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King Mohammed VI issued instructions today via the Royal Office that seeks to facilitate easier travel for Moroccans returning home this travel season. 

According to the statement, King Mohammed VI gave his orders to the Mohammed V Foundation for Solidarity, which has a large role in coordinating travel arrangements for Moroccans that wish to return home. 

The foundation works with the Moroccans Living Abroad (MRE) office during Operation Marhaba to assist Moroccans by providing travel and accommodation aid, medical care, and other essential services.   

The improvements to these various systems “aims to facilitate, during the crossing, all administrative, customs and health formalities” for the massive amounts of Moroccans that will soon be returning. 

Besides the Mohammed V Foundation, King Mohammed VI also specifically requested “diplomatic and consular representations,” representing Morocco abroad, “to facilitate all the consular and administrative steps required,” to make the entry process as seamless as possible for both “Moroccan fellow-citizens and the foreigners wishing to visit Morocco.”

National airlines Royal Air Maroc have already announced its plans to improve travel in coordination with the royal decree. The company released a pricing list for airfare between Morocco and several places including Turkey, Europe, the US, and Egypt. 

The new price list drops the price significantly during the peak travel season, and will be in effect from June 15 to September 30. Ticket pricing will depend on location, as well as family size. A family of four will be able to pay just 97 Euros per round trip ticket from Europe. 

Additionally, Royal Air Maroc announced it would be mobilizing 3 million seats for the MRE, according to local news sources. 

Summertime is a peak period of migratory travel for Morocco, with millions of Moroccans and foreigners travelling into and out of the country. 

King Mohammed VI has made it clear that he would like both air travel and maritime industries to ensure they are charging “reasonable prices that are within everyone's reach,” especially as many more Moroccans are expected to return after the pandemic cancelled Operation Marhaba plans last year.

 

 

 

 

 

source: moroccoworldnews

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ladys West knew from a young age that she didn’t want to be a farmer. But the mathematician, born in 1930 in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, still had to help harvest crops on her family’s small farm. The hard work started before daybreak and lasted well into the blistering heat of the afternoon. She hated the dirt but, while she worked, she kept her mind on the building behind the trees at the end of the farm. It was her school, and even then she knew it would be her ticket to freedom.

“I was gonna get an education and I was going to get out of there. I wasn’t going to be stuck there all my life,” West, 89, says firmly, on Zoom in her home in Virginia.

What she could not have guessed was that this focus would shatter the perceptions of black women of the time and even lead to the invention of one of our most widely used inventions – GPS, the global positioning system.

The red schoolhouse, as West’s elementary school was known, was a three-mile walk away, through the woods and over streams. The seven year groups, who were all black, were taught in one room, but West quickly stood out.

Her parents tried to save some money to send her to college, but unexpected bills kept hitting the fund. If West was going to go to college, she needed to find a way to pay for it herself. She tried to put money aside, but became frustrated at how little progress she was making. Then a teacher announced that the state was going to give a college scholarship to the two top students from her year. It was her golden opportunity.

“I started doing everything so that I would be at the top,” West says. “And sure enough, when I graduated from high school, I got one.” The scholarship allowed West to attend Virginia State College, a historically black university.

She didn’t have much time to celebrate. While her tuition was paid, she needed money for room and board. Her parents could help for the first year, but she would need to find funding for the others. She confided in her maths teacher who, after seeing her potential, offered her a part-time job babysitting.

She quickly learned that, while she had been the best in her rural school, she had to put in work to keep up with students from bigger cities. “I was so dedicated that I didn’t care about missing the fun. But now I look back and I should have,” she says before laughing.

She decided to major in mathematics because it was a well-respected subject. It was largely studied by men, but she didn’t take much notice of them. “I knew deep in my heart that nothing was getting in my way.”

After graduating, she became a teacher, saving money for graduate school. She returned to the university a few years later and earned a master’s in mathematics. She briefly took on another teaching position after graduating. Then she was offered a job at a naval base in Dahlgren, Virginia. This made her only the second black woman to be hired to work as a programmer at the base. And she was one of only four black employees.

When she started her job, the navy was bringing in computers. She was hired to do programming and coding for the huge machines. She felt proud that she got the job, but knew the hard work had just begun. Despite her intellectual abilities and career success, West had long wrestled with the feeling that she was inferior. It was this feeling, deeply ingrained and felt, she thinks, by many African Americans, that drove her to work as hard as she could.

