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Morocco is home to major discoveries recently, including the world’s oldest starfish fossil.

Scientists have discovered a crushed ossified lung of a 66- million years old coelacanth in Oued Zem, in Morocco’s Beni Mellal-Khenifra region.

SCI News reported the discovery on Monday, announcing that a team of paleontologists unearthed  a crushed ossified lung of the marine coelacanth.

The species lived during the Late Cretaceous epoch, which dates back to 66 million years ago.

Other reports suggested that experts discovered the remains of the Coelacanths species by accident.

 

“A collector had bought the specimen thinking the bone might have been part of a pterodactyl’s skill,” said one news report. 

Paleontologist David Martil said “only one animal has such a structure and that is the Coelacanth.”

Martil, a professor at the School of the Environment, Geograppy, and Geosciences at the University of Portsmouth, explained that the collector of the specimen was “disappointed he did not have a pterosaur skull.”

He added, “But my colleagues and I were thrilled as no Coelacanth has even been found in the phosphate deposits of Morocco, and this example was absolutely massive.”

The species emerged 200 million years before the first dinosaur.

Scientists believed it to be extinct, until researchers discovered a living Coelacanth off South Africa in 1938.

Morocco is home to major discoveries that recently made international headlines. One of the latest discoveries was just a few days ago, when a team of scientists from Moroccan and Spanish universities discovered a 2.5 million year old macaque fossil in Guefait, Morocco.

On January 20, researchers from Cambridge University and the University of Western Australia discovered a precious 480 million years-old fossil of a Starfish in the Fezouata shale of the Anti-Atlas Mountain range.

Source: Morocco World News

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In a South Florida war room, occupied most days by a party of one, a former President of the United States is plotting his return -- and his revenge.

He typically spends mornings on his nearby golf course, making and taking calls from a golf cart that doubles as his mobile, and self-driven, office. The multiple trips to the links in the last few weeks have served to accomplish a long-promised goal, says someone who spent time with him recently: Donald Trump claims he has increased his drive by 20 yards, a new favorite brag to golfing partners, or anyone who will listen.
Eighteen holes later, he leaves his Trump International Golf Club and returns to Mar-a-Lago, where he retreats within his quarters to his own private living space, separate from that of his wife, and ponders two main questions: Who is with him? And who is against him?
According to multiple people familiar with Trump's current habits, who requested anonymity to speak freely to CNN about the former President's day-to-day focus, his stated goal -- barring impact from ongoing criminal investigation -- is to run for president again, in 2024. Of course, he has no incentive to rule it out right now -- keeping himself in the mix helps sustain his kingmaker role. Looking to flex on 2022, he hopes to prove to both critics and supporters that he is the GOP's most effective puppeteer -- a role he will likely remind the party of during his weekend appearance at Conservative Political Action Conference.
His short-term goal includes watching his son Donald Trump Jr., the MAGA base's fervent mouthpiece, barnstorm his way across the country on behalf of Trump loyalists and supporters for midterms.
 
"Once 2022 kicks into high gear, expect Don (Trump Jr.) to be an extremely active presence on the campaign trail," a person who works with Trump Jr. told CNN, confirming not only the younger Trump's taste for political battle but that of the former President, as well.
Donald Trump's influence on the elections is becoming clearer by the day. Just Tuesday, former Sen. David Perdue announced that he will not launch a campaign, though he had very recently filed papers to do so. The decision follows close on the heels of Perdue's recent visit to Palm Beach, where he played golf with Trump, says a person familiar with the Georgia Republican's schedule.
On Tuesday evening, according to The Washington Post, Trump held court with Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. The quest, say those familiar with the visits and calls of varying Republican politicos, is to feel out where the former President's head is on the party's future, and whether he feels inclined to assist or oppose a particular person.
"We've seen this for years now -- Trumpian offers of encouragement that are more like the mafioso 'nice little business you have here' threats," says Doug Heye, a longtime Republican strategist and consultant who formerly worked in senior communications roles for leadership on Capitol Hill. "The problem for these candidates moving forward is that despite always hustling to score points, Donald Trump doesn't give points, he only takes them away. One at a time."
 

