Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mother, Daughter Sentenced In Dating Scam

DENVER (9 News, Colorado)- After announcing indictments in June 2012 under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act against daughter Tracy Vasseur and her mother Karen Vasseur of Brighton for their roles in a "Nigerian internet romance scam," Attorney General John Suthers announced the sentencing outcomes on Wednesday.

The Vasseurs stole more than $1 million from 374 victims throughout the United States and from 40 other countries.

"Not only did this mother-daughter duo break the law, they broke hearts worldwide," Suthers said. "It is fitting that they received stiff sentences for their unconscionable crimes committed in the name of love and the United States military."

Tracy Vasseur received a 15-year sentence with the Department of Corrections plus five years parole. In addition, she received a four-year DOC sentence with three years parole to be run consecutively for a total of 19 years. The additional four-year sentence stemmed from a case in which Vasseur was free on bond from the Nigerian case and committed several new crimes related to trying to gain control over her children's inheritance and for attempting to influence a public servant which is a class-four felony.

Karen Vasseur pleaded guilty in Adams County District Court to count one under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act. She was sentenced to 12 years with the Department of Corrections, plus five years parole, to run concurrent to the 10-year DOC sentence she received for multiple counts of theft from at-risk adults in Weld County.

She falsely represented to victims that she had inherited millions of dollars from a military friend in Nigeria and would be able to provide them with unsecured loans if they would pay an origination fee upfront. Vasseur never provided the loans yet kept thousands of dollars in payments. Restitution will be determined at a later date.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

United States Extradition Request Granted: Babafemi To Face Terrorism Charges

Image: EFCC

Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi will be extradited to the US on terrorism charges for providing leads to al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula. “Since there is no form of any objection by the respondent, Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi aka Abdullah Ayatollah Mustapha, to the application for his extradition, this court is satisfied that the application by the Attorney General for the extradition of the respondent to the United States of America is proper and in accordance with the extradition Act 2004,” Federal High Court Judge Ahmed Mohammed ordered Wednesday, August 28, 2013. Babafemi, however, admitted to US federal agents that he made travels to Yemen and received $8,600 to recruit English speaking Nigerians for al Qaeda.

Nigerians Charged With Aiding Iran Militant Cell

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The Age, Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Strategic jitters have pushed Brent crude prices to a five month high of $US112 a barrel. Photo: Jessica Shapiro

Saudi Arabia has secretly offered Russia a sweeping deal to control the global oil market and safeguard Russia’s gas contracts, if the Kremlin backs away from the Assad regime in Syria.

The revelations come amid high tension in the Middle East, with US, British, and French warships poised for missile strikes against Syria, and Iran threatening to retaliate. The strategic jitters pushed Brent crude prices to a five-month high of $US112 a barrel.

‘‘We are only one incident away from a serious oil spike. The market is a lot tighter than people think,’’ said Chris Skrebowski, editor of Petroleum Review.

Leaked transcripts of a behind closed doors meeting between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan shed an extraordinary light on the hard-nosed Realpolitik of the two sides.

 Prince Bandar, head of Saudi intelligence, allegedly confronted the Kremlin with a mix of inducements and threats in a bid to break the deadlock over Syria.

‘‘Let us examine how to put together a unified Russian-Saudi strategy on the subject of oil. The aim is to agree on the price of oil and production quantities that keep the price stable in global oil markets,’’ he is claimed to have said at the four-hour meeting with Mr Putin.

‘‘We understand Russia’s great interest in the oil and gas in the Mediterranean from Israel to Cyprus. And we understand the importance of the Russian gas pipeline to Europe. We are not interested in competing with that. We can cooperate in this area,’’ he said, purporting to speak with the full backing of the US.

The talks appear to offer an alliance between the OPEC cartel and Russia, which together produce more than 40 million barrels a day of oil, 45 per cent of global output. Such a move would alter the strategic landscape.

The details of the talks were leaked to the Russian press. A more detailed version has since appeared in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, which has Hizbollah links and is hostile to the Saudis.

As-Safir said Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord.

‘‘I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the Games are controlled by us,’’ he allegedly said.

Prince Bandar went on to say that Chechens operating in Syria were a pressure tool that could be switched on and off.

‘‘We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role in Syria’s political future.’’
President Putin has long been pushing for a global gas cartel, issuing the ‘‘Moscow Declaration’’ last month to ‘‘defend suppliers and resist unfair pressure’’.

Mr Skrebowski said it is unclear what the Saudis can really offer the Russians on gas, beyond using leverage over Qatar and others to cut output of liquefied natural gas.

Saudi Arabia could help boost oil prices by restricting its own supply. This would be a shot in the arm for Russia, but it would be a dangerous strategy if it pushed prices to levels that put the global economic recovery at risk. Mr Skrebowski said trouble is brewing in supply states.

‘Libya is reverting to war lordism. Nigeria is drifting into a bandit state with steady loss of output. And Iraq is going back to the sort of Sunni-Shia civil war we saw in 2006-07,’’ he said.

The Putin-Bandar meeting took place three weeks ago. Mr Putin was unmoved by the Saudi offer.
‘‘We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters,’’ he said, referring to footage showing a Jihadist rebel eating the heart and liver of a Syrian soldier.

Prince Bandar said that there can be ‘‘no escape from the military option’’ if Russia declines the olive branch. Events are unfolding exactly as he foretold.

U.S. court grants Nigerian asylum-seeker the right to testify about his own torture in immigration court

By Scott Kaufman
The Raw Story, Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided today that a Nigerian man, Olakunle Oshodi, will be allowed to testify fully at his deportation hearing about the torture he suffered as a political dissident at the hands of Nigerian officials before he fled his homeland.

The eleven judge panel, sans three dissenters, held that the Immigration Judge (IJ) and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) violated Oshodi’s due process rights when they refused to allow him to testify orally as to his past persecution in Nigeria. The BIA and judge originally decided that the material in Oshodi’s written statement was not credible and denied him the opportunity to tell his story, despite the fact that “[i]t is well-established that live testimony is critical to credibility determinations.”

The testimony the lower courts and dissenting judges did, and would, refuse to hear what happened the first time an unsympathetic immigration judge deported him, back in 1978:
[A]fter driving a fellow party member to the airport, Oshodi was pulled over and detained by five officers. He was handcuffed, blindfolded, and driven to an unknown location. The officers shot him in the foot, burnt him with cigarettes, shocked him with electricity, and beat him with their pistols. They stripped him naked and doused him with gasoline, threatening to burn him alive. They sodomized him with swagger canes and dirty bottles. After they finished, the officers left him on the side of the road. At that point, Oshodi decided he could no longer safely remain in Nigeria and fled to the United States.
Oshodi returned to the United States in 1981, eventually married a citizen and had a child. Despite that, he faced deportation years later and then applied for political asylum. The immigration judge instructed Oshodi’s attorney at his deportation hearing that he was not to repeat anything in his written statement, which included all the instances of the torture, then declared him not to be a credible witness and removed his protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The Board of Immigration affirmed this decision, declaring that the written record was sufficient to decide his credibility.

Judge Richard Paez, writing for the majority, said that “[b]y precluding Oshodi from testifying about the critical events in his application, the IJ short-circuited his ability to judge accurately Oshodi’s credibility…To do so properly, he must consider the ‘totality of the circumstances,’ yet here, the IJ restricted the evidence, especially the evidence most relevant to credibility, such as demeanor and the consistency of testimony. Without hearing Oshodi’s testimony about the persecution he suffered in Nigeria, and judging his demeanor and consistency during that testimony, the IJ determined that Oshodi was not credible and therefore that the contents of Oshodi’s written declaration should not be credited.”

