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☕️ Warning

☕️ Warning

The US Africa Command warns that the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda terrorist groups were gradually taking over the West African region...

 

 

Good morning. There are cat burglars and cat... smugglers? A cat carrying 2 grams of heroin, 2 SIM cards, and a memory chip in a plastic bag tied around its neck was caught at a Sri Lankan prison.

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OUR COVID WORLD

 Global         Nigeria
Total Confirmed 19,257,649 45,244
Total Recovered 12,357,654 32,430
Total Deaths 717,687 930

Kenya: Kenya has cancelled the academic year. Students are not expected to begin classes again until January, the usual start of Kenya’s school year.
United States: Democratic party nominee, Joe Biden said he won’t travel to Milwaukee to accept the Democratic nomination for president. The party's convention is now entirely virtual.
Uber: Uber will allow its employees to work from home through the end of June 2021, the company said Tuesday. The rideshare company confirmed the extension of the option in a statement.
Google: Google is to allow employees to work from home until July 2021, delaying a return to the office originally slated for the end of this year.

 

#ONTHISDAY

1861 The British annex Lagos, Nigeria.

1925 West African Students' Union, WASU, was founded by twenty-one law students, led by Ladipo Solanke and Herbert Bankole-Bright.

2000 Samuel Ekpe Akpabot, renowned musicologist and composer, died in his hometown of Uyo, Nigeria.

258 Pope St Sixtus II beheaded in Rome under persecutions by Roman Emperor Valerian.

1964 Prometheus, the world's oldest tree aged at least 4,862 years old, is accidentally cut down in Nevada, USA.
 

SECURITY

ISWAP, Al-Qaeda taking over West Africa - US Warns

Image Credit: The Defense Post
The Story
The Islamic State and Al-Qaeda terrorist groups are gradually taking over the West African region after being displaced in Syria and Iraq, The United States Africa Command has said.

You don't mean it.
According to the Commander of the US Special Operations Command, Africa, Maj. Gen. Davin Anderson, the extremist groups have begun deploying strategies to re-establish themselves in the region and expand further in the continent without drawing attention.

Will this not be the death of an already overwhelmed region?
While speaking during a virtual media briefing, he said that the Al-Qaeda has expanded in Mali, and had moved into northern Burkina Faso, where they attacked infrastructure, took out local governance and security forces, and are now controlling the local economy and exerting control over the population.

Will rivalry with existing local bandits not further complicate things in the region?
Anderson observed that some aggrieved local terrorist groups were being galvanised into a larger ideology and movement, stressing that al-Shabaab, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, was already instigating instability in Somalia in order to destabilise the horn of Africa. Gen. Anderson said Africa needs to be conscious of their plot and understand how to counter it.

A fertile ground
The extremist group is exploiting the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel to gain deeper roots in the region, and in West Africa with Islamic State, West Africa, as well as the Grand Sahara as they establish affiliates or leverage local grievances and consolidate this into a larger movement in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Mozambique and Somalia, Anderson said. SOURCE

ECONOMY

 

FG Increases Hate Speech Fine from N500,000 to N5m

Image Credit: AskIfa.ng
The Story
The FG on Tuesday raised the fine for hate speech from ₦500,000 to ₦5 million as it mandated broadcast stations to devote airtime for public education on emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

What's the reason for this?
According to the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, at the unveiling of the reviewed broadcasting code, the amendments were necessitated by a presidential directive in the wake of the 2019 general elections for an inquiry into the regulatory role of the National Broadcasting Commission as well as the conduct of the various broadcast stations before, during and after the elections.

Is this from the President or he's unaware?
Mr Mohammed noted that the recommendations were approved by President Buhari, to reposition the NBC to better perform its regulatory role in the areas of political broadcasting, local content, coverage of emergencies, advertising, and anti-competitive behaviour.

And the increased fine is so important to the amendment?
Mohammed, who explained that section 2h of the NBC Act empowers the commission to establish and disseminate a National Broadcasting Code, said, “There are many desirable provisions in the new broadcasting code including the provisions on exclusivity and monopoly to boost local content and local industry due to laws prohibiting exclusive use of rights by broadcasters who intend to create monopolies and hold the entire market to themselves. SOURCE

ECONOMY

 

Nigeria Seeks Capture of Illegal Gold Sales

Image Credit: 1stNews
The Story
The FG has announced plans to regulate illegal gold exports worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year to boost the country’s foreign reserves.

