November 15, 2019
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Nigeria’s first lady returns amid marriage rumours

Nigeria’s First Lady Aisha Buhari has returned to the country after two months abroad, telling reporters when she arrived on Saturday that “fake news” was a scourge that will “lead us to something unimaginable”.

While away, Mrs. Bushari had been on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and spent time in the UK.

On her return, the first lady appeared to confirm rumors that President Muhammadu Buhari had intended to marry fellow politician Sadiya Farouq, telling BBC Hausa in cryptic comments that the purported bride-to-be was disappointed the marriage hadn’t taken place:

Quote Message: The person that promised her [Sadiya Farouq] marriage didn’t know it wasn’t going to happen. She [Ms Farouq] didn’t deny the marriage until the day passed.” The person that promised her [Sadiya Farouq] marriage didn’t know it wasn’t going to happen. She [Ms Farouq] didn’t deny the marriage until the day passed.”

Social media was awash with speculation about the wedding, with some claiming it was supposed to have taken place on Friday.

Neither President Buhari nor Ms Farouq has commented.

Mrs Buhari also confirmed that a viral video showing her arguing with her husband’s niece at the presidential compound was genuine, but old. The niece, Fatima Mamman Daura, told the BBC she filmed the video herself sometime in 2018 but it had been circulated more recently by “mischief-makers”.

Source: bbc.com

Magufuli moves to Tanzania’s new capital Dodoma

Tanzania’s president John Magufuli has fulfilled his pledge to have the entire government relocate to the country’s new capital of Dodoma by the end of 2019.

Dodoma, which was elevated to city status last year, was designated as the capital city by the country’s founding president, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in 1973. Its central location, compared to the coastal Dar es Salaam is considered ideal for bringing government services closer to the people.

Magufuli, who last week shifted his voting address to Dodoma, told journalists he had finally shifted his presidential base from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma.

“I was in Kitavi region, but I decided to come to my home city, Dodoma, to register my name because this is now my official address,” Magufuli said.

The president also urged Tanzanians to register to vote in the forthcoming November 14 civic elections.

Following the 2017 move to Dodoma by the country’s prime minister, Kassim Majaliwa, followed by several ministries and the vice president Samia Suluhu Hassan, the entire Tanzanian government is now installed in the new capital.

Source: africanews.com

No third term for Conde: Guinea police fatally clash with protesters

At least four people were killed on Monday as Guinean security forces clashed with citizens protesting against the possibility of president Alpha Conde seeking an unconstitutional third term.

Last month, 81-year-old Conde called on the public to prepare for a referendum and elections, stirring speculation that he is planning to overcome a constitutional bar on serving a third term. The next presidential ballot is due to be held late next year.

An alliance of unions, opposition parties and civil society groups called the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) has called for massive protests aginst the project.

Deadly clashes
Authorities said a gendarme was killed during Monday’s clashes while relatives and a doctor confirmed the deaths of four protesters.

Pockets of violence erupted around the outer districts of Conakry, with some demonstrators setting up barricades, burning tires and throwing stones.

Hundreds of police and gendarmes responded with tear gas, stun grenades and real bullets, an AFP reporter saw.

The government confirmed only that a gendarme had been shot dead in the town of Mamou, east of the capital, adding that a resident in the city had been killed in unclear circumstances.

Tely Oury Bah, the father of one of the protesters, said his son Mamadou Lamarana Bah had been “coldly shot by a police officer”.

“I cannot even go to see the body at the hospital mortuary because there is no way through, the roads are blocked”, he said.

Earlier a local doctor said a 16-year-old boy had been killed and several others injured in the suburb of Sonfonia Gare.

The centre of the city, which hosts government offices and embassies, was under lockdown and almost deserted.

Opposition leaders call for more protests
Police on Monday surrounded the house of the opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo and Sidya Toure, who heads the opposition Union of Republican Forces (UFR).

“I ask Guineans to continue to protest and to block the way until the power understands that you cannot impose a dictatorship on us by force,” Toure told AFP by phone.

Residents and reporters in several other cities in the country reported disruption, with schools sending pupils home.

Interior Minister Bourema Conde said the protests were marked by acts “that threatened the lives of our citizens”.

Several people were arrested and “the security forces are in control of the situation and calm reigns in the majority of the country”, he said in a statement.

The opposition have accused Conde, who in 2010 became the West African state’s first democratically-elected president, of cracking down on dissent. They say about 100 people have been killed since 2010 when Conde took office. He won re-election five years later.

Source: africanews.com

Tyler Perry: ‘I’m ignored in Hollywood’

Tyler Perry is a history-making media mogul, but he says he understands why Hollywood doesn’t treat him as such.

“I clearly believe that I’m ignored in Hollywood, for sure,” Perry told Gayle King of “CBS This Morning” in an interview that aired Tuesday. “And that’s fine. I get it.”

