Sri Lankan police have arrested seven people in connection with six near-simultaneous blasts at churches and hotels on Easter Sunday, followed by two more.
So far, the death toll from the explosions has surpassed 200, with over 450 others injured.
Three explosions went off in three churches, three in luxury hotels, one in a guest house and a last one at an undisclosed location. All the attacks were carried out in and around the capital, Colombo.
The explosions came as Christians worldwide celebrated Easter Sunday, one of the most important events in the Christian calendar.
Following the blasts, the Sri Lankan government has declared a 6PM to 6AM curfew in the country with immediate effect.
Identities of those killed are yet to be made public, but it is reported that one Chinese national has already been confirmed dead.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Trump To Visit Britain In June
U.S. President Donald Trump has accepted Queen Elizabeth’s invitation to make a state visit to Britain in June.
In a statement released by Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, Trump and his wife Melania will make the trip from June 3-5, adding that further details would be announced in due course.
Trump will hold a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street and the trip also coincides with events to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-day landings during world war two.
British Prime Minister Theresa May described the state visit as an opportunity to strengthen the already close relationship in areas such as trade, investment, security and defence, and to discuss ways they can build on these ties in the years ahead.
The U.S. President first visited the United Kingdom, UK, in July 2018 when he met with both the British Prime Minister and the QUEEN.
Ghana Lands Africa’s First Google AI Lab
Almost a year after it was first announced, Google’s first AI lab was officially opened in Accra.
Moustapha Cisse, head of the Google AI centre in Ghana, told AFP that Google believed that in certain areas, such as agriculture, Africa could benefit from AI more than other places, though the benefits may also be very apparent in sectors such healthcare and education.
The plan to open a new AI research centre in Ghana was announced in June 2018, with the original opening schedule set for late last year, but it was delayed. The Accra centre will be Google’s first AI lab in the emerging world — all other similar centers are in North America, Western Europe and East Asia (see map below).
The Ghana research centre will also be an AI research hub for Africa, with Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa all in its coverage area.
In addition to growing the machine learning capability for its own use, Google’s AI team will also contribute to the local economy and education. Cisse told AFP that the research centre will work with local universities and startups in Africa, as well as sponsoring young people to take related training courses, to nurture them into the new generation AI developers.
Although Africa may not be the first market to be associated with AI or machine learning, the technology has started making concrete contributions. Francis Chanda Mumbi, Head of Innovation at Zambia’s Stanbic Bank, told attendees at last year’s AfricaCom event that the bank has used AI to automate certain operation processes and that natural language processing (NLP) has helped improve the efficiency of customer services.
Beyoncé praises Michelle Obama as a ‘beacon of hope’
The singer wrote a short article about the former first lady who was named one of TIME Magazine’s most influential people in the world.
BEYONCÈ has praised Michelle Obama has an outstanding role model for her three children, after the former first Lady was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world on Wednesday (Apr 17).
The singer wrote a short article about Mrs Obama explaining why she is so special, and expressed her gratitude for her position as an inspirational black woman in the public eye who serves as a great example to her seven-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, and 22-month-old twins Sir and Rumi.
“I am so grateful that my daughters and my son live in a world where Michelle Obama shines as a beacon of hope who inspires all of us to do better and to be better,” she wrote.
“When I first met her, I was embraced by a warm, regal, confident woman who possessed a reassuring calm, on the eve of President Obama’s historic first Inauguration,” she recalled.
Beyoncé performed at Barack Obama’s inauguration ball in 2009 and at the ceremony of his second term in 2013.
“The way she looked, walked and spoke, in that warm but authoritative tone, we saw our mothers and sisters,” she continued. “She was strong and ambitious and spoke her mind without sacrificing honesty or empathy. That takes a lot of courage and discipline.”
In the article, The Flawless hitmaker also described the importance of seeing a strong black woman in The White House. “The way she looked, walked and spoke, in that warm but authoritative tone, we saw our mothers and sisters. She was strong and ambitious and spoke her mind without sacrificing honesty or empathy. That takes a lot of courage and discipline.”
Gushing that she was “honoured” to know the 55-year-old, Beyoncé went on to hail her charitable work with young people and the success of her memoir Becoming and called her a “portrait of grace” when criticised.
Since the release of her debut memoir Becoming, Mrs Obama has been force to be reckoned with. The Harvard graduate recently spoke to a 20,000 sold out crowd at the 02 Arena as a part of her Becoming book tour which has her travel across Europe this month.
