Australia police 'foil terror plot to bring down plane'

Counter-terrorism police in Australia have stopped a suspected plot to bring down an aeroplane, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said.

He was speaking after four people were arrested in raids across Sydney.

Investigators said they had information that the plot to blow up an aircraft involved the use of an "improvised device".

Mr Turnbull said the raids had been a "major joint counter-terrorism operation".

He said extra security was in place at domestic and international airports.

The raids took place in the Sydney suburbs of Surry Hills, Lakemba, Wiley Park and Punchbowl, Australian broadcaster ABC reported.

Australia's national terror threat level remains at "probable".

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said the four men arrested were allegedly linked to an "Islamic-inspired" plot.

"In recent days, law enforcement has become aware of information that suggested some people in Sydney were planning to commit a terrorist attack using an IED (improvised explosive device)," he told a news conference.

He said police did not yet have information on "the specific attack, the location, date or time", adding that he expected the investigation to be "long and protracted".

ABC reported that a woman in the Surry Hills area, who said her son and husband had been arrested, denied that they had any links to terrorism.

-BBC

Brexit could take five long years

Britain will seek to ease its way out of the European Union in order to prevent severe damage to its economy.

Treasury chief Philip Hammond said Friday that Britain hopes to negotiate a "transitional period" of up to three years after leaving the European Union in March 2019, during which current terms of trade would be maintained.

"There is going to have to be a period during which we move gradually from where we are now to our new long-term relationship with the European Union," Hammond told the BBC.

Hammond said the transitional period, which must end before the next general election due in 2022, is needed to protect the British economy from the shock that a clean break with the EU would bring.

"The government's job is to make sure that our economy can go on functioning normally ... to protect jobs, to protect British prosperity," he said.
Britain gave formal notice to the EU of its intention to leave in March, starting the clock ticking on two years of negotiations. A transitional period after that means the entire Brexit process could take five years.

The plan outlined by Hammond reflects a major shift in the government's thinking since Prime Minister Theresa May lost her parliamentary majority in an election in June.

May was advocating a clean break with the EU starting in March 2019, and had even threatened to walk away from exit talks under the mantra that "no deal is better than a bad deal."

But the government has moderated its position since the surprise election setback. Businesses have been pushing hard for an arrangement that gives them time to get used to the new relationship with the U.K.'s biggest export market.

Hammond said Friday that if the EU agrees the transitional period, very little might change in the immediate aftermath of Brexit.

"I would hope that we would agree a transition which means that in the immediate aftermath of leaving the European Union, goods would continue to flow across the border between the U.K. and the EU in much the same way they do now," Hammond said.

Apart from access to Europe's giant free trade zone, businesses also want reassurances about their ability to hire EU citizens after March 2019. They play a vital role across the economy, from tech firms to banks, the health service, farms and the hospitality industry.

Borders won't be slammed shut
Members of May's government have made contradictory pronouncements on immigration policy in recent days, adding to the impression of confusion surrounding Britain's goals for Brexit talks.

Hammond made clear on Friday that EU migrants were unlikely to be turned away at the border after March 2019, so long as they register when coming in and out of the country. He said there was broad acceptance within the cabinet that a transitional period is needed.

"It will be some time before we are able to introduce full migration controls between the U.K. and the European Union," he said. "That's not a matter of political choice, it's a matter of fact."

The apparent shift in strategy coincides with a barrage of data that suggest Britain's already weak economy may be drifting toward recession.

The U.K. recorded the slowest growth of any European economy in the first three months of the year, and output remained weak in the second quarter.

Brits are saving the smallest share of disposable income in over 50 years and credit card borrowing is at record high. Wages are stagnating and consumer confidence is crashing.

No U.S. trade deal for years?

The threat of further economic pain, combined with the need to get a deal quickly, makes the kind of Brexit described by Hammond the most appealing option for the business community.

Still, the plan would need to be agreed with the EU -- and it would not come without tradeoffs.
Britain could, for example, be prevented from completing new trade deals with the U.S., or any other country outside the EU, during the transitional period.

"We recognize that it will take some time for us to negotiate trade deals with third countries," Hammond conceded. "The important point is that we're able to get started on that process."

-CNN Money(London)

Dozens injured in Barcelona train crash


More than 50 people have been injured in a train crash at a major railway station in Barcelona, emergency services said Friday.

The Catalan Emergency Services revised the number hurt to 54 after earlier giving numbers ranging from 40 to 48.

The crash, which it described as an accident, happened during rush hour Friday morning at the Estacion de Francia, a major railway station in the western Spanish city.

One person is seriously injured, 19 people are in a less serious condition, including the train conductor, and another 34 people suffered minor injuries, the emergency services said.

The department earlier said at least 18 people required hospitalization.

No deaths have been reported, authorities said. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

A video posted on Twitter by Felix Rios appeared to show that the front of the train had crumpled as it hit the buffers.

CNN's Eliza Mackintosh contributed to this report.

Ferrari crash: Newly-bought supercar gone in 60 minutes


A driver watched his newly-bought Ferrari 430 Scuderia go up in smoke after he crashed the supercar just an hour after collecting it.

The luxury motor veered off a highway and "burst into flames," according to a Facebook post by South Yorkshire Police.
Photographs of the incident's aftermath show the burned-out remains of the car smoldering on grass.

South Yorkshire Police say they were surprised to see that the driver had escaped the blaze mostly unharmed, adding that he was "very lucky" to walk away from the crash with only "minor cuts and bruises".

"Officers asked the driver what sort of car he 'had', to which he replied, 'It was a Ferrari,'" police said.
"Detecting a sense of damaged pride, he then said 'I've only just got it, picked it up an hour ago,'" they explained.

According to Ferrari's website, F1 racing legend Michael Schumacher "spent a lot of time testing the 430 Scuderia when it was being developed."

Although the Italian luxury cars are renowned for being fast, South Yorkshire Police said the crash was not thought to have been caused by speeding.


-CNN

China WhatsApp crackdown only scratches surface of worsening internet censorship



As Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate, lay dying in a heavily-guarded hospital last month, there was little mention of his fate in China.

For many younger Chinese, Liu is an unknown figure, the culmination of years of intense censorship of his life and works. The tiny minority who did attempt to express outrage online at Liu's treatment, or commemorate him after he succumbed to liver cancer on July 14, saw their posts blocked and images deleted.

On Weibo, China's most popular Twitter-like platform, users were prevented from posting messages with the words "Nobel," "liver cancer," "RIP" or the candle emoji, according to researchers at Toronto's Citizen Lab and Hong Kong's Weiboscope.

Censorship was also widespread on messaging app WeChat, which was once less filtered than Weibo because of its more private nature. Citizen Lab found that even in one-on-one chats, mentions of Liu Xiaobo's name and photos of him were deleted when chatting with Chinese users.

Sina and Tencent, which own Weibo and WeChat respectively, did not respond to requests for comment.
"The party keeps tightening censorship to an absurd degree," said dissident artist Badiucao, who has launched a campaign to memorialize Liu worldwide.

While Liu's case is an outlier in terms of the intense efforts to wipe out all mention of the deceased activist, it is in keeping with trends in Chinese online censorship that have been building since Xi assumed power in 2012.