She still remembers her first day. The military base was grey, and people were mingling before starting work, laughing and drinking coffee. She met the man who would become her husband, Ira West – but refused to be distracted and at first largely ignored him. “I just got there and I was a serious woman. I didn’t have time to be playing around,” she says.

Her white colleagues were friendly and respectful, but initially didn’t socialise with her outside the office – something she tried not to let get to her. “You know how you know that kind of thing is going on, but you won’t let it take advantage of you? I started to think to myself that I’ll be a role model as the black me, as West, to be the best I can be, doing my work and getting recognition for my work,” she says.

The naval base was its own world, so it felt isolating at times. While West’s office was not racially segregated, a fierce civil-rights battle was unfolding across the country, particularly in the south, partly focusing on segregation. Outside the base, there were sit-ins to desegregate restaurants and places of transport. Her friends from college were deeply involved. West and her husband “supported what they were doing … and kept our eyes on what was developing”.

West was conflicted. She supported the peaceful protests, but was told that she couldn’t participate because of her government work. So she decided to focus on a quieter revolution, one she could continue inside the base. She visited the demonstrations and came back determined to commit herself to her work. She hoped that, by doing it to the best of her ability, she could chip away at the stigma black people faced. “They hadn’t worked with us, they don’t know [black people] except to work in the homes and yards, and so you gotta show them who you really are,” she explains. “We tried to do our part by being a role model as a black person: be respectful, do your work and contribute while all this is going on.”

West did just that. She quickly climbed the ranks and gained the admiration and respect of her colleagues. The work was hard and she had to deal with large datasets. “You had to be particular. You can learn the process, but then you have to really make sure you create the process just right, so everything would come out all right,” she says.

In the early 60s, West took part in an award-winning study that proved “the regularity of Pluto’s motion relative to Neptune”, according to a 2018 press release by the US air force. In 1979, she received a commendation for her hard work from her departmental head. She then became project manager for the Seasat radar altimetry project; Seasat was the first satellite that could monitor the oceans. She oversaw a team of five people. She programmed an IBM 7030 Stretch computer, which was significantly faster than other machines at the time, to provide calculations for an accurate geodetic Earth model. This detailed mathematical model of the shape of the Earth was a building block for what would become the GPS orbit.

While her team laid the groundwork for GPS, West took every opportunity the base gave her. She went to classes in the evening and gained another master’s degree in public administration, this time from the University of Oklahoma.

In 1998, aged 68, after spending more than four decades at the base, West knew it was time to retire, but she was terrified at the thought of not working. So after retirement she intended to focus on her PhD. But then she had a stroke.

“I was just sitting there working on the computer and all of a sudden I started spinning around,” West says. As soon as she left hospital, she started working on her recovery. “I never stopped one moment just to feel sorry for myself and say: ‘Oh boy, I’d never make it.’ I just said: ‘What’s next?’”

She would eventually finish her dissertation and gain her PhD in public administration and policy affairs in 2000 at the age of 70.

Looking back, West says she didn’t know she was revolutionising technology across the world. “You never think that anything you are doing militarily is going to be that exciting. We never thought about it being transferred to civilian life, so that was a pleasant surprise.”

“We always get pushed to the back because we are not usually the ones that are writing the book of the past. It was always them writing and they wrote about people they thought were acceptable. And now we’re getting a little bit more desire to pull up everyone else that’s made a difference.”

When West watched the film Hidden Figures, a drama about a trio of African American female mathematicians working for Nasa, she finally felt seen. “I really loved the movie and I didn’t know that that was going on with them. But they were doing something similar,” she says. It made her realise there were probably many hidden groups of black women making important scientific contributions across the world.

“I felt proud of myself as a woman, knowing that I can do what I can do. But as a black woman, that’s another level where you have to prove to a society that hasn’t accepted you for what you are. What I did was keep trying to prove that I was as good as you are,” she said. “There is no difference in the work we can do.”

She is appreciative of all the protesters that have come together in recent months to march for Black Lives Matter. “I’m hoping that, from that, we become better people, closer to the reality of who we really are, and the world becomes more united than it is now,” West says.

She hopes the call for justice on the street translates into concrete proposals that support more women and black people in science and mathematics. She wants more to be done to encourage underrepresented groups through scholarships and tailored training programmes.

But while West is incredibly proud of the work she did in helping develop GPS, she doesn’t use it herself – preferring to stick to paper maps. “I’m a doer, hands-on kind of person. If I can see the road and see where it turns and see where it went, I am more sure.”

