Tag Archives: foreign

Deepening fears as China passes Hong Kong’s security law.

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Law expected to come into force on July 1 in most radical change to semi-autonomous territory since 1997 handover.


China’s President Xi Jinping has signed into law a controversial national security legislation for Hong Kong that Beijing says is necessary to deal with separatism and foreign interference but critics say will outlaw dissent and destroy the autonomy promised when the territory was returned to China in 1997.

Details of the law - which comes in response to last year's often-violent pro-democracy protests in the city - are due out later on Tuesday.

The legislation will come into effect when it is gazetted in Hong Kong – bypassing the semi-autonomous territory’s own legislature – and is expected to be in force by July 1, the anniversary of the former British territory’s return to Chinese rule.

“We hope the law will serve as a deterrent to prevent people from stirring up trouble,” said Tam Yiu-Chung, Hong Kong’s sole representative on the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, which approved the law on Tuesday morning.

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“Don’t let Hong Kong be used as a tool to split the country,” he said.

Reporting from Beijing, NRM noted that the passage of the law had been fast-tracked.

“It’s very symbolic that this law has been passed just a day before the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain back to mainland China,” she said. “It seems to be Beijing telling the people that at the end of the day it is China that is in charge in Hong Kong and China’s leaders will do whatever they deem necessary to protect Hong Kong.”

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Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, speaking via video link to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, said the law would fill a “gaping hole” and would not undermine the territory’s autonomy or its independent judiciary.

Lam said Hong Kong had been “traumatised by escalating violence fanned by external forces” and added: “No central government could turn a blind eye to such threats to sovereignty and national security.”

Police detain pro-democracy protesters during a rally at a shopping mall in Hong Kong, China, on June 30, 2020 [Jerome Favre/EPA]

‘End of Hong Kong’
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the legislation is aimed at a few “troublemakers” and will not affect rights and freedoms, nor investor interests.

After the law passed Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress earlier on Tuesday, prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Nathan Law issued statements on Facebook saying they would withdraw from the pro-democracy organisation Demosisto.

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Wong said “worrying about life and safety” has become a real issue and nobody will be able to predict the repercussions of the law, whether it is being extradited to China or facing long jail terms.

The legislation marked “the end of the Hong Kong that the world knew before”, he said, adding: “From now on, Hong Kong enters a new era of reign of terror. With sweeping powers and ill-defined law the city will turn into a secret police state.”

Demosisto then announced on Facebook it was disbanding, saying the loss of top members made it difficult to continue.

China first announced its plan to impose the legislation on the eve of the National People’s Congress last month, after nearly a year of protests in the territory that began over a now-withdrawn extradition bill with the mainland.

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The security bill gave renewed momentum to the protests, which had calmed as the coronavirus pandemic made it more difficult to hold mass gatherings, and triggered condemnation from countries including the United States and the United Kingdom.

On Tuesday, more than 100 protesters gathered at a luxury mall in Hong Kong’s Central business district, chanting slogans including “free Hong Kong, revolution now”, with several holding up a flag representing an independent Hong Kong as well as posters condemning the law.

Activists are calling for fresh protests on July 1 even though police have said rallies cannot happen because of the coronavirus. Some 4,000 police are expected to be on standby on Wednesday when an official ceremony also takes place.

Reporting from Hong Kong, NRM learnt the mood in the city was sombre.

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The passage of the law has “had an immediate and chilling impact. We went out on the streets at lunchtime to speak to ordinary people at lunchtime to try and gauge their opinions and none of them wanted to comment – that’s very unusual here in Hong Kong,” he said.

“People are now going to vote with their feet and leave in droves.”

Pro-democracy protesters observe a minute of silence during a protest after China’s parliament passes a national security law for Hong Kong, in Hong Kong, China June 30, 2020 [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Life imprisonment
This month, China’s official Xinhua news agency unveiled some of the law’s provisions, including that it would supersede existing Hong Kong legislation and that interpretation powers belong to China’s parliament’s top committee.

