Jackie Chan to voice elderly cat in Canadian animated film Once Upon

first_imgAdvertisement Facebook Advertisement Advertisement Producers say Chan will voice an elderly cat.The story follows a tiger, rat and dragon — representing strength, smarts and courage — as the trio sets out to solve mysteries.Toonbox Entertainment is Toronto-based while GAMA Entertainment is in Los Angeles.Chan’s previous voice work includes in “The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature” and the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise. Action film star Jackie Chan, shown in a handout photo, has signed on as an executive producer for the upcoming Canadian animated film “Once Upon a Zodiac.” Handout / THE CANADIAN PRESScenter_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment TORONTO — Action film star Jackie Chan has signed on as an executive producer for the upcoming Canadian animated film “Once Upon a Zodiac.”Toonbox Entertainment and GAMA Entertainment say the “Rush Hour” star will also lend his voice to the film, which is currently in production in Toronto.The film features a mystical, wondrous world populated with the animals of the zodiac. Login/Register With: Twitterlast_img read more

Liberal MPs scuttled plans to have MMIW inquiry commissioners testify before committee

first_imgJorge BarreraAPTN National NewsLiberal MPs on the Indigenous Affairs committee appear to have scuttled plans to hold a hearing this month on the troubles facing the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).Committee MPs initially passed a motion tabled by Conservative MP Cathy McLeod to invite the inquiry commissioners to appear before the committee by June 15. The committee clerk had reached out to the commissioners who tentatively agreed to appear before the committee, APTN was told.Then, Liberal MPs changed their minds on the issue and argued the committee was already overloaded with too much work, according to information provided to APTN about the discussions which happened behind closed doors. Liberal MP Remi Masse led the Liberal side’s arguments on the issue, APTN was told.“Masse shut it down,” said a source with knowledge of the issue.Masse could not be reached for comment.None of the MPs on the committee would comment directly on the issue because the discussions happened during in camera sessions.McLeod, who is the Conservative party’s Indigenous affairs critic, said the motion is “sitting there,” but would provide no other details.“I can’t speak to what happens when committee is in confidence,” said McLeod. “I absolutely believe we have an important role which is why I put forward a motion to meet with the commissioners to hear what their challenges are.”Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree said he could not discuss internal committee business. He said the commissioners would be invited to testify before the committee in the fall.“Over the years many of the commissions that have come forward have always gone through difficulties,” said Anandasangaree. “We need to give them the time and space to build a framework and execute it. In the fall we will hear from them on how they are progressing.”The inquiry commissioners have faced criticism from the families of the murdered and missing who say they’ve received little information on plans. The families have also said they believe the Privy Council Office, which is the prime minister bureaucracy, has too much control over the affairs of the inquiry.The inquiry has suspended hearings until sometime in the fall. There are no public hearings planned over the summer.The Senate committee on Aboriginal Peoples also requested the commissioners appear and testify, but it won’t happen until the fall. According to a committee official, the commissioners were not available to appear this month.The inquiry’s media spokesperson did not return a request for comment.The inquiry held one session of public hearings in Whitehorse which lasted three days.jbarrera@aptn.ca@JorgeBarreralast_img read more

Yukon First Nation celebrates 20 years of self government

first_imgShirley McLeanAPTN NewsA Yukon First Nation is celebrating 20 years of self-government at this year’s bi-annual Moosehide Gathering.It’s one of the territory’s largest cultural celebrations and is held just down river from Dawson City.smclean@aptn.ca@shirlmcleanlast_img