South Sudan, Sudan to Keep Oil Flowing, Industry is the “Glue that Binds” Two Nations
South Sudan Minister of Petroleum calls for continuation of oil industry collaboration between Sudan and South Sudan; work to resume production at Al-Nar, Al-Toor, Manga and Tharjath should continue to meet April 27 first oil deadline, says Minister; protection for oil workers on both sides of the border and flow of oil from South Sudan “shall remain uninterrupted”.South Sudan’s Minister of Petroleum Hon. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth has called for continued collaboration in the oil industry between Sudan and South Sudan as Khartoum undergoes political turmoil. “The lifeline and the backbone of the economies of South Sudan and Sudan must continue to stand strong, in spite of significant political changes in the Republic of Sudan,” said the Minister.
South Sudan exports all produced crude oil via pipeline from Hegleig and Paloch to Khartoum and then to Port Sudan for export. Since a landmark peace agreement in 2018, Sudan and South Sudan have collaborated to bring supplies and workers across the border to rehabilitate South Sudanese oilfields. The fields, damaged during and after the 2013 conflict, are now resuming production.
“The economies and the people of Sudan and South Sudan share a common destiny. The flow of oil is vital for the people of both nations and shall remain uninterrupted,” said the Minister. “We call for a measured, methodical approach to make sure the industry continues to develop, that our people can rely on employment from the petroleum industry, and that our nations can continue to depend on this resource. This is the super glue that binds our common destinies and ensures peaceful progress together.”
The ongoing work at the Al-Nar, Al-Toor, Manga and Tharjiath oilfields should continue at the current speed in order to meet an April 27 deadline to pump first oil from rehabilitated wells. Oil workers are currently deployed inspecting oil flow along the pipeline route, and will be protected along the length of the route, from oilfields to export terminal, and during transit, he added.
South Sudan’s Blocks 3 and 7 are producing 134,000 barrels per day and Blocks 1,2, and 4 are producing 34,000 barrels per day of crude oil. The Republic of South Sudan today produces 168,000 barrels of oil per day.
US Homeland Security chief Nielsen resigns
US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who oversaw President Donald Trump’s bitterly contested immigration policies during her tumultuous 16-month tenure, has resigned amid a surge in the number of migrants at the border with Mexico.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2019
Trump announced Nielsen’s departure on Sunday, underscoring the president’s intent to toughen immigration policy amid a surge in illegal crossings along the southern border.
A senior administration official said Trump asked for Nielsen’s resignation and she gave it.
Trump, who has recently expressed growing anger about the situation at the border, said on Twitter: “Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service.”
In another tweet, Trump said Kevin McAleenan, the current US Customs and Border Protection commissioner, would become acting DHS secretary.
….I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary for @DHSgov. I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2019
In a tweet, Nielsen said that she would stay on until Wednesday.
“I have agreed to stay on as Secretary through Wednesday, April 10th to assist with an orderly transition and ensure that key DHS missions are not impacted,” she said.
The move came just two days after Nielsen and Trump visited the Mexican border in California together, with the president delivering a stern message to would-be illegal immigrants and asylum seekers: “Our country is full.”
Nielsen, 46, had been DHS secretary since December 2017. Her departure had been repeatedly rumored over the past year, particularly after a wave of anger over the administration’s 2018 family separation policy at the border with Mexico.
A senior Trump administration official said the president’s national security adviser, John Bolton, after a blowup with Nielsen late last year, also recommended to Trump that she should go.
More apprehensions (captures)
at the Southern Border than in many years. Border Patrol amazing! Country is FULL! System has been broken for many years. Democrats in Congress must agree to fix loopholes – No Open Borders (Crimes & Drugs). Will Close Southern Border If necessary…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2019
Trump has made a clampdown on illegal immigration a centrepiece of his two-year-old presidency, leading chants of “Build that wall” at his rallies as he has sought to cut back on the number of newcomers entering the United States without proper documentation.
Border Patrol estimates put the number of migrants passing through Mexico at over 100,000 in March, most from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala: the highest monthly figure in nearly a decade, according to Nielsen.
Trump cut aid to those three countries last month in response to the surge.
….Mexico must apprehend all illegals and not let them make the long march up to the United States, or we will have no other choice than to Close the Border and/or institute Tariffs. Our Country is FULL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2019
“When even the most radical voices in the administration aren’t radical enough for President Trump, you know he’s completely lost touch with the American people,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added it was “deeply alarming that the Trump Administration official who put children in cages is reportedly resigning because she is not extreme enough for the White House’s liking”.
