‘I can’t breathe.’ Jamal Khashoggi’s

international News

Jamal Khashoggi’s last words disclosed in transcript Source says

By Nic Robertson, CNN  Sun December 9, 2018

(CNN)”I can’t breathe.” These were the final words uttered by Jamal Khashoggi after he was set upon by a Saudi hit squad at the country’s consulate in Istanbul, according to a source briefed on the investigation into the killing of the Washington Post columnist.The source, who has read a translated transcript of an audio recording of Khashoggi’s painful last moments, said it was clear that the killing on October 2 was no botched rendition attempt, but the execution of a premeditated plan to murder the journalist.During the course of the gruesome scene, the source describes Khashoggi struggling against a group of people determined to kill him.”I can’t breathe,” Khashoggi says.”I can’t breathe.””I can’t breathe.”The transcript notes the sounds of Khashoggi’s body being dismembered by a saw, as the alleged perpetrators are advised to listen to music to block out the sound.And, according to the source, the transcript suggests that a series of phone calls are made, briefing them on progress. Turkish officials believe the calls were made to senior figures in Riyadh.Some of the details in the transcript seen by CNN’s source have emerged in previous reports of the recording’s content. But this is the fullest account of the transcript that has so far been published.

Jamal Khashoggi’s private WhatsApp messages may offer new clues to killingIt is likely to increase pressure on the Trump administration, which has been determined to separate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the murder, and sought to frame the issue as a binary choice between supporting or cutting off a key partner in the Middle East. US President Donald Trump has been at odds with the CIA, which, sources say, has concluded bin Salman personally ordered the killing.The revelations also threaten to undermine a key plank of an initial Saudi explanation for Khashoggi’s death, that it was a rogue operation that went horribly wrong.

The original transcript of the audio was prepared by Turkish intelligence services. Turkish officials have never said how they obtained the audio. The transcript would have been translated before it was shared with other intelligence services; CNN’s source read a translated version and has been briefed on the investigation.

The office of one US senator, who has received a briefing on the investigation by CIA Director Gina Haspel, told CNN that the source’s recollections of the transcript are “consistent” with that briefing.CNN asked Saudi officials to comment on the contents of the transcript as described by the source, and to provide comment from those named in it.

A Saudi official said: “The relevant Saudi security officials have reviewed the transcript and tape materials through Turkish security channels and nowhere in them is there any reference or indication of a call being made.””If there is additional information Turkish authorities have that we are unaware of, we would welcome it being officially handed over to us for review, which we have requested numerous times and are still requesting. And, up until now; we have not received anything.” The official did not address the transcript’s characterization of the scene inside the Saudi consulate, nor Khashoggi’s last words.

A security camera image shows Khashoggi entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

A security camera image shows Khashoggi entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

‘You are coming back’

The transcript begins at the moment Khashoggi enters the Saudi consulate in a quiet residential district of Istanbul at lunchtime on October 2.Khashoggi thought he had made a routine appointment to pick up papers that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. But, according to the source, it dawns upon Khashoggi almost immediately that things are not going to plan, when he recognizes one of the men who meets him.

He asks the man what he is doing there.According to CNN’s source, a voice identified in the transcript as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a former Saudi diplomat and intelligence official working for bin Salman, and known to Khashoggi from their time together at the Saudi Embassy in London, addresses him.”You are coming back,” the man says.”You can’t do that,” Khashoggi replies. “People are waiting outside.”(Khashoggi’s fiancée accompanied him as far as the consulate, with instructions to call associates if he did not emerge.)

Without any further dialogue, according to the source, the transcript indicates that several people set upon Khashoggi. Noises follow, and very quickly Khashoggi is fighting for air.


Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The slow-motion disaster of Trump’s Khashoggi strategy In one version of the evolving explanations for his death, Saudi officials suggested Khashoggi was accidentally choked. But according to the transcript, CNN’s source says, the journalist’s voice can be heard above the noise, repeatedly claiming he could not breathe.Despite his desperate pleas, the last discernible words the transcript records for Khashoggi are:”I can’t breathe.”The transcript notes more noises, and several more voices.One of those voices is identified on the transcript by Turkish authorities as belonging to Dr. Salah Muhammad al-Tubaiqi, the head of forensic medicine at Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry, the source says.

Aside from Khashoggi and Mutreb, he is the only other voice identified by name on the transcript.As the transcript continues, it is clear Khashoggi is not yet dead.The transcript notes the noises that can be heard on the tape, almost in the manner that subtitles describe moments in movies where there is no dialogue.”Scream.””Scream.””Gasping.”Then, the transcript notes other descriptions.”Saw.””Cutting.”

Tubaiqi is noted giving some advice to other people in the room, apparently to help them deal with the appalling task.”Put your earphones in, or listen to music like me.”During the scene, the transcript notes at least three phone calls placed by Mutreb.

The transcript does not specify the moment Khashoggi dies.According to the source, the transcript suggests Mutreb is updating someone, whom Turkish officials say was in Riyadh, with almost step-by-step details of what is taking place.”Tell yours, the thing is done, it’s done.”The word “yours” is taken by CNN’s source to refer to a superior, or boss.

The transcript has been circulated to key Turkish and Saudi allies, including those in Europe, but only the United States and Saudi Arabia have received the recording itself, the source believes. The working assumption among those allies is that Mutreb was talking to Saud al-Qahtani, bin Salman’s closest aide, the source said. Saudi officials say al-Qahtani has been removed from his former position as media chief to the crown prince.The transcript only records Mutreb’s side of the conversation. Without a recording of that call, or more details of which number was called, further conclusions based on the transcript alone cannot be made.

A portrait of Jamal Khashoggi during a remembrance ceremony for him in Washington on November 2.

A portrait of Jamal Khashoggi during a remembrance ceremony for him in Washington on November 2. A source close to the Saudi investigation into Khashoggi’s killing told CNN that Mutreb and Tubaiqi deny making any phone calls.CNN has previously reported how Mutreb, Tubaiqi and 13 other Saudis arrived in Istanbul by private charter jets and commercial aircraft on the day of and the days leading up to Khashoggi’s murder.Turkish surveillance video records the 15-man hit team arriving at the consulate shortly before Khashoggi, and departing a few hours later.

A body double of Khashoggi dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes is seen on CCTV leaving by the back door. It is clear from the transcript of the phone conversation that the calls do not describe a terrible situation gone awry, or explain an unexpected set of circumstances, the source says. Instead, the caller appears simply to be informing someone of what is going on. Hardly, the source says, the actions of a panicked ringleader, but more the description of a situation going entirely according to plan.

The transcript is relatively short, given the time span it describes, the source told CNN. There is not much dialogue; certainly no hint of a conversation about why Khashoggi should go “back,” and no suggestion either, as advanced at one point by Saudi officials, that he had been drugged by the hit team. There is nothing in this transcript that the source could describe as a “smoking gun” — a snippet of conversation or phone call that directly ties bin Salman to the so-called hit team, and to Khashoggi’s murder.

Graham on Khashoggi: Crown Prince ‘complicit’ 02:00But the lasting conclusion the source drew from the transcript is that Khashoggi’s killing was a planned assassination by an organized team that carried out its job with ruthless efficiency, keeping someone in Riyadh informed at each step.While the transcript provides no smoking gun directly tying Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the killing, it seems to echo Sen. Lindsey Graham’s sentiments after hearing the CIA’s assessment of Khashoggi’s killing.

Graham, who was among a group of senators to receive a classified briefing on the Khashoggi case, said earlier this week that he agreed with the conclusions of the US security services that bin Salman was implicated in the case.”There’s not a smoking gun, there’s a smoking saw,” he said.

Source: CNN.

Advertisements

Beyonce perform at Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal’s wedding in India

Entertainment

The wedding is a star-studded affair, and stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, and Abhishek Bachchan performed at the sangeet.

Celebrations have begun for the wedding of Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal, and Grammy Award-winning singer Beyonce arrived in Udaipur, the city of lakes, on Sunday to perform at a pre-wedding celebration for the couple.

Beyonce

Beyonce sported a white printed ensemble and a pair of shades as she stepped out of the Maharana Pratap Airport. A red lip colour brightened up her look as she let her curly tresses loose.

Isha Ambani, the daughter of India’s richest man, is tying the knot with Anand Piramal, son of another Indian billionaire, this week.

Beyoncé was one of many celebrities flown in, along with Bollywood stars and figures like Hillary Clinton.

It comes on the heels of several recent Indian weddings competing for glamour, excess and attention.

The Ambanis themselves recently attended the wedding of Bollywood actors Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh.

And last weekend, Isha Ambani was a bridesmaid at the wedding of actress Priyanka Chopra to US singer Nick Jonas.

Beyonce’s arrival for a private concert has been much talked about since September when American singer John Legend performed at Isha and Anand’s engagement in Italy’s Lake Como.

The wedding celebrations are as grand as expected, with song, dance and feasts. On Saturday night, a glitzy sangeet ceremony saw the bride and groom’s family in a celebratory mood.

The actual wedding of the daughter of business tycoon Mukesh Ambani is on Wednesday but the festivities leading up to it kicked off over the weekend.

It is likely to be one of India’s richest and most glamorous weddings, and the many guests include former US First Lady and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, media giant Arianna Huffington, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal.

Celebrity bloggers, entertainment writers and lifestyle magazines have been scouring Instagram to keep up with festivities.

Beyoncé took to the stage on Sunday night for the sangeet, an evening of music and dance that typically precedes the wedding.

She shared photos on her Instagram account of her jewel-studded outfit and elaborate gold jewellery.

Her fee hasn’t been made public, but would likely not have been a problem for the Ambanis. Mukesh Ambani, managing director of Reliance Industries, has a personal fortune of around $47bn (£37bn).

