Ayman's blog

U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed their countries` efforts to monitor, contain, and mitigate the rapidly spreading new coronavirus in a phone call on Friday, the White House said.
A Japanese destroyer left for the Gulf of Oman on Sunday amid simmering Middle East tension to guard sea lanes that supply nearly all the oil that powers the world`s third-biggest economy.
Australia`s capital, Canberra, was on high alert on Sunday as bushfires burned nearby, while smoke and dust covered large parts of the country`s east, prompting warnings from health authorities.
Hours ticked by on Saturday as 50-year-old Lu Yuejin struggled to get past the police checkpoint on the bridge over the Yangtze river and out of Hubei province, which is on virtual lockdown as China scrambles to control a coronavirus outbreak.
A Japanese warship left its port near Tokyo on Sunday on a mission to protect merchant ships and oil tankers passing through the Gulf of Oman that supply 90% of Japan`s oil, as tension in the Middle East simmers.
Mexican authorities said on Saturday they are investigating the possible murder of a tour guide working at a famous butterfly reserve in the western state of Michoacan, just two days after its former environmental activist was buried.
China`s new confirmed infections from the coronavirus outbreak increased by a daily record, up by 2,590 cases on Saturday to top 14,000, as the quickly growing epidemic prompted global travel restrictions and evacuations.
U.S. ride-hailing application Uber Technologies Inc. said on Saturday that it suspended 240 accounts of users in Mexico who may recently have come in contact with someone possibly infected with the new coronavirus.
The death toll from a coronavirus epidemic in China had reached 304 as of the end of Saturday, up by 45 from the previous day, state broadcaster CCTV said on Sunday, citing the country`s National Health Commission.
Irish nationalists Sinn Fein passed the governing Fine Gael party to draw level at the top of an opinion poll a week before an election that looks set to be a major breakthrough for the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army.
The number of deaths in China`s central Hubei province from the new coronavirus outbreak had risen by 45 to 294 as of the end of Feb. 1, Chinese state television reported on Sunday.
Britain will evacuate more citizens from the center of the new coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, on Sunday, according to a message sent to staff at the hospital in northwest England where the first 83 evacuees are being quarantined.
Syrian insurgents carried out two suicide car bomb attacks in an assault on pro-government forces in Aleppo on Saturday and opened a new front northeast of the city, an attempted fightback after territorial gains for President Bashar al-Assad.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would consider a looser trade agreement with the European Union, similar to the bloc`s ties with Australia, rather than follow EU rules to reach a closer deal, a government source said on Saturday.
The transgender flag, women wearing tuxedos, bottle-feeding parents and a gender-neutral Santa are part of of the new 2020 emoji update from the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit organization that sets the standards for emoji compatibility and releases new symbols.
Oh, the Super Bowl. For football fans, it`s the most important day of the season, the culmination of five months of National Football League competition. And for those less interested in the sport, there`s the halftime show, when the world`s most famous performers deliver 15 minutes of high-voltage entertainment.
The daughter of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman married another offspring of a drug empire in a lavish ceremony held in the cathedral of Sinaloa`s state capital Culiacan, Mexican media reported, in a new display of her family`s prominence.
Russia said on Saturday it was suspending visa-free travel for tourists to and from China to help contain the outbreak of a new coronavirus that emerged in China.
China faced mounting isolation in the face of increasing international travel curbs and flight suspensions on Saturday, as the death toll from a spreading coronavirus outbreak rose to 259.
The Palestinian Authority has cut all ties with the United States and Israel, including those relating to security, after rejecting a Middle East peace plan presented by U.S. President Donald Trump, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday.
Anti-government demonstrations have been raging since October, demanding an end to political corruption.
CAIRO – 1 February 2020: The state-owned flag carrier of Egypt, EgyptAir, said that a private plane was sent on Sunday to China to repatriate Egyptians residing in Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak.

EgyptAir’s officials said in press statements that the plane has on board a comprehensive medical team picked by the Egyptian ministry of health, and will be expected by Cairo International Airport’s quarantine upon arriving.

The plane can have 300 passengers along with the crew.