In his dissent, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski seemed more concerned with caseload than case-law: “Today’s ruling impairs the ability of immigration judges to manage their crushing caseload, and benefits fabulists and charlatans at the expense of the real victims of persecution.” He did not explain how “fabulists and charlatans” could be differentiated from “real victims of persecution,” relying on the immigration judge’s report on Oshodi’s credibility — a report generated by a hearing that the majority found violated due process.

["Two men prepare to torture and interrogate a subject" via Shutterstock.]

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ancient African Religion Finds Roots In America

 Christopher Johnson/OPB/NPR

Priest Ifagbemi has an elaborate shrine to Yoruba's gods in his home near Seattle.
In the suburbs of Seattle, an ancient West African religion is gaining followers. Yoruba (YOR’-oo-bah), older than Christianity and Islam, comes from the Yoruba people of Nigeria.

Yoruba is particularly popular with African Americans, many of whom say it offers a spiritual path and a deep sense of cultural belonging.

Wesley Hurt is one of them. Hurt’s Yoruba story begins the night he met his wife, Cheri Profit.
It was nearly eight years ago, not long after a tour in Iraq. He had just gotten off for weekend release from an Army base in Tacoma, Washington.

“And the only thing I had on my mind, ‘Man, I want to go have a good time. Put on my nice clothes, get fresh, and just go do it!’” he says.

He and some friends went to a club, where he saw Profit. Hurt tried to meet her eyes, but she wasn’t really having it.

“I figured he was probably here looking for someone to have some fun with, which a lot of the soldiers are,” Profit says.

She tried to walk on by. But he caught her by the hand, bought her a drink, and not long after, Hurt and Profit were a couple.

They bonded quickly — over food, politics, and religion. These two seekers were constantly rethinking their relationships to the divine.

“With my mother, we were Jehova’s Witness, we were Seventh Day Adventist, we were Pentecostal,” Profit says. “It did not work for me.”

“I’ve been a Southern Baptist all my life — for up to 21 years,” Hurt says. “And a lot of things have brought me to try to find my spirit. So, of course you start off in church asking questions, and I didn’t get the answers that I wanted.”

So Hurt, a 32-year old Atlanta native, started exploring. First Judaism, then Islam. He was looking for something that spoke to his spirit and to his blackness.

About two years ago, he found a home in one of Yoruba’s esoteric branches, called Ifa (ee-FAH’).
“What brought me to Ifa was how close this tradition is linked to us as African Americans in this country,” he explains.

You’ll hear stories like his a lot from black Americans who practice Yoruba traditions today. From those newer to the faith, and from the elders — especially the ones who were in New York City in the late 1950s. That’s when African American Yoruba communities began to grow alongside a surging black nationalist movement.

For several decades, the religious tradition spread down the East Coast, and westward, to Chicago, to Oakland and Los Angeles — and to the Seattle area, where Hurt met an Ifa priest named Ifagbemi (EE’-fahk-bem-ee).

Hurt, Profit, and a group of about a dozen other believers worship in a circle on the carpeted floor in Ifagbemi’s bare bones dining room. The priest sits with them, shifting between English and the Yoruba language as he leads them through an Ifa ritual.

Entering A Sacred Relationship

Ifagbemi’s path has been a lot like Hurt and Profit’s. A black American, born in Topeka, raised in a Christian home. He embraced Ifa as a young adult, and later initiated into the priesthood.
For nearly four years, he has headed this small group of devotees.

“When you enter into this stuff, you enter into a sacred relationship with people that you’re working with,” Ifagbemi says. “I think it’s a privilege.”

Ifagbemi runs the group mostly from his apartment, where he has converted one of the carpeted bedrooms into a sacred space full of shrines to the gods of Yoruba’s pantheon, spirits called “orisa” (oh-REE’-shah).

There’s a long table covered with pure white cloth, and spread with sliced watermelon, bananas and gin — gifts to the divine.

Along with a life of worship, Ifagbemi says part of his job as a full-time priest is to help people adapt this ancient religion to a modern, American reality.

“We’re not African anymore!” he says. “I need to emphasize to a lot of African Americans: Yes, this is an African tradition, yes we want to connect with our roots. But our roots are here, too.”
It’s a lesson he’s been impressing on Hurt and Profit. Ifa’s tenets resonate with them: good character, respect for elders. Plus, there’s an element of homecoming in the ways this African faith speaks to them as black people.

But it was different for Profit in the early days, when her husband introduced her to Ifa.
“Initially — I’m not gonna lie — I was a little hesitant at first,” she says. “It was just the general notion, ‘You shouldn’t do that!’”

That hesitation happens to a lot of people like Profit and Hurt who were once Christians. With Yoruba’s shrines and statues, with worshippers going into trance states, some newcomers admit that the African traditions might disturb the folks at church back home.

What helped calm Profit’s worries was a ceremony where the faith came alive for her.

“They had the drums going, and the ladies were up dancing, and after a while, I was, ‘Hey!’ ‘Cause I was feeling it! I got up, I danced, I was dancing — me and the other women. It felt good. I’ve never experienced that in church, and I’ve been to church many, many times.”

Affirming Racial Identities In The New World

Tracey Hucks, chair of the religion department at Haverford College, says that blacks in America have been drawn to Yoruba for more than a half century because it offers them an ancient spiritual heritage, one that pre-dates slavery in the United States.

“For so many African Americans, this tradition has been a space of freedom, and a space of home,” Hucks says.

At the same time, she adds, it helps them affirm their racial identities in this new world.

“And it also allows them to affirm their black physicality, in a place that has said that, ‘You represent anti-beauty in this culture,’” she says. “It is this religion that comes and says, ‘No, you look like the gods of Africa.’”

Doing rituals for those gods, dancing for them, and fellowship with her community. Profit says Ifa just feels right to her.

“It gives you a sense of purpose, and when you feel that, there’s no other feeling like that in the world,” she says. “When you feel that, you know.”

Her husband, who had been searching for years for spiritual answers, has found his place, too.
“First, I was looking for God, but then I started finding myself,” Hurt explains. “And in finding myself, I started bettering myself.”

Ifagbemi’s congregation, seated together in the priest’s apartment for an intimate ritual, are all on paths a lot like Hurt’s. They’re trusting Ifagbemi as their guide.

To close the ceremony, he shakes a rattle and calls, and everyone responds with Yoruba’s most ubiquitous blessing: “Ase” (AH’-shay). It’s like saying “amen.”

For the young couple with ties down South, for the Ifa priest from Kansas, and for his small flock near Seattle — so far away from Ifa’s West African roots — this old tradition has given its followers a new home.

Funding for this story came from a Knight Grant for Reporting on Religion and American Public Life, a program of the University of Southern California.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Nigerians Rally To Support Egypt's Deposed Morsi

Muslim protesters chant pro-Morsi slogans from a podium on August 24, 2013 in the premises of Sheikh Ahmad Tijani Mosque in Nothern Nigeria's largest city of Kano during a demonstration to denounce the military crackdown on pro Morsi supporters from Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, calling for his reinstatement. AFP Image

KANO, Nigeria (AP) Thousands of Nigerians have rallied in support of Egypt's ousted president Mohammed Morsi and calling for his military deposers to be tried.

The Movement for Islamic Survival organized the rally in predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria's biggest city of Kano on Saturday. It was addressed by Islamic scholars and human rights activists.

Movement leader Shaykh Abubakar Mujahid told the crowd of 5,000 the killings had to stop, and that he thought the coup leaders should be brought before the International Criminal Court.

Egypt has been rocked by unrest since a popularly supported July 3 coup that toppled the democratically elected Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. This week has been one of the country's bloodiest in which more than 1,000 people died.

French Actress Emmanuelle Beart

French actress Emmanuelle Beart on the set of La Belle Noiseuse directed and written by Jacques Rivette. Photographer: Moune Jamet. Date: July 16, 1990. Location: Assas, Herault, France. 