The Nigeria Security Tracker (NST)

News, SEcurity, Terrorism

The Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), a project of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Africa program, documents and maps violence in Nigeria that is motivated by political, economic, or social grievances. Different groups in Nigeria resort to violence. The militant Islamist movement Boko Haram is active in northern Nigeria. Violence among ethnic groups, farmers, and herdsmen sometimes acquires religious overtones. A new generation of Niger Delta militants threatens war against the state. Government soldiers kill civilians indiscriminately. Police are notorious for extrajudicial murder.

The Current Situation in Nigeria

2019 Elections, Africa, Nigeria, Politics, Power, SEcurity

A USIP Fact Sheet

President Buhari’s 2015 election saw the country’s first peaceful transfer of power to an opposition candidate. Elections raised hopes that some of Nigeria’s most pressing problems—including weak governance, corruption, the Boko Haram insurgency, and persistent intercommunal conflicts—could soon be under control. Despite President Buhari’s vision for reform, the country’s security challenges are surging as the factors that fuel violent conflicts remain largely unaddressed. 

USIP’S Work

USIP brings together state governors and civic leaders to design, foster, and implement inclusive policies that mitigate violence and strengthen community-oriented security. The Institute engages a variety of influential figures, empowers citizens, and uses its expertise and convening power to inform Nigeria policy in the U.S., the region, and around the world. Recent work includes:

Promoting Inclusive, Peaceful Societies.

Many of the factors driving conflict and the Boko Haram insurgency exist across Nigeria’s northern region. These include governance challenges, marginalization, and youth unemployment. Nigeria’s federal system gives governors great responsibilities to address these issues.

The Institute leverages the governors’ influence by working with them to focus policies on citizens’ needs and establish strategies that prevent and resolve violent conflict. In the process, USIP and the state governors build more inclusive processes and send the message that addressing violent extremism must be achieved cooperatively.

Through the Nigeria Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance, the Institute adds public figures to the dialogue. The Working Group fosters relationships between citizens and governors—ensuring that a diversity of citizens’ voices impacts important decisions. The Working Group also demonstrates thought leadership through publications, research, editorials, and op-eds on state government roles in addressing conflict.

Strengthening Local Security.

USIP’s peacebuilding initiatives in Nigeria improve state-level institutions’ ability to manage local conflict by piloting dialogue-based approaches and providing recommendations and lessons learned to policymakers.

  • Network of Nigerian facilitators. USIP recruited and continues to provide technical and financial support to a cadre of facilitators to convene dialogues related to election security, transitioning to community-oriented policing, and manage communal disputes that pose a risk of violence.
  • Justice and Security Dialogue project. Modeled an approach for community policing through ongoing dialogues between police and the community, particularly youth.
  • State peacebuilding institutions. Bolstering the ability of state peacebuilding institutions in Plateau and Kaduna states to respond to local conflicts before they become violent.
  • Conducting research that translates into action. USIP’s Nigeria research improves understanding of violence’s risks and develops effective approaches to managing violent conflict.
  • Elections violence risk assessment. Together with several partners, USIP is conducting an elections violence risk assessment ahead of Nigeria’s 2019 elections to provide actionable and timely analysis that will help key figures work to prevent violence before, during, and after the elections.
  • Transitioning from military operations to civilian policing. The Institute conducted research on the transition to community-oriented policing following military-led security in northeast Nigeria. The research incorporated the perspectives and priorities of vigilante groups into recommendations for a more responsive security sector.
  • Researching resistance to violence. With USIP’s support, the Centre for Information Technology and Development examined the factors that make certain communities more resistant to the threat of violence in north-east Nigeria. The research showed that community resilience thrives when there is a robust community platform for active citizen participation and democratic decision-making. The absence of such a platform in many communities led to their quick and brutal destruction by Boko Haram.

Download full Report at: USIP

The Risk of Election Violence in Nigeria is Not Where You Think

2019 Elections, Africa, APC, Oil, PDP, PMB, Politics, Power, SEcurity

Containing violence at the state level will be key to a peaceful election

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 / BY: Oge Onubogu ; Idayat Hassan

Nigeria’s political parties are in full campaign mode ahead of national and state-level elections early next year, and unfortunately signs are emerging that election-related violence is a real possibility. It’s not too late, however, for Nigerians and the international community to take steps to reduce the risks of coercion and possibly even bloodshed. To do so effectively, it’s crucial that as much attention be paid to flashpoints at the state level as to tensions surrounding the higher profile campaign for president.

People gather and watch election coverage at a small market in Kano, northern Nigeria, March 31, 2015. (Samuel Aranda/The New York Times)
People gather and watch election coverage at a small market in Kano, northern Nigeria, March 31, 2015. (Samuel Aranda/The New York Times)

In Nigeria, All Politics is Local

September’s off-cycle election for governor in the southwestern state of Osun illustrates the intensity of state elections and the accompanying risks. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the initial results inconclusive because of technical problems and other disruptions, and the vote had to be redone. In the second round, U.S., European Union and U.K. observers reported that they found “incidents of interference and intimidation of voters, and heard reports of harassment of party monitors, journalists and domestic observers.” Social media posts showed photos of allegedly injured civilians. Higher profile state races in 2019 are likely to be even more volatile.

State-level elections are important for democratic development in Nigeria, which serves as a bellwether for stability in Africa as the continent’s most populous country and biggest oil-producing nation. State races often function as a proving ground for candidates aspiring to national office. Moreover, the country’s powerful state governors, who allocate federally disbursed revenue and shape policy on development and security, oversee the state election commissions that manage local government elections—the essence of grassroots democracy.

The 2019 state-level voting will usher in leadership to some of the most populous and economically important states in Nigeria, including Lagos, Kano and Rivers, as well as in states that experience recurring intercommunal violence including Plateau, Kaduna and Benue.

The electoral calendar will be crowded in the first quarter of 2019. Just two weeks after the general elections, balloting will take place on March 2 to select governors and state assemblies in 29 of Nigeria’s 36 states (seven others are scheduled off-cycle for various reasons). In the 29 contests, incumbent governors are defending 19 seats. Of those, 12 are members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The other seven belong to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of opposition candidate and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Incumbent governors running for a second four-year term hold significant advantages because of their domination of state party structures, leverage over powerful patronage networks and the ways they can manage to employ state funds to bolster their campaigns.

In Lagos state, the APC incumbent lost in the October primary, and in the remaining nine of the 29 state contests (Borno, Gombe, Imo, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun, Oyo, Yobe and Zamfara), the incumbents cannot run again because of term limits, making for competitive open races.

A Complex Risk Environment

In the 2015 state elections, voting generally proceeded smoothly across the country, according to the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD), a U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) partner organization in Nigeria. Even so, “significant incidences of shootings, protests, arson and fatalities were recorded in most geopolitical zones,” the CDD reported.

Three years later, conditions have changed. The nature of these changes—and the forces behind them—must be considered in weighing whether state-level election violence is likely, and if so, how to prevent it or mitigate the consequences.

The number of violent conflicts across the country and their toll have increased. Clashes between farmers and herders over land and water have escalated and are particularly deadly in the northern states of Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Adamawa, Zamfara and Kaduna. Some of those states, including Benue and Plateau, fall within the politically influential region of North Central Nigeria.

In the country’s Northeast, the military claims to have decimated Boko Haram, but the group continues to stage well-publicized attacks. Meanwhile, paramilitary forces organized in response to the terrorist threat now pose a danger themselves in places such as Borno state. So, the contest to replace Borno’s term-limited Governor Kashim Shettima will be especially important.

Another change since 2015 is proliferating fissures within the APC and the PDP. In Kano, northern Nigeria’s most populous state and long considered a harbinger of a party’s political prospects across that region, divisions are deep within the APC between supporters of incumbent Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and backers of Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, formerly the state’s governor, and now member of the opposition PDP. Already, the party primaries in October in Zamfara were marred by violence. Preparations for that state’s elections in March continue to be controversial, as INEC has declined to accept the APC’s gubernatorial candidate, saying the party submitted his name too late.

As intraparty conflicts sharpen, rivalry between the APC and the PDP remains intense. That competition lies at the root of persistent violence, including around elections, in the Niger Delta’s leading oil producer, Rivers state—hostility heightened by the APC’s growing challenge to the PDP’s previous dominance in the lead-up to the 2015 vote. The Fund for Peace, another USIP partner in Nigeria, reports that “the personal rivalry between former Governor Rotimi Amaechi (APC) and current Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike (PDP)” exacerbates divisions along party lines. Rivers state is considered a political crown jewel for any party able to capture control of the jurisdiction.

How Election Violence can be Mitigated

So, what can be done? Nigeria must be held to a higher standard than in the past in order to fulfill its proper role as the best example of democratic development in Africa. While there has been much improvement in recent years, the country’s political leaders need to do better.

First, planning for prevention of election violence needs to occur earlier and be sustained longer to contain post-election incidents.

Secondly, the United States and international community, including the African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), should intensify their pre-election diplomacy. All stakeholders with potential influence on Nigeria’s leaders must clearly convey their expectation that Nigeria’s political parties will act responsibly throughout campaigns, balloting and the post-election period. They must demand that parties discipline their members, officials and their candidates should they violate standards of acceptable conduct.

Finally, Nigerian authorities should identify credible state-level and community leaders in advance who could provide leadership and advice—or even mediation—in the event of rising tensions. USIP’s Nigeria Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance, a group of eminent civic leaders, could be a source of support, and there may be other community leaders with the skills and influence to prevent and defuse violence. Some states already have institutions designed to reduce violence, such as the Plateau State Peacebuilding Agency and the Kaduna State Peacebuilding Commission. These bodies are still getting their footing, but they can work closely with local community leaders and civil society representatives.

