Showing posts with label World news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World news. Show all posts

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

'Ethical' to use experimental drugs in Ebola fight says World Health Organization

A PANEL of medical experts has determined it is ethical to provide experimental treatments to patients infected with the deadly Ebola virus, the World Health Organization said Tuesday as the global death toll topped 1,000.

"In the particular circumstances of this outbreak, and provided certain conditions are met, the panel reached consensus that it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention," the UN's health agency said in a statement.

There is currently no available cure or vaccine for Ebola, and the WHO has declared the latest outbreak a global public health emergency.

But the use of an experimental drug called ZMapp on two Americans and a Spanish priest infected with the virus while working in Africa has opened up an intense ethical debate.

The drug, which is in very short supply, has reportedly shown promising results in the two Americans, but the priest has died, the Spanish hospital where he was being treated said Tuesday.

US company Mapp Bioparmaceutical which makes the drug said Monday it had sent all its available supplies to west Africa.

Medical experts from around the world took part in WHO-hosted discussions Monday to draft guidelines for using non-authorised medicines in emergencies such as Ebola.

"Ethical criteria must guide the provision of such interventions," the panel found, stressing the need for "transparency about all aspects of care, informed consent, freedom of choice, confidentiality, respect for the person, preservation of dignity and involvement of the community."

The panel of experts also emphasised the "moral obligation to collect and share all data generated, including from treatments provided for 'compassionate use'," meaning access to an unapproved drug outside of a clinical trial.

The disease has infected 1,848 people and caused 1,013 deaths since early this year, according to latest figures from the WHO, which says it is worst outbreak since Ebola was discovered four decades ago.

The deadly outbreak has until now been limited to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, all countries in west Africa where ill-equipped and fragile health systems are struggling to cope.(Guardian)

Ebola Virus Disease: Spanish priest infected in Liberia dies in Madrid Spain

A SPANISH missionary who contracted the Ebola virus while working in West Africa has died in hospital in Madrid.

More than 1,000 people have died in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria since the outbreak was first reported in February.
Miguel Pajares, 75, was airlifted back to Spain from Liberia last week with a nun who tested negative for the virus.

For the past few days he had been treated with an untested, experimental drug, Zmapp.
A World Health Organization (WHO) panel in Geneva has meanwhile approved the ethics of using ZMapp.

According to the Reuters news agency, the panel said it was ethical to combat the Ebola outbreak by offering drugs or vaccines whose side-effects and efficacy had yet to be proven.
The priest was part of a Catholic order at St Joseph's hospital in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.
The hospital has now been closed because of the outbreak.
A Congolese nun died there on Saturday, days after its director, Patrick Nshamdze, also died.(Ngrguardiannews.com)

Thursday, 24 July 2014

'Qaeda' suspects kill army officer in south Yemen

(AFP) AL-QAEDA suspects on a motorbike shot dead an army officer Thursday in Lahij province of southern Yemen, a local security official said.

The gunmen opened fire at Major Bilal Karo near his home in Thalab town, "immediately killing him," the source said, adding that the militants "suspected of belonging to Al-Qaeda" fled on their motorbike.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Malaysian airliner,MH17 puts Russia in the eye of the storm again

RAGING accusations and counter-accusations over the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner (MH17) last Thursday has once again put Russia in the eyes of the storm. Indeed, there has been a global call for President Vladimir Putin to be honest in the midst of the crisis.

  Just as the pro-Moscow rebels kept international monitors away from the wreckage and scores of bodies festered for a third day, there has been global clamour for President Putin to urge the rebels to cooperate.

  However, Moscow has denied its involvement and has pointed a finger at Kiev’s military.

  After United States President Barack Obama said the loss of the Kuala Lumpur-bound flight showed it was time to end the conflict, Germany called it Moscow’s last chance to cooperate.

  Also, European powers seemed to support Washington’s belief Russia’s separatist allies were to blame. That might speed new trade sanctions on Moscow, without waiting for definitive proof.

  “He has one last chance to show he means to help,” Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte said after a telephone call to Putin.

  Britain, which lost 10 citizens, said further sanctions were available for use against Russia. “If Russia is the principal culprit, we can take further action against them and make it clear this kind of sponsored war is completely unacceptable,” Defence Minister Michael Fallon told the Mail on Sunday.

  Prime Minister David Cameron, writing in The Sunday Times, said European countries should make their power count in dealing with the Ukraine crisis, “yet we sometimes behave as if we need Russia more than Russia needs us.”

  “If President Putin does not change his approach on Ukraine, then Europe and the West must fundamentally change our approach to Russia,” he said, writing in The Sunday Times newspaper.

  “Russia can use this moment to find a path out of this festering, dangerous crisis. I hope it will do so. But if that does not happen then we must respond robustly,” Cameron said.

Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, his nation mourning the loss of 192 compatriots, said he had called on Putin during a “very intense” conversation to “take responsibility” for a credible investigation.

  Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott said the crash site was “absolutely chaotic” as he sought to recover 28 bodies of his compatriots killed in the disaster.

