to go further News March 11, 2021 Find out more News AfghanistanAsia – Pacific News RSF asks International Criminal Court to investigate murders of journalists in Afghanistan Help by sharing this information June 2, 2021 Find out more May 3, 2021 Find out more March 6, 2013 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Afghan government urged to guarantee journalists’ safety Follow the news on Afghanistan Situation getting more critical for Afghan women journalists, report says Organisation Reporters Without Borders is concerned about an increase in harassment and violence against journalists and sanctions against news media. Since the start of the year, two radio stations have been closed by the authorities and at least 12 journalists have been arrested or attacked by police in various parts of the country.“We urge the authorities to do their duty by guaranteeing journalists’ safety and respecting their right to report the news,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Mistrust and accusatory attitudes towards journalists and news media are endangering freedom of information. The threats against the media and impunity for those who attack journalists must end.”In one of the latest cases, Radio Galat Jagh manager Taymour Shah Sahzadeh was detained by the police for four hours in the southeastern province of Zabol on 27 February, since when the station’s broadcasts have been suspended. Confirming the suspension, Radio Galat Jagh editor in chief Abdolsedigh Mirvissi told Reporters Without Borders on 3 March: “The station is being punished for broadcasting a report about an anti-corruption protest and for broadcasting an interview with a parliamentarian on the same subject.” Radio Galat Jagh had been broadcasting with the support of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which reportedly withdrew this support at the request of Zabol’s governor after he was singled out for criticism by the protesters.Radio Nassim, a local radio station based in the central province of Daykandi, was the victim of harassment and reprisals by the governor, the police chief and local representatives of the information and culture ministry on 14 February.Station manager Mohammad Reza Vahedi told the Pajhwok new agency: “The governor banned officials from answering our questions while the information and culture ministry illegally tried to insist on our revealing our source for a programme about the security situation in the province.”The governor and the head of the local information ministry office denied this, but the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders confirms that independent media are subject to harassment.Ten journalists were threatened and attacked by members of the security services in Jalalabad, the capital of the eastern province of Nangarhar, on 24 February while trying to cover a suicide bombing at the provincial security headquarters. All reporters were prevented from entering the building. Tele Jondon reporter Zyar Khan Yad told news media: “I was attacked three time in the course of the 15 minutes that I was filming the event.” Several journalists were similarly the victims of violence by security forces a month earlier in Kabul.Hamed Abidi, the editor of the weekly Active Youth, received a telephone threat in Kabul on 17 February in connection with an article he had published about the construction of a privately-owned car park. The unidentified person who made the threat claimed to be close to the authorities.The photographer Farzaneh Vahedi received a similar threat the same day in the northeastern province of Badakhshan about a documentary she has made about the activities of a charity that helps women.Reporters Without Borders is also worried by increasingly accusatory official statements concerning news media and journalists, and by government decisions restricting freedom of information.On 26 February, the council of ministers banned “the use of foreign accents and languages on radio and TV,” a decision that follows President Karzai’s directive to the information and culture ministry on 1 October 2012 to prosecute media acting against “the national interest.”Overly vague terms are often used by the authorities to ban TV broadcasts. Such allegations of acting against national interest, anti-Islamism and now “foreign accents and languages” are often used as a pretext for censorship in Afghanistan.Afghanistan rose 22 positions in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and is now ranked 128th out of 179 countries. Afghanistan : “No just and lasting peace in Afghanistan without guarantees for press freedom” Receive email alerts News RSF_en AfghanistanAsia – Pacific
