Most actively traded companies on the TSX

first_imgAurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB). Health care. Down 26 cents, or 3.64 per cent, to $6.88 on 12.5 million shares.Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Industrials. Up nine cents, or 4.81 per cent to $1.96 on 10.4 million shares.Kinross Gold Corp. (TSX:K). Gold. Up 35 cents, or 9.07 per cent, to $4.21 on 8.7 million shares.Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB). Energy. Down 55 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $41.89, on 8.6 million shares.Premier Gold Mines Ltd. (TSX:PG). Gold. Up 15 cents, or 10 per cent, to $1.64 on 8.5 million shares.Aphria Inc. (TSX:APHA). Health care. Down 22 cents, or 3.03 per cent, to $7.04 on 7.6 million shares. The Canadian Press Some of the most active companies traded Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange:Toronto Stock Exchange (14,141.77, down 122.29 points).center_img Companies reporting major news:BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB). Up 29 cents or 2.9 per cent to $10.22. Blackberry’s stock rose Thursday after the company’s third-quarter revenue and profit beat analyst estimates, with growth coming from its software and services business. The Waterloo, Ont.,-based technology company earned US$59 million in net income for the quarter ended Nov. 30, up from a loss of US$275 million in the same quarter last year. Revenue totalled US$226 million, which was even with last year’s third quarter and up from US$210 million in the second quarter this year.Scotiabank (TSX:BNS). Down 72 cents to $69.22. Scotiabank has signed a deal to sell its pension and related insurance businesses in the Dominican Republic. The Canadian bank says it will sell Scotia Crecer AFP and Scotia Seguros to Grupo Rizek. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately available, but Scotiabank says the transaction is not financially material to the bank.last_img read more

Liberal lawmakers challenge Trump with drug cost legislation

first_imgWASHINGTON — Challenging the Trump administration on a high-profile consumer issue, leading congressional liberals plan to unveil a package of bills Thursday designed to radically reduce what Americans pay for prescription drugs by linking prices to lower costs in other countries.The legislation has little chance of becoming law under a divided government, but it could put Republicans on the defensive by echoing themes and ideas that President Donald Trump has embraced at one time or another. The common denominator: Americans shouldn’t have to pay more for critical medications than consumers pay in other economically advanced countries.The Trump administration has put forward its own plan for reducing drug prices.Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland plan to introduce the three bills on Thursday, according to the senator’s office. Cummings chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, which is planning to take a major role on drug pricing issues.A new idea in the package would open up generic competition to patent-protected U.S. brand-name drugs that are deemed “excessively priced.” A second bill would allow Medicare to directly negotiate with drugmakers. The third bill would allow consumers to import lower-priced medications from Canada.“If the pharmaceutical industry will not end its greed … then we will end it for them,” Sanders said in a statement.The federal Health and Human Services Department would get a major new mission regulating drug prices.As a presidential candidate, Trump initially called for Medicare to negotiate drug prices and favoured allowing Americans to import lower-priced medications from abroad, something that many consumers already do even if it is not legal.But those ideas are political nonstarters for most Republicans, who favour a free-market approach to the U.S. pharmaceutical industry and prize its capacity for innovation.As president, Trump has unveiled a complex plan to lower drug costs, relying on dozens of regulatory actions. A key goal is to eliminate incentives for major actors like drugmakers, pharmacy managers and insurers to stifle competition at the expense of consumers. Independent experts say the administration’s proposals would have an impact but they don’t limit the ability of drug companies to set high prices.Time and again, Trump has complained that other countries where governments set drug prices are taking advantage of Americans. Indeed, one of his ideas would shift Medicare payments for drugs administered in doctors’ offices to a level based on international prices.“We are taking aim at the global freeloading that forces American consumers to subsidize lower prices in foreign countries through higher prices in our country,” the president said in unveiling that proposal shortly before last year’s congressional elections.Sanders and Cummings would go far beyond Trump’s proposals. Their legislation would essentially apply to any U.S. patent-protected brand-name drug, whether or not government programs are bearing its costs. By comparison, Trump’s international pricing proposal would not apply to retail pharmacy drugs purchased by Medicare beneficiaries or to medications for privately insured people.Under the lawmakers’ plan, drugs deemed “excessively priced” by HHS could face generic competition. A medication’s cost would be deemed “excessive” if its price in the U.S. is higher than the median, or midpoint, price in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan.If the manufacturer is unwilling to cut its U.S. price, then the government could allow generic manufacturers to make a more affordable version of the medication. Generic companies taking on the task would have to pay “reasonable” royalties to the company holding the patent.The pharmaceutical industry is already adamantly opposed to Trump’s international pricing idea and is likely to fight the lawmakers’ proposal even harder.Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Presslast_img read more

