The United States Women’s basketball team have extended their Olympics winning streak to an incredible 50 games, although they were forced to labour for it against an impressive and determined Nigerian team.
Nigeria’s D’Tigress lost to the U.S. team 72-81 in the preliminary round Group B opener at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo.
The result confirmed Team USA has been flawless since the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona. It was not a pretty performance by the Americans, but they managed to get the job done.
In the first quarter, Nigeria showed good control and tenacity on the defensive end and caught the American off guard early in the game. At the end of the first quarter, Nigeria led 20-17 and had forced eight turnovers from the US women.
But the defending Olympic champions bounced back in the second quarter and dominated the game. At one point in the second quarter, they ripped off a 23-0 run, won the quarter 27-12, and built a double-digit lead at the break. At this stage, they were never in danger of losing the game.
Team USA won the third quarter 26-18 and got a little lackadaisical towards the end of the fourth quarter and the D’Tigress took control, dominated the match, and won it 22-11 to narrow the winning margin by just nine points.
‘Next Game Will Be Better’
Just last week, in an exhibition game in Las Vegas to prepare for the Olympic Games, USA humiliated Nigeria 93-62 points and D’Tigress coach, Otis Hughley, can use the latest result to motivate his team ahead of games against France and Japan.
At the post-match briefing, Hughley admitted he would have preferred playing another team in the opening game.
“It’s like starting your boxing career and they tell you you’re fighting Muhammad Ali (USA) in his prime. Now that is not something you’re looking for. ‘I want to box, but I don’t want to box that bad’” he said.
Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, said he was so proud of the Nigerian ladies and their performance despite the outcome of the game.
“I watched the game from the start to the end. Every moment. I saw players who can fight, and they fought.
“From 20 points disadvantage, they climbed back steadily, the height and built of the Americans notwithstanding. The next game will be better. I trust them. Going up against the Americans as they did, our team is good and can be better,” he said.
Nigeria’s D’Tigress will be back on the court on Friday for their second Group B match against the French team.
Jan Blachowicz upset the odds with a grinding unanimous points decision over the previously unbeaten Israel Adesanya to retain his world light heavyweight title at UFC 259 in Las Vegas on Sunday.
“If I had knocked him out it would have been better, but anyway I love this win because he is one of the best in the world,” said the 38-year-old Polish fighter after the judges scored it 49-46, 49-45, and 49-45 in his favour.
It was the first defeat inflicted on the 31-year-old Adesanya, who was stepping up in weight, in his 21-fight career.
The New Zealander, the middleweight title holder, was looking to become only the fifth double-weight world champion in UFC history.
The Nigeria-born fighter found the bigger size of Blachowicz difficult to handle, especially when the Pole drew his opponent into clinches and down on to the mat late in the bout.
Blachowicz only really became a contender after passing the age of 35 and had also been the underdog when he won the vacant title last year against American Dominick Reyes.
“I thought that he would be a little bit faster but he hit harder than I thought,” said Blachowicz, who has spent his career being underestimated, after a successful first defence of the title.
“He was slower and harder which is something I didn’t expect. I knew that if I took him down, I’m bigger, stronger a little bit, so I would be better on the ground.
“I just had to wait for a good moment. I should have used my left hand more, put more pressure on him, but game plan is one (thing), fighting is a different thing.”
Blachowicz, whose win-loss record improved to 27-9, initially looked for a one-shot punch to finish the fight early but Adesanya opted to score points by picking at Blachowicz from range.
Blachowicz began to take control in the fourth. A big left hand and a takedown saw him keep Adesanya under wraps on the ground.
He had Adesanya down again in the fifth for a sustained period of pressure that put the decision beyond doubt.
“Back to the drawing board,” Adesanya said.
There were three world title fights on the card but no fans in attendance as the United States still battles with the coronavirus pandemic.
The opening championship fight made history when Russian Petr Yan was disqualified for an illegal knee to the head against American challenger Aljamain Sterling, who was deemed the winner -– the first time a UFC title had changed hands in that fashion.
Brazil’s Amanda “The Lion” Nunes strengthened her claim to be the greatest female fighter of all time when she forced a first-round submission from Australian Megan Anderson.
The 32-year-old featherweight world champion Nunes -– who also holds the UFC bantamweight belt -– is unbeaten in her past 12 fights, and recently became a mum for the first time.
“You know they say a lion is always dangerous but when she has a baby you can’t stop her, ever,” Nunes said.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has alerted a Federal High Court in Abuja that Faisal Maina, son of the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina is on the run to the United States Of America (USA).
