Home sales fall across Canada to reach their lowest level in 3

first_imgA flood of buyers and sellers looking to close deals late last year ahead of looming tighter mortgage rules resulted in a 14.5 per cent “payback” drop in home sales between December and January, market watchers said Thursday.Economists expected the drastic decline, which marked the lowest sales level in three years, and anticipate the market will continue to be dampened in the near future as Canadians negotiate the new rules and a January interest rates hike, the third in the past year.“It’s the biggest monthly percentage drop in sales activity since October 2008,” said Gregory Klump, the Canadian Real Estate Association’s chief economist, referencing when the country was in the midst of the so-called Great Recession.January activity was down in three-quarters of all local markets and virtually all major urban areas, especially in Ontario’s hot spot in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, according to data released by CREA Thursday. The decline was less significant on an annual basis, with sales falling 2.4 per cent.The monthly decline “is largely payback” for buyers rushing to sign deals in the last three months of the year, ahead of the new rules, said Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, in a note.CREA’s figures showed sales climbed to a record monthly high in December — just before the federal banking regulator’s tougher rules for uninsured mortgages took effect. Starting Jan. 1, borrowers with a more than 20 per cent down payment must pass a stress test proving that they can service mortgage at a qualifying rate of the greater of the contractual mortgage rate plus two percentage point or the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada.The January market also dampened due to the Bank of Canada’s decision to raise interest rates to 1.25 per cent, up from one per cent. The central bank’s interest rate increase impacts variable rate mortgage holders, but those who opt for fixed mortgages also saw a rise in the five-year fixed rate amid rising bond yields and a stronger economy.CREA noted that January home sales are on par with the 10-year monthly average and that a large decline in new listings of 21.6 per cent prevented the market balance from shifting in favour of homebuyers. The average price of a home rose by 2.3 per cent when compared with last year at just over $481,500.The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 63.6 per cent in January. A ratio reading above 60 per cent generally indicates a sellers’ market.The number of newly-listed homes was at the lowest level since spring 2009. About 85 per cent of all markets had fewer listings. The Greater Toronto Area led the decline, with large percentage drops also in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan region, as well as parts of Ontario.Supply restraint may have played a big part in the month’s slowdown, Robert Hogue, senior economist with RBC Economics, wrote in a note. The drop in new listings hints at two psychological effects at play, he said. Many sellers rushed to list their properties in the months before Jan. 1 and, once the new rules came in, potential sellers may have feared a significant buyer pullback and waited to list.He expects more listings to surface once those fears subside.The market likely over-reacted to the new mortgage rules, Hogue wrote, and while homebuyer demand will remained dampened, it won’t be to the extent implied by January’s figures.Volatility is expected to continue in the near-term, wrote Michael Dolega, a senior economist with TD Economics, in a note.But, Dolega said “some stabilization” should occur by the middle of the year.“Thereafter we expect activity to remain weighed down by rising interest rates, but with markets largely in balanced territory prices should remain well supported,” he said.The government action successfully slowed housing markets, particularly in and around Toronto, said Sherry Cooper, chief economist at Dominion Lending Centres.“But it hasn’t really made housing affordable,” she said. “And there’s no way to make housing affordable until we see an increase in housing supply — and not just new listings, but actually new construction.”The pace of housing starts in January held steady compared with December at about 216,200, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported earlier this month. But the pace is expected to moderate this year.Follow @AleksSagan on Twitter.last_img read more

