‘Queen of Suspense’ Mary Higgins Clark dies aged 92 | Books | The Guardian

person

Mary Higgins Clark, the “Queen of Suspense” who topped charts with each of her 56 novels, has died at the age of 92.

Simon & Schuster president Carolyn Reidy said that Higgins Clark died on 31 January in Naples, Florida, from complications of old age. The author published her first novel, Where Are the Children? in 1975, going on to sell more than 100m copies of her compulsive suspense novels in the US alone. She published her most recent thriller, Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry, about a journalist investigating sexual misconduct at a television news network, in November.

Crime author Alafair Burke, who collaborated with Higgins Clark on the Under Suspicion series, said she would “miss my friend and co-author, but consider myself one of the luckiest people around to have had the chance to tell stories with one of my favourite writers, the Queen of Suspense.

“Through it all, I marvelled at Mary’s kindness, loyalty, and utter devotion to the work of being a writer. She could write me under the table, insisting we could get a few more pages in when I felt a snack break coming,” said Burke on Twitter. “When we went to an outdoor book festival in August, I kept sneaking off to the air-conditioned ladies’ room, but Mary stayed at the table and posed in the heat for selfies long after the books had sold out.”

Higgins Clark’s fellow authors spoke of her generosity, especially to new writers. Harlan Coben said he was heartbroken to learn of Higgins Clark’s death, describing her as “a generous mentor, hero, colleague, and friend” who “taught me so much”. Laura Lippman called her a trailblazer, adding that “so many of us owe our careers to her”. Scott Turow said she was “an extraordinarily gracious person, unpretentious and remarkably generous in a hundred ways”.

In her memoir, Kitchen Privileges, Higgins Clark wrote of “aching, yearning, burning” to write when she was young. It was an achievement made in the face of heavy odds. Her father died when she was 11, and she went to secretarial school after graduating from high school in the Bronx in New York. She went on to work as an air stewardess. After flying for a year, she married Warren Clark, who she had known since she was 16. She sold her first short story in 1956, for $100. After Clark died in 1964, she began writing radio scripts for a living, while also trying her hand as a novelist. She would write from 5am to 7am, before getting her five children ready for school.




Pinterest

“My mother’s belief in me kept alive my dream to be a writer. My father’s early death left her with three young children to support. A generation later my husband’s early death left me in exactly that position, except that I had five children,” she wrote.

“Mother supported us by renting rooms, allowing our paying guests to have the privilege of preparing light meals in the kitchen. I supported my family by writing radio shows. Very early in the morning I put my typewriter on the kitchen table before I went to work in Manhattan and spent a few privileged and priceless hours working on my first novel.”

She sold Where Are the Children? when she was 47. Telling of a young mother who has fled her original life after the death of her first two children, only for her next two to disappear, it was a huge hit. David Foster Wallace taught it in his college classes, and Coben recalled a letter from the Infinite Jest author, in which he called it “one of the scariest fucking books I’ve ever read”. (“Sorry about the language, Mary!” Coben added.)

She wrote, she told the Guardian in 2015, about “very nice people whose lives are invaded”. In 1988, she struck what the New York Times reported was “the first eight-figure agreement involving a single author”, with a multi-book contract that guaranteed her at least $10.1m. Given the Authors Guild Foundation award for Distinguished Services to the Literary Community in 2018, she was the recipient of numerous awards and 21 honorary doctorates, and saw many of her books adapted for film and television.

“Let others decide whether or not I’m a good writer. I know I’m a good Irish storyteller,” she said, when she was the grand marshal of the St Patrick’s Day parade in Manhattan in 2011.

Michael Corda, her editor at Simon & Schuster since 1975, said: “She always set out to end each chapter on a note of suspense, so you just had to keep reading. It was a gift, but also the result of hard work … She was unique. Nobody ever bonded more completely with her readers; she understood them as if they were members of her own family. She was always absolutely sure of what they wanted to read – and, perhaps more important, what they didn’t want to read – and yet she managed to surprise them with every book.”

