The existing Trans Mountain pipeline crosses a river in Chilliwack, B.C., near Cheam First Nation. (APTN file)The Canadian PressNatural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi says consultations with Indigenous groups about the stalled Trans Mountain pipeline expansion are progressing well and he still expects to wrap up the court-ordered process by May.On a conference call from Houston, where he’s attending the CERAWeek energy conference, Sohi told reporters his department has now met with more than 100 of the 117 Indigenous communities expected to be impacted by the project.The Federal Appeal Court last summer overturned approval of the project to triple oil shipments from Edmonton to the West Coast, ruling that the NEB had not properly considered its impact on marine life nor had Ottawa meaningfully consulted with Indigenous groups.Last month, the National Energy Board found that the pipeline is still in the public interest despite the risk that an increase in tanker traffic could adversely affect southern resident killer whales, hurt related Indigenous culture and increase greenhouse gas emissions.It added 16 new recommendations for federal government action in addition to the 156 conditions in its initial approval in 2016.Sohi says the recommendations, which the NEB said are not within its power to order, are already being studied by his department and will be considered in the government’s decision on TMX when consultations are complete.“The NEB report informs our ongoing consultations and those recommendations will be discussed once the cabinet is ready to make the final decision,” he said.Cabinet is under immense pressure to decide the fate of the pipeline before the federal election in the fall.There is also pressure to get the expansion built because Ottawa bought the existing pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion last August, after political opposition to the expansion left the company’s shareholders reluctant to proceed.
VICTORIA – British Columbia’s government is appealing a decision that allows Kinder Morgan Canada to bypass local regulations in constructing its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.The National Energy Board ruled in December that the company is not required to comply with two sections of the City of Burnaby’s bylaws, which Kinder Morgan had said were hindering its ability to go ahead with the federally approved project.The city said on Friday that it wants to appeal the decision, saying the company should be required to comply with all municipal bylaws.Now the provincial government is following suit, saying it has filed leave to appeal the board’s ruling with the Federal Court of Appeal.The province says in a statement that the board erred by “too broadly defining federal jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines.”B.C. is also locked in a dispute with Alberta and the federal government over the project’s future after Premier John Horgan’s government announced it is looking at limiting shipments of diluted bitumen from the west coast.
NEW YORK, N.Y. – The percentage of Americans who do not have a bank account fell to a record low last year, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Tuesday, a sign that the economic fortunes of the country’s most vulnerable people continues to improve.In 2017 approximately 6.5 per cent of U.S. households did not have a primary bank account. That is down from 7 per cent in 2015 and from a high of 8.2 per cent in 2011. That translates into roughly 14.1 million adults without a bank account.Not having a bank account, also known as being “unbanked,” can make everyday life more challenging. Saving money in a secure place becomes more difficult, doing any sort of online transaction is nearly impossible, and everyday bills need to be routinely paid through expensive check cashers. Without a bank account, it’s also impossible to use other financial services like paying with credit cards, buying a house, or even taking out a payday loan.The reasons for not having a bank account remained steady from previous surveys, with “not having enough money” being the No. 1 reason for doing so. Not trusting banks was another popular reason for not being banked.The biggest improvement happened among black and Hispanic households. The number of black households without a bank account fell to 16.9 per cent last year, according to the FDIC, while 14 per cent of Hispanic households were without a bank account. Those figures are down from more than 20 per cent of black households and 18 per cent of Hispanic households in 2013.Even though the FDIC survey showed noticeable improvements, there were still places that showed many Americans struggle to access basic financial needs.Roughly 19 per cent of American households are considered by the FDIC to be “underbanked,” which means they have a primary bank account but use non-traditional financial services like pawn shops, payday and auto title loans, check cashers, and money transfer services. Additionally, one in five Americans are known as “credit invisible” which means they did have any sort of mainstream credit file, which makes it tough to apply for credit cards and get a mortgage.____This story has been corrected to show that 7 per cent of households were unbanked in 2015, not 2017.