  “My fear is that Russia will say the right thing, but that on the ground interference with the site, interference with investigators, interference with the dignified treatment of bodies will continue,” he said.

  German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the most powerful figure in the EU, spoke to Putin at the weekend, urging his cooperation. Merkel’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper: “Moscow may have a last chance now to show that it really is seriously interested in a solution.”

  “Now is the moment for everyone to stop and think to themselves what might happen if we don’t stop the escalation.”

 Outraged world leaders have heaped pressure on Russia to press Moscow-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine to allow investigators proper access to the crash site of the Malaysian MH17 jet.

  Rescue efforts were in disarray as armed gunmen in fatigues and balaclavas refused to allow international monitors full access and the grisly remains of some of the 298 passengers killed have yet to be removed.

  Ukraine has warned that the rebels, who Kiev and the U.S. have accused of blowing the plane out of the sky with a missile, were “hours away” from removing key evidence across the Russian border.

  As fears grew that evidence was being tampered with world leaders voiced their frustration with Moscow, pushing East-West ties to crisis point after months of discord over the Kremlin’s interference in ex-Soviet Ukraine.

  U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry told Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that Washington was “deeply concerned” investigators were denied “proper access” to the crash site for a second consecutive day.

  His spokeswoman Jen Psaki later said the “unacceptable” insecurity at the crash site was an “affront to all those who lost loved ones and to the dignity the victims deserve”.

  “The United States is also very concerned about reports that the remains of some victims and debris from the site are being tampered with or inappropriately removed from the site,” the State Department said.

  Kerry was backed by leaders from Britain, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia and France as well as Ukraine in calling on Russian President, Vladimir Putin to intervene in getting an international probe under way.

  There was growing concern about the whereabouts of some of the bodies, which had been removed from the crash site, while others were left lying in field in the rural part of eastern Ukraine where the Boeing 777 jet was brought to ground.

  The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post cite U.S. officials asserting that Russia supplied separatist rebels with SA-11 missiles, which are capable of hitting aircraft at high altitude – and then hastened to move the missiles back into Russia once it was clear that a civilian airliner and not a Ukrainian military transport had been shot down.

  “The assumption is they’re trying to remove evidence of what they did,” a senior U.S. official briefed on the latest intelligence told the Wall Street Journal.

  One major concern at this point is that material from the crash site – including the “black boxes” recording flight data and cockpit communications – is being removed to Russia.

  “There are indications that vital evidence has not been preserved in place,” Malaysian Transport Minister, Liow Tiong Lai said Saturday in Kuala Lumpur.

  “We are deeply concerned by the Russia-backed separatists’ refusal to allow OSCE monitors safe and unfettered access to the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement Saturday night, referring to monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

  “The site is not secure, and there are multiple reports of bodies being removed, parts of the plane and other debris being hauled away, and potential evidence tampered with.”

  The mobile SA-11 systems include four missiles. One of the launchers photographed going back into Russia was shown with just three missiles.

 Republican Sen. John McCain is already saying there will be “profound repercussions” if the Malaysian passenger airliner that crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border was shot down by Russia or Russian separatists.

  McCain emphasized the hypothetical nature of his comments, which he made on both CNN and MSNBC last Thursday.

  “Thus far, we really don’t know what caused it,” McCain said.

  “But the fact is they were able to, quote, separatists, were able to shoot down an aircraft at 21,000 feet shows that there were capabilities. I do not want to leap to any conclusions because we, as you mentioned, it could be an explosion, it could be all kinds of reasons.”

  The Arizona senator then said if it was a missile which brought the plane down, the United States would be in a position to arm the Ukrainian government.

  “But if it was a missile that took this plane down, then it has to be a very sophisticated weapons system. And the Ukrainians do not have that capability. So if it is the case, we’re going to have to act and act in the most stringent fashion including real sanctions, including giving the Ukrainians the ability to defend themselves, which we have not done so far.”

  McCain said if there was involvement from Russia or Russian separatists then the incident would also open the door to sanctions and it would be just “the beginning.”

  “If, if — I keep emphasising if — it was a missile that was launched, either by Russia, or the quote separatists which in my view are indivisible it would have the most profound repercussions. It would open the gates for us assisting…finally…giving the Ukrainians some defensive weapons, sanctions that would be imposed as a result of that. That would be the beginning.”

 Observers from Europe’s OSCE security agency visited part of the crash site near the village of Hrabove for a second day on Saturday and again found their access hampered by armed men from the forces of the self-declared People’s Republic of Donetsk. An OSCE official said, however, they saw more than on Friday.

  At one point, a senior rebel told the OSCE delegation they could not approach the wreckage and would simply be informed in due course of an investigation conducted by the separatists. However, fighters later let them visit an area where one of the airliner’s two engines lay.

  “The terrorists, with the help of Russia, are trying to destroy evidence of international crimes,” the Ukrainian government said in a statement. “The terrorists have taken 38 bodies to the morgue in Donetsk,” it said, accusing people with “strong Russian accents” of threatening to conduct autopsies.

