Egypt launches campaign to promote nature reserves and ecotourism

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The campaign was launched from the Ras Mohamed Nature Reserve in South Sinai in the presence of Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad. (Egypt’s Ministry of Environment)
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Egypt has launched a campaign to promote nature reserves, raise environmental awareness and support ecotourism. (Egypt’s Ministry of Environment)
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Egypt has launched a campaign to promote nature reserves, raise environmental awareness and support ecotourism. (Egypt’s Ministry of Environment)
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Updated 26 September 2020

Egypt launches campaign to promote nature reserves and ecotourism

  • The campaign was launched from the Ras Mohamed Nature Reserve in South Sinai
  • It aims to support ecotourism, encourage visits to reserves and help people to learn about the local population

CAIRO: Egypt has launched a campaign to promote nature reserves, raise environmental awareness and support ecotourism.
The Ministry of Environment said the campaign was in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Ministry of Information, as well as with the participation of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Integration of Biodiversity in Egyptian Tourism project funded by the Global Environment Facility.
The campaign was launched from the Ras Mohamed Nature Reserve in South Sinai in the presence of Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled Al-Anani, and Minister of State for Information Osama Heikal, in addition to 30 ambassadors and representatives from foreign embassies in Egypt.
It aims to support ecotourism, encourage visits to reserves and help people to learn about the local population, including their culture and heritage.
The ministry said the campaign would implement an integrated awareness and communications plan to support responsible and sustainable environmental tourism, and work toward pumping new investments into this sector in a way that supported the sustainability of natural resources.
Fouad said the campaign would run for three years and promote ecotourism through a website and social media accounts, and that there would be a new visitor center in the Ras Mohamed and Fayoum reserves. People from the local community would also be involved through sustainable job opportunities. 
The minister said that natural reserves were receiving the attention and support of the political leadership, therefore the reserves were developed and managed according to international standards in order to preserve them, maximize economic, social and cultural development and preserve Egypt’s rich biological diversity in a way that supported the environment and national economy by attracting more investment in the ecotourism sector.
Heikal said the campaign was an opportunity to clarify the message that tourism did not undermine efforts to develop and preserve the environment, including nature reserves, as an attractive source for tourism.
Al-Anani said there was ministry cooperation in many fields to revitalize tourism, which is one of the pillars of the national economy, including the Ministry of Environment’s decision to reduce fees for day trips to reserves in the governorates of South Sinai and the Red Sea, and fees for daily cruises until the end of next March.


US officials: Iran sent emails intimidating American voters

Updated 22 October 2020

US officials: Iran sent emails intimidating American voters

  • Intelligence director: “These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries”

WASHINGTON: US officials accused Iran on Wednesday of being behind a flurry of emails sent to Democratic voters in multiple battleground states that appeared to be aimed at intimidating them into voting for President Donald Trump.
The announcement at a rare, hastily called news conference just two weeks before the election underscored the concern within the US government about efforts by foreign countries to spread false information meant to suppress voter turnout and undermine American confidence in the vote.
The activities attributed to Iran would mark a significant escalation for a nation that some cybersecurity experts regard as a second-rate player in online espionage, with the announcement coming as most public discussion surrounding election interference has centered on Russia, which hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 election, and China, a Trump administration adversary.
“These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries,” said John Ratcliffe, the government’s top intelligence official, who, along with FBI Director Chris Wray, insisted the US would impose costs on any foreign countries that interfere in the 2020 US election and that the integrity of the election is still sound.
“You should be confident that your vote counts,” Wray said. “Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.”
Wray and Ratcliffe did not describe the emails linked to Iran, but officials familiar with the matter said the US has linked Tehran to messages sent to Democratic voters in at least four battleground states that falsely purported to be from the neo-fascist group Proud Boys and that warned “we will come after you” if the recipients didn’t vote for Trump.
The officials also said Iran and Russia had obtained voter registration data, though such data is considered easily, publicly accessible. Tehran used the information to send out the spoofed emails, which were sent to voters in states including Pennsylvania and Florida.
Ratcliffe said the spoofed emails were intended to hurt Trump, though he did not elaborate on how. An intelligence assessment released in August said: “Iran seeks to undermine US democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections. Iran’s efforts along these lines probably will focus on online influence, such as spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-US content.”
Trump, speaking at a rally in North Carolina, made no reference to the press conference but repeated a familiar campaign assertion that Iran is opposed to his reelection. He promised that if he wins another term he will swiftly reach a new accord with Iran over its nuclear program.
“Iran doesn’t want to let me win. China doesn’t want to let me win,” Trump said. “The first call I’ll get after we win, the first call I’ll get will be from Iran saying let’s make a deal.”
Both Russia and Iran also obtained voter registration information, though such data is considered easily, publicly accessible. Tehran used the information to send out the spoofed emails, which were sent to voters in states including Pennsylvania and Florida.
Asked about the emails during an online forum Wednesday, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said she lacked specific information. “I am aware that they were sent to voters in multiple swing states and we are working closely with the attorney general on these types of things and others,” she said.
While state-backed Russian hackers are known to have infiltrated US election infrastructure in 2016, there is no evidence that Iran has ever done so.
The voter intimidation operation apparently used email addresses obtained from state voter registration lists, which include party affiliation and home addresses and can include email addresses and phone numbers. Those addresses were then used in an apparently widespread targeted spamming operation. The senders claimed they would know which candidate the recipient was voting for in the Nov. 3 election, for which early voting is ongoing.
Federal officials have long warned about the possibility of this type of operation, as such registration lists are not difficult to obtain.
“These emails are meant to intimidate and undermine American voters’ confidence in our elections,” Christopher Krebs, the top election security official at the Department of Homeland Security, tweeted Tuesday night after reports of the emails first surfaced.