Canadian engineering-design firm Stantec Inc. says it will record a non-cash goodwill expense of $53 million and account for an $8.7-million deferred tax charge on the sale of its construction services business.The Edmonton-based company revealed Thursday the sale announced in October and closed last week of MWH Constructors resulted in gross proceeds of $102.6 million, less transaction costs and working capital adjustments of $57 million.That’s far less than an estimate by an RBC analyst that the sale to funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P., of Los Angeles would bring in between $250 million and $350 million.Stantec says it will also still be responsible for closing out a remaining waste-to-energy project in the United Kingdom and will retain certain U.K. defined benefit pension funding obligations.The construction company, which focuses mainly on water and wastewater projects in the United States and the United Kingdom, was included in Stantec’s $1-billion purchase of Colorado-based engineering, consulting and construction firm MWH Global, Inc., in 2016.The purchase also included water software business, Innovyze, Inc., which Stantec sold for $359 million in 2017.
Winn explained that this morning he was made aware that some of his truck’s contents – including a drum and some harmonicas – had been strewn all over a road in Charlie Lake. However, he said that there was no sign of his bass guitar, which was also inside the truck at the time it was stolen.Winn said his truck is a 1998 Chevrolet Silverado extended cab, grey or silver in colour, with BC license plate #LV 5936. The missing instrument is a Fernandez bass guitar that is green in colour.A photo of a green Fernandez bass guitar, similar to the one that was inside the stolen pickup truck.Winn added that while neither the truck nor his guitar are particularly valuable, they are both extremely sentimental.“I got it when I was 11 years old, it was my first guitar. My truck was actually my first vehicle, I was hoping to maintain and run it my whole life. My grandpa helped me buy my truck, and he’s not doing so well right now. That was one of the reasons I wanted to hang on to it.”Anyone with information about the missing guitar or truck is asked to call the Fort St. John RCMP at (250) 787-8140, or Crimestoppers at (800) 222-8477. UPDATE: Winn said that the pickup truck was located in Taylor over the weekend.FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A local firefighter in Fort St. John is hoping to get his beloved pickup truck and its contents back after it was stolen from outside the City’s fire hall early this morning.Firefighter Adam Winn, who also serves as President of the Fort St. John Firefighters Charitable Society, said that after finishing work at around 8:00 a.m. Friday he noticed that his vehicle wasn’t where he parked it. Initially thinking his fellow firefighters were playing a prank, Winn said that a search of the fire hall’s parking lot came up empty. Upon reviewing surveillance video, he discovered that a pair of younger-aged men had jumped into his pickup at around 3:20 a.m. and driven off.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has directed all the states to file their responses on the issue of fixing compensation for victims of silicosis caused due to ill-effects of polluting industries.Silicosis is a lung disease caused by exposure to silica dust. The apex court, which is hearing a matter related to rehabilitation of workers who have suffered from silicosis while working in factories in several states, was told that Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had inspected polluting units functioning in a state and gave its report in 2017. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity!”It (CPCB report) presents a grim picture. Not only there have been large scale violations insofar as environmental laws are concerned, it has led to serious health problems among the habitants of these areas causing various diseases and even deaths,” a bench of justices A K Sikri (since retired) and S Abdul Nazeer noted in its order. The counsel appearing for the petitioner told the apex court that the CPCB should take steps to ensure that polluting industries are closed. Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killedThe counsel appearing for CPCB told the court that many such polluting units in Gujarat have already been ordered to be closed. The CPCB assured the bench that appropriate action will be taken against polluting industries which are still operational in the state. “A show cause notice be issued to all the states on this aspect. They should file their replies as to why compensation should not be fixed by this court for paying the same to the victims of silicosis which have occurred to the habitants where the industries are located,” the bench said. It asked the states to file their replies on this aspect within six weeks. “We make it clear that this aspect (compensation to victims of silicosis) will be considered on the next date of hearing and appropriate orders will be passed thereupon,” the bench said in its order. The top court had earlier asked the CPCB to apprise it about the steps taken to prevent silicosis and to provide workers a dignified and safe working environment.