Tyler Perry Studios, one of the largest in existence, opened last weekend in Atlanta.

The 330-acre complex contains 12 sound stages and is reportedly larger than the Burbank, California, lots owned by Warner Bros., Walt Disney Studios and Paramount studios combined.

Warner Bros. is owned by CNN’s parent company.

The actor/director/producer, who opened his first own studio in 2006, is the first African-American to own a major studio outright.

On Saturday, celebs such as Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Cicely Tyson, Sidney Poitier and director Ava DuVernay celebrated the opening of the complex. It sits on part of the decommissioned Fort McPherson that Perry bought in 2015.

“My audience and the stories that I tell are African-American, stories specific to a certain audience, specific to a certain group of people that I know, that I grew up with, and we speak a language,” Perry told King about being ignored by the mainstream movie industry.

“Hollywood doesn’t necessarily speak the language.” he said. “A lot of critics don’t speak that language. So, to them, it’s like, ‘What is this?’ “

Perry has racked up hundreds of millions of dollars in box office receipts for films like his Madea franchise, not to mention his TV shows and plays.
“I know what I do touches millions of people around the world,” Perry told King. “I know how important every word, every joke, every laugh [is]. I know what that does for the people where I come from and the people that I’m writing for.”

Perry said he has been on movie sets as recently as this year with no other minority representation.

“Every black person that comes to work here, they go, ‘Oh, my God, it’s heaven. Here we are. We’re represented,’ ” Perry said. “LGBTQs represented. Black, white, gay, straight, whatever. We’re all represented, working hand in hand, arm in arm.”

Source: cnn.com

U.S. arrests counterterrorism analyst over leaks to journalists

A counterterrorism analyst with the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency was arrested on Wednesday over charges he leaked classified materials about a foreign country’s weapons system to two journalists in 2018 and 2019, the U.S. Justice Department said in federal court filings on Wednesday.

Information that 30-year-old Henry Kyle Frese passed to the journalists appeared in at least eight different news stories, the Justice Department alleged in an indictment unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The two reporters to whom he leaked information were colleagues, and one of them was apparently romantically involved with Frese, the FBI said in court filings.

Those news stories relied on five separate intelligence reports issued between March and June 2018.

Reuters could not immediately determine if Frese had obtained a lawyer in the case.

This marks the sixth federal case involving leaks of classified information in a little over two years. A crackdown on leaking was initiated by the Trump administration in 2017 and led by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The first case to emerge during the Trump administration involved Reality Winner, a former intelligence analyst who divulged a report about Russian interference in the 2016 election to the Intercept news website.

Another similar case earlier this year involved a former intelligence analyst named Daniel Everette Hale, who was also charged in connection with leaking information to the Intercept related to a U.S. drone strike program.

Until the criminal case against Winner, no one had been charged with leaking classified information since 2013, said John Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, in a call with reporters on Wednesday to announce the charges against Frese.

“Our investigators and prosecutors nationwide will continue to devote themselves to media leak cases in order to protect our nation from the threat posed by the rare intelligence community official who breaks his or her oath,” he said.

During the course of its investigation, the FBI learned that Frese was a follower on one of the reporter’s public Twitter feeds, and that Frese shared a residential address with the journalist from August 2017 through August 2018.

The reporter with whom he lived is referred to in court records as “Journalist 1.”

“It appears that they were involved in a romantic relationship for some or all of that period of time,” the FBI agent wrote in a sworn statement.

The Justice Department did not identify the two journalists to whom he allegedly leaked or their news outlets, but said they worked for two separate outlets owned by the same parent company.

Public Twitter messages referenced in the court filings indicate that Journalist 1 is Amanda Macias, a national security reporter for CNBC.

The filings also reference public Twitter messages that indicate Journalist 2 is Courtney Kube, a national security correspondent for NBC. Both CNBC and NBC are owned by Comcast.

Macias authored or co-authored with Kube a number of articles during the timeframes cited in the court filings that reference U.S. intelligence reports and weapons systems of foreign nations such as China and Russia.

Neither reporter was accused of any wrongdoing. Neither immediately responded to requests for comment. An NBC spokesman declined to comment.

In the spring of 2018, the FBI alleges Journalist 1 called Frese on his cellphone. The next day, Frese started searching for an intelligence report involving topics unrelated to his work responsibilities.

Seven days later, the reporter sent him a direct message on Twitter asking if he would speak with “Journalist 2,” who was a more senior and seasoned reporter.

He replied he was “down” to help Journalist 2 because doing so would help Journalist 1 “progress” in her career.

Phone records show he communicated multiple times with both of them, including on the same day an article was published containing classified information from the intelligence reports, the FBI said.

