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Nigeria-UK relationship should focus more on trade, says minister

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The international development secretary, in Nigeria on a two-day visit, has laid out plans for reviewing the way the UK allocates aid funding.
On her first visit to west Africa as secretary of state, Penny Mordaunt said that, as the UK’s exit from the EU in March 2019 approaches, she wanted to see Nigeria’s relationship with the UK move towards greater trade and investment.
“We want to move from a relationship based on aid to one of economic prosperity and trade,” she said, speaking to the Guardian. “That’s what Brexit is part of. There are really big opportunities here in future years.” According to the Department for International Development (DfID) UK-Nigeria trade was worth £3.4bn in 2016.

A new Human Capital Index announced by the World Bank will come into effect later this year. It ranks how much countries invest in “human capital” such as education and health relative to their wealth and ability to fund those services. The measure was announced by the World Bank’s president, Jim Yong Kim, in April, with Mordant and Bill Gates early supporters.
From next year the index will be used by DfID as a significant part of a formula determining whether UK aid will be reviewed to recipient countries. The new measure could lead to significantly reduced funding for countries like Nigeria that underinvest in health and education.
According to Mordaunt, countries that take on refugee populations will also receive greater aid from the UK. “What the index does is look at what nations can afford to invest in their own people,” she said. “What it will flag up, those nations at the bottom of the index, will be nations that can afford to do this and chose to outsource to the development community. The states [within Nigeria] that DfID has been working with are doing much more on this.”
Nigeria currently spends 4% of its budget on health but in the past year it has increased revenues dedicated to health services. On Friday Mordaunt met the vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo, and said that they had made progress on commitments to increase Nigeria’s investment in health and other social spending.
The UK spends £300m on foreign aid in Nigeria, making it the third largest recipient of British assistance globally after Pakistan and Ethiopia. The budget spent on Africa’s largest economy is seen within the international development ministry as a focal point for reviewing aid. A unit set up in February has worked on improving tax collection in developing countries, reducing dependency on aid further.

While in Nigeria Mordaunt visited a primary health care facility in Kaduna, northern Nigeria. The Badarawa health centre, which treats more than 22,000 people, is one of many that have received regular medical supplies from DfID since 2014. Kaduna state will take on the costs of medical equipment from this year, beginning a phasing out of UK aid to health centres under an agreement reached with the state. Kaduna increased its allocation on health from 7% of its budget in 2015 to 13% this year.
Mordaunt said: “This has been a real success story in what we’re trying to achieve. What we want to do is to try and move from an aid relationship, making sure that we were being smart about the money we spend. What we want to do is say to the British taxpayer that we have done the most good with the money we have in our budget.
Last year, £100m of UK aid went towards alleviating the humanitarian crisis left in the wake of the Boko Haram terrorist group’s nine-year insurgency in north-eastern Nigeria.
Approximately 1.7 million people remain displaced, with millions still in need of food assistance. President Muhammadu Buhari had pledged to defeat Boko Haram and, despite severely degrading the group from the occupying force it was before his term began in May 2015, it remains a threat, with deadly attacks occurring more frequently in the past few years.
After controversial claims to have defeated Boko Haram made by Buhari’s administration, in the past year the Nigerian army has urged thousands of internally displaced people to return to their homes, promising that their towns have been secured from any terrorist threats. Yet aid groups have raised concerns that towns recently recovered from Boko Haram remain deeply insecure, posing a risk to returnees. Attacks in the past few months in recently opened towns such as Bama have killed dozens.
On Thursday, the aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières said the humanitarian situation was deteriorating, describing the continuing threat and severe need in towns deemed by the military to be safe. “The reality is that the places they are moving to are not prepared to provide even the most basic services,” said Luiz Eguiluz, the head of MSF’s mission in Nigeria. “The problems in north-east Nigeria are changing instead of being solved.”
Mordaunt said that she wanted to see towns where internally displaced people have returned to fully secured. “There’s no good people returning if security is not in place. What we want to do now is really help move from that humanitarian situation to a recovery and stability programme. You need all players in that, a programme where people who return to those areas return to full security, jobs and livelihoods.”
She stated that humanitarian assistance and training provided to the Nigerian military to defeat the group would continue but her department was encouraging Nigeria to do more to address the humanitarian crisis.