After death of 8th child Ikea relaunches dresser recall in US and

first_imgNEW YORK, N.Y. – Ikea relaunched a recall of 29 million chests and dressers in the U.S. and Canada Tuesday after the death of an eighth child.CEO Lars Petersson said Ikea wants to increase awareness of the recall campaign for several types of chest and dressers that can easily tip over if not properly anchored to a wall.The death of a California toddler, who was found trapped underneath an Ikea Malm dresser in May, has raised questions about whether Ikea has effectively spread the word about the recall, which was first announced in June 2016. The Swedish retailer and the federal safety regulators are asking customers to take immediate action to secure the dressers, or to return them.Petersson said Ikea has had an “extensive communication” campaign through social media, its website and television and print ads. The company emailed 13 million people about the recall two months ago, he said.Still, he said heightening awareness of the recall is necessary “because we think that it’s so important to reach as many people as possible.”Acting CPSC chairman Ann Marie Buerkle said that people who own the furniture can take care of any potential hazards by contacting Ikea.The recall, which applies only to customers in the U.S. and Canada, is for children’s chests and drawers taller than 23.5 inches and adult chests and dressers taller than 29.5 inches. Customers should contact Ikea for a free wall-mounting kit. The company is also offering to send crews to attach them in the home.Ikea is offering full refunds for anyone who no longer wants the furniture. Customers can bring them to a store, or Ikea will pick them up.At least eight children under the age of three have been killed when an Ikea dresser fell on them, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The first death occurred 28 years ago and the others occurred after 2002.The latest death was Jozef Dudek, 2, of Buena Park, California. The toddler had been put down for a nap when his father went in to check on him and found him under the dresser, according to details released by lawyers retained by the family.Alan Feldman, one of the lawyers representing the Dudek family, said Ikea’s recall has been “poorly publicized” and “ineffective in getting these defective and unstable dressers out of children’s bedrooms.”The same team of lawyers represented the families of three toddlers who died when Ikea dressers fell on them. Ikea reached a $50 million settlement with the families last December.Petersson said that more than 1 million dressers of have been returned for a refund or have been secured to walls with Ikea’s help since 2015, when the company first offered free wall-mounting kits.Buerkle said Ikea has “worked hard to make this an effective recall.” She said it presents customers with an array of options “and is as least burdensome to the consumer as it could be.”Ikea said the recalled products are sold with instructions that they had to be attached to walls. Petersson emphasized the recalled units are safe when this is done.The recall is for all Ikea chest and dressers that do not comply with U.S. voluntary industry standards. They included 8 million Malm chest and dressers that were sold from 2002 through June 2016.Peterson said that Ikea has stopped selling products that do not adhere to U.S. voluntary standards.last_img read more

New Tory government in New Brunswick dramatically scales back capital spending

first_imgFREDERICTON — New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative government has tabled a $600-million capital budget that dramatically turns away from the big spending of the previous Liberal government.Finance Minister Ernie Steeves says hard decisions are needed now about what government can afford if the province is to return to balanced budgets by 2020 or sooner.The previous Liberal government tabled an $815.3 million capital budget last year, and had projected to spend $865.6 million for the coming year.The Tories have released a five-year plan that would see capital spending at roughly $600 million each year.Steeves says the plan will focus on maintaining roads, bridges and buildings.The biggest spending in 2019-2020 is $321 million to maintain transportation infrastructure, while almost $124 million goes to health care infrastructure, and $60.2 million in school infrastructure — including new elementary schools in Hanwell and Moncton.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

PSAC now forecasting a 32 percent drop in drilling activity in BC

first_img“On reflection of our adjusted Forecast for 2018, we can’t help but note there is a continued shift by the E&P’s from gas to oil well drilling. That shift to oil is easily supported by the ‘lower for longer’ price outlook for Canadian natural gas. We’re also seeing a geographic shift, forecasting 110 less wells to be drilled in B.C than in 2017. While this doesn’t seem like a large number, one needs to keep in mind that these are some of the most complex and ‘service intensive’ wells being drilled in North America today. We estimate these 110 wells represent over $850 million in capital that won’t be spent in B.C. this year. On the winning side of the equation is Saskatchewan which we estimate will see just over 300 additional wells drilled than 2017. We estimate the capital cost to drill those wells is approximately $400 million. When you add those two scenarios together, we’re conservatively looking at approximately $450 million less capital being deployed in Canada than our earlier forecasted numbers suggested.”Whalen said that completion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion is but one key imperative to restoring investor confidence in Canada. Equally important, he said, is the need for Canada to communicate its energy brand internationally, one that proudly speaks to resource development that’s responsible, safe, ethical and to the highest environmental standards in the world.“The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently projected that global demand for energy will increase 31 per cent by 2040.  This increase includes a 49 per cent increase in demand for natural gas and a 12 per cent increase in demand for oil. Canada must be an active contributor in providing affordable, reliable natural resources to energy constrained developing nations to help lift them out of energy poverty so they too can enjoy the standard of living and quality of life that we Canadians enjoy.” CALGARY, A.B. — The Petroleum Services Association of Canada released its midyear update to its 2018 Canadian Drilling Activity Forecast, and lowered the forecast for the number of wells drilled across Canada for 2018 by six percent.PSAC is forecasting that 7,400 wells will be drilled in Canada this year, 500 less than its original forecast of 7,900 made last October. PSAC has based its updated forecast on an average natural gas price of $1.75 CDN/million cubic feet (AECO), a crude oil price of US$61.45/barrel, and a Canada-US exchange rate averaging $0.79.“While our oilfield services sector is marginally busier than it was last year at this time, this hasn’t necessarily translated into financial bottom lines that signal business sustainability,” said PSAC President and CEO Tom Whalen. “In fact, we still have a number of services companies making staff reduction adjustments of 5-15 percent. This pales in comparison to the 40-60 percent staff reductions we saw mid-2015 to the end of 2016, but still a very telling sign that our services sector is far from healthy.”“The improved WTI price shift into the mid to high $60’s is certainly a welcome sign for our industry. However, the disconnect and volatility of the differential between WTI and WCS pricing means that exploration and production (E&P) companies and Canadians are not benefiting to the same level as our ‘energy independent’ focused southern neighbour. It’s shameful that we continue to sell our oil to the U.S. at a steep discount to WTI, short-changing Canadians over $15 billion per year. The sooner we expand our customer base, the better off Canadians and quite frankly, the rest of the world will be.”On a provincial basis for 2018, PSAC forecasts that approximately 32 percent fewer wells will be drilled in B.C., with PSAC’s revised forecast now at 500 wells, down from 730 in the original forecast. PSAC now estimates 3,800 wells to be drilled in Alberta, down from 4,000 wells in the original forecast. The revised forecast for Saskatchewan now sits at 2,840 wells compared to 2,930 wells in the original forecast, and Manitoba is forecasted to see 255 wells or a jump of 25 in well count for 2018.last_img read more

