Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Collaboration Between Nigeria And US

By Gbubemi God's Covenant Jr., NAN
Daily Times, Nigeria,
December 30, 2015

The U.S. Government is ready to assist Nigeria to fight terrorism acts by Boko Haram.In a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Abuja on Wednesday.
However, said that much still needed to be done to ensure that the people of Nigeria and its neighbours lived in peace. The United States remains committed to helping Nigeria and its neighbours counter Boko Haram’s senseless acts of terror.
Despite much progress over the past year—due in large part to newly bolstered Nigerian and regional efforts—more work remains to ensure the people of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria can live in peace.
The conflict has affected the lives of communities across the Lake Chad Basin region with some 2.5 million internally displaced people and more than 170,000 Nigerian refugees forced to flee their homes,’’ the statement said.
It said the U.S. had provided various forms of support for Nigeria and its neighbours in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency.

The United States provides advisors, intelligence, training, logistical support and equipment to our African partners as they work to defeat Boko Haram. We also support those affected by Boko Haram’s violence through on-going humanitarian aid and victim support services.
“The United States will continue working with our partners in the region to identify new opportunities to support their efforts to stop Boko Haram’s wanton violence and restore order in the Lake Chad Basin region,” it said.
The U.S. condemned the terrible attacks carried out by Boko Haram in Nigeria from Dec. 25 to Dec. 28 as well as other recent attacks in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
It also extended condolences to the families of the victims.
“Boko Haram killed dozens of innocent people who were targeted as they went about their daily lives—attending service at a mosque, shopping in a neighbourhood market or simply travelling down a road.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims and we stand with the people of Nigeria and the region in the fight against Boko Haram,” it said

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I Played In The NFL, And Here's Why You Need To Go See 'Concussion'

'Concussion' Provides Reality Check, Inspiration For A Sounder Football Future


BY BRENDON AYANBADEJO




I absolutely love football. It's a game that taught me so much about life.
Playing football taught me about teamwork, sacrifice, and the fact that nothing lasts forever. It taught me about leadership and the importance of always living your truth no matter what the consequences.
And because of this, I've spent my entire life playing football.

From playing as a kid in the Lathrop housing projects on the North Side of Chicago to playing 13 professional seasons -- 10 in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, the Chicago Bears and ultimately winning a Super Bowl championship with the Baltimore Ravens in 2013.
As an NFL player, I had the honor of serving as a players union representative, an NFL Play 60 ambassador and utilized (and continue to utilize) my influence on and off the field to speak out on issues of equality and justice.

I've dedicated my career to doing everything I can to protect my fellow players who gave so much to the game that has given so much to us.
For years, we put our body in harm's way, and for many of my current and former NFL colleagues, the physical damage done in pursuit of winning a championship is often permanent and can be life threatening.

Unfortunately, my NFL fraternity brothers and I didn't know this information until it became public in the last five years or so.

It was with this understanding and this experience that I went to see "Concussion," the Will Smith movie about the incredible courage and resiliency of Dr. Bennet Omalu, who just like my own father, immigrated from Nigeria to the United States to start a new life.

Dr. Omalu was the scientist who put his life's work on the line to take on the NFL after he uncovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes with a long history of repeated brain trauma.

As someone who gave my life to the game of football, this movie was not only a wake-up call, but also a disturbing walk down memory lane.

I remember feeling dizzy after tackling an opposing player and never leaving the field. Every player has seen stars, experienced vision going all black or white and kept on keeping on. These no-concussion type of hits are some of the most dangerous ones. Repetitive blows to the head are in fact the ones that do us in.

The NFL has changed the way it teaches players how to hit. In years past we were taught to use the screws on the front of our helmets right above our brow line, hit the opposing player hat-to-hat, and drive through them like an arrow through snow.

These teachings and techniques permeate all the way down to college, high school, and Pop Warner. Players are taught as much as they can to initiate contact with their shoulder pads. Equipment needs to continue to improve, as well as staunch rules preventing players from going after each other with their helmets as we recently saw when the Carolina Panthers played the New York Giants.