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READ: 2016 Trump campaign nondisclosure agreement

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The Trump campaign said Tuesday it is seeking legal action against Omarosa Manigault Newman in the wake of her tell-all book about her time as a campaign adviser and senior White House official. Manigault Newman is accused of breaching a 2016 nondisclosure agreement with the campaign.

Below is a copy of the agreement signed by senior officials on the 2016 Trump campaign, obtained by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins:
AGREEMENT

You have requested that the entity signing below (the “Company”) engage you (as an employee or an independent contractor, as applicable) to perform services, or an independent contractor that employs you has requested to be engaged by Company to perform services and you desire in your capacity as an employee of such independent contractor to perform all or a part of such services. You have made the promises and agreements set forth below in order to induce the Company to accept your or your employer’s, as applicable, offer of engagement and to permit you, in the applicable capacity, to perform all or a portion of the subject services. Those promises and agreements are part of what the Company is receiving in exchange for agreeing to engage you or your employer, and to permit you to perform all or a portion of the subject services, and the Company is relying on your fulfillment of these promises and agreements.

Any initially capitalized terms that are not defined when used in this agreement are defined in paragraph 6 below.

1. No Disclosure of Confidential Information. During the term of your service and at all times thereafter you hereby promise and agree:

a. not to disclose, disseminate or publish, or cause to be disclosed, disseminated or published, any Confidential Information;

b. not to assist others in obtaining, disclosing, disseminating, or publishing Confidential Information;

c. not to use any Confidential Information in any way detrimental to the Company, Mr. Trump, any Family Member, any Trump Company or any Family Member Company;

d. not to save, store or memorialize any Confidential Information (including, without limitation, incorporating it into any storage device, server, Internet site or retrieval system, whether electronic, cloud based, mechanical or otherwise) except as may be expressly required in connection with the performance of services to the Company;

e. to (i) provide the Company with written notice of any legal obligation to disclose any Confidential Information as soon as you become aware of such obligation, (ii) not make any disclosure notwithstanding such obligation until the Company (or the appropriate Trump Person) has had a reasonable opportunity to seek an appropriate protective order or similar relief, (iii) fully cooperate and join with the Company (and the appropriate Trump Person) in any request for a protective order or similar relief, (iv) exercise all reasonable efforts to obtain reliable assurance that confidential treatment will be accorded such Confidential Information in the event no such protective order or similar relief is obtained, whether because it has been denied or because the Company (or the appropriate Trump Person) has elected not to seek it, and (iv) under all circumstances, not furnish any greater portion of the Confidential Information than you are advised by counsel is absolutely legally required to be disclosed by you or furnish any Confidential Information to any individual, company or governmental entity other than the one to whom or to which you are absolutely legally required to disclose it; and

f. promptly upon the request, whenever made, of the Company, (i) return to the Company all Confidential Information furnished to you, together with all copies, abstracts, notes, reports, or other materials furnished to, or otherwise obtained by, you or prepared by you or on your behalf, without retaining copies, extracts or other reproductions, whether physical, electronic, cloud based or otherwise, in whole or in part, (ii) destroy all documents, memoranda, notes or other writings prepared by you or anyone on your behalf that are based upon the Confidential Information, and (iii) acknowledge such destruction in writing to Company.

The foregoing provisions each apply to Confidential Information and disclosure, dissemination, publication, use and effort to help others obtain, saving, storing and memorializing of Confidential Information, as applicable, (i) by any means of expression, including but not limited to verbal, written, or visual, (ii) whether or not preserved in any medium now known or hereafter discovered or invented, including but not limited to audio recording of any type, written text, drawing, photograph, film, video, or electronic device, (iii) in any manner or form, including but not limited to any book, article, memoir, diary, letter, essay, speech, interview, panel or roundtable discussion, image, drawing, cartoon, radio broadcast, television broadcast, video, movie, theatrical production, Internet website, e-mail, Twitter tweet, Facebook page, or otherwise, even if fictionalized, (iv) in any language, or (v) in any country or other jurisdiction (collectively, the “Restricted Means and Contexts”).

2. No Disparagement. During the term of your service and at all times thereafter you hereby promise and agree not to demean or disparage publicly the Company, Mr. Trump, any Trump Company, any Family Member, or any Family Member Company or any asset any of the foregoing own, or product or service any of the foregoing offer, in each case by or in any of the Restricted Means and Contexts and to prevent your employees from doing so.