Building up the Firewall
Often discussion of Chinese internet censorship can be mocking and disbelieving, such as recent reports on attempts to wipe out mention of President Xi Jinping's resemblance to Winnie the Pooh.
In the early days of the internet in China, outside commentators confidently opined that Beijing's attempts at internet control were doomed. The New York Times' Nick Kristof said in 2005 the Chinese authorities were "digging the Communist Party's grave, by giving the Chinese people broadband."

But the Chinese censors have defied their critics, building the world's most sophisticated system of internet filtering and surveillance -- the Great Firewall.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology did not respond to faxed requests for comment.
This month saw new bricks added to the wall, as Beijing went after two means of bypassing its controls.

Users of encrypted messaging service WhatsApp found themselves unable to send images or videos this week, and analysts reported the app's speed was being filtered or disrupted, making it difficult to access from China.

Disruption of virtual private networks (VPNs) -- which enable users to tunnel their web traffic through the Great Firewall, effectively browsing as if they're in another country -- has also been ramped up, with both Bloomberg and the Associated Press reporting that a blanket ban on VPN usage may be in the works.

That would be an extreme step, as VPNs are also used by many companies to enable secure networking and file sharing between offices.

Previously Beijing has tolerated commercial services offered to foreigners to allow them to access banned sites like Facebook and Twitter while they're in China --international hotels in major Chinese cities have also been known to offer this service.

Lokman Tsui, an expert on censorship at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said it was "possible that some of the newer developments we have seen are experimental in nature, e.g. let's try and float this to see how well it works ... and see what public reaction we get."

Even if the VPN ban does not pan out, Tsui said, the direction things are going in is clear, and it's not positive.

Internet sovereignty
Xi Jinping did not come after the internet immediately after assuming power, focusing instead on shoring up his support base and extending his influence as the Communist Party's "core leader" and most powerful head since Mao Zedong.

In recent years however, Xi's efforts to consolidate power have widened, and in 2015, speaking at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, he elucidated his vision of the internet.
It was one startlingly at odds with the free and open network expounded by the internet's inventors. In Xi's view, sovereignty, not freedom or communication or sharing, was the most important factor in online policy.

"Cyberspace is not a domain beyond the rule of law," Xi said. "Greater efforts should be made to strengthen ethical standards and promote civilized behavior."

The doctrine of internet sovereignty, which emerged in China in the early 2010s and is now driving Beijing's internet policy, seeks to establish a national, as opposed to global, internet.

Instead of the world wide web as we know it, countries would each maintain their own national internet, by force if necessary, with the border controls and immigration standards they see fit.

Peter Micek, general counsel for Access Now, which lobbies in favor of an open internet, said Chinese officials and technicians are increasingly working to water down protections for online freedoms at the United Nations and other bodies which oversee internet standards and governance.

"More and more Chinese engineers and engineers from Chinese companies are proposing and developing and adopting standards," he added.
Technical bodies like the International Telecommunication Union, the World Wide Web Consortium and others have huge influence on how the global internet operates, but sometimes with little transparency and limited democratic input.

"That's one place where quietly there is a more concerted effort (by China) to take control of what the internet actually is," Micek said.
According to the New York Times, in late 2015 Beijing lobbied hard -- but ultimately unsuccessfully -- to remove phrases like "freedom of expression" and "democratic" from a major UN document on internet policy.

Worrying trend
China's efforts to influence global internet policy are largely designed to legitimize -- and prevent other countries from complaining about -- Beijing's existing controls on expression online, but they could have far-reaching consequences.

"A lot of governments would like to follow China's lead, and exercise if not complete control then effective control over the boundaries of what people can say and do online," Micek said.

Previous Chinese censorship innovations -- like internet shutdowns, deep packet inspection of internet traffic, and blocking unwanted messaging apps -- have been readily adopted by countries as diverse as Cameroon, Russia, Iran and India.

Nor is the situation likely to improve anytime soon in China, said CUHK's Tsui.
"Other governments have definitely gotten worse at pushing back at Chinese censorship," he said, pointing to a push by the UK, US and others to water down encryption protections in the name of fighting terrorism.

"This allows China to say 'what we are doing is not so different'," he said. "Overall the trend is towards more censorship .. so the bar is getting lower, meaning it is easier for China to go even lower."

Little hope for change
Back in China, controls are expected to ramp up even further as the country nears the all-important Communist Party Congress, the once every five years handover of power, at which the next Politburo Standing Committee, which runs the country, will be chosen. Some have suggested there may be a corresponding relaxation following the meeting, but experts CNN spoke to were skeptical.

Charlie Smith, co-founder of censorship watchdog GreatFire.org, said it was a mistake "to tie any crackdown on internet freedom in China to specific events or characters."

"Things started trending in the wrong direction when Xi Jinping took power," he said. "Regardless of what meetings are on the horizon, the authorities have been instructed to entirely control what people say, read, watch and hear on the internet."

Tsui said new trends like the WhatsApp block and crackdown on VPNs will either continue "or they are filing this knowledge away for future reference, to try again at some later date."
"The (Party Congress) is not the cure for the situation, it's not even a pain killer" Badiucao said. "I see no hope or willingness for the CCP to make a positive change."

-CNN Hong Kong


China builds high-tech cinema on disputed island with 1,100 residents

China has built a top-of-the-line cinema on a tiny disputed island in the South China Sea, the latest in a series of moves by Beijing to press its territorial claims in the region.


According to the official Xinhua news agency, the Sansha Yinlong Cinema, replete with 4K projectors and more than 200 seats, is the country's southernmost theater, located on Woody Island -- which China calls Yongxing Island -- in the Paracel Islands chain.

The one square mile (2.6 square kilometers) territory located around 200 miles (320 kilometers) from China's province of Hainan is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

"The cinema will show at least one film every day, so residents and soldiers on Yongxing Island can enjoy films simultaneously with moviegoers across the country," said Gu Xiaojing, general manager of Hainan Media Group, told Xinhua. The company has also purchased two mobile projection units to screen films for free on surrounding islands.

Around 1,100 people live on Woody Island, according to Chinese state media.

Contested territory
Beijing is engaged in a series of territorial disputes in the South China Sea, parts or all of which is claimed by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines.

In 2012, China created the city of Sansha, based on Woody Island, to administer all its claimed territory in the region, including the Spratly Islands, Paracels, Macclesfield Bank and the Scarborough Shoal.

Since then, Beijing has moved to encourage tourism and development in the South China Sea to help press its claim that the territories are unequivocally Chinese.

Cruises regularly leave Hainan for the South China Sea islands, where Chinese tourists engage in ceremonial activities like raising the country's flag and singing the national anthem.

China has also heavily militarized some islands and expanded other territories with major land reclamation work, turning sandbars into islands and equipping them with airfields, ports and weapons systems.

According to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, dozens of aircraft hangers and high-end radar capabilities on man-made islands in the South China Sea are almost operational.

In May, the Philippines announced it was following China's lead and militarizing its own territories in the Spratly chain, sending troops and supplies to Pagasa Island, with future plans to build an airstrip and improve civilian infrastructure.

Freedom of navigation
As well as disputes with other South China Sea claimants, Beijing's activity has also set it up for confrontations with the US -- which has long carried out "freedom of navigation" operations through waters claimed by China.

This month, a US Navy destroyer sailed within 12 miles (19 kilometers) of Triton Island in the Paracel archipelago, which is claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The top US commander in the Pacific, Adm. Harry Harris, told an audience in Australia last month "fake islands should not be believed by real people," in reference to China's land reclamation activities.