Between the Sheets opens this weekend

first_imgLead Actresses Emry and Stevi say the characters they are playing are very real women and the most realistic women they have ever played.The show runs May 2nd, 3rd and 4th at the North Peace Cultural Centre and tickets can be purchased at npcc.bc.ca. Tickets are $25 per Adult and $20 per Student/Senior.There will be a special Question and Answer period offered after curtain call with the audience. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Stage North Theatre Society presents their performance of Between the Sheets at the North Peace Cultural Centre.Between the Sheets is a story of a mother with a special needs son, who goes into an un-scheduled parent-teacher interview with her son’s teacher that she suspects is having more of a relationship with her husband then she would like.This play that is written by Jori Mand and directed by Rob Laventure is a drama and is performed in real-time and just one-act. The subject matter is based on adult content and suggested a 16+ audience.last_img read more

National Energy Board to hold oral summary argument regarding jurisdiction over the

first_imgThe oral summary argument is open to the public to attend. Anyone entering the hearing room will be required to sign-in at the door. Upon doing so, each attendee will be provided with a lanyard that must be worn at all times.The NEB has been taking steps through a process determined in December 2018.The issue presented to the board is the jurisdiction of the Coastal Gas Link Pipeline.After the board received applications filed by B.C. resident Michael Sawyer, who worked two decades in Alberta as an environmental consultant in the oil and gas sector argued that Coastal GasLink should have faced a federal environmental review instead of a provincial one.The Coastal GasLink pipeline will bring natural gas from Northeast B.C. to Kitimat, where it will be processed and shipped to Asian markets through Shell’s LNG Canada project.$6.2 billion will be invested in the Coastal GasLink pipeline project. CALGARY, AB – The National Energy Board (NEB) will hold oral summary for the final oral argument and reply of Coastal Gas Link and intervenors on May 2nd and 3rd.Starting at 9 a.m. on May 2 and 3, 2019 in the Board’s hearing room, which is located at:2nd Floor517 Tenth Avenue SWCalgary, Albertalast_img read more

