Trading in mangoes, red chili, herbs to be hit as cross-LoC trade is shut

first_imgNew Delhi: Trading of 21 items like red chili, mangoes, herbs and dry fruits will be hit following the indefinite suspension of cross LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said Friday. Around 280 traders, who were directly involved in the trading will also be affected after the suspension of the business, which has touched Rs 6,900 crore since its inception in 2008. The 21 items listed for the cross LoC trade include bananas, embroidery items, tamarind, red chili and cumin for exports while imports mainly were almonds, dry dates, dry fruits, herbs, mangoes and pistachio. Hardening its stand against Pakistan, India Thursday indefinitely suspended cross-LoC trade at two points along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir effective Friday, following reports that it was being “misused” by elements from across the border to smuggle weapons, narcotics and fake currency. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalThe Home Ministry said orders have been issued for halting the trade at Salamabad of Baramulla in Kashmir region, and Chakkan-da-Bagh of Poonch district in Jammu region, after reports of very large scale “misuse” of cross-LoC trade. The cross-LoC trade on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote routes was started on October 21, 2008 as a Confidence Building Measure (CBM). Trade since 2008 till the 2017 fiscal stood at over Rs 4,400 crore at the Uri trading centre, while the figure for the same period at Poonch stood ar Rs 2,542 crore. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostInitially, 646 businessmen from Jammu and Kashmir had registered for trading in the two crossing points, but the number now stands at around 280, who are actually involved in conducting the business. When the cross LoC trade started, initially the business was for two days but from October 15, 2011, trading days were extended to four. The home ministry said a stricter regulatory and enforcement mechanism is being worked out and will be put in place in consultation with various agencies. The issue of reopening of LoC trade will be revisited thereafter. “It has been revealed that the trade has changed its character to mostly third party trade and products from other regions, including foreign countries, are finding their way through this route. “Unscrupulous and anti-national elements are using the route as a conduit for Hawala money, drugs and weapons, under the garb of this trade,” it claimed. It said during ongoing investigations of certain cases, the NIA has found a significant number of trading concerns engaged in the LoC trade are being operated by persons closely associated with banned terrorist outfits.last_img read more

EC seeks report from DM on Nashkar’s controversial remarks

first_imgKolkata: Election Commission has sought a report from the District Magistrate of East Midnapore on the derogatory statement of BJP candidate from Tamluk, Siddhartha Nashkar.During an election campaign in Tamluk, Nashkar allegedly made some derogatory remarks on Friday and allegedly urged the BJP workers to beat up other party activists. Following the incident, various political parties moved to the Commission demanding action against the BJP candidate from Tamluk. The office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) in the state sought a detailed report from the DM and also the video of the election rally. The Election Commission will examine the video footages of the BJP candidate. They will take a decision after going through the video. It may be mentioned that many BJP candidates have courted controversy in the recent past for their derogatory remarks and it seems to continue unabated. BJP’s Basirhat candidate Sayantan Basu, Dilip Ghosh contesting the elections from Midnapore, Babul Supriyo contesting from Asansol had been under the scanner of the Election Commission for triggering controversies. It may also be mentioned here that some polling personnel from Birbhum have urged the Election Commission to keep an eye on Anubrata Mondal, Trinamool Congress president of the district, on the day of elections as they fear that Mondal may try to intimidate voters.last_img read more

Indian ‘yoga guru’ held in Oz for assaulting two women

first_imgMelbourne: A self-proclaimed spiritual leader from India has been arrested and remanded in custody in Australia for allegedly assaulting two women who invited him to their homes for prayers in Sydney. Anand Giri, 38, was arrested from the western suburb of Oxley Park in Sydney early on Sunday and was subsequently charged with two counts of committing an act of indecency on two women on separate occasions, the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) news website reported. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince Salman ‘snubbed’ Pak PM Imran, recalled his private jet from US: ReportHe was due to fly overseas on Monday after completing a six-week spiritual teaching tour. According to the New South Wales police, the man attended a house in Rooty Hill to participate in Hindu prayers on New Year’s Day in 2016 where he met a 29-year-old woman and allegedly assaulted her in a bedroom. “While in the bedroom of the home, the man has allegedly indecently assaulted the woman,” police said in a statement. It was also alleged that the accused man also attended a home in Rooty Hill in 2018 where he met a 34-year-old woman in the lounge room of the home for prayers and indecently assaulted her. Also Read – Iraq military admits ‘excessive force’ used in deadly protestsPolice said that officers from Mt Druitt Police Area Command were notified and commenced investigations. After being denied bail over concerns that “more women victims could be at risk if released”, he was remanded in custody. He will appear at Mt Druitt Local Court on June 26. Both the complainants were known to the ‘yogi’, police said. Giri hails from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. According to his website, the primary objective of his life is to “provide life solutions to people and to be a change agent in the society”. He organises several spiritual teaching lessons and yoga classes throughout the year in India and abroad. He is a graduate and is currently pursuing his doctorate in Yoga Tantra, according to his website.last_img read more