Provincial permits dont consider Species at Risk Act Environment Canada

first_imgA spokesperson for the Manitoba government said it considers the Species at Risk Act when reviewing development proposals and will have caribou range action plans by 2020.Eric Hebert-Daly of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society said the report emphasizes what groups like his have been saying for years.“At the provincial level, we have a lot of work to do”’ he said. “Provincial laws are either missing or their flexibility is too flexible.”The latest assessment of woodland caribou suggest 81 per cent of Canada’s herds are in decline. Loss of another one-third of the population is expected “in the near term.”The main threat to their numbers is alteration of habitat, which reduces its productivity and allows access by predators.Wilkinson said the federal government is able to oblige provinces to immediately enforce the Species At Risk Act.But for now, he said, Ottawa will continue to work with the provinces on conservation agreements funded from allotments in the most recent budget.“That allows us to bring some money to the table around reforestation or a range of other things the provinces need to do to protect the caribou.”Caribou conservation is often seen to be in direct conflict with forestry and energy and the jobs they generate. In late March, Alberta delayed its own caribou range plans over economic concerns.“There tends to be a lot of fear in those (resource) communities about what those impacts would be,” Wilkinson said. “We have to avoid this being seen as an environment versus economy issue.” OTTAWA, O.N. — Recovery of Canada’s declining caribou herds is being hampered because provincial agencies that license development on the habitat of the threatened species aren’t required to follow federal environmental laws.“It is a concern,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, parliamentary secretary to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.On Monday, Environment Canada released a report assessing how provinces are doing in protecting habitat for caribou, a threatened species in every jurisdiction that has them. The idea, said Wilkinson, was to examine actions on the ground and a province’s “legal architecture” to see if it was equivalent to federal legislation. The federal report also concludes that little conservation is taking place on the ground. Measures in almost every case are still in planning or draft stages.“We do need to start to see action on the ground,” Wilkinson said. “We’ve had several years of planning exercises. We need more action on the part of the provinces.”Saskatchewan’s Environment Ministry released a statement in response to the federal report saying it is committed protecting woodland caribou.“Saskatchewan is confident that it currently has all of the legislative tools necessary to protect critical habitat for woodland caribou.”center_img “What we have found is they are not,” he said. “There are gaps with respect to protection relative to species at risk nationally.”In every province, agencies that issue permits for forestry or energy development aren’t required to conform to the federal Species At Risk Act.The phrase “the discretion to authorize these activities is not subject to constraints consistent with those under SARA” appears again and again. Those constraints include requirements that at least two-thirds of critical habitat be left undeveloped.When the act was passed in 2002, the government of the time anticipated provinces would pass similar legislation.“With just a couple exceptions, the provinces haven’t done that,” Wilkinson said.British Columbia is developing such legislation. Ontario has an endangered species act, but it exempts forestry.last_img read more

Geoscience BC report says Northeast BC has potential for more light oil

first_img“This project has the potential to bring investment in light oil development to northeastern BC,” said project lead Brad Hayes. “This has significantly lower environmental impact than the heavier oils associated with Alberta’s oil sands, and could also help to diversify British Columbia’s economy.”Of the 27 locations, eight were rejected as unsuitable and 19 were deemed suitable for analysis. Those 19 suitable locations were then graded from A to C: – 2 – the Halfway and Chinkeh Formations – were graded ‘A’ – 1 was graded ‘A/B’; – 6 were graded ‘B’; and – 10 were graded ‘C’.“Light oil is significantly more valuable than the heavier oils. Making this new data publicly available helps the energy sector to focus exploration activity and responsible development,” said Geoscience BC Executive Vice President & Chief Scientific Officer Carlos Salas. “It also makes independent data about the potential for unconventional oil development in the region available to communities, First Nations and government.”Geoscience BC said the identification of new oil plays in Northeast B.C.’s portion of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin falls under its energy focus area and contributes to the organization’s objective to identify new natural resource opportunities.The full report can be read here: FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A new report published by Geoscience BC today has graded the potential for high-value light and medium oil at 27 locations in northeastern B.C.Geoscience BC said that while the area is well-known for its natural gas reserves, little research has been done to identify the potential for accessing lighter oil in the region since the widespread adoption of horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing.Titled ‘Identification of New Resource Oil Plays in Northeast British Columbia’s Portion of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin,’ Geoscience BC said the project seeks to address that knowledge gap.last_img read more