3. No Competitive Services. Until the Non-Compete Cutoff Date you promise and agree not to assist or counsel, directly or indirectly, for compensation or as a volunteer, any person that is a candidate or exploring candidacy for President of the United States other than Mr. Trump and to prevent your employees from doing so.

4. No Competitive Solicitation. Until the Non-Solicitation Cutoff Date you promise and agree not to hire or solicit for hiring, or assist any other person, entity or organization to hire or solicit for hiring, any person that is an independent contractor of, employee of an independent contractor of, or employee of Company or any other Trump Person and who at any time provides services for the project or objective for which you or your employer, as applicable, are being engaged.

5. No Competitive Intellectual Property Claims. During the term of your service and at all times thereafter you promise and agree never to assert any rights to any intellectual property that (a) includes the name “Trump,” (b) is owned by or associated with the Company, Mr. Trump, any Trump Company, any Family Member or any Family Member Company, for example, without limitation, any name, likeness, voice, or image of Mr. Trump or any Family Member, or any logo, motto or phrase created, developed or commonly associated with any of them, or (c) is developed in connection with the project or objective for which your services are being engaged (all of which will be deemed a “work made for hire” or will be assigned by you to us).

6. Definitions. As used in this agreement, the following definitions apply:

a. “Confidential Information” means all information (whether or not embodied in any media) of a private, proprietary or confidential nature or that Mr. Trump insists remain private or confidential, including, but not limited to, any information with respect to the personal life, political affairs, and/or business affairs of Mr. Trump or of any Family Member, including but not limited to, the assets, investments, revenue, expenses, taxes, financial statements, actual or prospective business ventures, contracts, alliances, affiliations, relationships, affiliated entities, bids, letters of intent, term sheets, decisions, strategies, techniques, methods, projections, forecasts, customers, clients, contacts, customer lists, contact lists, schedules, appointments, meetings, conversations, notes, and other communications of Mr. Trump, any Family Member, any Trump Company or any Family Member Company.

Donald J. Trump Jr., Eric F. Trump and Ivanka M. Trump, Tiffany Trump, and Barron Trump, and their respective spouses, children and grandchildren, if any, and Mr. Trump’s siblings and their respective spouses and children, if any.

c. “Family Member Company” means any entity, partnership, trust or organization that, in whole or in part, was created by or for the benefit of any Family Member or is controlled or owned by any Family Member.

d. “Non-Compete Cut Off Date” means the date the current U.S presidential election cycle is over or, if earlier, the date Mr. Trump announces that he will not run or will no longer run for the Presidency of the United States of America in the current U.S. presidential election cycle.

e. “Non-Solicitation Cutoff Date” means the Non-Compete Cut Off Date.

f. “Trump Company” means any entity, partnership, trust or organization that, in whole or in part, was created by or for the benefit of Mr. Trump or is controlled or owned by Mr. Trump.

g. “Trump Person” means each of Mr. Trump, each Family Member, each Trump Company (including but not limited to the Company) and each Family Member Company.

7. Remedies for Breach of this Agreement.

a. Consent to Injunction. A breach of any of your promises or agreements under this agreement will cause the Company, Mr. Trump and each other Trump Person irreparable harm. Accordingly, to the extent permitted by law, and without waiving any other rights or remedies against you at law or in equity, you hereby consent to the entry of any order, without prior notice to you, temporarily or permanently enjoining you from violating any of the terms, covenants, agreements or provisions of this agreement on your part to be performed or observed. Such consent is intended to apply to an injunction of any breach or threatened breach.

b. Agreement to Indemnify. You hereby agree to indemnify, defend (with counsel acceptable to the Trump Person you are defending) and hold harmless each Trump Person from and against any claim, demand, suit, proceeding, damages, cost, loss or expense of any kind or nature, including but not limited to reasonable attorneys’ fees and disbursements, incurred by any Trump Person as a consequence of your breach of any of your promises or agreements in this agreement.

c. Damages and Other Remedies. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, each Trump Person will be entitled to all remedies available at law and equity, including but not limited to monetary damages, in the event of your breach of this agreement. Nothing contained in this agreement will constitute a waiver of any Trump Person’s remedies at law or in equity, all of which are expressly reserved.

d. Third Party Beneficiaries. Mr. Trump and each Family Member, Trump Company and Family Member Company is an intended third party beneficiary of this agreement. Without limiting the preceding sentence, Mr. Trump, each Family Member, Trump Company and Family Member Company, in addition to the Company, will be entitled to the benefit of this agreement and to enforce this agreement.