  And contrary to earlier statements by the rebels, Alexander Borodai said they had not found the black box flight recorders. He said rebels were avoiding disturbing the area.

  “There’s a grandmother. A body landed right in her bed. She says ‘please take this body away’. But we cannot tamper with the site,” Borodai said. “Bodies of innocent people are lying out in the heat. We reserve the right, if the delay continues ... to begin the process of taking away the bodies. We ask the Russian Federation to help us with this problem and send their experts.”

  At Hrabove, one-armed man from the separatist forces told Reuters that bodies had already been taken away in trucks. Another said that immediately after the crash people had looted valuables. But fighters and local people say they have been doing their best to collect evidence and preserve human remains.

  As the stench of death began to pervade the area after Thursday’s crash, correspondents watched rescue workers carry bodies across the fields and gather remains in black sacks.

  Meeting Ukrainian President Poroshenko in Kiev, Dutch Foreign Minister, Frans Timmermans said: “We are already shocked by the news we got today of bodies being dragged around, of the site not being treated properly ... People are angry, furious.”

  The Ukrainian Security Council in Kiev said staff of the Emergencies Ministry had found 186 bodies and had checked some 18 sq km (seven square miles) of the scattered 25-sq-km (10-square-mile) crash site. But the workers were not free to conduct a normal investigation.

  “The fighters have let the Emergencies Ministry workers in there but they are not allowing them to take anything from the area,” Security Council spokesman, Andriy Lysenko said. “The fighters are taking away all that has been found.”

  Malaysia, whose national airline has been battered by its second major disaster this year, said it was “inhumane” to bar access to the site around the village of Hrabove, but said Russia was doing its “level best” to help.

  A team of Malaysian experts flew in to Kiev on Saturday and experts from Interpol are due there on Sunday to help with the identification of victims. Dutch, U.S. and a host of other specialists are being lined up to help in the investigation.

  As tales of personal grief unfolded, Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak revealed his own family was involved - his 83-year-old step-grandmother had been aboard the flight.

  The United Nations said 80 children were aboard. The deadliest attack on a commercial airliner follows the disappearance of flight MH370 in March with 239 passengers.

  Malaysia Airlines has defended its use of the route, 1,000 feet (300 meters) above the area closed by Ukraine due to the hostilities. Some airlines had been avoiding the area, though many others were flying over. The issue has raised questions of liability for the deaths and damage and about international supervisors’ roles.

  The scale of the disaster could prove a turning point for international pressure to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, which has killed hundreds since pro-Western protests toppled the Moscow-backed president in Kiev in February and Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula a month later.

Russia’s link to Korea’s air tragedy

  It would be recalled that a Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (KAL007) from New York City to Seoul via Anchorage was on September 1, 1983,  shot down by a Soviet Su-15 interceptor near Moneron Island, west of Sakhalin Island, in the Sea of Japan.

  The interceptor’s pilot was Major Gennadi Osipovich while all 269 passengers and crew aboard were killed, including Lawrence McDonald, representative from Georgia in the United States House of Representatives.

  The aircraft was en route from Anchorage to Seoul when it flew through prohibited Soviet airspace around the time of a U.S. reconnaissance mission.

  The Soviet Union initially denied knowledge of the incident, but later admitted the shoot-down, claiming that the aircraft was on a spy mission. The Politburo said it was a deliberate provocation by the United States to test the Soviet Union’s military preparedness, or even to provoke a war. The White House accused the Soviet Union of obstructing search and rescue operations. The Soviet military suppressed evidence sought by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) investigation, notably the flight data recorders, which were eventually released eight years later after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

  The incident was one of the tensest moments of the Cold War and resulted in an escalation of anti-Soviet sentiment, particularly in the United States. The opposing points of view on the incident were never fully resolved. Consequently, several groups continue to dispute official reports and offer alternative theories of the event. The subsequent release of KAL 007 flight transcripts and flight recorders by the Russian Federation has clarified some details.

  As a result of the incident, the United States altered tracking procedures for aircraft departing Alaska.

  The interface of the autopilot used on airliners was redesigned to make it more ergonomic. In addition, the event was one of the most important single events that prompted the Reagan Administration to allow worldwide access to the United States military’s GNSS system, which was classified at the time. Today this system is widely known as GPS.

   Fox News Military Analyst and retired U.S. Air Force, Lt. Col. Thomas McInerney, who was one of the early investigators into the crash of Korean Airlines Flight 007 in 1983, stated that Russia was clearly involved in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in an interview on Saturday’s “Justice with Judge Jeanine.” “We know exactly what happened or 99.99% of what happened” McInerney said.

