Latest post

I Fear For My Life Benkirane

Rabat – Head of government Abdelilah Benkirane made a surprising statement on Tuesday in the northern city of Tetouan in which he said that he fears for his life. The Secretary General of the Justice and Development party (PJD) was in Tetouan in preparation for the upcoming municipal and regional elections scheduled to take place next month.Benkirane said: “”I swear to God I fear for my life, but these people are worth dying for in the name of God. And today I say that whatever happens happens. If we remain alive we will reap the benefits and if we died there will be others who will continue the journey.” This comes after Benkirane was forced to walk offstage at an electoral event in Taza earlier this week after he was booed and jeered by members of the audience.Benkirane was boxed in by an angry crowd who were calling him a ‘traitor’ during a party event in the northern city of Taza on Monday.Earlier this year, King Mohammed VI reportedly put armored vehicles and bodyguards at the disposal of members of the government, including its head Abdelilah Benkirane, following threats issued by terrorist groups to assassinate many Moroccan politicians and public figures.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission read more

Africas Hotel Boom Draws Interest of Top International Chains

Casablanca – A boom in Africa-wide hotel construction led by some of the world’s top chains will mark a new dawn for the continent’s already surging tourist sector – offering massive opportunities to international interior suppliers.The Hilton, Fairmont, and Jumeirah groups are just three of the big names ploughing millions of dollars into vast new visitor properties expected to forever change the region’s tourist landscape.Starwood, Marriot and the Four Seasons will also invest heavily across North, South and Central Africa in the five-years between now and 2021 that experts predict will be one of the largest periods of hotel growth in the continent’s history. The world renowned chains are desperate to expand their portfolios to keep pace with astonishing recent rises in foreign direct investment (FDI) into the continent. While FDI last year grew at an average rate of just 1% worldwide, Africa experienced a 7% surge – leaving hoteliers gripped by the market’s booming potential.Paul Frimpong, Investor Analyst at international business facilitation experts Naseba, said: “The enormous potential of the African continent cannot be emphasized enough. Africa is the fastest growing region for FDIs in the world. Aggregate household consumption will reach $1.4 trillion with collective GDP hitting $2.6 trillion in 2020 alone. These facts show that with the understanding of the growth momentum, combined with the right strategies, lies handsome rewards for current and prospective investors in the region.”The inaugural INDEX North Africa – taking place in Casablanca, Morocco, from December 5-7 – will provide the essential bridge for global furnishing firms to meet and do business with the local and international design professionals procuring for some of the continent’s biggest projects.Architects, interior designers, real estate developers, buyers and engineers working on not only hospitality, but retail, commercial and residential developments will be in attendance, looking to source everything required to fit out a wide range of interiors.Samantha Kane-Macdonald, Event Director at the INDEX Design Series, said: “The fact that the African hotel sector is set to experience one of its largest periods of growth to date is fantastic news for all suppliers of interior solutions like furniture, lighting, kitchen and bathroom products. These are exactly the high quality finishes international hotel developers will be demanding.“At INDEX we have been connecting the furnishings community with decision makers responsible for procuring interior products and technologies for 26 years. Taking our event to Morocco at a time of such continent-wide development is hugely exciting.”The inaugural INDEX North Africa will take place at the Parc Des Expositions De L’Office Des Changes (CICEC), in Casablanca, between December 5th and 7th. read more

Emmanuel Macron Receives Nawal El Moutawakel in the Elysée

Rabat – French President, Emmanuel Macron, received the Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee, Nawal El Moutawakel, and other members of IOC Evaluation Commission, to boost France’s chances to host the 2024 Olympic Games. The newly elected President of France, Emmanuel Macron, continued pushing for France’s candidacy to host the 2024 Olympics, after he expressed full support for the candidacy while acting as Minister of Economy.To that end, the newly inaugurated president received members of the IOC Evaluation Commission, which included former Moroccan Athlete, Nawal El Moutawakel, who serves as Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee. “The marriage between Paris and the Games is absolutely obvious,” said Patrick Baumann, President of the committee, in a press conference following the meeting with Macron. Baumann added that members of the IOC were satisfied with Paris’ project to host the Olympics.After London beat out Paris for the 2012 games, France now seems capable of winning a chance at hosting the event. The involvement of the political landscape, especially at the top hierarchy level, may turn out to be very rewarding.Regarding this point, Co-President of Paris 2024 said “We are working on unity and having the President of the Republic proves that this unity is not just a word, it is a reality that is expressed up to the highest level of the State.” read more

