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Rabat - French senator Christian Cambon criticized France’s visa restrictions on Moroccan citizens, emphasizing that this could “jeopardize” diplomatic ties between Rabat and Paris.

 

Quoted by BFMTV, the French senator described France’s visa policy as “absurd” and with “no sense.”

“Morocco, a friendly country with which we have very strong ties, both military, economically, intellectually, and culturally, takes this matter very seriously,” he said.

In September 2021, France announced its decision to arbitrarily cut the number of visas granted to Moroccans and Algerians in half.

The decision angered Moroccan citizens and their government, who argued that France’s act was “unjustified.”

Many Moroccans took to social networks to denounce France’s visa restrictions. Some of them shared their testimonies live online. One of the testimonies that made headlines was from a Moroccan woman who received support from several French public figures. The Moroccan woman said that a French consulate in Morocco rejected a family visit for her mother and grandmother to attend her brother’s wedding in Paris.

Expressing support for the woman’s case, France’s former minister of territorial development Cecile Duflot urged the French embassy in Morocco to intervene and allow the family to reunite and attend their relative’s wedding.

French Senator Yan Chantel also criticized the country’s visa restriction approach.

Like Chantel and Duflot,  Cambon finds France’s visa policy “very humiliating for Moroccans.”

“The visa issue will become a real obstacle to any discussion and on any subject with the country”, the senator argued.

Relations between France and Morocco have experienced some tense moments in the past few years.

Recently, the Moroccan-French Peace and Sustainable Development Foundation called on France to clarify its position on the Sahara dispute.

“The silence is perceived by Moroccans as an unfriendly act,” the foundation said.

The statement comes a month after King Mohammed VI called on all of Morocco’s partners, whose positions on the Sahara dispute are “ambiguous” to make their stances clear.

“I therefore expect certain states among Morocco's traditional partners as well as new ones, whose stances concerning the Moroccanness of the Sahara are ambiguous, to clarify their positions and reconsider them in a manner that leaves no room for doubt,” the monarch said in his speech on the anniversary of the “Revolution of King and People” on August 20.

Source: Morocco World News.

 

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Rabat - As the new school year has started, young Moroccan internet users reopened the heated debate regarding the country’s school uniforms and dress code policy, with many saying that they are biased and only target female students.

In most Moroccan schools, girls are required to wear white lab coats whereas boys are not, a policy that was deemed by many to be sexist and discriminatory.

“Tabliya [the white lab coat in Arabic] looks ridiculous and is sexist. So to be fair I think every school should have a uniform for both genders,” said a Moroccan Reddit user.

Many, notably girls, expressed their objection to the policy and argued that it should apply to both genders. “I never wore mine and had to explain to the principal every morning that as long as the boys weren't required to wear tablia I wouldn't either,” a female Reddit user said.

“I think it's stupid. Either apply the dress code for both sexes or don't,” another said.

Some argued that such policies might have a negative impact on girls’ mental health, confidence, and self-perception. “That is why growing up girls thinks that they should always be hidden and shouldn't express their opinions or needs,” another said.

Another Reddit user said: “It always made [me] so mad to have to wear it and not boys ... it’s so so disrespectful I find it demeaning and not fair !!” She argued that it encourages the premise that female students need to cover up to prevent boys from being distracted during school. “It pushes people to think that girls should always cover [themselves] and not for boys to control themselves. Such a bad influence,” she stressed.

The majority of commenters demanded that female students be treated with respect and seen as equal participants in the educational system, rather than sexual objects that need to be covered. But others supported the current dress code policy, arguing that it encourages modesty and protects girls from sexual harassment. “Tablia is a statement that shouts ‘this girl is a minor’, there's no reason for shallow childish anger over a piece of garment that protects young women,” a commenter argued.

Not the first time

Last April, a Moroccan mother took to Facebook to complain that her 14-year-old daughter was banned from her classroom for wearing an above-the-knee dress. The school administration called the mother to notify her that her daughter was banned for wearing “indecent” clothes and requested she bring her daughter “proper clothes” to be allowed back into the classroom.

The incident sparked widespread controversy and heated debate among Moroccans, with many criticizing the school’s dress code policy. Many sided with the school’s decision, arguing that students and school staff should adhere to the dress code policies and dress up “appropriately” when entering educational institutions.

Others, however, denounced the school’s decision to deny the teenage girl entry to the classroom and viewed the move as a violation of personal freedom and gender equality. Several activists and associations followed suit and challenged dress code policies that target female students.

School dress code policies have been receiving backlash across the world for perpetuating sexism against female students, notably in the United States.

Source: Morocco World News.

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The administration of US President Joe Biden has tweaked its much-hyped student loan relief program to exclude about 770,000 borrowers with private loans guaranteed by the federal government, it announced on Thursday. 

The move, revealed via email, appears to be designed to defuse legal challenges from multiple states and a libertarian law firm calling into question whether the Biden administration can use public money to wipe out private student loan debt or do so without congressional approval.

Students who obtained their loans through the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL), which ended in 2010, and the Federal Perkins Loan Program, which ended in 2017, will no longer be eligible for loan forgiveness. In both programs, the federal government acted as guarantor to the private lenders who supplied the loans, meaning the private lenders and guaranty agencies involved have standing to sue over the financial injury they could suffer if such loans were forgiven. 

A coalition of Republican-governed states sued the Biden administration on Thursday for allegedly overstepping the limits of executive power, arguing the administration’s debt forgiveness plan is “not remotely tailored to address the effects of the pandemic on federal student loan borrowers,” as is required by the 2003 law the government has used to legally justify the unprecedented move. Biden, the plaintiffs said, is still invoking Covid-19 – and extending the ‘health emergency’ declared in 2020 – to justify the sweeping debt cancelation even though he said earlier this month that the pandemic was over.

The Department of Education is required, under the law, to collect the balance due on loans. And President Biden does not have the authority to override that,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, leading a six-state group that also includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina, told the Associated Press in an interview on Thursday. 

Biden’s much-anticipated student loan forgiveness initiative was unveiled in August, promising up to $20,000 in debt cancelation for Americans making under $125,000 annually. The plan has been criticized from both sides, with progressive Democrats arguing it doesn’t forgive enough debt, while Republicans insist the taxpayer should not be on the hook for someone else’s failure to repay their financial obligations. Some 44.5 million Americans have student loan debt, according to the Chamber of Commerce; just 3% of those are expected to be affected by Thursday’s announcement.

Source:rt.com

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Germany’s coalition government approved $35 million in new arms sales to Saudi Arabia before Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Riyadh last week, Der Spiegel reported on Thursday. Sales were halted in 2018 over the war in Yemen, but Berlin has relaxed its stance on sending weapons to warzones since the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck confirmed in a letter to the German Bundestag (Parliament) that several deals had been approved by Scholz shortly before he traveled to the Gulf region last week, the newspaper reported

These deals include the sale of aircraft parts worth €1.3 million ($1.26 million) to the United Arab Emirates, and the sale of €36.1 million ($35.1 million) worth of equipment and armaments for the Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets to Saudi Arabia. German companies will also be allowed to supply ammunition for the Eurofighter.

The export licenses are part of a joint program with Italy, Spain and Britain, the letter reportedly stated.

Germany is the world’s fifth-largest arms exporter, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. While Saudi Arabia was once one of Berlin’s top customers – purchasing €1.24 billion worth of German weapons in 2012, former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government agreed in 2018 to ban the sale of weapons to countries involved in the Yemen war.

