US Captain Woods Picks Himself To Lead Off Presidents Cup Defence

US team captain Tiger Woods hits to the green during a practice round ahead of the Presidents Cup golf tournament starting on December 12, in Melbourne on December 11, 2019.
PHOTO: William WEST / AFP

 

Captain Tiger Woods will lead from the front when the United States begin their Presidents Cup defence after Wednesday picking himself and Justin Thomas for the opening fourball match at Royal Melbourne.

The 43-year-old Woods and world number four Thomas will tee off first on Thursday against Australian Marc Leishman and Chilean rookie Joaquin Niemann for Ernie Els’ International team.

“I think from our side, we had a game plan, who we wanted to start out, and we were committed to putting Justin and myself out there, and that’s who we’re rolling with,” said Woods.

“I got a chance to play all of yesterday. Played a little bit today. Just to try to get a feel for this golf course.

“It is quick and it has dried out and hopefully the forecast will hold for each and every day. The preparation is very simple.”

Vice-captain Fred Couples said ahead of the draw that he expected Woods would play at least three matches over the four days of the biennial matchplay showdown.

Woods has a record of 24 wins, 15 losses and one half in matches at the Presidents Cup, second only to Phil Mickelson’s record of 26 wins.

Steve Stricker will be captain while he is on the course.

Woods resisted any temptation to leave Patrick Reed on the sidelines for the first day’s pairings after a row sparked by the two-stroke penalty for moving sand and improving his lie in the Bahamas last week.

But International captain Els did omit Australian Cameron Smith who became embroiled in the squabble by calling Reed a cheat.

China’s Li Haotong and Americans Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar are the other player to miss out on  Thursday’s action.

Reed will partner Webb Simpson against Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and Taiwan’s debutant CT Pan in match four on a course that has a reputation for having some of the fastest greens in the world.

 Aussie sits out

Canada’s Adam Hadwin and South Korea’s PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Im Sung-jae tee off second against Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.

They will be followed by veteran Australian Adam Scott, like Woods in his ninth Presidents Cup, joining South Korea’s debutant An Byeong-hun against Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau.

The final match pits another newcomer in Mexico’s Abraham Ancer and experienced partner Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa against the big-hitting duo of US Open champion Gary Woodland and former world number one Dustin Johnson, who is playing his first event since knee surgery in September.

Els has a young team with five of his seven rookies employed on the opening day and said leaving out Smith in front of his home fans was part of the bigger picture.

“I’ll tell you Sunday night what exactly has been transpiring, but we have a system we are following, and I can’t let anything out of the bag more than that,” he said.

“But there’s enough Australians out there tomorrow to rally a lot of guys.”

The International team having only won the title once, but that was in 1998 at Royal Melbourne, and both captains have good memories of the famous sandbelt layout.

Els holds the course record of 60 set in 2004 while Woods sank the winning putt for the United States at the venue in 2011.

The Americans, who won the 2017 event on home soil 19-11, hold a proud record of 10 wins, one draw and just one defeat.

Friday’s second day will see five foursomes, or alternate shot, matches.

Saturday is a crunch day with four fourballs and four foursomes matches before 12 singles clashes on Sunday.

With one point awarded for a win in each match the first team to 15 1/2 points will secure the cup.

AFP

Rwanda Scraps Tax On Sanitary Pads To Make Them Cheaper

(PHOTO USED TO DEPICT THE STORY) In this file photo taken on April 10, 2018 Indian employees at the Myna Mahila Foundation prepare sanitary pads at their office in Mumbai.PHOTO: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP

 

Rwanda announced on Wednesday it was scrapping an 18 percent value added tax on sanitary pads to make them cheaper for girls who are often forced to skip school during their periods.

The country becomes the latest to drop the controversial tax which has increasingly infuriated women around the globe who argue tampons and pads are basic necessities and should not be subject to taxes.