While Nigeria has made major strides since democracy was restored almost 20 years ago, the struggle to control the widespread violence that plagues its communities is far from over. Reducing election-related violence, especially in the all-important state gubernatorial elections, is a crucial place to start.

Oge Onubogu is a senior program officer for Africa programs at USIP. Idayat Hassan is the director of the Centre for Democracy and Development–West Africa, an Abuja-based policy advocacy and research organization.

Jail term for Iranian Woman who dares Go out Without Hijab

Islam, Middle East, personality

An Iranian woman who peacefully protested the obligatory hijab rule by removing her head scarf in public in Tehran in December says she has been sentenced to two years in prison in addition to an 18-year suspended prison term.

Shaparak Shajarizadeh removed her headscarf in protest against the compulsory hijab rule in Iran and was forced to flee the country.

Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, women have been forced to cover their hair according to Islamic law on modesty. In recent years, there have been dem

Shaparak Shajarizadeh also says she has left Iran to escape “injustices.”

In a live broadcast shared widely on social media this week, Shajarizadeh said that she was sentenced to prison for opposing the compulsory hijab.

“This means that I will have to be silent for 20 years and not get involved in any activities,” Shajarizadeh said on Instagram.

Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh who represented Shajarizadeh and other women arrested for opposing the compulsory hijab was arrested last month.

Shajarizadeh, 42, was released on bail in late April.

In a video posted online on July 9, she said she has left Iran.

“Due to the injustices in Iran’s judicial system, I had to leave the country,” she said.

When a Boyfriend Joins the Marriage

relationship

MODERN LOVE

They agreed she could have sex on the side as long as he didn’t have to know about it. Then she fell in love.

Credit Brian Rea


By Sherry Richert Belul

They started this job more than a year ago. Most homeowners would be annoyed at how long it’s taking. I’m not. They’re building it for free. They’re building it for me.

I bring them water. I kiss one good night but not the other. One is my boyfriend of 10 years. The other is my husband. My husband and I actually consider ourselves exes, but we never divorced. We still love each other, just not romantically. We have lived together all these years under the same roof, although not the same bedroom.

What happened was this: 15 years ago, I woke up in the night, nudged him awake and said, “I need your permission to have an affair.” 


Our then 2-year-old son had just left the family bed. My husband and I were alone again with a gaping hole where passion should be. We had tried to bring it back through counseling, sex therapy and lingerie. I needed the dance of knee against knee under the table. I needed an unabashed, open-mouthed kiss. So we came to an agreement.

I don’t want to know,” he said. “Don’t bring it home.”

This went on for several years. I met men at hotels and at their homes in the hills.

Then, I met a new guy at a bar in the Mission District, the perfect place to meet before a one-night stand. Except I fell for him the moment he handed me a red Gerber daisy. I fell for the small gap between his teeth. I touched his hand by feigning interest in the ring he had made from a bicycle spoke. We loved the same obscure music.

Days later, he waltzed with me on Berkeley Pier, my gloves arranged in his breast pocket like a kerchief. He created a rabbit out of a squeegee and a towel and made me laugh at its antics.

The afternoon I chose to tell my husband, light streamed into our yellow kitchen. Our son was in his room, playing with Hogwarts toys.

“This wasn’t our agreement,” he said. We discussed it calmly. One of us mentioned divorce. One of us said, “Should we move apart?” Then it was silent again.

I was a child of divorce. When I came home from school, the house was empty. My mother worked an hour away and didn’t get home until after 6.

I saw my father on Sundays, sometimes. He would take us to car shows or to buy fish for our aquarium. I don’t think he ever wanted children. He wasn’t interested in talking to me about books or cheerleading. He once jokingly tossed me over the side of a boat, saying, “That’s how you learn to swim!”

My siblings were wild, sneaking out to parties in the woods. I grew up mostly alone. I dreamed of having a family to travel with or joke together over dinner.

I had this now. We made Lego villages, played music, sang out of tune. We stopped for smiley-face pancakes when we drove to San Diego to see my in-laws. We took up a whole row on the airplane, creating our own happy world of snacks, cartoons and surprises for our son.

I couldn’t imagine not waking up in the house with my child, having to drop him off at his father’s house, not kissing his sleepy cheeks every night.

I wanted my family. And I wanted my boyfriend.

When I suggested we could be roommates, my husband agreed. I clung to the idea like a life raft.

We ordered another bed and turned my husband’s office into a second bedroom. I didn’t know if it was possible to create a new kind of family, but like a child who pushes against the boundaries of her parents’ rigid rules, I wanted to find out.

Months later, I said, “I want to introduce him to our son.”

“If you bring someone else in,” my husband said, “we need to move apart. I don’t want to meet him.”

Weeks passed. Then my husband said, “Wild Side West. 5:30. Wednesday night.”

I don’t remember if I drove to that meeting with my husband or my boyfriend. I do remember sitting in the beer garden with sweat on my forehead.

We sat in a little triangle, my husband sitting stiffly and my boyfriend leaning back as if to give us more room. I perched on a rickety stool. We could have been in a lawyer’s office, drawing up papers.

The moment was about a child. The conversation was about who we are to this boy. Who will we be to him and to each other? How do we trust?

We set a meeting for the playground the following week. We three adults had planned it out carefully. My son and I would be playing on the monkey bars. My boyfriend would show up and I would introduce him as my friend.

When he arrived, he was carrying an old radio and some tools. He had remembered from our conversations that my son loved to disassemble electronics.

My boyfriend juggled two screwdrivers and a wrench and made my son laugh. He smiled and said, “Hey buddy, want to take this thing apart with me?”

When this began, we still lived in a large apartment in the Mission; there was room for privacy the nights my boyfriend stayed over. It was awkward at first, but as the years passed we spent more time as a foursome — cooking, playing board games.

Twice a year we all traveled to my mother’s house in Ohio, along with my husband’s parents, spending two weeks in a flurry of card games, water balloon fights and lingering meals.

Then the owner of our apartment decided to sell and offered us an enormous sum of money to surrender our rent-controlled lease. In most places, that money could have bought us a house. In the Bay Area, it wasn’t even a down payment. The only place we could afford was half the size of our apartment. There wouldn’t be room for home offices, most of our furniture or my boyfriend.

At the new house, my beau built a platform so I could store the mattress beneath a raised office, but it never felt right. It wasn’t sexy to sleep with him under piles of papers and the glow of the computer screen saver.

One day when he and I were lying in the trundle bed staring up at a jumble of cords, he said, “Let’s talk about building you a studio.” But I didn’t have the money.

“We could scavenge what we need,” he said. “If we start by building a foundation, maybe it will come together even if we don’t see how it can work.”

The backyard was a mess of dirt, broken bottles and rusty metal when he began digging. He patiently began clearing it out. One day my husband donned work gloves and jumped in, too. When we ran out of scavenged materials, my husband generously purchased supplies.

Months of Sundays passed to the synchronized beat of hammers and the sound of music and laughter as the framing was built. My husband taught me how to use the nail gun. My boyfriend took pictures as I nailed on the avocado-green siding. There’s a selfie of the three of us grinning from behind our dust masks, covered with flecks of fiberglass on the day we stuffed insulation into the walls.

Those two men painstakingly installed layers of drywall, reaching their long arms to the ceiling over and over. Before they hung the last piece, I hid gold dollar coins inside next to the studs and a photo of three generations of people who are related in ways there aren’t words for.

They left the beautiful thick beam in the ceiling exposed. After you walk into the studio and admire the golden light and the warm oak floors, that exposed beam catches your eye. It’s the through line, reminding me of our love for our son.

We wanted this child to grow up in a happy household. That beam was strong enough to convince us all to hold onto the vision. It’s like a dream I have had countless times in which I discover a room in my house that I didn’t know was there.

That’s our life now. We are building a family without a blueprint.

The New York Times    

Sherry Richert Belul, who lives in San Francisco, is the author of “Say it Now: 33 Creative Ways to Say I Love You to the Most Important People in Your Life,” due out in May.

Modern Love can be reached at modernlove@nytimes.com.


Buhari Presidency plotting to plunge the 2019 elections into a needless controversy – PDP /PPCO

2019 Elections, Africa, Nigeria, PMB, Politics, Power

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday declined signing the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018 into law, saying that it was capable of derailing preparations for 2019 polls. It was the fourth time he would reject the bill as previous rejections were based on observed errors. The President said he did not want to impose on the country the electoral uncertainty his assent might cause. He said that changing the rules a few months to the next general elections could lead to disruption and confusion. He asked the National Assembly to save the nation’s democracy by ensuring that the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018 comes into effect after the February 2019 polls. He also raised issues on four amendments to the bill and asked the National Assembly to revisit the observations. Buhari, who made his opinion known in a December 6, 2018 letter to the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, said he had decided to place the interest of the country above any other matter. The letter was titled,‘Presidential decision to decline assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018’.

It reads: “Pursuant to Section 58(4) of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate my decision on 6th December to decline Presidential Assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly. “I am declining assent to the Bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general elections, which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process. “Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.

“This leads me to believe that it is in the best interest of the country and our democracy for the National Assembly to specifically state in the Bill that the Electoral Act will come into effect and be applicable to elections commencing after the 2019 General Elections. “It is also important for the following drafting amendments to be made to the Bill:

•Section 5 of the Bill, amending Section 18 of the Principal Act should indicate the subsection to which the substitution of the figure “30” for the figure “60” is to be effected.

•Section 11 of the Bill, amending Section 36 should indicate the subsection in which the proviso is to be introduced.