8. Resolution of Disputes.

a. Governing Law; Jurisdiction and Venue. This Agreement is deemed to have been made in the State of New York, and any and all performance hereunder, breach hereof, or claims with respect to the enforceability of this agreement must be interpreted and construed pursuant to the laws of the State of New York without regard to conflict of laws or rules applied in the State of New York. You hereby consent to exclusive personal jurisdiction and venue in the State of New York with respect to any action or proceeding brought with respect to this agreement.

b. Arbitration. Without limiting the Company’s or any other Trump Person’s right to commence a lawsuit in a court of competent jurisdiction in the State of New York, any dispute arising under or relating to this agreement may, at the sole discretion of each Trump Person, be submitted to binding arbitration in the State of New York pursuant to the rules for commercial arbitrations of the American Arbitration Association, and you hereby agree to and will not contest such submissions. Judgment upon the award rendered by an arbitrator may be entered in any court having jurisdiction.

c. Prevailing Party Fees. Any court judgment or arbitration award shall include an award of reasonable legal fees and costs to the prevailing party.

d. Interpretation and Representation by Counsel. This agreement has been drafted on behalf of the undersigned only as a convenience and may not, by reason of such action, be construed against the undersigned. Each of the parties (i) has had the opportunity to be and/or has elected not to be, represented by counsel, (ii) has reviewed each of the provisions in this agreement carefully and (iii) has negotiated or has had full opportunity to negotiate the terms of this agreement, specifically including, but not limited to Paragraph 7 hereof. You waive any claims that may be available at law or in equity to the effect that you did not have the opportunity to so consult with counsel.

e. No Waiver. Neither the failure or delay to exercise one or more rights under this agreement nor the partial exercise of any such right, will be deemed a renunciation or waiver of such rights or any part thereof or affect, in any way, this agreement or any part hereof or the right to exercise or further exercise any right under this agreement or at law or in equity.

9. Miscellaneous. Modifications. No change or waiver of the terms, covenants and provisions of this agreement will be valid unless made in writing and signed by the undersigned. Relationship. Nothing herein contained is intended to, nor shall it be construed as, reflecting any employer-employee or independent contractor relationship between you and the undersigned or any other individual or entity. Counterparts. This agreement may be executed in any number of counterparts, all of which taken together will constitute one and same instrument. Delivery of an executed signature page of this this agreement by facsimile transmission or .pdf, .jpeg, .TIFF, or other electronic format or electronic mail attachment will be effective as delivery of an original executed counterparty hereof.

10. Survival. This agreement will survive the expiration, cancellation or termination of any employment or independent contractor relationship that you may have with the Company or with any individual, entity, partnership, trust or organization that the Company has engaged.

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Fight scandal by giving witness to the Gospel, Pope tells young people

