Ayman's blog

The United States on Monday effectively backed Israel`s right to build Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank by abandoning its four-decade-old position that they were "inconsistent with international law."
The European Union said on Monday that it continued to believe that Israeli settlement activity in occupied Palestinian territory was illegal under international law and eroded prospects for lasting peace.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the reversal of decades of American policy that may doom any peace efforts.
The United States on Monday effectively backed Israel`s right to build Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank by abandoning its four-decade position that they were "inconsistent with international law."
The U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on Monday warned Americans about traveling in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, soon after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the United States was softening its position on Israel`s Jewish settlements.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the shift, which may doom peace efforts, on Monday afternoon.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said the United States was prepared to impose sanctions on any Iraqi officials found to be corrupt as well as those responsible for the deaths and wounding of peaceful protesters.
Twenty-four Malian soldiers were killed and 29 wounded when militants attacked a patrol in northern Mali on Monday, a spokesman for the army told Reuters, updating an earlier death toll of seven.
Seven Malian soldiers were killed and 15 wounded when militants attacked a patrol in northern Mali on Monday, the army said in a statement.
Mexico, Uruguay and representatives of the Caribbean Community on Monday rejected the use of force and human rights violations in Venezuela, urging a peaceful and democratic solution to solve the crisis in the troubled South American nation.

Last year’s poster for the 2018 third edition of Aswan’s International Women Film Festival

Maya Morsi, President of the National Council for Women, announced on Monday that the main theme of the fourth edition of the Aswan International Women’s Film Festival to be held in February 2020 will focus on Egyptian women’s participation in politics.

The announcement came during a meeting with Ambassador Mervat Tallawy and chairperson of the festival’s board of trustees, in the presence of Mohamed Abdelkhalek, president of the festival, Hassan Abu El-Ela, festival director, and Dr. Azza Kamel, vice-chairperson of the festival board of trustees.

Ambassador Mervat Tallawy, who was previously the deputy director of the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, expressed her pride in the efforts of Dr. Maya Morsi in the field of advancing the status of Egyptian women, stressing that today’s meeting aims to present the experiences of the third edition of the festival and focus on the lessons and challenges to avoid in the fourth edition.

Dr. Azza Kamel noted that the ‘Nut Forum for Women’s Issues’, which are social forums integrated with the festival’s activities, will focus on combating marriage of young girls in cooperation with Aswan’s civil society, in addition to discussing the challenges facing female filmmakers.

This year’s festival will include for the first time a competition for Egyptian short films and animated films for children that incorporate awareness of women’s issues, and the list of awards to be presented during the festival include “Lady of Aswan”  “Artistic Journey”, an award for “Youth” filmmakers.

The Aswan International Women Film Festival is the first women’s film festival in Egypt, the first international festival held in Upper Egypt, and the first Egyptian film festival that specializes in workshops for youth in Aswan.

Last year’s festival witnessed the honoring of Egyptian actresses like Menna Shalaby and Mohsena Tawfik in the opening ceremony, and a screening of Mexican film ‘Dos Fridas’ (Two Fridas), which is a 92 minutes film inspired by the relationship between Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and her Costa Rican nurse Judith Ferreto.

Egyptian women’s participation in politics have witnessed impressive advancements in the last few years, with a new constitutional clause reserving 25% of seats in all local councils to women, the appointment of Egypt’s first woman governor in 2017, and the unprecedented increase by 25% of women ministers in the presidential cabinet.

Nevertheless, it remains low compared to other MENA countries such as Jordan and Tunisia, and female representation in local councils remains low due to socio-cultural constraints.