Ivanka Trump is travelling to Cote d’Ivoire this month to promote her global women’s economic empowerment initiative
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, April 5, 2019/ — Ivanka Trump is travelling to Ethiopia and Cote d’Ivoire his month to promote her global women’s economic empowerment initiative. The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, which was announced by the the Trump administration in early February, aims to help 50 million women in the developing world get ahead economically by 2025. The administration has dedicated £38 million to the initiative, though that figure could go up to £225 million allocated for 10 US government agencies in the next years.
“I am excited to travel to Africa and advance the United States’ Women’s Global Development and Prosperity initiative. The White House, and the whole of US government, stands firmly behind the goal of economically empowering 50 million women through W-GDP by 2025 and in so doing, championing American values of freedom and equality around the world,” Ivanka Trump said in a statement provided to Refinery29. She added: “This mission is crucial to the peace and stability of nations and is achievable if we focus our collaborative efforts on job training, entrepreneurship, and breaking down the legal and cultural barriers that restrict women from achieving their full economic potential.”
Women’s economic empowerment has been centrepiece of Ivanka’s White House portfolio since she officially joined her father’s administration two years ago, but advocates have wondered if these initiatives are enough. Her trip follows the Trump administration’s decision to expand its anti-choice Mexico City Policy to include foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that support abortion providers. The Reagan-era policy, best known as the global gag rule, already blocks international organisations that offer or even discuss abortion care from receiving federal funding. “American taxpayer dollars will not be used to underwrite abortions,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after announcing the changes last week. (The 1977 Hyde Amendment already blocks the use of federal funds to pay for abortions at home and abroad.)
Advocates say the global gag rule is at odds with the women’s economic empowerment programs championed by Ivanka. The rule, they argue, forces health providers to choose between not offering abortions as part of their reproductive health care offerings or be denied funding that goes to other crucial services such as birth control, STIs testing, and prenatal care.
“Access to reproductive health services is critical for women’s labor force participation and it’s critical for the type of labor participation, their ability to get good jobs and leave the informal economy,” Sarah Gammage, senior director for Gender, Economic Empowerment, and Livelihoods at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), told Refinery29. “The failure to support comprehensive reproductive health care programming, and [any policy] that reduces the number of providers engaged in that, will have a direct effect on women’s economic empowerment and women’s ability to work.”
There is an obvious disconnect between the Trump administration’s anti-abortion crusade globally and Ivanka’s desire to break down the “barriers that restrict women from achieving their full economic potential.” According to the ICRW, research estimates that “each additional child reduced women’s labor force participation by 5 to 10 percentage points during their prime working years (age 20-44).” If providers lose funding over the decision to provide and offer referrals for abortion care, that would impact their capacity to offer birth control. But if they decide to stop offering abortions, that would impact women who want to terminate their pregnancies in a safe, legal environment. Both options hurt women who want to be able to decide when and if to have children. “Without comprehensive reproductive health services — including contraception and safe, legal abortion — women’s economic choices remain constrained,” Gammage said. “If you can’t control your fertility, you can’t control your ability to earn and learn, and your ability to care for your family is greatly limited.”
According to the White House, Ivanka’s schedule includes meetings with political leaders, female entrepreneurs, and other power players and site visits in both countries plus she’ll be attending a summit dedicated to the topic of women’s economic empowerment in Cote d’Ivoire t, hosted by the World Bank Group. She will be travelling with Mark Green, administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), an agency playing an integral part in the initiative; David Bohigian, acting president of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; and Kristalina Georgieva, interim president of the World Bank Group.
Malta-Ghana Visa Waiver Agreement covers Diplomatic, Official, and Services Passports
On 26 March 2019, Malta and Ghana signed an Agreement on the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic and Official/Service Passports
VALLETTA, Malta, March 29, 2019/ — With reference to press reports claiming that Malta has announced a visa waiver policy for Ghanaian passport holders, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion would like to clarify the following:
On 26 March 2019, Malta and Ghana signed an Agreement on the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic and Official/Service Passports. The agreement, waivering the requirement for a visa only for holders of such passports, will enter into force following the notification by both parties (Malta and Ghana) of the completion of the necessary national legal procedures. This process is yet to be concluded.
It is therefore clear that Schengen regulations and the requirement of a visa for Ghanaian nationals, holders of normal passports, to travel to and enter into Malta, is still in force.
