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A new report from the US Department of Agriculture indicates Morocco’s cereal yields for the 2021-2022 year are substantially higher than average, and the country will import less wheat from the international market than in 2020.

According to the report, “Moroccan wheat imports are expected to return to normal levels in the 2021-2022 year,” and are expected not to exceed 4.5 million tons (-13.5%) compared to last year.

The department forecasts that Morocco will import 4.5 million MT, primarily from common wheat suppliers in France, Ukraine, and Russia.

Meanwhile, Canada is expected to remain Morocco’s primary durum wheat supplier.

The Moroccan National Interprofessional Office of Cereals and Pulses (ONICL) issued an import tender for 363,636 MT of common wheat from the United States, however, the report emphasizes that US wheat remains “priced out” in the Moroccan market, largely due to limited supply.

Also indicated in the report is that national yields in wheat and barley increased to 5.06 MMT of common wheat, 2.48 MMT of durum wheat, and 2.78 MMT of barley in 2021, 

“This harvest performance is mainly due to abundant rainfall during the growing season, which was 32 percent higher than the previous year,” it said. “The growing regions of Chaouia, Abda, Haouz, Tadla, and Sais recorded higher yields 44% above the ten-year average.”

The ministry of agriculture forecasts the agricultural added value to reach $14 billion (MAD 130 billion), which would translate into a growth of more than 18%.

Moroccan officials have already reported an increase in crop yields earlier this year. With rising global food indexes, Morocco will likely gain greater regional influence as a producer of staple crops, while decreasing dependence on foreign grain imports.  

Source: moroccoworldnews 

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In recent years, marketing automation software has become an essential platform for every business-to-customer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) organization, due to its increasing use for lead generation and lead nurturing. Currently, the software requirement of these organizations is met by Oracle Corporation, Infusion Software Inc., Adobe Inc., SugarCRM Inc., Salesforce.com Inc., Liana Technologies Oy, Act-On Software Inc., IBM Corporation, HubSpot Inc., Acoustic L.P., Teradata Corporation, ActiveCampaign LLC, SAP SE, and SAS Institute Inc.

The industry segment of the marketing automation software market is classified into banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI), information technology (IT) and telecom, media and entertainment, manufacturing, education, retail and e-commerce, healthcare, and others, including defense, government, automotive, aerospace, transportation and logistics, and travel and hospitality.


Among these, the retail and e-commerce category generated the highest revenue in 2019, due to the soaring consumer spending, increasing adoption of advanced technologies by retail firms, and growing internet penetration. Geographically, North America emerged as the largest user of marketing automation software in the preceding years, due to the presence of numerous software vendors, such as Adobe Inc., SharpSpring Inc., HubSpot Inc., and Oracle Corporation, in the region.

Additionally, the increasing shift of brands toward digital marketing platforms, mounting awareness about the utilization of automation solutions, surging need for personalized campaign management, rising advancements in cloud computing technology, and escalating use of automation tools in end-use industries, especially in the retail sector, will augment the adoption of the software in the region. 

Whereas, the APAC marketing automation software market is set to undergo the most-rapid growth during the forecast period.  This will be on account of the rising internet penetration, flourishing retail and e-commerce sector, increasing developments in the IT industry, soaring focus of brands on marketing their products on online platforms, burgeoning customer demand for advanced products, escalating need for recording real-time data insights to track consumer preference and offer improved experience, and mounting popularity of social media platforms, in the region.

Thus, the mushrooming demand for personalized products and rising implementation of digital media strategies will augment the adoption of marketing automation software.  

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At least eight people were killed and several others injured in a shooting at a university in the Russian city of Perm on Monday, the state investigative committee said.

A suspect entered the Perm State University campus "with an offensive weapon" and opened fire on Monday morning, the university said on its Telegram channel.
Some students and teachers locked themselves into classrooms during the attack, the university's press service said, according to state media agency RIA Novosti.
A suspect in the shooting was arrested and wounded after resisting law enforcement officers, the investigative committee said.
He has been identified as a male student, though it was not immediately clear whether he was a student at Perm State University.
The investigative committee said "exact data on the dead and injured are being clarified." A criminal murder investigation has been opened.
By Anna Chernova, CNN
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ALGIERS, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has died at 84, the presidency said on Friday, more than two years after he stepped down under pressure from mass protests and the army.

Bouteflika, a veteran of Algeria's war for independence, had ruled the North African country for two decades before his resignation in April 2019 after street demonstrations rejecting his plan to seek a fifth term.

He had rarely been seen in public before his departure since a stroke in 2013.

After Bouteflika's resignation, in a bid to end the protests demanding political and economic reforms, authorities launched unprecedented investigations into corruption, leading to the imprisonment of several senior officials, including Bouteflika's powerful brother and advisor, Said. Said has been jailed for 15 years on charges including plotting against the state.

After Algeria's independence from France in 1962, former president Bouteflika became Algeria's first foreign minister and an influential figure in the Non-Aligned Movement that gave a global voice to Africa, Asia and Latin America.

As a president of the U.N. General Assembly, Bouteflika invited former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to address the body in 1974, a historic step toward international recognition of the Palestinian cause.

He also demanded that China be given a seat in the United Nations, and railed against apartheid rule in South Africa.

He championed post-colonial states, challenged what he saw as the hegemony of the United States and helped his country into a seed-bed of 1960s idealism.

He also welcomed Che Guevara, and a young Nelson Mandela got his first training in Algeria. Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, on the run from U.S. police, was given refuge.

In the early 1980s, Bouteflika went into exile after the death of ex-President Houari Boumediene and settled in Dubai, where he became an adviser to a member of the emirate's ruling family.

He returned home in the 1990s when Algeria was being ravaged with a war between the army and armed Islamist militants that killed at least 200,000 people.

Elected president in 1999, he managed to negotiate a truce with Islamists and launched a national reconciliation process allowing the country to restore peace.

Bouteflika joined the independence war against France at the age of 19 as a protege of commander Boumediene, who became president in 1965.

After independence, Bouteflika became minister of youth and tourism at the age of 25. The following year he was made foreign minister.

Little is known about his private life, official records mention no wife, though some accounts say a marriage took place in 1990. For years Bouteflika lived with his mother, Mansouriah, in an apartment in Algiers, where she used to prepare his meals.

Bouteflika had used oil and gas revenues to soothe internal discontent, and the state he ruled became more peaceful and prosperous, allowing it to sidestep, for a while, the "Arab Spring" unrest that toppled leaders across the region in 2011.

But corruption flourished and Algerians grew increasingly angry at the political and economic torpor, fuelling the mass protests that finally brought Bouteflika's presidency to an end.

Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Grant McCool
source: reuters.com
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This week’s obscene Met Gala extravaganza is just the latest example of how the great and the good lord it over us ordinary people with astonishing chutzpah and hypocrisy. It’s time to resist their control.

Extravagant events staged as social media spectacles in America have taken a page out of the failed Roman Empire’s playbook on diversion and distraction of the masses. Please welcome globalism 2.0, the bread-and-circuses acts designed to shift the narrative away from the uncomfortable truth of a collapsing regime. 

Social media is the tool being used to shape, design and control us, both as individuals and via the societies we live in. Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, YouTube, Apple, and Amazon have sophisticated surveillance tools and algorithms designed to ‘censor’ opposing viewpoints, and will no doubt shortly implement social credit scoring that will be enforced by mob rule and a rabid cancel culture. 

Societal elites, politicians, and a servile mainstream media have launched a divisive class war, imposing mask mandates and vaccine passports on the masses, yet ignoring these rules as they please. They appear to grant us access to free and fair elections, and a ‘choice’ between red or blue, but no matter which option we pick, it produces the same outcome, and the puppeteers empty our pockets from behind a curtain. 

The liberal left shriek about equality, equity, and social justice while embracing a culture that enables a class system of indentured servitude in which the badly paid workers who serve the elites their exotic foods and French champagne must wear masks, yet the same rules don’t apply to those who created them. Epic hypocrisy – one rule for thee, another for me.

The UK and US governments and their media partners deploy gaslighting, lies, propaganda, and fear to control us. Their mantra: a fearful public is a submissive, obedient, and compliant public. These campaigns include the bait-and-switch BS employed by British PM Boris Johnson, as he makes promise after promise only to discard each one: on no vaccine passports, on no new taxes, on the hiring of more nurses and police. Just read the fictional Tory manifesto comparing the promises made to the realities delivered. 

And the same lies are repeated each election cycle – we must all be suffering from Stockholm syndrome to fall for them. Die-hard Tory apologists insist ‘circumstances changed’ with Covid, so taxes have to go up. Sorry, but Covid does not explain the Conservative Party’s fiscal profligacy over the personal protective equipment scandal, the not-fit-for-purpose £40 billion ($55 billion) NHS’s coronavirus Test and Trace disgrace, the High Speed 2 rail track to nowhere that is £70 billion ($96 billion) over its original budget, or all the other non-tendered deals tossed to Tory donors that made them fat, prosperous, and happy while the tax-paying plebs got screwed – again. 

And who better illustrates this new authoritarianism than Nadhim Zahawi – until this week’s Cabinet reshuffle the UK’s vaccines minister? Two days ago, he announced that children as young as 12 will be able to overrule their parent’s objections to their receiving a Covid-19 jab, allowing them to participate in what is essentially a medical experiment. No long-term data exists that supports the safety, efficacy, or necessity of a coronavirus vaccine for children. Parents should be outraged by the Tories’ forced medical tyranny and never again vote for them.

Across the pond, US President Joe Biden’s dishonesty is extraordinary. At his inauguration, he promised to provide “truth”and “unity” and to honor the US Constitution. How’s that going? Among his whoppers was this promise: “I don’t think Covid vaccines should be mandatory,” and that he wouldn’t be imposing a mask mandate. Until he did.

Biden’s recent Covid vaccine dictate, declaring“war on the unvaccinated,” had him bizarrely bellowing, “This is not about freedom.” That’s one of the few times he’s been right.

In his infrequent public appearances, the president is sometimes visibly disorientated, occasionally confused, and often unable to read a teleprompter. He has even admittedhe is “not supposed” to answer questions. Something is very wrong. So, why is the liberal mainstream media covering these things up? 

Biden also promised not to leave Americans behind when he exited Afghanistan without any plan. That, too, was a lie and a total disaster. The withdrawal illustrated a complete lack of leadership by feckless cowards who turned their backs on US citizens, allies, and the Afghans who helped America’s War on Terror for 20 years. 

His ill-thought-out and badly executed orders resulted in hundreds of deaths and a mass hostage situation, and gifted the Taliban with a lot of hi-tech military equipment. The consequences and international blowback of this failed exit will last for decades. Little wonder Senator James Risch (R-ID) demanded that Secretary of State Antony Blinken disclose who reallyis in charge at the White House.”  The US Army’s Joint Chief of Staff General Mark Milley’s recent declarationthat “we’re the guys with the guns” shows the US is run by unaccountable, unelected civilians dressed up in military gear.   

Yet, never mind disasters such as Covid, Afghanistan, and all that, the party must go on for the elites. Their bread-and-circuses events divert, distract, and entertain the masses. These range from this week’s obscene Met Gala to other mask-free events such as California Governor Gavin Newsome’s lavish French Laundry $2,500-a-head dinner, Speaker ‘Fancy Nancy’ Pelosi’s fundraisers, and Obama’s 60th-birthday party. 

Back in Britain, there’s the extra-marital affair engaged in respectively by Neil Ferguson, the scientist who started all the coronavirus madness, and by then-Health Minister Matt Hancock, each, in the name of love, brazenly violating the rules they created and imposed on the public. At the same time, the economy is being plundered, books burned, history rewritten, and cultural values, norms, and the concept of a nuclear family destroyed. And all the while, politicians become obscenely wealthy. 

Governments are not following science, they are corrupting it, and placing politics and profits before people’s lives. No leader or administration can be trusted unless they practice transparency and accountability. Yet the UK government wants to jail journalists for reporting public corruption that embarrasses those in power.  

The imposition of crippling measures on the economy have led to widespread business closures. Lockdowns, and mask and vaccine mandates, are not simply about public health, but, rather, are a power grab for political control, designed to instil fear and make the little man dependent on “big government.” The mantra of “Build Back Better” is, in reality, cover for a dystopian revolution. Together we must resist all of these authoritarian dictates before it’s too late.  
source: rt.com

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A US Central Command investigation found that an aid worker and nine members of his family, including seven children, died in the 29 August strike.

The youngest child, Sumaya, was just two years old.

The deadly strike happened days after a terror attack at Kabul airport, amid a frenzied evacuation effort following the Taliban's sudden return to power.

It was one of the US military's final acts in Afghanistan, before ending its 20-year operation in the country.

US intelligence had tracked the aid worker's car for eight hours, believing it was linked to IS-K militants - a local branch of the Islamic State (IS) group, US Central Command Gen Kenneth McKenzie said.


The investigation found the man's car had been seen at a compound associated with IS-K, and its movements aligned with other intelligence about the terror group's plans for an attack on Kabul airport.

At one point, a surveillance drone saw men loading what appeared to be explosives into the boot of the car, but it turned out to be containers of water.