Air strike kills 13 civilians, mostly children, in Afghanistan, says UN

first_imgKabul: At least 13 civilians were killed, mostly children, in an air strike by “international forces” in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz late last week, the United Nations said Monday. The strike happened between late Friday and early Saturday in support of ground operations conducted by pro-government forces fighting against Taliban militants in the area. “Initial fact-finding indicates that 10 of those killed were children, part of the same extended family whom were displaced by fighting elsewhere in the country,” the UN mission in Afghanistan said in a statement. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe US is the only member of the international coalition in Afghanistan that provides air support in the conflict. A NATO spokesperson told AFP the coalition was investigating the claims. The deaths come as ordinary Afghans continues to bear the brunt of the war in Afghanistan, with more civilians killed in the Afghan war in 2018 than during any other year on record, according to a UN report. The uptick in violence in 2018 coincides with a significant increase in the number of deaths caused by the “deliberate targeting of civilians”, according to the report, mostly stemming from suicide attacks by insurgents allied with the Taliban or Islamic State (IS). Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsAn increase in air strikes by US and Afghan forces also led to more civilian deaths in 2018, with more than 500 civilians killed by “aerial operations for the first time on record”. Fighting continues to flare across Afghanistan even as the US and Taliban press forward in peace talks aimed at ending nearly 18 years of fighting. The ongoing peace talks with the Taliban follow years of escalating violence in Afghanistan.last_img read more

Ggn family threatens mass suicide over police inaction

first_imgGurugram: Mohammad Sajid and his family that was subjected to physical violence on the day of Holi in Gurugram’s Bhoop Singh area, has now threatened to commit mass suicide over police inaction. The family has accused district police and civil administration of favouring the goons and have claimed that they are being pressured to withdraw the FIR. “The matter is in public domain. Everyone knows how goons have deliberately attacked us in a preplanned manner. Still, the district police are not helping us and allowing alleged attackers and their family members to threaten us to withdraw the FIR,” said Mohamad Akhtar, one of the victims.”They come to our house and abuse our women and girls. If the district administration and police will not help us to bring justice in this case, we will go for mass suicide,” Akhtar said. The victim’s family has submitted a memorandum to Sohna SDM for a speedy trial. “The local police have registered FIR against two youths of our family in a bid to put pressure on us,” Akhtar said. Meanwhile, Gurugram (South) DCP Himanshu Garg said that both the groups were involved in the altercation. The police had arrested 10 persons for attacking the family on March 21. There was a change in events when there was a cross-FIR was filed against the family. This riled the family to an extent that even planned to leave the city till they were stopped in doing so by the top police officials. The Muslim family in Gurugram that was attacked by a mob of 12-20 people on the day of Holi (March 21) with rods and sticks. The family had been living in Gurugram for the past 15 years. According to the FIR registered at Bhondsi police station, the incident took place when Sajid’s relatives had come to visit on Holi. In the complaint, Sajid’s nephew, Dilshad, alleged that they were playing cricket in a vacant plot near the house when some boys confronted them and said, “What are you doing here? Go to Pakistan and play.” When Sajid intervened, one of the two men on the bike slapped him, Dilshad alleged. In the moments that followed, the duo was joined by several others, allegedly armed with sticks, rods and swords, who barged into the family’s home, attacked them and stole their valuables. Videos recorded by the victims show them trying to close the door to the terrace, even as the accused try to break it down. In the video, a group of men can be seen beating up a man with rods and sticks, while another lies in the corner, even as two women plead with the attackers to stop.last_img read more

