Football Talk: Lisbon Lions light show, Hearts’ Robbo whisky

first_imgAnd Gareth Southgate has been offered the England job. It’s all in today’s Football Talk.It was like being at a Coldplay gig. If they played YNWA.All of the lights.Scott Brown’s career renaissance is ended by Lionel Messi. Champions League nights at Celtic Park are always sparkly, shimmering occasions, but never before has the east end of Glasgow been lit up like it was on Wednesday.Sure, Celtic lost 2-0 to Barcelona and crashed out of European competition before Christmas but their fans commemorated the Lisbon Lions by lighting up Celtic Park in the 67th minute. It was like being at a Coldplay gig but with less terrible music.Elsewhere, Hearts have released a limited edition whisky for the festive season. It’s distilled from the sweat of John Robertson. I may have scanned the press release. Celtic’s potential new signing was impressed.Yannick Carrasco, sheer disrespect.If you could bottle the spirit of Hearts it would taste like John Robertson’s sweat. That’s what this is, right?Audacious. SNS GroupRoy Aitken. The Celtic legend turns 57 today. Many happy returns, Roy.last_img read more

Trump sends mixed messages to China on trade war

first_img(AP) — Injecting fresh uncertainty at a time of global economic jitters, President Donald Trump sent mixed messages Sunday on the U.S.-China trade war as leaders at a global summit pushed the unpredictable American president to ease frictions over tariffs and cooperate on other geopolitical challenges.Trump’s head-snapping comments at the Group of Seven summit about his escalating trade fight with China — first expressing regret, then amping up tariff threats — represented just the latest manifestation of the hazards of the president’s go-it-alone mantra. Allies fault his turbulent trade agenda for contributing to a global economic slowdown.Despite Trump’s insistence that reports of U.S. tensions with allies are overblown, fissures between the U.S. and six of the world’s other advanced economies were apparent on trade policy, Russia and Iran as the leaders gathered at a picturesque French beach resort.Two days after the U.S. and China traded a fresh round of retaliatory tariffs and Trump threatened to force U.S. businesses to cut ties with China, the president appeared to harbor qualms about the trade war, which has sent financial markets tumbling.Asked during a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson if he had any second thoughts about escalating the trade conflict, Trump told reporters, “Yeah. For sure.”He added, “I have second thoughts about everything.”Hours later, the White House backpedaled. Press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement saying the press had “greatly misinterpreted” Trump’s comments. She said the president only responded “in the affirmative – because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher.”White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who was in the room when Trump spoke and was later interviewed by CBS’ “Face the Nation,” offered his own explanation.Kudlow claimed Trump “didn’t quite hear the question” although reporters asked the president three times whether he had any second thoughts about ramping up the trade war and he responded three times.At first, Trump’s admission appeared to mark a rare moment of self-reflection by the famously hardnosed leader. The subsequent explanation fits a pattern of Trump recoiling from statements he believes suggest weakness.Earlier this month, Trump backed off on a threat to place even tougher tariffs on Chinese imports as aides fretted about their impact on the holiday shopping season and growing fears of a recession in the U.S.Trump had hoped to use the summit to rally other leaders to do more to stimulate their economies, as fears rise of a potential slowdown in the U.S. before he stands for reelection in November 2020.Johnson, for his part, praised Trump for America’s economic performance — but chided the U.S. leader for his unbending China policy.“Just to register a faint sheep-like note of our view on the trade war,” he told Trump. “We’re in favor of trade peace.”Trump said he had “no plans right now” to follow through on his threat of an emergency declaration, but he insisted he would be within his rights to use a 1977 law designed to target rogue regimes, terrorists and drug traffickers as the newest weapon in the clash between the world’s two largest economies“If I want, I could declare a national emergency,” Trump said. He cited China’s theft of intellectual property and the large U.S. trade deficit with China, saying “in many ways that’s an emergency.”For all of that, Trump disputed reports of friction with other G-7 leaders, saying he has been “treated beautifully” since he arrived.The cracks started to emerge moments later after the French government said the leaders had agreed at a Saturday dinner that French President Emanuel Macron would deliver a message to Iran on behalf of the group.Trump denied he had signed off on any such message.“No, I haven’t discussed that,” he told reporters during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.Administration officials said Trump was noncommittal when the leaders discussed the subject of a message to Iran during a conversation about Iran’s nuclear program.For several months, Macron has assumed a lead role in trying to save the 2015 nuclear accord, which has been unraveling since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement. The French went even further Sunday, inviting Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif to Biarritz in a bid to open talks meant on lowering tensions.Trump curtly told reporters he had “no comment” on Zarif’s presence. Officials said the White House was not aware in advance of the invitation to Zarif — a further indication of Trump’s diminished role.Trump also faced opposition from European leaders over his stated desire to find a way to re-admit Russia to the G-7 before next year’s meeting of the world leaders, which will be held in the United States. Russian President Vladimir Putin was expelled from the former G-7 in 2015 following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.And, sitting feet away from Abe, Trump declined to forcefully condemn North Korea’s flouting of international sanctions with a recent burst of short-range ballistic missile tests, calling them “much more standard” missiles. Abe views them as a critical security threat.Trump told reporters: “We’re in the world of missiles, folks, whether you like it or not.”last_img read more