Polisario Condemns Opening of McDonalds in Laayoune

Rabat – The Polisario Front doesn’t seem to be enthusiastic about the opening of a new McDonald’s restaurant in Laayoune. The font appealed to the “separatists of the interior” to boycott the products of McDonald’s, as it threatens their political agenda.Polisario announced that McDonalds restaurant should be boycotted since “it serves non-halal meat to Muslim customers,” reported news website Goud.ma. They have also laid out a health sheet  arguing that overconsumption of fast food products has negative impact of on healthHowever, behind these arguments, Polisario believes that the opening of this new restaurant as a threat to its separatist agenda, as other foreign investors could follow the trend. This would put Polisario’s separatist vision at risk, as the countries of these investors could recognize Moroccan territorial sovereignty in the Sahara.A separatist NGO based in Laayoune had sent a letter last year to the American chain to cancel the launch of this new restaurant in Laayoune, which was rejected by the company.McDonald’s has rejected speculation on any political dimension that could be inferred from the inauguration of its restaurant in the southern provinces of Morocco, said Spanish news agency EFE, adding that the opening of this new restaurant is a purely commercial decision for the brand.The project formed a part of the initiative to mobilize investment and create employment opportunities in the southern provinces, according to the General Confederation for Moroccan Enterprises.The franchise was one of the projects announced at the Investment Forum organized in Laayoune in 2015 by the CGEM.The American fast-food chain’s new location in Laayoune will provide more than 200 job opportunities for the benefit of the city’s youths.The restaurant occupies an area of 1.137 square meters. It includes a birthday room, a gym, and a free parking lot. read more

UN Fourth Committee Qatar Reiterates Support for Moroccos Autonomy Plan

Rabat – Qatar reiterated on Monday its support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan in Western Sahara.Speaking during a meeting of the United Nations Fourth Committee, Qatar’s Deputy Permanent Representative, Abderahmane Yacoub Al Hamadi, said that his country has always supported resolving disputes “through dialogue” and cooperation with the UN, and that the same applies for the issue of Western Sahara.The Qatari diplomat advocated for a “definitive political and consensual solution” to the question of Western Sahara. The political process initiated in 2007, Al Hamadi suggested in reference to Morocco’s Autonomy Proposal submitted to the U.N. that year, is the framework through which this solution could be achieved.He insisted that a solution to the dispute must respect Morocco’s sovereignty over the region.He reminded his audience that the support for Moroccan territorial integrity was expressed by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state members during the organization’s joint summit with Morocco in April 2016.In the summit’s final communiqué, the convening heads of states expressed their commitment to defend “the security of their countries and their stability and respect for countries’ sovereignty, territorial integrity and national constants, and rejection of any attempt aimed at undermining security and stability, and the dissemination of separatism and segregation to redraw the map of nations or splitting them, which threatens regional and international security and peace.”In the same vein, finding a solution to the question of Western Sahara, Al Ahmadi noted, will have a positive impact on the region and will boost cooperation between its countries, which will help strengthen peace and stability in the Maghreb.Qatar echoed UAE which also reaffirmed its support for Morocco’s autonomy plan as a basis for a consensual solution to the Western Sahara.On Friday, Ahmad Al-Mahmoud, Second Secretary of the UAE Mission to the UN, said that his country will “remain committed to their immutable position supporting the territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Morocco and reaffirming its support for Morocco’s autonomy initiative to reach a consensual solution to this conflict.” read more