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Members of the Catholic Church sin and give scandal, it’s true, Pope Francis said, but it is up to each Catholic to live the faith as authentically as possible and witness to the world the love of Jesus.
“The best way to respond is with witness,” the Pope said in response to a young man who said that the “useless pomp and frequent scandals have made the Church barely credible in our eyes.”
Pope Francis spoke about witness, dreams and true love during an evening meeting with some 70,000 young adults, aged 16 to 30, gathered at Rome’s Circus Maximus at the end of a pilgrimage. Most of them had walked at least 50 miles over the previous three or four days. Representatives came from 195 of Italy’s 226 dioceses, and 150 bishops walked at least part of the way with groups from their dioceses.
Five young people were chosen to share their stories with the crowd and ask Pope Francis questions. They asked his advice about keeping their dreams alive when the future seems so uncertain, how to prepare to marry and start a family and how to get Church leaders to listen to them rather than preach at them.
“He put his finger in the wound,” the Pope said in reference to the last question, which was posed by Dario, a 27-year-old hospice nurse. He told the Pope, “For young people, commands from on high are no longer enough, we need signs and the sincere witness of a Church that accompanies us and listens to the doubts our generation raises each day.”
Dario’s judgment of the Church’s pastors is “strong,” the Pope said, and it is true that “sometimes we are the ones who betray the Gospel.”
But Pope Francis also told the young people they need to recognise that they, too, are part of the Church. Thinking only religious, priests and bishops are the Church is “clericalism” and “clericalism is a perversion of the Church,” he said.
The best way to respond to a stuffy, lifeless Church or to Church scandals, the Pope told them, “is with witness. If there is no witness, there is no Holy Spirit. The Church without witness is just smoke.”
Letizia, 23, told the Pope she wanted to be an art historian, but was advised to study economy because it would pay better. Lucamatteo, 20, told the Pope dreaming big dreams is frightening, and Martina, 24, said she wants to start preparing for marriage and a family, but everyone seems to think it’s more important to have a career first.
“Dreams are important,” the Pope told them. “And the dreams of the young are the most important of all; they are the brightest stars, those that indicate a different path for humanity.”
Of course, he said, dreams must grow, be put to the test and purified. Those worth pursuing — those the Bible would call “great dreams” – always are those that will help others and make the world a better place. “Great dreams include, involve others, reach out, share and generate new life.”
One of the greatest dreams of all, he said, is the dream of finding true love, pledging oneself to another for life and creating a family. It is so important and so holy, he said, that it should never take second place to one’s career.
True love is not simply infatuation, the Pope told the young people. It involves giving all of oneself to another; “you have to put all the meat on the grill, as we say in Argentina.”
“To choose, to be able to decide for oneself seems to be the highest expression of freedom,” he said. “And in a certain sense, it is. But the idea of choice we breathe today is that of a freedom without bonds – pay attention to this – without bonds, without commitment and always with some kind of escape route.”
But true joy and happiness come from finding what is most precious, what “is worth saying ‘yes’ to and giving your life to,” the Pope said.
The evening ended with a prayer service and the reading of the Gospel story of the apostles running to Jesus’ tomb after Mary Magdalene told them Jesus was no longer there. John arrived first, but waited for Peter before going in, the Pope noted in his homily.
Young people should run with the same passion for Jesus, Pope Francis said. “The Church needs your enthusiasm, your intuitions, your faith. And when you arrive where we have not yet been, have the patience to wait for us like John waited for Peter before the empty tomb.”

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President Keita favourite to win Mali poll overshadowed by militant threat

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Malians voted in a run-off presidential election on Sunday, with incumbent Ibrahim Boubacar Keita expected to beat the opposition challenger despite a surge in ethnic and militant violence during his tenure.

The first round on July 29 was marred by armed attacks and other security incidents at about a fifth of polling places, as well as opposition charges of fraud.
But as voting got underway, no serious incidents were reported. Soldiers ran body checks on voters in the capital Bamako as they waited in line under rainy skies to cast their ballots.
Dramane Camara, 31, was the first to vote at one polling station in a school in the capital Bamako.
“I voted without problem, I came to fulfill my duty as a citizen,” Camara said. “I expect the new president to solve the problem of the North, which is peace. Because the return of peace means the return of NGOs, investors, so creating jobs.”
The chaotic first round was a reminder that militants, some linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State, have regrouped since French troops intervened in 2013 to push them back. They are now expanding their influence across Mali’s desert north and into the fertile centre.
Their presence in the vast West African nation and their ability to spread violence to its neighbours has kept Mali high on the list of Western powers’ security concerns. Former colonial ruler France and the United States have deployed thousands of troops across the region.
The 73-year-old Keita called for a peaceful day and urged people not respond to any provocation as he voted in Bamako on Sunday morning. “I pledge that all the difficulties we faced are now behind us,” he told cheering supporters.
The government has stepped up security for the run-off, deploying an extra 6,000 troops on top of the 30,000 already on duty. Mopti region in central Mali, where most of the attacks in the first round took place, is a particular concern.

Keita, who is seeking a second five-year term, took 41 percent of the vote in last month’s first round against nearly 18 percent for Soumalia Cisse, 68, a former finance minister and the main opposition leader.