Faisal, who is standing trial on charges of money laundering, had jumped bail refusing to attend trial since November 24, 2020.
At the resumed trial, the lawyer to the anti-graft agency, Mohammed Abubakar told the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, that from the information at the disposal of the commission, Faisal Maina sneaked to the USA through the Republic of Niger despite his Nigerian and American passports still with the registry of the court.
“We have a bench warrant of the court for the arrest of the defendant and his apprehension before the court.
“We have been making serious efforts to execute the bench warrant but it has met challenges. The defendant has absconded to the USA,” EFCC lawyer told the court.
Faisal Maina’s lawyer, Anayo Adibe however disputed the claim of the prosecution as he insists that his client was arrested by the Nigeria Police Force in Sokoto. He urged the court to open an inquiry as to the true whereabouts of his client.
“The defendant personally called me the day he was taken into custody in Sokoto. Since then, every effort made to reach the defendant has been abortive. His phones are switched off.
“We are afraid for his life. We urge the court to cause an inquiry into the whereabouts of the defendant,” Adibe told the court.
Earlier in the course of the sitting, Justice Abang, in a committal proceeding, ordered Faisal’s surety, who is a member of the House of Representatives, Sani Dan-Galadima representing Kaura-Namoda Federal Constituency of Zamfara State, to forfeit a N60million property used as a bail bond.
The further trial has been adjourned to March 31, 2021.
Kamala Harris will shatter one of the highest glass ceilings Wednesday when she takes the oath of office as America’s first woman vice president, blazing a trail in the most diverse White House ever.
As running mate to incoming president Joe Biden, she helped bring Donald Trump’s turbulent rule to an end, rapping him during the campaign for his chaotic handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, last year’s unrest over racial injustice and his crackdown on immigration.
Harris, 56, enters the post already forging a unique path, as California’s first Black attorney general and the first woman of South Asian heritage elected to the US Senate.
As vice president, she will be a heartbeat away from leading the United States.
With Biden, 78, expected to serve only a single term, Harris would be favored to win the Democratic nomination in 2024, giving her a shot at more history-making — as America’s first female president.
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last,” Harris said in a speech on November 7, her first after US networks projected Biden and Harris as the winners over Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump bitterly contested the results, peddling the lie that the Democrats only won due to massive election fraud.
During the campaign he routinely attacked Harris, branding her a “monster” after her October vice presidential debate with Pence. When asked about it my reporters, Harris curtly dismissed the president: “I don’t comment on his childish remarks.”
While Harris pushed back fiercely during the campaign, in the past two months she rose above the fray, pivoting to plans she and Biden are unveiling to help struggling families and fix a reeling economy.
“The first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration will focus on getting control of this pandemic — ensuring vaccines are distributed equitably and free for all,” she tweeted Tuesday.
– The decider –
While the vice president’s job is often seen as ceremonial, Harris will also be thrust into the powerful role of ultimate decider in the US Senate.
Thanks to two shock Democratic run-off victories this month in Georgia, the Senate will be evenly split, 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans.
That means Harris may spend considerable time on Capitol Hill acting as the tie-breaking vote on legislation on anything from judicial nominees to Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan.
Harris was born to immigrants to the United States — her father from Jamaica, her mother from India — and their lives and her own have in some ways embodied the American dream.
She was born on October 20, 1964 in Oakland, California, then a hub for civil rights and anti-war activism.
Her diploma from historically Black Howard University in Washington was the start of a steady rise that took her from prosecutor, to two elected terms as San Francisco’s district attorney and then California’s attorney general in 2010.
However, Harris’s self-description as a “progressive prosecutor” has been seized upon by critics who say she fought to uphold wrongful convictions and opposed certain reforms in California, like a bill requiring that the attorney general probe shootings involving police.
Yet Harris’s work was key to molding a platform and profile from which she launched a successful US Senate campaign in 2016, becoming just the second Black female senator ever.
Her stint as an attorney general also helped her forge a connection with Biden’s son Beau, who held the same position in Delaware, and died of cancer in 2015.
“I know how much Beau respected Kamala and her work, and that mattered a lot to me, to be honest with you, as I made this decision,” Biden said during his first appearance with Harris as running mates.
– ‘I’m speaking’ –
Harris oozes charisma but can quickly pivot from her broad smile to a prosecutorial persona of relentless interrogation and cutting retorts.
Clips went viral of her sharp questioning in 2017 of then-attorney general Jeff Sessions during a hearing on Russia, and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh the following year.
Harris also clashed with Biden during the first Democratic debate, chiding the former senator over his opposition to 1970s busing programs that forced integration of segregated schools.