"I believe the Chinese are building up combat power and positional advantage in an attempt to assert de facto sovereignty over disputed maritime features and spaces in the South China," Harris added.
China called the action "a serious political and military provocation" and warned the US against "(stirring) up trouble" in the region.

By: CNN Hong Kong

Justin Bieber banned from playing Beijing



Justin Bieber won't be hitting the stage in Beijing anytime soon.

The Canadian pop singer has been banned from performing in the Chinese capital for "bad behavior," according to a statement from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture in response to fans asking about the cancellation.

"His series of misbehaviors while living abroad and during his performances in China has caused public resentment," said the statement dated July 18. "To regulate the domestic entertainment market and purify its environment, we find it inappropriate to bring in performers with bad behaviors."

The 23-year-old singer is currently on his third world tour, with Asian dates in Japan, India, Hong Kong, Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia.

Bieber's official website does not show any scheduled tour dates in mainland China. But there appears to be some confusion about a possible stop in Shanghai.

CNN called a Chinese ticketing website that is selling tickets for two Bieber concerts scheduled on September 16 in Beijing and September 23 in Shanghai. A website staffer was not aware of the Beijing government's decision but said it will refund in full if the approval doesn't come through.

A source at the Shanghai cultural authority, which approves concerts in that city, told CNN that it was unlikely that Shanghai would allow Bieber to perform there, given the decision Beijing has already made.

Bieber is no stranger to controversy, after denying reports for groping and spitting on fans, pleading guilty for illegally street racing and for recently not knowing the Spanish words to his latest hit "Despacito."

He also made headlines for his May concert in Mumbai. Four million dollars were invested for Bieber's first show in India that drew tens of thousands, according to the promoter.

"We haven't cut corners on this show," said Arjun Jain, Managing Director of White Fox India. "In terms of ticketed events, this is the biggest show not only for my company, but in the history of India. ... Everything he's wanted we've made it available, except for a few things that weren't available for which we got substitutes.

China has blacklisted musicians reportedly due to their meeting up and tweeting about exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, but not for "bad behavior." Those allegedly blacklisted include Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, Bon Jovi, Maroon 5, Linkin Park and Bjork.

By:CNN's Steven Jiang, Matt Rivers, Serenitie Wang and Muyuan Zhou contributed to this report from Beijing.

Nigerians can now view YouTube offline

Google CEO Sundar Pichai at Google for Nigeria event in Lagos Thursday. He announced Google's commitment to train 10 million people over the next five years in Africa. Photo/ Courtesy of Google Africa Blog.

Google boss Sundar Pichai joined members of his executive team on his first visit to Nigeria as the company announced a series of products for the country, including YouTube Go, a platform where users with slow Internet can preview and save videos.

YouTube users in the country can now download any video in a range of different resolutions so that they can watch it later without an Internet connection.
While Nigeria has about 93 million mobile Internet users, the cost of data is expensive and at times the Internet is very slow.

Nigeria is the second country after India to have the YouTube Go capability. Google has owned YouTube since 2006.

he move is certain to increase YouTube's growing Nigeria base, which the platform is keen to court; it held the first YouTube sub-Saharan Africa awards last year and prominent Nigerian bloggers have been featured in advertising campaigns around the country.

According to Google, the number of hours of video content being uploaded in Africa has doubled for the past two years, while viewing time on mobile phones is grown 120% year over year.

Google will also launch a partnership in September with Japanese mobile manufacturer Freetel to provide 13,000 Naira (about $40) Android phones for the country, Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product management, said at a Google for Nigeria event held on Thursday in Lagos.

Google's charitable arm also made commitments to teaching digital skills.
"I am really excited we are committing to train 10 million people over the next five years in Africa," said Pichai.

Another featured launched for Nigeria was the Lagos Street View.
Imagery of 10,000 kilometers of Lagos roads, including Eko Bridge, Carter Bridge and the National Museum, are now available on Street View.
This comes after the addition of more than 100,000 small businesses to Google Maps.

Over 1.2 billion Africans are connected to the internet and Nigeria has over 100 million internet users, making it the highest in Africa. The high number of African internet users comes in handy as the tech giant is set to launch Google Impact Challenge in Africa in 2018.

Innovators from nonprofits will be able to share ideas on how they can impact their communities and beyond.
"We ask nonprofits from around Africa to nominate the best ideas and we allow local people to vote for what they think is the best idea. Nongovernmental organizations nominate themselves and people get to vote and choose where the funding goes to," announced Pichai.

Google set up the challenge and visits regions across the world asking locals to share innovation that could help their communities and beyond. The winners will get a grant of $5 million to develop the concept.

Google grants arm will also train 100,000 African software gurus focusing mainly on Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

It is too late to restructure, give us Oduduwa republic, give Igbos Biafra - Yoruba group tells FG


The Yoruba Liberation Command (YOLICOM) says it is time for the Yoruba nation to exit Nigeria
- The group states that Nigeria will never be genuinely restructured by the present crop of political leaders
- The YOLICOM says it is in support of the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra for self actualization irrespective of whatever hate speech he has been accused of
Amid agitation for Biafra Republic in the southeast, a southwest group, the Yoruba Liberation Command (YOLICOM) has declared secession from Nigeria.

The group which made the declaration in Lagos on Thursday, July 27, sought the creation of Oduduwa Republic, Vanguard reports.
The spokesperson for the group, Opeoluwa Akinola, at a press conference held at Ogba said it was time for the Yoruba nation to exit Nigeria which he said was being dominated by the Fulani north.
The group rejected the calls for restructuring, noting that Nigeria will never be genuinely restructured by the present crop of political leaders.
It said: “We totally reject the idea of restructuring as proposed. It is an attempt to restructure Nigeria on their own terms and not on the terms of the people. Nigeria will never be genuinely restructured by the present crop of political leaders who are themselves beneficiaries of the same skewed system.

“Even if the country will be restructured, it will pass through the National Assembly, which was created during the era of military rule of the Fulani to ensure an upper hand for the Fulani North. The National Assembly is an organ of the Fulani and their agents, so also is the Nigerian military, which has continuously been used to repress, intimidate and humiliate Nigerians.”
The group says what the South-Western Yoruba region needs now is Oduduwa republic.
The group also said it is in support of the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra for self actualization irrespective of whatever hate speech he has been accused of. It said it wants an end to marginalization of some regions in the country and sought for a relation with the Biafra nation by the Oduduwa republic.
The full statement released by the group read:
“You will recall that since 1914, when Nigeria was amalgamated at gun point, the country has been thrown into one turmoil or the other. For over a century, Nigeria has failed to meet the international benchmark of socio political and economic development.

“The only references to Nigeria’s grandeur were the striking achievements of the then three regions of South West, South East and the North. Since the collapse of federalism and the three tiers founded to a large extent on the civilisations and values of the ethnic configuration in the country, Nigeria was remained in the tunnel of misery, pangs and pains, including the fact that the country was plunged into an avoidable civil war that took now fewer than I million lives.

“Since the end of the war, millions of Nigerians as individuals and collectively as a society, have continued to wage and fight wars of survival characterised by extreme hunger and lack of the essentials of life like housing, good water, shelter, health and drinkable water. It has been most traumatic for the Yoruba Nation, which, between 1953 and 1966, raised one of the most advanced political economies in Africa and in the entire black world, parring on the same level with many countries in Europe by the standard of the time.

