NEWS, SPORT, LIFESTYLE, E-COMMERCE & MORE…

Iceland election: Women lawmakers outnumber men for first time

Iceland Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir

For the first time in Icelandic and European politics, there are now more women lawmakers than men in parliament, according to final election results released on Sunday, September 26, 2021.

Some 33 women were voted into the 63-seat parliament, Icelandic public broadcaster RUV confirmed.

The only other European country to come close is Sweden with 47% women lawmakers, according to data from the World Bank.

Iceland now joins the list of countries where women outnumber men in parliament.

ANALYSING THE RESULT FROM SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2021 ELECTION

Iceland’s ruling coalition retained its majority in Saturday’s elections even as Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir’s party suffered losses.

It remains to be seen whether the three-party coalition that governed the island nation for the past four years will stick together. They said before the election that they would enter negotiations if they held on to their majority.

With all votes counted, Jakobsdottir’s Left-Green Movement, the agrarian center-right Progressive Party, and the conservative Independence Party held 37 of the 63 seats in parliament.

Iceland’s current government, which consists of Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir’s Left-Green Movement, the conservative Independence Party and the centrist-agrarian Progressive Party, said before the election that they would negotiate continued cooperation if they held their majority.

President Gudni Johannesson who won re-election last year said he would not hand a mandate to form a new government to any party but would await coalition talks among the three parties.

Iceland President Gudni Johannesson

“Now the ball is in the hands of the sitting government,” he said.

The conservative Independence Party again became the biggest in parliament with nearly a quarter of the votes and 16 seats, unchanged from the last election.

Party leader and former Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson said he was optimistic that the three parties could form a coalition and he would not demand to lead a new government, RUV reported.

FOUR YEARS OF STABILITY

Prime Minister Jakobsdottir led the first government that completed a full term after a decade of crises.

The island nation held elections five times between 2007 and 2017 due to a series of scandals and deepening mistrust of politicians.

Former Unified World Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua would fight Fury without titles after Usyk defeat

Anthony Joshua says he would still fight Tyson Fury without being a world champion after he was DEFEATED by Oleksandr Usyk and lost his World Heavyweight titles.

Contrary to reports of being dethroned, it should be appropriately re-stated that Joshua was defeated in a fight that lasted 12 rounds with Usyk.

Usyk outclassed Joshua at a packed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday, September 25, 2021 to take the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles.

Joshua had no answer to the unbeaten Ukrainian, who secured a masterful unanimous decision victory and looked like stopping the Briton in the final round.

A rematch with the 19-0 Usyk could be on the cards for Joshua rather than a unification bout with Fury after he suffered the second defeat of his professional career on home soil.

The 31-year-old declared that he would be eager to fight his compatriot Fury, who faces a third clash with Deontay Wilder on October 9, regardless of whether he has any belts to put on the line.

“The road to undisputed and all that stuff, it’s good,” said Joshua, who suffered a badly swollen right eye in his loss in London.

“As I said, I’ll fight Tyson Fury, Wilder, without the belts. The belts are fun. It’s great, it’s legacy. But with or without the belts, I’ll fight whoever.

“The road to undisputed is a nice title to have and a nice title to chase.

“But would you still watch it, without the belts? That’s the main thing – you’ve got two competitive fighters in the ring from UK soil, that just want to go toe-to-toe.

Queen Elizabeth set for her busiest autumn period in nearly a decade

During the pandemic the Queen has made use of technology with a number of WebEx video calls which she has used to speak to people across the Commonwealth. But after countless days staring at screens, the Queen has reportedly experienced a degree of screen-fatigue.

After the Queen spent her summer with her family at Balmoral in Scotland, the royal aides have created a programme in the autumn to liven up her schedule.

Her majesty is set to return next week with seven public engagements planned for the month of October.

The Sunday Telegraph reported the Queen is looking forward to getting out and about to meet people again, after having enjoyed her public work before Balmoral in the early summer.

A royal source told the Telegraph: “The Queen had an incredibly busy May, June and July, with a real determination to get back, and this is continuing after the summer.”

“There’s a real appetite for it to be business as usual as much as possible.”

The Queen will have her busiest autumn period since 2013 with seven public engagements already planned next month.

By comparison, the Queen only had two engagements in October 2018 and the wedding ceremony of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank.

Once the Queen returns from Balmoral, she will attend the opening ceremony of the Sixth Session of the Scottish Parliament with the Prince of Wales.

On October 12, she will attend a Westminster Abbey service of thanksgiving to mark the centenary of the Royal British Legion.

For this event she will be joined by her daughter Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.

Princess Anne, The Princess Royal

Her Majesty will also attend a reception for the COP-26 summit in Scotland.

Next year the Queen will celebrate seventy years on the throne and the country will mark the achievement with an additional bank holiday from Thursday June 2 to Sunday June 5 2022.

The Queen ascended the throne at the age of 25 in 1952.

Germany’s Historic Election Today September 26, 2021: Meet the Candidates

Germany’s federal elections today will usher in a new political era for both the country and the European Union.

Angela Merkel, the bloc’s longest serving leader, is leaving the German chancellery after 16 years in power.

CONTESTING FOR THE CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY TODAY ARE:

ALICE WEIDEL

Alice Weidel is a German Politician. Born on February 6, 1979 at Gutesloh, Germany, she is a leader of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AFD) since October 2017.

Alice is contesting for Chancellor of Germany as a leader and member of AFD.

OLAF SCHOLZ

Olaf Scholz is a German Politician. Born on June 14, 1958 at Osnabruck Germany. Scholz is Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Finance under Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He is contesting for the Chancellor of Germany as a member of the Socialist Party (SPD).

CHRISTIAN LINDNER

Christian Lindner is a German politician. Born on January 7, 1979 at Wuppertal, Germany.

Lindner is contesting for Chancellor of Germany as a member and leader of the liberal Free Democratic Party.

ANNALENA BAERBOCK

Annalena Baerbock is a German Politician. Born on December 15, 1980 at Hanover, Germany. Annalena has been a leader of the Green Party since 2018.

Annalena is contesting for the Chancellor of Germany as a leader and member of the Green Party.

ARMIN LASCHET

Armin Laschet is a German politician. Born on February 18, 1961 at Aachen, Germany. Laschet is serving as Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia since June 2017.

He is contesting for the Chancellor of Germany as Leader and member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

China welcomes Huawei executive home, as Canadian PM Trudeau hugs Canadians freed by Beijing on Saturday, September 25,2021

 Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou arrives in Shenzhen

Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou arrived in China on Saturday, September 25, 2021 ending her near three-year U.S. extradition fight, the same day two Canadians detained by Beijing for more than 1,000 days returned home, potentially paving the way for improved ties between China and the two western allies.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei Technologies founder Ren Zhengfei, was allowed to go home after reaching an agreement with U.S. prosecutors on Friday to end a bank fraud case against her.

The extradition drama has been a central source of discord between Beijing and Washington, with Chinese officials signalling that the case had to be dropped to help end a diplomatic stalemate.

In the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, Meng wore a patriotic red-coloured dress as she exited a plane to be greeted by well-wishers.

“I’m finally back home,” Meng was quoted as saying by the Global Times tabloid backed by the ruling Communist Party. “The waiting in a foreign country was full of suffering. I was speechless the moment my feet touched Chinese soil.”

Huawei said in a statement that it “looked forward to seeing Ms. Meng returning home safely to be reunited with her family.” It said it would continue to defend itself against U.S. charges.

The Canadians freed by China

Canadian Businessman Michael Spavor and former Canadian Diplomat Michael Kovrig

Two Canadians detained by Chinese authorities just days after Meng’s arrest – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – were embraced on the tarmac by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after they landed in Calgary.

“You’ve shown incredible strength, resilience, and perseverance,” Trudeau said in a Twitter post with photos of him welcoming them home. “Know that Canadians across the country will continue to be here for you, just as they have been.”

Joshua wants immediate Usyk rematch after ‘great lesson’ in shock loss

Anthony Joshua wants an immediate rematch with Oleksandr Usyk after he was defeated in their heavyweight bout, while the British star was upbeat despite the surprise defeat.

Joshua was stripped of his IBF, WBA and WBO titles by Usyk, who scored a unanimous points decision in just his third fight since stepping up to heavyweight in London on Saturday.

Usyk – a former undisputed cruiserweight champion – handed Joshua his second career loss, having previously been stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 before reclaiming the belts in their rematch.

Joshua is hoping to do so again with Usyk after falling to 24-2 in front of more than 66,000 fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“A 100 per cent, a 110 per cent,” Joshua said during his post-fight news conference.

“I’m ready to get back to training. Because I did 12 rounds, my lungs, and everything… I’ll be in a good place when I get back to training and pick up where we left off.”

Joshua had hoped to be taking on WBC holder Tyson Fury in a lucrative showdown to decide an undisputed champion in the heavyweight division, but that plan was scuppered when his rival was ordered to face Deontay Wilder for a third time instead. 

Usyk was the back-up option picked to bridge the gap, the mandatory challenger coming with a superb pedigree but limited experience at heavyweight. 

Unbeaten as he improved to 19-0, Usyk’s southpaw stance and smooth footwork troubled Joshua from the outset and a flurry of punches left his star opponent on the ropes and desperate for the bell in the final round.

“It’s a great lesson today. It was a great lesson,” Joshua told reporters.

“I know, we can look at it from a negative point of view, but for me, I gotta take it as a great lesson and build on that situation… I’m not a weak person. I don’t want to be in my bedroom sulking about the situation.

“I’m looking at it like a great lesson, go back, study and rejuvenate myself because nobody’s gonna do it for me.”

World Environmental Health Day 2021: History, significance of day dedicated to our surroundings

Since 2011, September 26 is observed annually as World Environmental Health Day across the globe. It was established that year by the International Federation of Environmental Health (IFEH), a body of 44 member states, with a goal to raise awareness regarding the health of our environment.

Every year, the occasion is marked under a special theme, with that for the current edition being “Prioritising environmental health for healthier communities in the global recovery.” The “global recovery” here refers to that from the ongoing pandemic of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The theme is based on the “Manifesto for a healthy recovery from Covid-19” which was released by the World Health Organization on May 26, 2020, and which, according to IFEH, is based on six key ideas.

Speaking ahead of World Environmental Health Day, 2021, Susana Paixao, who heads the IFEH, said, “It is necessary for the world to understand that there is an integral connection between the environment, health and economy. Hence, it becomes important to invest in healthy and green recovery, close to all communities, with support from the environmental health workforce, and in collaboration with our organisation. This is how we selected the theme for this year.”

Meanwhile, the tagline for September 26 last year was “Environmental health, a key public health intervention in disease pandemic prevention.”

As always, various events will take place across the world in connection with the occasion, with the environmental body urging national governments to hold programmes to mark the day. The central theme behind the celebrations is to determine and minimise factors that contribute to the deterioration of environmental health.

Headquartered in London, the IFEH was established in 1986. Its work is focused on scientific and technical research on environmental health, and exchange of ideas on the same.

Anthony Joshua loses world heavyweight titles to Oleksandr Usyk in shock points result

Oleksandr Usyk, New Unified Heavyweight Champion
OLEKSANDR USYK WINS BY UNANIMOUS DECISION!

Reaction from AJ’s  promoter Eddie Hearn

It was a tough, gruelling fight. He’s devastated and it’s a devastating defeat.

Congratulations to Oleksandr Usyk, he put on a great performance and on the night the better man won.

Usyk’s very fit, he’s got great feet and threw a lot of punches. He exercised his style very well and was more aggressive than anticipated.

No complaints from AJ, it’s a tough defeat. He was beaten by a better man on the night.

Reaction from the new unified heavyweight champion

Oleksandr Usyk speaking to Sky Sports via interpreter.

This means a lot. The fight went exactly the way I expected it to go.

There were a couple of moments when Anthony pushed me hard, but nothing special.

“I have been working so hard since January in preparation for this fight, it took me half a year and I didn’t see my family for so long.

I want to go home and be happy with my family and I’m not thinking about the rematch.

Will Joshua fancy a rematch?

He avenged his only previous defeat against Andy Ruiz Jr in their second fight and apparently has a rematch clause.

But Usyk proved himself to be on another level compared to Ruiz.

Anthony Joshua will defend his world heavyweight titles against unbeaten Oleksandr Usyk in a huge showdown TONIGHT.

Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk

It is nearly a year since Usyk beat Derek Chisora and nine months since Joshua beat Kubrat Pulev at the SSE Arena and there are more than just belts on the line.

With a potential British mega fight against Fury in the pipeline – after the Gipsy King faces Deontay Wilder – this will be an indicator of form and pedigree for an undisputed crown.

FIGHT TIME

  • Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk will take place TONIGHT, September 25,2021 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
  • The ring walk is scheduled for around 9.50pm.
  • The first bell is expected to ring at approximately 10.12pm UK time.

Eddie Hearn has stated his belief that the fight will start bang on ten this time around, in contrast to most AJ bouts which end up commencing at closer to 11pm.

He said: “AJ’s ring walk will probably be around 10pm, that’s reasonably early”.

“And I believe the broadcast will start around 7pm. So that will be five fights and then Anthony Joshua”

TV CHANNEL AND LIVE STREAM

  • Joshua vs Usyk will be shown in the UK on Sky Sports Box Office.
  • Eddie Hearn has confirmed he expects the PPV price to be £24.99 again.
  • Though the fight is the last one on AJ’s Sky contract with the organisation, after which he will become a broadcasting free agent.
  • The show will be on DAZN IN THE United States, with the fight due to get going around 5pm ET.

Address by His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 76TH SESSION OF UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Friday, 24TH SEPTEMBER, 2021

NEW YORK, USA

Mr. President,
Heads of State and Government,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Mr. President,

Let me, on behalf of the government and people of Nigeria, congratulate you on your well-deserved election as President of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I would like to assure you of the full support and cooperation of the Nigerian delegation throughout your tenure.