 

 

 

 

source: theguardian.com

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An odor-based test that sniffs out vapors emanating from blood samples was able to distinguish between benign and pancreatic and ovarian cancer cells with up to 95 percent accuracy, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine.

The findings suggest that the Penn-developed tool — which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to decipher the mixture of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitting off cells in blood plasma samples — could serve as a non-invasive approach to screen for harder-to-detect cancers, such as pancreatic and ovarian.

The results of the study were presented at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting on June.

“It’s an early study but the results are very promising,” Johnson said. “The data shows we can identify these tumors at both advanced and the earliest stages, which is exciting. If developed appropriately for the clinical setting, this could potentially be a test that’s done on a standard blood draw that may be part of your annual physical.”

The Penn research team is currently working with VOC Health to commercialize the device, along with others, for research and clinical applications.

The electronic olfaction — “e-nose” — system is equipped with nanosensors calibrated to detect the composition of VOCs, which all cells emanate. Previous studies from the researchers demonstrated that VOCs released from tissue and plasma from ovarian cancer patients are distinct from those released from samples of patients with benign tumors.

Among 93 patients, including 20 patients with ovarian cancer, 20 with benign ovarian tumors and 20 age-matched controls with no cancer, as well as 13 patients with pancreatic cancer, 10 patients with benign pancreatic disease, and 10 controls, the vapor sensors discriminated the VOCs from ovarian cancer with 95 percent accuracy and pancreatic cancer with 90 percent accuracy. The tool also correctly identified all patients (a total of eight) with early-stage cancers.

The technology’s pattern recognition approach is similar to the way people’s own sense of smell works, where a distinct mixture of compounds tells the brain what it’s smelling. The tool was trained and tested to identify the VOC patterns more associated with cancer cells and those associated with cells from healthy blood samples in 20 minutes or less.

The team’s collaboration with Richard Postrel, CEO and chief innovation officer of VOC Health, has also led to an improvement in detection speed by 20-fold.

To expedite the commercialization process, Postrel asserts that “initial prototypes of commercial devices able to detect cancer from liquids and vapors will be ready soon and be provided to these Penn researchers to further their work.”

In related news, researchers from McMaster and Brock universities in Canada are developing a device that lets patients monitor their own bloodfor the unique biomarkers of prostate cancer, pictured below, courtesy of Georgia Kirkos at McMaster.

In a related effort with VOC Health, Johnson, along with his co-investigator Benjamin Abella, MD, a professor of Emergency Medicine, were awarded a two-year, $2 million grant by the National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences for the development of a handheld device that can detect the signature “odor” of people with COVID-19, which is based off the cancer-detection technology applied in this study.

 

 

source: goodnewsnetwork

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When Exxon Mobil Corp. decided to get out of a big oil field in Iraq, the government took on the unusual role of salesman. Iraqi officials pitched West Qurna-1 to likely buyers from among Exxon’s supermajor peers, including arch-rival Chevron Corp. There weren’t any takers.

That left Iraq with narrowed options: sell to one of China’s state-backed oil majors, or else buy back Exxon’s stake itself. The sale process remains unresolved but either outcome would stand as a powerful indicator of what’s become of the global oil market. With supermajors from the U.S. and Europe in retreat around the world, national oil champions are set to fill the void.

The supermajors — a group that, in addition to Exxon and Chevron, includes BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, TotalEnergies SE, and Eni SpA — are shrinking even while fossil-fuel demand holds strong. These companies are under growing pressure to pay down debt while cutting greenhouse gas and, for some, transitioning to renewable energy. Recent weeks saw Exxon and Chevron rebuked by their own shareholders over climate concerns, while Shell lost a lawsuit in the Hague over the pace of its shift away from oil and gas.

National oil companies, or NOCs, are largely shielded from those pressures. When the owners are governments, not shareholders, there aren’t dissident board members like those now sitting inside Exxon. That means state oil producers like those who populate OPEC+ can be the buyers of last resort for fossil-fuel projects cast off by the shrinking supermajors.

State companies can also gobble market share by simply producing oil that their private-sector rivals won’t. Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. are spending billions to boost their respective output capacities by a million barrels per day each, and Qatar Petroleum is spending more than $30 billion to increase its liquefied natural gas exports by more than 50%. (Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil declined to comment.)

Taken together, NOCs make up just over half of today’s worldwide oil supply. By 2050, Rystad Energy sees that share growing to 65%.