First Nation leader pitches sustainability to pipeline investors

first_imgHOUSTON – Kinder Morgan’s shareholders have asked the company for more disclosure on its sustainability after a presentation Wednesday by a First Nations chief from British Columbia.Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson said she told the company’s annual general meeting in Houston that environmental, social and governance issues can pose significant risks to business and without proper disclosure, shareholders won’t know if they are vulnerable.Wilson said she also explained the legal risks if Kinder Morgan proceeds with its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on Indigenous land without consent from First Nations.“We do not believe the risks of the project have been accurately evaluated nor fully disclosed and we wanted to point that out to the shareholders,” she told a news conference after the meeting.Wilson put forward a resolution proposing that shareholders ask Kinder Morgan to issue an annual sustainability report describing the company’s analysis of short- and long-term risks, along with plans for mitigating them.Another resolution from a U.S. asset management company proposed that Kinder Morgan create a report looking at how commitments various countries have made under the Paris climate change agreement will affect the pipeline builder’s portfolio in the long term.A Kinder Morgan spokesman said both resolutions passed, but neither is binding. Executive chairman Rich Kinder said in a statement the board will “carefully consider the proposals and the information contained in the supporting statements in determining what actions to take with respect to them.”Because the resolutions are non-binding, shareholders should follow up to show the company that they’re watching and expect their wishes to be expressed, said Lisa Lindsley with advocacy group SumOfUs.Kinder Morgan could have foreseen issues with its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion if the company had previously committed to putting out sustainability reports, she added.“Billions of dollars of shareholder value would have been saved if Kinder Morgan had done a better job of anticipating, assessing and mitigating the sustainability risks to its business,” Lindsley said.In 2016, Ottawa approved plans to triple the capacity of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C. But the $7.4-billion project has faced significant opposition and legal challenges from environmentalists, First Nations and B.C.’s NDP government.Kinder Morgan suspended all non-essential spending on the expansion earlier this year, saying ongoing opposition in B.C. and the threat of legal delays was making investors wary of proceeding with the project. The company set May 31 as the deadline for the federal and provincial governments to reach an agreement that would allow the expansion to go ahead.Wilson said the fact shareholders voted for the sustainability report proposal shows they want the company to be more socially and environmentally responsible, but that won’t stop opposition to the Trans Mountain expansion because it threatens Indigenous culture, spirituality, identity and way of life.“That means fundamentally more to us than anything that they could offer us,” she said. “This means that there will be further delay and risk and uncertainty for the overall project. And we wanted to carry that message to the shareholders today.”As the general meeting took place, protests against the expansion project continued in Burnaby, with opponents blocking access to the company’s marine terminal on land and in the water.About 200 people have been arrested since the middle of March while protesting outside Kinder Morgan’s facilities in Burnaby, the RCMP have said.The City of Burnaby said Wednesday that it has filed leave to appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada, asking the court to weigh in on a dispute over construction of the Trans Mountain expansion.The National Energy Board ruled last December that Kinder Morgan could bypass local bylaws as it builds the project and the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the city’s application to overturn the decision.Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said in a statement Wednesday that the city does not believe the energy board is the right place to review municipal processes, so it’s taking the issue to Canada’s highest court.— By Gemma Karstens-Smith in Vancouver.(Companies in this story: TSX:KML)last_img read more

Husky awaits explosion investigation results before restarting asphalt refinery

first_imgCALGARY – Two months after fire and explosions ripped through its recently purchased asphalt refinery in Superior, Wis., Husky Energy Inc. says it still doesn’t know when it will be able to restart the facility.Spokesman Mel Duvall says investigations are continuing into the cause of the April 26 incident in which 11 people were injured and nearby homes evacuated while plumes of black smoke rose into the sky.He says the Calgary-based company won’t be able to fully assess damage and map out a recovery plan until the U.S. Chemical Safety Board completes its determination of cause.Husky bought the 50,000-barrel-per-day refinery from Calumet Specialty Products Partners of Indiana for about $570 million in a deal that closed in November.According to a website update posted Monday, cleanup efforts have progressed to the point that the off-site incident command centre has been moved onto refinery property. It says about 400 employees and contractors are supporting daily operations.As of last Friday, Husky says it has received some 3,300 claims from local businesses and residents who incurred expenses or suffered losses during the incident, of which about 2,700 have been resolved.“We do have insurance, both on the assets and business interruption, and we have made alternate arrangements to continue supplying customers. No employees have been laid off,” said Duvall in an email.“We may be able to provide an update (on costs) on our second-quarter conference call later this month.”He said all of the injured people have been released from hospital.On the website, Husky says it expects to be able to bring in trucks later this month to remove stored asphalt inventory.Companies in this story: (TSX:HSE)last_img read more