Beijing is expected to set up a national security office in Hong Kong for the first time and could also exercise jurisdiction in certain cases. Judges for security cases are expected to be appointed by the city’s chief executive. Senior judges now allocate rosters up through Hong Kong’s independent judicial system.

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It is not known which specific activities are to be made illegal, how precisely they are defined or what punishment they carry.

The South China Morning Post said only a handful of Hong Kong’s delegates to China’s parliament saw the draft before it was approved unanimously by the standing committee’s 162 members earlier on Tuesday. The vote came within 15 minutes of the meeting starting at 9am local time (01:00 GMT), the paper added.

Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, said on Twitter that the law’s heaviest penalty was life imprisonment.

The US, already in dispute with China over trade, the South China Sea and the novel coronavirus, began eliminating Hong Kong’s special status under US law on Monday, halting defence exports and restricting technology access.

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Meanwhile, Dominic Raab, the British foreign secretary, called the passing of the law on Tuesday a “grave step”, while Charles Michel, president of the European Union Council, said the bloc “deplores” the decision.

Japan described the move as “regrettable”, while Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said she was “very disappointed” at the outcome.

And Joshua Rosenzweig, head of Amnesty International China, said Beijing’s “aim is to govern Hong Kong through fear from this point forward”.

China has hit back at the outcry, denouncing “interference” in its internal affairs.


#Newsworthy…

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Trump’s name to be added to COVID-19 relief cheques sent to Americans.


President Donald Trump’s name is to be added to Economic stimulus relief cheques sent to millions of Americans meant to combat the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a last-minute Treasury Department order, Trump’s name was added even though there are reports that the inclusion of his name will result in a delay for Americans receiving those checks, a process that could take as long as 20 weeks.

According to the Washington Post, “President Donald J. Trump” would appear in the memo line on the left side of the checks — marking the first time a president’s written name is featured on an IRS check.

A treasury spokesperson has denied claims Trump’s name inclusion will delay the timing of the cheques.

“Economic Impact Payment checks are scheduled to go out on time and exactly as planned — there is absolutely no delay whatsoever,” A Treasury spokesperson told the Washington Post

According to a US House Ways and Means Committee memo, the paper checks will be issued at a rate of about 5 million per week and people with the lowest incomes, based on adjusted gross income, will receive their checks first, a process that could take up to 20 weeks to issue all.

According to Washington Post, Trump had confidentially asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin if he could officially sign the checks, but he has denied those reports as a president is not authorized to sign Treasury payments in order to protect the checks from politicization.

“No. Me sign? No. There’s millions of checks. I’m going to sign them? No. It’s a Trump administration initiative,”Trump said on April 3.

“But do I want to sign them? No.”

Trump, the senate and the House of Reps in March signed into law a historic 2 trillion Dollars economic stimulus bill to pay Americans during the Coronavirus pandemic and offset economic hardships suffered by the people this period. The first set of cheques will be paid next week.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Nigeria govt to evacuate Nigerians abroad – Abike Dabiri-Erewa


The federal government of Nigeria has revealed its willingness to evacuate Nigerians who stay abroad and are willing to return home.

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) disclosed that the evacuation process was initiated following pleas from Nigerians who are stranded abroad due to the Coronavirus pandemic.


She further revealed that they are currently compiling a list of Nigerians who want to return to the country.

The evacuees will be compulsorily quarantined upon their return to the country, and they are also expected to bear the cost of the evacuation process.


A statement released by Abdur-Rahman Balogun, the Head of Media and Public Relations Unit at NIDCOM reads in part;

“The interested Nigerians are advised to inform the missions in the various countries they are in, which will then collate and coordinate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“To this end, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa urged Nigerians stranded abroad willing to return home to key into this Federal Government gesture by providing information to the mission in their respective host countries.”


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Cases in South Africa surge to 1,505.


On Friday, South Africa revealed two more coronavirus deaths and 43 new confirmed cases, bringing to tally in Africa’s worst-affected country up to 1,505 infections and seven deaths, TopNaija.ng reports.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who released the latest figures, said the figure was likely to be underestimated due to testing limits.


