Good morning.An intrepid 6-year-old dog helped rescue over 100 injured koalas from the Australian bush fires in 2019–2020. Now, the Australian Koolie named Bear has been named a hero, getting an award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
I can only hope Bear knows how important this award is.
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Turkey. Authorities have initiated legal proceedings against 30 people over tweets that suggested President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had died. The hashtag they used became a trending topic on Turkish Twitter.
United States. The government has approved a $650m sale of air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon announced, in what would be the Biden administration’s first major weapons deal with the Gulf kingdom.
South Africa. Voters have delivered a significant rebuke to the governing African National Congress, which got less than 50 percent of ballots cast in local government elections. Widespread corruption, persistently high rates of unemployment, crippling power blackouts and ineffective delivery of government services were burning campaign issues.
Somalia. The foreign ministry has asked the African Union Commission (AUC) representative in the country to leave within a week after declaring him persona non grata. The statement said AUC’s deputy special representative in Mogadishu was no longer welcome in the country due to his engagement “in activities [that are] incompatible with AMISOM’s (African Union Mission in Somalia) mandate and Somalia’s security strategy,”
1492 Christopher Columbus 1st learns about growing and harvesting maize (corn) from Cuba's indigenous population
1935 Parker Brothers launches game of Monopoly
1979 Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khomeini describes the United States as "The Great Satan" amid accusations of imperialism and the sponsoring of corruption
'More Funds for War'
Nigerian Army has sought an exemption from the budget ceiling or ‘envelope budgeting’ method in funds allocation to Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
Why? The argument was that the budget ceiling, which is a cap on proposed spending, will limit the army in the performance of its constitutional duties. The army explained that the review it seeks in the budgeting system will help to increase its capacity to perform its duties and be able to acquire more equipment to fight insecurity across the country. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-General Farouk Yahaya, on Wednesday, made the appeal when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Army for budget defence.
How much was allocated to the army in the budget? While he appealed that the National Assembly should cause the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to begin the release of the Year 2022 Nigerian Army Capital Budget in the First Quarter of 2022, the army chief said the ministry’s budget ceiling capped the total sum at N579b. He said this would negatively affect the capacity and tempo of the Nigerian Army in carrying out its constitutional duties, particularly the ongoing war against Boko Haram Terrorists and other criminalities across the country.
How much is the army asking for? Yahaya said that the proposed budget for the army for the 2022 budget is N710b. “The sum of N642.7b only should be approved for Nigerian Army Personnel Emolument for Year 2022 Budget. The sum of N29.6b only should be approved for the overhead budget and N37.6b for Capital Budget", he said. While noting that the army was committed to securing the territorial integrity of the country from any violation, the COAS said if the army was taken off the envelope system, it would enable it to carry out its operations more effectively.
Speaking during the session with the Chief of Army Staff, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Mohammed Ndume, admitted that the budgetary allocation to the Nigerian army is grossly inadequate under the present circumstances. Ndume said that the committee agrees that the security agencies cannot be included in the envelope budgetary system with the current security challenges as the ceiling in their expenditure is not ideal. SOURCE
COVID-19 exacerbating Africa’s HIV/AIDS crisis
The Story West and Central Africa could see a rise in HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in a few years due to disruptions in health services because of the coronavirus pandemic, the executive director of the U.N. AIDS agency said.
What's the HIV/AIDS data for both regions? Although human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection rates, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related deaths have been on a steady decline over the past decade, the region accounted for 22% of AIDS-related deaths in 2020. Around 200,000 people in West & Central Africa became newly infected with HIV last year out of a global total of 1.5 million, the United Nations AIDS agency’s (UNAIDS) data shows.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic contribute to these figures? Winnie Byanyima said the jury was still out on the extent of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on HIV, but the agency is seeing examples of disruptions. “We are quite worried that when all the data comes in for this year (2021), that we might see a spike in new infections, and over a few years we might see more deaths,” Byanyima said on the sidelines of a health summit. New infections in the region were growing fast among vulnerable groups that include young girls and women, gay men, sex workers, drug users and prisoners, who don’t always have ready access to preventive measures and treatment.