Beart was born on August 14, 1965 in St. Tropez on the French Riviera, the daughter of Genevieve Galea, a former model, and Guy Beart, a singer and poet.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Army Trains 40 Officers On Intelligence Information Gathering

 By Augustine Aminu
Daily Times Nigeria, August 20, 2013

The Nigerian Army on Tuesday began a three-week capacity training on intelligence and information collation analysis for 40 of its officers.

The Brigade Commander of the 13Brigade Command, Brig.-Gen. Okwudili Azinta, announced this in Calabar while addressing the officers at the 146 Battalion Eburutu Barracks, Calabar.

He charged the officers to utilise the opportunity by showing competence at the end of the training.
``This training was not going to benefit the army alone, but also help to promote proficiency and professionalism in the discharge of our duties.

``The idea of building the capacity was nursed from the fact that the military needs such training on warfare in the present 21st century.

``The army needs appropriate and timely information to strengthen its operational network,’’ he said.
He said the army needed expertise to collate, gather and make information analysis which could be used to arrest crisis before it escalated.

``Armed robbery and insurgencies which of recent have ravaged the socioeconomic activities in the country would have been curtailed if the necessary information was provided to security agencies.
``If commands had the mechanism for operational intelligence information, armed robbery and insurgencies will be reduced to the barest in the society,’’ the commander said.

He charged the officers to be dedicated to the course and equip themselves with competent techniques that would help in timely response to emergencies.

Monday, August 19, 2013

NIGERIA: CBN Provides N10bn Grant to Usmanu Danfodiyo Varsity, Sokoto

 By Augustine Aminu
Daily Times, August 19, 2013

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday announced a N10 billion grant for the Usmanu Danfodiyo University (UDU) Sokoto, to enhance manpower training and research.

The gesture was announced by the bank’s Deputy Director, Projects Planning and Implementation Division, Alhaji Kabiru Nuhu-Koko, at a brief ceremony at the institution’s main campus in Sokoto.

According to Nuhu-Koko, the university was selected to benefit from the grant for the 2013 fiscal year as part of the bank’s corporate social responsibility to Nigerians.

''Each year, the bank selects one university or a public institution from each of the nation’s six geo-political zones, to benefit from a similar gesture and this year is the turn of UDU-Sokoto.

 ''Similarly, the bank each year, selects one secondary school and a tertiary institution from each of the six zones for other gestures,'' he said.

The deputy director stated that the grant was aimed at building the manpower capacity of Nigerians to effectively run the economy of the country.

 ''This is aimed at taking Nigeria’s economy to the desired level and thus become among the best economies in the world.

 ''This would not be possible without adequately trained manpower . This is also in line with the vision and mission of the Federal Government, to put Nigeria’s economy among the best in the world,'' he said.

Nuhu-Koko said President Goodluck Jonathan was committed to ensuring the transformation of the country, adding that the CBN, led by its Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was working relentlessly towards realising the dreams of the Federal Government.

The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Riskuwa Shehu, commended the apex bank for the gesture, describing it as ''historic and unparalleled.''

''The university has been working round the clock and diligently too, to deliver on its mandate, in spite of the crippling financial constraints.

 ''The intervention by the bank would also help in repositioning the university to be at par with its contemporaries in Nigeria, Africa and the world.

 ''No country expects to develop fully without quality education. The grant would be used to improve infrastructure to guarantee quality training,'' he added.

 Shehu also stated that the intervention by the CBN, would enhance advanced research, reduce deficiencies and enable the university to attain greater heights in learning and research.

'Global Terrorist' Boko Haram Head May Be Dead: Nigeria

 By Aminu Abubakar (AFP)

KANO, NIGERIA — Nigeria's army said Monday that the leader of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, branded a "global terrorist" by the United States, may have died following a clash with soldiers.

Intelligence reports "available to the (military) revealed that Abubakar Shekau, the most dreaded and wanted Boko Haram terrorists leader, may have died," a statement said.

"It is greatly believed that Shekau might have died between 25 July to 3 August 2013."
There was no independent confirmation of the claim, and previous reports of Shekau's death have turned out to be false.

According to the statement, Shekau was shot on June 30 during a clash with troops at a Boko Haram camp in the Sambisa forest in northeastern Nigeria and then taken across the border into Cameroon.
The army statement was contradictory, saying at one point that Shekau had been "mortally wounded" and "never recovered" after treatment received in Cameroon.

Shekau has been considered the leader of the main Islamist extremist faction of Boko Haram.
The group's insurgency has left at least 3,600 people dead since 2009, including killings by the security forces, who have been accused of major abuses.

Nigeria's military began a sweeping offensive in the northeast in May aiming to end the insurgency. It has however often exaggerated claims related to the drive.

National defence spokesman Brigadier General Chris Olukolade seemed to distance himself from the army statement when contacted by AFP, saying security forces were still seeking conclusive evidence of Shekau's death.

"We are yet to get confirmation on that," he said. "We are talking to our troops in the field."
Abdullahi Bawa Wase, a security analyst and rapporteur at the UN Department for Safety and Security, expressed doubts over the report, saying it could be a "mirage".

"They should have gone as far as locating where Shekau was buried, exhumed the body, conducted an autopsy and DNA tests to confirm that," he told AFP.

"It would be laughable to make such claims without going ahead to test its veracity."
A US embassy spokeswoman said she did not yet have any information on the claim and was not immediately able to comment.

The United States in March put a $7 million (5.3 million euros) bounty on Shekau's head.
Shekau has often sent out video messages from unknown locations. In a video message seen by AFP on August 12, a man who appeared to be Shekau insisted that he was in good health and referred to attacks in early August.

The military statement said the video was a fake.

"The recent video ... by the purported sect leader was dramatised by an imposter to hoodwink the sect members to continue with the terrorism and to deceive the undiscerning minds," the statement said.
Boko Haram has claimed to be fighting for the creation of an Islamic state in Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer, though the group is believed to have a number of factions with varying aims.

Nigeria's 160 million population is roughly divided between a mainly Christian south and mostly Muslim north.

Shekau was seen as the second-in-command of Boko Haram at the time of a 2009 uprising put down by a brutal military assault which left some 800 people dead.

The leader at the time, Mohammed Yusuf, was captured by soldiers and handed over to police. Yusuf was later killed when police claimed he was trying to escape, though rights groups have called it a summary execution.

Police also claimed that Shekau was killed then, but he later emerged from unknown locations in video and audio recordings.

Boko Haram went underground after the 2009 assault, but returned more than a year later with a series of targeted killings.

It gradually expanded its targets with more sophisticated attacks, including suicide bombings.
A 2011 suicide attack on UN headquarters in the capital Abuja left 25 people dead, while coordinated bombings and shootings in Kano, the largest city in northern Nigeria, killed at least 185 people in January 2012.

The insurgency has moved in phases, at times targeting churches, security forces and schools.
While Christians have been specifically targeted, Muslims have often been its victims as well, including in brutal attacks on a mosque and a village in northeastern Nigeria that left 56 people dead this month.

Many analysts say poverty and underdevelopment in Nigeria's north have helped feed the insurgency.
Western diplomats have urged the government to address such issues as part of efforts to end the insurgency in Nigeria, long viewed as one of the world's most graft-ridden nations.

Doctor [Samuel Dagogo-Jack] at UT Health Science Center named Physician of the Year

Memphis Business Journal, August 19, 2013

Samuel Dagogo-Jack, professor of medicine and director of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. UTHSC

Samuel Dagogo-Jack, professor of medicine and director of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, has been selected as the Internal Medicine Section Physician of the Year by the National Medical Association. He received the award during the NMA 2013 Convention and Scientific Assembly in Toronto.

Dagogo-Jack, the A. C. Mullins Chair in Translational Research and director of the General Clinical Research Center at UTHSC, was honored for his work and research in the pathobiology of prediabetes and diabetes, according to the NMA, the nation’s oldest and largest organization representing African-American physicians and health professionals.