•Section 24 of the Bill which amends Section 85(1) should be redrafted in full as the introduction of the “electing” to the sentence may be interpreted to mean that political parties may give 21 days’ notice of the intention to merge, as opposed to the 90 days provided in Section 84(2) of the Electoral Act which provides the provision for merger of political parties 

•The definition of the term “Ward Collection Officer” should be revised to reflect a more descriptive definition than the capitalised and undefined term “Registration Area Collation Officer.” “Please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

President Buhari had refused to sign the Bill the first time as a result of the reordering of the election sequence by the National Assembly, and the second time because of what the Presidency called “drafting errors.” He also declined signing the bill the third time because of what the Presidency called “drafting issues that remained unaddressed.”

National Assembly may override Buhari There were indications yesterday that the National Assembly may override President Buhari’s withdrawal of assent on the Electoral Act, 2018. Although several calls made to obtain the reaction of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, yielded no result, a source close to the leadership of the Senate said the National Assembly would likely override the President on the Bill. It is, however, not clear whether the two chambers of the National Assembly can muster the required two-thirds majority to override the President.

The source said: “It is obvious that the National Assembly has bent backward almost to breaking point to give the President the benefit of the doubt. “The National Assembly has no other alternative but to override the President because nobody is in doubt that he does not want to sign the Bill.” “The days ahead will determine what will happen.” Senators express divergent views Former Senate Leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, and Clifford Ordia, who spoke with our correspondent in separate interviews yesterday, expressed divergent views on the refusal of the President to sign the Electoral Act amendment Bill.

Ndume said the President must have his reasons for declining assent to the Bill. But the Borno South senator said the National Assembly was at liberty to respond as it deemed fit. He added that the rejection would not affect the conduct of the 2019 general elections, saying “the President does not conduct elections.” He said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the body in charge of elections.

“All the president needs to do is to provide the necessary support, which I am certain that he has done,” he said. Ndume added: “I cannot fully comment right now since I am not aware of the reasons given by the President. “I am sure his reasons will be contained in the letter addressed to the leadership of the National Assembly. Let us wait and see till next week.” Senator Ordia, on his part, noted that the rejection of the amendment bill by the President was a clear sign that the APC was not ready to conduct a free and fair election. The Edo Central senator said that the rejection will further cast doubt on the ability of the President to give Nigerians an election that will be accepted by all. Ordia said: “Many of us are not surprised. We knew the amendment bill was not going to be signed.

“The earlier excuses advanced were just to distract everyone. “Now that we know, we also need to go back to the drawing board as a party and find a way to counter any plans the APC will be hatching.” PDP campaign urges N/Assembly to override Buhari The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organization (PPCO) yesterday charged the National Assembly to save the nation’s democracy by immediately overriding President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign the amendment of the Electoral Act. The PDP Campaign said the legislative action had become imperative as the President’s decision was a calculated attempt to hold the nation to ransom. In a statement signed by the spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said the President’s action was capable of injecting crisis into the electoral process and ultimately scuttle the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

The opposition party insisted that the President was avoiding free and fair contest. The statement said: “President Buhari’s repeated refusal to sign amendments passed to check rigging in the election raises issues of his sincerity of purpose and has the capacity to trigger political unrest and violence, which can, in turn, truncate our hard-earned democracy. “The PPCO invites Nigerians to note that this is the fourth time President Buhari is withholding assent on the amendment, without any cogent reason following his rejection by Nigerians. “Nigerians can recall how the Buhari Presidency plotted to plunge the 2019 elections into a needless controversy by delaying the submission of the election budget to the National Assembly, presenting it at the time the legislators were commencing their annual vacation and asking for virement of funds already approved for development projects, instead of sending a fresh supplementary budget for the election.

“It is unfortunate that Mr. President, in his desperation to hold on to power, has resorted to taking steps that are capable of destabilising our nation, just because the people are resolute in voting him out of office democratically. “It is also instructive to note that President Buhari is mortally afraid of the amendments because they essentially checked the All Progressives Congress (APC) rigging plans, including the use of underage and alien voters, vote-buying, alteration of results and manipulation of voter register; for which the APC and the Buhari Presidency have been boasting of winning the 2019 elections. “While urging the National Assembly to save our democracy and forestall an imminent electoral crisis, the PPCO also charges all political parties, other critical stakeholders and Nigerians in general to rise in the interest of our nation and demand the entrenching of rules and processes that will guarantee the conduct of free, fair and credible elections, as nothing short of that would be accepted.”

It may affect deepening of democracy— CNPP The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) warned yesterday that the negative impact of not assenting to amendments to Nigeria’s Electoral Act as contained in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill (2018) before next year’s general elections will endanger the deepening of the country’s democracy. In its reaction to the rejection of the amendments to the bill by President Buhari, CNPP’s Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, said in a statement issued in Abuja that “there are indications that a cabal that resents credible electoral process is bent on frustrating the signing of any amendment to the electoral laws ahead of 2019.” It urged the National Assembly to save the country’s democracy and veto the President’s assent. According to the umbrella organisation of all registered political parties and political associations in the country, “it has become obvious that while President Buhari may ordinarily wish to ensure credible electoral process, some persons around him, which constitutes the cabal, resent free and fair contest and may have again deceived him into withholding assent to the bill.

“The CNPP as a body conceived as a common platform for political parties in Nigeria shares common concerns of well-meaning Nigerians on issues bordering on rule of law, promotion and defence of democratic principles and practices. “Therefore, this singular rejection of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill (2018) by Mr. President is another repressive attempt to stem multi-party democracy and have completely removed the last hope of level playing ground for all political parties in the forthcoming elections. “It is ironical that President Muhammadu Buhari has been promising free and fair elections and at the same time refusing to give effect to the only instrument that would have proven his commitment to credible electoral process in 2019.

“As one of the greatest beneficiaries of free and fair election from the last administration, we thought that Mr. President and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) should have been at the forefront of promoting transparency in elections. “However, to save our democracy and to take Nigeria’s electoral process to the next level of free and fair polls, not the next level of rigging, we demand that the National Assembly, as a matter of urgency, override Mr. President’s veto with a two-third-majority. “As it stands, the only hope Nigerians have left now rests on the National Assembly’s willingness to do the needful at this trying moment in our democratic journey.”

Colchester boy, 8, steers car to safety after mum has seizure

Celebrity Gists, Facts, personality, relationship
Lauren Smith and Ben Hedger
Ben Hedger steered his mum Lauren Smith’s car to safety after she had a seizure

An eight-year-old boy took control of a car at 60mph and steered it to safety across a busy dual carriageway when his mother blacked out at the wheel.

Ben Hedger was on his way home from school with mum Lauren Smith when she had a seizure on the A120 near Colchester, in Essex.

The Ford Ka hit the central reservation and realising the danger, Ben put on the hazard lights and guided the vehicle across the lanes to the hard shoulder.

His mum said she was “so proud”.

Miss Smith, 27, who lives in Colchester, lost consciousness at about 15.45 GMT on Monday.

“When I started having the seizure at first I grabbed the wheel and was steering erratically so because of that we moved from the left lane into the central reservation and crashed into that,” she said.

“We were scraping along and that is when Ben realised he needed to do something.

“He put the hazards on, grabbed the steering wheel and steered us to the hard shoulder where we continued along until the car stalled.”

Miss Smith said Ben had not realised how serious his actions had been.

“He realised something was wrong with me but he didn’t realise he had done this amazing thing.

“He said he just did what he had to do otherwise we would have died.”

After pulling the car over, Ben tried to use his mother’s phone to call the emergency services before another car stopped and helped them.

Miss Smith, who came around after five to 10 minutes, said she had never had a seizure before and had to be told about what had happened by Ben, the emergency services and a fellow driver.

Russia will build missiles if US leaves treaty, Putin warns

Politics, Power, SEcurity, Tech, War
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Nato’s accusation was a pretext for the US to leave the treaty

Russia will develop missiles banned under a Cold War agreement if the US exits the pact, President Vladimir Putin has warned.

His comments follow Nato’s accusation on Tuesday that Russia has already broken the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Signed in 1987 by the US and USSR, it banned both countries’ use of all short and medium-range missiles.

But Mr Putin says the accusation is a pretext for the US to leave the pact.

In televised comments, the Russian leader said many other countries had developed weapons banned under the INF treaty.

“Now it seems our American partners believe that the situation has changed so much that [they] must also have such a weapon,” he said.

“What’s our response? It’s simple – in that case we will also do this.” 

US President Donald Trump has previously said the country would leave the treaty because of Russian actions.

Analysts say Russia sees the weapons as a cheaper alternative to conventional forces.

Arriving for talks with Nato foreign ministers, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini urged the two countries to save the treaty, saying it had “guaranteed peace and security in European territory for 30 years now”.

What has Nato said?

On Tuesday, the Western military alliance formally accused Russia of breaking the treaty.

“Allies have concluded that Russia has developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security,” the Nato foreign ministers’ statement read.

The statement said the member nations “strongly support” the US claim that Russia is in breach of the pact, and called on Moscow to “return urgently to full and verifiable compliance”.

A Russian missile is fired during military exercises
Image captionRussia denies building missiles that violate the accord

Speaking after the release of Nato’s statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Russia had 60 days to return to compliance with the treaty, after which time the US would suspend its own compliance.

“During this 60 days we will still not test or produce or deploy any systems, and we’ll see what happens during this 60-day period,” he said.

Russia has repeatedly denied breaking the Cold War treaty.

Presentational grey line

What is the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty?

Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan signing the INF Treaty in 1987
Image captionSoviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan signed the INF Treaty in 1987
  • Signed by the US and the USSR in 1987, the arms control deal banned all nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with short and medium ranges, except sea-launched weapons
  • The US had been concerned by the Soviet deployment of the SS-20 missile system and responded by placing Pershing and cruise missiles in Europe – sparking widespread protests
  • By 1991, nearly 2,700 missiles had been destroyed
  • Both countries were allowed to inspect the other’s installations
  • In 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the treaty no longer served Russia’s interests
  • The move came after the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002

Saraki to Nigerian government: Scrap ‘Trader moni’ now, APC reacts

2019 Elections, APC, PDP, PMB, Politics, Power

Senate President and Director General of the Atiku Abubakar PDP Presidential Campaign Council Dr. Bukola Saraki has directed the Federal Government of Nigeria and the All Peoples’ Party to stop the criminal act of distributing money to market women as free Trader Moni. 


Senate President Bukola Saraki tells the Nigerian government to scrap Trader Moni, says it is a “sophisticated vote buying.”

The blind woman developing tech for the good of others

Entertainment, Facts, International Finance, international News, personality, Tech

Virginia Harrison BBC News, Singapore

Chieko Asakawa was awarded Japan's Medal of Honour for her contributions to accessibility research
Chieko Asakawa received Japan’s Medal of Honour for her contribution to accessibility research

An accident in a swimming pool left Chieko Asakawa blind at the age of 14. For the past three decades she’s worked to create technology – now with a big focus on artificial intelligence (AI) – to transform life for the visually impaired.

“When I started out there was no assistive technology,” Japanese-born Dr Asakawa says.

“I couldn’t read any information by myself. I couldn’t go anywhere by myself.”

Those “painful experiences” set her on a path of learning that began with a computer science course for blind people, and a job at IBM soon followed. She started her pioneering work on accessibility at the firm, while also earning her doctorate.

Dr Asakawa is behind early digital Braille innovations and created the world’s first practical web-to-speech browser. Those browsers are commonplace these days, but 20 years ago, she gave blind internet users in Japan access to more information than they’d ever had before.

Hands on a keyboard with a braille computer display
Braille and voice control are still key technologies for blind people

Now she and other technologists are looking to use AI to create tools for visually impaired people.

Micro mapping

For example, Dr Asakawa has developed NavCog, a voice-controlled smartphone app that helps blind people navigate complicated indoor locations.

Low-energy Bluetooth beacons are installed roughly every 10m (33ft) to create an indoor map. Sampling data is collected from those beacons to build “fingerprints” of a specific location.

“We detect user position by comparing the users’ current fingerprint to the server’s fingerprint model,” she says.

Close-up of blind person's can on road
Image captionCould navigation apps mean blind people have to rely on canes less?

Collecting large amounts of data creates a more detailed map than is available in an application like Google Maps, which doesn’t work for indoor locations and cannot provide the level of detail blind and visually impaired people need, she says.

“It can be very helpful, but it cannot navigate us exactly,” says Dr Asakawa, who’s now an IBM Fellow, a prestigious group that has produced five Nobel prize winners.

NavCog is currently in a pilot stage, available in several sites in the US and one in Tokyo, and IBM says it is close to making the app available to the public.

‘It gave me more control’

Pittsburgh residents Christine Hunsinger, 70, and her husband Douglas Hunsinger, 65, both blind, trialled NavCog at a hotel in their city during a conference for blind people.

“I felt more like I was in control of my own situation,” says Mrs Hunsinger, now retired after 40 years as a government bureaucrat.

She uses other apps to help her get around, and says while she needed to use her white cane alongside NavCog, it did give her more freedom to move around in unfamiliar areas.

Chieko Asakawa
Image captionDr Asakawa says memories of colour help with her work on object recognition and NavCog

Mr Hunsinger agrees, saying the app “took all the guesswork out” of finding places indoors.

“It was really liberating to travel independently on my own.”

A lightweight ‘suitcase robot’

Dr Asakawa’s next big challenge is the “AI suitcase” – a lightweight navigational robot.

It steers a blind person through the complex terrain of an airport, providing directions as well as useful information on flight delays and gate changes, for example.

The suitcase has a motor embedded so it can move autonomously, an image-recognition camera to detect surroundings, and Lidar – Light Detection And Ranging – for measuring distances to objects.

When stairs need to be climbed, the suitcase tells the user to pick it up.

“If we work together with the robot it could be lighter, smaller and lower cost,” Dr Asakawa says.

The current prototype is “pretty heavy”, she admits. IBM is pushing to make the next version lighter and hopes it will ultimately be able to contain at least a laptop computer. It aims to pilot the project in Tokyo in 2020.

“I want to really enjoy travelling alone. That’s why I want to focus on the AI suitcase even if it is going to take a long time.”

IBM showed me a video of the prototype, but as it’s not ready for release yet the firm was reluctant to release images at this stage.

AI for ‘social good’

Despite its ambitions, IBM lags behind Microsoft and Google in what it currently offers the visually impaired.

Microsoft has committed $115m (£90m) to its AI for Good programme and $25m to its AI for accessibility initiative. For example, Seeing AI – a talking camera app – is a central part of its accessibility work.

Microsoft's Saqib Shaikh demonstrates the firm's text-to-speech smartphone app
Image captionMicrosoft’s Saqib Shaikh demonstrates the firm’s text-to-speech smartphone app

And later this year Google reportedly plans to launch its Lookout app, initially for the Pixel, that will narrate and guide visually impaired people around specific objects.

“People with disabilities have been overlooked when it comes to technology development as a whole,” says Nick McQuire, head of enterprise and AI research at CCS Insight.

But he says that’s been changing in the past year, as big tech firms push hard to invest in AI applications that “improve social wellbeing”.

He expects more to come in this space, including from Amazon, which has sizeable investments in AI.

“But it’s really Microsoft and Google… in the last 12 months that have made the big focus in this area,” he says.

Mr McQuire says the focus on social good and disability is linked to “trying to showcase the benefits [of AI] in light of a lot of negative sentiment” around AI replacing human jobs and even taking over completely.

But AI in the disability space is far from perfect. A lot of the investment right now is about “proving the accuracy and speed of the applications” around vision, he says.

Dr Asakawa concludes simply: “I’ve been tackling the difficulties I found when I became blind. I hope these difficulties can be solved.”

Edited By Don Michael Adeniji 

Davido: NYSC has cancelled my service year

local news, Music, personality

Nigerian musician, David Adeleke, popularly known has Davido, has revealed on social media that the compulsory one year service which he started some months ago has been cancelled by NYSC

Davido

He made this known in his reaction to a post made by Nigerian Music Promoter Adesegun Adeosun, @iamsmade who just finished his NYSC program and also got a letter of recommendation.

Reacting, Davido wrote: “Naso dem cancel my own”

This may be related to his refusal to observe the mandatory 3 weeks orientation in the camp.

Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Mosque: Secrets of the world’s grandest place of worship

News

http://www.cnn.com/travel/article/sheikh-zayed-grand-mosque-abu-dhabi/?gallery=8

Star attraction: The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the world’s most popular attractions according to TripAdvisor. It’s easy to see why.ShutterstockEditor’s Note — Editor’s Note — CNN Travel’s series often carries sponsorship originating from the countries and regions we profile. However, CNN retains full editorial control over all of its reports. Read the policy.(CNN) — It’s Abu Dhabi‘s star attraction, attracting millions each year, yet despite the footfall, there’s a wonderful air of calm that surrounds the majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.The UAE’s largest and most ornate place of worship doesn’t disappoint and with visitors traveling from around the globe to bask in the opulence, it’s no surprise a staggering 3.4 million tourists came to experience it in 2017.In the same year, it was ranked as the world’s second-favorite landmark according to TripAdvisor — surpassing other world stunners such as St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and the Taj Mahal in India — with Angkor Wat in Cambodia beating it to the top spot.

The mosque’s amazing figures

The mosque cost a reported $545 million to build.Tom Dulat/Getty ImagesWork on Abu Dhabi’s beacon of splendor started in 1996 and took 12 years to complete at the reported cost of around $545 million. Now the third-largest mosque in the world at 22,412 square meters, it covers an area equivalent to nearly four football fields.It holds more than 40,000 worshipers and has three Guinness World Records, for largest handwoven carpet and the biggest chandelier, as well as the largest dome of its kind in the world.Related contentAbu Dhabi’s unusual architecture delivers surprisesSpiritual significance and endless superlatives come together under 82 white marble domes, 1,096 exterior columns, 96 semi-precious jewel-encrusted internal columns and seven 24-carat gold plated Swarovski crystal chandeliers, making it the jaw-dropping centerpiece of the city’s cultural legacy.

Architectural wonder

Over 3,000 artisans from 38 global companies were involved in making the mosque.Tom Dulat/Getty ImagesThe Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque takes its name from the UAE’s first president and the ruler of Abu Dhabi, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who conceived the idea.He took architectural direction of the project with his wish for it to be his final resting place. After his death in 2004, his body was buried in the mosque’s courtyard.Related contentEmirates Palace spends a hefty sum replacing gold ceilingThe spectacular monument was designed by Syrian architect Yousef Abdelky. Inspired by Persian, Mughal and Moorish architecture, it was a truly international collaboration of more than 3,000 artisans from 38 global construction companies.Arguably the real opulence is in the tiny details, such as precious stones like amethyst and jasper embedded into the columns and the intricate floral patterns in mother-of-pearl radiating across the the walls.

Englishman in Abu Dhabi

Visitors to the mosque must dress approriately. Robes are available for loan.Tom Dulat/Getty ImagesBritish artist and illustrator Kevin Dean, who came up with the floral designs that adorn the Mosque, describes being involved in one of the world’s most exciting architectural projects as “life-changing.”Fellow Royal College of Art peer, Professor Salma Damluji, had put forward Dean’s name for the project and he was appointed by Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed (son of Sheikh Zayed bin Zayed) who was also responsible for overseeing the mosque’s construction.