Close aide of Pulwama attack mastermind arrested in Delhi

first_imgNEW DELHI: The Delhi Police claimed to have arrested a Jaish-e-Mohammad cadre Sajjad Ahmed Khan (27), a close aide of Pulwama attack mastermind Mudasir Khan, from near Red Fort in Delhi. Special Cell which made the arrest on March 21 said that Sajjad was living in Delhi under the guise of a shawl vendor.The police said that Sajjad, a resident of Tral in Pulwama, is also suspected to be involved in the conspiracy of Pulwama terror attacks. Police said that NIA had registered a case on March 15 under section 120-B & 121-A IPC & 17, 18, 18A, 18B, 20, 38 & 39 UA (P) Act and named Sajjad Ahmad Khan as one of the accused along with Mudassir Khan and others. “Accused has been specially sent to Delhi to carry out reconnaissance of important targets and to set up a hideout in Delhi. This has been done to select specific targets and also to radicalise and recruit Muslim youth of UP and other states, provide them weapon training, explosives and field craft, raising funds and collecting weapons,” said DCP Special Cell, Pramod Kushwah. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderAccording to Police Sajjad and his two brothers were initially engaged in stone pelting incidents. On February 15, Sajjad’s brother Ishfaq was arrested under PSA (Public Safety Act) for stone pelting and remained in Srinagar Jail for about 9 months. Ishfaq Ahmed Khan died in exchange of fire with security forces on April 25, 2018 in Lam, Tral, Pulwama along with two Pakistani militants. After the death of Ishfaq, his friend Mudasir Ahmad Khan used to frequently visit his residence in Pulwama and motivated Showkat and Sajjad Ahmad Khan to join the JeM. By the end of June 2018, Showkat also joined the JeM. Showkat Ahmad Khan also subsequently died in an exchange of fire with the security forces in September 2018. Mudasir instructed Sajjad to spot young Kashmiri youths for fidayeen attacks. Sajjad then motivated and recruited. “On the day of Pulawama terror attack (Feb 14, 2019), Mudasir contacted Sajjad on WhatsApp and informed that they carried out attack on CRPF convoy. Mudasir then sent him the video of Adil Dar (fidayeen), which he deleted from his phone,” said DCP Pramod Kushwah.last_img read more

Chintels Group launches phase II of Chintels Serenity

first_imgAfter the successful completion of Chintels Serenity Phase I, Chintels Group, one of the fastest growing Real Estate developers in Delhi and NCR region, recently announced the launch of its second chapter –Chintels Serenity Phase II in Sector 109, Chintels Metropolis on Dwarka Expressway Gurugram. Redefining the concept of luxury and harmony, Chintels Serenity Phase II consists of 6 high-rise towers having a total of 324 apartments. The project consists of three and four bedroom apartments across five categories, in the range of 1590, 1955, 2100, 2375 and 2925 sq ft respectively. The construction of the project has begun in October 2018 and the expected time of delivery of the project is December 31 2023. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainHaving total saleable area of 4,85,660 square feet, Chintels Serenity Phase II will consist of 6 High-rise towers. One of the unique attributes of this project is the low density of the project with just 324 apartments spread across six towers out of which three towers will have four apartments per floor and rest three towers will have only two apartments per floor. The design, which has been conceptualised by Design Forum India, is a mix of contemporary architecture, cutting-edge design, state of art security and innovative use of spaces and elements to create a landscape harmonious with nature. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardUnveiling on the project, Prashant Solomon, Managing Director, Chintels India Ltd and Treasurer, CREDAI NCR said, “Chintels Serenity (Phase I & II) is a luxurious 9,49,660 square foot high-rise complex which consists of 444 apartments in 9.75 acres in the heart of New Gurgaon. We are extremely excited and proud to launch Phase II which aims at providing the best quality in real estate at best locations in Delhi NCR. We have worked hard on product design and customised financial plans to make home-ownership a dream come true for a new segment of customers. Despite the delays in the construction of Dwarka Expressway, the area has becoming immensely popular and witnessing incremental demand over the years.” Chintels Serenity Phase II is part of Chintels Metropolis, a self-sustained area development by Chintels, which will provide quality housing and living environment spread across 3 premium sectors of Gurgaon.last_img read more

Kejriwal says Modis nationalism is fake appeals traders not to fall in

first_imgNEW DELHI: A week before the Lok Sabha election in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday took the poll battle to unite the trader community of Delhi. “You have always voted for the BJP but this time I will urge traders to be with us and I promise that I will fight for your causes in every possible way. Modi’s nationalism is fake and do not fall in this trap again” said CM Kejriwal.A large number of Delhi voters belong to the trader community and this has always been a strong voter base of the BJP. However, from the ground reports due to the effect of sealing drive, the community faced troubles with their business. Also Read – Odd-Even: CM seeks transport dept’s views on exemption to women, two wheelers, CNG vehiclesThe BJP, which used to be traders’ party, has “broken the backbone” of the community, he alleged, adding thousands of notices are being sent to traders and all this is being done with the intention of “extorting” money from them. “The Modi government has unleashed ‘tax terrorism’ on traders,” CM Kejriwal said. “The policies of the Modi government have ruined traders. In a single stroke, demonetisation brought endless miseries to traders. When the traders’ community had barely recovered from this rude shock, the Modi government hastily brought in the GST, which nobody could understand since it was implemented without any proper planning,” he alleged. After note ban, the next jolt came in the form of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which led to the closure of many shops and factories, causing loss of numerous jobs and heaped miseries on traders, the AAP leader claimed, adding under the Modi government, the traders’ community is feeling “orphaned”. Also Read – More good air days in Delhi due to Centre’s steps: Javadekar”I want to appeal to the traders of Delhi that so far you were with Modi, what did you get? Now build a relationship with Kejriwal, he will honour the relationship with you till his last breath,” he said. Referring to the violence in Mayapuri on April 13, Kejriwal claimed that the AAP intervened and stopped sealing drive. “Give all the seven Lok Sabha seats (of Delhi) to us, I will ensure that there is no sealing in the national capital. You (traders) strengthen our hands, we will ensure justice,” he said. Around 14 officials were injured after clashes broke out between the security personnel and scrap dealers during the sealing drive in Mayapuri on April 13.last_img read more