Raheem Sterling hailed as one of worlds best by Kompany

first_imgLondon: Vincent Kompany has hailed Manchester City teammate Raheem Sterling as one of the best players in the world after his 13-minute hat-trick in the 3-1 win against Watford. The victory at the Etihad on Saturday took the defending champions four points clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table but Jurgen Klopp’s men closed the gap to a single point on Sunday. There was an offside debate over Sterling’s first goal and his second was a tap-in but his third highlighted his skill as he weaved into the area, cut back and fired past Ben Foster. Also Read – Dhoni, Paes spotted playing football together “It’s incredible because his first year at City was tough, and then from the moment Pep (Guardiola) came in he just kicked on and went from strength to strength,” said City captain Kompany. “For me, he is one of the best wingers in the world. He’s so important for us. To have the ability to unlock defences when they defend with so many bodies is the sign of a top, top, top player.” Sterling’s strikes shifted what had been a frustrating game decisively in City’s favour. As in their two previous games, the score was 0-0 at half-time and City, despite dominating possession, needed to work hard for openings. Also Read – Andy Murray to make Grand Slam return at Australian Open “These kind of games are much trickier than what people can see from the outside,” said Kompany, who has featured in City’s past five games. “It’s mentally demanding because it puts you to sleep that you have so much possession and are bouncing against the same wall.” City boss Pep Guardiola was more measured in his praise for Sterling, 24, who has now scored 20 goals for club and country this season. “He scored three goals, we’re delighted, but he can do better,” said Guardiola. “The first half was not the best performance from him, but it’s good when not playing at the top level to be consistent and score the three goals.” Guardiola hailed midfielder Ilkay Gundogan as an “incredible player in all senses” but again expressed concern over the German’s contract situation. The 28-year-old has not been an automatic starter under Guardiola and has just one season remaining on his present deal. Guardiola said: “I would prefer him to stay but at the same time I want to feel he wants to stay too. If he doesn’t want to stay, he has to leave.”last_img read more

TMC workers hurt in highway accident

first_imgKolkata: At least 30 Trinamool supporters and workers suffered injuries after the bus they were travelling in plunged into a water body near Siliguri-Jalpaiguri State Highway on Sunday. The injured party workers have been admitted to hospital for treatment.The Trinamool workers were planning to take part in an election campaign meeting by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Jalpaiguri. They had hired the bus to reach the venue of the election campaign meeting. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaAccording to local residents, on Sunday, Banerjee was scheduled to address an election campaign meeting at Churabhadar in Moynaguri from 1:30 pm. To attend the meeting, around 45 TMC supporters and workers had hired the bus from Sariam. They had started their journey in the morning to reach Churabhandar. However, after a few kilometres near Talma, the bus had a tyre burst and the driver lost his control over the steering and the vehicle plunged into a water body beside the Siliguri-Jalpaiguri State Highway. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayLocal resident ran to help the accident victims. Meanwhile, Rajgunj police station and local Trinamool leaders were informed about the accident. Police officers reached the spot shortly and rescued the injured persons. Almost all the passengers had suffered injuries but about 30 of them had suffered serious injuries. The injured persons have been rushed to Rajgunj Rural Hospital Belakoba Rural Hospital and Jalpaiguri Super Specialty Hospital. A few of them were discharged after providing necessary treatment and many are still undergoing treatment.last_img read more

Tata Tele merger DoT seeks Rs 7200 cr bank guarantee from Airtel

first_imgNew Delhi: The Department of Telecom has given approval for the merger of Tata Teleservices (TTSL) with Bharti Airtel, subject to the condition that the Sunil Bharti Mittal-led firm furnishes Rs 7,200 crore worth bank guarantee, a government official said. On April 9, telecom minister Manoj Sinha gave a conditional nod for the merger, the official said. Subsequent to the minister’s approval, the official said, that DoT has asked Airtel to furnish bank guarantee totalling Rs 7,200 crore. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”Both companies also need to submit undertaking on matter related to court cases before merger is taken on record,” the official said. The merger will be taken on record after Airtel submits bank guarantee of about Rs 6,000 crore for one-time spectrum charges and another Rs 1,200 crore for the spectrum that would be acquired from TTSL. There is also a “very small amount” of dues that has to be cleared by TTSL before consummation of the deal, another official said. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostAs part of the proposed agreement, Airtel will absorb Tata consumer mobile business (CMB) operations in 19 telecom circles (17 under TTSL and 2 under Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd ). It also agreed to take over a small portion of the unpaid spectrum liability of Tata. The merger will bolster Airtel’s spectrum pool with significant additional 178.5 MHz spectrum in 1800, 2100 and 850 MHz bands, all widely used for 4G. The proposed merger will include transfer of all the customers and assets of Tata CMB to Airtel.last_img read more