Dagogo-Jack serves as director of the Endocrinology Fellowship Training Program at UTHSC. He graduated from the University of Ibadan Medical School in Nigeria, completed residency training in internal medicine at the Royal Victoria Infirmary at the University of Newcastle, UK, and was certified as a member of the Royal College of Physicians in London. He earned his master of science and his doctorate in medicine degrees at the University of Newcastle. He completed postdoctoral fellowship training at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

UTHSC is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Allied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy.

NIGERIA: Fake Doctors Nabbed

File: Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, suffers widespread fraud and there have been previous cases of Nigerians posing as doctors both at home and abroad. Picture: AFP

LAGOS - Nigerian police have arrested two fake doctors accused of causing the deaths of many women during surgery or childbirth at a clinic they ran for three years.

Police spokeswoman Ngozi Braide said authorities have closed the clinic in Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, after learning about it through a tip-off from local residents.

"Two men who claimed to be doctors at the hospital, known as Cares hospital, in the Iba area of the city, were arrested last week. Their arrest followed a tip-off from residents about their illegal activities," she said.

She said investigations revealed that "many women have died following the illegal and criminal activities of these men".

Police declined to say how many women had died from their treatment, saying only that the investigation was continuing.

Braide said the suspects, who were not qualified doctors, had been carrying out illegal operations and surgeries on pregnant women at the clinic for the past three years.

"The hospital is not registered and there is no record to show that the suspects attended any medical school. They were simply operating an illegal hospital," she said.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, suffers widespread fraud and there have been previous cases of Nigerians posing as doctors both at home and abroad.

Authorities have also struggled to reduce the number of fake medication being sold.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

African Monitors Must Tell The Truth About Zimbabwe’s Vote

By Jeff Flake, Sunday, August 18, 2013

Washington Post

When I was a graduate student and Senate intern in the late 1980s, I wrote a master’s thesis that proved to be a rather shallow attempt to explain Robert Mugabe’s hold on the Zimbabwean electorate nearly a decade removed from independence. Twenty-five years later, that hold on the electorate has long since been exposed as brute force and chicanery. What is left to explain is Mugabe’s mystifying hold on the rest of Africa.

Western media and election observers were notably — and forcibly — absent during Zimbabwe’s July 31 contest, but there was a robust presence of election observers from the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Nevertheless, despite clear, abundant and still-mounting evidence of a deeply flawed election process, the AU and SADC seem eager to give a pass to Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party (ZANU-PF). While final reports have yet to be issued, SADC has already declared the Zimbabwe election “free and peaceful,” and the AU has affirmed the vote as “credible.”

Note the absence of the word “fair.” But why quibble? “The whole of Africa is sending us messages of congratulations to say ‘Well done,’ ” was Mugabe’s interpretation. And who can blame him?
That Zimbabwe would have another deeply flawed election is not news to anyone who has followed Mugabe’s ham-handed rule over the past 33 years. But to those who hope that Africa is indeed turning the corner in terms of politics and governance, such a response in the wake of the election is deeply concerning.

There is much to commend in the founding charters and principles of both the AU and SADC. Cooperation and coordination through these institutions has strengthened individual economies and provided a useful tool to address cross-border and regional security and governance issues. The potential for future collaboration is even greater.

Which is why it is so puzzling that the AU and SADC would so willingly jettison their principles when it comes to elections in Zimbabwe. This is not an example of the West holding nascent democracies to unreasonably high electoral standards. It is simply a matter of asking SADC and the AU to abide by their own standards and live up to their charters.\

The SADC “Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections” provide for its observer role during member-state elections to ensure “full participation of the citizens in the political process” by certifying, among other things, “the existence of [an] updated and accessible voters roll.” Such rolls were neither updated nor accessible during Zimbabwe’s recent elections.

Likewise, the AU’s guidelines for electoral observations call for “competent accountable electoral institutions” to “take all necessary measures” to ensure such essentials as “equitable access to public media” by competing parties. There was not even a pretense of equitable access to state media during Zimbabwe’s election season.

In the founding document of the “New Partnership for Africa’s Development,” African heads of state hailed the emergence of democratic regimes and committed African leaders taking responsibility for “promoting human rights . . . by developing clear standards of accountability, transparency and participatory governance.” In the context of observing the Zimbabwe elections, only Botswana has been willing to take such responsibility. Botswana decried Zimbabwe’s elections as “not free and fair” and warned that SADC “should never create the undesirable precedent of permitting exceptions to its own rules.”

Unfortunately, Zimbabwe’s course seems set for the near future. By the time official reports on the election are issued, the ZANU-PF will have formed a new government. Zimbabwean courts are unlikely to intervene, and Mugabe will go on making empty speeches about liberation while Zimbabwe, unable to feed itself and having lost its own currency, erodes its independence by the day.
The final reports issued by the AU and SADC won’t tell us anything we don’t already know about Zimbabwe, but they will say a great deal about the direction in which southern Africa as a region, and Africa as a whole, is headed.

Will African leaders be true to their own undertakings and stand for the principles they have espoused, or will they bow to a desperate old man determined to keep himself in power no matter the cost to the citizens he claims to represent?

More Protests Trail Anambra APGA, PDP Pre-Guber Polls Exercises

 The Guardian Nigeria
Sunday, August 18, 2013

ONE of the aspirants of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the Anambra State governorship election, Mr Oseloka Obazi, declared Sunday that the decision of the party’s appeal panel which upheld his disqualification has brought to an end the process of his candidacy for the polls.

  Wishing his colleagues who had been cleared by the panel well in their campaign, he noted that he was not resident in Nigeria when the previous voter’s registration was done, hence could not possess voter’s card which was a statutory requirement of section 12 (c) of the party’s guideline.

  Obaze, who is  also Secretary to State Government (SSG), in a statement, said: “For me, there was no other way to obtain a card but legally, and through INEC. The first opportunity to do so in Anambra, would be on Monday 19 August 2013 (today).   The APGA appeal panel did not accede to my request to present the card within the 48 hours window, established by Section 12 (c) of the party electoral guidelines, which according to their sitting schedule, commenced at 3.00 p.m. on Saturday 17 August 2013, and should statutorily end at 3.00 p.m. on Monday,  August 19, 2013.”

  Stressing that the appeal panel “upheld the decision of Governorship Screening Panel to disqualify me on what was a mere technicality of not having a voter’s card,” he thanked Governor,Peter Obi, his family, friends, staff and all those who offered their support and prayers while the campaign lasted.
  An elder brother of the immediate past former Commissioner of Local Government /Chieftaincy Matters, Mr. Dubem Obaze, he was disqualified alongside a former Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, Mr. Emma Nweke, Dr. Chike Obidigbo and Mr. Chinedu Idigo.
  However, there are strong feelers that Obi might restore him as SSG.

  Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Congress Appeal Panel for Anambra State headed by Alhaji Suleiman Lawal Kauru has commenced sitting in Awka, the capital.

  The four- man panel came to look into petitions and bickering arising from the party’s last Monday’s congress in the state held to elect three ad-hoc delegates for the governorship primary scheduled for August 24, 2013.

  However the waiting game for the release of the results of the congress may have ended with the arrival of the appeal panel. There were indications from the Awka secretariat of the congress committee that Chief Udo Ogochukwu, its chairman, has shown a willingness to make results of the congress public.

  The panel, according to Kauru, has so far received no fewer than four petitions which were mainly on “ manipulation of the process occasioning unnecessary and avoidable delays” that marred the congress in some areas.

  On his part, a gubernatorial aspirant of the Labour Party (LP) in the November election, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, has emphasised the need to encourage estate developers for housing schemes.

  He stated that if elected, his administration would pursue an affordable housing scheme and encourage businessmen who build houses outside the state to come back and invest.

