<![CDATA[rss-All News]]> All Rights Reserved for The Cairo post <![CDATA[All News]]>]]> 100 29 <![CDATA[Judge refuses to dismiss ex-Trump campaign chief's money laundering charge]]>
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson's ruling was the latest setback for Manafort, whose charges stem from Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Jackson a week ago ordered Manafort jailed pending trial after Mueller filed fresh charges against him over alleged witness tampering while he was under house arrest.

Manafort is facing separate indictments in Washington and Virginia, with charges ranging from conspiring to launder money and failing to register as a foreign agent for the former pro-Russia Ukrainian government, to bank and tax fraud.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, none of which are related his work on Trump's 2016 campaign. His Washington trial is due to begin in September and his Virginia trial in July.

Mueller, whose investigation could threaten Trump's presidency, is investigating whether the president's 2016 campaign colluded with Moscow and whether Trump has unlawfully sought to obstruct the Russia probe. Trump has called Mueller's investigation a witch hunt and has denied collusion.

The money laundering charge is among the most serious Manafort faces, as it carries stiffer penalties and subjects him to asset forfeiture. Money laundering charges brought against a defendant must be pegged to an underlying criminal offense such as bribery or defrauding a bank.

Prosecutors said Manafort laundered illegal proceeds he generated by lobbying for Ukraine without registering as a foreign agent with the U.S. government as required by law.

Manafort's attorneys called the prosecution's money laundering legal theory flawed because failing to register as a foreign agent did not generate financial proceeds. His lawyers said the law at issue does not prohibit foreign lobbying, instead prohibiting the failure to register as a lobbyist.

The judge also rejected a bid by Manafort's lawyers to prevent asset forfeiture based on the money laundering charge.

"These laws are not just about paperwork; their object is to ensure that no person acts to advance the interests of a foreign government or principal within the United States unless the public has been properly notified of his or her allegiance," Jackson wrote.

A Manafort spokesman declined comment on Jackson's action.

Jackson's ruling came a day after she denied a separate motion by Manafort to suppress evidence seized by the FBI in a storage locker.]]>
6/23/2018 5:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Simeone says Argentina look lost, questions Messi in leaked audio]]>
Simeone's sensational tirade, reported to be an audio message sent on mobile platform WhatsApp to Atletico assistant coach German 'Mono' Burgos, emerged hours after Argentina's heaviest defeat in a World Cup group stage since 1958.

Simeone's press spokesman and Atletico's head of communications did not respond to requests from Reuters asking to verify the audio.

"What's happening to the team right now is what has happened to Argentina in these last four disgraceful years: anarchy, no leadership from the players, coaches or directors. The team is lost," former Argentina international Simeone can be heard saying.

"Right now in the dressing room they are coming to blows. Someone needs to stand up and fight."

Simeone also appeared to call into question the true quality of Argentina's usual talisman Lionel Messi, who has had a minimal impact at tournament in Russia and missed a penalty against Iceland in the Group D opener, while his rival Cristiano Ronaldo has scored four times for Portugal.

"Messi is very good but he is very good because he is accompanied by extraordinary footballers. If you have to choose between Messi and Ronaldo in a normal game, who would you choose?" said Simeone.

The Atletico coach appears to be talking to his assistant Burgos, a former goalkeeper, when he criticises Argentina keeper Willy Caballero for gifting the opening goal in the game to Croatia winger Ante Rebic.

Simeone said: "The goalkeeper has done this before hasn't he German, he did it against Spain, against Italy when they hit the post, and if you slip up like that in a World Cup, it's a goal."]]>
6/23/2018 5:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[PSV appoint Van Bommel as new coach in three-year deal]]>
The 41-year-old will replace Philip Cocu, who was announced as the new coach of Turkish side Fenerbahce after five years with the Dutch club.

Van Bommel is currently at the World Cup in Russia with the Australian national team as part of Bert van Marwijk's coaching staff. He will start his new role once he returns from the tournament.

"I think I have the experience to meet this new challenge," Van Bommel, who previously worked as a youth coach at PSV for two years, said in a statement.

Van Bommel, capped 79 times by his country, spent six years with PSV as a player before going abroad to have spells with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AC Milan.

He returned to the Dutch side in 2012 before announcing his retirement from professional football at the end of the season.

PSV have won the Dutch league three times in last four years, including last season when they finished four points ahead of rivals Ajax Amsterdam.]]>
6/23/2018 3:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Merkel plays down chances of breakthrough in EU migration talks]]>
Plans for the emergency meeting, before a full EU summit at the end of next week, were thrown into chaos on Thursday when Italy's new prime minister declared that a draft accord on migration had been withdrawn because of a clash with Merkel.

She is under pressure to get EU leaders at the main June 28-29 summit to agree to share out migrants more evenly to placate her conservative allies, Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU). But Italy and others are very reluctant.

The CSU will assess at a meeting on July 1 whether any deal Merkel reaches in Brussels is acceptable, party sources said on Friday.

If a "satisfactory" deal is not achieved at next week's summit, German Interior Minister and CSU chief Horst Seehofer has threatened to defy Merkel and turn away at the German border people who have applied for asylum in other EU states.

National border controls would undermine the EU's system of free travel and could cause a German government crisis.

Initially expected to involve eight EU leaders, the Sunday talks will now bring together at least 17, according to the latest count by officials in Brussels.

"The meeting on Sunday is a consultation and working meeting at which there will be no concluding statement," Merkel told a news conference on Friday during a visit to Lebanon. "It is an initial exchange with interested member states."

In an interview with Spiegel magazine, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini gave a foretaste of the challenge Merkel faces in clinching a deal: "In a year it will be decided if a united Europe still exists or not."

He added that Italy was not ready to take in even a single migrant more.

Germany has taken in hundreds of thousands of Syrians and others since 2014 but Merkel's "open door" migration policy is threatening her ruling coalition. She said on Friday conditions in Syria were not yet right for refugees to return.

"I am working for the coalition to do its tasks as set out in the coalition agreement," Merkel said, speaking alongside Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. "We have lots more to do."


The Social Democrats, who also share power with Merkel's conservative bloc -- comprising the CSU and her own Christian Democrats (CDU) -- said they were ready for a new election. After an inconclusive election in September, it took Merkel months to form a coalition and secure a fourth term.

"The SPD is prepared for all scenarios," SPD General Secretary Lars Klingbeil said. Der Spiegel had reported that the party's preparations would include deciding who would run for chancellor.

The leader of the CSU parliamentary group, Alexander Dobrindt, said it could not be ruled out that migration might break up the historic alliance between his party and the CDU.

"I have always believed in the common destiny of the CDU and CSU," he told Spiegel magazine. "But it is unclear at the moment if a common path for action and positions can be found."

To stave off any coalition crisis, Merkel is pushing other EU leaders towards more measures to stem immigration to the bloc and restrict movement of those migrants who make it there.

United Nations refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi on Friday urged them to "find a new and united approach" to migration and asylum, saying it was achievable.

But Bulgaria said it would argue at the weekend talks for the EU's external borders to be shut completely to migrants and centres for war refugees set up outside its territory.

Italy has taken in 650,000 boat migrants in the last five years, and objects to suggestions that asylum seekers should be returned to the EU country they first registered in.

Merkel, whose approach has resulted in the arrival of more than 1.6 million migrants in Germany since 2014, will also discuss the issue with Spain's new Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, on Tuesday in Berlin. ]]>
6/23/2018 3:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Russia accused of using World Cup to bury bad news]]>
Since the start of the tournament, plans have been set in motion to raise the retirement age, increase value-added tax and lower the threshold for a tax on purchases from foreign online retailers. The retirement age hike is particularly unpopular: a petition against it has drawn 2.3 million signatures online.

According to a special presidential decree, during the World Cup all large gatherings unrelated to soccer are forbidden unless given explicit authorisation by local authorities. Meanwhile the streets of Moscow and the ten other World Cup host cities have been jammed with partying soccer fans.

Moscow authorities, citing the decree, refused permission on Thursday for three separate pension reform protests, which were planned by political opposition movements for the first week of July.

"When the entire country is focused on a major sporting event, it's the best time to quietly push through measures which on any other day would be the main political news of the moment," Ilya Yashin, an opposition politician and candidate for the position of Mayor of Moscow, told Reuters.

"Our president started out in the security services, and so unpopular decisions are taken in the style of covert ops," Yashin said, adding that the decree on public gatherings set a dangerous precedent and was in his view unconstitutional.

The Kremlin did not respond to a request for comment. The Supreme Court has ruled that the World Cup decree is lawful.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, released from prison just over a week ago after a 30-day sentence for holding an unsanctioned protest last month, has lodged official requests to hold demonstrations on July 1 in 20 Russian cities that are not hosting World Cup matches.

So far, four have been accepted, eight will take place in special zones where public gatherings do not require approval, and three have been rejected, Navalny's press secretary Kira Yarmysh told Reuters.

"It's convenient to make unpopular decisions on the back of a surge of popular enthusiasm, when it seems that people will pay less attention," Yarmysh said. "Moreover, it would appear as if the ban on protests would suppress any expressions of popular discontent."


The Russian government has long floated the idea of raising the retirement age as a way to ease the pressure on state finances from an ageing population and shrinking workforce.

But it has previously shied away from doing so, in part because of the unpopularity of a measure that will hit segments of the population traditionally considered President Vladimir Putin's base. Speaking on the topic in 2005, Putin said: "Such a decision will not be taken, not while I'm president."

On June 14, the day of the tournament's opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the government wanted to increase the retirement age for men to 65 from 60 years and for women to 63 from 55.

"The whole country is celebrating two major victories by the Russian (soccer) team," an opinion piece in the Moscow Komsomolets newspaper read on Wednesday.

"But this joy is dampened by the 'goals' scored by the Russian government against its own people, under the cover of the World Cup," the paper wrote.

Also on the day of the opening match, the government proposed raising value-added tax from 18 percent to 20 percent. This move may add 1.5 percentage points to inflation, according to First Deputy Prime Minister Anton Siluanov.

Russia's Finance Ministry said on Monday that from Jan. 1 it will start taxing all purchases from foreign online retailers of more than 200 euros ($233). Previously, only purchases worth more than 1,000 euros were subject to the tax.

Speaking to Radio Free Europe, Mikhail Anshakov, head of the Russian Consumer Rights Protection Society, called the measure a "tax on the poor". ($1 = 0.8571 euros)]]>
6/23/2018 3:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[PM to follow up construction progress of Grand Egyptian Museum ]]>
The project's cost is estimated at $1bn, of which Japan offered $ 300m as a soft loan. The museum is expected to feature more than 100,000 artefacts from the Pharaonic, Greek, and Roman eras, which will greatly boost the tourism sector in Egypt.

The general supervisor of the Grand Egyptian Museum, Tarek Tawfik, said in a previous statement that the partial opening of the museum would be in the first quarter of 2019.

Tawfik explained that the museum's first stage will be completed by the end of 2018. The Grand Egyptian Museum will witness for the first time the display of all Tutankhamun's artifacts collected in one place which amount to more than 5,000 pieces.]]>
6/23/2018 3:18:23 AM
<![CDATA[Saudi Arabia refutes World Cup broadcast piracy claims]]>
Saud al-Qahtani, a senior adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, called the piracy charges "baseless" and "unfounded".

Last week, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) accused television channel BeoutQ, whose pirating devices are widely available for purchase in Saudi Arabia, of illegally broadcasting the opening games of the World Cup.

FIFA said it was “exploring all options to stop the infringement of its rights, including in relation to action against legitimate organizations that are seen to support such illegal activities”.

Global sports network beIN Sports is blocked in Saudi Arabia under a boycott the kingdom imposed on Qatar a year ago.

In March, the Cairo Economic Court upheld a first-degree verdict to fine Qatari-owned channel beIN Sports and its chairperson, Nasser al-Khalaifi, LE 400 million ($22.7 million) over anti-competitive practices.

The Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA), led by Mona el-Garf, proved on January 3, 2017 that beIN Sports violated Article 8 (Paragraph G) of the Egyptian Competition Law (ECL), as it obliged subscribers to turn to Qatari satellite Sohail to watch the channel during the last African Cup in Gabon instead of using Egyptian satellite Nilesat, causing Nilesat direct economic loses and harming competition in the market.

According to the ECA, beIN Sports also violated Article 8 (Paragraph D) of the ECL when its subscription system was exploitative to the extent that it forced its customers to subscribe to all sports bundles if they want to watch any sports tournament.

Qatari ties with several Arab states has been strained since May 24, 2017 over a leaked statement attributed to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad criticizing Gulf foreign policy with Iran, describing it as “unwise.”

In June 2017, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed economic sanctions, accusing it of funding terrorism, a claim Qatar denies. They also closed their airspace and seaports for Qatari transportation.

The Arab quartet issued 13 demands to Doha in June, which were shortened to six principles a month later, including closing Al-Jazeera television, curbing relations with Iran and shutting a Turkish military base.
6/23/2018 2:59:14 AM
<![CDATA[Top U.S., Russia energy officials to meet on Tuesday]]>
Perry will meet Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak on Tuesday, in the context of the World Gas Conference that is being held in Washington, the source said.

Meetings between top energy officials from Russia and the United States, two of the world's largest oil and gas producers, have been rare in recent years.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have cooled over Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and as the Trump administration blames the Russian government for cyber attacks that targeted the U.S. power grid over the last two years.

The two countries are competing to sell natural gas to Europe. Russia's Gazprom, the European Union's biggest gas supplier, and several Western energy companies hope to open Nord Stream 2, a pipeline to bring Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany.

The United States, meanwhile, has begun some sales of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to Poland and Lithuania, though LNG shipments can be more expensive than gas sent via pipeline. The United States says the advantage of its LNG is dependability and stable pricing.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump opposes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, as did the administration of former President Barack Obama. Washington believes that the pipeline would give Russia, which has at times frozen deliveries to parts of Europe over pricing disputes, more power over the region.

The meeting comes as U.S. national security adviser John Bolton plans to visit Moscow next week to prepare for a possible meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Perry and Novak will also likely talk about oil markets. On Friday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed in Vienna to raise oil output by a modest amount after consumers had called for producers to curb rising fuel prices.

Russia, which is not an OPEC member, began cooperating last year with the group for the first time, holding back production to support global oil prices. Before the Vienna OPEC meeting, Novak said Moscow would propose a gradual increase in output from oil-producing countries, starting in July.]]>
6/23/2018 2:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Villarreal sign Funes Mori from Everton]]>
The Argentine, who joined Everton in July 2015, made his Premier League debut later that year but was hindered by a long-term knee injury last season and only managed 55 appearances during his stay on Merseyside.

The 27-year-old will join manager Javier Calleja's side as they look to improve upon their fifth-placed finish last season and push for a top four spot to qualify for the Champions League.

Funes Morihas has won 19 caps for Argentina and was picked by manager Jorge Sampaoli for the provisional World Cup squad but failed to make the final cut. ]]>
6/23/2018 2:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Syria's Assad defies U.S., presses southwest assault]]>
Assad has sworn to recapture the area bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the army began ramping up an assault there this week, threatening a "de-escalation" zone agreed by the United States and Russia last year.

The United States on Thursday reiterated its demand that the zone be respected, warning Assad and his Russian allies of "serious repercussions" of violations. It accused Damascus of initiating air strikes, artillery and rocket attacks.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Friday that the Syrian military escalation "unambiguously violates" the de-escalation arrangemment and that more than 11,000 people had already been displaced.

"Russia will ultimately bear responsibility for any further escalations in ‎Syria," Haley said in a statement.

A big offensive risks a wider escalation that could draw the United States deeper into the war. The southwest is of strategic concern to U.S.-allied Israel, which has this year stepped up attacks on Iran-backed militia allied to Assad.

The barrel bombs targeted a cluster of rebel-held towns including Busra al-Harir northeast of Deraa city, where the government attack threatens to bisect a finger of rebel ground jutting northwards into land held by the government.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said Syrian government helicopters had dropped more than 12 barrel bombs on the area, causing damage but no deaths.

Abu Bakr al-Hassan, spokesman for the rebel group Jaish al-Thawra, which fights under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), said the munitions had been dropped on three towns and villages, and that war planes had hit another.

"I believe (the bombardment) is testing two things: the steadfastness of the FSA fighters and the degree of U.S. commitment to the de-escalation agreement in the south," he told Reuters.

Syrian state television said on Friday that army units had targeted "lairs and movements of terrorists" in the area.

The Syrian government has denied using barrel bombs, containers filled with explosive material that are dropped from helicopters and which cannot be accurately aimed. However, United Nations investigators have extensively documented its use of them during the conflict.

While government forces have made heavy use of artillery and rockets in the assault, they have yet to draw on the kind of air power that was critical to the recovery of other rebel-held areas. Russian warplanes have yet to take part, rebels say.

Still, Russia's ambassador to Lebanon was quoted as saying that Russia was helping Damascus to recover the south.

"The Syrian army now, with support from Russian forces, is recovering its land in the south and restoring the authority of the Syrian state," Alexander Zasypkin told the pro-Hezbollah newspaper al-Akhbar.

"Israel has no justification to carry out any action that obstructs the fight against terrorism," he added.


A rebel commander in the south accused Iran of trying to torpedo the de-escalation agreement and vowed fierce resistance. "We possess many weapons," said Colonel Nassim Abu Arra, commander of the Youth of Sunna Forces group.

Rebels in the southwest have received support including arms from Assad's foreign foes during the seven-year-long war.

Analysts of the conflict believe this support continued even after U.S. President Donald Trump decided last year to shut down a military aid programme run by the Central Intelligence Agency, though it may have been scaled back.

Assad has this year recaptured the last remaining enclaves of insurgent territory near the capital Damascus and the city of Homs, including the densely populated eastern Ghouta region.

But there are still large areas outside his control. Apart from the southwest, the rebels also hold a swathe of northwest Syria. Insurgent groups backed by Turkey hold parts of the northern border area.

And the quarter of Syria east of the Euphrates is controlled by an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias supported by the United States. The United States also has a base at Tanf, near Syria's borders with Iraq and Jordan, which controls the Damascus-Baghdad highway.

On Thursday a commander in the regional alliance backing Assad said a U.S. strike had killed a Syrian army officer near Tanf. However, the Pentagon said a U.S.-backed Syrian rebel group had engaged "an unidentified hostile force" near Tanf, without casualties on either side. ]]>
6/23/2018 2:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[#Sisi_is_my_leader still tops trends, MB trolls hashtag exposed]]>CAIRO – 23 June 2018: For the second day, the hashtag ##السيسي_زعيمي_وأفتخر (Sisi is my leader and I am proud), which was initiated in support of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, has cropped up Twitter’s trending hashtags with numerous account reaches, posts and retweets.

The hashtag has been gaining popularity among Twitter users since it was initiated around seven days ago; it gained around 10,000 retweets and reached around 8,592,839 accounts in a week.

Tweets that included that hashtag praised the Egyptian leader and the achievements he managed since he was elected president, and according to the numerous accounts using the hashtag, he rescued Egypt from the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and prevailed in the war against terrorism.

Deputy Head of the Parliament’s Housing Committee, MP Youssry al-Mughazi said the number of people reacting to the hashtag on Twitter to show how proud they are to have a leader like President Sisi shows how much Egyptians love their president and understand his decisions.

Another hashtag that was initiated by Muslim Brotherhood web trolls that spreads rumors and demands for overthrowing the state, the BBC wrote on June 21 that a hashtag opposing President Sisi has been “part of a campaign among Egyptians.”

Twitter user @yas33_elmasr75 made some digging into the hashtag that the BBC mentioned as he discovered that the hashtag was launched in the French Guiana and spread out in Qatar, UK, U.S. and Canada; he also added that the hashtag gained no positive reactions.

He also added that the Hashtag, #Leave_Sisi, got around six million views and exceeded a retweeting percentage of 52 percent worldwide.

“As for the hashtag ##السيسي_زعيمي_وأفتخر (Sisi is my leader and I am proud) it gained more than 16 million impressions, and it originated from Egypt and is being contributed in by Egyptians, so you clarify to the mercenaries of the BBC that Egyptians will not be played with.”

In January, #My_Vote_For_Sisi_2018 cropped up Twitter’s trending hashtags with thousands of interactions and retweets in support of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s candidacy in the presidential elections.

Another hashtag was initiated in Oct. 2017 by the official twitter account of “Alashan Tbneeha” (To Build It) campaign, @presidentEgyptt, namely #صوتنا_للسيسي (Arabic for Our vote for Sisi); it cropped up Twitter’s trends by more than 73,600 tweets and 68,500 retweets in only one day according to Trendsmap - Analytics.

The hashtag has cropped up Twitter’s trends

To Build It, was a public campaign that kicked off in Sep. 2017 to demand President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to run for a second term as President of Egypt; it witnessed a remarkable turnout by citizens and renowned figures of the Egyptian society as the signatures phase of the campaign was launched.

The main aim of the campaign was to gather signatures on a petition that demands a second inauguration of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi as President of Egypt.

It is pertinent to mention that the Egyptian leader garnered 97.08 percent of valid votes in the presidential election, where more than 21.8 million people voted for him. The turnout stood at 24,254,152 voters, representing 41 percent of 50,078,138 registered voters.

In a televised speech after winning the election, Sisi pledged to keep his promise in serving the nation and thanked all Egyptians for trusting him to lead the country.

6/23/2018 1:44:35 AM
<![CDATA[Twitter hashtag supporting Sisi trends for 2nd consecutive day]]>
The hashtag #السيسى_زعيمى_وأفتخر, meaning Sisi is my leader and I am proud, has gone viral with more than 37,000 retweets, expressing solidarity and unity with Sisi’s efforts since he has come to power in 2014, most notably, how he conquered the infamous Muslim Brotherhood and fought terrorism until the brink of eradication.

A twitter user called Bent El-Mu3ez (@GOGOMO222) wrote “Long live Egypt and long live Sisi, the survivor of Egypt from destruction, displacement, backwardness, and ignorance. Long live Egypt under Sisi’s rule.”


While Samah Roshdy (@samah_roshy) wrote “Trust in Allah and do not pay attention to those who seeks destruction. Those will fall and you will rise with your people’s support.”


Another user called #السيسي_رئيسي (@ezatelbaz) wrote “I prefer to liken Sisi to a surgeon who stopped Egypt’s bleeding on June 30, fought the cancer of terrorism, and started development to help the nation recovers.”


Another hashtag was initiated in Oct. 2017 by the official twitter account of “Alashan Tbneeha” (To Build It) campaign, @presidentEgyptt, namely #صوتنا_للسيسي (Arabic for Our vote for Sisi); it cropped up Twitter’s trends by more than 73,600 tweets and 68,500 retweets in only one day according to Trendsmap - Analytics.

To Build It, was a public campaign that kicked off in Sep. 2017 to demand President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to run for a second term as President of Egypt; it witnessed a remarkable turnout by citizens and renowned figures of the Egyptian society as the signatures phase of the campaign was launched.

The main aim of the campaign was to gather signatures on a petition that demands a second inauguration of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi as President of Egypt.

It is pertinent to mention that the Egyptian leader garnered 97.08 percent of valid votes in the presidential election, where more than 21.8 million people voted for him. The turnout stood at 24,254,152 voters, representing 41 percent of 50,078,138 registered voters.

In a televised speech after winning the election, Sisi pledged to keep his promise in serving the nation and thanked all Egyptians for trusting him to lead the country.

Additional reporting by Mohamed Zain]]>
6/23/2018 1:40:15 AM
<![CDATA[Airbus warns could leave UK if no Brexit deal]]>
The European group, which directly employs nearly 15,000 people, warned that crashing out of the bloc would be "catastrophic" and force it to consider its investments.

"Put simply, a 'no deal' scenario directly threatens Airbus' future in the UK," said chief operating officer Tom Williams.

May's government holds out the possibility of walking away as a negotiating tactic, but says she expects to get a deal before it exits the bloc on March 29 next year.

"We have made significant progress towards agreeing a deep and special partnership with the EU to ensure trade remains as free and frictionless as possible, including in the aerospace sector," a spokeswoman said.

However, talks are stalled on the issue of the Irish border and Britain's indecision over what it wants.

EU leaders, who will meet May at a summit next week, have warned that time is running out, while Brussels has urged them to step up preparations for no deal.

- 'Livelihood smashed' -

Britain intends to leave the EU's single market and customs union to forge its own independent trade policy and end free movement of labour.

In a Brexit risk assessment, Airbus said if plans for a transition deal failed and this break happened in March, it "would lead to severe disruption".

"This scenario would force Airbus to reconsider its investments in the UK, and its long-term footprint in the country," the report said.

Airbus builds wings and landing gear for commercial aircraft in Britain and also has a space technology centre in the country, supporting 117,000 jobs overall.

In Wales, where one of the largest of more than 25 Airbus sites is based, the devolved government run by the UK's opposition Labour party said the warning was "extremely worrying".

Labour's UK Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said May's "reckless decision to keep no deal on the table and to rule out a customs union or strong single market deal after Brexit is putting jobs and the economy at risk".

Former Wales minister Stephen Crabb, a member of May's Conservative party, said it was a "wake-up call".

Steve Turner, of Britain's biggest trade union Unite, added: "People voted to leave the EU, but didn't back leave to lose their jobs and see their livelihoods smashed on the cliff face of a 'hard Brexit'."

However, Ian Paisley Jnr, an MP for the Brexit-supporting Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which props up May's government, said it was a "scare story".

"The EU needs a deal and the UK is going to get a deal!"

A string of airlines, banks and other corporate household names have already activated their contingency plans to move jobs or restructure because of Brexit.

- Transition 'too short' -

The government has agreed a post-Brexit transition period that will last until December 2020, to allow time for a new economic partnership to be struck with the EU.

But Airbus said this was "too short" for a new agreement to be made and "too short for Airbus to implement the required changes with its extensive supply chain".

It said it would "carefully monitor any new investments", and Williams admitted that "in any scenario, Brexit has severe negative consequences".

May's spokeswoman said there would be talks with Airbus later on Friday, adding: "There is an open dialogue there and we continue to talk to them."

Carmaker BMW also warned that uncertainty was affecting the investment climate.

"If we don't get clarity in the next couple of months we have to start making those contingency plans -- which means investing money in systems that we might not need, in warehouses that might not be usable in the future, in effectively making the UK automotive industry less competitive than it is in a very competitive world right now," Ian Robertson, special representative of the BMW Group in the UK, told the BBC.]]>
6/23/2018 1:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Greece hails 'historic' deal to end debt crisis]]>
Eurozone states declared the severe debt crisis that has weighed heavy on the country since 2010 to be over, allowing Athens to escape some of the supervision of its creditors from August.

Wearing a tie for the first time since becoming prime minister in 2015 -- after pledging to wear one only when Greece's debt was cut -- Tsipras told a celebratory meeting of coalition lawmakers on Friday night that the country could return to being a "social state".

"Austerity will gradually be replaced by social justice," he promised.

However, removing his tie at the end of the speech, he argued that "the Greek people had won a battle but not the war".

Coming nearly a decade after Greece's finances spun out of control, sparking three bailouts and threatening the country's euro membership, he earlier declared the deal as an "historic agreement".

"We are turning a page," he added, but cautioned that the country "must not destroy the path taken on the reforms and on budgetery efforts."

The eurozone ministers' hard-fought agreement was declared earlier Friday, slating Greece to leave its third financial rescue since 2010 on August 20.

"The Greek crisis ends here tonight," said EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, after the marathon talks in Luxembourg.

The deal was expected to be an easy one, but last-minute resistance by Germany -- Greece's long bailout nemesis and biggest creditor -- dragged the talks on for six hours.

The ministers agreed to extend maturities by 10 years on major parts of its total debt obligations, a mountain that has reached close to double the country's annual economic output.

- 'Congratulations, comrades' -

They also agreed to disburse 15 billion euros ($17.5 billion) to ease Greece's exit from the rescue programme.

This would leave Greece with a hefty 24 billion euro safety cushion, officials said.

"The agreed debt relief is bigger than we had expected," Citi European Economics said in a note.

"In particular, the 10-year extension of the EFSF loans' maturity and most importantly the grace period on interest payments is a significant development," they added.

"The Greek government is happy with the agreement," Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said after the talks.

But "to make this worthwhile we have to make sure that the Greek people must quickly see concrete results... they need to feel the change in their own pockets," he added.

Tsakalotos' predecessor in the government, maverick economist Yanis Varoufakis, was more scathing in his assessment.

"Congratulations, comrades. (Eurozone creditors) extend the Greek state's bankruptcy into 2060 and they call it debt... relief," he tweeted.

The eight-year crisis toppled four governments and shrank the economy by 25 percent. Unemployment soared and still hovers over 20 percent, sending thousands of young educated Greeks abroad.

Optimism is tempered by Greece's remaining fiscal obligations, which will demand serious discipline, observers say.

"This is a very tight programme. A surplus of 3.5 percent to 2022 and 2.2 percent (on average) to 2060 is not easy at all," Kostas Boukas, asset management director at Beta Securities, told Athens 9,84 radio.

"We'll have to see if the pledges will be kept, especially as they depend on international developments as well," he said.

Under pressure from its creditors, Greece has already agreed to slash pensions again in 2019, and reduce the tax-free income threshold for millions of people in 2020.

Further cuts will be made to maintain the 3.5-percent surplus, if necessary.

"It would be a terrible mistake to cultivate illusions that the end of the bailout means a return to normality," said pro-opposition newspaper Ta Nea.

"What follows is tough oversight which no other country has experienced in a post-bailout period," the daily said.

- Long-term concerns -

The European Commission has already specified that Greece will remain under fiscal supervision until it repays 75 percent of its loans.

Athens has received 273.7 billion euros in assistance since 2010, enabling it to avoid punishing borrowing rates on debt markets.

The International Monetary Fund, led by the tough-talking Christine Lagarde, welcomed the debt relief, but cited reservations about 's obligations over the long term.

"In the medium term analysis there is no doubt in our minds that will be able to reaccess the markets," Lagarde said after the talks.

"As far as the longer term is concerned we have concerns," she added.

The reform-pushing IMF played an active role in the two first Greek bailouts, but took only an observer role in the third in the belief that 's debt pile was unsustainable in the long term.

French President Emmanuel Macron also hailed the "very positive" agreement, saying it showed that "Europe is moving forward" despite recent difficulties.]]>
6/23/2018 1:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[‘Yomeddine’ to partcipate in GIFF]]>
“Yomeddine” was competing for the Cannes Festival’s most prestigious award, the Palm d'Or award. The official website of Cannes International Film Festival previously announced that the Egyptian feature was also nominated for the Golden Camera award, which is granted each year to the best first-time director at the festival.

The tragic comedy “Yomeddine” revolves around a leprosy patient who escapes from the hospital along with one of his friends in order to search for his family. “Yomeddine” is directed by Egyptian-Austrian director Abu Bakr Shawky, who became the first Egyptian to be invited to the main competition of the Cannes Film Festival.

The 71st Cannes Film Festival held a press conference with the Egyptian filmmakers of “Yomeddine” after its screening at the festival on Wednesday, May 9. The screening was attended by many international actors, including Julianne Moore, Louise Bourgoin and Kiko Mizuhara. All the attendees praised the movie’s construction and drama line, as well as the directing technique adopted by Shawky in his debut feature.

The first Egyptian movie participating in Cannes Film Festival’s main competition managed to grab the attention of all those who watched it. International media platforms were keen to put the spotlight on “Yomeddine”, writing extremely positive reviews about the movie, which presents an innovative mixture of tragedy, comedy, and condensed shots of emotions and sentiments.

“A man who has recovered from leprosy goes in search of the father who abandoned him in a sentimental drama that infantilizes its lead character,” wrote Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian.

“Recalling about a thousand other titles, with the Lynch films ‘The Elephant Man’ and ‘The Straight Story’ definitely near the top of the list, this is a picaresque road movie about two mismatched characters, with rookie director A.B. Shawky offering a motley and not entirely smooth cocktail of drama and melodrama, a dash of social critique and insight, some chuckles and a few tugs at the heartstrings, mainly by virtue of its near-virtuoso score,” wrote Boyd van Hoeij in The Hollywood Reporter.

“A lovingly made, character-driven road movie that occasionally dips into sentimentality, yet has moments that honestly play on the heartstrings,” wrote Jay Weissberg in Variety.
El-Gouna Film Festival (GIFF) held a reception in Cannes Film Festival, in association with Variety magazine, to celebrate the upcoming GIFF second edition.

In this regard, Naguid Sawiris, founder of El-Gouna Film Festival (GIFF), invited some talents from Cannes Film Festival to the reception. GIFF team Bushra, Tamimi, and artistic director, Amir Ramses, also attended “Yomeddine” screening during the grand opening of Festival de Cannes’s main competition.
GIFF management previously anounced that the deadline of the submissions for the Feature Narrative Competition, Feature Documentary Competition and Short Film Competition; is set to be on July 22, 2018.

The selected films will compete for total prizes of $220,000. Winners in all categories will be awarded the El Gouna Gold Star for Best Film. Silver and Bronze Star awards will be given to those who claim the first and second ranks. An award will also be given to the best film from the Arab world in each of the three competitions. In addition, the Feature Narrative Competition will also present an award for the best actor and actress of the competing films.

The closing ceremony of the first edition of El Gouna Film Festival was on Sept. 29, 2017. It was attended by a notable group of Egyptian and international filmmakers, like Vanessa Williams and famous American actor Forest Whitaker, who won the lifetime achievement award. The festival’s management showed a documentary that features Whitaker’s most important acting roles.

“Photocopy” won El Gouna Golden Star Award for the Best Arabic Feature Narrative Film (the prize includes atrophy, a certificate and $20,000). Daniel Gimenez Cacho, who starred in “Zama”, won the Best Actor Award, while the Best Actress Award went to Nadia Kunda, who starred in “Volubilis”. The closing ceremony was presented by famous Egyptian actress Amina Khalil and ended with the populat song “ Talat Dakat” ( Three Heartbeats) tailor-made for the festival by the mega star, Yousra and the Egyptian singer Abu .
6/23/2018 1:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Argentina asks Russia to deport fans filmed fighting at World Cup]]>
Russia and soccer's world governing body FIFA have promised to hold a safe and welcoming World Cup, despite concerns that the tournament could be marred by hooliganism and fan violence.

All violent incidents reported so far have been relatively minor, but a video filmed during Thursday's emotionally-charged match between Argentina and Croatia in Nizhny Novgorod showed a group of men fighting in the stands.

Russia's World Cup organising committee said seven Argentines had been detained by police after the match, in which Croatia beat Argentina 3-0 and left the hopes of the twice world champions hanging by a thread.

The Argentine security ministry said in a statement it had identified four Argentine fans in the video and it will now "ask Russian authorities to immediately detain them so they can be deported."

A spokesman for the Russia-2018 organising committee said: "The matter is now with the judicial authorities to judge the matter in line with the governing laws."

The video, filmed during the match and widely circulated on social media, shows men in Argentina and Croatia team colours kicking and punching each other as onlookers try to break up the fight.

One Croatian supporter is punched and hit repeatedly while lying on the floor and then kicked in the head.

FIFA said earlier on Friday it was working with authorities to identify the people in the video.

"We are absolutely shocked by the images in question. FIFA firmly condemns the behaviour of these so-called fans," a FIFA spokesman said in written comments to Reuters.

"FIFA is cooperating with the relevant security authorities and will do its utmost to contribute to identifying the individuals involved in these criminal acts in order to ensure that they are punished accordingly.

The Croatian Football Federation said it was working to get information about the Croatian fan in the video.

"The Croatian Football Federation is shocked by the video showing an incident at the Nizhny Novgorod stadium," a spokesman told Reuters.

"We always strongly condemn and oppose any sort of fan violence, physical or verbal, and we are obviously very saddened to see a Croatian fan suffering in this video."

The embassies of Argentina and Croatia in Russia and a spokesman for the Argentine Football Association did not respond to requests for comment.]]>
6/23/2018 12:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Split families in limbo amid Trump immigration chaos]]>
While the US leader bowed to global outrage over the splitting of families, government agencies were unable to say what would happen to the children already sent to tent camps and other facilities around the country while their parents were charged with immigration offenses.

Having been forced into a climbdown on the hot-button issue of immigration, Trump meanwhile swung back into fighting mode -- insisting he remained committed to the "zero tolerance" policy that aims to deter the flow of migrants from Central America.

"We must maintain a Strong Southern Border. We cannot allow our Country to be overrun by illegal immigrants as the Democrats tell their phony stories of sadness and grief, hoping it will help them in the elections," he tweeted.

Accusing Democrats of "playing games," Trump urged Republican lawmakers to "stop wasting their time on Immigration" until after the November midterm polls.

The president's comments came a day after divided congressional Republicans failed to pass one bill that promised to reform laws regarding illegal immigrants, and a second proposal was put off until next week.

And while Melania Trump sought to demonstrate concern with a surprise visit to migrant children at the border Thursday, the administration remained under siege amid continued accounts of parents unable to find their children and no system in place for reuniting them.

- Under siege -

Protestors demonstrated Friday morning outside the suburban Washington home of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, two days after Trump announced her department would take over the handling and processing of families at the border.

They held posters reading "Child Snatcher" in large letters with photos of Nielsen -- who has faced intense scrutiny as the public face of the hardline border policy.

Some reunifications were taking place, though it was not clear whether they involved the 700 children taken from parents between October and April, or the 2,300 since the mandatory prosecution of illegal border crossers, whose children were taken away as a result, began in early May.

Others remained in painful limbo.

One woman, Cindy Madrid from El Salvador, dictated her US-resident sister's phone number to her six-year-old daughter before she crossed the border and the family was separated.

The child was one of those heard crying out -- and reciting the number -- in an audio recording reportedly made inside a detention center, which galvanized opposition to the separations.

"It's maddening because at every moment I ask myself, 'How is she? Has she eaten? Are they taking care of her? Do they shower her?'" Madrid told CNN in an interview Thursday from a detention center in Port Isabel, Texas.

"There are many more rooms full of women going through the same thing," she said. "The majority are from Honduras. Four of us from El Salvador."

Madrid said the dormitories erupted with joy when the news broke that Trump was stopping the family separations.

Since then, they have received little information about how and when they might see their children again.

- Going back 'not an option' -

Republicans, who control the US Congress, are under intense pressure to address the issue of illegal immigration, but lawmakers failed Thursday to advance either of two bills in a sign of stubborn party divisions.

A hardline proposal was defeated as expected, while a vote on a compromise between the party's conservative and moderate wings was pushed back to next week.

Tens of thousands of people from impoverished, violence-stricken Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and parts of Mexico have crossed the US border since last year requesting asylum.

Trump's crackdown hasn't deterred them, at least yet.

"We don't see going back to where we came from as an option," Jose Abel Mendez, 28, who traveled from El Salvador with his wife and children, aged 10 months, six and 10, told AFP in the border city of Tijuana.

The Mendez family has been waiting two weeks for US officials to let them formally request asylum -- a long wait that is pushing many to cross the border illegally, according to activists.

"I'm taking the risk to try to make a better life," said Honduran Wielder Lopez, also waiting in Tijuana for the right moment to cross.

The government appeared to be preparing for the flow of migration to continue unabated.

The Defense Department said it was preparing 20,000 temporary beds on military bases to hold children who cross the border unaccompanied by parents.

Currently about 10,000 unaccompanied children are being held, in addition to the children forcibly separated from their parents at the border.]]>
6/23/2018 12:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Parl. supports gov’t to impose taxes on Facebook, Google advertisers]]>CAIRO – 23 June 2018: Parliament member John Talaat, deputy head of the Communications and Information Technology Committee, affirmed Friday the Parliament’s support to drafting a legislation that imposes taxes on advertising companies, such as Google and Facebook.

Talaat added in a statement to Egypt Today that international companies advertise their products on social media websites, noting that some countries, including Germany and Netherland, have issued laws to regulate this process and impose taxes on advertising companies.

Total advertising in the UK managed to grow by 4.6 percent to record £22.2 billion ($30.6 billion) in 2017, according to the latest report from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK and PwC.

Although digital advertisements grew by 14.3 percent to record £11.55 billion in 2017, a scant amount of that spent went to national and regional news websites and magazines; journalism is getting an ever-shrinking slice of the advertising pie.

The report has shown that digital giants Google and Facebook have both dominated the advertising market; Google alone takes an average 90 percent of UK search advertising, making at least £5bn on this in the UK.

According to the report, display advertising comprises £3.95 billion of total UK advertising; Facebook is considered to be the biggest player when it comes to online display advertising in the UK, making an excess of £1 billion.

This report was issued a year after Press Gazette, a British media trade magazine, launched its “Duopoly” campaign to stop Google and Facebook from monopolizing the market and destroying journalism.

Talaat also added that taxes will be imposed on advertising companies that utilizes social media platforms to their benefits, considering that there are no offices to represent international social media platforms in Egypt. He affirmed that this move would generate billions for the country.

6/23/2018 12:03:59 AM
<![CDATA[Italy says Malta not taking in migrant ship is "inhumane"]]>
The new stand-off between the neighbouring Mediterranean countries arose as Italy's new government has been pressuring European partners to shoulder more of the burden of immigration from North Africa.

Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli criticised tiny Malta on his Facebook page, where he also posted a photo of an email full of nautical information and signed by the Armed Forces of Malta inferring that it was not responsible for the latest ship as it was not in a "SAR (Search and Rescue) Situation".

Anti-immigrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has said the ship, the "Lifeline," should take the migrants to the Netherlands since it is flying a Dutch flag.

Malta's government spokesman said in a separate statement that the country was not the competent authority because initial "Search and Rescue" was done by Libya and that the ship had breached its obligations to oblige by Libyan instructions.

While Toninelli said the ship was in Maltese search and resue waters and in difficulty, the Maltese email said the ship "has not manifested any distress".

"Europe must intervene to remedy this inhumanity of Malta," Toninelli said.

Maltese Interior Minister Michael Farrugia shot back with a statement saying "Toninelli should stick to the facts."

Toninelli's criticism of Malta as being inhumane was similar to accusations made by France, which earlier this month accused Rome of "cynicism and irresponsibility" for not letting the charity ship Aquarius dock in Italy.

That left the Gibraltar-flagged ship stranded at sea for days with more than 600 migrants on board - until Spain offered them safe haven. Malta had also refused to take in the Aquarius.

The tiny island nation has not taken in large numbers of people rescued at sea, while Italy has seen 650,000 arrivals since 2014.

The 234 migrants on board the Lifeline include 14 women and four small children.

While the number of sea arrivals to Italy has dropped dramatically this year - by more than 77 percent from 2017 - the new populist government has thrust immigration to the top of the EU's agenda ahead of a summit of leaders next week.

Italy's government, sworn in earlier this month after promising to raise its voice on immigration in Brussels, has sparred with France, Malta and Germany ahead of the meeting.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel played down expectations of a breakthrough at a hastily-arranged talks among EU leaders on Sunday on the migration dispute dividing Europe and threatening her own government.]]>
6/23/2018 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Sterling reveals feelings when his daughter sang “Salah” chant]]>
“My daughter was running around the house singing a little song. And her dad had just won the league with City. Just got 100 points in the league, actually. Does she care? She’s Liverpool through and through,” the Englishman said.

Sterling had a great season with Manchester City and played a great role in their historic Premier League title; however, Sterling’s daughter who was born in 2012 when he was playing for Liverpool, and still supports his former club.

Sterling continued, “She was running through the halls like me, and you know what she’s singing? Mo Salah! Mo Salah! Mo Salah! Runnin’ down the wing! Salahhhhh la la la la la la la! Egyptian king! Can you believe that?”

Sterling joined Liverpool when he was 15 and got promoted through the club rankings until he joined the first team in two years later where he became a world class player and left to join Manchester City in 2015.

Salah has had a stunning season with Liverpool, scoring 43 goals including 31 in the League to be the Premier League’s top goal scorer, four goals ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane.
6/22/2018 10:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Salah will bounce back: Alexander-Arnold ]]>
“It’s not good to see one of your teammates not being able to take part in the first game of the World Cup for his nation in such a long time, he played a vital part in getting them there,” the defender said.

Salah scored five out of Egypt’s seven goals in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers to lead the national team to the World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Salah missed Egypt’s opening game at the competition against Uruguay as he failed to recover from the shoulder injury he picked at the Champions League final against Real Madrid.

Salah started Egypt’s second game against Russia but he failed to save his team from losing 3-1 to the hosts with Salah scoring the only goal for Egypt from a penalty.

Arnold added: “I haven’t spoken to him, he’s in his team camp and it’s important for him to be with his national team at the minute and focus on getting his win in a World Cup when he plays again in the third game.”

Salah and his teammates will end their participation at the World Cup on Monday when they face their Arab rivals, Saudi Arabia.

The English defender who shared with Salah the right flank at Liverpool last season said, “I’m sure he’ll bounce back and next season he’ll come back fresh and better and stronger.”]]>
6/22/2018 9:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Kahraba hopes to reconcile fans with a victory over Arab rivals]]>
“We will do everything we can to achieve victory over Saudi Arabia. It is the toughest game of the group against an Arab rival,” Kahraba told ON Sport on Friday.

Kahraba plays since 2016 at Saudi Arabian club, Al-Ittihad, on loan from Zamalek and he knows the Saudi Arabian players well.

The winger added: “They have a great team with extraordinary individuals and we hope to defeat them and achieve the first Egyptian victory at the history of the competition.”

Egyptian fans, who watched their national team at the World Cup for the first time since 1990, found themselves out of the competition after losing the first two games at the group.

Egypt lost 1-0 to Uruguay while they lost the second game 3-1 to the host nation, Russia.

Kahraba added: “The relation between the players is great and we are all hoping for the best for each other. We had a dream to achieve something at the World Cup but we were unlucky.”

Egypt faces Saudi Arabia on Monday at their last game at the World Cup.]]>
6/22/2018 7:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[Musa marks return with winning double as Nigeria beat Iceland]]>
Left out of his country's opening Group D game at the tournament in Russia, Musa showed his worth with two outstanding strikes that put the Africans back in contention for a second round place.

The opening goal, soon after a drab first half, saw him pluck the ball out of the air with his first touch before blasting it home. The second goal came in the 75th minute, when after a break down the wing, Musa cut inside and waltzed around the goalkeeper before firing the ball into the net.

Iceland's Gylfi Sigurdsson shot an 82nd minute penalty over the top of the bar, denying his team a chance to try to force a late comeback.

All three other teams in the group remain in the hunt to go through with Croatia, but Argentina and Iceland know they have to win to have any chance of progressing. ]]>
6/22/2018 6:59:54 PM
<![CDATA[Korea hoping Son will shine again against Mexico]]>
Tottenham Hotspur forward Son, who hit 18 goals last season for his club, has found it hard to replicate that form for his country. But he must turn it on against Mexico if his side are to have a realistic chance of advancing from Group F.

"I think he's the best of all the Asian players but if you look at the game against Sweden we faced a lot of difficulties, we had to play defensively and he had to sacrifice himself a lot and couldn’t play to the best of his abilities," Shin told a news conference ahead of the game at Rostov Arena.

"Tomorrow hopefully he'll have more space and will be able to showcase his real ability."

Although they were only beaten in their opener by a penalty awarded after a lengthy video review, the Asian side got off lightly and spent most of the game trying to repel attacks from the Swedes.

Midfielder Lee Jae-sung hopes things will be different against Mexico, who pulled off the biggest shock in the tournament so far by beating holders Germany 1-0, and that Son will be able to play to his strengths.

"It's an honour to play alongside him, and we'll do everything we can to play more aggressively and help him shine in attack so he can help the team."