2. I would like to commend your predecessor, His Excellency, Mr. Volkan Boskir, for the many remarkable achievements recorded during his tenure, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Permit me to congratulate the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, on his re-election and commend his strong commitment to making the UN more alive to its responsibilities.

4. I also want to express my gratitude to him for re-appointing Ms. Amina Mohammed, as the Deputy Secretary General to assist him in discharging his heavy responsibilities.

Mr. President,
5. The theme of this year’s General Assembly – “Building resilience through hope – to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of the people, and revitalise the United Nations, sums up our common desire to rescue our planet, recover our economies, and restore hope to all the peoples of the world.

6. In this regard, my delegation will continue to support the United Nations, as the indispensable forum for international cooperation and the cornerstone of the multilateral system, rooted in respect for international law, including international human rights law and predicated on a rules-based order.

Mr. President,

7. I want to thank the international community for the concerted response to Covid-19. The solidarity and drive to contain the first truly global health emergency of our time is a pointer to the many things we can achieve if we work together.

8. On our part, Nigeria has made strenuous efforts to contain the virus and halt its deadly onslaught on our people. Our efforts have been rewarded with moderate success.

9. At the outset, we recognised detection and contact tracing to be important tools in combating the virus. In this connection, from a mere four laboratories with testing and detection capacities, we ramped up the facilities to over 140 centres today.

10. Similarly, we built isolation centres and emergency hospital wards in record time all over the country. We carry out genomic sequencing in designated laboratories across the country with a view to detecting variants in circulation.

11. In addition, over 40,000 health care workers have recently been trained on Infection, Prevention and Control measures with the support of various partners. Through the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, we have established 16 infectious disease treatment centres located within our Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres.

12. Nigeria remains grateful for the assistance received from our partners and friends all over the world. Vaccination is the key to our safe emergence from the pandemic. We fully support the COVAX initiative from which we have benefitted. We also thank the United States of America, Turkey, India, China, European Union, and others for the vaccines provided.

13. Despite the acknowledgement however, I would like to reiterate my call for a fairer and more equitable distribution of vaccines to all countries so that, together, we can fight and contain the pandemic. The rising wave of newer and more contagious strains, makes this even more urgent. No country can afford the socio-economic implications of prolonged shutdown. It is imperative to underscore that no one is safe until everyone is safe.

Mr President,

14. Nigeria remains deeply concerned over the illicit trade, transfer, and circulation of small arms and light weapons. Their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread in many regions of the world are having devastating humanitarian and socio-economic consequences, especially on the continent of Africa.

15. It is on this note that my delegation calls for the world wide application of the Arms Trade Treaty to codify accountability in conventional arms trade, which is critical to the security of nations. This is in recognition of the need for a broad-based global partnership in the on-going battle against trans-border crimes, including terrorism and piracy.

Mr. President,

16. We must deal not only with the symptoms of conflict but also the immediate causes that fuel conflicts in the first place. These include poor and undemocratic governance, human rights abuses, poverty, ignorance, injustice and inequalities.

17. There are no easy solutions to these conditions. They require long term investments and more effective international cooperation. In this connection, my delegation underscores the importance of promoting peaceful, unfettered, and inclusive participation of states in global actions towards conflict prevention. This will facilitate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union Agenda 2063.

18 In West Africa especially, our democratic gains of the past decades are now being eroded. The recent trend of unconstitutional takeover of power, sometimes in reaction to unilateral changes of constitutions by some leaders, must not be tolerated by the international community. Nigeria fully supports the efforts by ECOWAS to address this growing challenge and appreciates the support of both the African Union and the United Nations. In this regard, I would like to reiterate that as leaders of our individual Member-States we need to adhere to the constitutional provisions of our countries, particularly on term limits. This is one area that generates crisis and political tension in our sub-region.

Mr President,

19. Nigeria is fully committed to nuclear non-proliferation and has always supported the view that it should involve all States.

20. Disarmament Conventions deserve the support of all states, small, large, nuclear or non-nuclear. Nuclear weapons remain the ultimate agents of mass destruction, and their total elimination should be the final objective of all disarmament processes within the broad spectrum of goals being pursued by the United Nations.

21. In this regard, Nigeria would participate actively in the forthcoming Review Conference of the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty and also the First Meeting of States Parties to the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, scheduled to take place within the first quarter of 2022.

22. Nigeria regards these upcoming events as important steps towards the realisation of a world free of nuclear weapons. We are, therefore, supportive of any diplomatic efforts in this direction. We hope that the upcoming NPT review conference would lead to a successful outcome that would facilitate the denuclearisation of the world. We would do our part to ensure such an outcome.

Mr. President,

23. Terrorism continues to dominate security discourse worldwide. In Nigeria, Boko Haram terrorists group, though fragmented by internal strife and weakened by our defence forces, is still active and preying on soft targets. Nigeria will continue to work closely with UN Counter-Terrorism bodies and entities with a view to bringing this scourge to an end.

24. Nigeria has spared no effort in addressing the challenges of terrorism posed by the activities of Boko Haram in North-East Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, as well as banditry in the North-West and North-Central Nigeria. The Nigerian Security Forces have recorded considerable success in the fight against terrorism. As a result of the renewed vigour of our military, many terrorist fighters are voluntarily surrendering to our security forces.

25. I and three other Nigerian Heads of State served actively as peace keepers and Nigeria continues to support peacekeeping efforts. We know the sacrifice involved, we also know how important peace keeping is for those in vulnerable situations. Nigeria will continue to play its part fully in supporting United Nations peacekeeping operations within Africa and beyond.

Mr. President,

26. The impact of climate change is already with us in Nigeria, manifesting in various ways: conflicts; food insecurity, drying up of lakes; loss of livelihood, and youth migration, among others. The trend is the same in many other countries that are threatened by forest fires, rising sea levels, drought and desertification.

27. In the circumstances, we intend to build a climate-resilient economy that effectively aligns with the SDGs and that has great potentials to unlocking the full opportunities in different sectors of the economy, while protecting the resources for present and future generations. I know, in several ways, this is also a familiar story in many countries.

28. As leaders, we must create inclusive and gender-sensitive policies that address all issues connected to climate action, from mitigation to resilience.

29. Nigeria believes that protecting our planet and its biodiversity and climate are important to our collective survival. That is why we are working on a transition to low carbon economy, consistent with achieving the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. President,

30. Combating illicit financial flows and ensuring the recovery and return of illicitly acquired assets have the potential to provide resources in the immediate term for financing development in this era of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

31. Similarly, corruption across national borders has huge negative impact on the stability, peace, and economic prospects of millions, particularly in developing countries.

32. It deprives national Governments of resources needed to provide adequate and meaningful sources of livelihood for their citizens. The latter gives rise to more irregular migration patterns, with unwholesome consequences for inter-state and human relations.

33. I, therefore, call on all leaders to demonstrate the much-needed political will by supporting the recommendations for systemic reforms made by the FACTI Panel.

34. We support establishing modalities for a global coordination mechanism at the United Nations Economic and Social Council to systematically monitor illicit financial flows and strengthen financial integrity for sustainable development, with the participation of all relevant stakeholders.

Mr. President,

35. On the issue of debt, we have seen that developing countries have been faced with unsustainable debt burdens even before the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of new wave of deepening debt, where vital public financial resources are allocated to external debt servicing and repayments at the expense of domestic health and financing for critical developmental needs.

36. I must commend the current initiatives by the international financial institutions and the G20 aimed at significantly mitigating the economic situation of the indebted countries and urge for more efforts in this regard.

37. Therefore, there is an urgent need to consider expansion and extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to include all Developing, Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States facing fiscal and liquidity challenges. In addition, a review of the eligibility criteria for debt suspension, including outright cancellation, is needed for countries facing the most severe challenges.

Mr. President,

38. Nigeria reaffirms that international trade is an engine for development and sustained economic growth, as well as the global eradication of poverty.

39. My delegation would like to reaffirm the critical role that a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system can play in stimulating economic growth and development.

40. Fair and equitable trade would eventually eliminate the need for aid. My country and indeed all African countries do not intend to stay indefinitely looking for aid. All we need is a fair and equitable system of international trade.

41. We, therefore, call for a reform agenda that will engender better recovery from this crisis, build resilience to future shocks and pursue transformative development strategies that can deliver the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. President,

42. The global food system has, in recent times, been impacted by several factors such as population growth, availability and accessibility of arable land and water resources, climate change, and loss of biodiversity.

43. Increased competition for resources such as land, water, and energy, has affected food access and supply, particularly in developing countries. Climate change and unpredictable shocks, such as the current global pandemic, further exacerbate vulnerabilities in the global food system, requiring the UN’s urgent attention.

44. The Government of Nigeria remains determined to improve the productivity and incomes of small-scale farmers by promoting equal access to land, technology and markets, sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices.

45. At the heart of Nigeria’s post-COVID-19 response is the Economic Sustainability Plan, which has a major component, called the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Programme where we seek to leverage suitable technologies to build a resilient food system for the country.

46. An integral part of our food systems’ transformation strategy is to create an enabling and supportive environment to implement these policies in a participatory manner.

47. Global efforts to mitigate and sustain food systems must involve key stakeholders, including Governments, farmers, investors, multilateral organizations, regional bodies, international financial institutions, private partners and civil society organizations.

Mr. President,

48. Nigeria has been steadfast in safeguarding human rights, including the advancement of women, the protection of children, the protection of the rights of people living with disabilities, the treatment of migrants, refugees, returnees and displaced persons as well as, the promotion of fundamental freedoms through all legitimate means. In this regard, my delegation commends the positive example of leaders like Prime Minister Jacinda Arden of New Zealand.

49. Nigeria remains unwavering in its commitment to ensuring the advancement of human rights within its shores and beyond. This is so even in the context of a vicious decade-long onslaught by terrorists against Nigerians, quite contrary to unwholesome reports by some who hardly verify what they state against us.

50. The recent rise in hate related crimes globally underscores the urgent need to continue our engagement about racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other related intolerance. It is sad to note that the issue of racism remains alive globally.

51. We are beginning to forget our affirmation of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of every individual as enshrined in the UN Charter. No society can claim to be free or just if it deprives anyone of these rights.

52. Nigeria has long been a principled fighter against racism and all forms of discrimination inspired by its African experience. In the past, racism oiled the machine of slavery and colonialism. Today, racism drives hate crimes and institutional discrimination. In all this, Africans and people of African descent are among the major victims.

53. Cognizant of these, I commend Member States for adopting by consensus the resolution on the Establishment of the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent on 2ndAugust 2021. I am confident that this forum will make significant impact in the quest to end race-related vices and injustices.

Mr. President,

54. No reform of the United Nations system is more urgent than that of the Security Council. Stakeholders around the world are asking how such power could be concentrated, with scant representation. The intergovernmental negotiations have taken too long, some 15 years. We must avoid going in cycles. Consensus has been achieved in some of the elements of this reform, especially that of the representation of Africa on the basis of the Elzuwini consensus and the Sirte Declaration. It is unreasonable to expect unanimity in this matter. The issue, indeed, is about justice, not unanimity. Without justice, the legitimacy (even efficacy) of our Organization is called to question. We can and must make substantial, irreversible progress on Security Council reform in the current session.

Mr. President,

55. Connected to this, is the question of justice, fairness, and equity in respect of the Palestinian people. The situation in the Middle East is long-standing and gives cause for concern. Nigeria encourages Israel and Palestine to re-engage in dialogue based on relevant UN resolutions and Initiatives. The two-state solution has the support of the international community and is widely acknowledged as the path to lasting peace.

Mr President,

56. Our organization is at the peak of the multilateral system. It is also the pre-eminent body for solving our current and emerging challenges, and for developing norms that are protective of us all. We need to re-commit to it, rejuvenate it to better serve us. Nigeria re-affirms its faith in the United Nations and is further resolved to continue to work with all Member-States for peace and security, development and the protection of human rights. In the current moment, hope for these, is dependent on how we assist each other to get Covid-19 out of all countries, regardless of their classification. We can and must do so.

57. In this regard, let me close my statement by paying special tribute to a great and humane internationalist, and an exemplary practitioner of multilateral cooperation. I am speaking of Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Federal Republic of Germany. As she exits the stage, we wish her well.

58. I thank you.

The Quad Summit: U.S. President Biden meets Indo-Pacific Leaders

U.S. President Biden, Australian PM Scott Morrison, India PM Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga during the Quad Summit

 President Joe Biden and the leaders of Australia, India, and Japan made a show of unity against China on Friday, September 24, 2021 meeting together at the White House in a first-ever summit to discuss initiatives to counter Beijing’s influence across the Pacific.

The group is “coming together to take on key challenges of our age, from Covid to climate to emerging technologies,” Biden said Friday at the White House. 

None of the leaders mentioned China by name in remarks to reporters. But the point of the gathering was clear. 

“We stand here together, in the Indo-Pacific region, a region that we wish to be always free from coercion, where the sovereign rights of all nations are respected, and where disputes are settled peacefully and accordance with international law,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Yet success for what’s known as the “Quad” will mean navigating thorny issues that have dogged the informal alliance since its creation following the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed a quarter million people. They include the tumultuous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, complaints about coronavirus vaccine distribution in the developing world and disputes over climate change commitments and 5G technology.  

“Since our first meeting, we have made considerable progress in tackling some of the world’s most pressing challenges: The Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and critical and emerging technologies,” the leaders said in a joint statement released on Friday night.  

Biden, who held a virtual session with the Quad leaders in March, has placed a renewed emphasis on the group since taking office, arguing that collective action by the region’s democracies could prove more effective in countering China than the unilateral approach favored by former President Donald Trump, who traded antagonistic missives — and tariff hikes — with Beijing. 