“The Government of Rwanda has added Sanitary Pads to a list of goods that are VAT exempted in a bid to ease their affordability,” the ministry of gender and family promotion announced on its website and on Twitter Wednesday.

The move came after fierce lobbying from feminist groups and NGOs urging government to act to reduce the price of sanitary pads in the country.

“This is a step in the right direction but not the ultimate solution. It is a shame that girls have to drop out of school just because of a biological process, so it is a good step what government is trying to do,” Annette Mukiga, a feminist activist in Rwanda told AFP.

“Our target is to make sure that sanitary pads are free, not just cheap but free in all schools, so that girls do not have to worry about this challenge anymore.”

In 2017 a study conduction by the education ministry showed that girls aged 16 and above were eight percent more likely to drop out of school than boys, especially in rural areas.

The report cited lack of access to sanitary pads during menstruation as one of the reasons for this.

Kenya is credited with being the first country to abolish taxes on menstrual products in 2005, and in recent years many have followed suit.

However Tanzania in June decided to re-introduce the tax after having done away with it in 2018, arguing it was counterproductive as retailers had not lowered their prices.

AFP

Nnamdi Kanu’s Lawyer Sues Police Demands N2bn Compensation

Court Revokes Nnamdi Kanu’s Bail, Orders His Re-Arrest
FILE PHOTO: Nnamdi Kanu

 

Ifeanyi Ejiofor, the leader counsel to the self-proclaimed leader of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has formally dragged the Nigeria Police to the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Ejiofor is suing the Nigeria Police over an alleged invasion of his house and alleged killing of four occupants by operatives of the force.

In the legal action instituted on his behalf by his lawyer Maxwell Okpara, Ejiofor is asking the court for an order to compel police to pay him the sum of N2 billion as compensation and damages for the burning of his house and  alleged shooting of his aged mother by the police at his home to in Anambra State on December 2.

READ ALSO: Police Declare Nnamdi Kanu’s Lawyer Wanted Over Officers’ Death

He is also asking the court to restrain the police from further harassing, intimidating, threatening his life and destroying his properties.

He further applied for an order of the court stopping the respondents from threatening him with arrest and torture and to compel them to retract the public notice made on December 3, which declared him wanted and to also tender apology to him in five major newspapers and any other form of reparation.

Meanwhile, police authorities in Anambra State last week declared Ejiofor wanted following an incident in Oraifite town which led to the killing of two police officers by suspected members of the proscribed IPOB group.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, John Abang while declaring Ejiofor wanted urged residents in the state to promptly report any information on his whereabouts to the police or other security agencies.

Cardi B Returns To Court Over Strip Club Brawl Allegations

Rapper Cardi B (Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar) departs from Queens Criminal Court on December 10, 2019 in New York City after a hearing to answer to charges over strip club incident. Cardi B has been charged in a 14-count indictment, including two counts of felony attempted assault on two bartenders at Angels Strip Club in the Flushing section of Queens. PHOTO: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images/AFP

 

Rap superstar Cardi B appeared in court on Tuesday over her alleged involvement in a New York strip club brawl, as her lawyers called for access to social media evidence currently available to prosecutors.

The 27-year-old Grammy winner known for hits including “I Like it” strode into the Queens courtroom wearing black patent Christian Louboutin stilettos, a black feathered train trailing behind her as she sported an enormous matching hat.

Having previously pleaded not guilty to attempted assault charges including two felonies linked to the case, she stood before the judge with her hands complete with talon-esque mint green nail extensions clasped behind her back.

The hearing was a “control date” for both sides to appear and discuss scheduling and legal issues, namely the defense’s bid to obtain evidence they say is currently only available to the prosecution.

The artist’s lawyers said they had submitted a subpoena to Facebook, which owns Instagram, attempting to obtain direct messages from the image-sharing platform involving the complainants — but their request had been denied.

They did not go into detail on the content of the social media exchanges.

Judge Joseph Zayas requested both parties meet and reach an agreement for the defense to access the Instagram messages.