Coach Shin praised Mexico for stunning Germany although he was more concerned about the stifling heat in Rostov, which Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez described as "unbearable" after his side's 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in the southern Russian city. "The deciding factor will be the weather, it will have a big influence on the game and it will favour Mexico more than us as they are used to it," he said.]]>
6/22/2018 6:53:20 PM
<![CDATA[Gehad Grisha to officiate England, Panama clash]]>
Redouane Achik and Waleed Ahmed will assist Grisha, while Norbert Hauata will act as fourth official.

The Egyptian referee will officiate his first game at the World Cup during his first participation in the competition.

Grisha was among 36 referees including six Africans who were chosen to officiate at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Grisha, who received his international stripes in 2008, is one of the African continent’s experienced referees.

He refereed at the 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017 African Cup of nations tournaments, 2015 CAF Champions League final, 2016 Olympic Games and 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

England hopes to achieve their second straight victory at the tournament and secure a spot in the second round as they defeat Tunisia 2-1 at their opening game thanks to two goals from their captain, Harry Kane.

On the other hand, Panama are searching for their first point during their first appearnace at the World Cup after losing to Belgium 3-0 at their opening game.]]>
6/22/2018 6:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[Tourists from Greece, Cyprus, Italy set to visit Alexandria ]]>
In a press release issued on Friday, Al-Manstrali called for dedicating special beaches for tourists in Alexandria to meet their needs and privacy, which will give an opportunity for activating beach tourism along with traditional and cultural tourism.

He stressed that hotel rooms will be doubled in the upcoming period and the Alexandria Borg El Arab Airport will be expanded to be able to take in 4 million passengers by 2022.
In this regard, he praised the efforts exerted by Alexandria’s Governor Mohamed Sultan and Ahmed Hijazi, head of the Central Administration of Tourism and Resorts, to maintain Alexandria’s beaches and improve its infrastructure in preparation for the summer vacation.

He added that although Eid al-Fitr’s holiday has ended, the current occupancy rate of hotels exceeded 90 percent at the beginning of the holiday.

Alexandria is popular for its beaches, sea and weather, but it is also considered by many to be a spectacular destination for cultural and religious tourism.

1 – Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque:
One of the oldest mosques in Alexandria. It is popular for its unique domes and Islamic architecture, attracting tourists from all over the world.

This mosque was the center of many religious events, like the mawlid (birth celebration) of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi, during which guests, especially Sufi Muslims, came to participate in “Dhikr” (remembrance) circles. Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque, the center of formal religious events, is under the purview of the Ministry of Religious Endowments and operates under the presence of government officials.

2- Citadel of Qaitbay in Alexandria
Built in western Alexandria during the 14th century to defend the city from the advancing Ottoman Empire, the largest stone of the citadel forms the doorway of its entrance and is decorated with red granite.

Over time, the Citadel of Qaitbay served many military functions. Today, it houses a naval museum that makes the citadel worth visiting.

The citadel is surrounded by a peninsula that is always crowded with locals and tourists enjoying the sea view, restaurants and shops on the pier.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Bibliotheca Alexandrina is one of the oldest libraries in the world. It was built 23 centuries ago, and it contained more than 700,000 volumes and manuscripts until they were burnt.

Currently, it contains more than 8 million books, six specialized libraries, three museums, seven research centers and six halls for cultural and artistic events.]]>
6/22/2018 6:10:43 PM
<![CDATA[Indian Embassy in Egypt celebrates International Day of Yoga]]>
The event has taken place for the fourth year in a row under the arrangement of the Chargé d'Affaires at the Indian Emabassy in Egypt, Vinod Bahade, to shed light on the importance of yoga and spread the Indian culture in Egypt.

The event was attended by Chargé d'Affaires at the Embassy of India Bahade, Deputy of Cairo’s governor Mohammed Sultan, and actress Dina Abdallah among other prominent figures.

In his speech delivered in the event, Bahade expressed his thanks to Cairo’s governor for his fruitful cooperation to host the International Day of Yoga in one of the oldest parks in Egypt, referring that 177 co-sponsoring countries at the United Nations General Assembly has supported the event since 2015.
The Indian Embassy in Cairo celebrated the fourth International Day of Yoga on Friday, through a public event taking place at El-Horriya Park, Zamalek-Press Photo

He further remarked that Yoga is one of the oldest human sciences that harmonizes body and mind.

In the same context, General Sultan praised the fruitful and constructive coordination between Cairo’s governor and Indian Embassy in Cairo, and expressed the wishes of Cairo’s governor for the success of the event.
Actress Abdallah expressed her appreciation to the Indian Embassy for honoring her as a Yoga lover, through which she managed to overcome a lot of pressure.

The Indian Embassy in Cairo celebrated the fourth International Day of Yoga on Friday, through a public event taking place at El-Horriya Park, Zamalek-Press Photo

During a press conference held on Tuesday, Bahade said that the Indian embassy also organizes events in Alexandria and Ismailia to celebrate International Yoga Day on June 23 and June 24.

“Yoga, the precious gift of ancient Indian tradition, provides a holistic approach to physical and mental health. Yoga is widely practiced in Egypt,” remarked Bahade.
To commemorate the International Day of Yoga, the World Health Organization announced in 2018-2030 action plan on physical activity that the routine practice of yoga – a 5,000-year-old tradition – is a valuable tool for people of all ages to make physical activity an integral part of life and reach the level needed to promote good health.

Yoga is a spiritual Hindu and ascetic discipline, which includes simple meditation and adoption of specific bodily postures. It is healthy and leads to relaxation.

Practicing yoga is much more than an exercise regime. It not only provides energy and helps build muscles and flexibility, it is also an entry point for a healthy and balanced life, according to the National.

Yoga is for kids and adults alike. Yoga helps people to express themselves in a safe, trusting environment. Yoga can help unite the body and the mind and can make it easier to handle the demands of daily life. Yoga helps the practitioner recover faster from gym workouts and it helps people feel much more relaxed.

Here are 5 benefits of yoga:

It protects your spine.

Yoga helps maintain the natural curvature of the spine through proper body alignment and good posture. It helps reduce lower back pain, as mentioned on peer-reviewed spine-health.com.

Increase blood flow.

The relaxing exercise in yoga helps blood circulation, especially in the hands and feet. It gets more oxygen to the body’s cells.

Makes people feel happy.

The University of Wisconsin found out that yoga is correlated with greater levels of happiness and better immune function.

Helps people to focus.

Yoga improves coordination, memory and IQ scores, according to Yoga Journal. People that practice yoga solve problems faster and recall information better.

Helps people to sleep deeper.

As stated in the Yoga Journal, yoga helps people to sleep because it makes them less stressed.]]>
6/22/2018 6:07:16 PM
<![CDATA[Who is Dr. Adel Mahmoud, the man the world lost this month?]]>
On June 11, his death was announced at the Mount Sinai St. Luke's Hospital in Manhattan.

A member of Princeton’s faculty, Dr. Mahmoud was a pioneer in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases around the world, especially parasitic infections.

Although his death has not been highlighted in the local news in Egypt, many Egyptian and international scientists took to social media to mourn him. To them, Dr. Mahmoud’s contributions to the field of vaccines were unlikely and influential to many scholars.

On Friday, Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram, and Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel Ghaffar released statements mourning the death of Dr. Mahmoud, the leading researcher of vaccines and infectious diseases who spent his life developing vaccines that saved the lives of hundreds of millions around the world.

Microsoft Founder Bill Gates mourned the loss of Dr. Mahmoud on his Twitter account as one of the greatest vaccine creators in the world.

Who is Dr. Adel Mahmoud?

Dr. Mahmoud was born in Cairo and graduated with M.D. from Cairo University in 1963. Five years later, he left Cairo for the United Kingdom, where he obtained a Ph.D. in 1971 from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

An experience Mahmoud went through at an early age is believed to have influenced his decision to specialize in medicine. Mahmoud was 10 years old when he tried to obtain penicillin for his father who contracted pneumonia, but he returned home to find him dead.

In 1973, he traveled to the United States as a postdoctoral fellow at Case Western Reserve University and rose through the ranks. From 1998 and until 2006, Dr. Mahmoud held the position of President of Merck Vaccines, during which his contribution to the vaccines world was significant as he developed four vaccines.

One of the vaccines he developed was to help protect against gastroenteritis caused by Rotavirus infection, which causes diarrhea to children. He also developed a vaccine for Shingles viral infection, which causes a painful rash, as well as another one for Human papillomavirus, which causes various warts on genitals and other parts and is also associated with the production of cervical cancer.

He further produced a combination vaccine against four diseases: measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox.

Dr. Mahmoud then joined Princeton University in 2007, where he became a policy analyst at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at the university. In 2011, he was assigned as professor of Princeton’s Department of Molecular Biology.

“At Princeton, he engaged in public policy discussions and worked to imbue the next generation with the love of learning and commitment to public health that guided his life and career,” said Princeton University’s website, mourning his death.

The university further mentioned Mahmoud’s “sharp intellect and dynamic personality.”

By the outbreak of Ebola Virus in West Africa in 2014, Dr. Mahmoud called on a global fund for vaccines.

Some of Dr. Mahmoud’s talks were on how vaccines work; their values and use especially amid a still limited knowledge of its underlying importance.

In May 14, 2009, he was a member of a panel at the Woodrow Wilson School that lectured on how a pandemic can be prevented after the outbreak of Swine Flu at that time.

He was married to Dr. Sally Hodder, who is Associate Vice President of West Virginia Clinical & Translational Science Institute. She is also a specialist in infectious diseases.

Information about Adel Mahmoud’s life and study that was used in this article was retrieved from Princeton University website
6/22/2018 5:23:11 PM
<![CDATA[Libya: LNA foils Qatari plot, reclaims oil crescent]]>
Haftar announced that the “zero hour has passed to crush the enemy,” in reference to militia leader Ibrahim Jadhran’s armed groups which captured two eastern oil ports on June 14.

“The Libyan army successfully liberated the oil crescent region which equals the state of Qatar five times,” said LNA spokesperson Ahmed Al-Mesmary according to Dubai-based Al-Arabiya channel on Thursday.

Mesmary stressed that the LNA has foiled a Qatar-led plot schemed against Libya.

Haftar announced the ‘sacred invasion’ operation to reclaim the two oil ports after a week of clashes that had damaged the infrastructure of Libya’s eastern oil crescent. Staff were evacuated from the terminals whose closure for one week has led to production losses up to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) from a total national output of little over one million bpd, according to Reuters.

Media reports confirmed the death of 15 LNA soldiers and the injury of 25 military personnel during the recapture operation.

"After a couple of days we will resume, we start our operations hopefully," the National Oil Corporation (NOC) Chairman Mustafa Sanalla told reporters in Vienna.

Libya has been wracked by conflicts since the ouster of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011. Since then, rival governments and militias have been competing for authority and control of key infrastructure, particularly oil facilities, the lifeblood of Libya’s economy that had a production rate of 1.6 million barrels per day before 2011.

On Wednesday, the U.S. condemned the assault against the oil crescent and the “ongoing violence that has damaged Libya’s vital oil infrastructure and disrupted oil exports.”

According to UN resolution 2146 (2014) on the prevention of illicit crude oil exports from Libya, the NOC based in Tripoli is the only body with the authority to export oil from Libya.
6/22/2018 5:21:31 PM
<![CDATA[Nigeria, Iceland line-ups revealed ]]>

The African side hopes to achieve a good result to improve their chances to reach the second round before facing Argentina at the last game of the group stage.

On the other hand, Iceland, who participates at the World Cup for the first time in the history, hopes to continue their amazing run at the competition as they ended the opening game against Argentina with a 1-1 draw.

Iceland line-up for the game consists of: Hannes Þór Halldórsson, Birkir Már Sævarsson, Ragnar Sigurðsson, Kári Árnason, Birkir Bjarnason, Gylfi Sigurðsson, Hörður Björgvin Magnússon, Aron Gunnarsson, Rúrik Gíslason, Alfreð Finnbogason and Jón Daði Böðvarsson.

Nigeria line-up for the game consists of: Francis Uzoho, William Troost-Ekong, Kenneth Omeruo, Brian Idowu, Leon Balogun, Oghenekaro Etebo, John Obi Mikel, Wilfred Ndidi, Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho.

Argentina, who lost 3-0 to Croatia on Thursday, hopes for any result other than Iceland’s victory to increase their chances to reach the second round. ]]>
6/22/2018 4:43:09 PM
<![CDATA[Coutinho, Neymar strike late to guide Brazil past Costa Rica]]>
The clock had ticked past 90 minutes, and the five-times champions looked to be edging to a second successive disappointing draw when Marcelo floated the ball in from the left and substitute Roberto Firmino headed across to Gabriel Jesus.

Jesus's first touch took the ball away from the defender and into the path of Coutinho who raced in to poke past goalkeeper Keylor Navas from six metres out for his second goal of the tournament.

The result leaves Brazil with four points from two games after they drew 1-1 with Switzerland in their opening match, and they provisionally rise above Serbia to top Group E.

Serbia play Switzerland later on Friday, while Costa Rica are out of the tournament with defeats in both games so far.

Neymar added the second with practically the last kick of the match, volleying home Jesus's square ball following a quick counter-attack as Costa Rica pushed for an equaliser.

The forward, who thought he had won a penalty in the 77th minute only for the referee to reverse the decision after consultation with the video assistant referee (VAR), was overcome by emotion on the whistle, covering his face with his hands as tears streamed down his cheeks.

That was an apt reflection of how tense the match had been for almost it's entire duration, with Costa Rica's flat-back five keeping Neymar on the periphery, as Johan Venegas and Cristian Gamboa both man-marked the forward out of the game.

Marcelo's tame shot straight at Navas in the 41st minute was the first effort on target from either side before the break. Celso Borges spurned the best chance of the first period for Costa Rica when he ran on to Gamboa's cut back, but shot wide from eight metres out.

Brazil went into halftime with the boos and whistles of their own fans ringing in their ears but emerged with a renewed sense of purpose, with Jesus heading against the bar four minutes after the restart and Coutinho sending the follow-up effort narrowly wide.

The finish was frantic as Brazil swept forward in waves, only to be repelled time and again by Costa Rica's stubborn defence, until Coutinho came to the rescue. ]]>
6/22/2018 4:40:52 PM
<![CDATA[Broadway brings back Michael Jackson ]]>
The play is scheduled to be released in 2020, according to Just Jared’s website. The play is also set to include a number of Jackson’s most successful hits among music makers.

The King of Pop has made various songs that are still hits today such as “Thriller”, “Beat It”, “Black or White”, and “Billie Jean” among others.

Michael Jackson was a singer, songwriter and dancer, and was one of the most popular artists in the world. In the year of his death, 2009, he was the bestselling music artist.
6/22/2018 1:45:44 PM
<![CDATA[Naguib Mahfouz’s trilogy has made a big impact in Beijing]]>
In 2004, the Chinese-Arab Cooperation Forum was launched along with the One Belt One Road Initiative, which was a cultural starting point for the development and consolidation of intellectual cultural relations between China and Arab countries.

The ambassador added that Egypt and China have two ancient civilizations and that these two civilizations will flourish with a cultural exchange and a solid consolidation of relations.

During the Chinese cultural year, many Chinese events were organized in a large number of Arab countries. Naguib Mahfouz's Trilogy was also translated from Arabic to Chinese which created a positive impact on Chinese readers. Such translations help to promote cultural exchange.

Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz was born in 1912. Mahfouz’s first novel was “Khufu’s Wisdom”. He then wrote 35 novels afterwards and fifteen collections of short stories, alongside the “Echoes of an Autobiography” in 1994, according to an article by AUC press.

The iconic literary author was not only satisfied by writing short stories and novels, but also took the initiative to work on 25 film screenplays that featured specific writing techniques such as flashback. Egyptian cinema has witnessed over thirty Egyptian films that were based on Mahfouz’s novels and literary works.

He also wrote weekly columns in state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram and Al-Ahram Weekly in 1971, including “Naguib Mahfouz at Sidi Gaber: Reflections of a Nobel Laureate 1994–2001”.

Author of 34 novels, over 350 short stories, five plays and dozens of movie scripts, Mahfouz was by all means the most disciplined writer ever. He wrote for one hour every day throughout his 70-year career, while he also smoked three cigarettes per day and walked by the Nile every morning.

He met weekly with new a generation of writers, artists and readers through an informal seminar, which was a habit he developed in the 1950s.
6/22/2018 1:02:16 PM
<![CDATA[Greeks recall their childhood memories in Egypt]]>
A lot of Greeks and Cypriots lived in Egypt for decades; however, for several political, economic and social reasons, they left the country and headed back to their homes by the end of the 1970s. The impact that Greeks left in Cairo and Alexandria, in particular, is still noticeable through the buildings, architecture, famous stores, music, cinema, literature and unforgettable memories.

Egypt Today interviewed two of the Greeks who managed to stay in Egypt during the past decade and chose not to travel back to their homes even after the end of all European wars.

Khawaja Philip - et

Khawaja Philip (as called by Egyptian friends) said that he was among the first Europeans who got the Egyptian nationality shortly after arriving in the country. “I remember everything about this period. During the war, Greece was going through an economic crisis that forced many of the nationals to flee the country searching for better opportunities. About 400,000 Greeks left the country then, including me and my father,” Philip recounted.

“I’m proud that I’ve lived my whole life in this country and I will never leave it until I die. When everyone left during former President Gamal Abdel Nasser's era, I refused to leave, and I never will. My whole life, friends and family are here,” Philip added.

Roxana is another Greek who refused to leave Egypt when everyone else did. “I was named after Alexander the Great’s wife. When I grew older I loved it even more, because it reminds me of Alexandria’s history; my beloved city, and where I lived my whole life,” She said.

Roxana - et

Like Philip, Roxana was born along with her sister in Alexandria, Egypt, after her mother’s arrival. “Now we go to Greece as tourists, we spend a couple of weeks and come back to Egypt,” She said.

Roxana described Egyptians as “Kind and different”, adding that she and her family have real good ties and relations with everyone, and that she doesn’t feel like a stranger or a foreigner in the country. “I even cook Egyptian food more and better than any other kind,” Roxana added.

Last May, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos inaugurated the Roots Revival Week in Alexandria city, with the participation of both the Greek and Cypriot communities in Egypt.

It was considered to be the first initiative of its kind, which aims to recall the memories and heritage of Egypt, Greece and Cyprus. According to Egypt’s Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram, this program aimed to salute everyone who once lived in Egypt and left a positive impact and human heritage that still lasts until now. “Everyone was always welcomed to come and live in Egypt and they still are,” Makram said in statements to media outlets.

Greeks, Cypriots revive roots in Egypt

CAIRO - 30 April 2018: Egypt, Greece and have historical relations that have been documented in music, cinema and literature for several decades. For a whole week, starting Monday, under the title "Roots Revival Week", the three countries are going to recall their memories through several events.

The communities’ members visited several historical and important places around Egypt, including Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Ras Al Tin Marine Base, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Greek Cemeteries, Alexandria National Museum, Cavafy Museum, the Monastery of St. Sava and the Arab Academy for Science and Technology in Alexandria. They also headed to Cairo and Giza to visit the Pyramids, and to Sharm El-Sheikh to visit the monastery of St. Catherine.

Sisi, Greek, Cypriot counterparts launch Revival of Hellenism in Egypt initiative

CAIRO - 30 April 2018: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and his Greek and Cypriot counterparts, Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Nicos Anastasiades respectively, have inaugurated the Week of Revival of Hellenism in Egypt during a celebration in Alexandria on Monday. The celebration is presented by both of the Greek and Cypriot communities in Egypt, along with several officials and celebrities.

6/22/2018 12:54:49 PM
<![CDATA[Helm Foundation TV ad selected in Cannes Lions]]>CAIRO – 21 June 2018: Egyptian director Amr Salama announced that his latest TV advertisement for Helm Foundation has been selected in the 2018 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Salama pointed out that this festival is the most important advertisement festival in the world.

He shared the announcement on his Twitter page, stating: “My latest TV ad for Helm Foundation supported by Drosos Foundation to help people with special needs is officially selected in Cannes Lions.”

The advertisement includes two Egyptian actors, Menna Shalaby and Ahmed Malek.

Salama had his first directing experience in Ramadan with the successful series “Tayea” starring Amr Youssef, Saba Mubarak, and Soheir El Morshidy. The series was written by Mohamed Diab, Khaled Diab and Sherine Diab.
6/22/2018 12:50:05 PM
<![CDATA[et Guide: 10 facts about MB Guidance Bureau Events case]]>
Egypt Today has summarized the 10 most important facts about this case as follows:

1. Court circuit no. (11) under the chairmanship of Counselor Mohamed Sherin Fahmy is in charge of the case since the retrial was approved by the Court of Cassation in January 2016.
2. On June 30 and July 1, 2013, clashes took place outside the group's headquarters in Mokkatam district in Cairo.
3. The clashes were between protests against then-President Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood.
4. The clashes’ death toll stood at 12, with more than 90 injured.
5. The prosecution accused Badie and other MB leaders of inciting violence against peaceful protesters, in addition to providing unidentified assailants with weapons, ammunition and explosives to fire from their bureau at the protesters.
6. On Feb. 25, 2015, Badie, al-Shater, el-Beltagy, Akef, el-Katatni and nine others were sentenced to life imprisonment and four defendants were sentenced to death, which was overturned after the appeal of the convicts of the first trial.
7. The first session of the retrial was held on June 20, 2016.
8. The jury convened 31 times to this day.
9. The last session was held last Tuesday, June 19, 2018, when the court decided to adjourn the case until June 27.
10. Egypt listed the Brotherhood as a terrorist group in Dec., 2013, and accused it of being behind the wave of militancy which has targeted security personnel since July 2013.
6/22/2018 12:30:38 PM
<![CDATA[Applications for Japanese schools open in days: Education Min.]]>
Minister of Education and Technical Education Tarek Shawki said in statements to media outlets on Thursday that the new Japanese education system, Tokkatsu is a new especial experience for students and teachers as well. He affirmed that the new system will help build students’ characters and personalities.

The new schools’ criteria and conditions were announced by the ministry on its website. Shawki demanded that students’ parents read it and be fully aware of the new school system in order to help the students adapt with it at home.

Japanese Tokkatsu education system: What you need to know

CAIRO - 28 April 2018: Egypt's Ministry of Education will choose teachers soon to be trained in the Japanese education system, Tokkatsu, which will be applied at 40 Egyptian-Japanese schools in different governorates in September, sources inside the ministry told Egypt Today.

The Japanese education system, Tokkatsu, is supposed to be applied in 40 Egyptian-Japanese schools in different governorates in September. A total of 20,000 teachers have applied to the ministry for training in the Japanese Tokkatsu education system.

Tokkastu is an educational system known in Japan that develops all of the students’ skills, focusing on creativity and thinking rather than memorization and indoctrination.

The activities of the system allow students to practice teamwork and collaborate with colleagues to reach goals. Tokkatsu is applied to students within a class of no more than 40 students.

Activities are also aimed at building personality, teamwork skills, a sense of belonging, hygiene values, self-esteem, responsibility and thinking.

First Arabic citation index worldwide to be launched in Egypt

CAIRO - 29 May 2018: The Ministry of Education has taken several steps to enhance education in Egypt, which is part of Egypt's 2030 vision to cultivate economic and social justice and reviving the role of Egypt in regional leadership. Launching the first Arabic Citation Index (ARCI) worldwide comes at the top of these efforts.

6/22/2018 12:25:21 PM
<![CDATA[First music festival turns to blockchain]]>
Called the OUR Music Festival, or OMF, the inaugural edition will take place on October 20 in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza with a lineup to include electronic artist Zedd.

Organizers said that the festival would be the first to operate on blockchain, the system that moves chunks of data securely through an online ledger. Blockchain has been put to growing uses from medical records to banking and most prominently as the tool behind crytocurrency Bitcoin.

For the festival, fans will use a mobile app and see all ticket purchases on an open ledger, which the promoters hope will completely eliminate the resale market that artists and venues have struggled to tame.

"The way ticketing works now, it is just sort of accepted by everyone and there are obvious problems from scalping to counterfeiting to fraud to insane fees," said Justin Blau, a financier turned DJ with the stage-name 3LAU who conceptualized the festival.

"The reason why these systems haven't been changed is that up until now there really hasn't been a better way," he said.

"You won't have Craigslist selling paper tickets to Coachella anymore once ticketing is on the blockchain," he said.

Blau, who will also perform at OUR Music Festival, said that blockchain will open up a new field of incentives as fans will earn cryptocurrency for everything from early ticket purchases to encouraging friends to come.

Fans can spend the cryptocurrency on perks such as VIP upgrades, food and drink. Blau sees the specialized currency much like airline miles, with frequent customers obtaining elite status.

Blau believes that blockchain can ultimately rebalance the relationship between audience and promoters with fans, led by those holding more cryptocurrency, creating their own lineups.

"Right now it's one or two people sitting behind a desk saying this is the artist who's going to make us the most money in this place. But they don't even ask the fans. It's very inefficient," Blau said.

Acknowledging that hucksters have been drawn to blockchain, Blau said that the festival was determined to run smoothly by starting small and gradually fine-tuning.

He said tickets for the inaugural OMF would start at around $19, highly economical for a US festival.

Blau, who is working with festival promoter Prime Social Group and blockchain entertainment studio SingularDTV, hopes to bring OMF in the next two years to Japan and Barcelona.]]>
6/22/2018 11:01:50 AM
<![CDATA[Billy Elliot musical scraps Budapest dates after homophobic campaign]]>
"As you know, the negative campaign in recent weeks against the Billy Elliot production led to a big drop in ticket sales and for this reason we are cancelling 15 performances in line with the decision of our management," Opera director Szilveszter Okovacs said in a letter obtained by the 444.hu news website.

The musical is based on the 2000 film of the same name which tells the eponymous story of a boy growing up in a depressed northern English mining town in the 1980s who eschews boxing to pursue his passion for ballet dancing.

The musical had come under attack from the Magyar Idok newspaper, which supports right-wing populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

In an article about the musical on June 1, the paper said "the propagation of homosexuality cannot be a national goal when the population is getting older and smaller and our country is threatened by invasion".

It went on to describe those involved in organising the musical with a homophobic slur, implying that they were seeking to turn young members of the audience into homosexuals.

Okovacs had replied to the article pointing out that the sole gay character in the original version, Billy's friend Michael, was not in the production.

The 444.hu website said that the cancelling of the performances could have more to do with fear of political pressure than an effect on ticket sales, seeing as the other dates for the show were still doing brisk business.

Organisers plan to continue with 24 dates in the city, including one which is sold out.

In recent days the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has also been the target of a homophobic campaign in the press.

Earlier this week the pro-government weekly Figyelo published a list of researchers at the academy, accusing them of working on "gay rights and gender science".]]>
6/22/2018 10:58:22 AM
<![CDATA[Rapper Tommy Cash swaps the stage for Paris catwalk]]>
The Estonian, who has built up a huge following thanks to his videos which are often dubbed "the craziest on YouTube", also supplied the music for the spectacular show -- an instrumental version of "Pussy Money Weed".

The dystopian atmosphere of the song -- the video of which features disabled dancers -- mirrored Owens' avant-garde clothes which often have an end of days feel.

Fashion's permanent rebel transformed the courtyard of the Palais de Tokyo art museum in the French capital into a vast open air theatre, with guests given face masks to protect them from clouds of swirling red, blue and yellow smoke.

Cash, 26, sporting his trademark raffish pencil moustache, appeared midway throught the show wearing a "scaffolded T-shirt" worn with "snap away trousers in silk gazar and nylon satin".

He also wore one of Owens' leather "cargo" saddlebags, worn around the waist like a belt.

Asked by AFP if he might have a future as a model, the singer who once she he wanted to be "Kanye East" -- a reference to the US rapper and pop culture guru Kanye West -- winked and gave the thumbs up.

American rapper ASAP Rocky was also in the audience for the show.

- Birkenstock moonboots -

The influential Owens is one of fashion's true originals. The Californian's end-of-the-world aesthetic often pushes the limits of wearability, but it has not stopped Kim Kardashian among others from wearing his clothes and separates.

For his spring summer collection, the designer sent out a series of off-the-wall tent coats -- complete with aluminium poles -- which might be useful one day if men ever fall pregnant.

The nylon constructivist ponchos, as he preferred to call them, may not be coming to a high street near you for some time to come, but several other of Owens' creations had potential.

The snap away trousers worn by Cash and other models with their studded flapping chaps had a winning cowboy swagger, while the moonboot hiking boots he designed with Birkenstock also had legs.

But the biggest head-turner was a series of striking coats and jackets the designer debuted made with cut up segments of silk crepe and gazar, which brought to mind both futurist animal armour and stained glass windows.

6/22/2018 10:54:04 AM
<![CDATA['Roseanne' spinoff called 'The Conners' to air on ABC in fall]]>
Other original cast members including John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and Sara Gilbert will appear in the show, which has a working title of “The Conners,” ABC said in a statement.

ABC, owned by Walt Disney Co (DIS.N), canceled “Roseanne” in May after Barr sparked widespread anger with a tweet comparing black former Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape. Barr wrote in a now-deleted message that if the Islamist political movement “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj.” Barr later apologized for making a bad joke.

ABC said Barr will have no financial or creative involvement in the spinoff.

The new series will air this autumn, ABC said, and will feature characters Dan, Jackie, Darlene, Becky and D.J.

The network did not explain what will happen to Barr’s character.

“After a sudden turn of events, the Conners are forced to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before,” the ABC statement said, referring to the fictional town of Lanford, Illinois.

The family will grapple with “parenthood, dating, an unexpected pregnancy, financial pressures, aging and in-laws in working-class America,” the statement added.

In a separate statement, Barr said she agreed to be removed from the show to save 200 cast and crew jobs.

“I regret the circumstances that have caused me to be removed from Roseanne,” Barr said. “I wish the best for everyone involved.”

The original “Roseanne” ran from 1988 to 1997, featuring a blue-collar family with overweight parents struggling to get by. It was praised for its realistic portrayal of working-class life.

The revival was ABC’s biggest hit of the 2017-2018 season, drawing more than 18 million viewers on average, according to Nielsen.

President Donald Trump had cited its huge viewership as evidence his supporters, who include Barr, want shows that speak to their concerns. He also suggested media bias played a role in the show’s cancellation.

In a joint statement on Thursday, the returning cast members said: “We have received a tremendous amount of support from fans of our show, and it’s clear that these characters not only have a place in our hearts, but in the hearts and homes of our audience.”]]>
6/22/2018 10:50:09 AM
<![CDATA[Good weather on Northern Coasts Friday, Cairo sees 39°C]]>
Weather will be hot in other parts of the country, with a slight decline in temperatures during the night.

Clouds will be low in northern Egypt. Winds are moderate northeasterly, accompanying dust and sand in Upper Egypt, active in Gulf Suez and Red Sea which may causes disturbance in navigation.

The Mediterranean Sea’s wavelength will be varied between light to mild, with a one meter to 1.5 meter and northwesterly surface winds.

The Red Sea waves will be moderate to disturbed, with their lengths reaching 1 to 2.5 meters and northwesterly surface winds.

In the below lines, we display the expected temperature (in degrees Celsius) across some of Egypt's governorates:

Cairo: 39°C - 27 °C
Alexandria: 31°C - 23°C
Luxor: 45°C - 29°C
Aswan: 45°C - 30°C
Qena: 43°C - 28°C
Hurghada: 39°C - 29°C
Sharm El Sheikh: 39 °C - 29°C
Al Minya: 41°C - 24°C
Suez: 39°C - 24°C
Halayeb: 39°C - 42°C
Shalateen: 43°C - 30°C ]]>
6/22/2018 10:30:15 AM
<![CDATA[Belgium beach plays host to Hollywood sand sculptures]]>
There are more than 150 sand sculptures relating to Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars films on the beach in Ostend for the Sand Magic festival which opens on Saturday and runs until September — providing the artworks survive the weather.

Recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s biggest sand sculpture festival, 34 international artists have spent four weeks creating the pieces using around 6,000 tonnes of sand.

Some of the sculptures are several meters high. Among the depictions are works featuring Daffy Duck, Yoda and Bruce, the grinning great white shark from “Finding Nemo”.]]>
6/22/2018 10:28:31 AM
<![CDATA[Choked with pride, angry Moroccans cry foul]]>
The Frenchman refused to blame American referee Mark Geiger after the 1-0 defeat in Group B. However, he complained that his side should have had a free kick for the way Portuguese defender Pepe crashed into Khalid Boutaib, who was guarding the front post for the corner that led to Ronaldo's fourth minute header.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Morocco's Faycal Fajr looks dejected after the match REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

His voice breaking with emotion after the defeat, their second following a stoppage-time loss to Iran, Renard insisted the nation could be proud of their team but that they had failed to take their chances.

"I'm very proud of the performance and I am very proud of my players, I'm very proud of this country," said Renard, 49, who won the African Cup of Nations with Zambia and Ivory Coast.

"We deserved to win. We had five or six chances in the second half."

Thanking the travelling fans who turned Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium into "more like Casablanca", he lamented that his side could not deliver an adequate reward for the supporters.

"What I am sure of at this moment is that the entire Moroccan people is proud of this team," he said.

"Of course it's easier to play with a player who has one chance and he puts it away. But we are in Morocco.

"We have quality players. Despite the ups and downs of the game, we should have been more effective. Because, like in the first game, we had plenty of chances. I won't blame anyone. That's football. It's always those who know how to be present in the box, the most gifted players, who make the difference.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Morocco's Nabil Dirar looks dejected after the match REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

"We took a lot of risks and we didn't get our reward."

Singling out veteran forward Nordin Amrabat for praise, Renard dismissed suggestions that he might have risked his health by playing after taking a knock to the head against Iran, just five days ago, and then by removing his head protection.

"He is a warrior. He wanted to play," said Renard, adding that he removed his protector "because his spirit is amazing".

He added that it was not his job to decide on medical issues but that team medics and Amrabat himself were responsible.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Saint Petersburg, Russia - June 20, 2018. Morocco and Portugal fans react at Saint Petersburg Fan Fest. REUTERS/Henry Romero

With nothing more to play for against old rivals Spain on Monday, Renard promised Morocco's fans something to cheer for.

"We will end the adventure against Spain, trying to put on the same performance as today and to go down with honour," he said.

6/22/2018 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Saudi Arabia take positives for Asian Cup after Russia exit]]>
The Saudis were crushed 5-0 by hosts Russia in the opening game of Group A before a goalkeeping blunder from Mohammed Al-Owais handed Uruguay their place in the last 16 and eliminated the Green Falcons.

Saudi Arabia, however, were competitive throughout, playing neat football and enjoying most of the possession at the Rostov Arena.

"We played at a much better level than in the Russia game, and that is more our style of play, but we just did not have the right tools to break Uruguay down," said Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi.

Despite occasions of clever passing, the Saudis rarely threatened and managed only three shots on target in their two matches in Russia.

"We had a lot of ball possession and were able to impose our style of play and distribution," said Pizzi. "We conceded a goal from a random play and didn't have the weapons or tools to try to equalize. We kept the ball well and weren't really troubled defensively, but lacked that ability to score."

"This is our weakness. We have good ball possession, but no effectiveness. We lack the depth and skill required to win these games," he added.

"We have that deficiency and have looked for solutions, but we haven't quite come up with one yet. But that is one of the reasons great forwards are in high demand and are the elite players in world football."

Efficiency is something Saudi Arabia will have to massively improve on for the 2019 Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates but at least, in one game against Uruguay, they showed pride.

"The difference between this display and the first game was massive, the change was obvious, it gives us tranquillity for the future for the months ahead," Pizzi concluded.

"We'll make Saudi Arabia proud even though we are out of the tournament."]]>
6/22/2018 8:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[German carmakers join American farmers on front line of U.S.-China trade war]]>
Luxury carmakers Daimler and BMW joined American farmers and Chinese solar panel and steel makers among the first casualties in what looks set to become a bitter trade war on a global scale of a kind not seen since the 1930s.

While most economists believe a tariff war between the world's two largest economies will not derail global growth even if U.S. President Donald Trump follows through with duties on $450 billion of imports from China, individual industries such as agriculture, autos and technology look set to be hit hard.

Daimler on Wednesday cut its 2018 profit forecast while BMW, whose Spartanburg, South Carolina plant is the largest single exporter of vehicles in the United States, said it was looking at "strategic options" because of the threatened trade war.

The first test of whether a tariff war will indeed start comes on July 6, the date on which Trump has threatened to enact the first portion of duties on a planned $50 billion of imports from China.

Beijing has pledged retaliation and Trump has threatened to push harder in response, saying that there could be tariffs on up to $450 billion of imports from China, close to the $500 billion of goods the United States gets from the world's second largest economy.

A trade war between the United States, which is mired in battles with allies in Europe and North America over trade, immigration and foreign policy, and China, the world's emerging economic and military power, now looks as if it will involve the entire world if both sides follow through on their threats.

"It is deeply regrettable that the U.S. has been capricious, escalated the tensions, and provoked a trade war," Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said on Thursday.

"The U.S. is accustomed to holding 'big sticks' for negotiations, but this approach does not apply to China."

At the same time as Gao and Chinese newspapers stressed that Beijing would strike back, President Xi Jinping told foreign company executives in Beijing that he was pressing ahead with promised tariff reductions promised in April.

Items such as cars have seen pledges of cuts and in May, Beijing said it would lower import tariffs on 1,449 consumer goods, starting from July 1.

Beijing has sought to portray itself as the guardian of global free trade, a crown that has been abandoned by the United States since Trump took office in 2017 with his protectionist agenda.

"I've been honouring my words with actions," Xi told a group of foreign chief executives in Beijing on Thursday.

Although there has been no record of talks between the two countries since a deal to negotiate a reduction in America's trade deficit with China fell apart, some political analysts in the United States believe Trump may pull away from the tariffs before July 6.

The continued harsh rhetoric from Washington appeared to cast doubt on that, however.

"What we have to do is create an environment where it's more painful for these parties that have these huge trade barriers, both tariff and non-tariff; got to make it more painful for them to keep those barriers than to get rid of them," U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told broadcaster CNBC on Thursday.

Financial markets have been hit harder with the rise in threats, and car companies felt the brunt of that on Thursday, even though companies like General Motors and Ford Motor rebounded from earlier stock price lows.

GM closed almost 2 percent lower on Thursday while Ford lost 1.3 percent and Tesla plunged 4.1 percent.


A trade war would hit U.S. farmers, a vast majority of whom supported Trump in the 2016 election.

Adding to the woes of soy farmers, who have seen the value of their commodity fall to multi-year lows, pork farmers were set to feel the heat from China as well.

China implemented a 25 percent duty on most U.S. pork items on April 2, and a 15 percent tariff on a range of fruits and nuts, in response to U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum products.

Last week pork was included in a second round of tariffs to be imposed on July 6. No other products have been listed twice and it now faces cumulative import duties of 71 percent, not including value added tax, according to a formula published on the website of China's finance ministry last week.

Chinese shares fell 1.2 percent on Thursday on investor worries about the trade dispute, with the Shanghai index languishing at a two-year low.

China has said it would impose additional tariffs on 659 U.S. goods, with duties on 545 to kick in on July 6, after Trump said Washington would levy tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese products.

Beijing has yet to set a tariff activation date for the remaining 114 U.S. products, which include crude oil, coal and a host of refined fuel products.

Some Chinese economists have said that while Beijing cannot agree to Trump's excessive demands, some of the issues raised by Washington could be implemented and would, over the longer term, benefit China.

"We cannot be soft with Trump. He is using his 'irrationality' as a tactic and he is trying to confuse us," said Chen Fengying, an economics expert at state-backed China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"But if we could accomplish some of the things that he wants us to do - such as IP (intellectual property), market reforms, he'd be helping us. Of course there are risks, those would depend on how we handle those reforms." ]]>
6/22/2018 7:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[For fans from tiny Iceland, team is family – often literally]]>
With a population of around 350,000, Iceland is the smallest nation to ever qualify for a World Cup. So, for fans descending on Russia for the Nordic island's first ever appearance at the tournament, the national team is often a deeply personal affair, with many supporters boasting blood ties or personal links with the players.

Bjarni Arnason, a 31-year-old Icelandic architect who travelled to Volgograd to watch his team play Nigeria in Group D on Friday, fondly recalled playing handball at high school with Iceland defender Ragnar Sigurdsson.

"He was really good!" laughed Arnason, decked out in the Iceland jersey on Thursday. "He was so good that the football team wanted him to just play football."

The connections go on: A pal of Arnason is best friends with the wife of Iceland's goalkeeper while a cousin played football with another player.

And Arnason's father, in Volgograd for the game too, is old friends with the father of Alfred Finnbogason, who scored against twice world champions Argentina in their opening game on Saturday which ended 1-1.

"I added an 11 on my Iceland team shirt in honour of my friend's son," said Arni Sigurdsson.

But, true to Iceland's no-frills reputation, that's as far as the preferential treatment goes.

"I cheer for the team – I don't cheer extra hard for anyone. We are probably all related somewhat anyway!" added engineer Sigurdsson, 61, with a chuckle.

That attitude is reflected on the pitch too. Coach – and part time dentist - Heimir Hallgrimsson insists that all players are treated equally.


The team had a thrilling run at 2016 European championship, eliminating big-name England and advancing to the quarter-finals, propelled by their "thunder-clapping" fans and Viking imagery.

Iceland's 'Cinderella story' has smitten many football aficionados, especially those disgusted by corruption scandals engulfing FIFA and put off by the diva-like attitude of some leading players.

But one downside to hailing from such a small place is that privacy is not always an option.

Iceland fan Svavar Asmundsson said his son used to regularly pour drinks for members of Iceland's team while working at a bar in capital Reykjavik.

"It was all good... But some of them are a little crazier than the others!" said Asmundsson, a 59-year-old who works in the fishing industry.

Still, the close-knit community never feels suffocating, said the father of midfielder Birkir Bjarnason, who was also in Volgograd to see his son play Nigeria – Africa's most populous country with close to 200 million people, some 571 times Iceland's population.

"I know who the fathers and mothers of all the players are. Many parents I knew before, but most of them I met after they started to play together," said the midfielder's father Bjarni Sveinbjornsson, a 55-year-old electrician. "It's kind of a family."]]>
6/22/2018 6:41:00 AM
<![CDATA[North Korea 'total denuclearization' started]]>
Trump said at a Cabinet meeting in the White House that "They’ve stopped the sending of missiles, including ballistic missiles. They’re destroying their engine site. They’re blowing it up. They’ve already blown up one of their big test sites, in fact it’s actually four of their big test sites.

"And the big thing is it will be a total denuclearization, which has already started taking place."

It was not immediately clear which North Korean test sites Trump was referring to and U.S. officials familiar with current intelligence on North Korea’s nuclear and missile test sites said there was no evidence of new moves to dismantle any sites since Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, speculated Trump might have been referring to explosions last month that North Korea said were to destroy tunnels at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and the dismantling of a medium-range ballistic missile test stand at Iha-ri, also in May.

There had been contact with North Korean officials since the summit, the U.S. State Department said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "will be meeting with them and talking with them at the earliest possible date" to implement what was agreed in Singapore, spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters, without providing further details.

Asked on Wednesday if North Korea had done anything toward denuclearization since the summit, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters: “No, I'm not aware of that ... obviously, it's the very front end of a process. The detailed negotiations have not begun. I wouldn't expect that at this point.”

Mattis sat next to Trump at Thursday's Cabinet meeting.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump's latest remarks. There also was no immediate response from the White House.

The U.S.-based North Korea monitoring group 38 North said in an analysis at the end of last week there had been no sign of any activity toward dismantling of any missile test site.

Trump, who has been leading an international drive to press North Korea to abandon development of nuclear missiles capable of reaching the United States, told reporters after the June 12 summit that Kim had pledged to dismantle one of his missile installations.

A U.S. official said on Wednesday that the site Trump referred to then was the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, a major facility in the western part of the country that has been used for testing engines for long-range missiles.


North Korea announced before the Singapore summit the suspension of its ICBM testing and also closed its nuclear bomb test site, where it conducted several explosions in front of visiting media that it said were to destroy testing tunnels. U.S. officials, however, have cautioned that such actions are reversible.

In the Cabinet meeting, Trump acknowledged that "things can change."

"Personalities can change. Maybe you end up with conflict. Maybe you don't," he said. He said both he and Pompeo had established a "very strong" relationship with Kim that he thought would lead to "tremendous success."

Trump went on to say that the "number-one statement" in the document he and Kim signed in Singapore was "we will immediately begin total denuclearization of North Korea," although there was no such statement in the text.

In the joint statement, Kim "reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," but made no reference to a timeline. Going into the summit, Pyongyang repeatedly rejected unilateral nuclear disarmament.

Pompeo told the same Cabinet meeting Kim had made a personal commitment, and added: "He has got his reputation on the line."

Pompeo said U.S. allies and North Korea's neighbor and ally China were supportive of the U.S. policy of maintaining sanctions on Pyongyang until its denuclearization was complete.

Trump repeated his thanks to Chinese President Xi Jinping for supporting sanctions, although he said that the border between China and North Korea was "getting a little weaker now."

"That's OK. That's OK. But we have to get him to keep it tough," Trump said.

Trump also said the remains of U.S. troops missing from the Korean War were in the process of being returned to the United States from North Korea, correcting a statement he made a day earlier.

Trump said on Wednesday the remains of 200 American servicemen had already been sent back, following on from the agreement he reached with Kim in Singapore.

Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that while North Korea was expected to return the remains of soldiers in coming days, they had not yet been returned. ]]>
6/22/2018 6:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Messi is better than Maradona, says Ramos]]>
Maradona, his country's 1986 World Cup-winning captain, remarked this week that "Ramos is no superstar, the real superstar defender is Diego Godin" when comparing Spain's serial-winner Ramos with the Uruguay captain.

Ramos was asked what he made of Maradona's comments after Spain's 1-0 World Cup Group B win over Iran, and chose to praise on Messi, who has led Barcelona to numerous wins over Real Madrid and had plenty of full-blooded clashes with the Spaniard.

"I respect Maradona because he is an all-time great, I think he was a star, but I'll also tell you that Argentine football knows Maradona is light years behind their number one player, which is Messi," Ramos said.

Messi, who lost the last World Cup final to Germany as captain of Argentina, missed a penalty in his side's 1-1 draw with Iceland and is under pressure to propel his side to victory over Group D leaders Croatia on Thursday.]]>
6/22/2018 4:02:00 AM
<![CDATA[Three men indicted for Minnesota mosque bombing]]>
Michael McWhorter, 29, Joe Morris, 23, and Michael B. Hari, 47, were accused of carrying out a pipe bomb attack on the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, on Aug. 5, 2017. The bomb damaged the building, but caused no injuries, according to a statement from the Minnesota U.S. Attorney's Office.

Shannon Elkins, a lawyer identified by the U.S. Attorney's Office as representing Hari, was not immediately available for comment. Attorneys Christopher Madel and Robert Richman, identified as representing McWhorter and Morris respectively, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"These three defendants allegedly plotted and executed a plan designed specifically to spread fear and threaten a fundamental right afforded to all, the freedom of religion," U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said in a statement.

The Dar al-Farooq mosque mainly serves Somalis in the Minneapolis area. Minnesota has the largest Somali community in the country, according to the most recent U.S. Census estimates.

Morris is alleged to have used a sledgehammer to break a window at the Islamic center in the early morning of Aug. 5, while worshippers were gathered for morning prayers, and throwing a container of diesel and gasoline into the Imam's office.

McWhorter lit the fuse on a pipe bomb Hari built and threw it into the office, igniting the fuel. The two returned to a pickup where Hari was waiting and sped off, according to U.S. prosecutors.