AI asked to prepare FY19 financials, PMO for quick disinvestment of its subsidiaries

first_imgNew Delhi: The civil aviation ministry has told Air India that it should prepare 2018-19 financials for itself and its subsidiaries by end of June as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has decided to speed up the disinvestment process of three of its wings, according to an official document.After a botched attempt to sell Air India in May last year, a panel led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had decided in June to scrap the stake-sale plan for the time being. It was then decided to infuse more funds into the carrier and cut down debt by raising resources by selling land assets and other subsidiaries. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: IcraAir India has a total debt burden of around Rs 55,000 crore. On April 1 this year, a meeting was held in the PMO under the chairmanship of Nripendra Misra, the principal secretary to the Prime Minister, to discuss the matter regarding strategic disinvestment of Air India and its subsidiaries. “A meeting was held on April 1 under the chairmanship of the Principal Secretary to PM in which it was, inter-alia, decided to speed up the process of disinvestment of AIATSL, AIESL and AASL,” civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola told Air India’s Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Ashwani Lohani in a letter dated May 6. Also Read – Ashok Leyland stock tanks over 5 pc as co plans to suspend production for up to 15 daysAir India Air Transport Services Limited (AIATSL), Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL) and Airline Allied Services Limited (AASL) are subsidiaries of the national carrier. Kharola said that in order to proceed with disinvestment process of Air India and its subsidiaries, audited financials for 2018-19 will be required. “I would, therefore, request you to kindly get financials of Air India and its subsidiaries for the financial year 2018-19 finalised by end of June,” Kharola said. Aviation secretary also said that since the accounts for 2018-19 would form the “basis of bidding”, it is necessary that they are prepared with “utmost caution so as to reflect the correct financial status”. He added that contingent liabilities must be thoroughly verified. Moreover, he added that “account receivables” and “account payables” must be verified and confirmed from the other parties. “A physical verification of the inventories need to be done so as to ensure that the value of inventories shown on the balance sheet matches with the assets physically,” Kharola told Lohani. The secretary also told Air India CMD that a list of all pending litigations have to be drawn up. As a precursor to sale of Air India, the Cabinet on February 28 had approved setting up of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) –Air India Assets Holding Limited–to transfer Rs 29,464 crore worth loans of the national carrier and its four subsidiaries. The four subsidiaries which have been transferred to the SPV are AIATSL, AASL, AIESL and Hotel Corporation of India (HCI).last_img read more

Egypt to try 23 Islamists for ‘unauthorised’ demo

first_imgCAIRO – An Egyptian court will try 23 Islamists under a newly passed law banning unauthorised demonstrations, a judicial source said Tuesday.Supporters of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, ousted and arrested by the military in July, regularly hold demonstrations around the country calling for his return.Egypt’s military-installed authorities have cracked down on the protests, and more than 1,000 people have been killed and thousands others arrested since mid-August. The judicial source described the 23 accused as members of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, and said they had been detained ahead of their case.The group was arrested in the Qaliubiya governorate north of Cairo, according to the source, who did not say when they had been detained.They would go on trial Sunday on charges of “demonstrating without authorisation,” “disrupting traffic” and “disturbing public order,” the source added.The protest law, passed on November 24, requires organisers to seek authorisation three days ahead of any planned demonstration. Requests can be denied if the protest is deemed a threat to national security.Three activists who took part in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak are currently on trial under the law, and another is awaiting trial on the same charges.Activists say the ban is hypocritical as the army justified Morsi’s overthrow as a response to mass demonstrations across the country against his turbulent single year in power.last_img read more