I remember having my heart broken as I learned about Junior Seau, a former teammate and one of the greatest people to have played football, committing suicide in 2012 because of what was later found to be CTE. Would things be different if Junior played a lifetime of football with today's equipment and rules? We can only hope so.

As I sat in the movie theater, I had mixed emotions as the film showed the hypocrisy of the NFL and how the league cared more about making billions of dollars, rather than caring about the physical health and well-being of myself and my teammates. A former teammate of mine, Bernard Pollard, believes the NFL is not sustainable and it's only a matter of time before the league attrits. 
To me, my teammates were, and will always be, my family.

And as family, we have a responsibility to stand up for each other and do everything we can to protect not only ourselves, but also the game that brought us together.
Research and awareness surrounding brain injuries is growing and "Concussion" is helping to make the issue of CTE more accessible and well known to the general public.

This will make the game better and hopefully help ensure that no family has to go through what the families of legendary Steelers players Mike Webster, Justin Strzelczyk and Terry Long, and so many others, went through.

I'm glad that the NFL has been taking the steps to make the game safer. The NFL also needs to admit it turned a blind eye after being presented with Dr. Omalu's findings.

I personally have four close friends, all NFL alums, with ALS, including my dear friend Fred McNeil who left us too soon in November of this year. OJ Brigance, Steve Gleason, and Tim Shaw all suffer from ALS, a disease that only affects two out of every 100,000 people. At any given time there are 2,000 players in the NFL -- there is a disproportionate risk of ALS in football players versus the general population.

The NFL must take responsibility for its lack of action and do more to make the game better and safer for everyone. Coming generations need to be protected when they are young, contact must be scaled back on the level of high school and older children.

The NFL can also do more for those that it's too late for. I don't want to see another teammate die too soon and I don't want to see another child lose out on the lessons that football teaches.

And that's why I'm urging parents, players and coaches from Pop Warner to the NFL to go watch "Concussion."

It's an inspiring movie about the players and for the players. It's a film that teaches us that together we can make a difference.

Friday, December 25, 2015

'Tens' Killed In Nigeria Christmas Eve Gas Plant Explosion -- Presidency

BY ANAMESERE IGBOEROTEONWU, REUTERS
Tens of people were killed in an explosion at a gas plant in southern Nigeria, the presidency said on Friday, with one journalist putting the death toll at 100.
The blast occurred on Thursday when a truck was discharging butane gas at the facility in Nnewi town in Anambra state as a crowd of customers refilled gas bottles on Christmas Eve, residents said.
President Muhammadu Buhari's office said "tens of people" who had been looking forward to their Christmas celebrations had been killed, without giving a precise toll.

One local journalist at the scene, David Onwuchekwa, said: "I saw around 100 charred corpses."
Most of the dead were customers at the plant or people who lived nearby, he added.
Carl Ofuonye, another local journalist, said the blast had been sparked when the truck exploded while discharging gas.
"So many people were in the building, workers at the plant, people who came to buy gas," he said. "A woman and a child in a nearby building died."
Many others were being treated for burns at nearby hospitals.
"I saw flames but I didn't know (what was going on) and started running and then I heard an explosion," the wife of the manager of a nearby construction site told local TV station Television Continental. "Even while running the fire...burnt me all over."
(Reporting by Anamesere Igboeroteonwu, Sharon Atseyinku, Camillus Eboh, Felix Onuah and Ulf Laessing; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Pravin Char and Hugh Lawson)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