He set a hearing for the two other defendants involved in the case for January 17, but excused Cardi B from attending.

Insisting on his client’s innocence, her lawyer Jeff Kern said “the case is not close to going to trial.”

Asked repeatedly by journalists whether the rapper — just returned from concerts in Nigeria and Ghana — might settle the case out of court, both Kern and her other lawyer Drew Findling skirted the issue.

Born Belcalis Almanzar to a Dominican father and Trinidadian mother, Cardi B’s meteoric rise began during her days as a stripper, when she carved out a social media personality on platforms including Instagram.

On August 29, 2018, Cardi B was in the Angels Strip Club in Queens when her entourage reportedly lobbed bottles, chairs and a hookah pipe, which police said bruised a female employee’s legs.

Cardi B allegedly ordered an attack on two sisters working at the club because one of them was rumored to have slept with her husband, the rapper Offset.

Initially facing only misdemeanor charges, the rapper in April rejected a plea deal from the Queens district attorney’s office.

That offer would have given the Grammy winner a conditional discharge if she pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor.

The new, more serious charges filed in June include two felony counts of attempted assault with intent to cause serious physical injury, according to the case docket.

At that time the rapper brought Findling — the so-called “#BillionDollarLawyer” who has made a name for himself representing hip-hop stars in Atlanta, Georgia, the de-facto capital of rap — onto her legal team.

“We continue to aggressively defend this case,” Findling told journalists outside the court.

AFP

A$AP Rocky Back In Sweden Four Months After Assault Conviction

In this file photo taken on January 23, 2017 US rapper ASAP Rocky poses before the Christian Dior 2017 spring/summer Haute Couture collection on January 23, 2017 in Paris. PHOTO: Patrick KOVARIK / AFP

 

New York rapper A$AP Rocky was back in Sweden on Wednesday for a concert, four months after receiving a suspended sentence over a Stockholm street fight. 

The gig alongside Swedish rap artists Jireel, Z.E and Dree Low is set for Stockholm’s Ericsson Globe, a golf ball-shaped arena that is the world’s largest spherical building.

A$AP Rocky’s booking agency Live Nation said part of the concert’s proceeds would go to charity.

The 31-year-old rapper will have to be on good behaviour during his stay in Sweden to avoid seeing his suspended sentence change to a spell behind bars.

A$AP Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was arrested on July 3 a few days after a brawl in Stockholm in which he and his entourage were embroiled with a 19-year-old plaintiff.

Considered a flight risk, he was held in custody for a month while the case was investigated and throughout his trial.

Prosecutors had called for a six-month prison sentence, but the court said the actions of Mayers and two members of his entourage were not severe enough to warrant more time in prison.

The court did not specify the length of the suspended sentence.

Assault carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison in Sweden.

Mayers’ imprisonment outraged fans, who started an online petition, #JusticeForRocky, which garnered more than 640,000 signatures.

Supporters were urged to boycott Swedish brands such as Ikea.

The case also led to diplomatic tensions after US President Donald Trump himself called for Mayers to be released.

AFP

VIDEO: Electricity Workers Protest, Picket Power Ministry In Abuja

 

Members of the electricity workers union are currently protesting in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The workers in protest blocked main entrance gate and locked out some staff to the Ministry of Power. This is even in the presence of armed police officers.

The electricity workers are protesting over the non-payment of severance package for members who were affected by the unbundling of Power Holding Company of Nigeria PHCN into eleven electricity distribution companies (DisCos), six generating companies (GenCos), and a transmission company (TCN).

READ ALSO: Declare State Of Emergency In Power Sector, Senate President Tells Buhari

It will be recalled that the Senate President Ahmed Lawan on Monday called on the Executive to, as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency in the power sector to overcome the legion of problems stalling steady power supply in Nigeria.

According to the Senate President, the privatisation of the power sector in 2005 and 2013 was a grand scheme conceived with the intention to defraud Nigeria.