Forbes Highlights Morocco’s “Ambitious” Aeronautics Industry

Washington – Morocco has been, for the past ten years, developing an ambitious aeronautics industry worth nearly a billion dollars, Forbes Magazine wrote Friday.“Throughout this period, some key world players such as Boeing BA +1.33pc, French company Safran and Canadian manufacturer Bombardier, made substantial investments in building increasingly sophisticated factories”, Abdemalek Alaoui writes, adding that over the last months, the pace of foreign investment in aeronautics even seemed to accelerate. During the Farnborough air show in London, two new major investments totaling 45 million euros (USê61 million) were announced by the Moroccan government with Aerolia a subsidiary of Airbus group- and Alcoa, a world leader in aluminum production, notes the US paper on its website.  With these new investments, Morocco hopes to give a strong signal to the Market that it is ready to become a global aeronautics player, attracting spare-parts manufacturers as well as services providers in this field, it says. Abdemalek Alaoui underlines that a combination of conjectural and structural changes allowed Morocco to become an increasingly credible player in the aeronautics sector, which employs some 10,000 people and accounts now for 5 pc of Morocco’s exports. read more

Four Dead After Sectarian Bombing Near Saudi Arabia Mosque

Rabat – Four people are dead in Saudi Arabia after an attempted terrorist attack, reports state media. The explosion near a Shiite mosque occurred just one week after the Islamic State terrorist group took responsibility for a similar suicide bombing in the area that killed 21 people during midday prayer.The bombings have raised suspicions that the sectarian differences fueling conflicts across the Middle East will bring more domestic threats to the kingdom as a whole. Although Saudi leaders deny the accusations, Saudi Arabia has previously been accused of developing rhetoric against the country’s Shiite population to rally support for its air offensive against Shiite Houthi rebels.Traditionally, Saudi Arabia’s clerical establishment considers followers of Shiite Islam as disloyal to the Muslim faith. Saudi Shiites are seen as followers of Iran, the rival region of Saudi Arabia.The exact details of the incident are still being investigated. It is unclear whether the bombing occurred at the hands of a suicide bomber strapped with explosives or if the vehicle that exploded was equipped with them.Saudi officials have labeled the bombings as terrorism attacks, following threats from ISIS to attack the interior of the kingdom. The state’s top religious authority, the grand mufti, called the first bombing a “criminal” act against the “sons of the homeland,” reports the New York Times.In response to the grief felt all over the country, including that of the Saudi interior minister and crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who flew to meet with victims and their families, a Saudi resident claims that, “if the government does not do its part, permit me, your highness, it is a partner in this crime.” read more

Morocco Dismantles a Terrorist Cell in Fez

Rabat – A terrorist cell responsible for recruiting Moroccans to fight alongside the so-called Islamic State has been found and dismantled in Fes on Thursday.Composed of three members including one woman, the cell was responsible for recruiting volunteers to fight in terrorist organisation ISIS, the Interior Department said in a statement published on MAP.According to a statement from the department, the terrorist was about to carry out terrorist acts in Morocco large scale. The investigation by the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) within the S & T Branch revealed terrorist cell “Were preparing to commit terrorist attacks in Morocco,” according to the statement.The network was active in Fez, Casablanca and Oulad Teima. read more

Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba Restores Islamic Identity After Heated Debate

Rabat – Catholic Church authorities in the southern Spanish city of Córdoba have agreed to restore the Islamic reference in the name of the city’s famed mosque-cathedral after attempts to blot out its Islamic past and heritage.The decision was welcomed on Friday by the Mosque-Cathedral protest group that complained that the church’s aim was to take the UNESCO World Heritage site out of public hands.The Catholic Church of Córdoba took advantage of the existence of a law permitting the registration of ownership of houses of worship at a nominal price in an attempt to erase the Islamic identity and history of the structure. In 2006, the church registered the famous mosque-cathedral under its ownership for 30 euros in accordance with the law. However, the local city council declared that the building does not belong to any church or other organization.The church’s attempt to control the mosque-cathedral sparked a heated debate and led to the disapproval of associations and academics, who called for restoring the term “mosque” in the structure’s name.After fierce objections from activists, the church association that runs the site said that following studies conducted on this issue, and taking tourism into consideration, the site will now be called the Mosque Cathedral Monument Complex.The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. The structure began as a small Christian Visogoth church before being divided into Christian and Muslims halves in 711. Umayyad Prince Abd al-Rahman I founded the famous medieval mosque in 784 after purchasing the Christian half. The structure was converted into a Catholic cathedral in 1236.Edited by Kelsey Fish read more