Gen McKenzie described the strike as a "tragic mistake", and added that the Taliban had not been involved in the intelligence that led to the strike.

The strike happened as the aid worker - named as Zamairi Akmadhi - pulled into the driveway of his home, 3km (1.8 miles) from the airport.

The explosion set off a secondary blast, which US officials initially said was proof that the car was indeed carrying explosives. However the investigation has found it was most likely caused by a propane tank in the driveway.

Relatives of the victims told the BBC the day after the strike that they had applied to be evacuated to the US, and had been waiting for a phone call telling them to go to the airport.


One of those killed, Ahmad Naser, had been a translator with US forces. Other victims had previously worked for international organisations and held visas allowing them entry to the US.

When the US started to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban managed to seize control of the country within about two weeks in a lightning-fast offensive.


President Ashraf Ghani fled to the United Arab Emirates, and Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, fell on 15 August.

It sparked a mass evacuation effort from the US and its allies, as thousands of people tried to flee. Many were foreign nationals or Afghans who had worked for foreign governments.

There were scenes of panic and chaos at Kabul airport, and some people fell to their death after trying to cling on to the side of US military planes as they took off.

The security situation was further heightened after a suicide bomber killed up to 170 civilians and 13 US troops outside the airport on 26 August. IS-K said it had carried out the attack.

Many of those killed had been hoping to board one of the evacuation flights leaving the city.

The last US soldier left Afghanistan on 31 August- the deadline President Joe Biden had set for the US withdrawal.

More than 124,000 foreigners and Afghans were flown out of the country before the deadline. But some people were unable to get out in time, and evacuation efforts are ongoing.

source: bbc.com

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WASHINGTON: The United States is ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccine booster shots next week but will do so only if health regulators approve the plan, White House officials said on Friday.
In August, President Joe Biden said the government would provide boosters in the week of Sept. 20 to address waning vaccine immunity and the highly transmissible Delta variant.
“We’ve been working through the last few weeks, intensely with our partners, our governors, state, and local health officials, federal pharmacy programs, the community health centers to ensure that we are ready for next week,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zientz said at a briefing.
While some health officials, other countries and vaccine makers say boosters are needed, many experts disagree, including two top scientists at the Food and Drug Administration who are leaving the agency later this year.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told reporters boosters will be available once the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approve the plan. Critics have said the Biden administration’s booster plan is putting pressure on scientists or getting ahead of their evaluations.
“We have always said that this initial plan would be contingent on the FDA and the CDC’s independent evaluation. We will follow that evaluation and their recommendations. We will make sure our final plan reflects it,” he said.
Murthy was among eight top US health officials including the FDA and CDC chiefs who have said boosters are necessary.
A panel of independent expert advisers to the FDA is debating whether Americans should receive a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and was set to vote later on Friday.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet next week to discuss boosters.

source: Arab news 

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In the absence of urgent action against the climate crisis, more than 200 million people might be forced out of their homes by 2050, the World Bank warned.

According to a comprehensive report the World Bank released on Monday, September 13, the international financial institution urged governments to curb global emissions and close the development gap in order to reduce the negative effects of slow-onset climate change, such as water scarcity and decreased crop productivity.

“All these issues are fundamentally connected, which is why our support to countries is positioned to deliver on climate and development objectives together while building a more sustainable, safe and resilient future,” according to the Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank, Juergen Voegele.

In the worst-case scenario, the World Bank’s Groundswell Report estimates that by 2050, more than 216 million people could be on the move across six regions, creating "hotspots of internal climate migration" by 2030 that will continue to spread.

Sub-Saharan Africa is considered to be the most vulnerable region due to desertification, fragile coastlines, and the population's dependency on agriculture. If the worst scenario were to occur, 86 million people would cross borders within national boundaries.

Climate migrants could account for 19 million people in North Africa or 9% of the region's population.

The world could still see 44 million people displaced even through the most environmentally friendly strategy with low emissions and sustainable development.

Morocco has been seeing the effects firsthand. The kingdom has been vigilant in fighting attempts at migration from Africa to Europe, most notably, the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. 

There is a regular collaboration among all services to combat migration attempts, such as the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN), Royal Gendarmerie, and the Royal Navy.

In the past four years, Morocco's security services have rescued over 80,500 migrants at sea. Since 2017, Morocco has prevented more than 14,000 unauthorized migration attempts.

“The Groundswell report is a stark reminder of the human toll of climate change, particularly on the world’s poorest- those who are contributing the least to its causes. It also clearly lays out a path for countries to address some of the key factors that are causing climate-driven migration,” Juergen Voegele said.

The report “reaffirms the potency of climate to induce migration within countries,” according to Viviane Wei Chen Clement, a senior climate change specialist at the World Bank and one of the report’s co-authors.

In 2018, Groundswell published the first part of its report covering Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. In the second part of the report, which was published on Monday, environmental analysts offer climate migration projections and analysis for East Asia, the Pacific, North Africa, and Eastern Europe.

The report did not examine climate migration across borders, as well as short-term impacts from climate change, like extreme weather events.

The report explores possible future outcomes from a scenario-based approach, which can help decision-makers plan for the future. With this approach, hotspots of migration within and outside of the country can be identified based on water scarcity, agricultural decline, and rising sea levels, and new livelihood opportunities in both urban and rural areas can be identified.

“Globally, we know that three out of four people that move stay within countries,” said Kanta Kumari Rigaud, an environmental specialist at the World Bank and one of the authors of the report.

Actions recommended in the policy were reaching net-zero emissions by the middle of the century and investing in green growth to be consistent with the Paris Agreement.

The findings come ahead of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, scheduled to be held in November.

source: moroccoworldnews by Hanna Nepomuceno 


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NASA's first space shuttle was meant to be named Constitution -- a nod to the United States Bicentennial that year. But a write-in campaign by "Star Trek" fans prompted President Gerald Ford to change his mind.
Instead, the orbiter was called Enterprise, like the TV show's starship. That's why members of the "Star Trek" cast and crew, including Nichelle Nichols, George Takei and Gene Roddenberry, could be seen among the crowd at the shuttle's September 1976 unveiling.
They can also be seen, sporting quintessentially 1970s sartorial style, in one of the 450 previously unpublished and rarely seen images featured in University Press Florida's new book, "Picturing the Space Shuttle: The Early Years." The publication chronicles the shuttle program from 1965 until 1982, ending just a year into the spacecraft's operational life.
"Most of the shuttle books that are available try to do too much and cover the entire program," said co-author John Bisney in a phone interview. "And when you have 135 flights over 30 years, that's difficult to condense into one book."
Bisney's book, which he co-authored with J.L. Pickering, instead offers a unique view into the early development of the shuttle, the world's first reusable spacecraft, with a wealth of outlandish sketches and drawings of alternative designs -- some of which still look remarkably futuristic.
"Some of the early concepts involved having the booster rocket also come back and land like an airplane, automatically," Bisney said. "Unfortunately, it turned out to be pretty complicated."
Instead, the booster rockets splashed into the ocean after detaching from the shuttle, to be recovered and refurbished. A modern rocket like SpaceX's Falcon Heavy has booster rockets that can autonomously descend back to Earth and land.
The shuttle -- officially called STS, or Space Transportation System -- first flew into space on April 12, 1981, with the distinction of having not been tested with an unmanned launch first. Astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen flew the orbiter, Columbia, for 54 hours before landing safely back on Earth. The book's timeline ends after the fourth space shuttle mission, a test flight that paved the way for operational missions.
Source: CNN.com
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A decision by the European Commission has ended speculation over the fate of Moroccans who faced travel restrictions due to the type of COVID vaccine they have been administered. The commission published its “implementing decision (EU) 2021/1481” that makes Morocco’s vaccine passport an equivalent to its European counterparts.

The decision establishes “the equivalence, for the purpose of facilitating the right of free movement within the Union, of COVID-19 certificates issued by the Kingdom of Morocco to the certificates issued in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2021/953 of the European Parliament and of the Council.”

This means vaccination passports and test certificates issued by Morocco are now considered part of the EU’s legal framework that establishes the legitimacy of foreign documents that intend to provide information about travellers’ COVID-19 status.

In return, Morocco will recognize the EU’s certified documents in regard to testing and vaccine status.

Vaccine barriers

Many Moroccans feared new restrictions on travel to Europe due to the local use of the Sinopharm vaccine in Morocco. The EU recently announced it would not recognize the Chinese vaccine, which provided new barriers for Moroccans looking to travel north.

The European Commission has now found a way to allow Moroccans in, without having to recognize the vaccine by the West’s new geopolitical rival. 

Amid a global shortage of vaccines, the Sinopharm jab became, and continues to be, Morocco’s primary tool against the pandemic. Bilateral agreements with China provided millions of vaccines, which allowed Moroccan health authorities to vaccinate large swaths of the population while many countries on the continent could vaccinate only a few percent of the population.

Some Moroccans feared that receiving the Chinese vaccine could impact their ability to travel to Western countries who are taking an increasingly hostile stance towards China. The European Commission’s decision appears to allow sinopharm-vaccinated people in, without having to openly declare the vaccine as safe.


source: moroccoworldnews 

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A delegation of Polish businessmen are currently on an economic mission to Laayoune, south of Morocco, to explore investment opportunities in the southern provinces of the country.

This economic mission is organized by the Moroccan embassy in Warsaw, in collaboration with the Regional Investment Centers (CRI) of the southern provinces, Laayoune and Dakhla. 

The two cities in the Western Sahara have been experiencing a significant economic boom, offering a wide range of opportunities for foreign investment, specifically exploring business opportunities.

According to the Moroccan Embassy in Warsaw, the mission is the result of an exploratory and rapprochement strategy that Poland's private sector has been engaged in for some time.

This visit aims to highlight the development efforts made by Morocco at the national and regional levels. 

The Polish delegation will have the opportunity to witness the efforts made by the Moroccan government in the region, across a variety of fields, especially promoting business-friendly infrastructure in the regions of Laayoune-Sakia El Hamra and Dakhla-Oued Eddahab.

The delegation is scheduled to meet with representatives of the region's Regional Investment Centers (CRI), B2B meetings with Moroccan companies, and visits to major structuring projects.

The represented Polish companies’ activity sectors are diverse. A few of the visiting companies specialize in professional lighting solutions, while others manufacture ultralight multi-purpose helicopters. 

The companies being represented range from various sectors, including  the health and agricultural industry, the telecommunications and electric power sectors, the production of chargers for electric cars, the manufacture of fire fighting equipment and materials, and the manufacturing of military and civil specialized containers..

Polish investment interests in the southern provinces of Morocco were first expressed through the bilateral declarations signed earlier this year, as a result of the joint workshops in Warsaw between the Moroccan Ambassador to Poland, Abderrahim Atmoun, and the representatives of Polish firms.


source: moroccoworldnews 

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Mauritius is all set to fully reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers on October 1.

The Indian Ocean nation has implemented a two-phased reopening strategy. In the initial phase, from July 15 to September 30, it is welcoming vaccinated travellers to enjoy holidays within 14 dedicated “resort bubbles”.

Only those staying for more than two weeks are able to visit other parts of the island, after taking a PCR test on day 14 of their holiday.

As part of the second phase, starting in October, vaccinated travellers will be free to explore the island from the get-go, as long as they present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel, upon arrival.

The successful reopening is being attributed to the acceleration of the island’s vaccination programme. Almost 1.3 million vaccine doses have been administered to citizens and residents.

In percentages, this translates as 45.5 per cent being fully vaccinated, according to the latest figures from John Hopkins University. In January, the Mauritian government decided to give priority to vaccinating hotel staff and others working in the tourism industry.

“Mauritius is delighted to see the world opening up again for travel,” said Arvind Bundhun, director of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority. “We have been welcoming international visitors to our island since the middle of July and the ‘resort bubbles’ have proven a great success.

“We are looking forward to the next stage of our reopening on October 1, when vaccinated visitors will be able to explore the island without restriction from the moment of their arrival. The safety and security of Mauritian residents, citizens and guests remains paramount.”

Emirates flies to Mauritius twice a week, with return economy flights starting from Dh4,515. Mauritius is currently on Abu Dhabi’s green list, meaning travellers will not have to quarantine upon their return to the capital.

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The sun is always showering Earth with a mist of magnetized particles known as solar wind. For the most part, our planet's magnetic shield blocks this electric wind from doing any real damage to Earth or its inhabitants, instead sending those particles skittering toward the poles and leaving behind a pleasant aurora in their wake.

But sometimes, every century or so, that wind escalates into a full-blown solar storm — and, as new research presented at the SIGCOMM 2021data communication conference warns, the results of such extreme space weather could be catastrophic to our modern way of life.

In short, a severe solar storm could plunge the world into an "internet apocalypse" that keeps large swaths of society offline for weeks or months at a time, Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, an assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine, wrote in the new research paper. (The paper has yet to appear in a peer-reviewed journal).

"What really got me thinking about this is that with the pandemic we saw how unprepared the world was. There was no protocol to deal with it effectively, and it's the same with internet resilience," Abdu Jyothi told WIRED. "Our infrastructure is not prepared for a large-scale solar event."