TAGSlimerickReimagining Limerick: Intercultural Limerick Limerick’s National Camogie League double header to be streamed live Twitter RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR WhatsApp Print Billy Lee names strong Limerick side to take on Wicklow in crucial Division 3 clash BUILDING new connections between communities and strengthening existing links is the aim of Reimagining Limerick: Intercultural Limerick, which runs from October 17 to 23.Eugene Quinn, from the Intercultural Working Group, who are organising the festival said that the centenary of the 1916 Rising gave everyone an opportunity to reflect on society as a whole. Reimagining Limerick hopes that this will encourage people to work together to shape a truly inclusive Limerick where all residents are welcomed and valued, irrespective of colour, creed or culture.”“Limerick is home to nearly 200,000 people and we want them all to feel part of this festival. This is about celebrating Limerick in all its different forms,” he explained.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up A fascinating story about a Muslim girl’s experience growing up in Ireland will be one of the highlights of this year’s Intercultural Week. Iesha Moustafa will speak to young people in Limerick schools about her experiences of Irish society and also of being a football player.A World Food Festival taking place at the Limerick Milk Market between 11am and 4pm on October 23 is another highlight of the festival programme.“As Limerick continues to grow and be enriched by people making Limerick their home, it is important that communities come together,” said Mayor Kieran O’Hanlon.“Everyone has their own unique identity but we all share a common bond – that of calling Limerick home. I’m calling on all Limerick people to check out the events taking place over the seven days and attend at least one of them,” he said.by Alan [email protected] WATCH: “Everyone is fighting so hard to get on” – Pat Ryan on competitive camogie squads Email Predictions on the future of learning discussed at Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival Limerick Ladies National Football League opener to be streamed live Limerick Artist ‘Willzee’ releases new Music Video – “A Dream of Peace” Advertisement Linkedin Previous articleThe Loveliest Night of the Year – homage to Mario LanzaNext articleMemorial honours three Askeaton freedom fighters Alan Jacqueshttp://www.limerickpost.ie Facebook NewsLocal NewsLocal communities encouraged to re-imagine LimerickBy Alan Jacques – October 15, 2016 927
16 Jun 2014 Three England Golf teams ready for Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters Three England Golf teams ready for Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters England Golf is fielding three teams, two comprising boys and one of girls, in the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters being played at Nizels Golf Club in Kent on 19th – 22nd June. The event, being played over the opening two rounds with the best two scores from each to count, will see Team 1 made up of Samantha Fuller (Roehampton, Surrey), Sophie Keech (Parkstone, Dorset) and Mollie Lawrence (Rochester & Cobham, Kent). Team 2 will comprise Jamie Dick (Forest Hills, Gloucestershire), Max Martin (Ladbrook Park, Warwickshire, Image © Leaderboard Photography) and Jake Storey (Alnmouth, Northumberland), while Team 3 will be Oliver Farrell (Evesham, Worcestershire), Harry Hall (West Cornwall) and Jamie Li (Bath, Somerset). Sammy Fuller, 15, was third in this season’s Scottish U16 stroke play and sixth in the Irish U18 stroke play. A member of England’s winning team at last year’s Girls’ Home Internationals and represented GB&I in the Junior Vagliano Trophy. She had top-ten finishes in the women’s Welsh Open, Irish Open and English Close Championships and was third on the Lorrin Golf England girls’ Order of Merit. Sophie Keech, 18, will represent England in the European Girls’ Team Championship. She has just won the Astor Salver at The Berkshire and was leading amateur in the Roehampton Gold Cup. She won the English Girls’ Championship last summer, as well as the English Schools’ and South West Girls’ titles and was a member of England’s winning team at the Girls’ Home Internationals. Mollie Lawrence, 16, was runner-up in the Frilford Heath Salver and tied fifth in the Astor Salver this season. She tied seventh in the 2014 Scottish U16 Championship and in the Irish U18 Girls’ Championship. Last year she tied fifth in the girls’ event at the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters. Dick, 18, won the Darwin Salver at Rye in March, finished fourth in the Welsh Youths Championship and recently lost a playoff for the Welsh Open Stroke Play. Martin, 16, finished equal fourth in this year’s Fairhaven Trophy and represented England Golf in the recent German Boys Championship, while Storey, 18, the English under 16 champion in 2012, tied sixth in this year’s McEvoy Trophy and was a member of the team that finished third in the Fairhaven Trophy Nations Cup. Farrell, 17, was a member of the winning Nations Cup team at Fairhaven, having finished equal eighth in the McEvoy Trophy. Hall, 16, won this year’s Welsh Youths Championship, has been an under 16 international for the past two years, while Li, 17, another under 16 cap, was also a member of the winning Nations Cup team at Fairhaven, lost a playoff for the English under 18 Championship last year and finished sixth alongside Storey in this year’s McEvoy Trophy.