It’s an unmistakable trend that’s drawing heightened attention to some of the largest and most secretive entities in the world. Many government leaders are seeking to lower planet-warming emissions, with nine of the 10 biggest economies staked to net-zero goals. At the same time, these opaque government-sponsored oil producers — insulated in most cases from both investors and environmentalists, and under little obligation to disclose climate data — are taking over the job of filling the millions of barrels consumed each day.

“We hear government officials and NOC officials say, ‘We look at the divestment of international oil companies from some projects as an opportunity for us to grow,’” said Patrick Heller, an adviser at the Natural Resource Governance Institute. “And I do think that’s potentially really risky.”

Some observers worry that campaigns by activists to have oil majors divest from fossil fuels could end up accelerating a shift to government owners who operate with less transparency and, occasionally, worse environmental records. Jason Bordoff, director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, argued in a recent essay that such efforts could result in “unintended consequences” without the necessary drop in demand.

For all the focus on companies like Exxon and Shell, the majors recently accounted for only 15% of the world’s supply of oil, according to the International Energy Agency. Some of them are set to see their production drop, too, in part due to selling off chunks of their existing businesses.

BP has spent the past two years pursuing divestment deals partly to help meet its net-zero goal, and next it plans to sell a stake in an Omani gas block to Thailand’s national energy firm for $2.6 billion. Shell, with its own pledge to zero-out emissions, recently said it would hand back leases to the Tunisian government instead of producing more oil from them. Such deals reach beyond oil and gas extraction: Mexico’s Pemex is set to buy a Texas refinery from Shell. (Pemex declined to comment.)

There’s some cause for optimism. Countries with the most prolific state-backed oil companies have signed on to the Paris Agreement, with some taking their commitment a step further and participating in voluntary coalitions aimed at reducing emissions. The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative counts five national oil companies, including Aramco and China National Petroleum Corp., among its members. That organization requires a target to reduce the average methane emissions per barrel of oil produced by 2025, although this doesn’t ensure that absolute emissions will fall.

To some degree, this is a phenomenon that Exxon has been warning against for years. As BP and Shell have sold off assets in a pivot to renewables, Exxon has said such moves only work to move production — and emissions — elsewhere. Exxon CEO Darren Woods drew criticism from climate activists last year for labeling rivals’ asset sales to lower emissions nothing more than a “beauty competition.” His wider point underscores the long path ahead for the world as it grapples with climate change.

“This is not a company challenge, this is a global challenge,” Woods said in March 2020. “This idea of moving things in and out of the portfolio from one company to the other actually isn't getting us any closer to a solution.”

But Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This, said that by pressuring the majors it’s still possible to drive an overall reduction in emissions—even without directly challenging the NOCs. State-owned entities will follow if majors push ahead on investment in renewable energy, he said, lowering the costs for everyone. “We need the most innovative oil and gas companies to change and put their full weight behind renewables to speed up the energy transition,” van Baal said. “Others will follow.”

 

 

 

source: bloomberg.com

by Rachel Adams-Heard,Laura Hurst, and Kevin Crowley

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We are in the middle of the biggest revolution in motoring since Henry Ford's first production line started turning back in 1913.

And it is likely to happen much more quickly than you imagine.

Many industry observers believe we have already passed the tipping point where sales of electric vehicles (EVs) will very rapidly overwhelm petrol and diesel cars.

It is certainly what the world's big car makers think.

Jaguar plans to sell only electric cars from 2025, Volvo from 2030 and last week the British sportscar company Lotus said it would follow suit, selling only electric models from 2028.

And it isn't just premium brands.

General Motors says it will make only electric vehicles by 2035, Ford says all vehicles sold in Europe will be electric by 2030 and VW says 70% of its sales will be electric by 2030.

This isn't a fad, this isn't greenwashing.

Yes, the fact many governments around the world are setting targets to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles gives impetus to the process.

But what makes the end of the internal combustion engine inevitable is a technological revolution. And technological revolutions tend to happen very quickly.

This revolution will be electric

By my reckoning, the EV market is about where the internet was around the late 1990s or early 2000s.

Back then, there was a big buzz about this new thing with computers talking to each other.

Jeff Bezos had set up Amazon, and Google was beginning to take over from the likes of Altavista, Ask Jeeves and Yahoo. Some of the companies involved had racked up eye-popping valuations.

For those who hadn't yet logged on it all seemed exciting and interesting but irrelevant - how useful could communicating by computer be? After all, we've got phones!