NIGERIA: Senate Constitutes 38-Member Constitution Review Committee







The senate has begun a fresh process of amending the 1999 constitution with the inauguration of a 38-member review committee.
The committee comprises a senator from each of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, with the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu as chairman.
The review committee was named yesterday by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, shortly before the upper legislative chamber went into a joint session with the House of Representatives to receive President Muhammadu Buhari, who was at the National Assembly to lay the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
Ekweremadu also chaired the constitution amendment review committee of the seventh senate.
The product of the seventh amendment was not assented to by then President Goodluck Jonathan because of some objections, which were not reconciled properly before he left office on May 29.
Saraki, in a brief remark after announcing the new committee, said their work had been made easy because all they needed to do was to use the last review, which is still outstanding as a guide for the current exercise.
He warned the committee against embarking on any fresh tours in the course of the review since the last document was a product of wide consultations among Nigerians.
He said: “With the composition of the committee, the Senate had set the stage for the activities leading to the delivery to our people. The work already carried out by the Seventh Senate had made the jobs of the new committee easy.”

NIGERIA: Senate And The Opposition Against Anti-Social Media Bill

BY EBERE NDUKWU
NATIONAL MIRROR, DECEMBER 23, 2015





Following the continuous criticism of anti-social media bill sponsored by Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’allah which sets out heavy sanctions for people who “falsely” criticise public officials or institutions, EBERE NDUKWU looks at the implication of the bill on Nigeria’s democracy.
(ABUJA, NIGERIA) -- There is no denial that the rising and prolifera­tion of social media in the country has positively helped in reshaping political ambiance of Nige­ria in terms of educating and mobilising Nigerians.
It is a podium for political analysis, debates, political campaign and political mobilisation as seen in the last general elections in the country where political office holders, politicians, including president and governors owned and managed social media account such as Face­book, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Blog sites among others to inform the public.
During the last election, political leaders and po­litical candidates shared their political agenda and mobilised people towards its propagation using the social media platform. The country’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, benefited in no small measure using social media platform in selling its pro­grammes and activities which led to its defeat of the incumbent president in the elections that took place in the first quarter of this year
Unarguably, the advent of social media in the world of information has added a very unique dimension to the participation of more people in those affairs that particularly has direct effects on their day-to-day lives and survival. Social media has already occupied those spaces that were hitherto un-occupied by the orthodox media.
The social media play great role world over in edu­cating the people in a democratic set up, it also has its challenges. This is because while it plays some positive roles in enthroning democracy, its excesses also bring negative consequence on the populace.
Possibly it is on the need to balance the roles of so­cial media in a democratic set up that made the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’allah, a member of the ruling APC from Kebbi State, to not long ago spon­sored a bill which sets out heavy sanctions for people who “falsely” criticise public officials or institutions.
The Bill titled “Draft Bill to Prohibit Frivolous Pe­tition and Other Matters Connected Therewith” seeks to forbid social media operators from slandering mem­bers of the public including the lawmakers themselves.
Put differently, the Bill seeks to gag the press and in­timidate the users of the social media.
The Bill not only prescribes two year jail term for of­fenders, it comes with the option of N2 million fine, or both sanctions could be applied.
. The bill says, “Notwithstanding anything contained in any law, it shall be unlawful to submit any petition, statement intended to report the conduct of any person for the purpose of an investigation, inquiry and or in­quest without a duly sworn affidavit in the High Court of a state or the Federal High Court confirming the con­tent to be true and correct and in accordance with the Oaths Act.
“Any petition and or complains not accompanied by a sworn affidavit shall be incompetent and shall not be used by any government institution, agency or bodies established by any law for the time being enforced in Nigeria.