Family dynamics in flux

At Mar-a-Lago, the family is closing ranks around the former President, and his plans, but the leader of next-gen Trump politics is not Ivanka Trump, long thought to be heiress to her father's domain, be it real estate or politics. She's been the subject of effusive comments from Trump: In 2019, in the same breath, he touted Ivanka Trump for both US ambassador to the United Nations and head of the World Bank, and in an interview with The Atlantic he said she would be "very hard to beat" if she were to run for president herself. But apparently Ivanka Trump not only has zero interest in politics at the moment, three people close to her tell CNN, she also has been surpassed in popularity with Trump's base by her older brother.
In 2019, it was clear that Trump Jr. was the ranting Republican hype-man the base couldn't live without. Trump Jr. was not only in high demand for appearances and events, but he also was filling rooms, spewing conspiracy theories on social media, freewheeling with his attacks on Democrats, so-called RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) and anyone who did not agree with Trump's theories and policies -- truthful or no.
Ivanka Trump, ensconced now in an expensive seaside Miami condominium while a new mansion nearby is set for build on a $30 million plot purchased late last year, wants "nothing to do with politics," a friend of hers said of her current state of mind.
Instead, she is "getting her family settled, and that's her only focus," said the friend.
Trump has been to Mar-a-Lago to visit her father since moving to Florida, says another person familiar with her comings and goings, but her interest in discussing her dad's next pass at the White House is nil. The five years Trump spent on the campaign and in the White House "was a lot," her friend told CNN, and talk of a political future is verboten. Paparazzi have captured shots of Trump in recent weeks, mostly lounging on the beach adjacent to her new home. One day she was spotted reading "The Book of Joy" by the Dalai Lama.
But the absence of interest in political engagement, if understandable, paves the way for her brother to shine even brighter in his dad's orbit -- even if he is not the favored child. (In an interview in 2019, Trump said of his older son, "Don is, uh, he's enjoying politics; actually, it's very good.")
Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, have served as highly effective surrogates for his father for close to three years, about as long as the couple have been a couple, and they show no sign of slowing down. Next week the pair will host a high-dollar meet-and-greet fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago, for South Dakota's Republican governor, Kristi Noem, a person with knowledge of the event told CNN.
Noem is up for reelection in 2022, and the $1,000-per-person event will technically be Trump and Guilfoyle's first official foray into the election cycle. The party's VIP experience, according to the person familiar, includes participation in a roundtable discussion with Noem, Trump and Guilfoyle, as well as a photo -- the price of the upgraded face time is $4,000 per person. No word on whether the former President will make an appearance, but Noem is a friend -- she once gifted the then-President with an $1,100 4-foot replica of Miount Rushmore with his face included, according to a New York Times report.

Sunshine State headquarters

Like his sister, Ivanka Trump, and his half-sister, Tiffany Trump, who also recently made a move to Miami, Trump Jr. intends to make the Sunshine State his permanent residence. Two people with knowledge of the situation said he intends to move closer to his ex-wife, Vanessa Trump, and the couple's five children.
Vanessa Trump spends a good deal of the year in Jupiter, Florida, where her ex-husband has been eyeing an $11 million waterfront mansion in the town's exclusive Admiral's Cove development. A person familiar with Trump Jr.'s ventures would not confirm the purchase of the home, which, according to real estate records, is under contract pending sale, and a representative of the real estate firm handling the sale would not comment to CNN on speculation Trump is the buyer.
But the commitment to Florida, an enthusiastically Trump-friendly state the former President won last November -- indicates the Trumps aren't tied to New York City as their hub. Besides, it's much more pleasant for Trump to host his visitors at Mar-a-Lago, which has a built-in audience of members, many of whom are also sycophants.
One person familiar with Trump's activities at Mar-a-Lago says he's more and more acting as CEO of the club, involved in operations, renovations and membership. For a time, his Palm Beach neighbors expressed disdain that Trump would be living mere blocks from their multimillion-dollar mansions -- a disruption they no longer wished to endure after the last four years of security and privacy challenges.
"I really don't think most Palm Beachers are even thinking about Trump any longer. He really never leaves his two clubs," said Laurence Leamer, a part-time Palm Beach resident and author of two tell-alls about the area, "Madness Under the Royal Palms" and "Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump's Presidential Palace."
Trump is habitual, which makes it all the easier for those who want to find him, to seek his blessing or beg forgiveness for turning their backs, a practice Heye thinks will only increase in the months to come.
"For many, the fealty never ends. But part of Trump's bet when his campaign became serious was that the party would bend to him, he would not bend to the party. He was right," he said.
 