But the internet, like all successful new technologies, did not follow a linear path to world domination. It didn't gradually evolve, giving us all time to plan ahead.

Its growth was explosive and disruptive, crushing existing businesses and changing the way we do almost everything. And it followed a familiar pattern, known to technologists as an S-curve.

 

Riding the internet S-curve

It's actually an elongated S.

The idea is that innovations start slowly, of interest only to the very nerdiest of nerds. EVs are on the shallow sloping bottom end of the S here.

For the internet, the graph begins at 22:30 on 29 October 1969. That's when a computer at the University of California in LA made contact with another in Stanford University a few hundred miles away.

The researchers typed an L, then an O, then a G. The system crashed before they could complete the word "login".

Like I said, nerds only.

A decade later there were still only a few hundred computers on the network but the pace of change was accelerating.

In the 1990s the more tech-savvy started buying personal computers.

As the market grew, prices fell rapidly and performance improved in leaps and bounds - encouraging more and more people to log on to the internet.

The S is beginning to sweep upwards here, growth is becoming exponential. By 1995 there were some 16 million people online. By 2001, there were 513 million people.

Now there are more than three billion. What happens next is our S begins to slope back towards the horizontal.

The rate of growth slows as virtually everybody who wants to be is now online.

Jeremy Clarkson's disdain

We saw the same pattern of a slow start, exponential growth and then a slowdown to a mature market with smartphones, photography, even antibiotics.

The internal combustion engine at the turn of the last century followed the same trajectory.

So did steam engines and printing presses. And electric vehicles will do the same.

In fact they have a more venerable lineage than the internet.

The first crude electric car was developed by the Scottish inventor Robert Anderson in the 1830s.

But it is only in the last few years that the technology has been available at the kind of prices that make it competitive.

The former Top Gear presenter and used car dealer Quentin Willson should know. He's been driving electric vehicles for well over a decade.

How fast will it happen?

The answer is very fast.

Like the internet in the 90s, the electric car market is already growing exponentially.

Global sales of electric cars raced forward in 2020, rising by 43% to a total of 3.2m, despite overall car sales slumping by a fifth during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

 

source: BBC.com by Justin Rowlatt

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There are currently approximately 150 US companies operating in Morocco, which was facilitated by the Free Trade Agreement enacted in 2006.
Trade between Morocco and the US has grown over five times since 2005, a year prior to the enactment of the joint Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

The agreement, which was signed in 2004 and enacted on January 1, 2006, aims to increase trade and grow investment opportunities between Morocco and the US. Since the FTA’s inception, bilateral trade between the two countries has increased fivefold, reaching $5 billion (MAD 44.1 billion) in 2019, said David Greene, Charge d'Affaires of the US Embassy in Morocco.

Speaking at the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Morocco-US Free Trade Agreement on June 7 in Casablanca, Greene highlighted that the agreement has facilitated the creation of thousands of jobs and promoted the economic development of both the US and Morocco.

Today there are approximately 150 US companies operating in Morocco, according to Greene, who added that “this investment has supported the development of strategic industry, which has allowed Morocco to place itself in the global supply chain, in advanced and complex markets.”

In 2019, the US imported $3 trillion (MAD 26.5 trillion) worth of goods and services from around the world,  

With “the right orientation and dedication,” Greene said, Moroccan companies could turn the FTA to their advantage, growing their presence amidst US imports. In 2019, US imports totaled $3 trillion (MAD 26.5 trillion) worth of goods and services from around the world, Greene noted. 

While bilateral goods trade between the two countries stood at $925 million (MAD 8.2 billion) in 2005, it had grown over five times by 2019, reaching $5 billion (MAD 44.1 billion).

Overall, in 2019, the total goods and services trade between the two countries reached an estimated $6.6 billion (MAD 58.2 billion). Of these, US exports to Morocco were  $4.3 billion (MAD ) and imports were $2.3 billion (MAD 20.3 billion), according to the Office of US Trade Representative. Morocco is currently the US'  63rd largest goods trading partner. 

 

source: moroccoworldnews

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Often called the classical music of Morocco, Andalusian music originated in the Iberian Peninsula between the 9th and 15th centuries and is today an elite form of Moroccan music.