“Any person who unlawfully uses, publishes or causes to be published, any petition, complaint not sup­ported by a duly sworn affidavit, shall be deemed to have committed an offence and upon conviction, shall be liable to an imprisonment for six months without an option of fine.”
It continues: “Any person who acts, uses, or causes to be used any petition or complaints not accompanied by duly sworn affidavit shall be deemed to have commit­ted an offence and upon conviction, shall be liable to an imprisonment for a term of two years or a fine of N200, 000.00 or both.”
The bill also states that, “Where any person in order to circumvent this law makes any allegation and or publish any statement, petition in any paper, radio, or any medium of whatever description, with malicious intent to discredit or set the public against any person or group of persons, institutions of government, he shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction, shall be liable to an imprisonment term of two years or a fine of N4, 000,000.00.”
For the social media, the bill says, “Where any per­son through text message, tweets, WhatsApp or through any social media, posts any abusive statement knowing same to be false with intent to set the public against any person and group of persons, an institution of gov­ernment or such other bodies established by law shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction, shall be liable to an imprisonment for two years or a fine of N2, 000,000.00 or both fine and imprisonment.”
Unlike many other bills, the bill received an unusual­ly rapid attention at the senate, with two readings made within two weeks of its introduction, forcing many Ni­gerians to slam the lawmakers.
Since the bill was sponsored, it has continued to re­ceive criticisms of all sorts, while some Nigerians have seen it as not only a significant clampdown on freedom of speech, but a deliberate targeting of critics of fed­eral lawmakers and the National Assembly, others have called it a threat to democracy in the country
In its reaction, Partnership for Media and Democ­racy in Nigeria, PAMED, a coalition of NGOs, called on the Senate to drop the Social Media Bill 2015 in order not to stand against the will of the people.
In a statement jointly signed by members of PA­MED, the Institute of Media and Society, IMESO, Me­dia Rights Agenda, MRA, and the International Press Centre, IPC, PAMED said the call became imperative because “the bill is a threat to democracy in Nigeria.’’
The group in the statement signed by Dr Akin Ak­ingbulu, executive director, IMESO, Mr Edetaen Ojo, executive director, MRA, and Mr. Lanre Arogundade, director, IPC, citing examples from sections 3 and 4 of the bill said that the bill seeks to gag both the press and the general public from expressing views and opinions.
“If the bill becomes law, it would infringe on hu­man rights to freedom of expression as globally recog­nised,’’ the group said.
Saying that the bill completely negated important international conventions to which Nigeria was a sig­natory and which all affirmed the right of citizens to hold opinion, freely express themselves and freely dis­seminate information, they group described the bill as a subjugation of the constitution which the Senate swore to uphold.
It stated that senators were representatives of the people and should be held accountable by the people they served by answering questions and responding to their criticisms.
“PAMED has come to the conclusion that the bill constitutes a threat to democracy because it seeks to repress the social media, the conventional media, the civil society and the citizenry as a whole.
“In the light of all the pressing development chal­lenges confronting the country, which should be the priorities of the senators and all other persons exer­cising any form of political power or authority, the PA­MED is of the view that the bill itself is frivolous and unwarranted.
“The bill, through its frivolous content and malicious intent, seeks to achieve nothing other than undermin­ing freedom of expression, press freedom, public par­ticipation in governance and democracy.
“PAMED, therefore, affirms that the bill violates all the norms of democratic practise, freedom of expres­sion, press freedom, transparency and accountability as well as open governance.’’
In its reaction, Socio-Economic Rights and Account­ability Project, SERAP, filed a petition to the United Na­tions against the bill.
In a recent statement, SERAP executive director, Ad­etokunbo Mumuni, said: “SERAP can confirm that the Office of the UN Special Rapporteur is now considering our petition. We have received communication from Marcelo Daher at the Office of the Special Rapporteur to this effect. The Special Rapporteur has also request­ed a copy of the bill, which SERAP has promptly sent to Marcelo Daher.