  In a statement, Ubah who is the Chairman, Capital Oil and Gas Ltd, said: “Incentives to encourage developers will include allocation of cheap land and provision of sites and services on proposed development sites. Also bureaucratic bottlenecks and hardships in getting certificate of occupancy in Anambra State will be minimised by our administration.

   “Our people, especially the civil servants will be given loans to assist them to acquire their own houses in any of the various housing estates. We will ensure the salaried workers will have their own homes when the retire.”

 Also, an APGA aspirant, Chief Willie Maduabuchi Obiano, has promised to encourage the party’s growth beyond the South-East region.

  Pledging to sustain Obi’s projects, he said his major objective was to provide democracy divided to the people in areas covering health, education, infrastructural development, youth and women empowerment.

   He hailed Obi’s developmental efforts, which according to him, have helped to open up the rural areas, especially by providing roads, electricity and water among others   previously lacking in several communities.

Lawrence Njoku (Enugu), Chuks Collins, Uzoma Nzeagwu (Awka) and Tunde Akinola (Lagos) contributed to this article

Saturday, August 17, 2013

India's Unfair Obsession With Lighter Skin

The Dark is Beautiful campaign hopes to halt India's huge appetite for skin whitening products, and has a new champion in film star Nandita Das.

 "You look green!" said a friend. "Are you ill?" asked another. Last year, a respected Indian newspaper published a photograph of me online which had been lightened so drastically by the art director's magic wand that I called the editor to complain and he apologised and replaced it with the original. The art director had thought he was doing me a favour by whitening my skin.

India's  obsession with fair skin is well documented: in 1978, Unilever launched Fair & Lovely cream, which has subsequently spawned numerous whitening face cleansers, shower gels and even vaginal washes that claim to lighten the surrounding skin. In 2010, India's whitening-cream market was worth $432m, according to a report by market researchers ACNielsen, and was growing at 18% per year. Last year, Indians reportedly consumed 233 tonnes of skin-whitening products, spending more money on them than on Coca-Cola.


Toni Braxton continues to perform after skirt of her skimpy dress slides down to expose her bare derriere

 Whilst belting out her famous tunes, the skirt of the 45-year-old's skimpy metallic dress fell down only to expose her bare derriere.
And while the Unbreak My Heart star was wearing a nude bodysuit featuring a g-string cut underneath, the sight left little to the imagination. 

An unsuspecting Toni continued to perform, even despite the tell-tale sound of the crowd cheering even louder when she turned around.  

Even a few male fans lucky enough to join her onstage failed to alert Toni of her wardrobe malfunction.


Friday, August 16, 2013

New NSA Revelations Stir Congressional Concern

The National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md. The U.S. National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the intelligence agency broad new powers in 2008, The Washington Post reports. In one case, telephone calls from Washington were intercepted when the city's area code was confused with the dialing code for Egypt.

WASHINGTON (AP) — New revelations from leaker Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency has overstepped its authority thousands of times since 2008 are stirring renewed calls on Capitol Hill for serious changes to NSA spy programs, undermining White House hopes that President Barack Obama had quieted the controversy with his assurances of oversight.

An internal audit provided by Snowden to The Washington Post shows the agency has repeatedly broken privacy rules or exceeded its legal authority every year since Congress granted it broad new powers in 2008.

In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — reports used as the basis for informing Congress.

Senior lawmakers said they had been unaware of the audit until they read the news on Friday. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy announced he would hold hearings into the revelations. "I remain concerned that we are still not getting straightforward answers from the NSA," the Vermont Democrat said in a statement.

Said Rep Mike Thompson of California, a member of the House Intelligence Committee: "Reports that the NSA repeatedly overstepped its legal boundaries, broke privacy regulations and attempted to shield required disclosure of violations are outrageous, inappropriate and must be addressed."
Obama has repeatedly said that Congress was thoroughly briefed on the programs revealed by Snowden in June. The two that were described then vacuum up vast amounts of metadata — such as telephone numbers called and called from, the time and duration of calls — from most Americans' phone records, and scoop up global Internet usage data.

Proposed legislation to dismantle the programs was narrowly defeated last month in the House, and at least 19 other pending bills are aimed at restraining NSA's powers or changing how the agency is regulated, according to a count kept by the ACLU. The July legislative effort brought together Libertarian-leaning conservatives and liberal Democrats who pressed for change against congressional leaders and lawmakers focused on security.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who generally supports the programs, said in a statement Friday that the new revelations "are extremely disturbing." A week ago, Obama sought to soothe concerns by promising to consider reforms to NSA surveillance.

"It's not enough for me to have confidence in these programs," he said at a White House news conference. "The American people have to have confidence in them as well." He announced changes such as convening an outside advisory panel to review U.S. surveillance powers, although it is unclear how that would differ from the existing U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, mandated by Congress to monitor surveillance and constitutional concerns. Obama also said the NSA would hire a privacy officer — though the NSA already has a compliance office. None of those measures would seem likely to stop the kind of inadvertent collection of information that was described in the NSA audit.

Most of the infractions revealed late Thursday involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by law and executive order, according to the May 3, 2012 audit, and other top-secret documents.\

The May audit counted 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications. Most were reported to be unintended, and many involved failures to take sufficient care or violations of standard operating procedure. They ranged from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interceptions of U.S. emails and telephone calls.

The most serious incidents included a violation of a court order and unauthorized use of data about more than 3,000 Americans and green-card holders. In the typographical error category, the Post cited a 2008 example of the collection of a "large number" of phone records from Washington, D.C., when a programming error confused the District of Columbia area code 202 for 20-2, the international dialing code for Cairo, according to a quality assurance review that was not distributed to the NSA's oversight staff.

The NSA also saw a spike in the number of "roamers," or overseas, phone calls wrongly tracked in the first quarter of 2012, when those roamers traveled into U.S. territory, which is outside NSA's authority. The report said the errors may have been due to tracking Chinese who were visiting friends and relatives for the Chinese lunar new year.

In another case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has authority over some NSA operations, did not learn about a new collection method until it had been in operation for many months. The court ruled it unconstitutional.

The FISC's chief judge told the Post that the court could rule only on the material it was given. "The FISC is forced to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided to the Court," U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said in a written statement to the Post. "The FISC does not have the capacity to investigate issues of noncompliance, and in that respect the FISC is in the same position as any other court when it comes to enforcing (government) compliance with its orders."

The Associated Press made a request to Walton for that statement. A court official said the judge had no response. The White House declined Friday to comment on the latest revelations. It directed questions to the National Security Council, and NSC spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden directed questions to the NSA.

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said the number of incidents in the first quarter of 2012 was higher than normal, and that the number has ranged from 372 to 1,162 in the past three years, due to factors such as "implementation of new procedures or guidance with respect to our authorities that prompt a spike that requires 'fine tuning,' changes to the technology or software in the targeted environment for which we had no prior knowledge, unforeseen shortcomings in our systems, new or expanded access, and 'roaming' by foreign targets into the U.S., some of which NSA cannot anticipate in advance but each instance of which is reported as an incident."

"When NSA makes a mistake in carrying out its foreign intelligence mission, the agency reports the issue internally and to federal overseers — and aggressively gets to the bottom of it," Vines said. When asked why the Post did not publish the story earlier, though the paper said it had the documents for months, spokeswoman Kris Coratti emailed Friday that "it has taken some time to study them and understand the information they contain."

The AP filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the NSA on June 17 asking for all copies of "minimization procedures" the agency uses to avoid collecting Internet and telephone data from U.S. citizens. That request sought documents that would also detail how the government purges records that may have been accidentally collected. The AP has yet to receive responsive material, though the NSA agreed to fast-track its request.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ntuen Promise Ekenmini Arrested In Nigeria Over Attempted Real Estate Fraud In Western Australia

 A man has been arrested in Nigeria over the attempted fraudulent sale of a home in Western Australia, in what is believed to be the first arrest of its kind by Australian authorities.

