Good morning. A professor wanted to see if any of his 70 students read his class’s syllabus. To do so, he wrote the location and combination of a locker with $50 inside on the 2nd page. When the semester ended on Dec. 8, the cash remained.
Read the syllabus, kids.
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Japan. Three death row inmates were executed by hanging on Tuesday, marking the first executions the country has carried out since 2019 and the first under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. One of those put to death murdered seven people including his aunt and neighbors in 2004.
Ethiopia. Tigrayan forces fighting the central government say they have withdrawn from neighbouring regions in northern Ethiopia, a step towards a possible ceasefire after 13 months of brutal war. But the government's spokeswoman said the announcement was a cover-up for military setbacks.
UAE. Dubai’s ruler was ordered to provide his estranged wife and their children at least £554m in the largest financial award the U.K. family courts have ever seen. The total amount the sheikh will have to pay to his family is likely to be much higher because of annual security costs he must pay directly to his children after they’ve completed education.
China. Sanctions have been announced on four members of the United States government’s Commission on International Religious Liberty in retaliation for penalties imposed on Chinese officials over complaints of abuses in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang region. The tit-for-tat sanctions added to spiralling tension over Xinjiang, where over a million minority Muslim Uighurs are believed to have been forced into reeducation camps.
1877 Thomas Edison's Phonograph is announced by Scientific American
1956 Colo is born, the first gorilla to be bred in captivity at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Columbus, Ohio
2010 Repeal of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell policy", a 17-year-old policy banning homosexuals serving openly in the US military, signed into law by President Barack Obama
Holes in Financial Records
The Story A new audit report has found holes in the financial records of federal ministries, departments and agencies to the tune of N323.5b in 2019.
That's outrageous Absolutely. The report, which showed many offices violating rules on payments, remittances and tax, exposed questionable spendings that included unapproved allowances, unretired advances, irregular award of contract, payment for services not executed and payments without voucher.
Aren't there processes for these things? There are, but the violations, most of which were observed across 27 MDAs, revealed cross-cutting issues from non-compliance and internal control weaknesses. The largest chunk of the expenditure (N132.5b) was used in paying unapproved allowances to staff in 20 MDAs, N97b of which was spent by the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc.
Were there budgetary allocations for these spendings? Among others, 9 MDAs spent N49.5b on "unbudgeted" items, with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development having the highest amount of N48b. According to the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, “the Federal Government requires all officers responsible for expenditure to exercise due economy. Money must not be spent merely because it has been voted.”SOURCE
Blows Exchange in Ghana
The Story Legislative houses are places where exchange of ideas and robust discussion of issues are expected. Some of these legislatures, however, see violence as a more potent weapon in discourse.
How do you mean? Lawmakers in the Ghana parliament on Monday resorted to violence, as some exchanged blows during voting on the electronic transaction levy bill. Fight reportedly broke out after the speaker, Joe Osei-Owusu, left his chair to cast his vote in favour of the bill — a decision that was said to have angered the minority in the house.
How did that lead to a fight? From reports, the lawmakers tried to prevent the speaker from casting his vote, arguing that based on the house’s standing order, he was supposed to be neutral. While the house was taking a vote to decide if the e-levy bill should be treated under certificate of urgency, the aggrieved lawmakers climbed the podium and tried to prevent the speaker from casting his vote.
What's in the said bill? The Ghanaian government, in November, had said it was introducing an electronic transaction levy (e-levy) in the 2022 budget, as part of measures to widen the country’s tax net. The proposed levy is a charge of 1.75% of the value of electronic transactions and is expected to come into effect in February 2022.
The levy, which will cover mobile money payments, bank transfers, and merchant payments, will be borne by each transaction's originator - and inward remittances, which will be borne by the recipient. With the National Democratic Congress (NDC) members and those of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) equally split on the bill, the minority in the parliament vowed to ensure its withdrawal. SOURCE
A Peace Of Their Minds
The Story The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded last week in Oslo, Germany to a shrunken audience after a rise in Covid cases led the attendance to be cut from 1,000 people to just 200.
How did it go? Two investigative journalists from the Philippines and Russia used their Nobel Prize acceptance speeches on Friday to caution against the rise of authoritarianism and the spread of misinformation on social media platforms. Maria Ressa, the CEO of Filipino news site Rappler, implored social media companies to either take responsibility for the false information spread on their platforms or risk democracy, asking, “how can you have election integrity if you don't have integrity of facts?”
Isn't that why the society looks to journalists for information? The other honoree, Dmitry Muratov, is editor-in-chief of the independent Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta. His speech focused on the dangers of journalism in an authoritarian state, noting that “over a hundred journalists, media outlets, human rights defenders, and NGOs have recently been branded as 'foreign agents.'” He explained that, in Russia, “foreign agents” are “enemies of the people.”
A collective responsibility? The Nobel speeches come at the same time as more news of Facebook/Meta turmoil. Whistleblower Frances Haugen threw the social media company into a tailspin when she revealed the extent to which Facebook knew about the harm it causes in terms of misinformation, and its subsequent decision to ignore that information. Haugen, a former employee at Facebook, disclosed tens of thousands of Facebook's internal documents to expose how the company mishandled a number of serious issues, including moderating hate speech and misinformation.
Shareholders in the tech giant have now collectively filed eight proposals, including a request for board oversight of efforts to reduce harmful content, an assessment of the risk of the company’s metaverse efforts, and a review of the audit and risk committee. SOURCE
A Vax Tax
The Story Greece and Austria have announced new vaccination mandates following a surge in Covid-19 infections across the European Union.
What do the mandates say? Austria announced in early November that they would require their entire adult population to be vaccinated by February 1st - those who do not comply would have to pay $4,000 (3,600 euros) in fines. Greece has followed their example with an announcement on Tuesday that everyone 60 and older must be vaccinated by mid-January or face monthly fines of $114 (100 euros).
Are the two countries experiencing COVID-19 surge? Greece recorded more than 7,500 infections, hundreds of hospitalizations, and 88 deaths on Tuesday alone, according to Greece's National Organization for Public Health. Greece is the first E.U. country to target an age group with a vaccination mandate. Their monthly fee is quite hefty for older citizens of the country, as the average pension for retirees is $825 (730 euros).
If all else fail.... The vaccine mandates come as the world scrambles to respond to the new omicron variant. Infections have already appeared in several E.U. nations, including Austria. Both countries turned to compulsory vaccinations after a series of measures - including banning the unvaccinated from indoor venues - failed. SOURCE
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Can you name the movies that contain the following quotes?
1. “I’ll be back.” 2. “That rug really tied the room together.” 3. “Honey, where's my super suit?” 4. “Here’s looking at you, kid.” 5. “Tina, you fat lard, come get some DINNER!” 6. “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” 7. “I fart in your general direction!”
QUESTION & ANSWER
What do you talk about with people you don't really know at a party?
There is an interesting and effective (tried it myself) method called “The FORD method".
So regardless of who you're talking to, there are 4 things you can talk about and at least with one of these topics, you can find some common ground with them.