“We’re four major democracies — have a long history of cooperation,” Biden said. “We know how to get things done. And we are up to the challenge.”

The joint statement cited progress against the coronavirus, including India’s announcement that it would soon resume exporting vaccines, and said the Quad countries had promised to donate 1.2 billion doses of vaccines globally.

The White House was also hoping to focus the talks Friday on climate change, amid growing concern that some of the world’s biggest polluters aren’t doing enough to improve their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before a November global summit in Scotland. Japan and India have been the top targets of U.S. diplomats seeking more aggressive commitments. 

The countries are expected to announce specific steps designed to reduce pollution stemming from shipping networks, including an emphasis on de-carbonizing ports. They’ll also look to coordinate efforts to crack down on illegal fishing in the region, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga thanked Biden for lifting import restrictions placed on food products made in the Fukushima Prefecture after the nuclear disaster there.

Other announcements appear more explicitly designed to shore up security vulnerabilities or explicitly counteract Chinese influence. Those include a supply chain initiative to map overall capacity for manufacturing of critical items like semiconductors, and a new effort to deploy 5G technology. The U.S. has warned other countries not to adopt next-generation cellular technology from China’s Huawei Technologies Co., warning it could pose a security risk, which Huawei denies.

The joint statement referred to the creation of a “Quad infrastructure partnership,” and that the four nations would “meet regularly to coordinate our efforts, map the region’s infrastructure needs, and coordinate on regional needs and opportunities.” The statement also included a pledge to cooperate on “cyber threats” and “secure our critical infrastructure.”

On issues in the region, the leaders reiterated a pledge to work toward “the complete denuclearization of North Korea” and called again for the release of political prisoners in Myanmar.  

In addition to the group meeting, Biden met separately with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier Friday in the Oval Office. The leaders are expected to discuss Afghanistan in addition to climate change and pandemic efforts.

Later, the president and first lady Jill Biden spent time with Yoshihide. While officials described that gathering as a chance for the Bidens to express their appreciation for the outgoing prime minister’s partnership — and hospitality during the first lady’s trip to Tokyo as part of the U.S. Olympic delegation — the Japanese leader has also informed the White House he is eager to discuss Chinese efforts to join a successor deal to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump withdrew from in 2017.

Beijing’s application to join the trade partnership, which was originally envisoned as a way to contain China, came earlier this week after the U.S., U.K. and Australia announced a new security pact and submarine contract. China responded angrily to that agreement, calling it a threat to regional security.

The so-called Aukus pact also created a rift with France, which saw a $66 billion deal to provide Australia conventional submarines voided in favor of a deal for American-made nuclear-powered ships. French officials assailed the secret negotiations that led to the deal. 

The French ambassador to the U.S. was recalled to Paris to underscore his government’s displeasure, though he is now expected to return next week after a telephone call between Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday to smooth the waters. When Biden met with Morrison earlier this week on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, neither leader mentioned the new pact during remarks to the media.

China frees two Canadians following release of Huawei executive

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

China has freed two Canadian citizens after the U.S. struck a deal for the release of a Huawei executive.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a news conference Friday night, September 24, 2021 that an aircraft carrying Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor left Chinese airspace headed for Canada.

The men boarded the plane around 7:30 p.m. Ottawa time with Dominic Carton, who is Canada’s ambassador to China.

The announcement came after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it had dropped its extradition case against Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

Wanzhou was arrested by Canadian authorities in 2018 at the request of the United States on charges of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Kovrig and Spavor, known as the “two Michaels,” were arrested shortly after Wanzhou’s arrest in what appeared to be retaliation. Spavor was sentenced to 11 years in a Chinese prison in August.

The Department of Justice said Friday that it reached a deferred prosecution agreement with Wanzhou, allowing her to return home to China.

Trudea didn’t elaborate on how the release of the two men would affect Canada’s relationship with China going forward, saying that the priority was ensuring that they returned home safely.

The prime minister said that the two men have gone through “an unbelievably difficult” ordeal for the past two and half years.

“These two men have gone through an unbelievably difficult ordeal,” Trudeau said. “For the past thousand days, they have shown strength, perseverance, resilience and grace. And we are all inspired by that.”

Iran Accuses Biden Administration of Contradictions as U.S. Asks to Resume Talks While Issuing Sanctions

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollah with UN General Assembly President Abdullah Shahid

Iran’s new foreign minister accused the Biden administration of being contradictory during negotiations, as the U.S. asks to resume nuclear talks while issuing sanctions.

The Biden administration asked Iran Thursday to resume talks on its nuclear program, which was suspended ahead of Iranian elections in June.

During a press briefing, foreign minister Hossain Amir Abdollah was skeptical of Biden’s intentions, emphasizing that actions and “behavior of the U.S. towards Iran is more important than ’empty but beautiful words’.”

He said the Iran government believes Biden “keeps carrying close to his heart the thick file of the Trump sanctions against Iran, even while seemingly pursuing negotiations.”

Former President Donald Trump routinely denounced the nuclear accord as the “worst deal ever negotiated” and withdrew from the agreement in 2018 after an ill-fated attempt to bring the other parties — Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran — on board with additional restrictions. After withdrawing, Trump embarked on what he called a “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran, re-imposing all the U.S. sanctions that had been eased under the deal and adding penalties.

Iran’s top diplomat sharply criticized additional sanctions imposed by the Biden administration, as well as its refusal to give a green light for Iran to access millions of dollars of its money frozen in South Korea and Japanese banks to buy COVID-19 vaccines and medicine, and suddenly asking Britain to stop payment of 42-year-old debts.

Recalling that Iranians have a long, rich history and ancient civilization behind them, Amir Abdollah said “the United States of America must speak with a civilized tone and tongue with the people of Iran, not the language of threats, of pressure and sanctions.” The past 42 years, since the Iranian revolution, have “made clear the language of threats will not work against the great people of Iran.”

Biden and his team have made a U.S. return to the deal one of their top foreign policy priorities. The deal was one of President Barack Obama’s signature achievements, one that aides now serving in the Biden administration had helped negotiate and that Trump tried to dismantle.

A senior administration official, who briefed reporters on condition that he not be identified by name, said U.S. patience is wearing thin and that further delays while Iran continues to expand its nuclear capabilities, including enriching uranium to higher levels, could lead Washington and its partners to conclude a return to the landmark nuclear deal is no longer worthwhile.

Amir Abdollah said the new government is reviewing the files of the nuclear negotiations in Vienna and will return to the talks because constructive negotiations can lead to “tangible, verifiable results.”

The foreign minister said Iran’s expectations are that all parties return to the Vienna negotiations and then fulfill their commitments under the 2015 agreement in a verifiable way.

Amir Abdollah stressed that the United States “should take action — constructive action, measurable action.”

“Have no doubt,” he said, “that if they wish to continue their previous language towards Iran and previous comportment towards Iran, the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran will not remain tied.”

FOOD-RELATED FACTS

It’s often said that fact is stranger than fiction and that certainly applies to some of the weird and wonderful things you’ll find out about food and eating when you dig a little deeper. Indeed, some diet-related facts seem so strange you’ll wonder if they’re true. Here are 10 fact-checked food nuggets that will entertain and surprise you, compiled by loveFOOD’s nutritionist Angela Dowden.

Almonds have twice as much calcium as milk

Gram for gram this is absolutely true – McCance and Widdowson’s Composition of Foods (the official guide to the nutrients in food used in the UK), shows that 100g of almonds have 240mg of bone-building calcium, while semi-skimmed (2%) milk has 120mg per 100g (3.5oz). That said, we tend to drink milk in bigger quantities than we eat almonds (and the calcium from milk is easily absorbed), so the dairy option is a better source day-to-day.

Eating late doesn’t make you pile on weight

Ever been to Spain and spotted families sitting down to eat at 10pm? Traditional mealtimes vary the world over and late-night eating doesn’t strongly correlate with levels of obesity. The bottom line? Your body will only store food as fat if you eat more calories overall than you use up in physical activity over 24 hours. 

Japanese chefs created a $920 (£732) burger

Chefs at The Oak Door Steakhouse in Tokyo’s Grand Hyatt hotel created the 100,000 yen (around $900) burger in honor of Crown Prince Naruhito’s 2019 coronation. A massive 3kg (106oz) Wagyu beef hamburger with a gold-dusted bun, it feeds six to eight people with a bottle of wine thrown in for free.

Plain old vegetable is as good for your heart as olive oil

Products labelled just “vegetable oil” are usually rapeseed oil (canola oil), which, like olive oil is very high in monounsaturated fats that help to lower cholesterol levels. When you’re feeling budget-conscious, it can be a much cheaper, but just as healthy, option for stir-frying or even putting into a salad dressing.

Just one carrot gives you all of your daily vitamin A

Yes, just one boiled 80g (2¾oz) carrot supplies enough beta carotene for your body to produce 1,480 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A (needed for skin cell renewal) – that’s more than the daily recommendation in the USA of around 900mcg. It’s best to eat carrots cooked, as this softens the cell walls allowing more beta carotene to be absorbed.

Cucumber is 96.5% water

Being so naturally high in water makes cucumber very low in calories too – it only has 14 calories per 100g (3.5oz). That means it’s the sort of food you can nibble on all day without worrying about your waistline.

The sandwich is named after an Earl

Accounts disagree about whether he was engrossed in gambling or just working at his desk, but in 1762 it’s said that John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich ate the first “sandwich” – a piece of roast beef between two slices of toasted bread. The snack was designed so the Earl could hold it in one hand, allowing him to continue with his chosen activity, without needing to pause for a meal.

You can make chalk from eggshells

Eggshells are essentially calcium carbonate, which is exactly what chalk is made from too. It takes quite a few crushed eggshells to make one chalk, but it’s a fun thing to try with kids, and “recipes” abound on the internet.

Oklahoma’s state vegetable is a watermelon

In Oklahoma the watermelon has been officially declared a vegetable, and not just any vegetable – it has been given the honor of official state vegetable. Wondering what their official state fruit is? The strawberry.

One of the world’s biggest biscuits weighed about the same as a Dalmatian dog

Frances Quinn – winner of the 2013 Great British Bake Off TV show – and Hambleton Bakery designed and baked a giant jelly-filled biscuit weighing 26.76kg (58lb 15oz). The “Grand Slammy Dodger”, as it was named, was sculpted into the shape of a tennis racket to celebrate the 2017 Wimbledon Championships in London.

Duchess of Cambridge and Emma Raducanu meet up for game of tennis

Duchess of Cambridge and Emma Raducanu

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge played tennis with Emma Raducanu on Friday, September 24, 2021 as they met for the first time to celebrate the teenager’s historic win at the US Open.

Raducanu made history when she became the first British woman to win a major title for 44 years, just weeks after collecting her A-level results.

The Duchess of Cambridge – who is known to be a huge tennis fan and patron of the Lawn Tennis Association – greeted the tennis superstar at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

The duchess looked sporty as she slipped into her all-navy tennis gear for the afternoon.

They were matching with Raducanu opting for a navy top and white shorts for the game.

It was a star-studded homecoming celebration for Great Britain’s US Open stars including Alfie Hewett, Gordon Reid and Joe Sailsbury.

Raducanu has been swept up in a whirlwind since she lifted the trophy.

She has rubbed shoulders with the A-list stars at the Met Gala in New York City, she has had a huge welcome home by her family and made a glamorous appearance at London Fashion Week. The duchess was among the first to congratulate the rising star on her win.

France’s role in NATO not in question despite US rift

NATO Summit, Brussels

As tensions between France and the United States simmered this week over an Indo-Pacific defense deal that sank a multi-billion-dollar French submarine contract, a French general handed the baton of a key NATO command center to a fellow French air force officer.

At a ceremony Thursday, September 23, 2021 in Norfolk, Virginia, Gen. Philippe Lavigne took charge of Allied Command Transformation, where NATO does its strategic thinking, from Gen. Andre Lanata, who had led the center for three years.

The handover cemented France’s place at the head of one of the military alliance’s two strategic command centers, and NATO’s only headquarters in North America. French officers have held the post since 2009, when Paris reversed a 1966 decision to pull out of NATO’s command structure.

Lavigne’s nomination was announced in May. It was not influenced by the shambolic troop withdrawal from Afghanistan that damaged U.S. credibility, or the submarine contract rift, which led to the recall of French ambassadors and rumors that Paris might once again leave NATO’s integrated military structure.

Indeed, the command handover illustrates that even amid the kerfuffle over the defense pact between the U.S., Britain and Australia and fresh calls for Europe to end its U.S. military dependence, France remains firmly anchored in the alliance.

“I fully understand France’s disappointment. At the same time, NATO allies agree on the big picture, on the most important challenges, and that is that we have to stand together” to confront global challenges, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.

To ease tensions, U.S. President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron weighed in. A statement after their phone call conceded that Europe can provide its own security. The U.S., it said, “recognizes the importance of a stronger and more capable European defense, that contributes positively to transatlantic and global security and is complementary to NATO.”

To help France swallow the loss of its massive contract in Australia to U.S. nuclear submarine makers, Macron won a commitment from Biden to boost support for French-led counter-terrorism operations in Africa’s restive Sahel region.

A face-saving offer was needed, because France’s reaction to the AUKUS defense agreement was almost as surprising as the announcement of the pact itself. Paris claimed it got a “stab in the back” from its allies.

For many European officials, the heated French reaction was partly due to the election cycle in the EU’s two heavyweight countries. Germans to vote on Sunday, September 26, 2021 and French citizens head to the polls on April 10, 2022. Some said it was just a question of waiting “for the dust to settle.”

That said, the fallout from the chaotic Afghanistan exit and the U.S. maneuvering for the defense contract have disappointed many allies. Some see early in the Biden presidency a continuation in form, if not in style, of former President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy.