“I want to raise the point that this number is affected by… the limitations of the active testing that we are doing,” said Mkhize during a press conference in Cape Town. When we extend the testing… we actually expect these numbers to increase.”

South Africa launched mass door-to-door screening and testing for coronavirus this week, with 10,000 field workers deployed across the country of 57 million people.


The testing exercise will prioritise impoverished areas and overcrowded townships, where citizens are struggling to adhere to a 21-day lockdown imposed to halt the spread of infections.

Mkhize said it was too early to tell whether the nation-wide shutdown, which came into force last Friday, was having its desired effect.


“We need a lot more data that are going to show us the various trends of what is going on,” he added.

To date coronavirus has infected more than 7,000 people in Africa and killed close to 300.

South Africa’s latest victims were an 80-year-old man and an 81-year-old woman from the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province.


#Newsworthy…

Historic ‘Parasite’ Oscar Win May Be Game-Changer for Global Film Business


As Bong Joon Ho’s South Korean satire becomes the first non-English-language best picture, others see opportunity to “jump on the bandwagon.”
On Jan. 5, Parasite writer-director-producer Bong Joon Ho gave his acceptance speech for foreign-language film at the Golden Globes and entreated the audience, via his translator Sharon Choi: “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” A month later, the South Korean movie obliterated conventional wisdom with four historic Oscar wins, becoming the first non-English-language film to claim best picture.


International filmmakers and distributors are now eying Bong’s triumphs with hope and hunger: hope that Parasite’s success will open the door to global cinema, giving other non-English-language movies shots at the world’s No. 1 film award; hunger for the sort of global box office returns that, with few exceptions, have been beyond the reach of films made outside Hollywood.

“It’s been a real barrier,” says Korean media mogul Miky Lee, whose CJ Entertainment backed Bong’s film and who recently invested in David Ellison’s Skydance. “Now Parasite really makes it easier. Netflix has trained everybody to watch subtitles in their living room, and now Parasite in the movie theater.”


At the European Film Market — which kicks off Feb. 19 in Berlin and specializes in challenging, foreign-language fare — the movie’s success will be tested. “You can be sure Parasite will be used for every new Asian title now,” says Dirk Schweitzer, an acquisitions exec at European distributor Splendid Films. “It’ll be, ‘This is Parasite meets …’ as people try to jump on the bandwagon.”

“Getting audiences to watch subtitles 10 years ago was a massive challenge … now it’s becoming more and more common,” adds Alex Walton, head of international film sales at Endeavor Content, noting that Parasite “has opened more doors for exhibitors, helping them believe they actually can find an audience with these films.”


In South Korea, Parasite’s Oscar wins sparked a national celebration. South Korean President Moon Jae-in joined the chorus, tweeting that Bong’s social satire “moved the minds of the world with a story that is truly Korean.” Oh Seok-geun, chairman of the government-run Korea Film Council, says the night proved that “the U.S. market is no longer a challenging or distant market for Korean movies.” Parasite’s success, he said, opens the possibility for any filmmaker, anywhere, that “if you make a great movie, many around the world will watch it.”

Lewis Kim, a producer on Bong’s earlier films including The Host and Okja, says he hopes the wins will inspire Korean directors and writers “to have a bigger dream.”


Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
People watch a TV screen showing images of South Korean director Bong Joon Ho at the Seoul Railway Station on February 10, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea.
Audiences have certainly embraced Parasite as it unspooled globally since debuting in Korea on May 30. Made for about $11 million by Korean studios Barunson E&A and CJ Entertainment, it has grossed some $170 million worldwide, a figure certain to surge in the wake of Bong’s Oscar haul. Its domestic performance of $35 million and counting for Tom Quinn’s indie Neon (founded in 2017), which picked up the film in October 2018, makes it the most successful Korean film of all time in the U.S. (Its domestic theater count will be upped to as many as 2,000 locations for the Feb. 14-16 weekend.) “The Neon team worked their asses off to get here, all in the service of this amazing movie,” Quinn told THR on Oscar night.