ABC News, Western Australia, August 15, 2013

Ntuen Promise Ekenmini

WA Police worked with Consumer Protection and a real estate agent over eight months to intercept the sale of the house in Falcon, south of Perth.

The owners of the home are based in South Africa.

Ntuen Promise Ekenmini, 27, was apprehended by Nigerian authorities yesterday when he went to collect documents using a fake drivers licence in the name of the real home owner.

Police allege the attempted fraud began when a man contacted the property manager of a Mandurah real estate agency on 17 December, 2012, pretending to be the owner of a home being managed by the agency and requesting documents relating to the rented property.

He allegedly used an email address in the name of one of the real owners, who is a resident of Johannesburg, and requested all future correspondence be forwarded it to it.

On 18 January, 2013 the agency received a request to sell the property and a sales agreement with false signatures was returned to the agent, together with copies of fake passports of the two owners, a husband and wife, as well as a forged document purporting to be from the Australian High Commission in Pretoria confirming their identity.

The agent became suspicious and reported the attempted fraud to authorities.

In conjunction with the police, the agency engaged with the alleged offender - at one stage instructions were given to deposit $AU785,000 into a bank account in South East Asia.

Detective Senior Sergeant Dom Blackshaw says police are investigating whether the crime is linked to previous cases of real estate fraud in the state.

He says six of the seven cases involved owners who live in South Africa, have investment properties in Perth which are rented, and have had their identities stolen.

"There's every chance that these people are the same offenders, however we are working with the police in Nigeria to identify whether that is the case," he said.

"The offenders are very tenacious; they haven't given up. This has been eight months that they've been contacting the agent.

"They've been changing email addresses, telephone numbers, even to the point they've been threatening the agent when things have been delayed."

"We need to be constantly vigilant. We can't afford to rest now and think 'ok we've caught someone, that's the end of it'. There will be further attacks from further offenders in those countries and we need to be very mindful of that."

Mr Ekenmini is expected to be charged with fraud and theft.

Uganda Loses Wetland To Rose Farming Business

 Rosebud Ltd managers inspect the flower farm in Entebbe Uganda .Despite loud protests by activists, the trucks dumped dirt into the wetland until the soggy ground where papyrus once stood was firm and clear. The area, deemed to be of international importance under an international convention on wetlands, was destroyed so a private company could expand its rose farm on a bay off the shores of Lake Victoria. Image: AP

LUTEMBE BAY, Uganda (AP) — Despite loud protests by environmentalists in Uganda, trucks dumped dirt into the wetland until the soggy ground where herons once stood among swaying papyrus plants was firm and dry. The destruction of the wetland was carried out so a rose farm owned by a fabulously wealthy businessman could be expanded.

The area on Lake Victoria's Lutembe Bay was deemed to be of international importance under an international convention on wetlands but, asked by activists to intervene, Uganda's environmental protection agency instead sided with industry, saying any damage inflicted upon the wetland didn't match the economic benefits of exporting more flowers.

The authorized encroachment on Uganda's Lutembe Bay wetland, a site that protects Lake Victoria's fragile ecosystem, highlights a growing conflict between business and the environment as African countries strive for economic development. Although Africa's endangered forests have attracted a lot more attention from campaigners, some experts say wetlands across the continent are suffering a similar —if not worse —fate, often because their value to human wellbeing is underestimated or not understood at all.

In the Ugandan case, the business decimating a wetland is owned by Ugandan tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia, who, according to Forbes magazine, is the richest man in East Africa and one of Africa's wealthiest people. He is widely believed to be close to Uganda's political elite, circumstances that have contributed to concerns that his expansion project was approved under dubious circumstances.
"I think this is corruption of the highest order," said Frank Muramuzi, an activist with the National Association of Professional Environmentalists, a local watchdog group. "That kind of thing is not allowed in the wetland. But it is not too late. We want to take them to court."

Some activists say Uganda's environmental protection agency, which in the past has rejected or condemned wetland violations on this scale, simply succumbed to the power of big business this time. Uganda's flower industry makes millions of dollars in exports to Europe each year.

Experts say the wetland along Lutembe Bay supports globally threatened species of birds, fish and butterflies, including some rare ones. It also plays a crucial hydrological role, with the swamps "acting as natural filters for silt, sediments and excess nutrients in surface run-off, wastewaters from industries, and sewage from Kampala City," according to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, a global treaty that promotes the wise use of wetlands and which lists those deemed to be of international importance.

The Ramsar Convention says that, although more wetlands are being designated for protection across Africa, protecting these sites "remains a challenge." A report last month by the convention's secretariat said that "Africa shows an urgent need to define a strategy" for conserving its wetlands and their resources.

The world's wetlands "are being degraded and lost more rapidly than other ecosystems ... because their functions are not always understood by governments or given enough weight in policy decisions," said Achim Steiner, the United Nations undersecretary-general and executive director of its environment program, in a statement last month.

The U.N. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment years ago estimated the global value of wetlands at $15 trillion, for functions that include climate regulation and the provision of food and water.

Neighboring Kenya's wetlands are also facing serious degradation and decline from pressures including agriculture and land fragmentation, according to a statement last month from the U.N.'s environment program. Kenya's Lake Naivasha, for example, has seen declining water levels due to competition from expanding flower farms.

To stem the damage, Kenya has now produced a "Wetlands Atlas," a compilation of the country's wetlands and their challenges as part of a wider government plan to preserve the integrity of the country's water resources.

"Despite (wetlands) role in sustaining livelihoods we are seeing severe pressures," Judi W. Wakhungu, a Kenyan government official in charge of the environment, said last month. She said the Kenyan government is revising its policies to better protect the precious wetlands.

Associated Press writer Tom Odula in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.

Japan Marks World War II Surrender Anniversary

Japan's National Public Safety Commission Chairman Keiji Furuya arrives at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. As Japan marks the 68th anniversary of its Aug. 15, 1945 surrender in World War II, visits by senior politicians to this shrine honoring 2.5 million war dead, including Class A war criminals, remain a galling irritant in its relations with neighboring countries, that bore the brunt of its colonial and wartime aggression. Image: Aswsociated Press

Russell Simmons Apologizes For Harriet Tubman Sex Video

Russell Simmons arrives at the Vanity Fair and Juicy Couture Celebration for the 2013 Vanities Calendar in Los Angeles. Simmons is apologizing for a parody video of Harriet Tubman in a sex tape that appeared on his All Def Digital YouTube channel. The clip features an actress portraying Tubman having sex with her white slave master as someone films it so the abolitionist can bribe her boss. The "Harriet Tubman Sex Tape" video was posted Wednesday. Image: Associated Press

2013 Seattle Hemp Festival

Clay Graeber, 20, of Bothell, Wash., smokes marijuana from a glass bong at the opening day of the pro-marijuana rally Hempfest in Seattle Thursday, August 15, 2013. The haze of pot smoke might smell a little more like victory, after Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize marijuana use by adults over 21. Having won at the state level, speakers will concentrate on the reform of federal marijuana laws. Image: Associated Press

American Standard Awarded Grant to Improve Sanitation in Africa


American Standard Awarded Grant to Improve Sanitation in Africa

Follows Successful Development of SaTo Toilet Pan for Southeast Asia; Goal Is to Improve Global Sanitation in Parts of the World with Scarcity of Water

PISCATAWAY, N.J., Aug. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- In 2012, one of the most respected toilet manufacturers in the world partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop the SaTo, a sanitary toilet pan designed to improve sanitation and reduce the spread of disease in Bangladesh.

Now, American Standard Brands has received a grant from the foundation, with a focus on addressing sanitation issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. A team of product engineers will visit Zambia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Kenya this fall to learn more about the specific needs in this part of the world. This trip is being planned with iDE, which also partnered with American Standard for the original research trips to Bangladesh. 