Lawan while faulting the power sector privatization process said it hasn’t yielded significant improvements and the National Assembly is prepared to amend the Power Sector Reform Act of 2005.

Senate To Probe CBN, NIBSS Over N20trn Unremitted Stamp Duties

 

The Senate on Tuesday resolved to probe the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its subsidiary, the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) over an allegedly failure to remit N20 trillion revenue to  the Federation Account.

CBN reportedly collected the amount as stamp duty from banks and financial institutions in the country.

The resolution follows a motion by Senator representing Ondo central, Ayo Akinyelure.

READ ALSO: Petroleum Tankers Safety Bill Passes Second Reading In Senate

“The Central Bank of Nigeria and NIBBS have technically refused to comply with the presidential directives for the recovery of over N20 trillion revenue into the coffers of government.

“The CBN and NIBSS deliberately failed to cooperate and comply with the directives of Mr President for the realisation of over N20 trillion revenue due from stamp duties collected for 2013 to 2016 and subsequently over N5 trillion minimum revenue due to be collected annually to the federation account to be shared among states of the federation for infrastructural and economic development.

“The Senate must consider whether the target N20 trillion fund is being recycled into private banks when federal government had directed its recovery,” he said.

The lawmakers expressed concerns that despite government decision to appoint a consultant to help it recovered the money; the CBN and NIBSS have technically refused to comply with the presidential directive for the recovery of the money into the Federation Account.

Senator Isah Jibrin in his contribution said, “I want to support this motion. The issue is a major problem with financial remittance. The issue is to unravel who is benefiting from the non-compliance of this directive from President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The Senate then resolved to Mandate the Committee on Finance to investigate this issue of over N20 trillion unremitted stamp duties revenue due to the Federal Government of Nigeria from banks and other financial institutions through (NIBSS) a subsidiary of CBN for 2013 – 2016 and financial accountability of stamp duty collections from 2016 when the CBN officially directed all banks to collect on behalf of the federal government to date.

In his concluding remarks, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said, “I engaged the Ministry of Finance and CBN for an interaction, and I discovered that what we have been expecting to be available as stamp duty is not so.

“I was under the impression that we had over N20 trillion somewhere. It will interest you to know that we don’t even have N1 trillion. What has happened is because those that are supposed to collect the stamp duties were taking advantage of the non-electronic transaction.

“With the passage of the finance bill, this is an opportunity we have to start getting what ordinarily should go to the government.

“The banks and many private organizations have taken advantage of the way the stamp duties have been.

“I want to believe that from January 2020, when the Finance Bill will start being effective, the stamp duty collection will be significantly improved,” he said.

Lawan added that is for our Finance Committee to monitor closely what the collection should be.

“We would like to know in the first quarter how much they have collected, and if they have not met targets; if they have met targets, how do we do better than that? The idea is not to slow agencies to do whatever they want.”

 

Toxic Bushfire Haze Blankets Eastern Australia

Toxic haze blanketed Sydney Tuesday triggering a chorus of smoke alarms to ring across the city and forcing school children inside, as “severe” weather conditions fuelled deadly bush blazes along Australia’s east coast.

Fire engines raced office-to-office in the city centre with sirens blaring, as inland bushfires poured smoke laden with toxic particles into commercial buildings.

Emergency services responded to an “unprecedented” 500 automatic call-outs inside a few hours according to New South Wales Fire and Rescue’s Roger Mentha.

A regional fire headquarters miles from the nearest blazes was itself evacuated while throngs of mask-wearing commuters choked their way through thick acrid air and the organisers of a harbour yacht race declared it was unsafe to proceed.

“The smoke from all the fires is just so severe here on the harbour that you just can’t see anything, so it’s just too dangerous,” said spokeswoman Di Pearson of an event that normally foreshadows the famed Sydney-Hobart yacht race. “The vision is just so poor.”

Some of the city’s commuter ferries were also cancelled “due to thick smoke” and school kids were kept inside at breaktime and sent home early as pollution levels soared far above “hazardous” levels.