Egyptian cabinet’s spokesperson, Nader Sa’ad, said on Saturday day that the repatriation of Egyptians living in China has been discussed during the latest cabinet’s meetings. He added that no Egyptian living in China has been reported to have coronavirus.

Sa’ad pointed out that the returning Egyptians will be quarantined for up to 14 days- believed to be the virus incubation period- also those who dealt with them since they entered the private plane will be subject to a medical examination.

The Chinese authorities announced on Saturday that the virus death toll has jumped to 259, while other countries such as Australia and the United States imposed restrictions on the entry of foreigners who have visited China lately.

China`s Hubei provincial government has extended the Lunar New Year holiday break to Feb. 13 as it seeks to curb the coronavirus outbreak that emerged from the province`s capital of Wuhan, the Hubei Daily reported on Saturday.

24 states have reported cases of the growing virus, however, most of the infected are in China.

New Prime Minister Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi appealed to downtrodden Iraqis for their support on Saturday hours after his appointment by President Barham Salih, but protesters were already rejecting the head of government as a stooge of the political elite.
Louis Vuitton jumped into the restaurant business Saturday with the opening of Le Café V and Sugalabo V inside its new flagship store in Osaka, Japan.
Syrian insurgents carried out two suicide car bomb attacks in an assault on pro-government forces in Aleppo on Saturday and opened a new front northeast of the city, an attempted fightback after territorial gains for President Bashar al-Assad.
Malaysia`s anti-graft agency is investigating allegations by Britain`s Serious Fraud Office that Airbus paid a bribe of 50 million to win plane orders from Asia’s largest budget airline group, Malaysia-based AirAsia, it said on Saturday.
American embassies appeared to sympathize with an Iranian woman who feared returning to Iran after an image of her looking like she was not wearing a hijab circulated online.
Eritrea denounced a U.S. ban on immigrant visas for its citizens as "unacceptable" on Saturday, while Nigeria`s government said it had created a committee to address the issues that prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to add the country to the ban.
Iraqi President Barham Salih appointed Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi as prime minister on Saturday, state television reported, after squabbling parties failed to name a candidate in the two months since Adel Abdul-Mahdi was ousted by mass protests.
More than 100 Germans and family members landed in Frankfurt on Saturday after being evacuated from the Chinese city Wuhan for checks for the fast-spreading coronavirus and two weeks` quarantine, prompting the health minister to call for calm.
Delta Air Lines said on Saturday it will accelerate the suspension of flights in and out of China from the United States after the White House said it was imposing new restrictions on visitors due to the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak in the country.
China faced mounting isolation from international travel curbs and flight suspensions on Saturday, with Russia to start pulling out its citizens next week, as the death toll from a spreading coronavirus outbreak rose to 259.
Airlines are suspending flights to China in the wake of the new coronavirus outbreak.
CAIRO – 1 February 2020: Cairo Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced to death Egyptian terrorist Hesham Ashmawy and 36 members of Ansar Bait al-Maqdes terror group over multiple crimes including assassinations of policemen.

The case is referred to the Grand Mufti for religious advisory and the final verdict will be announced on March 2. Referring cases to Grand Mufti is a standard procedure that seeks the religious authority’s approval on sentencing a defendant to death, although his decision is not binding.

In this case, there are 208 defendants who are charged with 54 crimes that consist of assassinations of policemen, attempted murder of former Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim, and bombings of security institutions’ buildings.

The Public Prosecution’s arraignment states the following crimes: founding, leading, and joining a terrorist group aiming at suspending the constitution, laws, and prohibiting the state’s institutions from fulfilling their responsibilities; violating the citizens’ rights and freedoms and jeopardizing national unity and social peace; espionage with a foreign organization embodied in Hamas, the military branch of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood; vandalism of state buildings; deliberate and attempted murder; and, acquisition of firearms, ammunition, and explosives.

The 54 crimes drawn against the defendants included 49 murder case of police officers and citizens, including Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Mabrouk, and Major General Mohamed el-Saeed. They are also accused of orchestrating explosions that targeted three security directorates, destroying 25 public facilities, including mosques and churches, and stealing a post office, and a vehicle transferring money.