“The Yoruba educational, cultural and political institutions were not only some of the best in Africa, the then Western Region gave hope to the entire black world with the highest Human Index development in Africa by the rating of the UNDP. The destruction of the regional system of government has turned Nigeria into a unitary state dotted with a savage vulture of corruption, ineptitude, inefficiency, moral degeneration, deaths, violent crimes and now violent religious extremism.

“The so called democracy is nothing but the imposition of individual will through an orchestrated mass corruption where the poverty of the voters is exploited for electoral gains by politicians seeking political offices. Democracy is not about the interest of the few elected people and their cronies. Democracy is now government of the party for the [party leaders and by the party members.

“Since 1914, the recurrent question has been: Should Nigeria remain one or not? Should the bottled up energies free s and liberate themselves from the shackles of misery, the fetters of iron and the muddy mess of agony or they should remain in eternal slavery? The question has come up again in the past few months with various groups making demands.

“You will agree with me that the self-determination groups in Nigeria are the engine of our history today. We have the largest population with which all the members of the main political parties in Yorubaland combined together cannot equal. Our members are not in these movements for personal gains like we have in the political parties. Our members are in these organisations to make sacrifices and if necessary lay down their lives for the Yoruba nation.

“We wish to announce to this important gathering, that we in YOLICOM representing some of the finest leaders of self-determination groups from across the Yoruba nation, has weighed the options extensively. For the past three months, we have been consulting with all the Yoruba self-determination groups, meeting poor and malnourished Yoruba people, talking to our people in the villages, towns and on the hills and mountains in the rural communities of Yoruba nation.

“In the light of the foregoing, and in response to the occurrences in Nigeria of the past few months, including but not limited to the releases, utterances and comments certain groups representing the Igbo nation in Nigeria, IPOB (The Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB) Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, (MASSOB) among others to the effect that they desire to leave Nigeria and cease to be called Nigerians; and certain groups representing the (AREWA) people of Northern Nigeria, to the effect that the Igbo people should vacate the territory of Northern Nigeria before October 1st, 2017.

“That we support the aspirations of the Igbo Nation irrespective of the unfortunate hate speeches, infantile savage utterances of a certain Nnamdi Kanu, who appears to have singled out Yoruba Nation for ridicule and revulsion. We take solace in the fact that we work with many large-hearted, better-exposed, principled and consciousness Igbo leaders who have a richer sense of history and understands better the complex nature of nation building and who also realize that importance of alliances, networking in statesmanship and international friendship and solidarity. We look forward to a viable and mutual relationship to the future Igbo nation, based on cordial respect within the framework of international best practices.

“We observe the panic measures of the government which has been to attack proponents of self-determination and even exterminate them. We also note the setting up of a committee to handle the issue of restructuring as led by the Governor of Kaduna state, Mallam El Rufai."

OUR DECLARATION
“The Yoruba Liberation Command (YOLICOM), the core of the authentic representatives and defenders of the values, rights and demands of the Yoruba Indigenous people, rejects the deceitful and self-serving tactics of the Nigerian political leadership, an extension of the Fulani oligarchy. We now make the following declarations:
“That what we want as a people of Oduduwa Republic. We have no apology for this. That the Yoruba people wish to see an end to the over 100 years of bitter acrimony, ethnic rivalry, savage killings, blackmail of the Yoruba nation by some recalcitrant ethnic groups, herdsmen killings, forcing millions of our people to stop going to farms and the excruciating burden of coming from a country with the stigma of terrorism.

“That our people have endured for a century the misery of Nigeria, her destruction of our values and the inestimable cultural genocide inflicted on our heritage by the rogue Nigerian country. It is time for the Yoruba Nation to exit from this axis of evil. That we totally reject the idea of RESTRUCTURING as proposed by the Nigerian state and the political elite. 

It is an attempt to restructure Nigeria on their own terms and not on the terms of the people. Nigeria will never be genuinely restructured by the present crop of political leaders who are themselves beneficiaries of the same skewed system.
“That even if the country will be restructured, it will still pass through the National Assembly which was created during the era of military rule of the Fulani to ensure an upper-hand for the Fulani North. The NA is an organ of the Fulani and their agents so also is the Nigerian military which has continuously been used to repress, intimidate and humiliate Nigerians. Nigeria has become a burden on Yoruba people. 

We suddenly have been exposed to unimaginable threats of violence, wiping off entire families through clubbing to death, kidnapping of women and adults, savage killings, kidnap of school children, stealing of public wealth and the public display of the stolen wealth, with arrogance by the criminals, the complete annihilation and confrontation of the poor people by the Nigerian state and many other ills that were hitherto strange to our long-lasting ancient civilization and values.

“By here policies and material relations, the Nigerian state with her ruinous gene, is breeding a disastrous crop of younger generation of people in Yoruba land. This is unacceptable to us. That any referendum at this time will swing on the side of the corrupt and irresponsible political class who continue to use ill-gotten public wealth to bribe, influence and manipulate elections and all institutions of politics and economy.

“Democracy itself has become an element for all forms of crooks and criminals to seek legitimacy to continue to abuse the people and steal their resources in the most brazen, inhuman, primitive and callous manner. A developed country can never emerge out of the charade of elections, form and content of Nigerian version of representative government.

“That we hereby and here, display the proposed flag of the Yoruba nation as a symbol of mobilization of our long suffering people out of the huge slum and prison called Nigeria, a country built and sustained by corruption, blood shedding, malicious damages and total contempt for humanity. That the entire proposed Yorubaland Nation lies almost completely within the trough encompassed by the River Niger, to the North and East, River Volta to the West and the long stretch of the Atlantic Ocean to the South. This geographic space more or less roughly describes the totality of the area occupied by Yoruba people over the extent of our known history.

“This includes stretches of land from the West at the borders of Togo, through Benin Republic to the Delta end of Warri in the creeks of the Niger delta (between Longitude 2°30′E and 6°30′E).The upward sweep commences from the Atlantic ocean coastline up to the immediate westerly bend of the Niger river, (below the confluence) (between Latitude 6°N and 9°N). That we assert our right to self-determination as espoused in Article 3 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which recognizes Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, which includes the right “to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

“Article 4 affirms Indigenous peoples’ right “to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs,”, and Article 5 protects their right “to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions.”. Article 26 states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired,” and it directs states to give legal recognition to these territories.
“We in YOLICOM totally agree with the desire and demand of the Igbo to vacate Nigeria. It is within their inalienable rights to so demand. We shall do all within our powers to assist and encourage the Igbo to achieve this.
“In the same vein, we agree that the Arewa groups are within their rights to demand that all Igbo should vacate their territories within the time frame given. As the deadline approaches, we see the threat being actualized. We also see the quit notice is also directed against the Yoruba people. There are about 6.5 million Yoruba in the 17 Northern States minus Kwara and Kogi states.

“We only urge the international community to recognise that this expulsion order, however, has automatically grouped every other southerner, or non-Muslim northerner, together in the order, because there is no verifiable way to differentiate between the Igbo and the Yoruba, between the Igbo and the Ibibio, Efik, Urhobo, Itshekiri, Ijaw or the Northern Yoruba of Kwara and Kogi. The Igbo do not carry a mark on their heads identifying them as such. Therefore this is an expulsion order to all Southerners and people of the Middle Belt by the core north of North West and North East. By this order, the North has automatically asked its people resident in the south to vacate the south of Nigeria and go back home to the North.

