Aug 22, 2019

Omojuwa says Nigerian passports were isolated in Nairobi, Dabiri-Erewa reacts.

Chairman of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa has urged Nigerians to conduct themselves in a proper manner to avoid being marginalised.

Her reactions followed the claim that Nigerian passports were carefully isolated on arrival in Nairobi, in a message sent to her by Nigerian blogger, Japheth Omojuwa.

Omojuwa Wrote: “It is interesting to see that travelers with Nigerian passports are carefully isolated on arrival in Nairobi. Then yellow cards scanned. Not done to other nationals. Not a good sight.”

In response to his claim, Dabiri-Erewa wrote: “Will have to find out why but the way we conduct ourselves also matter. For instance, many caught with fake yellow cards may be behind the decision, but will bring to the attention of our mission there.

Nigerian actress, Kate Henshaw who also gave her opinion said Nigerians are been ill-treated globally.

Henshaw said: “We are always treated like the chewed gum under the shoes at most borders. Within Africa and internationally. The green passport does not inspire confidence. Many stories abound.”

Aug 22, 2019

A U.S. military MQ-9 drone has been shot down in Yemen’s Dhamar governate, southeast of the Houthi controlled capital of Sanaa, the second such incident in recent months.

The drone was shot down by Houthi’s air defences, a Houthi official said.

In June, the U.S. military said that Houthi rebels had shot down a U.S. government-operated drone with assistance from Iran.

U.S. forces have occasionally launched drone and air strikes against Yemen’s al Qaeda branch, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The group has taken advantage of a four-year-old war between the Houthi movement and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Saudi-backed government to try to strengthen its position in the impoverished country.

One of the officials said that it appeared that the armed military drone had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile operated by the Iran-aligned Houthi group.

“It appears to have been fired by the Houthis and enabled by Iran,” the official said, without providing details or specific evidence.

The official said that while losing a drone was expensive, it was not unprecedented and it was unlikely to lead to any major response by the United States.

The other official cautioned that it was too early to tell who was responsible for the incident.

Iran rejects accusations from the United States and its Gulf Arab allies that Tehran is providing military and financial support to the Houthis and blames Riyadh for the deepening crisis there.

Overnight, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saria said that the drone had been shot down.

“The rocket which hit it was developed locally and will be revealed soon at a press conference,” Saria said on Twitter.

“Our skies are no longer open to violations as they once were and the coming days will see great surprises,” he added.

The drone shoot-down comes as tensions between Iran and the United States have risen since President Donald Trump’s administration last year quit an international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and began to ratchet up sanctions. Iranian officials denounced the new penalties as “economic warfare.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday Tehran may act “unpredictably” in response to the United States’ “unpredictable” policies under Trump.

Aug 21, 2019
Facebook Inc (FB.O) said on Tuesday it was tweaking its policies to allow users to see and control the data that other websites and apps shared with the social network to improve targeted advertising.
 
A feature in settings called Off-Facebook Activity will show all the apps and websites that send information about you to Facebook, which is then used to target ads more effectively.
 
You will also be able to clear your history and prevent your future off-app behaviour being tapped.
 
The company defines the data, for example, as when a clothing website shares information with Facebook on browsing activity of a user, as “Off-Facebook Activity”.
 
“We are starting by gradually making Off-Facebook Activity available to people in Ireland, South Korea and Spain,” Facebook executives said in a blog post.
 
The social media site said that if a user cleared their off-Facebook activity, Facebook would remove the user’s identifying information from the data that apps and websites chose to send.
 
“We won’t know which websites you visited or what you did there, and we won’t use any of the data you disconnect to target ads to you on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger,” he said.
 
Facebook said it expects this could have some impact on its business.
 
The tech heavyweight has faced criticism from lawmakers and regulators over its privacy practices.
 
In July, the company agreed to a record-setting 5 billion dollars privacy settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
 
The settlement is awaiting court approval.
 
Aug 21, 2019

Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) market indices on Tuesday shed 0.21 per cent due to loses in some blue chips.

All Share Index (ASI) lost 57.27 points or 0.21 per cent to 27,058.62 against 27,115.89 posted on Monday while the market capitalisation dipped N28 billion to close at N13.186 trillion against N13.214 trillion achieved on Monday.