Sensex snaps 4-day winning streak, drops 180 pts

first_imgMumbai: Breaking its four-day rising streak, the BSE Sensex dropped about 180 points Wednesday on profit booking and forecast of below-normal monsoon this year. Despite a strong rally in global equities, Indian market failed to sustain at lifetime highs led by losses in oil and gas, telecom, metal and healthcare stocks. After swinging nearly 450 points, the 30-share Sensex settled 179.53 points, or 0.46 per cent lower at 38,877.12. The broader NSE Nifty too pared early gains and ended 69.25 points, or 0.59 per cent, down at 11,643.95. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal Benchmark indices gave up all the early gains and ended in red after Skymet predicted below normal monsoon for this year, said Sunil Sharma, Chief Investment Officer, Sanctum Wealth Management. “This news comes just a day before RBI is expected to cut rates by 25 bps and adopt a pro-growth stance. However, expectation of poor rainfall and already slow economic growth alongside subdued inflation may pressurise RBI to go for a higher rate cut, thus surprising the street positively,” Sharma added. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost The RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is holding a three-day meeting between April 2 – 4 for the first policy statement for 2019-20. SBI was the biggest loser in the Sensex pack, shedding 2.40 per cent, followed by Yes Bank, Bharti Airtel, L&T, Sun Pharma, M&M, ICICI Bank, ONGC, RIL, Asian Paints, Vedanta and HUL, which lost up to 2.37 per cent. On the other hand, Maruti, HCL Tech, HDFC, Tata Steel, PowerGrid, Hero MotoCorp and TCS ended with gains of up to 2.78 per cent. Sectorally, the BSE oil and gas, telecom, capital goods, energy and healthcare indices fell up to 2.06 per cent. Broader indices too ended in the red, with the BSE Midcap and Smallcap slipping up to 0.87 per cent. Meanwhile, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) remained net buyers in the capital markets, putting in Rs 543.36 crore Tuesday, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) sold equities to the tune of Rs 437.70 crore, provisional data available with stock exchanges showed. In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.22 per cent, Korea’s Kospi rose 1.20 per cent, Japan’s Nikkei ended 0.97 per cent higher and Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.24 per cent. In Europe, Frankfurt’s DAX was up 1.33 per cent, Paris CAC 40 rose 0.74 per cent, while London’s FTSE slipped 0.04 per cent in early deals. The benchmark Brent crude futures rose 0.53 per cent to USD 69.74 per barrel. Meanwhile, the rupee appreciated 30 paise to 68.44 against the US dollar intra-day.last_img read more

28 killed, 200 injured in army operations in Iraq’s Fallujah: hospital…

first_imgFALLUJAH – A total of 28 civilians were killed and 200 others injured in the western Iraqi city of Anbar since the start of military operations there weeks ago, a senior medical official told Anadolu Agency.“Most of the casualties were caused by the army shelling of homes, government buildings and worship places in the city,” said Abdel-Sattar Lawas, director of Fallujah General Hospital.The tally, however, does not include armed tribesmen killed in clashes with army forces, he said. The predominantly-Sunni Anbar province, of which Fallujah is a major city, has been rocked by violence since Iraqi security forces dismantled a months-old anti-government sit-in outside the provincial capital Ramadi in late December.The sit-in was a protest against perceived anti-Sunni discrimination by the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.Mohamed al-Bagari, spokesman of the anti-government protest camp in Fallujah, said that clashes were still raging between armed tribesmen and army forces in the city.He said that two tribesmen were killed and ten others injured in clashes between the two sides on Friday.Al-Bagari cited “difficulties” in moving the corpses of the victims to hospital, leaving residents with no other option but to bury their dead in their backyards.last_img read more

Morocco supports all efforts to reach just political solution in northern…

Rabat – Morocco supports all efforts seeking to reach a just political solution in northern Mali, which respects the country’s unity and sovereignty, said Foreign Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar, noting that the Kingdom will spare no effort to achieve this goal.Mezouar, who received on Friday in Rabat a delegation from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) led by its secretary general Bilal Ag Acherif, told the press that “Morocco is for all serious regional and international initiatives seeking to ensure peace and stability in Mali through a consensus between the parties to the conflict while respecting the will of all components of the brotherly Malian people.”“Morocco remains alert to all attempts threatening stability in the region,” he underlined. Given the spiritual and historical ties between Morocco and Mali, King Mohammed VI is determined to contribute to efforts meant to reach a political settlement that is accepted by all the parties, under Mali’s territorial unity, and lay lasting bases for a compromise to face extremist and terrorist movements which threaten the Sahel-Saharan region and the Maghreb.Bilal Ag Acherif thanked King Mohammed VI for his role in Mali’s stability and his people’s prosperity, and said that Malians welcome any Moroccan initiative to put an end to differences between Malian parties given the Kingdom’s pivotal role regionally and internationally. read more