The three suspects were arrested in March by FBI agents in Illinois and also charged with possession of assault rifles, which are classified as machine guns, and an attempted bombing of an abortion clinic in Champaign, Illinois on Nov. 7.

The three men are being held in Illinois on these charges. All three are from Clarence, about 35 miles (56 km) north of Champaign-Urbana.

Anti-Muslim incidents rose sharply in the United States in the year after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to a review by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.]]>
6/22/2018 3:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[US leaks 60 percent more methane than government says: study]]>
US industry emits some 13 million metric tons each year, far more than the amount estimated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said the findings published in the journal Science.

Researchers said the actual leak rate of 2.3 percent -- compared to EPA inventory estimates of 1.4 percent -- represents enough natural gas to fuel 10 million homes.

The dollar value of the lost gas amounts to $2 billion, said the report compiled by more than 140 researchers, in cooperation with 50 oil and gas companies that provided site access and technical advice.

"Scientists have uncovered a huge problem, but also an enormous opportunity," said co-author Steven Hamburg, chief scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund.

"Reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector is the fastest, most cost effective way we have to slow the rate of warming today, even as the larger transition to lower-carbon energy continues."

Methane is the main ingredient in natural gas, and packs more than 80 times the climate warming impact of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timespan, experts say.

Natural gas is a fossil fuel that emits less carbon dioxide than oil or coal, but its efficiency depends a lot on keeping methane leaks to a minimum.

Some oil giants have already begun to recognize the problem and take action.

BP sets its first methane target in April, and ExxonMobil committed in May to cut methane emissions. Shell and Qatar Petroleum have also committed to cutting methane emissions.

Researchers said the reason for the discrepancy between US government estimates and actual emissions "is likely a result of existing inventory methods not capturing methane emissions that occur during abnormal operating conditions, like malfunctions.]]>
6/22/2018 3:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Central European states to boycott Brussels migration meet]]>
Speaking after a meeting of the leaders of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in Budapest, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki described Sunday's meeting as "unacceptable", adding: "We are not going to attend, they want to re-heat a proposal that we've already rejected."

His Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban said that the meeting was "against the normal customs of the EU" and that the appropriate forum was the EU leaders' summit scheduled for next week.

The four were joined at the summit by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who has added his voice to calls for a tougher migration policy.

"We have to have a Europe capable of defending us," Kurz said after the meeting.

"We have to strengthen (border agency) Frontex, to protect our external border and ensure internal freedom."

The Visegrad states have, like Kurz, traditionally taken a hardline stance on migration, rejecting any suggestion of mandatory refugee resettlement among EU members.

- 'True' border police -

Draft EU conclusions on the issue seen by German media include proposals for more border security, including identity checks at airports, railway and road stations.

The EU border agency Frontex would also be revolutionised into a "true EU border police" with the number of officers increasing to 10,000 officers by 2020, a move Italy has been pushing for.

As regards to asylum seekers already present in the EU, they would be "fined" if they do not stay in the country where they were registered.

The EU is also considering setting up "disembarkation platforms" outside the bloc to process migrants, according to draft summit conclusions seen by AFP.

In recent weeks migration policy has caused a row within German Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition that threatens her leadership.

Kurz has made common cause with the Bavarian CSU, the more conservative coalition partners of Merkel's CDU party.

The Austrian leader hosted the Bavarian state government for a joint cabinet session in the Austrian city of Linz on Wednesday.

The fate of the Aquarius migrant rescue ship has also put the spotlight back on the issue and sparked rows between EU member states.

Italy's new populist government refused the ship, carrying 630 migrants, entry to its ports last week. It eventually arrived in Spain on June 17.

Italy had threatened to turn away two more rescue ships on Thursday, one of which is stranded in the Mediterranean carrying more than 200 migrants, however later indicated it would seize the ships and take them into port.

- Hardline 'axis' on migration -

At Wednesday's meeting with his Bavarian counterparts, Kurz welcomed the renewed focus on migration in Germany, saying it had brought "a new dynamic on the European level".

He offered a thinly-veiled criticism of Merkel's welcome of refugees, saying that those who opened the borders in 2015 "are responsible for the fact that we have border controls" between EU member states.

Kurz has also announced the formation of a controversial "axis" on migration between German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer -- from the CSU, his Austria's far-right interior minister Herbert Kickl and their new Italian counterpart Matteo Salvini, from the League.

Salvini had threatened Italy would boycott the event, but new Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed he would attend.

Thursday's meeting was hosted by Orban, who won a third consecutive term earlier this year after an election campaign dominated by anti-immigrant rhetoric.

On Wednesday Hungary's parliament passed a package of laws promised by Orban during the campaign which criminalise NGOs who offer help to refugees and migrants.

Parliament also approved a constitutional amendment obliging all state institutions to "defend Christian culture".

Spain's new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has struck more a liberal note on the issue than many of his counterparts. He allowed the Aquarius to dock in order to stave off a "humanitarian disaster".

His Socialist government has said it will restore public healthcare to foreigners without residence permits. He also wants to remove the barbed wire that tops the border fences of Ceuta and Melilla, the two Spanish enclaves in North Africa.

Sanchez's office said he would on Saturday embark on a European tour to meet leaders in Paris, Berlin and Lisbon, as well the Brussels meeting on Sunday and next week's full EU summit.]]>
6/22/2018 2:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[World Cup superstitions putting a spell on players]]>
Players and coaches can be a superstitious bunch and often have a ritual or item of clothing they believe is a charm that has contributed to a winning run.

They range from former Colombian keeper Rene Higuita's insistence on wearing blue underpants to current German striker Mario Gomez's habit of only using the far-left urinal to relieve himself before a match.

Gomez's Germany teammate Julian Draxler gives himself a spritz of scent before a big match.

"Sometimes my teammates ask me if I'm not right in the head," the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder said.

"Every player has a ritual before a match and I usually hold my bag in my locker and I throw on two or three sprays of perfume. It gives me a feeling of happiness."

Sports psychologist Dan Abrahams, author of the book "Soccer Tough", said so many match-day factors are beyond a player's control that adopting a ritual or lucky charm provides something to focus on and take charge of.

"Logically, these kinds of rituals aren't linked to performance," he told AFP.

"However, if a player creates the perception that they are, then the action can become a hinge factor for how a player feels," said the specialist, who works with Premier League club Bournemouth.

- Best foot forward -

England's Dele Alli is using the same shin guards he has worn since childhood when he plays in Russia, hoping they bring the good fortune that has long eluded the Three Lions at international tournaments.

"I've had the same shinpads since I was 11. They are battered (but) I am very superstitious," the Tottenham midfielder told Fifa.com.

Some players such as England's Phil Jones do not like stepping on white lines, while Brazil defender Marcelo always runs onto the pitch right foot first.

The habit is so ingrained that during training in Rostov-on-Don he left the pitch and re-entered after realising he had accidentally led with his left foot.

"Everybody likes to enter with the right foot, right? I'm no different," he laughed when quizzed by reporters.

Morocco coach Herve Renard has worn a white shirt on the sidelines since he took Zambia to a surprise victory at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012.

He is doing so again in Russia, although it has not proved so lucky this time as Morocco will be heading home after the group stages.

France are convinced superstition played a part in their 1998 World Cup win, when Fabien Barthez's teammates rubbed the goalkeeper's bald head for good luck.

Defender Laurent Blanc planted a big kiss on Barthez's pool-ball pate before every match, right up to the final against Brazil.

Perhaps the strangest example of the power of suggestion helping a team to World Cup glory is Argentina's triumph in 1978.

- The mo must go -

In an era of short shorts and long hair, Argentina's star striker Mario Kempes was a dedicated follower of fashion, sporting a stylish horseshoe moustache and flowing locks.

But Kempes failed to find the net in the group stages, prompting coach Cesar Luis Menotti to offer a suggestion to the forward nicknamed "El Matador".

Menotti, who had omitted a teenage prodigy named Diego Maradona in favour of Kempes, pointed out that when he visited the striker in Spain before the tournament he was clean-shaven and scoring freely for Valencia.

Why didn't he get rid of the moustache and see if it brought a change of fortune?

The impact was immediate. Kempes scored two goals in his next match against Poland, then two more against Peru to seal a spot in the final.

Another two goals in the decider against the Netherlands saw Kempes claim the Golden Boot and gave Argentina their maiden World Cup title.

"The moustache had to go... that was the start of a new chapter for me," Kempes later said.

"After that, every time (Menotti) saw me he'd say 'You're due a shave today Mario, aren't you?'."]]>
6/22/2018 2:05:00 AM
<![CDATA[OPEC strives for deal to raise oil output as Iran resists]]>
The Saudi and Russian energy ministers said a production increase of about 1 million barrels per day (bpd) or around 1 percent of global supply had become a near-consensus proposal for the group and its allies, but Iran's assent was vital.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meets on Friday to decide output policy amid calls from top consumers such as the United States, China and India to cool down oil prices and support the world economy by producing more crude.

Iran, OPEC's third-largest producer, has so far been the main barrier to a new deal as it said on Tuesday OPEC was unlikely to reach an agreement and should reject pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to pump more oil.

Trump imposed fresh sanctions on Tehran in May and market watchers expect Iran's output to drop by a third by the end of 2018. That means the country has little to gain from a deal to raise OPEC output, unlike arch-rival Saudi Arabia.

"I don’t think we can reach agreement," Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told reporters after leaving a joint OPEC and non-OPEC ministerial committee in Vienna while other ministers continued talks.

Iranian publication Seda quoted sources as saying Zanganeh told the meeting he would not accept an output increase because doing so would pave the way to an Iranian oil embargo.

Iran is usually not part of the committee, which groups Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Algeria and Venezuela. The committee meeting was the last consultation before the OPEC gathering on Friday.

The meeting continued for around two hours after Zanganeh left. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the overwhelming majority recommended raising output by 1 million bpd, gradually and on a pro-rata basis among participants.


OPEC and its allies have since last year been participating in a deal to cut output by 1.8 million bpd. The measure has helped rebalance the market in the past 18 months and lifted oil to around $73 per barrel from as low as $27 in 2016.

Brent oil prices were down 2 percent on Thursday.

But unexpected outages in Venezuela, Libya and Angola have effectively brought supply cuts to around 2.8 million bpd in recent months. Iran's output is also likely to fall in the second half of this year due to the new U.S. sanctions.

Falih said the world could face a supply deficit of up to 1.8 million bpd in the second half of 2018 and that OPEC's responsibility was to address consumers' worries.

"We want to prevent the shortage and the squeeze that we saw in 2007-2008," Falih said, referring to a time when oil rallied close to $150 per barrel. He also said the U.S. oil output boom would slow due to pipeline shortages in the next two years.

On Wednesday Zanganeh had left the door open for a deal, saying OPEC members that had overdelivered on cuts in recent months should comply with agreed quotas. That would effectively mean a modest boost from producers such as Saudi Arabia that have voluntarily cut more deeply than planned.

Falih said the exact mechanics of any increase would be decided among all OPEC members on Friday. OPEC sources have said that if a 1 million bpd output hike were approved, Saudi Arabia would add about 0.25-0.3 million bpd to supply.

Zanganeh told CNN on Wednesday that if OPEC returned to regular compliance, the real supply increase from the group would constitute only around 460,000 bpd.

Falih also said the real increase would be smaller than the nominal gain of 1 million bpd, meaning there was still the possibility for compromise with Iran.

OPEC sources also said Iran had demanded that U.S. sanctions be mentioned in the group's post-meeting communique, as Tehran has blamed U.S. measures for the recent rise in oil prices.

The United States, which rivals Russia and Saudi Arabia for the position of world No.1 oil producer, is not participating in the current supply pact.

For possible output-cut scenarios, see

For a factbox on the history of OPEC oil output changes, see]]>
6/22/2018 2:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Melania Trump's jacket mixes message during visit to detained immigrant children]]>
According to her spokesperson, Melania Trump decided to visit detention centers housing children because she deeply cares about the controversial issue.

But the jacket the U.S. first lady wore for Thursday's trip conveyed a different message.

"I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?" was daubed on the back of her jacket in large white brush strokes.

The trip to Texas was the most high-profile public appearance Melania Trump had made since undergoing a surgical procedure for a kidney condition on May 14.

Melania Trump wore a hooded green khaki jacket designed by fashion chain Zara as she boarded her flight to Texas in front of news photographers.

The first lady, a former fashion model, sometimes gets input on wardrobe decisions from her fashion adviser, Herve Pierre.

"It's a jacket," Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump's spokeswoman, told reporters. "There was no hidden message. After today's important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn't going to choose to focus on her wardrobe."

The first lady's unannounced visit came a day after her husband signed an executive order to modify his administration's practice of separating children from their migrant parents when they illegally enter the United States.

Children have been sent to detention centers and foster homes while their parents are detained and prosecuted.

Melania Trump met with staff looking after detained children in McAllen, Texas, and met with officials and employees at the facility, where 55 children aged 12 to 17 are housed. Six of them were separated from their parents upon crossing the border, authorities told reporters.

By then the jacket was by then nowhere in sight.

Mrs. Trump sat alongside Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at a table at Upbring New Hope Children's Center and heard caregivers explain how the children are well treated.

"I'm glad I'm here and I'm looking forward to seeing and meeting children, but first of all let me begin to recognize each of you and thanking you for all that you do, for your heroic work that you do every day and what you do for those children," Melania Trump said.

"I'd also like to ask you how I can help these children to reunite with their families as quickly as possible," she said.

She visited a schoolroom and chatted with about 20 young girls and boys. In one classroom, children were being taught about the July Fourth Independence Day holiday. On the wall was a handpainted American flag and the children signed it. The first lady signed it as well.

On Wednesday, when signing the executive order to reverse the policy on separating children from parents, Trump cited his daughter and his wife as influencing his decision.

"Ivanka feels very strongly, my wife feels very strongly about it, I feel very strongly about it. I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it. We don't like to see families separated," Trump said.

Melania's trip to Texas was cut short by heavy rain and flash flooding. She put the jacket back on as she disembarked from her plane back at Joint Base Andrews near Washington, D.C.

Defending his wife's choice of jacket, Trump blamed the media, tweeting: “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!"]]>
6/22/2018 1:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt calls int'l community to share refugee burden "despite difficulties"]]>CAIRO – 22 June 2018: In a bid to renew Egypt’s moral and legal commitment towards refugees in the territory, Egypt has called on the international community to share the collective responsibilities of hosting refugees.

According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid, Egypt seeks to integrate refugees into the Egyptian society “despite high burdens and economic difficulties.”

Abu Zeid’s tweet coincided with the World Refugee Day, an international observance that marks June 20 and is dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world.

Last August, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Egypt reported that the number of refugees and asylum seekers in the country was about 209,000 refugees. Unofficial estimates however indicate that there are more than 300,000 refugees in the country, including those who are registered in the UNHCR.

The UNHCR's annual "Global Trends" study found that a staggering 68.5 million people worldwide had been forcibly displaced by the end of 2017.

According to UNHCR, around 68.5 million people worldwide had been forcibly displaced by the end of 2017 –http://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2017

“Nearly a quarter of them were uprooted just last year, either for the first time or repeatedly. That's an average of one person displaced every two seconds of the day,” the study says.

6/22/2018 1:31:43 AM
<![CDATA[#Sisi_is_my_leader hashtag surfaces Twitter trends]]>CAIRO – 22 June 2018: A hashtag initiated in support of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has been gaining popularity among Twitter users; with more than 10,000 retweets, #السيسى_زعيمى_وأفتخر (Sisi is my leader and I am proud) was included in tweets that eulogized Sisi as the rescuer of Egypt and heaped praises on his achievements.

The hasthag reached around 6,573,275 accounts in the last seven days according to Tweetreach Analytics.

The hashtag has reached around 6,573,275 accounts in the last seven days according to Tweetreach Analytics.

Twitter users expressed how proud they are that Sisi is their president and leader, praising his achievements, most notably, how he conquered the infamous Muslim Brotherhood and fought terrorism until the brink of eradication.

Another twitter user Iman Elnahas @imanahas stressed her trust in president Sisi as she said, “I am proud that I revolted against the spy Mohamed Morsi, I am proud that I am against the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood that uses religion as a cover to reach power, I am proud that I participated in the June 30 revolution, and I am proud that I voted twice for Sisi.”

In January, #My_Vote_For_Sisi_2018 cropped up Twitter’s trending hashtags with thousands of interactions and retweets in support of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s candidacy in the presidential elections.

Twitter user Bent El-Mu3ez @GOGOMO222 said, “Yes prices are high, but… thank god you are living in a house and not a refugee nor your country is occupied, you are assured your family is safe and not slaves for IS militias, thank god your army is up to speed with the biggest armies in the world, thank god your country is safe and that no one in Egypt sleeps on an empty stomach.”

Magda Metwally @MagdaMetwally1, another Twitter user, said, “I swear to god even if he has no achievements, it is enough that he saved Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Other Twitter users on the other hand slammed another hashtag that was initiated by Muslim Brotherhood web trolls that spreads rumors and demands for overthrowing the state; Twitter user @medoesmaeil said, “Here you would find only the nationalists who took it upon themselves to direct a message to the whole world that the other hashtag is being initiated by the sheeps of Qatar and Turkey, and that we supports President Sisi in all of his decisions, trust the leadership and we shall reach it, long live Egypt, sir!”

Another hashtag was initiated in Oct. 2017 by the official twitter account of “Alashan Tbneeha” (To Build It) campaign, @presidentEgyptt, namely #صوتنا_للسيسي (Arabic for Our vote for Sisi); it cropped up Twitter’s trends by more than 73,600 tweets and 68,500 retweets in only one day according to Trendsmap - Analytics.

The hashtag has cropped up Twitter’s trends

To Build It, was a public campaign that kicked off in Sep. 2017 to demand President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to run for a second term as President of Egypt; it witnessed a remarkable turnout by citizens and renowned figures of the Egyptian society as the signatures phase of the campaign was launched.

The main aim of the campaign was to gather signatures on a petition that demands a second inauguration of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi as President of Egypt.

It is pertinent to mention that the Egyptian leader garnered 97.08 percent of valid votes in the presidential election, where more than 21.8 million people voted for him. The turnout stood at 24,254,152 voters, representing 41 percent of 50,078,138 registered voters.

In a televised speech after winning the election, Sisi pledged to keep his promise in serving the nation and thanked all Egyptians for trusting him to lead the country.

6/22/2018 12:59:09 AM
<![CDATA[Survivors report 220 migrants drowned off Libya in recent days]]>
The Libyan coast guard, meanwhile, picked up 762 migrants trying to reach Italy in rubber boats during the past two days alone, its spokesman said.

The North African country is a key departure point for migrants fleeing wars and poverty who are trying to reach Europe, though crossings have dropped sharply since last July due to a more active coast guard presence with support from the European Union.

Only five people survived the capsizing of a boat carrying 100 people on Tuesday, while the same day a rubber craft with 130 passengers sank, leading to 70 people drowning, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.

On Wednesday, a boat of migrants who were rescued reported that more than 50 people travelling with them had perished at sea, it said.

"UNHCR is dismayed at the ever-growing numbers of refugees and migrants losing their lives at sea and is calling for urgent international action to strengthen rescue at sea efforts by all relevant and capable actors, including NGOs and commercial vessels, throughout the Mediterranean," the agency said.

Libya's coast guard picked up 680 African migrants on Thursday alone from at least five inflatable boats near its western coast, a spokesman said.

"The coast guard rescued 301 migrants early this morning, including three women and 46 children from 12 different sub-Saharan countries," its spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Reuters.

"The illegal migrants were on board two big rubber boats," Qassem said. "The engines of the two boats stopped working in the middle of sea."

He later said the coast guard had also recovered three bodies and rescued 142 illegal migrants some 25 miles off Tripoli's eastern Qarabulli town after their boat foundered.

Qassem added that 237 illegal migrants including two children and three women had been rescued from two rubber boats off Qarabulli.

On Wednesday, one body was recovered and a group of 82 migrants were rescued off Tripoli's eastern Tajoura suburb, he said.

Most migrants try to head across the Mediterranean toward Italy, hoping they will be picked up by ships run by aid groups and taken there, although many drown before they are rescued.

Earlier this month, however, Italy's anti-immigrant interior minister Matteo Salvini vowed to no longer let charity ships offload rescued migrants in Italy, leaving one ship stranded at sea for several days with more than 600 migrants until Spain offered them safe harbour.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will try on Sunday to persuade other EU leaders to agree upon a common policy on migrants although her chances of winning support from all 28 member states are deemed slim.]]>
6/22/2018 12:38:51 AM
<![CDATA[Trump tries to defuse immigrant crisis, but policy hit by confusion]]>
Despite Trump's order, it remained unclear how and when more than 2,300 children who have been separated from their parents in the past few weeks would be reunited with them, and where the families would be held while the parents face criminal charges.

It was also not clear if the government would keep prosecuting cases against people caught crossing the border illegally.

While prosecutors said they were not dismissing any cases, some hearings on Thursday did not proceed as scheduled. In McAllen, Texas, 17 immigrants were told by their public defenders that their cases were not proceeding for now.

Separately, the U.S. military was asked by the government to get ready to house up to 20,000 unaccompanied immigrant children at military bases, Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis said.

Video footage of children who had been separated from parents sitting in cages and an audiotape of wailing children had sparked worldwide anger over Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policies.

The fierce criticism forced Trump to backtrack and sign an executive order on Wednesday to keep families together in detention during immigration proceedings.

First lady Melania Trump on Thursday visited children displaced by the immigration crisis .

But the olive green jacket she wore as she boarded the plane for Texas - daubed with the words "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?" on the back - appeared to undercut the message of compassion.

The White House responded to criticism by saying there was no hidden message. "It's a jacket," said Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump's spokeswoman. "After today's important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn't going to choose to focus on her wardrobe."


In a filing in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the Justice Department asked a judge to modify a 1997 settlement that has been interpreted as setting a 20-day limit on detaining children who entered the country illegally, regardless of whether they entered with a parent.

It also sought an exemption from state licensing requirements for federal facilities that house the children.

The Justice Department said the recent surge in the number of illegal border crossings by families had created a "destabilizing migratory crisis" that put those families at risk and threatened public safety.

"Under current law and legal rulings," the Justice Department said, "it is not possible for the U.S. government to detain families together during the pendency of their immigration proceedings. It cannot be done."

During a Cabinet meeting at the White House, Trump said he did not want to separate children from their parents and had directed the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services "to work together to keep illegal immigrant families together during the immigration process and to reunite these previously separated groups."

The executive order was an unusual retreat for Trump, who made cracking down on illegal immigration a key part of his presidential campaign.

It moves parents with children to the front of the line for immigration proceedings, but the Trump administration said it did not end the 10-week-old zero tolerance policy that calls for prosecution of immigrants crossing the border illegally under the country's criminal entry statute.

The U.S. Border Patrol will continue to refer for prosecution adults who are caught crossing the border illegally, a spokesman for the Customs and Border Protection said on Thursday.

"Family unity will be maintained for families apprehended crossing the border illegally, and they will be transferred together to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement," the spokesman said in a statement.

The administration also has sought a permanent legislative fix on the issue, but the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday rejected a bill favored by conservatives that would have halted the practice of splitting up families and addressed a range of other immigration issues.

The House rejected the conservative bill on a 193-231 vote, with 41 Republicans joining the opposition. It also postponed until Friday a vote on a compromise bill in order to try to drum up more support.

Both House bills, backed by Trump but opposed by Democrats and immigration advocacy groups, would fund the wall Trump has proposed along the U.S. border with Mexico and reduce legal migration, in part by denying visas for some relatives of U.S. residents and citizens living abroad.]]>
6/22/2018 12:27:03 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt holds on to water rights amid ‘critical situation’]]>
“Egypt, with this complicated situation, will not accept to give up its historic rights and current utilization of the Nile water. Nobody on the earth would accept to have their people die of thirst and starvation,” Abdel Ati said in Tajikistan-held high-level International Conference on International Decade for Action “Water For Sustainable Development,” 2018-2020.

Abdel Ati’s speech reflects Egyptian authorities’ international efforts to guarantee water for more than 94 million people and the next generations’ amid the ongoing threats of climate change and “possible risks” imposed by building dams on upstream countries of the Nile.

Egypt has diplomatically and politically entered into a battle with some Nile basin countries over its share of the Nile water. The disagreement has started since 2010, when five Nile basin countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda) signed the Entebbe Agreement, per which the two 1929 and 1959 deals conducted during British colonization could be relinquished. The two deals had allocated 80 billion cubic meters of Nile water to Egypt (55.5 billion), and for Sudan (18.5 billion); they also granted Egypt the right of veto against any projects that could be established on Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan that may cause harm to its share.

Moreover, Egypt’s concern over its share was escalated after Ethiopia started building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. The tributary feeds 80 percent of the Nile’s water to downstream states.

“Confidence [and good will] is the main pillar of cooperation and that was translated by the signing of the Declaration of Principles among Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia on the Renaissance Dam; this declaration is a sign of trust from Egypt. It is time for the basin countries to offer confidence and understanding,” Abdel Ati said.

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam seen under construction - Reuters

In 2015, Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia signed the Declaration of the Renaissance Dam Principles Charter that tackles the management of the dam with written guarantees, and states that the dam’s reservoir cannot be filled without the approval of Egypt and Sudan. In December 2017, Egypt demanded the intervention of the World Bank in the matter, a move that was rejected by Ethiopia. Unconfirmed reports said that Ethiopia seeks to start filling the GERD’s reservoir during the upcoming Nile flood season in July.

However, a breakthrough was recently witnessed in the ongoing series of discussions among three countries.

“The importance of restoring the comprehensiveness of the Nile Basin Initiative boils down to abiding by the principle of consensus and establish a mechanism for a prior notification of projects to be established on the Nile to ensure the common benefit for all and to avoid inflicting harm on any party,” Abdel Ati continued.

The cooperation among the Nile Basin Countries under the umbrella of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) is very successful since its formation in 1990 and was signed by some countries since 2010, Abel Ati added. In the framework of Egypt’s Development Vision of 2030, Egypt has put a national plan to deal with water resources in the period from 2017 to 2037, which comes in light of the NBI Strategy 2017-2027.

The minister added that his country is leading a pioneering project with other basin countries to establish a shipping line between the Mediterranean Sea and Lake Victoria, he added, saying that “Egypt is looking forward to receiving more cooperation to maximize the utilization of water resources to enhance development in the African Continent.”

On June 1, Egypt submitted to the member states of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) its preliminary report on a project that would create a maritime navigation line from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean Sea through the Nile (A.K.A VICMED), according to a statement from the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation.

The following interactive map shows the shipping line between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea- created by Egypt Today/Samar Samir

“A special panel of Alexandria-Lake Victoria project will be held on the sidelines of the Cairo Water Week due to convene in October under the auspices of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi,” the statement read. The feasibility study includes the establishment of a regional training center to prepare human cadres from member states to ensure the sustainability of the project.

It is scheduled that Egypt will host the first Cairo Water Week, which will be launched under the auspices of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in October.

“The environmental situation of the other Basin countries should not be neglected. There should a chance to reach a solution,” Abdel Ati said, noting that the annual rate of rainfall in the Nile basin countries reaches 7,375 billion cubic meters; 1,661 billion cubic meters of this amount falls into the Nile basin, representing only 5 percent.

“Critical situation”
Egypt’s water situation is very critical and rare as most of its land is desert, Adel Ati said during the Tajikistan conference, adding that the current water situation imposes restrictions on the economic development of a country that relies on 97 percent of renewable water resources in accordance with the FAO data.

It is expected that the water share per capita would drop to 500 cubic meters annually by 2025 amid the rapid deterioration of water and underground water quality, he said. Egypt’s water share per capita declined by 60 percent since 1970, reaching 663 cubic meters, in accordance with the 2014 report issued by the state-owned Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

Egypt suffers from a water deficit of 21 billion cubic meters annually and imports a total of 34 billion cubic meters of water annually in food products to achieve food security, he said. Annual consumption reached 110 billion cubic meters, Abdel Ati said in a previous statement in December 2016.

However, the country is successfully dealing with the current situation to address water scarcity by implementing several programs to improve the efficiency of irrigation water and to use water recycling mechanisms, he said.

“The government is trying to fill this gap via adopting solutions and mitigation strategies such as using treated wastewater, underground water on the Nile banks and the Delta,” Abdel Ati said during the conference.

The main goals of the plan boils down to four pillars: water rationalization, developing and upgrading new resources, improving water quality, promoting public awareness, and issuing biding laws, Abdel Ati said

Five million people could be displaced
Water scarcity is not the only challenge facing the Egyptian people; climate change causes a severe threat as well. The minister stated that climate change impacts could force five million people to be displaced from the Delta if the solutions and mitigation strategies are not heeded.

“Egypt is a typical example of a developing country vulnerable to climate change and faces many economic, social and environmental threats,” he said. Egypt faces a rise in sea level, leakage of salt water into underground aquifers, and possible flooding in the Delta.

Egypt's Delta- photo was taken from google earth
Egypt's Delta- photo was taken from google earth

In the period between 1910 and 2010, Egypt’s sea level rose by a total of 11.3 centimeters, increasing by an average of 0.113 centimeters annually. In the past seven years, however, increases have slowed down, rising by 0.3 to 0.5 centimeters in most areas, with an average of 0.04 to 0.07 centimeters annually, compared to the former rate of 0.113, according to the head of the Egyptian Meteorology Authority (EMA) Abdel-Aal.

Egypt is signatory to the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement aiming to keep global warming “well below” two degrees Celsius and has been working on strategies against climate change threats for several years.

Agriculturally, climate change also will impact the production of two strategic crops for Egyptians (wheat and corn) by 15 percent and 19 percent respectively by 2050, Abdel Ati said. This possible decline will deepen Egypt’s food insufficiency in wheat as the country is the largest wheat importer in the world, with 11 billion tons annually needed for subsidized bread.

Abdel Ati said 15 percent of arable lands will be salted due to rare rains in Nile Basin countries as a result of climate change.

6/21/2018 9:15:08 PM
<![CDATA[New batch of 405 prisoners pardoned on occasion of Eid Al-Fitr ]]>On June 15, a total of 2,110 prisoners were released per the same presidential pardon that was issued on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr (Religious feast marking the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan).

Prisoners released per presidential pardon on first day of Eid al-Fitr on June 15, 2018 - Hazim Abdel Samad/Egypt Today

The June 15 batch of released prisoners further included 690 debtors, as part of a presidential initiative, called “Prisons without Debtors”, that aims to release all debtors landing behind bars by paying off their debts.

“We will always strive to uphold the human dignity and implement the necessary measures to preserve social protection and reduce such phenomena that negatively affect social stability,” President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said on his official Facebook account last week.

The decision to release the prisoners on occasion of Eid Al-Fitr was published in the Gazette last week.

In May, the Interior Ministry's prison department pardoned 447 prisoners on the occasion of Sinai Liberation Day.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the prison department also found that 473 inmates are qualified for release on parole. The Egyptian government frequently pardons prisoners during national celebrations.

Also in May, President Sisi pardoned About 332 prisoners. The pardon list included youths and prisoners with health problems.

In October 2016, President Sisi announced the formation of a presidential pardon committee, headed by political thinker, Osama al-Ghazaly Harb, for pardoning detainees with charges pending further investigation.

In November 2016, Sisi declared the first presidential pardon list, pardoning 82 detainees, including TV presenter and religious thinker Islam al-Behery, who was charged with “contempt of Islam”.

A second pardon list was declared in March 2017, pardoning 203 detainees. The list included five journalists, according to Masrawy news outlet. In June 2017, Sisi announced pardoning 502 detainees.

On the anniversary of October 6 War, 244 Egyptian prisoners regained their freedom after receiving a pardon by a presidential decree.

Additional report with MENA

6/21/2018 7:58:06 PM
<![CDATA[Eni to pump $3B investments in Egypt during upcoming period]]>
Descalzi added that the total investments pumped in Noras and Zohr fields so far reached $8.4 billion, noting that 70 percent of the company’s investments exist in Egypt.

This came during the meeting of Petroleum Minister Tarek el-Molla with Eni CEO, Chief Upstream Officer, Antonio Vella and General Manager of the Italian-Egyptian Oil Company (IEOC), affiliated to the Italian oil company Eni, Fabio Cavanna.

For his part, the minister of petroleum said that there is full cooperation and coordination with Italy's ENI, Egyptian oil companies Petrobal, Petrojet, ENPI and Petroleum Marine Services to accelerate the implementation of the remaining of the projects.

The meeting also included discussing the latest developments in Zohr gas field and the completed construction work in the gas treatment plants in Port Said.

Minister of petroleum Molla announced earlier that production of Zohr gas field is going to be increased to reach 1.75 billion cubic feet per day in August after the completion of the third unit of gas treatment plant 10 days ahead of schedule.

Molla added that the completion of the third unit of the plant came in line with the implementation of the 30-inch marine pipeline from the wells to the land treatment plant, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of next July.

The minister added that the field development, the entry of the accelerated production stage and the first and second production lines on the national network of gases, in addition to other development projects, contributed to increasing the rates of domestic production to about 6 billion cubic feet of gas per day.

Molla said that Zohr gas field production would rise to 900,000 million cubic meters per day before the holy month of Ramadan.

In 2015, Eni discovered Zohr gas field, the biggest gas field in the Mediterranean, with an estimated production of 30 trillion cubic feet.

The second phase of Zohr gas field will add around two billion cubic feet per day to Egypt's production and will be completed before the end of the year, according to Minister of Petroleum Molla.

On the other hand, Cavanna said in April that gas production from the Noras gas field increased to around 1.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/day).

Egypt plans to stop importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) by the end of fiscal year 2017/2018 by adding 1.6 million cubic feet to its production from its latest gas discoveries, including West Delta’s Taurus and Libra fields, as well as the Atoll and Zohr gas fields.

6/21/2018 7:55:05 PM
<![CDATA[Remembering Egyptian cinema sweetheart, Soad Hosny ]]>
Hosny was born on January 26, 1942. Her sweet smile, bashful spirit and beautiful voice inspired audiences and artists alike.

Egyptian actress Soad Hosny via Facebook/Soad Hosny page

Hosn's striking beauty, free spirit, and unique talent enabled her to portray a wide variety of roles along her rich acting career. Her fans dubbed her the “Egyptian Cinderella”.

Her most prominent roles include her roles in "Al- Ashqya' al-Thalatha" (Three Naughty Boys) (1962), directed by Hossam Eddine Mostafa; "Be'r el-herman" (The Well of Deprivation) (1969), directed by Kamal el-Sheikh; "Khaly Balak Men Zouzou" (Take Care of Zouzou) (1974), written by the exceptional poet Salah Jaheen and directed by Niazi Mostafa, and "Sagheera 'Al Hob" (Too Young to Fall in Love) (1966), which was also directed by Niazi Mostafa.

Hosny used her outstanding talent to call for gender equality in the TV series "Hekayat Hwa we Heyain" (1985) that achieved booming success.

She was not only a great performer, but also a great fashion icon; lots of young girls during her time idolized Hosny on so many levels, including fashion.

Hosny was raised in an artistic family. Her father was a calligrapher who adored music, her older half-sister was famous singer Nagat, while her older half-brother was a composer and an oud player in Umm Koulthoum’s ensemble.

Hosny was forced to withdraw from public life and film production as she suffered from a reputed ailment with her spine, which led to various complications, affecting her ability to move.

In 2001, Hosny fell to death from her friend's apartment in London, which brought her glamorous life to an end.

6/21/2018 7:43:51 PM
<![CDATA[Shenawy, Hegazy miss Egypt national team's training session]]>

Today's training! مران اليوم! ⚽️

A post shared by Egypt National Football Team (@pharaohsofficial) on

Egypt is set to face Saudi Arabia on Monday evening in their last match of Group A after they have been eliminated from the World Cup.

Shenawy and Hegazy took part in the game against Russia that ended by a 3-1 loss for Egypt; they missed today’s training session due to stress and only performed light exercises outside the pitch.

On the other hand, all the players participated in the training session normally, including Mohamed Salah.

Ahmed Fathy

Salah, who missed the opening game against Uruguay as he failed to recover from his shoulder injury, started the game against Russia. The winger failed to shine and lead the national team to achieve their first victory in the tournament as Egypt lost 3-1 to the hosts, with Salah scoring Egypt’s only goal from a penalty.

The loss to Russia left Egyptian fans disappointed as they were hoping to achieve their first victory ever in the history of the tournament and take a step towards reaching the second round.
6/21/2018 7:21:52 PM
<![CDATA[Juventus sign midfielder Can from Liverpool]]>

The 24-year-old will join the Turin-based club on a free transfer when his contract at Anfield expires at the end of the month.

Can, who joined Liverpool in 2014, made his 167th and final appearance for the Merseyside outfit when he came on as a substitute in their Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid last month.

He has been capped 20 times by Germany but missed out on Joachim Loew's World Cup squad.

Can becomes Juve's second signing of the close season following the arrival of goalkeeper Mattia Perin from Genoa.]]>
6/21/2018 7:10:00 PM
<![CDATA[170 players represent Egypt in Mediterranean Games]]>
Egypt participates in the 18th edition of the Mediterranean Games with 170 players (men & women), as stated by the Egyptian Olympic committee.


Hesham Nasr, president of Egyptian Handball Association and board member of the Egyptian Olympic committee, heads the Egyptian delegation which includes Yahya Daebes, board member of the Egyptian Hockey Federation and Mohamed Mahgoub, president of the Egyptian Weightlifting Federation, as Deputy Head of the delegation.

Egypt's Alexandria contested to host the competition but the Spanish city, Tarragona, got 36 votes, only two votes more than Alexandria which amassed 34 votes.


It is expected that Egypt will compete in 21 of the 33 sports in this edition of the competition; volleyball, beach volleyball/men, handball (men&women), bow and arrow, sail, canoe kayak, kayaking, judo, taekwondo, weightlifting, karate, swimming, artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, athletics, archery, badminton, table tennis, equestrian, wrestling, and triathlon.


Mohamed Ihab, 2017's Best Arab weightlifter, will raise the Egyptian flag in the opening ceremony.

6/21/2018 7:07:38 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's signing with FIFA was to support national team, promote country: Mashat]]>
Egypt's Minister of Tourism Rania al-Mashat said in an interview with CNN that sponsoring the World Cup came for two reasons, "first, we wanted to support the nation's great achievement to reach the tournament after 28 years of absence. Second, we wanted to promote Egypt to the massive audience of the World Cup, since its one of the most viewed tournaments in the world."

PRESS PHOTO: "Experience Egypt", "Invest in Egypt" showing up on the stadium's LED banners

The minister also said that the government is aiming to make tourists "live the Egyptian experience" when they arrive in the country, not just visit some of the tourist sites. "This is what we were tying to do in Russia; we have a fan zone dedicated to Egypt. We want people to experience our music and food and get a taste of what the country has to offer," Mashat added.

"Cheer like an Egyptian" competition that was announced by the ministry on June 14 was named after the Bangles' song "Walk Like an Egyptian" that was released in 1986, according to Mashat. She announced that this competition will allow "60 lucky people" to travel to Egypt only through uploading videos and pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hastag (Cheer like an Egyptian), and the most liked post will win the trip.

Minister of Tourism Rania al-Mashat, Ahmed Youssef, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Authority for Tourism Development attend a ceremony organized to reveal the ministry's plan to promote for tourism in Egypt on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia - Egypt Today/Mohamed Al-Hossary

Regarding the national team games and Mo Salah's performance, Mashat affirmed that the national team did their best during the past matches in the 2018 World cup, especially in the clash against Uruguay. She added that "they represented the nation in a good way".

Mashat said that she was saddened like all Egyptians that the national team couldn't progress any further; however, she asserted that the national team still enjoys the whole country's support.

Lighting up the pyramids in celebration of announcing Egypt regional supporter of FIFA 2018 World Cup – Egypt.travel/worldcup

Mo Salah's injury was described by Mashat as "quite tough" not just for him but for all Egyptians. "There is always a chance to meet him and tell him that we are still behind him and looking forward to the next match," Mashat concluded.

On June 13, Egypt Experience and Invest campaign officially became the regional supporter of the FIFA World Cup Russia to promote the country as a global tourism and investment destination, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Tourism.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Tourism on Wednesday, the company, which is affiliated with the Egyptian government, signed a contract with the FIFA to become an official regional supporter of the world cup - press photo

The statement added that the campaign, which is affiliated with the Egyptian government, signed a contract with the Federation International of Football Association (FIFA) to become an official regional supporter of the World Cup to promote the country as a global investment destination, and to attract more tourists from around the world to visit the country. This contract is the first to be signed in Africa among other sponsorship contracts that are expected to be signed during the coming period.

“Being an official regional supporter of the 2018 FIFA World Cup gives us an outreach in Africa to highlight and communicate the premium positioning and enormous investment diversity and potential Egypt has to offer,” Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s minister of investment and international cooperation said commenting on the signing.

She added that, in addition to having increased visibility through the world’s most watched sporting event, Egypt Experience and Invest will engage globally through social media outlets and directly with football fans to showcase the wide spectrum of investment opportunities in the country.

Mashat earlier headed to Saint Petersburg to attend the highly-anticipated game between Egypt and Russia on Tuesday, June 19, according to a statement released by the ministry. She also attended Egyptian composer Omar Khairat's concert before returning to Egypt.

“I’ve been a huge admirer of Omar Khairat’s works for a long time and I was very privileged to meet this talented musician last week in Giza before he headed to Russia," Mashat said in her statement.

Minister of Tourism Rania al-Mashat attends a ceremony organized to reveal the ministry's plan to promote for tourism in Egypt on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia - Egypt Today/Mohamed Al-Hossary

Mashat stressed that “Egypt is sponsoring the World Cup regionally to support the nation’s great achievement in reaching the finals after a 28- year absence and to promote Egypt to a massive global audience,” adding that “those heroes representing the whole nation today are our country’s ambassadors as they draw a sophisticated image of what the Egyptian people are capable of.”

The statement added that, for the purpose of promoting the country, the Ministry of Tourism worked on a strategy that started with the launch of the hashtag #experienceegypt that invaded all pitches hosting the matches of the 64 participating teams in the World Cup. It has also launched a range of innovative promotional social media campaigns to put a smile on people’s faces and get more people from all over the globe to know more about the Egyptian culture.

All about Egypt's promotional 2018 World Cup campaign

CAIRO - 16 June 2018: As Egypt was announced Official Regional Supporter of the 2018 FIFA World Cup TM, ministries of investment and tourism already started expressing efforts to draw attention to Egypt as a tourist destination and a fertile soil for investment.

6/21/2018 7:05:27 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian FM meets Syrian High Negotiations Committee delegation]]>
During a meeting with the HNC that represents the Syrian opposition, Shoukry reiterated Egypt’s total support to the political solution to the Syrian crisis and the international resolutions in Geneva under U.N. auspices, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said.

In a meeting with the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in Cairo in June, Shoukry affirmed Egypt’s long-held stance on seeking a political solution to the Syrian crisis, saying that the Egyptian state seeks a political solution that would preserve the unity of the Syrian state and its territorial integrity, and stop the bloodshed, according to Abu Zeid.

The FM affirmed Egypt’s keenness to support de Mistura’s efforts, saying that the political solution in Syria has to be compatible with the aspirations of the Syrian people.

De Mistura praised Egypt’s efforts to solve the Syrian crisis on the political and humanitarian levels, expressing the UN's intention to boost coordination with Egypt concerning the situation in Syria, Abu Zeid said.

De Mistura’s visit to Cairo comes within the framework of the UN keenness to exchange visions and intensify coordination with Egypt to address ways to achieve a political solution to the crisis in Syria, Abu Zeid said.

In a meeting with the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in Cairo in June, Shoukry affirmed Egypt’s long-held stance on seeking a political solution to the Syrian crisis, June, 2018 - Press photo

During an earlier meeting with de Mistura in late February, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Shoukry reiterated Egypt's rejection of any military solution in Syria, calling on all Syrian parties to continue their talks to find a political settlement to the Syrian crisis, according to Abu Zeid.

In the Arab League Summits in 2015, 2017 and 2018, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi voiced concerns about the military escalation in Syria, calling for stopping the bloodshed and achieving a political solution.

Former Undersecretary of Egypt’s General Intelligence Mohammad Rashad said in press remarks that Egypt will be continuously refusing U.S. requests to send armed forces to Syria. He added that Egypt is not interested to militarily intervene in Syria.]]>
6/21/2018 6:51:54 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian Defense Ministry appoints new Air Force head]]>
Helmy, 56, graduated in April, 1982, from the Egyptian Air Academy that officially trains officer candidates for the Egyptian Air Force. He was promoted to Major General in 2012, in the same year when Masry became head of the Egyptian Air Force.

Helmy earned his master's degree in military science from the Egyptian Command and Staff College.

FILE - Major General Mohamed Abbas Helmy

He was appointed as the Air Force chief-of-staff, and was honored a number of military medals, including the Medal of Distinguished Service, which is granted to those who stay in military service for 30 years, the Golden Medal of Military Duty, and Medal of Sinai Liberation.

The military medals granted to Masry also include the Medal of The Silver Anniversary of October Victory, the Medal of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Air Force, and the Medal of Long Service and Good Example.

Helmy was also granted the Medal of the Gold Anniversary of July 23, 1952, the Medal of The Twenty Fifth of January, and the Medal of June 30; the three medals mark the three significant Egyptian revolutions.

Lieutenant General Younis al-Masry, 59, former leader of the Egyptian Air Force, took the oath before President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi as the civil aviation minister on June 14, to succeed Sherif Fathy.]]>
6/21/2018 6:22:59 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian-Libyan ties are strong, profound: Khalifa Haftar]]>
In an interview with Al-Ahram Al-Arabi magazine to be published on Saturday, Haftar asserted that Egypt and Libya are partners in everything, adding that consultations between the two countries go on in all issues that concern both peoples.

Joint cooperation is being promoted in all domains, he affirmed, noting that the Egyptian leadership supports any step that aims at achieving stability and attaining peace in Libya.

Egypt places the Libyan file among it top priorities and spares no effort to solve the Libyan crisis, Haftar underscored.

The Egyptian role is indispensable, he reiterated, adding that his visit to Cairo after returning from Paris comes within the framework of consultation and bilateral cooperation.

Concerning the Libyan-UAE relations, Haftar asserted that the Arab country has a supportive stance towards Libya, noting that it is one of the top countries fighting terrorism.

He further praised the courageous stances of the French president towards the Libyan cause.]]>
6/21/2018 6:09:52 PM
<![CDATA[Abul Fotouh on remand for further 15 days]]>
According to the state-owned MENA news agency, the State Security Department intercepted communications between the banned MB organization and Abul Fotouh.

The State Security Prosecution also charged Aboul Fotouh with leading an unlawful group, alleging that the group's aim is to carry out acts that violate the constitution, hinder state institutions from carrying out their roles, disrupt the public order and endanger the national unity, safety and security.

On February 12, Egyptian lawyer Samir Sabry submitted an official complaint to the public prosecutor calling for the arrest of former presidential candidate Aboul Fotouh, after he appeared on Al-Jazeera television show from London. Sabry accused Aboul Fotouh of “spreading fake news” and demeaning Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

Aboul Fotouh was one of many who announced years ago, specifically after 2011 their abandoning of the MB due to crucial differences between the group’s thoughts and their own. The main reason behind his dispute with the MB after years of cooperating, was announcing his intentions to run for presidency 2012.

He succeed to gain the support of huge number of Egyptians including several celebrates. However, he didn’t become president despite getting about 4 million votes, as Mohamed Morsi won in that year.

Despite his disputes with the legally-labeled terrorist, Muslim Brotherhood group, many politicians still think that he has strong relations with them.