The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on four companies and two people operating in Syria, Turkey, the Gulf and Europe for providing financial and logistical support to Islamic State.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to announce on Monday the United States is softening its position on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, a Trump administration official said.
Amir Hekmati, an American imprisoned and mistreated by Iran, was found eligible for 20 million from a special United States government fund. The government has withheld payment, and now he is suing.
Turkey`s foreign minister said Ankara would launch a new military operation in northeast Syria if the area was not cleared of what he called terrorists, state-owned Anadolu agency reported on Monday.
A 15-year-old girl and a truck driver died when a bridge collapsed into a river in southwestern France on Monday, officials said.
Spain`s High Court on Monday ordered the extradition of Venezuela`s former military intelligence chief to the United States, reversing an earlier decision to refuse the request.
Bolivia`s interim president Jeanine Anez was forced to suspend a trip out of the capital La Paz planned for Monday, a government spokesman said, after a threat on her life by a "criminal group."

Officially announced as a new US Ambassador to Egypt, Jonathan Cohen has presented his credentials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday, filling in the vacant but significant post since 2017.

The news was announced in a press release published by the US Embassy in Egypt.

Cohen, who takes the highest ranking position of the US embassy to Egypt after Thomas H. Goldberger’s interm serving as Chargé d’affaires, was officially sworn in last week.

The last US serving ambassador to the country was Robert Stephen Beecroft, from 2014 to 2017.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo is pleased to announce the arrival in Cairo of the new U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, Jonathan Cohen. Ambassador Cohen presented his credentials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 17, 2019. Please find his full bio here: https://t.co/scPosoUjEH pic.twitter.com/t61Qwh0kuH

— US Embassy Cairo (@USEmbassyCairo) November 17, 2019

The ‘Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Arab Republic of Egypt’, also served as the Acting Representative of the United States to the United Nations; he also has extensive foreign service experience in France, Turkey, Iraq, Sweden, and Thailand.

Alternatively, Yasser Reda is Egypt’s ambassador to the United States of America, based in Washington D.C.

For years Egypt has maintained a close relationship with the US, with amicable relations noted between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and US President Donald Trump.

At the beginning of the month, US Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, and the President of the World Bank, David Malpass announced their involvment in smoothing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

A deadline to the negotiations was set to January 15, 2020.

Moreover, the US is a large financial contributor to the country. Since the Camp David Accords, Egypt has been benefiting from an aid package from the US since 1978 which totaled over US 30 billion.

Currently, after Israel, Egypt is the second largest recipient of foreign assistance from the U.S. according to the American Chamber Commerce in Egypt.

Dozens of Hong Kong protesters staged a dramatic escape from a university campus sealed off by police on Monday by shimmying down plastic hosing from a bridge and fleeing on waiting motorbikes as the police fired projectiles.
In her first public appearance since being deported by U.S. authorities who had jailed her for being a Russian agent, Maria Butina was on Monday offered a job by Moscow to defend Russians imprisoned abroad.
King Tut`s sarcophagus. Source: Jaroslav Moravcik / Adobe Stock.

One of the best-known Egyptologists believes that he has finally solved the mystery of the death of Tutankhamun. He claims that the young pharaoh died after his leg became infected after an accident. The expert claims that he has conclusive evidence that Tutankhamun was not murdered, a theory that is popular among some specialists.