Part of the problem is that extreme solar storms (also called coronal mass ejections) are relatively rare; scientists estimate the probability of an extreme space weather directly impacting Earth to be between 1.6% to 12% per decade, according to Abdu Jyothi's paper.

In recent history, only two such storms have been recorded — one in 1859 and the other in 1921. The earlier incident, known as the Carrington Event, created such a severe geomagnetic disturbance on Earth that telegraph wires burst into flame, and auroras — usually only visible near the planet's poles — were spotted near equatorial Colombia. Smaller storms can also pack a punch; one in March 1989 blacked out the entire Canadian province of Quebec for nine hours.

Since then, human civilization has become much more reliant on the global internet, and the potential impacts of a massive geomagnetic storm on that new infrastructure remain largely unstudied, Abdu Jyothi said. In her new paper, she tried to pinpoint the greatest vulnerabilities in that infrastructure.

The good news is, local and regional internet connections are likely at low risk of being damaged because fiber-optic cables themselves aren't affected by geomagnetically induced currents, according to the paper. 

However, the long undersea internet cables that connect continents are a different story. These cables are equipped with repeaters to boost the optical signal, spaced at intervals of roughly 30 to 90 miles (50 to 150 kilometers). These repeaters are vulnerable to geomagnetic currents, and entire cables could be made useless if even one repeater goes offline, according to the paper.

If enough undersea cables fail in a particular region, then entire continents could be cut off from one another, Abdu Jyothi wrote. What's more, nations at high latitudes — such as the U.S. and the U.K. — are far more susceptible to solar weather than nations at lower latitudes. In the event of a catastrophic geomagnetic storm, it's those high-latitude nations that are most likely to be cut off from the network first. It's hard to predict how long it would take to repair underwater infrastructure, but Abdu Jyothi suggests that large-scale internet outages that last weeks or months are possible.

In the meantime, millions of people could lose their livelihoods.

"The economic impact of an Internet disruption for a day in the US is estimated to be over $7 billion," Abdu Jyothi wrote in her paper. "What if the network remains non-functional for days or even months?"

If we don't want to find out, then grid operators need to start taking the threat of extreme solar weather seriously as global internet infrastructure inevitably expands. Laying more cables at lower latitudes is a good start, Abdu Jyothi said, as is developing resilience tests that focus on the effects of large-scale network failures. 

When the next big solar storm does blast out of our star, people on Earth will have about 13 hours to prepare for its arrival, she added. Let's hope we're ready to make the most of that time when it inevitably arrives.

source: livescience.com

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Eyal David, the former deputy Israeli ambassador in Nairobi, Kenya, has joined his new post of deputy chief of the Israeli mission in Rabat.

David announced his arrival in Rabat in a post on Twitter on Monday, saying he was “excited” to start his work as the deputy chief of mission in Morocco.

“I started my day with the sunrise of Tel-Aviv and I ends [sic] it with the sunset of Rabat. Excited to start today my new diplomatic mission as the Deputy Chief of Mission of Israel in the Kingdom of Morocco,” the diplomat said.

Eyal David holds a master's degree in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies.

The diplomat also obtained a BA in International Relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2012.

He joined the Israeli foreign ministry after his studies and was shortly appointed emissary to the Jewish community of Lyon in France. Outside of his diplomatic posts, David also previously worked in the External Relations Division of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The diplomat will join Israel’s Charge d’Affaires in Morocco, David Govrin.

Govrin arrived in Morocco on January 26 for the reopening of the Israeli diplomatic liaison office in Rabat, cementing the December 2020, US-brokered agreement between Morocco and Israel to re-establish official diplomatic ties. He is the first senior Israeli diplomat to serve in Morocco since the early 2000s.

On Monday this week, Morocco’s ambassador to the UN, Omar Hilale, participated in an event to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords.

The event took place in New York in the presence of delegates from several of the signatory countries.

Since their 2020 agreement to “normalize” their diplomatic ties, Israel and Morocco have repeatedly vowed to strengthen cooperation in a broad range of fields, including hightech, culture, trade, and defense

Morocco also expected to open an embassy in Israel in the near future.

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Morocco’s FM Nasser has reiterated the country’s commitment to the African continent and said that Rabat is open to improving its diplomatic relations with South Africa as part of a wider determination to further intra-African cooperation.    

Speaking in an exclusive interview with South African newspaper “The Star,” the Moroccan top diplomat said that he firmly believes that strengthening ties between South Africa and Morocco “will be in the interest of the continent.”

Because “South Africa and Morocco are both recognized as major players on the continent and beyond,” Bourita argued, both countries “have every interest to better exploit the enormous potential they hold.” 

Morocco, according to Bourita, is convinced stronger cooperation with South Africa will in turn strengthen Africa’s position on the world stage. 

“The Kingdom has called for more effective solidarity, cooperation and coordination in Africa, to enable our continent to be more resilient and better prepared for contingencies and emergencies,” he said, referring to the lasting impacts the COVID-19 crisis has had on the continent. 

“Morocco and South Africa are among the very few African countries that currently have the tools and skills to effectively accommodate the needs of the African continent in vaccines and medical equipment against Covid-19,” he added.

Bourita explained that since Morocco and South Africa are the largest African investors on the continent and in their respective regions, they have a duty to play a major role in the African integration process.

In one of his questions to Bourita, Sifiso Mahlangu, The Star’s editor, recalled Morocco’s role in black South Afria’sca’s struggle against Apartheid. 

“Morocco and South Africa share a common history. One needs to remember that the Kingdom of Morocco was among the staunchest supporters of ANC, and among the first African countries to support militarily, logistically and diplomatically,” noted the South African journalist. 

In response to the question of what has changed in the once strong, fraternal relations between Morocco and the ANC, South Africa’s ruling party in the past three decades, Bourita said that “nothing has changed.” He went on to recall that “Nelson Mandela and South African freedom fighters were training in eastern Morocco, between the cities of Oujda and Berkane.”

If anything has changed, Bourita suggested, it is South Africa’s relentless hostility when it comes to the Western Sahara question. He said, “I would argue that the existence of differences in opinion is a healthy thing. But, the attitude of our brothers in Pretoria on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara, unfortunately, has too often gone beyond a difference of opinion but has been of adversity.”

He reiterated Morocco’s readiness and openness to engage in dialogue with South Africa, as long as this happens within the norms of “mutual respect and a sincere desire to clean up relations and bring them to their full potential.”

On Western Sahara, an important point of contention between the two countries, Bourita reaffirmed Morocco's stance, saying that “the autonomy initiative under Moroccan sovereignty is the one and only way to a final solution to this regional dispute.”

Pointing out the latest developments in the territorial dispute in southern Morocco, the Moroccan minister emphasized the importance for foreign commentators and politicians to get their facts right when it comes to the history of the conflict - as well as the best way forward.  

He spoke of the historical foundations of Morocco’s sovereignty over the territory, and of the increasing international support for Rabat’s 2007 Autonomy Plan as the most viable way out of the four-decade long political and diplomatic stasis in Western Sahara.  

Morocco’s autonomy plan calls for local political autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty, and the consensus in UN circles is that the proposal is a “serious” and “credible” step in the direction of a lasting political solution to the Sahara crisis. To date, over fifty countries have expressed their unequivocal support for the Moroccan autonomy initiative. 

Most recently, twenty-five countries, including 15 from Africa,  opened diplomatic representations in Laayoune and Dakhla,  the two main cities in Morocco’s southern provinces. 

However, despite the increasing pro-Morocco momentum around the Western Sahara issue, South Africa remains a loyal polisario sympathizer, deepening  the divergences between Pretoria and Rabat.

Bourita’s hopeful tone about a potential South Africa-Morocco rapprochement is not the first time Morocco has signalled a desire to build bridges with a country it considers as an important African partner. 

Youssef Amrani, a veteran and revered diplomat whose appointment as Morocco’s ambassador to South Africa was considered to “herald the beginning of a whole new era” in the crucial relationship between two continental leaders, has also been a fierce advocate of the need for Pretoria and Rabat to team up to inspire a new age of African unity and confidence.

As established regional leaders with visions for a more prosperous Africa, Amrani told a gathering of intellectuals and diplomats in Pretoria in August 2019, diplomatic Morocco and South Africa are key to a successful African integration.

 "We are convinced that the current process of globalization can not continue without a developed, prosperous and self-sufficient Africa," he said 


source: moroccoworldnews 

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Doctors, scientists, lawyers and colleagues in allied disciplines can sign the open letter by sending their name, qualifications, areas of expertise and country of practice to: Doctors4CovidEthics@protonmail.com, with web verification (eg workplace or registration link, not for publication).

Emer Cooke, Executive Director, European Medicines Agency, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

28 February 2021

Dear Sirs/Mesdames,


As physicians and scientists, we are supportive in principle of the use of new medical interventions which are appropriately developed and deployed, having obtained informed consent from the patient. This stance encompasses vaccines in the same way as therapeutics.

We note that a wide range of side effects is being reported following vaccination of previously healthy younger individuals with the gene-based COVID-19 vaccines. Moreover, there have been numerous media reports from around the world of care homes being struck by COVID-19 within days of vaccination of residents. While we recognise that these occurrences might, every one of them, have been unfortunate coincidences, we are concerned that there has been and there continues to be inadequate scrutiny of the possible causes of illness or death under these circumstances, and especially so in the absence of post-mortems examinations.

In particular, we question whether cardinal issues regarding the safety of the vaccines were adequately addressed prior to their approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

As a matter of great urgency, we herewith request that the EMA provide us with responses to the following issues:

1. Following intramuscular injection, it must be expected that the gene-based vaccines will reach the bloodstream and disseminate throughout the body [1]. We request evidence that this possibility was excluded in pre-clinical animal models with all three vaccines prior to their approval for use in humans by the EMA.

2. If such evidence is not available, it must be expected that the vaccines will remain entrapped in the circulation and be taken up by endothelial cells. There is reason to assume that this will happen particularly at sites of slow blood flow, i.e. in small vessels and capillaries [2]. We request evidence that this probability was excluded in pre-clinical animal models with all three vaccines prior to their approval for use in humans by the EMA.

3. If such evidence is not available, it must be expected that during expression of the vaccines’ nucleic acids, peptides derived from the spike protein will be presented via the MHC I — pathway at the luminal surface of the cells. Many healthy individuals have CD8-lymphocytes that recognize such peptides, which may be due to prior COVID infection, but also to cross-reactions with other types of Coronavirus [3; 4] [5]. We must assume that these lymphocytes will mount an attack on the respective cells. We request evidence that this probability was excluded in pre-clinical animal models with all three vaccines prior to their approval for use in humans by the EMA.

4. If such evidence is not available, it must be expected that endothelial damage with subsequent triggering of blood coagulation via platelet activation will ensue at countless sites throughout the body. We request evidence that this probability was excluded in pre-clinical animal models with all three vaccines prior to their approval for use in humans by the EMA.

5. If such evidence is not available, it must be expected that this will lead to a drop in platelet counts, appearance of D-dimers in the blood, and to myriad ischaemic lesions throughout the body including in the brain, spinal cord and heart. Bleeding disorders might occur in the wake of this novel type of DIC-syndrome including, amongst other possibilities, profuse bleedings and haemorrhagic stroke. We request evidence that all these possibilities were excluded in pre-clinical animal models with all three vaccines prior to their approval for use in humans by the EMA.

6. The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binds to the ACE2 receptor on platelets, which results in their activation [6]. Thrombocytopenia has been reported in severe cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection [7]. Thrombocytopenia has also been reported in vaccinated individuals [8]. We request evidence that the potential danger of platelet activation that would also lead to disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) was excluded with all three vaccines prior to their approval for use in humans by the EMA.

7. The sweeping across the globe of SARS-CoV-2 created a pandemic of illness associated with many deaths. However, by the time of consideration for approval of the vaccines, the health systems of most countries were no longer under imminent threat of being overwhelmed because a growing proportion of the world had already been infected and the worst of the pandemic had already abated. Consequently, we demand conclusive evidence that an actual emergency existed at the time of the EMA granting Conditional Marketing Authorisation to the manufacturers of all three vaccines, to justify their approval for use in humans by the EMA, purportedly because of such an emergency.

Should all such evidence not be available, we demand that approval for use of the gene-based vaccines be withdrawn until all the above issues have been properly addressed by the exercise of due diligence by the EMA.

There are serious concerns, including but not confined to those outlined above, that the approval of the COVID-19 vaccines by the EMA was premature and reckless, and that the administration of the vaccines constituted and still does constitute “human experimentation”, which was and still is in violation of the Nuremberg Code.

In view of the urgency of the situation, we request that you reply to this email within seven days and address all our concerns substantively. Should you choose not to comply with this reasonable request, we will make this letter public.

This email is copied to:

Charles Michel, President of the Council of Europe

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

Doctors and scientists can sign the open letter by emailing their name, qualifications, areas of expertise, country and any affiliations they would like to cite, to Doctors4CovidEthics@protonmail.com


[1] Hassett, K. J.; Benenato, K. E.; Jacquinet, E.; Lee, A.; Woods, A.; Yuzhakov, O.; Himansu, S.; Deterling, J.; Geilich, B. M.; Ketova, T.; Mihai, C.; Lynn, A.; McFadyen, I.; Moore, M. J.; Senn, J. J.; Stanton, M. G.; Almarsson, Ö.; Ciaramella, G. and Brito, L. A.(2019).Optimization of Lipid Nanoparticles for Intramuscular Administration of mRNA Vaccines, Molecular therapy. Nucleic acids 15 : 1–11.