Rohit Yadav sets under18 national javelin throw record

first_imgSonipat: Rohit Yadav of Uttar Pradesh stole the limelight with an under-18 national record throw of 81.75m in the boys preliminary round of the second Athletics Federation of India National Javelin Throw Open Championship here Monday. The 17-year-old from Jaunpur improved on the national record of the 79.29m for boys under-18 set by Mohammed Hadeesh Apia in September 2015. Yadav had also recorded a throw of 79.83m in the SGFI National School Games in Nadiad, Gujarat, in February. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhThe final will be held on Tuesday. Haryana women trio of Poonam Rani, Monica and Shilpa Rana swept the medals with efforts of 49.53m, 42.46m and 39.89m. Poonam Rani, the 24-year-old from Jhajjar, has a clutch of All-India Inter-University crowns and has thrown over 50m. With national javelin coach Uwe Hohn and biomechanics specialist Dr. Klaus Bartonietz keenly watching the proceedings, it seemed natural that the intensity of competition was high and that there was an eagerness to showcase raw talent. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterMeanwhile, in the second AFI National 400m Open Championships in Lucknow, it was a teenager sprinter Vikrant Panchal (Haryana) who took the spotlight with a time of 48.06 seconds in the boys under-20 preliminary semifinals. It was the second time in the day that he breached the 49-second mark, having clocked 48.40 seconds in the preliminary heats. Haryana’s Pankaj Malik, 21, clocked the fastest time in the men’s semifinals. His time of 48.54 seconds was better than the 48.97 clocked by M Ramachandran (Tamil Nadu), in the other semifinals heats. Gujarat’s Vishal Chaturbhai had set the pace in the preliminaries with a time of 48.66 seconds.last_img read more

Sunny Deol escapes unhurt in Gurdaspur mishap

first_imgGurdaspur: Actor-turned politician Sunny Deol escaped unhurt after his vehicle was involved in a collision with three cars here on Monday, police said. The mishap occurred after one of the tyres in Deol’s sports utility vehicle burst near a ‘Gurdwara’ in Sohal village here, Gurdaspur Deputy Superintendent of Police (rural) Manjit Singh told PTI. A total of four vehicles collided with each other in the accident. Deol’s cavalcade was going towards Fatehgarh Churian where the BJP candidate had to campaign, the DSP said. “Out of four, one vehicle belonged to a villager, rest other vehicles were part of Deol’s cavalcade,” he said. Nobody was hurt in the accident, he said. After the accident, Deol resumed his journey to Fatehgarh Churian for poll campaigning, the DSP said. Deol is pitted against Congress candidate and sitting MP Sunil Jakhar from Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat.last_img read more

Prohibition not a solution Ekta Kapoor on demand to regulate digital content

first_imgMumbai: Producer Ekta Kapoor is not in favour of regulating streaming platforms as she believes it will only create a bigger need for unregulated content. The Supreme Court has sought the government’s response on a plea to regulate the functioning of streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Currently there is no censorship on online content other than age rating. “Prohibition will create a bigger want. This is a sad situation… A lot of people ask me, ‘How can you be so bold?’ but I have always said this that I don’t have any problem with sex. Also Read – ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ has James Cameron’s fingerprints all over it: Arnold Schwarzenegger “If the person who is acting has consensually agreed to have people watch them and the person is watching because he wants to watch it (then there is no issue). It is a two-way street. When anything is a one-way street, even in a marriage, it is a crime. Sex is not an issue, forcing yourself (on someone) is.” Ekta owns the OTT platform AltBalaji. When asked what would be her decision if the apex court takes a stand, the producer said, “Who are we to take a stand? They will take a stand and we will follow. But my beliefs are clear. I feel any prohibition in society will only create a bigger need for it. It is human psychology.” Also Read – Salman pays tribute to Vinod Khanna on ‘Dabangg 3’ wrap up With streaming platforms gaining a strong foothold in the Indian market, Ekta said there is a constant need to come up with good content that appeals a large segment of the audience. “I have to put out lot of content and better content as soon as possible. But I don’t compete with them. They deal with urban niche audience and I deal with mass audience.” Talking on the sidelines of the launch of season two of TV shows “Kawach” and “Bepanah Pyaarr”, Ekta said she enjoyed the web medium more.last_img read more

MoroccoRussian friendship association condemns deadly blasts in Russia

first_imgRabat – The Morocco-Russia friendship association condemned the two deadly blasts that rocks the Russian southern city of Volgograd, killing more than 30 people. In a message to the Russian presidency, the association president Abdellatif El Bahraoui, offered condolences, and expressed faith in the Russian people’s capacity to overcome the situation.At least, 14 people died on Monday when an explosion hit a trolleybus near a busy market during the morning rush hour Monday, a day after a blast at Volgograd’s main train station killed 17 people and wounded at least 35 others.last_img read more

