Former Wimbledon Champion Bartoli Announces Comeback

Bartoli

Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli announced her professional tennis comeback in a video posted to her Instagram account on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old announced her retirement immediately after winning the 2013 Wimbledon title, fulfilling a lifelong ambition.

“It’s going to be a huge challenge, I still have a lot of practice ahead of me,” she said.

“I’m really looking forward to being on the court again… Especially in Paris at Roland Garros in my home country, but also for the Fed Cup and Wimbledon.”

The Frenchwoman added that she was aiming to return at the Miami Open hardcourt tournament in March.

She has won eight WTA Tour titles and reached a career-high ranking of seventh in 2012, before carving out a successful career as a television pundit after retiring.

In 2016, though, the Frenchwoman suffered from a mystery virus that saw her lose 20 kg of weight.

Bartoli said she feared for her health after pulling out of an exhibition event at the All England Club ahead of Wimbledon that year.

But a month later, she said she was “on the road to recovery”, after struggling with an illness that medical experts said was so rare they had no name for.

Bartoli was the last French player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament four years ago, and is the only one to have lifted a major title since Amelie Mauresmo won Wimbledon in 2006.

AFP

Poor Wages Promote Corrupt Practices, Says Osinbajo

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has said that poor wages, especially for public servants largely promote corruption and bribery in the country.

Speaking on Monday in Abuja, Osinbajo also expressed concern about the implementation of the minimum wage structure across the Federation saying employers should run a contributory pension scheme to help lift many Nigerians out of poverty.

“We need to enforce some kind of adherence to the minimum wage structure. Not just the minimum wage of the lowest paid person, but minimum wages across the board especially so that there is a certain amount of regulation of how people are paid and how they are paid,” he said.

READ ALSO: President Buhari Cancels Planned Trip To Niger Republic

Using journalists as an example, Osinbajo said if they are well paid, corrupt practices ranging from collecting brown envelopes or demanding for brown envelope will not exist as a good pay gives a man dignity and self-respect.

“So, people won’t go about and improvise whether it is a brown envelope or blue envelope. A kind of pay that gives a man enough dignity to say I am not going to be accepting or going make demands of people for brown envelopes,” he said.

Apart from adherence to the minimum wage structure, the Vice President said that regulation of income of workers from the executives to the lowest paid person will promote sane society rid of corrupt practices.

Osinbajo said even the President of the country deserves good pay as it is questionable if the President is not earning as much as the CEO of a private firm.

“Especially so that a certain amount of regulation of how people are paid and what they are paid. The truth is, we cannot pretend that these are wages that makes sense. If the President of the country does not earn as well as the CEO of a good private company, then there is something wrong with that kind of a system.”

NNPC Warns Petroleum Marketers Against Hoarding Products

There Is No $25bn NNPC Contracts Anywhere, Says Presidency

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has warned petroleum marketers against hoarding petroleum products.

A statement from the Group General Manager of Public Affairs, Mr Ndu Ughamadu on Thursday stated that there are enough products to cater for the needs of Nigerians.

The statement read in part: “The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has assured motorists and other petroleum products consumers not to engage in panic buying.

“NNPC wishes to state that relevant government agencies are in consultation with industry unions to arrive at an amicable resolution of issues over which there are threats of industrial action.”

While vowing to deal with any marketer who hoards products, the corporation noted that law enforcement agencies in collaboration with the industry regulators have been mapping out strategies in handling the issue.

This is coming few hours after into the planned strike by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN).

The industrial action, declared by the union last week, is to begin from 11:59 pm today (Monday).

The union’s action follows the expiration of an ultimatum it gave to the Federal Government to address issues which they consider detrimental to the welfare of their members.

In a statement last week, PENGASSAN ordered the shutting down of all oil and gas installations, resulting in the disruptions to fuel supply and distribution across the country.

PENGASSAN giving reasons for the strike action alleged anti-labour practices against some of its members by indigenous oil companies.

Other reasons include the alleged sack of workers by one of the oil companies due to their involvement in union activities and non-remittance of workers’ taxes to the PFAs by the same company.

Palestinians To Seek UN Backing If US Vetoes Jerusalem Resolution

The State of Palestine’s President Mahmoud                                                                                            Kevin Hagen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

The Palestinians will seek United Nations General Assembly support if the US vetoes a Security Council resolution against its decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a minister said Monday.