[2] Chen, Y. Y.; Syed, A. M.; MacMillan, P.; Rocheleau, J. V. and Chan, W. C. W.(2020). Flow Rate Affects Nanoparticle Uptake into Endothelial Cells, Advanced materials 32 : 1906274.

[3] Grifoni, A.; Weiskopf, D.; Ramirez, S. I.; Mateus, J.; Dan, J. M.; Moderbacher, C. R.; Rawlings, S. A.; Sutherland, A.; Premkumar, L.; Jadi, R. S. and et al.(2020). Targets of T Cell Responses to SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus in Humans with COVID-19 Disease and Unexposed Individuals, Cell 181 : 1489–1501.e15.

[4] Nelde, A.; Bilich, T.; Heitmann, J. S.; Maringer, Y.; Salih, H. R.; Roerden, M.; Lübke, M.; Bauer, J.; Rieth, J.; Wacker, M.; Peter, A.; Hörber, S.; Traenkle, B.; Kaiser, P. D.; Rothbauer, U.; Becker, M.; Junker, D.; Krause, G.; Strengert, M.; Schneiderhan-Marra, N.; Templin, M. F.; Joos, T. O.; Kowalewski, D. J.; Stos-Zweifel, V.; Fehr, M.; Rabsteyn, A.; Mirakaj, V.; Karbach, J.; Jäger, E.; Graf, M.; Gruber, L.-C.; Rachfalski, D.; Preuß, B.; Hagelstein, I.; Märklin, M.; Bakchoul, T.; Gouttefangeas, C.; Kohlbacher, O.; Klein, R.; Stevanović, S.; Rammensee, H.-G. and Walz, J. S.(2020). SARS-CoV-2-derived peptides define heterologous and COVID-19-induced T cell recognition, Nature immunology.

[5] Sekine, T.; Perez-Potti, A.; Rivera-Ballesteros, O.; Strålin, K.; Gorin, J.-B.; Olsson, A.; Llewellyn-Lacey, S.; Kamal, H.; Bogdanovic, G.; Muschiol, S. and et al.(2020). Robust T Cell Immunity in Convalescent Individuals with Asymptomatic or Mild COVID-19, Cell 183 : 158–168.e14.

[6] Zhang, S.; Liu, Y.; Wang, X.; Yang, L.; Li, H.; Wang, Y.; Liu, M.; Zhao, X.; Xie, Y.; Yang, Y.; Zhang, S.; Fan, Z.; Dong, J.; Yuan, Z.; Ding, Z.; Zhang, Y. and Hu, L.(2020). SARS-CoV-2 binds platelet ACE2 to enhance thrombosis in COVID-19, Journal of hematology & oncology 13 : 120.

[7] Lippi, G.; Plebani, M. and Henry, B. M.(2020).Thrombocytopenia is associated with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections: A meta-analysis, Clin. Chim. Acta 506 : 145–148.

[8] Grady, D. (2021). A Few Covid Vaccine Recipients Developed a Rare Blood Disorder, The New York Times, Feb. 8, 2021.

Yours faithfully,

Professsor Sucharit Bhakdi MD, Professor Emeritus of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Former Chair, Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz (Medical Doctor and Scientist) (Germany and Thailand)

Dr Marco Chiesa MD FRCPsych, Consultant Psychiatrist and Visiting Professor, University College London (Medical Doctor) (United Kingdom and Italy)

Dr C Stephen Frost BSc MBChB Specialist in Diagnostic Radiology, Stockholm, Sweden (Medical Doctor) (United Kingdom and Sweden)

Dr Margareta Griesz-Brisson MD PhD, Consultant Neurologist and Neurophysiologist (studied Medicine in Freiburg, Germany, speciality training for Neurology at New York University, Fellowship in Neurophysiology at Mount Sinai Medical Centre, New York City; PhD in Pharmacology with special interest in chronic low level neurotoxicology and effects of environmental factors on brain health), Medical Director, The London Neurology and Pain Clinic (Medical Doctor and Scientist) (Germany and United Kingdom)

Professor Martin Haditsch MD PhD, Specialist (Austria) in Hygiene and Microbiology, Specialist (Germany) in Microbiology, Virology, Epidemiology/Infectious Diseases, Specialist (Austria) in Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Medical Director, TravelMedCenter, Leonding, Austria, Medical Director, Labor Hannover MVZ GmbH (Medical Doctor and Scientist) (Austria and Germany)

Professor Stefan Hockertz, Professor of Toxicology and Pharmacologym, European registered Toxicologist, Specialist in Immunology and Immunotoxicology, CEO tpi consult GmbH. (Scientist) (Germany)

Dr Lissa Johnson, BSc, BA(Media) MPsych(Clin) PhD, Clinical Psychologist and Behavioural Scientist, Expertise in the social psychology of atrocity, torture, collective violence and propaganda, former member, professional body Public Interest Advisory Group (Psychologist) (Australia)

Professor Ulrike Kämmerer PhD, Associate Professor of Experimental Reproductive Immunology and Tumor Biology at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospital of Würzburg, Germany, Trained molecular virologist (Diploma, PhD-Thesis) and Immunologist (Habilitation), Remains engaged in active laboratory research (Molecular Biology, Cell Biology (Scientist) (Germany)

Associate Professor Michael Palmer MD, Department of Chemistry (studied Medicine and Medical Microbiology in Germany, has taught Biochemistry since 2001 in present university in Canada; focus on Pharmacology, metabolism, biological membranes, computer programming; experimental research focus on bacterial toxins and antibiotics (Daptomycin); has written a textbook on Biochemical Pharmacology, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (Medical Doctor and Scientist) (Canada and Germany)

Professor Karina Reiss PhD, Professor of Biochemistry, Christian Albrecht University of Kiel, Expertise in Cell Biology, Biochemistry (Scientist) (Germany)

Professor Andreas Sönnichsen MD, Professor of General Practice and Family Medicine, Department of General Practice and Family Medicine, Center of Public Health, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna (Medical Doctor) (Austria)

Dr Wolfgang Wodarg, Specialist in Pulmonary and Bronchial Internal Medicine, Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Epidemiology, and Public Health; Honorary Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and former Head of the Health Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; former Member of Parliament, German Bundestag; Initiator and Spokesman for the study commission ‘Ethics and Law in Modern Medicine’; Author and University Lecturer (Medical Doctor) (Germany)

Dr Michael Yeadon BSc (Joint Honours in Biochemistry and Toxicology) PhD (Pharmacology), Formerly Vice President & Chief Scientific Officer Allergy & Respiratory, Pfizer Global R&D; Co-founder & CEO, Ziarco Pharma Ltd.; Independent Consultant (Scientist) (United Kingdom)

Endorsing signatories

Dr Reem Abu-Sbaih, DO, Doctor of Osteopathy, Associate Professor Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine/ Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine (Medical Doctor) (USA)

Dr Véronique Ahari, General Practitioner (France)

Dr. Elizabeth Bastian, BSc (Genetics and Microbiology), MDCM, Family Medicine, General Practitioner in Oncology, sub specialty trained in Palliative Care (Medical Doctor) (Canada)

Dr Michael D Bell, MB, ChB (1978 Edinburgh) MRCGP (1989), General Practitioner (Medical Doctor) (United Kingdom)

Rev. Reuben P. Bell, DO, MS, MDiv, PhD, Osteopathic family physician since 1982, Bachelors and Masters degrees in Zoology, Professor of Biology (including Molecular Genetics and Developmental Biology) at the Bryn Athyn College of the New Church, 1989–1998, M.Div. and Ph.D. in theological studies, with attention to issues of science and religion (Medical Doctor and Scientist) (USA)

Dr Francisco Lacruz Bescos, MD, PhD, Consultant Neurologist with special training and dedication to Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis (Retired) (Medical Doctor) (Spain)

Dr Thomas Binder, MD, specialised in Cardiology and Internal Medicine, thesis in Immunology and Virology, with 32 years experience in diagnosis and treatment of Acute Respiratory Illness (Medical Doctor) (Switzerland)

Sarah Binns, MA VetMB, MS, MRCVS, MSc, PhD, DipLSHTM, Former Veterinary Infectious Disease Epidemiologist (United Kingdom)

Dr Rainer Bliefert, Dentist (Switzerland)

Dr Rachel Brown, MBChB, LLM (Medical Law & Ethics), MRCPsych CFMP, Consultant Psychiatrist (Medical Doctor) (United Kingdom)

Dr Roxana Bruno, PhD in Immunology, Researcher in Biochemistry, Immunology, Neuroinmunology and Genetics (Scientist) (Argentina)

Dr Elizabeth Burton, MBChB, General Medical Practitioner (Retired)(Medical Doctor) (United Kingdom)

Dr Ronald S. Carlson, AB Chem/Bio, DDS, Dentist (USA)

Dr Vernon Coleman, MB, ChB, General Practice Principal (Retired) (Medical Doctor) (United Kingdom)

Dr David Critchley, BSc, PhD, Clinical Research Scientist with more than 30 years experience, including projects in Virology and Immunology (Scientist) (United Kingdom)

Professor Barbara A Crothers, DO, Associate Professor, Pathology, Gynecologic, Breast and Cytopathology (USA)

Dr Rita Darby, General Practitioner (Medical Doctor) (Wales)

Dr. Daniel de la Torre Llorente, Biology Professor, Biotechnology-Plant Biology Department. Agronomic, Food and Biosystems Engineering School (ETSIAAB) Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Scientist) (Spain)

Dr Nyjon Eccles, BSc, MBBS, MRCP, PhD, Specialist in Functional & Environmental Medicine (United Kingdom)

Dr Kjetil H. Elvevold, Senior Scientist, worked as Senior Scientist in a Contract Research Organization (CRO) in Norway that performed pre-clinical experiments for the pharmaceutical industry (Scientist) (Norway)

Dr Andreas Emmert, Specialist in Microbiology, Head Physician at Østfold Regional Hospital, Norway (Medical Doctor) (Norway)

Merit Enckell, Civ. Ing, PhD, Independent researcher, Structural Health Monitoring and Emerging Technologies, Formerly of KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Scientist) (Sweden)

Dr Radimé Farhumand, Specialist in Anesthesia (Medical Doctor) (Germany)

Dr Thomas Faulkner, MChiro, DC, Managing Director and Chiropractor (United Kingdom)

Dr Susan Flett, Specialist in Psychiatry, Child Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (Semi-retired) (Medical Doctor) (United Kingdom)

Dr Konstantinos Fountzoulas, MD, PGDiP Orth Eng., FEBOT, FRCS (Tr & Orth), Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon (Medical Doctor) (England and Italy)

Dr Carrie Ganek, MD, Adult Psychiatry (Medical Doctor) (USA)

Dr Martin E Ganek, MD, Board Certified Paediatrician (Medical Doctor) (USA)

Dr Parisi Giovanni, Specialist in Ophthalmology and Sports Medicine (Medical Doctor) (Italy)

Dr Céline Guérin, PhD in Neurosciences, Master in Microbiology and Genetics (Scientist-Practitioner) (France)

Dr. Olga Petrovna Guzova, Pediatrician, Dermatologist and Dermatopathologist (Medical Doctor) (Panama)

Dr Roman Häussler, General Medicine (Austria)

Dr Jutta Heinrich-Nols, Doctor and Clinical Pharmacologist (Medical Doctor and Scientist) (Germany)

Dr April M. Hurley, MD, Family Physician for 35 years (Medical Doctor) (USA)

William Ip, BSc. MIBMS, Former NHS Biomedical Scientist (Specialist in Microbiology), for over 30 years (Sicentist) (United Kingdom)

Dr Hervé Janecek, Veterinarian (France)

Jerzy Jaskowski, MD, PhD, MS, Specialties in General Surgery, Environmental Medicine, Physics and Biophysics (Retired)(Medical Doctor and Scientist) (Poland)

Dr. Elisabeth Jenik, General Medicine, Occupational Medicine and Psychosomatic Medicine (Medical Doctor) (Austria)

Dr Alain Joseph, General Medicine Specialist (Retired) (Medical Doctor) (France)

Dr Konstantinos Kakleas, MD, MRCPCH, MSc, PhD, Paediatric Allergy Consultant, Leicester Royal Infirmary Hospital (Medical Doctor) (United Kingdom)

Dr Hootan Kazemi, BDS Dental Surgeon, MSc(Distinc.) Clinical Biochemistry, BSc(Hons) Physiology (General Dental Practitioner) (United Kingdom)

Dr Ingrid Kiesel, Specialist in Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and General Medicine (Medical Doctor) (Germany)

Dr Wiltrud Kling, Specialist in General Medicine (Medical Doctor) (Germany)

Dr Ewa Konik, MD, Heart Transplant Cardiologist (Medical Doctor) (USA)

Dr Doris Krien, Assistant Doctor, Günzburg District Hospital (Medical Doctor) (Germany)