The ban contained several exceptions, but a total embargo came into force a year later, following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi security forces. However, news reports last year suggested that the ban was being flouted, with sales authorized to several countries fighting in Yemen.

Prior to last September’s federal elections, the Green Party’s manifesto explicitly stated that it wanted to “end European arms exports to war and crisis zones.” In the days and weeks after Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February, Habeck’s Greens and their coalition partners stuck to this policy, citing Germany’s history as an aggressor in World War II to explain their reluctance to arm Kiev’s forces.

That policy has fallen by the wayside, and Germany has since given Ukraine artillery guns, anti-aircraft tanks, armored vehicles and ammunition. Despite this significant U-turn on fueling foreign conflicts, Kiev has repeatedly called for more and heavier weapons from German stocks, including battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.

Source: rt.com

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EU energy officials are concerned about the effects the ongoing energy crisis in Europe will have on the continent once cold weather sets in, Commissioner Kadri Simson told journalists on Friday.

“Ministers were concerned, as am I, that this will not be an easy winter for us, and the next winter will be even more difficult,” said Simson during a press conference after an extraordinary meeting of EU energy ministers.

The meeting was meant to address the skyrocketing gas prices in Europe and to develop a package of emergency measures aimed at assisting European households and businesses amid the crisis

The agreed-upon steps include placing a cap on energy company revenues and distributing excess profits back to consumers. The plan also prescribes mandatory energy savings, requiring EU members to cut energy demand during peak hours by 5% and suggesting a 10% reduction in overall electricity use.

The ministers failed, however, to agree on a price cap on wholesale natural gas, which was one of the key demands issued to the European Commission by a group of 15 EU member states ahead of the meeting. In a joint letter, the group argued that a price cap was the one measure that could help the bloc “mitigate the inflationary pressure, manage expectations and provide a framework in case of potential supply disruptions.”

While the European Commission has not completely ruled out the possibility of a price cap on natural gas, it has warned that such a move would weaken the bloc’s ability to secure gas supplies in the global market. The issue will reportedly be discussed at a later date, according to Lithuanian Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys.

As Russian gas deliveries to the EU have declined by as much as 48% this year, according to Gazprom, inflation in the Eurozone has since hit double digits for the first time in recent history. It’s feared the situation will further deteriorate after the Russian Nord Stream pipelines suffered damage in a suspected act of sabotage earlier this week, which will severely limit potential gas deliveries to the bloc in the near future.
Source: rt .com

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UK consumer confidence has fallen to its lowest since records began in 1974 amid deep concerns about personal finances and the economy over the next 12 months, a study by research group GfK found.

According to the report, issued on Friday, the confidence index decreased by five points to -49 this month, worse than earlier projections by the economists. The reading marked the fourth new low in the last five months, with all measures once again severely depressed.

The largest falls were in personal finances over the next year, which was down nine points, and confidence in the economy over the next year, which was down eight points.

The savings index also slumped, coming in at 11 points lower than this time last year.

“Consumers are buckling under the pressure of the UK's growing cost-of-living crisis driven by rapidly rising food prices, domestic fuel bills and mortgage payments,” said GfK client strategy director Joe Staton.

“They are asking themselves when and how the situation will improve. Today's mini-budget, and the longer-term agenda to drive the economy and help rebalance household finances, will be the first major opportunity to deliver that improvement. It will also be a major test for the popularity of Liz Truss' new Government,” he explained.

The report comes as UK inflation is hovering around double-digit figures, and is expected to climb higher in the coming months. It is currently almost five times above the Bank of England’s 2% target, at 9.9%.
Source: rt.com

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Rabat - The Moroccan national football team today won its friendly game against Chile with a 2-0 victory at the RCDE stadium in the Spanish city of Barcelona.

The Atlas Lions produced a remarkable display in the run-up of the Qatar World Cup, showing their level of preparation for the global tournament, which will take place between November 20 and December 18.

The game kicked off with mixed feelings for both teams, especially the Atlas Lions who aspired to produce a positive result under the management of newly appointed head coach Walid Regargagui. The match marked the national team’s first game under Regragui’s leadership.

The first half of the match ended with a 0-0 draw. But Soufiane Boufal restored Morocco's hope after scoring his team's first goal at the 66th minute with a penalty kick. Abdelhamid Sabiri scored Morocco's second goal at the 78th minute.

The match also marked Hakim Ziyech’s return to the pitch in Morocco’s colors, almost nine months after his absence due to a feud with the country’s then-head coach Vahid Halilhodzic.

Earlier this year, Ziyech announced his retirement from the Moroccan football team, attributing his decision to leave the team to the fact that he felt unwanted and unwelcome.

The international friendly was an opportunity for the Atlas Lions to test their preparedness for the World Cup. Morocco will play another warm-up match against Paraguay on September 27 in the Spanish city of Seville.

Last June, the Moroccan football team played a friendly match against the United States, ending in a 3-0 victory for the American team.

The Atlas Lions’ World Cup opening game will be against Croatia on November 23. The national team will then face Belgium on November 27 and Canada on December 1.

Source: Morocco World News

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China has enough coal in the ground to last for the next five decades, while its crude oil reserves are sufficient for at least 18 years at current rates of production, the latest data released by the Ministry of Natural Resources shows.

The deposits of fossil fuels are expected to stretch well beyond China’s 2030 deadline to achieve peak carbon emissions, while its reserves of coal are enough to take the nation past its goal of carbon neutrality by 2060. 

While China’s consumption of coal is mostly met by domestic production that amounts to four billion tons of coal per year, its purchases of crude oil greatly exceed output in the country. China is the world’s leading oil importer.

According to the ministry, the nation’s coal reserves stood at around 208 billion tons in 2021, up 28% from the prior year’s level, while outlays on exploration rose 10% to 1.3 billion yuan ($184 million).

Meanwhile, oil reserves edged up 2.8% to 3.7 billion tons, which is expected to be enough to get Chinese drillers through most of the next two decades, assuming stable output of about 200 million tons per year.

For natural gas, reserves were a touch higher at 6,339 billion cubic meters, which is enough for the next three decades. 

Energy-hungry China still heavily relies on imports for most of its oil and much of its gas. 

According to the ministry, investments in exploration over the past year grew by 13% to 80 billion yuan ($11.3 billion). Breakthroughs were made in finding new deposits in Sichuan, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and the Bohai Bay.

Source: rt.com

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US strategic petroleum reserves (SPRs) have shrunk to their lowest level in nearly 40 years, the Wall Street Journal has reported, citing weekly data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Crude oil inventories declined by nearly 7 million barrels in the week to September 16, falling to 427.2 million barrels – the lowest since 1984, the WSJ said. According to the report, this is the first time the SPR has held less oil than commercial storage since 1983. As of September 16, there were 430.8 million barrels of oil in commercial storage facilities.

President Joe Biden announced that a record 180 million barrels of crude oil would be released from the SPR in late March, in an attempt to combat rising fuel prices and market disruptions caused in part by the uncertainty regarding Russian oil exports to the global market amid the conflict in Ukraine.

Under the plan, the US is to sell around 1 million barrels of oil per day over the course of six months. According to analysts, this volume is more than three times higher than any previous release from the SPR. Official data shows that about 155 million barrels have been released from the SPR so far this year, with 10 million more to be tapped in November.

According to a recent analysis from the US Treasury, the SPR releases this year, along with coordinated releases from international partners which Washington insisted on earlier this year, have reduced gasoline prices in the country by around 40 cents per gallon compared to what they would have been without tapping the reserves.