“I sent my portfolio across and a few days later I was on a plane to Abu Dhabi to meet Sheikh Sultan,” Dean, who’s also worked with the Natural History Museum in London, recalls.”He was a lovely guy and had a lot of ideas about the mosque as he didn’t want it to be traditionally decorated with Islamic geometrics.”Dean was stunned to be given free rein on the project.Related contentAbu Dhabi’s hottest hotel: Qasr Al Sarab vs. the desert“It was as much an artistic feat as it was a logistical one, in many ways,” he says. “To think I get such huge restrictions for projects like book illustrations but I was so lucky to have creative freedom for a project of this nature.”Despite working on the project for close to four years with frequent trips to Italy to see the designs being made — it took more than 30 million pieces of marble — nothing prepared Dean for the moment his botanical designs came to life around the 17,600-square-meter main courtyard.”I couldn’t quite believe it,” he says. “It was incredible and so beautiful.

“For the main courtyard I used flowers that can be found in the Middle Eastern region. In the main prayer hall, the species come from the Middle East; at the north entrance, they come from the northern hemisphere; and at the south entrance, they come from the south.”Sheikh Sultan really liked that idea as he saw the Islamic faith as being incredibly international and my designs reflect that.”

A-list and royal visitors

The mosque has seven 24-carat gold-plated Swarovski crystal chandeliers.Tom Dulat/Getty ImagesThe mosque has had its fair share of celebrity visitors and is especially loved by the supermodels — step forward Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Shanina Shaik, Chanel Iman and Halima Aden — who all donned traditional wear to marvel at the breathtaking place of worship.Britain’s Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall kicked off their three-day tour to the UAE with a visit in 2016 while celebrities such as Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber and British songstress Dua Lipa all made sure Abu Dhabi’s VIP landmark was on their Middle East itineraries.

Insider tips for visiting

The Mosque is free to visit and opens daily between 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (last entry 9.30 p.m.), except on Friday mornings (Islam’s holy day), when it opens between 4.30 p.m. to 10 p.m.The free complimentary one-hour guided tours are definitely worth signing up for, as they’re a great insight into the incredible wonder, religion and culture.Catching the sunset tour, which starts at 5 p.m., makes the most of the romantic lighting. Visitors can also expect a completely different ambiance with the mosque’s spectacular illumination after dark.

Related contentAbu Dhabi’s best spots according to Instagram starsModest dress is a must for all visitors as it’s a Muslim site. Women should cover their legs, arms and heads and men are required to wear long trousers, however the mosque does provide free traditional abayas (robes) prior to entry, which takes the hassle out of trying to find a Mosque-appropriate outfit.Everyone must remove their shoes before entering so bring a pair of socks if you prefer not to walk around barefoot. You’ll need a pair of sunglasses when marveling at the outside as the sun reflects on the marble surface of the courtyard.The mosque is always busy but as it’s so vast it never feels overcrowded. An insider tip would be to avoid the searing midday heat by heading there first thing in the morning or late afternoon.

Photography pointers

The main courtyard was built using 30 million pieces of marble.Tom Dulat/Getty ImagesWith all its beauty, it’s no wonder everyone from budding amateurs to professional snappers regularly flock to the mosque for that picture-perfect shot.International photographer Mark Luscombe-Whyte, a specialist in Arab architecture, shot the mosque for the launch cover of Architectural Digest Arabia in 2016.”Like a lot of great buildings, I think it’s a combination of scale and faith that makes the Mosque so magical,” he tells CNN Travel.

“As we were pretty much alone while we were shooting, you have moments when you can pause and take things in without any distractions, and really feel the power of the building, appreciating the scale and workmanship.”Related contentDay trip from Abu Dhabi: The cool oasis of Al AinLuscombe-Whyte and his team were granted special permission to shoot before dawn to avoid the hundreds of tourists who flock to the landmark each day.”We shot the exteriors at 5 a.m. and focused on the wide and majestic shots. As it filled up we used figures to create a sense of scale and also drama,” he says.For those hoping to capture the perfect picture, Luscombe-Whyte advises: “Get there early if you can and work out one great shot and focus on that.”As for the crowds, he notes that rather than trying to avoid them, include them in the frame. “A single person can bring a building like this alive,” he says.

Getting there

For the best photos, it’s best to arrive early or visit at dusk.Guiseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty ImagesTaxis from Abu Dhabi city center are the quickest and most convenient way to get to the mosque as it’s just a 20-minute ride, and the fares are reasonable.Those staying in Dubai should definitely make the road trip as it’s around 90 minutes from Dubai Mall and a real sight to behold, whether you’re religious or not.Combine the mosque with another Abu Dhabi-based attraction to make the most of your trip to the capital. And those who prefer not to flag down a local Dubai taxi (although most would be grateful for the Abu Dhabi fare) can ask their hotel concierge to arrange a private taxi to travel in air-conditioned luxury complete with iPhone charging ports.The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; +971 2 419 1919Selina Julien is a celebrity, travel and lifestyle journalist and editor; Follow her on Instagram: @Selinajulien

At second memorial service, Bush remembered for humility and humor

News

Washington (CNN)Former President George H.W. Bush was remembered Thursday as a man of humility, honor and humor at the Bushes’ family church in Houston, providing the nation with a last farewell before he begins his journey to his final resting place.Family, friends, politicians, musicians, actors and athletes filled the pews of the St. Martin’s Episcopal Church to say goodbye to the 41st president with heartfelt praises and gospel music, as well as some moments of levity.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Alex Brandon/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (10012791y) Former US President George W. Bush and other family members watch as the flag-draped of former US President George H.W. Bush is carried by a joint services military honor guard to lie in state in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, DC, USA, 03 December 2018. Bush will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda before his state funeral at the Washington National Cathedral on 05 December. George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States (1989-1993), died at the age of 94 on 30 November 2018 at his home in Texas. George H.W. Bush dies at 94, Washington, USA – 03 Dec 2018

“I must begin with an apology. Jefe, I’m about to do something you always hated and that your mother always told you not to do: Brag about yourself,” former Secretary of State James Baker said in his eulogy for his old friend and boss.Baker, who was also one of Bush’s chiefs of staff, recalled the former president’s sense of humor.”I have always been proud that George Bush used to describe our relationship as one of big brother and little brother. He used to say that one of the things he liked best about me was that I would always tell him what I thought, even when I knew he didn’t want to hear it,” Baker said.After a spirited debate,

Bush “had a very effective way of letting me know when the discussion was over,” Baker recalled.”He would look at me and he’d say, ‘Baker, if you’re so smart, why am I president and you’re not?'” Baker said to laughs. “He was a leader and he knew it.”The former aide also reflected on Bush’s lifetime of military and civil service, calling the former commander in chief “temperate in thought, in word and in deed.”Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush also eulogized his grandfather, sharing personal anecdotes about “Gampy” that showed the elder statesman’s devotion to his family.Bush remembered how “Gampy” would host “intense” horseshoe games, go fly fishing with them in Maine and let the grandchildren “nestle up between him and ‘Ganny’ when they read the paper.

“He called it an “honor of a lifetime” to share his grandfather’s name.The former president’s granddaughters also read scripture at the service. Country singer Reba McEntire and the country quartet, The Oak Ridge Boys, both performed songs during the service.Before the service, Bush lay in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church from Wednesday night until Thursday morning.Houston has been Bush’s home for years since he left the presidency, and the family has worshipped at the church for decades. The church was also the funeral site for his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, earlier this year.

The nation honors President George H.W. Bush

The nation honors President George H.W. BushThursday’s funeral service in Houston follows the memorial service Wednesday in Washington, DC, attended by the former presidents and first ladies, family, friends and other dignitaries.The 41st President was honored at the Washington National Cathedral and eulogized by his son, former President George W. Bush, who remembered him as the “best father a son or daughter could have.”Thousands paid their respects to Bush as he was lying in state in the US Capitol Rotunda on Monday and Tuesday.View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Briefed in 2011 about his funeral and lying in state, the 41st President asked with typical humility, “Do you think anyone will come?” Tonight, people are waiting hours to pay their respects. This photo, taken Monday, is courtesy the Senate Press Photographers’ Gallery pool.

1,849 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacyAfter the Houston funeral service, Bush departed the church in a motorcade procession to the Union Pacific Railroad Westfield Auto Facility.A departure ceremony took place before Bush took his last trip by train to his final resting place. The funeral train departed on a 70-mile route, taking Bush from Spring, Texas, to Texas A&M University in College Station, the site of the Bush Presidential Library and Museum.Once there, Bush’s casket was carried through a military honor guard cordon, followed by his family.A private burial service conducted by the Rev. Dr. Russell Levenson, Jr. and the Rev. Peter G. Cheney followed a Navy jet flyover.

Bush will be laid to rest on the museum’s grounds, alongside his wife, Barbara, and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia as a child.Bush died late last Friday at his home in Houston at the age of 94

Coming between Cardi B and Offsets

Entertainment, international News, movies, Music, personality, song

Let’s give Cardi B a minute

Analysis by Lisa Respers France, CNN

(CNN) Before you tweet me asking, “Why is Cardi B’s marital split news?” I will beat you to the punch and say it’s not, really.Cardi shot to the top of Twitter trends Wednesday after she announced her split from husband and fellow rapper Offset on Instagram. 