"This music is one of the most compelling vestiges, and, at the same time, one of the least known by the west, of the refined Hispanic-Moroccan civilization, born of the fusion of Moroccan and Andalusian cultures and of which Morocco became the primary heir." - Younes Chami, Les Nawbas de la Musique Andalouse MarocaineVol. II, Translated from French
 
Andalusian music is one of the oldest music genres of Moroccan music. Developed as a fusion of Hispanic-Arab musical styles around the 9th century, Andalusian music spread across North Africa in the 1400s, following the expulsion of Muslims from Spain. Andalusian music is found today across North Africa, but most notably in Morocco and Algeria. The music is extremely structured and performed by Andalusian orchestras.

History and Origins of Andalusian Music

The creation of Andalusian music as practiced in modern Moroccan music is today contributed almost completely to one man, Ali ibn Nafi, often called Ziryab. His arrival in Cordoba in 822 sparked a wave of musical revolution in Al-Andalus, which led to the creation of modern Andalusian music. Ziryab had studied in Baghdad, but according to legend was forced to leave the city after his teacher became jealous of his prodigious ability. Ziryab became a musician in the Umayyad court, at the center of Al-Andalus, and soon his style of singing supplanted that of the other court musicians. 
"The early Andalusians sang in the Christian style, until the arrival of the grand master Ali Ibn Nafi, nicknammed Ziriab... He showed them songs they had never heard before. His style of singing was soon imitated, to the exclusion of all other styles." - Ahmad at-Tifachi: Mout'at al-asma'
 
Ziryab's style combined the traditions he learned in Baghdad with his own inventions to create what is today known as Andalusian music. Ziryab's innovations included adding a fifth string to the lute to expand its range and creating strings out of lion-cub intestines. Ziryab also created a conservatory in Cordoba, facilitating the continuation his musical innovations.   
Andalusian music spread to Morocco by the 10th century. With the rise of the Berber Almohad Caliphate in the 12th century, Andalusian music was suppressed, as the Almohads discouraged music as impious. Music in Morocco was confined to madihs(hymns honoring the Prophet Mohammed), but Andalusian music remained an influence on the madihs. This musical focus on piety continued more or less until the rise of the Alawite dynasty. 
 
"Indeed, having escaped Ottoman rule, which its neighbors endured for more than three centuries, Morocco was able to preserve its musical heritage from the powerful influence of Turkish music. Morever, being geographically very far from the main artistic centers of the Orient, Morocco lived artistically self-reliant." - Younes Chami, Les Nawbas de la Musique Andalouse Marocaine, Vol. II, Translated from French
 
During the Alawite dynasty (beginning in 1631 and continuing today), Andalusian music resurged, and state sponsorship allowed for the emergence of new students of the genre. Schools founded in Fez and Marrakesh began to teach Andalusian music, and collections of Andalusian music were published for the first time. Nation-wide seminars were also held to discuss the preservation of Andalusian music. 
"The sum effect of this being cast as a repertory that is merely to be preserved and passed on and all of the official overtones of Andalusian music–relating it to the upper class and royal family and its use in government occasions–has meant that for many young Moroccans, and particularly young Moroccan musicians, this is a repertory that’s not particularly appealing... if you’re a creative musician, you don’t choose to become an Andalusian specialist, because you can’t really add. You can become a master performer of this repertory, and it’s a beautiful repertory. I think all Moroccans see it somehow as part of Moroccan identity, but that doesn’t mean that they actually participate in it." - Dwight Reynolds
 
It is unclear how similar modern Moroccan Andalusian music is to the original style developed in Iberia. Over the years, 13 of the 24 original nubahs of which Andalusian music is composed have been lost, but the remaining nubahs seem to remain at least broadly faithful to the original Andalusian tradition.
 
"I started to practice this music more than fifty years ago, in an age when neither oriental music nor Western music had echoed in our artistic circles, and I can affirm that during this half-century, Andalusian music has not changed, despite the large transformations that have occurred in our country on every level."Cheikh Ahmad Labzour Tazi, Professor of Andalusian music, Translated from French

Instruments of Andalusian Music

The primary focus of every Moroccan Andalusian musical ensemble is vocal; every member sings in addition to playing instruments. However, instruments play an important supporting role, and most pieces have significant instrumental sections. The instruments in an Andalusian ensemble can vary greatly from ensemble to ensemble, but below are several of the most common instruments found in an ensemble.

 
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The oud is a five-stringed plucked instrument used in music throughout the Middle East. The oud used in Andalusian music is the Arab oud, which is tuned slightly lower than the Turkish oud. The western cousin of the oud is the lute. 