Man with ‘Islamic extremist leanings’ attacks New York police

Washington –  A man reported to have Islamic “extremist leanings” attacked police officers in New York City with a hatchet Thursday, injuring two before being shot dead, police and a monitoring group said.The man, identified in the U.S. media as Zale Thompson, had posted an array of statements on YouTube and Facebook that “display a hyper-racial focus in both religious and historical contexts, and ultimately hint at his extremist leanings,” the SITE monitoring group said.Four police officers in the city’s Queens Borough were posing for a photograph at the request of a freelance photographer when the man walked up and without saying a word attacked them, a city hall statement said. One officer was hit in the arm and another in the head before the officers shot and killed the man, according to police commissioner Bill Bratton.He said police were investigating the motive for the attack, Bratton said, adding that it was too early to determine whether it was terror-related.A 29-year-old bystander was accidentally hit by a bullet in the lower back and taken to a hospital, while the man who took the photograph was cooperating with police and was not considered a suspect, Bratton said.Police described the assailant as being around 32 and having dark skin.SITE, which monitors radical Muslim groups, said that in a comment Thompson had posted to a pro-Islamic State video on Sept.13, 2014, he described “jihad as a justifiable response to the oppression of the ‘Zionists and the Crusaders.’” read more

Morocco: First Thermal Station Via Solar Energy to Enter into Action…

Marrakech – The first thermal solar power station in Morocco, which is a part of a development project costing seven billion Euros, will be launched in 2015.In a statement to AFP, the chairman of the Moroccan Agency of Solar Energy, Mr. Mustapha Elbakoury, stated, “According to the program, the progress made by the workshop Basin of Ouarzazate will allow the station, ‘Nour 1’ to enter into action next year [2015].”Nour 1 is the first thermal station, which is powered by solar energy and costs more than 600 million Euros. It will generate 160 megawatts of power. The task of its building went to the company Consortium, which is primarily supported by shareholders in Saudi Arabia. Elbakoury continued: “the ambitious project aiming at producing 2,000 megawatts of solar power by 2020 is progressing in a satisfactory way.”Morocco plans to build five stations to generate electricity from solar energy. The first one will be Ouarzazate station at the gates of the desert, which is estimated to generate 500 megawatts and is foreseen to be one of the biggest such programs in the world.According to Elbakoury, the second phase of the implementation of the stations “Noor 2” and “Nour 3” will start in the beginning of 2015.Elbakoury also stated that the announcement of the third phase of the project will take place “in the coming weeks.”According to AFP, Morocco, which does not have large reserves of hydrocarbons, is aiming at covering 42 percent of its power needs through renewable energies by 2020.In addition to solar energy, Morocco is betting on wind energy development, and it is building the largest station on the continent for this purpose in Tarfaya. read more

Moroccan Judges Routinely Allow Underage Girls to Marry: HRW

Rabat – Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Moroccan judges routinely allow underage girls to marry although the Family Code has improved women’s rights and raised the age of marriage from 15 to 18.In its annual review of global human rights released Thursday, the group said that “the Moroccan Family Code discriminates against women with regard to inheritance and the right of husbands to unilaterally divorce their wives.”HRW added that “the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern that Morocco had not adopted a legislation criminalizing all forms of domestic violence, including marital rape, although violence against women and girls in the home is reported to be pervasive”. The report also said that despite laws prohibiting the employment of children under the age of 15, thousands of children under that age, predominantly girls, are believed to work as domestic workers.“According to the UN, nongovernmental organizations, and government sources, the number of child domestic workers has declined in recent years, but girls as young as 8 years old continue to work in private homes for up to 12 hours a day for as little as US$11 per month,” said HRW. read more

Head of Govt. to Represent King Mohammed VI in 26th Arab…

Sharm el-Sheikh – Head of government Abdelilah Benkirane arrived, on Friday in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, to represent King Mohammed VI in the 26th Arab Summit scheduled on Saturday and Sunday. Benkirane was received at his arrival at the Sharm el-Sheikh international airport by Egyptian prime minister Ibrahim Mahlab. The Arab Summit will discuss a number of hot issues on top of which the security challenge in the Arab World, the Palestinian issue, the situation in Yemen, Syria , and Libya, as well as a series of draft resolutions submitted by the council of the foreign ministers league and the economic and social council. read more