17 Oct 2014 BBC staff inspired to give golf a go BBC staff have been channelling their energies into a new sporting pursuit and enjoying free golf taster sessions. PGA professionals from Trafford Golf Centre delivered the introduction to golf to workers at the corporation’s MediaCityUK headquarters in Salford under the umbrella of the Lancashire County Golf Partnership. Organised by Lizzie Dignam, who runs the BBC Salford Club, and Bev Dodds, development officer for the Lancashire CGP, the sessions offered staff something different that they can enjoy with their friends and family. Nationally the Get into golf campaign and BBC Sport’s Get Inspired programme have teamed up to encourage people to get active and find new activities in their local area. The sessions covered the basics of the game in a relaxed and enjoyable environment and golfing equipment was provided. Peter Styles, director of golf at Trafford Golf Centre, said: “The taster sessions were delivered to golfing beginners, but they really enjoyed the experience and a number of them are now looking to carry on learning a sport that offers both social and health benefits to all ages and abilities. “The feedback we had was really positive with comments such as: • I love watching golf so I thought I would give it a go. • The session was great fun. Definitely want to do it again. • Great feeling when you hit a good shot. Just want to do it more now. After the taster sessions, follow-up coaching is available for the bargain price of just £25 for five lessons. The scheme is open to individuals, groups or businesses and is aimed at beginners or those returning to the sport. Styles added: “Our aim at Trafford Golf Centre is to create as many golfers as we can and for more people to enjoy the sport. We start new Get into golf taster sessions and coaching courses every two weeks at Trafford Golf Centre, so it is easy to find a time and date to suit you.” The centre, at Trafford Quays next to the Trafford Centre and the Chill Factore ski slope, has links with a number of clubs in the Manchester area – including Flixton, Northenden, Sale and Davyhulme Park – which provides a pathway into potential golf club membership for those attending the 57-bay driving range, which has five qualified teaching professionals. Get into golf is working alongside Get Inspired to extend its reach to millions of BBC viewers, listeners and web users across the country. “We are delighted to work with Get Inspired. This will be a big boost to our campaign to encourage people of all backgrounds and abilities to take up golf,” said Richard Flint, England Golf’s Participation & Club Support Director. “With this increased awareness we are looking for more clubs to work with the Get into golf programme so that we can offer more opportunities across the country.” Get into golf is a national campaign to inspire adults to take up the game and is run by the England Golf Partnership through its network of County Golf Partnerships, supported by Sport England and National Lottery funding. To find your nearest centre click here and look at the activity map or call 0800 118 2766
Here are a dozen notable news reports from the past week bearing on evolution, design and amazing discoveries.Red rover, rat rover: Live Science posted a cool video about research lab at Northwestern University that is imitating rats’ whiskers to improve robot sensing. Rat whiskers are very sensitive. Neurons in the base of the follicle convey a great deal of information to the brain, even in the dark. The researchers envision this tactile technology on Mars rovers someday.Spiderman glue: We’ve heard about efforts to duplicate spider silk, that ideal substance stronger than steel, but what about the glue that coats the silk strands? PhysOrg and Science Daily reported that scientists in Wyoming are trying to imitate that, too. Why? They could help technology “advance toward a new generation of biobased adhesives and glues – ‘green’ glues that replace existing petroleum-based products for a range of uses.” Spider web glue “is among the world’s strongest biological glues,” the article said. That’s impressive considering the strength of barnacle adhesion. Speaking of spiders, the largest orb-weaving spider was discovered in Madagascar, reported Science Daily. The picture shows a 1.5-inch big momma with legs 5 inches long sitting in her web over a meter across. Images of Shelob in Lord of the Rings come to mind. Another discovery reported by all the science news outlets including Science Daily and National Geographic News was a “surreal” critter that is the first known spider to feed primarily on plant material instead of animal tissue. This new species that New Scientist called the “Gandhi” of spiders is “the only known vegetarian out of some 40,000 spider species.” Evolutionists attributed the origin of this herbivorous spider to “co-evolution” and “social evolution.”The Sting for health: Imagine skin cream loaded with stinging cells from jellyfish. Ouch! It sounds like torture, but actually, it wouldn’t hurt a bit – and could actually heal. New Scientist reported that a company in Israel is harvesting stinging cells from the marine creatures (like sea anemones and jellyfish) to use as microscopic hypodermic needles. These natural harpoons, called nematocysts, have more force than the pressure needed to create diamonds inside the earth. They can penetrate fish scales as well as human skin. The NanoCyte company in Israel has patented a way to control the firing of the cells by putting them in a cream. They replace the toxins in the cells with drugs that can deliver healing medicines to diabetics and others afflicted with disease. Contact with skin activates the cells and delivers the payload. Some applications are in Phase II trials. Some day, your dentist may apply gum numbing medicine to your mouth with a cream instead of a surgical needle, and you may apply