King Mohammed VI Flies To Mali

first_imgRabat – King Mohammed VI left this afternoon Morocco, heading to Bamako for an official visit to Mali, first leg of an African trip that will take the Sovereign to Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea-Conakry and Gabon.The royal delegation includes the Sovereign’s advisors Taib Fassi Fihri and Fouad Ali El Himma, as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aooperation, Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister of Habous and Islamic Affairs, Ahmed Toufiq, Economy and Finance Minister, Mohamed Boussaid, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Aziz Akhannouch, Equipement, Transport and Logistics Minister, Aziz Rebbah, Industry, Trade, Investment and Numeric Economy Minister, Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Health Minister, El Houceine El Ouardi, Energy, Mining, Water and Environment Minister, Abdelkader Amara, Tourism Minister, Lahcen Haddad and Youssef Amrani, chargé de mission at the Royal office.A business and economic executive delegation and other civil and military figures are also part of the Sovereign’s delegation.last_img read more

Nigerian President Admits He Didnt Hold Phone Call with King Mohammed

Rabat – The Nigerian Presidency has confirmed that the President Goodluck Jonathan did not speak on telephone with king Mohamed VI last week, as claimed by the Nigerian Foreign Ministry.The Nigerian Presidency said in a statement that it has spoken to some African leaders to seek support for the candidacy of the Nigerian Agriculture Minister for the presidency of the African Development Bank (AFDB). However, it said it has not yet spoken to King Mohammed VI.Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has also ordered a full-scale investigation into the matter that sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries, with Morocco recalling its ambassador from Abuja. In a statement through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, Goodluck Jonathan said he was “shocked and highly embarrassed by the controversy that has erupted over whether or not he had a telephone conversation with his Majesty, King Mohammed VI of Morocco.”“The regrettable furor that has developed over the matter is due entirely to misinformation, as President Jonathan has neither spoken with King Mohammed nor told anybody that he had a telephone conversation with the Moroccan monarch,” the statement added.The controversy began when the Nigerian Foreign Ministry claimed that President Jonathan spoke to King Mohammed VI over the telephone.However, Morocco denied the Nigerian claims, saying that Mohammed VI had in fact rejected a request from Mr. Jonathan for a conversation.“The request by Nigerian authorities for a phone conversation between HM King Mohammed VI and Nigerian President was refused by the Monarch who deemed it inappropriate on grounds of the upcoming elections in Nigeria,” read a statement from the Moroccan Foreign Ministry.The Nigerian statement added that an investigation is being launched to identify all those responsible for “the unacceptable act of official misinformation, which has resulted in an unnecessary diplomatic row with another country and national embarrassment.” The investigation will also “unveil the motives of the culprits”. read more

More than 58000 People Arrested Suspended or Fired in Turkey

By Alexandra KrauskaRabat – The number of people arrested, suspended or fired in Turkey based on suspicions of disloyalty to President Erdogan has risen to more than 58,000, according to BBC. After the unsuccessful coup by soldiers last week, Erdogan wants to identify all government workers who may have been affiliated with the movement.Turkish media announced that over 15,000 teachers and school staff, more than 1,500 university deans, and over 10,000 government workers had been removed from their positions. This is in addition to the 6,000 arrests of military personnel, suspension of over 3,000 judges, and firing of almost 9,000 police officers that happened earlier this week.The government blames Fethullah Gulen for the coup and is looking to remove all of his supporters from their positions. Gulen is an imam, and the leader of the Hizmet-Gulen movement, which advocates for moderate, pro-Western Sunni Islam, and encourages activism, civic engagement, and interfaith dialogue.The movement has organized charitable foundations that opened schools, tutoring centers, and hospitals, and provides humanitarian aid. Critics believe, however, that the movement intends to spread socially conservative ideas about alcohol and marriage and to gain power.The movement has become very powerful, and BBC believes that it may be the largest Muslim network in the world. Gulen, who was once a close ally of Erdogan’s, became his enemy in the past decade, as the power struggle between Gulen and Erdogan became more tense. He moved to the United States in 1999, and was charged with treason soon after. In 2013, Erdogan moved to shut down Hizmet-funded schools and fire Hizmet supporters from government positions.The people who were removed from their positions, suspended, or arrested are believed to have links to the Hizmet movement, especially the teachers and government workers.Gulen denied having had any role in directing the coup and condemned it as treason, in an interview with BBC.In addition to the arrests, the Turkish government revoked the licences of 24 different radio and television stations that may be affiliated with Gulen. read more