With the U.S. now focused on the threat posed by China, calls are multiplying for Europe to ensure its “strategic autonomy” to avoid debacles like the chaotic evacuations from Kabul’s airport. The idea of a 5,000-strong rapidly deployable EU stand-by force is being floated.

The reality, however, is that NATO already has a similar contingent – the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, with around 5,000 ground troops that officials can quickly deploy to respond to security threats.

The challenge – beyond getting 30 nations to agree to use it – is drumming up equipment and personnel, including from many of the 27 EU countries that are also members of the world’s biggest security alliance, so it’s difficult to see how a European force might be resourced.

Moreover, there is no consensus in Europe to establish a separate force. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland all count on the U.S. security umbrella to deal with an increasingly assertive Russia.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark backed Biden and warned France on Thursday against turning “concrete challenges, which will always exist between allies, into something they should not be.”

Germany is caught in the middle. “The trauma of the Trump years convinced Germany to indulge France’s vision of strategic autonomy without ever fully endorsing it,” said Noah Barkin, senior visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund think-tank’s Asia Program.

France’s fierce reaction to its lost submarine deal “puts Germany in the awkward position of having to choose between its closest ally in Europe and a Biden administration that has worked overtime to lure Berlin into its orbit,” Barkin said.

Ultimately, it’s unlikely that the French-U.S. spat will pose more of a threat to NATO, or France’s place in it, than, say, the security challenge posed by Turkey’s purchase of Russian missile defense systems.

As he took command in Norfolk on Thursday, Lavigne said that NATO’s adaptation is “the only possible way to collectively overcome threats of all kinds, be it terrorism, conventional and nuclear, or emerging threats from new domains like cyber, space or cognitive warfare.”

“I am here to serve NATO, and I will devote, as always, all my will,” the French general said.

Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning: FIRS SHALL CONTINUE TO ADMINISTER VAT IN ALL THE STATES OF THE FEDERATION

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning
Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed

The uncertainty caused by the recent pronouncement of the Federal High Court sitting in Rivers state and the subsequent enactment of Value Added Tax (VAT) laws by some states is unnecessary and very regrettable.

The Nigerian economy just as the economies of other nations, is facing serious challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government is facing serious revenue challenges and, therefore, this is not the time for litigations, but for all hands to be on deck; to pull through this difficult period.

The tax paying public has been confused about who to pay VAT to as a result of the Federal High Court judgement in Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/149/2020.

The Appeal Court’s ruling, halting the execution of the judgement of the Federal High Court required all parties to maintain status quo ante bellunum. As such, FIRS shall continue to administer VAT in all the states of the federation unless the appellate court rules otherwise.

The ruling of the court of appeal, therefore, employs all taxpayers in all the states to continue to pay their VAT, and for the FIRS to continue to collect VAT on behalf of the government in compliance with the VAT Act.

The ruling of the Court of Appeal has provided the much needed certainty, clarity and consistency that will enable compliance without disruption to business while final resolution is awaited.

The Federal Government shall continue to update the tax paying public on this matter as the proceedings unfold at the appellate courts. All businesses are hereby encouraged to continue with their lawful operations.

Akinwumi Adesina: Africa cannot outsource its health to the rest of the world, We’ve got to build Africa’s indigenous manufacturing capacity

AFDB President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina

Global leaders, in a sideline event on health during the United Nations General Assembly, voiced the urgent need to scale up Covid-19 vaccine production and access in the wake of a pandemic that has caused unprecedented economic loss and bankrupted health care systems in Africa.

The Future Investment Initiative Institute hosted the virtual event on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 as part of a series of panel sessions around the themes of vaccines, resilience and global health.

Their voices were amplified by African Development Bank president Akinwumi A. Adesina, World Trade Organization director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Global Infrastructure Partners vice chairman and partner Jim Yong Kim. All three took part in a panel that looked at balancing the scales of global health and the consequences of the novel coronavirus. 

The 76th General Assembly of the UN takes place this year against the Covid-19 pandemic, which has hit African economies badly, despite the overall lower death toll on the continent. GDP contracted by 2.1 percent in 2020, falling by 6.1 percentage points from the pre-Covid forecasts. In addition, only a handful of countries have met their commitment to devote at least 15 % of their national budget lines to improving and maintaining adequate healthcare systems.

To shockproof the continent from future pandemics and other health crises, Adesina emphasized the need to build Africa’s manufacturing and healthcare capacity. “Africa cannot outsource its health to the rest of the world. We’ve got to build Africa’s indigenous manufacturing capacity.…we need to secure ourselves,” Adesina said addressing what he said was one of the biggest lessons from the pandemic – the need for Africa to rely on itself.

Adesina said the African Development Bank would contribute $3 billion to the development of Africa’s pharmaceutical industry over the next 10 years.

“What is needed in the long term is building Africa’s pharmaceutical capacity,” the African Development Bank President stressed.

Standing in the way of that capacity are the various restrictions and trade barriers, intellectual property rights and lack of raw materials, which are making it even harder for African countries to get into the game.

OKONJO-IWEALA SAID IT WAS ABOUT BUILDING AFRICA’S CAPACITY TO MANUFACTURE

WTO DG Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Asked in turn by CNN anchor Richard Quest, who moderated the session, what they as world leaders were doing to close the dangerous health gap, Okonjo-Iweala said her top two priorities were to get countries who have an excess of vaccines to donate them to COVAX – the initiative led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi and the World Health Organization. The second, she said, was to “get richer countries to swap places with poorer countries on the waiting list for vaccines.”

In the long term, Okonjo-Iweala said, it was about building Africa’s capacity to manufacture. “We need to decentralize manufacturing,” she stressed.

“We are taking action…supply chains for vaccines are very complicated…making sure supply chains flow… We need to lift restrictions so that manufacturers can get what they need,” Okonjo-Iweala said. “Vaccine nationalism doesn’t pay… We’ve got to let technology be transferred. We can’t be selfish in this pandemic. Lives are at stake.”

On the same issue, Jim Yong Kim decried the lack of leadership in the present global health crisis.

“Where is the coalition that will say this is an unprecedented challenge?.…What we now need is leadership…We had a similar problem treating people with HIV…we can solve them for the vaccine shortage,” Kim said.

Another theme running through the day’s sessions was the business case for investing in vaccine creation facilities and the benefits to financiers’ bottom line. “You’ve got to have the conversation…it’s in your interest that Africa gets vaccines,” Kim emphasized.

In the opening panel, Carlyle Group co-founder and co-chairman David M Rubenstein and BNY Mellon CEO Thomas Gibbons  acknowledged that profits did not remove the moral imperative to address the inequality between developed and developing nations. “Vaccines are the most important tool – we have to make vaccine access for all,” Gibbons said.

Internationally acclaimed conservationist and scientist Jane Goodall spoke of the need to create a better world for all in her session entitled “Health in the Anthropocene.”

“We’ve got to ramp up recycling move towards a circular economy…We must remember that each one of us matters…It’s millions of small ethical choices in how we live. We know what we need to do… We need to have the strength and will.”

Future Investment Initiative Institute CEO Richard Matthias announced that over 4,000 participants from 86 countries tuned in to the session.

U.S. President Joe Biden to host Indo-Pacific leaders

Australian PM Scott Morrison with U.S. President Joe Biden

 President Joe Biden is set to host the first in-person gathering of leaders of an Indo-Pacific alliance known as ” the Quad” on Friday, September 24, 2021 wrapping up a tough week of diplomacy in which he faced no shortage of criticism from both allies and adversaries.

Biden’s meeting with leaders from India, Japan and Australia at the White House gives the U.S. president a chance to put the spotlight on a central aim of his foreign policy: turning greater attention to the Pacific in the face of what the U.S. sees as China’s coercive economic practices and unsettling military maneuvering in the region. The four leaders’ talks are also expected to center on climate, COVID-19 response and cyber security.

Before the summit, the Japanese and Indian governments welcomed a recent announcement that the U.S., as part of a separate new alliance with Britain and Australia, would equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

It’s a move that will allow Australia to conduct longer patrols and give it an edge on the Chinese navy. But the announcement infuriated France, which accused the Biden administration of stabbing it in the back by squelching its own $66 billion deal to provide diesel-powered submarines.

Tensions between Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron eased after the two leaders spoke Wednesday and agreed to take steps to coordinate more closely in the Indo-Pacific.

Michael Green, who served as senior director for Asia at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration, said Japan and India welcome the U.S.-U.K.-Australian alliance “because it will really for the next 50 years reset the trajectories in naval power in the Pacific and from the perspective of those countries stabilize things as China massively builds up its naval forces.”

Beijing, for its part, has spoken out vigorously against the alliance, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian calling it a reflection of “outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception” that would intensify a regional arms race.

Beijing has also sought to push the notion that creation of the alliance indicates the U.S. will favor Australia in the Quad at the expense of Japan and India, said Bonny Lin, senior fellow for Asian security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Beijing also has sought to undercut the Quad as out of step with other nations in southeast Asia and portrayed members of the Quad as “U.S. pawns,” Lin said.

The group’s White House meeting is playing out as China continues efforts to make a show of force in the region.

On Thursday, China sent 24 fighter jets toward Taiwan after the island announced its intention to join a Pacific trade group, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, that China has also applied to join.

Biden’s meeting with the Indo-Pacific leaders caps a busy week of diplomacy for the president in which he addressed the U.N. General Assembly in New York and served as host for a virtual global summit on fighting COVID-19.

Biden — and leaders of other wealthy nations — faced criticism about the slow pace of global vaccinations and the inequity of access to shots between residents of wealthier and poorer nations. The pushback from leaders of low and moderate income countries came even as Biden announced plans for the U.S. to double to 1 billion doses its purchase of Pfizer vaccine to share with the world.

Biden is also scheduled to meet separately on Friday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Modi, who met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday, is expected to raise with Biden the way forward with the Taliban government in Afghanistan, according to a person familiar with the Indian official’s agenda. The person was not authorized to comment publicly.

Modi is expected to raise objections to the Taliban’s effort to get recognition at the United Nations. The Modi government also has concerns about the influence it believes Pakistan’s intelligence service exerted in how factions of the Taliban divvied up government offices in Kabul.

When the Taliban previously controlled Afghanistan, the group supported militants in Kashmir, a long disputed territory that’s been at the center of wars and skirmishes between India and Pakistan. The Haqqani network was behind two suicide bombings of India’s embassy in 2008 and 2009. Members of the network, which the U.S. has designated a terrorist organization, have been given top positions in the Taliban government.

In a brief appearance before reporters at the start of his meeting with Harris, Modi credited the Biden administration with making headway on both COVID-19 and climate change.

“You took up the leadership of the United States in a very challenging atmosphere and challenging times, but within a very short period of time, you have had many achievements to your credit, whether that be COVID, climate, or the Quad,” he said. “On all these issues, the United States has taken very important initiatives.”

Yoshihide, in his one-on-one with Biden, was expected to raise China, North Korea, Afghanistan, COVID-19 response and climate change, according to a foreign ministry official who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

North Korea last week said it successfully launched ballistic missiles from a train for the first time, striking a target in the sea some 800 kilometers (500 miles) away.

That test came after the North this month said it tested new cruise missiles, which it intends to make nuclear-capable, that can strike targets 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away, a distance putting all of Japan and U.S. military installations there within reach.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris welcomes India’s resuming COVID exports

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris

 U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said on Thursday, September 23, 2021 that she welcomes India’s announcement that it will resume COVID-19 vaccine exports.

India announced this week that it resume exports of COVID-19 vaccines later this year. India, the world’s biggest maker of vaccines, stopped exports of COVID shots in April to focus on inoculating its own population as infections exploded.

Meet the 14-Year-Old Girl Whose Solar-Powered Invention Is a Finalist for Prince William’s Earthshot Prize

Vinisha Umashankar

Tell Vinisha Umashankar that your teen years pale in comparison to hers, and she is quick to remind you that everyone has a different life journey.

But the 14-year-old also knows that the future looks very different for her generation if the world doesn’t act to slow global warming and the effects of climate change. Still, she’s optimistic that “collective action” of people her age will turn the tide.

That’s probably why Umashankar has already been doing more than her fair share. In Tiruvannamalai, a small temple town in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, she designed an ingenious solar-powered alternative for the millions of charcoal-burning ironing carts that ply the streets of India’s cities—pressing clothes for workers and families.

Her invention is now getting global recognition. Umashankar is the youngest finalist for the first Earthshot Prize, a £1 million ($1.3 million) award launched by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. The initiative plans to give £50 million ($68 million) in awards over the next decade to people working to solve environmental problems, with the aim of providing “at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest problems by 2030.”

There are 14 other finalists including, the Republic of Costa Rica for a scheme that helped revive rainforests, the Italian city of Milan for cutting down on waste while trying to resolve hunger and a Chinese app, The Blue Map App, that allows citizens to report environmental violations. Five winners will be announced on Oct. 17.

Umashankar’s invention is especially significant in her native India, which is home to 22 out of the 30 most polluted cities in the world, according to a report by IQAir, a Swiss air quality technology company. In 2019, 1.6 million deaths in India were attributed to toxic air. The country is also the world’s third-highest carbon dioxide emitter, after China and the U.S., despite being one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of human-induced climate change.

It’s these pressing problems that Umashankar aims to address by reducing the use of charcoal with her solar-power ironing cart. Ironing vendors, called “press wallahs,” pushing their carts from one neighborhood to the next are a common sight in India. According to the Indian government’s science and technology department, there are an estimated 10 million ironing carts in the country. Each of them uses about 11 pounds of charcoal daily, taking a heavy toll on the country’s air and forests.

For Umashankar, it started as an internet search during her summer break in 2018. After seeing her neighborhood ironing vendor disposing of used charcoal, Umashankar was curious to learn about the environmental and health hazards of ironing carts burning charcoal all day. “That’s when I learned that something as common as an iron can have such dangerous consequences,” she says.

