.S. to boost tariffs on Chinese goods.Mnuchin and trade representative Robert Lighthizer (LYT’-hy-zur) are leading a team to Beijing next week to continue the negotiations.Mnuchin said Wednesday “there’s nothing planned at this time” for the presidents to meet.The Associated Press read more

Bulgaria freezes accounts receiving millions from Venezuela

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Officials in Bulgaria say they have frozen several bank accounts that received millions of euros transferred from Venezuela’s state-owned oil company.Chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said Wednesday that the money was meant to be eventually sent to accounts abroad.“All measures have been taken so that the funds that are still in the accounts … will be fully under our control and not leave the country on false grounds,” he said.Tsatsarov said charges for money laundering would likely be pressed against the accounts’ owner, a Bulgarian citizen who was currently out of the country.“Our government is working very closely with Bulgaria and other EU members to ensure that the wealth of the people of Venezuela is not stolen,” U.S. ambassador to Sofia, Eric Rubin, told reporters.The Associated Press read more

Saudi Arabia Admits Jamal Khashoggi Was Killed in Consulate

Rabat – Saudi authorities have just admitted that prominent Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.The Saudi news channel Al Akhbariya made the announcement. Saudi authorities are claiming that Khashoggi was killed in a fight that erupted after he entered the consulate.According to the same source, Khashoggi died from a choke hold during a physical altercation. The announcement contradicts a previous official statement by Saudi authorities. Originally, Saudi Arabia denied any involvement in the Saudi journalist’s death and stressed that he left the consulate shortly after he arrived.It also contradicts statements by Turkish officials to the New York Times in which they asserted that a hit squad that flew in from Saudi Arabia to eliminate the journalist tortured, killed, and dismembered Khashoggi.Saudi authorities announced the arrest of 18 individuals after an investigation established their link to Khashoggi’s murder.Saud Al Qahtani, an adviser to Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, was dismissed from his post. Al Qahtani is notorious for having spearheaded a ferocious media campaign against Qatar since the start of the Saudi-led blockade against its neighbor in June 2017.In late 2016, Qahtani told Khashoggi that he was banned from writing or posting tweets after he made “unfriendly” comments about Trump.???: ?????? ????? ?? ?????? “???? ????? ????? ????? ?????”? ?????? ???? ???? ???? ??????? ?? ????? ??? ????? ???? ???? ? #???????_???????— ???? ???????? (@saudq1978) August 17, 2017In August 2017, Al Qahtani took advantage of his large base of followers and launched a blacklist. He called on all Saudis to report any account showing sympathy towards Qatar or questioning the Saudi decision to impose a blockade on its neighbor.US Senator Lindsay Graham has questioned the narrative of Saudi Arabia. The senator, known for being a close ally to President Donald Trump, said in his Twitter account that he is more than “skeptical about the new Saudi narrative.”To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement. https://t.co/am4fraUL6H— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 19, 2018Representative Adam Schiff, a ranking member of the US House Intelligence Committee, expressed the same skepticism and called on Congress to hold Saudi Arabia accountable if the Trump administration fails to do so.The claim that Khashoggi was killed while brawling with 15 men dispatched from Saudi Arabia is not at all credible. If he was fighting with those sent to capture or kill him, it was for his life.The Kingdom must be held to account. If Administration doesn’t lead, Congress must.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) October 19, 2018 read more

Bouknadel Train Accident Survivor Some Tried to Help Others Looted

Rabat- Passengers who survived the Bouknadel train accident still suffered theft by individuals who pretended to help, only to loot from the train.Many eyewitnesses recounted how some individuals took advantage of the accident to loot from the luggage of passengers. The act has shocked and disgusted Moroccans. Others claimed that some taxi drivers raised prices to transport the stranded passengers.One survivor told Moroccan radio station Hit Radio that thieves stole from jackets, pockets, and luggage of shock-stricken passengers who could not do anything to stop them.Read Also: Bouknadel Train Accident: Spain, Qatar Send Condolences to Morocco“My money, my bag, my passport, my phone, everything was robbed,” the Moroccan man residing in Germany complained. “It was an apocalypse.”He stated, “If it weren’t for the royal gendarmerie showing up only a quarter hour from the accident, everyone would have ended up stark naked” because of looters from nearby shantytowns.However, the man was sympathetic, saying poverty was the real culprit because the looters were victims of poverty.Read Also: #Baraka: Moroccans Call for Boycott of ONCF TrainsThe survivor described how some of the people who genuinely wanted to help had no knowledge of first aid and pulled passengers out by their limbs, which may have exacerbated injuries.The man wished that they had waited for the arrival of ambulances and civil protection forces to retrieve the injured.“Half of the injured people were paralyzed because of the [inexperienced humanitarians].” Comparing Moroccan authorities to those of Germany, the speaker said that the Moroccan civil protection forces did an “amazing” job and were very competent.Train No. 9 linking Rabat and Kenitra on the Casablanca-Kenitra line derailed on Tuesday near Bouknadel at 10:20 a.m., killing 7 and injuring 125, according to the most recent statistics.Neither the National Office of Railways (ONCF) nor the Moroccan government has yet given an official statement on the cause of the accidents.According to a leaked recording of a phone conversation between ONCF employees, the train was running at 120 kilometers per hour, when it was supposed to run at 60 kilometers per hour in the area where it derailed.One of the employees stated that problems on that stretch of track were noticed last Friday, however ONCF did not set speed limit signs, properly communicate the speed limit to drivers, or take it into consideration.On the other hand, the Media and Press Department at the Ministry of Equipment told Morocco World News that they had no knowledge about the recording. The department emphasized that there should be “a scientific proof of what happened.” Many Moroccans have expressed rage towards ONCF, blaming it for the accident after the recording blaming faulty tracks and speeding went viral.Moroccans have begun an online campaign with hashtags “#Baraka” (enough) and “#Boycott ONCF” on Twitter and Facebook. ONCF, the only rail transport company in Morocco, is state-run with “financial autonomy” according to its website.While many are calling for actions, hundreds of people have donated blood for the victims of the accident at the Regional Center for Blood Transfusion.Many people in Rabat, including royal gendarmes volunteered to donate blood for the victims.The center had taken 549 sacks of blood in the first 24 hours after the accident. The center only had to use 16 by mid-Wednesday, according to the head of the center, Mohammed Benajiba. read more

Drone sighting halts flights at Irelands Dublin Airport

LONDON — Flights to and from Dublin Airport in Ireland were briefly halted after a drone was spotted over the airfield.The airport says it suspended flights “for safety reasons” after a “confirmed sighting” on Thursday morning. Flights resumed a short time later.The airport said “the safety and security of customers is our key priority at all times.”The popularity of drones makes them a growing threat to aviation.More than 100,000 travellers were stranded or delayed before Christmas after drone sightings near London’s Gatwick, Britain’s second-busiest airport.The Associated Press