Simpler and Tougher Intel® AMT for Embedded Environments

first_imgAs we can see that remote management is not a requirement for PC or laptop. It has broader use in embedded systems as well. We need to look at this from different perspectives and look into how to build low-cost, simplified, and tougher Intel® AMT Lite into embedded platforms. This is an opportunity to build the next billion manageable connected devices – it could be as big as Intel® AMT in desktops and laptops. I think this is real and tangible. What do you think? Network monitoring Power grid management Railway intersection control Low cost: embedded platforms we talked about above are typically low-cost devices. Remote management component on the chipset has to be low cost as a portion of the overall platform cost. Resistance to environmental interferences: Embedded systems are typically not installed in office environment. They often locate outdoor that operate at rough conditions – temperature, dust, and RF interferences, etc. Simplified features: In an embedded platform, remote management does not need full featured Intel® AMT. It requires a subset of simplified out-of-band features, such as power on/off, hardware health monitoring, etc. Simpler and Tougher Intel® AMT for Embedded EnvironmentsJackson He
I just got back from a business trip to China where I had several discussions with customers about extended usages of Intel® AMT in their business environments. With the success of Intel® vPro and Intel® AMT, they would like to extend the remote management and computing power to other non-PC application environments. My blog “[Intel® vPro Beyond Desktop/Laptop|p-10752]” talked about how Intel® vPro was used in an embedded video surveillance environment at railway stations in China. There are more evidences that users are looking for simpler and more affordable Intel® AMT in embedded environments. Besides video surveillance usage we described in the last blog, the China railway customers told us that there are many other applications in the railway that require remote management, even though may not be as much computing power offered by vPro. They need fully automated no-touch remote management in following areas, that are not typical office environments, but under some rather rigid condition (dust, temperature, RF interference, etc.): Standard interfaces: Standard interfaces like WS-MAN is essential for ease of integration with central management console. It is critical for ISV and heterogeneous platform integration, as embedded platforms have different form factors. In all these cases, embedded control units are deployed at remote locations throughout hundreds and thousands of miles of railways, often at odd locations. A simple power recycle today may require sending people to the site. In many cases, that is all it takes to solve the problem. Similar to the railway operations, we also heard similar stories from airport operation to banks (ATM). For example, the flight information minitors at the newly built Beijing Airport for Olympics are controlled by computers. Since they do not have remote management, technicians have to climb up a ladder to reset the computer. They have to do it one at a time around the airport – it will be so much better, if they can do this remotely without climbing up and down!All these customer requirements call out Intel® AMT-like remote management features in embedded system. Since embedded systems have different characteristics than that of desktop PC and laptop, it requires different perspectives of remote management features: Ubiquitous presence: Intel® AMT-like (Intel® AMT Lite?) features should presence at all IA-based embedded platforms, so that central management solutions of distributed systems could be deployed uniformly.last_img read more

