The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) may spend N102.96 billion on petrol subsidy this month, going by the recent pricing template for the commodity.
Good morning. A lot of people in Taiwan have changed their names to "salmon" to take advantage of a restaurant promotion. A local sushi chain gave people named "salmon" free all-you-can-eat meals and allowed them to bring up to five friends.
Wishful thinking perhaps, but I would now like to be known as 'Rice-and-beans concoction'.
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P.S. You currently have
Afghanistan. The war in the country turns 20 later this year. But before that, there’s a tentative deadline of May 1 for the U.S. to withdraw its remaining troops from the country, a deadline that President Biden has said will be “tough” to meet.
Saudi Arabia. Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, reported a profit of $49B, down 45% compared to the previous year. However, the company still decided to pay the $75B dividends that it promised to pay for five years after its Riyadh stock market listing in 2019.
China. The Chinese government is prohibiting military staff and other state employees from driving Teslas, citing national security concerns about the data Tesla vehicles gather. Elon Musk responded that Tesla would be “shut down” if its cars were used for spying in China.
Israel. Voters went to the polls yesterday to cast ballots in the country's fourth round of national elections in less than two years. The nation has been politically paralyzed since April 2019, when longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition.
1603 Tokugawa Ieyasu is granted the title of shogun, officially establishing the Tokugawa Shogunate which would rule Japan until 1867
1882 German scientist Robert Koch discovers and describes the tubercle bacillus which causes tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis), and establishes germ theory
1942 US government begins moving native-born citizens with Japanese ancestry into detention centres under Executive Order 9066, with intention of preventing home-grown espionage
US Warns- ISIS, al-Qaeda planning to penetrate Southern Nigeria
The Story There are plans by terrorist groups, al-Qaeda and ISIS to penetrate Southern Nigeria, the United States has warned the federal government.
For real? The US says the terror groups are looking to make inroads into Southern Nigeria, this is just as it confirmed that al-Qaeda has started operating in the north-western part of the country. In a media briefing, Dagvin Anderson, Commander of the US Special Operations Command Africa, said al-Qaeda is also expanding to other parts of West Africa. According to media reports, Anderson said the US will continue to partner with Nigeria in sharing intelligence.
How is it that they've not neutralized these terror groups despite having access to critical intel like this? Anderson regretted that despite successes recorded in previous years, there has been a setback, saying: “We as a community of international nations, keep thinking we have defeated them or we have put them on their back foot and that they’re just moments from disintegration." “We have engaged with Nigeria and continue to engage with them in intel sharing and in understanding what these violent extremists are doing. And that has been absolutely critical to their engagements up in Borno state and into an emerging area of northwest Nigeria that we’re seeing al-Qaeda starting to make some inroads in", he said.
Nigeria's critical role. While he reiterated the importance of intelligence sharing in the fight against terror, Anderson added that for international efforts to yield desired results in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria, the government must take the lead. “When it comes to Nigeria in general, Nigeria, obviously, is a critical nation to West Africa. It is a critical nation and we realise that Nigeria is a lynchpin,” he said.
“So, this intelligence sharing is absolutely vital and we stay fully engaged with the government of Nigeria to provide them with an understanding of what these terrorists are doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS-West Africa is doing, and how ISIS and al-Qaeda are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas", he said. SOURCE
Nigeria to spend N103 billion monthly on petrol subsidy
The Story The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) may spend N102.96 billion on petrol subsidy this month, going by the recent pricing template for the commodity.
How? A Federal Government agency, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, on Thursday published the expected new lower and upper prices for petrol at retail outlets in March 2021, putting the rates at between N209.61/litre and N212.61/litre. It also put the ex-depot price of petrol for the month at N206.42/litre and pegged the expected landing cost at N189.61/litre. Nigeria consumes about 57.44 million litres of petrol daily, going by the most recent daily consumption figure released by the NNPC in its financial and operations report.
How do these lead to over N100 billion in subsidy? From the figures above, the difference between the N206.42/litre ex-depot price published by PPPRA as the expected cost for March and the N148.6/litre price being sold currently to marketers by NNPC shows that the corporation subsidises petrol by N57.82/litre. Multiplying this by the 57.44 million litres consumed across the country daily and the 31 days in March, it implies that the government through the NNPC will spend about N102.96 billion as petrol subsidy this month.
What's the way out of this huge waste? When contacted on Sunday night, the spokesperson of NNPC confirmed that the pump price of petrol was not reflective of the true market price, meaning that the commodity was being subsidised by the corporation. In a related development, the National President, Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, Billis Gillis-Harry, said the government should deregulate the downstream oil sector fully by allowing other marketers import petrol.