King Mohammed VI Avoids Shaking Hands with Nabil Benabdellah

Rabat – In a meeting with ministers of the Moroccan government on September 26, King Mohammed VI reportedly shook hands with all the ministers in the Council of Ministers, with the exception of Nabil Benabdellah, Morocco’s Minister of Housing and Urban Policy, according to Moroccan news website, Medias24.Another Minister who was present at the council meeting revealed to Medias24 what allegedly happened  when the king avoided shaking hands with Benabdellah.This apparent royal snub came only a few weeks after the Royal Cabinet slammed Benabdellah for inappropriately implicating the King’s Advisor, Fouad Ali El Hima, in the electoral campaign prior to the legislative elections scheduled to be held on October 7. In early September, Nabil Benabdellah told Moroccan weekly Al Ayam that his party “has no problem with the Authenticity and Modernity party (PAM-opposition), but with the person who is behind the party,” in a tacit reference to El Hima.On September 13, the Royal Cabinet issued a communiqué denouncing the minister’s statement:“The latest statement of Nabil Benabdellah, Minister of Housing and Urban Policy and Secretary General of the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS-majority), is a political diversion tool at election time, which requires refraining from launching unsubstantiated statements.”The communiqué of the Royal Cabinet also asserted that the Minister’s “irresponsible statements” are “dangerous” as they come from “a government member, while the targeted person [El Hima] currently holds the position of HM the King’s Adviser and no longer has any relationship with politics.” read more

Polisario Accuses Morocco and France of Plotting to Sabotage EU-AU Summit

Rabat- The Algeria-backed Polisario Front has once again accused Morocco and France of hatching plots against the separatist organization.The so-called Minister of Foreign Affairs of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, has expressed anger at French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s statements earlier this month regarding the Africa-European Union Forum.During his visit to Rabat, the French chief diplomat said that the selection of participating countries, to be held in Ivory Coast in late November, must take into account “the realities of sovereign countries.” You Don’t Know Where Your Interests LieThe statement was interpreted by Polisario as evidence of French opposition to SADR’s participation in the conference. Pro-Polisario Algerian media also reported that Rabat and Paris were “conniving” to derail the participation of the separatist entity in the summit.In an interview with Algérie Patriotique, an online media outlet owned by the son of retired Algerian army general Khalid Nizar, Ould Salek accused France of having a condescending attitude towards the African continent.“We are hoping that France will not look down at Africa. This is how it behaves. The recent statements by the French Minister Le Drian unfortunately prove the tendency of some French officials to swim against the current and link their interests and those of France with the Moroccan monarchy, which goes against the aspirations of the whole of Africa,” he said.Ould Salek argued that France – a member of the EU, which seeks cooperation with the African Union (AU) – is going against its own interests by choosing to side with Morocco.“This [EU-AU] cooperation is based on the principle of equality between the two organizations and on a policy of fruitful cooperation for Europe as well as Africa,” he said.The leading Polisario member the reiterated claims made earlier in September by Algeria’s ambassador to Brussels, Amar Belani, who said that joint conference, formerly called “EU-Africa summit” before it was re-labeled as the “EU-AU” summit, would see the participation of SADR. The latter, being a member of the African organization, would be allowed to attend.These claims have been refuted by Moroccan online media outlet Le Desk, citing an unnamed source from Brussels, the EU capital.“As was always the case with preceding summits, Algerians pushed for an inclusion of SADR, but no change was made in that regard,” the source said.Self-Assurance or Self-DenialIn the interview with Algérie Patriotique, Ould Salek seemed very assured of SADR’s imminent participation in the summit. Presenting SADR’s absence from previous summits as a choice, he said he did not see why it would not take part in the upcoming event if it wanted to.Ould Salek also claimed that a Moroccan delegation had rushed to Brussels in an attempt to convince the EU not to invite SADR to the summit.“The EU officials sent the Moroccans packing, telling them to refer to the AU,” he said.He added to the claim another when he said that “in Africa, only Ivory Coast, a country close to France, supports Morocco.”This claim appears ungrounded, as Morocco has several allies in Africa who support the kingdom in the issue of the disputed Western Sahara, such as Senegal and Gabon.During the first faceoff between Morocco and SADR in the AU since Morocco first rejoined the organization in late January, it turned out that the kingdom had more allies that the separatist force and its traditional backers.When Morocco asked in July for a modification in a report’s paragraph referring to Western Sahara as “occupied territories” during a meeting of the Executive Council, 16 member states supported Morocco’s request while only six defended Polisario’s position.Ould Salek presented support for SADR’s participation in the summit as a decision unanimously agreed-upon by the AU member states, even though only 16 countries out of the organization’s 55 members recognize SADR.Still, the representative of Polisario, an organization that depends on the support of AU members with notable influence such as South Africa and Algeria, spoke with striking self-assurance.“It’s obligatory to hold the summit in Abidjan if Ivory Coast, for some reason or another, isn’t disposed to do so,” he said, suggesting that “at least 15” other African capitals would be willing to host the event.As for any attempts by states like France to block SADR’s participation, Ould Salek said with same self-assured tone that their endeavors are “doomed to fail.”The upcoming weeks will prove whether the Polisario minister’s self-assurance has a solid basis or it is rather an expression of self-denial. read more