CAF Champions League Final  Wydad Secures Draw in Tough Game Against

Rabat – Morocco’s Wydad of Casablanca has achieved a draw 1-1 against the Egyptian team of Al Ahly in the first leg of the CAF Champions League Final on Saturday in Alexandria .The Eyptian team stunned Wydad early in the  second minute of the game when Moumen Zakaria sent a great shot from outside the penalty area with his left foot, scoring the first goal despite a deperate attempt from Zouhir Laaroubi to stop it.In the 15th minute Wydad scored the equalizer after the center forward Achraf Bencherki sneaked between three Egyptian defenders to net the goal with a beautiful after an assisst from right-winger Mohamed Ounajem. Throughout the remaining time of the fist and second halves Al Ahly put so much pressure on the Moroccan squad in search of a second goal but stumbled against a strong Wydad defense.The Moroccan team managed to preserve the draw despite El Ahly’s frentic attempts to score another lead.Though the result is highly positive for the Moroccan team, Al Ahly remains very dangerous outside Egypt.In the quarter finals, Al Ahly secured a qualification from Tunis when it inflicted defeat to the local Esperance despite a draw in the first leg 2-2.On November 4 Wydad and Al Ahly will meet again for the second leg of their face off.The Moroccans will need a small victory or at least a draw 0-0 to win the cup for the first time since 1992.In 2011 Wydad lost the Champions League final against Esperance following a defeat 1-0 in Tunis.The last Moroccan team to win the tournament was Wydad’s historical rival, Raja, in 1999 against Esperance. read more

US to help Puerto Ricans who lost jobs after hurricanes

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Ricans who lost their jobs after hurricanes Maria and Irma can start applying for disaster unemployment assistance after the U.S. doubled the 26 weeks of benefits.The National Employment Law Project said Wednesday that more 10,000 Puerto Ricans are eligible and that lump-sum payments could total nearly $30 million, with individual payments ranging from $2,000 to $3,000.But legal advocates say the conditions set by Puerto Rico’s government will make it hard for many to apply. They say workers have to provide documents in person and that internet options are unavailable.Advocates are trying to reach out to families that qualify but worry they won’t reach many given that more than an estimated 130,000 people fled Puerto Rico after the two major hurricanes hit the Caribbean in September 2017.The Associated Press read more

32000 Belgian students march to demand climate protections

BRUSSELS — Thousands of students skipped school for the third week in a row and more than 30,000 swamped the centre of Brussels to demand better protection of the world’s climate.What started out as a march of a few thousand high school student swelled to a vocal movement that Thursday also included many that skipped courses at university. Brussels police estimated the crowds at 32,000, who braved the cold and snowy conditions.Another climate march — adults included — is set for Sunday. It drew some 70,000 last month.“The planet can do without us, but we cannot do without the planet,” was one of the many signs carried around.The Associated Press read more

