Interview: Tunisian physicist Nour Raouafi, on NASA’s mission to reach the Sun

Over the past month, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has been breaking space records left and right. On October 29, PSP became the closest and fastest human-made object orbiting the Sun, while October 31 marked its first solar « encounter ». In light of these events, Nawaat speaks with the Project Scientist of the NASA mission to reach our solar system’s star, the Sun. Nour Raouafi, Tunisian solar physicist at John Hopkins University Applied Sciences Lab which built the PSP spacecraft, describes the early phase of this seven-year journey into the Sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, and also talks about his own trajectory to working on this stellar mission.

What grows around, comes around: Tunisia plants the seeds for its own canola industry

Beginning in October, farmers in Tunisia’s northwest, particularly Beja, Jendouba, Zaghouan, will begin planting cereal crops like wheat and barley and leguminous crops including chickpea, lentil and faba which will both feed soil and stock pantries. A select few farmers in the region will also plant canola, an industrial oilseed supplied by French agribusiness giant Groupe AVRIL who is partnering with the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture to develop a canola sector that is « 100% Tunisian ». The project is in fact part of a decades-long push to introduce canola as a « locally grown » alternative to imported grains and oils.

Rouhanyet Mystic Fest : « Is this what you call peace and love? »

Rouhanyet Mystic Fest is celebrating Season of Peace, its third edition which takes place from September 5-9 in Tunis’ postcardesque Sidi Bou Saïd. Organized by actor Hichem Rostom and wife Sana Ezzine, the event claims to be a « spiritual gathering based on mystic arts, sufism, sacred musics and all expressions of spirituality », offering festival-goers a smattering of yoga sessions, crystal healing and nightly musical concerts with the likes of Yuma and Labess. But amidst festival slogans of « peace, love, tolerance and fraternity », several artists from the previous edition are calling, quite simply, to be paid for their work.

National Registry of Institutions, stepping on the toes of Tunisia’s civil society organizations

In June 2017, Tunisia’s Ministry of Civil Society and Human Rights pledged to reform the legal framework regulating associations, an attempt to « harmonize » the sector with the fight against terrorism and money laundering. The government’s proposal to amend Decree 88 of 2011, widely regarded as an important gain of the revolution for freedom of association, was perceived as a significant threat to this constitutional right. But while Tunisian and international civil society organizations had their gaze fixed on protecting Decree 88, the threat materialized in a far less obvious form: draft law 30/2018 on the National Registry of Enterprises, precipitously passed into law by parliament on July 27, 2018.

Tunisia’s skies soon to be opened up to drone technology?

On the heels of Korea’s joint agreement with the African Development Bank including a $5 billion assistance commitment to Africa, Tunisia’s Ministry of Development has landed a piece of the deal. The Korea Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAPEC) fund has carved out a million-dollar grant towards a project that will deliver Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), more commonly known as drones, for data collection in Tunisia’s agricultural sector. Until now, drone use in Tunisia has been largely restricted under ministerial law of 6 April 1995. Will South Korea’s experiment influence lawmakers to devise new regulations and open Tunisia’s skies to a wider application of this technology?

To fast or not to fast? Tunisia’s struggle against police conservatism during Ramadan

In Tunis, many practice the fast during Ramadan, abstaining from food and drink from sunup to sundown, just as many do not. At any time of day, you can find the latter crowded into the smoky refuge of one of the cafés and restaurants that continue to serve throughout the day, recognizable by their shutters partially pulled down over doorways or faded newspapers pasted across window fronts, discreet signals to non-fasting passers-by that inside, it’s business as usual. But this activity remains susceptible to police harassment justified by Interior Minister Lotfi Brahem, dismissed on June 5 after being vehemently criticized by NGOs.

حديقة البلفيدير: رئة العاصمة في خطر

العديد يعرفون البلفيدير من خلال حديقة الحيوانات، لكن هذه الحديقة العمومية التي تمسح أكثر من 100 هكتار هي من أكبر المناطق الخضراء بالعاصمة وغطاءها النباتي يجعلها بمثابة رئة العاصمة التي تعرف كثافة سكانية متصاعدة وتختنق بحزام المناطق الصناعية المحيط بها. لكن الارتجال على مستوى التهيئة العمرانية يهدد مساحة البلفيدير بالتقلص لتفسح المجال لباعثين عقاريين خواص أو لطرقات تحد من الاختناق المروري وتُضَاعف من التلوث. في لقاء مع نواة، نبهت آمنة الشرفي، الكاتبة العامة لجمعية أصدقاء البلفيدير، من هذه المخاطر مشددة على الأهمية الوطنية لهذه الحديقة وضرورة المحافظة عليها.

Yasiin Bey alias Mos Def à la rencontre de la scène hip hop tunisienne

Autrefois connu sous le nom de Mos Def, Yasiin Bey se produira, jeudi 10 mai, au Carpe Diem à La Marsa pour le Tunis Block Party (TBP). Tout comme les deux premières éditions organisées par les collectifs Frd & Friends, Upper Underground et Debo, l’évènement rassemblera la crème de la crème des DJs, Bboys, rappeurs et graffeurs tunisiens. Après le succès des deux premières éditions de Tunis Block Party, une performance assurée par le « Bey de Brooklyn » va sans doute réunir un plus grand nombre d’aficionados pour cette troisième édition.

Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def meets the Tunisian hip hop scene

It’s mathematics. In T-minus 10 days, Yasiin Bey, the artist formerly known as Mos Def, will be at Carpe Diem in La Marsa for Tunis Block Party (TBP) on May 10. Like the first two editions organized by collectives FRD, Upper Underground and Debo, the event will gather la crème de la crème of Tunisian DJs, Bboys, rappers and graffers. After an impressive turnout for block parties 1 and 2, a performance by the « Bey of Brooklyn » is sure to draw an even larger crowd for the event’s third edition. But TBP is not just a show for hip hop aficionados: with as much emphasis on street as stage, the party promises equal parts entertainment plus much-needed, healthy competition for participating artists.

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