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The traditional kamenjah is a bowed string instrument played throughout the middle east. It traditionally has three strings, but most modern kamanchehs have four. The kamancheh is less common in modern Andalusian ensembles, having been replaced by the violin in Morocco 
 
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The modern kamenjah is a violin played on the knee, as shown in the picture. The violin was integrated into the ensemble around the 1850's, but has today almost completely replaced the original kamenjah, and is called by the same name. The violin is traditionally tuned to G, D, G'
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The rebab used in Moroccan Andalusian music differs greatly from other rebabs of North Africa and the Middle East; its body is much shorter. It is not to be confused with the rebab used in Berber music. It is a two stringed, bowed instrument.

 
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The qanun is a flat, 26-stringed instrument played throughout the Middle East. The strings are made out of nylon, gut, or metal-wound silk. The qanun is plucked with a pick made out of horn.
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The darbouka, also called the doumbek, is a single-head drum. It is played held under the arm, or held sideways on the lap. Variations of this drum are found across North Africa and the Middle East. 
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The taarija is a hand-held drum, made out of clay, with a goat-skin head. They can also occasionally be made out of metal.
 
Other western instruments now included in Andalusian orchestras include the piano and cello. Occasionally, other instruments such as the clarinet, saxophone, and flute, have been added in, although these instruments are more rarely used. 

 
 
 
source: musicofMorocco.weebly.com
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This yearly celebration informs the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic, and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.

The Member States of the World Health Organization created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. In 1987, the World Health Assembly passed Resolution WHA40.38, calling for 7 April 1988 to be a "a world no-smoking day." In 1988, Resolution WHA42.19 was passed, calling for the celebration of World No Tobacco Day, every year on 31 May.

 

The theme this year is 'Commit to Quit', which assumes significant importance in the present times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association of smoking with the COVID-19 infection has been controversial. Initial studies from China and Europe seemed to suggest a lower prevalence of COVID infection among smokers and protective effects of smoking against the effects of COVID. However, subsequent analysis showed serious methodological flaws in those studies. And later studies showed that smokers in fact fare poorly after a coronavirus infection.

COVID infection and lung complications in smokers

COVID predominantly affects the lungs and smoking too damages the lungs. Worldwide research suggests that there is a higher incidence of severe lung complications following COVID in smokers as compared to non-smokers. The World Health Organisation released a scientific brief earlier this year showing that smokers are at higher risk of developing severe disease and death from COVID-19.

These findings of a negative impact of smoking should not be surprising given the fact that smokers have been traditionally known to be more susceptible to infections, especially respiratory infections like flu, pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Weakened immune system and increased risk of transmission

Tobacco smoke contains toxic chemicals which cause damages to the linings of the airways and the lungs. The chemicals in tobacco smoke suppress the activity of different types of immune cells leading to weakening of immunity and thus impairing one’s ability to fight the COVID-19 infection.

The act of smoking involves the fingers and possibly contaminated cigarettes coming in contact with the lips and thus increasing the risk of transmission of virus from hand to mouth. Moreover, chewing tobacco products is associated with usually spitting in public places which also accelerates the risk of transmission of COVID through saliva droplets.

Also, smokers are more likely to have heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic lung disease and diabetes, all of which are important comorbidities for developing severe illness and adversely affecting the clinical outcome in COVID affected patients.

Therefore, it is vital that smokers quit the habit. And the COVID pandemic couldn’t be a better time to quit smoking. However, it can be a challenge given the economic and social stress prevailing during the pandemic. Smokers will need help to quit. And the WHO World No Tobacco Day 2021 campaign aims to empower and support tobacco users on their journey to quit.

There is no single and easy way to quit tobacco, but here are some tips

· Make a 'quit plan' and stick to it. It doesn’t matter if you fail a couple of times. Keep trying and don’t give up.

· Modify your diet. There are some food items which make cigarettes taste better like meat, alcohol, tea, coffee, and aerated beverages. Avoid them and instead have fruits, vegetables, cheese, water, and fresh fruit juices. Also, if you have a habit of post-meals cigarettes, then change your routine and do some activity to divert your mind.

· Have a support group in place to help you through this — family, friends, doctor, counsellor.

· Nicotine-replacement therapy like chewing-gum or skin-patches can be very helpful to tide over your withdrawal symptoms.

· Try to avoid stressful situations during the first few weeks after you stop smoking.

· Exercise, even a 5-minute walk or stretch, has been shown to reduce your cravings and ease some of your withdrawal symptoms.

· Try to be around your non-smoker friends and avoid your smoker companions for a while.