World Famous Vlogger Nas Daily Visits Morocco Food Culture Human Stories

Rabat – World famous vlogger Nuseir Yassin or Nas Daily, shared five of his famous one-minute videos during his visit to Morocco, which celebrated the food, culture, and story of US’ first friend.Sponsored by Royal Air Maroc and Joby Camera accessories, Daily arrived in Morocco with five of his fans from Mongolia, New Zealand, Poland, India, and Syria.All travel expenses paid, Daily and his team embarked on a journey to discover Morocco. First thing on the list: food. In a Facebook post, Daily said that he almost never makes videos about food, but Moroccan food is “too royal” to overlook.From tajine to couscous,mint tea to snails, the vlogger dubbed the famous Moroccan dishes a “royal experience.”The video, entitled “The Most Royal Food,” has attracted more than 793 thousand likes and over 2 thousand comments.The comments on the video came from all around the world, sharing their experiences in Morocco.“Moroccans are the most welcoming and simple people I have ever met. I went to the desert, and people that live in houses made out of mud will offer you bread, sweet oil, and mint tea. They received me as if they were expecting someone. Kids were happy, just because someone would play football with them. The most simple and happy people I have ever met,” Joaquín Llamazares said. His post received over 600 likes.After their stomachs were filled, Daily and the other video producers explored Moroccan culture in Fez and the University of Al Quaraouiyine.“When you think of the oldest universities in the world, you think of Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford. But all of these are wrong,” Yassin said, introducing to his worldwide fans to the oldest operating university in the world: Fez’s University of Al Quaraouiyine.In the Facebook video, viewed over 1.8 million times, Nas explained that “The university was founded by a Muslim woman 1300 years ago. It offers a library and a top-notch education, and its students were Jewish, Christian, and Muslim.”“This is surprising to you and to me because we don’t hear about this stuff anymore,” he said. The Palestinian-born vlogger added, “If we were once great, we can be great again.”Roaming in the city of Fez, Nas met Ahmed Ghareb, an unlicensed tourist guide. Nas recounts his story as a 41-year-old guide, who’s never been to school and got arrested four times for unlicensed work, but also as someone who worked with tourists so much that he learned seven languages, including English and German.Ghareb’s story attracted more than 650,000 views. Some of the commentators even asked Yassin where to find Ghareb, including Oran Aviv, who wrote in the comments section, “So how does one find Ahmed since you have convinced all of us to go visit Morocco!” Yassine responded saying, “Go to Fez, Morocco, and then go to the tannery (one of the oldest in the world) and look for a tour guide there! You’ll find Ahmed!”Nas and his team departed from Fez to Tangier to discuss “the US’ first friend…not someone you’d expect.”Nas later reported that “Morocco was the first country to recognize the US as an independent country and for the last 250 years the two countries have been trading together.”He visited the first US diplomatic house outside of the US, which is situated in Tangier. “Right now in the news, we hear about the US trying to limit, disparage, and even ban Muslim countries, but how quickly we forget that the first country to recognize the US is a Muslim one,” he said, concluding his visit to Morocco. read more

Royal Gendarmerie Officers Jailed for Corruption and Financial Diversions

Rabat – Two members of the Royal Gendarmerie were arrested on charges of corruption and financial diversions in the province of Safi, stated the daily Al Akhbar in its March 13 edition.After imposing disciplinary sanctions on several senior officials in Mohamed Haramou’s department, two members of the military establishment were detained in custody in the barracks of Tamesna in Rabat.The two gendarmes, including the driver of Colonel Houssine Kaamouz and the officer responsible for the management of social housing for the gendarmerie in Safi, were jailed pending the end of the department investigation. The initial stages of the investigation reveal that the officers diverted an allocation from the high command of the Royal Gendarmerie that was intended for the creation of social housing, specifically, the construction of a four-floor building in the city of Safi.General Haramou, head of the Royal Gendarmerie, has also made several changes in the ranks of his department. Haramou was appointed by King Mohammed VI in early December 2017, replacing Lieutenant General Hosni Benslimane.Read Also: King Mohammed VI Appoints New Head of Royal Gendarmerie read more

11 Men Accused of Drug Smuggling Between France and Morocco

Rabat – Eleven men between the ages of 28 and 51 were accused of involvement in a hashish smuggling scheme between France and Morocco, and will be presented before a court in Rennes for charges of drug trafficking, criminal conspiracy, and money laundering on March 28.The accusations date back to December 2013, when the judicial police of Nantes were alerted of a drug operation between France and Morocco. In the years since, the police have wiretapped several targets between the two countries.These records led to the arrest of three men onboard of a vehicle go-fast (a vehicle with the ability of transporting heavy cargos with a high speed), carrying 115 kg of hashish. Read Also: Morocco’s DGSN Seizes 583 kg of Hashish and 34 kg of ‘Maajoun’ in CasablancaSoon after, the entire network was dismantled from Morocco, where cannabis is grown, to France, where several members sell the drug. Two of the men  are from the Paris region and a third is based indNantes. The searches carried out by the security elements at the home of one member of the organization allowed for the seizure of EU 22,000.During the first day of the hearing, one of the defense lawyers questioned the regularity of the phone tapping, claiming that it had been conducted abroad and not on French territory.In November 2017, six defendants had already been sentenced 5 to 7 years in prison, for their implications in another case.Read Also: DGSN Seizes 475 kg of Cocaine and 7402 Tablets of Ecstasy in TangierMost of the accused were known among the police investigators, including a 45-year-old man, suspected to be the head of the international criminal organization. He was previously implicated in a cocaine trafficking case and is currently exercising his right to remain silent. read more