anti-itch creams with technologies derived from jellyfish. The article said, “One square centimetre of cream-coated skin can contain as many as a million tiny needles.” They promise the process is painless.Now ear this: You have two sets of neurons in your inner ear, reported Science Daily. Type II neurons in the hair cells of the cochlea apparently come into play when the normal neurons are exposed to ear-piercing decibels. That being the case, they “may play a role in such reflexive withdrawals from potential trauma.”Hearing on the wing: A remarkable auditory sense has been found on butterfly wings. PhysOrg reported that a “remarkable structure” on the wing of the blue morpho butterfly acts like a tympanic membrane – an eardrum. “The unusual structure and properties of the membrane mean that this butterfly ear may be able to distinguish between low and high pitch sounds,” perhaps to detect and avoid predatory birds. “The team suggest [sic] that sensitivity to lower pitch sounds may detect the beating of birds’ wings, while higher pitches may tune into birdsong.”Lotus contemplation: The water-repellant properties of the lotus leaf (see 09/23/2009) are still being examined for secrets. PhysOrg posted a 5-second video showing a bead of water bouncing right off a lotus leaf. Duke University engineers are imitating the lotus “to improve the efficiency of modern engineering systems, such as power plants or electronic equipment, which must be cooled by removing heat through water evaporation and condensation.”Ida known better: Ida’s fame may be short-lived (see 05/19/2009). The monkey fossil that was hailed in a book and TV special as an evolutionary missing link is now being charged by another team as irrelevant and uninformative to human evolution, reported the BBC News. Of course, the discoverers of Darwinius a.k.a. Ida are not ready to concede. The new paper claims “this is an extinct side branch of the group leading to lemurs that is not in any way related to apes and monkeys.” How, then, do they explain the traits in Ida that are monkey-like? The answer, according to New Scientist: “convergent evolution”Ardi on grass? PhysOrg resurrected the theory that human evolution began when apes came down to walk in the African savannah, but did not comment on the claim this month that Ardipithecus showed our ancestors still lived in the forest trees (see 10/02/2009). New Scientist mentioned Ardi but couched the conflict in a forest of possibilities. Our ancestors in that time frame “lived either in dense forest or in a mosaic of woodland, shrub and grasses.” Now every side can win.Got genes? Scientists in the Netherlands are wondering how some people get by without 2000 chunks of DNA – about 0.12 percent of the human genome. New Scientist asked what these means in evolutionary terms. “Team leader Joris Veltman suggests that the regions his team flagged up may once have been essential but aren’t any more, either because we now need different abilities to survive, or genes have evolved elsewhere in the genome to do the same job, perhaps better.” That leaves many storytelling possibilities, but it doesn’t explain why evolution left the non-essential genes around in some people.Tinysaur and other extinct reptiles: The world’s smallest dinosaur was reported by PhysOrg – a 2-pound midget just 28 inches long. Science Daily reported a pterosaur that was named “Darwinopterus” because it is alleged to fill a gap between two groups of pterosaurs (see also National Geographic News that announced “‘Darwin’s Wing’ Fills Evolution Gap” and BBC News that called it a “missing link.”) That positivist interpretation is not without problems. Science Daily quoted a team member: “We had always expected a gap-filler with typically intermediate features such as a moderately elongate tail � neither long nor short � but the strange thing about Darwinopterus is that it has a head and neck just like that of advanced pterosaurs, while the rest of the skeleton, including a very long tail, is identical to that of primitive forms” They invoked a modification of evolutionary theory called “modular evolution” to explain this. According to this interpretation, “natural selection was acting on and changing entire modules and not, as would normally be expected, just on single features such as the shape of the snout, or the form of a tooth.” This “controversial idea” requires more study, but might be applied to “many other cases among animals and plants where we know that rapid large scale evolution must have taken place.” See Live Science for more on this idea that is newly being applied to macroevolution. Another strange-looking pterosaur seems to be supporting intelligent design rather than evolution. At least, PhysOrg reported that Sankar Chatterjee at Texas Tech admires it enough to imitate it. “At first glance, the 115-million-year-old pterosaur looks like a Cretaceous design disaster,” the article began – “With a tail rudder on its head and a spindly, bat-like body, Tapejara wellnhoferi may appear fit for nothing but extinction.” A second glance was in order, though: a team of scientists from three universities now says that “the animal’s strange body actually made it a masterpiece of nature�s drawing boards. Not only could it walk and fly, but also it could sail across the sea.” The article includes a video of Chatterjee working with models of Tapejara to invent a new spy plane. Mummy trees: “Sensational” was how one researcher described mummified trees in Norway that died in the middle ages but have not decayed for 500 years. Science Daily said it was found in a moist region where decomposition should occur quickly. Somehow the tree resin prevented decay by bacteria, insects and the wood’s own natural decomposition.Stem cell bonanza: New techniques for creating better stem cells from adult tissue were reported by Science Daily, the BBC News and PhysOrg. “The new technique, which uses three small drug-like chemicals, is 200 times more efficient and twice as fast as conventional methods for transforming adult human cells into stem cells” known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). Shing Deng and a team at Scripps sought to imitate “a naturally occurring process in cells” when they hit pay dirt. The new method is “Efficient, Fast, Safe.”These are just a taste of fascinating stories coming from science labs around the world.CEH strongly supports scientific research into things that provide understanding (not just promise it) and lead to inventions that can improve our lives. The evolutionary storytelling tacked on here and there is useless and dumb. Science is making great leaps in biomimetics, biochemistry, biophysics, systems biology and genetics – fields that presuppose information and intelligent design.(Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The Trump Administration proposed a new water rule on Dec. 11 designed to replace the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.The new water rule would:Protect the private property rights of American cattle producers;Provide safeguards for America’s waters;Observe the appropriate role of the federal government in regulating waterways;Restore state and local authority to protect waters;Respect Congress’s intent in limiting jurisdiction to “navigable waters” in the Clean Water Act.As a next step, the proposed rule will be posted in the Federal Register and become open for public comment. The 2015 WOTUS rule is currently in effect in 22 states. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are currently in the process of repealing the 2015 WOTUS rule.“After years of uncertainty stemming from the 2015 WOTUS rule, the Trump Administration’s new water rule represents a fresh start for America’s cattle producers,” said Kevin Kester, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “NCBA advocated for a new water rule that is easy to understand and implement. The Administration listened. The proposed water rule provides safeguards to keep our waters clean and clear rules for landowners to follow. We look forward to engaging with the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to finalize the rule.”State Farm Bureau presidents from across the nation attended an event at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington to witness the signing of the newly proposed Clean Water Rule.“Farmers and ranchers work every day to protect our nation’s waterways and drinking water. For more than five years we have advocated for a new water rule that protects clean water and provides clear rules for people and communities to follow,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president. “This new rule will empower farmers and ranchers to comply with the law, protect our water resources and productively work their land without having to hire an army of lawyers and consultants.“We want to protect land and water in the communities where we live and work. Clean water is our way of life. Preserving our land and protecting our water means healthy places to live, work and play. We believe this new Clean Water Rule is rooted in commonsense. It will protect our nation’s water resources and allow farmers to farm.”
Denmark coach Hareide on Tottenham midfielder Eriksen: I hope he chooses wellby Paul Vegas12 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveDenmark coach Age Hareide has defended Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen.Hareide is well aware of the transfer speculation around his star man.”I’m talking to Christian. And for me, writing about him is not so important. The most important thing is how Christian feels as a human being,” he said.”And I want him to be good where he is, and I also hope he gets it right where he possibly goes. “More I cannot say, we do not interfere in such matters.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz says economic development must be balanced with environmental protection.“We are not saying economic activity is bad. In fact it provides jobs for Jamaicans which we want. But economic activity must be balanced by protecting our environment,” Mr. Vaz stated in a message read by Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Mrs. Doreen Prendergast at the National Tree Planting Day ceremony, held at the Donald Quarrie High School, in St. Andrew on October 5.The Forestry Department observed National Tree Planting Day under the theme ‘Every Tree Count: 1, 2, 3…Plant Yours Today’.The initiative is aimed at promoting the value of trees and by extension forests, while providing an opportunity for everyone to contribute to increasing the island’s tree cover while beautifying the surroundings by planting trees.This year, the Agency partnered with the Donald Quarrie High School by planting 19 seedlings, as part of efforts to provide more shade and beautify sections of the school’s compound.Mr. Vaz also called on Jamaicans to work together to undo the negative impacts to our forest resources over the years, by economic activities such as mining, slash and burn agriculture and unlicensed logging.He pointed out that trees provide numerous products from food to furniture, paper to cosmetics “and a host of products in between.”“By including fruit trees among the trees that we plant, we will not only preserve our watersheds, and improve the air quality of our towns and communities, but we will also add to our food security,” Mr. Vaz added.For Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Department and Conservator of Forests, Marilyn Headley, trees and by extension forest are important tools in the fight to stave off the effects of climate change.She noted that the Forestry Department seeks to reforest at least 100 hectares of denuded and degraded hillsides annually.