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 06: A model prepares backstage for the Jeremy Scott show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on September 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows)

I’m shocked by how shocked peo

ple are that Cardi B and Offset broke up— bilal (@ziadehb) December 5, 2018

Sad to hear Cardi B has split from Offset. I genuinely thought that one was going to work out.— FIGHTING POLYGON TEAM (@connorarose) December 5, 2018

Yall really cant sit here and tell me you could handle Cardi B for more than 20 minutes. Imagine hearing that voice every time you woke up lol Offset should get a Nobel peace prize for making it this long https://t.co/SnuHsfFSf1— 🇺🇸 Trev 🇿🇦 (@trevcannon) December 5, 2018

Celebrity couples who eventual break up is almost a given these days, unless they are in the rarefied air of a few. (You have the power to destroy us Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, so please keep hanging in there.)Cardi has earned her right to grieve the end of her year-long marriage in private, should she so choose.But given Offset’s success as a member of the rap group Migos and Cardi’s rapid rise as a solo artist, interest is understandable.”There’s been a lot of good and bad in Cardi B’s personal life this year,” Jason Lipshutz, editorial director at Billboard told CNN. “I don’t think it diminishes from the fact she’s had one of the biggest breakthrough years in hip-hop history and in recent popular music memory.”As the first female MC to top the Billboard 100 in almost 20 years, (Lauryn Hill last did it in 1998 with “Doo-Wop (That Thing)”) and the first woman to chart their first three entries in the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs’ Top 10 simultaneously, it would seem like Cardi has worked hard enough to earn a pass on the mountain of speculation that is sure to come in the wake of her marriage.

An unlikely career

This is a woman who has already beaten the odds on so many levels.Belcalis Almanzar (Cardi’s birth name) took the Cinderella story of a stripper who hits the big time and flipped it on its head.She defied the Hollywood trope of the stripper waiting for a knight in shining armor to take her off the pole. Cardi did it herself, through shear determination.She first came to fame on the VH1 reality series “Love & Hip Hop: New York.”The future star was loud, combative and in your face about everything — from her exotic dancing to her then imprisoned boyfriend, identified only as “Tommy” on the show.In other words, authentically Cardi B.Who is Cardi B?She was far from polished, which is one of the things viewers loved — and continue to love — about her.In one memorable scene from Season 6 of “Love & Hip Hop: New York,” tensions between Cardi and the girlfriend of a fellow cast member boiled over and resulted in Cardi uttering one of the show’s most memorable lines.

Kevin Hart says he won’t host Oscars after furor over homophobic tweets

Entertainment, movies, Music, personality, relationship, song

By Madeline Holcombe and Joe Sutton, CNN

Kevin Hart photographed for Variety by Pamela Littky on April 25, 2017 in LA, CA. *Grooming: John Clausell; Wardrobe: Ashley North: Shirt: Neil Barrett; Pants: Acne

(CNN) Kevin Hart is stepping down from hosting the Oscars after homophobic tweets surfaced on Thursday.The tweets, between 2009 and 2011, included derogatory language referring to gay people and made disparaging comments about sexuality. Some of the tweets have since been deleted.One of the tweets from 2011, that has since been deleted, said

“Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay’.””I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s,” Hart, who is currently performing in Sydney, Australia, said via Twitter. “This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past. I’m sorry that I hurt people… I am evolving and want to continue to do so.

My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”Content by Prime VideoBeing Funny Is A Woman’s BusinessTo promote the return of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime, we take a look at what it means to be a contemporary woman in comedy.Hart announced on his official Instagram page that he would host the Academy Awards for the first time in the coming year.”For years I have been asked if I would ever host the Oscars and my answer was always the same…I said that it would be the opportunity of a lifetime for me as a comedian and that it will happen when it’s suppose to,” he wrote when he announced the news on Tuesday.In another Instagram post on Thursday, Hart said the Academy asked him to apologize or they would find another host.

Hart said he chose not to issue the apology and step down instead, saying he did not want to contribute to “feeding the internet trolls.””The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times,” Hart said. “I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I’ve moved on and I’m in a completely different space in my life.”Chad Griffin, the head of an LGBT civil rights advocacy group called the Human Rights Campaign, responded to Hart on Twitter.”You have a rare opportunity to take responsibility, teach people in this moment, & send a message to LGBTQ youth that they matter & deserve dignity & respect. You say you’ve grown. Show us. Make amends for hurtful things you’ve said & affirm LGBTQ people,” Griffin said.

CNN has reached out to Hart’s team and the Academy for a response.

China prepares mission to land spacecraft on moon’s far side

Middle East, Tech
moon
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

China was preparing to launch a ground-breaking mission early Saturday to soft-land a spacecraft on the largely unexplored far side of the moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russia, the European Union and U.S.

With its Chang’e 4 mission, China hopes to be the first country to ever successfully undertake such a landing. The moon’s far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown, with a different composition from sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed.

If successful, the mission scheduled to blast off aboard a Long March 3B rocket will propel the Chinese space program to a leading position in one of the most important areas of lunar exploration.

China landed its Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit.” rover on the moon five years ago and plans to send its Chang’e 5 probe there next year and have it return to Earth with samples—the first time that will have been done since 1976. A crewed lunar mission is also under consideration.

Chang’e 4 is also a lander-rover combination and will explore both above and below the lunar surface after arriving at the South Pole-Aitken basin’s Von Karman crater following a 27-day journey.

It will also perform radio-astronomical studies that, because the far side always faces away from Earth, will be “free from interference from our planet’s ionosphere, human-made radio frequencies and auroral radiation noise,” space industry expert Leonard David wrote on the website Space.com.

It may also carry plant seeds and silkworm eggs, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Chang’e is the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology.

China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, making it only the third country after Russia and the U.S. to do so. It has put a pair of space stations into orbit, one of which is still operating as a precursor to a more than 60-ton station that is due to come online in 2022. The launch of a Mars rover is planned for the mid-2020s.

To facilitate communication between controllers on Earth and the Chang’e 4 mission, China in May launched a relay satellite named Queqiao, or “Magpie Bridge,” after an ancient Chinese folk tale.

China’s space program has benefited from cooperation with Russia and European nations, although it was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station, mainly due to U.S. legislation barring such cooperation amid concerns over its strong military connections. Its program also suffered a rare setback last year with the dialed launch of its Long March 5 rocket.

China’s latest mission closely follows the touchdown of NASA’s InSight spacecraft on Mars on Monday, at a site less than 400 miles (640 kilometers) from the American rover Curiosity, the only other working robot on Mars.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-12-china-mission-spacecraft-moon-side.html#jCp

Uber cedes control in Russian market with Yandex tie-up

Business, economy, International Finance, international News, Tech
Uber cedes control in Russian market with Yandex tie-up
This March 1, 2017 file photo shows the exterior of the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. Uber is ceding control of its operations in Russia by agreeing to merge its ridesharing business in the country and five other ex-Soviet …more

Uber is ceding control of the Russian market by agreeing to merge its ride-hailing business in the country with Yandex, the Russian search-engine leader that also runs a popular taxi-booking app.

For Uber, the deal marks the exit from another big market after it sold its operations in China last year to local rival Didi Chuxing.

Yandex said in a statement on Thursday that Uber and Yandex Taxi would combine into a new company in Russia as well as in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Yandex will own 59 percent, Uber roughly 37 percent, and employees the rest. The CEO of Yandex Taxi, Tigran Khudaverdyan, will become the chief executive of the new combined company.

San Francisco-based Uber will invest $225 million in the new company and Yandex $100 million, putting its value at over $3.7 billion. The companies said that together they deliver over 35 million rides a month, with $130 million in gross bookings in June. Yandex is the bigger company, with roughly the twice the business Uber currently has in the region.

In both Russia and China, Uber was having trouble competing against larger ride services that have the advantages of being the hometown company and knowing cultural differences, said independent technology analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research in California. “It’s like competing with Google in the U.S.,” he said. “They just weren’t really making headway against the local competitors.”

At this stage of its development, the money-losing Uber is looking to move to profitability, reviewing regions to see if there are prospects for making money. If the prospects aren’t good, Uber is likely to get out, Dawon said.

In the Yandex case, Uber will exit “in a dignified way” with the 37 percent stake in the new company. Uber had invested $170 million in Russia and is adding $225 million to the new company. So for about $400 million, it’s getting a stake in Yandex that’s worth over $1 billion, Dawson said.

Shares in Yandex jumped 15 percent on the Moscow stock exchange on news of the deal. The company is one of Russia’s most successful Internet enterprises, accounting for some 65 percent of all searches and operating popular maps and public transit apps.

Once the deal is closed toward the end of this year, consumers will be able to use both Yandex and Uber apps to hail rides while for drivers, the apps will be integrated.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-uber-cedes-russian-yandex-tie-up.html#jCp

Russian tech giant dashes hopes for smartphone

personality, Tech, World Bank

Yandex instead announced a new smart speaker that uses the voice of "Alisa"—a virtual assistant similar to Amazon's Al
Yandex instead announced a new smart speaker that uses the voice of “Alisa”—a virtual assistant similar to Amazon’s Alexa

Russian internet giant Yandex disappointed tech enthusiasts on Monday by failing to unveil what many hoped would be a highly anticipated Russian-made smartphone.

Speculation has been mounting for years that Yandex—which dominates internet services in Russia—will put forward its own mobile device to rival giants like Apple, Samsung and Huawei.

Excitement reached fever pitch when Yandex announced it would be holding a presentation at its glossy Moscow headquarters, with Russian media reports anticipating a smartphone launch that would be a major step for the company.

But Yandex instead announced a new smart speaker that uses the voice of “Alisa”—a virtual assistant similar to Amazon’s Alexa—that will cost around 40 euros.

Asked by disappointed journalists about the potential smartphone, Yandex representatives said only: “We are not commenting on this question.”

Yandex started in the 1990s as a search engine similar to Google but has since expanded into every corner of the Russian internet, developing maps, taxi and food order apps that Russians use every day.

A Russian-designed smartphone—the YotaPhone—was launched in 2013 but has failed to catch on and tech observers have been waiting anxiously for Yandex to jump into the field.