For weeks the east of the country has been smothered in smoke as drought and climate-fuelled bushfires have burned. But the scale of the problem on Tuesday shocked even hardened residents.

Bruce Baker — an 82-year-old who lives in Gosford, north of Sydney — said he was skipping his daily morning walk because of the smoke.

“This is the worst it’s been, for sure,” he told AFP. “It dries your throat. Even if you’re not asthmatic, you feel it.”

Authorities recommended that the vulnerable cease outdoor activity altogether and that everyone stay inside as much as possible, although one couple braved the toxic air to get married on the waterfront in front of Sydney Harbour Bridge shrouded in smog.

A cricket match between New South Wales and Queensland also went ahead, despite a barely visible ball.

Tuesday had been expected to bring strong winds and high temperatures that made for “severe conditions where embers can be blown ahead of the fire into suburbs and threaten properties.”

But New South Wales Rural Fire Service said “deteriorating fire conditions have been delayed by a thick blanket of smoke” over the east of the state.

As the day developed there were nearly 100 bushfire incidents in the state of New South Wales alone and dozens more in Queensland.

Total fire bans were put in place across much of the east of the country and in large parts of western Australia.

Temperatures in some inland areas eased past 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit).

– The ‘big dry’ –

To the northwest of Sydney, several fires already burning for weeks have combined to create a “megafire” that has already destroyed 319,000 hectares (788,000 acres) of land, mostly inside national parks.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison  — who for weeks has not commented on the smoke haze — defended his government’s handling of the fires and said there were no plans to professionalise the countryside’s largely volunteer force.

“Our policy is sensible when it comes to addressing and taking action on climate change. Our actions on climate change are getting the results they’re intended to get,” he said.

Morrison’s conservative coalition has been criticised by former fire chiefs for failing to heed warnings about climate change.

The crisis has been propelled by a prolonged drought that has made vegetation tinder dry.

The Bureau of Meteorology has reported that Australia experienced its driest November on record this year.

The “big dry” has left farmers desperate and small towns facing the prospect of running out of water completely.

A swathe of the east of the country has seen “rainfall deficiencies” since early 2017 — almost three years.

Many dams in New South Wales are empty and almost all are well below capacity.

Firefighters south of Brisbane recently reported 1,000 litres of water were stolen from tanks at their station.

Amid the shortage, Tuesday also saw the toughest water restrictions in a decade being introduced for Sydney — with curbs on everything from hosepipe use to washing cars.

Burglars Cart Away N3.5million From Bayelsa Government House

Bayelsa Govt House Photographer, One Other Shot Dead
Map of Bayelsa State

 

The sum of N3.5million on Tuesday went missing after some burglars attacked Bayelsa State Government House in Yenagoa the state capital.

The money was carted away by the burglars who broke into the office of Mrs Ebizi Ndiomu-Brown, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the governor.

Ndiomu-Brown told Channels Television in a phone conversation that her office was indeed burgled and the sum of N3.5million was carted away not the sum of N40 million as reported by some media.

READ ALSO: Drama As Kwara Assembly Disowns PDP Member-Elect

Responding to the question on if she suspects anyone, says she has no ready suspect in mind, as it could be anyone and she waits the outcome of the Police investigation.

Ndiomu-Brown is currently on an official assignment outside Bayelsa State.

Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Asinim Butswat, said the office was indeed burgled and the sum of N3.5million stolen.

He said the main entrance door to her office was broken and the safe inside the office, destroyed.

The police spokesman said three policemen and four personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and one maintenance staff on duty at the Governor’s Office, were initially arrested and  interrogated at the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation department in connection to the attack.

He added that they have all been released based on their statements and the four NSCDC officials have resumed duty at the Government House.

He said investigation is still ongoing.

The State Commandant of the NSCDC, Christiana Abiakama-Omanu said the officers were only questioned and released.