New Delhi: With nine more days to go, the GST collection trends look good and could slightly exceed Rs 1 lakh crore, informed sources said. GST collections dropped to Rs 97,247 crore in February from Rs 1.02 lakh crore in January 2019. The total Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection in the current fiscal till February is Rs 10.70 lakh crore. The government has lowered the GST collection target for current fiscal to Rs 11.47 lakh crore in the revised estimates, from Rs 13.71 lakh crore. GST collection for 2019-20 fiscal has been budgeted at Rs 13.71 lakh crore. The GST collection crossed Rs 1 lakh crore mark three times during the current fiscal, including in April and October.
Beijing: The death toll in the powerful explosion at a chemical plant in China climbed to 47 on Friday with President Xi Jinping demanding all-out efforts to carry out search and rescue operations. The blast occurred after a fire in a fertilizer factory in a chemical industrial park in Yancheng, Jiangsu province on Thursday, according to the government of Xiangshui county. Forty Seven people have been killed and a further 90 seriously injured, reported state-run China Daily. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US President Xi, also the general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, demanded all-out efforts to search and rescue victims. Xi, who is on his five-day tour of Europe, said that all-out efforts must be made to search those trapped, and the injured must be timely treated and relief work must be well carried out to maintain social stability. Meanwhile, environment monitoring and early warning should be strengthened to prevent environmental pollution as well as secondary disasters, he said. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls The explosion affected 16 surrounding enterprises. Open fire has been put out and air pollution indexes are within the allowed range. Xi ordered that the cause of the accident must be identified as early as possible and that authoritative information should be timely released. The Ministry of Emergency Management said 88 people have been rescued from the site of the incident. Eye-witnesses said several workers were trapped after buildings were knocked down by the shockwave stated to be a mild tremor caused by the blast which took place in a pesticide plant. The blast also shattered windows of nearby residential houses. The fire fighter brigade of Jiangsu has mobilised 176 fire trucks with 928 personnel to join the rescue mission, the Ministry of Emergency Management said. A professor of applied chemistry at Beijing University of Chemical Technology, in an interview with CCTV, said the leak of toxic chemicals might have affected the people and environment in the surrounding areas. According to the city’s environmental protection authority, the explosion had a negative influence on the air quality in the chemical park and its surrounding areas within a 500-meter radius, but the strong winds are expected to lift the heavy smoke. No residents live in the chemical park, while all people in nearby areas have been evacuated, officials said. Yancheng’s education department said school students were among those injured in the explosion. Online maps of the area indicate that there are at least 10 schools close to the site. Beijing Youth Daily reported that the blast was caused by benzene and occurred in a production area of the plant. Production at other plants in the area were not affected, the report said. A witness surnamed Xie living about 1.5-km from the plant told Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post that all her windows were shattered by the blast. Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Company, which owns the plant, was established in 2007. Its business includes the manufacture of chemical products such as hydroxybenzoic acid.
Madrid – A 9 year-old Moroccan girl, kidnapped for seven months in Bolivia, was recently set free and arrived on Monday to Madrid-Barajas airport, Spanish security sources said.The girl will be taken afterwards to Barcelona (North-West of Spain) where her parents live, they said.She was kidnapped last August by a 35 year-old Bolivian national and released on March 8 following a joint operation by Spanish police and Bolivian security services. The kidnapper was arrested by Bolivian police and remanded in custody. He faces charges of kidnapping, human trafficking and sexual abuse.Found in a good heath in a forest, the victim was transported to a public establishment in the district of Cochabamba in Bolivia awaiting deportation to Barcelona.Spanish justice will decide whether to hand the girl to her parents or to social services of the Catalan regional government.