King Mohammed VI Urges Govt. to Provide Help to Victims of…

Rabat – Following the stampede that occurred on Sunday, King Mohammed VI “gave his high instructions to the competent authorities to take all measures to provide the necessary support and assistance to the families of the victims and the injured,” said a communique of the Ministry of Interior.Seventeen people were killed and 38 people resulted during the distribution of foodstuff by a local association in the commune of Sidi Boulalam (province of Essaouira).In order to ease the sufferings of the bereaved families, the Moroccan monarch has also decided to personally pay for the expenses of the burial and funeral of the victims, as well as for the costs of the wounded’s hospitalization, the interior ministry said in a statement. According to the same source, competent authorities intervened following the incident and ambulances rushed to the scene to evacuate the wounded into Essaouira’s provincial hospital to receive the necessary care.An investigation was opened under the supervision of the public prosecutor’s office to determine the causes of the incident, the source said, adding that the interior ministry has opened an administrative inquiry.Most of the victims are women. They are 14 to have died in this incident. The other three dead are children.according to Moroccan news outlet Le360, a local philanthropist was preparing to distribute foodstuff to the needy population of this town when he was literally overwhelmed by the crowd. read more

Driver ‘Purposely’ Crashes into a Mosque in France

Rabat – Fortunately, the shocking attack left no one harmed. According to AFP, a driver of a Mercedes struck the doors of Al Wifaq Mosque in the French village of Mons-en-Baroeul near Lille, at night on Friday, August 10. The prefecture released a statement dismissing any “racist motivation.” ???FLASH – Le conducteur d’une voiture a volontairement foncé dans les portes d’une mosquée hier soir à #MonsEnBaroeul près de Lille. Pas de blessé. L’auteur est recherché. Il a été identifié. Ses motivations ne sont pas connues pour l’instant. (France 3 – ?@Ali_Loup)— Brèves de presse (@Brevesdepresse) August 12, 2018The hit-and-run act occurred at 11:45 p.m., shortly after the isha (evening) prayer, which gathered approximately 200 people, according to French media. The suspect left his car behind, and ran to escape the crime scene. “The car drove its full length into the mosque. The motives of the suspect, who has been identified will be known when arrested,” said a police source to AFP. The national police services have made it a priority to find the individual.According to television channel France 3, the suspect is a French Muslim who was previously convicted of a criminal offense. read more

