The founder of outdoor retailer Patagonia, known for his environmental stances, has announced he has given away his US company in an effort to do even more for the planet.

Yvon Chouinard, 83, could have sold the brand –– valued at $3 billion, according to The New York Times –– or taken it public.

"Earth is now our only shareholder," Chouinard wrote in an open letter posted to Patagonia's websiteon Wednesday.

"I never wanted to be a businessman," he explained. "I started as a craftsman, making climbing gear for my friends and myself, then got into apparel."

He added: "As we began to witness the extent of global warming and ecological destruction, and our own contribution to it, Patagonia committed to using our company to change the way business was done."

He, his wife and their two children agreed to transfer all of Patagonia's voting shares, or stock that gives the holder voting rights, in the company to a trust in charge of ensuring the brand's environmental values are respected.

All of Patagonia's nonvoting shares have been transferred to a nonprofit dedicated to fighting against climate change and for nature protection and conservation. Company profits will also be donated to the nonprofit.

Chouinard family to stay on Patagonia board

Founded almost 50 years ago, Patagonia quickly became committed to conserving nature, by carefully choosing its raw materials and donating one percent of its sales each year to environmental NGOs.

But Chouinard has decided this is no longer enough.

One option was to sell Patagonia and donate the money.

"But we couldn't be sure a new owner would maintain our values or keep our team of people around the world employed," he said in the letter.

Taking the company public would have been a "disaster," he said: "Even public companies with good intentions are under too much pressure to create short-term gain at the expense of long-term vitality andresponsibility."

Patagonia will remain a company, which cares about its financial health and will operate with a board of directors and CEO.

The Chouinard family will no longer get any money from the company but will stay on the board, as well as oversee the trust and guide the nonprofit's philanthropic work.

Source: AFP

The European Union's executive has outlined plans for raising more than $140 billion to cope with an energy crisis that has increased the prospect of winter fuel rationing, corporate insolvencies and economic recession.

"EU Member States have already invested billions of euros to assist vulnerable households. But we know this will not be enough," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told members of the European Parliament on Wednesday.

She unveiled plans to cap revenues from those electricity generators that have gained from surging power prices but do not rely on costly gas. 

She also outlined plans to force fossil fuel firms to share windfall profits from energy sales.

"In these times it is wrong to receive extraordinary record revenues and profits benefiting from war and on the back of our consumers," von der Leyen said.

She said the plan should raise more than $140 billion for the EU's 27 members to support households and businesses.

But her announcement did not include an earlier EU idea to cap Russian gas prices. That idea has divided member states, after Russia warned it could cut of all fuel supplies. Von der Leyen said the Commission was still discussing the idea.

Europe's benchmark gas price rose to about $208 per megawatt hour (MWh) on the comments, well below an August record above $343 but more than 200 percent up on a year ago.

A draft of the proposals did not include broader gas price caps.

Refilling Reserves

Europe has been racing to refill its storage facilities and has already met target to have them 80 percent full by November. 

But Russia's moves to cut supplies, including via the major Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany, makes the winter outlook uncertain. 

Moscow blames sanctions for hindering pipeline maintenance. European politicians say that is a pretext.

Source: Reuters

Egypt has ordered the release of an Al Jazeera journalist held in pretrial detention, the Qatar-based network confirmed, as President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi concluded his trip to Doha on Wednesday.

The decision will see Al Jazeera Mubasher’s Ahmed al-Najdi, who has been detained since August 2020, freed from prison, his lawyer Samir al-Bagoury said.

The fate of his detained colleagues, Hisham Abdel Aziz, Bahauddin Ibrahim and Rabie el-Sheikh, remains unclear, though Al Jazeera confirmed they are being held in detention “without trial or charge”.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says Aziz was arrested in June 2019, while Ibrahim was detained in February 2020, and Al Sheikh in August 2021. Cairo accuses the reporters of the Qatar-based network of being members of a banned group” and “spreading false information”.

In August, Al Jazeera said the health of its journalist Al-Sheikh was declining after a year in solitary confinement in Egyptian detention, condemning Cairo's extension of his incarceration.

Responding to the news on social media, a member of the presidential pardon committee in Egypt said he welcomes “the Egyptian Public Prosecution’s decision to release the Al Jazeera journalists who are being held in pretrial detention”.

Egypt's human rights record is regularly condemned, with groups saying there are 60,000 political prisoners, many held on charges of "spreading false news".

Cairo, where at least 20 journalists are behind bars, currently ranks 168th out of 180 countries in the press freedom index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

The announcement on Wednesday came as Sisi concluded his first official visit to Doha as president, following a similar trip by Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to Cairo in June.

Both visits signal the restoration of ties between the two countries following a major four-year political crisis in 2017 that saw Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain sever diplomatic ties with Qatar.