Retail gasoline prices in the US have been gradually dropping for more than 13 consecutive weeks since June 2022, data from the American Automobile Association (AAA) shows. However, earlier this week, the national average reversed course, reportedly due to maintenance work at several US refineries.

Source: rt.com

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Carmen Obeso was pulling weeds at a strawberry field in Ventura County, California when she smelled something strange. Nearby she spotted a machine spraying pesticides. Soon, her eyes were watering and she felt sick to her stomach.

Obeso, a Latina farmworker, reported the incident to her crew leader and was evaluated at an on-site health care clinic.

A doctor there reassured her that she had not been exposed to anything harmful, and the company expected her back at work the following Monday.

But Obeso didn’t feel better by the next week, nor in the weeks that followed. Her eyes continued to water and felt gritty, and her vision was changing. She knew something was wrong, but the on-site physician still insisted she was fine.

Finally, Obeso went to see a different doctor, who confirmed that her eyes had been affected.

It has been two years since the spray incident, and Obeso said in a recent interview that her vision continues to worsen. She is almost blind in sunny conditions unless she wears shaded glasses, she said.

Now, instead of working in the fields, she volunteers with farmworker advocacy groups and is one of a growing number of Hispanic/Latino farmworkers pushing for improved working conditions, including protections for pesticides.

“I feel there are other farmworkers in similar situations and they’re not able to voice it,” she said in Spanish during an interview aided by a translator. “When [the company] sprays the fields, they don’t put up postings. People go in and work and accumulate whatever was sprayed there. They might not always have acute reactions, but in the long run that’s when the consequences can be seen.”

Ventura County is known for its year-round production of roughly $2 billion worth of fruits and vegetables that feed people throughout the U.S. and more than 70 other countries. Strawberries are the top crop, but workers also produce peppers, tomatoes, blueberries, avocados and more.

But while these farms produce foods many consider staples of a healthy diet, the profusion of pesticides used on the fields pose significant risks to already vulnerable populations living and working in the area, according to research published in the December 2022 issue of Science of the Total Environment. 

These populations include thousands of mostly Latino farmworkers, many of whom live below the poverty line and lack health insurance.

The study found that 17.1 million pounds of pesticides, or an average of 5.7 million pounds per year, were sprayed in Ventura County from 2016 to 2018.

The pesticides used included more than 60 types known to be carcinogenic and 74 types linked to endocrine disruption. Another 85 pesticides used in the county were linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity.

Table 4 pesticides ventura county california

In terms of volume, pesticides linked to cancer accounted for nearly a quarter of the total pounds of pesticides applied in the county, the researchers documented.

Notably, the study found that township sections where people of color were the majority had not just the most pesticide use, but also the most toxic pesticide use. More than half of the population in these areas was Latino or Hispanic.

In contrast, areas that were relatively free of pesticides were overwhelmingly white communities.

The work adds to a growing body of research underscoring how communities of color face disproportionate exposure to pesticides and bear the brunt of adverse health impacts.

“Pesticide use is a known environmental justice issue,” said Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist at the Environmental Working Group who helped lead the research. “But this study really adds a lot more data to show more specific impacts, potentially, on individual communities and individual areas.”

Monitoring the air 

The researchers used sociodemographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, layering over pesticide use data from 2016 to 2018 for Ventura County and then grouping together the most harmful types of pesticides.

The researchers highlighted two fumigants — metam potassium and sodium and 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D) — as examples of chemicals sprayed in the county that are both highly used and highly toxic.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified 1,3-D as “likely carcinogenic to humans” from 1985 to 2018, but in 2019 downgraded the classification to a “suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential,” a decision that essentially allowed for expanded use and greater human exposure to the chemical often referred to by the trade name Telone.

The EPA’s Office of Inspector General castigated the regulator for failing to properly consider cancer risks. But the EPA has not changed its position.

Anne Katten, pesticide safety specialist at the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, said the foundation has been calling on state officials to tighten restrictions on the use of soil fumigants such as Telone.

But the opposite has happened: While there used to be a cap on Telone use at 90,250 lbs per 36-square-mile area, the cap is now at 136,000 lbs.

The Department of Pesticide Regulation says it plans to propose Telone regulations later this fall and adds that it is developing a statewide pesticide notification system that will give the public advance notice about pesticide applications.

Air monitoring stations in Ventura County have detected high levels of Telone as well as a fumigant called chloropicrin, commonly used in producing strawberries, according to Katten.

“Quite high levels” of chloropicrin were detected last year at an air monitoring station at a high school in the county, exceeding levels deemed safe by the California DPR, she said.

“It’s a problem for people working in the application of fumigants, but also people in nearby fields and people who live in the area are exposed to the drift,” Katten said.

The new study builds on work published in April in the journal BMC Public Health that examined how disparities in exposures and harms from pesticides impact disadvantaged communities in both rural and urban settings and how those disparities are perpetuated by a range of factors, including inadequate worker protections.

Concerns for children

As many as 500,000 children work as farmworkers in U.S. fields and orchards, according to the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs.

But even children not in the fields still face significant risk from the agricultural chemicals, according to Bob Gunier, an environmental health scientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Gunier has spent more than a decade working on a birth cohort study of mostly Latino children born in the Salinas Valley, another coastal farmworker community.

“The strongest association we have seen between pesticide exposure during pregnancyand effects on children’s brains are with cognition, so like IQ and attention, ADHD,” said Gunier. “We have also looked at respiratory health, like asthma and lung function. For that, we actually see stronger associations [with exposure] during their childhood.”

California DPR adopted a regulation in 2018 creating a quarter-mile buffer zone for schools and daycares near fields that use pesticides, saying they are “working to improve grower field-level pesticide use reporting to more accurately track compliance with the school regulations.”

But Gunier questions whether the measure is enough to protect communities, saying that pregnant women might be more sensitive and susceptible to pesticide exposure problems than other adults.

“If we really want to protect children’s health, we need to start there,” Gunier said.

Rosario Castañeda, a former Ventura County farmworker who has long suffered from a skin condition she developed while working in the fields, says she has seen many farmworker women suffer miscarriages. She believes they were caused by pesticide exposure.

“We see miscarriages happen a lot with women working in the field,” said Castañeda, who now works with a women’s farmworker advocacy organization called Lideres Campesinas. “Women who maybe don’t know they are pregnant and are exposed to dangerous pesticides end up having miscarriages.”

Avital Harari, an endocrine surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles, is concerned about the role pesticide exposure might play in hormone function and cancer.

“We believe [pesticide exposure] can be both an endocrine disruptor, which can basically alter the hormone function of the thyroid, and potentially cause an increase in neoplasm, leading to thyroid cancer,” said Harari.

As Harari began researching risk factors for advanced thyroid cancer at the University of California, Los Angeles, she noticed that a lot of her referrals were coming from Bakersfield in Kern County — one of the top agricultural counties in the U.S.

In a recent case-control study using thyroid cancer cases from the California Cancer Registry, Harari and colleagues found that 10 of the 29 pesticides they analyzed were associated with thyroid cancer.

No voice, no vote

Despite scientific evidence for pesticide links to diseases and other health problems, many farmworkers are not aware of the extent of the risk they face, worker advocates say.

“On a daily basis, there are still immigrants coming to the U.S. that have no idea,” said Mily Trevino-Sauceda, executive director of the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, which translates to the National Alliance of Farmworker Women.

However, those who have learned about pesticide health risks firsthand and managed to leave agricultural work behind are speaking out.