Rabat – Morocco has decided to appeal the decision of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to suspend the national football team from participating in the 2017 and 2019 African Cup of Nations in the court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.CAF’s Executive Committee decided last week to expel Morocco from participating in continental tournaments for the next four years. Morocco was also fined $1 million and will have to pay an additional $9 million in compensation following its decision to postpone the 2015 Afcon over fears of the Ebola virus.According to governmental sources quoted by several local media outlets, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) will file the appeal to the sport’s highest court after consultation with a law firm. Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane said on Thursday in Rabat that Morocco will not accept the “unfair” sanctions placed upon it by the governing body of African football and “will spare no effort to defend its rights.”“Morocco will not succumb to injustice,” Benkirane was reported as saying by the Government Spokesperson, Mustapha El Khalfi, who spoke to the press following the weekly cabinet meeting.The Moroccan Royal Football Federation said in a statement that it was “totally stunned” by the decisions taken by CAF’s Executive Committee.“The FRMF is “committed to taking all the necessary steps and measures to uphold the rights and interests of Moroccan football,” the statement added.
Rabat – The Wilaya of Casablanca has asked Moroccan authorities to open an investigation into Uber Morocco and into other transport mediators operating on the Internet and to stop their activities.Having determined Uber’s activities in Morocco illegal, the Wilaya of Casablanca has transferred Uber’s case to the public prosecutor to open an investigation of the company.“The Wilaya would like Uber to be brought to justice and all of its illegal activities, as well as the activities of all transport mediators operating on the Internet in Morocco to be stopped,” a representative of the Wilaya told Telquel. “What matters for us is that all illegal operators will be prohibited until their activities are in conformity with law,” according to the same source.On the other hand, Uber Morocco Director General Meriam Belqziz said that they have not received any complaint on the part of local authorities and that they are ready to hold talks with the Wilaya.Uber Morocco continues its activities in Casablanca despite the communiqué issued by the Wilaya of Casablanca last August seeking to curtail its illegal activities.Following the Wilaya’s communiqué, Uber Morocco’s General Director said that the company’s lawyers had underlined that Uber does not need any specific transport authorization, as it is a technology and not a transport company.In Morocco, there is no specific legislation covering this kind of activity. We are in touch with different persons from the Wilaya to find a solution to this issue and to effectively collaborate with them,” according to the same source.
Taroudante – On Monday, thousands of people participated in a rally against the anti-Islam group LEGIDA in the East German city of Leipzig, forming a “chain of lights” that measured kilometers in length.The protesters faced a rally organized by LEGIDA, a local chapter of the xenophobic group PEGIDA, the “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident”.In the wake of the tensions caused by mass sexual assaults and robberies that took place in Germany on New Year’s Eve, the anti-Islam group rallied in the eastern German city of Leipzig, venting its anger at Chancellor Angela Merkel.Anti-Islam protesters held signs that read “Rapefugees not welcome – Stay away!” and “Integrate barbarity?” while chanting, “We are the people”, “Resistance!”, and “Deport them!” The right-wing group accused Merkel of destroying their homeland by allowing in 1.1 million asylum seekers last year.A broad coalition of trade unions, commerce, culture, and associations as well as some German parties called for the rally against the xenophobic local movement LEGIDA.Meanwhile, a pro-tolerance group held signs that read “refugees welcome” and “kein mensch ist illegal!” (“No person is illegal”).The Chinese Xinhua News Agency reported that “about 2900 people took part in the rally,” holding candles and forming a line that extended kilometers in length.The police were on site to avoid any clash between the two opposing groups. Videos on social media showed numerous arrests being made.One video posted by a protestor showed a video of a neo-nazi heavily vandalizing a Kebab shop, saying that the scene looked “like a drone has struck.” “Police said some 250 far-right hooligans had thrown rocks and smashed shop windows in a traditionally left-wing student district of the city, before police dispersed them,” according to a local.
Brussels – The speech delivered by King Mohammed VI at the Morocco-GCC Summit highlights the current issues of the Arab nation, head of the French observatory of geopolitical studies, Charles Saint-Prot, said on Thursday.“The King recalled the challenges facing the entire Arab nation, including the problems of stability and security,” Saint-Prot told MAP.The Sovereign also stressed the need to strengthen solidarity between countries in the region, the French expert pointed out, noting that the royal speech also highlighted the common struggle of the Gulf countries and Morocco for the preservation of Islam against deviations and manipulation. The royal speech “was very firm when addressing the destabilization plan targeting Morocco by making the link with the artificial conflict maintained by the Algerian regime in the Moroccan Sahara,” he said.Saint-Prot said that the UN Chief’s behaviors affect the credibility of the United Nations Secretariat, adding that the report drafted by Ban Ki-moon on the Sahara issue is ”outrageous” and ”unacceptable”.