Scarcity of water in these regions of Africa presents a different challenge as compared to Bangladesh, and will require the development of a new latrine pan prototype. "When we developed the SaTo pan, we never planned for it to be a global solution. We wanted something that would meet the customer needs specifically in Bangladesh," explained Jim McHale, Ph.D., vice president of research, development and engineering at American Standard Brands. 

"Now we will be applying that same methodology and mindset in Sub-Saharan Africa: understand what people need, determine what's possible to manufacture locally and economically, and find the match that works," he explained. 

Following the research trip, the ultimate goal will be to replicate the sanitation product development model that American Standard successfully used to create the SaTo. This time the objective will be to develop a hygienic toilet pan that can operate in a rural environment where water is less abundant. Prototypes will be tested in the field to obtain feedback from local residents on the effectiveness of the toilet pans during a subsequent trip to Africa. 

The original SaTo toilet pans received extremely positive feedback in field testing by improving the sanitation and quality of life for users in Bangladesh. These cost effective, hygienic toilet pans use ingeniously simple mechanical and water seals to close pit latrines off from the open air, thereby reducing disease transmission and odor. 

Careful planning took place during the research and development process to ensure that the SaTo pan was affordable for the local population to purchase. American Standard created partnerships with local manufacturing companies so the product could be made in Bangladesh at a low cost. This type of sustainable business model will also be incorporated into the production of a latrine pan for Sub-Saharan Africa, so the company can again deliver an improved sanitation experience that is affordable to the local population. 

Worldwide, 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation. Every day, 2,000 children die from lack of proper sanitation. The United Nations has set a 2015 Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of people who lack access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
The work being done by American Standard in Bangladesh and Sub-Saharan Africa is designed to help make this goal a reality. Plus, American Standard is donating hundreds of thousands of SaTo sanitary toilet pans to Bangladesh via non-profit distribution organizations, one for each of its Champion toilets sold in North America in 2013. 
"American Standard has a proud history of advancing modern sanitation in the United States," said Jay Gould, president and CEO of American Standard. "We believe it's important to continue building on this tradition by helping to end the global sanitation crisis. We value the opportunity to be part of the solution." 

For more information on this announcement, visit or call (800) 442-1902. 

For additional details on the global sanitation crisis and how to help, visit 


American Standard Brands is a leading North American manufacturer of a wide range of high-quality building products, including faucets, fixtures, furniture, vitreous china fixtures, cast iron sinks, whirlpool tubs and other wellness products for the bath and kitchen as well as decorative panels. The company currently offers total project solutions for residential and commercial customers; employs more than 5,000 people in the United States, Canada and Mexico; and markets products under well known and respected brands, such as American Standard®, Jado®, Porcher®, Safety Tubs®, Crane Plumbing®, Eljer®, Fiat® and Decorative Panels International®. American Standard Brands is an affiliated portfolio company of Sun Capital Partners. The company is online at:, on Twitter at and on Facebook at 

American Standard® and Champion® are registered trademarks of American Standard Brands.
SaTo(TM) is a trademark of American Standard Brands. 

SOURCE American Standard Brands

One Year Anniversary of Implementation of Deferred Action Policy for DREAMers

By Cecilia Munoz
The White House Blog, August 15, 2013 

One year ago today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began implementing a policy that makes our immigration system more representative of our values as a nation. On this day, DHS began accepting requests for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – a policy that provides young people who were brought to the United States as children with temporary protection from deportation if they can demonstrate that they meet several criteria.
By removing the threat of deportation for young people brought to this country as children – known as “DREAMers” – DHS has been able to focus its enforcement efforts on those who endanger our communities rather than students pursuing an education and seeking to better themselves and their communities. As the President stated when the policy was announced, “[t]hey are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”
Because the Administration acted, hundreds of thousands of ambitious, hardworking young people have been able to emerge from the shadows, no longer living in fear of deportation. As of July 31, over 430,000 young people have received deferred action. These young people are not just numbers, they are aspiring Americans each with a unique story. As the President reminded us last June,
“Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life -- studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class -- only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak.”
Throughout this year, the President, Vice President, and others Administration officials have had the opportunity to meet DACA recipients, including:
  • Alan Aleman who was born in Mexico and brought to the U.S. as a young child.  When he heard the news of DACA, he was one of the first to sign-up in Nevada, and upon hearing his request had been approved, he said, “I felt the fear vanish. I felt accepted.” Alan attends the College of Southern Nevada where he is studying to become a doctor and hopes to join the Air Force one day.
  • Tolu Olubunmi is originally from Lagos, Nigeria but has lived in the United States since age 14. Throughout her life, Tolu has shown exceptional promise, earning high school honors and graduating at the top of her class from a prestigious university with a chemistry and engineering degree.
  • Kevin Lee, featured in this video, is a South Korean immigrant who received deferred action. Kevin is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles and resides in Los Angeles with his family. Kevin joined a meeting in May with the President and Vice President to discuss the importance of passing immigration reform.
  • More recently, Secretary Duncan met with DREAMers from the Asian and Pacific Islander community who have received deferred action through DACA in July. These young people are touring around the country to advance the cause of commonsense immigration reform.
  • In addition to impacting the lives of DREAMers, DACA has impacted entire families and communities. Diana Colin, who also met with President Obama, is a legal permanent resident, who has a brother that received deferred action as a result of the DACA process. You can learn more about her family’s stories here.
While this policy was an important step DHS made to ensure that they use their immigration enforcement resources most effectively, the President has made clear that an administrative action like this one cannot provide what the DREAMers – and indeed the country – need, which is a permanent solution. DACA is not an immigration benefit, it is an exercise of enforcement authority; it does not provide a permanent legal status and it does not provide a pathway to citizenship. Fourteen months ago when DACA was announced by DHS, President Obama said that the DREAMers deserve better than to have to plan their lives in two-year increments; he was absolutely right.
The Senate has acted by passing a bipartisan immigration reform bill. Now it is time for the House to act.  We need a commonsense immigration reform bill that provides a path to earned citizenship – not just for these DREAMers and their family members – but for all of those who seek to get on the right side of the law, pay their taxes and continue contributing to this country.
Moreover, the economic costs of inaction are simply too high to delay. This week, the White House released a report to make the economic case for commonsense immigration reform and highlight the economic benefits of providing a path to earned citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the U.S. shadow economy.
According to outside estimates, providing earned citizenship for undocumented immigrant workers would increase their wages and, over 10 years, boost U.S. GDP by $1.4 trillion, increase total income for all Americans by $791 billion, generate $184 billion in additional state and federal tax revenue from currently undocumented immigrants, and add about 2 million jobs to the U.S. economy.
Alan, Tolu, and Kevin exemplify the very core of why common-sense immigration reform is so critical. But not just for them – for our families, our communities, and our economy.
Today marks an important milestone, but nobody should mistake an executive action like this one for a solution to our immigration challenges. The most important action will be when Congress sends a comprehensive immigration bill to the President’s desk for his signature.  As the President stated at a naturalization ceremony last March, “[T]he time has come for comprehensive, sensible immigration reform. We are making progress, but we’ve got to finish the job.”

Kindergarten President, Childish Handlers – A Response To Jonathan’s Lying, Divisive Cohort

By Nasir el Rufai
August 15, 2013

I still recall how one of my sons behaved before going into kindergarten. He did not know how to share toys or food, threw tantrums whenever he failed to get his way or insulted his siblings or sulked when criticized. With years of parental effort at home, and intervention of handlers in nursery school, our son learnt the virtues of sharing, inclusion and getting along with those that he disagreed with. I guess this is the experience of many parents. I have always wondered what manner of person would resort to abuse, bigotry and division when his or her conduct and utterances are interrogated, instead of simply responding in civilized language. APC chairman Bisi Akande’s characterization of Jonathan as a kindergarten president explained everything. And surrounded with equally parochial, morally-flexible handlers, one is bound to read the kind of falsehood that emanates from the likes of Reuben Abati from time to time.