RenaultTangier to Produce Ultra lowcost vehicles for European and African markets

Rabat – Renault-Tangier is planning to produce “Ultra low-cost” vehicles for the French company’s European and African markets. The final decision expected to be made in January 2015by Renault’s CEO Carlos Ghosn.Following the success of its Dacia brand and its low-cost models, the French group Renault is now planning to produce “Ultra low-cost,” with the launch of four smaller models.According to French-speaking magazine Jeune Afrique, Renault-Tangier will produce three of the said models for the European, North African and Sub-Saharan markets, while India will produce and launch the fourth model in 2015 for a starting price of around 3500 Euros. The three models that are expected to be produced in Renault’s Tanger-Med plant are a saloon car, an SUV model (recreational vehicle) and a 7-seater.Renault-Tangier manufactured only 170,000 vehicles in 2013 and 200,000 vehicles in 2014, while the plant has a capacity of producing 400,000 vehicles per year. However, the arrival of the “Ultra low-cost,” models is set to boost the production of the plant.Jeune Afrique went on to add that the vehicles manufactured for Europe should be adapted to the standards of the old continent, and will therefore be more expensive. read more

Muslims Do not Believe in Freedom Of Speech British Cleric

Rabat – A British preacher is reported to have said that Muslims do not believe in the freedom of expression.Anjem Choudary, a London-based radical preacher wrote a letter, published by American news outlet USA today, saying that Muslims “did not believe in the concept of freedom of expression.”Following the attack on the Paris offices of satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, the Muslim activist said in his letter entitled ‘People Know the Consequences’, that “contrary to popular misconception, Islam does not mean peace but rather means submission to the commands of Allah alone.” “Therefore, Muslims do not believe in the concept of freedom of expression, as their speech and actions are determined by divine revelation and not based on people’s desires,” he added.He tweeted:If freedom of expression can be sacrificed for criminalising incitement & hatred, Why not for insulting the Prophet of Allah? #ParisShooting— Anjem Choudary (@anjemchoudary) 7 Janvier 2015Freedom of expression does not extend to insulting the Prophets of Allah, whatever your views on the events in Paris today! #ParisShooting— Anjem Choudary (@anjemchoudary) 7 Janvier 2015According to media sources, Choudary and his small following of hardline Muslims are associating themselves with the ‘Salafist’ school of thought.Last year, he expressed his support for terrorist organization the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, and Muslims travelling to Syria and Iraq to fight.“Although Muslims may not agree about the idea of freedom of expression, even non-Muslims who espouse it say it comes with responsibilities. In an increasingly unstable and insecure world, the potential consequences of insulting the Messenger Muhammad are known to Muslims and non-Muslims alike,” he said in the letter.He also put blame on Charlie Hebdo for provoking the attack on its Paris offices that claimed the lives of 12 people.The letter asks: “Why did France allow the tabloid to provoke Muslims?”“Western governments are content to sacrifice liberties and freedoms when being complicit to torture and rendition — or when restricting the freedom of movement of Muslims, under the guise of protecting national security,” he added.Photo Credit: AFP read more