Source: CNN
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The Polisario supporters attempted to hoist the flag of the self-styled Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic at the consulate.

The Spanish government has “categorically” condemned violent protests by Polisario supporters in front of the Moroccan Consulate General in Valencia.

Earlier on Sunday, a group of Polisario sympathizers and activists “committed acts of vandalism” in front of the Moroccan diplomatic representation, Morocco’s state media reported.

In a statement, the Spanish Foreign Affairs repudiated the move, saying that it “undermines the inviolability, integrity, and dignity of the consular headquarters.” 

“Spain categorically condemns the acts committed on Sunday by some participants in a rally… in front of the Consulate General of Morocco in Valencia,” read the statement. 

Footage of the incident, shared on various social media platforms, showed the group of Polisario supporters entering the Moroccan consulate building and trying to hoist the flag of the self-styled, Polisario-governed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

Freedom to demonstrate is fundamental and guaranteed by Spanish regulations, but “no demonstration in the context of the right of assembly can degenerate into illegal actions, like the attempt made this Sunday,” the Spanish government said.

It described the event as “a flagrant violation” of the country’s laws, promising to open investigations and “take all appropriate measures to ensure respect for the integrity and inviolability of the diplomatic missions accredited in our country.”

Morocco strongly condemned the vandalism and violence on Sunday.

“We followed this morning, the criminal and irresponsible acts that the Polisario ordered through a handful of criminals who hung what I would simply call a rag at the level of the enclosure of the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Morocco in Valence in the place of the national flag,” Morocco’s Ambassador to Spain Karima Benyaich told reporters.

“I wish to express our indignation, condemning in the strongest terms these acts of vandalism and violence, which, like what happened in El Guerguerat, confirms the mafia and outlaw character of its sponsors.”

This provocation, she underlined, “once again expresses the forward flight of the Polisario in the current context and recalls the very nature of this criminal and outlaw separatist organization which never ceases to call on its supporters to commit acts of violence and vandalism wherever he is.”

The news comes amid global concerns over recent developments in the Western Sahara conflict. It is understood that the pro-Polisario supporters in Valencia were reacting to what the Polisario leadership has described as a declaration of war by Morocco.

On November 13, Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces launched a “non-offensive” operation to dislodge a group of armed Polisario members who had been obstructing traffic in the buffer zone in Guerguerat.

According to reliable, non-Moroccan reports, Morocco first pushed for a diplomatic solution, pleading with the UN to warn Polisario against unnecessary escalations in the buffer area. 

After Polisario ignored and defied repeated UN warnings for three weeks, Rabat finally intervened to establish a “security cordon,” restoring traffic between Morocco and Mauritania.

In response, Polisario dramatically accused Morocco of “declaring war” by “attacking Sahrawi civilians who were demonstrating peacefully in the areas.”

But many observers and analysts have poured cold water on Polisario’s mendacious claims. “The Polisario feeds on conflicts, threats, and instability. Without this, they have no reason to exist,” one analyst has said.

Meanwhile, even in Spain, where the media usually sympathize with Polisario’s “Sahrawi cause,” there have been suggestions that the Guerguerat crisis was an “escape route” for a Polisario leadership beset by diplomatic setbacks and intense scrutiny over embezzlement and torture allegations. 

In its report on the Guerguerat crisis, Spanish newspaper Lavanguardia, which is generally pro-Polisario in tone, noted: “The conflict in Guerguerat could be the escape route that the Polisario has found to appease internal criticism and return to the front lines without having to resort to an open war, for which it would not be prepared.” 

 

Source: Morocco World News

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In December 2020, Morocco voted in favor of removing cannabis from the UN’s Schedule IV category of drugs that have limited or no therapeutic use.