“We know it was an SA-11, it was a Russian missile, we know that it was probably integrated with the Russian Integrated Air Defense Sector and so the search radar was probably being provided from Russia, and we have all this information, it’s just that we have not yet released it” he reported, adding that perpetrators did not intend to shoot down a civilian aircraft. He further claimed that there was more information in the transcripts of pro-Russian separatists discussing the flight being shot down than has been released to the public, and that it was “probably Russian Spetsnaz troops that fired [the missile] because it is too sophisticated for an ordinary separatist to know how to do it.”(Guardian)

Friday, 18 July 2014

Iraq:Mosul jihadist orders Christians to convert, pay a special tax, leave or face death.

KIRKUK (AFP,Vanguard) – Christians were fleeing Iraq’s jihadist-held city of Mosul en masse Friday after mosques relayed an ultimatum giving them a few hours to leave, the country’s Chaldean patriarch and witnesses said.

“Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Arbil,” in the neighbouring autonomous region of Kurdistan, Patriarch Louis Sako told AFP. “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”

Witnesses said messages telling Christians to leave the city by Saturday were blared through loudspeakers from the city’s mosques Friday.

A statement dated from last week and purportedly issued by the Islamic State jihadist group that took over the city and large swathes of Iraq during a sweeping offensive last month warned Mosul’s Christians they should convert, pay a special tax, leave or face death.

“We were shocked by the distribution of a statement by the Islamic State calling on Christians to convert to Islam, or to pay unspecified tribute, or to leave their city and their homes taking only their clothes and no luggage, and that their homes would then belong to the Islamic State,” Sako said.

The patriarch, who is one of the most senior Christian clerics in Iraq, and residents contacted by AFP said Islamic State militants had in recent days been tagging Christian houses with the letter N for “Nassarah”, the term by which the Koran refers to Christians.

The statement, which was seen by AFP, said “there will be nothing for them but the sword” if Christians reject those conditions.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Moscow accuses Washington of ‘abducting Russian MP’s son’

MOSCOW (AFP) – Moscow on Tuesday accused Washington of abducting the son of a Russian lawmaker who was arrested in the Maldives on suspicion of being one of the world’s most prolific traffickers of stolen credit card details.

A Russian legislator, who admitted to being the suspect’s father, expressed fear that Roman Seleznev, who is being held in the American territory of Guam, will be accused of all sorts of sins including “killing Kennedy.”

The case further piqued Russian anger amid a bitter tug of war with Washington over the fate of ex-Soviet Ukraine.

The US Justice Department said on Monday that Seleznev, 30, had been detained at the weekend and charged with hacking into US retail computer systems in a scheme that cost banks over $1.1 million (800,000 euros)in losses.

He faces up to 30 years in prison.

A US law enforcement source confirmed to AFP the suspect is the son of the Russian MP.

Russian lawmaker Valery Seleznev accused Washington of committing a crime against his son and said there was no evidence he was a hacker.

“This is the abduction of a Russian national. It has nothing to do with arrest,” the lawmaker with the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party told the Dozhd TV channel.

He said his son could not have been a criminal because he was injured in a terrorist act in Morocco in 2011 and was now disabled.

According to US officials, the suspect, who is charged with installing malicious software to steal credit card numbers, operated the scheme between October 2009 and February 2011.

He and his partners stole over 200,000 credit card numbers, according to US officials.

Valery Seleznev said that before 2011 his son worked for companies that had no connection to IT.

“I fear that now he will be put under so much pressure as if he killed Kennedy and even was Monica Lewinsky,” Valery Seleznev told the state news agency ITAR-TASS.

“We all know what justice in the United States is all about,” he said, noting that if his son was guilty he should be tried in a Russian court.

-’Hostile step’-

The Russian foreign ministry said Seleznev’s detention in Male, the capital of the Maldives, was a “hostile step”, adding that Russian diplomatic missions had not been notified of his arrest.

“It is not the first time that the US side resorts to the de-facto abduction of a Russian national ignoring the bilateral 1999 treaty on mutual legal assistance,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It referred to a number of cases including the arrest of Viktor Bout, convicted of arms trafficking by a US court.

The foreign ministry added it expected Washington to provide Moscow with an “intelligible explanation of what has happened” and allow access to Seleznev.

Moscow also demanded that the Maldives government provide an explanation of their role.

“The position of the Maldivian authorities who despite existing international legal norms allowed the security service of another state to abduct a Russian national and take him outside the country cannot but cause indignation,” said the statement.

The Kremlin-linked Public Chamber accused the US of “banditry and lawlessness,” while the foreign ministry’s rights envoy, Konstantin Dolgov, said Russia will seek Seleznev’s extradition.

“Unfortunately, there is now a veritable hunt after Russian nationals,” he said on radio.

If convicted, the Russian could face up to 30 years in prison on bank fraud charges and additional jail time for the other charges, as well as hefty fines.

He faces a separate criminal indictment in Nevada on racketeering charges.

In April, US officials said nine people including a Russian and three Ukrainians, were charged in a scheme that stole millions of dollars by hacking into online bank accounts.(Vanguard)

Monday, 7 July 2014

New York man died in hut with no water, had 3m dollars


New York -  A man who lived in solitary has been found dead on his property in a hut with no heat or running water, though he had three million dollars in the bank, local media reported.