The downturn was impacted by losses recorded in medium and large capitalised stocks, amongst which are; MTN Nigeria, Conoil, PZ Cussons Nigeria, NCR Nigeria and Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN).

However, market breadth closed positive, 27 stocks posted gains while 10 stocks posted declines.

Transcorp recorded the highest price gain of 10 per cent, each to close at N3.85 and 99k, respectively.

Chams followed with a gain 9.52 per cent to close at 23k, while Berger Paints went up by 9.49 per cent to close at N7.50 per share.

UACN appreciated by 9.38 per cent to close at N5.25, per share.

Conversely, Cutix led the losers’ chart dropping by 9.62 per cent to close at N1.41 per share.

PZ Cussons and Union Diagnostic & Clinical Services followed with a decline of 8.33 per cent each to close at N5.50 and 22k, respectively, per share.

May and Baker lost 6.83 per cent to close at N1.91, while Honeywell Flour Mills shed 6.06 per cent to close at 93k per share.

The total volume traded declined by 16.39 per cent with an exchange of 209.62 million shares worth N3.24 billion traded in 3,743 deals.

This was against 250.74 million shares valued at N3.53 billion transacted in 4,116 deals on Monday.

Transactions in the shares of Transcorp topped the activity chart with 43.59 million shares valued at N42.73 million.

Guaranty Trust Bank trailed with 42.97 million shares worth N1.14 billion, while Zenith Bank traded 34.11 million shares valued at N591.99 million.

Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) sold 24.21 million shares valued at N148.56 million, while FBN Holdings recorded a turnover of 6.32 million shares worth N31.36 million.

Aug 21, 2019
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday lashed out at Democrats over what he claimed was their lack of support for Israel.
 
He said that American Jews who intend to vote for his rival party in the 2020 elections would be displaying “great disloyalty.”
 
“I think any Jewish people who would vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with President Klaus Iohannis of Romania.
 
Polls found that 76-79 percent of Jews voted for Democrats in November’s midterm elections, mirroring a long history of backing the party.
 
Trump was commenting on the uproar in Washington over Israel’s barring of Democratic congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country due to their pro-Palestinian activism.
 
Tlaib and Omar, who have sparred with Trump over Israel and a number of other issues, on Monday accused the US president of encouraging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ban them, and called to cut the $3 billion in US assistance to Israel until it halts settlement building and ensures equal rights for Palestinians.
 
“I would not cut off aid to Israel,” Trump said. “I can’t even believe we’re having this conversation. Five years, the concept of even talking about this, even three years ago, of cutting off aid to Israel because of two people that hate Israel and hate Jewish people, I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation.”
 
“Where has the Democratic party gone…. where they’re defending these two people over the State of Israel,” Trump said. “I think any Jewish people who would vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
 
Israel granted Omar and Tlaib permission to enter in principle last month, but backtracked last week and banned them from visiting under a 2017 law allowing it to expel or deny entry to anyone who backs the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
 
The decision was made less than two hours after Trump tweeted that it would be a “show of weakness” if Israel gave them permission to come, and the reversal was widely seen as the result of pressure from the US president.
 
Banning the lawmakers fueled a partisan fire over the Jewish state that has been raging in the United States, and Trump has appeared eager to fan the flames.
 
After the ban was announced, Trump celebrated the decision on Twitter, framing the issue in decidedly political terms: “Representatives Omar and Tlaib are the faces of the Democrat Party, and they HATE Israel!”
Aug 20, 2019
The Naira on Monday traded at N358.6 to the Dollar at the parallel market in Lagos.
 
The Pound sterling and the Euro closed at N445 and N396, respectively.
 
At the Bureau De Change (BDC) segment, the Naira was sold at N358.6, while the pound sterling and the euro closed at N445 and N396, respectively.
 
Trading at the investors’ window saw the Naira closing at N363.32 as market turnover stood at 477.04 million dollars.
 
The Naira, however, traded at N306.95 to the dollar at the official CBN window.
 
The News reports has it that the Naira had remained stable at the parallel market, due largely to the interventions of the CBN.
 
As the rate stands, it appears the parallel market rate determines the prevailing rate for most buyers.
 
Aug 20, 2019
Nigerian state oil company NNPC said on Sunday that 15 companies had won the right to swap the nation’s crude oil for fuels following a tender for the deals.
 