Umashankar had been fascinated by science ever since her parents got her an encyclopedia at the age of 5. She had previously designed a ceiling fan that operates based on motion sensors. After seven months of researching solutions to the traditional charcoal-heated ironing cart, she started working on a design.

The cart’s roof doubles up as a panel that absorbs sunlight to convert it into electricity to fuel the iron. Surplus energy is stored in a battery for use after dark and on overcast days. By late 2019, she had won a national-level award for her design, following which it was prototyped and patented. She hopes to get the manufacturing process for her carts started later this year or early 2022.

Umashankar believes winning the Earthshot Prize will help her kickstart the process to commence manufacturing. “An innovation’s true potential is understood only when it reaches people,” she says. “A customer’s perspective will help me understand what to change and improve.”

Even as she awaits the Earthshot results, Umashankar says she is working on five other projects, all aiming to solve environmental problems. While juggling school work and her innovative side projects is not an easy feat, she feels it’s critical to keep going; time is running out. “We are trying to restore our planet in less than a century, and that’s not much time compared to the time it took us to get to this point,” she says.

But she is also cautiously hopeful. The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder of human versatility and adaptability, she says. She feels the need to seize this moment to use technology to drive innovation and move towards a sustainable future that is accessible and affordable. “[During the pandemic] we worked our way around and figured out alternative methods to get things done,” she says. “I believe we can take the same initiative for the future and for our planet.”

EU to attend U.S. trade, tech council as French fury eases

EU Commission, Brussels

The inaugural meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) will go ahead as planned next week after it was put in doubt because of French anger over the scrapping of a $40 billion submarine contract.

The European Commission, which oversees trade policy for the 27-nation European Union, said on Thursday, September 23, 2021 the meeting in Pittsburgh would take place, and EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis said that he would be attending.

France has been incensed by Australia’s decision last week to cancel a French contract and opt instead for a deal with the United States and Britain to purchase nuclear-powered submarines as part of a new security partnership called AUKUS.

Paris recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra for consultations and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday, September 23, 2021 it would take “time and actions” to restore confidence.

French fury had threatened to force the postponement or cancellation of the first meeting of the TTC.

The council aims to agree on common technology standards and has working groups on issues such as supply-chain security, green technology, data governance and export controls.

The U.S. co-chairs – Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Katherine Tai – will host European Commission Executive Vice Presidents Margrethe Vestager and Dombrovskis for the first meeting next Wednesday, September 29, 2021.

UN General Assembly 2021: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres applauds African Development Bank’s global leadership on climate adaptation

UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres

In his statement at the General Debate of the 76th General Assembly of the United Nations, held on Wednesday, 22 September 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres commended the African Development Bank for its global leadership on Climate Adaptation.

“Our world has never been so threatened or divided, we faced the greatest cascade of crises in our lifetimes: the Covid-19 pandemic has supersized the glaring inequalities, the climate crisis is pummelling the planet…”, Guterres said, adding: “We need more ambition from all countries in three key areas: mitigation, finance and adaptation.”

He praised the African Development Bank for showing the way: “The African Development Bank set the bar in 2019 by allocating half of its climate finance to adaptation. Some donor countries have followed that lead: all must do so,” he said.

AFDB PRESIDENT DR. AKINWUMI ADESINA COMMENT A DAY AFTER UN CHIEF ANTONIO GUTERRES KEYNOTE ADDRESS

African Development Bank President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina

Six weeks ahead of this year’s global climate summit (COP26), African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina on Thursday, September 23, 2021 spoke out on the urgent need to finance climate adaptation. He called on the developed world to deliver on its promise of $100 billion per year for climate change.

The African Development Bank chief was commenting a day after United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres made his keynote address to the United Nations General Assembly – a speech in which the UN chief spoke of a planet “sleepwalking to disaster.”

Guterres sounded alarm bells for a world buffeted by climate change, conflicts, and the global pandemic of Covid-19. He called for “coalitions of solidarity” to address inequality, instability, climate change and what he said was the planetary emergency of our time.

The UN Secretary General lauded the great strides of the African Development Bank. “The African Development Bank set the bar in 2019 by allocating half of its climate finance to adaptation. Some donor countries have followed their lead. All must do so,” Guterres said. “My message to every member state is this: Don’t wait for others to make the first move. Do your part.”

Adesina welcomed the UN Secretary General’s message and recognition of the African Development Bank’s actions. He said action and not promises in the key areas of mitigation, finance and adaptation are critical.

“Action to avoid the worst impacts of the climate disaster must start with developed countries making true on their commitment of “new, additional” and predictable climate finance from a floor of $100 billion per year. We must boost Africa’s capacity for climate adaptation,” Adesina said.

In 2019 the African Development Bank invested $10.3 billion in development projects on the continent. Some $3.6 billion of this went to climate finance. This was a four-fold increase from 2016.  In 2020, the Bank invested 63% of its climate finance in adaptation, surpassing the 50:50 parity for climate mitigation and adaptation called for by the United Nations.

Harry, Meghan visit World Trade Center observatory in NYC

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, and their son, Dante de Blasio, posed for photos with Harry and Meghan

Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, got a hawk’s-eye view of New York City on Thursday, September 23, 2021 with a visit to the rebuilt World Trade Center’s signature tower.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, and their son, Dante de Blasio, posed for photos with Harry and Meghan at the 1,268-foot (386-meter) observatory at One World Trade Center, where clouds partially obscured the panoramic view.

The royals did not make remarks. In answer to a question about how she was enjoying her trip to New York, Meghan could be heard saying, “It’s wonderful.”

The duke and duchess are in New York for a Global Citizen Live event to call for vaccine equity.

Rihanna teases new album and says it’s ‘completely different’

Rihanna has teased new music and revealed that her new songs will sound very different from her previous projects.

Before the taping of her Savage X Fenty Vol. 3 show, the singer said: “You’re not going to expect what you hear. Just put that in your mind.”

“Whatever you know of Rihanna is not going to be what you hear,” she added.

Rihanna hasn’t announced a release date yet for her new album.

The “Umbrella” singer, whose real name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, also said that she has been experimenting music in the same way as fashion.

“I’m really experimenting music is like fashion. You should be able to play. I should be able to wear whatever I want. I treat music the same way. So I’m having fun and it’s going to be completely different,” she said.

The singer’s fans have waited five years for the hitmaker to release new music in the wake of dropping Anti in 2016.

In 2020, the singer released a collaborative song, “Believe It”, with Canadian singer-songwriter PARTYNEXTDOOR, which topped many charts for consecutive months.

Previously, the nine-time Grammy winner, 33, has released songs with top artists such as Drake, Nicki Minaj, Eminem and Jay-Z.

While she hasn’t currently been delivering new music, the mogul has been working on other projects, including her lingerie line Savage x Fenty, and make-up and skincare brand Fenty Beauty.

Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Vol. 3 show will air on Amazon Prime on 24 September, 2021 and will include performances by Nas, Ricky Martin, Jasmine Sullivan, Daddy Yankee and Normani. Supermodels and celebrities like Adriana Lima, Gigi Hadid, Vanessa Hudgens, and Erykah Badu will make special appearances in the show.

Researchers launch Gulf Stream expedition in effort to slow down climate change

This summer, the United States has seen the effects of climate change first-hand, as record-breaking wildfires, droughts and hurricanes have devastated parts of the country.

During his United Nations General Assembly speech on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 President Joe Biden called on countries to bring their best ideas to end climate change to COP26 in Glasgow in November.

“To keep within our reach the vital goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, every nation needs to bring their highest possible ambitions to the table,” the president said.

To keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius — which is what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says needs to happen to avoid the worst effects of climate change — countries will have to lower emissions. One way to do that is to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

There is already a natural solution available: Take care of and learn more about the oceans. Oceans cover 70% of the world, leading to a vast reservoir capable of pulling in and storing carbon dioxide.

Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, scientists estimate oceans have pulled in around 30% of all the carbon dioxide humans have released into the atmosphere.

How much the ocean takes in each year varies, according to Dr. Jaime Palter, an associate professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, who spoke with ABC Audio’s “Perspective” podcast.

“We really would like to have a quantification of the ocean carbon dioxide uptake narrowed so that we can make really skillful predictions of where [the] climate is going and how quickly temperatures will stop rising once we go to net-zero human-caused emissions,” she said.

Palter is part of a team trying to learn how much carbon the Gulf Stream absorbs and how it transports heat

“It’s the perfect place for the ocean to take up carbon dioxide, both because of the weather of the region — it’s just so stormy — and also because of the oceanography of the region,” said Palter. “Second, once it’s taken off, it can sequester it for hundreds of years if it manages to sink in the deep ocean.”

Palter, along with Saildrone — a company that produces unmanned ocean drones for research — and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting will launch six 72-foot autonomous drones off the East Coast this fall.

“Those are very difficult seas, particularly in the winter months, and it’s one reason why we know so little about that area,” Anne Hale Miglarese, the program executive officer for impact science at Saildrone, said on the “Perspective” podcast.

The drones are wind- and solar-powered and are equipped with sensors and cameras to check CO2 levels, wind speed and several other variables. They navigate via predetermined way-points while a pilot supervises on land.

Once launched, the drones will spend the next 12 months crisscrossing the Gulf Stream.

The data will be fed back instantly to researchers on land via satellites.

The mission has two focuses: first, to better understand how the Gulf Stream absorbs carbon, and second, to learn how it transports heat, which is the ECMWF’s focus.

“The European Commission for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting … was very interested in understanding the track of the Gulf Stream and the temperatures, the air temperatures and the water temperatures, and the like,” Hale Miglarese said.

The commission will use the data to improve forecasts.

Palter and the University of Rhode Island will lead the carbon measurement research to learn how much carbon the ocean absorbs.

“[We want to] improve the accuracy on the number, how much carbon goes into the ocean, also where it gets absorbed by the ocean, [and] what are the processes that the ocean takes it up,” said Palter. “We can understand whether this is going to be a set of processes that remains stable into the future or ones that could be vulnerable as the ocean warms and the circulation changes.”

Palter said the Gulf Stream is intriguing because of what could happen to the climate if the natural absorption process were to change.

“If that process were to slow down, the capacity of the ocean to store manmade carbon could also slow down,” Palter said. “These are important things we want to learn so that we can have accurate predictions of future climate.”

Iran says ‘serious progress’ in talks with Saudi

Talks between Middle East regional rivals Tehran and Riyadh have led to “serious progress” on the issue of Gulf security, an Iranian foreign ministry official said.

“Serious progress has been made on the subject of security in the Gulf,” says ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh on Thursday, September 23, 2021.

Shiite-majority Iran and Sunni kingpin Saudi Arabia, on opposing sides in multiple regional conflicts, have been engaged in talks since April with the aim of improving relations, for the first time since cutting ties in 2016.

The discussions were launched under Iran’s former moderate president Hassan Rouhani and have continued since his ultraconservative successor, Ebrahim Raisi, took office in August.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Khatibzadeh said the talks were “good” and called for countries to settle regional issues between themselves, without foreign interference. 

In Yemen, Iran supports Shiite rebels who still control most of the north, including the capital Sanaa, despite more than six years of Saudi-led military efforts to oust them.

Tehran has also been the main regional backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against Sunni rebels since civil war broke out in 2011.

In Lebanon, Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah plays a pivotal role in political life, while its fighters have been heavily involved in neighbouring Syria in support of Assad’s government.

Saudi King Salman on Wednesday expressed hope that talks with Iran would “lead to tangible outcomes to build trust” and to the relaunch bilateral “cooperation”.

In a speech via videoconference to the General Assembly, the Saudi ruler again called on Tehran to cease “all types of support” for armed groups in the region, and reaffirmed his kingdom’s support for “international efforts aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons”.

Riyadh — an ally of Tehran’s arch-foe Washington — has concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme, despite the Islamic republic’s insistence it is pursuing only “peaceful” nuclear technology.

Top NASA official says Blue Origin lawsuit could further delay crewed mission to Moon

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson

Lawsuit filed by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin against SpaceX and the US government may further delay Nasa’s crewed Moon mission, Nasa administrator Bill Nelson has reportedly said.

Blue Origin had filed the lawsuit against Nasa and SpaceX over the US space agency awarding a lucrative $3 billion contract to build a lunar rover to Elon Musk-founded SpaceX.

Bezos’ company argues in the lawsuit that Nasa’s decision to award SpaceX the contract violates “fundamental tenets” of government-contract procurement law.

In a press conference on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 Mr Nelson said the lawsuit may delay Nasa’s plans to put humans on the Moon as part of the Artemis lunar programme, planned for 2024.

Nasa’s plan is to use its Orion spacecraft to send four astronauts on a multi-day journey to the lunar orbit from which two crew members would transfer to the SpaceX human landing system (HLS) for the final leg of their journey to the surface of the Moon.

“After approximately a week exploring the surface, they will board the lander for their short trip back to orbit where they will return to Orion and their colleagues before heading back to Earth,” the US space agency noted in a statement in April.

But on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 when asked if the mission to land humans on the Moon was still on track for a 2024 launch, Mr Nelson reportedly said the question could be better answered only after a federal court ruling, hinting that the lawsuit is expected to cause delays.

With the lawsuit yet to be resolved, SpaceX cannot proceed with developing the lander for the mission, and NASA has also agreed to pause work on the HLS till the litigation is heard in court.

In the lawsuit, Blue Origin claims that NASA has disregarded key flight safety requirements while awarding the contract to SpaceX.

In a redacted version of the lawsuit shared by the US Court of Federal Appeals on Wednesday, Bezos’ company argues that Nasa’s decision was “arbitrary, capricious, and irrational.”

“NASA inexplicably disregarded key flight safety requirements for only SpaceX, in order to select and make award to a SpaceX proposal that Nasa’s evaluation team assessed as tremendously high risk and immensely complex, even before the waiver of safety requirements,” the lawsuit alleges.