Isn't it high time they did that?
According to the executive secretary of the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative, Fatima Shinkafi, the programme is expected to regulate the production of the commodity by informal miners that currently provide no income to the state.

Is there data for the value of this illegally mined gold?
The government official said as much as 18 tons of gold leaves Nigeria illegally every year to Dubai. Hence, PAGMI’s plan is to shift most of that production, which is extracted by acclaimed artisanal miners and sold to middlemen, into a supervised supply chain that ends with billions in a central bank vault.

Respite for decreasing revenue.
The regulation, Shinkafi added will help diversify Nigeria’s economy at a time when lower crude prices are adding pressure on the government to reduce Nigeria’s dependence on oil. Persuading the informal gold-mining industry to come within the orbit of state oversight would not only generate much-needed tax revenue, it would also allow the central bank to stockpile the metal, according to the presidency.

What's the current market value of the commodity?
The price of gold has soared in recent months, reaching a record of $1,988.40 an ounce on Monday. At current prices, the PAGMI programme could add about $500 million to foreign reserves annually, as well as contribute $150 million in taxes, Shinkafi said. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s gross reserves currently stand at $35.9 billion. “That’s a hell of an incentive for a country that is earning mostly from oil and agriculture,” she said as the price of crude has rebounded and stabilised since a sharp plunge in March.

The sales of oil are Nigeria’s main provider of hard currency, accounting for about half of government revenue and 90% of export earnings. The collapse of oil price has forced President Buhari’s administration to devalue the naira as a decline in revenue sapped external reserves. SOURCE

ECONOMY

 

Edo, Rivers, 19 Other Attract Zero Investment in 4 Months

Image Credit: Stears Business
The Story
Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has shown that about 21 states in the country attracted zero investments in the last four months.

Tell me about it.
The report, which detailed the total amount of fresh investments attracted to the Nigerian economy during the period, said Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Kastina, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Rivers and Yobe did not record any capital importation in the last four months.

Did the data state the reasons for this?
The CBN said most of the states that failed to attract investments during the period under review also failed to attract any investments in 2019. The development indicates that either the necessary steps were not taken by the governments, or foreign investors could not find attraction in the states as the environments may not be conducive for investment.

How about those that had investments?
The report showed that Lagos, as expected, topped the list of states that attracted investments in the period as the state attracted the highest amount of $5.39 billion. The investment inflow into the state represents over 87% of the total of $6.17 billion for these states. Following Lagos on the list is the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, which attracted a total investment inflow of $754.01 million.

Next on the list is Niger, which attracted a total investment inflow of $11.60 million. Sokoto attracted $2.50 million, while Kaduna attracted the sum of $1.98 million and Ogun attracted $1.70 million. Kano and Akwa Ibom states recorded investment inflows of about $700,000 and $237,000 respectively among others, according to the monetary regulator. SOURCE

WHAT ELSE IS FRESH...

 

Vatican rejects deviations from approved baptismal wording. 

Rwanda - We use robots to protect doctors treating COVID-19 patients.

Katsina youths protest insecurity, block highway.

Villagers kill suspected bandit in Katsina.

US - Terrorists shut 9,000 schools in Nigeria, other African countries.

Impeachment: Police surround Edo Assembly complex.

CONFIRMED: UAE says it did not restrict travels from Nigeria.

#RevolutionNow protesters are just irritants, says Femi Adesina.

Makinde: We’ll retrieve N96bn stolen under Ajimobi.

Kwara deputy governor, wife contract COVID-19. 

Buhari gives NDDC one week to pay fees of scholars. 

Banks owe telecoms operators N17 billion in USSD charges.

China sentences Canadian to death over drug charge.

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone: Instagram Reels.

TikTok stuff: The U.S. government wants a finder’s fee for the Microsoft deal. 

EU to probe Google's Fitbit acquisition over management of data.

Goldman Sachs is building an app for M&A. 

Twitter faces $250 million FTC fine for misusing emails and phone numbers.

MTN Group mulls selling Jumia stake.

Facebook has for the first time deleted a Donald Trump post.

NCC revises USSD pricing, says 20 seconds costs N1.63.

Oil price nears $46, highest in five months.

IMF provides extra details on why Nigeria took $3.4bn loan.

Police take over Edo Assembly, roof dismantled.

Michelle Obama says she is suffering from 'low-grade depression'.

Anti-Obaseki Lawmakers 'Impeach' Edo Speaker, Deputy.

Why Senate must reject CBN’s demand for sweeping powers.