It was Aeschylus, the ancient Greek dramatist who said, “In war, truth is the first casualty”. Thank God, despite the provocations of the Dokubos and the Clarks, Nigeria is not at war, but the presidency and presidential hangers-on have distorted democratic politics into some sort of warfare. President Goodluck Jonathan’s response to an interview I granted over the weekend is indicative that truth has become a casualty in his shoddy attempt to belittle the salient issues concerning Nigeria that I spoke about, and the weighty fact that the president is the promoter and apostle of ethnic and religious division of Nigeria, purely for political gains!

For the records, I was featured on Liberty Radio’s Guest of the Week where I spoke on a number of issues, including the fact that the proceeds from crude oil theft (as confirmed by the Bayelsa state governor, Seriake Dickson) were being used to procure arms to wage war on Nigeria in the event that Jonathan lost his re-election bid in 2015. I also stated that, “PDP has become a virus that is infecting and destroying the country because they are not doing anything productive. They have changed our politics into that of ethnicity and religion to divert attention from their incompetence, lack of capacity and looting of the treasury”.

Instead of addressing the issues I raised, presidential spokesman Reuben Abati chose to muddle the discussion and confuse the public. According to a report issued by Governance and Sustainable Initiatives Ltd., entitled Analysis and Lessons of the Current Geopolitical Distribution of Federal Appointments, the Jonathan administration is said to have favoured his home state of Bayelsa 200% times more than the next states with the highest federal representation – Delta, Edo and Anambra. If Jonathan is not playing the ethnic card, can he possibly explain to Nigerians why Bayelsa which has the smallest population in Nigeria and the fewest number of local government areas, has more than double the number of federal appointees measured by population and weight of responsibility than that of the next state, whilst the most populous states of Lagos and Kano were at the bottom of the representation ladder. What is the president’s response to that?

If President Jonathan is not playing ethnic politics, why was he quick to exonerate those he called “my people” in the aftermath of the October 1st 2010 bombings in Abuja? Did Henry Okah, who was eventually convicted of the offence in South Africa, not reveal in court that he was contacted by a high-ranking official from the presidency who told him to implicate some northerners in the bombing?

A year later, after his highly divisive election, he told a delegation of the Ohaneze that he believed that the only votes he got from the North were from Igbo residents in the North. Are those the words of a patriot or an ethnic bigot? This was after an election where he received nearly 100 percent of all votes cast in the South South and South East states, in some cases getting more votes than there were registered voters or even residents. The presidency did not respond to these facts, but chose to distort the matter in order to sweep the issues under the carpet. It may interest the president to know that Nigerians are much wiser now and will not be deceived by the antics of a drowning president and his desperate aides.

The president, rather than responding intelligibly to my charge that Jonathan has a deliberately evil strategy of using religion to divide the country for electoral gains, decided it was story time, and proceeded to announce that the president also fasted along with Muslims. It may interest him to know that former president Olusegun Obasanjo also fasted while in office, but did not broadcast it for any political gain. Incidentally, fasting goes beyond abstaining from food and drink during daylight hours; it is an intrinsic spiritual contact between man and his Creator to strive for higher ideals including truthfulness, honesty and keeping promises. Which promise has Jonathan kept? Where is the integrity in this government? Where is the genuine fear of God when looting is the order of the day?

Nigeria, by the will of the people, is a secular state. But of all Nigerian leaders, no one except Jonathan makes policy proclamations from his place of worship. Perhaps, the irony is lost on the president, but not only is it religious politics to make policy statements before only a section of the populace, the implications of making those promises in the house of God, then refusing to fulfil them are serious. Are we not told not to take the name of the Lord in vain?

As testimony to the fact that truth has become a casualty in the presidency, Abati went beyond that and concocted a lie that I said Christians were behind the Church bombings that took place in Nigeria. I never said anything like that. All I wrote was that the late National Security Adviser to the president, Gen. Owoye Azazi, and a small group known to him, were behind the dastardly acts, and I pointed out the fact that the moment he was removed as NSA, the church bombings virtually stopped as mysteriously as they started. I would have expected the president to set up an independent panel to find out and tell Nigerians the truth about the horrific church bombings. Why the conspiracy of silence?

I am keen to know why the presidency chose to keep quite on my charge that President Jonathan is the godfather of the oil thieves. If that is not the case, how come oil theft jumped from about 100,000 barrels per day before his election to a staggering 400,000 per day now? Can Jonathan explain why he ordered the removal of recognised maritime security officials from the creeks and handed over pipelines and oil installations security to militants? In what country does a bank employ a former bank robber to guard its vaults? Is there not a grand strategy to ease oil theft and procure arms for the militants to use against their fatherland? Why is there no response to this issue?

In the interview, I mentioned that the vice president, Namadi Sambo left massive debts as governor of Kaduna state with little to show for it, the same attitude that permeates every facet of Jonathan’s government. Anyone in doubt should check with the Debt Management Office. Kaduna state has the second highest debt of all states in Nigeria, thanks to loans that Sambo pursued as governor for projects that no one can see on the ground. Kaduna is a short drive from Aso Rock, so Jonathan and his cohorts can take a quick drive to see things for themselves. Nothing beats personal experience.

One of the largest and longest ‘ongoing’ projects in Kaduna state is the Zaria Water Supply Project, which was awarded to Sambo’s company before he became governor.
Though Zaria is his hometown, he did not complete the project as contractor despite payments, did not conclude it as governor despite his office and is today uncompleted, despite his position. Up until last week, most of Zaria does not have potable water, yet Sambo lists the award of a N7billion Government House contract among his achievements. Indications are that the final figure may reach N20billion before it is completed. Is that an achievement or an appropriate priority? Which 300-bed hospital did Sambo build in Kaduna State when the KASU Teaching Hospital is far from being a centre of excellence? The former governor has a penchant for confusing awarding contracts that remain forever “ongoing” with delivering public services to the citizens. How sad.

When the circle around Yar’Adua decided to play sit-tight, unconstitutional politics with his ill-health, we described their actions as that of a cabal and subjected them to public opprobrium. Whether the cabal existed as one unit or several cabals sometimes even working at cross-purposes is not the issue. We waged a war against saboteurs of our constitution through lawful means. Who is the primary beneficiary of that cabal narrative if not Jonathan?

I have had my differences with General Muhammadu Buhari, and that explains the context of my 2010 statement. Despite my strong views on issues, I do not suffer from the egotism that prevents reflection, reconsideration and the ability to adjust to new information. The general and I have moved on from those differences and we are working with like-minded compatriots to contribute to providing Nigeria the quality leadership it desperately needs. Those fixated on that to divide us are free to waste their energies.

As for Abati, I understand his problem. I will not bother to mention his writings in his previous incarnation where he thoroughly abused the president, his wife and others from whose dining table he now eats, on several occasions. Managing the public image of the inept and incompetent president that Jonathan has proved to be can be a demanding task. That task is further compounded when a medical doctor begins to angle in on the same job, especially as Jonathan has demonstrated clearly that he does not have any idea on how to tackle Nigeria’s massive unemployment challenges. So to keep his job and prove that he is more loyal, Abati thinks that the more he insults the president’s critics, the better he would look.

Unfortunately, he has a lot of people to insult, because his boss has nothing to offer Nigerians, which is why he is using ethnic and religious sentiments to play politics. A thinking president would know that stoking ethnicity and religious affiliation is not only unpatriotic, but dangerous in a country like Nigeria, but as desperate as he is to remain in office, nothing seems too low for this president. No wonder Chief Bisi Akande referred to him as a kindergarten president, while Lagos state governor called him a roadside mechanic that cannot be trusted with any vehicle. If only the presidency could hear the truth of what majority of Nigerians who feel betrayed by his agenda of deceit and corruption are saying!