Source: reuters.com

Democrat Biden calls for Trump’s impeachment

Democratic White House hopeful Joe Biden called Wednesday for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, saying he’d “betrayed” the United States, but Trump dug in, predicting that the Supreme Court would have to resolve the fight.

“To preserve our constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached,” Biden told supporters at a rally in New Hampshire, adding his voice to that of other Democratic contenders.

“He’s shooting holes in the constitution, and we cannot let him get away with it,” added Biden.

Trump, however, showed no sign of buckling under pressure from the Democratic party probe into his alleged bid to damage Biden by strong-arming Ukraine to investigate the former vice president.

Having threatened a constitutional crisis by refusing to cooperate with the congressional investigation, Trump predicted that the row would end up “being a big Supreme Court case.”

He told reporters in the White House that his Republican party was being “treated very badly.”

Democrats accuse Trump of stonewalling and obstruction.

“No one is above the law, not even President Trump,” the Democratic majority leader in the House, Steny Hoyer, said Wednesday.

– Impeachment becomes campaign message –

On Twitter, which Trump is using to bombard the public with conspiracy theories about a “deep state” aiming to eject him, the president argued that the whistleblower behind the impeachment case had been shown to be partisan and inaccurate.

“The Whistleblower’s facts have been so incorrect about my ‘no pressure’ conversation with the Ukrainian President, and now the conflict of interest and involvement with a Democrat Candidate, that he or she should be exposed and questioned,” Trump tweeted.

In another tweet, Trump dismissed the impeachment process as a Democratic bid to influence the election, saying “their total focus is 2020, nothing more.”

But Trump, who broke with precedent by campaigning for reelection almost from the moment he took office in 2017, is himself pouncing on the impeachment as the new cornerstone of his 2020 effort.

He and the Republican Party have pushed hard to raise funds off the back of their accusation of unfair treatment from the Democratic lower house in Congress.

And on Thursday and Friday, Trump will take that message to his core supporters when he holds campaign rallies in Minneapolis and in Louisiana.

Even if the House impeaches Trump, it remains unlikely that the Republican-led Senate would convict him in the subsequent trial.

However, Trump’s already turbulent presidency would be forever associated with the impeachment.

– Ukrainian phone call –

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally launched the impeachment inquiry last month after revelations Trump pressured Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call.

In the call, Trump asked Zelensky to look into what the US leader said were corrupt business deals involving Biden.

Democrats say that Trump tried to coerce Zelensky by holding back US military aid to Ukraine. Trump says there was no quid pro quo and that his only desire is to combat corruption.

He subsequently said publicly he would also like China to investigate Biden, something critics say bolsters the allegation that Trump is seeking foreign help to discredit opponents.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration blocked a potentially major witness, ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, from testifying before Congress. Democrats then slapped Sondland with a subpoena to appear on October 16.

“The failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents” was “additional strong evidence of obstruction,” House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said.

Later the same day, the White House announced in a lengthy legal statement that it rejected any cooperation with the Democrats at all.

Lawmakers want to hear on Friday from another key witness: former US ambassador to Kiev Marie Yovanovitch, who is scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee.

US media has reported that Trump removed her from her post because she opposed his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Biden.

Source: France24

Nigeria introduces anti-sexual harassment bill

A bill has been introduced in the Nigerian senate that seeks to prevent sexual harassment of students in universities.

This follows the broadcast of a BBC documentary exposing widespread sexual misconduct by multiple lecturers at two top West African Universities.

In a statement, the deputy president of the senate said he hoped the BBC’s investigation would help energise support for his bill.

Senator Ovie Omo-Agege added that as a father, sexual harassment in universities was an issue he could not accept.

The bill, which was read in the senate on Wednesday, proposes a prison term of between five years and 14 years for lecturers who have a sexual relationship with their students.

If the bill is passed, it would also be illegal for lecturers to make sexual advances towards their students.

There’s been widespread public outcry following the broadcast of the BBC documentary containing hidden camera footage of lecturers at the University of Ghana and the University of Lagos sexually harassing undercover reporters posing as students.

Both institutions have distanced themselves from the claims and suspended the lecturers involved, who have denied the allegations.

Source: bbc.com

Ethiopian Airlines flight makes emergency landing in Dakar

An Ethiopian Airlines plane was forced to make an emergency landing minutes after taking off in Senegal because an engine had caught fire, an airport spokesman said.

None of the 90 passengers or crew were injured, spokesman Tidiane Tamba told Reuters.

The airline confirmed on Twitter that its Boeing 767 aircraft had to land unexpectedly at Senegal’s Blaise Diagne International Airport near the capital Dakar because of “a technical problem” without providing more detail on the cause.

It said that all passengers were being rebooked on other flights.

Photos posted on the airport’s official Twitter account showed firefighters and airport staff posing next to the plane’s charred engine with what appeared to be foam from a fire hose at their feet.