About 132 companies bid for the deals, Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC) said in May. The tender for the one-year contracts effective Oct. 1, dubbed direct sale, direct-purchase (DSDP), was issued in March.
 
Nigeria is almost entirely reliant on imported fuel because of years of neglect at its own refineries. It has leaned heavily on the swap arrangements to get fuel, particularly gasoline, as other would-be importers struggle to make money due to price caps.
 
NNPC said the companies that won the bids were made up of consortia of 15 companies including Vitol, Trafigura, oil major BP and local downstream companies.
 
Since the scheme was introduced in 2016, replacing a programme that paid subsidies to importers, NNPC has said it had saved the nation $2.2 billion and supplied some 90 percent of its import requirements.
 
Aug 20, 2019

Iceland on Sunday honoured the passing of Okjokull, its first glacier lost to climate change, as scientists warn that some 400 others on the subarctic island risk the same fate.

As the world recently marked the warmest July ever on record, a bronze plaque was mounted on a bare rock in a ceremony on the former glacier in western Iceland, attended by local researchers and their peers at Rice University in the United States who initiated the project.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson also attended the event, as well as hundreds of scientists, journalists and members of the public who trekked to the site.

An appeal for efforts to stem global warming

“I hope this ceremony will be an inspiration not only to us here in Iceland but also for the rest of the world, because what we are seeing here is just one face of the climate crisis,” Jakobsdottir told AFP.

The plaque bears the inscription “A letter to the future”, and is intended to raise awareness about the decline of glaciers and the effects of climate change.

As the world recently marked the warmest July ever on record, a bronze plaque was mounted on a bare rock in a ceremony on Iceland's first glacier lost to climate change

“In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it,” the plaque reads.

It is also labelled “415 ppm CO2”, referring to the record level of carbon dioxide measured in the atmosphere last May.

The plaque is “the first monument to a glacier lost to climate change anywhere in the world”, Cymene Howe, associate professor of anthropology at Rice University, said in July.

“Memorials everywhere stand for either human accomplishments, like the deeds of historic figures, or the losses and deaths we recognise as important,” she said.

“By memorialising a fallen glacier, we want to emphasise what is being lost — or dying — the world over, and also draw attention to the fact that this is something that humans have ‘accomplished’, although it is not something we should be proud of.”

Howe noted that the conversation about climate change can be abstract, with many dire statistics and sophisticated scientific models that can feel incomprehensible.

Aug 20, 2019
FIFA on Monday announced its shortlist for this year’s Puskas Award.
 
Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend and Brazilian Matheus Cunha, who plays as a winger for Bundesliga club RB Leipzig will vie with Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
 
Townsend’s stunning volley against Manchester City at the Etihad last term is one of the 10 contenders announced by world football’s governing body.
 
Townsend’s effort was the Premier League goal of the season in 2018-19, as awarded by Match of the Day.
 
The Cameroonian Ajara Nchout Njoya who plays for Norwegian club Vålerenga will also battle Zlatan and Messi courtesy of her strike on international duty against New Zealand on 20 June 2019.
 
She also scored a superb goal against Avaldsnes in a 2-2 draw in the Norwegian League.
 
Njoya dribbled past three defenders before firing her effort to the top corner of the net. The goal was adjudged the best goal in the Norwegian top-flight.
 
Barcelona superstar Messi registered his name on the list with his stunning chip against Real Betis in La Liga back in March.
 
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s acrobatic volley for LA Galaxy against Toronto last September is also included, as is a remarkable mid-air backheel by Sampdoria’s Fabio Quagliarella, similarly notched last September.
 
Liverpool’s Mo Salah won the award last year for his virtuoso goal against Everton in the Premier League.
 
The list released by FIFA for this year’s Puskas Award contained the following names:
 
Matheus Cunha: Bayer Leverkusen vs. RB Leipzig (6 April 2019)
 
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Toronto FC vs LA Galaxy (September 15, 2018)
 
Lionel Messi: Real Betis vs FC Barcelona (17 March 2019)
 
Ajara Nchout Njoya: Cameroon vs New Zealand (20 June 2019)
 
Fabio Quagliarella: Sampdoria vs Napoli (2 September 2018)
 
Juan Fernando Quintero: River Plate vs Racing Club (10 February 2019)
 
Amy Rodriguez: Utah Royals vs Sky Blue FC (16 June 2019)
 
Andros Townsend: Manchester City vs Crystal Palace (22 December 2018)
 
Daniel Zsori: Debrecen FC vs Ferencváros (16 February 2019)
 
Billie Simpson: Sion Swifts Ladies vs Cliftonville Ladies (9 August 2018)
 
However, voting is open until 1 September.
 