“Southerners, and especially Yoruba people resident in any part of the North are advised and encouraged to come back home, to Yorubaland where they are guaranteed one hundred percent protection of their lives, limbs and properties. It is important you do not fall victim to the wholesale slaughters, massacres and all the horrendously horrible things the Hausa-Fulani are known for if we are to judge by past experience. In the confines of Yorubaland, they dare not try any of these crimes because they know we have the antidote to their madness. We hereby repudiate, repeal and destroy the amalgamation proclamation of 1914, bringing the peoples of Nigeria together by fiat has come.

“We hereby assert the right of the Yoruba people to self-determination. This desire will be pursued using all local and international instruments until the Sovereign Nation of Oduduwa Republic is realized within the shortest time possible.
“We urge Yoruba people from all over the world to prepare for this battle which will be waged with all the power and energy within our disposal. This is the only way out of the political and economic quagmire we find ourselves as the Yoruba Nation.

“We call on the United Nations, (UN) to immediately put the machinery in motion for the immediate dissolution of Nigeria. Set the captives free. If Nigeria fails to heed this advice to dissolve the unholy and cruel union, the perpetrators and beneficiaries of the parasitic nation will have themselves to blame.”
Meanwhile, governors from the northern region of Nigeria have cautioned pro-Biafra activists and those calling for restructuring to refrain from conducts that could risk the unity of Nigeria.

The governors gave the caution on Thursday, July 27, at a joint meeting of the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) and traditional rulers at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House in Kaduna state, Guardian reports.
Shettima, who was represented by the governor of Katsina state, Aminu Masari, at the two-day meeting which began on Thursday, July 27, said the hate speeches being propagated by groups such as IPOB and MASSOB are inimical to the unity of Nigeria.

Ten-year-old rape victim

Indian court rejects abortion for Ten-year-old rape victim



India's Supreme Court has refused to allow an abortion for a 10-year-old girl, allegedly raped by her uncle, on the grounds that she is too far into her pregnancy.

A doctors' panel told the court that, at 32 weeks, termination of the pregnancy would be "too risky".
Her pregnancy was discovered two weeks ago when she complained of stomach ache and her parents took her to hospital.

A lower court had earlier turned down her plea on similar grounds.
Without disclosing the details of the medical report, the judges on Friday ruled that termination was "not good for the girl".

They have asked the government-run Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research hospital in the northern city of Chandigarh to ensure that proper medical care is provided to her.

The top court has also suggested that the Indian government set up a permanent medical board in each state to take prompt decisions in such cases.


  • India child rape victim in abortion plea
  • Why an MP wants India to talk about child sex abuse
  • The Indian girls who survived being raped


On Monday, the Supreme Court had ordered doctors to evaluate whether the girl could undergo abortion safely.

The court order came after lawyer Alakh Alok Srivastava filed a public interest petition saying doctors who had already examined the girl found her pelvic bones had not fully developed because of her age and the life of both mother and baby were at "very serious risk".

"Medical experts have categorically opined that if the 10-year-old is forced to give birth, either through normal delivery or even through caesarean-section, it may be fatal to the life of the rape survivor as well as to her child," the petition said.

The girl belongs to an extremely poor family, her father is a government employee and mother works as a domestic helper. The girl alleges she was raped several times in the past seven months by her uncle, who has been arrested.

Her pregnancy was only recently discovered because she herself was unaware of her condition.
Indian law does not allow terminations after 20 weeks unless doctors confirm the mother's life is in danger.

The scale of abuse in India:


  • A child under 16 is raped every 155 minutes, a child under 10 every 13 hours
  • More than 10,000 children were raped in 2015
  • 240 million women living in India were married before they turned 18
  • 53.22% of children who participated in a government study reported some form of sexual abuse
  • 50% of abusers are known to the child or are "persons in trust and care-givers"


Sources: Indian government, Unicef

The tough law against abortion was introduced in 1971 to prevent illegal and unsafe abortions and curb maternal mortality.

The restrictions remain an important weapon in India's fight against a skewed gender ratio which has resulted from a deep-seated cultural preference for sons.

Millions of female foetuses have been aborted over the years by pregnant women after undergoing foetal gender testing.

In recent years, Indian courts have received several petitions, many from child rape survivors, seeking to terminate pregnancies after 20 weeks, the BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi says.

In most such cases, the pregnancy is not even discovered until after the 20-week period is over because the children are themselves unaware of their condition, our correspondent adds.

In May, a court in Haryana state asked medical experts to comment on a similar plea and a panel of doctors decided to carry out a termination.

Medical experts say girls can start menstruating and ovulating at nine, but their bodies are not mature enough for pregnancy at that age.

India is home to the largest number of sexually abused children globally, with some campaigners saying it has reached epidemic proportions. But there is a general reluctance to talk about the problem and it is rarely discussed in public.

Studies have shown that in large numbers of cases the abusers are known to the children and include care-givers like parents, relatives and teachers.



The women plumbers breaking taboos in Jordan

Water availability in Jordan is among the lowest in the world.
One of the plumbers receiving training in 2016.

When the annual supply of water per capita falls below 1,000 cubic meters, the population faces water scarcity, according to the UN, with the threshold for "absolute scarcity" set at 500 cubic meters.
Jordan has an annual supply of just 150 cubic meters per capita.

The crisis, which has forced the government to access non-renewable sources from fossilized aquifers, is made worse by contributing factors such as climate change, population increase and the poor state of the distribution network, which is blamed for water losses of up to 40 percent.

To help address these issues Jordan has started a training program for plumbers, in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Half of the trainees are women, and more than a third are Syrian refugees.

The campaign has a dual goal: to offer employment and to increase awareness around water scarcity in Jordanian households.

It will also help to overcome prevailing traditions in the country: normally, male plumbers would need a male member of the house to be present in order to enter. A female plumber, however, can enter even when no male is present.

The program has allowed women to challenge other limitations, too: "Jordanian society has a lot of traditions and cultural limitations. People don't like women to develop and step up into things like this," says Nemah Khawaja, one of the plumbers in the project.

"It's not a matter of them not accepting the idea, but it's them questioning 'can you do this as a woman, can you do this job'? By proving ourselves, and our insistence we proved to them that we can do this."

Khawaja and other plumbers like her use their training to repair water pipes in the Amman and Irbid areas, while educating families on how to reduce waste.
"The entire world must contribute in reducing water wastage," she says.


Rare 'Argyle Everglow' Fancy Red diamond could sell for millions


As the head of jewelry in Asia for British auction house Bonhams, Graeme Thompson is used to handling beautiful diamonds on a daily basis. Yet he's only ever held a red diamond once, about five years ago. "Red diamonds are the rarest of them all and whoever gets to hold one in his hand is very lucky indeed," he said.

Mining company Rio Tinto has been showcasing stones from its Argyle mine in Western Australia for the past 33 years -- and during that time, less than 20 carats of Fancy Red certified diamonds have been sold.
Fancy Red diamonds are on the pink diamond color spectrum and is a grading from the Gemological Institute of America.
On Wednesday in New York, Rio Tinto unveiled its largest Fancy Red diamond yet to a select group of collectors, alongside other gemstones in its annual tender of pink diamonds. Known as the Argyle Everglow, the polished radiant cut diamond weighs 2.11 carats.