However, the crisis came to a head in 2021 with the signing of the Al Ula Declaration in Saudi Arabia./ Alaraby

The funds of associations and non-profit organizations in the country in the future will be under the eyes of the state to prevent their use for the purposes of money laundering, terrorist financing and weapons of mass destruction.

A draft law amending and completing Law No. 05-01 of February 2005 related to the prevention and combating of money laundering and terrorist financing, which is expected to be presented soon to the two chambers of Parliament for discussion and enrichment, stressed the need to adapt national legislation to Algeria’s international obligations, especially with the development of crime and the emergence of new technologies regarding money laundering.

According to the project document, these developments necessitate the need to constantly adapt anti-money laundering and terrorist financing techniques to keep pace with the unfolding developments, especially in the legislative aspect of preventing and combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

According to the text of Article 5 A1, “The National Committee takes appropriate measures to identify, assess, understand and address the risks of money laundering, terrorist financing and financing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to which the Algerian Republic is exposed.

Accordingly, every association or non-profit organization, receives, grants or transfers funds as part of its activity is subjected to appropriate monitoring by the relevant committee.

Associations or non-profit organizations must take a number of measures to avert falling into the trap of financing unknown entities, or even accepting suspicious donations, including refraining from accepting any donations or financial aid that the law considers a misdemeanor or a felony, whether from natural persons or legal persons or even organizations or structures that have been proven to be involved inside or outside the territory of the Republic in activities related to terrorist crimes.

The text of the draft also adds refraining from accepting any sums of money in cash without a prior license from the relevant ministry. The supervisory and control authority also sets rules aimed at ensuring that the funds of non-profit organizations are not used for the purposes of money laundering, terrorist financing and weapons of mass destruction financing.

The aforementioned authority is, in particular, entrusted with developing practical programs and measures based on a risk-based approach with the aim of combating money laundering, terrorist financing and arms financing, and monitoring their implementation, and conducting an assessment of the risks of money laundering, terrorist financing and financing proliferation of weapons associated with non-profit associations and organizations and ensuring that they are regularly updated, ensuring that all information, data and statistics related to associations and non-profit organizations are monitored.

The project allows the possibility of investigation against suspected money laundering by sending inspectors to banks and postal services to monitor financial documents in an urgent manner, with the preparation of a detailed report to be submitted to the competent authority in the event that there are doubts about the financing of these associations, and in the event that banks or financial institutions are unable to perform their role. In the fight against money laundering, the aforementioned committee can take disciplinary measures against the latter./ echoroukonline

Algerian journalists raised concerns about press freedom in their country after the surprise incarceration on Thursday, September 8, of Belkacem Houam. Mr. Houam, from the Arabic-language daily Echorouk, was imprisoned following an article about the recall of "deglet nour" dates, particularly in France, due to the presence of a pesticide banned in the European Union.

The article, published on September 7, reported criticism from exporters – whose names weren't disclosed – about the management of pesticide use by the authorities. It also mentioned that a decision to stop the "immediate" export of dates was taken by the ministry of trade, which quickly reacted by denouncing an article with "baseless information detrimental to the country's economy and wealth." This was followed by the announcement of "all necessary measures against the author of the article and the newspaper, including judicial proceedings before the competent courts."

The newspaper Echorouk was stopped from printing at the state printing press

The clarifications from the ministry of trade and, subsequently, the ministry of agriculture seemed sufficient to close the matter. But things unexpectedly got out of hand. While the newspaper Echorouk was stopped from printing at the state printing press on September 8, Mr. Houam was summoned to court and placed in pretrial detention in the El Harrach prison in Algiers.

Read more Algeria: Journalist Ihsane El-Kadi sentenced to six months in prison

Up to 30 years in prison

The news of his detention has generated widespread shock. "A journalist should never go to prison for this," said the Twala news website. Meanwhile, Khaled Drareni, a representative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in North Africa, called for the release of the journalist, pointing out that the Algerian Constitution states that "the violation of press laws cannot be punished by a custodial sentence." "It is the physical integrity of the journalist that is immediately at stake," wrote Ihsane El-Kadi, director of Radio M and Maghreb Emergent, who was sentenced to six months in prison in June for an opinion piece on the place of the Islamo-conservative movement Rachad in politics.

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Mr. Houam is being prosecuted under a law "on the fight against illegal speculation." Enacted in December 2021 during the Covid-19 crisis, it targets in particular "the dissemination of false or defamatory news or information knowingly, in order to cause a disruption of the market and a sudden and unjustified rise in prices." He faces up to 30 years in prison. Appalled by the news, journalists called for a rally at the Abdelkader-Safir press house in Kouba, Algiers, on September 14.