Public votes will decide the top three, while FIFA Legends will decide the Puskas Award winner.
Aug 19, 2019

Ghana’s Atewa forest is one of the most beautiful and scenic landscapes in the country. It is seen as the better of only two Upland Evergreen forests left intact in the country, forming part of the six dominant vegetation zones of Ghana based on different climates zones.

The Atewa forest is part of the Guinean Forests of West Africa which stretch from southern Guinea into eastern Sierra Leone and through Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana into western Togo. Deforestation has massively reduced the size of the forests and the Upper Guinea Forest is now restricted to a number of more or less disconnected reserves and a few national parks acting as man-made refuges for the region’s biodiversity.

The Atewa forest landscape is remote and pristine, providing the habitat for a major collection of Ghana’s biodiversity. It has been named as one of Ghana’s 30 globally significant biodiversity areas.

But the forest is under threat. Last year Ghana signed a memorandum with China to explore Ghana’s deposits of bauxite – the primary ore in aluminium. The deposits are found in two locations – Awaso with very high deposits in the moist semi-deciduous forest zone of western region of Ghana, and Atewa, with minimum deposits and located in the Upland Evergreen forests in the Eastern Region of Ghana.

Under the memorandum Ghana will cede 5% of its bauxite resources to the Chinese. In turn, Beijing will finance $2billion worth of infrastructure projects that include rails, roads and bridge networks. The Ghanaian Parliament has passed the Ghana Bauxite Integrated Aluminium Industry Act which would provide a legal framework to exploit country’s bauxite deposits.

Yet the government says it still has to validate the true worth of the bauxite deposit in the forest.

As a botanist I view the Atewa landscape as a scientific gold mine. A recent impact assessment by the US Forest Service corroborates the concerns of several conservation groups about the potential damage that mining would cause.

I believe strongly that Atewa is not for mining and that it must be preserved. Firstly, it needs to be preserved as a living natural history laboratory. Secondly, it should be protected because it provides a vital resource – water. Thirdly, it is a precious gift whose value cannot be quantified, but which must be lived, felt and appreciated. Finally it is a naturally bequeathed heritage that must be protected for future generations to enjoy.

The forest

An interesting characteristic of the Atewa forest is that the canopies of its trees are not easily visible as they merge with the surrounding clouds creating a beautiful cloud cover line. This is very rare in the Ghanaian landscape. This feature is described in local parlance as the phenomenon in which the trees are in direct communication with the firmament of the heavens and bring good tidings to the ground underneath.

Scientifically, the phenomenon is responsible for the daily condensation of water vapour which falls as precipitation. As a result the mountain top is kept permanently moist. This in turn explains the interesting hydrological networks beneath the soil surface. The water percolates down to create under ground water ways as well as water falls and many streams and tributaries that coalesce or combine to form Ghana’s famous three rivers. These are the Ayensu, Birim and Densu.

The three eventually drain their basins as they meander through the forests and farm fields providing essential water resources to over 5 million inhabitants. They also deposit suspended clay and silt materials as fertile alluvial for crop production during the rainy periods when they burst their banks and overflow.

The Atewa landscape provides rich forest cover for climate regulation, a show piece to illustrate climate adaptation to avoid drought, reduce poverty and enhance sustainable livelihoods and improve human well being in its catchment area.

The landscape has been the subject of research by geologists, hydrologists and geo-morphologists. A geologist studies studies the solid, liquid, and gaseous matter that constitute the Earth while a geo-morphologist studies the earth’s surface. A hydrologist is a scientist who researches the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of the earth’s underground and surface waters.

Studies of the fauna and flora of the area have brought up new scientific discoveries of species like the critically endangered white-naped mangabey Cercocebus lunulatus. This shows that the knowledge of the faunal and floristic diversity and to a large extent the microbial diversity is still at the exploratory stages.

I would strongly argue that the Atewa landscape is an important species discovery destination, awaiting extensive research and studies. It should, therefore, not be disrupted or destroyed by mining.The Conversation

 

Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, Associate Professor of Botany, University of Ghana

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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