Cisse, who lost against Keita before in a peaceful 2013 run-off, subsequently accused Keita’s government of voting fraud but the constitutional court upheld the result.
Cisse blames Keita for the worsening violence and accuses his government of rampant corruption. Civil society website Malilink recorded 932 militant attacks in the first half of 2018, almost double that for all of 2017.
Jihadists are also stoking inter-communal conflict, mostly between herders and pastoralists. Killings along ethnic lines have claimed hundreds of civilian lives this year, including at least 11 last week in Mopti region.
OPPOSTION PROTEST
Keita’s better-than-expected first-round showing and Cisse’s failure to win endorsements from the third and fourth-place finishers augur well for the incumbent.
At his final rally in the capital Bamako on Friday, Keita — known as IBK — struck a confident tone.
“Some people were sceptical that these elections could take place. Some called on me to withdraw,” he said above the din of his supporters’ vuvuzelas. “Let them understand that we had the capacity to organise credible elections and we have done so.”
On Saturday evening, about 100 opposition supporters demonstrated in Bamako’s Liberty Square to complain about the result of the first round. Chanting “No to electoral fraud” and calling for transparency in the second round, they said there had been many instances of cheating in the first vote.
Armed troops watched over the protest but did not intervene.
Despite the militant threat, Malian polls have generally gone peacefully without the post-election violence common to many countries in the region.
Fatoumata Cissé, a 38-year-old teacher, said: “I voted, no problem. I voted IBK. He has a positive balance especially for us teachers, our living conditions have improved. I hope that it will continue to improve the conditions of workers.”

 

Reuters

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Egypt’s defence minister discusses military cooperation with Nigerian counterpart

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Egyptian Minister of Defence Mohamed Zaki received his Nigerian counterpart Mansur Mohamed Dan on Monday for talks on the latest regional and international developments and on boosting bilateral military cooperation and joint exercises.

The ministers also discussed coordinating joint efforts to counter terrorism and enhance security and stability in the region, the Egyptian military’s spokesman said in a statement.
Zaki praised the military cooperation between the two countries’ armed forces, calling for more cooperation in the near future.
The Nigerian minister hailed the Egyptian armed forces’ success in fighting terrorism and restoring security and stability, and wished for more prosperity and wellbeing in Egypt, the statement read.
The meeting was attended by top military officials and the Nigerian ambassador to Egypt.

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Zimbabwe Election Results Show Incumbent’s Narrow Win

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The current president and leader of the ruling Zanu-PF party, Emmerson Mnangagwa, narrowly won Zimbabwe’s first presidential election since the ousting of longtime strongman Robert Mugabe last year. Mnangagwa received 50.8 percent of the vote, according to the electoral commission, meaning he won’t have to enter a runoff with opposition candidate Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change party. Shortly before the announcement, Chamisa’s party chairman called the results “fraudulent” in a televised address and promised a judicial challenge just before police removed him from the commission’s stage

 

Source:
BBC

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Prominent Saudi Women Activists Arrested