This is the second death sentence handed to Ashmawy after he was extradited from Libya to Egypt. Last November, Ashmawy was handed the first death penalty by the Military Criminal Court over committing 14 crimes pertinent to the Farafra Terror Attack against a Border Guard ambush five years ago killing 28 officers and soldiers.

The handing over of Hisham Ashmawy, the ex-military officer and the mastermind behind several high profile attacks in Egypt, was seen as a revenge for dozens of terror victims among army and police forces over the past years.

From military to militancy

Born in 1978 in Giza, Ashmawy or Abu Omar al-Muhajir, 41, was an officer in the Egyptian Commandos as a member of Sa‘ka Forces or Thunderbolt Forces.

He was transferred to an administrative post in 2007 after a change in his behavior as he promoted for political Islam through spreading banned books. He was suspended from the army in 2009 after he stood a military trial; then he traveled to Syria via Turkey.

In 2013, Ashmawy moved to Sinai where he became in charge of the military wing of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. He started to develop the performance of the group and improve their militancy skills.

Following the June 30 Uprising, he was accused of failed assassination of former Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, and the killing of a colonel and brigadier general during a firefight in the Qaliubiya village of Arab Sharkas.

Defected from Islamic State (IS) terror group, Ashmawy went to Derna, 250 km far from Egypt’s western borders, where he announced in a voice recording his leadership of the al-Qaeda-aligned militant group al-Mourabitoun in the Islamic Maghreb.

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis announced in November 2014 its allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), Ashmawy refused to pledge allegiance to ISIS.

Additional reporting by Mohamed Abdel Maguid
India sought to boost growth in a federal budget on Saturday that raised spending on farms and expressways and offered cuts in personal taxes, but the measures fell short of market expectations and battered stocks.
The Nigerian government has created a committee to address the issues that led to a suspension of U.S. immigrant visas to its citizens, the president`s office said on Saturday.
CAIRO – 1 February 2020: Many Egyptians, businessmen and media professionals mourned the death of the CEO of Orascom Development Egypt (ODE) Khaled Bichara, 48, in a car accident on the Ring Road during the early hours of Friday.

Preliminary investigations showed that Bichara’s car turned over on the road, and hit an iron fence on the side of the road, causing his immediate death.

Bichara giving a TEDXTalk in Rome - Bichara`s Facebook page

Images of Bichara’s damaged car circulated on social media following the collision. Officials opened an investigation into the incident to reveal circumstances leading to the death.

The funeral activities of Bichara will be held on Sunday at St. Mark Cleopatra Church at 12 p.m.

Many social media users expressed sorrow for the loss of Bichara’s family, saying his death is a loss to the business field in Egypt as he was called “Egypt’s Bill Gates.” Praisal posts flooded social media speaking about Bichara’s role in encouraging entrepreneurs to start their projects out of his belief in the powerful role of start-ups in boosting Egypt’s economy.

bichara family
Bichara with his wife and two sons - Bichara`s Facebook page

Bichara was born in 1971 ,and he earned his B.Sc degree from The American University in Cairo in 1993 with a major in Computer Science and a Minor in Business Administration.

He was the Group Chief Executive Officer of Orascom Telecom Holding, as well as the Chief Executive Officer of Weather Investments. He was also a board member of WIND Italy, and various telecom and IT companies, according to an Orascom Telecom Holding report.

Bichara announcing the groundbreaking of SUPERNAP Italia - Bichara`s Facebook page

Bichara headed the fixed line and portal business unit at WIND Telecommunicazioni from 3005 until he was promoted to Chief Operating Officer of the company. At Wind, he played a key and instrumental role in restructuring the company’s organization, which led to the successful turnaround of WIND from a continuously loss making company to one of the best performing mobile, fixed line and broadband integrated operators in Europe within a record time span of three years. Prior to joining WIND, he was the cofounder, Chairman and CEO of LINKdotNET (LDN), the largest private Internet Service Provider in the Middle East.