And last month, hundreds of farmworkers made a 24-day, 335-mile march from Delano to Sacramento to urge California Governor Gavin Newsom to sign a bill that would help enable farmworkers to unionize — an ability that would help empower them to fight back against pesticide exposure and other injustices.

“It’s more important for them to preserve the fruit than the wellbeing of the workers,” said Claudia Quezada, a former farmworker who now coordinates Lideres Campesinas’ projects in Oxnard.

Quezada recalled that the company she used to work for would spray pesticides without regard for the weather. On humid mornings, when the chemicals would linger on the plants, the workers would sometimes develop rashes, she said.

Teresa Gomez, the Ventura County Community Organizer for Californians for Pesticide Reform, echoed the complaints, saying rashes and headaches are common among those working fields where pesticides are sprayed.

“We couldn’t complain… they would just tell us that we were being problematic and that we were just looking for a lawsuit,” said Gomez. “And so, we would just have to keep on working. Farmworkers don’t have a voice nor a vote and if they do speak up, they are threatened with being laid off or fired.”

Amadeo Sumano said he was fired from his job on a Ventura County farm after sharing a photo and a video on social media that showed pesticides being sprayed close to several farm workers. He said his efforts to share the video have made it difficult for him to find other farm work in the area.

Nathan Donley, a researcher with the Center for Biological Diversity who was a co-author on the April study published in BMC Public Health, said the EPA needs to take several steps to better protect farmworkers, including establishing a national monitoring system to analyze the scope of harm they face just doing their jobs.

“I think it would be relatively easy for EPA under this administration to make some significant gains,” said Donley. “It would be nice to see this agency put the values of people over those of the pesticide industry.”

Source: the defender children health news and views 

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A Cold War between China and the US would be a “disaster” for both countries and for the whole world, Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned on Monday, after meeting with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

During their meeting in New York, Wang Yi described Kissinger, who played a vital role in normalizing relations between Washington and Beijing in the 1970s, as a “good friend of the Chinese people.”

However, Beijing’s most senior diplomat cautioned that “an outbreak of a new Cold War will be a disaster for China and the US, as well as other parts of the world,” urging Washington to adopt a rational and pragmatic policy towards China.

According to the minister, Washington could do that by honoring its previous recognition of China’s position that Taiwan is part of its territory under the ‘One China’ policy.

Wang Yi said the recent visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island was detrimental for Sino-US relations, as was the US Congress’ Taiwan Policy Act 2022. The latter document, which was backed by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, aims to provide Taipei with billions of dollars in security assistance.

Wang went on to say that the US has “a wrong perception of China”, viewing it as “its most prominent rival and a long-term challenger”.

Some people even described successful stories of China-US exchanges as failed ones. By doing so, they respect neither history nor themselves,” the statement read.

Peaceful reunification with Taiwan is China’s “best wish,” Wang said, adding that Beijing would do its best to achieve this end. He said, however, that the more “rampant” Taiwan’s independence-affirming activities become, “the less likely” the issue can be resolved peacefully.

His comments come after US President Joe Biden said on Sunday that American troops would defend Taiwan if it were attacked by China. This statement drew ire from Beijing, which said that it “deplores and firmly opposes” such a stance.

Taiwan has governed itself since nationalist forces led by Chiang Kai-shek fled to the island in 1949, after they lost the civil war to the Communists. The US government has, since the 1970s, officially recognized but not endorsed China’s sovereignty over Taiwan.

Source: rt.com

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Turkey’s plans to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) have sparked an angry reaction in Berlin, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz slamming Ankara’s decision to seek membership in the Russia and China-led economic and security bloc.

“I'm very irritated about this development,”Scholz told journalists in New York following his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The chancellor said he believed the SCO was “not an organization delivering an important contribution to a good global coexistence.” 

Scholz said, however, that the most important thing was to be in agreement with his counterpart over the Ukraine conflict, particularly on reaching an agreement on “how to make clear that the Russian war on Ukraine may not be successful.” 

Erdogan announced Turkey’s plans to formally seek SCO membership during the group’s summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, last week. “Of course, that’s the goal,” he said, responding to a question about Ankara’s plans to join the group. 

Earlier on Tuesday, the Turkish president also said he didn’t want to choose between the East and the West, adding that he does not owe the EU an explanation for all of his decisions. Erdogan slammed Brussels for keeping Turkey “out for 52 years.”

The SCO is an economic integration and trust-building alliance that was founded in 2001, and is now the world’s largest regional bloc. Currently, the SCO incorporates China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan, and, most recently, Iran. Turkey, along with a number of other countries, is recognized as a special ‘dialogue partner’ of the group.
Source: rt.com

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Rabat - ClimateLaunchpad Morocco, the world’s largest competition for green energy and climate focused startups, revealed its national finalists for Morocco on Saturday.

After thirteen pitches, the competition’s judges revealed the three finalists: Biockaging, GreenHim, and From Sand to Green. The three projects will represent Morocco in the regional finals, taking place in Egypt on September 21-22.

Following regional finals, the Global Grand Finals will take place in Amsterdam on November 3. The winner of the competition will take home a 10,000 euro cash prize, with the runner-ups gaining 5,000 euros, and the third place team taking 2,500 euros.

“We are very satisfied with the quality of the youth, as well as the quality of the startups in the competition,” Ahmed Larouz, National Lead of ClimateLaunchpad Morocco, told Morocco World News.

“We are also trying to develop this ecosystem in Morocco, especially clean tech startups that are developing enormously in Africa,” he added.

African participants were the biggest portion of participants in the competition this year, which Larouz says should give enterprising youth confidence that green energy powered startups are the future.

He added that the event will strengthen economic ties between Morocco and the Netherlands, whose embassy helped organize the event in Morocco and participated with its own booths to offer opportunities for the participants.

“Our priority sectors are water, energy and agriculture,” Economic Advisor at the Dutch Embassy in Morocco Adil Raitab told Morocco World News. “We invite Dutch companies to come to exhibit their products and their solutions, when they have an added value on the economy and the environment.”

Raitab added that the embassy can give startups the logistical support they need, help them find connections with Dutch companies, and regularly organize seminars and other networking events.

In addition to usual innovations in green energy, some of the startups who participated in the Morocco event showed off creative ways of making consumer products more eco-friendly.

The Enactus EMI team showed off their “Nuwood” project, a natural wood substitute made from walnut shells collected across Morocco, which can be used in furniture and other consumer products. The project also seeks to give opportunities to disadvantaged women who work in cooperatives to make the wood.

Biockaging, one of the finalists who will be competing in Egypt’s regional finals, focuses on finding alternative packaging and shipping methods that do not rely on plastic as much.

Co-founded by the European Union, Climate Launchpad seeks to address climate change through entrepreneurship. In addition to cash prizes, the initiative offers coaching and logistical support for startups.

Source: Morocco World News

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Patagonia founder and “reluctant billionaire” Yvon Chouinard just raised the bar for corporate action on the fossil fuel-driven planetary emergency.

The 83-year-old, his wife Malinda, and their adult children, Fletcher and Claire, gave away the company, valued at about $3 billion. The rock climber-turned-businessman explained the decision in an interview published Wednesday by The New York Times, along with a letter on the outdoor clothing retailer’s website.

“While we’re doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it’s not enough. We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact,” Chouinard wrote.

“One option was to sell Patagonia and donate all the money. But we couldn’t be sure a new owner would maintain our values or keep our team of people around the world employed.”

“Another path was to take the company public. What a disaster that would have been. Even public companies with good intentions are under too much pressure to create short-term gain at the expense of long-term vitality and responsibility,” he continued.