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(Beirut) – Saudi authorities have arrested the internationally recognized women’s rights activist Samar Badawi and an Eastern Province activist, Nassima al-Sadah, in the past two days, Human Rights Watch said today. Badawi and al-Sadah are the latest victims of an unprecedented government crackdown on the women’s rights movement that began on May 15, 2018 and has resulted in the arrest of more than a dozen activists.
Badawi, a recipient of the United States’ 2012 International Women of Courage Award, is best known for challenging Saudi Arabia’s discriminatory male guardianship system. She was one of the first women to petition Saudi authorities to allow women the right to drive as well as the right to vote and run in municipal elections. Al-Sadah, from the coastal city of Qatif, has also long campaigned both for abolishing the guardianship system and lifting the driving ban. She was a candidate in the 2015 local elections, the first time women were allowed to run, but the authorities removed her name from the ballot, ultimately barring her from running.
“The arrests of Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah signal that the Saudi authorities see any peaceful dissent, whether past or present, as a threat to their autocratic rule,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “After the recent arbitrary arrests of businesspeople, women’s rights activists, and reformist clerics, Saudi Arabia’s allies and partners should question what ‘reform’ really means in a country where the rule of law is disdainfully ignored.”
Saudi authorities, under the ultimate direction of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, have stepped up arrests and prosecutions of dissidents and activists since early 2017. As the arrests escalated, Badawi and al-Sadah, like the other women’s rights activists recently arrested, had largely gone quiet in their social media and other public advocacy.
Saudi authorities have targeted and harassed Badawi for years. In addition to her advocacy for women’s equality, she has campaigned energetically for both her former husband and her brother to be released from prison. Waleed Abu al-Khair, her former husband, is serving a 15-year sentence for his human rights work, and Raif Badawi, her brother, is a blogger serving a 10-year sentence for expressing controversial opinions online. In December 2014, Saudi authorities barred her from travelling abroad and in January 2016, they briefly detained her over her peaceful human rights advocacy.
On July 30, authorities also arrested Amal al-Harbi, wife of the leading Saudi activist Fowzan al-Harbi. He is serving a seven-year sentence for his work with the now-banned Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), one of the country’s first civic organizations. It is unclear why Saudi authorities have targeted Al-Harbi.
The recent crackdown on women’s rights activists began just weeks ahead of the much-anticipated lifting of the driving ban on women on June 24, a cause for which many of the detained activists had campaigned. While some have been released, others remain detained without charge. They include Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef, Eman al-Nafjan, Nouf Abdelaziz, Mayaa al-Zahrani, and Hatoon al-Fassi, all women’s rights activists, as well as supporters of the movement, including Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh, a lawyer; Abdulaziz Meshaal, a philanthropist; and Mohammed Rabea, a social activist.
Authorities accused several of those detained of serious crimes, including “suspicious contact with foreign parties” under thin legal pretenses. Government-aligned media outlets have carried out an alarming campaign against them, branding them “traitors.” The Saudi newspaper Okaz reported that nine of those detained will be referred for trial to the Specialized Criminal Court, originally established to try detainees held in connection with terrorism offenses. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison.
Dr. al-Fassi, a renowned scholar and associate professor of women’s history at King Saud University, was one of the first women to acquire a Saudi driver’s license. Saudi authorities arrested her just days before lifting the ban. Numerous other women’s rights activists have since been placed under travel bans.
Saudi women’s rights activists have not only petitioned successive government authorities to reform discriminatory laws and policies, but also sought to change societal attitudes. While the government has recently introduced limited reforms, including allowing women to enter some professions previously closed to them as well as lifting the driving ban, the male guardianship system, the main impediment to the realization of women’s rights, remains largely intact.
Under this system, women must obtain permission from a male guardian – a father, brother, husband, or even a son – to travel abroad, obtain a passport, enroll in higher education, get a life-saving abortion, be released from a prison or shelter, or marry.
“Allies and partners considering opportunities for closer ties with Saudi Arabia during this period of ‘reform’ should speak out against Mohammad bin Salman’s ultimately self-defeating repression. Any economic vision that seeks to open up Saudi Arabia while throwing real reformers in jail may well end badly for everyone,” said Whitson.

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Pope Francis meets 60,000 altar servers from around the world

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Christ’s commandment to love God and neighbour is a path trodden by those who have the desire to become saints, Pope Francis told thousands of altar servers from around the world.
“Yes, it does take effort to keep doing good and to become saints,” the Pope said. “You know that the path to holiness isn’t for the lazy, it requires effort.”
The Pope presided over an evening meeting and prayer service with some 60,000 altar servers making an international pilgrimage to Rome. The majority of young men and women came from Germany, but there also were pilgrims from Italy, France, Austria, the United States and other countries.
After circling St Peter’s Square in his Popemobile, Pope Francis smiled brightly as Bishop Ladislav Nemet of Zrenjanin, Serbia, waved his arms and urged the young men and women to welcome the Pope with cheers and applause.
Bishop Nemet is president of Coetus Internationalis Ministrantium, the association of altar servers that hosted the meeting along with the German bishops’ conference.
Before the event, the Vatican fire department used hoses to spray water over the seats in the blistering Rome sun in an effort to cool them down. The firefighters stayed once the pilgrims were allowed into the square, creating cooling showers for the much-needed relief of the young people.
“You are very courageous to be here since 12 pm in this heat!” the Pope told the young people before responding to questions posed by servers from Luxembourg, Portugal, Antigua and Barbuda, Germany and Serbia.
One server told Pope Francis that like many of his fellow altar servers, he was saddened “to see how few of our own age group come to Mass” or participate in parish life. “How can we – and our communities – reach out to these people and bring them back to Christ and to the family of the Church?” he asked.
The Pope said that even in their youth, altar servers can be apostles and draw others to Christ “if you are full of enthusiasm for him, if you have encountered him, if you have come to know him personally and been ‘won over’ by him.”
“There is no need for lots of words,” the Pope said. “More important are your actions, your closeness, your desire to serve. Young people – and everyone else for that matter – need friends who can give a good example, who are ready to act without expecting anything in return.”
When asked how altar servers can contribute to peace “in our families, in our countries and in the world,” the Pope said that “making peace begins with little things” such as trying to reconcile after a quarrel or asking in every situation, “What would Jesus do in my place?”
“If we can do this, if we really put it into practice, we will bring Christ’s peace to our everyday lives. Then we will be peacemakers and channels of God’s peace,” he said.
A Serbian altar server asked, “How can we translate our service, in daily life, into concrete works of charity and in a path toward holiness?”
Pope Francis encouraged them to practice the works of mercy, which “are demanding yet within the reach of all.”
“It makes no difference whether it is a friend or a stranger, a countryman or a foreigner,” the Pope said. “Believe me, by doing this, you can become real saints, men and women who transform the world by living the love of Christ.”
Before continuing with the prayer service, Bishop Nemet thanked the Pope for his words. However, the Pope wanted to make sure the altar servers were happy.
“Ask them if they feel encouraged after I answered their questions,” the Pope told Bishop Nemet.
After the bishop relayed the Pope’s question, the 60,000 young servers erupted in cheers and applause.
Recalling the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, Pope Francis said the Jesuit founder “discovered the heart and meaning of life itself” through seeking the glory of God and not his own glory.
“Let us imitate the saints,” the Pope told the young people. “Let everything we do be for God’s glory and the salvation of our brothers and sisters.”