The Saudi-led military coalition engaged in Yemen said on Monday that the Iran-aligned Houthi movement had seized a vessel towing a South Korean drilling rig at the south end of the Red Sea.
Yemeni Houthi forces seized a "suspect vessel" in the Red Sea but will release it if it proves to belong to South Korea after legal procedures are completed, a senior Houthi official said on Monday.
Jennifer Arcuri, the American businesswoman at the center of a controversy over whether Boris Johnson failed to declare a potential conflict of interest when he was Mayor of London, has said she has kept the Prime Minister`s "secrets" and accused him of refusing to talk to her since he entered Downing Street.
The United States could impose sanctions on Egypt and block it from future military sales if it goes ahead with a purchase of Russian warplanes, a U.S. official said on Monday.
The Saudi-led military coalition engaged in Yemen said on Monday that the Iran-aligned Houthi movement had hijacked a vessel towing a South Korean drilling rig south of the Red Sea, the state Saudi Press Agency reported.
Awol Beyene got married on Sunday in a white tuxedo, with his voting card in one hand and his bride`s hand in the other.
North Korea said on Monday it was not interested in meaningless talks with the United States just so President Donald Trump had something to boast about, urging an end to what it called a policy of hostility if the United States wanted dialogue.
North Korea has said it is not "interested" in further meetings with the US, a day after President Donald Trump tweeted a message to the country`s leader Sunday saying "See you soon!"
The Vatican said on Monday the head of its financial regulator would leave, weeks after unprecedented police raids on his organisation and another key arm of the Catholic Church`s bureaucracy.
Iran`s powerful Revolutionary Guards warned anti-government protesters on Monday of "decisive" action if unrest over gasoline price hikes do not cease, state media said, in a hint that a harsh security crackdown could be on the cards.
Iran has breached another limit of its nuclear deal with major powers by accumulating slightly more than 130 tonnes of heavy water, a substance used in a type of reactor it is developing, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report showed on Monday.
Police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters near Georgia`s parliament on Monday and arrested several, a Reuters reporter said.
Senior members of ISIS are plotting mass prison breaks and a resurgence of terror after taking refuge in Turkey, according to the head of Iraqi Military Intelligence.
CAIRO – 18 November 2019: Egyptian Engineer Hassan Emam received the highest award dedicated to project planning and management engineers, the Global Award for Project Controls Innovation.

The award`s shortlist included, besides Emam, a consultant at the UK House of Commons, and another who works in one of the largest oil companies in Pakistan.

Egyptian Engineer Hassan Emam receives the highest award dedicated to project planning and management engineers, the Global Award for Project Controls Innovation - Press photo

Emam is the first Egyptian, Arab and African engineer to receive the award. The grand ceremony was held at the Emirates Stadium of Arsenal Football Club in London in the presence of 1,400 attendees.

The nomination for the award is made through pre-announced procedures, and is based on an evaluation of the nominees. Results are announced by a jury composed of some of the most prestigious industry experts in the world.

Emam gave a lecture at a conference during the ceremony, where he discussed the fourth industrial revolution, and the use of industrial intelligence in the field of construction.

Emam is an Egyptian civil engineer who graduated from the Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria University in 2004. He works on the largest speed trains project in Europe.
He is also a fellow of the British Royal Association for Building, and a member of its Board of Directors in the Central part of England.
CAIRO - 18 November 2019: The Ministry of Education and Technical Education targets to introduce the internet in 50 percent of technical schools in this academic year, a statement read on Monday.

The move is mandatory to adopt modern learning methods and to make the operation of applied technology schools possible.

The Ministry of Education and Technical Education targets to introduce 10 applied technology schools annually so that the total number of such schools becomes 100 by 2030, Deputy Minister Mohamed Megahed told press last week.

“Egypt will not achieve development without skilled technical experts who are qualified to serve the industrial sector,” the official said, highlighting that the ministry succeeded to attract great industrial partners to jointly train students.

Megahed stated that the curricula have been updated in accordance with international standards. The deputy minister’s statements came on the sidelines of the inauguration of a technology school in Nasr City called Ahmed Taalab for Applied Technology. He pointed out that the industrial partner gives a financial incentive to students, encouraging youth to join the ministry’s technical education system.

Habiba Ezz, the minister’s consultant for technical education, said that 11 applied technology schools have started working to present as the project kicked off a year and a half ago.
At least seven workers were killed and another 35 wounded in an air strike that hit a biscuit factory on Monday in a southern suburb of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, emergency services said.
Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said on Monday that his country remained committed to closer integration with Russia, a day after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko threatened to pull out of an integration deal with Moscow.
CAIRO - 18 November 2019: In order to prevent avian flu and epidemic diseases, 1.1 million fowls in 1,862 farms and 727,424 households were vaccinated in October, Chairman of the Central Administration for Preventive Work at the General Authority for Veterinary Services Mohamed Atteya told Egypt Today.