Back to the front

first_imgThe seeds of future successes are often sown by failures and disappointments. For Indian hockey, not making the grade for the 2008 Beijing Olympics was the blow that forced the powersthat-be presiding over the fate of the national game to wake up and smell the astro turf.With eight Olympic gold medals, six of them in succession between 1928 and 1956, India had developed the bad habit to rest on past laurels, even as the rest of the world raced by. Be it Pakistan, the European heavyweights or Australia, they all first caught up with the erstwhile powerhouse and then left it far behind.But never did India fear that it will lose its seat at the high table. We believed that a spot in the Olympics will always be there for us. That is why the 2008 debacle at the qualifiers in Santiago, Chile, came as such a shock to the system.”We realised that we cannot continue to make the same mistakes,” forward Tushar Khandker, who was part of that team and will make his first Olympic appearance next month, said at the Pune camp. “The disappointment of Chile made us more determined to turn the corner.”One major point of view that needed to be changed was that pure skill and stickwork were enough to beat the top sides in the modern game. First under Spanish coach Jose Brasa and now with Aussie Michael Nobbs, much more emphasis was laid on the physical aspect of the game and technological inputs such as video analysis. “Just skill was never enough. The rest of the world realised that long ago. We are just catching up now,” Nobbs said in between warmups in Pune.advertisementOf course, a floundering India was not good news for the world game, so FIH, the international hockey federation, also did its bit by arranging for its master coaches to work in India and bringing major events to the country. The latter initiative not only maintained the enthusiasm for the game despite poor results, but also swelled the world body’s coffers.A look at the present bunch of players shows that they have bulked up considerably over the last 12 months. That is the demand of the modern game which lays great emphasis on power, speed, fitness and endurance. “It has become a power game now. Apart from working on the skills, one needs to spend quality time at the gym as well,” coach Clarence Lobo said.Devices such as the hypoxic chamber, which simulate conditions likely to be faced during matches in the laboratory, are a relatively new addition to the training regime. The team thus was well prepared for the high altitude and rarefied atmosphere when it went for the Champions Challenge I in Johannesburg last December.The players went through the chamber once again recently in an effort to have an edge in endurance at the Olympics, which will be held in much cooler conditions. “Previously, we used to concede late goals because of lack of fitness. But now we have turned the tables and regularly score in the final few minutes,” forward Danish Mujtaba said.One factor that has also worked in India’s favour is the relatively settled look to the side. Players such as Sandeep Singh, Sardar Singh, Khandker, Bharat Chetri, Shivendra Singh, Ignace Tirkey and Gurbaj Singh have been together for a long time. Some of them have matured with experience and are now at their peak while others are keen to give their best at what could be their last shot at the Olympics. Only Sandeep and Ignace have prior Olympic experience.Add to the lot, talented youngsters like S.K. Uthappa, Manpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra and goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh, and one has a pretty formidable line-up.Though Nobbs and his coaching staff believe that a top-six finish will be a very good achievement, several of the players have made no secret of the fact that they are eyeing a spot in the semi-finals and a podium finish.The authorities have also stepped up and provided the necessary support. Frequent exposure to top teams has boosted the team’s confidence and the Sports Authority of India has provided all the facilities asked for. It must be said that most of the equipment was available, but was not used due to lack of technical know-how. “The hypoxic chamber costs crores of rupees and was there for a long time, but was not used till three or four years ago,” Nobbs said.Financial security has been a major concern for the players, and this is where Hockey India has stepped up to the plate. After the top players refused to turn up for the rival Indian Hockey Federation’s league, Hockey India has announced retainerships and annual contracts for the players. A similar system is on the anvil for the juniors. Also, it is starting its own league next year, promising higher earnings than those in the Federation’s league.advertisementIt has taken a sustained effort from all stakeholders to get the national game back on track. After the ignominy four years ago, the entire nation is hoping that its heroes will ensure that the Tricolour gets its moment of glory in London.last_img read more

We Asked 50,000 Michigan Fans To Show Us Their Coolest Wolverines Gear: Here Are The 21 Best Photos We Were Sent