Mr Nelson said on Tuesday that only after the federal judge makes the decision and after “further legal possibilities” are considered there can be clarity about the crewed-missions to the lunar surface.

Irrespective of the lawsuit, a Nasa Office of the Inspector General, noted in a report last month that it’s “not feasible” for the space agency to meet its 2024 goal.

This delay is mainly due to delays in the development of next-generation spacesuits for the astronauts.

PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI TO WORLD LEADERS: WE WILL TACKLE AND REVERSE BIODIVERSITY LOSS

President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday, September 22,2021 in New York declared that Federal government has initiated some specific actions to tackle and reverse the severe trend of biodiversity loss which affects the whole world.

The president spoke in a video message to the hybrid High-Level event tagged “Transformative Actions for Nature and People” on the margins of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 76).

Aside championing regional and inter-regional cooperation towards addressing the scourge, President Buhari outlined other measures to include: “Expansion of protected areas including the establishment of ten (10) new National Parks across the country as well as the creation of Marine Protected Areas pursuant to the 30X30 Agenda of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD); and domestication of relevant International Agreements, Conventions as well as Laws and Policies for the protection and conservation of biodiversity”.

The Nigerian leader added that, “Leveraging the cooperation and partnerships of the Development Partners as well as International Organisations and Coalitions for concrete action against deforestation and biodiversity loss; and promotion and increased investments in climate-positive and nature-positive economy for sustainable environment and land use practices” were other areas being worked on to confront the challenge.

He expressed gratitude to the president of Costa Rica, His Excellency Carlos Alvarado Quesada whose country currently chairs the High Ambition Coalition for Nature & People (HAC) of which Nigeria is also a member and co-chair for the opportunity to be part of “this great event”.

Report by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity).

South Africa adopts more ambitious emissions target before climate summit

South Africa’s cabinet has adopted a more ambitious emissions reduction target ahead of a United Nations climate conference in November, the country’s environment department said on Wednesday 22 September, 2021.

Africa’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases now aims to keep emissions to a range of 350-420 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e) by 2030.

That compares with an earlier draft target of 398-440 Mt CO2e announced by the environment department in March, which a climate commission established by President Cyril Ramaphosa recommended should be improved upon.

The Global Carbon Atlas estimates South Africa emitted around 480 Mt CO2e in 2019.

The updated target forms part of a so-called Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which will be submitted in the buildup to the UN’s COP26 conference in Glasgow.

“The NDC represents South Africa’s contribution to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change,” the environment department said in a statement.

Major South African polluters include state-owned power utility Eskom, which generates the vast majority of the country’s power by burning coal, and fuel and chemical producer Sasol.

Under Ramaphosa, who became head of state in February 2018, the government has promised to take swifter action to combat climate change and unveiled reforms aimed at embracing power generation from renewable sources.

Eskom is pitching for billions of dollars of funding to help finance its plans to shift away from coal and towards renewable energy. It hopes to announce a financing deal at COP26 and is talking to the U.S., British, French and German governments as well as the World Bank about funding.

On Wednesday Sasol said it had improved on its emissions reduction target for 2030, after it came under pressure from investors and environmental groups.

Boris Johnson makes call for ‘humanity to grow up’ and address climate problems

Earth is not “some indestructible toy” Prime Minister Boris Johnson told world leaders, as he spoke of the upcoming Glasgow COP26 summit as “the turning point for humanity”.

Mr Johnson addressed the United Nations General Assembly in the early hours of Thursday 23 September, 2021 in a speech in which he conceded a rise in temperatures was inevitable but said we can hope to “restrain that growth”.

The address was the last stop on Mr Johnson’s visit to the United States which has seen discussions held on trade, the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.

Mr Johnson told the Assembly it was time for “humanity to grow up” and look to the coronavirus pandemic as an example of “gloomy scientists being proved right”.

We are approaching that critical turning point, in less than two months, when we must show that we are capable of learning, and maturing, and finally taking responsibility for the destruction we are inflicting, not just upon our planet but ourselves

He added: “The world – this precious blue sphere with its eggshell crust and wisp of an atmosphere – is not some indestructible toy, some bouncy plastic romper room against which we can hurl ourselves to our heart’s content.

“Daily, weekly, we are doing such irreversible damage that long before a million years are up, we will have made this beautiful planet effectively uninhabitable – not just for us but for many other species.

“And that is why the Glasgow COP26 summit is the turning point for humanity.”

The UN summit is being held in Glasgow from late October to early November to “accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement”, a treaty aimed at keeping the rise in global temperatures to below 2C adopted in 2015.

The speech started with a look at how humanity has been around for around 200,000 years and that the average mammalian species exists for about a million years before it evolves or dies out – suggesting we were, in relative terms, “now sweet 16”.

He said: “We have come to that fateful age when we know roughly how to drive and we know how to unlock the drinks cabinet and to engage in all sorts of activity that is not only potentially embarrassing but also terminal.

“In the words of the Oxford philosopher Toby Ord, ‘we are just old enough to get ourselves into serious trouble’.”

Mr Johnson’s eco focus is a far cry from his past climate-sceptic views.

He admitted on Monday that “if you were to excavate some of my articles from 20 years ago you might find comments I made, obiter dicta, about climate change that weren’t entirely supportive of the current struggle, but the facts change and people change their minds and change their views and that’s very important too”.

Addressing the assembly, he said he was not “one of those environmentalists who takes a moral pleasure in excoriating humanity for its excess” or viewing the green movement as “a pretext for a wholesale assault on capitalism”.

“My friends, the adolescence of humanity is coming to an end,” he said.

“We are approaching that critical turning point, in less than two months, when we must show that we are capable of learning, and maturing, and finally taking responsibility for the destruction we are inflicting, not just upon our planet but ourselves.”

He called on countries to cut their carbon emissions by 68% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, praised the end of China’s international financing of coal, and congratulated Pakistan’s pledge to plant 10 billion trees.

The 20-minute speech ended with references to renowned Greek writer Sophocles and a Muppet.

On Jim Henson’s creation, he said Kermit was wrong when he sang It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green, adding it was “easy, lucrative and right” to be green.

He added: “Sophocles is often quoted as saying that there are many terrifying things in the world, but none is more terrifying than mankind, and it is certainly true that … we are uniquely capable of our own destruction, and the destruction of everything around us.

“But if you look at the Greek, Sophocles actually said … was that man is deinos and terrifying isn’t quite right as far as a translation for deinos. What Sophocles really means is humanity is awesome – both terrifying but also awesome.

“We have an awesome power to change things and to change things for the better, and an awesome power to save ourselves.

“In the next 40 days, we have to choose, the world has to choose what kind of awesome we’re going to be.”

Scientists created the world’s whitest paint. It could eliminate the need for air conditioning.

The whitest paint in the world has been created in a lab at Purdue University, a paint so white that it could eventually reduce or even eliminate the need for air conditioning, scientists say.

The paint has now made it into the Guinness World Records book as the whitest ever made.

So why did the scientists create such a paint? It turns out that breaking a world record wasn’t the goal of the researchers: Curbing global warming was.

“When we started this project about seven years ago, we had saving energy and fighting climate change in mind,” said Xiulin Ruan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue, in a statement.

The idea was to make a paint that would reflect sunlight away from a building, researchers said. 

Making this paint really reflective, however, also made it really white, according to Purdue University. The paint reflects 98.1% of solar radiation while also emitting infrared heat. Because the paint absorbs less heat from the sun than it emits, a surface coated with this paint is cooled below the surrounding temperature without consuming power.

Using this new paint to cover a roof area of about 1,000 square feet could result in a cooling power of 10 kilowatts. “That’s more powerful than the air conditioners used by most houses,” Ruan said.

Typical commercial white paint gets warmer rather than cooler. Paints on the market that are designed to reject heat reflect only 80% to 90% of sunlight and can’t make surfaces cooler than their surroundings.

Two features make this paint ultra-white: a very high concentration of a chemical compound called barium sulfate – also used in photo paper and cosmetics – and different particle sizes of barium sulfate in the paint, scientists at Purdue said.

Researchers at Purdue have partnered with a company to put this ultra-white paint on the market, according to a news release. 

Tennis-Murray makes first ATP quarter-final since 2019

Former world number one Andy Murray said he is seeing signs of improvement in his game after reaching his first ATP quarter-final in two years on Wednesday 22 September, 2021 with a comfortable victory over Canada’s Vasek Pospisil at the Moselle Open.

The 34-year-old Briton, who had hip surgeries in 2018 and 2019, has not been able to get back to the kind of form that helped him win three major titles and two consecutive Olympic singles gold medals in London and Rio de Janeiro.

Murray, who has slipped to 113th in the rankings, showed glimpses of his old self on Tuesday when he rallied to beat world number 26 Ugo Humbert of France — the highest-ranked opponent he has defeated this year.

He then beat world number 66 Pospisil 6-3 6-3 to reach the last eight stage at an ATP tournament for the first time since winning in Antwerp in October 2019.

“This period has been the most tournaments I’ve played (recently) and my body feels good and I’m starting to gain just a little bit of confidence with each match,” Murray said on Wednesday at the ATP 250 event in Metz, France.

“I’m starting to see the points and how I want to play them again, which is great.

“There have been times in the past year where I’ve been a little bit confused and not seeing how the points are developing and stuff, which for me was always a strong part of my game and it made me feel quite uncomfortable on the court when I was feeling that way.

“I’m starting to get that back and the results are coming and my tennis is getting better.”

Murray reached the third round of this year’s Wimbledon and stretched Greek third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets in his opening round defeat at the U.S. Open.

He will meet either top seeded Pole Hubert Hurkacz or French player Lucas Pouille for a place in the semi-finals.

Jurgen Klopp hails ‘big talent’ Kaide Gordon after Liverpool debut

Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for his young starlets following Liverpool’s 3-0 victory over Norwich City in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup third round tie, describing 16-year-old Kaide Gordon as a ‘big talent.’

The teenager became one of the youngest players to ever play for the Reds, having arrived from Derby County earlier in the year. The winger was one of several academy prospects to take to the field against the Canaries, with the likes of Conor Bradley and Tyler Morton also impressing.

And Klopp hailed Gordon as a ‘big talent’ at the final whistle, and while the German admitted he was ‘really happy to have him around,’ the coach did warn that Liverpool would ‘treat him carefully’ and not rush him into the senior side.

“Yes, he’s good – that’s what it says about him,” Klopp said of Gordon. “He’s good. A lot of things to improve, a lot of things to settle, a lot of things to learn but there’s a lot of things already there. We are really happy to have him around and we will treat him carefully, let me say it like this.

“But I am really happy that he is here, he is a big talent. But Conor Bradley, the first Northern Irish player since 1954, if somebody would have told me that before then I would have brought him probably earlier! But he played a super game and Tyler really as well, I have to say.

“I am really happy for the boys. It was a big one for all three. The first thing Kaide said to me after the game, when I wanted to say ‘congratulations’, he said to me, ‘Thank you!’ I said, ‘Nothing to thank me for, you deserved it.’ All fine, these boys are good and thank God they are ours.”

The youngsters starred in the 3-0 win at Carrow Road on Tuesday 21 September, 2021 but it was the senior fringe players who separated the two teams, with Divock Origi finding the net, and Takumi Minamino bagging a brace.

Klopp was pleased by the Japanese star’s impact on the game, and hopes that his two goals will ‘help him and help us’.

“He is in a really good moment; I know he didn’t play too much, but in the wrong moment he was injured, coming back and stuff like this. It is sometimes not so easy, but he is a top character and he enjoyed the game tonight.

“That was important for him and important for us, so that will help him and will help us. He was in pre-season really good, then he started, then he got injured and now the rest of the season starts. Nobody needs to worry, Taki will be fine.”

Klopp also said he’s ‘not too concerned’ by the severity of Naby Keita’s injury, after the midfielder ‘kicked the grass’, and was substituted at half-time.

“Half-time we had to change and Naby had kicked the grass, a little… sort of thing, we are not too concerned but we had to change.”

The Liverpool boss offered an insight into Roberto Firmino’s return date from injury, revealing that the Brazilian is back in training with his teammates and is ‘not too far away’ from taking to the field again.

“Bobby trained yesterday, the first time, parts with the team, so it is not too far away when he will play again. We have already two midfielders out and we should make sure that number doesn’t get bigger.

“The start of the season so far was good for the whole squad, but it’s only the start and there is a lot more to come.”

‘The most adorable couple’: Harry reveals how the Queen will cope without Philip

Prince Harry has spoken tenderly about his grandparents, shining a light on how Queen Elizabeth II might fare without Prince Philip in a new documentary about the late Duke of Edinburgh. 

Harry is among several royals who appeared on the BBC’s Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remember, in which he dubbed his grandparents “the most adorable couple”. 

“More than anything I miss his sense of humour,” Harry said. “But I miss him more for my grandmother because I know how incredibly strong she was with him there.”

“I also know she will be OK without him,” he added. 

“The two of them together were just the most adorable couple,” the Duke of Sussex continued. 

“To me, knowing the cheekiness of him and knowing that behind what the world sees you have two individuals who were very much in love and both, from a very young age, have dedicated their life to service – that is an incredible bond between two people.” 

The documentary originally began as a way to celebrate Philip’s 100th birthday in June of this year, but the Duke of Edinburgh died in April – just a few months before reaching his centenary.

The interviews were recorded both before and after his death and also featured Harry’s brother Prince William. Harry’s segments were recorded in the US, where he controversially relocated with his wife Meghan Markle and family. 

Harry was accused of “blindsiding” the still-mourning Queen and the rest of the Royal Family when he announced in July that he would be releasing a tell-all memoir in 2022. 

British media claimed Harry did not consult with any senior royals about the project, which is billed as an “intimate and heart-breaking” recollection of his life thus far, including Megxit.