What measures are they taking to improve things? Byanyima urged other leaders to emulate Senegal’s President Macky Sall who increased the health ministry’s funding to fight HIV. Sall directed Senegal’s health minister during his closing speech to commit an extra 2B CFA francs ($3.5m) to the ministry’s 2021/2022 budget to the fight against HIV. UNAIDS warned in July last year that the global fight against AIDS had been faltering even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the pandemic was threatening to put hard-won progress against HIV back by 10 years or more.
Health systems in the region have been stretched by the coronavirus outbreak, forcing governments to divert scarce resources to tackle the pandemic, while measures to stop the spread, such as lockdowns, curbed access to HIV prevention and treatment. SOURCE
Francing Around The Subject
The Story In a case of “he said, he said, he said,” Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison and France's President Emmanuel Macron are going back and forth over who's telling the truth about the scuttled submarine deal Macron said France had with Australia, that Morrison instead made with the U.S. and the U.K.
Why did Australia opt for the U.S and the UK? Morrison made the new deal in September for more modern, more advanced subs after a 5-year old deal for less-high-powered subs Morrison had with Macron faltered. Macron seemed genuinely blindsided when Australia's new deal was announced. U.S President Biden told Macron last week he thought the French had been informed long before the September announcement that their $66b deal with Australia would be scrapped.
Aren't there official communication between them? An Australian newspaper cast doubt on Biden's explanation to Macron, quoting a text message that suggested France anticipated “bad news” about the now-scuttled deal. According to the newspaper report, two days before Australia, Britain, and the U.S. announced the new nuclear submarine deal, Morrison attempted to phone Macron with the news, but the French leader texted back saying he was not available to take a call.
What's Macron saying? This week Macron accused Morrison of lying to him at a Paris dinner in June about the fate of the contract Morrison wound up canceling. Morrison then strongly implied Macron was lying about being lied to. Morrison told Australian reporters who had accompanied him to Glasgow, Scotland, for a U.N. climate conference that he made clear to Macron at their dinner in June that conventional submarines would not meet Australia’s evolving strategic needs.
An official in the French presidency, who welcomed Biden’s efforts to smooth relations with Paris, while saying that Morrison “has yet to apologize", said that leaking such text messages between world leaders “further breaches trust” between governments. French officials said their government had been blindsided by the contract cancellation, calling it a “stab in the back.” SOURCE
Making A Mountain Out Of A Mountain
The Story A U.S. Navy submarine was severely damaged October 2 when it ran into an uncharted, underwater "seamount" while submerged in the South China Sea.
How did it not notice the seamount? Two crew members suffered "moderate" injuries and several more sustained minor bumps and bruises. All were treated aboard the vessel and nobody was taken off the sub. The Navy confirmed the incident a week after it took place, saying - only - that the Connecticut, a nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine, "struck an object while submerged."
No information on how it happened? On Tuesday, Beijing accused Washington of a "lack of transparency and lack of responsibility," for failing to provide timely and detailed information on the incident. The accident happened amid high tensions between Beijing and Washington, just weeks after the U.S. and Britain signed a deal to supply nuclear-powered submarines to Australia's military, and days after China sent a record number of military planes into U.S. ally, Taiwan's air space. Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by four Southeast Asian countries, as well as the self-ruled island of Taiwan.
What was the U.S. submarine doing in the area? The U.S. Navy regularly conducts operations in the South China Sea to challenge China's disputed territorial claims on small islands, reefs and outcrops, to the irritation of Beijing. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China urges the US to provide an explanation of the vessel's "navigational intentions, the specific location of the accident, whether it was in the exclusive economic zone or territorial waters of any country, and whether it caused any nuclear leak or damage to the ocean environment."
Expressing Beijing's displeasure, Wang said Washington should "stop sending warships and military aircraft to provoke trouble and make shows of force", warning that "this type of accident will only become more frequent" without any change in US actions. SOURCE
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