George Konnight, 79, was found dead in the forest on his family’s rural property in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley, 30 km north of New York City.

He lived

Friday, 4 July 2014

Death penalty has no place in 21st century – UN Chief,Ban Ki-moon


“Together, we can finally end this cruel and inhumane practice everywhere around the world.”


The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has said that death penalty has no place in the 21st century.
He called on all states to take concrete steps toward abolishing or stopping this form of punishment.
“Together, we can finally end this cruel and inhumane practice everywhere around the world,” Mr. Ki-Moon said.
He spoke at a panel co-organised at the UN Headquarters by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR, and the Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN.
The event was titled Best Practices And Challenges In Implementing A Moratorium On The Death Penalty, and in line with the aims of the annual resolution of the UN General Assembly on the Moratorium On The Use Of The Death penalty first adopted in 2007.
Mr. Ki-Moon noted, in the event moderated by Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonovic, that the Assembly would soon take up the resolution again.
“The efforts generated by the text have won a broader margin of support from member states, representing a variety of legal systems, traditions, cultures and religious backgrounds. I remain very concerned, however, about shortcomings with respect to international human rights standards in countries that still apply the death penalty,” he said.
He said he was particularly troubled by the application of the death penalty for offences that did not meet the threshold under international human rights law of “most serious crimes.”
Such offences, he said, included drug-related offences, consensual sexual acts, and apostasy.
The UN chief went on to express concern about legislation in 14 states that permitted the death penalty on children as well as the new phenomenon of sentencing large groups of individuals to death.
He said over the past two years, OHCHR had convened a series of important global panel events on the death penalty. He said the focus of the meetings was on wrongful convictions, deterrence, public opinion and discrimination.
He called on all states to take action in three critical areas, which included ratification of the Second Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
He asked member states to support the resolution on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty. He said that concrete steps towards abolishing or no longer practicing this form of punishment should be taken.
Since 2007, the General Assembly has adopted four resolutions calling on states to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolishing it.
As at today, about 150 of the UN’s 193 member states have either abolished the death penalty or no longer practice it.
(NAN)

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

More survivors in India disaster rubble, death toll hits 31

Emergency workers on Tuesday pulled out four more survivors from the rubble of a collapsed building in southern India, with authorities saying they expected rescue efforts to continue overnight.
The death toll from Saturday’s disaster on the outskirts of Chennai rose to 31. Officials said many more were still believed to be trapped in the debris.
Karuna Sagar, a senior officer with the Tamil Nadu state police force, said they had managed to pull a survivor to safety on Tuesday afternoon as rescue workers toiled round the clock.
“We pulled out one young labourer from the debris on Tuesday afternoon. He was alive and in a healthy condition,” Sagar told AFP by phone.

“Earlier, three people had been pulled out alive. One late at night and two others early this morning. They have all been taken to the hospital.”
Sagar said that a total of 31 people were now confirmed killed in the accident, with 27 others pulled out alive.
“We will continue with the operations until we are satisfied that there are no other survivors and all the debris has been cleared,” he said.
“We hope to find more people, but no one knows the exact number of people still feared trapped under the rubble.”
Reports said that one of the survivors, a 27-year-old man named Mahesh, had indicated Tuesday that there were “several” people still alive under the mass of concrete, raising the hopes of rescuers and families.
Television footage showed rescuers wearing hard hats and masks carrying a survivor on a stretcher down a hill of debris to an ambulance.
Most victims were construction workers, who were reportedly in the building to collect their wages.
Emergency teams used mechanical diggers and heavy-cutting equipment to try and find more survivors in the ruins of what was a partially-built 11-storey complex.
Six people have been arrested so far on account of negligence, including the builder and his son, the architect of the residential tower and three others overseeing the construction.
The collapse in Tamil Nadu came only hours after a dilapidated apartment block crumbled in the capital New Delhi, killing 10 people including five children.
Building collapses are common in India. Lax regulations and the demand for cheap housing mean contractors sometimes use substandard materials or add unauthorised extra floors.
In September last year more than 50 people were crushed to death when a five-storey building collapsed in India’s financial hub Mumbai.(Vanguard)