It represents "rarity within rarity, and will drive global demand from collectors and connoisseurs in search of the incomparable," said Argyle Pink Diamonds Manager Josephine Johnson.

The stone is "half the size of a one cent coin, but I expect it to sell for over $10 million," said Tobias Kormind, Managing Director of 77Diamonds.com, Europe's largest online diamond jeweler.

Thompson said he was not comfortable making a more definitive prediction on price without having seen the stone, but that the determining factors will be "the carat weight, the strength of the color, how red it is, and the clarity. The difference in value between a stone that is very clean and one that has inclusions is huge."

Fetching high prices
The largest red diamond in the world, the 5.11 carat Moussaieff Red, was discovered in Brazil in the 1990s and is currently owned by jeweler Moussaieff.

Significant red diamonds rarely appear at auctions. In 2013, a 1.92-carat Fancy Red rectangular-cut diamond, sold for CHF3.15 million at Christie's, while the auction house also sold a 2.09-carat heart-shaped Fancy Red diamond ring by Moussaieff for HKD39.32 million in 2014.

"The color red is essentially a highly, highly saturated vivid pink, where the body color goes beyond the pink color range -- and there can be modifying color to that red, like pinkish red, orangey red, brownish red -- and all of these contributing factors will then determine the value of the diamond," Thompson explained. "A Fancy Red is the rarest of all diamonds."

"To hold a red diamond in your hand and look at it and say it's a truly a red stone without any modifying colors, very few people on this planet will ever be able to do that," Thompson added, noting such red diamond will appeal to Chinese buyers "as it is the most auspicious of colors in China."

Mine to close soon
The Argyle Diamond Mine produces 90% of the world's rare pink diamonds and is set to close by 2021, according to Robyn Ellison, communications manager for Rio Tinto.

"It is unlikely that a diamond as rare as this will come out of the mine again," Ellison said.
At Rio Tinto's annual tender this year, buyers will have a choice of 58 diamonds weighing a total of 49.39 carats.

They include five "hero" diamonds selected for their unique beauty and named to ensure there is a permanent record of their contribution to the history of the world's most important diamonds.
The collection will be showcased in Hong Kong and Perth with bids closing on October 11.
CNN's Zahra Jamshed contributed to this report.



Parents Announce Death of 'beautiful boy'

Charlie Gard parents announce death of 'beautiful boy'


Charlie Gard, the baby at the centre of a legal row over his treatment, has died, a family spokesman has confirmed.

The 11-month-old was moved to a hospice following a High Court ruling.

He suffered from an extremely rare genetic condition causing progressive brain damage and muscle weakness.

His parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, fought a lengthy legal battle with Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to allow him to be taken to the US for treatment.

But on Monday they dropped their legal battle after Prof Michio Hirano, the American neurologist who had offered to treat him, said it was too late for it to work.

The tragic case of Charlie Gard
In a statement issued on Friday evening, Ms Yates said: "Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie."

Prime Minister Theresa May said: "I am deeply saddened by the death of Charlie Gard. My thoughts and prayers are with Charlie's parents Chris and Connie at this difficult time."

Pope Francis tweeted: "I entrust little Charlie to the Father and pray for his parents and all those who loved him."

GOSH said it sent its "heartfelt condolences" to Charlie's parents and loved ones.
US Vice-President Mike Pence tweeted: "Saddened to hear of the passing of Charlie Gard. Karen & I offer our prayers & condolences to his loving parents during this difficult time."

On Thursday, Ms Yates said the couple had been denied their "final wish" to have more time with him after a High Court judge ruled that he would be moved to a hospice and have his life support withdrawn soon after.

The couple had wanted to take their son to the US for nucleoside bypass therapy, but specialists at GOSH said the treatment was experimental and that Charlie had irreversible brain damage.

Hundreds of people - called Charlie's Army - lent their support to his parents, who raised £1.35m to take him to the US for treatment.

The couple fought a legal battle for five months, in which judges from the High Court, Supreme Court and the European Court all agreed with doctors that the treatment would not benefit Charlie.
Charlie's plight attracted the attention of Pope Francis and US president Donald Trump.


Following the European Court ruling, the Pope said he was following the case "with affection and sadness".

In a statement released earlier this month, the Vatican said: "For them he prays, hoping that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored."

The US president then offered his support, tweeting: "If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so."

After his tweet, Prof Hirano co-signed a letter with other medical experts which suggested unpublished data showed therapy could improve Charlie's brain condition.

They claimed that "ideally" the treatment would first be tested on mice but said that, in Charlie's case, there was no time for such a trial.

After examining Charlie a couple of weeks ago, Prof Hirano said it was too late for the treatment to work. An MRI scan had shown there was no muscle at all in parts of his body.

Paying tribute to their son following the end of their legal challenge the couple, both in their 30s and of Bedfont, west London, had described him as an "absolute warrior".

On Monday Mr Gard said: "Mummy and Daddy love you so much Charlie, we always have and we always will and we are so sorry that we couldn't save you.

"We had the chance but we weren't allowed to give you that chance. Sweet dreams baby. Sleep tight our beautiful little boy."

Timeline of Charlie's case:
3 March 2017: Mr Justice Francis starts to analyse the case at a hearing in the family division of the High Court in London

11 April: He says doctors can stop providing life-support treatment
3 May: Charlie's parents ask Court of Appeal judges to consider the case
23 May: Three Court of Appeal judges analyse the case
25 May: The Court of Appeal judges dismiss the couple's appeal
8 June: Charlie's parents lose their fight in the Supreme Court
20 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights start to analyse the case, after lawyers representing Charlie's parents make written submissions

27 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights refuse to intervene
3 July: The Pope and US President Donald Trump offer to intervene
4 July: The Vatican's children's hospital in Rome offers to take in Charlie
7 July: Great Ormond Street Hospital applies for a fresh hearing at the High Court
10 July: Charlie's parents return to the High Court and ask Mr Justice Francis to carry out a fresh analysis of the case. Mr Justice Francis says he will consider any new evidence.

17 July: Dr Michio Hirano, the US neurologist, travels to London to examine Charlie
21 July: Lawyer representing Great Ormond Street says Charlie's new scan makes for "sad reading"
22 July: Great Ormond Street says doctors and nurses have been subjected to abuse and received threatening messages

24 July: Charlie's parents say they will end their legal fight for his treatment and let him die
26 July: Deadline set for Charlie's parents and Great Ormond Street Hospital to agree how and when he will die

27 July: Mr Justice Francis rules Charlie will be moved to a hospice and have his life support withdrawn "soon after" after an agreement to decide his end-of-life care was not reached

GOP state officials disappointed Trump ousted Priebus


President Donald Trump's decision to replace Reince Priebus as chief of staff deepened the concerns of some Republican state party officials over the direction of the White House.

"I am extremely disappointed," said Robin Hayes, the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party.

"Reince gave his heart and soul to the administration," he said. "This is not an appropriate reward. And it sends a message to other potential folks who could help them: Watch out."

As the sitting president, Trump largely sets the direction of the Republican Party. But his ties to its nationwide infrastructure are tenuous, and Priebus -- who spent six years as the chairman of the Republican National Committee -- was Trump's most important connection.