South Africa and Algeria Determined to Hinder Moroccos return to AU

Rabat – South Africa and Algeria remain determined to hamper the return of Morocco to the African Union (AU) until the Sahara issue is resolved, the Institute for Strategic Studies (ISS) based in Pretoria said in analysis published on November 24.The strategy implemented by Morocco to ensure its return to the AU will not be an easy exercise, says the institute in an analysis, stressing that South Africa and Algeria, supported by Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea, are determined to hinder this process pending resolution of the Sahara issue.According to Pretoria and Algiers, “the end of the occupation of the Western Sahara remains the last anti-colonial struggle that the AU must deliver,” the source said. Referring to Morocco’s application for membership of the AU, the think tank noted that it was officially received by the AU Commission on 22 September, but the letter was not sent until 3 November, “A delay that some believe intentional,” says the ISS.Morocco announced its intention to reunite with its African family last summer. During the 27th summit of the African Union held in Kigali (Rwanda) last July, King Mohammed VI addressed a letter to the participants, in which he stressed Morocco’s intention to return to the African Union.“This well-thought-out decision to come back is endorsed by all of the nation’s forces,” King Mohammed VI said in the letter addressed to the AU, adding that “the time for ideology is over” and the African peoples need concrete, tangible action.“One cannot change geography, nor can one escape the burden of history,” the Sovereign noted, stressing that for this reason Morocco should not remain outside its African institutional family and should regain its natural, rightful place within the AU.Following the announcement of Morocco’s decision to rejoin the AU, 28 countries supported its decision and submitted a motion in which they called on the organization to suspend the membership of the self-proclaimed Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. read more

King Mohammed VI Summons Partys Leaders to Discuss Rif Protests Medias

Rabat – King Mohammed VI summoned leaders of Moroccan political parties to the Royal Palace for a special meeting, according to news outlet Alyaoum24.Sources quoted by Moroccan newspaper Alyaoum24 reported that the king summoned the heads of Morocco’s political parties to an impromptu meeting today in Rabat to discuss the now seven-month-old Hirak movement.  Many have called for the King’s intervention to put an end to the ongoing and escalating protests regarding conditions in the Rif region.The information has not been confirmed by official sources, and Morocco World News could not independently verify the veracity of these reports. On Wednesday, the coalition government broke its silence and issued a communiqué, acknowledging the demonstrators’ rights to protest regarding “legitimate” social demands.“The majority parties of the government have again emphasized the right of protests to express legitimate social demands in accordance with legal procedures,” said the coalition following a meeting with the Head of Government, Saad Eddine Othmani, and Minister of State in charge of Human Rights, Mustapha Ramid.Just a few days ago, the mother of leading activist Nasser Zafzafi implored King Mohammed VI to release her son, arrested by police on May 29. “We’re simple people, we have nothing, we own nothing, and our children are unemployed. We just want the King to serve us justice.”The seven months of protests came following the death in October of Mouhcine Fikri, a fishmonger who was fatally crushed in a garbage truck trash compactor while attempting to retrieve merchandise confiscated and thrown away by authorities.The coalition government has been criticized for its insufficient response to the tensions in Al Hoceima. After having been accused of receiving foreign backing and “drifting towards separatism,” outraged protesters staged a large-scale march denying the charges and reiterating their demands for social and economic development.Last week, a high ministerial delegation led by Minister of Interior, Abdelouafi Laftit, traveled to Al Hoceima to “speed up development programs.”However, tensions have grown over the past few days following the police’s pursuit and arrest of Nasser Zafzafi.Zafzafi was taken into custody on Monday after interrupting a Friday sermon that he viewed as denouncing the “Harak” movement. He was subsequently transferred to Casablanca for investigation, and has since been charged with “obstructing the right of worship” and “undermining state security.”Zafzafi, along with 30 other protesters arrested for alleged violence against security forces in Al Hoceima, are reportedly expected to appear in court on Monday at Casablanca’s Criminal Chamber of the Court of Appeal.Edited by Elisabeth Myers read more