“Truth be told, there were no good options available. So, we created our own.”

As the Times detailed:

“In August, the family irrevocably transferred all the company’s voting stock, equivalent to 2% of the overall shares, into a newly established entity known as the Patagonia Purpose Trust.

“The trust, which will be overseen by members of the family and their closest advisers, is intended to ensure that Patagonia makes good on its commitment to run a socially responsible business and give away its profits.

“Because the Chouinards donated their shares to a trust, the family will pay about $17.5 million in taxes on the gift.

“The Chouinards then donated the other 98% of Patagonia, its common shares, to a newly established nonprofit organization called the Holdfast Collective, which will now be the recipient of all the company’s profits and use the funds to combat climate change.

“Because the Holdfast Collective is a 501(c)(4), which allows it to make unlimited political contributions, the family received no tax benefit for its donation.”

The newspaper noted that “Patagonia has already donated $50 million to the Holdfast Collective, and expects to contribute another $100 million this year, making the new organization a major player in climate philanthropy.”

Chouinard told the Times that “I didn’t know what to do with the company because I didn’t ever want a company,” and called the plan an “ideal solution” for his family.

“I don’t respect the stock market at all,” he explained.

“Once you’re public, you’ve lost control over the company, and you have to maximize profits for the shareholder, and then you become one of these irresponsible companies.”

As he put it in the letter:

“Instead of ‘going public,’ you could say we’re ‘going purpose.’ Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth for investors, we’ll use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source of all wealth.”

It was important to Chouinard’s children “that they were not seen as the financial beneficiaries,” he told the Times. “They really embody this notion that every billionaire is a policy failure.”

“I was in Forbes magazine listed as a billionaire, which really, really pissed me off,” he recalled. “I don’t have $1 billion in the bank. I don’t drive Lexuses.”

The family’s move was welcomed by climateaction and conservation advocates.

“Wow,” tweeted Fossil Free Media director Jamie Henn.

“Patagonia has long been an incredible ally in the fight for climate justice — they’ve offered their stores, funding, and advertising for mobilizations and more — but this takes it to a whole new level. Kudos to the entire team.”

Marine biologist and policy expert Ayana Elizabeth Johnson said she “could not be more proud to serve on the board of directors” of Patagonia, and celebrated that “as of now, Earth is our only shareholder — ALL profits, in perpetuity, will go to our mission to ‘save our home planet.'”

Chouinard suggested the innovative approach could inspire action from others in the business world.

“Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people,” he said. “We are going to give away the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working on saving this planet.”

Supporters agreed. Congresswoman Marie Newman (D-Ill.) simply tweeted: “More please.”

As poet Amanda Gorman pointed out Wednesday, “The world really can be different friends.”


Source: the defender children health defense news and views 

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Years of legislative and court battles over the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods took another turn this week when a federal court determined on Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) erred in allowing food companies to label GE products simply with digital codes that consumers have to scan, without any accompanying disclosure options.

Under USDA rules that took full effect earlier this year, food made with genetically modified crops can be labeled simply as “bioengineered,” or come with a QR code guiding consumers to more information online, among other options.

But the court said those rules did not comply with the law and found that the USDA knew that allowing “standalone electronic disclosure” would not provide consumers “sufficient access” to disclosures about bioengineering involved in creating certain products.

The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard was passed six years ago as an amendment to the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 in order to nullify state laws mandating that foods made with GMO soybeans, corn or other GMO crops be labeled as such.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents the interests of the nation’s largest food and beverage companies, was a key architect of the legislation.

Though the law provides for “a mandatory uniform national standard for disclosure of information to consumers,” the USDA did not adhere to that standard in crafting rules for how the law would be implemented, the court found.

The court said the law specifically requires that an electronic or digital link be accompanied by “on-package language” indicating that the link provides access to food information, along with a telephone number that provides access to the bioengineering disclosure.

The court noted that a study conducted for USDA found “key technological challenges,” including a lack of technical knowledge and a lack of infrastructure that would prevent consumers from obtaining information through electronic or digital disclosure methods.

The court ruled that USDA’s decision to allow for electronic or digital disclosures without requiring additional on-package labeling was a “significant error,” and ordered USDA to correct the rules to comply with the law.

“The court has now confirmed that the USDA acted unlawfully in allowing standalone QR code and other digital and electronic GMOlabeling,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement. “This should be a warning to the industrial food sector that avoiding clear on-packaging labeling by using QR codes alone will not pass legal scrutiny.”

The Center for Food Safety filed the court challenge against the USDA in 2020 on behalf of a coalition of nonprofit groups and retailers, including the Natural Grocers retail chain and Puget Consumers Co-op, the nation’s largest community-owned food market.

The lawsuit followed the USDA’s rulemaking in December 2018. The labeling law fully took effect this past January.

The court sided with USDA on several other challenges brought by the Center for Food Safety, including upholding USDA’s use of the word “bioengineered” and blocking the use of the descriptions “GE” or “GMO.”

The court also ruled that the USDA can continue to exclude “highly refined” products such as sugar from mandatory labeling unless the genetically altered material is detectable through manufacturer testing.

Source: children health defense news and views 

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Rabat- Africa faces an uncertain future with the impacts of climate change ahead. While the continent’s citizens are still unsure about the consequences of the climate crisis, the solution to the problem is clear: more funding for climate mitigation and adaptation.

As the continent has not received the promised financial support from more developed countries, it is now seeking private and public partners to help pull back from the crisis. Plans to source financial assistance from banks and international bodies could help the continent be more prepared for the evolving battle against climate change.

“Climate change fuels migration, instability, and conflict in Africa,” Mohamed Atani, head of communications at the United Nations Environment Program, told the Spanish news outlet, El Pais.

AMCEN 2022

The magnitude of the problem calls for significant investment. This is reflected in the theme of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in Dakar Senegal, “Securing people’s well-being and ensuring environmental sustainability in Africa”.

At AMCEN 2022, Antoni Okon Nyong, of the Global Center for Adaptation, spoke about how the center will use private financing to support its initiatives. His organization has collaborated with the African Development Bank and has promised to provide $12.5 billion dollars to fund their African Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP). The program currently has a total budget of $25 billion dollars to be used over a five-year period.

The center recognizes the rate of climate change impacts is higher than the rate at which the continent is able to adapt, yet they know spreading their finances over too many sectors would decrease the quality and quantity of noticeable development.

Consequently, they have targeted four areas for improvement, one being digital agricultural systems. Nyong highlighted that “people are farming in Africa as my grandmother did and that needs to change.”

Another area focuses on resilient infrastructure. Nyong emphasized that 70% of Africa’s infrastructure is yet to be built, adding that “now is the time to build and do it right.” Investments in youth were the third area the center is looking at. Notong pointed out that the median age in Africa is 19.7 years, which calls for a renewed focus on education for youth to learn about climate development systems.

Finally, the spokesperson for the program noted that “there is money in Africa, it is just accessing the money can be difficult.” He concluded that “therefore we are going to help businesses that have accessible resources by working on submitting their proposals, something that a lot of initiatives fail to do.”

Money from the ocean

Existing financial plans that incorporate the public and private sectors involve the use of Blue Bonds, a scheme implemented for coastal Africa, helping to develop maritime-related livelihoods and biodiversity.

Blue Bonds are financial instruments based on the concept of the better-known Green Bond. The program provides reassurance to investors to invest in government programs backed by the massive fund. The program is an alternative to short-term value investments that harm the environment through exploitation. Global giants invest in the fund, including the World Bank, and The Global Environment Facility.