Jihadism on the March in West Africa

Rabat – Three heavily-armed men in black turbans set upon a police station. The point man enters and fires upon three policemen. With trained precision they ransack the office, collect weapons and set a shed on fire. The assailants escape unscathed in a truck parked nearby leaving the policemen critically wounded.If this were Syria or Afghanistan, it would be just another day. But this terrorist attack took place last week in a small village in Burkina Faso, a struggling West African nation with a 60 percent Muslim population.There are reports of daily attacks on police stations by affiliates of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali. Over the weekend, an attack took the life of one Malian police officer and seriously wounded three others. Muslim tombs are being destroyed, women are being kidnapped and marketplaces bombed.Within the last year Al Qaeda has made three unexpected and stunning attacks on hotel resorts – in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Mali – leaving 68 dead and West African nations in deep fear of future terrorist attacks.While U.S. and global coalition officials are touting their success in reducing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria by forty percent, both ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are expanding their reach into the vast territory of West Africa.Most of these nations have limited security to combat full scale terrorist attacks.  Many are turning to the West for assistance. But policy makers and global terrorism experts question whether the U.S. is prepared to meet this growing threat.West Africa is a prime target for expansion for jihadists, says author Bryan Griffin. His newly published Encyclopedia of Militant Islam provides briefs on 44 of the most violent terrorist organizations worldwide.“Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is expanding into West Africa for two reasons,” says Griffin. “First they need recruits. And second, they want to capture and control as a much territory outside of strong government control to stockpile weapons.”Their ultimate goal is to launch a military and public relations campaign against the Western world on behalf of Islam, he said.He said Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other jihadist organizations thrive in large countries with weak governments.  West Africa fits the bill.Out of 19 West African nations, 15 are former French colonies. The entire continental United States could fit into the region of West Africa. All expect Gabon and Nigeria suffer from weak economies and lack clear political succession. Yet, Gabon and Nigeria, two oil-producing countries have suffered over the past two years from oil revenue decreases as world oil prices have plummeted. Democratic processes have improved, but poverty, illiteracy and joblessness remain a burden on the governments which seek to address these issues.Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana have recently had to bear the brunt of an Ebola outbreak which devastated the economy and stability of these nations.Griffin said the jihadist take advantage of the poverty and instability by offering food, money and indoctrinating young men who are already Muslim into the path of Jihadism.“Hundreds if not thousands of Malian children have been sold to armed groups by family members or school officials in exchange for money,” writes Philip Obaji, Jr. in a column entitled How Terrorist Recruit African Children.“In other cases, the children themselves may have been lured in by money and the appeal of ‘fighting for God,’ especially after indoctrination in religious schools,” he says.Mali, a vast nation with a weak government, has half of its 17.9 million people under the age of 21, the average annual per capita income is $650 and average life expectancy is 58 years old.Who is the enemy?The roots of current terrorist onslaught in West Africa begins in Algeria in the 1990s. The Armed Islamic Group (GIA) sought to topple the Algerian government and establish an Islamic State. It is estimated that nearly 80,000 Algerians were killed through assassinations and civilian massacres. The Algerian government introduced an amnesty program in 1999 allowing a large number of jihadis to surrender. Those left were hunted down, hundreds were captured and those who escaped morphed into a new group called Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat made connections with other terrorist subgroups and in 2007 formally joined Al Qaeda headed at the time by Osman Bin Laden. With Bin Laden’s demise in 2011 by the Obama Administration, Ayman Al Zawahiri remains in control.“Al Qaeda is a strange beast as a group indeed, says Griffin. “It has evolved into a multi-headed Hydra based on a successful model (what Obama refers to as the original “core Al Qaeda”).This “core” Al Qaeda literally means “the base” maintains a decentralized structure which gives it the flexibility to adapt to losses and gains.The splintered terrorist groups named themselves Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. “Maghreb” in Arabic means “west” and is the actual name of Morocco in Arabic. But the area in which this organization was trying to establish its base included Morocco, Algeria and points south.Through the use of affiliates, AQIM equipped itself to be able to fight on numerous fronts. It has many affiliates which conduct independent missions with names like Ansar Dine, The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa or MOJWA, Tarek Ibn Ziyad Brigade, Those Who Sign in Blood, Katibat al-Mulathameen or “The Masked Brigade” and the Massina Liberation Front.But one individual terrorist has found a way to bring these sometimes warring groups together, secure massive amounts of funding and weapons, plan operations and defy death.The death of Mokhtar Belmokhtar has been announced on Chadian television in March of 2013. The President of Chad Idriss Deby Itno announced soon after that BelMokhtar committed suicide by bombing over despair at the news of the death of close associate in terror Abou Zeid. Belmokhtar then personally confirmed the death of Abou Zaid and destroyed the rumors of his death.The Libyan government announced he was killed in an U.S. airstrike. The U.S. government confirmed the strike but could not confirm the kill.But Belmokhtar, and his newly formed Al-Mourabitoun consisting of two AQIM affiliates, are said to be behind the recent hotel attacks in Mali, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.