PHOTOS: Buhari, Fintiri, Two Other Governors Depart Abuja For Egypt

 

President Muhammadu Buhari accompanied by Governors Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa; Godwin Obaseki of Edo and Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State on Tuesday left Abuja the nation’s capital for Aswan in Egypt.

The President is attending Peace and Development Forum designed to set “an agenda for sustainable peace and development in Africa.”

The forum which is scheduled to hold from December the 11th to the 12th is an initiative to address the interconnections between peace and development in Africa while promoting Africa-led solutions through strengthening policies and practices.

The initiative is being launched by the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in his capacity as the chairman of the African Union (AU) and as an advocate of post-conflict reconstruction and development in Africa.

See photos below:

‘It Must Have Been Love’ Roxette Singer Dies Aged 61

Picture taken on June 11, 2011 shows singer Marie Fredriksson of Swedish band Roxette performing during a concert in Berlin, Germany. As her management announced on December 10, 2019, Fredriksson died on December 9, 2019 at the age of 61. PHOTO: Britta Pedersen / dpa / AFP

 

The lead singer of Swedish pop duo Roxette, Marie Fredriksson, who shot to global fame in the 1990s with hits like “It must have been love”, has died aged 61 after a long fight with cancer, her manager said Tuesday.

Fredriksson had been diagnosed in 2002 with a severe brain tumour but went into remission and returned to the studio in 2010.

Six years later, however, her doctors advised her to stop touring and rest.

“It is with great sadness we have to announce that Marie Fredriksson of Roxette has passed away in the morning of December 9, following a 17-year long battle with cancer,” Dimberg Jernberg Management said in a statement.

Roxette, formed in 1986 by Fredriksson and the guitarist Per Gessle, sold more than 80 million albums worldwide.

“You were an outstanding musician, a master of the voice, an amazing performer. Thanks for painting my black and white songs in the most beautiful colours,” Gessle said after her death.

Roxette’s hits included “Listen to your heart” and “The Look”.

Their ballad “It must have been love” featured in the soundtrack of Hollywood rom-com “Pretty Woman” starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.

AFP

#HumanRightsDay: We Have A Duty To Ensure Young People’s Voices Are Heard – UN

The United Nations in commemoration of Human Rights Day says it is the duty of everyone to ensure that the voices of young people are heard.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in a statement issued in Geneva on Monday said the world owe a debt of gratitude to children, teenagers and young adults who have been standing up and speaking out more and more loudly about the crisis facing our planet.

“We have a duty to ensure young people’s voices are heard.

“All human beings have a right to participate in decisions that have impact on their lives. In order to ensure more effective decision-making, and to build greater trust and harmony across their nations, the leaders of every society should be listening to their people – and acting in accordance with their needs and demands,” the statement read in part.

She also shared on her Twitter picture from her meeting with popular teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg noting the importance of giving audience to young people

“We have a duty to ensure young people’s voices are heard. I had the pleasure to meet @GretaThunberg for & we had an inspiring conversation. She is a living proof that we all have a role to play to create the future we want. We need to !she posted.

The United nations a tweet also stressed that young people are drivers of political, economic and social transformation and their participation is essential for achieving Global Goals.


Bachelet however stressed that young people are rightly pointing out that it is their future is at stake and they cannot be left alone to handle these challenges.

According to her, joint effort is needed to tackle these challenges.

young people will have to bear the full consequences of the actions, or lack of action, by the older generations who currently run governments and businesses, the decision-makers on whom the future of individual countries, regions and the planet depends.

“It cannot, of course, be left to young people alone to tackle the climate emergency, or indeed the many other human rights crises that are currently causing simultaneous turbulence in so many countries across the world.

“All of us must stand together, in solidarity, and act with principle and urgency.

“We can, and must, uphold the painstakingly developed universal human rights principles that sustain peace, justice and sustainable development. A world with diminished human rights is a world that is stepping backwards into a darker past, when the powerful could prey on the powerless with little or no moral or legal restraint,” she concluded.