Additional reporting by MENA

6/21/2018 6:07:57 PM
<![CDATA[Kushner, Sisi discuss Palestinian issue, situation in Gaza]]>
Kushner reviewed with President Sisi the efforts of the U.S. Administration to push forward the resumption of the negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli authorities, and to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza, according to presidential spokesman Bassam Radi.

From left, Jason Greenblatt, Jared Kushner, President Sisi, Sameh Shoukry, Abbas Kamel, Bassam Radi – Press photo, June, 21, 2018

During the meeting, Sisi affirmed supporting the international initiatives aiming to achieve a fair and comprehensive settlement between the two states according to the internationally recognized standards and the two-state solution along the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

President Sisi stressed that achieving a just and comprehensive settlement to such pivotal issue will help achieve stability and security in various countries in the region, Radi added.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Abbas Kamel, acting head of general intelligence service, also attended the meeting.

The White House said in a statement that the U.S. officials discussed with Sisi enhancing the cooperation between Egypt and the U.S. and addressing the need to facilitate humanitarian aid to Gaza.

A delegation headed by Kushner arrived Thursday in Cairo for a short visit to discuss the Palestinian issue with top officials, including President Sisi.

Sisi had met with Kushner, Greenblatt, and Dina Powell, the U.S. deputy national security advisor for strategy in Cairo in August, 2017, to discuss the Palestinian cause.

The delegation's visit comes as part of their five-country tour made to discuss the Palestinian issue with key players. The five countries include Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The tour aims to discuss peace efforts and the crisis in Gaza. However, the trip does not include a meeting with Palestinian officials, as they refused to meet with any of the U.S. officials following Trump's decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, according to U.S. media reports.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received Kushner and Greenblatt on Wednesday to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Kushner and Greenblatt also met with King Abdullah of Jordan on Tuesday in the capital, Amman, a day after Abdullah held talks in Amman with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Gaza protests peaked on May 14, where at least 61 Palestinians were killed, as tens of thousands of Gazans protested and clashes erupted on the same day of the US Embassy's relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Demonstrations and clashes have continued at a low level since then. At least 121 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the unrest.

On Wednesday, the Israeli military announced that its warplanes had struck about 25 Hamas sites in Gaza after Palestinian militants launched 45 rockets and mortars at the Israeli lands, according to Israeli media. In a joint statement on Wednesday, Hamas and Islamic Jihad warned that all future Israeli strikes in Gaza will be retaliated with rocket fire.]]>
6/21/2018 6:06:55 PM
<![CDATA[Retrial of Morsi in jailbreak case adjourned to July 15]]>
They face charges of breaking into jails, attacking security and police facilities and murdering police officers during January 25 Revolution.

In June 2015, Cairo Criminal Court issued a death sentence in the case against Morsi, MB supreme guide Mohamed Badie and other key figures of the terrorist group.

In November 2016, the Court of Cassation annulled the sentence and ordered a retrial of the defendants.

Morsi and 130 co-defendants also face charges of damaging and setting fire to prison buildings, murder and attempted murder, and looting prison weapons depots while allowing prisoners from the "Hamas movement, Lebanon's Hezbollah, jihadists, Brotherhood [members] and other criminals" to break out of jails.

The charges are linked to the escape of more than 20,000 inmates from three Egyptian prisons during the early days of the 2011 revolution.]]>
6/21/2018 5:45:32 PM
<![CDATA[Trump to meet Jordan's King Abdullah at White House June 25]]>
"Trump looks forward to reaffirming the strong bonds of friendship between the United States and Jordan. The leaders will discuss issues of mutual concern, including terrorism, the threat from Iran and the crisis in Syria, and working towards a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians," it said.]]>
6/21/2018 5:43:27 PM
<![CDATA[East Libya forces claim control of Es Sider, Ras Lanuf oil ports]]>
Staff were evacuated from the terminals and exports were suspended last Thursday when armed opponents of eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar stormed the ports and occupied them.]]>
6/21/2018 5:40:31 PM
<![CDATA[Salah features in art exhibition in St. Petersburg]]>
Salah 2
Mohamed Salah

Messi 1
Lionel Messi

The art exhibition displays images of current and former football legends wearing historical military costumes at the Museum of the Art Academy of St. Petersburg.

Costa - Klopp
Diego Costa (R) , Jurgen Klopp (L)

The collection depicts football icons in historical uniforms like kings and generals of bygone ages. Many current players featured in the exhibition like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, and Diego Costa alongside football legends like Diego Armando Maradona, Francesco Totti, Zinedine Zidane and Liverpool’s manager, Jurgen Klopp.

Maradona - Cristiano
Maradona (R) , Cristiano Ronaldo (L)

The exhibition presents more than 40 portraits painted by Italian artist Fabrizio Birimbelli.
Football stars are icons of the modern era, especially after their achievements that turned them into legends like the great kings and military men of earlier eras.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The pictures depicted Salah in historical military uniforms wearing the logo of the Egyptian Football Association and numerous medals on his chest.

Salah 1
Mohamed Salah

Lionel Messi

Zinedine Zidane
6/21/2018 5:38:06 PM
<![CDATA[World Cup attendances pass one million mark - FIFA]]>
"To date, more than 2.6 million tickets have been allocated to football fans all around the world, with ticket sales ongoing until July 15. On average, World Cup stadium occupancy is at 97 percent and more than 70,000 tickets have been resold," added the statement.

The only glaring case of large numbers of empty seats was Uruguay's 1-0 win over Egypt in Yekaterinburg, where 6,000 tickets which had been allocated were left unused.

FIFA said that was due to "no shows" from constituent groups which include sponsors, member associations and supporters.]]>
6/21/2018 5:11:45 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's new government will continue fuel subsidy reform: Moody's]]>
Moody’s said in a report that the price hike will help Egypt meet the agreed target for a fiscal deficit of 8.4 percent of GDP in fiscal 2018/2019, compared to around 9.8 percent of GDP in 2017/2018.

It added that the new prices will help in reducing the overall subsidy bill from its estimate of 7.5 percent of GDP in 2018 to 6.5 percent in 2019.

The prices were increased by 35 percent to 66.6 percent with immediate effect as a part of the reform agenda of the Egyptian economy agreed with the international Monetary Fund (IMF), Moody’s stated.

It referred to Minister of Finance Mohamed Ma’it statement as he said earlier this week the continuity of the high oil prices would raise the subsidy bill in the budget to LE 180 billion, which would affect the allocations to health and education and efforts to provide new job opportunities, stating that these are the reasons behind moving fuel prices.

The Cabinet announced on Saturday, which corresponds to the second day of Eid el-Fitr, the new prices of the fuel, to decrease its subsidy gradually.

Gasoline 95 prices went up from LE 6.6 ($ 0.37) per liter to LE 7.7, while 92 octane gasoline prices amounted to LE 6.75 instead of LE 5 per liter. Prices of gasoline 80's liter increased to LE 5.5 instead of LE 3.65, the newly-appointed government said in its first move since taking oath Thursday.

The price of diesel will be LE 5.5 a liter instead of LE 3.65, while the price of natural gas used for vehicles rose to LE 2.75 per cubic meter instead of LE 2.

Meanwhile, the government has announced raising the price of the cooking gas cylinder to LE 50 instead of LE 30 and the commercial gas cylinder's prices surged to LE 100 instead of LE 60.

Egypt embarked on a bold economic reform program that included the introduction of taxes, such as the value-added tax (VAT), and cutting energy subsidies, with the aim of trimming the budget deficit.

The country has floated its currency in November 2016 before it clinched a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF loan helped the state’s foreign reserves to rebound by receiving the first three tranches of the loan with a total value of $6.08 billion.
6/21/2018 4:46:52 PM
<![CDATA[House speaker discusses with European lawmakers means to boost cooperation]]>
A statement issued by the House on Thursday said the speaker held talks with a large number of committee members including the committee chairman, David McAlliste, pointing out that Egypt is open to all parties in the light of its new foreign policy which is based on extending bridges of communication as an intellectual and cultural beacon in the region.

The speaker reviewed Egypt's efforts to press ahead with its economic program and combat terrorism and illegal immigration, along with the sets of legislation issued by the house recently including the laws on investment, health insurance, church construction and illegal migration-combat.

Abdel Al called on the European Union to coordinate on regional issues to resolve the Palestinian problem on the basis of a two-state solution with finding solutions to the problems in Libya, Syria and Iraq.

He called on European partners to draw up a clear plan to activate tourism into Egypt and increase European investments.

For their part, the committee members expressed appreciation of Egypt's efforts in fighting terrorism and illegal migration, emphasizing the need for more European investments to help Egypt achieve its development program. ]]>
6/21/2018 4:37:26 PM
<![CDATA[576K feddans of cultivated rice spotted so far: Official]]>
In a way to mitigate the water scarcity, the Egyptian authorities shrunk the agricultural area allocated for water-intensive crops such as rice.

That the planted area is considered to be within the legally allowed area for rice cultivation per the government's decree, Ahmed added in statements to Egypt Today. However, it’s considered rather constricted compared to the area allocated for rice cultivation last year, which reached 1 million feddans.

According to Sayed's statements, only 50 percent of the legally allowed area for rice cultivation has been used and the rest is expected to be used during the coming period.

In May, Egypt’s government agreed to increase the area allocated for rice cultivation by 100,000 feddans only this season, bringing the total area of rice cultivation to 820,000 feddans.

In April, Egypt's Parliament passed a law banning the cultivation of some crops that require a large amount of water, amid fears that building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) would cut the country's share of the Nile. The Parliament also approved the government's request to amend some provisions in Agriculture Law No. 53 of 1966.

Article 1 in the Agriculture Law refers that the minister of agriculture shall determine the areas to cultivate certain crops, and shall ban other crops in certain areas. Hence, the draft law to amend Article 1 of the Agriculture Law stipulates that the minister of agriculture, in coordination with the minister of irrigation, shall issue a ministerial decree to ban the cultivation of some crops in certain areas that have low amounts of water, in order to rationalize water usage.

Egypt depends entirely on the Nile water for drinking and irrigation purposes, reiterating consistently its "historical right" to the river guaranteed in the 1929 and 1959 Nile agreements, which granted the country 87 percent of the Nile water and the right to veto or approve irrigation projects in the upstream countries.

Egypt annually needs at least 105 billion cubic meters of water to cover the needs of more than 90 million citizens. However, it currently has only 60 billion cubic meters, of which 55.5 billion cubic meters come from the Nile and just less than 5 billion cubic meters coming from non-renewable subterranean water in the desert. The remaining 80 billion cubic meters are covered by the reuse of wastewater.

In 2011, Ethiopia started the construction of the 6,000-megawatt Renaissance Dam over the Blue Nile River, one of the major sources of water that forms the Nile River downstream. Concerns have risen in Cairo and Khartoum over the negative impact the Ethiopian dam will have on their historic Nile water shares.

Since 2014, the three countries (Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia) have held several tripartite meetings and agreed on the Declaration of Principles. However, the disagreement among the countries is related to the filling and operation period of the dam; Egypt demands that this period be seven to 10 years, while Ethiopia insists on a maximum of three years.

6/21/2018 4:32:36 PM
<![CDATA[Detention of Islamist politician renewed for 15 days over ties with MB]]>
On February 20, Kassas and 16 other members of Strong Egypt Party, including its leader Islamist politician Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, were added to the terrorist list.

Abul Fotouh and the other members of the party were arrested on February 14, and accused of a list of charges, including: inciting against the state, calling for obstructing the law, calling for boycotting the presidential election, being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, communicating with fleeing elements of the Brotherhood abroad, attempting to overthrow the regime, being a national threat, and spreading chaos.

The decision to designate them as terrorists was based on charges of spreading rumors and false statements against the state through media entities and platforms.

Kassas has been held in detention pending investigations into the case known as the “Media Axis of Muslim Brotherhood”, in which defendants are accused of joining an outlawed group, aiming to disrupt the constitution regulations, and hindering state institutions and public authorities from practicing their work.

The prosecution has also accused the defendants of publishing false news on the political and economic situations in Egypt, disrupting public peace and promoting for the Brotherhood group’s discourse that aims to shake confidence in the Egyptian state.

In addition, Egypt’s Attorney-General Nabil Sadek ordered the confiscation of assets belonging to Abul Fotouh and 15 other defendants. The decision was based on the state’s national security investigations, which revealed that the defendants were “using their money to fund terrorist activities.”

Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh now on Egypt's terror list

CAIRO - 21 February 2018: Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, in addition to 15 other members of the Strong Egypt Party, has officially been added to the terror list as per the sentence issued by Cairo Criminal Court on Tuesday.

The Public Prosecution's decision to include the defendants on the terrorist list was based on Article 74 of the Egyptian Constitution, which outlaws the establishment of any party based on religious ideologies, or with any religious affiliations. It was also based on Presidential Decree No. 8 of February 17, 2015, which grants the Public Prosecution the jurisdiction to decree any individuals and/or organizations as terrorists.

Know the legal consquances of designating on terrorist list

CAIRO - 17 May 2018: As part of Egypt's efforts to fight terrorism, several figures of terrorist groups have been included on Egypt's terrorist list because of their attempts to incite chaos across the country. On Tuesday, elements of the Helwan Brigades case were re-designated as terrorists by the court over charges, including attempts to topple the regime as well as leading terrorist attacks.

How names appear on terrorist lists

Since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013, Egypt has put several figures on a proscribed terrorist list because of their attempts to incite chaos across the country. Egypt Today gives an overview on the process of designating individuals/entities as terrorists.

As part of Egypt’s efforts to fight terrorism, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi issued a new law in 2015 that gives a broad definition of terrorist entities and the sentences against them.

The law defines terrorist entities as a group or individuals that "through any means inside or outside the country, seek to call for the disabling of laws, or prevent state institutions or public authorities from functioning, or seek to attack the personal liberty of citizens, or other freedoms and rights granted to citizens by the law and constitution, or to harm national unity or social peace."

It also includes those who commit attacks either inside or outside Egypt.

According to the law on terrorist entities (law No. 8/2015), the General Prosecution shall create a proscribed terrorist list, referred by the Egyptian court, and has the final say as to individuals’/groups’ designation as terrorists.

Those who are blacklisted in accordance with the law are “placed on travel ban lists, prevented from entering the country, have their travel passports withdrawn, are not allowed to have new travel passports, lose the stipulation of good reputation, and are not be allowed to join Parliament or take charge of public posts." The designation decision can be appealed.

Egypt has designated the Muslim Brotherhood, the Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, the Islamic State group, and Palestinian Hamas's military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, as terrorist groups for their violent acts, their attempts to incite chaos across the country and for claiming responsibility for a number of deadly attacks on security forces.

Most of the group’s members and leaders are either in prisons or have fled the country.

The terrorist list was updated on Tuesday with 319 new names added for three years until the court makes its final decision and 14 other names removed, due to their death or the expiry of the time limit of their designation.
The Sinai Province (Wilayat Sinai) group was also added to the terrorist list for three years, per a ruling by the Cairo Criminal Court.

Furthermore, among those on the terrorist list are famous Egyptian footballer Mohamed Abou Trika for funding the banned Muslim Brotherhood; Mohammed Badie; MB Guide, Mahmoud Ezzat; and the son-in-law of former Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat al-Shater, Ayman Abdel Ghani.

Additional reporting by Marina Gamil, Walaa Ali and Mirit Agaiby ]]>
6/21/2018 4:26:51 PM
<![CDATA[Eriksen stunner cancelled out as Denmark held by Australia]]>
Denmark moved on to four points and need at least a draw against France in their last game to guarantee a last-16 spot.

Australia, with one point, are clinging on by their fingertips and need to win their final match against Peru to stand any chance of going through.

Denmark's seventh-minute opener was fully deserved and the quality of the finish was superb in a World Cup that has produced some wonderful goals.

Aaron Mooy's poor clearance was immediately returned into the area. Nicolai Jorgensen controlled and flicked the ball inside to Eriksen, who ghosted into space and lashed a sweet half-volley on the rise which flew high into the net.

The sublime finish was Eriksen's 13th goal in his last 15 appearances for Denmark and underlined the pivotal importance of the Tottenham Hotspur playmaker to the otherwise workmanlike Danes.

Denmark should have doubled their advantage when Jorgensen flashed a header wide at the near post as Australia looked ragged at the back and toothless up front.

Yet just as in their opening game, Australia were handed a route back into the match from the penalty spot, thanks to the intervention of the Video Assistant Referee.

Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz had failed to spot that Mathew Leckie's header had struck the arm of Yussuf Poulsen, but after being alerted to the incident by the VAR, he pointed to the spot.

Danish keeper Kasper Schmeichel had not conceded for 571 minutes, but Jedinak calmly rolled home his penalty in the 38th minute to equalise.

Having clawed their way back into the game, Australia seemed imbued with a renewed sense of belief, surging forward in numbers whenever they could and roared on by the vast array of green and gold clad fans in the Samara Arena.

They could not turn that impetus, however, into clear chances.

After Denmark's Pione Sisto put a good opportunity wide, Australia gradually got on top, but the nearest they came to grabbing a winner was when Leckie's cross was turned over his own goal by Henrik Dalsgaard and Mooy blasted over from distance.

Second-half substitute Daniel Arzani brought an additional spark to the Australia attack and had a good shot parried by Schmeichel at the death while Leckie tested the Danish keeper with a hooked effort.]]>
6/21/2018 4:13:27 PM
<![CDATA[Export Development Bank to offer loans to businessmen]]>
The bank will offer loans for members of the association and councils as part of the state's plan to promote the industrial production and Egyptian exports, the bank's chairwoman, Mervat Sultan, told a news conference.

The loans will be provided at an interest rate of up to 5 percent and in line with the bank's rules set by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), she added.

The export councils cover the fields of furniture, chemical industries, textiles and garments, construction materials, engineering, agriculture and foodstuff. ]]>
6/21/2018 4:10:53 PM
<![CDATA[195 million tourists likely to visit Arab region by 2030 - official]]>
In a statement, Fuhaid underlined the importance of developing the tourism industry in Arab countries as it plays a vital role in promoting Arab economies.

He expected tourism influx this summer to increase by 10 to 15 percent compared to the last season.

Meanwhile, Fuhaid said the organization will take part in the 22nd meeting of the executive office of the Arab Ministerial Tourism Council to take place at the headquarters of the Arab league in Cairo on June 24-25.

The executive office includes Jordan, Tunisia, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Libya in addition to the Arab Tourism Organization, the World Tourism Organization, the Arab union of tourism writers and the Arab Civil Aviation Commission. ]]>
6/21/2018 4:06:08 PM
<![CDATA[Manchester United complete Fred signing]]>
British media reported that United will pay Shakhtar about 52 million pounds ($70 million) for the 25-year-old.

"This is the biggest club in the world and I am delighted to be a part of this amazing team," Fred told United's website.

"To work with (manager) Jose Mourinho, who has won so many trophies in his time as a coach, is an opportunity not to be missed.

"I cannot wait to get started and to meet my new team-mates. I would like to thank everyone at Shakhtar Donetsk for everything they have done for me over the past five years."

Fred is in the Brazil World Cup squad, but was an unused substitute for the 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their opening game.

Fred will compete for a midfield place with Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic next season as United aim to challenge champions Manchester City for the Premier League title.

"Fred will complement our other midfielders' qualities, which we need; his creative brain and passing vision will give us another dimension to our game," Mourinho said.

Fred won three Ukrainian league titles with Shakhtar after joining from Brazil's Internacional in 2013.

United also signed Portuguese full back Diogo Dalot from Porto this month.]]>
6/21/2018 4:00:56 PM
<![CDATA[Blatter says England should host World Cup]]>
Blatter has arrived in Moscow to attend matches at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin despite being banned from the game for alleged corruption during his 17 years at the head of world football.

The Swiss denied his presence at the World Cup would embarrass his successor, Gianni Infantino.

"We have good contacts with Mr Infantino. He should not be embarrassed because I am going to watch some matches," Blatter told reporters. "I am not here to mix sport and politics."

Blatter, 82, said he had dined with Putin on Wednesday and congratulated him on Russia's organisation.

"I dined with Mr Putin. You have to congratulate Russia for the organisation of the World Cup, and naturally the head of state himself."

Blatter oversaw the FIFA process which led to the awarding of this World Cup to Russia and, more controversially, the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

The voting process for those tournaments is now tainted by suspicions of corruption.

Last week, using new rules under which all member states vote rather than a 24-member Executive Committee, the 2026 World Cup was awarded to the United States, Canada and Mexico, beating a bid from Morocco.

Asked who should be the next hosts, Blatter said: "I have expressed that the game should go back to the English islands."

England were one of the losing bidders against Russia in the vote for the 2018 tournament.]]>
6/21/2018 3:54:25 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi calls for abiding by set timetable for developing Zohr gas field]]>
Sisi's call came during a meeting with Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, in the presence of Petroleum Minister Tareq el Molla, Acting Intelligence Chief Abbas Kamel and a number of the Italian company officials, Presidential Spokesman Bassam Radi said.

The meeting comes to follow up the progress made by Eni in recently-discovered gas projects in the country, including the offshore Zohr gas field, the spoksman added.

Also, President Sisi ordered the Petroleum Ministry and its affiliated bodies to continue cooperation with the Italian company to overcome any obstacles that may face it while developing the giant field, the spokesman noted.

For his part, Descalzi posted President Sisi on the works implemented by the company in Zohr field, the spokesman said.

Eni CEO also briefed the President on several projects carried out by the Italian company in Egypt, notably a project to upgrade Noras gas field in the Nile Delta. ]]>
6/21/2018 3:49:43 PM
<![CDATA[Control on markets tightened to ensure availability of fuel products]]>
In a statement on Thursday, the minister said that he is following up through the main operations room the distribution of each governorate's quota of butane gas cylinders according to its population and consumption rates.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Petroleum announced a rise in fuel prices.

The price of gasoline 92 increased from LE 5 per liter to 6.75, while the price of gasoline 80 rose from LE 3.65 per liter to LE 5.50.

The new price of diesel (gas oil) increased from LE 3.65 per liter to LE 5.50.

The price of a butane gas cylinder rose from LE 30 to LE 50. ]]>
6/21/2018 3:24:41 PM
<![CDATA[EGX ends week in green, market capitalization gains LE 9B]]>
The benchmark EGX30 rose 1.25 percent, or 202.29 points, to close at 16,345.77 points.

The equally weighted index EGX50 rose 1.15 percent, or 31.44 points, to reach 2,773.81 points.

Moreover, the small and mid-cap index EGX70 increased 1.22 percent, or 9.8 points, to close at 811.36 points, and the broader index EGX100 jumped 1.24 percent, or 25.29 points, closing at 2,062.80 points.

Market capitalization gained LE 9.03 billion, recording LE 914.74 billion, compared to LE 905.71 billion in Wednesday’s session.

The trading volume reached 174.26 million shares, traded through 21,813 transactions, with a turnover of LE 740.38 million.

Foreign investors were net buyers at LE 64.43 million, while Egyptian and Arab investors were net sellers at LE 61.18 million and LE 3.25 million, respectively.

Foreign individuals were net buyers at LE 31.63 million, while Egyptian and Arab individuals were net sellers at LE 34.41 million, and LE 12.18 million, respectively.

Arab and foreign organizations bought at LE 32.8 million and LE 8.9 million, respectively, while Arab organizations sold at LE 26.77 million.

Arab Moltaka Investments Co, Ismailia National Food Industries, and Marsa Marsa Alam for Tourism Development were top gainers of the session by 9.22 percent, 8.64 percent and 8.51 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, Prime Holding, El Arabia for Land Reclamation, and Raya Contact Center were top losers of the session by 9.52 percent, 7.28 percent and 3.91 percent, respectively.

The EGX ended Wednesday’s session on a mixed note, as EGX30 slipped 0.48 percent, EGX100 decreased 0.29 percent, while EGX50 rose 1.15 percent, and EGX70 went up 0.74 percent.

The trading continued for three sessions only this week as Sunday and Monday, June 17 and 18, were an official holiday on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr.
6/21/2018 3:20:43 PM
<![CDATA[Defense min. approves forming committee on military service for Matrouh residents]]>
The committee will consider their military status on a case-by-case basis during the period from June 23 till 28.

Afterwards, it will issue them their final military status certificates.

The formation of the committee comes as part of ongoing efforts by the defense ministry to provide all facilities to and ease the burden on the residents of border and remote areas.

All Egyptian males aged 18 to 30 must perform mandatory military service except for certain cases.]]>
6/21/2018 3:20:40 PM
<![CDATA[Minister of culture to inaugurate Italian-Egyptian cultural events in Viterbo]]>
The events will take place over the course of six months, within the framework of Egyptian-Italian efforts to promote cultural and diplomatic relations between the two countries; the events are organized by the Benedetti Cultural Foundation, one of the largest foundations supporting culture and arts in Italy since 1899.

On the sidelines of the visit, Abdel Dayem will meet with Italian Minister of Culture, Dario Franceschini, the head of Rome Opera and the head of Santa Cecilia Orchestra to further enhance art and cultural cooperation between the two countries.

The opening ceremony, set to be held in Viterbo on June 23 and 24, will include pharaonic shows presented by a ballet band of the Cairo Opera House.

Abdel Dayem will then inaugurate the permanent Egyptian exhibition at the Pope's Palace in Viterbo, the first residence for Catholic Church’s popes 200 years before being moved to the Vatican headquarter. The exhibition is set to include ancient Egyptian and Coptic artifacts.]]>
6/21/2018 3:16:14 PM
<![CDATA[Russia to resume talks on charter flights to Egypt after 2018 FIFA World Cup]]>
"All actions related to revision (of flights) to Egypt will be performed after the end of the FIFA World Cup in Russia," he said when asked a respective question.

According to Ditrikh, representatives of the country’s aviation ministry have visited Russia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Egyptian authorities said earlier this year that they expect charter flights between Russian cities and the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada to be resumed in the second half of 2018.

In mid-December 2017, Russia and Egypt signed an agreement on aviation security and a special protocol on restoring air service between the two countries. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the decree on resumption of scheduled flights to Cairo on January 4, 2018. ]]>
6/21/2018 2:37:44 PM
<![CDATA[Trump’s senior advisor leaves Cairo after discussing Palestinian issue]]>
As part of their five-country trip that includes Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, a delegation headed by Kushner and Greenblatt had arrived in Cairo in a reportedly short visit to meet high-level officials including President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi

The trip aims to discuss peace efforts and the crisis in Gaza. However, the trip does not include a meeting with Palestinian officials, as they refused to meet with any of the U.S. officials following Trump's decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, according to media reports.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received Kushner and Greenblatt on Wednesday to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

FILE - Jared Kushner (C) meets with Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister (L) – Reuters

On Wednesday, the Israeli military announced that its warplanes had struck about 25 Hamas sites in Gaza.

Kushner and Greenblatt also met with King Abdullah of Jordan on Tuesday in the capital, Amman, a day after Abdullah held talks in Amman with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

abdullah gpo
FILE – King Abdullah of Jordan (R), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Courtesy of the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO)

The White House said in a statement that the U.S. officials' meeting with King Abdullah discussed ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries. They also discussed the humanitarian situation in the Gaza strip and other regional issues, the statement read.

The Gaza protests peaked on May 14, where at least 61 Palestinians were killed, as tens of thousands of Gazans protested and clashes erupted on the same day of the US Embassy's relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Demonstrations and clashes have continued at a low level since then. At least 121 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the unrest.

President Sisi received a phone call from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who stressed his country’s keenness to support and boost strategic cooperation with Egypt in light of its pivotal role in preserving the security and stability of the Middle East region.

FILE - President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi meets with senior advisor to American president, Jared Kushner, in Cairo

According to Presidential spokesperson Bassam Radi, Pence commended Egypt’s role in easing the situation in Gaza, in addition to its efforts to achieve the Palestinian reconciliation.

For his part, the Egyptian leader affirmed the depth of the strategic relations between Egypt and the United States, which are considered one of the pillars of stability in the Middle East.

President Sisi expressed that he is looking forward to promoting these relations in a bid to achieve mutual interests, especially restoring security in the region.

Sisi also stressed Egypt’s firm stance toward the Palestinian case and the rights of Palestinians, in accordance with principles of the international law. ]]>
6/21/2018 2:27:34 PM
<![CDATA[1,784 companies set up in May at total issued capital of LE 2.1B]]>
The total issued capital of the new companies is worth LE 4.3 billion, with a 106 percent increase, compared to LE 2.1 billion in May 2017, the ministry said in its monthly bulletin.

During the first quarter of the fiscal year 2017-2018, the volume of investments raised by 54 percent to reach EGP 184.4 billion, compared to LE 119.9 billion during the first quarter of the fiscal year 2016-2017, the ministry added.

Till May 15, 2018, nearly 552 investment-related dispute cases worth LE 18.7 billion were settled, the ministry said.]]>
6/21/2018 2:22:17 PM
<![CDATA[Much-needed temporary joy turns into nation-wide nightmare ]]>
Mina Sobhi, a Upper Egyptian, recounted to Egypt Today how despair started to sneak into people's hearts after the Russians' second goal.

“People started to leave the Café after the second goal was scored; we lost all hope that we could get back to the game and apparently the players also were wearing off,” Mina added. “Fathi’s goal was one of the reasons why we lost hope.”

Fathi’s own goal snaps out the dialogue:

“After Fathi’s goal, I was left certain that the game is not ours anymore. Usually with Cuper, we are not capable of making comebacks,” Ahmed Abdel Aal, a civil engineer told Egypt Today. “Still, Ahmed Fathi is one of the best players in Egyptian football's history.”

The score line for Russians opened with a self-inflicted goal from player Ahmed Fathi; then the Russians managed to take control of the game and started to make use of the leaky defense.

Agreeing with Abdel Aal, Mohamed Sultan, general practitioner, said that Fathi is considered the most important player of the current generation.

“There is grief taking over the masses over Fathi being one of the reasons for our loss. However; Fathi occupies a place in the hearts of the Egyptian soccer enthusiasts and is a player of a great defensive record,” Sultan added to Egypt Today.

“I take issue with [Egyptian team’s coach] Cuper’s style of managing a game; he insists on focusing on defense, which makes the players so weak in attack and we do have many quality attackers in the team. I think if we managed to remain focused like the first half, we could have won.”

Ahmed Osama, a mechanical engineer, applauded Fathi’s career, contending that he has achieved a lot and is advantageous to the national team. “I wish he could have a better end to his playing career with the team.”

“We had the lout boots over the Russians in the first half and only 10-minutes of poor performance resulted in naively-scored goals,” Osama said, adding that Cuper is already beloved by the players and this covers up for many of his frailties; he has had good spell with the team.

Ahmed Amin, a social media marketer, who has traveled to Russia to support the Pharaos, said that he was so upset with Cuper and not Ahmed Fathi.

“I traveled at my own expense and so did most Egyptians here,” Amin added.” I will leave Russia the day after our clash with Saudi Arabia .”

Celebrities’ delegation’s repercussions:

Amin further denounced the celebrities’ presence in the same hotel where the team was lodging in Russia.

“What occurred in the team’s camp was a complete mess! The boisterousness that took place on the night before Egypt’s clash with Russia was totally misplaced and distracting to the players,” he added.

A few days before the decisive game, a number of celebrities and media figures landed in Russia to support the national team, which sparked the anger of many critics and commentators for it having bad effect on the players’ focus.

The presence of the celebrities always backfires, as similar incidents occurred in the 2010 World Cup qualifier game between Algeria and Egypt in Omderman in Sudan and the 1990 Italy.

Sports radio presenter and anchor Ibrahim Fayek called for immediate interference to stop the “unfathomable” hassle going on in the team’s camp.

Later on Monday and on their official Facebook page, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) stated that the delegation is not interrupting the preparations in the team’s camp.

The Egyptians lost the first game of the group stage to Uruguay with a +90 goal, while Russia managed to thrash the Saudi team in the opening of the tournament with five goals with no reply.

Following Uruguay’s win over Saudi Arabia, Russia and Uruguay have officially qualified for the round of 16, while Egypt and Saudi Arabia are knocked out of the World Cup.]]>
6/21/2018 2:14:26 PM
<![CDATA[Japan's Toyota officials discuss beefing up production in Egyptian market]]>
In a statement on Thursday, the Egyptian embassy said that Ambassador Kamel visited the Toyota Takaoka Assembly Plant, also known as Takaoka Plant, in Toyota City that produces 1,200 vehicles of various Toyota models per day.

The two sides also reviewed the latest developments related to Egypt's economy, along with resolving all difficulties related to foreign currency exchange that used to face foreign companies in Egypt.

He also called on the company to set up a new factory in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

For their part, the company's officials said that their company is currently studying assembling new Toyota car models in Egypt, in cooperation with Egyptian parties.]]>
6/21/2018 2:10:35 PM
<![CDATA[PM, Housing Ministry officials review progress in infrastructure projects]]>
During the meeting, Madbouli, who is also the housing minister, stressed the ministry will work on finishing all projects on schedule.

The meeting, attended by Deputy Minister of Housing Randa el Menshawi, touched on the pace of work in the underway Ebni Betak social housing project in 6th of October City in Giza.

The premier discussed with the team progress made in drinking water plants being established in the towns of Ausim, Geziret El Dahab and Atfih in Giza and complaints of sanitation services in some parts of the country.

They also reviewed the pace of work in a number of projects, including the 30 June Axis project and El Nahda Tunnel project in Giza.

About 2,406 plots of land were handed to those who registered their names for the Beit Al Watan project for Egyptian expats in New Cairo city, Menshawi said.

In this regard, the housing minister ordered the technical team to follow up the implementation of roads and facilities being built in the city.

Some 60 plots of land were allotted to those who registered their names in the Beit Al Watan project in the 6th of October City in Giza, she noted.]]>
6/21/2018 2:08:39 PM
<![CDATA[Dollar scales 11-month peak, oil slides ahead of OPEC]]>
Europe’s main stock markets were back near two-month lows and Wall Street futures had also turned lower [.N], as the jitters that have dominated markets for months began to reassert themselves. [.EU]

Europe’s car shares .SXAP fell to a nine-month lows after Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler (DAIGn.DE) warned the global trade tensions were slowing its sales. Italian stocks and bonds also tumbled on reports a eurosceptic had been given a key finance role [.EU][GVD/EUR].

Asia had been mixed, too, with Japan's Nikkei .N225 adding 0.6 percent and Australia's main index enjoying another strong day before the end of its financial year next week.

China remained the weak link, though, finished more than 1 percent lower .CSI300 .SZSC .SSEC [.SS], and ensured MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares .MIAPJ0000PUS fell, dropping as much as 0.5 percent higher at one point.

Strains were compounded by the dollar’s surge to an 11-month high [FRX/]. That raises inflation outside the U.S. and puts pressure on any country or company that has gorged itself on dollar-denominated debt. [EMRG/FRX]

“The reaction of the dollar has been very interesting this week,” said State Street Global Markets head of macro strategy Michael Metcalfe.

“In previous periods this year, fears of a trade war have been dollar-negative, but that has been different this week ... we have had this potential escalation in the trade war, and it has rallied.”

The mere absence of new threats from U.S President Donald Trump on tariffs was nevertheless enough to keep hopes alive that all the bluster was a ploy which would stop short of an outright trade war.

Markets had also been encouraged by the People's Bank of China's move to set firm fixings for its yuan, along with the addition of extra liquidity, though the spot yuan rate CNY=CFXS did hit a fresh five-month low.

There was also much speculation the central bank would cut bank reserve requirements, thus boosting lending power in the economy.

On Wall Street on Wednesday, tech stocks helped the Nasdaq to an all-time high, though the moves were modest. The Dow Jones .DJI fell 0.17 percent, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.17 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 0.72 percent.

Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O) had climbed 7.5 percent after Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) sweetened its offer for some of the company’s assets to $71.3 billion, looking to topple Comcast Corp’s (CMCSA.O) bid.


The dollar's latest spurt softened safe havens such as the yen, with the dollar adding 0.31 percent to 110.71 yen JPY=.

It also firmed 0.45 percent against a basket of currencies to 95.484 .DXY, hitting an 11-month top and sending the euro EUR= down to a three-week low of $1.1500.

Sterling GBP=D4 was at seven-month low of $1.3108, having made only a fleeting recovery after Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May won another crucial Brexit vote in parliament.

The Bank of England holds a policy meeting later in the session, but not a single analyst polled by Reuters expects a rate hike and some are getting cold feet about a rise in August given recent soft economic data.

While the European Central Bank has signaled an end to bond-buying, it also pledged to keep rates low past next summer, and the Bank of Japan shows no sign of unwinding its stimulus.

Switzerland’s central bank kept its rates deep in negative territory on Thursday and warned that risks to the economy were rising amid all the trade war noise.

“It feels like the yellow warning lights are flashing for the global economic system,” noted analysts at Citi.

“However, with the ECB and BoJ still pumping in liquidity and keeping rates lower for longer, the chances of a systemic event are low.”

Ahead of Friday’s meeting of oil producers in Vienna, Saudi Arabia is trying to convince fellow OPEC members of the need to pump more oil, according to sources familiar with the talks. Iran on Thursday signaled it could be won over to a small rise in output, potentially paving the way for a deal.

“We need to release supply to the market,” Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters in Vienna.

Benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 fell $1.56 a barrel to a low of $73.18 before recovering slightly to $73.34, down $1.40, by 0850 GMT. U.S. light crude CLc1 was $1.00 lower at $64.71.

“It would seem that an aggregate increase in production for OPEC+ of between 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) and 1 million bpd is the range that is being considered,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, head of oil strategy at French bank BNP Paribas.]]>
6/21/2018 2:07:06 PM
<![CDATA[Environment min. inaugurates 1st workshop on biological diversity integration]]>
The workshop will be attended by more than 70 experts from different countries and representatives of international organizations, industry and mining sectors and the ministries of petroleum and electricity and renewable energy.

The event is the first to be hosted by Egypt in preparation for the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, slated for November in Sharm El Sheikh with the participation of more than 196 countries.

Foad said the workshop aims to review the state-of-the-art developments in the fields of energy, mining and infrastructure and their effects on biological diversity and promote cooperation between the respective ministries.

It also aims to get acquainted with challenges and available opportunities to achieve integration into the aforesaid sectors under the Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS): Egypt Vision 2030, Foad added. ]]>
6/21/2018 2:06:09 PM
<![CDATA[Bank of England chief economist calls for rate rise, MPC give new QE guidance]]>
The central bank also set out new guidance on when it might start to sell down its 435 billion pounds of British government bonds, saying this could come once rates have reached around 1.5 percent, sooner than previous guidance of about 2 percent.

The Monetary Policy Committee voted 6-3 to keep rates at 0.5 percent, where they have been for most of the past decade, in contrast to economists’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a continued 7-2 split.

Chief economist Andy Haldane joined long-term dissenters Michael Saunders and Ian McCafferty in calling for rates to rise to 0.75 percent, due to concerns that recent pay deals and labor demand could push wages up faster than expected.

This opens the door for a rate rise at the BoE’s next meeting in August, something expected by most economists in a Reuters poll but which recent market pricing viewed as a less than 50 percent probability.

The MPC as a whole said their previous view that first-quarter weakness was temporary and linked to unusually poor weather appeared “broadly on track”.

Household spending and sentiment bounced back strongly, and a sharp fall in factory output in April could reflect firms having built up excess stocks during the period of bad weather in the first quarter of the year, the BoE said.

At the end of last year Britain was the slowest-growing economy among the G7 group of rich nations, as businesses held back from investing ahead of Brexit and high inflation triggered by the 2016 referendum eroded households’ disposable income.

Inflation is drifting down from a five-year high of 3.1 percent hit in November, and growth in the first three months of the year was the slowest since 2012, after snow storms worsened existing weaknesses in the world’s fifth-largest economy.

But with unemployment at its lowest since 1975, the BoE ??says the economy is running near full capacity, and that the longer-term direction for interest rates over the next two to three years is likely to be up.

Economists had expected the BoE to raise rates in May, until a string of weak data and discouraging words from BoE Governor Mark Carney in April quashed those expectations.

Last month the BoE said it wanted to see signs of stronger growth before it prepared to raise rates, in sharp contrast to the United States, where the Federal Reserve has raised rates twice this year and plans to do so twice more.

Policymakers may have been concerned by a survey this week which showed most of the public no longer expected rates to rise at all this year.

Last month, a separate survey by the BoE showed a record proportion of the public did not know what would happen to rates over the next 12 months, during which Britain will leave the European Union.

Carney will also have ample chance to elaborate on the outlook for the economy and its readiness for Brexit later on Thursday when he gives a major speech to the London’s financial services industry, scheduled for 2015 GMT.]]>
6/21/2018 1:55:06 PM
<![CDATA[We want to say yes: UK unveils Brexit residency rules for EU citizens]]>
The issue of what would happen to the more than 3 million EU citizens currently living in Britain was one of the most contentious aspects of divorce talks before a withdrawal treaty was agreed in principle between London and Brussels in March.

Home Secretary (interior minister) Sajid Javid said the proposed EU Settlement Scheme would be a "simple and straightforward" process, designed to ensure that EU citizens could remain in the country indefinitely.

"Throughout, we will be looking to grant, not for reasons to refuse," he added in a statement.

Under the scheme, EU citizens who have lived continuously in Britain for five years would be granted settled status, giving them the same rights to work, study and access benefits and services as they currently do.

The scheme would also apply to their close family members, such as spouses, children, parents and grandchildren.

Those living in the UK before Dec. 31, 2020, but who had not met the residency criteria, would be granted pre-settled status until they met the five-year test.

Home Office officials say the scheme, which will be phased in later this year and run until June 2021, was designed not to be burdensome.

Applicants need only to prove their identity, residency in the UK and not to be a serious criminal, with help available to try to ensure they got a positive outcome. Some 1,500 staff will work on the project which will operate online or via smartphone app, although currently unavailable to Apple users.

Each application will cost 65 pounds ($85), or 32.50 pounds for a child, with every individual needing to apply. For those who already hold a valid permanent residence or have indefinite leave to remain, it will be free.

"We want to make it as easy as possible for EU citizens and their family members in the UK to secure their rights," said the Home Office's Statement of Intent.

Britain and the EU are still wrangling over the future relationship after Brexit, with the possibility remaining that the UK could leave the bloc with no deal in place.

Javid said whatever happened in talks, Prime Minister Theresa May had made it clear that EU citizens living lawfully in Britain would be allowed to stay.

However, he said that he was concerned that Britain had not seen any similar plans from EU states on how they would treat British nationals in their countries.]]>
6/21/2018 1:54:49 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt organizes first skydiving event at Giza Plateau on Saturday]]>
President of the sport parachuting federation, Abd El Moein Hassan said that "Jump Like A Pharaoh – Vol.1" skydiving event will be held during the period June 23-25, at the foot of Khafre's Pyramid.

The parachuting federation was established in 1988, and is currently seeking to promote its sport in Egypt and upgrade the skills of people practicing it, Hassan said.

The federation is also carrying out its national role in promoting the Egyptian tourism, Hassan added.

Against a perfect backdrop provided by the Giza Plateau, the federation is sending a message of peace from Egypt to the world through organizing this festival, in which more than 60 skydivers from 19 countries worldwide are taking part to assert that Egypt will be always safe and welcoming.

He thanked all competent bodies that offered unprecedented support to the federation to host this event.

Skydivers participating in the festival will fly for "15 K " feet over the Giza Plateau, which houses the Great Pyramid, the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one that is still in existence.

The Giza Plateau, located in the Western Desert on the outskirts of Cairo, is a complex of ancient monuments which includes the three pyramid complexes known as the "Great Pyramids", the massive sculpture of the Great Sphinx, several cemeteries, a workers' village and an industrial complex all dating back to the Pharaonic era. ]]>
6/21/2018 1:51:39 PM
<![CDATA[Serbian National Museum to host roundtable on ancient Egypt ]]>
Jowaily met with Bojana Breskovic, the museum’s director, on June 13 during his inspection tour at the Serbian National Museum, which will be inaugurated on June 28 after being closed since 2003 for renewal.

Jowaily referred that the roundtable will be the first activity after the official reopening of the museum and will be held in the museum’s main hall "Atrium" to highlight the 110th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The roundtable is a part of a campaign by the Egyptian Embassy titled "#EgyptALLogy" on social media, aiming to bring the history of ancient Egypt to the non-specialized audience.

During the meeting, Director of public relations at the museum, Lidija Ham, called on Egypt to participate in the reopening, expressing her aspirations to promote the cooperation with Tahrir’s Egyptian Museum and the Grand Egyptian Museum.

She further remarked that ancient Egypt's artifacts, which include a funeral mask and a mummy, will be all exhibited in the Serbian National Museum instead of being displayed in various venues, including Belgrade University.

In the same context, the ambassador of Egypt to Serbia said that bilateral cooperation mechanisms are being discussed with the Antiquities Restoration Centre of the Grand Egyptian Museum.]]>
6/21/2018 1:37:25 PM
<![CDATA[EBE plans to offer credit facilities to Egyptian exporters in coming phase]]>
This comes as part of a protocol signed between the EBE and the Export Development Fund (EDF) to provide funding for the exporters, she said.

The EBE had presented over LE 100 million credit facilitation to a number of exporters, she added on the sidelines of signing ten protocols with export councils and the Egyptian Businessmen's Association on Wednesday night.

The bank is keen on supporting the export sector for the sake of increasing the volume of Egyptian exports, she stressed.

She called for coordinating efforts among the EBE, the Export Development Authority and the exports councils to work on boosting Egyptian exports.

The EBE is expected to offer funds amounting to LE 12.6 billion to the industrial sector during the current fiscal year, she noted.

The bank aims to expand the client base, which now stands at 450, she said.

The bank has 31 branches across the nation and targets establishing around 37 to 39 ones by the end of 2018, she also said.]]>
6/21/2018 1:29:56 PM
<![CDATA[Trade Exchange bet. Egypt, Germany hits €5.81B in 2017]]>
The minister clarified that the current German investments in Egypt amount to $641 million through 1080 projects in the fields of industry, services, agriculture, construction, communications, information technology and finance.

On the other hand, the total Egyptian investments in Germany recorded $35.5 million in the fields of finance, medicines, furniture, appliances, medical supplies, tourism and trade, the minister added.

This came during the meeting of the minister of finance with German Ambassador to Cairo, Julius Georg Loew, to discuss the future of economic cooperation between the two countries in the commercial and industrial sectors.

According to the minister, the meeting discussed the importance of attracting more European investments in general and German investments in particular to the Egyptian economy.

Nassar stressed the ministry's keenness to attract international companies to invest in the Egyptian market, which will give a strong impetus to the national economy and enhance the confidence of foreign investors in the Egyptian market as one of the most important investment markets in the Middle East and Africa.

The ministry aims at expanding the scope of investment cooperation with all countries in the world, especially the countries of the European continent, referring to the importance of strengthening economic cooperation between the European countries and the South Mediterranean in various fields of industry, trade and services.

For his part, Loew talked about the possibility of strengthening cooperation between Germany and Egypt in many fields, focusing on technical training, especially that Germany has extensive experience in this field, which contributes to the provision of qualified technical manpower to meet the needs of the Egyptian industry.

Nassar, 57, was named as the Minister of Trade and Industry on Thursday, June 14, to succeed Tarek Kabil. Nassar graduated from the Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University in 1985.

Nassar served as the deputy chairman of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) division of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP).

Nassar was appointed as the secretary general of the Engineering Export Council of Egypt (EEC) in 2012. He also served as a member of the board of directors of the Chamber of Engineering Industries.

In 2017, Egypt's non-oil exports rose 10 percent to $22.42 billion, up from $20.41 billion in 2016.

Egypt’s exports revived after the flotation of the Egyptian currency by losing about 50 percent of its value, making the Egyptian exports attractive to foreign markets.