“SERAP appreciates the prompt attention to this matter by the Office of the Special Rapporteur. We urge the UN to pursue this matter to a satisfactory conclu­sion by ensuring that the Nigerian Senate is not al­lowed to strangulate media freedom and social media in the country.
According to SERAP, “the only option for the Sen­ate now is to withdraw this obnoxious bill without fur­ther delay and end this international embarrassment. SERAP will be prepared to withdraw the petition at the UN if the Senate can follow this honourable path.”
However in defence of the senate on the bill , Sena­tor Dino Melaye, (APC-Kogi State) raised a point of order, at the floor of the House lashing out on, Sahara Reporters while claiming that untrue stories had been published against him, warning that the Senate should not overlook the bill believed by many as anti social me­dia.
Melaye said: “While I celebrate the social media as one of the actors, this Senate should not be black­mailed. The Senate is a sacred hallowed chamber. The bill moved by Ibn Na’allah has been misconstrued by the same people. This Senate should not be quiet about it.”
Other lawmakers also took turn to speak about al­leged false publications in the media. The senate leader, Ali Ndume (APC-Borno State), said the publication of false stories was becoming rampant in the country, say­ing that the Senate as a lawmaking body should hold people responsible for their actions.
“It is not only Sahara Reporters; there are other on­line platforms that wake up and post all sorts of things. At a point, one of the online platforms accused me of buying 400 Golf cars for Boko Haram”, he said.
Biodun Olujimi (PDP-Ekiti State), who also ex­pressed frustration, said she had to exit all the social media “because of these problems”.
Ruling on the matter, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki said, “We all support freedom of speech but as a Senate we should not be blackmailed. You can’t write false stories just because it is social media.”
The matter was referred to the committees on ICT, judiciary and ethics and privileges committee.
In its move to calm the mounting opposition on the bill, the leadership of the Senate recently through a statement by its spokesperson, Senator Aliyu Sabi as­sured Nigerians that they will be able to make input and determine the fate of the controversial Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and Other Related Matters bill.
The Senate said that members of the public, includ­ing those for or against the Anti-Frivolity bill or parts of the bill will have the opportunity to shape its final outcome as there is an elaborate process which the bill must undergo before it becomes a law, nothing that some of the comments on the bill emanated from misconception and misunderstanding of the objective which is meant to protect all individuals and institu­tions, including journalists and social media users.
Senator Sabi: “The senate is committed to freedom of speech and a fully inclusive and participatory democ­racy”. The process of passing a bill is comprehensive and provide for inputs to be taken from all and sundry. The first stage is merely to read the short title of the bill. The second stage is purely to debate the general principles. The next stage is committal of the bill to ap­propriate committee or committees for further detailed legislative action where the details, intendment and clause by clause implications of the bill is dissected by the committee. This stage also involve public hearing in which members of the public, civil society, nongov­ernmental organisations and all interested parties for or against the bill have the opportunity to shape and influence its content.
“The outcome from this committee stage is what will be finalised and then represented to the chamber for clause by clause consideration and approval or disap­proval by the Senate. Thereafter, if the bill is approved, then the clean version of the bill is forwarded to the House of Representatives for concurrence or other­wise”.
According to him, the anti-frivolity bill will go through the whole hog and there is no intention to make the process of passing this bill any different. “Accordingly, the Senate wants to re-assure the public about this. So, all those who are either for or against this bill or its part and any other one have ample op­portunities to reshape it”, Sabi stated.
Different groups including Diaspora Nigeria Na­tionals Network, DNNN, with membership all over the world and its headquarters in New York, have called on Senate President Bukola Saraki to slam the brakes on the so-called bill, or risk members of the Upper House finding they are unable to travel in any direction what­soever.
While many Nigerians want total freedom for social media users, many also would like to see an improved social media which will be able enhance better public mobilisation, sensitisation and true democracy in Ni­geria through citizen sensitisation programmes.
With opinion against the bill daily gaining the ground only time has an answer to what will become of the bill.