Unveiled a New Design for Moroccos 2018 World Cup Kits

Rabat – The long-awaited official jersey of Morocco’s national team for the 2018 World Cup has finally been unveiled.The first version of the jersey, released on April 27, received heavy criticism from many Moroccans and officials, describing it as lacking originality and in need of further development. President of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation Fouzi Lekjaa urged Adidas to redesign the kits.Adidas responded quickly to the Moroccan anger over the kits and decided to make a new design that would appeal to the Moroccan public. Russian footballer Vladimir Granat officially presented the Moroccan national team jersey on Thursday. So far it has received largely negative reviews from online commenters.#VladimirGranat, défenseur de la #Russie porte le nouveau maillot du #Maroc @EnMaroc ?? au #Mondial2018 #Russie2018 #Sport24info?? https://t.co/QfjQydIFPy pic.twitter.com/kVauJKkivt— Sport24Info (@Sport24Info) May 24, 2018 read more

Claudio Bravo Palace A MustSee Destination for Art Lovers in Morocco

By Mohamed HikalRabat – Situated near Taroudant, 80 kilometers east of Agadir, Claudio Bravo Palace stands gloriously as another must-see wonder in Morocco.Born November 8, 1936, in Chile, Claudio Bravo lived in Spain, Tangier, and Marrakech, for some time before he finally settled in Taroudant in 1972. Claudio Bravo had a special love for Morocco and Taroudant in particular. He loved the city’s colors and people. They provided all the inspiration he needed as an artist fond of painting sceneries and portraits.Bravo’s paintings have travelled the world to be exhibited in the US, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Philippines, Japan, and so many others.Both Bravo’s sense of art and Moroccan craftsmen’s talent combined to bring his mansion into existence. The impressive mansion was Bravo’s home and studio where he spent his most enjoyable moments side by side with the nature he loved and cherished. The palace has become a fabulous museum that attracts hundreds of tourists and visitors. The museum has added to Taroudant’s tourism potential. It is especially a popular destination for art and museum lovers.The architecture, furniture, paintings, colors, and spirit of the unique artist all add an exceptional flavor to the city.Bravo’s visit to Marrakech was behind his decision to make a copy of the breathtaking Menara gardens as part of his property.In addition to the palace’s amazing gardens, silverware, and crystal objects, the palace boasts original Egyptian statues and Roman emperors’ busts.Bravo died June 4, 2011, and was laid to rest in the mausoleum he had prepared beforehand. Just as he had lived surrounded by his works, his body rests among a collection of some of his loveliest paintings in his mausoleum. read more