The official added that the number of licenses issued to transport 3.4 million fowls between governorates is 4,030.

In a similar context, the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation announced in October banning imports of pet birds as a precautionary measure to prevent epidemic diseases, particularly avian influenza, and protect the country’s poultry resources.

Head of the Central Administration for Veterinary Quarantine Ahmed Abdel Karim told Egypt Today that the ban will end in March when the winter season finishes. The official added that biological safety measures in poultry farms and slaughterhouses across the country are being reviewed. The same checks take place in rural households where poultry farming is carried out.

CAIRO - 18 November 2019: The Ministry of Transportation overhauled 217 train stations between 2014 and 2019, as well as 480.6 kilometers of railroads, the government indicated in a report submitted to the Parliament.

The report showing the government’s achievements between June 2018 and June 2019 is examined by 25 committees at the House of Representatives, including those of planning, education, health, workforce, religious affairs, industry, economy, agriculture, and housing. Each will prepare a report evaluating the government’s work and putting forward demands by November 20. The reports will be discussed by the plenary session in order to draft a final report.

The Egyptian Railway Authority (ERA) signed with PRL (Progress Rail Automotives) a number of contracts worth 466.3 million after meeting with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi last week.

The American company will supply 50 train engines over 22 months, will carry out long-term maintenance for 41 engines by June 30, and will upgrade 50 others within 30 months from the conclusion of the deal. The company will also provide maintenance services and spare parts for the 141 train engines for 15 years. The value of contracts will be secured through soft loans, except for 27 million that will be paid by ERA’s treasury.

In July, ERA endorsed the technical specifications of two passenger railcars supplied by Transmashholding in September. Those are part of a contract to supply 1,300 railcars. One of the railcars would be tested in Hungary, so it will be granted the safety certification by the European Railway Agency. The other will be tested in Egypt. Afterwards, the first batch of railcars in the contract will be delivered in accordance with the timeline set by both parties.

The contract states that 650 railcars will be supplied from Hungary, 500 will be delivered by Russia, and 150 will be manufactured by Egypt under the supervision of Transmashholding. An Egyptian locomotive factory will be established as part of a plan to localize the locomotive industry and transfer the know-how to workers, technicians, and engineers in the sector. The factory will produce the 150 railcars and will provide maintenance services.

The representatives of ERA and Transmashholding agreed to hold further meetings to study the possibility of cooperation in rail infrastructure, mobile rail, workshops, new lines, and maintenance of existing railcars.

In the same month, an official source told Egypt Today that ERA needs 12 rail test machines to detect and repair defects in railroads, revealing that contracts to purchase eight of those are being finalized.

ERA will receive four rail test machines worth €8.5 million by the end of 2020 supplied by an Austrian company with which a contract was earlier signed. The machines will enable the authority to better diagnose defects in the railroads, which will increase safety, and inhibit derailment accidents.
Hong Kong police used tear gas and water cannon on Monday against protesters who tried to break through cordons and reach a university at the centre of a week-long standoff between demonstrators and law enforcement.
China’s ambassador to London on Monday accused foreign countries including the United States and Britain of interfering in Chinese internal affairs through their reactions to the violent clashes taking place in Hong Kong.
Indian police said they briefly detained around 50 students in New Delhi on Monday as protests against proposed fee hikes at a prestigious public university entered a second week and degenerated into clashes.
Banks in Lebanon will reopen on Tuesday after a week-long closure, local broadcaster LBCI reported on Monday, following a bank employee union`s revision of new security measures.
CAIRO – 18 November 2019: In February, a 29-year old man was found dead inside his car in Nozha district in Giza, with foam coming out of his mouth, with no sign of violence detected. The young man died of heroin overdose.

The rising numbers of new drugs introduced to the Egyptian illegal market are threatening thousands of youths’ lives amid difficulty to accurately determine its prevalence rate in the country. Vodoo, Strox and Blue Elephant are among the latest potent narcotics that emerged in Egypt, and are highly abused by many young people while behind the wheel.