Saturday, 21 June 2014

World Bank gives N80.7 b boost agriculture in Northern Nigeria

Abuja - The World Bank on Friday said it had approved 495.3 million dollars (about N80.7 billion) to boost agriculture in Northern Nigeria. This is contained in a statement issued by Mr Bamidele Oladokun, Communications Associate to the World Bank, in Abuja. The statement said that the bank’s executive directors approved the money to improve farmers’ access to irrigation and drainage services. It stated that the money was also to strengthen institutional arrangements for integrated water resources management. “The board also intends to enhance delivery of agricultural services in selected large-scale public schemes in the Northern Nigeria. “This will be done through a project, ”Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING). “TRIMING will improve existing irrigation on 27, 000 hectares, irrigate an additional 23, 000 hectares, and benefit more than 140, 000 farmers, while mobilising private sector investment. “It marks a transformational effort to improve large-scale public irrigation for expanding food production and encourage economic growth in rural areas. “This is necessary to end poverty and boost prosperity, as well as enhance resilience of agriculture production systems,’’ the statement said. It quoted the bank’s acting Vice-President for Africa Region, Mr Jamal Saghir, as saying that, “unlocking Africa’s development potential requires interventions in key sectors, such as energy and water. “By taking a comprehensive approach, the TRIMING project will increase farm productivity, build climate resilience and reduce flooding risks. “It will also improve the lives and well-being of millions of Nigerian citizens in Africa’s largest economy.” The statement said that agriculture was a key sector of the Nigerian economy accounting for 22 per cent of gross domestic product in 2012. “The Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) is a major initiative to drive rural income growth, accelerate achievement of food and nutritional security, and generate employment. “The bank’s portfolio of projects in agriculture, including research, extension and technology dissemination, market access and value addition, was fully geared towards supporting the implementation of the ATA. “Reaching the ATA’s goals requires pursuing an ambitious policy and institutional reform agenda, and transforming public irrigation will play an important role for securing sustainable growth of food production, it said. The statement also quotes Miss Marie-Francoise Nelly, the Director of the bank in Nigeria, as saying that “in Nigeria’s determination to diversify and integrate its economy, the project will help in three vital ways. “By restoring agricultural productivity, creating job opportunities for a large number of unskilled young people, and creating conditions for growth and peace in the Northern Nigeria “The project will help to set-up Water User Associations (WUAs) and engage local communities in setting, collecting, and allocating water user fees. “It will also help support the design of a comprehensive reform package for water resources management and irrigation in Nigeria. It further quoted the bank’s team leader for TRIMING, Mr David Casanova, as saying that the project’s innovative approach was intended to improve sustainability by promoting autonomy at scheme level and empowering WUAs organisation. The statement said that the project would be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR) and would become effective from Oct. 1. (NAN)

Friday, 20 June 2014

Swiss seize underdogs tag for France clash

(AFP) – Switzerland are trying to pile the pressure on France by claiming the underdog tag for the Alpine neighbours’ World Cup Group E clash in Salvador on Friday.
Both teams won their openers, with France topping the table after a convincing 3-0 win over Honduras, while the Swiss secured a last-gasp victory over Ecuador.
Super-sub Haris Seferovic netted in the last minute of injury time to claim a 2-1 come-back victory after the Swiss had fallen behind to Enner Valencia’s first-half header.
Sixth-placed Switzerland are 11 places higher than the French according to FIFA’s rankings, but insist those standings mean nothing.

“Favourites? You like that word in France, eh?,” Swiss central defender Steve von Bergen told AFP.
“It is France who are the favourites.”
Swiss assistant coach Michel Pont, who celebrates his 60th birthday on Thursday, said 1998 World Cup-winners France have the upper hand.
Pont says France coach Didier Deschamps has united his squad after the debacle of their South Africa 2010 campaign, when the team went on strike in support of Nicolas Anelka after a row with then-coach Raymond Domenech.
“Us, favourites? Absolutely not,” said Pont, who has worked under current coach Ottmar Hitzfeld since 2008, as well as his predecessor Jakub Kuhn from 2001-2008.
“Frankly, the current French team impresses me, they have found harmony.
“France has always had technical quality, they have simply returned to their normal level, which they never should have left.
“It’s extremely difficult to find their weak points, it is the first time I have experienced this in 13 years.
“We have to create their weak points, by improvising and taking each chance.
“We can’t sit back and put 10 players behind the ball, we have to find ways against them.”
Swiss defender Johan Djourou, who will mark France’s Real Madrid striker Karim Benezema, a two-goal scorer against Honduras, said his side have nothing to fear.
“France are favourites, by the fame of their players, who play in the biggest clubs,” said the 27-year-old ex-Arsenal defender, who is now at Hamburg.
“But on the day, this is the game that counts, not the name of the player or his club.”
Deschamps has plenty of options up front with Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud, who spent most of the Honduras game on the bench as 22-year-old Antoine Griezmann shone, eager to start.
Midfielder Yohan Cabaye will not feature after he came off in the Honduras match with a hamstring injury.
The Swiss went through their paces on Wednesday morning in Porto Seguro with Seferovic insisting they have to make a strong start at Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova.
“If we play on the same level as against Ecuador, it will not work,” the 22-year-old insisted.
France only squeezed into the World Cup finals by narrowly defeating Ukraine in a play-off.
Now that they are here, ex-captain Patrice Evra insists they are not the faction-riddled outfit from 2010, but rather a untied and cohesive unit.
“We play for the same country and since the play-off in November there has been real pride in wearing the shirt,” said the Manchester United star.

Swiss seize underdogs tag for France clash

(AFP) – Switzerland are trying to pile the pressure on France by claiming the underdog tag for the Alpine neighbours’ World Cup Group E clash in Salvador on Friday.
Both teams won their openers, with France topping the table after a convincing 3-0 win over Honduras, while the Swiss secured a last-gasp victory over Ecuador.
Super-sub Haris Seferovic netted in the last minute of injury time to claim a 2-1 come-back victory after the Swiss had fallen behind to Enner Valencia’s first-half header.
Sixth-placed Switzerland are 11 places higher than the French according to FIFA’s rankings, but insist those standings mean nothing.