African Risk Capacity: Insurance For African Development



Farmers in Niger dig half-moon ditches to capture rainwater after a drought. (Oxfam International, Flickr)

In even the wealthiest African countries, private insurance is uncommon. However, insurance could mitigate the agricultural challenges Africa faces every year. Drought and flooding are particularly common natural disasters, and from 1994 to 2013 Africa suffered more droughts than any other continent–a total of 131–75% of which occurred in East Africa. Since 2000, each year saw an average of 341 weather-related disasters. Each disaster sets African development back as farmers and business-people are forced to sell their livestock and tools to buy food in times of crisis.
Enter African Risk Capacity (ARC). Created as a Specialized Agency of the African Union, its financial affiliate is a mutual insurance company, ARC Ltd, owned by African states–originally Kenya, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal, but expanded in 2015 to also include Malawi, Mali and Gambia. The participating states pay premiums into the insurance pool, and when disaster strikes, measured objectively using weather data, ARC Ltd quickly makes a payout to provide resources to those affected. In the next four years, ARC hopes to attract a total of 20 to 30 member states, increasing ARC’s pool far beyond its current $180 million. ARC’s pool system is a promising example of African countries financing their own development and providing their own assistance.

In its first year, ARC insured four countries with total coverage of $130 million, and ended up paying out $26.3 million after a drought in West Africa. That’s all part of the plan–because ARC covers so many African countries in different parts of the continent, which means one insured country may be affected by a drought, while the others could remain unaffected. Membership in this risk pool plan requires that countries hold aCertificate of Good Standing with ARC, which requires signing off on an approved contingency plan, which then forms the basis for use of payouts when they occur. Payout funds in West Africa in early 2015 provided support for 1.3 million people and over 600,000 livestock.

This “pool” insurance model is an improvement from the “pass-the-hat” donor pledge conference model employed among wealthy countries after a natural disaster. Collecting donations or international aid pledges takes many months–too slow in the event of a natural disaster–and prevents accountability when crises are mishandled. ARC’s pool ensures that money is available before a crisis takes hold and that resources can be mobilized quickly to target those most in need. Research shows that for every dollar spent on ARC’s model of early intervention and risk pooling, four and a half dollars are saved that would otherwise be spent on disaster relief and repair.

ARC uses a ‘parametric’ system that immediately triggers payouts when measurable environmental factors–excessive or insufficient rainfall, for example–are projected to have an impact–number of food insecure people or buildings damaged, for example–above a pre-defined threshold. ARC operates under the principle that weather cycles are relatively predictable–so the risk can be assessed and pricedand makes use of satellite technology to track storms, droughts, and cyclones. Early warning and risk modelling systems, like their new Africa RiskView software, can both monitor slow-onset disasters as they develop, quickly estimate impacts, and assess payout amounts after a disaster strikes.

The benefit of African-owned insurance is clear: rather than waiting for developed countries such as the United State or Japan to sponsor relief and reconstruction after natural disasters, African states sponsoring their own recovery efforts ensures that aid is targeted, efficient, and fast. The ultimate goal of companies like ARC is to end reliance on foreign assistance and to encourage reliable, sustainable growth within Africa.
In order to continue and expand its services, ARC is looking to donor countries for assistance in the short to medium term. ARC is seeking financial support for country interaction, client management, and software development–all steps toward general innovation to ensure that they remain on the cutting edge of available technology. The next step involves development financing to support premium payments for existing and new African countries as they embed insurance premiums in their budgets and further build capacity to manage response to natural disasters.

Records Show Hitler Enjoyed Special Treatment In Prison

BY FRANK JORDANS, AP


 Hitler was registered under number 48. The entry reads Adolf Hitler, 35 years, artist and writer, born in Braunau, Austrian, arrived Nov. 12, 1923. The medical record of the initial entry translates healthy, strong, right…(AP)