Brigitte Lacroix, clinical PKPD and PBPK modeler (Pharma industry), PhD in Pharmacy (Paris XI University), PhD in Pharmacometrics (Uppsala University) (Scientist) (France, Sweden)

Dr Andreas Lang, MD (Medical Doctor) (Germany)

Dr Paul Laursen, PhD, Adjunct Professor, AUT University (Scientist) (New Zealand and Canada)

Dr Michael S Lavender, Consultant Anaesthetist (Medical Doctor) (Australia)

Dr Tess Lawrie, MBBCh, PhD, Guideline methodologist and evidence synthesis expert, Director of The Evidence Based Medicine Consultancy Ltd, Bath UK. Honorary Researcher at the Royal United Hospital, Bath UK (Medical Doctor and Scientist) (United Kingdom)

Dr Bronia Lee, MBBCh, MRCGP, Retired General Practitioner (Medical Doctor) (United Kingdom)

Dr Katrina Lewis, MD, BSc in Immunology and Physiological Chemistry, triple Board certified ( USA) in Anesthesiology, Pain Medicine and Functional Medicine (Medical Doctor) (South Africa, USA)

Dr Derek Lohan, Consultant Radiologist and Director, Helix Radiology (Medical doctor) (Ireland)

Dr. Adele Lorigan, BSC (Chiro), Chiropractor (Australia)

Dr Antje Lueg, Specialist in Opthamology (Medical Doctor) (Germany)

Dr Kulvinder S. Manik, MBChB, MA, LLM, MRCGP, GP (Medical Doctor) (England)

Dr. Rosemarie Mayr, Specialist in Psychiatry and Psychotherapeutic Medicine and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, ÖÄK Diploma for Homeopathy (Retired) (Medical Doctor) (Germany)

Dr Janet Menage, MA, MB, ChB, General Medical Practitioner (Retired) Qualified Psychological Counsellor (Medical Doctor) (United Kingdom)

Dr Niall McCrae, PhD, MSc, RMN, Mental health researcher, Psychiatric Nurse (United Kingdom)

Professor Nathalie McDonell, MD, PhD (human genetics), Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology (Medical Doctor and Scientist) (France)

Dr Sabine de Monvallier, General Practitoner (Medical Doctor) (France)

Dr Amir Mortasawi, Physician and author (Germany)

Dr Souha Nasreddine, MD, Ob/Gyn, Graduated from the Free University of Brussels Belgium, Holistic Gynecology (Lebanon)

Dr Terezia Novotna, General Practitioner, Emergency Doctor, and Anesthesiologist in Training (Medical Doctor) (Austria)

Akhmetzhanova Tamara Nikolaevna, Therapist and Cardiologist, the Republican Medical Genetic Center, Ufa (Medical Doctor) (Russia)

Ole C G Olesen, Double specialist in General Surgery, as well as Orthopedic Surgery and Trauma (Medical Doctor) (Denmark, Norway, Sweden and United Kingdom)

Dr Waltraud Parta-Kehry, Biologist and Doctor for Gynaecology and Reproductive Medicine (Medical Doctor) (Germany)

Dr Arun Kumar Patel, MBBS, MPH, MRCPH, FFPH, Medical Public Health Specialist (Retired), NHS (Medical Doctor) (United Kingdom)

Dr. Cristina Pinho, MD, Gastroenterologist (Medical Doctor) (Portugal)

Dr Hélène Potrich, General Practitioner (Medical Doctor) (France)

Dr Fabio Quirici, Swiss Medical Association (Medical Doctor) (Switzerland)

Professor Denis Rancourt, PhD, Researcher, Ontario Civil Liberties Association, Member scientist, PANDA (Pandemics Data & Analysis), Retired former Full Professor of Physics, University of Ottawa, with expertise in environmental nanoparticles, molecular science, molecular dynamics, statistical analysis methods and mathematical and epidemiological modelling (Scientist) (Canada)

Claudia Riempp, Psychologist and psychotherapist, expert in health education (Germany)

Dr Nicola Reiser, Anaesthetist and Intensive Care Physician, Senior Physician at the University Clinic UMEÅ (Medical Doctor) (Sweden)

Rhys Rogers, BSc, Physiotherapy, 12 years experience as a frontline Physiotherapist (United Kingdom)

Dr Tred J Rissacher, DC, Chiropractor specialising in obesity and diabetes (USA)

Professor Simon Ruijsenaars, Professor in Mathematical Physics, School of Mathematics, University of Leeds (Scientist) (United Kingdom)

Dr Sam Saidi, MB, ChB, BSc, FRCOG, PhD, University of Sydney (Medical Doctor and Scientist) (Australia)

Dr Pamela Shervanick, DO, Medical doctor and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, with specialization in Psychiatry (Medical Doctor) (USA)

Dr Guido Spanoghe, Gastroenterologist (Medical Doctor) (Belgium)

Dr Paul Steven Spradbery, Forensic and Research Biologist, Foundation for Science and Technology, Lisbon, Intertek Life Sciences, London (Scientist) (United Kingdom)

Dr Duncan Syme, MBBS, FRACGP, Dip Prac Derm University of Cardiff, Graduate Monash University 1987, General Practitioner (Medical Doctor) (Australia)

Dr Carol Taccetta, MD, FCAP (Fellow of the College of American Pathologists), Pharmaceutical Physician for over 25 years, specializing in drug safety (Medical Doctor) (USA)

Dr Noel Thomas, MA, MB, ChB, DCH, DObsRCOG, DTM&H, MFHom. Semi retired NHS GP and homeopath (Medical Doctor) (United Kingdom)

Dr Corinne Tilloy, General Practitioner, (Medical Doctor) (France)

Dr Gilbert Tominez, General Practitioner (Retired) (Medical Doctor) (France)

De Georgy Urushadze, Naturopathic Doctor, Pediatrician (Pirogov Russian National Medical University), Emergency Doctor, Physiotherapist, Homeopath, Researcher (Russia)

Dr Jasmina Vucic-Peev, PhD, studied in Freiburg, Germany, training in Psychiatry in Switzerland (Medical Doctor) (Germany, Switzerland, Portugal)

Dr Jo Waller, UK State registered Biomedical Scientist since 1990 (Scientist) (United Kingdom)

Dr Maja Waibel, Dermatologist with specialty in Melanoma prevention (Medical Doctor) (Germany)

Dr Gerard A Waters, Mb, Bch, BAO, MICGP, General Practitioner, Recently suspended from Irish medical register for refusing to administer C 19 vaccine and objecting to Covid lockdowns (Medical Doctor) (Ireland)

Dr Ronald Weikl, Gynecologist and General Practitioner (Medical Doctor) (Germany)

Dr Helen Westwood MBChB (Hons), MRCGP, DCH, DRCOG, GP (Medical Doctor) (United Kingdom)

Dr Madhu Wickremaratchi, MBChB, MRCP, Acute and General Medicine (United Kingdom)

Dr Clive Wilder-Smith, FRCP, AGAF, MD, Consultant Gastroenterologst, Director of Research (Medical Doctor) (Switzerland)

Thomas Robin Wilks, MA, BSc(Hons) FHEA, CPhys, MInstP, University Science Lecturer, Maths, Mathematical Modelling and Physics, Open University (Scientist) (United Kingdom)

Dr Christopher Wood, MBBS, Retired General Practitioner (Medical Doctor) (United Kingdom)

Signatures of Colleagues in Allied Disciplines relating to Ethics and Human Rights

Dr Violeta Sotirova, MPhil, PhD, Lecturer in English (United Kingdom)



source:  Doctors4CovidEthics

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The Palestinian Ministry of Education has announced that Nesreen Qutainah, a science and maths teacher at Dora Primary School for Girls in the occupied West Bank city of Al-Khalil (Hebron), has been shortlisted for this year’s World’s Best Teacher Award and its $1m (£723,000) prize.

The Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2021 in partnership with UNESCO is now in its seventh year and was set up to recognize exceptional teachers.

Qutainah told the organizers that the coronavirus pandemic presented major challenges to her students’ education. However, she did not let this become a barrier and created videos to teach online those who had access to a computer and social media. For those without internet access, she prepared booklets full of interactive activities and educational cartoons.

“I try to enlighten a mind, for you will then revive a person,” she explained. She also says no to stereotypes and yes to creativity. These are her underlying principles for teaching and learning.

Learning through play is key to her approach, particularly as many of her students struggle in mathematics and dislike school. She asks children to compose stories based on what they have learned in science or sing songs about maths, for example.

“If we are to rebuild a better world in the wake of Covid-19 we must prioritize giving every child their birthright of quality education,” she pointed out. “It is the next generation, with teachers as their guide, who will safeguard the future for us all.”

Qutainah is an internationally certified trainer with Microsoft — which named her as an Innovative Teacher — and trains educators from other Arab countries on the use of technology. In 2019, she was named Best Teacher in Palestine and last year she received Palestine’s Achievement and Excellence Award for Supporting Education.

The Palestinian Minister of Education, Marwan Awartani, congratulated Nesreen Qutainah on this achievement, despite the constraints Palestinian teachers face as a result of the Israeli occupation and the coronavirus pandemic.

The global teacher prize was created to recognize one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession, as well as to highlight the stories of the “hero” teachers who have transformed young people’s lives. The shortlist will be narrowed down in October with the overall winner announced at an awards ceremony in Paris in November.

Palestinian teacher Hanan Al-Hroub won the best teacher award in 2016.

Source : palestine chronicle 

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American Drone Operator SPEAKING OUT !
He was among many young adults, who were told that their new occupation was to kill people and break things,” he said. Drone operators are “guys and gals” fresh out of high school, who are “basically video game snipers, four months of training, put into a position to make [life and death] decisions.”

Watching people being killed, even through a monitor from over 10,000km away, comes with a cost. Bryant saw the deaths of friendly soldiers, hostiles and innocent civilians, including those whose lives he helped end.

“‘Mental degradation’ would be a proper term,” he said, explaining how operators cope with the stress. “Every shot that we took – like they’re cheering, they are congratulating each other, they are high-fiving each other.”

It’s like a withering away of who you are.

Drone wars were launched under George W. Bush, but it was Barack Obama, who ramped up its use significantly, and Bryant was part of that surge. One of the most controversial drone strikes under the Democrat president – and one that impacted Bryant a lot – happened in Yemen in 2011. It killed 16-year-old US citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the son of US-Yemeni preacher and terrorist figure Anwar al-Awlaki. Also a US citizen, he was killed in a ‘signature strike’ two weeks prior.

Leaks from the US government indicated that Abdulrahman was a bystander killed in a legitimate strike targeting a senior Al-Qaeda operative. Bryant said he heard a different reasoning: “They said because they didn’t want him to become a figurehead.”


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With an unprecedented number of service members in all branches seeking religious exemptions to the military’s mandate of a fast-tracked COVID vaccine using controversial mRNA technology and lacking long-term safety data, it is judicious for service members and their legal advisors, chaplains and commanders to understand legal precedent in religious accommodation decisions in the U.S. Armed Forces.

As previously reported in The Defender, military members have the right to pursue a religious accommodation for a vaccine through a process that includes input from their commander, chaplain, medical provider and legal advisors. 

This article summarizes details of how religious exemptions are determined to be sincere and approved.

Unless otherwise hyperlinked, all of the quotations in this article are cited from “Over Your Dead Body: An Analysis on Requests for Religious Accommodations for Immunizations and Vaccinations in the United States Air Force” by Lt. Col. Christopher J. Baker, published in The Air Force Law Review, Vol. 81, 2020, pp. 1-74.

U.S. law protecting religious freedom

Service members do not surrender all First Amendment rights when joining the military, despite the doltish input of “barracks lawyers” or unsupportive friends who allege service members do not have rights and are government property. 

The protections in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993 ensured that the services will allow religious accommodations which have no adverse impact on military readiness, lethality, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline, so that people of faith can choose to join the military. 

Legal references regarding religious accommodation that precede 1993 may not be in accordance with full religious protections of the law. For example, a citation for Jacobson v. Massachusetts of 1905 as a precedent to fine people for vaccine refusal is no longer relevant because it does not include the religious protections of RFRA 1993, nor the right to refuse medical treatment in the Nuremberg Code of 1947 and the medical ethics in the Declaration of Helsinki in 1964

Despite these universal medical rights, U.S. Congress and U.S. courts adhere to a tradition of judicial deference for military authorities to enact a more narrow definition of religious accommodation, connected to deity only, while civilians have broader protections which include personal beliefs, philosophical beliefs and creeds. This difference exists to support the strict order and discipline required in military missions.

The U.S. Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1300.17, “Religious Liberty in the Military Services,” utilizes the RFRA framework for the legality of any health or hygiene mandate. Commanders must prove a compelling governmental interest, and apply it in the least restrictive way if it burdens a sincere exercise of religion (p. 8): 

“The RFRA provides individuals better ability to practice their religion when the federal government’s neutral laws prevent them from doing so. Under RFRA, the individual challenging a statute has the burden of showing the government’s policy ‘implicates his religious exercise’ — i.e., that ‘the relevant exercise of religion is grounded in a sincerely held religious belief’ — and the government’s policy substantially burdens that exercise of religion. The burden then shifts to the government to show the policy ‘(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.’ RFRA provides both broad protection of the free exercise right and a broad right of action for judicial relief” (emphasis added).