“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public school, and she was bused to school every day,” she said. “And that little girl was me.”
That showdown did not stop him from picking Harris, who brought that feisty energy to Biden’s carefully stage-managed campaign.
During her only debate against Pence, Harris raised her hand as he tried to interrupt her.
“Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking. I’m speaking,” she said with a glare.
Harris has no children of her own. But she claims the role of “momala” to the son and daughter of her husband Doug Emhoff.
Emhoff, a lawyer, will become the first-ever US “second gentleman,” and the first Jewish spouse of a US vice president.
As for her mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a scientist born in India who immigrated at 19, “maybe she didn’t quite imagine this moment,” Harris said in her November speech.
“But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.”
The United States has formally removed Sudan from its state sponsors of terrorism blacklist, its Khartoum embassy said on Monday, less than two months after the East African nation pledged to normalise ties with Israel.
The move opens the way for aid, debt relief, and investment to a country going through a rocky political transition and struggling under a severe economic crisis exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
US President Donald Trump had announced in October that he was delisting Sudan, 27 years after Washington first put the country on its blacklist for harbouring Islamist militants.
“The congressional notification period of 45 days has lapsed and the Secretary of State has signed a notification stating rescission of Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation,” the US embassy said on Facebook, adding that the measure “is effective as of today”.
In response to the move, Sudan’s army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan — who doubles as the head of the Sovereign Council, the country’s highest executive authority — offered his “congratulations to the Sudanese people”.
“It was a task accomplished… in the spirit of the December revolution”, he said on Twitter, referring to a landmark month in 2018 when protests erupted against dictator Omar al-Bashir.
Bashir was deposed by the military in April 2019, four months into the demonstrations against his iron-fisted rule and 30 years after an Islamist-backed coup had brought him to power.
– ‘Global siege lifted’ –
Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok also welcomed Washington’s move in a post on Facebook, noting that it means “our beloved country… (is) relieved from the international and global siege” provoked by Bashir’s behaviour.
The removal of the designation “contributes to reforming the economy, attracting investments and remittances of our citizens abroad through official channels” and creates new job opportunities for youth, the premier said.
As part of a deal, Sudan agreed to pay $335 million to compensate survivors and victims’ families from the twin 1998 al-Qaeda attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and a 2000 attack by the jihadist group on the USS Cole off Yemen’s coast.
Those attacks were carried out after Bashir had allowed then al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden sanctuary in Sudan.
Sudan in October became the third Arab country in as many months to pledge that it would normalise relations with Israel, after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The transitional government’s pledge came amid a concerted campaign by the Trump administration to persuade Arab nations to recognise the Jewish state, and it has been widely perceived as a quid pro quo for Washington removing Sudan from its terror blacklist.
But unlike the UAE and Bahrain, Sudan has yet to agree a formal deal with Israel, amid wrangling within the fractious transitional power structure over the move.
– Cracks in transition –
The first major evidence of engagement between Sudan’s interim authorities and Israel came in February when Burhan met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda.
In late November, a spokesman for the Sovereign Council, comprised of military and civilian figures, confirmed that an Israeli delegation had visited Khartoum earlier in the month.
Seeking to downplay the visit, council spokesman Mohamed al-Faki Suleiman had said “we did not announce it at the time because it was not a major visit or of a political nature”.
Sudan’s transition has lately displayed signs of internal strain. Burhan last week blasted the transitional institutions, formed in August 2019 after months of further street protests demanding the post-Bashir military share power with civilians.
“The transitional council has failed to respond to the aspirations of the people and of the revolution,” Burhan charged while also lauding the integrity of the military.
Trump sent his notice to remove Sudan from the terror blacklist to Congress on October 26. Under US law, a country exits the list after 45 days unless Congress objects, which it has not.
Families of victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks had called on lawmakers to reject the State Department’s proposal, saying they want to pursue legal action against Sudan.
The United States hopes to begin a sweeping program of Covid vaccinations in early December, the head of the government coronavirus vaccine effort said Sunday as cases surge across the worst-hit nation.
The beginning of vaccinations could be a crucial turning point in the battle against the virus that has claimed more than 255,000 lives in the US, the world’s highest reported toll, since emerging from China late last year.
“Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours of approval” by the US Food and Drug Administration, Moncef Slaoui told CNN, pointing to possible dates of December 11-12.
FDA vaccine advisors reportedly will meet December 10 to discuss approving vaccines which pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and Moderna say are at least 95 percent effective.
Worldwide, nearly 1.4 million people have died this year and at least 58 million cases have been registered.