first_imgAn awesome customized Michigan car.Monday night, we asked our Michigan fan base – which is over 50,000 strong on Facebook – to send us photos of their coolest Wolverines gear ahead of the 2016 season. The response has been above and beyond what we could have ever expected. It turns out there are some seriously creative UM fans out there.We’re going to highlight the best 21 items we were sent. Warning – if you’re a Michigan supporter, you may feel a bit inferior after scrolling through the list. Let’s get started:1. This 1988 Chevy Caprice, decked out in Michigan colors and logos. Sent over by a fan named Lee.13240029_1334199959929234_1196189345077723729_n 13254393_1334198436596053_9111179041837961854_n2. This Wolverines-themed mailbox, complete with goal posts. Sent over by a fan named Michelle.13245282_10153758818358473_7673114632182573403_n (1)3. This Ford Mustang, painted with Michigan’s color scheme. Sent in by a fan named Jeff.13226902_929209510531547_7892514462173908972_n (1)4. This Michigan-themed SeaDoo. Sent over by a fan named David.13240773_10205290815264483_7312073122244519807_n5. This Michigan-colored ice fishing sled. Sent over by a fan named Allen.13240042_1736781223252701_8219881240336466309_n6. These Michigan helmet-themed surfboards. Sent over by a fan named Tim.13245270_1217411494966470_1493495655821133915_n (1)7. This Ohio-shaped Michigan carving. Sent over by a fan named Shannon.13254431_1191756870843194_132830051573061721_n (1)8. This Michigan-themed Dodge Ram 1300, which even has the Michigan state outline near the tail. Sent over by a fan named Benji.13237818_10204737180109359_5036488853053740560_n (1)9. These Michigan-themed Converse shoes, sent over by a fan named Patti.13267756_1215427908491982_1638369843520296299_n (1)10. This old-school automobile, which looks like a 1930 Ford Model A, decked out in Michigan colors and logos. Sent over by a fan named Bob. 13254514_1747397755475032_769153274314965691_n (1)11. These Michigan colored booties, sent over by a fan named John.13248535_1225983294079951_9145564206953102716_o12. This Michigan-themed toilet, complete with Ohio State’s logo in the proper spot. Sent over by an anonymous fan.13233098_1749951888584396_6802899046990585104_n13. This Michigan-themed camper, called the Schembechler Shack – which you can actually rent. Sent over by a fan named Adam.13244626_10204693984629465_7480910150103034490_n14. This Michigan lamp, which features an aerial of the team’s stadium. Sent over by a fan named Yvonne.13265853_10206660357691212_2037572143638964257_n (1)15. This awesome Michigan fan cave, which even features yard lines along the walls. Sent in by a fan named Jake.13260188_10206446124977396_855767924816017571_n16. This Michigan wood carving, which features the program logo. Sent over by a fan named John.13256110_10154172893314493_6639696128007414567_n17. This Michigan-themed motorcycle, sent over by a fan named Troy.13241328_10209496215348168_4232678824458101975_n18. This accent wall, dedicated to Michigan’s stadium – The Big House. Sent in by a fan named Dennis.13227084_10205867033786530_3711199039386747588_n19. This hilarious birdhouse combo, which shows a clean Michigan house and a crapped-on Michigan State house. Sent in by a fan named Sherry.13221518_10206711764497403_7446072135921208283_n20. This metal 360-degree lawn decoration, which features Michigan’s “M” logo. Sent in by a fan named Dan.13256453_1572570263041197_5345480309243178988_n21. This 1950-era Chevy Stepside, with Michigan logos on the body and the spare tire case. Sent over by a fan named Jim.13245491_10206145069537951_6265495549462242473_nThink you’ve got these people beat? Let us know!last_img read more

Most actively traded companies on the TSX

first_imgSome of the most active companies traded Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange:Toronto Stock Exchange (16,326.70, up 27.82 points)Sherritt International Corp. (TSX:S). Miner. Down 15 cents, or 10.34 per cent, to $1.30 on 22.5 million shares.Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB). Health care. Up 41 cents, or 3.44 per cent, to $12.32 on 12.4 million shares.NextSource Materials Inc. (TSX:NEXT). Miner. Down half-a-cent, or 3.57 per cent, to 13.5 cents on 12.3 million shares.Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Aerospace, rail equipment. Up two cents, or 0.65 per cent, to $3.08 on 8.8 million shares. Bombardier will not confirm a published report in Iran that the Canadian planemaker is finalizing its first commercial aircraft order in the Middle Eastern country. The Quebec-based company has acknowledged in the past that it was exploring opportunities in Iran.Primero Mining Corp. (TSX:P). Miner. Unchanged at 29 cents on 6.2 million shares.Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX:WEED). Health care. Up $1.09, or 2.98 per cent, to $37.61 on 5.6 million shares.Companies reporting major news:Loblaw Companies Ltd. (TSX:L). Grocer. Up 59 cents, or 0.87 per cent, to $68.54 on 603,198 shares. The grocery and pharmacy giant and the Canada Revenue Agency faced off in a Toronto court Wednesday in a $404-million dispute involving allegations that Loblaw’s Barbadian banking subsidiary was misused for tax avoidance. The Tax Court of Canada hearing focused on Barbados-based Glenhuron Bank Ltd. was largely procedural ahead of a trial due to start on April 23.last_img read more