Caterpillar Apple among big names hit by USChina trade war

NEW YORK — Companies making everything from computers to construction cranes are seeing their profits hurt as the United States’ trade war with China causes the world’s second largest economy to slow.Apple is selling fewer iPhones in China and Caterpiller fewer bulldozers. Nvidia, a maker of graphics chips for video game consoles, reported a drop in its revenue.Intel and 3M are among the other big-name companies who’ve recently blamed circumstances in China for their worsening financial outlooks.More broadly, any companies making the majority of their revenue outside the U.S. fared worse on earnings and revenue growth during the fourth quarter. They’ll likely see further falls this year.China’s economy grew at the weakest annual rate last year since 1990. Demand for Chinese exports faded last year and the International Monetary Fund expects China’s growth to weaken further in 2019.Much of the current trade uncertainty hinges on a deadline, just over a week away, that could see the U.S. hike its tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 per cent to 25 per cent on March 2.President Donald Trump imposed the penalties last year over complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. Beijing retaliated with higher duties on U.S. goods and told its importers to find other suppliers. That led to a 40 per cent drop in Chinese imports of American goods in January.The dispute has already raised costs of goods for companies and consumers. An escalation of the trade fight would ripple through the global economy, said Mark Schofield, managing director at Citi Research.Citi’s base case for an immediate resolution involves a preliminary trade deal that would likely keep tariffs, and uncertainty in place. At worst, an escalation adds costs to companies and more volatility to the market, he said.The two sides are meeting for talks Thursday and Friday in Washington, and Trump says he might be willing to push back the March 2 date if the talks go well.Even if a deal is struck, the broader retraction in China’s economy will still be an issue.Caterpillar was among the first companies to sound the alarm. Its fourth-quarter results fell well short of forecasts and the Deerfield, Illiniois-based company warned investors that sales in China will be flat in 2019 after two years of growth. Caterpillar gets between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of its construction industry sales there.Apple warned investors about a slowdown in iPhone and other product sales in China as earnings season began. Nvidia blamed “deteriorating macroeconomic conditions” in China for a drop in revenue.Chipmaker Intel cited lower demand in China and industrial conglomerate 3M cited weak sales for several of its units.While optimism over a trade deal seems to be the sentiment on Wall Street, investors may fare better by just holding out for a clearer view.“Nobody knows what’s going to come,” said Mark Stoeckle, CEO and portfolio manager of Adams Funds. “Investors are better served by waiting for data and facts.”Damian J. Troise, The Associated Press read more

Moroccos DGSN Seizes 400 Hashish Bags of 10 Tons in El

Rabat – Based on intelligence provided by General Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DGST), police arrested a truck driver who was attempting to smuggle 400 bags of hashish, weighing a total of 10 tons, on Tuesday and Wednesday in El Jadida, near Casablanca.The police investigation resulted in the arrest of three other suspected criminals, including the owner of the truck, Morocco’s General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) said in a statement.Police seized a sum of €10,000 from the gang, which is suspected to be linked to a criminal network operating in international drug trafficking. Read also: Morocco’s DGSN Seizes 493,700 Ecstasy Pills at Tanger Med PortAfter a careful and technical inspection, the packaging and wrapping of the seized drugs indicate that the drugs were intended to be smuggled by sea, added the statement.Police placed the suspects in custody while the judicial investigation is ongoing, under the supervision of the competent prosecutor’s office.The investigation aims to determine whether there are any other possible suspects in the criminal network, its extensions inside Morocco, and to identify their possible links with criminal networks internationally. read more

QuadrigaCX cryptocurrency exchange officially placed in bankruptcy

HALIFAX — Less than three months after one of Canada’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges was shut down amid a swirl of controversy, a bid to restructure Vancouver-based QuadrigaCX has failed and the virtual company has officially entered bankruptcy proceedings.The move, approved today by a Nova Scotia judge, marks a turning point for the 115,000 users who are owed more than $260 million in cash and cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin and Ethereum.The transition to the bankruptcy process means Ernst and Young, the court-ordered monitor overseeing the case, will be granted enhanced investigative powers as a trustee under the federal Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.The insolvent company was granted protection from its creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act on Feb. 5, but it quickly became clear that the company had no real assets and no employees — and that the process of recovering the missing funds would be difficult.The exchange was shut down Jan. 28, more than a month after its lone director — 30-year-old Gerald Cotten of Fall River, N.S. — died suddenly while travelling in Jaipur, India.Soon after his death was announced, court documents revealed he was the only QuadrigaCX employee who knew the encrypted pass codes needed to access $190 million in cryptocurrency locked in offline digital wallets.The Canadian Press read more