Citing their website, the “blue economy is valued at $3 trillion making it the world's seventh largest economy based on GDP.” In 2020, the Seychelles, located on the East African coast, managed to invest their national debt into a positive ocean protection project.

The President of the African Development Bank Dr. Akinwumi Adesina pointed out that “Africa’s financial actors need to work together creatively to mobilize global financial resources at a scale that can support local innovation, that drives climate-resilient and low-carbon development on the continent.”

Source: moroccoworldnews 

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White House spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday that the US wants China to side with Washington and its allies in opposing Russia and its military operation in Ukraine. 

“Our message to China has been consistent: this is not the time for any kind of business as usual with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,”Kirby told CNN. Failing to condemn Russia, he continued, is leaving China “isolated from the rest of the international community which has largely condemned what [Putin] has done in Ukraine.”

China has refused to condemn or sanction Russia over its offensive in Ukraine, and Chinese officials have highlighted the role played by NATO and the US in fomenting the conflict there. However, Beijing has called on Russia and Ukraine to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict and, according to Kirby, has not sold weapons to Russia or violated any US sanctions on Moscow.

Nevertheless, Kirby said that Washington wants China to pick its side on Ukraine. “We don’t think that this is the time for anybody to be on the sidelines,” he said. “The whole world should be lined up against what Mr. Putin is doing.”

Kirby’s words will likely go unheeded. China has shown no indication that it intends to sanction or condemn Russia, even before relations between Beijing and Washington took a nosedive following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan last month. 

As Kirby spoke, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. There, Xi pledged to work with Russia “to assume the role of great powers,”with Chinese media adding that Xi also promised to deepen cooperation in agriculture, trade and connectivity.

Putin expressed hope that bilateral trade between the two nations could increase from $140 billion in 2021 to $200 billion by the end of 2022. Thanking China for its “balanced approach” to the situation in Ukraine, he condemned “ugly” US-led efforts to create a “unipolar world.”

Despite Kirby’s insistence that the “international community” stands in opposition to Putin, none of the SCO’s eight member states – encompassing nearly half of the planet’s population and more than half of its territory – have condemned or sanctioned Russia.

Source: rt.com

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Amid the European Union’s looming energy crisis and attendant signs of social unrest, some are now painting a rosier picture of what’s in store for the bloc. Journalists and academics are now pointing to a report by Goldman Sachs that says Europe has “successfully solved” its gas shortage crisis thanks to demand shortages within the region and globally, resulting in plenty of reserve capacity. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also joined in the optimism on Tuesday by saying that his country would “probably get through this winter” and be energy independent from Russia by 2023. This comes after a €13 billion aid package aimed at helping citizens and businesses cope with rising utility prices. Even smaller countries, such as the neighboring Czech Republic, have hinted at some positive signs, with Finance Minister Zbynek Stanjura telling parliamentarians last Thursday that the country has sufficient energy supplies for this winter. 

All of this is remarkable because Scholz has faced opposition within his own party, including his left flank demanding an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and negotiations with Russia. There are now steady protests across Germany over the energy crisis. Likewise, the Czech government has faced heavy criticism from the opposition over its policies. Just weeks ago, the Czech capital of Prague was the site of an estimated 70,000-strong protestagainst rising energy prices. Demonstrators called for military neutrality and negotiations with Russian gas suppliers.

In a previous column, I said that the social unrest in Prague was just a sign of what’s to come for the rest of Europe this autumn and winter. Should I be eating my words now after these rosy forecasts? 

The short answer is no. But first it needs to be noted how fluid the situation is. Just last week Goldman Sachs was singing a different tune, arguing that “the market continues to underestimate the depth, the breadth and the structural repercussions of the [energy] crisis – we believe the repercussions will be even deeper than the 1970s oil crisis.” 

Also, notably, Goldman Sachs is not the only financial institution in the world. BlackRock said in a note on Monday that the “energy crunch will drive a recession in Europe, as we've argued since March” and that the crisis has worsened, not bettered. Analysts noted that some European countries have never relied on gas reserves alone to power their economies through the winter, raising questions about the effectiveness of rationing policies.

At the same time, it is important to recognize that even if reserves are sufficient to carry European consumers through this winter, this says nothing about the coming years. Building energy infrastructure, including things like pipelines, nuclear reactors and even renewable sources, takes precious time. That’s why a hypothetical analysis of the impact on the Czech economy if all Russian gas to the country were halted put most of the impact on 2023 and 2024.

This prediction, drawn up just before Nord Stream 1 was announced as permanently inactive until Western sanctions are lifted, found that gross domestic product (GDP) would fall by 2.9% in 2023 and 1.6% in 2024. That is, by definition, a minimum two-year recession owing just to the cessation of Russian gas. We can only speculate what lies beyond that point because the ministry only went until 2024 with its guesswork. 

There is hope for new sources that might replace Russian gas in the future, such as the United States. The US is reportedly set to expand its gas exporting capacity as three new projects are underway, and some analysts are claiming that Washington could displace Moscow as an energy supplier. 

It’s notable that the location of these existing and under-construction gas projects are right in America’s hurricane zone, making them particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events. We have already seen with the shuttering of the Freeport LNG plant in Texas over a fire earlier this year how shaky America’s energy infrastructure is – and, moreover, how unprepared it is for the future. 

The final important caveat to note, as even Goldman Sachs said, about the buildup of gas capacity right now is that it has been dependent on decreased demand, e.g., lower economic activity. That is to say that Europe’s ability to stock its gas reserves has been predicated on the fact that the European economy is slowing down to the point of a recession. To suggest this is sustainable or desirable ignores the fact that, objectively speaking, the economy is performing poorly by virtually every metric. 

All of the above appears to only further back up the point that decoupling from Russia is both impossible and undesirable.

Source: rt.com

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Rabat - Morocco’s National Agency for Mines and Hydrocarbons (ONHYM), Nigeria’s National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), and the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline project in Rabat today.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, ONHYM Director General Amina Benkhadra highlighted the Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline’s potential to boost regional economic integration and reinforce sustainable development in the west African region.

Benkhadra highlighted the NNPC’s experience in operating major oil and gas projects, as well as the “technical expertise it is bringing to this challenging project.”

“Energy is essential to all economic development, and gas is the backbone of the energy transition,” Benkhadra said, emphasizing Africa’s “significant resource that could be used to accelerate the pace of economic and social development.”

She noted that the Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline, which seeks to provide energy for over 11 African countries, aims to contribute to the development of key sectors, including food security, infrastructure, mining, renewable energy, and human development.

Benkhadra highlighted the objectives the project seeks to achieve, such as “accelerating the electrification and energy development, supporting social, industrial, and economic development, promoting regional integration, reducing gas flaring, and exporting gas to Europe.” 

The gas pipeline is set to “boost the electricity generation and resolve the energy accessibility issues in most of the crossed countries,” she noted. Benkhadra added that the project is set to benefit more than 500 million people. 
The $25 billion project will extend over 1,672 kilometers, connecting Nigerian gas to Europe through Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, and Benin.

For his part, NNPC CEO Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari highlighted that the project will “provide the flexibility that is required in the long energy transition journey that every country is facing.” 

Kyari argued that the project should create “prosperity” across the continent, notably in the west African sub-region, and potentially in Europe. He added, “it is absolutely necessary that we deliver on this project for the benefit of our people and for the global community.”

ECOWAS’s Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy, and Digitalization Sediko Douka also highlighted the importance of the “strategic” Morocco-Nigeria gas project for the development of the African continent.