The Security Council is expected to vote later Monday on a draft resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The vote, called by Egypt, is likely to see the United States use its veto power.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said they would seek support at the General Assembly if the US ambassador Nikki Haley exercises Washington’s veto.

While Haley considers “the veto a source of pride and strength, we will show her their position is isolated and rejected internationally,” Malki said in a statement.

The UN General Assembly is expected to hold a plenary session Tuesday, including a discussion on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

The five permanent members of the Security Council have veto power, but there are no vetoes at the General Assembly.

Breaking with international consensus, President Donald Trump on December 6 recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and said he would move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, sparking protests and strong condemnation.

US Vice President Mike Pence will visit Jerusalem on Wednesday, wading into the crisis over one of the most controversial issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has scrapped a meeting with Pence in protest at the Jerusalem announcement, and will instead head to Saudi Arabia to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Abbas has sought to unify the Muslim world in opposition to Trump’s Jerusalem move.

On Monday night the Palestinian leadership will meet for the first time since Trump’s announcement.

Israel seized control of the eastern part of the city in the 1967 Middle East war and sees the whole of Jerusalem as its undivided capital.

The Palestinians view the east as the capital of their future state.

AFP

Mayor Of Misurata Killed In Libya – Libya Herald

The mayor of Libya’s third-largest city Misrata has been killed by unidentified assailants who abducted him as he returned from an official trip overseas, a security source said on Monday.

Mohamad Eshtewi’s body was found dumped in the street after he was kidnapped after leaving the airport in the western coastal city late Sunday, the source said.

The city hospital said it had received the mayor’s body bearing gunshot wounds.

His brother was with him in the car and was wounded in the attack, the security source said.

Eshtewi was returning from an official visit to Turkey with other members of the city council, who were all elected in 2014 for four years.

UN envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame on Twitter denounced the killing and expressed his “profound sadness” over the news.

Britain’s ambassador to Libya, Peter Millett, said he was “deeply saddened by (the) senseless murder”.

“He worked hard to serve his people,” he said on Twitter.

Home to some 400,000 people, Misrata is considered one of Libya’s safest cities.

Its powerful militias played a major role in expelling the Islamic State group from the coastal city of Sirte last year.

In October, four people were killed in a suicide bombing claimed by IS at the main court building in Misrata.

Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival authorities and militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.

AFP

Campaign Begins For Russia’s Presidential Election

A man walks past an official poster announcing next year’s presidential election in Moscow on December 18, 2017. Campaigning officially started on December 18, 2017 for Russia’s presidential election in March, in which President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win a fourth term that would keep him in power until 2024. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

Campaigning officially started on Monday for Russia’s presidential election in March, in which President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win a fourth term that would keep him in power until 2024.

Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta published a resolution adopted by the upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, scheduling the election for March 18.

Lawmakers had earlier voted to change the date of the March vote so that it marks the fourth anniversary of the signing of a treaty formally annexing Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. The treaty came two days after a controversial referendum deemed illegal by the West.

Putin, who was first elected president in 2000, is widely expected to sail to victory, cementing his status as Russia’s longest-serving ruler since dictator Joseph Stalin.

With the result of the election a foregone conclusion, turnout could be low, analysts warn.

According to a study by the independent Levada pollster released last week, 58 percent of Russians said they would vote in March, down from 75 percent in December 2007.

Last week, the head of Russia’s Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, said 23 people had expressed their wish to run for the presidency. She added that the number of presidential hopefuls could grow.

One of the potential candidates is Ksenia Sobchak, a former socialite turned liberal TV presenter who many suspect is running as a Kremlin “spoiler” candidate to split the opposition and boost interest in the polls.

Putin’s top critic Alexi Navalny, 41, has been barred from putting his name on the ballot paper because of a criminal conviction, which he says is politically motivated.

Gennady Zyuganov and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the long-time leaders of Russia’s Communist Party and ultra-conservative LDPR, who are tolerated by the Kremlin and sit in parliament’s lower house, the State Duma, have both expressed a desire to run.

They are not expected to win more than 10 percent of the vote, however, according to the Levada pollster.