“Same cast of characters just putting on different names,” said Rudy Atallah, nonresident Senior Fellow with Africa Center for the Atlantic Group.  “They just rename themselves.”Atallah also says that the expansion of AQIM into West Africa is about recruitment.“Fulanis are being heavily recruited,” said Atallah. “The Fulani are herders and young men without grazing lands. They are destitute and have no jobs and no money.”The Fulanis are an ethnic group with a population over 20 million and have populations in most every West African nation from Sudan to Senegal.Of all the ethnic groups in West Africa which were Muslim too, the Fulanis fought the hardest against the French and were the most punished for their insurrections.Islamic State Present and Accounted For.It was only five years ago that a suicide car bomb ripped through the United Nations offices in Abuja, Nigeria killing 18 and injuring hundreds. The bombing site was a constant reminder to the heads of state from neighboring West African nations who met for the 2ndRegional Security Conference at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja last week.In attendance: Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari, President Francois Hollande of France, President Patrice Talon of Benin, President Paul Biya of Cameroon, President Idris of Chad, President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, Mohammadou Isofu of Niger, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, and the Prime Minister of Equatorial Guinea.These heads of states expressed their concerns of security in their countries.Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba called for greater assistance from the United States and Europe to combat the jihadists. He said that many West African nations lack the experience to fight terrorism.Nigerian President Buhari was eager to announce that Boko Haram had lost control of all its holdings in northeastern Nigeria. The terrorist group has killed thousands of Nigerians, displaced millions and has spread out to neighboring French-speaking countries of Chad, Cameroon and Niger during its seven-year insurgency.But terrorism experts say Boko Haram is far from dead.“This group is now morphing very very quickly,” said J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center of the Atlantic Council, in a BBC interview. “Its ties to the so-called Islamic State have been increasing, both in terms of weapons being shipped and fighters being spread further abroad.”Pham said that Boko Haram fighters have been in Libya for training or to carry out terrorist operations. And Boko Haram still maintains strong ties with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.Senegal, which borders Mali, is seen as a prime target for jihadism. The capital city, Dakar, hosts hundreds of non-governmental organizations, and hotels abound to accommodate aid workers and tourists. The former French colony has tightened security by arresting hundreds of its citizens in January for low-level crimes, such as traffic violations and smuggling. Some see the show of force as a message to ward off any big problems. However, both AQIM and ISIS have been successful in recruiting Senegalese fighters.Fluency in French is a common trait of Islamic State recruits from the region, write Brookings Institution researcher Chris Meserole and terrorism expert William McCants in a recently published study. So it is perhaps not surprising that France and Belgium have become a destination for them; the two countries have the largest number of IS recruits in Europe. Tunisia, by far, has the largest number of men and women joining IS.In American counterterrorism efforts, the U.S. Africa Command (Africom) headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, is providing some tactical training for security forces in Senegal, Ivory Coast and other West African nations. But many terrorism experts are concerned that the U.S. is handling the growing terrorist threat in West Africa with a detachment similar to that shown in Iraq and Syria.Africom uses Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, with 2,000 American troops, to launch drone strikes on Al-Qaida affiliates in East Africa. The U.S. military presence in West Africa consists of a base in Morocco, where 1,200 U.S. troops conduct Africa Lion, a joint military exercise. There is speculation that a U.S. drone base is located on the northwest ramp of the commercial airport at Niamey, Niger.Critics of the American effort aren’t hard to find. Witney Schneidman, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said both Paris and Washington had increased their efforts in West Africa, supplying troops, training and intelligence. But he said the U.S. response remained piecemeal. “It’s missing an overarching strategic approach. I can’t remember the last time our secretary of defense was in Africa,” he told the Financial Times.Atallah of the Atlantic Council said recently soured relations with Morocco hardly foster a unified effort against jihadism in North and West Africa.In May, U.S. Ambassador Dwight L. Bush was presented with a formal protest in Rabat over a State Department human rights report criticizing the Kingdom of Morocco for abuses including torture and its treatment of LGBT citizens.“We should treat the Moroccans with extreme respect,” said Atallah. “But this administration has just thrown egg in their face.”“What policy?” Atallah said of the overall counterterrorism effort in the region. “There is none.”“The Obama Administration has done absolutely nothing,” he says. “They are relying totally on France.”President François Hollande put a hopeful spin on things at the regional security conference in Abuja. “If we are united, we can win against the terrorists,” he said. read more