The former minister of communication, Abdelaziz Rahabi, said he was "shocked," when the case should have been treated in the same way as "all media in the modern world." The detention of a journalist for information of a "purely commercial nature," said Mr. Rahabi, reflects the "persistent political instrumentalization of justice belonging to another age." For the former minister, this is not an isolated act, but a policy that reduces media to being simply "a spokesman for the regime, without real impact on a well-informed public opinion that is more globalized than its leaders."

LE Monde

On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the launch of its Tangier factory, Renault said it will start making super-mini electric vehicles there by 2023.

The two-seat small urban car will be produced by Renault’s affiliate Mobilize in a bid to tap into a growing market of electric vehicles.

The new car will be made in Tangier given the competitiveness and the investment that Renault has made to reduce production costs, Mobilize director general said.

The company did not specify which parts will be made in Morocco, where Citroen and Opel rivals are already producing similar cars.

In a bid to enhance its attractiveness to electric car makers, Moroccan industry minister said the country is in talks with investors for the setting up of a factory to produce up to 300,000 batteries annually, local media reported in July.

Last year, Morocco exported some 700,000 vehicles, while the production capacity of EV cars stood at 50,000, a figure that is set to double in the next two years, the minister said.

In a push to achieve zero emission quest by 2050, the EU imposed a ban on petrol and diesel cars from 2035. This means car makers have to adapt to EV or leave the EU market.

In March, Morocco’s industry ministry signed deals with five wire harness suppliers to set up plants in Morocco for investments worth 180 million dollars as demand grows from EV manufacturers at home and abroad.

Morocco is also trying to foster its position in the global semiconductor supply chains. The country is already home to suppliers such as ST Microelectronics which expanded its solar-powered Casablanca plant.

Kuwait ranked first in the Arab world and 82 globally, according to the broadband efficiency index, which measures the speed of downloading via the Internet, issued by the ‘Cable’ website specialized in this field, while Lebanon continued its decline to reach 193 globally and 16th among the 19 Arab countries.

With Kuwait recording qualitative progress to take the Arab lead and jump by 18 places on the international list of broadband speed, it was noted that the majority of Arab countries, including the Gulf, recorded a decline in the global ranking, despite the relative increases in Internet speed compared to the current year and the previous year, while deepening sagging in the group of weaker countries, particularly Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

While Qatar, which retained the second place in the Arab world, recorded a decline from 78th to 95th globally, the UAE abandoned the regional leadership and also fell to 100th place in the global ranking after it was 73rd last year. Saudi Arabia retained the fourth Arab position, with a partial decline from 99th to 101st globally, followed by Bahrain, which also fell from 104th to 111th position.

This average internet speed is measured by downloading a typical high-definition movie of 5 GB, where “Cable” has taken more than 1.1 billion tests in 220 countries. Average global internet speed to 34.79 Mbps in 2022, from 29.79 Mbps in 2021. Globally, Macau recorded a qualitative progress in internet speed to occupy the first place in the world with an average internet speed of 262.74 megabytes per second, followed by Jersey with an average internet speed of 256.59 megabytes per second, and Iceland in third place in the world with an average internet speed of 216.56 megabytes per second, then Liechtenstein at 216.56 megabytes, fourth place globally, with an average internet speed of 166.22 megabytes per second, while Gibraltar ranked fifth in the world, with an average internet speed of 159.90 megabytes per second.

Syria ranked 205 globally, with an average speed of 2.88 megabytes per second, followed by Sudan in 209 globally, with an average speed of 2.57 megabytes per second, and finally Yemen ranked 218 globally, with an average speed of 0.97 megabytes per second.

The election department of the interior ministry Tuesday decided to disqualify 15 registered candidates from running in the September 29 polls because they had been convicted in court over criminal and political cases, some candidates announced. The decisions of the department were not published but conveyed directly to the concerned candidates some of whom said they will challenge the decision in court today.

Candidates who announced they had been disqualified include former Islamist MPs Nayef Al-Dabbous and Abdullah Al-Barghash. They also include Hani Hussein, Musaed Al-Qarifa, Anwar Al-Fikr and Ayedh Al-Oteibi. Qarifa on Twitter criticized the ministry decision to ban him from contesting the election, saying the action is an infringement on his constitutional right, adding he will challenge it in court.

Oteibi also criticized the decision, saying he was barred over political consideration for repeating a controversial speech by former leading opposition MP Mussallam Al-Barrak about 10 years ago. He was convicted in court over this. Several candidates lashed out at the department’s decision, claiming it is a misuse of authority and law. With this, the number of candidates who are contesting the election has dropped to 356 after 11 candidates withdrew from the race and 15 barred by the department. The withdrawal of candidacy continues until September 22.