Bags of earth given to families of airline tragedy victims
The grieving relatives have been given ground from the crash site as the bodies have not yet been formally identified.
THE FAMILIES of victims of the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash have been given bags of earth to bury as the remains of their loved ones have not been recovered.
All 157 people on board the flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya, died when it plummeted to the ground just six minutes after takeoff on Sunday, March 10.
Officials have not formally identified any of the bodies yet and say that it could take months before they do so.
In the absence of remains, charred earth from the crash site has been given to grieving relatives. Some families have buried coffins without bodies.
Temporary death certificates have been issued to bereaved relatives and authorities have started the collection of DNA samples for the identification process.
Dagmawit Moges, Ethiopia’s transport minister, said: “The investigation of such magnitude requires a careful analysis and considerable time to come up with something concrete.”
She added: “We are waiting for the results. We are making all the necessary efforts to identify the cause of the accident.”
Airlines and aviation agencies around the world have grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft while investigations into the cause of the crash, the second involving the model in less than five months, continues.
Moges has said that data from the flight suggests “clear similarities” between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and a Lion Air crash in Indonesia last October. The 737 Max was aircraft was used in both incidents.
Boeing, which has said it maintains its confidence in the safety of 737 Max model but supports action to temporarily ground the aircraft, is continuing to provide technical assistance at the request of and under the direction of the those investigating what caused the crash.
Ghanaian female scientist receives international award for research
Dr Priscilla Mante from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana was one of 15 International Rising Talents and the only African award recipient.
Since 1998, the L’Oréal Foundation (www.FondationLOreal.com/en), in partnership with UNESCO, has worked to improve the representation of women in scientific careers, remaining strong in our conviction that the world needs science, and science needs women. In its first 21 years, the For Women in Science programme supported and raised the profile of 107 laureates and more than 3,000 talented young scientists, both doctoral and post-doctoral candidates, providing research fellowships, allocated annually in 117 countries.
Five outstanding Laureates, one from each continent, were honoured for their significant contribution to science. These exceptional women were recognised for the excellence of their research in the fields of material science, mathematics and computer science and they will each receive €100,000. Their achievements were celebrated alongside 15 International Rising Talents who are promising young women scientists from across the world at an awards ceremony on 14th March 2019 at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris.
Dr Priscilla Mante from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana was one of 15 International Rising Talents and the only African award recipient. She is also the first recipient of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Rising Talent Award from her institution.
Background of research
Expanding access to affordable, high quality medical care in Africa is a major focus for sustainable development. Specialising in neuropharmacology and neuroscience, Dr. Priscilla Kolibea Mante is researching alternative, plant-based therapeutic options to manage drug-resistant epilepsy and the neglected tropical disease, neurocysticercosis.
She is currently exploring the anticonvulsant activity of the plant alkaloid cryptolepine and its solid-lipid nanoparticles in the management of neurocysticercosis-induced epilepsy. By identifying a way to help cryptolepine permeate more efficiently into the central nervous system, the risk of convulsion should be reduced, helping the patient to manage their condition as effectively as possible. “It’s very rewarding to know that my research could significantly alter complicated structures like the brain and positively affect people’s lives”, she says.
Dr. Priscilla Kolibea Mante believes the biggest challenge for women in science is managing negative perceptions of ambition in women and overcoming gender stereotypes. Having faith in the future, she is convinced that her generation has been fortunate to receive strong support, and believe women can tap into that and spearhead their careers to higher levels. “The world will make room for us”, she says. “The more women push for senior roles, the harder it will be to ignore them.” The expert guidance of both men and women throughout her career has been so important that Dr. Priscilla Kolibea Mante now considers herself a “champion” of mentorship, regularly supporting younger scientists in pursuing their dreams. She concludes: “Sometimes it’s important to hold your mentee’s hand and guide them towards opportunities they never knew existed.”
In 2018, Dr Mante received one of two L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Sub-Saharan Africa post-doctoral fellowships. The programme recognised 14 fellows – 12 doctoral and 2 post-doctoral – from five countries in sub-Saharan Africa (Ghana, Mauritius, Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria). They were selected for the scientific excellence of their work from more than 480 applicants, by a jury of independent experts.
US grounds all Boeing 737 Max planes
The decision comes after several countries prohibited flights using the aircraft from taking to the skies.
ALL BOEING 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft have been grounded following the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the FAA said: “The FAA is ordering the temporary grounding of Boeing 737 Max aircraft operated by US airlines or in US territory. The agency made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site.”