Parasite has smashed records for a Korean movie in territories as varied as France ($11.9 million), Mexico ($3.9 million) and Russia ($1.5 million). In the U.K., Curzon opened the film wide on Feb. 7, timing the bow to take advantage of the Oscar bump. It worked. Parasite grossed more than $1.3 million in its first two days in the territory, a record for a non-English-language movie. “It’s a game-changer,” says Charles Cohen, whose Cohen Media Group owns Curzon and the Landmark chain in the U.S. “I think it’s a great vote of confidence for world cinema.”


In Germany, Parasite hasn’t left theaters since its October bow there, earning $3.8 million to date. “We knew it had potential, but no one expected this,” says Moritz Peters of indie distributor Koch Films, which prebought the movie two years ago based on Bong’s script alone. Koch is expanding the film’s release to capitalize on the Oscars, more than doubling the screen count (to 250-plus).

Parasite isn’t the first Asian film to strike global box office gold, but it’s been nearly 20 years since Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon conquered the world, winning four Oscars in 2001 (though not best picture) and earning $213 million. Zhang Yimou’s Hero, which was snubbed by the Academy but grossed $177 million worldwide, followed in 2002.


Unlike those, or Zhang’s 2004 follow-up House of Flying Daggers (one Oscar nom, $92 million global take), Parasite is not a wuxia action film, all high-wire sword-fighting and escapist period drama. Bong’s satire is set very much in the real world, and its themes of social exclusion and the gap between rich and poor could have been torn from today’s headlines.

Peters believes Bong’s film built on the critical momentum of such recent socially aware art house titles as Lee Chang-dong’s Burning and Hirokazu Koreeda’s Japanese drama Shoplifters (like Parasite, a Cannes Palme d’Or winner).


If Parasite can convince audiences to jump the subtitles barrier, it will be due, in no small part, to Netflix, the studio some viewed as a loser on Oscar night with just two wins from 24 nominations. The streaming giant, which backed Bong’s previous action-adventure drama Okja, was the first U.S. major to fully embrace international content.

Netflix has been plowing money into foreign-language films and series for years, offering to its 167 million worldwide subscribers the chance to stream Mati Diop’s Senegalese drama Atlantics, Nora Fingscheidt’s German art house hit System Crasher or Jung Ji-woo’s Korean musical rom-com Tune in for Love.


“Netflix created this new global market for non-English language content,” says Florian Gellinger, a European visual effects producer and Academy member whose credits include Avengers: Endgame and the Netflix series Dark. “There’s a demand, a global market, for non-English-language content that just wasn’t there five to 10 years ago.”

Even before Parasite’s wins, dealmakers at Sundance were feeling the film’s impact on acquisitions. “With the success of Parasite, I am hopeful distributors — both traditional and streamers — will be willing to take a chance on international films,” says ICM’s Jessica Lacy. “Steamers are increasingly looking at things on a global basis.”


As other studios begin to roll out their own global streaming platforms, Gellinger expects them to follow Netflix’s lead and add more subtitled content. “The Oscar wins for Parasite will be taken as a very welcome signal that the public will accept non-English programming,” he says.

Miyuki Takamatsu of Japanese film sales group Freestone Productions calls Parasite’s win a “revolutionary moment for film people in Asia.” But she’s not yet convinced its success can be easily replicated: “We film people have always known we are borderless and that a good film is a good film,” she says. “But to see this recognized at the Academy Awards, in front of the entire world, it’s a very powerful moment.”


#NewsWorthy

South Korea Erupts in Celebration as ‘Parasite’ Makes Oscars History


The Oscars ceremony aired early Monday morning in Seoul, but that didn’t stop tens of millions in the country from following local hero Bong Joon Ho as he made Oscars history. ‘Parasite’ moved the minds of the world,” tweeted South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in.
South Korean social media was flooded with statements of elation and celebration Monday after local hero Bong Joon Ho and his strikingly original film Parasite swept the 92 Academy Awards.