In the meantime,  the election campaign continued to highlight major issues, especially what candidates claim wide-scale corruption by senior officials. Candidate Metab Al-Rathaan, running in the fourth constituency, Tuesday called for “reopening all corruption files without exception”, adding that all those who are involved in graft cases against public funds must be held to account. Saad Al-Hajeri of the fifth constituency said corruption has become so established in the country to the extent that reforming it has become extremely difficult but not impossible, adding that corruption should be uprooted in order to build a new country.

Former MP Fayez Al-Mutairi, bidding for re-election from the fourth district, said that he believes Kuwait is in a state of transformation from the corruption era to the reforms era, adding that the ball is in the people’s court. He said he is certain that the people will elect a majority of reformists in the next assembly. Candidate Alia Al-Khaled, a female running in the second constituency, Tuesday said that Kuwait’s problems have increased and become more complicated, adding that “we are in a bottleneck and we should exit it”.

Former MP Bader Al-Mulla, running in the second constituency, said he had investigated the Eur. 7.9 billion deal Kuwait signed to purchase Eurofighter aircraft when he was the head of the assembly budgets committee. He said that only Euro 3.9 billion were allocated for the warplanes while the remaining 4.0 billion were allocated for associated civil works in a bid to increase commissions which amounted to over 590 million euros. In the meantime, the criminal court Tuesday resumed the trial of five former officials from the defense ministry on charges of harming public funds in the Eurofighters deal./KT

TUNIS (Reuters) - The number of Tunisian migrants landing on Italian shores jumped 23 percent to 13,500 in the first eight months of 2022 from the same period last year, a rights group said on Tuesday, adding Tunisia's political and economic crisis lay behind the exodus.

Videos posted on social media showed entire families embarking on boats this summer amid a sharp rise in the number of sailings from Tunisian coasts as the country's economic crisis deepened.

Ramadan Ben Omar, an official in the Tunisian Forum of Economic and Social Rights, said that 2,600 minors, 640 women and 500 Tunisian families arrived on the Italian coasts in boats this year.

He added that the number of people drowned off the Tunisian coast this year was about 570.

Tunisia is in the throes of an economic and social crisis which threatens to bankrupt public finances, while inflation has reached 8.6 percent, its highest in three decades.

"The bad economic situation is no longer a sole reason for rise of illegal journey toward Italy... There is also a stifling political crisis and a decline in freedoms, in addition to social tension and loss of hope among Tunisians," Ben Omar told Reuters.

Efforts to rescue the economy have been complicated by Tunisia's political upheavals since President Kais Saied seized most powers a year ago, shutting down parliament and moving to rule by decree, a move described by the opposition as a coup.

Saied has said the moves were needed to end political paralysis, and he enshrined his expanded role in a new constitution that was passed in a referendum in July on a low turnout of 30.5%.

The Tunisian authorities prevented more than 23,500 Tunisians from reaching the Italian coasts by thwarting about 1,800 crossings, Ben Omar said.

The interior ministry was not immediately available to comment on the assertion that the increase in migration was fuelled by the country's political and economic situation.

Human traffickers increasingly use the Tunisian Mediterranean towns of Sfax, Zarzis and Mahdia as launch pads for migrants heading by boat to Europe.

The Spanish ombudsman has collected testimony from 201 victims as part of its newly launched investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, according to a statement released Tuesday.

The independent probe began a little over two months ago and is Spain’s first official investigation into the depths of abuse and pedophilia at the hands of Catholic clergy.

Of those who have come forward so far, 167 victims were men and 34 women, according to the ombudsman.

“We are satisfied with the rhythm of incoming testimonies and the number of victims who have come to us. But what we really care about is listening to the victims with respect, seriousness, discretion and trust,” said Ombudsman Angel Gabilondo.

When the investigation wraps up, the ombudsman will submit a report with facts, proposals and suggestions to Spain’s parliament.

Since this is the first official investigation, no clear data exists on how widespread sexual abuse has been in Spain’s Catholic Church.

However, Spanish daily El Pais has been collecting testimonies since 2018 and has identified nearly 1,600 victims.

A similar investigation in France found that 3,000 priests and other church officials were responsible for abusing 216,000 children since 1950.

Last year, in a letter to the Vatican, UN human rights experts expressed their “utmost concern” about numerous allegations of sexual abuse around the world and “the measures adopted by the Catholic Church to protect alleged abusers, cover up crimes, obstruct accountability of alleged abusers, and evade reparations due to victims.”

Last month, Spanish daily El Diario published a signed document that showed how the church offered a victim of sexual abuse €17,000 ($17,000) in exchange for his silence.

This year, the Spanish Episcopal Conference also launched its own parallel probe into the issue, and lawyers working on that case told El Diario that the investigation has found “around 30” similar cases of coverup./AA