Good morning.A Canadian woman was sleeping peacefully when a meteorite crashed through her ceiling and landed on her pillow. She plans to keep the space rock as a reminder to never take life for granted.
Also maybe as warning to anyone who might dare share her bed.
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Somalia. The United Nations’ top court has awarded Somalia control of most of a potentially oil- and gas-rich chunk of the Indian Ocean after a bitter legal battle with neighbouring Kenya over their sea border.
Myanmar. Win Myint, civilian president who was removed from office by the military, has testified that the generals tried to force him to relinquish power hours before the February 1 coup, warning him he could be seriously harmed if he refused, according to his lawyer.
Chile. President Sebastian Pinera has announced a state of emergency and deployed troops to two southern regions where clashes have broken out between Mapuche Indigenous people and security forces. The Mapuche are demanding the restoration of their ancestral lands and self-determination.
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2016 American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature
1976 First electron micrograph of an Ebola viral particle obtained by Dr. F.A. Murphy, working at the C.D.C.
2022, Census Acoming
The Story Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, says the country will hold a national population and housing census next year.
Have they concluded plans on it already? Looks like it. The FG, the minister added, approved N178.09b for the exercise in the 2022 Appropriation legislation recently submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to the national assembly. The exercise was last held 15 years ago. According to the minister, during the public presentation and breakdown of Budget 2022 in Abuja, Saturday, Buhari would make a proclamation on the planned 2022 headcount soon. Ahmed explained that the recent review of the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) was motivated by a number of factors, including the need to provide the funds for the headcount.
Any current official estimates on the population? The National Population Commission had in December 2020 announced that an estimated 206 million people were living in Nigeria, an increase of eight million people in two years, against the 198 million it announced in 2018. The finance minister also announced an additional N100b in the 2022 budget estimates to enable the Independent National Electoral Commission to prepare for the conduct of the 2023 general elections. Giving further insight into why the MTEF was reviewed, she said the increase in the expenditure side was also motivated by the need to provide for additional critical expenditures, as well as the need to present a more comprehensive FGN Budget.
What are these additional critical expenditures? Other critical expenditures in the 2022 budget estimates include N400b for National Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy; N50b Police Operations Fund; and N37b additional provisions for liability accruing from the electricity receipts of ministries, departments and agencies. Ahmed also disclosed that N517.5b was proposed as additional Multilateral/Bi-lateral Project-tied Loans; N54b for the National Agency for Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), which represents 1% FGN Share of Federation Account; and N305.99b for TETFUND (funded by the Education Tax).
How was the implementation of the 2021 budget? Ahmed said the fiscal numbers were preliminary and would be updated “as the reconciliation process is concluded, adding that N2.88t went into liability servicing between January and August this year, out of a total expenditure of N8.14t recorded in the same period. The sum of N2.75t was for overhead cost, while N1.75t was expended on capital projects. According to her report, the government generated N3.9t so far this year, CIT of N547.5b; Value Added Tax collections of N235.7b, Customs collections of N338.6b and other revenues which amounted to N1.7t.
She said with a liability servicing cost of N2.88t and total revenue of N3.9t, the FG spent about 73% of its revenue on liability servicing within the past eight months. The last population census, which was held in 2006, put the country’s population at 140 million people. The census, however, was allegedly plagued by political interference, from design to implementation. SOURCE
December Alarm for Cooking Gas
The Story The National Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM), marketers of cooking gas in Nigeria, have warned that the continuous rise in the price of the product may escalate before December.
Why? NALPGAM executive secretary, Bassey Essien, said if the newly introduced 7.5% VAT on cooking gas was not addressed immediately by the FG, the refilling price for a 12.5kg gas cylinder might hit N10,000 before December. The price of a cooking gas refilling unit has continued to skyrocket, a trajectory that started late 2020, with the price of the energy source rising by over 100%.
And that was caused by the 7.5% VAT? As at last weekend, the refilling price for a 12.5kg gas cylinder was between N7,000 and N8,000 as against N3,400 in December 2020. Analysts and industry players have attributed the price hike to the forces of demand and supply including inflation, foreign exchange (dollar) scarcity, in-country supply deficit, the 7.5% VAT and other sundry agency charges as well as the rising price of crude oil.
So there's more to address than just the VAT, right? That's right. Essien noted that early in the year, a 20-metric ton of gas was selling for below N5m but that same tonnage now sells for N10.2m. “As long as there is that supply shortage, the available quantity and the dynamics of supply-demand will keep pushing the price higher. If government does not address the recently introduced import charges and VAT, the price of cooking gas may as well reach N10,000 for a 12.5kg cylinder", he said.
He lamented that more Nigerians were being forced to return to coal, sawdust, kerosene, and other dirty fuels, a situation he said has severe health and environmental implications, and as well, resulting to loss of patronage and profitability in their businesses. SOURCE
The Story Beijing is flexing its military muscles by flying warplanes into Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
How did Taiwan react to this? The self-governing island's Ministry of National Defense reported spotting 39 Chinese military aircraft entering the ADIZ on Saturday; 38 had been spotted on Friday. The Taiwanese air force scrambled the aircraft, issued radio warnings, and deployed air defense missile systems in response. The sightings included fighter jets and anti-submarine and early warning aircraft; it's the highest number of incursions Taiwan has reported in one day since it began publicly reporting such activities last year.
Are there issues between both parties? Friday's incursions came as Beijing celebrated 72 years since the end of a civil war in 1949 and the founding of the People's Republic of China. The defeated Nationalists had fled to Taipei, and Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately ever since. The Chinese Communist Party has never governed the democratic island of some 24 million people. The party, however, views Taiwan as an inseparable part of China's territory, and President Xi Jinping won't rule out military force to capture Taiwan if necessary.
Looking at various factors that might be involved in a potential conflict between the two sides, including likely intervention from the United States, Japan and others, some observers say that any intended message from Beijing may not be about the main island of Taiwan. The maps provided by Taiwan's Defense Ministry show the PLA Air Force flights are coming in the vicinity of Pratas Island, which sits at the top of the South China Sea and is actually closer to Hong Kong than Taiwan.
This island has no permanent residents but is home to a small Taiwanese military contingent and has an airstrip. "China could take control of the Pratas Islands whenever Chinese President Xi Jinping decides," Yoshiyuki Ogasawara, a professor at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies wrote on The Diplomat in December. "The islands are a potential flashpoint that now need to come to the attention of the US, Japan and other democratic countries," Ogasawara wrote. SOURCE
All That Romains
The Story A political crisis has resulted in the fall of Romania's government.
How do you mean? Prime Minister Florin Citu of the governing National Liberal Party was ousted after a no confidence vote in his government passed overwhelmingly on Tuesday. The motion was led by the opposition Social Democrat Party and supported by former coalition partner USR-Plus and the far-right AUR party.
How did they get here? The crisis began last month, when Citu fired the justice minister, a member of USR-Plus, for not signing off on a regional development program. USR-Plus called the firing an "abusive revocation" and quit the three-party cabinet. During parliamentary debates prior to Tuesday's vote, Citu called the USR-Plus "a team of incompetents."
Who's in charge now? President Klaus Iohannis told reporters he will consult with lawmakers on appointing a new Prime Minister and meet with political parties next week. Iohannis said the crisis was "generated by cynical politicians," and that besides wave four of a pandemic and an energy prices crisis, all some politicians thought to do was to add another crisis. SOURCE
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