Morocco’s government council will discuss on Thursday, February 25 a bill on the “legal use of cannabis,” a statement from the Head of Government office announced on Tuesday.

Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani will chair the government council, which will “consider” the bill on legalizing the use of cannabis, the statement reads.

The statement does not provide further details on the bill. However, the announcement about the bill comes just a few months after Morocco voted in favor of removing cannabis from the list of the UN’s Schedule IV category of drugs that have limited or no therapeutic use.

Morocco was the only member of the UN Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) in the Middle East and North Africa region to give a nod to the removal of cannabis from the list of toxic substances.

Algeria, Bahrain, and Egypt have all voted against the move.

The use of cannabis is illegal in Morocco; it is criminalized by the country’s Penal Code. But the drug is still among the most used substances in Morocco.

Authorities frequently crackdown on the trafficking of cannabis resin.

One of the recent operations took place on Monday in Rabat, where police seized 9.5 tonnes of cannabis resin.

A few years ago, a movement called “Maroc Cannabis 2016” called on the government to legalize cannabis production and Morocco.

Data from a 2019 report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) confirmed that Morocco is the world’s largest producer of cannabis. The country produces over three times more than the next highest contender, the European country Moldova.

Cannabis production in Morocco continues to grow, with the production of cannabis herbs increasing from 35,653 tons in 2016 to 35,703 tons in 2017, according to the report.

It remains to be seen whether the government will approve the bill on the legal use of cannabis in Morocco. 

In addition to the bill on cannabis, the government council will examine three draft decrees about implementing the decree-law relating to the promulgation of exceptional measures for the benefit of employers affiliated to the National Social Security Fund (CNSS) and their declared employees.

 

Source: Morocco World News

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A landslide on the Italian coast near Genoa caused the collapse of a cemetery Monday, leading to hundreds of coffins falling into the sea.

The Camogli cemetery, built more than 100 years ago, is situated along an area of rocky seaside cliffs. Francesco Olivari, the mayor of Camogli, called the collapse an "unimaginable catastrophe."
It is estimated that 200 coffins had fallen, but only 10 have been recovered, according to Giacomo Giampedrone, regional assessor of civil protection. Recovering the rest of them "will depend on the sea in the coming days," he added.
On Saturday, maintenance being performed along the area of fragile coastline was abruptly stopped when workers noticed cracks in the rock.
 
View of the collapse from above.
 
"We were doing work on a portion of the rocky coast -- it was close to the area that fell today,"Olivari told CNN on Monday. "Some signs of fissures were seen. We decided to close the cemetery."
He said that they called officials at the Office of Civil Protection in Liguria to intervene and evaluate the situation. A team of geologists with the department is using drones to get a better sense of the damage and determine if there is danger of another landslide.
 
"This type of collapse that happened today is very hard to detect or to predict," Olivari said. "This area is subject to this type of collapse -- it's very fragile."
Giampedrone said the port authority of Genoa blocked the coastal area below the cemetery Monday night to keep the coffins from floating out to sea.
On Tuesday after surveying the site, officials said they will continue work on recovering the coffins and corpses.
 
Source: CNN.
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Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell has offered to give up her British and French citizenship in order to be released on bail. She was arrested on charges of trafficking underage girls.

Maxwell “will renounce her French and British citizenship to eliminate any opportunity for her to seek refuge in those countries, if the Court so requires,” her lawyers wrote in a filing published by the Courthouse News website.

The defendant’s legal team argued that by doing so, Maxwell will not be able to seek “any protection against extradition” that applies to citizens of these countries.

The court document also said that Maxwell is willing to have her and her husband’s assets placed in a new account that would be monitored to ensure that she will not use the money to flee from prosecution.

This is Maxwell’s third request to be released on bail. Her previous request was denied in December, as the court argued that “no conditions” of release can assure that Maxwell shows up for trial.

Maxwell was arrested last year on charges of aiding American financier Jeffrey Epstein in the sex trafficking of underage girls. She pleaded not guilty and is set to stand trial in July.