Slaoui estimated that 20 million people across the US could be vaccinated in December, with 30 million per month after that.
– ‘Herd immunity’ by May? – He said that by May, with potentially 70 percent of the population having been vaccinated, the country could attain “herd immunity,” meaning the virus can no longer spread widely — and that people can move closer to resuming their pre-coronavirus way of life.
But Slaoui added a note of caution, saying, “I really hope and look forward to seeing that the level of negative perception of the vaccine decreases and people’s acceptance increase.
“That is going to be critical to help us.”
A recent Gallup poll showed that four in 10 Americans still say they would not get a Covid-19 vaccine, though that is down slightly from five in 10 surveyed in September.
Slaoui said he thought it would help in persuading vaccine skeptics to learn that trials have shown the new vaccines to be 95 percent effective — well above the 50 percent level that an earlier target for vaccine approval.
Officials have yet to announce which groups in the population would receive the vaccine first, though health care workers are certain to receive priority, followed by vulnerable groups like the elderly.
Slaoui said that while the trials had ensured only short-term safety, decades of experience showed that nearly all adverse effects of vaccines occurred within 40 days of being administered, while the current trials protectively covered 60 days.
With the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Slaoui added, there were no serious adverse effects in that period.
For now, the vaccines have not been tested on young children, but the doctor said trials are underway, with a chance toddlers could be vaccinated starting in the second quarter of 2021, with infants coming afterward.
Countries worldwide, as well as international organizations, were working out plans for global distribution of these vaccines and potentially others still being developed.
The G20 countries, in a virtual meeting hosted by Saudi Arabia, plan to pledge to “spare no effort” in ensuring fair distribution of coronavirus vaccines worldwide, according to a draft communique seen by AFP on Sunday.
The communique offered no details, however, on how the effort would be funded.
The US government has decided against enforcing its ban on Chinese-owned social media sensation TikTok to comply with a federal court ruling issued in the national security case, a media report said Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal reported the US Commerce Department had decided to hold off on enforcing a Trump administration order to ban the video-sharing app owned by Chinese-based ByteDance.
The move comes after a federal court in Pennsylvania blocked the Trump administration from carrying out the ban, which had been ordered by the White House based on claims the app posed a security threat due to the company’s links to Beijing.
According to the report, the Commerce Department said the shutdown order won’t go into effect “pending further legal developments.”
Other court cases are also pending on the matter.
ByteDance had been given until Thursday to restructure ownership of the app in the United States to meet national security concerns, but it filed a petition in a Washington court this week asking for a delay.
The company said in a Tuesday statement that it had asked the government for a 30-day extension because of “continual new requests and no clarity on whether our proposed solutions would be accepted,” but it was not granted.
The Trump administration has been seeking to transfer ownership of TikTok to an American business to allay security concerns, but no deal has been finalized.
President Donald Trump on Monday announced by tweet that he had fired his defense secretary Mark Esper, further destabilizing a government already navigating Trump’s refusal to concede election defeat to Democrat Joe Biden.
“Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service,” Trump said on Twitter, announcing his replacement by Christopher Miller, the current head of the National Counterterrorism Center.
The firing of Esper, who had clashed with Trump over his suggestion of using military personnel to quash civic unrest, comes a week after the US presidential election.
Trump, who is pursuing so far flimsy claims of election fraud in the courts, has only until January 20 before he has to leave office and Biden takes over.
Tens of thousands of Californians fled their homes in the Napa and Sonoma wine regions in the face of wildfires, emergency officials said, as a new blaze in the north of the state killed three people.
Under an orange sky and a sweltering heatwave, some of Napa Valley’s best-known vineyards were consumed by an out-of-control blaze that raced through more than 35,000 acres (14,000 hectares), according to state fire agency Cal Fire.
Celebrated wineries such as Chateau Boswell and part of Castello di Amorosa went up in smoke, while there was a “significant loss” of buildings on the fringes of Santa Rosa — neighbouring Sonoma County’s largest town — said fire chief Tony Gossner.
Around 200 miles (320 kilometres) north, three people perished in a “very fast-moving, very fluid, very hot” fire in Shasta County, said Sheriff Eric Magrini.
The fires prompted authorities to order more than 35,000 residents to evacuate, with thousands more poised to flee, as “explosive fire growth” burnt through dry vegetation and difficult mountainous terrain, officials said.
The causes of the fires are still being investigated.
Calistoga, a picturesque community at the top of the Napa Valley known for hot springs and as a launchpad for wine tours, has largely been evacuated.