In response to the current COVID vaccine coercion in the military, such as commanders withholding leave, denial of change-of-duty locations, disapprovals for schools required for promotion, removal from leadership positions and flags as non-deployable, DoDI is clear that those actions are illegal for service members who are applicants in the religious accommodation process:

“Significantly, in addition to utilizing the RFRA framework, the DoDI also states, ‘[a] Service member’s expression of such beliefs may not, in so far as practicable, be used as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment’ (p. 10).

“…if an applicant has an approved accommodation, he or she would be coded as having an administrative exemption to the requirement and would not be considered ‘non-deployable’” (p. 13).

If a religious accommodation is disapproved, the service member can appeal it to the Surgeon General of the appropriate branch of service. If the appeal is denied, the service member can request nonpunitive separation from the military based on the military’s inability to accommodate his or her religious beliefs. 

How are religious beliefs defined?

What is a religious belief in the military?

“For purposes of the RFRA, it does not matter whether a religious belief itself is central to the religion, but only that ‘the adherent have an honest belief that the practice is important to his free exercise of religion.’ The RFRA defines ‘religious exercise’ as ‘any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.’ A ‘religious exercise’ under RFRA ‘involves “not only belief and profession but the performance of (or abstention from) physical acts” that are “engaged in for religious reasons.”’ However, conduct that is claimed to be an ‘exercise of religion’ must be based on a religious belief rather than a philosophy or way of life, and the belief must be sincerely held by the applicant” (pp. 13-14).

Case law has established authorities cannot question the centrality of beliefs or practices of faith, and inquiry is limited to whether a person sincerely holds a belief, and whether the belief is religious in nature. 

Courts have ruled that religious beliefs are not limited to established or recognized religions. In United States v. Meyers (1996), the court adopted the following factors to consider in determining if a belief is religious and not secular:

  1. Ultimate Ideas (such as life, purpose, death)
  2. Metaphysical Beliefs (such as spirits, souls, forces, deity)
  3. Moral or Ethical System (such as good and evil)
  4. Comprehensiveness of Beliefs (such as an overreaching collection of teachings and not one single teaching)
  5. Accoutrements of Religion (such as a teacher or prophet, sacred writings, gathering places, ceremonies, clergy or ministers, organization, holidays, diet or fasting, appearance and clothing, and discipleship

In Friedman v. Southern California Permanente Medical Group (2002), the court applied these guidelines to distinguish between a religious belief and philosophy, and ruled that a medical employer did not discriminate based on religion by terminating an employee who was a vegan with a philosophical belief against chicken embryos in the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and who refused the vaccine. 

In Galinsky v. Board of Education of New York (2000), the courts distinguished between religious beliefs and personal fears of adverse reactions, and ordered the parents to vaccinate their child despite the parents’ objections. While these are civilian legal cases, these precedents indicate the standards which are applied to validate religious beliefs, and suggest that avoidance of adverse reactionthat could lead to death or disability may not be considered a credible religious belief. 

An astonishing realization in reading case law is that vaccines are commonly referred to as safe, effective and more beneficial than prophylactic treatments. This is a judicial bias with a posture of an infallible drug for all people resulting from the civil liability immunity and protection from legal discovery that vaccine manufacturers lobbied to have in place since National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986

The anthrax vaccine harmed thousands of service members, but there is no indication or measure of that in case law. The magnitude of the harm is hidden in Congressional oversight reports and unpublicized Veterans Administration compensations. 

As a consequence, vaccine risk is deemed negligible in a court of law, despite the contrary evidence in the government-run U.S. vaccine injury surveillance system, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database.

Both the Bible and Qur’an include scriptures that oppose many unclean, non-kosher, non-halal ingredients in vaccines: human cells from aborted fetuses; animal cells, including pigs, dogs, chickens, cows; toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde, polysorbate-80, polyethylene glycol; and neurotoxic heavy metals including mercury and aluminum.

Christians, Jews and Muslims all have valid religious beliefs against these ingredients, despite some religious leaders who advocate in favor of using vaccines with these ingredients.

The Bible teaches that the body is God’s temple indwelled with the Holy Spirit and sacred, and the life of every creature is in its blood and the blood is life and sacred. The Qur’an teaches that only Allah removes afflictions. Christians who oppose abortion would be complicit in abortion if using products with aborted fetal cells.

Moreover, RFRA does not limit exercise of religion to a mainstream religion or “system of belief.” Service members only have the burden to demonstrate that their belief is sincerely held and substantially burdened. 

Determining sincerely held beliefs

“Questions of religious sincerity are an ‘intensely fact-based inquiry.’ It is not for courts to say one’s religious beliefs are mistaken or insubstantial.  However, ‘[n]either the government nor the court has to accept the defendant’s mere say-so.’ Determining sincerity is a factual inquiry within a trial court’s authority and competence, and ‘the [claimant’s] “sincerity” in espousing that practice is largely a matter of individual credibility.’ ‘Repeatedly and in many different contexts, [the Supreme Court has] warned that courts must not presume to determine … the plausibility of a religious claim.’ ‘To be certain, in evaluating sincerity a court may not question “whether the petitioner … correctly perceived the commands of [his or her] faith.”’ Nor does a court ‘differentiate among bona fide faiths.’ Instead, the ‘“narrow function … in this context is to determine” whether the line drawn reflects “an honest conviction’” (p. 25).

An adherent’s belief would not be sincere if he or she acts in an inconsistent manner with the belief, or if he or she gains by fraudulently portraying secular beliefs as religious beliefs.

However, courts do not require religious beliefs that are perfect in observance. A person applying for a religious accommodation can have sincere beliefs, even when he or she previously participated in an act he or she later seeks an accommodation for.

An applicant can apply for an exemption to the COVID vaccine, even if he or she consented to other vaccines or other pharmaceutical drugs. A person can oppose injected drugs into the blood, while accepting ingested medications or supplements. 

A person can become religious at any time in his or her life — religious practice may become more important to a person with new life experiences. A person who strays from consistent observance of restrictions or holidays does not establish insincerity, nor does that person forfeit his religious rights. 

These rights are important to understand in the context of an increasing number of inappropriate religious inquisitions regarding vaccine exemptions.

Page 27 of “Over Your Dead Body” states this: “The court stated, ‘[t]hough the sincerity inquiry is important, it must be handled with a light touch, or judicial shyness.’” Courts are forbidden to engage in religious inquiry, or in demanding people prove their religion, because faith believes what it cannot prove.

Requirements for clergy verification of religious beliefs have been struck down by courts. Commanders make a sincerity determination by assessing honesty and credibility. Is the applicant making a flippant request? Or has the applicant been steadfast in the face of discipline? Has the applicant demonstrated intensive study and reflection on the matter? Does the applicant have credible supporters who substantiate the religious belief? 

The commander, chaplain and medical provider are not required to agree with the applicant’s beliefs. They are only required to counsel the applicant of health and career consequences of the religious accommodation. 

When is a law ‘substantially burdensome?’

“A law is substantially burdensome when it places ‘significant pressure’ on an adherent to act contrary to her religious beliefs, meaning that it ‘directly coerces’ the religious adherent to conform … her behavior. Thus, the government imposes a substantial burden when it places ‘pressure that tends to force adherents to forgo religious precepts” (p. 29, footnote).

The Armed Forces is actively engaged in widespread coercion with the COVID vaccine, with the only available vaccines under voluntary Emergency Use Authorization while being portrayed as approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

There are reports of commanders threatening service members with separation as alleged “religious extremists” for declining an experimental drug. 

 “An Airman asking to not receive vaccines for religious reasons has two options: (1) submit to the vaccination, in contradiction to his or her religious beliefs; or (2) request a temporary exemption. If the request is denied, that Airman is then in an even more precarious situation to choose between (1) submitting to the vaccination, again in contradiction to his or her religious beliefs; or (2) disobeying an order and rendering himself or herself susceptible to administrative actions, discipline and separation. In such cases, the government will be placing a substantial burden on such an Airman to receive a vaccine in violation of his or her religious beliefs” (p. 31).

What is the ‘compelling interest’ test?

“If the applicant meets the requirements to show there is a substantial burden on his or her sincerely held religious belief, this burden must pass the compelling interest test. To satisfy the compelling-interest requirement, the government must do more than identify ‘broadly formulated interests justifying the general applicability of government mandates.’” (page 31)

The military has a compelling interest to prevent its members from contracting or spreading disease for both rapid deployment and daily operations. However, the government must prove that it has a compelling interest to mandate a vaccine that has not demonstrated prevention or transmission of a virus. 

Furthermore, the government must prove the vaccine mandate will not risk the health and fitness of the force. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publicly stated that herd immunity cannot be achievedwith the COVID vaccine, therefore natural immunity must be deemed equivalent, being similarly situated.

Targeting at-risk groups for disease prevention with effective, established prophylactic therapies must be applied in policy, which delegitimizes a force-wide vaccine mandate.

 While other longstanding vaccines may be viewed by the courts as presumed effective in disease prevention, there is insufficient evidence that the fast-tracked COVID vaccines with new mRNA technology have demonstrated superior or equivalent efficacy or long-term safety compared to other therapeutics.

If the entire force is now at risk of antibody-dependent enhancement associated with mRNA vaccine animal trials, then the courts could determine the security of the nation is more compelling than the vaccine mandate. 

In Singh v. McHugh (2015), the court ruled in favor of a religious accommodation for an observant Sikh who sought to join an ROTC program who did not cut his beard or hair and wore a turban. The Army denied the religious accommodation, citing a need for uniformity that would adversely impact cohesion, identity and heritage.

However, the Army could not cite any evidence of actual negative effect on unit cohesion, morale, good order and discipline. The Army had also allowed other Sikhs to serve with religious accommodations for hair, beards and turbans.

Additionally, the Army had made 49,000 permanent and 57,000 temporary shaving accommodations for medical reasons of service members over the years without any impact on unit cohesion and morale. 

The Army emphasized that uniformity is the primary means to build a military identity. However, the court ruled that the Army’s compelling interest was undermined by the fact the Army “routinely grants soldiers exceptions to its grooming and uniform regulations.”

Further, “[w]here a regulation already provides an exception from the law for a particular group, the government will have a higher burden in showing that the law, as applied, furthers the compelling interest” (p. 43).

This is significant for religious accommodations for the COVID vaccine as the military has routinely granted several categories and types of vaccine exemptions listed in joint Regulation AR40-562. Furthermore, “the court found the Army had not shown it considered the least restrictive means of achieving its interest…” (p. 43).

Is vaccine the ‘least restrictive’ option?

“The government can only deny an RFRA accommodation if there are no less restrictive means to accomplish the compelling governmental interest. The government also bears the burden of showing that ‘application of the burden to the person … is the least restrictive means of furthering’ its compelling interest” (p. 46)”

With regard to vaccine exemptions in the Armed Forces, the military has the burden to provide scientific evidence that the vaccines are the least restrictive means to ensure the health of the force. This has no legal precedent. Government health officials have opined that many known prophylactic therapeutics for COVID are less effective than the vaccine, and yet also have cited contrary data-based evidence of efficacy with breakthrough cases, inability to achieve herd immunity, and risks of blood clots and myocarditis.

In addition to the 600,000-plus adverse eventsreported in VAERS for the COVID vaccines, myocarditis is a life-limiting risk that does not promote the health of the force, with a “poor prognosis” and “high risk of deteriorating cardiac function” according to Nature

An epidemic of myocarditis does not serve the compelling interest of preserving the lethality of the force. Several scientific sources have data showing that natural immunity is stronger and longer lasting than vaccine response, with broad immune memory lasting up to 8 months, antibodies lasting up to a year, immunity by bone marrow plasma cells possibly for a lifetime, with protection against variants, and with an almost zero risk of reinfection in the unvaccinated.

Although this is medical evidence, this data could be the basis that a religious accommodation can be approved with alternatives such as therapeutics and/or naturally acquired immunity in the provisions of the least restrictive means. 

The least restrictive means needs to be tailored to the applicant. A young, healthy, fit service member does not have the same increased risk of disease demonstrated in older, unhealthy persons. 

“If there are other, reasonable ways to achieve those [interests] with a lesser burden on … protected activity, [the government] may not choose the way of greater interference.” Accordingly, a decision or action may constitute the least restrictive means of furthering the government’s compelling interests if ‘no alternate forms of regulation’ would accomplish these interests without infringing on a claimant’s religious-exercise beliefs” (p. 46).

Joint Regulation AR40-562 allows vaccine exemptions with serological proof of immunity. The government must show it lacks other means of achieving its desired goal, or it must use alternatives that serve the compelling interest equally well. 

As a minor tangent regarding the routine RT-PCR testing currently burdened on the unvaccinated, Jolly v. Coughlin (1995) decided that a policy was illegal to put a prisoner in isolation from the general population for three years for refusing a TB test containing  chemicals that violated his religious beliefs, while he never developed TB in three years. Instead the government was ordered to allow the man to re-enter the general population with a non-invasive spit test and periodic checks for clinical symptoms. 