Poland’s political leader on unprecedented defensive

WARSAW, Poland — Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s most powerful politician who has built his position on a reputation of honesty and anti-communist convictions, suddenly finds himself embroiled in revelations over his involvement in complex business dealings and the presence in his inner circle of people with alleged communist ties.The stakes are high, given two crucial elections this year — for the European Parliament in May and for the national parliament in the fall.The scandal broke when Gazeta Wyborcza, a daily newspaper critical of ruling Law and Justice party that Kaczynski leads, published transcripts of secretly recorded business negotiations between Kaczynski and an Austrian developer about plans Kaczynski had to build twin skyscrapers on a plot of land in Warsaw. The plans have been abandoned and the disgruntled developer claims he has not been paid for the work he did.The plot is owned by a foundation that is linked to the ruling party and Kaczynski sits on its board. The foundation, the Lech Kaczynski Institute, is focused on political debate and is named after Kaczynski’s twin brother, Poland’s president who was killed in a plane crash in 2010.Reacting to the scandal, Kaczynski said in an interview that the towers were aimed at making profit and financing the foundation, in line with the law. Commentators say they were also to finance Kaczynski’s political circle and the party.The revelations raise questions because Polish law bans political parties from doing business or drawing profits from it. They also put in doubt the almost ascetic image of integrity Kaczynski has cultivated. The 69-year-old has suddenly been revealed as a shrewd and skilled business negotiator — a far cry from the lifelong bachelor who funds food for stray cats, reportedly had no bank account until a few years ago and is known for saying that “one does not go into politics for money.”In the latest development, Gazeta Wyborcza on Friday quoted testimony that, it said, the Austrian developer, Gerald Birgfellner, recently gave to prosecutors. It quoted Birgfellner as saying that Kaczynski had advised him to give 100,000 zlotys (23,000 euros) to another member of the foundation’s council to obtain his permission for the launch of the construction. The paper quoted Birgfellner as saying he delivered an envelope with half of the amount to Kaczynski’s office and saw him holding it.A government member, Jacek Sasin, called the publication “fake news” aimed at “hunting down an honest politician that Jaroslaw Kaczynski is.”Opposition parties, though, are demanding an investigation into the allegations by prosecutors and by the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau that was set up in 2006 by a government that Kaczynski led at the time.The troubles follow separate allegations of corruption of a party appointee, the head of the State Financial Supervision Authority, and of surprisingly high earnings of aides to the head of the state-owned National Bank of Poland.“The party that was to be the yardstick of ethics in politics is mixing business with politics like none other,” Boguslaw Chrabota, chief editor of the Rzeczpospolita daily, wrote in a recent commentary. He said that the latest scandal amounts to a “serious crisis of image” because it “hits at the party’s very heart and brain.” He was referring to Kaczynski, who is considered the most powerful person in the country, guiding the government even though formally he is only a lawmaker.The revelations have exposed Kaczynski as having the decisive voice in the multimillion-euro project to build the skyscrapers, dubbed K-Towers. They also showed Kaczynski as being reluctant to pay Birgfellner for some 14 months of preparatory work on the project that never materialized.Birgfellner, who is the son-in-law of Kaczynski’s first cousin, recorded the talks in Kaczynski’s tightly guarded office.He requested payment of millions of zlotys (hundreds of thousands of euros), but Kaczynski said Birgfellner needed to provide detailed invoices or seek a court order for the payment. The developer felt cheated and notified prosecutors, who questioned him this week.Gazeta Wyborcza published one of Birgfellner’s invoices for almost 1.6 million zlotys (euro 370,000.)Kaczynski cancelled the project last year, telling the Austrian he was fearing it might become a political burden at the time of key elections.In the recordings, Kaczynski is heard saying he is afraid people might assume that he is the one building the skyscrapers “so I must be a very rich man. We cannot allow that.”In an interview for the pro-government Sieci weekly, Kaczynski insisted that “there is nothing there” to blame him for. He said that “no regulation has been broken” and that a lawmaker and party leader is allowed to sit on a foundation board and hold business negotiations. He argued that there are no financial ties whatsoever between the party and the foundation. He is demanding a public apology from Gazeta Wyborcza and threatening a court case.It is the first time that Kaczynski and his party, which stormed to power in 2015 elections on a generous social agenda, find themselves on the defensive. Still, the party remains Poland’s most popular political force with strong support.High on the party’s agenda is the removal from public life of people who collaborated with communist-era secret security. But media have also revealed that a close Kaczynski associate and former head of the foundation, Kazimierz Kujda, who also negotiated with Birgfellner, was an active collaborator in the 1980s.Party members reacted with surprise and Kujda resigned.A spotlight is also on Kaczynski’s most trusted head of office, Barbara Skrzypek, who has some shares in a company owned by the Kaczynski foundation. In the late 1980s she worked as a secretary in the office of communist-era Prime Minister Zbigniew Messner, and later in the office of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, when he served as democratic Poland’s first president.In the past, Kaczynski has reacted quickly to nascent scandals, removing officials in cases of wrongdoing, an approach that has helped maintain his upright image.A prominent party lawmaker, Janusz Sniadek, said party members are taking the media publications “seriously,” especially because they come ahead of the elections, but added that they are nothing but “desperate attempts to show Jaroslaw Kaczynski in a bad light, but in fact they became a certificate of his honesty and adherence to the regulations of law.”“The result of Gazeta Wyborcza’s publication is the opposite of its intentions,” Sniadek told The Associated Press.Rzeczpospolita chief editor Chrabota said he does not fully agree that the tapes show Kaczynski as an honest person because “in business it is a norm that agreements are signed and work done is paid for, rather than a court trial sought.”Monika Scislowska, The Associated Press read more

