Good morning.According to a Google Trends analysis, the most misspelled word during the pandemic has been "quarantine."
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Ivory Coast. The African country has recorded its first case of the Ebola hemorrhagic virus in 25 years, according to the country’s health minister. On Saturday, Pierre N’Gou Dimba said on national television that officials confirmed the case after testing samples from an 18-year-old female who travelled from neighbouring Guinea.
Haiti. A devastating earthquake struck the Caribbean country, killing nearly 1,300 people and injuring many others. The 7.2-magnitude quake flattened hundreds of homes in the impoverished country, which is still clawing its way back from another major temblor 11 years ago and has been without a head of state since the assassination of its president last month.
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Afghanistan. The Taliban have declared the war in Afghanistan over after its fighters swept into the capital, Kabul, and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed. Taliban fighters took control of the abandoned presidential palace and Western nations scrambled to evacuate their citizens. Hundreds of Afghans desperate to leave the country also flooded the Kabul airport.
Shell And Niger-Delta Community Reach Truce
The Story The Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigerian unit has agreed to pay a Niger Delta community $111m to resolve a long-running dispute over an oil spill that occurred more than half a century ago.
What community is that? The Anglo-Dutch energy giant will pay the Ejama-Ebubu people N45.7b ($111m) in compensation to end a legal case that began in 1991, the community’s lawyer, Lucius Nwosu said. Shell approached a Nigerian court on Wednesday to disclose the development, he said. The payment “is for full and final satisfaction” of a court judgment issued against the company 11 years ago, a spokesman for the Shell Petroleum Development Company said to Bloomberg.
Why did it take so long to reach a truce? The origin of the Ejama-Ebubu community’s grievance against Shell dates back to a rupture in one of the company’s oil pipelines in 1970. Shell said it maintains that the environmental damage was caused by “third parties” during a civil war that was raging at the time. While the joint venture that Shell operates “does not accept responsibility or liability for these spills, the affected sites in the Ebubu community were fully remediated,” the company said.
Why are they making this payment if there was a previous full remediation? The settlement could simplify Shell’s withdrawal from onshore operations in Nigeria, Africa’s largest crude producer. In 2010, a federal court ordered Shell to pay N17b to the community. The oil major unsuccessfully challenged the decision on multiple occasions, including most recently at the Supreme Court in November. In March 2020, a judge in a related court case said that including interest accrued, the funds Shell is owing stood at almost N183b by January 2019 — a valuation the company vehemently contested.
In February, Shell initiated arbitration proceedings against the Nigerian government at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes after its unsuccessful attempts to overturn the 2010 ruling. Shell didn’t say in its statement if it will withdraw the claim. Shell will pay the agreed sum within 21 days, Nwosu said. SOURCE
A Spy For An Eye
The Story Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei and daughter of the company's wealthy founder, was arrested on December 1, 2018, in Canada over allegations Huawei violated U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Was she prosecuted? She has been held under house arrest in Vancouver and still faces extradition to the U.S. At the time, it was feared her case threatened to ramp up tensions between the U.S. and China. Sure enough, almost immediately after Meng's arrest, two Canadian businessmen, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, were detained in Beijing and charged with espionage.
Really? Spavor was a Beijing-based businessman who regularly traveled to North Korea. Kovrig is a former Canadian diplomat who worked for the International Crisis Group. Chinese officials have never disclosed any evidence against Spavor or Kovrig, or information relating to their trials, which were held behind closed doors in March.
What's the outcome of the trials? On Wednesday, over two years after being arrested, a Chinese court said Spavor had been found guilty of spying and illegally providing state secrets to foreign countries; he was sentenced to 11 years in prison. The court also said Spavor would be deported, but didn't specify whether it would be before or after he served his prison sentence.
Kovrig was accused of "stealing sensitive information and intelligence through contacts in China since 2017," but authorities have yet to announce Kovrig's verdict or sentencing. SOURCE
Governor By Day, Warrior By Night
The Story As the world watches while the Taliban captures Afghanistan, a major concern of observers has been the potential effects of a Taliban rule on the girl child. Salima Mazari, 40, is one of only three female district governors in Afghanistan, and highlights the need for a radical effort to stop the Taliban.
What about her? She's been in the job for just over three years. Since July, she's been meeting with the commanders of her security forces every day as the Taliban attacks across the country increase. Mazari's job means not only managing the day-to-day bureaucracy, but also organizing military operations. She's known for her hands-on military-style leadership. "Sometimes I’m in the office in Charkint, and other times I have to pick up a gun and join the battle," she says.
Sabotage To Her Efforts Mazari feels Charkint is considered a second-grade district, and her task is made harder as she fights corruption within the Afghan bureaucracy. "We lack basic facilities such as access to healthcare. To manage security, we should have at least seven police ranger cars, two Humvees equipped with light and heavy weaponry. However, we have far fewer resources, even though we’ve requested them from the central government many times. My pleas have gone unheard," she says.
Has her district fallen to the Taliban? Yes, it has now, but she did her very best before it eventually fell. Her leadership style worked while there was a renewed Taliban violence across the country. While the fight was on, she said with pride that so far the Taliban has been kept out of Charkint. But she has a stern warning for all Afghans: "If we don’t fight now against the extremist ideologies and the groups that force them on us, we will lose our chance to defeat them. They will succeed. They will brainwash society into accepting their agenda."
What becomes of her now?
It is left to be seen what becomes of her now that the Taliban has conquered the country, including the capital Kabul. The Taliban has as its ideology the stopping of women from working, girls from going to school, and females from going outside except when accompanied by males, even if the males are their male children. SOURCE
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How the 10-Second Rule Can Dramatically Change Your Conversations and Make You a Better Leader. Inc
Animals Count and Use Zero. How Far Does Their Number Sense Go? Quanta
A Brief History Of Gasoline: How Standard Oil Got Away With It. Jalopnik
Can a disaster in Afghanistan be averted? Aljazeera
Which civilization is regarded as the first to have a functional theory of the planets? A. Babylonian B. Roman C. Egyptian
QUESTION & ANSWER
What is the coolest obscure historical fact you know?
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was once eligible to be President of the United States.
He was not even born in the U.K. He was born in New York City and lived there for the first few months of his life. In fact, he had American citizenship for over 40 years, and only gave it up because he owed unpaid taxes to the IRS. Johnson is the only British Prime Minister so far to have been born outside the British Commonwealth; the only other Prime Minister to be born outside the U.K is Andrew Bonar Law, who was born in Canada.
As well as being eligible for the American Presidency, Boris Johnson’s great grandfather, Ali Kemal, was a government official for the Ottoman Empire before he was kidnapped and bludgeoned to death in 1922 by an angry mob.