Little girl to King Mohammed VI: ‘My Uncle the King, I…

Rabat – A Moroccan little girl posted a video to YouTube in which she expressed her feelings in the wake of the Tan Tan tragedy last week that claimed the lives of 34 people, including little children between the age of eight and fourteen.She asked King Mohammed VI to fulfill a wish she shares with a number of her peers which is to live a life free of fear.The girl said that children her age now fear being swept away by floods whenever it starts to rain, or to be killed in road accidents while on a school field trip. She added that King Mohammed VI is the only person capable of fulfilling her wish. read more

Local Authorities in Fez Ban Female Bartenders

Rabat – Local authorities in the city of Fez recently passed a new rule banning female bartenders from serving alcohol at local bars, citing safety reasons.A report by the daily Assabah newspaper in its Thursday edition said the branch of Morocco’s intelligence service Les Renseignements Généraux (RG) in Fez summoned the managers of local bars, restaurants, and nightclubs licensed to serve liquor to let them know about the new rules.According to the same source, the managers were given strict instructions not to employ women as bartenders, not to serve alcohol to minors, and not to allow prostitutes in their establishments, saying such practices “will not be tolerated.” Under the new rule, bars must close at 11:00 pm, restaurants that serve liquor must close at 1:00 am, and nightclubs must be closed at 3:00 am.Tourism professionals in Fez have expressed their “dismay” at the new decision. In particular, these establishments rely heavily on employing female bartenders and giving prostitutes privileges so as to attract costumers.The National Federation of Hotel Industry FNIH condemned the new measures, saying they will certainly affect the financial health of their businesses.Sector professionals raised concerns that the new rules will likely worsen the temporary economic decline, which is marked by a decrease of revenues, generally caused by a fall in the tourist arrivals and overnight stays.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission read more

Nicolas Cage in Morocco to Capture Osama Bin Laden

Rabat – The trailer of “Army of One,” a new movie from Oscar winning actor Nicolas Cage and shot in Morocco, was released on YouTube last week.The nearly three-minute trailer features Morocco as one of the film’s most prominent locations in which scenes from the surreal comedy thriller were filmed.Morocco’s red city, Marrakech, appears as a City in Pakistan where Cage plays the role of Gary Faulkner, an American construction worker, who is on a mission from “God” to capture Osama Bin Laden. TWC-Dimension/Anchor Bay EntertainmentBased on a true story, Gary Faulkner appears taking a stroll through the streets of Marrakech on the back of a donkey, hunting down Osama Bin Laden. He crosses the Afghanistan Mountains armed with a pistol, a sword, night vision goggles, and a map. His mission, however, is interrupted when he iscaught near the Afghani border.“Army of One” is directed by American filmmaker and writer Larry Charles. Featuring as co-stars alongside Cage are Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs), Rainn Wilson (The Office), Russel Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Ken Marino (Agent Carter), Denis O’Hare (American Horror Story), and Paul Scheer (Fresh Off the Boat).TWC-Dimension/Anchor Bay EntertainmentLast week, Chilean Radio Cooperativa said, “Morocco has become the preferred destination for international directors to shoot the scenes that are supposed to take place in Iran, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.”Over the past years, many blockbuster movies have been shot in Moroccan territory, including “Mission Impossible-Rogue Nation” starring Tom Cruise, Prison Break,” “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” and “Les Nouvelles Aventures d’Aladin.”Last year, The Guardian ranked Morocco among the Top 10 Destinations for worldwide filmmakers. Many regard the country as an “exotic” and “spiritual” place by virtue of its unique landscapes and ancient cities, such as Ouarzazate, which is known as the “Moroccan Hollywood.”Well-known hit films such as “Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “The Man Would Be King,” “Kingdom of Heaven,” and “Babel” have all been shot in Ouarzazate.“Army of One” will be available from November 4.Edited by Constance Guindon read more

Morocco: Ministry of Transport Launches Traffic News Application

Rabat – The Ministry of Equipment, Transport and Logistics has launched “MarRoute”, a mobile application designed to provide commuters and passengers with information and news regarding traffic.In a communiqué released on Tuesday, the ministry said that the application, which informs users about road conditions, is a part of its strategy to ensure the safety of it commuters and passengers.The application, which is available for free download, provides users with various kinds of information services, such as a map displaying accidents  on the road that might disrupt their trip, including snow and flooding. The app will get its data from announcements released by of the ministry’s regional and provincial directoratesAccording to the ministry, the application was created as an interactive, participatory platform where users can share their concerns.The ministry stressed that the application comes as part of the Ministry’s policy of promoting e-governance  and supporting the evolution of mobile technologies in order to offer better public service to Moroccan citizens. read more