King Mohammed VI Pardons 792 Prisoners on Eid Al Mawlid

Rabat- Royal pardons have become customary on religious and major national holidays. The Ministry of Justice announced the royal pardon in a statement on Monday, the eve of Eid Al Mawlid.The King gave several kinds of pardon for  Eid Al Mawlid. The pardon reduced prison times for 563 inmates. For nine, the pardon commuted their prison sentences from life imprisonment to fixed prison terms. For one prisoner, the pardon is a matter of life and death, commuting his death penalty to life imprisonment.Read Also: How Does Morocco Celebrate Eid Al Mawlid?Three had their remaining prison term pardoned. For those fined, seven must still pay their fines. The pardon annulled fines for 142 prisoners, and spared 11 prisoners from both fines and their remaining prison terms.King Mohammed VI pardoned 707 prisoners on Eid al-Fitr marking the end of Ramadan in June and 889 on Eid Al Adha (feast of sacrifice) in August, including 184 Hirak Rif detainees.Eid Al Mawlid Nabawi is a spiritual day when Muslims recall the ideals of Islam and recite poems dedicated to the prophet. read more

Turkey’s High Election Board Accepts Erdogan’s Appeal to Re-run Istanbul Elections

Rabat – On Monday, Turkey’s Higher Election Board announced its decision to re-run elections in Istanbul, after an appeal by Turkey’s ruling party, Justice and Development (AK), to rescind and re-run elections. The decision to re-run elections in Istanbul came hours after the Higher Election Board announced it was evaluating the Justice and Development Party (AKP) appeal. The appeal to re-run elections in Istanbul came shortly after Turkey’s main opposition party candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu of the Republican People Party (CHP), won the Istanbul Municipality in mid-April for the first time in 25 years. According to the Turkish electoral body, the election will be re-run in Istanbul on June 23, 2019.President Erdogan’s ruling party requested a new ballot, citing “irregularities” in the local elections of  March 31, 2019. “The parties have also filed appeals to annul results in two Istanbul districts, Buyukcekmece and Maltepe, over the same claims,” Reuters reported.Turkish Prosecutors investigated the alleged irregularities “which state-owned Anadolu news agency said resulted in 43 officials being linked to the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen,” said the same source. Ankara has consistently blamed Gulen for a 2016 coup attempt.Read also: Turkey Wants to Arrest Mohammed bin Salman’s Allies for Khashoggi Murder read more

More delays for Boeing’s new space capsule for astronauts

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Boeing’s new space capsule for astronauts faces more launch delays.The Starliner capsule was supposed to make its debut this month, after a series of postponements. But the first test flight is now off until August. And the second test flight, with astronauts, won’t occur until late in the year.NASA announced the revised lineup Wednesday. At the same time, officials said the first Starliner crew will remain at the International Space Station longer than the few weeks originally anticipated. The length will be decided later.SpaceX, NASA’s other commercial crew provider, flew its new Dragon capsule to the International Space Station last month. The first Dragon with astronauts could fly this summer, but the schedule is under review.Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press read more

Sweden won’t seek Assange’s detention, court rules

COPENHAGEN — A Swedish court has ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is now jailed in Britain and suspected of rape in Sweden, shouldn’t be detained in absentia.Monday’s ruling by the Uppsala District Court doesn’t mean a preliminary investigation in Sweden should be abandoned, only that Assange wouldn’t be extradited and could be questioned in Britain.Last month, the 47-year-old Assange was evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he had been holed up with political asylum since 2012. He was then immediately arrested by British police on April 11 and is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Britain for jumping bail in 2012.He is also fighting extradition to the U.S., which accuses him of publishing secret documents.The Associated Press read more