Bong and Parasite struck gold early Sunday night, first winning the Oscar for best original screenplay. Taking the stage with this co-writer Han Jin-won, Bong thanked the Academy for the “great honor,” while noting that “writing a script is a very lonely process, you never write to represent your country.”

Continue reading South Korea Erupts in Celebration as ‘Parasite’ Makes Oscars History

Is Coronavirus In Africa Already?


Africa is one of only two continents with no confirmed cases of coronavirus however experts have warned that it may not be long before the first case is confirmed, given its increasingly close ties to China.

At least 565 people have died with more than 28,000 confirmed cases around the world, most of them in China.

Continue reading Is Coronavirus In Africa Already?

Gambia crisis: ECOWAS mediates ..


The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament has joined in the efforts at resolving the political crisis in the Gambia, it was learnt.

ECOWAS Speaker Mustapha Cisse Lo on Wednesday led a 12- member delegation to the Gambian President, Adama Barrow.

Cisse Lo had previousely met with leaders of the opposition.


There is a disagreement in the coalition that brought in the President, which led to political infighting.

The President, it was learnt, had promised to stay for three years, a promise he was accused of not willing to keep.


The visit was, ECOWAS Speaker said, was primarily to thank him for hosting the last extraordinary meeting of the Community Parliament and also an opportunity to discuss the political crisis.

Briefing journalists after more than an hour meeting at the Presidency, the Speaker Cisse Lo noted that they reported to the President on issues pertaining in the Parliament.


According to the Speaker, he briefed the President on his meeting with the opposition leader as there is emerging political tension in the country but pointed out that there is the need for Gambia to have stability.

“President Adama Barrow gave us listening ear and took good note of the issues we brought to his attention; and it is my view that we undertake such visits and discuss with all parties, a country cannot develop without stability,” the Speaker stressed.

Over the weekend there was demonstration by the opposition to call on President Barrow to step down based on the three- year agreement despite the constitution giving him a five- year mandate.

Others also demonstrated calling for the return of Yahya Jammeh.


#Newsworthy…

Coronavirus: Global risk of disease, high – WHO ..


World Health Organization on Monday said the global risk from the deadly virus in China was “high”, admitting an error in its previous reports that said it was “moderate”.
The UN health body said in a situation report published late Sunday that the risk was “very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level.”

In a footnote, the WHO said there had been an “error” in previous communications published on Thursday, Friday and Saturday which “incorrectly” said the global risk was “moderate”.


Asked for more detail, WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said only that it was “an error in the wording”.

The WHO on Thursday stopped short of declaring the virus an international public health emergency — a rare designation used only for the most severe outbreaks that could trigger more concerted international action.


WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is visiting China this week to discuss further action to contain the virus, on Thursday said: “This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency”.

WHO’s cautious approach can be seen in the context of past criticism over its slow or too hasty use of the term, first used for the deadly 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic.

During that outbreak, the UN health agency was criticised for sparking panic-buying of vaccines with its announcement that year that the outbreak had reached pandemic proportions, and then anger when it turned out the virus was not nearly as dangerous as first thought.

But then in 2014, the WHO met harsh criticism for dragging its feet and downplaying the severity of the Ebola epidemic that ravaged three West Africa countries, claiming more than 11,300 lives by the time it ended in 2016.


#Newsworthy…

Coronavirus: China mobilizes medical staff..


China’s death toll from the coronavirus discovered at the end of last year has risen to 80 and the total number of confirmed cases has risen to 2,744 cases as of January 26, the national health commission said in a statement on its website.

Meanwhile, China is mobilising medical staff to aid Hubei Province where local medical system was overwhelmed by a novel coronavirus outbreak. After the first group of medical teams arrived, 12 additional teams of more than 1,600 medical staff will be sent to aid coronavirus control.