The much-touted project was first initiated in 2016 by King Mohammed VI and Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari. It has recently made headlines due to the ongoing war in Ukraine which affected the global energy prices, particularly in Europe, as well as COVID-19 related disruptions.

In addition to promoting regional integration in the west African region, the project is expected to reinforce European energy security. Last month, Benkhadra said that Morocco is in talks with European partners to guarantee financing for the gas pipeline project.

Source: Morocco World News.

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Strained by the consequences of the ongoing conflict between NATO and Russia over Ukraine, France may be destroying all prospects for peace in Yemen, in a bid to secure energy resource from the United Arab Emirates.

Considered to be home to the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history, according to the United Nations, earlier this year, its people saw glimmers of hope towards ending its seven-year long war. A ceasefire truce, which has largely held since April, has been viewed as the first step towards reaching a UN-mediated solution for peace between the Ansarallah government in Sanaa and the Saudi-led coalition forces which claim to represent the internationally backed Yemeni government in exile.

According to UN estimates, the total number of people killed in Yemen’s war already reached 377,000 by the beginning of 2022. The civilian death rate is said to have doubled, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), since the controversial withdrawal of UN human rights monitors last October. 

Although Saudi coalition forces and Ansarallah, popularly referred to in Western media as the “Iran-backed Houthi rebels,” have managed to keep fighting to a minimum during the past months, another major player in the south of Yemen has recently decided to go on the offensive. The Southern Transitional Council (STC), often called Yemen’s southern separatists, are backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and declared the start of a new military operation in the Abyan province “to cleanse it of terrorist organisations.” This follows territorial gains by the STC, in neighboring Shawba province, against the Muslim Brotherhood aligned Islah Party and others. The offensives launched by the UAE-backed STC have been regarded as a major challenge to UN efforts to end the conflict in Yemen, as well as having imperiled the Saudi initiative, which it calls the ‘Yemen Presidential Council,’ aimed at solidifying the legitimacy of the alternative Yemeni leadership in exile.

Where France Comes In 

Although its role is little known to the Western public, Paris is the third largest arms supplierto the UAE and Saudi Arabia for their war efforts in Yemen, ranking just behind the US and UK. In fact, Germany, Spain and Italy have also sold weapons that have been used in the devastating war. Despite criticism, from human rights groups, of French weapons being used by Abu Dhabi and Riyadh to commit war crimes, the sale of weapons has continued from France

April 15, 2019, French investigative magazine, Disclose, published an expose on Paris’s role in Yemen’s war. The information presented was based on a leaked French Military Intelligence (DRM) report dating back to September, 2018, clearly proving that the country had sold offensive weapons that were used in civilian areas, a charge that the French government has denied. As far back as June, 2018, credible reports began to emerge that French special forces units were operating on the ground in Yemen, alongside forces belonging to the UAE. Last December, Paris decided to further tighten its relationship with Abu Dhabi, signing its largest ever weapons sale to the UAE, worth 19.23 billion US dollarsaccording to a report from Reuters.

RT

France first turned to the US

France is now desperately in need of alternative energy suppliers to Russia, in order to meet its required needs, fearing that as the winter hits, Moscow may strategically cut off its natural gas completely. As part of NATO, Paris is backing a US-led initiative which seeks to make Russia pay an economic and military price for its offensive in Ukraine, however, this strategy has majorly backfired economically. 

US President Joe Biden made two major foreign policy pledges when running for office in 2020, which are relevant to the current French predicament. The first being to revive the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal and the second being to find a diplomatic solution to the war in Yemen. Due to the ongoing NATO-Russia conflict, seeking a revival of the Iran nuclear deal has re-emerged on the political agenda of the his administration in a major way. Iran, free from sanctions, could become an alternative source to fill the energy needs of Europe in the future, yet it could take some time for this to actually happen. 

On the issue of the war in Yemen, Joe Biden pledged as part of his first speech on his government's foreign policy goals, that he would hold Saudi Arabia to account and seek to find a solution to the crisis in Yemen. However, the war in Ukraine clearly changed his approach to Riyadh, so much so that Washington signaled ithe review a decision to not sell offensive weapons to the Saudi government. The US President was heavily criticized by Human Rights Watch for traveling to Saudi Arabia in July. 

Despite US attempts to have Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states increase their oil production, none have yet complied in the manner that Washington had hoped for. Specifically in the cases of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, it is clear that both are seeking to fast track their journey to diversify their economies. That has meant them hanging onto their strategic reserves of oil and gas, during a global energy crisis, which has made fiscal sense for them. In the cases of Venezuela and Iran, despite the US having seemingly reached out to both, neither seem to be a real replacement to Russia in the near future. 

All Bets On Yemen

France is now looking for alternatives on its own. In June, the European Union announced that it had signed an agreement with Israel and Egypt. Under the deal, Israel will send gas through pipelines to Egypt, where it will then be transported to Europe. Although this may work, Tel Aviv does not have the capacity to replace Moscow as Europe’s main supplier of gas. Israel seeks to double its gas output, but in doing so is already running into potential problems over its maritime border dispute with Lebanon and its planned extraction of gas from the ‘Karish field’ in September, considered to be located in a disputed area. Lebanese Hezbollah has even threatened to strike all of Israel’s gas facilities in the event that Beirut is not given a fair deal to access its own resources.

RT

French President, Emmanuel Macron, has attempted to persuade resource rich Algeria to become part of the EU’s solution, also going on a three-day trip to Algiers in order to mend ties. Algeria, which maintains close relations with Moscow, withdrew its ambassador from Paris for three months last year, during a diplomatic row. Macron had accused the Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s government of “exploiting memory” and “rewriting history” of the colonial era and even questioned the legitimacy of Algeria as a State prior to French settler-colonial rule there. Around 1.5 million Algerians were killed in the battle for independence from France, which its resistance eventually managed to win in 1962. The tone of the French president has now dramatically changed from that of last year, with Macron remarking that both nations “have a complex, painful common past. And it has at times prevented us from looking at the future.”

The other major alternative path that France seems to be now seeking, is through its close alliance with the UAE. As mentioned above, it has been clear for some time that Paris has been involved in supplying weapons, logistical support and even boots on the ground to its allies in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, aiding their fight in Yemen. However, it is also clear that the UAE has not been interested in cutting into its strategic oil reserves to meet the demands of Europe. 

In July, as President Macron hosted the Emirati President, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, in Paris, the French ministry of economy announced a new strategic energy agreement between the UAE and France. An aide to the French president noted that France was eager to secure diesel fuel from the UAE, hinting that the cooperation agreement involving France’s ‘Total Energies’ and the UAE’s ‘ADNOC’ may be linked. Although it is unknown as to what the specifics of the “strategic agreement” are, it has been speculated that the deal could potentially be worth billions.

Then, in August, the UAE-backed STC suddenly began new offensive operations in both the Shabwa and Abyan provinces. It just so happens that the STC forces decided to take over the energy sites in the Shabwa province too. Leading human rights NGOs had urged Paris to keep in mind Abu Dhabi's human rights abuses in the advent of the signing of the strategic energy agreement, calls clearly not heeded. On August 21st, when UAE-backed forces seized the oil facilities in Yemen’s south, it may have been with the French deal in mind. Yemen’s former foreign minister, Dr. Abu Bakr al-Qirbi stated on Twitter that “preparations are being made to export gas from the Balhaf facility in light of increased international gas prices.” This was then followed by an announcement from the parliament of the Sana’a-based National Salvation Government, warning of suspicious movement from both US and French forces.

