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Nigeria. Engineers have said a 21-storey building that collapsed in Lagos early this month was originally designed only for six floors before more were added to the structure. The high-rise structure was still under construction in the upscale Ikoyi district of the city when it crumbled on November 1, trapping dozens of site workers and others inside.
Sudan. Opponents of the coup have vowed to step up their protests after 15 civilians were killed during demonstrations against the military takeover. More than three weeks since General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan derailed the already fragile transition towards civilian rule, pro-democracy activists are facing an increasingly dangerous struggle in the streets.
Taiwan. A de facto embassy in Lithuania has been opened in a diplomatic breakthrough for the self-ruled democratic island that China, which described the move as “egregious”, claims as its own territory. Taipei announced on Thursday it had formally opened the office in the Baltic state – its first in Europe in 18 years – in defiance of a pressure campaign from Beijing.
India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he has decided to repeal three controversial farm laws against which farmers have protested for more than a year. The legislation the farmers object to, introduced in September last year, deregulates the sector, allowing farmers to sell produce to buyers beyond government-regulated wholesale markets, where growers are assured of a minimum price (MSP).
A Unique Inflation
The Story The World Bank has said that the drivers of Nigeria’s inflation rate are unique to the nation alone, different from what is experienced in other parts of the world.
What are these drivers? In a recent Annual World Bank Group/IMF Meetings hosted by the Standard Bank Research Group, the World Bank Group’s Lead Economist for Nigeria and IMF’s mission team made the remark explaining that “Nigeria has one of the highest levels of inflation — but the drivers here differ from across the globe.” The institution blamed the border closure and food inflation as the main drivers of the rising inflationary trend recorded this year.
Worsening poverty and insecurity The report also said higher inflation could send about 5.6 million Nigerians into poverty. “Admittedly, higher inflation reduces purchasing power, translating into higher levels of poverty and, ultimately, insecurity", it read. “Closed borders in Aug ’19 caused inflation to shoot up, mainly driven by food inflation and, while inflation has been trending lower since Mar ’21, it remains high due to FX liquidity difficulties, supply chain disruptions, and insecurity.”
What are their projections for the country? The World Bank/IMF team projected Nigeria’s annual growth at 2.6% for 2021 and 2.7% for 2022, adding that “Oil production should improve, with the oil sector expected to recover in the medium term.” While commending the unification of the official exchange rate with the rate at the investors and exporters window, the IMF believes that making the NAFEX rate more flexible would boost Nigeria’s competitiveness and serve as an incentive to Foreign portfolio investments. SOURCE
US takes Nigeria off list of religious fre.edom violators
The Story The United States on Wednesday removed Nigeria from its list of countries with religious fre.edom concerns, just a day before Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in the country as part of a tour of Africa.
Is this because of the visit? It was unclear if the designation was related to the secretary’s travel. The omission drew a sharp rebuke from a U.S. government commission that had recommended that Nigeria be kept on the list for engaging in or tolerating violations of religious fre.edom. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Fre.edom (USCIRF) made its recommendation in April, citing “violence by militant Islamists and other non-state armed actors, as well as discrimination, arbitrary detentions, and capital blasphemy sentences by state authorities” in the country.
Which countries are on the list now? Blinken made an annual announcement on Wednesday of the countries on the list, naming Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan as countries of particular concern. He also placed Algeria, Comoros, Cuba and Nicaragua on a watch list for religious fre.edom, and designated armed groups, including the Islamic State and several of its affiliates, as entities of concern. But Nigeria, which was added to the list for the first time in 2020, was not redesignated.
The State Department, according to a statement, also designated al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin, and the Taliban as “Entities of Particular Concern.” Blinken added that the US government remains committed to ensuring that countries ensure that abuses on the basis of religion are discouraged. SOURCE
That’s Gotta Sting
The Story Over the weekend, Egypt's southern province of Aswan was beset with such heavy rain, hail, thunder, and flooding that officials had to suspend school classes on Sunday.
Any damages or casualties? Photos and video footage circulated on social media showed flooded streets and damaged houses, vehicles, and agricultural farms. But that's not the worst of it. The storms forced scorpions from their hiding places and into many houses across the province.
That's serious! Yes, it is. Egypt's fat-tailed scorpions, known as Androctonus crassicauda, translates from Greek to "man-killer." It is one of the most toxic species in the world, possibly because its venom stays in the body longer than all other known scorpion venoms. The venom from a black fat-tail scorpion can kill humans in under an hour.
How has this affected residents? Fortunately, this time no deaths were reported from scorpion stings, but at least 503 people had to be hospitalized after being stung. All of them were given anti-venom doses and eventually discharged. Extra anti-venom doses were provided to medical centers in villages near mountains and deserts in Aswan after the scorpion swarm was reported. SOURCE
Metal-ing In Affairs
The Story Elaine Thomas, 67, worked as a metallurgist at a steel foundry in Tacoma, Washington from 1977 to 2017. In 2009, Thomas became the company's Director of Metallurgy.
Why's she in the news? As a supplier for companies that contracted with the U.S. Navy, Thomas' company provided steel castings to make the Navy's submarines. On Monday, Thomas pleaded guilty in federal court to falsifying the test results that measured the strength and toughness of the metal.
Wow! How did that impact the Navy? She did this for more than 240 steel productions, over more than three decades. Thomas' company was the Navy's leading supplier of "cast high-yield" steel used for naval subs. By altering the test results to "increase" metal weights by 10 or 20 foot-pounds, the U.S. Navy made contract payments it "would not have made if it had known the true characteristics of the steel."
How did they find out about this? According to the U.S. attorney’s office, a lab employee found out in May 2017 that the results had been “altered and that other discrepancies existed in the company’s record". Prosecutors said the productions whose tests were falsified make up "a substantial percentage of the castings [the company] produced for the Navy." Thomas faces up to ten years in prison and a $1m fine at her sentencing on February 14. SOURCE
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