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Aeromexico plane crash:’We had just taken off then the plane fell’

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A passenger plane has crashed in the Mexican state of Durango, but all  103 passengers and crew survived   shortly after take-off.
The plane had taken off from Guadalupe Victoria International Airport in Durango and was on its way to Mexico City.

Most of the people managed to walk away from the aircraft before it caught fire, despite 97 of them being injured.
The pilot is one of two who was seriously injured.
One woman described how she managed to get out of the wreckage:
“I was lucky enough to turn around and there was a hole somewhere….a hole right behind us and that is where people were getting out. I unbuckled my son’s seatbelt and we got out that way. We jumped.”
“Our dispatch team has gone to the site,” said the CEO of the flight operator, Aeromexico. “They are there with people to help, that is the most important thing. The priority is to ensure that all passengers are well and are being well looked after, that those who want medical attention receive it. This is what we are doing.

Officials said 97 people were taken to hospital but that most only had superficial injuries. An investigation is underway but initial reports suggest the cause of the crash was bad weather.
It was reported that  the plane was caught by a gust of wind that sent it downwards. The left wing reportedly touched the ground and two engines became detached.

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Zimbabwe’s ruling party wins majority of seats in Parliament

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ZIMBABWE’S RULING party Zanu-PF has won the majority seats in parliament,results from the electoral commission showed on Wednesday (Aug 1).
According to BBC NewsThe Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has announced 110 seats for Zanu-PF so far, and 41 for MDC Alliance, ZBC state media reported. There are 210 seats in the National Assembly’s lower house.
This comes a day after the opposition accused the agency of deliberately delaying results in ZANU-PF’s favour.
The party, led by Emmerson Mnangagwa’s, is poised to win a substantial parliamentary majority in Monday’s poll – the first elections since long-serving ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted. However, the result of the presidential vote is not yet known.
According to Associated Press, more than 5.5 million people were registered to vote in an election featuring a record number of more than 20 presidential candidates and nearly 130 political parties vying for parliamentary seats.

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Strengthening Urban Preparedness and Resilience against Biological Threats in Lagos

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On the 12th and 13th of July, Chatham House held a roundtable in Lagos, Nigeria, exploring city level preparedness and response mechanisms for mitigating biological threats. The meeting was held in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency. This roundtable was the second in a series that examines gaps and action items in city-level pandemic preparedness strategies and how these may be filled. Findings of these events shall be published later this year.

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118th OVALA FESTIVAL ( IDIGO DYNASTY )OF THE ANCIENT AGULERI KINGDOM THE ANCIENT AGULERI KINGDOM H

Minister Mary of Carnaby London delivering a bag to Biola Okoya, daughter of Razaq Okoya – the renowned Nigerian industrialist, owner of Eleganza Group of Companies and Aare of Lagos

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