Ma Xiaowei, director of the National Health Commission, said Sunday at a press conference that the medical staff will be sent out shortly, adding that authorities are also coordinating supplies urgently needed to control the outbreak, reports Xinhua.

Ma said the commission has called upon and sent more than 900 medical staff in seven teams to Hubei. The military also sent a 450-strong medical team.
More than 1,000 others are on standby, he said.
The central government allocated 1 billion yuan (143 million U.S. dollars) to fight the outbreak, sent its reserves of medical supplies and coordinated the transfer of protective clothing, face masks, gloves, and protective goggles to the hard-hit areas, Ma added.


#Newsworthy…

Alex Holden found dead…


Family and friends of Holden had previously said they had not heard from him in the days after he left his midtown Sacramento apartment early New Year’s Eve morning.

Holden’s girlfriend, Kennedi Perri, said she last saw him leaving their midtown Sacramento apartment on I Street near 22nd Street just before 2:30 am. Holden told her he was going to walk to a friend’s house in Natomas to spend the night. She believes he was heading toward the Sacramento Northern Bikeway trail before his phone died.

Family and friends searched the area for weeks. His friends also asked for the help of a volunteer diver, but they were unable to find any clues.

Ozarks First has reached out to the Sacramento Police for more information regarding his death and we will update you as we get more information.

Holden was from Springfield, Missouri and was the son of two judges.

This is a developing story.


#Newsworthy…

Kim Kardashian reacts to Kobe, Gianna’s death says ‘I cry’..


Kim Kardashian has reacted to the death of Basketball Legend, Kobe Bryant.

Kobe on Sunday, died after the helicopter he was traveling on, crashed in Calabasas, California.

The Basketball Legend who was aged 41, died alongside his daughter, Gianna, 13 and 7 others.

Kim Kardashian, 39, wrote in a message that her ‘heart is so heavy’ she couldn’t ‘imagine’ what Vanessa, wife to Kobe Bryant is going through.

The mother of four posting on her Twitter and Instagram accounts: “My heart is so heavy. No one should ever experience what the families involved are going through. This has affected us all so much but I cannot begin to imagine what Vanessa is feeling losing her husband and her baby girl. I cry just thinking about it.”


#Newsworthy…

#NobleSport

$2.5bn secured for gas pipeline project..


Nigeria will close a $2.5bn financing agreement with Chinese lenders by the start of the second quarter of 2020 to fund the single biggest gas pipeline project in the country’s history, after months of holding talks with China on financing a project seen as being central to expanding gas output in the West African nation.

On completion of the 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) natural gas pipeline, new gas-to-power plants will push power generation capacity to more than 10,000MW, in a country of nearly 200mn people that has faced perennial electricity shortages for decades. Africa’s biggest economy struggles with power output, generating less than 7,000MW. Three new captive gas-fired plants, to be located in Abuja, Kaduna and Kano, are expected to deliver 3,600MW of power.


The pipeline will also supply 2bn ft³/d (56mn ft³/d) of gas, in the short term to domestic customers, “which is quite significant,” according to Mele Kyari, group managing director of the state-owned oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Nigeria has 202tn ft³ of proven gas reserves and an additional 600tn ft³ of unproven potential resources. Despite having the largest gas reserves in Africa, only c.25pc of these reserves are currently productive.


“By March we will physically start constructing the pipeline” Kyari, NNPC

Construction of the pipeline will begin in February, or at the latest by March, after financing for AKK is secured, according to the NNPC chief. Developed by NNPC, AKK forms phase one of the Trans-Nigeria Gas Pipeline (TNGP) project, which is scheduled for commissioning in 2020. The TNGP project itself is part of the Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline System that will ultimately link Southern Nigeria with customers in Europe.


The AKK pipeline project, which is being implemented using a build and transfer (BT) public-private partnership (PPP) model, is expected to transport 3.5bn ft³/d of dehydrated wet gas from multiple projects in the southern part of the country.