“Favourites? You like that word in France, eh?,” Swiss central defender Steve von Bergen told AFP.
“It is France who are the favourites.”
Swiss assistant coach Michel Pont, who celebrates his 60th birthday on Thursday, said 1998 World Cup-winners France have the upper hand.
Pont says France coach Didier Deschamps has united his squad after the debacle of their South Africa 2010 campaign, when the team went on strike in support of Nicolas Anelka after a row with then-coach Raymond Domenech.
“Us, favourites? Absolutely not,” said Pont, who has worked under current coach Ottmar Hitzfeld since 2008, as well as his predecessor Jakub Kuhn from 2001-2008.
“Frankly, the current French team impresses me, they have found harmony.
“France has always had technical quality, they have simply returned to their normal level, which they never should have left.
“It’s extremely difficult to find their weak points, it is the first time I have experienced this in 13 years.
“We have to create their weak points, by improvising and taking each chance.
“We can’t sit back and put 10 players behind the ball, we have to find ways against them.”
Swiss defender Johan Djourou, who will mark France’s Real Madrid striker Karim Benezema, a two-goal scorer against Honduras, said his side have nothing to fear.
“France are favourites, by the fame of their players, who play in the biggest clubs,” said the 27-year-old ex-Arsenal defender, who is now at Hamburg.
“But on the day, this is the game that counts, not the name of the player or his club.”
Deschamps has plenty of options up front with Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud, who spent most of the Honduras game on the bench as 22-year-old Antoine Griezmann shone, eager to start.
Midfielder Yohan Cabaye will not feature after he came off in the Honduras match with a hamstring injury.
The Swiss went through their paces on Wednesday morning in Porto Seguro with Seferovic insisting they have to make a strong start at Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova.
“If we play on the same level as against Ecuador, it will not work,” the 22-year-old insisted.
France only squeezed into the World Cup finals by narrowly defeating Ukraine in a play-off.
Now that they are here, ex-captain Patrice Evra insists they are not the faction-riddled outfit from 2010, but rather a untied and cohesive unit.
“We play for the same country and since the play-off in November there has been real pride in wearing the shirt,” said the Manchester United star.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Merkel elected Germany’s chancellor for third term

BERLIN – Germany’s parliament elected Angela Merkel as chancellor for a third term Tuesday, ending nearly three months of uncertainty since elections that forced her to seek a ‘grand coalition’ with her rivals.
Merkel, who is now set to govern Europe’s top economy for another four years, was re-elected by 462 members of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, with 150 voting against and nine abstentions.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Mandela laid to rest in Qunu Amid Tributes

Nelson Mandela
Former South African historic President, Nelson Mandela, returned at the weekend to his ancestral home in Qunu, to begin the last phase of his journey to eternity.

The late Mandela's remains were interred yesterday amid military pomp and traditional rituals at a state funeral that capped 10 days of mourning for the global icon who died on December 5 at the age of 95.

At his interment ceremony,   modernity fused with tradition as thousands, comprising dignitaries and commoners,  gathered at the sleepy village  to bid farewell to the prisoner turned president who transformed the nation.

Tribal leaders clad in animal skins joined dignitaries in dark suits at the grave site overlooking the rolling green hills.

The state funeral was attended by over 4,000 dignitaries and a private burial witnessed by 400, reserved for key government officials, a few foreign leaders and intimate family members.

The state funeral was held amid extremely tight security under a vast domed marquee constructed for the purpose in the verdant hills adjacent to the house   Mandela built in Qunu.
As pallbearers walked towards the site after the funeral ceremony, helicopters whizzed past dangling the national flag. Cannons fired a 21-gun salute with  its echoes ringing over the quiet village.

Mandela's widow, Graca Machel, dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief as she watched the proceedings.

"Yours was truly a long walk to freedom. Now you have achieved the ultimate freedom in the bosom of God, your maker," an officiator at the grave site said.

Military pallbearers gently removed the South African flag that draped the coffin and handed it to President Jacob Zuma, who gave it to Mandela's family. At the request of the family, the lowering of the casket was closed to the media.

Before making their way to the gravesite, mourners attended a service in a tent set up at the family compound. They wept, sang and danced in what has become a familiar celebration of his life.

Mandela's coffin, draped in his country's flag, lay atop black and white cattle skins in front of a crescent of 95 candles, each marking a year of his life.
As the national anthem "Nkosi Sikelel' Afrika" or "God Bless Africa" drifted over the village, a giant picture of Mandela looked down with a smile. Mourners placed their fists on their chests, some with tears streaming down their faces.

"Today marks the end of an extraordinary journey that began 95 years ago.  It is the end of 95 glorious years of a freedom fighter ... a beacon of hope to all those fighting for a just and equitable world order," Zuma said during the ceremony.