Shared electric scooters surge overtaking docked bikes

NEW YORK — Love them or hate them, electric scooters are everywhere — zipping along city streets and littered on sidewalks, to the dismay of pedestrians and drivers who must share the road.And now they have overtaken station-based bicycles as the most popular form of shared transportation outside transit and cars in the U.S.According to a new report released Wednesday by the National Association of City Transportation Officials, riders took 38.5 million trips on shared electric scooters in 2018, eclipsing the 36.5 million trips on shared, docked bicycles.Riders also took trips on 3 million dockless pedal bikes, which can be picked up and dropped off anywhere, and 6.5 million dockless electric bikes in 2018, but the report notes those numbers are declining.One reason for electric scooters’ fast growth: companies are jockeying for strategic position in the so-called micromobility revolution, where consumers are embracing shared scooters and bikes for short trips and exploring alternatives to car ownership buoyed by the ubiquity of smartphones.Riders took 84 million trips on micromobility services in 2018, more than double the number from the year before, according to the report. Electric scooters helped drive that trend, with more than 85,000 of them available for public use in the U.S. compared with 57,000 station-based bikes.To be sure, scooter companies face challenges from every direction, including vandalism, theft, rider injuries, intense competition and aggressive regulations in cities across the country.Yet the industry persists and venture capitalists, ride-hailing companies and traditional auto manufacturers have poured millions of dollars into the fledgling business.The original bike-share systems in the U.S. developed after cities invited them in, said Kate Fillin-Yeh, director of strategy for the National Association for City Transportation Officials.“In the last year-and-a-half, it’s a very different animal,” she said. “The companies are in some cases trying to beat each other to the market.”Bird, a Santa Monica-based scooter company launched in late 2017, raised $418 million and rang up more than 10 million rides in its first year. Lime, which offers shared bikes and scooters, clocked more than 12 million rides and $467 million in investment in its first 15 months.Car manufacturers and ride-hailing companies are taking notice, and some have made their own plays in the space with larger ambitions than scooters alone.Uber bought Jump Bikes, an electric bike and scooter company that operates in about two dozen cities, and last year it invested $30 million in Lime, which is in more than 100 cities worldwide.Ford, which bought scooter company Spin in November, said deploying electric scooters will help the company eventually roll out autonomous vehicles by building critical relationships with U.S. cities as they work together to craft regulations and build out infrastructure.“In this next revolution of micromobility, the cities are taking a more active stance in how they’re going to participate,” Sunny Madra, vice-president of Ford’s mobility businesses, told The Associated Press late last year. “By doing this now in advance of autonomous programs and other forms of mobility that will come up, this is a great way for us to make sure that we’re a part of the transformation of mobility.”If it seems like electric scooters popped up overnight, that’s because they did. Several companies distributed them throughout cities without permission or permits, reminding local officials of when ride-hailing companies such as Uber launched in their markets years ago without warning.But cities learned from that experience and have been more aggressive about regulating scooters. San Francisco, for instance, kicked out Bird, Lime and Spin and instituted a competition for permits, ultimately awarding them to relative underdogs Scoot and Skip and capping the number of scooters they could deploy. New York City does not allow shared electric scooters, although legislation has been introduce to change the rule.As a condition for operating there, many cities are requiring scooter companies to share their troves of location data, which show where the scooters are and the routes they take. That can be valuable to plan bike routes and docking stations or to understand traffic patterns.It also raises questions about user privacy. The location data provided to cities is not linked to names, emails or other directly identifiable information, but “if you take enough GPS data points and begin attaching other data sets, it can be used to identify specific individuals,” said Regina Clewlow, CEO of Populus, a company that helps cities securely access data for policy and planning while protecting privacy.Another consequence of electric scooters is head injuries. Dr. Vishal Bansal, director of trauma surgery at Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego, noticed many riders were getting on scooters at night intoxicated, without wearing a helmet, taking “30, 40 years of what we’ve learned about injury prevention and has just thrown it out the window,” he said.“If your head hits concrete at 20 miles an hour, you are not going to get up,” said Christopher Ziebell, emergency room medical director at Dell Seton Medical Center in Austin. “These have little tiny wheels on them, so it doesn’t take much for a rider to go flying off.”Some industry watchers wonder how long the electric scooter phenomenon will last. Veteran auto analyst Maryann Keller calls the billion-dollar valuations that have been reported for some scooter companies nonsensical. Scooters are a capital-intensive business, and there are few ways to differentiate from competitors’ models, making it hard for companies to stand out, she said.“These little fads come and go,” Keller said.For those wishing for the scooter fad to go, they might have to wait a little longer.___Follow Cathy Bussewitz on Twitter: @cbussewitzCathy Bussewitz, The Associated Press read more