Casablanca – President of the African Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has assured Salaheddine Mekouar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, that she would transmit Morocco’s request to reintegrate the African Union to other members of the African organization. “Morocco’s request to join the African Union will be broadcast this Friday November 4th to all current UA member countries,” Dlamini-Zuma told Mezouar, according to a press release sent out by the MAP, the official Moroccan press agency.This announcement comes a day after Dlamini-Zuma had met with Mezouar and three days after King Mohamed VI’s phone conversation with Chad President Idriss Déby, where the monarch had asked President Déby to intervene on his behalf to make the process of reintegrating the African Union faster. It’s been over a month since Morocco’s official request was made. In comparison, South Sudan got its request to join the AU approved after a mere 18 days. Morocco wants to speed up the process in an effort to seal the deal before the next AU summit. So far, several countries have formally expressed their support for Morocco’s effort to rejoin the African Union, including Egypt, Congo, Benin, Rwanda and Tanzania. Morocco left the African Union 32 years ago after the African Union had recognized the self-proclaimed Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), creating considerable tension between Morocco and the organization.
Rabat – Moroccans demonstrate the highest English-language proficiency skills in the Middle East and North Africa region, according to the newest edition of Education First’s annual report on the matter.The kingdom moved up from the “Very Low” to the “Law category after three consecutive years of being in the former category. The international rankings put Morocco in 44th place this year, compared to 52nd place in 2015.The non-profit ranked 72 countries using test data collected from more than 950,000 adults around the world throughout 2015. Moroccans who took the test scored higher than those in the Gulf region, Jordan and Egypt – nations that use English as a second-language due to their local colonial history. With a score of 49.86, which is five points higher than the international average, Moroccans also beat out Tunisia and Algeria – countries with heavy French influence leftover from the geopolitics of the past century.Female participants from Morocco outscoredtheir male counterparts by four points – outpacing the regional average distribution of test scores by gender of 1.5 points in favor of women.“Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are uniformly in the lowest proficiency bands, and in most MENA countries, English proficiency is not improving,” the report – which considers English to be a “basic requirement” in today’s global economy – added.Libyan and Iraqi test takers scored the lowest on EF’s tests worldwide, taking the 71st and 72nd spots on the global list.
Rabat – King Mohammed VI sent a condolences message on Tuesday to Russian President Vladimir Poutine in connection with the crash of Saratov Airlines Passenger plane in the Ramenskoye District, southeast of Moscow.The plane crashed soon after taking-off causing the death of 71 people on board.In his message, the King expressed to the President of the Russian Federation his “heartfelt condolences and sincere feelings of compassion, as well as his solidarity with and compassion for grieving families and the friendly Russian people.” The monarch has also reaffirmed his sympathy for the Russian leader “in this painful moment, praying God to grant him and the victims’ relatives patience and comfort.”