Seven months ago, Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 nose-dived into farmland outside the capital Addis Ababa, killing 157 people just minutes after takeoff.

The incident caused a global debate into the safety of a new Boeing 737 MAX model that had also crashed months before in Indonesia.

Preliminary reports in both cases highlighted the role of an automated system that erroneously pointed the plane’s nose down as pilots struggled to override it. The two crashes killed 346 people.

Source: www.reuters.com

US reopens embassy in Somalia after nearly three decades

The United States has reopened its embassy in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, nearly three decades after it was shut as the Horn of Africa nation plunged into civil war.

Washington closed its embassy during the 1991 overthrow of then-President Siad Barre’s military regime which ushered in decades of chaos. However, diplomatic relations have strengthened in recent years.

“Today we reaffirm the relations between the American people and the Somali people, and our two nations,” said Donald Yamamoto, the US ambassador to Somalia, in a statement on Wednesday.

“It is a significant and historic day that reflects Somalia’s progress in recent years, and another step forward in regularising US diplomatic engagement in Mogadishu since recognising the federal government of Somalia in 2013,” he added.

A permanent diplomatic presence was established in Mogadishu in December 2018, but was operated out of Nairobi in neighbouring Kenya.

In his statement, Yamamoto noted that the US embassy in Mogadishu “will act to enhance cooperation, advance US national strategic interests, and support our overall security, political, and economic development goals and objectives.”

Threat of al-Shabab

Somalia continues to be wracked by violence and frequent attacks by the armed group al-Shabab.

On Monday, al-Shabab fighters attempted to storm the US military base in Baledogle in southern Somalia that hosts Somali and US forces and is used to launch drones that attack al-Shabab targets.

The US military says it has carried out 54 air raids against al-Shabab and a local affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) this year.

Al-Shabab was ejected from Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been driven from most of its other strongholds.

However, it still carries out attacks across Somalia, as well as in Kenya, whose soldiers form part of the African Union-mandated peacekeeping force that helps defend Somalia’s central government.

US raids in Somalia surged in April 2017, after President Donald Trump declared the south of the country an “area of active hostilities”.

A statement by the US mission to Somalia on Wednesday noted that the re-establishment of the embassy is another step forward in the resumption of regular US-Somali relations, “symbolising the strengthening of US-Somalia relations and advancement of stability, development, and peace for Somalia, and the region”.

“The US remains a strong partner to Somalia in its effort to build a stable, credible, and democratic country,” the statement said.

Source: aljazeera.com

African swine fever: Boar with virus found in demilitarised zone

A boar with African swine fever has been found dead in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas.

The virus was only discovered in South Korea recently, and there was speculation it arrived via pigs crossing the heavily-guarded DMZ.

North Korea first recorded ASF in May, and the South made great efforts to keep it out, including border fences.

Despite its name, the DMZ is one of the world’s most fortified places.

It is a 4km-wide (2.5 miles) strip of land, laden with landmines, that is a buffer zone between North and South Korea.

More than 10,000 pigs have died or been culled in the South since ASF was discovered. More than six million pigs have been culled overall in Asia.

What is African swine fever?

The virus is not dangerous to humans, but is highly contagious – and incurable – in boars and pigs. According to the UN, the fatality rate is “up to 100%”.

It emerged in East Africa in the early 1990s, moved through sub-Saharan Africa, and has also been recorded in Europe.

In August 2018, China – which has half the world’s pigs, and where pork is often a staple food – confirmed an outbreak of ASF.

Since then, more than one million pigs have been culled in China, plus more than five million in Vietnam. Farmers in China have been promised compensation for culled pigs worth a minimum of 80% of the market price.

The number of pigs is down by about 40% in China, the AFP news agency reported, and the price of pork is up by at least half.

China has sold 30,000 tonnes from its pork reserves in an effort to increase supply and hold down prices.

Mongolia, the Philippines, Laos, have also culled tens of thousands of pigs in total.

What is the situation in North and South Korea?

The first case of ASF was recorded in North Korea in May. The scale of the outbreak is not known, but South Korea believes the north raises around 2.6m pigs across 14 state-run farms.

Kim Jun-young, from the Korean Veterinary Medical Association in the south, said it was possible the virus had spread through the North, either through the sale of infected meat, or vultures eating infected carcasses.

In June, Seoul said the disease was “highly likely” to enter the country from the North and ordered fences to be built at farms along the border. The South offered quarantine and medical assistance to the North, but had no response.

The South Korean military was authorised to kill any wild boars seen crossing the DMZ.

Despite the precautions, South Korea reported its first case on 17 September – with the total now at 13 – and has culled around 15,000 pigs in response. There are around 6,700 pig farms in South Korea.

Officials are braced for a further spread of ASF with the arrival Typhoon Mitag, which has already led to deaths of six people in the south.

Source: bbc.com