Gov Abiodun has sold Ogun State to Christians – Islamic group blows hot.

Lebanese officials deflect blame as anger grows over Beirut blast.

New York AG seeks to 'dissolve' US National Rifle Association.

Saudi Crown Prince accused of assassination plot against senior exiled official

CNN investigates Russia's claim of cutting-edge virus response.

New AI language model generates poetry and prose.

BOOK OF THE MONTH

 

 

PICKS OF THE DAY

The Radical Remake of Saudi Arabia. Bloomberg

The best skateboarder you will watch. Twitter

A Most Amazing Transformation. Vimeo

This scientist believes age is optional. OutsideOnline

Poor and Desperate, Pakistani Hindus Accept Islam to Get By. NYT

'We drink from the toilet': migrants tell of hellish Saudi detention centres. Guardian

The history of Nigerian scamming and its evolution into a sophisticated enterprise. RestOfWorld

Letter from Africa: How African generosity dried a teacher's tears. BBC

The Lion of Africa With Cat Claws. Republic

Missing Pieces In The Puzzle Of Reading Comprehension. Forbes

3 Brain Hacks To Be More Decisive. Forbes

The Strange Science of Memory. Pocket

Daughters of the Bomb: A Story of Hiroshima, Racism and Human Rights. Pocket

The Pandemic Biggest Mystery is Our Own Immune System. Atlantic
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TODAY's TRIVIA

I came across this interesting poll by Gallup. It's about how Americans spend their free time.

Gallup asked Americans about ttheir hobbies.  We are going to quiz you on the results.

How the game works: We’ll give you two different activities; you have to choose the activity that Americans reported doing more often in the past year. 
  1. Go to a library // go to a movie theater
  2. Visit a casino // visit a museum
  3. Attend a live music or theatrical event // attend a live sporting event 
  4. Visit a zoo // visit an amusement or theme park
 

Q&A

QUORA QUESTION:
Is there any weapon from history that can't be replicated?

RODRA HASCARYO:

There’s one type of steel whose production method have been lost to history but people are still trying to replicate today: Damascus steel.

This is a close up of real Damascus steel blade from 13th Century

This is the modern replica used in making a knife:

Damascus steel is pretty legendary, because the method of making it is lost to history, because of its intricate, beautiful pattern, and also because of its durability. Perhaps more surprisingly, traces of carbon nanotubes have been found in real Damascus blades. Now, this is obviously an unintended byproduct of the manufacturing process but it does explain how the material became so highly regarded to the point of being mythical; it had been said that real Damascus blades could cut through a gun barrel (most likely a myth; the same way that supposedly Japanese WW2 mass-produced katana was said to have cut through hot gun barrels. It’s very unlikely at best).

The term ‘Damascus’ itself is also hotly debated: What constitutes a proper ‘Damascus’?

Interestingly, the Damascus steel is not from Damascus. It is actually thought to be from India, though it became associated with Persia and the Arab world. In fact, it got as far as Russia, where it was called ‘Bulat’. There are plenty of theories how they became called ‘Damascus’, like that Europeans who first encountered it found it in Damascus (back then one of the centers of sword production), or it was a corruption of a renowned Arab swordmaker’s name who made these, and so on. Regardless, people from Damascus do not refer to this steel as ‘Damascus’. The truth of the origin of the name is also likely lost to history.

In the 19th century, ‘Damascus’ was the term for ‘pattern-welded steel’ that was used in making knifes and gun barrels. And then in the 20th century, people started marketing their patterned knifes as ‘Damascus’ to latch on to the fame, adding further to the confusion.

Scientists and engineers have been trying to recreate the material from current samples, but so far they could only come close but not exactly replicate the process. To make them properly, a smith would need the correct raw materials and knowledge of the procedures, both of which probably will never be found again.

HOWEVER, by today’s standards, Damascus isn’t all that special with regards to its strength, the same way that Japanese swords aren’t particularly superior to European or other types of swords. Back then, however, seeing something so beautiful and yet durable must have been nearly magical. SOURCE


TRIVIA ANSWERS

 

1. Going to the library was far more common than going to the movies.
2. Visiting a museum was equally as common as visiting a casino (2.5x a year on average). 
3. Attending a live sporting event was more common than attending a live music/theatrical event. 
4. Visiting an amusement or theme park was more common than visiting a zoo.

The answers surprised me. Were you surprised?
 

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Contributed by SeunJuwonMercy and Tosin.

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