Gillis-Harry said, “We see and hear different things from the various government agencies because of the lack of synergy and petrol subsidy (currently on now), which is a huge financial drain. “The government should break the monopoly of petrol imports by NNPC. Other marketers are willing and ready to import products. He added that this would only happen in a properly deregulated downstream sector. SOURCE
Give Sanctuary Or Get Sanctioned
The Story Last Friday, the Biden administration's first high-level talks between the US and China collapsed over Beijing's human rights record.
Didn't they already know about those records? Well, it is not the knowledge of the records that was the problem, but China's response when the issue was raised. "There are a number of areas where we are fundamentally at odds," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, "including China’s actions in Xinjiang, with regard to Hong Kong, Tibet, increasingly Taiwan, as well as actions that it is taking in cyberspace. And ... when we raised those issues clearly and directly we got a defensive response.” Both sides then turned to their allies for support. China prepared to receive Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, while Blinken went to Brussels to discuss China with European allies.
What role is Europe to play? The EU was anticipating signing a major investment deal with China since reaching an agreement in principle at the end of 2020. However, it was announced on Monday that the UK and the EU will join the US and Canada in imposing parallel sanctions on four senior Chinese officials involved in the mass internment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province. The move - which includes travel bans and asset freezes - marks the first such western action against Beijing since President Biden took office, and the first time in 30 years that Britain or the EU has punished China for human rights abuses.
How's China responding? China reciprocated immediately by blacklisting 10 EU diplomats and members of the European parliament (MEP), and four think tanks. The EU-China Investment Agreement was supposed to rebalance the levels of market access and investment, open up Chinese markets and provide some protection against forced labor. The pact has yet to be ratified by the European parliament, and now might not be. After talks ended Friday, the MEP chair of the conference on the future of Europe said: "China just killed [the agreement] by sanctioning the people criticizing slave labor [and] genocide in Xinjiang. How could we ever trust them to improve the human rights situation of the Uighurs if they simply call it ‘fake news?."
Criticism for the UK's measured reaction. Britain had declined to impose its own sanctions on China, but came onboard hours after the EU went forward. For this, Labor party opposition accused UK's foreign secretary of waiting for the EU to take action to avoid being singled out for punishment by China. The shadow foreign secretary described the announcement as 'a grubby, cynical, last-ditch attempt to buy votes ahead of a backbench rebellion later today'.
"The foreign secretary has repeatedly refused to sanction Chinese officials for more than two years and only now, after the US and EU have done so and he is facing defeat in the Commons, is he reluctantly forced to take action," she said. "If anything sums up just how utterly inconsistent the government’s approach to China is, today the foreign secretary will apply sanctions to officials responsible for human rights abuses and in the same breath insist on the right to sign trade deals with countries that commit genocide", she added. SOURCE
How students learned new ways to cheat during Covid
The Story As the academic world increasingly shifts towards remote learning, a report has shown how students are also adjusting ways of cheating, forcing colleges and universities to adapt to the unintended consequences of students learning remotely.
Has cheating increased? A recent study led by Thomas Lancaster, a senior teaching fellow at the Imperial College London, found that the number of questions and answers posted on Chegg’s homework help section for five STEM subjects between April and August 2020 was up by around 196% from the same period in 2019. The study ruled that the increase correlated with the shift to online school and indicates students are using the tool in ways “not considered permissible by universities.”
What factors are contributing to this? Experts say the empirical data on Covid cheating is slim, but many students are doing it because during the pandemic remote learning shift, they think no one is watching. Some students have also expressed relative dissatisfaction with remote learning. When it comes to cheating, many students say they’re just looking to get by and pass the course, adding that the shift to online education 'has drastically affected their ability to learn and retain information', and they only intend to cheat in the short-term.
Aren't there regulations for such platforms? While websites like Chegg and Course Hero aren’t designed for cheating — they’re marketed as a place for students to get help — they do offer a platform for it, experts say. Chegg says they are committed to working with faculty and institutions in cases of academic dishonesty and recently launched a program called Honor Shield, which they hope will curb the “small minority of users who seek to misuse” the platform, a spokesperson for the company said in an email statement.
How about measures to control this from the institutions' end? Many education platforms allow professors to check when students switch between tabs during an exam, while companies like Honorlock, Respondus and ProctorU have emerged, offering lockdown browsers that prevent users from opening additional tabs, or live and automated proctoring options which monitor students from afar. Respondus said in an email statement that the universities that began using the company’s proctoring system “more than doubled” since the pandemic began and about 600 of the roughly 1,500 institutions using the lockdown browser licensed the monitoring system.
The company says its system will identify periods where “certain events or anomalies” occur, like two faces appearing in a frame or an examinee leaving the computer, information which is communicated to instructors. Aside from searching answers on Google, some students are using group chats to readily spread information. One student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, who says their grades depend on their classmates’ performance, cheats to get ahead of the curve. SOURCE
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