How border closure helped Nigeria – Buhari reveals as he meets Queen of Netherlands

 President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 said the closure of Nigeria’s borders for over one year helped the country “tremendously”.

Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said the president said this when he held a meeting with Maxima Zorreguieta, Queen of the Netherlands.

The president is currently in New York for the 76th United Nations general assembly.

Recall that the federal government had, in August 2019, ordered a closure of the country’s land borders over illegal importation of drugs, arms and agricultural products into Nigeria from neighbouring West African countries.

In December 2020, Buhari ordered the reopening of four land borders.

President Buhari said the decision to close the country’s borders was to encourage farmers, “and eat what we grow”.

He was quoted to have said: “People went back to the land, and this helped us tremendously. We made fertilizers available, resuscitated dams, and it all paid off handsomely.

“Otherwise, with about 200 million people, we would have been in trouble when COVID-19 struck, and affected the economy.”

Buhari administration focused on infrastructure

According to the statement posted on Adesina’s Facebook page, President Buhari during the meeting highlighted developmental efforts in the country, adding that his administration’s focus has been on infrastructure.

The president, who said there had been limitations owing to the fluctuations in oil prices, said if Zorreguieta visits Nigeria, she will see a major difference compared to 2017 when she last visited.

Nigeria open to investments

President Buhari also noted that Nigeria is open to more investments, especially in agriculture.

He said: “We have the land, we have the people; capital input is what we need.”

The queen, in her remarks, commended the Buhari administration for “the huge effort” made to address the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the presidential spokesman, the Queen of the Netherlands offered to look into supporting Nigeria, especially in agriculture, as long as the necessary infrastructure is in place.

Arewa group lauds Nigerians for identifying with country at 76th UN General Assembly

Meanwhile, a pressure group, Arewa Youth Federation, has lauded Nigerians living in the United States of America for showing solidarity with the country and its president, Buhari, in New York as world leaders converge for the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

The group in a statement signed by its president, Muhammad Matazu, described the act as patriotic and appealed to the few who have refused to see the good things happening in the country to have a rethink.

Some Nigerians living abroad under the aegis, “One Nigeria Group” had organised a procession on the streets of New York to show their support for their country as world leaders assembled for the annual meeting of UNGA. The participants waved the Nigerian national flags, sported t-shirts, and displayed banners announcing progress made, their commitment to one Nigeria, and a yearning for peace and progress.

Nigeria gains $4 billion in Eurobond, of the biggest financial trade in Africa

This was brought to our knowledge through a press release from the Debt Management Office (DMO). “The Order book peaked at $12.2 billion, which enabled the Federal Government to raise $1 billion more than the $3 billion it initially announced,” they said.

Bids were collected from Europe, America and Asia with collaboration from local investors. The government had set up a two-day call with investors last week and on Monday, September 20, 2021 with the DMO saying that the bond would be priced following the meetings.

The notice set September, 28 for the bond settlement, which will be among the London and Nigerian Stock Exchanges.

The Eurobonds are part of a government plan to raise 2.343 trillion naira ($5.71 billion) in external financing to help fund spending in 2021 and to partly finance the 5.6 trillion-naira deficit.

DMO issued the debt in tranches of three tenors. It raised $1.25 billion for seven years at a yield of 6.125% and sold a 12-year bond at 7.375% to fetch $1.5 billion. A 30-year tranche of $1.25 billion was sold at 8.25%.

On the upcoming Eurobond issue, Nigeria chose JPMorgan, Citigroup, Standard Chartered, and Goldman Sachs, as well as local firm Chapel Hill Denham.

Biden Summons Democrats to Oval Office to Unite on Agenda

United States Of America

Biden and Democratic congressional leaders are seeking middle ground on tax and spending legislation encompassing most of Biden’s domestic agenda. The future of that and a separate infrastructure bill depends on party unity.

“We’re working hard and we’re moving along,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had their own meeting with Biden. He refused to provide any details about what they discussed.

Democratic leaders are seeking to lower expectations among House progressives, warning that the initial $3.5 trillion price tag may be cut to get full support from moderates, particularly in the Senate, where Democrats can’t afford to lose a single vote. Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have said they don’t support the size of the package, but haven’t said what level of spending they’d agree to.

Manchin and Sinema attended an afternoon meeting that also included outspoken House centrists like Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Stephanie Murphy of Florida, who have demanded the process be slowed down and that the bill not add to the deficit. They also want the House to give final passage next week to bipartisan infrastructure legislation with $550 billion in new spending, before taking up the larger package. Gottheimer is leading a fight to restore the state and local tax deduction,  for wealthy homeowners. That meeting also included moderate senators like Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia. 

Biden “pretty much laid down where we’re at, what the landscape is,” Tester said after he left the White House. “The president would like to move the ball down the road.”

He said Biden didn’t weigh in on the overall size of the package, one of the main points of contention. Lawmakers went into detail on policy areas they care most about during the discussion, while Biden urged them to come together on the details in coming days, Tester said.  

Gottheimer called the meeting the “ultimate problem solving session.” 

“But we still have work to do,” he said in a statement. “We’ve got a hectic few days ahead.”

The White House held a third meeting with 10 progressives including Representatives Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin as well as Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Ron Wyden of Oregon. Many in that group want to change the draft House bill to increase social welfare benefits and increase taxes on the wealthy while reducing subsidies for fossil fuels. 

Jayapal and her progressive caucus are threatening to vote down the infrastructure bill Monday if the larger package, which the White House labels “Build Back Better,” is not enacted first. 

“I reiterated what I have consistently said: progressives will vote for both bills because we proudly support the President’s entire Build Back Better package, but that a majority of our 96-member caucus will only vote for the small infrastructure bill after the Build Back Better Act passes,” Jayapal said in a statement after the meeting. “This is what we promised voters when they delivered us the House, the Senate, and the White House.”

House and Senate Democrats still haven’t completed the expansive package that includes a mix of tax increases on the wealthy and corporations, as well as greater spending on child and elder care, health care, climate change and other areas. And Democratic leaders acknowledge plans for votes this month could be delayed. 

With Congress moving toward votes on the president’s agenda, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “there needs to be deeper engagement by the president. That’s what you’re seeing happen today.”

The package is taking on added importance as other aspects of Biden’s domestic agenda run into significant setbacks or even insurmountable roadblocks. 

Senate Republicans later this month are expected to block for a third time Democratic legislation overhauling U.S. voting laws that is designed to counter a record number of new voting restrictions emerging from GOP-led state legislatures. And earlier this week, the Senate parliamentarian blocked Democrats from including a plan to provide legal status to as many as 8 million undocumented immigrants in the economic package, which Democrats seek to pass without any GOP support using Senate rules that short-circuit the filibuster.

Brazil’s health minister tests positive for coronavirus at U.N. General Assembly

Brazil

Brazil’s health minister has tested positive for the coronavirus while in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, where President Jair Bolsonaro spoke on Tuesday, September 21, 2021.

Marcelo Queiroga confirmed the diagnosis in a tweet and said he would remain in isolation in the United States, “following all health safety protocols.” Queiroga has received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, according to media reports.

Queiroga is reportedly the second member of Bolsonaro’s delegation to test positive in New York. Bloomberg News reported that a member of the delegation who hadn’t been in contact with the president tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving and was placed in isolation.

Bolsonaro isolated himself at home after returning to Brazil and canceled a trip, Reuters reported.

Bolsonaro remains defiantly unvaccinated, saying he doesn’t need the shots because he recovered from a mild case of covid-19 last year. On Tuesday Bolsonaro appeared to break U.N. rules that asked for all those who entered the General Assembly Hall to be fully vaccinated under an “honor system”.

Bolsonaro was also pictured eating pizza on the streets of New York on Sunday night with members of his delegation — Queiroga included — and observers speculated that he was avoiding indoor restaurants, where New York’s vaccine mandate applies.

In his opening speech for the event, in which the global coronavirus pandemic was top of the agenda, Bolsonaro said his government did not support the use of a vaccine passport and stood by treatment of the virus with unproven drugs such as the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine.

The Brazilian leader said that his government supported vaccinations but also that it supported “early treatment” for covid-19, with Bolsonaro suggesting he had received this treatment on the advice of his doctors. He suggested his attitude would be proven right, eventually.

“History and science will be wise enough to hold everyone accountable,” he told the General Assembly.

In a briefing Monday, he appeared to turn down an offer from British Prime Minister Borris Johnson to receive a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Queiroga on Tuesday went to the United Nations General Assembly to watch President Bolsonaro’s speech. He apparently shook hands with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson — who later met President Biden at the White House. Queiroga said that he had worn a mask while in the U.N. building.

It isn’t the first time members of a Brazilian delegation have tested positive for coronavirus on a trip to the United States. On a visit to meet President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate last year, more than 20 members of Bolsonaro’s delegation caught coronavirus. Queiroga is one of the only ministers in the current entourage to take precautions such as mask-wearing.

There have been more than 21 million cases of covid-19 in Brazil and over 590,000 deaths.

CBN Selects Technical Partner For Digital Currency Project

The Central Bank Of Nigeria

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced the formal engagement of the global Fintech company, Bitt Inc., as the Technical Partner for its digital currency, named eNaira, which is due to be unveiled on October 1st, 2021.

This development was disclosed in Abuja by the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who listed the benefits of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) to include increased cross-border trade, accelerated financial inclusion, cheaper and faster remittance inflows, easier targeted social interventions, as well as improvements in monetary policy effectiveness, payment systems efficiency, and tax collection.

 Project Giant, as the Nigerian CBDC pilot is known, has been a long and thorough process for the CBN, with the Bank’s decision to digitize the Naira in 2017, following extensive research and explorations. Given the significant explosion in the use of digital payments and the rise in the digital economy, the CBN’s decision follows an unmistakable global trend in which over 85 percent of Central Banks are now considering adopting digital currencies in their countries.

 The CBN’s selection of Bitt Inc, from among highly competitive bidders, was hinged on the company’s technological competence, efficiency, platform security, interoperability, and implementation experience. In choosing Bitt Inc, the CBN will rely on the company’s tested and proven digital currency experience, which is already in circulation in several Eastern Caribbean Countries. Bitt Inc. was key to the development and successful launch of the central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in April 2021.

VP Gets Updates on Justice Sector Reforms, Lauds Efforts in 6 States

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

*Attorneys-General recall, commend Osinbajo’s efforts as Lagos AG

Six Attorneys-General from the South-West States visited Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at the Presidential Villa, briefing him on the progress of justice reforms in their various States, many of which they said were inspired by the successes recorded during his stint as Lagos State Attorney-General. 

The Vice President who expressed delight at the visit commended the Attorneys-General for the “great work” that has been done in the States, observing the wide range of areas being covered by the Justice Sector Reforms. 

The Attorneys-General in separate remarks during the courtesy call praised the VP’s efforts as Lagos State Attorney- General, attributing some of the gains recorded in their States to his innovative ideas. 

They detailed different initiatives being implemented in their States centering around reforms on the administration of the justice system such as alternative dispute resolution, access to justice, capacity building for judicial officers, digitization, and general infrastructure upgrade. 

The presentations also included social protection objectives and improving the legal framework for enhancing the business environment in the States.

The Attorneys-General and Justice Commissioners were led on the visit by the Ekiti State Attorney-General, Mr Olawale Fapohunda. Others were Lagos State Attorney-General, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN; Ondo State Attorney-General, Sir Charles Titiloye; Oyo State Attorney-General, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo; Ogun State Attorney-General, Mr. Akingbolahan Adeniran; and his Osun State counterpart, Mr Olufemi Akande.  

In his response, Prof. Osinbajo urged the States’ chief law officers to leverage their network and individual positions to effect the desired changes in the justice sector. 

Commending their efforts, the VP noted that “just looking at the sheer range of the things that have been done, I really must commend you for a very great work.” 

“I think there is need for us (especially at the state level), to ensure that prosecutions move quickly. It is important that we devote some time to how we can improve the pace of cases in our courts,” Prof. Osinbajo added.  

Referring specifically to ongoing reform efforts in Lagos and other states, Lagos State Attorney General, Mr Onigbanjo, SAN said “Your Excellency, you laid a solid foundation upon which we are building on today. The reforms initiated by you as AG have been the basis for what we are doing and have done in Lagos.” 

In the same vein, the Oyo State AG, Prof. Oyewo noted that “we are proud of your achievements and contributions to the development of the judiciary and this great country.” 

On his part, the leader of the delegation and Justice Commissioner of Ekiti State, Mr Fapohunda said the reform process in the States including in Ekiti is focused on law reform, institutional reform, and general reviews in areas that have a direct impact on the administration of justice system. 

He also praised the foundational justice reform works of Prof. Osinbajo in Lagos State. 

“I align myself to what has been said, we are proud of what you did as AG in Lagos, some of the things being done today are based on your foundational works,” he concluded.

Economic Diversification: Emefiele Woos WTO…Says Nigeria needs help to Reset its economy

The WTO DG, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and her delegation received by The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and The CBN officials.

 The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele says Nigeria needs to be given a chance to reset and diversify its economy, just as he reiterated the determination of the CBN to address identified deficiencies in the Nigerian economy.

He stated this in Abuja on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, while playing host to the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the Bank’s headquarters.

Mr. Emefiele, who congratulated Dr. Okonjo-Iweala on her new position, said her emergence as the Director-General of the WTO was in recognition of Nigeria as the largest economy and most populated country in Africa. He noted that Nigeria, with an estimated population of over 200 million, remained a major player in global trade.

The Governor, acknowledged that Nigeria needs help to achieve her goals in the areas of trade and export finance logistics, stressing that Nigeria’s stance on trade was necessitated by the drive to protect local industries to create jobs and employment as well as create an enabling environment for them to live meaning lives.