Trump's allies in the state parties broadly knew Priebus and liked him. "He knows where the lights are," Hayes said.

Jeff Kaufmann, the Iowa Republican chairman and a vocal Trump supporter, said he'd "certainly felt comfortable" with Priebus as chief of staff.

"Having a friend in the White House that you've known before, that friend acquired that kind of power -- yeah, there's a comfort level there, no doubt about it," Kaufmann said.

However, he said he feels confident Trump will protect Iowa's status as the first state to vote in the presidential nominating process -- the biggest national priority for Iowa's state parties -- and likes John Kelly, the Homeland Security secretary Trump appointed as Priebus' successor.

"I think there's a sense here that this is a very unorthodox presidency. It's very active. There are multiple ways that this president communicates. And when you do that, you're probably going to see more turnover," Kaufmann said. "Let's face it, it's an exhausting job."

Analysis: Donald Trump's manic, fantastical and utterly disastrous week
Many Republicans were already seething over new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci's profanity-laced attacks on Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon.

"It's not necessary and it's not productive. It's bothering our folks and this is not New York," said Hayes, in a reference to the home state of Scaramucci and Trump, as well as Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner -- both of whom are White House advisers.

"We don't talk that way down here," Hayes said. "I wish (Trump) would not allow problems to be created because of untimely and inappropriate comments coming from a number of different places."
Iowa Republican activist and evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats, who backed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2016 GOP primary but ultimately supported Trump, also lambasted Scaramucci on the website of his organization, the Family Leader.

"Mr. President, it is time to look in the mirror, accept responsibility, apologize to the American people, and declare an end to this behavior immediately," Vander Plaats wrote.

"I suggest you lead by first washing out Mr. Scaramucci's mouth with a bar of soap," he wrote. "After a thorough rinsing, strip his credentials and escort him personally off the White House grounds."
Across the board, Republican state party chairs said their much bigger beef with Trump and the GOP-led Congress is its failure on health care.

Jeff Hays, the Colorado GOP chairman, said Republicans there are "probably 90/10" willing to continue being patient with Trump's administration.

"I don't think that's in infinite supply. There are people that are really very frustrated," he said -- adding that the anger is largely over the party's inability to repeal Obamacare.

"It has been frustrating. I've tried to be calm about it," Hays said. "I look at this thing as a little bit of a baseball game. The fact that we can't get it done in two swings at the plate or so -- I look at these as foul balls, and I think our team is still in there swinging."

Washington (CNN)

Kenya Begins Work on the tallest skyscraper in Africa

The mighty peaks of Kilimanjaro and Kenya are the highest points in Africa, towering over the East Coast nations.


The mountains will soon be sharing a skyline with a man-made behemoth named simply: "The Pinnacle."

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta recently laid the foundation stone for what will be the tallest building in Africa in the Upper Hill neighborhood of Nairobi. Construction is underway at the development site, and slated for completion by December 2019.

The ambitious project will see twin glass-facade towers rise above the city, the larger standing at 300 meters tall, far surpassing the continent's current leader -- Johannesburg's 223-meter Carlton Centre.

Heavyweight backing
The Pinnacle has heavyweight backing in the shape of Dubai-based investors Hass Petroleum and White Lotus Group, which are ploughing around $200 million into the project.

The contract to build the towers has been awarded to China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), which is among the world's largest construction firms and has delivered a string of major projects including the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia and the Beijing National Aquatics Centre.

The complex will house a 255-room Hilton Hotel, the luxury chain's third in Kenya and 50th in Africa. The towers will also include elite residences, business and leisure facilities, and a helipad on the roof of the taller tower.

Stakeholders are confident that the development has found the right location.
"Whatever happens in other parts of the world can happen in Africa as well," says Abdinassir Hassan, chairman of Hass Petroleum and managing director of the project. "Nairobi is a hub for East and Central Africa. Why would we go anywhere else?"
Hassan says there is already a clamor for properties on the site, and that this will be "the first of several developments in Kenya" for his company.

Hilton executives are also bullish, noting in a statement that the Upper Hill area is now home to offices of major international businesses and organizations including Cisco Systems and the World Bank.
"The striking new-build property...will be well placed to meet this growing demand in one of Nairobi's most exciting and colorful areas," said Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president for development, EMEA, Hilton Worldwide.

Slowing down?
Kenya's economy has performed steadily in recent years, with healthy GDP growth of 5.9% in 2016 according to the World Bank.

A thriving property market has underpinned this growth, particularly in Nairobi. But there are indications of a slowdown that could affect a luxury development such as Pinnacle.

Prime residential rents declined in 2016, according to a report from real estate firm Knight Frank, and prime retail rents stagnated.

"This is the first time I've seen any kind of market slowdown in Kenya," says Knight Frank Kenya Managing Director Ben Woodhams, who is also serving as a letting agent for Pinnacle.

Woodhams cites a perfect storm of contributing factors, including high interest rates that have hit borrowing and liquidity, as well as the withdrawal of oil companies from Kenya, and the uncertainty of an election year. But in the longer term he sees reasons for optimism.

"We're seeing global corporations that traditionally run Sub-Saharan Africa from Johannesburg putting regional headquarters into Nairobi...and that's a story I expect to hear more and more," he says. "An ambitious project like Pinnacle is ideal for maintaining that interest, and by the time the project comes to fruition Nairobi could be a very different place."

Whether such optimism is justified remains to be seen. But there can be little doubt that Africa's tallest tower will raise Nairobi's profile higher on the world stage.

By: CNN

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(d) Measure not less than 1.68m (for male) and 1.65m (for female) in height.
(e) Must not have been convicted by any court of law.
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US: North Korea could launch nuclear-capable missile by next year

The US believes that North Korea will be able to launch a reliable nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by early 2018, a US official familiar with the latest intelligence assessment confirmed to CNN Wednesday.



That would be an acceleration of two years from previous estimates that put Pyongyang three to five years from fully developing long-range missile capabilities.

The official clarified to CNN that while North Korea can currently get a missile "off the ground," there are still a lot of undetermined variables about guidance, re-entry and the ability to hit a specific target.

The ongoing assessment from the US intelligence community in recent months has been that North Korea has accelerated its intercontinental range ballistic missile program.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Defense Intelligence Agency declined to comment directly on a report from The Washington Post that the agency's latest assessment concludes Pyongyang will have a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile as early as next year but admitted that Pyongyang's missile capabilities are progressing.

"North Korea's recent test of an intercontinental range ballistic missile -- which was not a surprise to the intelligence community -- is one of the milestones that we have expected would help refine our timeline and judgments on the threats that Kim Jong Un poses to the continental United States," Scott Bray, National Intelligence Manager for East Asia, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told CNN.

"This test, and its impact on our assessments, highlight the threat that North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose to the United States, to our allies in the region, and to the whole world. The intelligence community is closely monitoring the expanding threat from North Korea," Bray added.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned lawmakers last month that Pyongyang's missile program may be advancing ahead of previous estimates.

"You are more optimistic saying it is multiple years before an ICBM comes forward," she said while testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "I think it's going to happen sooner, because they are on target to do that."

North Korea appears to be preparing for another missile test, according to a US defense official who said that transporter vehicles carrying ballistic missile launching equipment were seen arriving in Kusong, North Korea last week.