US expands probe into air bag failures to 123M vehicles

DETROIT — U.S. auto safety regulators have expanded an investigation into malfunctioning air bag controls to include 12.3 million vehicles because the bags may not inflate in a crash.As many as five deaths are blamed on the problem. The probe covers parts made by made by ZF-TRW that were installed in Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Mitsubishi and Fiat Chrysler vehicles from the 2010 through 2019 model years.Government documents say electrical signals can interfere with a circuit that monitors crash sensors. The interference can damage the circuit.Investigators recently found two serious crashes involving 2018 and 2019 Toyota Corollas in which the air bags did not inflate. One person was killed. The agency opened an investigation in March of 2017 involving Hyundais and Kias. Four fatalities were reported at that time.The Associated Press read more

Morocco Opens Investigation Into Irregular Migration Network

Rabat – Police in Oujda, eastern Morocco, opened a judicial investigation on Thursday, September 19, into a criminal network allegedly involved in irregular migration.The investigation comes after security services arrested irregular migrants, two Moroccan women and 90 sub-Saharan nationals, on Thursday.Read Also: Police Arrest 6 Suspects for Alleged Irregular Migration, Human TraffickingThe list of migrants included 7 women and 15 minors. The General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) said in a statement that the suspects they arrested are involved in organizing irregular migration to Europe.Police also seized travel documents, some of which belong to the arrested individuals and migrants.Police put the suspects in custody to question them about their involvement in irregular migration. Investigators are also seeking to determine possible links with other criminal networks, the statement added.Morocco has been under pressure to reduce irregular migration and has dismantled several irregular migration networks.Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi said on August 29 that Moroccan security services had stopped 57,000 irregular migration attempts in 2019.He added that authorities also dismantled 100 irregular migration networks.The Moroccan government also emphasized the importance of shared responsibility in tackling migration and border issues.On August 23, the acting Spanish government approved a €32 million grant to back Morocco’s efforts to curb irregular migration. The grant is in addition to financial aid from the European Union estimated at more than €140 million. read more

Democracy vital in fight against terrorism says SecretaryGeneral

17 December 2007Democracy is one of the most effective tools against terrorism, but the increasing gap between rich and poor around the world threatens to undermine its potential, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today. Along with social justice and greater respect for human rights, democracy gives “people hope of achieving a decent life by peaceful methods, thus alleviating the despair and alienation that can drive some towards extremism,” he said in an address to the International Conference of New or Restored Democracies, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York.“A democratic system also contributes to improved forms of conflict management, and it promotes equitable social and economic development,” Mr. Ban said in the message, delivered by Angela Kane, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs.Today’s conference comes just six days after Algiers, Algeria, was rocked by terrorist attacks which took the lives of 17 UN personnel.“The international community must be resolute in opposing those who prey on the innocent and vulnerable,” Mr. Ban declared.He also underscored the threat to democracy posed by the gap between rich and poor, calling for the benefits of globalization to extend equally within and among States.“To fully unleash the democratizing potential of globalization, we must ensure that it serves to improve the lives of all people,” the Secretary-General said.The Conference offers a special opportunity to focus attention on the promotion and consolidation of democracy at all levels, and last month, the General Assembly recognized that 2008 marked its twentieth anniversary. read more