JUNEAU, Alaska — The Latest on proposed amendments to Alaska’s constitution (all times local):12:50 p.m.Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is proposing changes to the state constitution that he says would help create a durable state fiscal plan.One of the proposed amendments is aimed at ensuring the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend is not changed without a vote of the people. The dividend is the annual check residents receive from the state’s oil-wealth fund.Another proposed amendment seeks to set what Dunleavy called a “spending and savings rule,” with limits on spending and leftover revenue targeted toward savings.The third would call for a vote of the people to create or increase taxes. Dunleavy says the tax proposal applies to any tax.Each proposed constitutional amendment would need two-thirds support of each the House and Senate to qualify for the ballot.___8:55 a.m.Gov. Mike Dunleavy is proposing constitutional amendments dealing with taxes, spending and the annual check residents receive from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund.Details on the proposals are expected to be released later Wednesday.Dunleavy says one of the proposed amendments would ensure the Permanent Fund dividend is not changed without a vote of the people. One would create a “spending and savings rule” and one would call for a public vote to create or increase taxes.Alaska doesn’t have a state sales or personal income tax but has an array of other taxes addressing such things as corporate income, oil and gas production, motor fuels and marijuana.Each proposal would need two-thirds support of each the House and Senate to qualify for the ballot.The Associated Press
Rabat – The Fez-based appeals court has delivered an eight-year prison sentence to the French pedophile accused of raping four minors in Fez. The case broke in early January when authorities apprehended the accused with two minor girls aged ten and thirteen in a sewing workshop in Fez’s medina.The defendant, who arrived in Morocco approximately 18 months ago, has since been introducing himself to locals in Fez as a “tourist.” He was arrested on January 1 in a tailor’s workshop in the Medina after he was caught red handed committing sexual acts on two little girls. In a recorded interview posted on social media, the girls said that the 58-year-old defendant had been grooming them with money and toys, promising gifts from France. Their identities were concealed in the film as they are filmed from behind.“When I refused to comply with his orders, he threatened me and told me that he would slaughter my family,” said one of the girls in the moving interview.During the first hearing that took place on January 5, the defendant admitted to drugging and raping the two young girls.
Rabat – Germany is deporting Mounir El Motassadeq, who was involved in the 9/11 attacks, to Morocco. Moroccan-born El Motassadeq has spent nearly 15 years in jail after he was sentenced for his involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attack. He was convicted of being an Al Qaeda member, an accessory to murder, and an accomplice to 3,000 counts of murder.Germany was supposed to release El Motassadeq in January 2019, but decided to delay his release. Germany deported him today to Morocco and banned him from re-entering Germany until 2064, according to German news outlet DW. Read about El Motassadeq’s story: Moroccan 9/11 Accomplice to Receive Premature ReleaseEl Motassadeq was the first and only member of the group that planned the attacks to have been convicted. He admitted to knowing the men who directly conducted the attacks and supporting them financially, but denied any knowledge of the plan. He claimed he had only done “favors for friends.”He served his sentence in Hamburg’s Fuhlsbuettel prison where he gave an interview to author Anthony Summers in 2009. El Motassadeq admitted to spending time in a military training camp in Afghanistan in 2000. Upon his deportation, it is expected El Motassadeq will rejoin his wife and three children who have been living with his extended family, who may live in Marrakech.
Rabat – Morocco’s food quality control boards seized and destroyed 50 tons of food products unfit for human consumption during the first week of Ramadan.A statement from the Ministry of General Affairs and Governance notes that the seized commodities included four tons of milk products, 16 tons of flour and cereals, five tons of fish and meat, 14 tons of dates, two tons of fruit and vegetables, and 11 tons of other foodstuffs typically consumed during the holy month of Ramadan, including other milk products.The statement was issued after the interministerial commission in charge of food and prices monitoring held on Thursday in Rabat. The control operations covered 10,385 points of sale during this period. The commission added that the available data showcases that majority of prices are stable, with the exception of fish prices that recorded a significant increase during this period.In April, Moroccan citizens have joined the boycott against high prices of products made by three companies: Sidi Ali, Centrale Danone, and Afriquia.Recently, the boycott extended its reach to include fish. Those supporting the boycott emphasize that there is no justification for such high prices at the fish market in a country with more than 2,000 miles of coastline.On Wednesday, a group of young people took to the Souk Bani Hassan marketplace in Tetouan and violently destroyed the merchandise of several fishmongers.Fish prices, including that of sardines—one of the cheapest and most widely available products— hovers around MAD 30 in different cities across the country, including Tetouan and Rabat.According to the statement, the committee is closely monitoring the price situation of all the most consumable foodstuffs and will not hesitate to apply the provisions of the law in force in case of monopoly or speculation.Ahead of Ramadan, the government pledged to reassure a “diversified” market that responds to all the needs of citizens during the holy month of Ramadan. The cabinet has also established a national hotline to receive possible complaints from both traders and consumers concerning the price of Ramadan supplies.