“Boeing continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max. However, after consultation with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and aviation authorities and its customers around the world, Boeing has determined – out of an abundance of temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 Max aircraft,” Boeing said in a statement.
The news comes after Boeing said that it did not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators and the FAA did not mandate the grounding of flights operating using the model earlier this week.
On Sunday, March 10, an Ethiopian Airlines flight heading for Nairobi, Kenya, crashed just six minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
All 157 people – 149 passengers and eight crew members – on board the Boeing 737 Max flight died.
Several countries, including the UK, grounded flights operated using the aircraft in the wake of the crash. But Boeing and the US, which maintain the model is safe to fly, had not chosen to immediately follow suit.
The investigation into the crash, which is the second major incident involving a 737 Max model in less than five months, is ongoing.
In October, the same model was involved in a fatal crash after taking off from Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta, Indonesia.
All one-hundred and eighty-four passengers and five crew members died.
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Five years after Boko Haram kidnap, 112 Nigerian girls still missing
Announcements, Arts & Books
Driving Job Creation for Africa’s Youth: Mentor to Watch.
Ada Osakwe, CEO of Agrolay Ventures
Ada is an award-winning food entrepreneur and investor. She was also a lead in the launch of the Youth Employment in Agriculture Program (YEAP) that supported the rise of a new cadre of food-entrepreneurs in Nigeria through training, mentorship and financing. Ada is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and a Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow.
In 2016, she was Entrepreneur of the Year and featured on Choiseul 100 Africa list consecutively from 2016 to 2018. She received the ‘Achiever in Agriculture’ Award and was on the 2014 Forbes 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa list. She is also a mentor on the Future Global Leaders Fellowship.
Uzodinma Iweala : CEO of The Africa Center in New York.
Uzodinma is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, and medical doctor. He is the CEO of The Africa Center in New York, promoting a new narrative about Africa and its diaspora through a focus on culture, policy and business. He is the author of three books: Beasts of No Nation (2005), a novel also adapted into a major motion picture; Our Kind of People (2012), a non-fiction account of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria; and Speak No Evil (2018), a novel about coming-of-age in Washington, D.C. His books have been mentioned by Time Magazine, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Times and Rolling Stone. ‘Uzodinma Iweala completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard University and he earned a medical degree at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.’
ENTER NIGERIA Winning Sunday with The Young Netpreneur for the Week :Ken Nwadiogbu @kennwadio
Ken Nwadiogbu (b. 1994) is a Nigerian born Multidisciplinary Artist, popularly known as KenArt, whose practice is primarily centered around hyper-realistic drawings and works on paper.
Nwadiogbu believes that the society speaks- This voice inspires his art, which evaluates, interrogates and challenges socio-political structures and issues within the society. In his reply to this society, he is able to inspire one or two people to also re-valuate their socio-political structures as we know it. The desire to change his society and the way people think is what drives him to create art every day. Gender equality, African cultures, and Black power are a few aspects of his current research and artistic practice.
Nwadiogbu was born in Lagos, Nigeria and holds a B.Sc in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. His art career started in the university, and with no formal training, has pushed him to become one of the most interesting young contemporary artists from Nigeria, creating works that question life- calling out some of the problems and becoming very grounded in human consciousness..
Nwadiogbu has been featured in lots of local and international group exhibitions and fairs, including the Insanity exhibition, sponsored by Frot Foundation, in Omenka Gallery, Nigeria; the TMC’s It’s Not Furniture, curated by Winifred Okpapi; the Artyrama’s group exhibition curated by Mr Jess Castellote; Art X Lagos, sponsored by Artyrama Gallery, in Lagos, Nigeria; the Moniker Art Fair, sponsored by Creative Debuts, in Brooklyn, NYC; the Anti-Trump show organised in UK; the Afriuture Exhibition by Ramati Art Africa in association with Commonwealth Africa Summit, in Toronto, Canada; amongst many others. He has been televised and publicized on different platforms like Guardian Life, Tush Magazine, WIRED Magazine, Candid Magazine, Bored Panda, BBC, CNN, and more as well as inspiring and encouraging young creatives through public speaking appearances like TEDx. He co-founded Artists Connect NG, the largest Nigerian artist gathering that took place at Lekki Leisure Lake, in Lagos, Nigeria.
To Nwadiogbu, Art is indeed timeless, it is his solace and hiding place, a safe haven he has found to be devoid of restrictions, boxes and boundaries.