Former Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Tarek Kabil said that Egypt’s non-petroleum exports rose 16 percent during the first four months of 2018, recording $8.64 billion, compared to $7.43 billion during the same period of 2017.

Kabil stressed that the positive indicators of the Egyptian foreign trade reflect the success of the 2020 strategy.

The 2020 strategy was launched in November 2016 by Kabil. It includes five main axes: industrial development, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) development and entrepreneurship, export development, training and technical education development, and corporate governance and development.

The strategy aims at increasing exports in the first place after strengthening the local industry.

The ministry seeks during the current period to enter new markets, expand in traditional markets and make full use of trade agreements signed with a large number of countries and economic blocs around the world to boost Egyptian exports to foreign markets.
6/21/2018 1:02:46 PM
<![CDATA[Paul McCartney to release new album, ‘Egypt Station’, on Sept.7]]>
The rock legend posted on social media a video of the Pyramids and palm trees swaying in the wind with sand-colored background and ambient music.

McCartney’s new album “Egypt Station” shares its title with one of his paintings portraying sunflowers and animals under a blue sky.

Featured by the singles "I Don’t Know" and "Come On To Me", "Egypt Station", which is McCartney’s first album since 2013, was recorded between Los Angeles, London and Sussex.

“I liked the words ‘Egypt Station’. It reminded me of the albums we used to make...

'Egypt Station' starts off at the station on the first song and then each song is like a different station. So it gave us some idea to base all the songs around that. I think of it as a dream location that the music emanates from,” Paul said on his website, commenting on the album’s title.

"Egypt Station’s" 14 songs combine to convey a unique travelogue vibe.]]>
6/21/2018 12:46:55 PM
<![CDATA[North Korean airline plans new route to China's Xian]]>
An Air Koryo representative told AFP "there is a plan" for flights to the central Chinese city, a major tourist destination famous for its ancient Terracotta Warriors.

But the staffer said he "did not know" whether the route would begin in July, as reported by the Xian Evening News daily, which cited Shaanxi Province's official tourism board.

With the launch of the new route, Xian is set to become the fifth Chinese city with a direct flight to Pyongyang after Beijing, Shenyang, Shanghai and Chengdu, according to the newspaper.

"The opening of this route will make it more convenient and efficient to travel from Xian to Pyongyang and furthermore satisfy the enthusiasm of Xian citizens travelling to Pyongyang," the daily said.

"The market reacted strongly when Xian successfully opened a charter flight from Xian to Pyongyang around 2010."

The report came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un concluded a two-day visit to Beijing, the country's sole major ally, the week after his historic summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore.

North Korea has been hit by a raft of UN sanctions over its nuclear and missile tests, but the US has offered relief from the punitive measures if its gives up its arsenal.

China is by far the biggest source of tourists for the North, with direct flights and a long land border connecting the neighbours, and tens of thousands believed to visit every year.

China's state-owned carrier Air China resumed flights to the North Korean capital in June after a suspension of over six months.]]>
6/21/2018 12:39:44 PM
<![CDATA[Saudi bourse will be ready for capital inflows after MSCI EM inclusion]]>
Khalid al-Hussan was speaking to Reuters after the Tadawul, as the exchange is known, was granted inclusion by MSCI into the index provider’s Emerging Markets benchmark, a move that could result in as much as $45 billion of new capital being invested into the kingdom.

MSCI’s decision comes three months after fellow index firm FTSE Russell granted Saudi Arabia emerging market status on its own product, a decision that was estimated to yield a further $30 billion of investor capital.

For the Gulf’s largest bourse, potential combined inflows into a market with a capitalization of 1.95 trillion riyals ($519.9 billion) will need to be carefully managed.

“We will start immediately to address all the activity - we will be ready,” Hussan said in a phone interview.

“We will work with MSCI and FTSE to take all necessary steps to launch these implementations.”

Given the size of Saudi’s weighting on both providers’ indices, its introduction is being staggered: FTSE will bring Saudi stocks on board in several stages between March and December 2019, while MSCI said on Wednesday the kingdom would enter in phases coinciding with index reviews in May and August 2019.

The new capital is also split between “passive”, index-linked funds, which must invest according to the weighting set by the index provider, and “active” funds, which set their own limits.

Hussan expected 25-30 percent of the projected $45 billion of MSCI inflows to be from “passive” funds, which would buy into the market around the inclusion dates.

The bourse would now work to attract “active” MSCI money, and was already seeing inflows from “active” FTSE managers, he added.

MSCI added China shares to its emerging markets benchmark this month but inflows have so far fallen short of expectations. Fears of a China-U.S. trade war partly eclipsed the much-hyped addition of the world’s second-largest equity market by capitalization.


Inflows to Saudi Arabia could, however, be bolstered further by the listing of state oil giant Saudi Aramco IPO-ARMO.SE, which is expected to be the world’s largest publicly-traded company. The timing of the initial public offering is uncertain, although next year is considered more likely.

If Aramco goes public, MSCI capital inflows would double to around $90 billion, according to Usman Ahmed, managing director, investments, at Emirates NBD Asset Management.

While an Aramco listing would be a huge lure for foreign investors, Hussan points to the work the kingdom has done to make the Tadawul an attractive place to invest.

Among the changes announced this year include rules governing market-making, establishing a company which will ultimately clear all trades on the Saudi bourse, and introducing a new mechanism to set the closing price of shares that is more in line with international standards.]]>
6/21/2018 12:28:58 PM
<![CDATA[Iraq's Supreme Court rules in favour of election recount]]>
The court found that the decision by parliament to order a manual recount in response to allegations of electoral fraud did not violate the constitution, its president Medhat al-Mahmud told a news conference.

All of the roughly 11 million ballots, including those of voters living abroad, displaced persons and security forces, must be recounted, Mahmud said.

The May 12 vote was won by cleric Moqtada Sadr's electoral alliance with communists, as long-time political figures were pushed out by voters hoping for change in a country mired in conflict and corruption.

The result was contested -- mainly by the political old guard -- following allegations of irregularities in the election, Iraq's first since the defeat of the Islamic State group.

The vote saw a record number of abstentions as Iraqis snubbed the corruption-tainted elite that has dominated the country since the US-led invasion of 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein.]]>
6/21/2018 12:27:49 PM
<![CDATA[Oil falls 2% as OPEC nears deal to raise production]]>
Benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 fell $1.76 a barrel, or more than 2 percent, to a low of $72.98 before recovering slightly to $73.34, down $1.40, by 0945 GMT. U.S. light crude CLc1 was $1.00 lower at $64.71.

Brent reached a 3-1/2-year high above $80 a barrel last month but has fallen steadily in recent weeks as Saudi Arabia, de facto leader of OPEC, has signaled it intends to raise production to stabilize prices.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries holds its biannual meeting in Vienna on Friday and is widely expected to agree to pump more, possibly supported by some other producers outside OPEC, including Russia.

Iran had been expected to oppose any rise in crude output, but it has now signaled it may support a small increase.

“We need to release supply to the market,” Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters in Vienna.

Falih said the oil market had now rebalanced and his aim was to prevent a shortage of crude in future that could squeeze the market.

Harry Tchilinguirian, head of oil strategy at French bank BNP Paribas, told Reuters Global Oil Forum he expected OPEC and Russia to agree a compromise that would see a small increase in global oil production.

“It would seem that an aggregate increase in production for OPEC+ of between 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) and 1 million bpd is the range that is being considered,” Tchilinguirian said.

OPEC, together with other key producers including Russia, started withholding output in 2017 to prop up prices, but a tightening market has led to calls by consumers for more supplies.


Looming over all financial markets is an escalating trade dispute between the United States and its other major trading partners, particularly China.

Washington and Beijing have both threatened punitive tariffs on each other’s exports, including U.S. crude oil.

China on Thursday canceled a trip to West Virginia by executives from China Energy Investment Corp to discuss a planned $83.7 billion investment in the state and called Washington’s behavior “capricious.”

In another escalation, India on Thursday joined China and the EU by increasing duties on various commodities imported from the United States.

But oil prices have found some support from global demand, which has been increasing strongly this year.

U.S. refineries processed a seasonal record of 17.7 million bpd of crude oil last week, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

Commercial U.S. crude inventories dropped by 5.9 million barrels in the week to June 15, to 426.53 million barrels C-STK-T-EIA, the EIA said.]]>
6/21/2018 12:25:30 PM
<![CDATA[Student caught after leaking part of Thanawya Amma pure mathematics exam]]>
In press statements, chief of the general educational sector and Thanwaeya Amma exams Reda Hegazy said that the student published part of the exam after 30 minutes of its start.

Egypt has enacted new amendments to a law toughening penalties for cheaters and troublemakers during school exams, especially the Thanawya Amma exams which determine the future of roughly half a million students who sit for it every year.

Under the new amendments offenders especially those who print, publish, broadcast or promote exam questions and answers by any means could face two to seven year jail terms and a fine of EGP 100,000 to 200,000]]>
6/21/2018 12:20:04 PM
<![CDATA[Saudi shares up on MSCI decision, Dubai listed Air Arabia tumbles]]>
The Tadawul All-Share Index was up 0.3 percent, led by financial shares, after the kingdom’s bourse was granted inclusion by MSCI into the index provider’s emerging markets benchmark. Al Rajhi Bank and the country’s largest lender National Commercial Bank were both up one percent.

On the Dubai bourse Air Arabia declined more than six percent, as investors continued to sell shares of the carrier this week since it said on Monday it had appointed a team of experts to ensure the airline’s investment in Abraaj, which has filed for provisional liquidation, is protected.

Air Arabia said the impact was limited to its investment portfolio and that there was no significant effect on the airline’s daily or future business.

On Thursday ahead of market open, Abraaj announced that it agreed to sell its Latin American, Sub Saharan Africa, North Africa and Turkey Funds management business to U.S. investment firm Colony Capital Inc.

FAB Securities CEO Mohammed Ali Yasin said the announcement might calm markets’ fears “but I see little change to lower the concerns of Air Arabia losing a substantial part of their investments or having to take big impairments until a final agreement is signed and the recoveries of those investments take place.”

The Dubai Financial Market General Index was little changed, down 0.2 percent. The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange General Index was also little changed, down 0.2 percent.

Kuwait shares also opened lower, down 0.3 percent even after MSCI said it put the country on its watch list for a potential upgrade to emerging markets status.

MSCI’s decision should be announced in June 2019 with implementation in May 2020 if favorable, Dubai-based Arqaam Capital said in a note to clients.

Financial stocks led the declines. National Bank of Kuwait slipped 0.4 percent, while Gulf Bank of Kuwait lost 1.7 percent. ]]>
6/21/2018 12:20:00 PM
<![CDATA[Getting your money’s worth: Destination Spain]]>
The United States Commercial Real Estate Services (CBRE), for instance, predicts a positive momentum for real estate in Europe throughout 2018 and 2019 in their ‘Europe Real Estate Market Outlook 2018’ study. The positive predictions are coupled with rising prices in the US, making the whole continent an attractive investment option for Middle Eastern investors.

But aside from it being a financially-sound investing option, starting 2013, purchasing property in Spain worth €500,000 or more also guarantees investors a family residency to be renewed every two years. This residency means visa-free travelling within Schengen countries and after amendment in 2015, the right to work in Spain. Investors then have the choice of applying for citizenship, although that would mean that they would have to spend a minimum of 183 days a year within the country.

Property expert Amr Shamel, Head of Sales and Business Development in the Middle East at Lucas Fox Spain, speaks to Egypt Today about the dynamics of the Spanish market and the opportunities it presents.

Are you seeing a rise in Egyptians investing in Spain as an alternative to other Middle Eastern countries?

Since the Arab spring and the revolutions all over the Arab countries, Egyptians became more interested in investing in Spain. People loved the Dubai property market, but over the last two or three years, appreciation was not stable in Dubai, leaving investors frustrated, wary and looking for alternative markets. For example, Saudi Arabians are moving from Dubai to Spain. Egyptians though have always loved Spain.

Until about two years ago, Egyptians, compared with other Middle Eastern countries, were the leading buyers in the Spanish property market, however, we have seen other nationalities, especially Lebanese and Libyans, catching up. Currently, Egyptian buyers are leading, along with the Lebanese, followed by investors from Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries

Have you seen a decline of interest from Egyptian investors post-floatation?

Perhaps Egyptians slowed down a bit when the floatation of the Egyptian pound happened, but they are coming [back] now. Egyptians are here and investing, and I expect that more will continue to invest in Spain; it is a blooming market. And when they buy, many rent and get foreign currency cash flow.

I do get some people sometimes who tell me that in the face of the currency devaluation, investing in Spain has become too expensive. However, some of these people also have property in the North Coast that maybe worth LE 15 or LE 20 million, meanwhile the North Coast is only open for one season, while Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia are active all year round.

What do you think are the main mistakes Middle Eastern buyers make when looking for a property?

Honestly, Middle Eastern buyers are some of the smartest foreign buyers all over the world. They love investing in property. They take a walk through a town and they can spot the prime locations right away. They are open for discussion too, you tell them the good locations—the prime locations—and they listen and can spot the patterns.

Generally speaking, perhaps the problem that some Middle Eastern investors fall into is not knowing the fiscal situation, like the specifics of taxes, running costs and so on: the post-buying costs, basically. Some have [previously] invested abroad and are surprised that the taxes are actually lower than in other countries in Europe, but some have only invested in their home countries and so they do not know. This is why I have to sit down and talk to them, once they know the law and the rules within Spain, there is no problem.

Touching on the post-buying expenses, can you tell us more about the taxes investors will need to pay when buying property in Spain?

There are three kinds of taxes that buyers need to be aware of when purchasing property in Spain. First, there is a transfer tax. When you buy a property you have to pay transfer tax, which is the tax of transferring from the old owner to the new one. You pay 10 percent [which is the same] as other European countries or slightly more in some places.

However, one should also be aware of the low running costs in Spain, compared with other European countries. Running costs in Spain are truly symbolic. However, if you buy in France or the UK, you can pay up to 1-2 percent of the price of the property in running costs annually.

Second, when you sell, you have to pay capital gain tax on what you gain. You pay 21-24 percent, however, if you do not gain, you do not pay. This is lower than Scandinavian countries, where one pays 40 percent, and France, where the tax bracket system means that one can pay up to 70 percent.

Third, there are yearly property taxes, but they are much lower than the rest of Europe. It is symbolic, minimal. Generally speaking, we do not have big taxes in real estate or stock market right now in Spain.

How has the Golden Visa Law affected the property market is Spain?

The Golden Visa Law—in Greece, Portugal and Spain—has had a very interesting effect on the market.

Since its establishment is Spain in October 2013, there have been some changes in the law, but it is now more flexible. In 2016, they [the government] modified the law, ensuring that if one buys property, the individual or partners, along with their immediate families, receive residencies that enable them to travel to all the Schengen countries without needing to get a visa, in addition to the fact that they can stay or live in Spain.

At the beginning, when the law was first passed, the economic situation in Spain was very bad. Any country in crisis—which Spain was in at the time—has high unemployment levels. Many Spanish people were suffering from high unemployment rates, so the law at the beginning did not allow people who hold the visa to work within the country. In 2015, when the economy started getting better and the unemployment went down, they began to offer golden visa holders working visas.

Generally speaking, the law has increased interest from foreign nationals, however, the market itself poses a great opportunity, and this is supported by the fact that some nationals who do not need this visa to come to Spain whenever they want still invest in the country. For example, UAE investors are still looking to invest in Spain and are increasingly doing so.

Who do you think will be the next wave of buyers in Spain?

Americans. A lot of Americans, Canadians and Israelis have started to buy now, and it seems that we will keep getting more and more because it is much cheaper than their countries and there is much room for appreciation, compared to their countries. Their countries have appreciated by 100-150 percent, and here there is still room for appreciation and everything is cheap. They are buying aggressively and they find the market very secure. They want to diversify their investment portfolio.

Middle Easter buyers too, the instability in the region has become a catalyst for investors to come here. Russians are coming back gradually. They had disappeared because of the sanctions on Russia, but they are now returning.

Locals are also buying more because the economic situation is better in Spain, their purchasing power is higher and the banks are offering locals loans.

With a sudden increase in demand due to a blooming market, are we looking at a housing bubble in Spain?

You have to know what caused the property crash in Spain first. In 2006 and 2007, investors started to speculate and buy a lot; they bought aggressively. They started to take financing up to 100 percent from the bank.

Banks now do not do this; they go up to 60 percent, and they are not as irrational as before and they lend people less. The economy is also more mature, and the market is more mature and healthier now. The prices are far away from the pre-crisis levels and so, I do not see a bubble in the mid or long-term. The supply now is very little too and the demand is much higher, so economically, this is better.

Where are the hotspots in Spain?

Valencia, Madrid and Barcelona are the top three hot locations now, in that order. Valencia is not focused on, however, it has the best-expected appreciation and plenty of opportunities between the three. They [Valencia, Madrid and Barcelona] are active all year long. They have school, universities, companies and so on; they are major cities. They do not work for part of the year only.

Barcelona was the leading market, but now, because of the political situation in Catalonia, Valencia and Madrid are better markets to invest in. Barcelona will keep appreciating, but its momentum is slower.

In Barcelona, the golden square in downtown is a great opportunity. It is basically eight or nine streets, in a great location, that is always busy, investors can buy and sell there very quickly; the location is very hot. There is a nice modern area on the beach called Diagonal Mar; it is the only modern area on the beach. It is a very hot spot right now; it was a very expensive area last year and now it is less so, and so now it’s a good time to invest before it gets expensive again. There is a lot of interest from the Middle East in this beach right now.

In the second-home market, Ibiza is really hot right now. After the crisis, the second home market was the first to take a hit; this is usually the case with second home markets, they always are the first to fall and last to recover.

Which cities are not on people’s radar but you believe have good potential?

Valencia, definitely. Although people do not buy as much in Valencia, I expect it will bloom by next year. The prices are half those in Barcelona but people, firms are starting to notice that it is very attractive. Not many in the Middle East buy in Valencia.

The biggest signs of appreciation right now that I see are in Valencia. It does not mean that Valencia will be the same price as Barcelona and Madrid. I see a great opportunity of no less than 50 percent in the next two or three years; this is a great appreciation rate. Madrid is expected to appreciate about 30-35 percent, while Barcelona is forecast at 25-30 percent.

If not Spain, then where?

I recommend Germany for conservative people or those with lower risk appetite. In Germany, Berlin is the best opportunity right now; it is blooming. For people with higher risk appetite: Greece or Portugal; this is risky though because their economy is not stable. Greece is still in trouble, more so than Portugal, but it has improved compared to four or five years ago. I expect that Greece will improve [further].

Many Egyptians are buying in Greece because of its proximity and they get the golden visa, but its hard to sell, one cannot be so confident that they will be able to sell quickly and for higher in Greece.

For those looking to retire, what are the major advantages of living in Spain in your opinion?

Quality of life and the standard of living are very high. People get more for their money than they get in the rest of Europe.

Why is now a good time to invest in Spain?

Currently, banks are offering lower-cost financing. Now is a good time to take mortgages in Spain; in the past, banks were not willing to offer mortgages or much finance to foreigners, however, this has changed now.

The property market is getting better now because the overall economy is getting better. In general, Spain is a lagging market. It started to recover in 2011-2012, meanwhile the more developed countries started to recover prior to that and so they are recovered now completely and their prices are higher, in some of them at least, than prior to the 2008-crisis, meaning that opportunities in their property market are now less and limited, unlike those in Spain.

The people now are more confident in Spain, the real estate markets prices are still far off from the pre-crisis level. There is decent upside room before worrying about a bubble. Spain offers a lot: There are many nice cities, good weather and the Golden Visa Law.

There is a lot of uncertainty, however, and volatility in the market; but the trend is going up. In two or three years, I see Spain, at least, reaching the pre-crisis level. It is just a matter of time and Spain will catch up with the rest of the European countries, especially in big cities.

Compared with the rest of Europe, Spain has a much better forecast appreciation rate.

6/21/2018 12:19:48 PM
<![CDATA[CBE issues LE 16.2B in T-bills Thursday]]>
The T-bills are to be offered in two installments, with the first valued at LE 7.7 billion with a 182-day term and the second worth LE 8.5 billion with a 364-day term.

T-bills are issued every Sunday and Thursday.

For the current fiscal year, the budget deficit is estimated to record LE 370 billion, planned by the ministry to be financed through treasury bills and bonds and through international and Arab loans.
6/21/2018 12:15:15 PM
<![CDATA[Rafah crossing opens for additional two months: Official]]>
A Rafah Border Crossing official said on Tuesday that the crossing will stay open until Eid Al-Adha, one of the most important religious feasts, which will start this year on August 21, according to Egyptian media reports, adding that the crossing is being prepared to open permanently.

Palestinian Ambassador in Cairo, Diab al-Louh, expressed his gratitude for President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Egyptian authorities for the decision, reiterating that the Egyptian leadership’s decision to ease the burdens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip comes within the framework of Egypt’s continuous efforts to back the Palestinian people.

Louh affirmed that the crossing still receives travelers in both directions and that Egypt still opens its doors to the injured Palestinians, treating them in Egyptian hospitals.

President Sisi directed in May to take the necessary measures to keep the Rafah Border Crossing open throughout the holy month of Ramadan that ended on June 14.

“I issued directives to take the necessary measures to keep the Rafah Border Crossing open throughout the holy month of Ramadan in a bid to relieve some of the burdens suffered by our brothers in the Gaza strip,” the Egyptian leader posted on Facebook and Twitter.

The Rafah crossing is mainly specialized for individual movements across borders, and was being prepared for the transfer of goods between the two countries.

The Egyptian government usually opens the crossing for humanitarian cases and the transfer of food and humanitarian aid to Gaza strip.

Palestinians gather at the Rafah Border Crossing as they wait to travel into Egypt after opening the passage for three days for humanitarian cases, in the southern Gaza Strip April 12, 2018 - AFP / SAID KHATIB

On May 14, Egypt dispatched humanitarian aid, food and medical supplies to Gaza while keeping the Rafah crossing open for individuals and those injured in the Israeli attacks on the strip.

The importance of Rafah Border Crossing increased after Israeli forces destroyed Yasser Arafat International Airport in 2001; which was the only airport allowing Palestinians to travel.
6/21/2018 11:58:56 AM
<![CDATA[Driven away by conflict, thousands of Ethiopians stranded without a home]]>
"They took him outside and slaughtered him," the 25 year-old mother of two told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a church shelter in the city of Bahir Dar.

With her one year-old baby son on her back, she spoke of the day last October when her husband was murdered by a mob and she and her children were chased from their home.

"They burnt our farm. A group of men beat me with sticks… I ran away into the woods to hide for three days. Then I begged on the streets to get back here."

Aschal is one of around a million Ethiopians driven from their homes by a land and ethnicity-fuelled crisis that has gripped the Horn of Africa nation for years and escalated in recent months.

Most dramatically, tensions between ethnic Somali and Oromo ethnic groups and conflict along the border separating the two regions led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands last year, most of whom have still not returned home.


The crisis sprawls across Ethiopia, a country of 100 million people hit by anti-government protests that began in 2015 over land rights before broadening into demonstrations against authoritarian rule.

It threatens the country's fragile system of "ethnic federalism", a constitutional model which offers a degree of self-determination to Ethiopia's diverse communities but which critics say encourages competition along ethnic lines.

As part of an effort to stabilise the country the ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in April appointed Abiy Ahmed, a 42 year-old from the Oromo wing of the ethnically-based coalition as prime minister.

Though the move brought stability to most parts of the country the problem of ethnically-motivated evictions and displacement remains unresolved.

Since taking office Abiy has visited most regions of Ethiopia and has repeatedly called for "unity" between its ethnic groups.

"This has been a tragedy that should never have taken place," he said of the conflict between Oromia and Somali region during an April visit to Jigjiga, capital of the Somali state.

But critics argue the government has not done enough to prevent the displacement of ethnic groups in Oromia and other parts of the country since April.


Human rights group Amnesty International said earlier this month thousands of displaced Amharas had arrived in Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara region, from Oromia since October.

Thousands more are on the verge of displacement due to violent attacks on their homes by ethnically-motivated young men, Amnesty said.

Each day brings new arrivals, according to Father Abraham, a priest and representative of Amharas displaced from Oromia.

Meanwhile, hundreds of ethnic Amharas have arrived after violent clashes in the neighbouring region of Benishangul-Gumuz where they had lived for many years.

"We have been displaced three times now," said Minale Ayalew, a 45 year-old priest and father of six who fled from Benishangul-Gumuz.

"We came back here each time, asked the regional government for help, and the government said it wouldn't happen again. But it does happen again."

At least 400,000 mostly ethnic Gedeos were displaced from southern Oromia following violence in mid-April, the National Disaster Risk Management Commission said this week.

More than 4,000 houses were reportedly burnt down or damaged, and clashes beginning on June 3 displaced a further 68,000, with an unknown number dead, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Last week, 2,500 residents were displaced from the southern city of Hawassa, according to national broadcaster Fana Broadcast. At least 10 were killed during violent ethnically-motivated protests.


Violence against minorities, as well as conflicts over regional borders, have been fairly common throughout the country since ethnic federalism was introduced in 1991.

Though the arrangement provides for ethnic self-administration, all nine of Ethiopia's semi-autonomous regions have mixed populations.

For example more than four million Amharas live outside Amhara region and the same is true for more than 1.5 million Oromo, according to the latest census carried out in 2007.

Aschal left her village in West Gojam, central Amhara, 10 years ago for the district of Bolo Didessa in Benishangul-Gumuz.

"There's not enough land is West Gojam," she explained. "We were told there was enough space for us to farm [in Benishangul-Gumuz], so we went there."

Under Ethiopia's 1994 constitution all land is state-owned and all citizens have the right to freely obtain a plot to cultivate.

Some of the more than 280,000 Amharas living in Benishangul-Gumuz had plots of land granted to them by regional authorities though most of those displaced from Bolo Didessa, such as Aschal, were tenants renting from the local Gumuz people.

According to the federal constitution all members of indigenous and non-indigenous minorities are entitled to equal protection of individual rights everywhere in Ethiopia, including of rights to land.

In practice, however, it is often more difficult for a non-indigenous group to acquire it.

In Benishangul-Gumuz, for example, there is a documented pattern of regional authorities denying farming land not only to new immigrants but also to older settlers who need land.

The region's own constitution, revised in 2002, designates five ethnic groups as "indigenous", excluding Amharas and Oromos who make up a large proportion of the local population.

"Legally or constitutionally, the ‘indigenous’ communities are owners of the region," said Zemelak Ayele, an associate professor at Addis Ababa University's Centre for Federal Studies. "Everybody else is just a guest."

Similarly, the constitutions of Oromia and Somali regions do not mention specific ethnicities other than the titular groups, the Oromo and Somali.

This can lead to local authorities turning a blind eye to the violation of the rights of minorities in the region.

"Ethnic federalism implies a hierarchy of rights," said Tom Lavers, an academic at Manchester University who has studied the land rights of Ethiopia's ethnic minorities under federalism. "By implication that would extend to land as well."


Displaced households should be safely returned to the communities from which they were evicted, and their properties restored or compensated, according to federal government policy.

The Amhara regional government has said families returning to Benishangul-Gumuz or Oromia will be provided security, and receive compensation for damaged properties.

Alternatively, displaced families can return to their original communities in Amhara.

But many of the displaced interviewed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation said they were too afraid to go back to their old homes.

Most of those who have arrived in Bahir Dar said there was not enough land in their original Amhara communities for them to return to and cultivate.

They want to be given land to settle somewhere else in the region, something which the authorities have ruled out.

Abebaw Getenet, a 30 year-old father of four displaced from Benishangul-Gumuz, said the government of Oromia had promised to resettle within the region all those Oromos displaced from Somali state last year and who were unwilling to return.

"We are asking our government for the same," he said.

Mekuanint Melkanu Gesits, an official coordinating the Amhara government's response, said his government advised those displaced from Benishangul-Gumuz to return to the region.

"It's a small minority of people that caused the problem, not the majority. Most of them are welcoming," he said. ]]>
6/21/2018 11:44:36 AM
<![CDATA[12 takfiris killed, 21 hideouts destroyed in Sinai]]>
As part of the noble battles waged by the heroes of the Armed Forces and the police, and their successive achievements in defeating the terrorists in the comprehensive operation "Sinai 2018", and to boost comprehensive security of land and coastal borders, the operations resulted in the following during the past days:

-The Air Forces targeted and destroyed two vehicles loaded with weapons and ammunition upon obtaining an intel, foiling the terrorists' attempt to penetrate the western strategic borders.

-The Air Forces targeted and destroyed 21 hideouts of terrorist elements, killing a number of takfiris.

- In North Sinai, 12 takfiris were killed; an amount of money, a number of mobile phones and a quantity of cannabis were seized in their possession.

- The elimination of 20 takfiris and the seizure of weapons and ammunition in Central and Northern Sinai.

- A total of 272 strongholds were discovered and destroyed; the strongholds contained hand grenades, wireless devices and explosive circuits designed to target the troops, as well as eight mortar shells, rations, military clothes, ammunition, and a transmission station.

- A total of 250 wanted criminals and suspects were arrested and legal actions were taken, as they were handed over to the authorities.

- Some 28 plantations of bango and poppy plant were detected and destroyed, and a large amount of narcotic substances was seized before being distributed.

As part of the efforts of Border Guards on the western strategic border,1099 infiltrators of different nationalities were arrested in an attempt to infiltrate across the western border; 5 WD vehicles, a sniper rifle, and 242500 anesthetic tablets were seized.

The statement reiterated the Armed Forces and police's persistence to uproot terrorism and achieve security and stability for the Egyptian people.
6/21/2018 11:44:24 AM
<![CDATA[First session of Arab-Chinese literature forum kicks off in Cairo]]>
The forum is held in cooperation between the Arab Writers Union, the Chinese Writers’ Association and the Egyptian Writers Union.

Writers from China, Egypt, the UAE, Sudan, Yemen, Oman, Kuwait, Palestine, Algeria and other Arab countries are participating in the forum alongside a number of public figures.

The event aims to promote cultural and intellectual relations between the Chinese and Arab intelligentsia.

The forum is expected to issue "Cairo Document" to crown the joint Egyptian-Chinese cooperation.

As well, China will ink an agreement on cultural cooperation with the Egyptian Writers Union and the Arab Writers Union.]]>
6/21/2018 11:36:15 AM
<![CDATA[Japan to halt missile attack drills after Trump-Kim summit - Kyodo]]>
U.S. President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore last week and Kim committed to “work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”, while Trump said he would end what he called “provocative” U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

Japan welcomed the summit as a first step towards the denuclearisation of North Korea, but also said the U.S.-South Korean exercises were a vital deterrent to North Korean threats.

North Korea last year launched two missiles that flew over Japan. It also conducted its sixth nuclear test.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga repeated that it was vital for North Korea to take concrete steps toward complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all its weapons of mass destruction and missiles.

Suga noted, however, that North Korea has said it would not conduct tests and Kim had promised complete denuclearisation.

"The situation is different from last year when missile launches were frequent and it is not a situation where missiles will soon come flying," he told a news conference, adding that the matter of the drills was under consideration.

Japan is eyeing a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, government sources said a week ago, and Japanese media have reported that one possibility was for Abe to visit Pyongyang, perhaps as early as August.

Promoted to commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) last month, Admiral Philip Davidson gave an assurance that the United States was committed its alliance with Japan and to securing North Korea's denuclearisation during his first official visit to Japan for two days of talks with Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera.

Japan, which hosts some 50,000 U.S. military personnel, including the biggest overseas concentration of U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy carrier strike group, relies on the Washington for its defence and operates closely with its military.

Japan's capital of Tokyo held its first evacuation drill in January and smaller Japanese towns and villages have conducted similar exercises as North Korea pushed ahead with its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

Kyodo said there were plans for evacuation drills this year in nine prefectures.

An official in Yaita, in northern Japan, told Reuters that Tochigi Prefecture, where it is located, had notified the city that the central government had decided to halt the planned drill "taking into account the international situation".

Kyodo said several other prefectures had also been notified of the imminent decision to halt the drills.]]>
6/21/2018 11:36:06 AM
<![CDATA[Egyptian trade mission to visit Ivory Coast in July]]>
“The mission will include representatives of 18 companies of electric industries, car components and metalwork,” she told MENA.

Saleh pointed out that the EEC aims to increase exports to $3 billion by the end of 2018, noting that the trade sector’s exports have grown since the end of 2017.

The exports of engineering industries went up by 7.7 percent in the first four months of this year, amounting to $797 million compared to $740 million in the same period of the past year. ]]>
6/21/2018 11:34:13 AM
<![CDATA[East Libya forces in full control at Ras Lanuf oil port - spokesman]]>
"Our armed forces fully control the Ras Lanuf district and the enemy suffered large losses in lives and equipment," Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said]]>
6/21/2018 11:32:36 AM
<![CDATA[AEC makes viability assessment of citrus farms before exporting to Vietnam]]>
In statements to MENA on Thursday, the AEC head said the council is currently assessing the farms that are viable to export their crops to ensure that they meet the safety and quality requirements of international markets.

He further noted that several Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, asked for fact sheets of the farms producing crops for export.

As for resuming Egypt's fresh citrus exports to Japan, Demerdash said that talks are underway on this matter, stressing that the council asked for adding grapes and pomegranates to the list of exports to the Japanese market. ]]>
6/21/2018 11:31:32 AM
<![CDATA[East Libyan forces say advance rapidly in bid to retake oil ports]]>
The head of Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) said he hoped operations at the major terminals of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider would resume in a "couple of days".

Oil staff were evacuated from the terminals and exports were suspended last Thursday when armed opponents of eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar attacked the ports and occupied them.

The closure has led to daily production losses of up to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd), and two oil storage tanks have been destroyed or badly damaged by fires.

For the past week, Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) has been pounding the area with daily air strikes as it mobilised to retake the ports.

LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said that by mid-morning, troops had already retaken Es Sider and were clashing with opponents as they advanced west.

LNA units also retook oil storage tanks and Ras Lanuf airstrip, residents and local sources said.

"After a couple of days we will resume, we start our operations hopefully," NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla told reporters in Vienna. ]]>
6/21/2018 11:08:46 AM
<![CDATA[Dollar hits fresh 11-month peak as rate divergence bets weigh on euro]]>
Concerns over an escalation in a U.S.-China trade conflict, underlined by comments from top central bankers on Wednesday, have also boosted the dollar as traders reckon a more serious dispute would be inflationary for the U.S. economy, forcing the Federal Reserve to tighten rates further.

“We are really seeing divergence in monetary policy in the euro zone and the U.S. for many months to come,” said Esther Reichelt, a currencies analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

“This general sentiment has not been fully priced into the market.”

The dollar index against a group of six major currencies rose 0.3 percent to 95.406, its highest since mid-July 2017.

Buoying the greenback, long-term Treasury yields also bounced back from three-week lows. Those yields were propped up by remarks from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, who said on Wednesday that the U.S. central bank should continue with a gradual pace of rate increases.

The euro fell 0.2 percent to $1.1548, close to its 11-month weak point of $1.1531 hit last week.

The dollar rose 0.2 percent to 110.6 yen, moving further ahead from a one-week low of 109.55 struck on Tuesday.

Elsewhere the pound hit a new 7-month low ahead of the Bank of England policy meeting, at which the central bank is expected to keep rates on hold.

The Swiss National Bank kept its negative interest rate on hold on Thursday, as expected, and the franc was unmoved. Norway’s central bank will also give its policy decision later on Thursday.

The New Zealand dollar retreated to a six-month low of $0.6838 after domestic data that showed slowing first quarter economic growth boosted expectations that the central bank would keep interest rates low.

The Mexican peso climbed more than 0.8 percent overnight, helped by expectations that the country’s central bank will raise interest rates on Thursday. It later gave up some of those gains.

The peso has extended a rebound from 1-1/2-year low it hit last week when it was dented by a broad dollar rally, a deadlock in talks around the NAFTA free trade deal and nervousness ahead of Mexico’s July 1 presidential election.

In contrast, Brazil’s real was flat despite the country’s central bank refraining from tightening monetary policy again on Wednesday.

The real has lost 5 percent this month and brushed its lowest level since March 2016.

The tariff feud between China and the United States has added to woes for emerging markets, already under pressure due to steadily rising U.S. interest rates.

“The decline by emerging market currencies and stocks has been a key risk-off theme over the past few weeks, only offset by positive effects U.S. tax cuts are having on the global economy,” said Makoto Noji, senior strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.]]>
6/21/2018 10:34:14 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. lawmakers want Google to reconsider links to China's Huawei]]>
In a letter to Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai, the lawmakers said Google recently decided not to renew “Project Maven,” an artificial intelligence research partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense.

“While we regret that Google did not want to continue a long and fruitful tradition of collaboration between the military and technology companies, we are even more disappointed that Google apparently is more willing to support the Chinese Communist Party than the U.S. military,” they wrote.

The letter was signed by Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, Republican Representatives Michael Conaway and Liz Cheney, and Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger.

Google spokeswoman Andrea Faville said the company looked forward to responding.

“Like many U.S. companies, we have agreements with dozens of OEMs (manufacturers) around the world, including Huawei. We do not provide special access to Google user data as part of these agreement, and our agreements include privacy and security protections for use data,” she said in an emailed statement.

The letter was the latest in a series of efforts by members of the U.S. Congress to target Huawei, and ZTE Corp (000063.SZ), another major Chinese telecommunications equipment company.

They have written bills that would bar government agencies from using the companies’ products and try to overturn President Donald Trump’s agreement to end a ban on ZTE.

Earlier this month another senator, Democrat Mark Warner, wrote to Alphabet and other technology companies asking about any data-sharing agreements with Chinese vendors.]]>
6/21/2018 10:30:26 AM
<![CDATA[China could strike back at Dow-listed firms over trade: Global Times]]>
Trump threatened on Monday to hit $200 billion of Chinese imports with 10 percent tariffs if China follows through with retaliation against his previous targeting of $50 billion in imports.

The Dow, which counts Boeing Co, Apple Inc and Nike Inc among its constituents, ended down 0.17 percent on Wednesday. The 30-stock share index has declined 0.25 percent year-to-date.

“If Trump continues to escalate trade tensions with China, we cannot rule out the possibility that China will strike back by adopting a hard-line approach targeting Dow Jones index giants,” the Global Times said in a commentary.

The world’s two biggest economies seemed increasingly headed towards open trade conflict after three rounds of high-level talks since early May failed to reach a compromise on U.S. complaints over Chinese trade practices and a $375 billion trade deficit with China.

Despite taking steps in self-defense, China will not stray from its path of deepening reform and opening up, said the tabloid, which is run by the People’s Daily.

“Beijing will further open up China’s financial markets to the world, a move that may draw funds from U.S. stock markets as global investors increasingly add Chinese stocks to their portfolios,” it said.

“Those measures may further knock down U.S. stock prices.”]]>
6/21/2018 10:22:44 AM
<![CDATA[Carlyle raises $6.55B for new Asia fund]]>
The latest fund is more than Carlyle’s initial target of $5 billion and 65 percent bigger than its previous Asia buyout fund, said the U.S.-based private equity firm with $201 billion of assets under management globally.

Reuters reported last month, citing people with knowledge of the matter, that Carlyle had raised its Asia fundraising target following a strong response from its investors and that it was looking to close the fund at $6.5 billion.

“We expect to see more and larger investment opportunities in the region driven by innovation, attractive demographics, rising consumption and corporate spin-offs,” X.D. Yang, chairman of Carlyle Asia excluding Japan, said in a statement.

Investor interest in Asia-focused private equity has grown as deals have increased in size following corporate restructuring and as global private equity funds make headway in key markets, including China, India and Japan.

Carlyle, together with more than a dozen investors including Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd [GIC.UL] and state investor Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd [TEM.UL], as well as U.S. private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC, joined Ant Financial Services Group’s latest $14 billion fundraising, the world’s largest ever.

The Asian region has become a key battleground for global financial sponsors - a total of 342 funds raised a combined $107 billion in Asia last year, according to data provider Preqin.

U.S.-based KKR & Co [KKR.N] closed a new Asia-focused buyout fund in June last year after raising $9.3 billion, a record for the region. The record could soon be broken by Chinese investment firm Hillhouse Capital Group, which has received commitments of over $10 billion in a new private equity fund, according to people familiar with the fundraising.

Carlyle is also in the process of raising a Chinese yuan fund of 4 billion ($629 million) that would target opportunities in the world’s second-largest economy, a person with direct knowledge told Reuters last month.

The Washington, D.C.-based firm’s existing portfolio firms in Asia range from a stake in Chinese internet giant Tencent’s (0700.HK) e-book unit China Literature (0772.HK) to Metropolis Healthcare, an India-based global operator of pathology laboratories.

The investments generated an 18 percent net internal rate of return in its last $3.9 billion Asia fund by the end of March, according to its first-quarter earnings report.]]>
6/21/2018 10:15:40 AM
<![CDATA[Samal Yeslyamova: Cannes darling who 'plays it like it is']]>
"When they announced my name I nearly cried: 'but what about our movie?'" Yeslyamova told AFP, saying the entire film crew deserved an award.

The 33-year-old Kazakh actress won international acclaim for her wrenching portrayal of a Central Asian single mother struggling for survival in Russia in Sergey Dvortsevoy's film "Ayka."

While an illegal migrant, the young woman from Kyrgyzstan gives birth to a baby that she abandons at the maternity hospital.

The idea for the film was based on tragic statistics from 2010 when 248 babies were abandoned by Kyrgyz mothers in Moscow's maternity wards.

Dressed in a navy suit and wearing no makeup -- just like her character -- the actress sounded almost nostalgic as she recalled her gruelling on-set experience.

Dvortsevoy, who is known for his documentary style, insisted that she must be -- and not simply look -- exhausted -- in front of the camera, the actress said, adding she would run before shoots to look haggard.

During shooting she would also get just five hours of sleep every night, she said.

"But others including the director slept even less -- just two hours a night," Yeslyamova said during an interview in Moscow at GITIS, one of Russia's most prestigious drama schools where she studied.

- 'Authenticity and pain' -

Once separated from her infant, the film's title character Ayka suffers terribly, tortured with guilt for rejecting the baby and with her feelings of attachment to the child.

"The story about a bond between mother and child touches everyone because it could happen anywhere," said Yeslyamova, who spent months observing the lives of young female immigrants in Moscow.

"We tried to play it like it is."

For the entire duration of the 100-minute-long movie the camera constantly follows her as she first abandons her child and then tries to survive in snowy, unwelcoming Moscow.

As she plucks chickens, shovels snow and tries to drain her sore breasts of milk in a grubby overcrowded apartment she is constantly hurting, tormented by guilt.

"Russian cinema has not seen such a degree of authenticity, repressed pain and energy for a long time -- maybe never," said respected news website Meduza.

Dvortsevoy said in Cannes that the script was not set in stone but was a work-in-progress, with Yeslyamova's character beginning to "live a life of her own".

The actress is a proponent of the Stanislavsky school of acting, an approach developed by 20th century Russian theatre director Konstantin Stanislavsky who stressed the importance of emotional authenticity.

"She was a special student: modest but reliable and intense," said Yevgeny Kamenkovich, a director who taught the actress at GITIS.

He said she "acted from experience because she cannot simply imitate."

Another of Yeslyamova's teachers was acclaimed Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev, director of "Leviathan" and "The Return", who sat on the jury at Cannes this year.

"GITIS taught me to be free," said Yeslyamova.

- Hero in Kazakhstan -

The actress said she flew back from Cannes to a hero's welcome in her native Kazakhstan.

"It was really amazing," she said.

"When I arrived, customs officers recognised me and smiled at me and a whole crowd of actors was waiting for me at arrivals with flowers, even though it was four in the morning," she said with a shy smile.

Yeslyamova -- whose Cannes win is unprecedented for Kazakhstan -- received keys to a new two-bedroom apartment, a reward that is usually reserved for Olympic champions.

Like Yeslyamova, director Dvortsevoy also comes from Kazakhstan.

The actress was born in a village and went to a local arts college in Petropavlovsk, a city on the Russian border.

When she was 19, she won a lead role in Dvortsevoy's first feature film "Tulpan" or Tulip, playing a mother of three children. The movie won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes in 2008.

Shooting took place in a desert where temperatures reached 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in the shade.

"I decided then that if I can get through this, I will become a real actress, " she said with a disarming smile.]]>
6/21/2018 10:02:49 AM
<![CDATA[Double whammy: U.S. pork, fruit producers brace for second wave of Chinese tariffs]]>
China implemented a 25 percent duty on most U.S. pork items on April 2, and a 15 percent tariff on a range of fruits and nuts, in response to U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum products.

Last week it included both categories in a second round of tariffs to be imposed on July 6. No other products have been listed twice.

Pork now faces cumulative import duties of 71 percent, not including value added tax, according to a formula published on the website of China’s finance ministry last week. Cumulative duties on fruit amount to 50 percent.

“The additional tariff will put us out of business,” said Zhong Zheng, founder of China-based Heartland Brothers, which sells U.S.-produced Berkshire pork to Chinese supermarkets and restaurants.

The United States shipped $489 million worth of pork to China last year, and had the biggest share of import volumes in the first quarter of 2018, at about 117,000 tonnes, according to Chinese customs.

But shipments have since ground to a near halt following the 25 percent tariffs implemented in April, said U.S. meat analyst Brett Stuart, president of Global AgriTrends.

“They’ve pretty much stopped our pork,” he said.

Total duties on U.S. pork will reach 88 percent from next month, after factoring in the 10 percent value added tax, according to one industry expert’s calculation.

That comes as margins at some of the biggest U.S. pork processors reach their lowest level in three years, dragged down by surging hog prices and mounting worries over trade with China and Mexico.

With the new duties on U.S. pork, Chinese buyers will turn to other suppliers in Europe and Brazil, said Pan Chenjun, senior analyst at Rabobank.


Compounding the pain, most in the industry were still unsure about how to calculate the new tariffs, leaving them unprepared for the impact.

“We’re trying to get confirmation of how the duties will be implemented and we have not been able to,” said Joe Schuele, spokesman at the U.S. Meat Export Federation on Wednesday.

The industry association represents firms like Tyson Foods Inc (TSN.N), JBS USA [JBS.UL] and WH Group Ltd’s (0288.HK) Smithfield Foods.

Smithfield and Tyson declined to comment. JBS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The North American Meat Institute, an industry group that represents Hormel Foods Corp (HRL.N) and others, is also still waiting to learn the size of the tariff from the American embassy in Beijing or trade officials, said a spokeswoman. Uncertainty about the size of the tariff makes it harder for meat packers to plan how much pork to process, said Bill Westman, senior vice president of international affairs for the institute. “When you’re planning your production process, you need some lead time and you need some certainty in the market to do it,” he said.

“That’s why there’s some hesitation here. Do we produce for the Chinese market when the tariffs may go up significantly July 6?”

Mark Powers, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, who handles trade issues for apples, pears and cherries from farms in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, is also seeking confirmation from the U.S. government about how the tariffs will be applied.

Chinese customers had informed him on Wednesday that the latest tariff would replace the earlier one, he added.

A Shanghai-based produce company manager, who declined to be identified, said he believed the new tariffs would not be compounded on existing tariffs, and their inclusion on the latest list was a bureaucratic “oversight”.

However, he added that “the document itself is a bit vague so we can’t rule out this possibility, if the trade situation further deteriorates”.

Imposition of both duties would cause Chinese purchases to fall sharply, he said, and air-freighted cargoes of cherries currently on their way to China would be cancelled.

China is the third-largest export market for U.S. fresh cherries, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. U.S. exporters shipped $119 million of fresh cherries to China, just under a third of total shipments worth $605 million in 2017.