Powell US economy and banks seem sturdy but face some risks

first_imgWASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says he’s pleased with the state of the U.S. economy but cautions that some forms of corporate debt have reached risky levels. At the same time, Powell says the financial system and markets appear far sturdier than they did before the 2008 crisis.Powell said in a speech Wednesday to the Economic Club of New York that the Fed is monitoring potential vulnerabilities in the banking system to ensure its continued stability.“We see no major asset class,” Powell said, “where valuations appear far in excess of standard benchmarks.”Powell stressed that future interest rate hikes aren’t on a “preset policy path,” which may suggest that the Fed would consider a pause in its rate hikes next year to assess the impact of its credit tightening.Some of Powell’s previous observations and similar remarks from other Fed officials have raised hopes in financial markets that the central bank may be close to slowing its rate increases, which have gradually raised borrowing costs for consumers and businesses. Any such slowdown — or pause — in its rate hikes would be welcome news for a stock market that has been battered by fears that the Fed’s continued credit tightening could end the long bull market.In an appearance earlier this month, Powell cited strong annual economic growth above 3 per cent and unemployment at a near five-decade low of 3.7 per cent. Those trends, he said, were coinciding with inflation remaining “right on target” at the Fed’s goal of 2 per cent annual price increases.But Powell also noted a number of looming risks, including the slowdown in global growth and the fading economic benefits of the tax cuts and government spending boost that took effect this year as well as the cumulative effect of the Fed’s own rate hikes. Many economists also worry about potential economic damage caused by President Donald Trump’s trade conflicts with China and other nations.For his part, Trump has sought repeatedly to shift blame for any economic troubles to the Fed and its rate increases. In an interview Tuesday with the Washington Post, the president complained bluntly and at length about Powell, who was Trump’s hand-picked choice to lead the Fed.Trump argued that the Fed’s policies were damaging the economy and pointed to the recent stock market declines and General Motors’ announcement Monday that it would cut up to 14,000 workers in North America and put five plants up for possible closure.After keeping rates at a record low near zero for seven years, the Fed three years ago began gradually raising rates, including three hikes this year. Those increases have raised its benchmark rate to a still-historically-low range of 2 per cent to 2.25 per cent.Higher interest rates tend to slow economic growth over time as well as pressure stock prices. For those reasons, this year’s hikes have made the Fed the target of unusual public attacks from Trump — criticism that has accelerated with the past month’s sharp declines in the stock market. Trump has complained that the Fed is threatening to undo the economic stimulus being provided by the tax cuts and that its rate hikes are unnecessary because inflation has remained relatively low.In its most recent projections, the Fed forecast that it would raise rates in December for the fourth time this year, followed by three more hikes in 2019.Analysts think a rate hike next month is all but certain, possibly in part because they think the Fed doesn’t want to appear to be bowing to pressure from Trump. But some economists say three rate increases for next year are beginning to look less certain.Other Fed watchers still expect at least one or two rate increases in 2019 before the central bank pauses to observe how the economy is performing.In a speech Tuesday, Vice Chairman Richard Clarida suggested that the Fed would continue to strive to be “data dependent” by using the latest readings on the economy “with a healthy dose of judgment and humility” to determine its interest-rate policy.Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Presslast_img read more

1.2 lakh voters in Assam not to exercise franchise: EC official

first_imgGuwahati: A total of 1.2 lakh people in Assam will not be able to exercise their franchise in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls as they have been marked as ‘D’ (Doubtful) voters, a senior Election Commission official said Monday.However, the people who have been left out of the complete draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be able to vote if their names figure in the electoral rolls, Assam Chief Electoral Officer Mukesh Chandra Sahu also said. There are 40.08 lakh people whose names have been left out of the complete draft of the citizens’ register after including the names of 2.9 crore people out of a total 3.3 crore applicants, he said. The system of ‘D’ (dubious or doubtful) voters was introduced in 1997 by the Election Commission of India, which prepared a list by incorporating names of those who could not provide evidence in favour of their Indian nationality. It does not exist anywhere else in the country. ‘D’ voters were not allowed to vote in the 2014 general elections too. “Currently, we have 1.2 lakh ‘D’ voters in the electoral rolls as per the last revision. The rolls are being updated continuously and the list will be finalised on the last date of nomination. Therefore, it will be separate for all the different phases,” Sahu said. The existing draft roll was published on September 15, 2018 and the final roll was released on February 6. “There has been a slight fall in the current number of ‘D’ voters from the last revision due to disposing of court cases. The current figure is likely to change at the time of election,” Sahu said. On security arrangements, Sahu said that 33 companies of central forces have already reached Assam and have been deployed at various places as a confidence building measure. “More central forces will come to the state during the election. We have made a detailed security arrangement considering the sensibilities of different polling stations. Our state nodal police officer has already held meetings with the Ministry of Home Affairs on this,” he added. As per the last summary revision, over 2.17 crore voters, including at least 7.06 lakh first timers, will exercise their franchise in the three-phase elections in 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam. The voting in Assam will take place in 28,143 polling stations on April 11, 18 and 23, EC sources said. In the first phase, voting will be held for Tezpur, Kaliabor, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur constituencies at 9,574 polling stations where 75.16 lakh electorate will exercise their franchise. In the second phase on April 18, polling will be held in Karimganj (SC), Silchar, Autonomous District (ST), Mangaldoi and Nawgong constituencies where a total 68.36 lakh electorate will vote in 8,992 booths. Dhubri, Kokrajhar (ST), Barpeta and Gauhati seats will see elections in the last phase on April 23 in 9,577 polling stations where 74.08 lakh people will vote. There are also about 60,000 service voters, who are staying outside the state and will vote through postal ballot, the EC sources said.last_img read more