Darfur UN and Sudan sign deal to improve humanitarian operations

28 March 2007The United Nations and Sudan signed a joint communiqué today in which the Government pledged to support, protect and facilitate all humanitarian operations in the strife-torn Darfur region, where an estimated 4 million people now depend on outside aid. The communiqué, signed in the capital, Khartoum, commits the Government to rapid and full implementation of all measures relating to humanitarian access contained in a July 2004 communiqué that followed a visit to Darfur by the then UN Secretary-General.Under today’s agreement, both parties recognize that significant progress has been made in tackling the humanitarian situation since 2004, most notably in improving rates of deaths and malnutrition. But more joint efforts are needed to facilitate relief activities, including securing access to affected areas and solving any emerging procedural problems.Sudan has committed, among other measures, to extend the current visas and permits for humanitarian workers through next January, and to issue multiple-entry visas to the directors of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their families. It will also fast-track visa applications and customs procedures for UN staff and NGOs.The communiqué also stipulates that a high-level committee will be set up to monitor and regulate the commitments, and this new grouping will includes representatives of the UN, the Government, NGOs and the international community.The agreement comes as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes arrived in N’Djamena, the capital of neighbouring Chad, for talks with that country’s Government.Mr. Holmes reached N’Djamena after visiting camps for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) and aid projects around the eastern Chadian hamlet of Goz Beida, about 100 kilometres from the Sudanese border.Dwindling water resources have become a major problem in Goz Beida, where the population has more than quadrupled in the past three years because of the insecurity in Darfur that has now extended into Chad and also the Central African Republic (CAR).More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2 million others displaced from their homes in Darfur since rebel groups there took up arms against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militias in 2003.Jan Eliasson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Darfur, also visited Chad today, where he met with Prime Minister Delwa Kassiré Koumakoye and officials from the country’s Foreign Ministry.Mr. Eliasson and his African Union (AU) counterpart Salim Ahmed Salim have been travelling around the region this week to try to re-energize the political negotiation process so that a comprehensive solution can be found to Darfur, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said is home to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.Yesterday Mr. Eliasson told a joint press conference in Khartoum that the path to peace in Darfur needs not only the support and goodwill of the parties involved in the conflict, but broad public support as well before a durable solution can take effect.The UN and the AU would like to deploy a hybrid peacekeeping force inside Darfur, a region roughly the size of France, to end the bloodshed and protect civilians. read more

SecretaryGeneral laments lack of progress on implementing Cyprus agreement

10 December 2007The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides have made no progress in the past six months in implementing the July 2006 agreement aimed at establishing the framework for a political process so that full-fledged negotiations on solving the Cyprus problem can begin, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says. In his latest report to the Security Council on the work of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Mr. Ban writes that the leaders of the two communities continue to publicly endorse the agreement’s principles that a settlement must be based “on a bi-zonal, bicommunal federation and political equality,” but that “a lack of political will to fully engage” was preventing any tangible progress.“All parties need to show greater flexibility and greater political courage,” he states, describing a September meeting of the leaders that did not produce any concrete results as “a lost opportunity.”Mr. Ban stresses that only sustained political will from Cypriots, translated into real action, will lead to a settlement, and to that end he urges the people of the island to become more actively involved in civil society.The Secretary-General also states that “it is regrettable that the ongoing debate on the lifting of the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots has become a debate on recognition. Recognition, or assisting secession, would be contrary to the resolutions of the Security Council.“Rather, the objective should be to engender greater economic and social parity between the sides by further promoting the development of the Turkish Cypriot community, so that the reunification of the island may occur in as seamless a manner as possible.”In addition, Mr. Ban welcomes the recent work of the Committee on Missing Persons – which is tasked with identifying the remains of missing persons and returning those remains to the families concerned – “towards the resolution of one of the most painful aspects of the Cyprus problem.”Given the general situation, the Secretary-General recommends that the mandate of UNIFCYP be extended for another six months, until 15 June next year. The mission is deployed on the Mediterranean island to supervise ceasefire lines, maintain a buffer zone and undertake humanitarian activities. read more