Apple and pear shipments would be even harder hit when the season starts this autumn as they face more competition from other markets, said Powers.

“These tariffs amount to some serious money and it makes it difficult to compete,” he added.]]>
6/21/2018 10:02:37 AM
<![CDATA[Africa promises diverse avenues of growth, shared prosperity: Min.]]>
A young Africa
“The Africa we live in today is young and dynamic, promising diverse avenues of growth and shared prosperity. In addition, our continent is poised to harvest the dividends of years of structural and economic reforms, which have made the continent the second fastest growing region in the world. Indeed, the conditions in our continent are now ripe for a pan-African economic renaissance; this provided that we succeed in exploiting major economic growth and employment drivers such as industrialization, infrastructure development, transport and connectivity, information and communication technologies and renewable energies,” Head of the African Union Division at the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Kadah tells Egypt Today.

In this context, the AU Private Sector Forum has an important role to play in reducing the infrastructure gap through joint investment projects and the facilitation of cross-border investments. The forum also has the ability to strengthen cross-border cooperation in production, meaning that states would be able to produce products for less that the price in the global market; this would leave Africa more competitive in the face of its counterparts.

Building on this, Secretary-General of the Arab Union for Industrial Exports Development (AUIED) Abdelmoniem Mohamed Mahmoud, tells Egypt Today that “African countries need to cooperate together and have Africa-to-Africa exportation and importation to ensure that Africa is self-sufficient and then afterwards, we [African countries] can start exporting abroad. This would have short-term and long-term benefits. In the short run, it would decrease unemployment and increase revenue; and in the long term, it would support sustainable development.”

For many of those who attended the conference, as well as policymakers and key figures in the business world, the idea is that Africa is rich in raw materials and that cooperation is critical for manufacturing our own products. Heba Nassar, a professor of economics at Cairo University tells Egypt Today, “There is much to be gained from producing products at home and investing in our raw materials. This way, we [Africa] can benefit from the revenue of value added.” For Nassar, Africans have neglected Africa and allowed its resources to be taken for too little for too long. “We have neglected Africa and we have let people take its money, we need to link together and have clusters in our industries and networks to ensure that we utilise raw materials to the best of our ability. This will allow us to gain a lot economically, and develop in a sustainable way,” she adds.

Kadah, an expert in African affairs, agrees that industrialization is an important takeaway from this forum, suggesting that heavy investment in industrialization is the way to go. “The classic economic development model based on resources-extraction should come to an end. Instead, Africa’s new economic development strategy should be based on industrialization, especially in competitive advantage sectors such as food processing, textiles, building materials, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals and renewable energy. No doubt, industrial investment in value-added and assembly-line activities hold huge potential for employment, economic development and prosperity,” Kadah explains.

It is time, according to the recommendations of the forum, to start producing and capitalizing on expertise. There is a need for African countries to cooperate more with each other to increase business and competitiveness on a global level, says Al-Gabaly.

Still, Head of Africa Unit at the Investment Promotion Sector the General Authority for Investment & Free Zones (GAFI) Mahmoud Abdel Rehem explains to Egypt Today that although production is important for the development of Africa, the law banning the export of raw materials to other countries or to countries outside the African continent, which exists in two countries and was widely supported during the forum, would not be practical. He adds that the revenue generated from such sales is essential to many countries, and so many countries would be able to abide by the ban. “It would be difficult for African states, as they are not ready to produce everything and some countries rely on the sale of their raw materials. Côte d’Ivoire, for example, will not stop selling cocoa to France, as they heavily rely on it. However, a small part can be set to the national production, meaning that instead of exporting 100 percent of raw material, we can export less and use the rest to produce products at home. This is good, as it will also increase the sectors and employment opportunities,” suggests the Head of Africa Unit.

For Abdel Rehem, the development of the African Union would be better supported if there were a publication, both in print and online, to ensure that different countries are able to benefit from their varied expertise and capitalize on lessons learned. “This should be a magazine, maybe quarterly, and should be published for the rest of the world,” he says.

Asked about the possibility of relying solely on raw material from Egypt, Nermin Helmy, the cluster development adviser at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, says that “In handicrafts for example, raw materials are not plentiful and are not so available; there is a problem now. The devaluation of the Egyptian pound has led to a rise in all the prices and people stopped buying certain high-quality materials because of this. This means that even those who bought it would produce things at a more expensive rate; this decreased our competitiveness on the global market. Designers and producers started to rely on the local raw material, which is problematic.” She adds that it is not always possible to rely on local raw material for best quality, but it may be best to ensure low pricing.

To ensure sustainable development and competitive production cycles, Helmy suggests the importance of both organic and made clusters. “There are two kinds of clusters: organic clusters, which are usually in underdeveloped areas and ensure good access to services—for example they can buy a lot of raw material to be cheaper and divide it together, and the second is created clusters. This is something that we work on to exchange knowledge and talent, as well as to produce a cycle of collaboration whereby producers and designers can become better and developed. This creates sustainable development and can be applied to the rest of Africa, both within countries and between countries. Instead of each person or organisation working on their own, they can all work together and be able to do more and develop more.”

The Commissioner concludes saying “This forum presents an opportunity to private sector actors and policy makers to promote ‘Made in Africa’ and forge sustainable partnerships with a view to enhance trade and investment to realize sustainable and inclusive growth of our continent. Made in Africa goods will largely contribute to boosting Africa’s manufacturing sector, as well as creating more jobs.”

10th African Union (AU) Private Sector Forum

The 10th African Union (AU) Private Sector Forum, held in Cairo from May 9-11, sent a key message to the private and public sector players: Deepening regional and continental integration is key to realizing the aspirations of the African Union for a prosperous, globally competitive Africa.

With the theme ‘Made in Africa: Towards realizing Africa's Structural Transformation for the achievement of Agenda 2063,’ the forum was attended by some 200 delegates from numerous African countries. The different discussions focused on the best ways to reduce poverty through investment and job creation, developed policies for recommendations and deliberated the important role that the private sector will play in Africa’s transformation during upcoming years as well as its ability to achieve sustainable development.

“The forum is a key instrument of interface and partnership between the African Union policy makers and the private sector,” African Union’s Commissioner of Economic Affairs Victor Harrison tells Egypt Today. Through the discussion of ideas, advocacy, sharing market information and skills, capitalizing on expertise and connecting businesses to policymakers, the forum acts as a vehicle to empower the African private sector, he elaborates.

During the forum, plenary sessions, start-up pitching sessions and business sharing sessions were held, allowing entrepreneurs to demonstrate their technologies and explore possible partners within Africa. “The important role of the private sector in growth, development, and in poverty reduction no longer needs to be proved,” says Harrison. A strong link has been consistently argued for through a multitude of academic and on-the-ground research, all of which suggest that the development of the private sector, job creation, economic growth and poverty reduction, all key objectives of the African Union, are connected and intertwined.

6/21/2018 10:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[England boss Southgate sees funny side after dislocating shoulder]]>
Southgate had his arm in a sling as he addressed his players at their nightly team briefing at their World Cup base in Repino alongside the Baltic coast.

"I might not be celebrating any goals as athletically in future!" Southgate told the Football Association website.

"The doc has made it clear that punching the air is not an option."

Southgate, whose team beat Tunisia 2-1 with a last-gasp Harry Kane goal on Monday and face Panama on Sunday in Group G, was treated at a nearby hospital under the supervision of the England team doctor Rob Chakraverty.

"We have a great support team and they were there very quickly," he said.

"They were supposed to be relaxing because we let the players have a bit of time off and I am causing them work."

While uncomfortable, Southgate was prepared to take it on the chin, saying it was better he was injured rather than any of his players.

"It is better this is me than one of the players," he said. "They were a bit surprised in the team meeting and were asking 'what have you been doing!?' -- as always, they were probably quite amused.

"I am just a bit gutted because I was on for my record 10k time!"
6/21/2018 9:57:11 AM
<![CDATA[Clooneys open wallets as celebrities attack family separations]]>
Clooney and his lawyer wife Amal said that they were donating $100,000 to the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights, an organization based at the University of Chicago that provides legal counsel to unaccompanied children.

The Clooneys, whose foundation has funded eight schools in Lebanon for Syrian refugee children, said that while they could not change President Donald Trump's policy, "we can help defend the victims of it."

"At some point in the future, our children will ask us: is it true, did our country really take babies from their parents and put them in detention centers? And when we answer yes, they'll ask us what we did about it," the Clooneys said in a statement.

Pop singer Legend and his model wife Chrissy Teigen earlier said that they were donating $288,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union to support separated migrant children.

Springsteen, whose intimate show at the 960-seat Walter Kerr Theatre has become one of the most sought-after tickets on Broadway, has played the same set list for 146 concerts -- until Tuesday.

The rock legend unexpectedly gave a speech from the stage before he sang "The Ghost of Tom Joad," the title song from his 1995 album based on John Steinbeck's classic novel "The Grapes of Wrath" about impoverished farmers from Oklahoma fleeing to California.

"We are seeing things right now on our American borders that are so shockingly and disgracefully inhumane and un-American that it is simply enraging," Springsteen said.

"And we have heard people in high position in the American government blaspheme in the name of God and country that it is a moral thing to assault the children amongst us. May God save our souls," he said.

He was likely referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an immigration hardliner who quoted a biblical verse on obeying the laws of the government to justify the separations.

More than 2,300 children have been taken away from their parents as a result of the Trump administration's policy to deter undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers.

But Trump said Wednesday that he wanted to keep families together and would sign an executive order in parallel with legislation passed by Congress.]]>
6/21/2018 9:56:46 AM
<![CDATA[The dream goes on for Iran despite Spain defeat]]>
Queiroz said his players deserved huge credit for their battling performance after going down 1-0 to a freak Diego Costa goal and having a score of their own rubbed out after being reviewed by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

"We were ready to suffer and ready to compete and ready to try our chances to win the game. Football is not like this but it is fair to say we deserved a better result," said Queiroz.

"But this was our first match point, if we compare this to tennis, our second match point comes against Portugal. We’re still alive and dreaming."

Iran had relied almost entirely on their steely defence to keep them in the match for the first 54 minutes and it was only after the ball had deflected off Costa's knee and into the net that they took the game to the Spanish.

Queiroz had no complaints about the VAR decision which ruled out Saeid Ezatolahi's strike for offside, preferring instead to rue that it had not been around at the 2010 World Cup when his Portugal were beaten by a contentious Spain goal.

Iran's opening victory over Morocco means they trail the two Iberian powers by a single point in Group B with all to play for against the European champions in Saransk next Monday.

"We are not shy, we go for it, we are really determined," Queiroz added. "We know it will be tough but we don’t come here expecting easy things. We only have one thing in mind."

Iran went down narrowly to Argentina at the last World Cup with a similarly battling performance only, exhausted by their efforts, lost 3-1 to Bosnia and Herzegovina in their final group match.

For Iran to finally achieve their dream against Portugal, Queiroz thought, would be all the more remarkable given the gulf that has opened up between European countries and the rest of the football world.

"I think two years ago European football took off and they are far away from all the national teams," he said.

"The other continents are struggling. The gap is just getting bigger and bigger."

6/21/2018 9:54:58 AM
<![CDATA[Mozart manuscript fails to sell at Paris auction]]>
The manuscript -- which experts had billed as "exceptional", dating from the height of the composer's career in 1786 -- was expected to sell for half a million euros ($578,000).

But a draft of Schumann's oratorio "Scenes from Goethe's Faust" did go for 650,000 euros.

The almost complete manuscript of Schumann's masterpiece "containing several versions from the first sketches until the orchestration" was described as "an extraordinary item" by the French auction house Ader Nordmann.

The manuscripts are part of a vast sell-off by the French state of the collection amassed by the collapsed investment firm Aristophil.

It was shut down amid a scandal three years ago, taking 850 million euros ($1 billion) of its investors' money with it.

The 130,000 manuscripts and historical documents that Aristophil had its investors sink their savings into are now being disposed of in auctions over the next six years run by Ader Nordmann and three other French auction houses, Artcurial, Drouot Estimations and Aguttes.]]>
6/21/2018 9:53:41 AM
<![CDATA[Washington's 'capricious' trade actions will hurt U.S. workers, China warns]]>
Previous trade negotiations with the United States were constructive, but because the U.S. government is being unpredictable and challenging, Beijing has had to respond in a strong manner, commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a regular briefing in Beijing.

President Donald Trump threatened on Monday to hit $200 billion of Chinese imports with 10 percent tariffs if Beijing retaliates against his previous announcement to target $50 billion in imports. The United States has alleged that China is stealing U.S. intellectual property, a charge denied by Beijing.

Washington’s accusations of forced tech transfers are a distortion of reality, and China is fully prepared to respond with “quantitative” and “qualitative” tools if the U.S. releases a new list of tariffs, Gao said.

China could hit back at U.S. firms listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average if Trump keeps heightening tensions with Beijing over trade, state-controlled Chinese tabloid The Global Times said on Thursday.

The 30-stock Dow, which counts Boeing Co, Apple Inc and Nike Inc among its constituents, fell 0.17 percent on Wednesday and has declined 0.25 percent this year.

“It is deeply regrettable that the U.S. has been capricious, escalated the tensions, and provoked a trade war,” Gao said. “The U.S. is accustomed to holding ‘big sticks’ for negotiations, but this approach does not apply to China.”

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who views China as a hostile economic and military power, said on Tuesday that Trump’s actions are a necessary defense of the “crown jewels” in the U.S. economy.

None of the U.S. administration’s efforts to negotiate with Beijing has yielded progress on changing China’s “predatory” trade practices, Navarro said.

He maintained that China had more to lose from a trade war.

Financial markets are worried about an open trade conflict between the world’s two biggest economies after three rounds of high-level talks since early May failed to reach a compromise on U.S. complaints over Chinese practices and its record deficit with China.

Last year, the deficit was about $375 billion, as China imported $129.89 billion of U.S. goods, while the United States purchased $505.47 billion of Chinese products, according to U.S. data.

A Sino-U.S. trade war could disrupt global supply chains for the tech and auto industries, sectors heavily reliant on outsourced components, and derail world growth.

“U.S. unilateral protection measures will ultimately harm the interests of U.S. companies, workers and farmers,” Gao told reporters.

British forecaster Oxford Economics, in a recent note, said it “will not be easy for the U.S. to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese imports that it can levy tariffs on without hurting U.S. companies and/or consumers, given the strong involvement of U.S. companies in a large share of China’s exports to the U.S.”

Gao said that China and the U.S. are due to negotiate on issues around the manufacturing and service industries “in the near future”.


China said it will impose additional tariffs on 659 U.S. goods, with duties on 545 of them to kick in on July 6, after Trump said Washington will impose tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese products.

Beijing’s planned tariffs would add to duties it had already slapped on 128 U.S. goods, such as pork, fruits and nuts, in reaction to Trump’s earlier move to impose taxes on Chinese steel and aluminum.

The U.S. goods affected on July 6 also include pork and fruit, as well as soybeans, autos and a wide array of marine products.

A trade war would hit U.S. farmers, a vast majority of whom supported Trump in the 2016 election.

“Jobs for the Chinese are just as precious as those for the Americans,” Zha Daojiong, professor of international political economy at the School of International Studies at Peking University, told Reuters in an email.

“It will be wise for the two sides to come back to the negotiation table, abide by a temporary agreement and turn down the rhetoric.”

Beijing has yet to announce an activation date for its tariffs on the remaining 114 U.S. products, which include crude oil, coal and a range of refined fuel products.

“We cannot be soft with Trump. He is using his ‘irrationality’ as a tactic and he is trying to confuse us,” said Chen Fengying, an economics expert at state-backed China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

“But if we could accomplish some of the things that he wants us to do - such as IP, market reforms, he’d be helping us. Of course there are risks, those would depend on how we handle those reforms.”]]>
6/21/2018 9:53:03 AM
<![CDATA[Suarez marks 100th cap with goal to send Uruguay through to last 16]]>
Suarez tapped in midway through the first half after keeper Mohammed Al-Owais failed to grab the ball on a corner. The goal put Uruguay second in Group A with a maximum six points behind hosts Russia.

Saudi Arabia, who have not won a World Cup game since their debut in 1994, have zero points, just like Egypt, who lost 3-1 to Russia on Tuesday.

Depending on the result of their last group game against Russia, Uruguay will take on either Spain, Portugal or Iran, who are still on course in Group B for a place in the quarter-finals.

Suarez's goal was by no means pretty, but it did the trick.

"All we wanted to do was to win and qualify for the next round. Today was another demonstration that it is so difficult to win a game in a World Cup," said man-of-the-match Suarez.

"This World Cup is proving that what matters most is the result, and we’re very proud to have reached the last 16 for the third time in a row."

At least Suarez, who missed three sitters in Uruguay's 1-0 opening win against Egypt, was his vintage efficient self with his 52nd international goal although he will not have dismissed fears he was not 100 percent fit.

Saudi Arabia, who suffered a minor scare when an engine on their plane caught fire before landing on Rostov-on-Don on Monday, instead have not found the back of the net in their last four World Cup outings.

After a 5-0 drubbing by Russia in the tournament's opening game, they were more playful but ultimately comparatively toothless at the Rostov Arena before 42,678 fans.

With temperatures reaching 33 degrees Celsius, two-time world champions Uruguay and Saudi Arabia got off to a cautious start.

Uruguay's Edinson Cavani wasted numerous chances, including one in the 14th minute when he skied a half volley over the bar.

The Russian fans were the loudest, chanting "Russia, Russia" as the rest of the arena appeared to doze off.

The stadium burst into life in the 23rd minute however, when an unmarked Suarez coolly tapped into an empty net from a corner kick after keeper Al-Owais came out but misjudged his jump and couldn't reach the ball.

Suarez has now scored in three consecutive World Cups.

The Saudis continued to move the ball around but barely threatened the typically gritty Uruguay defence.

They suffered a setback shortly before the interval as veteran Taisir Al-Jassim was replaced by Housain Al-Mogahwi with an apparent thigh injury.

The second half was even scrappier, with Saudi Arabia too limited to run riot as Uruguay were happy with a narrow advantage.

They did come close to doubling the tally in the closing stages, however, when Lucas Torreira's wild shot took a deflection off of Cavani and almost beat Al-Owais.
6/21/2018 9:52:05 AM
<![CDATA[Global shares edge up, China pulls Asia down, oil subdued pre: OPEC]]>
Oil prices eased a touch as nerves grew ahead of Friday’s meeting between OPEC and other big producers, including Russia, with growing expectations that the Vienna talks could result in an agreement to increase crude supplies. [O/R]

European shares are expected to rise, with spread-betters calling a higher opening of 0.4 percent in Britain's FTSE .FTSE and France's CAC 40 .FCHI and 0.3 percent in Germany's DAX .GDAXI.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 added 0.6 percent while futures for the S&P 500 ESc1 rose 0.3 percent as investors waited for new developments on global trade.

Australia’s main index had another strong day, rising 1 percent on fund manager demand before the end of the local financial year next week.

Asian shares, however, struggled to keep early gains on concerns about the trade war.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS had gained as much as 0.5 percent before falls led by Chinese shares pushed it down 0.4 percent.

The CSI300 index of Shanghai and Shenzen shares dropped 0.4 percent .CSI300.

Still, the mere absence of new threats from President Donald Trump on tariffs was enough to stem recent selling in many markets, with investors clinging to the hope that all the bluster was a ploy which would stop short of an outright trade war.

“Many participants see the Trump Administration’s hard line as part of the negotiating strategy,” said Richard Grace, chief currency strategist at CBA.

Markets had also been encouraged by the People’s Bank of China’s move to set firm fixings for its yuan, along with the addition of extra liquidity.

There was also much speculation the central bank would cut bank reserve requirements, thus boosting lending power in the economy.

On Wall Street, resilience in tech stocks helped the Nasdaq to an all-time high, though the moves were modest. While the Dow Jones .DJI fell 0.17 percent, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.17 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 0.72 percent.

Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O) climbed 7.5 percent after Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) sweetened its offer for some of the company’s assets to $71.3 billion, looking to topple Comcast Corp’s (CMCSA.O) bid.


Receding risk aversion softened safe-havens such as the yen, with the dollar adding 0.31 percent to 110.71 yen JPY=.

The dollar .DXY also firmed 0.3 percent against a basket of currencies to 95.323, hitting an 11-month top. The euro EUR= was down slightly at $1.1552.

Sterling GBP=D4 hit seven-month lows at $1.3140 having made only a fleeting bounce after Prime Minister Theresa May won another crucial Brexit vote in parliament.

The Bank of England holds a policy meeting later in the session but not a single analyst polled by Reuters expects a rate hike, and some are getting cold feet about a rise in August given recent soft economic data.

While the European Central Bank has signaled an end to bond buying it also pledged to keep rates low past next summer, while the Bank of Japan shows no sign of winding back its stimulus.

“It feels like the yellow warning lights are flashing for the global economic system,” noted analysts at Citi. “However, with the ECB and BoJ still pumping in liquidity and keeping rates lower for longer, the chances of a systemic event are low.”

Ahead of Friday’s meeting of oil producers in Vienna, Saudi Arabia is trying to convince fellow OPEC members of the need to raise oil output, according to sources familiar with the talks. Iran on Thursday signaled it could be won over to a small rise in output, potentially paving the way for a deal.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were down 43 cents at $74.31 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 was down 23 cents at $65.48.]]>
6/21/2018 9:48:20 AM
<![CDATA[Denmark more of a team than France, says Australia coach]]>
Van Marwijk's side lost to the French in their opening game, putting up a brave fight before ultimately falling to a 2-1 defeat that left them needing to avoid a second reverse if they are to maintain realistic hopes of staying in the tournament.

The Dutch coach, who was appointed in January only months after guiding Saudi Arabia through qualification for Russia, said Australia should expect to face a physical challenge when they take on the statuesque Danes.

And while they will not play against the same calibre of individual talent as they did against France, Denmark will be a more of a unit.

"The Danish they are a strong team, they are number 12 in the world rankings and that says enough," Van Marwijk told reporters on Wednesday.

"They are a physically strong team, very tall players, that's their weapon and we played against France and they have more quality and creativity in their players, but I think the Danish are maybe more a team."

If Australia are to beat Denmark, they will have to find a way of breaching a defence that has kept five successive clean sheets and last conceded a goal 534 minutes ago.

There have been calls from Australian fans and pundits for Van Marwijk to introduce 38-year-old record scorer Tim Cahill, who was left on the bench for their defeat to France.

Daniel Arzani, the youngest player at the World Cup at 19, is also pushing to be included in the starting lineup after making a late cameo appearance off the bench in Australia's opener.

Van Marwijk, however, was giving little away in a guarded news conference where he often gave brief responses to questions.

"I will not talk about changes or not changes, we analysed the game very well," he said.

"Denmark will be a very difficult team to play against, but we get more confident every day in the way we want to play and I think that is very important.

"Now we only have to look at the details, first we have to do exactly the same as we did in France, with all the discipline, and now we have to find in detail things where the Danish can have problems."]]>
6/21/2018 8:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Russia's Fernandes praises Salah ]]>
“Mohamed Salah is a great player but we managed to stop him,” the Russian defender said after the game.

Russia opened the score after four minutes from the second half start through an own goal by Egypt's right back, Ahmed Fathy.
Denis Cheryshev doubled the score for the hosts 10 minutes later and Artem Dzyuba made the score 3-0.
Mohamed Salah, who missed the opening game against Uruguay as he failed to recover from his shoulder injury, scored Egypt’s only goal in the game 15 minutes before the final whistle through a penalty.
Russia became the first nation to reach the second round from two straight victories over Saudi Arabia and Egypt, respectively.

“Every game is important. We are going to play against Uruguay; we know that they are a great team and we are going to give our 100 per cent, like all the games,” Hernandes added.

Russia leads the group with six points while Egypt stays with 0 points at the bottom. ]]>
6/21/2018 6:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Salah should not have played from the start, Shehata ]]>
“Cuper should have kept Salah beside him on the bench and used him at the last 30 minutes of the game to exploit Russia’s rush to attack and win,” Shehata told DMC sports after the game.

Salah, who missed the opening game against Uruguay as he failed to recover from his shoulder injury, started the game against Russia.

The winger failed to shine and lead the national team to achieve their first victory in the tournament as Egypt lost 3-1 to the hosts, with Salah scoring Egypt’s only goal from a penalty.

Shehata added “Salah is not fit and his training over the past period was like a recuperation.”

The loss to Russia left Egyptian fans disappointed as they were hoping to achieve their first victory ever in the history of the tournament and take a step towards reaching the second round.

Egypt will play their last game of the group stage on Monday against their Arab rivals, Saudi Arabia. ]]>
6/21/2018 5:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Gov't sets eliminating terror, supporting poor as priorities: Spokesperson]]>CAIRO – 20 June 2018: Cabinet's spokesperson Ambassador Ashraf Sultan said today that the government sets a number of top priorities within its strategy, including the elimination of terrorism, improving the standards of living and supporting the poor.

During a phone interview with ON Live satellite channel Sultan affirmed that the government will be more involved in the process of balancing market prices through more efficient security and inspection campaigns.

Sultan stressed deterring procedures against anyone who would manipulate prices or practice monopoly.

The ambassador also clarified that the government will go on with the economy development program by achieving a higher economic growth, reducing floatation, eliminating unemployment, and boosting industrial and agricultural development.

“A detailed work plan will be presented to the Parliament,” Sultan added. “Results of the policies and decisions that were made and will be made will have their reflect on the improvement of level standards, and a number of essential fields that include health, education, development of the administrational system and completion of national projects.”

It is pertinent to mention that on Jun. 18, Housing Minister Moustafa Madbouly stressed that the government will strictly apply the law against violations of transportation fares or unjustified rise in the prices of butane gas cylinders sold at the various outlets with fixed price lists that have been officially announced by the government.

The prime minister underlined that he gave directives to the ministers, governors and bodies concerned to intensify traffic and supply campaigns to make sure that petroleum products are available especially the butane gas cylinders.

The law obliges drivers to abide by new transportation fares, the statement read.

The Cabinet's Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) and the allocated hotlines received citizens' complaints on Saturday and Sunday June 16, 17 pertaining to the violations of some drivers and gas cylinders' warehouse owners in a number of governorates, it added.

Madboli reiterated that he follows up closely handling these complaints.

For his part, the cabinet's spokesman Sultan said that the complaints can be received at Http://www.shakwa.eg website and the cabinet's hotline (16528).

6/20/2018 10:52:25 PM
<![CDATA[9 Egyptian start-ups to present investment ideas in London ]]>
The nine start-ups are: Chefaa, an online platform and a mobile application to order and deliver prescribed medication to patients; Weelo, a platform and mobile application for ordering and delivering groceries; Mosawer, a platform for photography professionals around the MENA region; 7aweshly, a micro-saving application targeting those without access to bank accounts; and Argineering, the 1st worldwide platform for artists to create interactive environments with no need for a programing background or a single line of code.

The start-ups also included Recommendator, the first video-on-demand (VOD) streaming service; Couterique, an e-commerce platform selling high end international designer products; Elkrem, a platform that makes the development of Blockchain connected Internet of Things (IOT) products; and Pushbots, a customer engagement platform that can be integrated in mobile apps within a few minutes with a few lines of code.

London Tech Week is a free celebration of technology in Europe, bringing together 55,000 tech professionals, from early-stage start-ups to some of the biggest names in tech, including Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia.

The embassy said in a press release that it was an unparalleled opportunity for the Egyptian start-ups to pitch their vision to international investors and connect to a global market of potential customers and partners.

In November 2017, UK-funded Start Egypt Program was launched by the British Embassy in Cairo, in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Flat6Labs.

The program, which offered the start-ups an opportunity to participate in TECH Week, provides a £ 2 million (around LE 47 million) grant to inspire and support thousands of Egyptian entrepreneurs through a number of entrepreneurial development opportunities, awareness activities and a unique incubation program.

The UK Ambassador to Egypt John Casson said on June 14 that nine Egyptian startups will attend the London Tech Week.

"We’re helping nine Egyptian startups attend @LDNTechWeek #London - the biggest tech & innovation event - thanks to @StartEgypt @Flat6LabsCairo & @StartupGrind," Casson stated on his official Twitter account.

The ambassador added that they aim to connect these inspiring Egyptians with international investors and open doors to new markets.

6/20/2018 6:27:03 PM
<![CDATA[Court accepts Garrana’s grievance against travel ban decision]]>
The former minister faces charges of profiteering and illegally selling state-owned lands in the resorts of Hurghada.

In 2013, Garana was acquitted of all corruption charges. However, the prosecution appealed against the court ruling in 2015, and the Cassation Court ordered Garana's re-trial.

Earlier on June 8, the defense for the former speaker of the Shura Council, Safwat el-Sherif said el-Sherif, gave up four pieces of land in Fayed City in Ismailia governorate, worth LE 44 million ($2.5 million), seeking reconciliation with the government, a high official source told Egypt Today.

According to a memorandum submitted by Sherif’s defense to the Criminal Court, the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General obtained LE 179 million from Sherif out of LE 304 million, obligating him to pay only LE 124 million at the moment.

The defense previously submitted official papers proving that all the procedures taken in dealing with the properties of Sherif and his family members are legally accurate.

The court canceled in 2017 the decision to jail Sherif for five years, adding a fine of LE 2 million. The court also decided to restart the trial again in another court.

The Reconciliation Law amendment of Article 18B of the Criminal Procedure Law, issued in October 2015, stipulates that it is permissible to reconcile with defendants accused of criminal offenses and misdemeanors punishable by law after payment of a fine; the government would receive smuggled money in exchange for dropping the charges the defendants face.

New amendments to the Illicit Gains Authority Law, passed during 2015, gave defendants listed in the assets-freeze an opportunity to reconcile with the state. It was mentioned that in return for reconciliation with the state, all charges against them would be dropped.

The new amendments presented a good opportunity for several Mubarak-era figures and businessmen; however, not all of them succeeded to meet the criteria set by the state.

In June 2017, former Trade Minister Rashid Mohamed Rashid, whose assets were frozen upon investigations, returned to Egypt from Italy after reconciling with the government.
In March 2017, Rashid’s lawyer, Ashraf Abul Kheir, said in statements to Egypt Today that the Egyptian authorities had lifted the freeze on the assets of his client and his family – both inside and outside Egypt – and his name was removed from the travel ban list.

Abul Kheir confirmed that Rashid will be able to return to Egypt any time and can travel freely.

All criminal charges against Rashid were dropped following a reconciliation deal with the government that was approved in November. The deal required Rashid to pay nearly LE 500 million ($28 million) to the government.

Also, in July 2017, Spanish-Egyptian businessman, Hussein Salem, arrived in Cairo from Spain after reaching a reconciliation agreement with the government. He was accused of profiting from his relationship with ousted President Mubarak and exporting gas to Israel for less than the global price in order to achieve personal benefits.
The Egyptian authorities had announced reconciliation with Salem under the condition that he gives up 75 percent of his properties, which are worth more than LE 5.8 billion.

According to data released by the IGA, 37 out of 93 requests for reconciliation deals from businessmen, investors, Mubarak regime figures, and former public servants have ended in settlements since the legal amendments to regulate cases involving the misuse of public funds or illicit gains were introduced in 2015, according to Al Ahram Weekly.

According to the IGA, the state has reclaimed LE 5.677 billion in settlements other than that of Salem.

Many politicians and human rights advocates criticized the Reconciliation Law, asserting that reconciliation with these figures undermines the rule of law. They wondered how people who embezzle public funds can simply get away with their crimes through paying money.
6/20/2018 6:12:57 PM
<![CDATA[Policeman sentenced to 5 years in prison over harassing housewife]]>
The policeman, 54, deliberately touched the body of the suspect, a 37-year old housewife, inside a police truck, according to the lawsuit, as the housewife was sent for interrogation by the General Prosecution.

Investigations revealed that the policeman committed the sexual crimes mentioned above while the victim was present in a cabinet inside the truck. The forensic report has proved the man guilty after semen was spotted on her clothes.

In August 2014, policeman, Khaled Abdel Rahman, sexually assaulted a 16- year old mentally disabled girl, Shaymaa, inside Giza’s Embaba police station. The surveillance cameras inside the police station have shown Abdel Rahman accompanying the victim to a corner that is out of the cameras coverage.

Female prisoners said they saw the assault through the prison cell window. Subsequently, late General Prosecutor Hisham Barakat ordered the referral of Abdel Rahman to the Criminal Court after the General Prosecution’s investigation revealed enough evidence against the offender.

The Giza Criminal Court sentenced the defendant in May 2015, to life in prison over sexually assaulting Shaymaa.

Sexual assault is commonly defined in Egypt as deliberately touching another person’s body of the opposite sex in a sexual manner against that person’s will.

The Egyptian law regards rape and sexual assault carried out by force or under threat as felony, while it considers sexual assault without using force or threats as offence.
6/20/2018 5:47:47 PM
<![CDATA[Disney ups its bid for Fox to counter Comcast]]>
Disney's amended offer of $38 per share comes a week after Comcast, the largest US cable provider and owner of NBCUniversal, bid $65 billion for prized Fox assets being shed by Rupert Murdoch's family empire.

Disney announced that it signed an amended acquisition agreement with Fox with the new terms, which improves upon an original Disney bid made in December of $66.1 billion, including debt.

Shareholders who accept stock are not expected to pay taxes, Disney said. Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James are major shareholders of Fox.

"The acquisition of 21st Century Fox will bring significant financial value to the shareholders of both companies, and after six months of integration planning we're even more enthusiastic and confident in the strategic fit of the assets and the talent at Fox," said Disney chief executive Robert Iger.

Shares of Fox shot up 7.1 percent to $47.43 amid anticipation that Comcast may return with a still-higher bid.

Disney rose 1.1 percent to $107.40 and Comcast gained 1.9 percent to $33.44.

Disney said the value of the assets -- which include television production companies responsible for "The Simpsons" and "Modern Family," as well as film production businesses -- had increased compared to December due to tax reform and operating improvements.

Included in the sale is Fox's 39 percent stake in the British pay TV operator Sky. Murdoch has sought full control of Sky but has faced opposition from regulators in Britain.

The deal also would give Disney a controlling stake in Hulu, the online platform created by media groups to challenge Netflix and Amazon.

Comcast and Disney each own a 30 percent stake in Hulu and Time Warner holds 10 percent.

Iger said the transaction would boost Disney's ability "to create more appealing high-quality content, expand our direct-to-consumer offerings and international presence, and deliver more personalized and compelling entertainment experiences to meet growing consumer demand around the world."

The deal became possible when Murdoch, 87, and his sons decided to slim down the media empire, leaving them with a "New Fox" that includes the Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network and sports cable operations.

Analysts have been gearing up for more media consolidation following last week's approval by a US judge of a massive $85 billion takeover by telecom-broadband giant AT&T of media-entertainment conglomerate Time Warner.]]>
6/20/2018 5:10:08 PM
<![CDATA[Cuper cancels national team training in Grozny]]>
The national team returned to Grozny from Saint Petersburg on Wednesday after losing 3-1 to Russia at their second game of the group stage.

Russia opened the score after four minutes from the second half start through an own goal by Egypt right back, Ahmed Fathy.

Denis Cheryshev doubled the score for the hosts 10 minutes later and Artem Dzyuba made the score 3-0.

Mohamed Salah, who missed the opening game against Uruguay as he failed to recover from his shoulder injury, scored Egypt’s only goal in the game 15 minutes before the final whistle through a penalty.

The loss to Russia left Egyptian fans disappointed as they were hoping to achieve their first victory ever in the history of the tournament and take a step towards reaching the second round.

Egypt will play their last game of the group stage on Monday against their Arab rivals, Saudi Arabia. ]]>
6/20/2018 5:10:00 PM
<![CDATA[Four changes in Saudi Arabia's line-up against Uruguay]]>
Pizzi replaced Abdullah al-Mayouf, OmarHusawi,Yahya al-Shihri and Mohamed el Sahlawi with Mohammed al-Owais, Alial-Bulaihi, HattanBahebri and Fahadal-Muwallad.

Pizzi's starting line-up for the game consists of:

Mohammed al-Owais

Alial-Bulaihi, UsamahHusawi, Yasser al-Shahrani, Mohammed al-Barik

HattanBahebri, Abdullah Otif, Salman al-Faraj, Taisir al-Jassim, Salem al Dosari

Fahad Al-Muwallad.

“It's clear that we have other priorities, beyond winning the game;we have to show our competitive abilities,andtactics.We have to show our ability to fight,” Pizzi told press ahead of the game.

Saudi Arabia suffered a devastating 5-0 loss at the opening game of the World Cup againstthe host nation, Russia.

Saudi Arabia's fans are waiting for a response from their national team to keep their chances to reach the second round.

Saudi Arabia stays at the bottom of the group with 0 points while their opponent, Uruguay,is in the second position after winning 1-0 at the first game against Egypt. ]]>
6/20/2018 4:55:16 PM
<![CDATA[Photopia to host talk with 'Yomeddine’s' director]]>
During the event, some scenes from the film, which has not screened in Egypt yet, will be displayed, followed by a discussion with Shawky and a Q&A session with audiences.
The film recently premiered at Cannes Film Festival to compete for the Palme D’Or award.

The tragic comedy “Yomeddine”(Day of Judgment) revolves around a leprosy patient who escapes from the hospital along with one of his friends in order to search for his family. “Yomeddine” is directed by Egyptian-Austrian director Abu Bakr Shawky, who became the first Egyptian to be invited to the main competition of Cannes Film Festival.

The first Egyptian movie participating in Cannes Film Festival’s main competition managed to grab the attention of all those who watched it. International media platforms were keen to put the spotlight on “Yomeddine”, writing extremely positive reviews about the movie that presents an innovative mixture of tragedy, comedy, and condensed shots of emotions and sentiments.

“A man who has recovered from leprosy goes in search of the father who abandoned him in a sentimental drama that infantilizes its lead character,” wrote Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian.

“Recalling about a thousand other titles, with the Lynch films ‘The Elephant Man’ and ‘The Straight Story’ definitely near the top of the list, this is a picaresque road movie about two mismatched characters, with rookie director A.B. Shawky offering a motley and not entirely smooth cocktail of drama and melodrama, a dash of social critique and insight, some chuckles and a few tugs at the heartstrings, mainly by virtue of its near-virtuoso score,” wrote Boyd van Hoeij in The Hollywood Reporter.

“A lovingly made, character-driven road movie that occasionally dips into sentimentality, yet has moments that honestly play on the heartstrings,” wrote Jay Weissberg in Variety. ]]>
6/20/2018 4:43:40 PM
<![CDATA[Music fans mark 70 years since first LP as vinyl enjoys revival]]>
Released in the United States in 1948, Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E minor, performed by violinist Nathan Milstein with the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, was the very first vinyl LP, or long playing record.

The 12 inch 33 1/3 rpm format allowed longer pieces to be recorded, changing the way listeners enjoyed their music.

“The fact that the long playing record came into existence was a huge step for music sound recording and for the listener,” Linehan, curator of popular music in the British Library sound archive, said.

“Previously you could only get 3 minutes or so onto one side of a record and now because you had a narrower groove and a slower speed, you could get up to 20 minutes, which meant you could get a whole classical piece on one side of a record ... you could get a whole package of songs together on one record.”

Thursday marks 70 years since Columbia Records introduced the LP, and British music retailer HMV and label Sony Classical recreated 500 copies of the concerto to give away to fans, with one replica donated to the British Library’s archive.

The record adds to the library’s 250,000 collection of LPs, usually commercial releases in Britain, and artifacts going back to the beginning of sound recording, such as wax cylinders, patented by Thomas Edison in 1877, the first way fans could buy music to listen to at home.

Thursday’s anniversary comes at a time when vinyl has been enjoying a revival. In Britain, while it still only accounting for 7 percent of album sales, it draws fans of all ages.

According to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), vinyl LP sales rose to 4.1 million last year from 205,292 in 2007.

“Vinyl is popular because people see it more artifact rather than utility,” Gennaro Castaldo, BPI communications director, said. “They love the whole ritual around buying it and then playing it at home and also the sound quality is much warmer, richer and people appreciate that.”

Rock remains the best selling vinyl genre and last year, the biggest seller on the format in Britain was Ed Sheeran’s “Divide” album. Older titles such as Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” were also in the top 10.

“Our record stores are stocking more vinyl than we’ve ever stocked in terms of the last 10 years,” Simon Winter, PR and events manager at HMV, said.

At the flagship HMV store on Oxford Street, in central London, music aficionados buying vinyl records said they appreciated its sound quality.

“I grew up with mum and dad listening to a lot of Meat Loaf and a lot of heavy metal and rock and roll ... and a lot of that was done on vinyl,” Steve Pound said. “That recording is just very, very unique.”]]>
6/20/2018 4:40:28 PM
<![CDATA[Video: A village where people 'love' to sit on crocodiles]]>
People in Bazoule, around 30 kilometres from the capital Ouagadougou, share their pond with more than 100 of the razor toothed creatures.

“We got used to the crocodiles when we were young, swimming in the water with them and all that,” said Pierre Kabore, just a few metres away from a crocodile feasting on chicken provided by the village.

“Now we can always approach them and sit on them and if you have the courage, you can lie on them too. There’s no problem, they are sacred crocodiles. They don’t do anything to anyone.”

According to local legend, the startling relationship with the predators dates back to at least the 15th century.

The village was in the grip of an agonising drought until the crocodiles led women to a hidden pond where the population could slake their thirst.

“The villagers organised a party to celebrate and thank the reptiles,” Kabore said.

A celebration known as Koom Lakre is still held every year during which villagers make sacrifices and ask the animals to grant their wishes of health, prosperity and a good harvest.

Far from being considered a threat, the crocodiles are deemed to have a mystical connection with Bazoule.

“Crocodiles are represented as the soul of our ancestors and if one of them dies, they are buried and even given a funeral as if they were human,” said Kabore.

“When a misfortune is about to happen in the village, they cry out. Elders are charged with interpreting the cries, and then make wishes to ward off bad luck.”

The unusual contact between man and croc has drawn disbelieving tourists to the village to see for themselves.

On their arrival, travellers can buy a chicken which is hung on a stick by a guide and used to entice the crocodiles out of the pond so that visitors can pose with the creatures.

“It was nice to watch from a distance but sitting on one was a bit freaky,” said Thomas Baspin, a young Frenchman who came to visit his grandparents in Burkina Faso.

“I’m glad I did it but I’m also glad it’s over!” he quipped.

Tourism has become a big money-spinner for the impoverished villagers, but a three-year-old extremist insurgency in Burkina Faso is taking its toll.

Ouagadougou has come under attack three times, most recently in March, when extremists attacked the military headquarters and French embassy.

“We could have more than 10,000 visitors per year but at the moment, there’s no more than 4,000 or 5,000,” said Raphael Kabore, one of the guides.

Global warming is also believed to be having an impact. Rainfall levels are down each year, and the famous pond that is the crocodiles’ home is shrinking. When it disappears, will the reptiles once more guide their human friends to a new watery home?
6/20/2018 4:30:32 PM
<![CDATA[Over LE 20B in subsidy for Takaful and Karama program: Minister]]>
In a press conference at the cabinet headquarters, the minister said Takaful and Karama program covered 5.4 million families where subsidy to the program hit over LE 20 billion in four years.

The minister pointed out to loans to small projects at a cost of LE 350 million along with another program to develop 6,000 kindergartens.]]>
6/20/2018 4:25:39 PM
<![CDATA[5M employees get salary hikes in new state budget: official]]>
The allocations included a 7-percent increase in the annual bonus payments in addition to another 10-percent bonus. The salaries also surged LE 22 billion, serving some 5 million employees, he added.

Speaking at a press conference at the Cabinet’s headquarters, Kojak revealed three programs at the new state budget that aim to maintain social justice.

The first program includes developing hospitals and providing medicine for the needy, while the second one tackles delivering gas to houses at a total cost of LE 3.5 billion, he noted.

Kojak also unveiled that the third program focuses on LE 100 billion investments, of which a sum of LE 3 billion is allocated for industrial development. The funds are used for upgrading infrastructure and providing jobs and improving services to the public, he added. ]]>
6/20/2018 4:21:16 PM
<![CDATA[Sun sets from Karnak Temple’s western gate on June 21]]>
Ahmed Abdelkader, a researcher specialized in astronomical tourism, told MENA that sun rays will disappear gradually from the temple’s complex starting 6 p.m.until the Holy of Holies is darkened.

The event marks the beginning of summer solstice, an astronomical event marking the longest day and the shortest night of the year.

He remarked that ancient Egyptians considered the first day of the first summer’s month a feast and a day to fast; the priests and religious people used to refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset, and they spent the night reciting hymns and prayers.

“The phenomenon is one of the most important events that should be utilized to revive tourism and spread knowledge about the ancient Egyptian civilization,” said AbdelKader, adding that it is a proof of how ancient Egyptians were worldwide pioneers in the field of astronomy.

This astronomical phenomenon happens twice a year to mark the summer and winter solstices.

The winter solstice is an annual two-hour event, starting at 6 a.m., and it marks the first day of winter, as per the outstanding progressive knowledge of the ancient Egyptians.
Every year, attendees come to watch the sunlight as it falls perfectly perpendicular on the sanctuary of AmunRa’a at the center of the temple; the sun rays then move towards the temple’s gates to reach Hatshepsut’s ancient temple. ]]>
6/20/2018 4:14:18 PM
<![CDATA[Health, higher education ministers discuss linking public, universities’ hospitals]]>
Newly-appointed Health Minister Hala Zayed called for quick electronic linking between universities’ hospitals and public hospitals, highlighting the importance of benefiting from special and experienced professors working in universities’ hospitals.

Newly-appointed Health Minister Hala Zayed called for quick electronic linking between universities’ hospitals and public hospitals - Egypt Today/Mohamed Al-Hossari

The two ministers agreed during the meeting on including universities’ hospitals in the new health insurance law. Under this law, the government will fully cover the treatment of citizens who cannot afford it and will improve the quality of medical services in public hospitals by inspecting and supervising medical facilities.

The law is set to be implemented in the duration of 15 years to include all Egyptian governorates.

The ministers also agreed on backing health research projects, which have been presented in the National Conference for Scientific Research inaugurated by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in May under the title “Release of Egyptians’ Powers.”

Sisi affirmed during the meeting that the government is determined to achieve significant progress in the science and research fields, “We need you [scientists], and Egypt is in need of your research to overcome problems,” he stated.

Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, said that the next period will witness positive cooperation to boost the health system, affirming the importance of coordination between the two ministries in order to improve the service provided to patients.

Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, said that the next period will witness positive cooperation to boost the health system - Egypt Today/Mohamed Al-Hossari

Nationwide there are about 110 university hospitals serving patients, who are not necessarily university students, at relatively low prices and for free in some cases.

Saieed Abdel Hadi, dean of Mansoura University’s Faculty of Medicine, told the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper in February that all public and university hospitals suffer a shortage in the number of beds in their intensive care units.

MP Mohamed al-Amari, head of the Parliament’s Health Affairs Committee, said that the Parliament will summon Zayed in the next period to review her plans concerning health insurance and other issues that would help develop the health system.

Developing hospitals in Egypt’s different governorates, and looking after health care units in the countryside and providing these units with a sufficient number of doctors are among the most important issues that will be discussed during Zayed’s presence in the Parliament, MP Shadia Thabet of the Health Affairs Committee told Al-Shrouk.]]>
6/20/2018 4:03:46 PM
<![CDATA[Ronaldo earns Portugal 1-0 win as Morocco's hopes end]]>
Ronaldo's fourth goal of Russia 2018, following his hat-trick in the 3-3 draw with Spain, took the European champions to four points. Iran have three points and Spain one ahead of their meeting later on Wednesday.