Morocco Received 7 Billion in Remittances in 2016

Rabat – Remittance inflow to Morocco reached more than $7 billion in 2016, coming mostly from France, Spain, and Italy, US Pew Research Center finds.In a report entitled “Global Remittance Flows in 2016,” the think tank said that Morocco’s remittances from France in 2016 amounted to $2.17 billion, followed by Spain at $1.75 billion.Italy ranked third at $975 million, while Belgium ranked fourth at $482 million and inflow from the Netherlands amounted to $424 million. Israel was the fifth-highest contributing country, with remittances reaching $379 million. The report revealed that remittances sent from Germany to Morocco amounted to $301 million, while those from the United States amounted to $175 million, followed by Canada at $109 million.Meanwhile, Morocco sent $99 million in remittance outflow in 2016. Morocco’s main remittance recipient is France at  $61 million, followed by Algeria at $17 million, according to the center.Italy ranked third, receiving $7 million, followed by Lebanon at $5 million, Jordan at $4 million, Yemen at $2 million, and Saudi Arabia at $1 million.Globally, an estimated $574 billion was remitted by percent migrants to their home countries in 2016. This represents a decrease of 1 percent from 2015, when the amount was at $581 billion.This is the first drop in remittances since the global financial crisis of 2007-2008.Nevertheless, remittances are expected to double their rate from the previous decade, characterized by the global economic crisis of the late 2000s. read more

Morocco to Play 3 More PreWorld Cup Friendly Games

Rabat – Morocco’s national football team will play three additional pre-World Cup friendly games, according to the Royal Football Federation (FRMF). The Atlas Lions will battle the Ukrainian, Estonian, and Slovakian teams only a week before the kickoff for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.Today, FRMR published the schedule for the pre-World Cup friendly games that the Moroccan team will play before the official games of the world’s premier tournament.  The Atlas Lions will battle Ukraine in Switzerland on May 30, while the second friendly game against Slovakia will also take place in Switzerland, on June 4.The third friendly game will be played in Estonia against the local national football team on June 9.The Moroccan team has already played two pre-World Cup friendly matches against Serbia and Uzbekistan, winning 2-1 and 2-0 respectively. These friendlies are aimed at testing and evaluating the team’s weaknesses and strengths.When the tournament begins on June 14, the Atlas Lions will first battle Iran on June 15. The team will face Portugal in their second game on June 20, while the final first-round match for Morocco will be against Spain on June 25. read more

California governor wants users to profit from online data

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has set off a flurry of speculation after he said the state’s consumers should get a piece of the billions of dollars that technology companies make by capitalizing on personal data they collect.The new governor has asked aides to develop a proposal for a “data dividend” for California residents but provided no hints about whether he might be suggesting a tax on tech companies, an individual refund to their customers or something else.“Companies that make billions of dollars collecting, curating and monetizing our personal data have a duty to protect it,” the Democrat said in his first State of the State speech Tuesday. “California’s consumers should also be able to share in the wealth that is created from their data.”Tech companies, for example, sell the data to outside businesses that target ads to users. The European Union and Spain’s socialist government last year each proposed taxing big internet companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.Common Sense Media, which helped pass California’s nation-leading digital privacy law last year, plans to propose legislation in coming weeks that would reflect Newsom’s proposal, founder and CEO James Steyer said, without providing details.Starting next year, California’s European-style privacy law will require companies to tell customers upon request what personal data they have collected and why, which categories of third parties have received it, and allow consumers to delete their information and not sell it.U.S. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, predicted in November that California would consider legislation that would “send a shiver down the spine” of tech companies.He described the proposal as returning 25 per cent of the value of an individual’s data. It wasn’t clear how the calculation would be made.Warner’s office said Wednesday that he made the comment after speaking with Steyer. Warner is considering federal legislation requiring companies like California-based Facebook and Google to provide users with annual estimates of what their data is worth to the companies.Steyer said in a statement that Newsom is “spot on” about consumers having the “right to share in the profits that companies are making off them.”Axios calculated that the average Facebook user is worth $7.37 to the company, while a Twitter user is worth $2.83, and a Reddit user, about 30 cents. The calculation basically divided the companies’ annual revenue by their monthly active users.California-based tech giants Facebook and Google did not immediately comment.Newsom’s office would not say who is leading his review. Newsom “is open to constructive input” from national experts and lawmakers, spokesman Brian Ferguson said in a statement.The governor’s office pointed to proposals elsewhere that would put a tax on data, including one that died in the Washington state Legislature in 2017. That measure would have taxed receipts from the sale of state residents’ personal data at a rate of 3.3 per cent.Mahsau Daee of the Internet Association said the industry will look forward to reviewing the governor’s eventual proposal but that “free and low-cost, data-driven online services offer Californians — and all Americans — enormous benefits.”Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said Newsom “is off to the wrong start” on protecting consumer privacy.“They shouldn’t be tricked into giving away their privacy for a small discount,” he said in an email. “Selling it for a few bucks isn’t the answer and will make the problem worse.”Dan Goldstein, president the digital marketing agency Page 1 Solutions, said a tax might not benefit consumers, while some sort of profit-sharing plan would likely return a “pittance of a benefit” to individuals.Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes last year suggested that users could band together to negotiate payments or a data tax could be administered, similar to a fund that annually shares oil profits with Alaska residents.Consumer Federation of California executive director Richard Holober hailed the proposal while alluding to the vast financial divide between rich and poor, particularly in California, which is struggling to address homelessness and an affordable housing crisis.The governor previously asked Silicon Valley companies to match $500 million in state funds with their own low-interest loans for developers to build homes for middle-income residents in some of the state’s costliest areas.“We have such a disparity here with everyday Californians who are having trouble paying their rent or sending their kids to college,” Holober said. “California has created a very fertile land for these corporations to become fabulously wealthy, and they need to give back.”Newsom’s announcement excited lawmakers who authored California’s privacy law, but they had no information about it.Democratic Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg called the proposal “the next frontier of the online data and privacy conversation.”Democratic Assemblyman Ed Chau, who is chairman of the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection, said the proposal “highlights the value of data, which has often been described as the new oil in this technological data-driven economy.”Don Thompson, The Associated Press read more