A convicted sex offender, Epstein was found dead in his prison cell in 2019 after new criminal allegations were brought against him.

Source: RT.com

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The UN official described Morocco among major countries that invest in renewable energies.

The Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Inger Andersen, has described Morocco as exemplary in terms of renewable energies.

The UN official made the remarks recently at a joint press conference with the UN Secretary-General to present the UN’s latest report on the environment.

Andersen said: “I should cite Morocco as an example of the countries which invested ten years ago in renewable energies.”

Andersen said countries like Morocco are major producers of renewable energies from the dual thermal wind and solar power.

Morocco’s Minister of Energy Aziz Rabbah echoed Anderson’s assessment, noting that the country has considerably invested in developing its renewable energies ambitions.

Morocco’s investment in development projects is estimated at $6 billion.

In his presentation, Andersen also called on developing countries to invest in nature and initiate the shift in energy transformation to achieve a “renewed economy” that respects the environment.

The installed capacity of renewable energy sources in Morocco amounts to 3,950 megawatts.

The number represents about 37% of the total installed electric power or 20% of the country’s electricity demand.

Around 100 renewable energy programs are under development in Morocco.

The country is also home to several major solar projects, including the Ouarzazate Solar Plant.

The world should tackle climate change, biodiversity challenges, and pollution crises at the same time, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)’s report.

UN Secretary-General Guteress said that such crises require “urgent action by the whole of society.”

Guteress said that about two-thirds of global CO2 emissions are linked to households, emphasizing that “people’s choices matter.”

“The atmosphere and the oceans have become dumping grounds for our waste and governments continue to pay more to exploit nature than to protect it,” he lamented, adding that “we overuse and degrade the environment on land and sea,” the UN chief said.

Despite a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions due to COVID-19, global warming is set to increase by 3 degrees Celsius during this century, said the UNDP report .

Pollution-related diseases kill some nine million people prematurely every year, while more than a million plant and animal species are at risk of disappearing, the study found.

 

Source: Morocco World News

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American firms and the economy as a whole could lose hundreds of billions of dollars if investment in China is halved or the two countries expand tariffs, the US Chamber of Commerce says in its latest study.

If American investors slash foreign direct investment (FDI) stock in China by half, their annual capital gains could drop as much as $25 billion, the business lobbying group said in research released on Wednesday. At the same time, the reduced investment will benefit US competitors, while America’s GDP would see a one-time loss of $500 billion, according to a report assessing the potential cost of the decoupling of the world’s two largest economies.

“Pulling two huge economies apart will be expensive,” the Chamber of Commerce said, adding that the two nations are still deeply intertwined. However, the study noted that “full, comprehensive decoupling is no longer unthinkable.”

The US-China trade deal has not eliminated all the tariffs that were imposed in the midst of the trade war between the two nations. If relations further deteriorate, and 25-percent tariffs are applied to all two-way trade, it could lead to $190 billion in annual losses for the US economy by 2025, the chamber said.

The study also estimated that a full decoupling would have an impact on the flow of people, hurting revenue from tourism and education. According to its estimates, if Chinese tourism and education spending drop by half from pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, the US could lose from $15 billion to $30 billion per year in services trade exports.

The report also focused on the potential consequences of decoupling in four industries important to US national interests. The findings show that losing access to the Chinese market by the aviation industry would lead to annual output losses of $38 billion to $51 billion, or $875 billion cumulatively by 2038.

Additionally, losing a share in China’s semiconductor market would result in $54 billion to $124 billion in lost output and put 100,000 US jobs at risk. For the chemicals industry, the imposition of tariffs alone could lead to up to $38 billion in output losses and nearly 100,000 lost jobs. Lost market share in medical devices would result in $23.6 billion in annual revenue, while lost revenue over a decade could exceed $479 billion, the group said.

“Even based on our rough assessment, we can see that the costs of anything approaching ‘full’ decoupling are uncomfortably high,” the Chamber of Commerce concluded. While the group added that alternative ways to deal with China “would complement any decoupling scenario,” it said that if Washington still wants to confront China over its practices, it should unite with “like-minded partners” to minimize the costs to the economy.

 

Source: RT.com