Sahel ministers seek tighter border security at Morocco meeting

first_imgRabat- Foreign ministers from countries across the Sahel and Maghreb gathered in Rabat on Thursday to look for ways to boost border security and confront Islamist linked-violence plaguing the vast desert region.Senior officials from the United States, Britain and France are also due to attend the conference, which Morocco’s Communication Minister Mustafa Khalfi said aimed to “reinvigorate” regional cooperation, giving special attention to developments in Mali and Libya. Mali is still suffering deadly attacks by Islamist insurgents some 10 months after France launched a military operation against Al-Qaeda-linked groups occupying the north of the country, where two French radio journalists were executed at the beginning of November. “The intervention in Mali did not resolve all the problems, and the threat is still there,” French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said ahead of the Rabat conference.Security officials now warn that the vast deserts of southern Libya are becoming the latest safe havens for the militants who fled neighbouring Mali.Tripoli, which hosted the last regional conference on border security in March 2012, has struggled to impose order since the NATO-backed rebels overthrew and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.Delegates at the last meeting adopted an action plan on regional cooperation aimed at boosting coordinated efforts to combat terrorism, illegal immigration and organised crime, including drug and arms trafficking.But Islamist-linked violence that has rocked the region since then, including in neighbouring Tunisia and Algeria, highlights the need for ever greater efforts.The Rabat conference, which 17 countries are due to attend, will examine the “implementation” of the Tripoli action plan, in order to strengthen border security across the region, the organisers said on Wednesday.A declaration will be adopted at the end of the meeting. Reflecting the difficulty of closer regional cooperation, Algeria’s Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra is not expected at the conference following a major diplomatic ruckus with Rabat over the Western Sahara, a conflict that has long divided the Maghreb arch-rivals.Despite their vying for influence among African allies, Algeria remains a security heavyweight in the region, and shares long, porous borders with Libya and Mali.The ongoing cross-border security threat in the Sahara was most starkly illustrated in January this year when Islamist gunmen overran a gas plant in the Algerian desert.At least 37 hostages of different nationalities were killed in the four-day crisis, which ended bloodily when Algerian commandos stormed the plant.Speaking earlier this week, Morocco’s Khalfi insisted Rabat was ready to engage in security cooperation with Algiers.But a senior Moroccan government official told AFP that the two countries were not even cooperating on illegal migration, a major problem for Morocco, which is used as a transit country for sub-Saharans heading north.Addressing this issue will be a key focus of the conference, with memories still fresh of two recent shipwrecks that claimed more than 400 lives off the Italian island of Lampedusa. As part of its own efforts to manage the migration problems it faces, Morocco this week unveiled “exceptional” measures to give official papers to some of the estimated 25,000-40,000 illegal immigrants in the country.Conflicts in the Sahel region have merely fuelled the flow of sub-Saharan Africans seeking to cross the Mediterranean in the hope of a better life in Europe.Speaking in the Malian capital last week, UN chief Ban Ki-Moon said that to help the people of the Sahel, an approach was needed that joins up political, security, development and humanitarian efforts throughout the region.Eleven million of the 80 million people living in Sahel states lack sufficient food, the region has suffered three severe droughts in a decade and it is awash with weapons.last_img read more