RT

The key Balhaf facility, in Yemen’s Shabwa province, has reportedly been turned into a base for forces belonging to the UAE, with allegations suggesting that Paris could “provide protection for the facility through the French Foreign Legion." There are also countless reports of the UAE looting resources from Yemen, which would seem to support the idea that they could be attempting to extract them to send to France. The latest reported looting of Yemen’s resources, from June, quotes Yemeni officials as having alleged that a Gulf Aetos tanker, carrying 400,000 barrels of Yemeni crude oil, had departed from Rudum port and was being operated by the UAE.

What these offensive moves by the STC also mean, is that the Saudi-backed forces in Yemen and Ansarallah will likely also get involved in the combat too. This could mean the dissolution of the ceasefire truce between the two sides, the renewal of the Ansarallah offensive to take the oil rich Marib province from the Saudi-backed forces and the death of any potential peace initiative to end the war.

It is unlikely that Ansarallah will stay silent, if the STC are aiding in the theft of Yemen’s resources for the sake of France. One of the major reasons behind the dramatic escalation of violence last year, was the Ansarallah offensive, launched with the aim of taking out the last northern stronghold of the Saudi-led coalition, Marib. The purpose of taking the resource rich area would be to stop the looting of Yemen’s resources, which according to reports is amounting to the theft of millions of barrels per year. Some sources claim that an unofficial agreement is in place between the US and Saudi governments, to purposefully keep the resources of Yemen away from its people and instead, divert the profits to Saudi banks.

Part of the reason why there was a Yemeni revolution in 2011, then a seizure of power in 2015 by Ansarallah in conjunction with the country’s military, was the popular belief that the past two Presidents of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh and Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, were corrupt. The people of Yemen were fed up with Saleh for a multitude of reasons, primarily that he mismanaged resources, had sold out to the United States and was corrupt. President Hadi was later to be seen as a stooge, controlled completely by the Saudis.

Perhaps the biggest problem here however, is not just that Yemen is a resource rich country, with a starving population, being torn apart by foreign powers, but also that nobody even knows what their governments are involved in. On August 25, then British prime minister, Boris Johnson, stated, about rising energy bills, that “While people are paying energy bills, people in Ukraine are paying with blood”. Yet, it may turn out that for Europe to keep the lights on, the people of Yemen will pay with their blood. Except in this case, the UK, US and France can’t blame that bloodshed on Moscow, this is their own doing.

Source: rt.com
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Rabat - While many in Morocco struggle to make a living amid high fuel prices that have affected the transport of most goods, Rabat’s allies in the Middle East are, as part of OPEC+, have committed to keep fuel prices at the current level. 

Current global oil prices, hovering around the $90 per barrel mark, have presented a significant challenge for many people around the world trying to make a living. From giant multinational businesses to self-employed taxi drivers, the high cost of energy and fuel are cutting into bottom lines, delaying production, and raising prices on most basic commodities. 

In Morocco this trend has expressed itself in many troublesome forms. The price of printing this year’s textbooks has risen, fuel prices are painfully high, the price of bread and fresh vegetables has increased. It’s hard not to have been impacted by the current global context.

OPEC’s impact

While many look towards a conclusion of the Ukraine war or a boost in global production as a means to lower fuel prices, others are looking for ways to keep the current prices. OPEC+, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia, this week indicated they are willing to cut production as needed, in order to keep oil prices high.

Some of the most powerful members of OPEC, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, are actively working to ensure oil prices do not fall amid concerns that a global economic contraction is likely to depress demand, which would result in lower oil prices.

While many countries, notably the US, have pleaded with OPEC+ to boost production in order to lower oil prices, the oil cartel has chosen to do the opposite. This week, the group of major oil-producing nations chose to implement a minor symbolic production cut of 100,000 barrels a day. 

Stable market

For OPEC members, the current high oil and gas prices are nothing but good economics, funding their state projects and efforts to diversify away from oil over the coming decades. For oil-importing countries, the news means high oil prices are likely to continue to contribute to economic hardships and dwindling food currency reserves.

While the coming OPEC production cut in October is only minor, the news led to a jump in oil prices, especially after Russia in the same week shut down its Nord Stream gas pipeline to Europe. This market reaction was likely celebrated in Riyadh and Dubai, providing further evidence of OPEC’s ability to influence  global oil prices as it desires.

For Moroccans, such news means that current fuel and energy prices are likely to continue, especially as Morocco imports 90% of its energy needs from abroad. 

Ironically, the only thing that could bring relief in terms of lower fuel prices, is if further bad news emerges about a coming global economic crisis that would drive down demand for oil. 

Source: Morocco World News.

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a public alert warning that rare types of cancer have been linked to breast implant surgeries. 

In a report published on Thursday the FDA said it had found that certain cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and various lymphomas have been reported in the scar tissue that forms around breast implants.  

The agency notes that although the occurrence of these cancers in the capsule around breast implants is rare, healthcare providers and people looking to receive the surgery should be aware of the risks and report any cases of cancer found around the implant.  

The FDA also states that these new lymphomas are something the agency has learned about only recently through postmarket review of breast implants and are not the same as the previously reported breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma.  

A preliminary review of published literature revealed fewer than 20 cases of SCC and fewer than 30 cases of various lymphomas in the scar tissue around the breast implant, the agency noted.  

It’s noted that people with breast implants do not need to change their routine medical care or rush to remove their implants in light of this announcement, but they should be aware of some of the reported signs and symptoms, which include swelling, pain, lumps or changes in the skin.  

The FDA states that the exact incidence rate and risk factors of these newly reported cancers remain unknown and that “this is an emerging issue and our understanding is evolving.” Health care providers and people with implants have been urged to report all cases of SCC, lymphomas or any other cancers found around the breast implant to the FDA.  

Last year, the FDA introduced several updates to breast implant regulations, including new labeling with a boxed warning and a patient checklist that informs people that implants are not a medical device that will last a lifetime. Doctors are also now required to walk patients through all the potential health problems derived from breast implant surgery.

Source:rt.com

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Rabat - Morocco’s U-17 national football team returned home this Saturday after an impressive performance at the 2022 Arab Cup in Algeria. 

Upon landing in Morocco, the national youth team was welcomed by the country’s Minister of National Education, Primary Education, and Sports, Chakib Benmoussa, the president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), Faouzi Lekjaa, as well as other senior officials, the FRMF said in a Facebook post. 

Benmoussa said he was proud to welcome the team back home, adding that he was confident all Moroccans share his sentiment of pride given the team's stellar performance at the U17 Arab Cup despite being exposed to provocations and abuse from Algerian fans. 

For his part, Fouzi Lekjaa underscored that the national junior football team lived up to their duty of representing Morocco in the Arab Cup. Even as they were exposed to a hostile atmosphere, he added, the team was fairly close to clinching the gold medal.

Lekjaa further said that the FRMF will continue to support the national junior football team. 

The provocations that both the Moroccan Education Minister and the FRMF president were referring to relate to acts of aggression against the Moroccan youth team by both the Algerian U17 team and Algerian fans during the Arab Cup final on Thursday.

The FRMF condemned both the Algerian team and fans who invaded the pitch after Thursday’s match, calling their acts “savagery and hooliganism.”

Earlier today, the Arab Football Associations (UAFA) issued a statement detailing fines for both the Algerian and Moroccan teams, and suspending an Algerian player for attacking the Moroccan goalkeeper.
Source: moroccoworldnews 

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