Least restrictive means to immunization must recognize that vaccine status and immune status are not equal. Vaccination will not guarantee immunity. There are members who are currently serving who are not immune to diseases they were vaccinated for, yet they remain able to serve and deploy. 

The DOD does not verify immunity to other diseases it vaccinates for, but instead accepts various rates of infection. Infected service members are encouraged to not report to work until they recover. Therefore, COVID policies cannot not be implemented with an unattainable policy goal of zero COVID. 

Furthermore, 100% vaccination rate is not attainable as thousands of pregnant soldiers are given vaccine exemptions, and many other service members deployed worldwide have medical exemptions.

Despite the military’s perception of an extreme need for uniformity, medical treatment is very individualized. For litigation purposes, a service member with a religious accommodation for a vaccine is similarly situated to a service member who did not develop immunity from a vaccine, but rather from infection, or has a medical exemption for the vaccine. 

Commanders should exercise caution

Commanders have many options for COVID vaccine refusers that they could exercise under least restrictive means in accordance with exemptions permitted in AR40-562 that also benefit accession, retention and diversity goals. 

Commanders can grant sanctuary to members within 180 days of retirement. 

Commanders can approve temporary or administrative exemptions, then reevaluate those exemptions when the member is tasked to deploy.

The Armed Forces does retain some members who are not qualified to deploy, to include security teams and instructor pilots. Enlisted soldiers who are designated as conscientious objectors are allowed to serve in non-combat duties for the remainder of their service. Personnel Command can also reassign members to positions and locations where the vaccine is not critical to the mission. 

This article intended to highlight that commanders should exercise caution in disapproving religious accommodation for vaccines, in the absence of understanding the legal requirements for disapproval. 

Certainly, the military COVID vaccine mandate will be challenged in courts similar to how the experimental anthrax vaccine was challenged, with challenges posed by pending dishonorable discharges (under Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 92 “Failure to Obey an Order or Regulation”) and other-than-honorable discharges (if separated for religious refusal).

Service members need to be informed on the religious accommodation application criteria in the hostile command climate towards vaccine exemptions in the military.

Ultimately, Congress and the Pentagon urgently need leadership to analyze the impact on military readiness if the zero COVID goal to reduce short-term, mild illness counterbalances the long-term loss of hundreds of thousands of trained, experienced service members. 

Currently 37% of service members have refused the COVID vaccine and have endured months of coercion and threats from a vaccine-only strategy which recklessly exposes the entire force to an experimental drug without sufficient long-term safety data. 

A responsible risk management strategy by DOD would be to retain these unvaccinated members out of necessity for a healthy control group in order to mitigate a contingency of catastrophic drug failure associated with fatal antibody-dependent enhancement. 

However, DOD has demonstrated it is not capable of discerning evidence-based health policies as it implemented mask wearing, quarantines for healthy people and “social distancing.” 

As a protection, Congress should amend the statute in the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act to prohibit any discharge but honorable for service members who choose not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.


Source: children health defense news and views 

by Pam Long

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Story at-a-glance:

  • Paul Thacker, a former investigator with the U.S. Senate, says Dr. Anthony Fauci lied to Congress when he claimed he’s never funded gain-of-function research. This is a federal offense punishable by up to five years in prison, provided the false statements are materially relevant and knowingly false
  • July 20, 2021, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul — who has grilled Fauci about his research funding in two separate hearings in 2021 — announced he would ask the DOJ for a criminal referral, as he’s convinced Fauci made false statements to Congress
  • One “smoking gun” is a research article written by Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) scientists. The paper acknowledges funding from the NIAID/NIH, and the research meets the Department of Health and Human Services’ definition of gain-of-function research
  • According to the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, “The term ‘gain-of-function’ is generally used to refer to changes resulting in the acquisition of new, or an enhancement of existing, biological phenotypes”
  • In a June 2021 essay, professor Jeffrey Sachs, head of The Lancet’s commission tasked with investigating COVID’s origin, described how the NIAID has funded gain-of-function research at the WIV, stating it’s “common knowledge in the U.S. scientific community that NIH has … supported genetic recombinant research on SARS-like viruses that many scientists describe as GOFROC [gain-of-function research of concern]

In an Aug. 31, Substack article, Paul Thacker, an investigative reporter and former investigator with the U.S. Senate, reviews evidence he claims shows Dr. Anthony Fauci lied to Congress, an offense punishable by up to five years in prison, provided the false statements are materially relevant and knowingly false.

“A new investigative documentary by the UK’s Channel 4 detailed some of the strongest evidence to date that the COVID19 pandemic may have started from a lab leak in Wuhan, China,” Thacker writes.

“At the very least, the documentary’s interviews with experts and review of documents made explicit how China has misled the world about its research with dangerous pathogens …

“The documentary clarified one other point: Anthony Fauci lied before Congress and the American public when he claimed during a congressional hearing that he has not funded gain-of-function research conducted by the Wuhan Institute of Virology …

“President Biden has campaigned on honesty and decency. The question now for President Biden is, ‘What will you do with Fauci now that he has broken the law and violated the public trust by lying before Congress?’”

Fauci redefines scientific terms on the fly

In what appears to be an attempt to extricate himself from blame for the COVID pandemic, Fauci — director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), an arm of the National Institutes for Health (NIH), since 1986 — denied ever having funded gain-of-function research at the WIV or elsewhere when questioned by members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in May 2021.

According to Thacker, the evidence clearly refutes this. One “smoking gun” is a research article written by WIV scientists titled “Discovery of a Rich Gene Pool of Bat SARS-Related Coronaviruses Provides New Insights Into the Origin of SARS Coronavirus.” This research was funded by the NIH and meets the Department of Health and Human Services’ definition of gain-of-function research.

The Channel 4 documentary addressed this paper. When asked whether the NIH ever funded gain-of-function research at the WIV, David Relman, a research physician at Stanford University, replies, “Yes. Indirectly, but yes. How do we know? The paper says, right on the front page, ‘Supported by NIAID, NIH.’” The clip featuring Relman is included below.

As previously reported by the National Review, we know the WIV received NIAID/NIH funding to create novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses capable of infecting both human cells and lab animals. “Chimeric viruses” refers to artificial man-made viruses, hybrid organisms created through the joining of two or more different organisms.

This is precisely what gain-of-function research is all about. According to a 2016 report from the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, “The term ‘gain-of-function’ is generally used to refer to changes resulting in the acquisition of new, or an enhancement of existing, biological phenotypes.”

Fauci now wants to adopt a far narrower definition of gain-of-function research that takes into account the supposed intent behind the research, but that really doesn’t make sense. Just because you don’t set out with intent to harm doesn’t mean your creation can’t cause harm or might inadvertently cause harm.

U.S. funding of gain-of-function research was well-established

According to Thacker, “Fauci certainly knew that the WIV he was helping to fund conducted gain-of-function studies, because it has been common knowledge.” For example, a year before Fauci was queried by Congress, Newsweek reported that:

“In 2019, with the backing of NIAID, the National Institutes of Health committed $3.7 million over six years for research that included some gain-of-function work. The program followed another $3.7 million, 5-year project for collecting and studying bat coronaviruses, which ended in 2019, bringing the total to $7.4 million …

The NIH research consisted of two parts. The first part began in 2014 and involved surveillance of bat coronaviruses … The program funded Shi Zheng-Li, a virologist at the Wuhan lab … to investigate and catalogue bat coronaviruses in the wild. This part of the project was completed in 2019.

A second phase of the project, beginning that year, included … gain-of-function research for the purpose of understanding how bat coronaviruses could mutate to attack humans.

The project was run by EcoHealth Alliance … under the direction of President Peter Daszak … NIH canceled the project … April 24 [2020] …

Many scientists have criticized gain-of-function research, which involves manipulating viruses in the lab to explore their potential for infecting humans, because it creates a risk of starting a pandemic from accidental release.”

Around that same time, former Acting Director of the CIA Michael Morell told Politico that “if the virus leaked from a Wuhan lab, the U.S. would shoulder some of the blame since it funded research at that lab through government grants from 2014 to 2019.”

Mid-January 2021, the U.S. State Department published a fact sheet accusing the Chinese government of being obsessively secretive about gain-of-function research at the WIV, and that it was collaborating with the Chinese military on secret projects.

The fact sheet has since been removed from the State Department’s website, but was reported by a number of outlets at the time. Among them, Life Site News, which wrote:

“In a ‘Fact Sheet’ posted online … the Department of State (DOS) presented three distinct elements about the origin of the virus, which ‘deserve greater scrutiny’ … The first of the three issues needing further investigation, was the outbreak of illness inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).

The DOS revealed it had ‘reason to believe’ that ‘several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses’ …

Additionally, the DOS noted that researchers in the WIV had been performing experiments on ‘RaTG13, the bat coronavirus identified by the WIV in January 2020 as its closest sample to SARS-CoV-2 (96.2% similar)’ since at least ‘2016.’

The laboratory also ‘has a published record of conducting ‘gain-of-function’ research to engineer chimeric viruses.’ Such research, gain-of-function research, is a kind which ‘improves the ability of a pathogen to cause disease.’”

Additional reports citing gain-of-function research

March 6, 2021, the editorial board of The Washington Post published an article calling for an independent investigation into the origin of SARS-CoV-2. In that article, the board pointed out that:

“… a senior researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Shi Zhengli, was working on ‘gain-of-function’ experiments, which involve modifying viral genomes to give them new properties, including the ability to infect lung cells of laboratory mice that had been genetically modified to respond as human respiratory cells would.”

The board also noted that Shi was “working with bat coronaviruses that were genetically very similar to the one that caused the pandemic.” A few months later, in a June 22, 2021, essay, professor Jeffrey Sachs, head of The Lancet’s commission tasked with investigating COVID’s origin, also described how the NIAID has funded gain-of-function research at the WIV:

“It is in fact common knowledge in the U.S. scientific community that NIH has indeed supported genetic recombinant research on SARS-like viruses that many scientists describe as GOFROC [gain-of-function research of concern].

“The peer-reviewed scientific literature reports the results of such NIH-supported recombinant genetic research on SARS-like viruses. More specifically, it is clear that the NIH co-funded research at the WIV that deserves scrutiny under the hypothesis of a laboratory-related release of the virus.”

“Fauci’s COVID-19 treachery”

Someone who has taken a particular interest in Fauci’s potential role in this pandemic is Dr. Peter Breggin, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and former consultant for the National Institute of Mental Health. In October 2020, he published the report “Dr. Fauci’s COVID-19 Treachery,” detailing Fauci’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its military.

Breggin is convinced Fauci “has been the major force” behind research activities that enabled the CCP to manufacture lethal SARS coronaviruses, which in turn led to the release — whether accidental or not — of SARS-CoV-2 from the WIV.

He claims Fauci has helped the CCP obtain “valuable U.S. patents,” and that he, in collaboration with the CCP and the WHO, initially suppressed the truth about the origins and dangers of the pandemic, thereby enabling the spread of the virus from China to the rest of the world.

Fauci has, and continues to, shield the CCP and himself, Breggin says, by “denying the origin of SARS-CoV-2” and “delaying and thwarting worldwide attempts to deal rationally with the pandemic.”

In the executive summary of the report, Breggin documents 15 questionable activities that Fauci has been engaged in, starting with the fact that he funded dangerous gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses, both by individual Chinese researchers and the WIV in collaboration with American researchers. This research, Breggin says, allowed the CCP and its military to create their own bioweapons, including SARS-CoV-2.

Will Fauci be held accountable?

According to Thacker, “it’s obvious” Fauci “broke the law and misled Congress.” He adds:

“This is not my personal opinion; I was required to know and enforce the relevant provisions of the law during the three years I ran investigations in the Senate. On two occasions I had to consult with Senate Legal Counsel and then warn people about lying to Congress …

“Fauci lied while testifying before Congress. Fauci lied to the American people. Several lines of evidence make this clear. But catching Fauci lying and breaking the law does little good, because the Department of Justice prosecutes people for lying to Congress, and the Department of Justice is run … by the Biden administration. So what is President Biden going to do about this?”

During an appearance on the Hannity Show, July 20, 2021, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul — who has grilled Fauci about his research funding in two separate hearings this year — announced he would indeed ask the DOJ for a criminal referral.

Paul specifically asked the DOJ to investigate whether Fauci violated 18 U.S. Code § 1001 — which makes it a federal crime to make “any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation” as part of “any investigation or review” conducted by Congress — or any other statute. Time will tell if it amounts to anything.

Gain-of-function research is the real threat

Regardless of what happens to Fauci, at the end of the day, the key issue that needs to be addressed is whether we should allow research that involves making pathogens more dangerous to humans at all, regardless of what the intent behind it might be, or the specific technology used.

Lab leaks have occurred on multiple occasions, so it’s really only a matter of time before something far more devastating than SARS-CoV-2 gets out. World leaders need to realize that funding gain-of-function research is the real threat here, and take action accordingly to forestall another pandemic. As long as researchers are allowed to mutate and create synthetic pathogens, they’re creating the very risk they claim they’re trying to prevent.


Source: children’ health defense news and views

By Dr. Joseph Mercola



Added a post 

Billions of dollars in aid and subsidies for industrial agriculture in Africa are harming food security in one of the world’s hungriest regions, according to a network of African groups asking donors to switch their funding to African-led efforts and agroecology.