Tom Morrod, research director at IHS Markit, said that once Yandex does enter the market it will likely be with a mid-range option aimed at supporting its services.

“Non-hardware companies are often happy to take a mid-market position, without hoping to make money. Yandex’s smartphone would likely run on Android but they would put their own environment on it, with all their apps that you probably will not be able to delete,” he said.

“It’s about getting people locked into their ecosystem, collect data and advertise,” he added.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-11-russian-tech-giant-dashes-smartphone.html#jCp

The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has criticised the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, for allegedly abusing former President Olusegun Obasanjo and some All Progressives Congress governors. He, however, said the affected APC governors, rather than take issue with the chairman, had decided to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to caution…

The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has criticised the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, for allegedly abusing former President Olusegun Obasanjo and some All Progressives Congress governors.

Image result for Okorocha knocks Oshiomhole for abusing Obasanjo

He, however, said the affected APC governors, rather than take issue with the chairman, had decided to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to caution him.

The governor claimed the party’s national chairman had, in less than six months, introduced the culture of rascality to the party, adding that the development was not good for the party.

He said, “The APC is not known for rascality and abuses. The earlier he is cautioned, the better for the party.”

In a statement through his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, the governor observed that since Buhari became President, he had never used any foul language on any Nigerian, low or high.

Oshiomhole, he said, should borrow a leaf from Mr President, alleging that one of the reasons the Peoples Democratic Party lost in 2015 was the abuses the previous leadership of the party directed at Buhari, who was the APC presidential candidate then.

Concerning Obasanjo, the statement reads, “Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is the former President of the country and no matter the provocation or his political activities this time, “Oshiomhole should have considered his status as the former President of the country in talking about him, and should have exercised caution in addressing him. Saying that God would punish the former President was never advisable. This should not be the language of the APC.”

The governor told the APC national chairman that the party did not belong to him, adding that he should carefully select his words when talking about certain categories of Nigerians.

“Oshiomhole should help the party and its candidates by making his points without abusing people. The way Oshiomhole is talking has become nauseating to most Nigerians and the earlier he is cautioned, the better. He should be talking about the achievements of President Buhari and the APC as a party instead of using the opportunities he would have used to do that to be insulting people.

“To say the least, few weeks to the elections, the APC and its candidates do not need Oshiomhole’s abuses or insults but the reasons Nigerians should re-elect President Buhari and elect APC candidates,” he said.

via Okorocha hits Oshiomhole for abusing Obasanjo — AdeLove.com|Best Nigerian Blog

Okorocha hits Oshiomhole for abusing Obasanjo

2019 Elections, Africa, News

Huawei CFO arrested: Why Meng Wanzhou’s detention on U.S. extradition charges is a big deal

Business, international News, News, Tech


Along with Huawei’s success has come suspicion about the company’s ties to China’s government, its willingness to overlook U.S. sanctions and the security of its systems.

By Jason Abbruzzese 

The arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on Saturday was the most recent and public chapter of an ongoing battle between the U.S. government and one of the world’s biggest tech companies — Huawei.

The arrest, which came on U.S. extradition charges, featured a heightened level of intrigue due to the profile of the person arrested: Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of Huawei’s secretive founder, Ren Zhengfei, who is one of the most powerful businessmen in China. The arrest came amid reports that Huawei had been sending U.S. technology to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions against the country.

Huawei is not a household name in the U.S., but the company has emerged as one of the largest tech firms in the world in the past decade thanks to its success in producing telecommunications equipment including cell towers and equipment for next-generation 5G wireless networks. Huawei is also second in the global smartphone market, having surpassed Apple earlier in 2018.

But along with its success has come suspicion about the company’s ties to China’s government, its willingness to overlook U.S. sanctions and the security of its systems.

“Huawei is effectively an arm of the Chinese government, and it’s more than capable of stealing information from U.S. officials by hacking its devices,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said in February when he introduced legislation to block the U.S. government from buying telecom equipment from Huawei or ZTE, another Chinese hardware maker. President Donald Trump signed the the bill in August.

The arrest of the Huawei executive is a BIG deal in China and is probably being underplayed in the US news cycle. Equivalent of an Apple or Facebook exec being arrested in China. https://www.scmp.com/tech/article/2176655/detained-huawei-cfo-sabrina-meng-wanzhou-told-staff-one-may-accept-risk …

310 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

Ren, a former Chinese army engineer, started Huawei in 1987 and found initial success making telephone equipment. Huawei’s expansion into telecommunications technology in the 1990s would fuel the company’s international expansion — and put it on the radar of U.S. security experts. Meng has been seen as the successor to Huawei.

In 2017, Fortune magazine ranked Huawei as the seventh-biggest tech company in the world by revenue, with more than $89 billion. The company has more than 180,000 employees.

Despite its size and global reach, only 38 percent of Americans said they had heard of Huawei, according to the survey company Morning Consult. The company’s name has also been something of a mystery for some in the West who wonder how to pronounce it. The company even made a humorous video for the U.K. about how to pronounce Huawei.

China’s rise as a global power has coincided with the emergence of the internet as a major av

Hunters said they were ready to help infighting terrorists provided they were incorporated in the salary scheme and provided with enough logistics to fight the terrorists. The National Adviser of Board of Trustees of the association, Chief Yusuf Alao, disclosed this while receiving a confirmation certificate as the new National Adviser of the association.

hunters said they were ready to help infighting terrorists provided they were incorporated in the salary scheme and provided with enough logistics to fight the terrorists.

The National Adviser of Board of Trustees of the association, Chief Yusuf Alao, disclosed this while receiving a confirmation certificate as the new National Adviser of the association.

He lamented the high rate of terrorism in the country, saying, the hunters are capable of fighting terrorism anywhere in the country.

He said: “The Federal Government ought to be paying us salaries as a way of encouraging us to fight the menace of terrorists in the country.

“The payment of salary to hunters is our rights, because we are working tirelessly for the Federal Government not only in the fight against terrorism, but, protecting lives and properties.”

He boasted that the hunters remained the most competent and powerful in fighting terrorism in Nigeria.

He said: “We, hunters, are capable to fight terrorists; we have the traditional power which makes us different from others in curbing terrorism in Nigeria.

“The police and the soldiers do not have the kind of power we have, and that is why some of them, while fighting the terrorists lose their lives in the process.

“The Federal Government should also consider us because we are doing great job for them, we are not relenting, most of the time we are always in the bush working diligently for government.”

via Hunters; pay us we’re ready to fight terrorism — NEWSSPLASHBLOG

Hunters; pay us we’re ready to fight terrorism — NEWSSPLASHBLOG

Boko Haram, Herdsmen, law enforcement, News, Politics, SEcurity

Major Violence hits France

News

Officials warned that “major violence” could hit Paris as “yellow vest” protesters plan to gather again this weekend. Teens have also blocked hundreds of schools, while several unions called for solidarity strikes.

The political crisis engulfing French President Emmanuel Macron’s government showed no signs of abating on Thursday, as public anger continues to grow despite the scrapping of a controversial fuel tax hike.

Authorities across France are bracing for another weekend of “yellow vest” protests. The movement’s members are known for wearing yellow safety vests carried by French motorists.

The protests began as demonstrations against the fuel tax, which started in November but turned violent in Paris last Saturday, with some of the worst rioting in France in decades. Three weeks of protests have led to four deaths and left hundreds injured.

Some 89,000 security personnel will be deployed across the country on Saturday ahead of the fourth weekend of planned rallies, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday. About 8,000 officers will be in Paris where armored vehicles will be on the streets for the first time since 2005 when riots broke out in the capital’s suburbs.

“We are facing people who are not here to protest, but to smash and we want to have the means to not give them a free rein,” Philippe said during an interview on TF1 national evening news.

Authorities are concerned that far-right and far-left agitators are hijacking the protests to incite further violence. One French presidential source told news agency AFP that they fear “major violence” could hit the capital this weekend.

Shops and restaurants on the Champs-Elysees were urged to close this weekend over concerns of renewed rioting, according to notices seen by the AFP. The Eiffel Tower will also be closed on Saturday.

Half of this weekend’s scheduled French league football matches have been canceled due to security concerns.

Teens protest education reforms

On Thursday, students blocked some 200 French high schools to protest education reforms. They demanded an end to testing overhauls and a controversial new online platform for allocating university placements, local media reported.

Some of the protests grew violent, with masked demonstrators throwing Molotov cocktails and setting fire to trash cans. A car was also set on fire in the western city of Nantes.

Hundreds of French teens across the country protested against education reforms on Thursday

Growing calls for strikes

Although the “yellow vests” do not have formal leaders and are not affiliated with any labor union or political party, several French unions have called for strikes to coincide with the demonstrations.

The CGT trade union called on its energy workers to stage a 48-hour walkout on December 13, adding that they wanted to join the “yellow vests.”

France’s main farmers’ union said on Wednesday that its members would stage demonstrations every day next week. Two truck driver unions also called for an indefinite sympathy strike starting from Sunday night.

Who are the ‘yellow vests’?

The movement developed out of a petition against fuel taxes which then spread via Facebook’s new algorithm for disseminating local news, and a variety of social media groups. On November 17 yellow vest-wearing protesters blocked roads across the country and hampered access to factories and some fuel depots.

Further rallies spread quickly, spanning France’s rural and urban areas. What initially started as a campaign against Macron’s tax hike grew into a broader opposition movement to his government, which was elected in May 2017.

Protesters have voiced concern over the high cost of living and urged for higher salaries and lower taxes as well as Macron’s resignation.

rs/amp (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

https://www.dw.com/en/france-boosts-security-amid-fear-of-new-yellow-vest-protest-riots/a-46621343