· Clean your house, your surroundings, clothes and belongings so that you do not get the familiar scent of cigarette smoke which will remind you of smoking.

Following are the responses to some common questions on the dangers of smoking:

What are the unique dangers of smoking for women?

While smoking is bad for both the genders, women experience certain additional detrimental health effects apart from the ones common to all genders. Some of these include:
premature menopause menstruation disturbances reduced fertility increased risk to cancers specific to women such as breast or cervical cancer premature ‘aging’. Smoking during pregnancy exposes the fetus to toxic substances that can result in several complications including abnormalities in the newborn or even miscarriages.

What are the long and short term health effects of smoking among young people?

The short term effects of smoking include throat irritations, cough, asthma, wheezing, unhealthy dental and oral hygiene. These are due to the carcinogenic substances like nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide present in tobacco.

The long terms effects of smoking are more dangerous. Smoking has been shown to be strongly correlated with a number of life-threatening diseases such as a variety of cancers, diabetes, respiratory disorders and cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke. Vision issues and infertility issues as well as weak immune systems are also more prevalent in smokers than non-smokers. Overall, smoking is associated with a lower life expectancy.

In terms of mental health, while smoking is commonly known to relieve stress and help people relax, it is has been shown to increase anxiety levels, and smokers are at an increased risk of clinical depression. For people dependent on nicotine, missing a smoke can cause irritability and mood swings and come in the way of normal functioning. Loss of appetite and disturbed sleep cycles are also frequently observed in smokers.

Can smokers and tobacco users be at higher risk for COVID 19 infection?

The association of smoking with the Covid-19 infection has been controversial. Initial studies seemed to suggest a lower prevalence of Covid infection among smokers and protective effect of smoking against the effects of Covid. However, subsequent analysis showed serious methodological flaws in those studies. And later studies showed that smokers in fact fare poorly after a Covid infection.

Smokers may be more susceptible to Covid-19 infection and the associated severe lung complications for the following reasons:

Tobacco smoke contains toxic chemicals which cause damages to the linings of the airways and the lungs and suppresses the activity of different types of immune cells, thus impairing one’s ability to fight the Covid infection.

The act of smoking involves the fingers and possible contaminated cigarettes coming in contact with the lips and thus increasing the risk of transmission of virus from hand to mouth.

Smokers are more likely to have heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic lung disease and diabetes, all of which are important co-morbidities for developing severe illness following Covid infection.

What are the effects of quitting smoking on the body?

The beneficial effects of quitting smoking begin almost immediately within minutes to hours and continues to be seen over several years to a decade.

Within 30 to 60 minutes, heart rate and blood pressure begin to drop.

At around 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal.

By 4-12 weeks, blood circulation and lung function improve.

By 3-6 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease and risk of respiratory infections also reduces.
At 1 year, the risk of coronary heart disease reduces to about half that of a smoker's.

At 5 years, the risk of having a heart attack or a brain stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker.

At 10 years, the risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker and the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, etc also decreases.

Though in the initial days after quitting, one could have withdrawal symptoms but in the long run, stopping smoking would lead to lesser mental irritability, anxiety, depression and mood swings.

Abstinence from smoking also reduces the chances of impotence, infertility, having premature births and miscarriage.

And finally, quitting smoking improves life expectancy.

Tips to effectively quit smoking

There is no single and easy way to quit tobacco. Some of the following tips could help you in kicking this habit:

Make a quit plan and stick to it. Doesn’t matter if you fail a couple of times. Keep trying and don’t give up.

Modify your diet. There are some food items which make cigarette taste better like meat, alcohol, tea, coffee, aerated beverages. Avoid them and instead have fruits, vegetables, cheese, water, fresh fruit juices. Also, if you have a habit of post-meals cigarette, then change your routine and do some activity to divert your mind.

Have a support group in place to help you through this --- family, friends, doctor, counsellor Nicotine-replacement therapy like chewing-gum or skin-patches can be very helpful to tide over your withdrawal symptoms.

Try to avoid stressful situations during the first few weeks after you stop smoking.

Exercise, even a 5-minute walk or stretch, has been shown to reduce your cravings and ease some of your withdrawal symptoms.

Try to be around your non-smoker friends and avoid your smoker companions for a while.

Clean your house, your surroundings, clothes and belongings so that you do not get the familiar scent of cigarette smoke which will remind you of smoking.

The author is a Senior Interventional Cardiologist at the Asian Heart Institute.

 

 

 

 

 

source: world health organization 

source:firstpost.com

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