ISIS Member Arrested in Tangier Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

Casablanca — A Chad national who was arrested in May for leading a ISIS terrorist cell in Tangier has now been sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Salé court on terrorist charges, reports Telquel. The charges more specifically condemned man’s “establishment of a criminal gang for the purpose of preparing and committing terrorist acts as part of a collective project aimed at seriously undermining public order through intimidation, terror and violence.”The king’s vice prosecutor had initially required 30 years in prison for the ISISleader due to the gravity of his actions but the defense managed to bring that number down to 20 by arguing that the defendant suffering extenuating circumstances, Telquel reports.  The 33-year-old Chad national had arrived to Morocco on May 4, 2016 visa the Casablanca and planned on forming a terrorist cell on behalf of ISIS in various Moroccan touristic locations but was arrested on May 13 by the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ). Medi1 TV had broadcast a news story on the man’s arrest. read more

Meknes Celebrates 20th Anniversary as UNESCOs Universal

Rabat – Heritage The city of Meknes kicked off its first festival in celebration of the 20th anniversary of its designation by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a universal heritage of humanity site.The festival opened on Friday with free concerts, a Sufi evening, and educational activities for children and teenagers. At the opening of the festival, Urban Community president of Meknes, Abdellah Bouanou, expressed appreciation for the efforts of the local and national partners who contributed to the preparation of the cultural event.The Universal Heritage of Humanity festival will run from December 2-7, 2016

Mohammed Ziane Zafzafi Rejects Claims of Separatism and Reception of Foreign

By Safaa KasraouiRabat – Mohammed Ziane, lawyer of leading Rif activist Nasser Zafzafi, has said that his client has refuted the government’s claims that the protests in Al Hoceima are motivated by “separatism” and foreign funding.Zafzafi was arrested on May 29 along with 20 others on charges of “obstructing freedom of worship” and “undermining the security of the state.” An arrest order had been issued against Zafzafi three days earlier following his interruption of a prayer sermon inside the Mohammed V mosque in Al Hoceima. The investigating judge of Casablanca’s Court of Appeal ordered Zafzafi and six of the 20 detainees to be placed in Casablanca’s Oukacha prison.Zafzafi, through his lawyer, stressed  on Monday that the Al Hoceima protests’s objective is to urge the government to respond to protesters’ economic and social demands.On Monday, Nabil Ahmjik, another prominent activist in the Al Hoceima protests, was also arrested and transferred to the headquarters of the National Judicial Police in Casablanca for investigation. He was later referred to the general prosecutor following the completion of his custody.Zafzafi and other detainees will be tried on several charges, including illegal gathering, threat to the internal safety of the Moroccan state, and attempt to smuggle a wanted person abroad.Seven months of protests have followed the death in October of Mouhcine Fikri, a fishmonger who was fatally crushed in a garbage truck trash compactor while attempting to retrieve his merchandise which had been confiscated and thrown away by authorities. read more

Fuel Prices to Fall by MAD 0205 Next Week

Rabat – Starting next week, diesel and gasoline prices will drop by MAD 0.205 in all Moroccan gas stations, the Ministry of Energy and Mines released in a statement.According to the same source, the prices of diesel and gasoline have already started to decline from Thursday, February 22. Diesel dropped about MAD 0.12 and gasoline MAD 0.13.Lahcen Daoudi, the Minister of General Affairs and Governance, recently said that prices at the pump in Morocco were “forced to fall,” following the drop of oil prices over the past weeks.   The minister, who closely follows the fluctuations of oil prices on a “daily basis,” noted the decline of the latter from USD 70 to USD 62 per barrel. He also pointed out that prices will remain the same until the end of February.After the liberalization of fuel prices, the ministry launcheda new initiative last September that allows drivers to check the recent fuel price trends at the pump.Daoudi’s solution of showing consumers all available prices will keep them informed by allowing them “to choose the cheapest petrol stations.”The minister insisted the information “must” be available for citizens. However, he stated during a press conference, held in June 2017, that “citizens do not take advantage of the liberalization” of hydrocarbon prices enacted in December 2015.The minister alleged that it was the Moroccan government, rather,that had “not provided conditions for good competition.” He also announced that while distributors can change the price of hydrocarbons, they must alert the ministry before doing so. read more

Shutdowndelayed trade data for December expected on March 6 Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says it is working with the United States Census Bureau and plans to release the delayed December merchandise trade data on March 6.The data had been scheduled to be released on Feb. 5, but was delayed due to the U.S. government shutdown.Statistics Canada, which uses U.S. import data to measure Canadian exports to the United States, says the release of the trade data for January that was scheduled for March 7 will also be delayed and that subsequent months will likely be affected as well.A new publication date for the January data has not been set.Statistics Canada says it will incorporate December data on Canada’s exports to the United States in the fourth-quarter releases of Canada’s balance of international payments, and gross domestic product, which will be published on Feb. 28 and March 1.However, it cautioned that the results could be subject to larger than usual revisions. The Canadian Press read more