The official said that when such equipment is seen, a launch could occur within six days, which would coincide with the upcoming July 27 North Korean holiday celebrating the armistice which ended the Korean War.



Uber charges for lost item returned

US Uber will charge for lost item return.

US passengers who leave items behind in their Uber car will be charged $15 (£11.50) to have them returned, under new rules from the ride-sharing firm.

The fee is already in place in some US cities, but will be rolled out across the country from August.
In other countries, including the UK, items found by Uber drivers are returned without charge.

Uber said it had acted on feedback from US drivers who had found themselves making unpaid trips to return items.

The company added it would also launch a 24-hour hotline to deal with drivers' support queries more directly.

Uber rival Lyft does not charge for the return of lost property, but points out that "an extra tip is a great way to thank your driver".

However, fees for the return of items lost on public transport are not uncommon.


Transport for London, for instance, charges £20 for a laptop, mobile phone or tablet computer lost on its trains, trams or buses - with an additional fee if the item has been found by a black-cab driver.

Facebook calls for a more people-centric security industry

The security industry needs to worry less about technology and more about people, said Facebook's security boss.


Alex Stamos scolded the security industry in the opening keynote of the 2017 Black Hat conference.
He said there was too much focus on technically complex "stunt" hacks and not enough on finding ways to help the mass of people stay safe.

The problem would only worsen if the industry did not become more diverse and exhibit more empathy, he said.

No spies
"We have perfected the art of finding problems without fixing real world issues," he told attendees. "We focus too much on complexity, not harm."

He cited examples of technically brilliant presentations at the show, such as insulin pumps being hacked, that had little relation to real issues experienced by people who use technology rather than work with it or understand it well.

Also, he said, the security industry concentrated too much on the small number of complex hack attacks aimed at large corporations that were mounted by the most sophisticated adversaries.
By contrast, he said, most Facebook users who lost data were not being targeted by spies or nation-states.

"The things that we see, that we come across every day, that cause people to lose control of their information are not that advanced," he said. "Adversaries will do the simplest thing they need to do to make an attack work."


The lack of focus on those more mundane problems came about because often security experts had little interest in or empathy for people, he said. This attitude was exemplified by the thought he often heard security pros express that there would be fewer breaches and less data lost if people were perfect, he added.

Instead, Mr Stamos said, it would be better if the industry tried to work with those imperfections by giving people tools and services that were more straight-forward to use.

Reflect diversity

This lack of empathy also showed itself in the way many in the industry reacted when real world issues bumped up against security.

This was evident in the way Facebook subsidiary WhatsApp rolled out end-to-end encryption, he said. The security team at WhatsApp who developed the system had to make "difficult choices" about how they implemented it to make it easier to use.

However, he added, this led to vigorous criticism by many cyber experts who said the usability trade-offs fundamentally broke the system and limited its ability to protect messages.
That was not the case, he said, but many commentators did not appreciate why WhatsApp pursued the course it did.

Wrong people
These blind spots could be tackled by the security industry becoming more tolerant and diverse, he said.

Facebook had set up initiatives that sought to make its workforce more balanced and which encouraged people with non-technical backgrounds to get involved in developing secure systems, products and features.

"Things are not getting better, they are getting worse," he said. "That's because we do not have enough people and not the right people to make the difference."
The growing importance and influence of cyber-security meant the industry had a real chance to improve peoples' lives, he said.

"We have the world's attention, now we have to ask what we are going to do with it."

Transgender Navy SEAL on Trump's tweet: It's disrespectful

A transgender Navy SEAL who was the focus of a CNN documentary, "Lady Valor," says President Trump's tweets were a disrespectful way to announce new policy and that the administration is sending unclear and ominous signals about its approach to liberty itself.


Kristin Beck served as a Navy SEAL for more than two decades. Then named Chris Beck, she deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa and earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. She came out as transgender after leaving the military in 2011.

In the last months of President Obama's administration, the Defense Department initially approved a policy, still under review, that would allow transgender Americans to serve openly in the US military. On Wednesday, after President Trump's announcement of a reversal of that policy on Twitter -- stating that "the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military" -- Beck spoke with CNN Opinion's Jane Carr about what this means for transgender Americans and what comes next for those currently serving or who aspire to serve.

This interview has been edited lightly for clarity and flow.
CNN: As someone who served, what was your first reaction to the news of the President's tweet? What were your first thoughts?

Kristin Beck: The first thought was, why would you tweet that? Why not have a press conference?

There are a hundred different ways to make an announcement that are better than a tweet. It blindsided millions of people. It's disrespectful. He needs to figure something else out as far as how he communicates with the public.

As for the message itself, you (the Defense Department and by extension, the commander in chief) gave all the people in uniform a safe space to come out and be free and live as we say Americans do, free and brave, and now you're going to bomb that safe area? It's disturbing.

So now you're going to end up with thousands and thousands of people who are now going to have their contracts broken -- and I think we can definitely consult some contract lawyers on this, talk about expensive! This is going to cause repercussions that I'm not sure they (in the Trump administration) have really taken a close look at.

You have to consider also, retention of all the people in uniform and recruitment of all the people who are coming in. Even if you clarify that this only affects recruitment, and we can work on that at a later time, you still have the issue of retention of people who are already serving. You can say, "You guys are good. You're still safe. You're gonna stay safe." Or, are you going to bomb us, too?
Those are the questions. There are a lot of questions. The President raises way, way more questions than he gives answers.

CNN: What would you say to transgender men and women currently serving in the military or the ones out there who may aspire to serve?
Beck: I would say to those people who are transgender, out, and serving to just let the dust settle a little bit.

This (the tweet) was an improper way for (this news) to be released, and we're going to figure this out. And then we're going to work through this. We're going to work through it whether he (President Trump) comes out and says, "You're in a safe zone, it's OK," or he starts kicking people out. We're going to consult a bunch of lawyers and start having a bunch of really tough talks.

I'd rather not have to go down this long, difficult road of broken contracts and broken promises.
In one word, what would you say America is? For me personally, I would say that one word is liberty. And with that one tweet, he's taken away my liberty and the liberty of a lot of other people.

He's taken away from thousands and thousands of people the right to personal liberty. That's not the American way.

CNN: If you could speak to the President right now or in the coming days, what would you say?
Beck: I'd say his famous line: "You're fired." As the American people, we can say that (to all our elected officials). And in 2018, we can put out in a big loud voice, "You're fired." By how you vote. And again in 2020, I will say again, "You're fired" by how I vote and how all of us vote. If he continues to do this to people -- you know, I'm a human being. I deserve dignity and respect. I'm an American. I deserve freedom, and a life of happiness and liberty. And if you, as the President, continue down this road of stripping and dismantling freedom -- you know, he's doing this through so many other ways, he's doing it on immigration, too -- then, "You're fired." And we do that through the polls. And we do that through grass-roots lobbying. We're going to make a lot of noise.

He's turned his back on a lot of Americans. He's turned his back on a lot of veterans. And that's just not right. The only thing I can say is: "You're fired."
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Whatever race you are, whatever religion, your gender, anything -- we as Americans need to join together and understand liberty, understand it well, and start fighting for it.

I fight for every religion. I fight for every color. Every race, every everything. And if he's going to pick and choose, that's a wrong thing. That's not what we believe in.