BERLIN --(ASSOCIATED PRESS) -- Adolf Hitler enjoyed special treatment, including plentiful supplies of beer, during his time at Landsberg prison in Germany following a coup attempt ten years before he successfully came to power, according to newly published historical documents.
Historians have long been fascinated by the Nazi leader's time in Landsberg, where he and several followers were incarcerated after the unsuccessful Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, when Hitler tried to seize power in Bavaria. It was there that Hitler wrote much of the first volume of his book "Mein Kampf" and received a stream of visitors — 330 to be precise, according to Peter Fleischmann, a German historian.
Fleischmann, who heads the Bavarian state archives in Nuremberg, said a review of newly published prison records reveals that Hitler and fellow members of the Nazi Party were treated much more favorably than socialists or communists who were also incarcerated for staging a coup several years earlier.
"Formally it was the same kind of sentence, but in practice it was completely different," Fleischmann said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "The leftists ... were mistreated while the rightists had their path greased for them."
Fleischmann said Hitler and his fellow Nazis "were granted prison treatment that was far beyond the norms of the time" by officials and prison guards who sympathized with their extreme nationalist ideology.
Even though Hitler described himself as a "complete anti-alcoholic (teetotaler)" he purchased 62 half-liter bottles of beer in July 1924 — and similar amounts the following months.
Fleischmann's 552-page book also appears to confirm a British WWII-era joke about Hitler. A doctor who examined Hitler on his arrival in Landsberg recorded that the Nazi leader was "healthy, strong" but suffered from an undescended right testicle, also known as unilateral cryptorchidism. The congenital condition can increase the chances of infertility.
Hitler was released from Landsberg on Dec. 20, 1924, due to supposed good conduct.

Clinton Vows To Find Alzheimer's Cure By 2025

BY SARAH FERRIS, THE HILL





Hillary Clinton is laying out an aggressive plan to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease within a decade, which she says will be achieved by a dramatically boosting spending by four times the current levels.
The Democratic presidential front-runner vows to spend $2 billion per year “to prevent, effectively treat and make a cure possible by 2025.” She will announce her plan at a campaign stop in Iowa later on Tuesday.
The annual $2 billion in spending will be part of a “historic, decade-long investment” that would bring up spending levels from the $586 million spent by the National Institutes of Health this year.
The government spending bill signed by Obama on Friday would add $350 million per year for Alzheimer’s research – a level that researchers still maintain is vastly inadequate.
Her campaign said the plan was shaped by conversations with physicians and scientists who have long pushed for Congress to boost the funding on its own.
Several of those advocates took part in a press conference Tuesday to praise her plan, including Robert Egge, executive director of the Alzheimer's Impact Movement.
“This is the first time a presidential candidate has released a bold and substantive plan [on Alzheimer’s disease],” said Egge, who previously led the Alzheimer’s Study Group co-chaired by former Speaker Newt Gingrich.
In the conference call on Tuesday, another top Alzheimer’s advocate underscored that the plan would reduce strain on the nation’s dwindling Medicare and Medicaid budgets.
“This is a tsunami, epidemic that could single-handedly crush Medicare and Medicaid,” warned Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, director of the Genetics and Aging Research unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“It’s an unmet medical need of the greatest type,” he said.
He also highlighted that the plan would benefit women – who are almost two-thirds more likely to have the disease – and both African Americans and Hispanics who are about two times as likely to have the disease. 

Can Boko Haram Survive Without Territory?



A girl walks past a destroyed mosque in the town of Mararaba, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state May 10. The Nigerian military is trying to retake all territory held by Boko Haram before the end of 2015, but the militant group continues to carry out deadly attacks. AKINTUNDE AKINLEYE/REUTERS



Earlier in 2015, while I was researching a book on the history of the Nigerian militant Islamist sect known as Boko Haram, an anthropologist told me something that has stayed with me. What he said has informed the way I read the news coming out of the continuing battle between the sect and the Nigerian state.
Gerhard Müller-Kosack has spent years studying a group of people who live in Nigeria’s mountainous northeastern border region with Cameroon. He told me that for the people who live there, the modern, independent, post-colonial state has “never been more than a rumor.” This phrase has become a persistent earworm, nagging at me as I’ve watched developments unfold over the last few weeks.