Morocco, who had a real go at the Luzhniki Stadium but failed to convert their chances, are pointless having also lost 1-0 to Iran and cannot progress to the second round.

Despite their battling display, Morocco will rue the unforgivable defending that made all their subsequent good work irrelevant.

They qualified for the finals without conceding a goal in six matches yet somehow opted against marking the most dangerous attacker at the tournament in the six yard box when Joao Moutinho swung in a cross from a short corner and Ronaldo duly buried the header.

It was his 85th international goal, taking him beyond Hungarian Ferenc Puskas's European record, with only Iran's Ali Daei ahead of him on 109.

Morocco, in their first finals appearance for 20 years, regrouped well and showed some real positivity in attack with Hakim Ziyech and Nordin Amrabat seeing plenty of the ball but Portugal generally defended well to limit the danger.

Amrabat was furious at not being awarded a penalty after wrestling with Raphael Guerreiro and the entire squad erupted in outrage.

Coach Herve Renard was also ticked off for the new offence of gesticulating to demand a video assistant referee (VAR) review of the incident, which left Amrabat with rugby-style stud-rake marks on his stomach that he insisted on displaying to anyone who would look.

Morocco were the dominant side in the second half and Portugal were grateful to goalkeeper Rui Patricio for a fantastic diving low save to touch clear Younes Belhanda's sharp header, while Medhi Benatia blazed over the bar when he should have scored after an hour.

However, Portugal held out and go on to complete their first-round against Iran while Morocco face Spain, both on June 25. ]]>
6/20/2018 4:00:13 PM
<![CDATA[EU leaders to hold crisis talks on migration]]>
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called the meeting as the issue causes fresh divisions in Europe, three years after the bloc faced its biggest migration crisis since World War II.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's domestic coalition is under threat from the issue and there has also been a row over a boatload of migrants rescued from the Mediterranean who were turned away by Italy's new right-wing government.

"I am convening an informal working meeting on migration and asylum issues in Brussels on Sunday, in order to work with a group of Heads of State or Government of Member States interested in finding European solutions ahead of the upcoming #EUCO (European Council)," Juncker said on Twitter Wednesday.

Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will all attend the meeting, their governments said.

The leaders of frontline states Italy and Greece will also be involved, as well as Austria and Bulgaria, who are the incoming and outgoing holders of the EU's rotating six-month presidency, European sources told AFP.

All 28 European Union leaders are due at their full summit next Thursday to discuss plans to overhaul the bloc's asylum system, which has been under severe pressure since the migration crisis exploded in 2015.

- War of words -

The EU is considering setting up "disembarkation platforms" outside the bloc to process migrants, according to draft summit conclusions seen Tuesday by AFP.

But even as numbers crossing the Mediterranean have dropped since then, efforts to reach a consensus have been thrown into turmoil by fresh developments in Europe as countries disagree over who should host new arrivals.

Last week's row over the fate of more than 600 migrants on the Aquarius rescue boat helped thrust the migrant issue back to the top of the EU agenda.

Italy refused to let the vessel dock at its ports, sparking a war of words with Malta and prompting Macron to accuse Rome of "cynicism and irresponsibility".

Meanwhile after allowing more than one million asylum seekers into Germany since 2015, sparking a strong domestic backlash against immigration, Merkel is now fighting for her political future.

Her hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Monday gave her a two-week ultimatum to reach EU deals with Italy and Greece to allow Germany to turn back asylum seekers who previously registered in another member country.

Macron jumped to the aid of Merkel, his core European partner, saying as they met on Tuesday that he agreed that EU countries must be able to turn back at their borders all asylum seekers who previously registered in another member country, usually their Mediterranean first port of call.

US President Donald Trump -- himself facing an outcry at home over the separation of migrant children from their parents -- also laid into Merkel and falsely said that immigration was driving up crime in Germany.

The United States received more asylum requests than any other developed nation in 2017, overtaking Germany, the OECD said in a report published Wednesday.

- 'Catastrophe' -

Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Wednesday raised the spectre of a "catastrophe" similar to the events of 2015 if Europe does not agree a common response.

Kurz's comments came as he and his ministers held a special joint session in the Austrian city of Linz with their Bavarian counterparts from the German CSU party, including Seehofer.

"We can't wait until we have a catastrophe like the one in 2015," said Kurz, whose centre-right People's Party (OeVP) went into coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) after an election last year in which immigration was a central theme.

Kurz has said he intends to make migration a key theme when Austria takes up the EU's rotating presidency at the beginning of July and will meet four central European leaders in Budapest on Thursday.]]>
6/20/2018 3:52:31 PM
<![CDATA[UK PM calls US images of of migrant children 'deeply disturbing']]>
"On what we have seen in the United States, pictures of children being held in what appear to be cages are deeply disturbing... this is wrong," she told MPs.

May said she would raise the issue with Trump when the pair meet in Britain next month.

"When we disagree with the United States we tell them so," she told MPs.

"But we also have some key shared interests with the United States in the security and defence field and on other areas as well.

"And it is right that we are able to sit down and discuss those with the president."

Trump told Republican lawmakers Tuesday he backed their efforts to craft an immigration solution that ends the politically toxic practice of separating families on the US-Mexico border.

May appeared to criticise the practice, saying that when she was interior minister: "I ended the routine detention of families with children."

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's spokesman said the US policy was "immoral, a fundamental abuse of human rights."

"We're in favour of dialogue with international leaders... but the soft pedalling on these abuses of human rights -- and it's not restricted to this issue -- by the Trump administration has achieved nothing."

The prime minister has been a frequent critic and the relationship between the two appears to have soured after May became the first world leader to visit Trump's White House last February.

She spoke out against his travel ban on Muslim-majority countries, his decisions to leave the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal as well as his imposition of trade tariffs.

Relations between the pair were further strained in November after Trump re-tweeted anti-Muslim videos posted by a British far-right group.]]>
6/20/2018 3:49:16 PM
<![CDATA[EGX ends Wednesday on mixed note, market cap. loses LE 2.3B]]>
The benchmark EGX30 slipped 0.48 percent, or 77.45 points, to close at 16,143.48 points, and the broader index EGX100 declined 0.29 percent, or 6.02 points, closing at 2,037.51 points.

On the other hand, the equally weighted index EGX50 rose 1.15 percent, or 31.09 points, to reach 2,742.37 points, and the small and mid-cap index EGX70 increased 0.09 percent, or 0.74 points, to close at 801.56 points.

Market capitalization lost LE 2.28 billion, recording LE 905.71 billion, compared to LE 907.99 billion in Tuesday’s session.

The trading volume reached 207.69 million shares, traded through 23,240 transactions, with a turnover of LE 851.41 million.

Foreign investors were net sellers at LE 29.26 million, while Egyptian and Arab investors were net buyers at LE 11.92 million and LE 17.33 million, respectively.

Foreign individuals were net sellers at LE 26.64 million, while Egyptian and Arab individuals were net buyers at LE 26.13 million, and LE 1.22 million, respectively.

Egyptian and foreign organizations sold at LE 14.2 million and LE 2.6 million, respectively, while Arab organizations bought at LE 2.6 million.

North Africa Co. for Real Estate Investment, Arab Moltaka Investments Co, and Arab Co. for Asset Management and Development were top gainers of the session by 9 percent, 6.74 percent and 6.69 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, International Co for Investment & Development, Wadi Kom Ombo Land Reclamation, and Arab Cotton Ginning were top losers of the session by 9.80 percent, 6.63 percent and 4.83 percent, respectively.

The EGX ended Tuesday’s session on a mixed note, as EGX30 slipped 0.09 percent, EGX100 decreased 0.04 percent, and EGX50 declined 0.09 percent, while EGX70 went up 0.24 percent.

Sunday and Monday, June 17 and 18, were an official holiday on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr.

6/20/2018 3:25:59 PM
<![CDATA[MP demands launching investigation into Egypt’s defeat against Russia]]>
"Teams might win or lose in sports; however, undermining the Egyptian team’s preparations and training sessions is an issue that calls for launching an investigation in order to clarify the facts”, Siginy said.

He also demanded Chairman of the Committee of Youth and Sports, Farag Amer, and the members of the committee to hold a meeting for fact-finding.

"In any case, I call on the current football union as well as members of the technical staff and the administrative affairs staff of the team to resign and leave their positions for those who can shoulder the responsibility."

The Egyptian national team was beaten 3-1 by the Russian team in the second round of group A at the 2018 World Cup.

The Egyptians lost the first game of the group stage to Uruguay with a +90 goal, while Russia managed to thrash the Saudi team in the opening of the tournament with five goals with no reply.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Egypt Training - Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia - June 18, 2018 General view during training REUTERS/Henry Romero
6/20/2018 3:21:44 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt cancels smart cards, fuel subsidies end next year]]>
Molla added in a press conference that the smart card system for fuel is cancelled as it causes insolvable problems; the card will provide two prices for the same commodity, and will lead to the return of monopoly.

He added that the plan to lift fuel subsidies passed through several stages until the real value of the product was reached and that the government is working to purify gasoline 80 to reach 87 within the modernization plan.

The minister pointed out that the subsidy of petroleum products in the upcoming budget of the fiscal year 2017/2018 recorded LE 89.1 billion, adding that fixing the prices would have raised the subsidy bill to LE 135 billion.

"Adjusting the prices of petroleum products is necessary because selling the commodity at a cheap price causes the state significant losses and abuses resources", he expained.

Molla revealed that his ministry is using an "automatic" pricing system for petroleum products, which works according to the international price of oil.

The Cabinet announced on Saturday, the second day of Eid Al-Fitr, the new fuel prices to decrease its subsidy gradually.

Gasoline 95 prices went up from LE 6.6 ($ 0.37) per liter to LE 7.7, while 92 octane gasoline prices amounted to LE 6.75 instead of LE 5 per liter. Prices of gasoline 80's liter increased to LE 5.5 instead of LE 3.65, the newly-appointed government said in its first move since taking oath Thursday.

The price of diesel will be LE 5.5 a liter instead of LE 3.65, while the price of natural gas used for vehicles rose to LE 2.75 per cubic meter instead of LE 2.

Meanwhile, the government has announced raising the price of the cooking gas cylinder to LE 50 instead of LE 30 and the commercial gas cylinder's prices surged to LE 100 instead of LE 60.

Egypt embarked on a bold economic reform program that included the introduction of taxes, such as the value-added tax (VAT), and cutting energy subsidies, with the aim of trimming the budget deficit.

The country has floated its currency in November 2016 before it clinched a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF loan helped the state’s foreign reserves to rebound by receiving the first three tranches of the loan with a total value of $6.08 billion.

6/20/2018 2:58:05 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s exports to U.S. hike 105.5% in 2017]]>
The report clarified that the exports to U.S. represented 5.1% of Egypt’s exports to the world.

Exports of readymade garments came at the top of the exports list to U.S. with 51 percent, recording LE 12 billion during last year, according to the report.

CAPMAS also said that Egypt’s imports from the United States rose 81.4 percent, reaching LE 69.1 billion in 2017, compared to LE 38.1 billion in 2016.

The imports from U.S. represented 5.9 percent of Egypt’s imports from the world, the report said.

Imports of boilers, machinery, devices, mechanical tools and its parts came in the first rank with 12.9 percent of the total imports from USA, reaching LE 8.9 billion in 2017, compared to LE 5.6 billion in 2016, with an increase of 58.3 percent.

US investments in Egypt hiked 195.7 percent in 2017 to LE 79.9 million, compared to LE 27.02 million in 2016.

Head of the General Organization for Export and Import Control Ismail Gaber said earlier that Egypt’s non-petroleum exports recorded $10.7 billion during the first five months of 2018.

Gaber added that exports in May reached $2.07 billion, in which $1.58 billion went for non-oil and non-manufacturing exports and $489 million for food exports.

The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) announced in May that Egypt’s exports in the first two months of 2018 recorded $4.5 billion, compared to $4 billion in the same period of 2017.

In 2017, Egypt's non-oil exports rose 10 percent to $22.42 billion, up from $20.41 billion in 2016.

Egypt’s exports revived after the flotation of the Egyptian currency by losing about 50 percent of its value, making the Egyptian exports attractive to foreign markets.

Former Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Tarek Kabil said that Egypt’s non-petroleum exports rose 16 percent during the first four months of 2018, recording $8.64 billion, compared to $7.43 billion during the same period of 2017.

Kabil stressed that the positive indicators of the Egyptian foreign trade reflect the success of the 2020 strategy.

The 2020 strategy was launched in November 2016 by Kabil. It includes five main axes: industrial development, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) development and entrepreneurship, export development, training and technical education development, and corporate governance and development.

The strategy aims at increasing exports in the first place after strengthening the local industry.

The ministry seeks during the current period to enter new markets, expand in traditional markets and make full use of trade agreements signed with a large number of countries and economic blocs around the world to boost Egyptian exports to foreign markets.

6/20/2018 2:53:59 PM
<![CDATA[Petroleum min. signs final agreement to sell 10% of Eni stake in Zohr]]>
The agreement was signed between the petroleum minister; the Italian company, Eni; UAE-based, Mubadala Investment Company; and the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS).

Eni, through its subsidiary IEOC, currently holds a 60 percent stake, while the other partners are Rosneft with 30 percent and BP with 10 percent.

Eni discovered Egypt's giant Zohr gas field in 2015. In December 2017, the company delivered the first gas production from the field estimated at 30 trillion cubic feet, which makes it the biggest gas field in the Mediterranean.

Eni announced in May the start of the second production line of Zohr. Production of the field is scheduled to reach 1.2 billion cubic feet per day in May and 2 billion cubic feet per day by the end of 2018, amassing 2.7 billion cubic feet per day.

The minister commented on the signing, saying that the entry of new investment partners in the oil sector reflects the investment opportunities available, serves the Egyptian economy significantly by taking advantage of the vast experience of the new partners, and supports the efforts of the ministry to increase the volume of investments in the oil sector, increasing the production and reserves of petroleum wealth.

Molla added that it’s the first time for Mubadala to invest in Egypt through Zohr gas field, referring that the company showed its interest in the activities of research, exploration and development of fields.

Established in October 2002, Mubadala Investment Company is a public joint stock company and is a wholly owned investment vehicle of the government of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
6/20/2018 2:46:59 PM
<![CDATA[Investment is route for African econ. transformation: Director of Econ. Affairs, AU Commission]]>
Post-2000 Africa

Since the start of the millennium, Africa has witnessed its growth rate increasing to just over 5 percent between 2001 and 2014, up from 2 percent in the 1980s and 1990s. Increasing domestic and global demand, public investment on infrastructure, rising prices and a tighter trading partnership between Africa and China (influenced by China’s extreme interest in Africa, as many economic experts have described it), have led to Africa’s economic environment and institutions to pick up at an accelerated pace. The continent is also still posting good performance in terms of attractiveness for foreign direct investments (FDI) inflows, according to the African Union.

Still, the economy is not without its shortcomings.

The AU Private Sector Forum comes at a time of declining commodity prices, especially in oil and metal, both of which are of pivotal importance to African countries’ economies, and the sharpening of global competitiveness.

Africa’s population will overtake those of China and India combined by 2060, as it is expected to reach 2.7 billion. This presents a great opportunity for investors to capitalize on a market characterized by a growing middle class of consumers of manufactured goods, set to reach 1.1 billion in 2016, an increase from 355 million in 2010. The population of those living in poverty is set to decrease, with the portion of the population living on less that $1.25 per day expected to decline to 33.3 percent in 2016 from 2010’s 44 percent. The signing of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by African Member States has led to an increasing interest in infrastructure investment, which is both directly and indirectly correlated with faster development, and is set to create attractive economic zones within Africa. Although intra-African cross-border investments have increased over the past decade, they still only account for 19 percent of total investments to Africa, and 12 percent of Africa’s total foreign investment, compared to 33 percent in Asia, according to Amany Asfour, Chairperson of the COMESA Business Council and World President of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW).

Key Issues

“Africa needs investment. We need to work on ways to transform simple ideas to projects and to reality. Investment is the route for African economic transformation,” explains Director of Economic Affairs at the African Union Commission René N’Guettia Kouassi. On the challenges facing Africa, Kouassi explains that the biggest challenge facing Africa’s economic development is infrastructure. “We have the challenge of infrastructure; we cannot invest when there is no infrastructure. Infrastructure is one of the conditions for having investment; whether roads, telecommunications or whatever. Africa needs to have infrastructure of all kinds. We also need to have an abundance of low-cost electricity. Africa needs to be more competitive in terms of producing quality goods at a low cost to ensure that our products are attractive; this is how to increase African attractiveness.”

However, infrastructure is not the only problem facing Africa. Of the annual $93 billion that the World Banks estimates needs to be invested in Africa to close the infrastructure gap, only about half is financed, explains Asfour. Confirming this, the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostics (AICD) estimates that only about $45 billion are spent annually, leaving a gap of about $48 billion. However, not everyone seems to think that Africa has a financing problem. On the vicious cycle of needing money to make money that many claim exists in Africa, Kouassi explains, “There is money in Africa—there is a lot of money—but we need to find ways to collect funding for the causes that we want to fund. There is a need to raise the fiscal revenue in Africa and mobilize this money into bettering Africa. We need to promote good governance policy, both political and economic; if we do not have it, no foreign direct investment will come to us.”

In line with the infrastructure issue, there also seems to be a connectivity issue caused by lack of solid and sufficient infrastructure, leaving countries unable to carry out business to their full potential. In previous statements, Sherif Al-Gabaly, Head of the Federation of Egyptian Industries, said, “Egypt is the strongest industrial country in Africa.” As per Al-Gabaly, Egypt has great potential and the capacity to fulfil the import needs of African countries. However, there are two issues that stand in the way of African development; connectivity and industrial integration between countries. There needs to be a better connectivity system between African countries, as well as within the countries. Al-Gabaly gave the example of the highway being built from Egypt to South Africa, suggesting that more projects like this needs to be carried out. He added that COMESA Business Council should help ensuring the industrial integration between countries.

The bottom line remains for Harrison that Africa has a problem of poverty and underdevelopment, despite having significant natural resources and a young population; an overarching message that was discussed throughout the forum. “The continent continues to be characterized by all the features of underdevelopment, including a low level of human development, industrialisation, manufacturing and productivity as well as dependence on the primary sector. Africa’s private sector, on the other hand, is specifically characterized by small size and informality, weak linkages, low level of competitiveness and lack of innovation; however, it’s important to note that not all is groom,” says the Commissioner. It is time to invest in human capital and the population, is his key message.

The AU’s vision, “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena,” can only be realized with the full participation of all stakeholders and with people becoming key players in the equation.

10th African Union (AU) Private Sector Forum

The 10th African Union (AU) Private Sector Forum, held in Cairo from May 9-11, sent a key message to the private and public sector players: Deepening regional and continental integration is key to realizing the aspirations of the African Union for a prosperous, globally competitive Africa.

With the theme ‘Made in Africa: Towards realizing Africa's Structural Transformation for the achievement of Agenda 2063,’ the forum was attended by some 200 delegates from numerous African countries. The different discussions focused on the best ways to reduce poverty through investment and job creation, developed policies for recommendations and deliberated the important role that the private sector will play in Africa’s transformation during upcoming years as well as its ability to achieve sustainable development.

“The forum is a key instrument of interface and partnership between the African Union policy makers and the private sector,” African Union’s Commissioner of Economic Affairs Victor Harrison tells Egypt Today. Through the discussion of ideas, advocacy, sharing market information and skills, capitalizing on expertise and connecting businesses to policymakers, the forum acts as a vehicle to empower the African private sector, he elaborates.

During the forum, plenary sessions, start-up pitching sessions and business sharing sessions were held, allowing entrepreneurs to demonstrate their technologies and explore possible partners within Africa. “The important role of the private sector in growth, development, and in poverty reduction no longer needs to be proved,” says Harrison. A strong link has been consistently argued for through a multitude of academic and on-the-ground research, all of which suggest that the development of the private sector, job creation, economic growth and poverty reduction, all key objectives of the African Union, are connected and intertwined.

6/20/2018 2:38:10 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt Today's world news brief]]>
Coalition: We work with Yemeni gov't to restore stability in Hodeidah

The Spokesman for the Arab Coalition Supporting the Legitimacy in Yemen Turki al Malki said on Wednesday that work with the Yemeni government is ongoing to restore stability in Hodeidah city, adding that the coalition is moving at all fronts to put pressure on the Houthi militias so that they would accept the political settlement.

He affirmed that the coalition promised the international community to protect civilians, noting that it has humanitarian and development plans after the liberation of Hodeidah.

Colonel Turki al-Maliki Comments on Coalition Success in Yemen - Reuters

Merkel's visit to Jordan, Lebanon to boost cooperation

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Jordan and Lebanon on Wednesday June 20 for talks with leaders of both countries, she will start her tour by visiting Jordan and then will head for Lebanon.

Merkel's visit to Jordan will tackle regional issues and the latest development on the Jordanian arena along with ways to further cooperation between Germany and Jordan.

Merkel will also discuss, during her visit to Lebanon, means to boost cooperation between Germany and Lebanon with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a news conference after a Eastern Partnership summit at the European Council Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, November 24, 2017 - REUTERS/Eric Vidal

S. Sudan rebel leader arrived in Ethiopia for talks with president Kiir

South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar arrived in Ethiopia on Wednesday for a meeting with President Salva Kiir, as part of talks to try to negotiate an end to a five-year-old civil war.

South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar arrived in Ethiopia on Wednesday for a meeting with President Salva Kiir, as part of talks to try to negotiate an end to a five-year-old civil war, a rebel spokesman said.

U.S. withdraws from United Nations human rights body

The United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday accusing it of a "chronic bias against Israel," a move that activists warned would make advancing human rights globally even more difficult.

The council last month voted to probe killings in Gaza and accused Israel of using excessive force. The United States and Australia cast the only "no" votes.

"The U.N. Human Rights Council has played an important role in such countries as North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan, but all Trump seems to care about is defending Israel," said Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth.
U.S. withdraws from United Nations human rights body

N.Korea expected to begin transferring remains of U.S. troops soon

North Korea could start the process of handing over the remains of troops, including Americans, missing from the Korean War within the next few days. The officials also said that North Korea would hand over the remains to United Nations Command in South Korea, and they would then be transferred to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

The remains of some U.S. soldiers were last returned in 2007, when then-New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson visited Pyongyang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un - FILE

British PM faces Brexit showdown with pro-EU rebels

British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a showdown with her pro-EU MPs on Wednesday over parliament's role in the final Brexit deal, which could influence her entire negotiation strategy. MPs will vote on amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill setting out how much power lawmakers will have if the government fails to agree a departure deal before Brexit in March 2019.

May says she expects to get an agreement with Brussels, but warned that any attempt to tie her hands could undermine the ongoing negotiations.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves the BBC - Reuters
6/20/2018 2:10:35 PM
<![CDATA[British PM faces Brexit showdown with pro-EU rebels]]>
MPs will vote on amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill setting out how much power lawmakers will have if the government fails to agree a departure deal before Brexit in March 2019.

May says she expects to get an agreement with Brussels, but warned that any attempt to tie her hands could undermine the ongoing negotiations.

She averted a rebellion by pro-EU MPs in her Conservative Party on the issue of parliamentary powers last week with a promise of a compromise, but within days they had rejected her proposal as inadequate.

Instead they worked with peers to introduce their own amendment to the unelected upper House of Lords, which agreed it by a landslide on Monday.

The amendment now returns to MPs in the elected lower House of Commons, where Conservative rebels will ally with opposition parties in a bid to finally make it law.

May's spokesman refused to say if he believes the government has the numbers to win the vote, but made clear that no more concessions would be forthcoming.

"We cannot accept the amendment on a meaningful vote agreed in the Lords," he said, adding that it "would undermine our ability in the negotiations to get the best deal for the country".

"We will be retabling our original amendment," he said, adding: "We hope that all MPs will be able to support the government's position."

- 'Government collapse' -

Phillip Lee, the Tory MP who resigned as a minister in order to rebel against the government last week, said that the result was in the balance.

"We were always going to get the normal dark arts of Westminster taking place, fully expected, but my understanding is that the position taken by a number of colleagues is solid, which is why the government is still in negotiations," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

The vote, due on Wednesday afternoon or early evening, could have implications for Britain's wider Brexit strategy, indicating where the power lies in parliament.

May commands only a slim majority in the 650-seat Commons, made possible through an alliance with Northern Ireland's 10 Democratic Unionist Party MPs.

A victory for the pro-EU rebels would embolden them ahead of debates next month on Britain's future trading relationship with the European Union, which they are seeking to keep as close as possible.

It would likely anger eurosceptics, who accuse the rebels of seeking to thwart Brexit.

They are also becoming increasingly frustrated with the withdrawal process under May's leadership.

Leading Conservative rebel Dominic Grieve denied he was trying to undermine the government or stop Brexit, but warned that if parliament rejected the final Brexit deal, there would be a crisis.

"That's what wakes me up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat," he told Sky News television.

"The very reason I've prompted this amendment is to provide a mechanism to make sure that we don't come to government collapse immediately."

But eurosceptic Conservative MP Graham Stringer said Grieve and his supporters were only interested in "sabotaging the whole process".

- More realism -

Despite agreement on Britain's financial settlement and EU citizens' rights, the Brexit talks are progressing slowly, and there are few hopes of a breakthrough at an EU summit later this month.

Both sides are still publicly aiming for an agreement in October, but this is looking more and more difficult.

Negotiations are currently stalled on how to avoid border checks between Northern Ireland, a part of the UK, and neighbouring EU member Ireland when Britain develops its own trade and customs policies.

"Serious divergences" remain over Northern Ireland, the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Tuesday after a final round of talks between London and Brussels ahead of the European summit.

The British government has also yet to decide on what it wants from the future economic relationship.

It has been clear about one area, security cooperation -- but many of its proposals were on Tuesday knocked back by Barnier.

He said Britain could not stay in the European Arrest Warrant, take part in meetings of policing agency Europol or access EU-only police databases.]]>
6/20/2018 2:05:31 PM
<![CDATA[Mido asks for respect to Cuper ]]>
“We should be grateful for Cuper and his staff. They deserve a better treatment after their achievement with the national team,” Mido told press.

Cuper led the national team to qualify to the World Cup for the first time since 1990 but the national team suffered in their first two games of the group stage.

Egypt lost the opening game 1-0 to Uruguay and lost to the host nation, Russia, 3-1 on Tuesday night.

“Cuper took charge of a team that failed to reach three African Cup of nations tournaments in a row and he led them to the 2017 African Cup of nations final and the World Cup, we should not forget this,” Mido added.

The loss to Russia left Egyptian fans disappointed as they were hoping to achieve their first victory ever in the history of the tournament.

However, Mido believes that this feeling is good for the national team's future, saying “It is good to feel sad after the loss. This means we will do everything to reach the World Cup in 2022 and perform better.”

Egypt will play their last game in the group stage on Monday against their Arab rivals, Saudi Arabia. ]]>
6/20/2018 2:01:12 PM
<![CDATA[Russia criticizes US pullout from UN Human Rights Council]]>
It said the US had tried but failed to turn the body into an "obedient instrument for advancing their interests and punishing the countries it dislikes," and that American criticism of the body for failing to make changes advocated by Washington appeared "cynical", the ABC News network reported on Wednesday.

The Russian mission described the council as a "key international platform for cooperation in protecting human rights". ]]>
6/20/2018 1:57:07 PM
<![CDATA[Coalition: We work with Yemeni gov't to restore stability in Hodeidah]]>
Significant developments will take place at Hodeidah front after the full liberation of its airport, the spokesman said in statements to Al Arabiya channel on Wednesday.

The coalition is moving at all fronts to put pressure on the Houthi militias so that they would accept the political settlement, Malki added.

The battle of liberating Hodeidah airport left no casualties, he said, adding that Houthi militants are using civilians as human shields in violation to international laws.

He affirmed that the coalition promised the international community to protect civilians, noting that it has humanitarian and development plans after the liberation of Hodeidah.

Abdel Salam al-Shahi, a commander in the Arab coalition in the Yemeni western coast announced earlier that the Yemeni forces, backed by the coalition have fully liberated Hodeidah airport.]]>
6/20/2018 1:51:58 PM
<![CDATA[Morocco, Portugal starting line-ups revealed]]>
The Arab team hopes for achieving a victory to keep their chances to reach the second round as they lost the first game 1-0 to Iran.

On the other hand, Portugal ended their game against their neighbors, Spain, with a late 3-3 draw, after a stunning performance from their biggest star, Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored their three goals.

Morocco's starting line-up for the game consists of: Munir Mohamedi, Achraf Hakimi, Nabil Dirar, Medhi Benatia, Manuel da Costa, Hakim Ziyech, Karim el Ahmadi, Younès Belhanda, Mbark Boussoufa, Nordin Amrabat and Khalid Boutaïb.

Boutaïb is set to replace Ayoub el Kaabi who started the first game against Iran failing to leave an impact on the pitch.

Portugal's starting line-up for the game consists of: Rui Patrício, Pepe, Cedric Soares, Raphael Guerreiro, Jose Fonte, Joao Mario, Joao Moutinho, Bernardo Silva, William Carvalho, Goncalo Guedes and Ronaldo.

Iran leads the group table with three points while Spain and Portugal share the second position and Morocco stays at the bottom of the group. ]]>
6/20/2018 1:46:49 PM
<![CDATA[Nigeria sees a rush to get Nollywood online]]>
They dream of popularising access to films made in Nigeria, which is home to the world's second biggest movie industry in terms of production behind Hindi-language Bollywood.

With nearly $4 billion in revenue and almost 2,000 productions every year, films made in what is known as Nollywood are largely sold on the streets and to idling motorists caught in traffic as pirated copies for just a few dollars.

Local start-ups and Nollywood stars understand the interest in changing the distribution of films that are hugely popular across Africa, where cinemas are few and far between.

With such a huge potential market, video-on-demand platforms have sprung up in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital and home to the country's film industry.

And competition is already fierce.

- Netflix of Africa? -

Blogger Linda Ikeji -- one of Nigeria's biggest names on social networks -- recently launched Linda Ikeji TV (LITV) to great fanfare.

It offers dozens of films, series and programmes inspired by US shows but with a Nollywood twist for a monthly fee of 1,000 naira ($2.80, 2.35 euros).

"We are hoping to be to Africa what Netflix is to the world," Ikeji wrote on her Instagram page, which has some two million followers.

She promised glamour, sass and humour, particularly with reality shows such as "Football Wives" or "Highway Girls of Eko", "a show on real-life prostitutes" in Lagos.

The 37-year-old former model-turned-businesswoman made her fortune through advertising revenue on her site, which tracked the lives of Nigeria's rich and famous.

She said she had invested "half-a-billion naira" of capital in the project. As well as buying video, she is also making original content from her own studios in Lagos.

Before the end of the year, Nigerian company Envivo is expected to launch its own platform with an initial investment of more than $20 million, said filmmaker Chioma Ude, who is the firm's marketing director.

"(US telecoms giant) Cisco wants a big footprint in Africa, and as our technical partner, they will provide all the tecnology, from the network to the video compressions, etc," the founder of the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) told AFP.

- 'Prohibitive' data costs -

A viable economic model for the promoters of Nollywood online still needs to be found, given the lack of widespread high-speed internet coverage.

Only 34 percent of Africans have internet access compared with more than 50 percent in the rest of the world, according to the 2018 Global Digital report.

But Africa showed the biggest progression in internet users last year, especially through mobile telephones.

Serge Noukoue, organiser of the annual Nollywood Week in Paris, said price was everything and the African consumer wanted to pay "as little as possible" to watch a film.

"Even iROKOtv, the pioneer on the continent, doesn't really make a profit," he said.

"They have had a lot of success in fundraising but what subscribers actually bring in is less conclusive."

Jason Njoku founded iROKOtv in 2010 but said he made a mistake to count on streaming from the start. "It simply couldn't work," he explained.

"Data costs were prohibitive, as is access to reliable broadband across huge swathes of the continent. Our customer service team was inundated with queries.

"We totally rebuilt our product and rebuilt our entire company around the African consumer and their habits."

That led to an application that ate less data and which allows free mobile downloads of video files.

There is original content, while films have also been subtitled in French, Swahili and Zulu to make them more accessible to other African countries.

- Fierce competition -

Competitors have emerged elsewhere in Africa in recent years, including Kenya's BuniTV ($5-a-month) or South Africa's Magic Go ($8-a-month).

"If these online platforms don't make money yet they're a bet on the future for when connections are better," said Noukoue.

"A lot of projects have been created but there will not be room for everyone in the market in the long term. Competition will be fierce."

Giants of the sector such as Netflix, which in 2016 launched in Africa, could outshine the continent's video-on-demand pioneers in years to come.

"Netflix doesn't yet have a real Africa strategy but it's started to produce original African content. That will be a gamechanger.

"It has considerable means at its disposal that the others don't have."]]>
6/20/2018 1:37:13 PM
<![CDATA[Minister of antiquities inspects GEM, Giza Plateau project ]]>
image 2
Minister of Antiquities Khaled al Anani and Head of the Armed Forces Engineering Corps Kamel el Wazir inspected on Tuesday the Giza Plateau development project and the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM)-Ministry of Antiquities' official Facebook Page

They were accompanied by Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri, Assistant Minister of Antiquities Hesham Samir, General Supervisor of the Grand Egyptian Museum project Tarek Sayed Tawfik, and General Supervisor of the Giza Plateau development project Mohamed Ismail.

Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Waziri stated that a meeting was held with the companies and the concerned agencies after the visit to follow up the recent updates in both projects.

image 1
A meeting was held with the companies and the concerned agencies after the visit to follow up the recent updates in both projects-Ministry of Antiquities’ official Facebook Page

Waziri added that the Ministry of Antiquities and the government are keen to inaugurate the two projects on time.

In the same context, General Supervisor of the Grand Egyptian Museum project Tawfik said that the latest developments in the construction works, renovation of antiquities and the necessary preparations of the Grand Museum were inspected.

The Grand Egyptian Museum, located between modern Cairo and the Giza pyramids, will contain more than 100,000 artifacts covering 3,000 years of Egyptian history.

Described as the largest archaeological museum in the world, it covers 491,000 square meters, and is located two kilometers away from the Giza pyramids.

On October 3, 2017, the Grand Egyptian Museum team packaged the second historic chariot and bed of Tutankhamun to transport them to the Grand Egyptian Museum.

The repair team used modern materials and methods in the process of packing and moving the bed. They also used precise air lifters that facilitated moving the bed from the base area without exerting any mechanical stress on it. Previous studies on the internal structure and wooden joints of the king's bed have been implemented using an X-ray device, which greatly helped to identify the weak points in the bed and determine the amount of intervention needed to maintain it during the transfer process.

The treasures of King Tutankhamun were exhibited in the Egyptian Museum located in Tahrir Square since their discovery inside King Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of Kings on the western bank of Luxor in 1922.

In earlier statements, the minister of antiquities had revealed that 50 percent of the work needed to build the new museum has been finalized and that the first phase will be inaugurated in 2019. The first phase will include a room for Tutankhamun’s relics. ]]>
6/20/2018 1:31:53 PM
<![CDATA[Merkel's visit to Jordan, Lebanon to boost cooperation]]>
Merkel will start her tour by visiting Jordan and then will head for Lebanon.

Zeibert Pointied out that in Jordan, Chancellor Merkel will visit the German-Jordanian University and will participate in a discussion session with the students.

Merkel's visit to Jordan will tackle regional issues and the latest development on the Jordanian arena along with ways to further cooperation between Germany and Jordan.

Merkel will also discuss, during her visit to Lebanon, means to boost cooperation between Germany and Lebanon with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.]]>
6/20/2018 12:20:55 PM
<![CDATA[Gov't calls on Egyptians to use social media to promote tourism]]>
Mashat affirmed in a statement issued on Tuesday that she will be attending Egypt’s game against Russia in the World Cup to follow up on the promotion campaign for Egypt as a tourism destination has been launched, where a documentary titled “This is Egypt” was presented in most Russian stadiums.

Minister of Tourism Rania al-Mashat attends a ceremony organized to reveal the ministry's plan to promote for tourism in Egypt on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia - Egypt Today/Mohamed Al-Hossary

On June 13, Egypt Experience and Invest campaign became officially the regional supporter of the FIFA World Cup Russia to promote the country as a global tourism and investment destination, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of tourism.

It was added that the campaign, which is affiliated with the Egyptian government, signed a contract with the Federation International of Football Association (FIFA) to become an official regional supporter of the World Cup to promote the country as a global investment destination, and to attract more tourists from around the world to visit the country. This contract is the first to be signed in Africa among other sponsorship contracts that are expected to be signed during the coming period.

“Being an official regional supporter of the 2018 FIFA World Cup gives us an outreach in Africa to highlight and communicate the premium positioning and enormous investment diversity and potential Egypt has to offer,” Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s minister of investment and international cooperation said commenting on the signing.

She added that, in addition to having increased visibility through the world’s most watched sporting event, Egypt Experience and Invest will engage globally through social media outlets and directly with football fans to showcase the wide spectrum of investment opportunities in the country.

On June 14, Mashat announced that the ministry will organize a contest between the 2018 World Cup teams' supporters, so that winners will be offered a seven-day journey to Egypt.

Mashat said that 30 football fans will be granted a seven-day journey to Egypt free of charge, within the framework of the "golden ticket" contest organized by the Tourism Ministry.
6/20/2018 12:12:56 PM
<![CDATA[S. Sudan rebel leader Machar arrives in Ethiopia for talks with president Kiir]]>
“Yes, I can confirm to you that our chairman has arrived in Addis Ababa airport this morning," rebel spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel said, referring to Machar, who had been held under house arrest in South Africa since late 2016 after fleeing South Sudan.]]>
6/20/2018 12:03:14 PM
<![CDATA[N.Korea, China discuss 'true peace', denuclearisation - KCNA]]>
Kim and Xi assessed the historic meeting Kim had with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore last week and exchanged opinions on ways to resolve the issue of denuclearisation, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The North Korean leader also promised during a meeting with Xi in Beijing to cooperate with Chinese officials to secure "true peace" in the process of "opening a new future" on the Korean peninsula, it said.

Kim's two-day visit to Beijing will end later on Wednesday, according to state media from China and North Korea. It follows his Singapore summit, where Kim and Trump reaffirmed a commitment to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Trump surprised officials in South Korea and the United States after that meeting by saying he would end "provocative" joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

The United States and South Korea said on Tuesday they had agreed to suspend a joint military exercise scheduled for August, although decisions regarding subsequent drills have not yet been made.

On Wednesday, South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-hwa said the decision to suspend the exercise could be reconsidered based on future developments with North Korea.

"I think we've made it clear this is a goodwill gesture to strengthen dialogue momentum," Kang said.

"It's not irreversible. They could come back if the dialogue loses speed, or if North Korea doesn't live up to its denuclearisation commitment," she said.

Kim is on his third visit to China this year. Xi offered high praise to the North Korean leader on Tuesday for the "positive outcome" of last week's summit with Trump.

KCNA also reported that Xi said relations between China and North Korea had entered a new level of development since Kim's first visit in March and that the agreements made between the two leaders were being carried out "one-by-one".

Kim also told Xi he was willing to bolster bilateral friendship and cooperation, it said.

It was widely expected that Kim would visit Beijing to brief Xi on his summit with Trump, which included Pyongyang agreeing to hand over the remains of troops missing from the 1950-53 Korean War.

Two U.S. officials told Reuters on Tuesday North Korea could start that process within the next few days. ]]>
6/20/2018 11:56:16 AM
<![CDATA[Artifacts seized in Italy to be returned to Egypt: General prosecutor]]>
This came in response to Egyptian Prosecutor-General Sadek’s request to Italy to bring back the ancient Egyptian artifacts.

In this regard, Sadek issued a decision to send a member of the General Prosecution to Italy to supervise the procedures of returning the artifacts.

In the same context, Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani was tasked by the Supreme Council of Antiquities to travel to Italy to receive the artifacts.

Previously, the Italian police notified the Egyptian Embassy in Rome about the seizure of 23,700 artifacts of different civilizations, including 118 Egyptian pieces packed in parcels, according to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid.

Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, head of the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry’s Repatriation Department said on May 24 that the examination of the seized artifacts' photos, sent by the Italian authorities, suggested they are authentic antiquities, adding that the two countries cooperate to return the seized pieces to Egypt.

The seized artifacts include objects from different Pharaonic periods, in addition to objects from the Islamic era, according to a statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

Abdel Gawad said that the artifacts were not looted from museums; it seems that they were illegally taken from excavation sites. He added that the two countries would conduct a joint investigation to uncover the circumstances of the smuggling operation and arrest perpetrators. ]]>
6/20/2018 11:40:17 AM
<![CDATA[Saudi flat ahead of MSCI decision; other markets down]]>
Other Gulf markets declined in largely muted trading as many investors are still on holiday for the Muslim festival of Eid.

The main Saudi index shed 0.15 percent by 0821 GMT.

The region’s biggest stock market is up almost 14.5 percent so far this year and has outperformed Gulf markets in anticipation of the MSCI inclusion, which could trigger billions of dollars of inflows into Riyadh’s Tadawul-listed stocks.

MSCI is due to announce the results of its Annual Market Classification Review around 2030 GMT. MSCI’s gauges are used by investment funds worldwide, with some $1.7 trillion of active and passive money benchmarked against its EM indexes.

Blue chips dominated trading as investors bet on the leading Saudi companies that could join the MSCI index. Petrochemicals giant SABIC rose 0.3 percent and Almarai, the Gulf’s largest dairy company, jumped 1.4 percent.

Other gulf markets were down amid low volumes, led by losses in Qatar, where the main index lost 1.3 percent in the first session after its Eid closure.

The index was mainly hit by a 4 percent fall in Qatar National Bank and a 0.7 percent decline in Masraf Al Rayan.

In Dubai, the index lost 0.3 percent, after falling almost 1.5 percent on Tuesday as concerns over trade tensions between the United States and China ricocheted through emerging markets.

The main drag came from banking and property shares, with Dubai Islamic Bank losing 1.0 percent and DAMAC and Emaar Malls declining 1.3 percent and 0.5 percent respectively.

Abu Dhabi’s index shed 0.4 percent with the United Arab Emirates’ largest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) , falling 1.2 percent and property developer Aldar losing 0.9 percent. ]]>
6/20/2018 11:39:45 AM
<![CDATA[SoftBank's Son to focus on investing to speed up major company shift]]>
“I have spent 97 percent of my time on managing the telecoms business and only 3 percent on investing,” Son said, adding that reversing that balance will allow SoftBank to grow faster.

The comments, made to investors at the group’s annual general meeting in Tokyo, came as shareholders approved the appointment of three executive vice-presidents, SoftBank unit Sprint Corp’s (S.N) former chief executive Marcelo Claure and former bankers Katsunori Sago and Rajeev Misra.

Son’s comments fit with a transformation taking place at SoftBank from domestic telecoms powerhouse to “unicorn hunter” - as Son terms it - focusing on late stage startups around the world.

SoftBank and its investment vehicle Vision Fund, which raised more than $93 billion last year, have upended the world of dealmaking, buying up stakes in companies including shared-office space company WeWork and ride-sharing firms Uber and Didi, Ola and Grab.

Bolivian-born billionaire Claure was appointed SoftBank Group’s chief operating officer in May, tasked with driving cooperation between the portfolio companies. Former Goldman Sachs executive Sago became chief strategy officer on Wednesday and will look at the group’s investment strategy. Misra runs the Vision Fund.

SoftBank plans to list its domestic telecoms unit as part of efforts to clarify the value of its component parts for investors and reduce the conglomerate discount that has weighed on its share price.

SoftBank shares have fallen around 7 percent this year.]]>
6/20/2018 11:03:12 AM
<![CDATA[Dow-ned but not out: Expulsion no body blow for GE shareholders]]>
While the Dow index of 30 top-shelf U.S. corporations is arguably more well known, professional investors bet much more money on what happens to the S&P 500, an index in which the one-time leading U.S. company has only a tiny influence. GE’s drop from the Dow will thus likely not pose a risk of wide selling pressure by indexed investment funds.

“There’s only a small group of investors who actually target their investing to the Dow Jones Industrial Average,” said Rick Meckler, a partner at Cherry Lane Investments, a family investment office in New Vernon, New Jersey. “All in all, I don’t think it’s meaningful to investors.”

Indeed, investors in GE might look on the move as the least of their worries. Struggling with weak profits and facing calls to be broken up, GE shares have already dropped 15 percent this year.

GE reached its peak share price in late August 2000, about a year before longtime Chief Executive Jack Welch turned over the reins to Jeffrey Immelt. The stock has fallen more than 75 percent since.

Not even its rich dividend has cushioned the dismal performance: Including reinvested dividends, GE has delivered total losses of 61 percent during that time, while the Dow has offered up gains of 240 percent on the same basis.

In the latest blow, S&P Dow Jones Indices said on Tuesday that GE, an original member of the Dow when it was formed by Charles Dow in 1896 and a continuous member since 1907, will be replaced in the 30-component stock average by drug store chain Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (WBA.O) prior to the start of trading on June 26.

GE fell 1 percent in extended trade following the announcement, while Walgreens jumped 3 percent.

While negative sentiment caused by the elimination of the company from the Dow could lead to more selling of its shares on Wednesday, investors predicted that GE’s removal would prompt little reaction from major investment funds.

“Symbolically, this indignity marks GE’s fall from grace,” said analysts at RBC. “However, given that the DJIA is a price-weighted index, GE now represents less than one-half of a percent of the overall index with its current stock price sitting below $13.”

GE is now the sixth smallest member of the Dow by market value, and it sports the index’s lowest stock price, making it the least influential component of the price-weighted average.

About $20 billion is invested in exchange traded funds tied to the Dow, the vast majority in the SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF Trust (DIA.P), according to Lipper data.

By comparison, ETFs that track the S&P 500 have assets of around $380 billion. That means GE’s exit from the Dow next week will trigger a relatively small amount of selling by passively managed funds reconfiguring their holdings.

Underscoring the greater heft of the S&P 500, Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) surged 5 percent to a record high on June 5 after it was announced that the social media network would join that index.

The largest U.S. corporation by stock market value during most of the 1990s and until it was overtaken by Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) in 2005, GE’s market capitalization now stands at $118 billion, less than 15 percent of Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) size.

GE is now tied with 3M Co (MMM.N) as the Dow components that are least favored by stock analysts, according to Thomson Reuters data. Following GE’s recent warning that it might not be able to pay its 2019 dividend, just five analysts recommend buying shares in GE, compared with three who recommend selling and eight with neutral ratings.]]>
6/20/2018 10:58:19 AM
<![CDATA[Hyundai teams up with Volkswagen's Audi to boost hydrogen cars]]>
The South Korean firm wants to increase the uptake of hydrogen cars, which are propelled by electricity generated by fuel cells but have been held back by a lack of infrastructure and the push for battery electric vehicles by the likes of Tesla (TSLA.O).

The pair will be able to access each other’s intellectual property and share components, including any new parts developed by Audi, which is responsible for hydrogen fuel cell technology in the Volkswagen Group (VOWG_p.DE), the world’s biggest car seller.

Hyundai hopes that the move will create greater demand for vehicles such as its ix35 model and bring down costs to make the technology profitable.

“We want to provide to our component suppliers more chance and we want to have competition between component suppliers,” Sae Hoon Kim, the head of Hyundai’s R&D fuel cell group, told Reuters in an interview in London.

“We also want to make them to have competition with other suppliers, and that competition will bring down the cost.”

Carmakers such as Toyota have touted the benefits of hydrogen vehicles, which take less time to refuel than the recharge times of battery electric cars, but are expensive and suffer from a lack of refuelling stations.