Pope’s Representatives in Morocco amid Debate over Local Christians

Rabat – Moroccan officials have met with representatives of Pope Francis amid controversy over Moroccan Christians’ right to worship.A conference was held on Wednesday in the Moroccan Royal Academy in partnership with the  Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue to discuss under the theme “Believers and Citizens in a Changing World”.High Moroccan officials took part in the conference, including the Academy’s Permanent Secretary Abdeljalil Lahjomri; King Mohamed VI advisor Omar Azimane; Head of the Constitutional Court Driss Dahak and the Secretary General of the Moroccan Rabita Mohammadia of Ulamas (official body of religious scholars) Ahmed Abbadi. During their lectures, both Lahjomri and the President of the Pontifical Council, Cardinal Jean Louis Touran, quote the King Mohammed VI’s message to the Conference on “The rights of Religious Minorities in Islamic Lands,” held in Marrakech in January 2016.“As Commander of the Faithful and defender of the faith, I am committed to protecting the rights of Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The religious rights of Muslims and non-Muslims are protected in accordance with the aforementioned immutable principles, and their rights as citizens are guaranteed by the Constitution; there is no difference or distinction as far as the ultimate goals are concerned,” read the royal message.The visit of the Catholic Church representatives came amid growing debate over the Moroccan Christians’ “emergence from the shadows.”More and more Christian converts are speaking up, calling for their rights to worship, marry and be buried according to their adopted faith.After a meeting with the Secretary General of the National Council for Human Rights, these converts addressed a letter to the Head of Government Saad Eddine Othmani, to draw attention to their situation as Moroccan Christians trying to live their faith in their country.While a near official recognition of Moroccan Christians might not be on the horizon, the King’s message to the rights of minorities in Muslim countries and a recent revision of the state’s religious standpoint on reversion from Islam can be taken as indicators of possible change with the way Morocco will deal with its own Christians. read more

Insufficient Oral Healthcare: An Overlooked Public Health Crisis in Morocco

Amsterdam  – Oral health is affected by diet, nutrition, tobacco use, knowledge on general health, and diseases such as cancer and diabetes.Bad oral health leads to cavities, tooth decay, bad breath, and gum diseases like periodontitis. Bad oral health is also associated with risks for Alzheimer’s and heart disease and systemic health problems.In a country where cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes account for 58 percent of the mortality rate, oral health needs to be discussed as a matter of public health. Lack of oral hygiene and consuming sugary products or sweet sodas lead to oral cavities. When left untreated, this may lead to tooth decay, missing teeth, and gingival diseases. Periodontitis is an irreversible aggressive form of gum disease.Oral hygiene and the associated habits must be incorporated from a young age. It should become a routine, a personal tradition, that is then maintained throughout one’s life. In Morocco, children in orphanages are at high risk for oral diseases. Children’s oral health practices are dependent on their parents. Low rates of toothbrush use are observed in studies of mothers and their children. In this instance, the mothers displayed very inefficient brushing techniques. In Sale, a neighboring city to Rabat, the mothers’ own knowledge of the practice of dental hygiene was investigated and shown to be related to children’s oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene practices were associated with the mother’s educational level and the child’s health status. The Moroccan Mother and Child units serve as a basis to offer counselling for mothers regarding general health. This could function as a resource for incorporating dental hygiene and oral health programs into public services.With regard to adolescents, a research group from the Department of Odontology at Mohammed V University in Rabat showed that of a study with 450 participants, 86 percent had at least one untreated dental cavities even though 82.3 percent of the study population had dental health covered by their insurance. This indicates that oral health is not only related to medical insurance, but possibly other factors.  Morocco has a high prevalence of periodontitis in young people. In 2016, a Moroccan study group concluded that the young Moroccan population is at high risk for developing aggressive periodontal disease. Therefore, it is plausible that, due to the nature of the disease, the same applies to older populations. A Spanish oral health research group conducted a study on patients with periodontitis, wherein 62 percent had aggressive periodontitis and 14 percent had chronic periodontitis. The bacteria co-responsible for developing periodontitis was  present in 60 percent of a study population consisting of Moroccan adolescents. It is assumed that Moroccans are more susceptible to periodontitis; biological elements such as genetics and the oral flora play a role in contributing to the increased risk. Likewise, a lack of proper oral hygiene, limited access to dental healthcare, the irregular use of toothbrushes and toothpaste in rural settings and low income families, and inadequate knowledge on significance of oral health factor into this widespread public health issue. read more