Nigeria had earlier secured 15pc international owner financing of c.$430mn and is expecting to close the remaining 85pc financing, amounting to c.$2.5bn, by the second quarter of 2020, according to Kyari. “We have got every condition required sorted out including the sovereign guarantee for us to go forward. As a matter of fact, we are moving to site in February at the latest and by March we will physically start constructing the pipeline. We have secured the financing both in terms of equity contribution and the clear indication that we will have 85pc financing from the Chinese. That is sorted out,” he says.

3.5bn ft³/d Total capacity of AKK pipeline

This financing deal takes Chinese investment in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry to nearly $20bn, according to figures from NNPC. Chinese investment, mostly from China National Offshore Oil Corporation (Cnooc), rose to $16bn last year, and the oil-dependent nation is seeking a separate $3bn to expand crude production to 3mn bl/d by 2023.


#Newsworthy..

U.S vs Iran: 3 rockets hit US embassy


Three rockets slammed into the US embassy in Iraq’s capital on Sunday in the first direct hit reported after months of close calls, as thousands of protesters kept up anti-government sit-ins across the country.

The attack marked a dangerous escalation in the spree of rocket attacks in recent months that have targeted the embassy or Iraqi military bases where American troops are deployed.


None of the attacks has been claimed but Washington has repeatedly blamed Iran-backed military factions in Iraq.

On Sunday, one rocket hit an embassy cafeteria at dinner time while two others landed nearby, a security source told media.


A senior Iraqi official told media at least one person was wounded, but it was not immediately clear how serious the injuries were and whether the person was an American national or an Iraqi staff member working at the mission.

The US embassy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


The US State Department called on Iraq late on Sunday to “fulfil its obligations to protect our diplomatic facilities”.

The attack took place earlier in the day than usual, with AFP reporters hearing the booms on the western bank of the river Tigris at precisely 7:30 pm (1630 GMT).


Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi and Speaker of Parliament Mohammed Halbusi both condemned the incident, saying it risked dragging their homeland into war.

Iraq has already been dragged into a worrying tit-for-tat between the United States and Iran over the last month.


A similar attack on a northern Iraqi base killed an American contractor, and the US retaliated with a strike on an Iran-backed faction known as Kataeb Hezbollah.

Less than a week later, a US drone strike killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani outside the Baghdad airport — prompting Iran to fire ballistic missiles at an Iraqi base where US troops are stationed.


‘Only for you, Iraq!’

Some 5,200 Americans are stationed in Iraq to lead the global coalition fighting the Islamic State militant group, but the US strike on Baghdad has rallied top Iraqi figures around a joint call to order them out.

Vehemently anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr organised a mass rally in Baghdad on Friday, where thousands of his supporters called for American troops to leave.


Sadr had previously backed separate anti-regime protests sweeping Iraq’s capital and south, even though he controls the largest bloc in parliament and top ministerial posts.

Bolstered by his own protest on Friday, Sadr announced he was dropping support for the youth-dominated reform campaign rocking the country since October.


His followers, widely regarded as the best-organised and well-stocked of the anti-government demonstrators, immediately began dismantling their tents and heading home.

Activists feared that without his political cover, authorities would move to crush their movement — and indeed, within hours, riot police tried to storm protest camps.


Those efforts continued into Sunday, with security forces using live rounds and tear gas to try to flush protesters out of squares and streets they had occupied for months.

One protester was shot dead in Baghdad and another in the flashpoint southern city of Nasiriyah, medical sources said, and dozens more were wounded across the country.


In the capital, riot police have tried to clear streets around the main protest camp of Tahrir Square but have yet to enter the symbolic area, where many protesters stood their ground even after tents there were dismantled.

Just after midnight in Nasiriyah, unknown assailants stormed the main protest camp in Habbubi Square and set the tents on fire, the flames lighting up the night sky, NobleReporters learnt


UN hails ‘Iraqi hopes’

Despite the renewed violence, thousands of students flooded the streets in the capital and across the south in a bid to keep national attention focused on their demands.