CeeBee Thompson spent sleepless hours watching flames in the distance and packing her car, as Calistoga’s recently installed warning sirens sounded twice during the night.
“We could see flames shooting up all night long,” Thompson told AFP. “The only thing we have left to do is put the cats in the car.”
– ‘All hell breaks loose’ –
The inferno is threatening communities in Napa and neighbouring Sonoma, still reeling from devastating wildfires in 2017 when 44 people died and thousands of buildings were razed.
“It’s like a double whammy,” Thompson said.
On Monday strong winds gusted up to 55 mph (90 kph) sent embers flying, fueling the wine country blaze named the “Glass Fire,” and the “Zogg Fire” further north.
California governor Gavin Newsom — who blames the severity of recent blazes on climate change — said winds were expected to stabilize overnight, which should help firefighters.
The new conflagrations come during a record season, with five of the state’s six biggest wildfires in history currently burning.
The Zogg Fire, which has already torn through more than 30,000 acres, is expected to merge with the 900,000-acre August Complex fire.
Kale Casey, a spokesman for firefighter efforts at the blaze, said winds had already been “pulling” flames away from contained areas before the latest conditions.
“And then you have a day like yesterday where all hell breaks loose,” he said.
More than 2,000 firefighters battled Monday to bring the flames under control in a region that “has been hit over and over and over again,” said Governor Newsom.
Susie Fielder fled her St Helena home in Napa County before dawn, grabbing a photo of her grandparents off the wall and a small, bag of essentials after a warning alarm sounded in her neighbourhood.
“This morning I was thinking what do you do if you lose everything?” Fielder told AFP.
Returning from a refuge in the city of Napa shortly before noon, she found her home ash-coated and without electricity, but otherwise unscathed.
Nearby flame-ravaged Spring Mountain was barely visible through the smoke as Fielder got to work cleaning and moving food into a freezer powered by a generator.
She doesn’t plan to unpack her “go bag” of essentials.
– Peak fire season –
“I’m going to stay until somebody comes and knocks on my door and tells me I have to leave,” Fielder said.
California has been battling massive wildfires for months, stoked by dry conditions, strong seasonal winds and high temperatures.
Newsom warned that California is only “now moving into the peak of the wildfire season,” with Santa Ana winds sweeping south toward Los Angeles, where another major heatwave is expected.
Evacuations have been complicated by the coronavirus, which has hit the Golden State hard. Hotels and university accommodation are being used as alternatives to mass shelters.
A teenager was arrested on murder charges Wednesday after two people were shot dead during anti-police protests in the US city of Kenosha, as President Donald Trump said he was sending in additional federal forces.
Violent clashes have erupted in the Midwestern city since police shot a black man point-blank as many as seven times in his back as he tried to enter his car.
During protests on Tuesday, two people were shot dead and a third injured after a man in civilian clothes with an assault rifle opened fire on demonstrators.
“This morning Kenosha County authorities issued an arrest warrant for the individual responsible for the incident, charging him with First Degree Intentional Homicide,” Antioch police said.
“The suspect in this incident, a 17-year-old Antioch resident, is currently in custody of the Lake County Judicial System pending an extradition hearing to transfer custody from Illinois to Wisconsin.”
Trump announced that additional federal forces were headed to Kenosha as police try to keep control of the volatile demonstrations.
“We will NOT stand for looting, arson, violence, and lawlessness on American streets,” Trump tweeted.
“TODAY, I will be sending federal law enforcement and the National Guard to Kenosha, WI to restore LAW and ORDER!”
Trump made the announcement after speaking with Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, who a day earlier announced he was authorizing increased National Guard support for the county to 250 members.
289 Nigerians who had been stranded in the United States have arrived in Abuja.
The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), announced this on Wednesday.
The returnees arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at about 13:35 pm via Ethiopian Air.
BREAKING EVACUATION UPDATE 289 Nigerians arrived Nnamdi Azikwe Int’l Airport Abuja from USA 4th Evacuation flight on Wednesday 29th July 2020 from Newark New Jersey about 13:35 hours. The flight departed on Tuesday 28th July 2020.
According to NIDCOM, the flight is the fourth evacuation from the US since series of repatriations commenced following the COVID-19 pandemic and the returnees included 135 male, 142 female and 12 infants.
The commission also noted that all the evacuees tested Negative to COVID-19 before boarding the flight and will also commence a 14-day self-isolation as mandated by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
Meanwhile, it said arrangements for two additional evacuation flights are being concluded from the USA to Lagos on July 31, from Houston Texas and a combined flight to Abuja and Lagos on August 7, 2020 from Newark, New Jersey.