In a letter delivered Tuesday, 200 organizations led by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa asked the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other donors to stop financing the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The billion-dollar effort has “unequivocally failed in its mission” and “harmed broader efforts to support African farmers,” the groups said.

The groups delivered their letter as donors gathered for the African Green Revolution Forum this week in Nairobi, Kenya. The annual fundraising event established by Yara International fertilizer company says it is “designed to energize the political will” for policies and investments in sustainable agricultural transformation. The Forum, funded by chemical companies, private donors and other partners, said it will “elevate the single coordinated African voice” to the United Nations Food Systems Summit later this month.

That claim rankled African groups and many others who have been calling on UN leaders for two years to champion human rights, food sovereignty and ecology at the 2021 Food Summit, and say their concerns have been ignored.

“No, no, no. We are here to state clearly and categorically that the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa does not speak for Africans,” said Anne Maina, director of the Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya. Her group and hundreds of others are boycotting the UN Summit because, they say, it has been captured by corporations and donors who are pushing technological solutions for hunger while ignoring systemic changes necessary to address hunger and poverty.

That AGRA’s president, Agnes Kalibata, is leading the UN food summit is a conflict of interest, critics said, because AGRA is also fundraising for its own programs.

Failing ‘green revolution’?

Hunger has worsened considerably since the Gates and Rockefeller foundations led a high-profile effort to bring the “green revolution” to Africa in 2006. AGRA’s main focus is transitioning farmers away from traditional seeds and crops to commercial seeds, synthetic fertilizer and other inputs to grow commodity crops for the global market. Bill Gates predicted that increasing inputs would boost agricultural productivity, alleviate hunger and lift small-scale farmers out of poverty.

AGRA has raised more than $1 billion, mostly from the Gates Foundation, on promises it would double yields and incomes for 30 million African farmers and cut food insecurity in half by 2020. Instead, the number of severely undernourished people in sub-Saharan Africa has increased by nearly 50 percent since 2006, according to the latest UN hunger report. The report paints an alarming picture of the ongoing food crisis in Africa worsened by the pandemic.

In their letter to donors, AGRA critics said a decade of research has exposed the failures of the green revolution model. AGRA uses its leverage to encourage African governments to focus on boosting agricultural yields rather than more systemic solutions, they said, noting that African governments in AGRA target countries spend about $1 billion a year on input subsidies.

Academic research suggests AGRA and the larger green revolution effort has had little if any positive impact on Africa’s small-scale farmers. Reports published in 2020 by the Tufts Global Development and Environment Institute and African and German groupsfound slow productivity growth for staple crops and no evidence of rising incomes for small-scale farmers. The evidence also suggests that farmers are abandoning more nutritious, climate-resilient crops, such as millet, to grow maize.

AGRA views

AGRA disagreed with the research but has not produced comprehensive reporting of its results over 15 years. The lofty 2020 goals were removed from AGRA’s website sometime last year as the group underwent a strategy reboot with the help of McKinsey & Company, a controversial U.S.-based business management firm. AGRA has “not reduced our ambition, but (we) have learned that other more targeted indicators are appropriate,” Andrew Cox, chief of strategy, told USRTK.

“At farmer level, AGRA focuses on creating the conditions for the smallholder farmers to have access to yield-increasing inputs (seeds, soil fertilizer, good agronomic practices to have better yields under normal conditions), and also facilitates access to storage facilities, and markets to sell their surplus production,” Cox said. “Our thinking on farmer incomes has thus moved to being more context specific and related to what we can influence directly.” He said AGRA will publish a full evaluation of results and progress at the end of its 2021 strategy period.

He also expressed frustration with the Tufts report criticizing AGRA. “The data used was years old national level data, including on Zambia, where we haven’t been operational in for many years.  The data could not possibly be extrapolated onto the kinds of regional / sub regional work that we do,” Cox wrote via email. “This has been extremely frustrating, not least as transforming (agriculture) in Africa is difficult, and we should all be trying to learn in supporting farmers who have had a pretty raw deal over the decades.”

The AFSA groups, however, said AGRA and the Gates Foundation’s efforts have been top-down and deaf to the concerns Africa’s small-scale food producers have raised.

“We welcome investment in agriculture on our continent,”  Million Belay, PhD, and Bridget Mugambe of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), wrote in a recent Scientific American article. “But we seek it in a form that is democratic and responsive to the people at the heart of agriculture.

Investments in agroecology

AFSA is asking donors to transition their financial and political support to African-led efforts to expand agroecology and low-input farming methods they say can provide more abundant, nutritious foods, protect the environment and create a more equitable, sustainable food system. Leading experts in food security and nutrition have also called for a paradigm shift away from chemical-dependent industrial agriculture and toward agroecology and policies that address social issues and inequality.

However, donors such as the Gates Foundation — the leading private donor to agricultural development in Africa — are “holding back investments in agroecological research,” according to a 2020 report from sustainable food system experts. For some of the top donors, “agroecology does not fit within existing investment modalities,” the researchers said. “Like many philanthropic givers, the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation] looks for quick, tangible returns on investment, and thus favors targeted, technological solutions.”

As many as 85% of Gates Foundation research grants supported industrial agriculture, the report notes, while merely 3% contained elements of agroecology. Kenyan research centers also spent heavily on industrial agriculture. “In Kenya, low awareness of alternatives to the (new) Green Revolution model emerged as the greatest barrier to supporting and implementing more agroecological projects.”

‘Zero response’ from Gates Foundation

AFSA wrote to all of AGRA’s donors in Juneasking them to provide research supporting the benefits of AGRA. The African groups said they received few responses, and no credible evidence of AGRA’s benefits to farmers or the general public. African faith groups also reached out to the Gates Foundation in June, with a letter signed by 500 faith leaders asking the foundation to stop funding industrial monoculture farming. That model, they said, is “deepening the humanitarian crisis in Africa.”

The faith groups received “zero response” from the Gates Foundation, said Francesca de Gasparis, director of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI). “We’re extremely disappointed to say the least,” she said. “We’re making a very important science-based point that this model of agriculture … is not serving the people of Africa.”

The Gates Foundation also did not respond to AFSA’s letter, nor did the U.S. government, which has spent $90 million of taxpayer money since 2006 funding AGRA. Neither the Gates Foundation nor USAID responded to requests for comment from U.S. Right to Know.

Other donors respond

The Norwegian government told AFSA via email they are “currently not providing support to AGRA” and are encouraging “increased dialogue and research on options for agricultural development” in Africa. Two other AGRA donors, the IKEA Foundation and Canadian International Development Research Group, said they continue to fund aspects of AGRA’s work, and noted they are also funding efforts to expand agroecology.

In response to queries about whether they have assessed the effectiveness of AGRA, a UK government official said, “a comprehensive evaluation of AGRA is currently underway.” He said the UK’s engagement with AGRA has “primarily focused on strengthening regional food trade and resilience within the continent” and collaborating with members of AGRA’s Africa-led Partnership for Inclusive Agriculture Transformation in Africa.

Yara International President and CEO Svein Tore Holsether told AFSA he hoped its members would consider the African Green Revolution Forum “as an opportunity for an honest exchange, rather than seeing it as a battleground for fixed positions.” But it was only after AFSA held a press conference last week, and aired their concerns in East Africa’s largest newspaper, that the Forum’s leaders reached out to the group.

In a Sept. 5 email, AGRA president Agnes Kalibata invited AFSA’s Million Belay to participate on an “Insights Panel to discuss walking the path to change” on Thursday. Belay’s group declined the invitation to speak for “five or so minutes” near the end of the conference. “We disagree with the Green Revolution’s approach on a basic level. The strategy has indebted our farmers, ruined our environment, harmed our health, and undermined our seeds and culture elsewhere and in Africa. It is extremely detrimental to Africa’s future,” Belay wrote to Kalibata.

AGRA’s work to change seed laws, biosafety standards and fertilizer rules and regulations will make Africa “far more reliant on corporate-led agriculture,” Belay said. “For us, the Green Revolution is a source of great anxiety. We are part of a burgeoning agroecology movement … That is, we believe, Africa’s future, and our mission is to focus on scientifically sound techniques which, combined with the knowledge and wisdom of African food producers, safeguard our people’s food/life sovereignty.”

Praise from Rockefeller Foundation 

Roy Steiner, managing director of the food initiative at the Rockefeller Foundation, told U.S. Right to Know that his foundation did not receive AFSA’s June query until last week, and is working on its response. “Like any program, AGRA has had some very successful initiatives and has its share of challenges,” Steiner said. “Overall we think it has been a successful program – in particular building the capacity of African scientists, entrepreneurs and farmers to make decisions for themselves.”

Steiner said he is “particularly proud of the hundreds of soil scientists and plant breeders (with significant representation of women) developing crops suited for the African environment that are building African self-reliance.” As evidence of AGRA’s progress, he pointed to AGRA’s most recent impact report, a report on its seed system program and an impact report by an AGRA partner, the One Acre Fund.

“As AGRA moves forward,” Steiner said, “I have no doubt that it will continue to embrace more regenerative, circular agricultural approaches and we look forward to partnering with them in also adopting renewable energy into their programs.”

Seed laws and the ‘800 pound gorilla’   

African groups were not impressed by AGRA’s reporting methods and said they have seen no evidence to change their minds that AGRA’s approach is harming Africa. AGRA’s work on seed laws that protect patented seeds and penalize seed trading “is particularly problematic for small-scale farmers in Africa,” SAFCEI’s de Gasparis and Gabriel Manyangadze wrote in an article that ran in several African news outlets last week.

The “corporatization of seed,” they said, undermines indigenous knowledge systems, centralizes control of production systems and disempowers small-scale farmers. “Around the globe, agribusinesses, driven by initiatives like AGRA, have been trying to convince governments and financial institutions that they hold the answer to solve the world’s hunger problems through improved production,” the faith leaders wrote.

“However, this concept has been debunked by food system research and a complete lack of success. The world does not have a food production problem, rather hunger is a result of lack of access and inequality.”

Researcher Timothy Wise, author of the 2020 Tufts report criticizing AGRA, also found fault with AGRA’s recent impact report. The report “provides some data but no convincing evidence of progress” toward AGRA’s top goals, Wise wrote in his review. He said the new report repeats the same problem as previous AGRA reports, using “vague data from undocumented sources.”

The most objectionable thing in the AGRA reports, Wise wrote, is AGRA’s “obsessive focus” on hybrid maize seed that must be purchased every year. “In one illustrative story, Rwanda proclaims ‘self-sufficiency’ — not in food, but in hybrid maize seed production.” Wise said AGRA and the Gates Foundation are pushing seed privatization laws across Africa.

At the AFSA press conference last week, Wise referred to Bill Gates as the “800 pound gorilla” in the room of food system negotiations. “(Gates) goes where he wants and does what he wants. He is operating behind the scenes to influence policies and laws in African countries with such deep influence and no accountability,” Wise said. “It’s the influence no one wants to talk about. Gates is playing a very dangerous game.”

source:  children’s health defense news and views

by Stacy Malkan 

Added a post 

The United States on Thursday praised the Taliban as businesslike and cooperative in facilitating the first evacuation of Americans from Afghanistan since the US military withdrawal.

The departure from Kabul to Doha on a chartered Qatar Airways flight Thursday marked “a positive first step” with the new regime, National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said.

“The Taliban have been cooperative in facilitating the departure of American citizens and lawful permanent residents on charter flights from HKIA,” she said in a statement, referring to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.

“They have shown flexibility, and they have been businesslike and professional in our dealings with them in this effort.”

Nearly 40 US citizens or permanent residents were invited to board the flight but only 21 were on board, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a tweet late Thursday.

“Of course we would like to see more such flights,” he had said earlier. “We have heard public statements that more, in fact, may be forthcoming.”

The United States had previously said that a little more than 100 Americans were believed to remain in Afghanistan after President Joe Biden ended the 20-year military mission in August.

Price said that most Americans remaining had connections in Afghanistan and had to make “wrenching” decisions on whether to leave and did not need to decide now.

“This opportunity doesn’t expire if they turn it down one day, if they change their mind the next or even next year,” Price said.

A round-the-clock airlift in the final two weeks of the war shuttled more than 123,000 people, including most Americans in Afghanistan.

Horne said the United States “facilitated” Thursday’s departure of Americans from Afghanistan and thanked Qatar for its role in the effort.

“We have been working intensely” to ensure the safe departure, and the flight is the result of “careful and hard diplomacy and engagement,” she said.

The flight comes two days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Qatar, the transit point for around half of the people airlifted from Afghanistan.

Biden and his administration have come under fierce criticism for having left Americans at the mercy of the Taliban.

Representative Mike Waltz and Senator Lindsey Graham, both fierce Republican critics of the withdrawal, welcomed the Qatari flight.

But they added in a joint statement that “it was inexcusable that the Biden administration allowed a terrorist regime to dictate the terms of allowing Americans to leave on their own with their families.”

“The United States does not take orders from terrorists,” they said.

Former president Donald Trump’s administration reached the agreement with the Taliban to withdraw troops and froze efforts to let Afghan allies immigrate to the United States.


source: Arab news

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