“Only for you, Iraq!” read a sign held by a young protester in the shrine city of Karbala, hinting at the movement’s insistence on not being affiliated with any political party or outside backer.


In Basra, hundreds of students gathered to condemn the riot police’s dismantling of their main protest camp the previous day, N.Rs culled

The youth-led protests erupted on October 1 in outrage over lack of jobs, poor services and rampant corruption before spiralling into calls for a government overhaul after they were met with violence.

More than 470 people have died, a vast majority of them demonstrators, since the rallies began.

Protesters are now demanding snap elections, the appointment of an independent premier and the prosecution of anyone implicated in corruption or recent bloodshed.


#Newsworthy…

2020 Grammy: Late Nipsey wins Best Rap Performance..


The 2020 Grammy for Best Rap Performance has been posthumously awarded to rapper, activist, and entrepreneur, Ermias Joseph Asghedom popularly known as Nipsey Hussle.


Roddy Ricch and Hit-Boy also won for the song “Racks in the Middle.”

The other nominees in the category were J. Cole (“MIDDLE CHILD” and the Dreamville posse cut “Down Bad”), Offset and Cardi B (“Clout”), and DaBaby (“Suge”).


This is Nipsey Hussle’s first Grammy win.

In an emotional acceptance speech, Nipsey Hussle’s grandmother who led the family to collect his award said, “I wanted to thank all of you for showing all the love that I have felt for him all of his life and will always live in my heart, so: thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”


Throughout his lifetime, Nipsey Hussle was a respected artist and activist in the hip-hop world, and it wasn’t until he finally released his debut album Victory Lap in early 2018 that he broke out as a proper superstar.

Hussle was shot multiple times in the parking lot of his store, Marathon Clothing, in South Los Angeles at about 3:19 pm on March 31, 2019.

He was only 33 when he died.

His alleged killer, Eric Holder, who has been charged with murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon is currently awaiting trial.


#Newsworthy…

Stephen dies after aging 70 with prostrate cancer ailment..


HARRISBURG, Pa. — Stephen Reed, former Harrisburg Mayor, died Saturday at the age of 70 according to Reed’s family.

Reed tragically lost his battle to stage four prostate cancer.


“He had undergone extensive treatment for that and just a few weeks ago that the treatment was not working unsuccessful and had spread to other parts of his body,” said Randy King, former press secretary for Reed.

Reed served as the Mayor of Harrisburg for 28 years, and was known for revamping the downtown business district and creating City Island.


“He was one of the finest human beings and one of the greatest public servants that the misstate will ever see,” added King.

Back in 2017, he plead guilty to 20 counts of theft of stolen property, after being charged with using taxpayer money to buy hundreds of artifacts for a proposed wild west museum, that never came to fruition.


State agents raided his home in 2015.

Due to Reed’s declining health at the time, the judge in the case opted to waive his prison time.


“He was emotionally devastated by what happened and and it was simple mistakes it was nothing that Steve Reed tried to steal or do of that nature,” said King. “It’s unfortunate that his latter years were filled with controversy but those who know him understand that it was really a political hack job,” he added.

Following the news of Reed’s death, current Harrisburg Mayor, Eric Papenfuse, issued the following statement:


“Mayor Reed dedicated his life to the citizens of Harrisburg and central Pennsylvania. His transformative vision left an indelible mark on every major development project in our capital for over a generation. Harrisburg mourns his loss, and on behalf of our City, I extend my deepest condolences to his family. The flags at City Hall, Riverfront Park, and City Island will be lowered to half-staff in honor of his life of public service.”

Wanda Williams, Harrisburg City Council President, also releasing a statement:

Stephen Reed, former Harrisburg Mayor


“I am sorry to hear of the passing of a hardworking, compassionate and visionary man who’s objective was to move the City of Harrisburg into the 20th century. Although there may be those who may disagree, I personally would like to remember him as a dear friend and would like to extend my prayers to his family.”

Family members are coming in to Harrisburg from across the country on Monday as they begin to plan funeral arrangements.


#Newsworthy…