Bichara was awarded by Business Today Egypt as one of the best executive officers below 40 years old.
Iraqi President Barham Salih appointed on Saturday Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi as new prime minister, State TV reported, after squabbling political parties failed to name a candidate in the two months since the former premier was ousted by popular protests.
The Palestinian Authority has cut all ties with the United States and Israel, including those relating to security, after rejecting a Middle East peace plan presented by U.S. President Donald Trump, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday.
Syrian insurgents carried out at least three car bomb attacks against government forces west of Aleppo on Saturday and opened a new front northeast of the city, an attempted fight back after territorial advances by Damascus.
A decision by the United States to lift sanctions on one of two units of the Chinese tanker company COSCO was not a sign that the Trump administration was letting up on its "maximum pressure" against Iran, a senior U.S. official said on Saturday.
CAIRO, Feb 1 (MENA) - Some 129 prisoners were pardoned and 369 others were released on parole, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday.

The move was taken in accordance with a presidential decree on pardoning some prisoners on the occasion of the 68th anniversary of the Police Day, the ministry said in a statement.

The step is part of the interior ministry`s efforts to implement a modern concept of penal policy, provide inmates with all means of welfare and apply the procedures set for releasing rehabilitated convicts.
CAIRO - 1 February 2020: The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean will hold a press conference in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the latest developments of coronavirus outbreak, said the Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom after holding the emergency committee meeting on Jan. 31.

"The World Health Organization is working in conjunction with the Egyptian Ministry of Health to enhance the country`s capabilities for early detection, examination and rapid response to public health events,” the representative of the World Health Organization in Egypt John Jabbour said on Saturday.

“This comes in the context of full compliance with international health regulations. Until now, the organization does not recommend imposing any restrictions on international travel and trade” he added.

The press conference will highlight the updates of the regional situation that will be reviewed by the leaders and experts of the organization followed by an interactive session to answer the reporters’ questions.

WHO continues to provide full support to countries where the disease has spread to monitor its directions to avoid its spread, Jabbour said.

Among the most important recommendations of the emergency committee announced by Tedros are to accelerate the production of vaccines and treatments, and to face rumors and misinformation.

He also recommended examining the resources required for isolation and care for affected cases to prevent disease transmission between individuals, as well as supporting countries with weak health systems.

Tedros also said that countries coordinate and share data and information with the World Health Organization, to counter the risk of the disease that is threatening us all.

The World Health Organization calls on citizens to remain calm and take precautions to keep themselves safe, prevent the spread of the virus and reduce the risk of transmission.

The World Health Organization recommends that individuals avoid contact with people with acute respiratory infection (ARI), wash their hands frequently, especially after direct contact with patients or their surroundings, and avoid contact with farm animals or wildlife without protection.
The move by the United States to impose travel restrictions on Kyrgyz citizens is a blow to bilateral relations, the Central Asian nation`s foreign ministry said on Saturday.
The Arab League rejected U.S. President Donald Trump`s Middle East peace plan at a meeting of foreign ministers in Cairo on Saturday, saying it would not lead to a just peace deal.
The Palestinian Authority has cut all ties with the United States and Israel including security relations after rejecting a Middle East peace plan presented this week by U.S. President Donald Trump, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday.
China faced mounting isolation from international travel curbs and flight suspensions on Saturday as the death toll from a spreading coronavirus outbreak rose to 259.
Several thousand protesters took to the streets in Ethiopian cities this week, demanding Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed do more to tackle simmering ethnic violence following the kidnapping of a group of university students.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to impose full customs and border checks on all European Union goods entering Britain from next year, in an attempt to increase pressure on the bloc in trade talks, The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.
CAIRO, Feb 1 (MENA) - Health Minister Hala Zayed inspected Saturday the measures taken at quarantine facilities to examine Egyptians returning from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of new coronavirus outbreak.

Zayed followed up the activities of the ministry`s 24/7 active emergency response room, which consists of medical as well as administrative teams including doctors, nurses, IT specialists, lab technicians and waste control specialists, said spokesman for the Health Ministry Khaled Megahed.

She also paid onsite visits to the quarantine facilities to ensure the provision of all necessary logistics for returnees and measure compliance with the preventive measures set out by the relevant guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), Megahed added.

All harbors and airports across the nation are on high alert to deal with the deadly virus, Megahed said, asserting that no case or suspected case of coronavirus was recorded in the country, especially after taking all preventive action.
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