Along the same lines, the government regularly launches sudden anti-drug campaigns across the country; one of them was last week, where drug tests were carried out on 225 drivers, of whom 34 tested positive to drug abuse.

When driving under the influence of drugs, the likelihood of accidents increases in different degrees according to the psychoactive substance used. For example, the risk of fatal accidents among amphetamine users is approximately five times higher than in others, said the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the Weed Index 2018 report, Egypt came fifth in the rankings to cannabis consumption that hit 32.59 tons in 2018.

Tramadol is the most abused drug by drivers, followed by hashish and then heroin, according to Amr Othman, head of the anti-addiction fund in a previous interview.

Drugs are commonly classified into three categories: Natural drugs; synthetic, which refers to drugs that are chemically-created to be similar to other drugs; and digital drugs or I-dosing, which is also known as “binaural beat,” where auditory illusion using various frequencies produces a sedative effect.

Intensive anti-drug campaigns

In July, the General Directorate of Traffic launched several crackdowns to spot drivers under the influence, and the results showed that in one week 138 drivers out of 1,450 tested positive to drugs, which equals 8 percent of the examined drivers. Legal procedures were taken against them, as part of the government’s move to reduce road accidents due to driving under the influence.

The directorate reiterated its warnings to the risks of driving under the influence of narcotics, because “drivers cannot be fully focused, their reflex action diminishes, and become less capable to push the brakes or escape any friction with other cars on the road.”

"Approaching drug abuse and addiction issues have been a top priority in Egypt since 2014, after nation-wide studies have shown that 10.4 percent of Egyptians aged between 12 to 60 years old are abusing drugs, while addiction rates recorded 2.4 percent," said Member of Anti-Addiction Fund’s technical office Mahmoud Saleh in a TV interview in November.

Saleh added that Egypt’s drug abuse rates then were exceeding the global rates, which recorded between 4.5-5 percent.

A striking figure showed that the 27 percent of drug abusers in Egypt are women, while children (aged between 12 to 18 years old) constituted 4.2 percent of the abusers.

Government campaigns extended to detect drug abusers among public employees, where latest figures show 279 employees at administrative bodies tested positive to addiction.

In 2014, a national survey indicated that 24 percent of Egyptian drivers abuse drugs. The figures saw improvement in 2017, with only 11.8 percent of drivers testing positive for drugs, according to statistics provided by the state-run anti-addiction fund.

Officials attributed the reduction in car accidents to several bids launched by the government like anti-addiction awareness campaigns that flooded TV, improved infrastructure through maintenance of old roads and construction of new roads, besides concerted efforts to detect drug abusers.

The new traffic law, with its toughened punishment, imposes imprisonment of up to 3 years, withdrawal of the driver`s license and a steep fine of up to LE 20,000 to drivers who test positive to drugs.

A new traffic draft law was discussed by the parliament, where violators will be imprisoned for six months or less, and will be fined not less than LE 4,000 (223) and not more than LE 8,000 (447), or they will face one of the two penalties, a security source said, adding that five points will also be deducted from the violating driver.

Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali recently announced that the ministry managed “to reduce drug abuse rates among truck drivers from 24 percent last recorded in 2015 to 12 percent in 2019." The ministry also supported the traffic administration with 50,000 drug detectors over this year to assist in street campaigns.

Truckers comprise the biggest percentage of drug abusers as they claim drugs keep them alert, and make them bear the long driving hours. However, they are not the only drivers canvassed by the anti-drug driving campaign, which also targets bus and school bus drivers.
ASWAN, Upper Egypt, Nov 18 (MENA) - The "100 Million Healthy Lives" campaign for eradicating hepatitis virus C was launched in the Upper Egypt governorate of Aswan.

The campaign will last in Aswan until the end of the month.

The campaign falls within the framework of the state`s efforts to eliminate virus C by 2020.

The campaign is also meant to spread awareness among people on how to avoid infection.
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