During his annual end-of-year news conference last week, Putin said he would stand for election as an independent candidate rather than with the backing of the ruling party, United Russia.

AFP

US Military Blames Crash On ‘Human Error’

A photo provided by the Indiana State Police shows the wreckage from a small plane crash Saturday night, Dec. 16, 2017, in southeastern Indiana. Sgt. Stephen Wheeles says the crash of the single-engine Cessna plane near Oldenburg, Indiana, killed three people and one dog aboard the aircraft. A second dog survived. Wheeles says the plane was traveling from Kansas City, Missouri, to Frederick, Maryland, and had taken off from an airport outside Columbus, Indiana, before crashing. The names of the victims haven’t been released. (Indiana State Police via AP)

The US military on Monday blamed human error after a window from one of its helicopters fell onto a school sports ground in Japan, sparking anger among local residents.

The military said it had conducted a thorough investigation into last Wednesday’s accident and concluded that “the incident was caused by human error”.

“The window in question is designed to be removed in order to assist pilot egress in an emergency situation. The appropriate procedures for ensuring the window was secured were not correctly followed,” added the military in a statement.

It again apologised for what it called a “regrettable” accident.

There were no serious injuries from the window that landed at an elementary school near the Futenma marine airbase on Okinawa island.

But the incident infuriated local residents, who are already unhappy at the base being located so close to their homes and schools.

Residents want Futenma to be closed and a replacement built elsewhere in another part of Japan or overseas, saying they can no longer live with the noise, accidents and occasional crimes committed by US service members.

“We strive to be good members of the Okinawan community and to ensure the safety of both our personnel and our community in which we live and serve,” said the military statement.

The accident came just two months after an American military helicopter burst into flames after landing in an empty field in Okinawa.

AFP

Creation Of Jobs Panacea To Illegal Migration – Atiku

File

Former Vice President , Atiku Abubakar , has said that creating better opportunities will help check the rise in illegal migration of Nigerians.

He stated this in Abuja while marking the United Nations International Migrants Day on December 18, 2017.

“The chances of a young person with a job and opportunity at home taking a suicidal flight in search of a better life will become an exception and not the rule,” Atiku said.

Using the recent case of slave trading in Libya as an example, where over 400 Nigerians were subjected to inhumane treatments, Atiku in a statement from his media office, called on African leaders to create an environment conducive for economic progress and employment generation.

He, therefore, stated that to prevent a recurrence of such, the Federal and state governments ought to discourage potential migrants through public enlightenment about the implications of illegal overseas travels.

In achieving this, the PDP chief also urged the international community to ensure that the international code of treatment of migrants is strictly adhered to.

US Plane Crash Kills Three – Police

A photo provided by the Indiana State Police shows the wreckage from a small plane crash Saturday night, Dec. 16, 2017, in southeastern Indiana. Sgt. Stephen Wheeles says the crash of the single-engine Cessna plane near Oldenburg, Indiana, killed three people and one dog aboard the aircraft. A second dog survived. Wheeles says the plane was traveling from Kansas City, Missouri, to Frederick, Maryland, and had taken off from an airport outside Columbus, Indiana, before crashing. The names of the victims haven’t been released. (Indiana State Police via AP)

Three people died when a small plane crashed in the US state of Indiana, police said on Sunday.

The single-engine Cessna went down and caught fire behind a home in a heavily-wooded area of the Midwestern state at about 9:10 pm (0210 GMT) local time on Saturday, the Indiana State Police said in a statement.

The crash “claimed the lives of all three people on board” as well as a dog, it said.

“A second dog survived the crash and showed up at a nearby residence. The dog was taken to a local veterinarian to be treated for injuries,” the police said.

They did not release the victims’ identities.

The plane was flying from Kansas City, Missouri, to Frederick, Maryland.

 

AFP

Honduran President’s Sister Dies In Helicopter Crash

Soldiers and firefighters recover the body of Hilda Hernandez, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s sister, and the bodies of the rest of the people who died the day before in the helicopter that crashed in the mountains of Yerbabuena, Rincon de Dolores, Lepaterique municipality, 60 km northwest of Tegucigalpa, on December 17, 2017. Hernandez, an engineer and former communications and press minister in her brother’s government, died in a helicopter crash along with the pilot, copilot and three other people. ORLANDO SIERRA / AFP

A sister of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez died Saturday when the helicopter she was riding in crashed into a mountain near the capital, in an incident that killed five others.