Forecasters turn to array of technology to fight floodwaters

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An arsenal of new technology is being put to the test fighting floods this year as rivers inundate towns and farm fields across the central United States. Drones, supercomputers and sonar that scans deep under water are helping to maintain flood control projects and predict just where rivers will roar out of their banks.Together, these tools are putting detailed information to use in real time, enabling emergency managers and people at risk to make decisions that can save lives and property, said Kristie Franz, associate professor of geological and atmospheric sciences at Iowa State University.The cost of this technology is coming down even as disaster recovery becomes more expensive, so “anything we can do to reduce the costs of these floods and natural hazards is worth it,” she said. “Of course, loss of life, which you can’t put a dollar amount on, is certainly worth that as well.”U.S. scientists said in their spring weather outlook that 13 million people are at risk of major inundation, with more than 200 river gauges this week showing some level of flooding in the Mississippi River basin, which drains the vast middle of the United States. Major flooding continues in places from the Red River in North Dakota to near the mouth of the Mississippi in Louisiana, a map from the National Weather Service shows.“There are over 200 million people that are under some elevated threat risk,” said Ed Clark, director of the National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a flood forecasting hub.Much of the technology, such as the National Water Model , didn’t exist until recently. Fueled by supercomputers in Virginia and Florida, it came online about three years ago and expanded streamflow data by 700-fold, assembling data from 5 million river miles (8 million kilometres) of rivers and streams nationwide, including many smaller ones in remote areas.“Our models simulate exactly what happens when the rain falls on the Earth and whether it runs off or infiltrates,” Clark said. “And so the current conditions, whether that be snow pack or the soil moisture in the snow pack, well that’s something we can measure and monitor and know.”Emergency managers and dam safety officials can see simulations of the consequences of flood waters washing away a levee or crashing through a dam using technology developed at the University of Mississippi — a web-based system known as DSS-WISE . The software went online in 2017 and quickly provided simulations that informed the response to heavy rains that damaged spillways at the nation’s tallest dam in northern California. The program also helped forecast the flooding after Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana that year.Engineers monitoring levees along the Mississippi River have been collecting and checking data using a geographic information system produced by Esri, said Nick Bidlack, levee safety program manager for the Memphis district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The company produces mapping tools such as an interactive site showing the nation’s largest rivers and their average monthly flow.On the Mississippi River, flood inspectors use smartphones or tablets in the field to input data into map-driven forms for water levels and the locations of inoperable flood gates, seepages, sand boils or levee slides, which are cracks or ditches in the slopes of an earthen levee. Photos, videos and other data are sent to an emergency flood operation centre in real time, allowing Corps officials to visualize any problems and their exact location, instantly informing the response, Bidlack said.“If people in the field have concerns about something, they can let us know to go out there and look at it,” Bidlack said. “There’s a picture associated with it, a description of it, and it helps us take care of it.”Corps engineers are increasingly flying drones to get their own aerial photography and video of flooded areas they can’t otherwise get to because of high water or rough terrain, said Edward Dean, a Corps engineer.“We can reach areas that are unreachable,” Dean said.The Corps also now uses high-definition sonar in its daily operations to survey the riverbed, pinpointing where maintenance work needs to be done, said Corps engineer Andy Simmerman. The Memphis district uses a 26-foot survey boat called the Tiger Shark, with a sonar head that looks like an old-fashioned vacuum cleaner and collects millions of points per square inch of data, Simmerman said.The technology has helped them find cars and trucks that have been dumped into the river, along with weak spots in the levees.“These areas are 20 to 80 feet underwater, we’d never get to see them without sonar,” Simmerman said. “The water never gets low enough for us to see a lot of these failures.”During recent flooding near Cairo, Illinois, a culvert that should have been closed was sending water onto the dry side of a levee. The sonar pointed engineers to the precise location of a log that was stuck 20 feet deep in murky water, keeping the culvert open. Plastic sheathing and sandbags were brought in to stop the flow and save the land below.“The sonar definitely made a difference,” said Simmerman. “A big success.”___Martin reported from Atlanta. Associated Press writer Jay Reeves contributed from Tuscaloosa, Alabama.Adrian Sainz And Jeff Martin, The Associated Press read more