About 4,500 people gathered in the tent, including Machel, who sat next to Mandela's ex-wife, Winnie Mandela. In other major cities, including Johannesburg, crowds watched the funeral at special screenings in stadiums.

Mourners represented all spheres of Mandela's life. There were celebrities, presidents, relatives and former political prisoners. "You symbolise today and always will ... qualities of forgiveness and reconciliation," said a tearful Ahmed Kathrada, a close friend who served time in prison with Mandela for defying the apartheid government.  Talk show host, Oprah Winfrey, Prince Charles and business mogul Richard Branson were also among the mourners.

The funeral and burial brought to a close 10 days of national mourning for a man whose fame transcended borders.

"Nelson Mandela was our leader, our hero, our icon and our father as much as he was yours," Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete said, regaling mourners with tales of a secret visit Mandela made in 1962 to Dar es Salaam to gather support for his party, the African National Congress (ANC).

During his fight against apartheid, Mandela fled to Tanzania, which housed the headquarters of the ANC. The white minority government had banned it in South Africa. In sharp contrast to the days of apartheid, the events honouring Mandela included a great deal of pageantry, as well as state honours.

Mandela's body arrived on Saturday in the tiny village in the Eastern Cape province, where he grew up surrounded by lush, tranquil hills and velvety green grass. Before arriving in Qunu, the body lay in state for three days in Pretoria. After an emotional service at the air base there, which included the handing over of his body to the ruling ANC, it was put in a military helicopter for the final leg of his journey.

Though he dined with kings and presidents in his lifetime, the international icon relished his time at the village. He herded cows and goats there as a child, and always said it was where he felt most at peace. Some of his children are also buried there.

"He really believed this is where he belonged," said his daughter, Maki Mandela.
Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years for defying the racist apartheid government that led South Africa for decades. He emerged from prison in 1990 and became South Africa's first black president four years later, all the while promoting forgiveness and reconciliation.
His defiance of white minority rule and his long incarceration for fighting segregation focused the world's attention on apartheid, the legalised racial segregation enforced by the South African government until 1994. Years after his 1999 retirement from the presidency, Mandela was considered the ideal head of state. He became a yardstick for African leaders, who consistently fell short when measured against him.

Meanwhile, former  Vice-President  Atiku Abubakar yesterday said he was humbled  to be  honoured by the South African leadership with a front-row seat at both the state funeral and private burial ceremonies of Mandela in  Qunu.

In a statement by his media office, Atiku said: "Humbled to have known a man as great as Nelson Mandela, humbled to have been a witness today, and humbled to have been so honoured by the government of South Africa."

The statement explained that Atiku was selected to be among the few dignitaries to see   Mandela's final burial ceremonies by the South African leadership, with which he has maintained a cordial relationship since the days when as vice-president he and the then Deputy President Zuma co-chaired the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-national Commission. That was a period marked by important trade and investment relations between the two countries.


Atiku flew from Pretoria to Mthatha with   Zuma in the same plane.(THISDAY)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

200,000 People Apply To Live On Planet Mars

Plans to colonize Mars are set to proceed after 200,000 people applied to live on the Red Planet, even though they won’t ever return to Earth if they actually go.

The Mars One foundationannounced on Tuesday that their planned expedition, which will see four individuals sent to Mars,has secured its lead suppliers for a 2018 unmanned mission. Elements needed for this trip included a communications satellite and a robotic lander. If this first mission proves to be successful then they plan to send a manned shuttle to Mars in 2025. It’s believed that The Mars One foundation hopes that 2018′s journey will demonstrate the technology that human settlement can be achieved on Mars. This is the first privately funded exploration mission of Mars, with the funds coming from partners and sponsors. Bans Lansdorp, Mars One’sCEO, confirmed that over 200,000 have applied for the project since it was announced in April. The application window has now closed, but individuals selected for Round 2 will be informed by the end of this year. Applicants are apparently fine with the knowledge that they would have to live out the rest of their lives on the Red Planet.


 This is because a one-way journey there severely reduces the company’s costs, plus there’s also the major factor that there’s no Kennedy Space Center launch pad on Mars at the moment. Landsorp stated that the unmanned mission is the “most important and most difficult step of actually getting humans to Mars.” He also described what the first humans to land in 2025 will have to undergo. It’s hoped that they will be followed by additional crews of four, who will be sent out every two years.

Mars One have admitted that they are currently examining “a range of funding scenarios” to raise the $6 billion that is needed for the first humans to arrive. Landscorp noted that he hopes media coverage will be a successful source, while he also indicated that a reality TV concept should manage to recoup some costs too. This is because the mission will possess the most unique footage “available in the solar system.” But despite these plans, Landscorp admitted that they have only secured $200,000 so far. Do you think that Mars One will ever reach the Red Planet? Will they actually be able to raise the amount of money that they require? As Landscorp admitted on Tuesday, “You can’t got to Mars on excitement.” -SOURCE : http://www.inquisitr.com