Morocco Braces for Snow and Rainstorms Friday

Rabat – The National Meteorological Directorate (DMN) forecasts strong winds, snowfall, and low temperatures across several regions in Morocco on Friday, February 1.Oulmes, Saiss, the reliefs of the Atlas, the Oriental, the Rif region, the northern and central regions, and the Mediterranean will experience cold, cloudy weather accompanied by rainstorms. Strong winds reaching 85 to 100 kilometers per hour will sweep all of  Chefchaouen, Tetouan, Taza, Ouazzane, and Taounate. Winds reaching 70 to 85 kilometers per hour will hit Tangier, Sidi Kacem, Sidi Slimane, El Hajeb, Sefrou, Ifrane, Boulemane, Fez, Meknes, Moulay Yacoub, Midelt, Haouze, Azilal, Ouarzazate, Taourirt, Nador, Berkane, Jerada, and Oujda. Read Also: Cold Weather to Persist Across Morocco on SundayThe Rif and High and Middle Atlas will get up to 1 meter and 5 centimeters of snow, whereas blowing sand and dust will sweep the southern provinces.Low temperatures today vary between -2  and 4 degrees Celsius in the eastern highlands; 4 and 10 degrees Celsius in Oulmes, the Oriental,  Saiss, the southeastern and interior plains, and the Phosphates Plateaus; and 10 and 15 degrees Celsius in Souss, the southern provinces, and the northern and central plains.Read Also: Cold, Rainy weather Persists Across MoroccoHigh temperatures are between 4 and 10 degrees Celsius in the reliefs; 10 and 16 degrees Celsius in Saiss, the Mediterranean, north of the Oriental, Oulmes, the northern plains, and the Phosphates Plateaus; 16 and 22 degrees Celsius in Souss, the southwestern slopes, south of the Oriental, the central plains, and the northern parts of the southern provinces; and between 22 and 28 degrees Celsius in the southeastern regions of the country. read more

Morocco to Host African Games in August and September

The 12th African Games will take place from August 23 to September 3, 2019, in Morocco. Morocco is succeeding Congo, which hosted the 11th tournament in 2015, said Portail 242 on Tuesday.The president of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), Mustapha Berraf, revealed the dates in December, according to RFI. Last July, Morocco’s Ministry of Sports and Youth announced that Morocco will host the African Games in October 2019. After hosting the African Nations Championship, Morocco will celebrate the 12th Annual African Games, following the withdrawal of Equatorial Guinea.The decision came at the request of the African Union and the National Olympic Committees as they consider Morocco to be a country that meets all the conditions and has the expertise to host a major international sports event, according to the Ministry of Youth and Sports.More than 5,000 athletes will take part in the event. Officials from 54 ANOCA member countries will also be present. The event will qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.The ANOCA and the Union of African Sports Confederations (UCSA) organize the African Games every four years. The first African Games were held in 1965 in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. read more