“National Tree Planting Day is the perfect opportunity for every citizen to contribute to securing a healthy and safe natural environment for the benefit of present and future generations,” she said.Miss Headley added that the Forestry Department’s distribution of ornamental and timber seedlings, will continue until Friday, October 12.“I encourage you to use the opportunity to visit our nurseries, collect your seedlings and plant them,” she stated.Other participants in the National Tree Planting Day included: Wife of the Prime Minister, and Member of Parliament for East Rural St. Andrew, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness; Custos of St. Andrew, Hon. Dr. Patricia Dunnwell; and Acting Principal of Donald Quarrie High School, Maxine Lawrence. Miss Headley added that the Forestry Department’s distribution of ornamental and timber seedlings, will continue until Friday, October 12. Story Highlights Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz says economic development must be balanced with environmental protection. Mr. Vaz also called on Jamaicans to work together to undo the negative impacts to our forest resources over the years, by economic activities such as mining, slash and burn agriculture and unlicensed logging.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince on Tuesday announced plans to build a futuristic city run entirely on alternative sources of energy and said the ultraconservative kingdom must return to “moderate Islam.”The $500 billion “Neom” project , envisioned as a hub for technological innovation, will be funded by the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, which the prince oversees, as well as the Saudi government and a range of private and international investors.“This place is not for conventional people or conventional companies,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told an audience of investors from around the world gathered in the capital, Riyadh, on Tuesday. “This will be a place for the dreamers of the world.”It’s the latest surprise move by Saudi Arabia, a country that for decades was characterized by slow, cautious reforms, bureaucratic red tape and promises that fell short of target. The kingdom was forced to spring into action nearly three years ago after global energy prices fell by more than half, threatening to deplete Saudi foreign reserves and spending power by 2020.Now, the kingdom is on a mission to build the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund to invest in projects like Neom. The aim is diversify revenue away from oil exports and create more jobs under a plan spearheaded by the crown prince known as Vision 2030 .No reform, however, was more disruptive to the old order than last month’s decision to lift the ban on women driving next summer. Saudi Arabia is also expected to bring back cinemas soon as it opens the ultraconservative country to more entertainment.Prince Mohammed defended these reforms at the conference on Tuesday, saying “we were not like this in the past.”“We want to go back to what we were: Moderate Islam,” the prince said during his rare public appearance. The heir to the throne said the kingdom will work to defeat extremist ideas and ensure that young Saudis live in harmony with the rest of the world.He was speaking on a panel that included business titans Stephen Schwarzman of U.S. private equity firm Blackstone and Masayoshi Son of Japan’s technology conglomerate SoftBank.As panelist after panelist lavished praise on the 32-year-old prince for his “passion,” ”vision” and “enthusiasm,” he interjected, saying: “I’m one of 20 million people. I am nothing without them.”For many middle and lower-income Saudi families, the prince’s reform blueprint is long overdue.Most Saudis hold jobs with the government, where wages for many can average just a few hundred dollars a month. Still, the public sector wage bill eats up about half of the government’s total expenditure. As part of Vision 2030, the government plans to trim the public sector workforce by about 20 per cent while ensuring there are enough jobs in the private sector to keep up with demand.Over the next decade, an estimated 5 million young Saudis will enter the workforce, creating an urgent need for rapid job creation.Projects like Neom are focused on creating some of those jobs. The independent economic zone in the northwestern region of the country, near Egypt and Jordan, sits on 26,500 square kilometres (10,230 square miles) of untouched land along the Red Sea.The crown prince envisions it as a hub for innovation, where scientists would develop new technologies and investors would make healthy returns. It’s a place, he said, where drones, driverless cars and robotics might all work together to ensure there’s no traffic, for example.Prince Mohammed chose to unveil the project at the Future Investment Initiative conference being organized by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.The kingdom plans to transform the fund into the world’s largest by listing less than 5 per cent of state-owned oil giant Aramco on the Saudi stock exchange and an international exchange, and transferring ownership of Aramco to the Public Investment Fund, also known as PIF.Saudi Arabia says this could put some $2 trillion under PIF’s control— double that of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, which is currently the world’s largest.Speaking to Bloomberg TV on the sidelines of the conference, PIF Managing Director Yasir al-Rumayyan said the fund currently manages about $230 billion in assets.Recently, reports emerged that Saudi Arabia was considering holding off on the international portion of the Aramco IPO in favour of a private offering from a key investor like China. Saudi officials, however, insist Aramco is on track for listings as early as next year.Al-Rumayyan, who is also on the board of Aramco, addressed those concerns at the forum in Riyadh, saying: “Everything is on track, 2018 is our target.”___Batrawy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.