“God has in his bosom Hilda Hernandez, tireless fighter of the National Party,” the ruling party’s president Reinaldo Sanchez tweeted in confirming the tragedy.

The AS35 B-3 Honduran Air Force helicopter had taken off from the capital’s Toncontin airport and it went off the radar due to adverse weather conditions.

“No survivors were found” at the crash site on Yerbabuena Mountain, the armed forces said in a statement.

The other victims of the crash were pilot lieutenant Ivan Vasquez Portillo, co-pilot second lieutenant Gerson Diaz Nolasco, Army captain Patricia Valladares and two members of the minister’s security detail: Nahum Lagos and Marcos Banegas.

The 51-year-old communications minister had also served on the campaign team of her brother, who is locked in a controversial bid for reelection.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal has yet to declare a winner in the hotly contested election, held nearly three weeks ago, amid heightened political tensions.

After learning of his sister’s death, the president posted a photograph of her and an image of a black ribbon on his Twitter account, without any additional message or comment.

“We send our solidarity and condolences to the president and his family,” said former president Manuel Zelaya, who is leading the opposition leftist alliance that has claimed victory in the elections for its candidate, television host Salvador Nasralla.

Election authorities are reviewing and recounting votes before giving a final verdict on the result after the opposition claimed fraud.

AFP

Belgian Trial Of Paris Attacks Suspect Abdeslam Set For February

Belgian lawyer Sven Mary leaves Brussels’ courthouse after a hearing regarding the postponement of the trial of his client, Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, on December 18, 2017. EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP

A Belgian court on Monday delayed until February the trial of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam over a shooting in Brussels that led to his capture.

Abdeslam, the sole surviving suspect in the November 2015 Paris attacks which left 130 people dead, had been due to face trial in the Belgian capital this week.

But following an application last week by Abdeslam’s lawyer Sven Mary, the court on Monday ruled the trial would start on Monday February 5 and run until the Friday, with Wednesday as a rest day.

Abdeslam and Sofian Ayari, also implicated in the shootout, face charges of “attempting to murder several police officers in a terrorist context” and “carrying prohibited weapons in a terrorist context”.

Both men were captured days after the March 15, 2016 shootout, ending a four-month manhunt for Abdeslam for his alleged role in the Paris attacks.

The 28-year-old is linked to the same cell that carried out suicide bombings in Brussels a week after the gunbattle. Thirty-two people were killed at Brussels airport and a metro station near the EU’s headquarters.

Abdeslam, born in Brussels of Moroccan origin, has spent nearly 20 months in isolation, under 24-hour video surveillance, at a prison in the Paris region since his transfer to France in April last year.

He has refused to cooperate with investigators and his offer to appear at the Brussels trial came as a surprise.

The hearings are a highly-anticipated chance to see if he has changed his mind about keeping silent.

AFP

Lebanon Arrests Suspected Killer Of British Woman – Official

A undated handout picture released by the family of Rebecca Dykes through Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on December 17, 2017, shows Rebecca Dykes, a British woman employed at the UK embassy in Lebanon, who has been found murdered. A British woman employed at the UK embassy in Lebanon has been found murdered, a senior official said Sunday, adding that the crime did not appear to be political. HO / Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) / AFP

Lebanese security forces on Monday arrested the suspected killer of a woman employed at the UK embassy in Beirut and whose body was found at the weekend, an official said.

“It’s correct,” the senior security official told AFP when asked about reports that the suspected killer of Rebecca Dykes had been arrested.

He said the Lebanese man was detained at dawn but would not provide further details on his identity, only adding that the investigation had established Dykes’ killing “was not politically motivated”.

The young British woman was found dead on Saturday evening, her body dumped on the side of an expressway north of Beirut and a piece of string tied around her neck, the same official had said on Sunday.

Another official on Sunday had said investigators were looking into reports she had been sexually assaulted.

Dykes worked at the Department for International Development (DFID) in Beirut.

Her family, the UK ambassador and DFID issued statements on Sunday expressing their shock but providing no further information.

Such crime is rare in the Lebanese capital, a city which is considered generally safe, including for tourists and foreign residents.

AFP