Many carmakers are focusing on battery electric vehicles, which can take between half an hour and half a day to recharge, but are increasingly able to use a growing network of charging points.

Auto firms are teaming up to share the cost of developing greener technologies to replace combustion engines as regulators around the world crack down on emissions. GM and Honda have a partnership to jointly develop electric vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells that are expected to go on sale in 2020, while BMW is working with Toyota.

Kim said that a toughening of European Union carbon emission limits in 2025 would create a need for more hydrogen cars.

Hyundai sold 200 such models last year and expects to sell thousands this year, but Kim said profitability was still far off.

“100,000 or 300,000 vehicles per year per company, when that comes, I think we can make money,” he said.]]>
6/20/2018 10:55:50 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. shale producers warn Chinese tariffs would hit energy exports]]>
China has said it would slap a 25 percent tariff on imports of U.S. crude, natural gas and coal on July 6 if Washington went ahead, as planned, with its own tariffs on Chinese goods that day.

Energy would be added for the first time to a burgeoning trade dispute that has hit imports of Chinese metals and solar panels, and exports of U.S. medical equipment and soybeans.

Targeting petroleum puts the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda in Beijing’s cross-hairs as U.S. shale has grabbed share from Middle East suppliers in Asia.

China is the largest customer for U.S. crude, importing about 363,000 barrels a day in the six months ended in March. Thomson Reuters shipping data shows those exports have increased since, rising to an expected 450,000 bpd in July.

“It is going to hurt everyone for the short term,” said Ron Gasser, vice president at Mammoth Exploration, a west Texas shale producer. While U.S. crude will continue flowing to market even with tariffs, “it’ll force you to put your oil somewhere else, and it’ll cost you more” to line up other buyers.

U.S. oil exports have steadily grown since the four-decade-old ban on crude exports was lifted at the end of 2015.

China’s tariff threat caught U.S. producers off guard because it had been discussing buying more U.S. energy and agricultural products to reduce its $375 billion trade surplus with the United States. The levies could boost suppliers of West African crude at the expense of U.S. exports.

The tariffs are “creating a whole new set of uncertainties on top of what’s already there,” Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of consultancy IHS Markit, said on Tuesday as he arrived in Vienna to attend this week’s OPEC’s International Seminar.

On Friday, OPEC oil ministers will gather to consider sharply increasing the group’s production this year, a move advanced forth by Saudi Arabia and Russia. The change is opposed by members Algeria, Iran, Iraq and Venezuela. The United States also recently set new sanctions on Iran’s petroleum industry, which is expected to disrupt oil flows.

“The global oil industry didn’t really worry or think about trade issues. Now, trade issues are moving really pretty fast up the agenda,” said Yergin.

The impact likely would be temporary as U.S. oil becomes less attractive to Chinese buyers. But the tit-for-tat expansion of tariffs has U.S. oil industry officials and politicians calling on the Trump administration to move cautiously.

The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Association on Tuesday called on the president “to work with China - and all nations - to reduce barriers to competition rather than promote them.”

U.S. Senator Michael Enzi, Republican of Wyoming, a coal and oil producing state, wants the administration to be “wary of how these retaliatory measures from China could seriously impact the industry,” spokesman Max D’Onofrio said on Monday.

In coal country, there are worries the trade war could harm exports, said Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “China is an enormously important trading partner,” he said.

Some U.S. producers said growing demand for U.S. energy would overcome the impact of China’s tariffs just as higher oil prices this year have not slowed the global thirst for oil and natural gas.

Gary C. Evans, chief executive of shale producer Energy Hunter Resources, called the tariffs “a lot of saber rattling” that will not hurt exports of U.S. crude oil or liquefied natural gas, the latter a fuel that China has not included on its list of products facing a tariff.

“Crude oil is a fungible global commodity,” Evans said. “Without growing U.S. crude supply and exports, global prices could today be multiples higher than they currently are.”]]>
6/20/2018 10:51:41 AM
<![CDATA[Dollar catches breath after scaling 11-month peak as trade concerns brew]]>
Currency markets also heaved a sigh of relief after Beijing signalled its comfort with a stronger currency by fixing its daily midpoint stronger than market expectations. [CNY/]

“Investors are waiting for the next developments on the trade war front but sentiment is still quite nervous,” said Alvin Tan, a currency strategist at Societe Generale in London.

On Wednesday, the dollar was flat against a basket of its rivals at 95.13, slightly below 95.30 hit in the previous session, its highest since mid-July 2017.

Markets also turned their focus to Sintra in Portugal where U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda and Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe are all scheduled to speak at a conference on Wednesday.

Emerging currencies won some reprieve, with the Mexican peso slightly stronger on the day along with the Taiwan dollar and the South African rand

“With the risk to trade firmly in place, we don’t look for a material and long lasting rebound in higher beta and emerging market currencies,” ING strategists said in a note.

The euro was down 0.15 percent at $1.1574, shaky after slipping to a two-week low of $1.1528 overnight after Draghi called for a patient approach to European monetary policy.

The Australian dollar, considered sensitive to shifts in sentiment towards China, fell to a 13-month low of $0.7347 on Tuesday before pulling back slightly to $0.7391.

The Swiss franc slipped 0.1 percent to 0.9953 franc per dollar, handing back the previous day’s gains.

Before Thursday’s Bank of England policy decision, the pound struggled near a seven-month low of $1.3151 brushed overnight.

No economists polled by Reuters expect the BoE to raise rates on Thursday, and some are getting cold feet about their forecasts for a rate rise in August, which would be only the central bank’s second increase since the 2008 financial crisis.

Prior to market opening on Wednesday, the People’s Bank of China lowered the midpoint rate by 0.54 percent to 6.4586 per dollar though traders said the daily fixing came in much stronger than their models suggested, an attempt to stabilise sentiment and prevent the yuan from sinking further.]]>
6/20/2018 10:49:09 AM
<![CDATA[ZTE's Hong Kong shares rise after clarification of U.S. bill impact]]>
In clarification announcements during the noon trading break, ZTE said a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by the U.S. Senate on Monday would restore penalties on the company, but the bill would only become law if it could be reconciled with a different version passed by the House of Representatives and signed by U.S. President Trump.

That echoed what the White House and Senate backers of the bill had said overnight.

In a rare departure from White House policy, the Republican-led Senate passed the NDAA on Monday that included two provisions that prevent any federal official from removing penalties on ZTE.

That sets up a battle with the White House over whether a supplier ban on the Chinese company could be lifted as part of a $1.4 billion settlement agreement ZTE reached with the U.S. Commerce Department on June 7.

Hong Kong-listed shares of ZTE rose to as high as HK$11.62 ($1.48) on Wednesday, after declining 25 percent in the previous trading day.

In catch-up with the Hong Kong shares that have more than halved in price since trading resumed last Wednesday, ZTE’s Shenzhen-listed shares declined by the maximum daily allowed 10 percent for the fifth consecutive day.]]>
6/20/2018 10:47:42 AM
<![CDATA[Chinese paper says Trump administration has 'blood lust' over trade]]>
U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Monday to hit $200 billion of Chinese imports with 10 percent tariffs if Beijing retaliated against his previous targeting of $50 billion in imports, aimed at pressuring China to stop stealing U.S. intellectual property.

Beijing has vowed to retaliate, accusing the United States of “extreme pressure and blackmailing”, and financial markets have been hit hard by the escalating trade conflict.

In an editorial, the English language China Daily, often used by Beijing to get its message out to the rest of the world, said the United States had failed to honor an agreement on rebalancing trade, referencing a deal stuck in May for China to significantly increase purchases of U.S. goods and services.

“Faced with this heightened intimidation from the U.S., China has no choice but to fight back with targeted and direct measures aimed at persuading the U.S. to back off, since it appears that any concessions it makes will not appease the Trump administration, which wants to suck the lifeblood from the Chinese economy,” the paper said.

“Beijing will have to ensure that Washington is aware that there will be heavy price to pay every action it strikes against China if it is to avoid being a victim of the Trump administration’s growing blood lust.”

Set to an unflattering picture of Trump with his hair flying in the wind, the WeChat account of the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily said China had the confidence and the ability to win the trade battle.

One of the most important reasons - China is united, it said.

“Everyone is joined in opposition against the common enemy supporting the government’s counterattack,” it said.

“Everyone is clear - China has been forced into battle. The price the United States wants is not only to take advantage of China; even more so it wants to wreck China’s economy. China has really been compelled to a desperate action.”

Washington has shown no sign of backing off either.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who views China as a hostile economic and military power, said on Tuesday that China has underestimated Trump’s resolve to impose more tariffs unless it changes its “predatory” trade practices.]]>
6/20/2018 10:41:43 AM
<![CDATA[Fox to craft script for M&A summer blockbuster]]>
Disney and Comcast are battling to win Fox’s movie and television studios at a time when legacy media and distribution companies are looking to expand to better compete with younger media firms like Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) that sell their content directly to viewers. Fox’s international assets such as Star India appeal to both Disney and Comcast, which want to expand their global presence.

While Fox’s board has yet to make a decision, analysts and industry dealmakers widely expect Fox to say that Comcast’s bid could potentially lead to a better deal for its shareholders. If it does, Fox would then be allowed to negotiate with Comcast and take a closer look at its offer. This would be the time for Fox to learn more about Comcast’s commitments when it comes to regulatory approval, for example.

“Let the ping-pong tournament begin, as Comcast won’t let Fox brush off its all-cash premium offer without a fight,” Macquarie analyst Amy Yong said in a research note last week.

Once Fox engages in talks with Comcast, it will then have to determine if the offer is definitively a superior deal for Fox shareholders, compared with its agreement with Disney. This will be the first step that could lead to a bidding war as Disney will then have five business days to put a revised offer on the table, according to its merger agreement.

Disney could sweeten its all-stock bid with cash, given its strong balance sheet and the potential boost to earnings per share, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Technically, Fox could also rebuff Comcast’s bid on Wednesday, but that is unlikely, said Morningstar analyst Allan Nichols.

“Because of the liabilities of the board I don’t think they can outright say no to Comcast’s offer. You at least need to do some kind of review process,” he said.


In its review, Fox will need to decide whether Comcast’s richer, all-cash offer is enough to offset the antitrust risk and potentially higher tax liabilities for some of its shareholders, analysts said.

A U.S. court’s recent approval of AT&T Inc’s (T.N) merger with Time Warner Inc TWX.N raised the likelihood that Comcast’s similar proposed deal with Fox would get the green light from regulators, they said.

However, there are still concerns that some aspects of the proposed deal could complicate an antitrust review, they added.

Craig Moffett, an analyst at Moffett Nathanson, said that the Justice Department never addressed the question of whether internet providers such as Comcast could give an advantage to its own content at the expense of competitors.

For example, Comcast could give its internet subscribers easier or faster access to content from Hulu, which it would gain control over by buying Fox, than that of other media streaming services, the analysts said.

If an all-cash bid does eventually beat a stock offer, it could have a bigger tax hit on Rupert Murdoch, Fox’s largest shareholder, who controls 17 percent of the company’s voting shares along with his family.

Reuters previously reported before the details of Comcast’s offer were made public that the financial impact on Murdoch would be big enough for him to prefer an all-stock transaction, which would be nontaxable for all Fox shareholders.

That potentially puts Murdoch, who remains the most powerful voice inside the company, at odds with some Fox shareholders who would be open to abandoning the Disney deal if Comcast’s cash offer was high enough.]]>
6/20/2018 10:38:39 AM
<![CDATA[Asian stocks pick up steam as hopes of policy support lift China]]>
S&P 500 futures ESc1 turned higher, rising 0.3 percent and pointing to possible gains on Wall Street after major U.S. indexes closed lower Tuesday.

In Asia, bargain hunters turned out to pick up shares on the cheap after the previous day's rout. The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS bounced 1.1 percent after a 2.1 percent slide on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei .N225 was up 1.3 percent after falling into negative territory earlier in the day. South Korea's KOSPI .KS11 rose 1.4 percent.

In China, markets turned losses into gains as investors appeared to take heart from indications of government support.

The Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC was 0.5 percent higher in early afternoon trade a day after falling 3.8 percent to a two-year low.

China's blue-chip CSI300 index .CSI300 gained 0.6 percent, and the Shenzhen Composite Index .SZSC rose 1.4 percent.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index .HSI was 1.4 percent higher in early afternoon trade after closing down 2.8 percent on Tuesday. The China Enterprises Index .HSCE reversed losses from the morning session, rising 0.9 percent.

In a working paper on Tuesday, China’s central bank said the country should cut banks’ reserve requirement ratios (RRR) to boost market liquidity, highlighting concerns over trade, a day after the central bank governor urged investors to remain calm.

“It is fair to say an RRR (cut) seems imminent ... the only question is the magnitude,” Sue Trinh, head of Asia FX Strategy at RBC Capital Markets in Hong Kong said in a note.

An apparent bias toward looser policy “runs counter to the regional bias toward higher rates to protect currency downside,” she said, adding that growing policy divergence indicates room for the onshore and offshore yuan to depreciate.

The bounce in share markets comes despite trade tensions between the United States and China showing few signs of easing. On Tuesday, a White House trade adviser said that Beijing has underestimated the U.S. president’s resolve to impose more tariffs.

Washington threatened on Monday to impose a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods after Beijing decided to raise tariffs on $50 billion in U.S. goods, in response to similar tariffs on Chinese goods announced Friday.

Nevertheless, the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR rose to 2.9022 percent on Wednesday afternoon after earlier falling to 2.8820.

The two-year yield US2YT=RR, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, was at 2.5535 percent.


Australian stocks , which saw strong buying throughout the day, were 1.1 percent higher, supported by a weak local dollar AUD=. The Aussie dollar rose 0.3 percent after hitting a one-year low on Tuesday.

A more attractive dividend proposition and a weaker Australian dollar have made the market more alluring to overseas investors, said Ryan Felsman, a senior economist at CommSec.

“Last year the Aussie market was only up 7 percent relative to the US at 25 percent. We didn’t get the sugar hit from the corporate tax plan, so there’s a bit of catch-up in play as well,” he said.

The US dollar was stronger against the yen, rising 0.2 percent to 110.20 JPY=.

The euro EUR= was 0.1 percent lower at $1.1574, while the dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was flat at 95.094.

U.S. crude CLc1 rose 0.7 percent to $65.55 a barrel, supported by a drop in U.S. commercial crude inventories. But analysts said trade concerns and disagreements within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries over boosting supply continue to loom over the market.

Iran said on Tuesday that OPEC was unlikely to reach a deal on oil output this week.

Gold was flat after falling near six-month lows Tuesday on a strong dollar. Spot gold XAU= was traded at $1274.54 per ounce. [GOL/]

Investors in cryptocurrencies were also hit by losses after South Korean virtual currency exchange Bithumb said it had been hacked and 35 billion won worth of virtual currency held at the exchange was stolen.

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP was 1.9 percent lower at $6,607.45.]]>
6/20/2018 10:27:48 AM
<![CDATA[Bilingual play brings Trumped-up Moliere to London]]>
The comedy at the Theatre Royal Haymarket stars two television regulars from either side of the Channel -- Paul Anderson in the title role as a US evangelist, and Audrey Fleurot as Elmire.

Anderson is known for his role as Arthur in "Peaky Blinders", a crime drama series about a 1920s gang in Birmingham, while flamboyant redhead Audrey Fleurot played lawyer Josephine Karlsson in the Paris police and legal drama "Spiral".

In the modern take on the 1660s play, Orgon, portrayed by Sebastian Roche, is a French media tycoon in Los Angeles, who falls under the spell of radical evangelist Tartuffe.\

Tartuffe has hoodwinked Orgon so comprehensively that he looks set to steal his fortune, drive away his son, seduce his wife Elmire and marry his daughter.

The play is going down well with a young and enthusiastic audience calling for encores.

However, newspaper critics have not been so keen.

The Times said "Merde, what a mess", calling it a "pretentious shambles" and "excruciating", while The Daily Telegraph said it was "frankly maladroit" and "induces tears of frustration".

- Scandalous play -

Is it provocative to stage a bilingual play in Britain as it heads for the EU exit door?

"'Tartuffe' has always been a scandalous play, right from its origins when it was banned, and the provocation inherent in the play continues," director Gerald Garutti told AFP.

"It's a play which divides opinions, between those who favour a form of openness, and those who tend more towards withdrawal, autonomy, insularity and something more closed. And clearly politics and ideology have a stake in it," he said, in reference to Brexit.

Garutti prefers to go by the acclaim from the stalls, where a Netflix-happy generation is able to juggle with the languages and the surtitles, which crop up in several places around the stage.

And in Christopher Hampton's adaptation, a final surprise twist anchors the play in the realities of the modern-day United States under President Trump.

"I wanted to keep as much as possible of the original text and in thinking of the idea of a religious guru, I naturally thought of California," Hampton told AFP.

"From that came the idea of an American Tartuffe with whom all the members of the family have to speak in English."

Besides Trump, "the Me Too movement was a strong part of my thinking.

"Like all the great plays, 'Tartuffe' remains relevant in a slightly different way with the passage of time."

- Gymnastic switch -

Each era throws up its share of virtue-spouting hypocrites who cannot practice what they preach, whatever it is they are preaching.

Especially when desire, in the form of Fleurot dressed in a siren's robes, enters the mix, in a spicy seduction scene with the falsely puritanical evangelist Tartuffe.

"At the start of rehearsals, the French team said 'we don't touch Moliere!'. But in the end, it's interesting to bring things up to date, so long as we don't distort the play," Fleurot told AFP.

Working with two languages was also a challenge.

Roche said: "It's an interesting gymnastic switch between French and English, it's a very different rhythm. There is also a different sound."

To play Tartuffe, Anderson wears a white linen tunic which covers up his tattoos.

"The risk element is what I liked about it, not doing something the people would expect me to do," he said.

The inspiration for his interpretation came partly from his own imagination but also from dark manipulators such as the Russian monk Rasputin and the Californian serial killer Charles Manson.

"There is a slight Charles Manson in him, in the charming side, in the charismatic side," said Anderson.

"He was very charismatic, regardless of being a monster."

The play runs until July 28, with tickets ranging from £15 to £90 ($20 to $118; 17 to 102 euros).]]>
6/20/2018 10:01:59 AM
<![CDATA['The Catcher was a Spy': Moe Berg's double life as secret agent]]>
Berg traded in his catcher's mitt for a trench coat and a high-stakes mission to monitor -- and assassinate, if necessary -- the Nazis' chief nuclear scientist.

His amazing story is dramatized in the stranger-than-fiction espionage thriller "The Catcher Was a Spy," starring Paul Rudd, Paul Giamatti and a host of other big names, and opening in US theaters on Friday.

"This is a weird World War II story that no one really knows about," director Ben Lewin ("The Sessions") told a preview audience in Santa Monica, southern California, earlier this month.

"You unpeel the onion and it's more and more puzzling and fascinating."

A secretive and eccentric man with a steel-trap intellect, Berg was born in Harlem, New York, in 1902 to a pharmacist and a housewife.

He studied at Princeton, where he was notorious for his mastery of a reputed 12 modern and ancient languages, often practicing Sanskrit from behind home plate during training sessions.

Berg played shortstop in the minor and major leagues before switching to catcher, appearing for several top teams including the Boston Red Sox and earning a law degree on the side from Columbia University.

- Assassination mission -

His spy career started on a 1934 goodwill baseball tour in Tokyo alongside Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Berg put on a kimono and sneaked onto a hospital rooftop to film the harbor and Navy shipyards.

Years later, after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, he showed his footage to President Franklin Roosevelt's Office of Strategic Services, which later became the CIA.

Historians say Berg believed his material was used to plan the first US aerial attack on Japan, in 1942.

This has never been confirmed, but the OSS was impressed enough to send him on courses in lock-picking, pyrotechnics and killing.

The agency arranged for Berg to attend a Zurich lecture by Werner Heisenberg, the Nobel Prize-winning quantum physicist in charge of Nazi attempts to create an atom bomb, to assess how close they were.

He arrived with a gun in one pocket and a cyanide pill in the other, with instructions to assassinate Heisenberg if the scientist appeared to be on the cusp of a breakthrough.

Berg got no such impression and later decided against an assassination attempt during their one and only meeting, as they walked in the direction of Heisenberg's hotel after a social event.

- 'Enigmatic' -

"There was a real meeting between Berg and Heisenberg. Nobody really knows what happened or what was said," Lewin said.

"People who were given accounts of that meeting, pretty much like us, made up the content. What we know is that both men walked away alive."

Based on Nicholas Dawidoff's bestseller of the same name, the movie boasts a star-studded support cast that includes Guy Pearce, Sienna Miller, Jeff Daniels, Mark Strong and Tom Wilkinson.

Some filming took place at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, but most scenes were shot over 32 winter days in Czech Republic capital Prague.

Berg left the CIA in 1954 and never worked again, beginning a nomadic existence and living on the hospitality of friends and family.

He died at the age of 70 and remains the only major-league player whose baseball card is on display at the headquarters of the CIA.

Rudd told the Internet Movie Database at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, where the movie premiered in January, that there were still many unanswered questions about Berg.

"This is an interesting spy story in that it's very cerebral, it's not James Bond," he said. "A lot of the action is what's going on in people's minds."]]>
6/20/2018 9:49:24 AM
<![CDATA[Court orders drafting legal opinion for lawsuit against Helbawi]]>The lawsuit calls for the dismissal of Helbawi from the NCHR.

On April 28, Helbawi, former spokesperson of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, made a TV appearance on the Turkish-based, MB-affiliated television channel, Mekameleen, during which he called for a reconciliation initiative with the Brotherhood.

Helbawi contacted the channel via Skype from London and announced his initiative, which would commence by forming a council of Arab and Egyptian experts and renowned figures.

Only a few days later, Egyptian lawyer Samir Sabry filed a lawsuit to Attorney General Nabil Sadek to include Helbawi on the terror list.

According to the lawsuit, Helbawi has supported the MB group since it was established by late Hassan al-Banna and until the group has announced nominating a presidential candidate for the 2012 election. Helbawi objected to the group’s decision because running for political posts has nothing to do with the MB ideology, and therefore he announced splitting from the group.

Sabry said that, over the last few days, Helbawi has demanded that the Egyptian government reconcile with the Muslim Brotherhood and described members of the MB, especially Banna, as the greatest personalities in the 20th century.

Helbawi, who is based in London, revealed that the youth of the April 6 Movement coordinated with him to support the initiative, according to the lawsuit.
Criticizing the initiative, Parliament member Mohamed al-Komi told Egypt Today that any initiative that would suggest reconciliation with the brotherhood would be accused of betrayal to Egypt and its people.

He added that the outlawed group committed crimes against Egypt’s people, institutions and authorities.

For his part, MP Abdullah Lashin said Helbawi’s initiative is rather suspicious and illegal; he clarified that reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood would violate the law, which named the brotherhood a terrorist organization. Lashin also called for immediate interrogation for Helbawi.
6/20/2018 9:48:29 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt confirms keenness to help address xenophobia in Europe ]]>
During his speech, Youssef reviewed the cooperation programs between Egypt and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, underlining the government’s strategy to promote human rights through the technical assistance programs.

He further expressed his wishes that such programs would help address the spread of xenophobia and hate speech in some western countries.

He talked about the visit of the six special rapporteurs of the Human Rights Commission to Egypt to learn about the Egyptian experience regarding the development of human rights.

He asserted Egypt's keenness to continue the dialogue with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, whether through its envoy in Geneva or by arranging interviews with senior officials participating in the sessions of the Human Rights Council.

Earlier in June, Egypt was elected as a member of the Economic and Social Council of
the United Nations (ECOSOC) for the tournament 2019-2022.

Egypt got 178 votes from the UN General Assembly, which is considered the highest rate of votes.

Also, Egyptian Ambassador Naela Gabr was endorsed to win the membership of the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Egypt’s candidate managed to win 143 countries’ votes in the elections that took place at the New York City meeting on countries ratifying the UN convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.

Additional reporting by Rehab Ismail and Dunya Hassanin
6/20/2018 9:42:42 AM
<![CDATA[Every match is like a final for us now, says Neuer]]>
The world champions suffered a shock 1-0 opening Group F loss to Mexico that has put them on the backfoot ahead of their game against Sweden on Saturday in Sochi.

The Swedes won their opener against the Koreans and like Mexico have three points.

"The coach knows the situation that we are in now (is dire). (Every match is like a) final (from now on)," goalkeeper Neuer told a news conference, delayed by almost an hour due to ongoing team discussions. "We are frustrated and disappointed. Now it is up to us to react.

"We talked about what we must improve. We cannot change the result of the game (against Mexico) or of the warm-up games. Now we have to show what made us strong in the past. We are convinced we can do it."

The Germans had lost to Austria and narrowly beat Saudi Arabia with two unconvincing performances in their final warm-up games before arriving in Russia.

But instead of noticing the red flags and fine-tuning their game, they left their central defenders completely exposed to the speedy Mexicans, who took full advantage of it.

"No one is shying away from responsibilities. We have talked a lot. We have tried to find points that we can improve and say our opinions honestly," said Neuer, one of a group of players in the German squad who won the 2014 World Cup.

"The courage and the self-belief was missing. I cannot say why it was missing but from our body language and readiness of the past, it was not on the pitch."

Coach Joachim Loew has been sharply criticised for taking too long to react with substitutions but Neuer said it was not about making changes to the team that will face Sweden.

Defeat in that game could spell the earliest exit for the four-time champions since the 1938 World Cup.

"I am convinced we can show and will show a different face against Sweden. It is not very easy to just turn the switch. We have to work on it (both) on and off the pitch," Neuer said.

"We know the players on the pitch can deliver and take responsibility so for me it is more about readiness to play this tournament at 100 percent and not about personnel and changing players."]]>
6/20/2018 6:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[N.Korea expected to begin transferring remains of U.S. troops soon]]>
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said North Korea would hand over the remains to United Nations Command in South Korea, and they would then be transferred to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

One official said "a sizable number" of remains were expected to be handed over, but declined to give a specific number given the unpredictability of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

It could take months or even years before the remains are positively identified, the officials added.

U.S. President Donald Trump met with Kim at a historic summit last week in Singapore.

In a news conference following the summit, Trump said North Korea had agreed to return the remains of U.S. soldiers.

"(The families) want the remains of their fathers, and mothers, and all of the people that got caught into that really brutal war," Trump said.

"And (Kim) agreed to that so quickly and so nice - it was really a very nice thing, and he understands it," Trump added.

About 7,700 U.S. military personnel remain unaccounted from the 1950-1953 Korean War, U.S. military data shows. According to the Pentagon, North Korean officials have indicated in the past that they have the remains of as many as 200 U.S. troops. More than 36,500 U.S. troops died in the conflict.

The remains of some U.S. soldiers were last returned in 2007, when then-New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson visited Pyongyang.

Trump has hailed the Singapore summit as a success, but skeptics have questioned whether he achieved anything new, given that Pyongyang, which has rejected unilateral nuclear disarmament, appeared to make no new concrete commitments.

Transferring the remains would mark the first step Kim has taken since the summit that could indicate he may be serious about improving relations with Washington.

On Monday, the United States and South Korea said they had agreed to suspend a joint military exercise scheduled for August.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would likely travel back to North Korea "before too terribly long" to try to flesh out commitments made at the summit.

Pompeo, who has traveled twice to North Korea this year and met Kim for a third time at the June 12 Singapore summit, told an audience in Detroit that Kim had made "very clear his commitment to fully denuclearize his country," but there was a great deal of work to do. ]]>
6/20/2018 3:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. withdraws from United Nations human rights body]]>
Standing with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Haley slammed Russia, China, Cuba and Egypt for thwarting U.S. efforts to reform the council. She also criticized countries which shared U.S. values and encouraged Washington to remain but "were unwilling to seriously challenge the status quo."

The United States is half-way through a three-year term on the main U.N. rights body and the Trump administration had long threatened to quit if the 47-member Geneva-based body was not overhauled.

"Look at the council membership, and you see an appalling disrespect for the most basic rights," said Haley, citing Venezuela, China, Cuba and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Haley also said the "disproportionate focus and unending hostility toward Israel is clear proof that the council is motivated by political bias, not by human rights."

Washington's withdrawal is the latest U.S. rejection of multilateral engagement after it pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

It also comes as the United States faces intense criticism for detaining children separated from their immigrant parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein on Monday called on Washington to halt its "unconscionable" policy.

Rights groups have criticized the Trump administration for not making human rights a priority in its foreign policy. Critics say this sends a message that the administration turns a blind eye to human rights abuses in some parts of the world.

Diplomats have said the U.S. withdrawal from the body could bolster countries such as Cuba, Russia, Egypt and Pakistan, which resist what they see as U.N. interference in sovereign issues.

Among reforms the United States had been seeking was to make it easier to kick out member state with egregious rights records.

Haley said the U.S. withdrawal from the Human Rights Council "is not a retreat from our human rights commitments."

Twelve rights and aids groups, including Human Rights First, Save the Children and CARE, wrote Pompeo to warn the withdrawal would "make it more difficult to advance human rights priorities and aid victims of abuse around the world."

"The U.S.'s absence will only compound the council's weaknesses," they wrote.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Human Rights Program, said Trump's "misguided policy of isolationism only harms American interests and betrays our values as a nation."

Jewish rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center applauded the U.S. withdrawal and urged other countries to do the same.

Reuters reported last week that talks on reforming the council had failed to meet Washington's demands, suggesting the Trump administration would quit.

The council meets three times a year to examine human rights violations worldwide. It has mandated independent investigators to look at situations including Syria, North Korea, Myanmar and South Sudan. Its resolutions are not legally binding but carry moral authority.

Speaking before the U.S. announcement, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "is a strong believer in the human rights architecture of the U.N. and the active participation of all states."

When the Council was created in 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush's administration shunned the body.

Under President Barack Obama the United States was elected for a maximum two consecutive terms on the council by the U.N. General Assembly. After a year off, Washington was re-elected in 2016 for its current third term.

In March 2011, the U.N. General Assembly unanimously suspended Libya's membership in the council because of violence against protesters by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. But U.N. officials said no member has withdrawn.

Haley said a year ago Washington was reviewing its membership and called for reform and elimination of a "chronic anti-Israel bias." The body has a permanent standing agenda item on suspected violations committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories that Washington wanted removed.

The council last month voted to probe killings in Gaza and accused Israel of using excessive force. The United States and Australia cast the only "no" votes.

"The U.N. Human Rights Council has played an important role in such countries as North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan, but all Trump seems to care about is defending Israel," said Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth.]]>
6/20/2018 2:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. Senate backers of ZTE measure will battle Trump over Chinese firm]]>
That agreement, announced on June 7, has not yet been enacted. A Commerce Department official told Reuters on Tuesday that ZTE and the U.S. government were still working on an escrow arrangement before the ban on the company can be lifted.

In a rare break with President Donald Trump's policy, the Republican-led Senate voted 85-10 on Monday for a sweeping defense policy bill that included the provision killing the Trump administration's agreement with ZTE.

Republicans and Democrats have expressed national security concerns about ZTE and another major Chinese telecommunications company, Huawei Technologies Ltd. But their ire against ZTE rose after it broke an agreement to discipline executives who conspired to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

ZTE agreed to pay a $1 billion penalty and put $400 million in an escrow account in a U.S. bank as part of the settlement pact reached on June 7 to allow it to do business again with U.S. suppliers.

The company paid the $1 billion civil penalty last week.

Trump is expected to lobby hard against the ZTE measure, approved by the Senate as an amendment to a must-pass annual defense policy bill. He was to address House Republicans later on Tuesday, and meet with senators on Wednesday.


Shares of the Chinese telecommunications firm and its U.S. business partners fell after the Senate vote, although the measure could still be killed when Senate and House of Representatives lawmakers meet in the coming weeks to forge a compromise version of the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA.

Asked for comment, the White House referred to a statement last Wednesday suggesting that the ZTE amendment undermined Trump's authority, saying the administration would work with Congress to ensure the final NDAA "respects the separation of powers."

Chuck Schumer, the Senate's top Democrat, said he was "heartened" by support for the amendment, which included the backing of some of the most conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats.

He urged members of the House, where Trump's fellow Republicans control a larger majority than in the Senate, to support the legislation.

"They should not let President Trump pressure them into reducing American security, both economic and defense," Schumer said. "They should not let President Trump pressure them into allowing ZTE to spy on every one of us which they could well do."

Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican Trump ally and co-author of the ZTE amendment, said he was pleased it was adopted. A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he would be part of the conference forging the compromise NDAA, expected by the end of July.

"We'll have to reconcile our provisions with the House. I'm hopeful that we can move them in our direction, but that’ll be the subject of negotiations in the coming weeks," Cotton said on the "Hugh Hewitt" radio show.]]>
6/20/2018 2:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Shoulder injury ends World Cup for Hassan]]>Hassan suffered a shoulder injury at the first 10 minutes of Tunisia clash against England and he was forced to leave the pitch after 16 minutes from the start.

Despite conceding a goal from Harry Kane only 10 minutes after the start, Mouez was Tunisia’s best player and he managed to save many chances from Kane and Raheem Sterling.

Hassan left the pitch crying and he was replaced by Farouk ben Mustapha who had a great game.

Hassan was born in France to a Tunisian family and he holds dual French-Tunisian nationality but at the end he decided to represent Tunisia despite playing for France at youth levels.

Kane scored twice to lead England to defeat Tunisia 2-1 at the teams’ opening game of the World Cup. Fergani Sassi scored Tunisia's only goal at the game from a penalty.

Tunisia will face Belgium on Saturday at their second game and Tunisia fans hope for achieving a good result to keep their chances at the competition.

6/20/2018 2:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Yemen government forces enter Hodeida airport]]>
The United Arab Emirates, which has US-trained troops fighting alongside the Yemeni army, said the alliance had entered the airport in Hodeida -- a Red Sea port city that is a key aid hub and the entry point for three-quarters of Yemen's imports.

"With the participation and support of the Emirati armed forces, the joint Yemeni resistance (army) entered Hodeida airport," the UAE state news agency WAM tweeted.

A Yemeni military source confirmed to AFP that troops had entered the rebel base at the disused airport on the southern edge of the city.

Military sources also reported 33 Huthis and 19 soldiers killed in Tuesday's battle, bringing the death toll in Hodeida this week to 216 fighters. No civilian casualties have yet been confirmed.

The battle for Hodeida has sparked fears of a new escalation of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which is already teetering on the brink of famine.

The United Nations has warned any attack on Hodeida port could cripple shipments of desperately needed aid to the 8.4 million Yemenis facing imminent starvation.

Hodeida's residents are now bracing for what they fear will be devastating street fighting, as tanks and buses carrying uniformed troops roll through the empty streets of the once-bustling city.

One resident, who asked not to be identified for fear of arrest, said civilians had been "banned from using their phones to take pictures and are questioned about their movements if they're seen in the streets".

The rebels have also begun to dig trenches in the streets, he said.

Fierce fighting in the Hodeida area has already driven 5,200 families from their homes as pro-government forces advanced up the Red Sea coast, according to the UN.

The coalition launched a major offensive on June 13, dubbed Operation Golden Victory, to drive the rebels out of Hodeida, now the most intense battlefront in an already brutal war.

- UN envoy leaves empty-handed -

Since Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their regional allies intervened in Yemen in 2015, there have been multiple rounds of UN-brokered peace talks, but they have all failed to achieve any breakthrough.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths has been holding talks in the rebel-held capital Sanaa since Saturday to seek concessions from Huthi leaders that might avoid all-out fighting in the streets of Hodeida.

Griffiths appears to have failed to make a breakthrough.

He told the UN Security Council by video-conference on Monday that he was hopeful a first round of preliminary talks could take place next month, according to two diplomats present at the closed-door session.

But the UN envoy flew out of Sanaa on Tuesday without making any comment to journalists.

Just hours after he left, Saudi state media said the kingdom's air defences intercepted a ballistic missile fired from rebel-held territory in Yemen -- the latest in a series of such attacks.

There were no casualties, it said.

Yemen's Iran-allied Huthis said via their Al-Masirah news outlet they had targeted a Saudi Aramco facility near the southwestern city of Abha.

The Yemeni government and its allies have insisted that the Huthis must fully withdraw from Hodeida and turn over the port to UN supervision.

The rebels have so far agreed only to share control of the port with the United Nations.

The Gulf Arab states accuse their regional arch rival Iran of smuggling arms to the rebels through the port, a charge Tehran denies.

The coalition held a press conference in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday to display what it said were explosives used by the Huthis in Yemen, including landmines and improvised explosive devices described by one UAE official as "a fraction of what the coalition has seized".

The Yemen conflict has killed nearly 10,000 people, most of them civilians, since 2015.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies joined the Yemen war that year, after President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into exile as the rebels overran much of the country.

The coalition has helped pro-government forces to regain control of the south and much of the Red Sea coast but the rebels still control Sanaa and most of the north.]]>
6/20/2018 2:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Trump doubles down on family separations as border crisis rages]]>
While top officials have also stood by Trump's "zero tolerance" approach, insisting children are being held in humane conditions, criticism has swelled from international rights groups, Christian evangelicals, former US first ladies and the president's own Republican Party.

Lawmakers who have visited minors in detention in Texas and California describe crying children held in cage-like conditions behind chain-link fencing, with no idea when they will see their parents again.

But a defiant Trump sounded unfazed by the mounting pressure to alleviate the situation before it ruptures into a public relations disaster for his party.

"I don't want children taken away from parents," he told a gathering of small business owners, before adding: "When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away."

"We don't have to prosecute them, but then we are not prosecuting them for coming in illegally. That's not good."

After his remarks, the president raised eyebrows by walking across the stage, arms outstretched, and embracing a US flag.

- Two bills under consideration -

Trump has accused Democrats of provoking the current crisis by blocking legislation to combat illegal immigration.

"Democrats are the problem," he tweeted early Tuesday, charging that his opponents "don't care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country."

The other is a compromise bill that would end family separations, protect so-called Dreamer immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, pay for boosted border security, and curtail legal immigration.

But Trump himself put that bill in doubt.

"We have a House that is getting ready to finalize an immigration package that they're going to brief me on later, and then I'm going to make changes to it," Trump said, without providing details about what he plans to change.

Senate Republicans meanwhile are moving to block Trump's policy.

A group led by Senator Orrin Hatch have written Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanding a pause to the separations, while Senator John Cornyn was drafting what he called "emergency" legislation -- backed by leadership -- that would allow family units to remain intact during adjudication of their cases.

- 'Inhuman' -

The United Nations has slammed the separation practice as unconscionable, while Amnesty International blasted it as "nothing short of torture." Mexico's foreign minister condemned it as "cruel and inhuman."

Protesters also demonstrated outside the Customs and Border Patrol headquarters in Washington, where faith leaders lambasted Sessions' recent use of biblical verse to defend Trump's call to obey the law even if it results in the separations.

Tuesday's huddle between Trump and Republican lawmakers will be closely watched, in part to see whether any of them dare to directly confront the president.

Several House Republicans face tough re-election fights in November, and some may worry that public outrage over the family separations could hurt their chances.

Democrats say the crisis is of Trump's own making, and accuse him of using children as pawns.

"This has caused an outcry throughout the country," said Senator Chris Van Hollen, who visited a detention facility in McAllen, Texas over the weekend where some 1,500 children are being held.

US officials say more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents or guardians since early May, when the administration announced its "zero tolerance" push to arrest and charge anyone illegally crossing the US-Mexico border, regardless of whether they were seeking asylum.

Since children cannot be sent to the facilities where their parents are held, they are separated from them.

An audio recording released by transparency group ProPublica purports to feature Central American children separated from their parents sobbing and wailing.

"Mommy! I want to go with Dad," a young girl is heard crying out.

Separated children make up a minority of immigrant minors in US custody.

The Department of Health and Human Services said there are currently 11,700 children under its care in 100 shelters across 17 states.

The majority crossed the border without their parents.

- 'Bargaining chip' -

US public opinion appears divided along partisan lines on the family separations, with two-thirds of all voters opposed, but 55 percent of Republicans supporting the policy, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll.

Sessions was forced Monday to rebut comparisons to the policies of Nazi Germany -- which he called "a real exaggeration."

But activists seized on the symbolism.

"Holding children hostage in concentration camps is the new political bargaining chip of this administration and it is unconscionable," Kristen Clarke, head of the Lawyers' Committee on Civil Rights, told reporters outside the US Capitol.

Democrats have reminded Trump that he campaigned in 2016 saying "I alone can fix it," but now is punting to Congress.

"Mr. President, you alone can fix it... with the flick of a pen," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.]]>
6/20/2018 2:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Prospects for U.S.-Taliban talks rise after Afghan ceasefire]]>
The Taliban, ousted from power in 2001 by U.S.-led troops, insist that any negotiations with what it calls the "puppet" Afghan government on a peace plan can begin only after talks with the United States about withdrawing foreign forces.

Analysts and Western diplomats said Ghani's offer to hold unconditional peace talks set the stage for U.S. officials to open back-channel negotiations with the Taliban.

"Ghani has done his bit," said Thomas Ruttig, co-director of Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent think tank.

"It is now for the U.S. to cut through this blockade," he said, although that would be a departure from U.S. policy that talks to end the 17-year-old war must be wholly Afghan-led.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared ready to tweak the policy when he welcomed Ghani's 10-day extension of a ceasefire that is currently due to end on Wednesday. The Taliban said its ceasefire ended on Sunday.

"As President Ghani emphasised in his statement to the Afghan people, peace talks by necessity would include a discussion of the role of international actors and forces," Pompeo said. "The United States is prepared to support, facilitate and participate in these discussions."

Richard Olson, a former U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, described the statement as significant "in that it signals that the U.S. is prepared to ultimately discuss the issue that is paramount to the Taliban, which is the withdrawal of foreign forces."

Nolen Johnson, a State Department spokesman, said Ghani had invited the United States to "participate in an Afghan-led peace process," and there was no substitute to the Taliban engaging with the "sovereign" Kabul government.

A senior U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity before the start of the ceasefire, said, however, there were a number of issues that made direct talks between the Taliban and the United States unlikely in the short term.

The official said there was a substantial gap in knowledge about the Taliban - for instance as to who had the authority to negotiate on their behalf. There is not enough intelligence or resources on this issue," the official said.

A second official said there was still a question of what would happen with hardline elements of the Taliban. "There are Taliban that won't come to the table," the official said.


The Taliban, in a statement marking the end of their ceasefire on Sunday, said the organisation was unified and called on "the invading American party" to "sit directly for dialogue with the Islamic Emirate to find a solution for the ongoing imbroglio."

A senior diplomat with knowledge of the negotiations leading to the ceasefire estimated the chances of eventual talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government at "50-50."

"The Taliban want to talk to the U.S. directly on withdrawal (of foreign forces) because they do not want to share the credit of withdrawal with the government," the official said.

While Washington has long resisted direct talks with the Taliban, the official said recent developments indicate "the U.S. now seems less and less averse to it".

In August, U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled a more hawkish military approach to Afghanistan, including a surge in air strikes. Afghan security forces say the impact has been significant, but the Taliban roam huge areas of the country, and with foreign troop levels of about 15,600, down from 140,000 in 2014, there appears little hope of outright victory.

Ghani, never widely popular, met his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, on Sunday to secure support for peace talks. He visited a restaurant in Kabul where he met diners and took selfies with children, trying to capitalise on the unprecedented party atmosphere created by the ceasefire to mark last weekend's Eid al-Fitr festival.

But Amrullah Saleh, the former head of intelligence and head of a political party, said Ghani had committed a blunder by allowing insurgents to pour into government-controlled areas.

"Thousands of Taliban fighters were allowed to enter with guns and some of them could be hiding in civilian areas, planning attacks," Saleh told Reuters.

Ghani has also come in for praise.

"Now we can say that our president is making an absolute honest attempt" for peace, said Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi, chairman of the outspoken New National Front of Afghanistan.]]>
6/20/2018 12:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Macron backs EU ally Merkel in political battle on immigration]]>
The French president said Paris and Berlin agreed that EU countries must be able to turn back at their borders all asylum seekers who previously registered in another member country, usually their Mediterranean first port of call.

Merkel is under heavy pressure at home to quickly ink deals with heavily-burdened EU frontline states like Italy and Greece -- or risk a political crisis that could topple her government.

After allowing in more than one million asylum seekers into Germany since 2015, sparking a strong xenophobic backlash, Merkel is now fighting for her political future.

Her hardline interior minister Horst Seehofer on Monday gave her a two-week ultimatum to reach such deals, threatening he would otherwise defy her and shutter German borders to these migrants, a move that would likely end their coalition.

Macron -- who has passionately called for bold EU reforms as his answer to populist, rightwing and eurosceptic forces -- has been at pains to work closely with Merkel, veteran leader of the bloc's biggest economy.

Backing Merkel on the make-or-break migrant issue, he said France and Germany would seek agreements to ensure newcomers whose details were already in EU databases "can be taken back as quickly as possible to the country where they were registered".

In a joint paper, they pledged to "jointly and resolutely tackle secondary movements inside the EU" and ensure "swift transfers" back where they first registered.

- 'More solidarity' -

As outspoken pro-Europeans, Merkel and Macron both face harsh opposition from nationalist and rightwing populist forces at home, and from the governments of Italy, Austria and several eastern European countries.

The question of how many migrants the bloc can absorb came back to the fore last week when Italy and Malta both turned away a rescue vessel carrying 630 refugees, which was eventually accepted by Spain.

After their joint cabinet meeting near Berlin, Macron called for a "more efficient system of solidarity and responsibility" on registering and distributing asylum seekers.

Both vowed steps to better protect the EU's external borders by boosting the Frontex agency, fighting human traffickers and creating a fairer system of burden-sharing within the bloc.

US President Donald Trump, who has taken a "zero tolerance" line on immigrants, this week weighed in on the European debate with angry tweets, charging Monday that due to the migrant influx, "the people of Germany are turning against their leadership".

He doubled down Tuesday on his debunked claim that "crime in Germany is way up" due to the "big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!"

At a joint news conference with Macron, Merkel calmly responded to Trump's latest tweet saying her government's statistics on crime, at its lowest level in years, "speak for themselves".

- 'Moment of truth' -

Both Merkel and Macron have stressed that, as Trump openly challenges the EU with a trade war as well as on security, immigration and climate policy, the bloc must learn to stand its ground on the world stage.

In Tuesday's talks, they also proposed a joint budget for the 19-member eurozone and turning the European Stability Mechanism into a more potent firefighter for countries with serious debt problems, akin to a European IMF.

Macron said Europe, with its rise in populist rightwing forces, faces "a moment of truth" and must seek common ground on migration as well as economic, political, financial, environmental and defence issues.

He said the EU now faced a "civilisational choice" between those who would allow Europe to "unravel" and "those who believe, as we do, that we can move Europe forward by making it both more sovereign and united".

Germany's Sueddeutsche newspaper praised the partnership, saying that "with unrest so rife across the EU, Europe can consider itself lucky if it is able to find any common ground at all".

"In an unhinged world, France and Germany should be grateful for the ties which still bind them."]]>
6/20/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[UK police see no indication of terrorism in London blast]]>
They said there was no immediate indication that the incident was linked to terrorism.

Police said they had been called to reports of an explosion and people running at Southgate station at 7.03 pm (1803 GMT). They closed the station, advised people to avoid the area and said officers were dealing with a suspicious package.

"Enquiries continue but we do not believe this to be terror related," British Transport Police said on Twitter. "A small number of people have been treated at the scene."

Local residents reported on Twitter they were escorted out of their homes and others were instructed to stay in restaurants and shops near the scene.]]>
6/20/2018 12:10:00 AM