Continuing, the Governor cited the provision of stimulus and interventions packages, restructuring of loans and the reduction of interest rates on loans as part of the Bank’s response towards ameliorating the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on Nigerian businesses. He added that through partnership with the private sector, the Coalition against COVID-19, CACOVID raised about N40billion Naira to support the efforts of Government to combat the pandemic in Nigeria.

While expressing the Bank’s willingness to work with the WTO, he disclosed that the CBN was determined to address the inefficiencies that led to the closure of pharmaceutical companies and other businesses that hitherto operated in the country.

With the establishment of the Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria Limited (InfraCorp.) Mr. Emefiele expressed optimism that the infrastructural deficits in the country would be addressed coupled with an improvement in the country’s ease of doing business index.

In her response, the visiting WTO DG, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, commended the CBN Governor and his team for their assistance to the country towards receiving the first set of doses of the COVID-19 vaccines with another 12 million doses to follow.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said the COVID-19 pandemic presented Nigeria with an opportunity to change the narrative of its pharmaceutical industry. While expressing concern over statistics from the Economic Commission on Africa, which indicate that the continent imports over 90% of its pharmaceutical needs, she urged Nigeria to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) and a population of over 1.3 billion people, to enhance its trade opportunities. She urged the creation of a conducive environment as Nigeria had enough talent and capacity to attract investments to the pharmaceutical sector to create jobs for the teeming population.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala also called for an urgent transition of Nigeria’s economy from fossil fuel-based economy to one that is dependent on other sources of revenue and job creation. She equally stressed the need for Nigeria to urgently improve its trade logistics index as well as the quality of its exports.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala urged the country to take advantage of the WTO trade remedies, which can, without placing ban or restrictions on any sector, help protect local industries against dumping and cheap imports among others.

In conclusion, she said Nigeria has the young population and capacity to create jobs and move the economy in the direction that will support the youths in the future stressing that there are opportunities that can be harnessed to improve trade and services and diversify the economy.

In his remarks, the Ambassador of Barbados to the UN Institutions and WTO, Ambassador Chad Blackman noted that Nigeria, being the biggest economy and having the largest population in Africa, had a comparative advantage in terms of what it could achieve.

Other Members of the WTO DG delegation to the CBN were the Permanent Secretary and Management staff of Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

The visiting WTO DG and her delegation were received by the CBN Deputy Governors: Mrs. Aisha Ahmad (Financial System Stability), Mr. Edward Adamu (Corporate Services), Mr. Folashodun Shonubi (Operations), Special Adviser to the Governor on Financial Markets, Mr. Emmanuel Ukeje and some Departmental Directors.

President Buhari Proposes Administrative Structure Amendments to PIA 2021

President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR

President Muhammadu Buhari has written the National Assembly on proposed Administrative Structure Amendments to the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021.

In the letter to President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, the President said “having carefully reviewed the administrative structure of both the Commission and the Authority, I would like to propose the following amendments:

A. Appointment of Non-Executive Board Members

B. Removal of the Ministries of Petroleum and Finance from the Board of the two institutions

C. Appointment of Executive Directors.

Under A, President Buhari observed that PIA 2021 provided for the appointment of two non-executive members for the board of the two regulatory institutions, but he is of the view that the membership limitation has not addressed the principle of balanced geopolitical representation of the country.

“I, therefore, pray for the intervention of the 9th Assembly to correct this oversight in the interest of our national unity,” he added, noting that if the amendment is approved, it will increase the number of the non-executive members from two to six: one person from each of the geopolitical zones of the country.

Under B, President Buhari opined that the proposed amendment will increase the membership of the Board from 9 to 13, and strengthen the institutions and guarantee national spread, and also achieve the expected policy contributions.

He observed that the Ministries of Petroleum and Finance already have supervision or inter-governmental relations, and can continue to perform such roles without being in the Board.

On C, which is appointment of Executive Directors, President Buhari noted the need to exempt serving public officers from the established confirmation process for political appointments, adding that it will ensure effective management of the regulatory institutions through uniform implementation of public service rules for employees of the Authority.

He stressed that the proposed amendments to the PIA 2021 is strictly about the structure, aimed at ensuring smooth take-off and consequent growth of the two institutions.

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandoski Won European Golden Shoe

Robert Lewandoski

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski received the 2021 European Golden Shoe on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 with a record-breaking 41 goals from 29 matches in the 2020/21 Bundesliga season. 

The 33-year-old Polish striker outscored Lionel Messi (30) and Cristiano Ronaldo (29) as the top scorer across the continent, missing the back of the net in just four games out of the total 29, averaging 1.5 goals per game.

His record of 41 goals surpassed the previous record held by the legendary Gerd Mueller since 1972 by one goal.

Bayern finished the last season with a ninth straight Bundesliga title, and have begun their campaign for even bigger victory, ranking first after five rounds this season.

“It’s not over yet, we are still hungry for titles,” said Lewandowski, who hopes to add a second Champions League title to the one he won with Bayern in 2020.

Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer said: “This is a great accolade for Robert Lewandowski. Not just for his many, many goals but for the exemplary professionalism with which he gives everything for success every day.”

UK Government to Level up Investment Plan

The International Trade Committee has said the UK government needs to improve on its plan to “level up” foreign investment across the country.

The group said that current inward foreign direct investment (FDI) is dominant in London and the South East, and called for moves to “maximise the benefits for all parts of the UK.”

Inward FDI is where overseas investors acquire ownership of, or a controlling stake in, British businesses. FDI occurs where an investor acquires a stake of at least 10% in an overseas company.

As well as enhancing business turnover, the creation of jobs, and exports, inward investment brings other indirect benefits such as employment, skills, technology, and managerial practices, the Committee said.

It comes as prime minister Boris Johnson is aiming to raise the level of income across UK regions. The Conservative party’s manifesto includes a commitment to “levelling up every part of the UK,” including rural and coastal areas, and giving them far more control of how investment is made.

“Inward foreign direct investment can benefit local economies, generating new jobs and bringing new skills,” Angus Brendan MacNeil, chair of the International Trade Committee, said.

“If the government is serious about its levelling-up agenda, it needs to show it has a plan to maximise the benefits of inward investment in all parts of the UK.”

Last year, the government launched a new Office for Investment (OfI) to “support the landing of high value investment opportunities into the UK.”

The Office is based in the Department for International Trade (DIT), with minister for investment Gerry Grimstone leading its work in close partnership with Downing Street. It also ensures that the UK is well positioned to maximise the benefits that flow from free trade agreements with international partners.

Although the International Trade Committee welcomed the creation of the department, it warned that such initiatives must be integral parts of an overall investment strategy, and not just be ad hoc.

It urged for greater transparency about progress, quicker implementation of changes, and a broader engagement of users.

Before the pandemic, some 39,000 jobs were created in England thanks to foreign direct investment projects. However, foreign direct investment in the UK fell by 57% in 2020 to $19.7bn (£14.4bn), down from $45.4bn the previous year.

The data, compiled by MoneyTransfers.com using figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), revealed that Britain came in as the 12th most popular nation for foreign investors behind Germany, Mexico, India, Sweden, Canada, and Brazil.

Last week, Boris Johnson said: “This government is committed to uniting and levelling up every part of the UK and I am determined that as we build back better from the pandemic we are geared up with the teams and expertise to deliver on that promise.”

It came as former Bank of England (BoE) chief economist Andy Haldane was appointed as the new head of the government’s Levelling Up Taskforce.

Reasons Why We Love Cupcakes

  1. Cupcakes can be sophisticated or whimsical and are great for any age and any occasion. They are the perfect fit for children birthday parties, bar, quinces, sweet sixteens, graduations, etc.
  2. Cupcakes are great for a group activity. Think rainy day and energetic kids! What better way to harness that energy than by spending quality time creating something really yummy.
  3. Cupcakes are a cost effective dessert option.
  4. They are irresistible.

Meet Kathy Hochul; New York’s First Female governor

Kathy Hochul has rarely been headline news – but that changed when she took to the podium at the State Capitol in New York on Wednesday, September 22, 2021.

In less than two weeks, the 62-year-old lieutenant governor will succeed Andrew Cuomo and become the first woman to lead the state.

“While it was not expected, it is a day for which I am prepared,” Hochul said in her first news conference since Cuomo’s resignation announcement, adding that they had talked on Tuesday to try to ensure a smooth transition.

Cuomo has been under public pressure since a months-long sexual harassment investigation began. He stepped down after a 165 page-report released August 3 by the state attorney general Letitia James concluded that he sexually harassed 11 women.

Hochul described the governor’s alleged behavior as “repulsive & unlawful” and said the Assembly will determine the next steps. Hochul stressed that she does not have a close relationship with Cuomo, despite being his running mate. She has tended to stay in the background, and did not appear in Cuomo’s award-winning press briefings at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kathy Hochul may not be a household name, but she is no stranger to American politics.

When she was in high school, she regularly took a bus downtown and volunteered at the local Democratic Party headquarters during summer vacation. She was the youngest and the only female in the room. During college years, she engaged in debates and ran for vice-president of student government. She spoke up for students and once led a boycott of a bookstore that began charging high prices. When she interned at the New York State Assembly, she met her future husband, Bill Hochul, who later served as the U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York.

After finishing her postgraduate study in law, Hochul started working for a Washington law firm, then moved on to Capitol Hill as an aide to former U.S. Representative John La Falce and U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

She held her first public office as a member of the Hamburg Town Board in 1994. In 2003, Erie County Clerk David Swart hired Hohul as his first deputy. When he left office in 2007, Governor Eliot L. Spitzer appointed Hochul as Erie County clerk.

Hochul took part in an election in the most Republican congressional district in 2011 and surprisingly won as a Democrat. But she lost the redrawn district in 2012 in a very close race against Republican Chris Collins. In 2013, M&T Bank hired her to work in government relations. The bank president said she brought a broad range of government knowledge to the company.

These experiences came in handy after she was elected lieutenant governor of the state as Cuomo’s running mate in the 2014 gubernatorial election. They were sworn in on January 1, 2015 and reelected in 2018. “Of all the levels of government I’ve worked in, I’m really finding that this one has a very direct impact on the most of our people,” said Hochul in 2018. “That’s why I want to do it, again.” Hochul was born in a blue-collar Irish Catholic family in Buffalo, New York in 1958. Her grandparents were Irish immigrants who fled poverty. In an article, Hochul recalled two pictures in the room that left her a deep impression. One was Jesus Christ, who she said always cared for the poor and homeless, the other was John F. Kennedy, the first Irish-American President. “Although it may not be apparent from my name,” said Hochul, “I actually was christened Kathleen Mary Courtney, making me the highest Irish-American State elected official in New York.”

Her father, Jack Courtney, worked in Bethlehem Steel plant at night while studying for a college degree during the day. Her mother Patricia stayed at home and raised six children.

As a child, Hochul never needed to look far for inspiration. She has described on Twitter how she was inspired by her father, who was born to poor Irish immigrants, lived in a trailer, but eventually rose to head his own IT company with a college degree and hard work.

Her mother, as a longtime member of the Hamburg community, organized day camps and food drives for the needy. She founded a neighborhood association to provide migrant workers’ children temporary stays, and also ran a local flower shop for 15 years and employed displaced homemakers. 

“I wanted my children to grow up and be happy and successful,” she said. “But more importantly, I wanted them to give back to others.”  

Instilled with a sense of moral responsibility to give back by her mother, she always has fought for the rights of women and the LGBTQ community. In 2006, she joined her mother and aunt to establish Kathleen Mary House, a transitional home for domestic abuse victims. It was a shelter for those who felt helpless at the time, just like her mother’s flower shop.

In an interview with Politico, she said her grandma was a survivor of domestic abuse, who left her marriage at a time when divorce was uncommon in the conservative Catholic community in rural western New York in the early 1940s. It prompted her to advocate for victims of domestic violence. She also led the governor’s “Enough is Enough” initiative to combat sexual assault on campus.

She has also worked with the governor to make tuition free at SUNY (State University of New York) and CUNY (City University of New York) for all middle-income families during the prolonged federal shutdown under the Trump administration.

In 2020, she announced a $40.2 million federal grant to improve prekindergarten and child care services. She said she used to get a lot of food stamps and rent assistance until she could pay for herself, and she’s been looking for opportunities to help these families.

Since the paid sick leave law started in 2021, workers in New York can use sick leave to recover from illness or care for others without worrying about being fired. “No one should have to choose between going to work sick or caring for a sick loved one and not getting a paycheck,” Hochul said in a prepared statement, “especially as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Since joining the Cuomo administration, Hochul has engaged in a frenetic travel agenda. She travels to all 62 counties in the state every year, dedicating herself to local communities, from visiting distant coffee shops and solving traffic problems to protect motorists to announcing a $10 million job training fund in Utica. Hochul said she would continue meeting potential cabinet officials and building up her senior staff over the next two weeks. State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins will act as lieutenant governor before she chooses her own. Hochul said during an appearance NBC’s The Today Show that she plans to seek election for a full term next year.

But the path might not be smooth at a time of uncertainty.

With the Delta variant surging and millions of children heading back to school, the incoming governor said there will be a mask mandate if needed. She is poised to tackle other pressing issues like keeping tenants from being evicted and fostering economic recovery.

“I won’t let New Yorkers down, ” she said.

Germany’s Next Chancellor Faces Big Budget Choices

Carefully balanced finances have long been a sacred principle of the German government. Annual budgets are constitutionally required to follow the philosophy of spending only what you have, while avoiding new debt as much as possible.

Yet, the hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency spending stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Europe’s largest economy to re-evaluate its strict debt rules in order to keep the economy alive. 

Some candidates standing in the Federal Election on Sunday, September 26, 2021 have called for the “debt brake” to be axed in order to promote more investment in Germany. 

24 Hours News And Update From Around The World @ BlogSpotMedia