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17/08/2019
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More Than 2 Million Muslims Flock to Mecca For Beginning of the Hajj

Muslims arrive to Saudi Arabia as part of the annual hajj pilgrimage, a ritual required of all able-bodied believes at least once in their life.  Mecca: Annual muslim pilgrimageMecca: Annual muslim pilgrimage

Mecca, Aug.9.– More than 2 million pilgrims were gathered in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia on Friday to perform initial rites of the hajj, an Islamic pilgrimage that takes the faithful along a path traversed by the Prophet Muhammad some 1,400 years ago.

The hajj in Islam is meant to be a great equalizer and unifier among Muslims, with pilgrims shedding overt displays of wealth and materialism.

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A new Currency war confronting United States vs China

  • The Trump administration labels China a currency manipulator.
  • The complaint is more than a bit muddled.
  • Much lower production costs and a devalued currency gives China a huge advantage vs the United States with a trade balance 400% on China's favor.  

August 6.– On August 5th the Trump administration deployed another weapon in its fight with China: name-calling. After some grousing on President Donald Trump’s twitter feed, the Treasury officially designated China a currency manipulator.

The Chinese government stands accused of devaluing its currency in order to gain an unfair advantage in international trade. It is the first time the Treasury has made such an accusation in over 25 years.

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Brazil has the power to save Earth's greatest forest–or destroy it!

What would its government do? And, what would the rest of the world do about it?

The plight of the Amazon: The destruction of the world’s tropical forests already releases vast amounts of carbon through fire and decay. Were they a country, tropical forests would be the world’s third-biggest emitter of carbon dioxide after China and America. But worse looms. The Amazon basin, home to 40% of Earth’s rainforest and 10-15% of its terrestrial species, may be perilously close to the tipping-point beyond which its transformation into something closer to a steppe within decades cannot be stopped or reversed, even if the loggers lay down their chainsaws. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, is sprinting towards that future in the name, he claims, of development. The Amazon’s collapse would be felt most acutely within his country’s borders, but far beyond them, too. It must be averted.

Manaus, Aug. 2.– Although its cradle is the sparsely wooded savannah, humankind has long looked to forests for food, fuel, timber and sublime inspiration. Still a livelihood for 1.5bn people, forests maintain local and regional ecosystems Huge and growing deforestation areas in BrasilHuge and growing deforestation areas in Brasiland, for the other 6.2bn, provide a—fragile and creaking—buffer against climate change. Now droughts, wildfires and other human-induced changes are compounding the damage from chainsaws. In the tropics, which contain half of the world’s forest biomass, tree-cover loss has accelerated by two-thirds since 2015; if it were a country, the shrinkage would make the tropical rainforest the world’s third-biggest carbon-dioxide emitter, after China and America.

Nowhere are the stakes higher than in the Amazon basin—and not just because it contains 40% of Earth’s rainforests and harbours 10-15% of the world’s terrestrial species. 

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5th Open Government Dialogue kicks off in Manila

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar opened the Dagyaw 2019: Open Government and Participatory Governance Regional Town Hall Meeting in Pasay City on Tuesday (July 30, 2019). Andanar highlighted the importance of bringing the government closer to the people to clarify and further strengthen government programs that affect local communities.

Pasay City, July 30.– Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Communications Secretary Martin AndanarCommunications Secretary Martin AndanarSecretary Martin Andanar on Tuesday opened the fifth leg of the cooperative open government dialogues as part of the Duterte administration’s continuing efforts to bring government services closer to the people.

“One of the most effective means of communication is face-to-face conversation. Actual contact with people for the delivery and presentation of ideas is forceful, immediate, and clarifying. Statements are simplified and the essence of their meanings is never subliminal,” Andanar said in his message during the Manila leg of the Dagyaw 2019: Open Government and Participatory Governance Regional Town Hall Meeting at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

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Spiralling tensions between Iran and the West have the Gulf states on edge

The conflict threatens their infrastructure and their income.  Fujairah harbor, UAEFujairah harbor, UAE

Fujairah, July 25.– Compared with Jebel Ali in Dubai, it feels like a sleepy Mediterranean harbour. The port at Fujairah, on the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), serves mostly as a refuelling depot for ships plying the Strait of Hormuz. It lacks the cargo capacity and the high-tech wizardry of Jebel Ali, the largest port in the Gulf and the ninth-busiest in the world. But Fujairah is the UAE’s only link to the high seas that bypasses the troubled strait, and so it has become a focal point amid worsening tension between Iran and the West.

That tension rose on July 19th when Iran’s navy seized the Stena Impero, a British tanker (pictured below), as it sailed west through the strait. The 30,000-tonne ship is now anchored near Bandar Abbas, hostage to a dispute that began on July 4th, when Britain impounded an Iranian tanker (allegedly bound for Syria) as it passed Gibraltar. In one of his final acts as foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt proposed setting up a European task force to protect commercial vessels in the Gulf.

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