On the surface, things appear to have been going well for the Nigerian military, at least compared to twelve months ago. At the beginning of 2015, large areas of northeastern Nigeria were under the insurgents’ control. Throughout 2014, the military appeared powerless to stop Boko Haram as the group transmogrified from hidden guerrilla fighters into a roving army of bandits. The militants swept out of the bush in large convoys to descend on towns, stripping them of what they needed, be it fuel, food, cash or women who they took captive.
Boko Haram even routed the military forces of Africa’s most populous nation from the garrison town of Gwoza, on the plains below the Mandara Mountains. Video clips of the attack shot by the insurgents and posted on the Internet show Nigerian soldiers running away into the hills. You see them drop to the ground as the jeering young men pick them off. The footage also shows young Boko Haram fighters looting the armory, their eyes flashing with joy as they hold aloft boxes of ammunition and weapons.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau gloated over the insurgents’ victory. It had been granted them because of Allah’s blessing, he said. He declared an Islamic state had been created in Nigeria. The army’s defeat represented a low point for the country, recently named as Africa’s largest economy. Exactly how negligible the military’s capacity to fight a domestic insurgency had been painfully revealed. For years, government and senior officers have been using the army as a way of extracting patronage from the state. Officers were not so much soldiers as investors in an institution focussed on the proceeds of corruption. This stripped the army of its effectiveness. Poorly motivated recruits were badly equipped and badly led. It took the military seven months to retake Gwoza. But in the time since, they have chased the militants out of large parts of the territory Shekau once declared as an Islamic state in Nigeria.
This roll-back of Boko Haram is at least partly because of a change in political leadership.
At the swearing-in ceremony of Nigeria’s newly elected president Muhammadu Buhari in August, the retired general and former military head of state vowed to “eliminate” Boko Haram by Christmas. He has shaken up the upper ranks of the military in an attempt to get better leadership where it is needed. Capitalizing on momentum that had begun before Buhari’s election, with the help of mercenaries from South Africa, the military has been able to push Boko Haram out of the plains—territory that, by the normal rules of guerrilla insurgency, they should not have been able to hold anyway.
But as people who have been watching this group for a while know, Boko Haram has been on the back foot before. In the past, the group has proven it can adapt. In 2009, the Nigerian militant group was on the run. Its leader at the time, Mohammed Yusuf, had been killed in Maiduguri and its members scattered. Some of the group, whose nickname means “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language, found refuge in the Mandara Mountains, a thickly forested mountain range near the border with Cameroon.
Among the cave warrens and hidden ravines the fighters found a perfect place to escape the aftermath of the government crackdown. It was in places like this that they grew in strength and were able to plot a tightly orchestrated campaign of terror. As they emerged from their hiding places between 2010 and 2013, they continually changed tactics, staying ahead of the military and the police.
It seemed there would be a rash of attacks on a particular kind of target. Then, after a time, a different kind of attack, executed in various places across northeast Nigeria within a short space of time. Boko Haram shifted between bombings and coordinated gun attacks. It frequently changed its targets, attacking churches, mosques, media institutions, cellphone towers and schools. In 2013, it branched out into kidnapping.
The Mandara Mountains is just one of many ungoverned spaces from which Boko Haram has drawn strength. The border region with Niger and the islands in Lake Chad are two other areas where Boko Haram exploits the lack of any form of state power. The militants dart across the border to escape fighting and control cross-border smuggling routes to generate funds.
Nigeria and its neighbors—Cameroon, Chad and Niger—are supposed to be cooperating in a multinational task force. But none of these nations seem eager to work effectively with each other. Trust is thin on the ground.
Following the military’s gains this year, Boko Haram insurgents have simply reverted to being hidden guerrillas. In the past few weeks, teenage female suicide bombers have struck in several places. In one 48-hour period they hit two cities, 350 miles apart. The first attack was on the city of Yola, where at least 30 people were killed. The second targeted a market in Kano, killing 11. Both cities are outside the territory that Boko Haram held.
Boko Haram may control less territory than it did 12 months ago, but thanks to the insubstantial reach of the Nigerian state across that territory, the insurgents’ capacity to kill is undiminished.
Andrew Walker is a journalist who has been writing about Nigeria for ten years. His book “Eat the Heart of the Infidel”: The Harrowing of Nigeria and the Rise of Boko Haram, a cultural and political history of the sect, is out in February 2016, published by C. Hurst & Co. He tweets @_AWalker.