Related posts

Stephen King quits Facebook over false claims in political ads | Books | The Guardian

person

Stephen King has quit Facebook, saying that he is not comfortable with the “flood of false information allowed in its political advertising”.

The bestselling horror novelist, a prolific user of social media, also said he was not “confident in [Facebook’s] ability to protect its users’ privacy”. King made the announcement on Twitter, where he has 5.6m followers. His Facebook page has been deleted.

The social network has faced backlash over its decision not to factcheck political ads, with chief executive Mark Zuckerberg arguing that “political speech is important” and should not be censored. Facebook said last month that while it had considered limiting the targeting of political ads, it felt that “people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinised and debated in public”.

Last October, the company came under fire for airing a 30-second video from the Trump campaign that falsely claimed that Joe Biden “promised Ukraine a billion dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company”. CNN declined to run the ad, saying that it “makes assertions that have been proven demonstrably false by various news outlets”. When the Biden campaign complained about the ad, Facebook invoked its “fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinised speech there is”.

Writing for the New York Times last week, the billionaire philanthropist George Soros said: “I believe that Mr Trump and Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, realise that their interests are aligned – the president’s in winning elections, Mr Zuckerberg’s in making money.” Facebook, Soros wrote, “follow[s] only one guiding principle: maximise profits irrespective of the consequences”.

Twitter, where King made his announcement, has banned all political advertising. King has long used the site as a way to air his political opinions, most recently using it to announce his support for Elizabeth Warren. “I’ll support and work for any Democrat who wins the nomination, but I’m pulling for Elizabeth Warren,” he wrote. “I’d love to see her open a large can of whup-ass on Trump in the debates.”

Related posts

Hundreds of readers donate copies of depression memoir after Caroline Flack’s death | Books | The Guardian

person book

An independent bookseller has been deluged with thousands of requests after offering to send anyone who feels they need one a copy of Matt Haig’s memoir about depression, Reasons to Stay Alive, in an initiative the author called “such a positive thing on what was a pretty bleak weekend”.

Simon Key, who runs online retailer the Big Green Bookshop, was contacted by a reader, Emma, offering to buy a couple of copies of Haig’s book for people in the wake of TV presenter Caroline Flack’s death. Haig’s book details his own descent into depression, and his climb back out of it.

Key, who already runs a weekly “buy a stranger a book” club, told his Twitter followers about her offer, and said he’d “try to cover any others that are requested”. As thousands of requests poured in, readers were also quick to support him with donations.

“People have been very generous – some have given a pound or two; others more than £100,” Key said. Donations now stand at around £6,000 and are still coming in, with Key having sent out more than 600 books. He is still making his way through the requests he’s received – “I’m posting about one a minute,” he wrote on Twitter on Sunday – shortly before he leaves for a half-term holiday.

“I’m getting thousands of DMs from people who need the book, and who are telling me why,” Key said on Monday. “This book has made a difference – lots of people have said it saved their lives. And this is not just about people getting the book, it’s about how they’re getting it. They’ve been brave enough to ask for it, and that’s a step forward.”

Blackwell’s in Oxford has also been giving away copies of the book to those who have asked for it, also funded by readers. Deputy manager Charlie Bush said the shop now had 40 books donated by readers, with the retailer discounting the price for donors and covering the postage costs.

“We really believe that books have the power to be life-changing and we also know that lots of people are going through tough times for all sorts of reasons. So we hope that people can gain some comfort and inspiration from Matt’s book. We tip our hats to Big Green Books for getting the ball rolling and offer huge thanks to customers who are making this possible with donations,” said Bush.

Flack had described Haig’s book as “honest and beautiful” on Twitter in 2015 and in the aftermath of her death, the author said that “when I had a bout of Twitter-fuelled depression just as Reasons to Stay Alive came out, this was the tweet that first lifted my spirits. We need more kindness.”

On Monday, Haig told the Guardian that the giveaways were “amazing … such a positive thing on what was a pretty bleak weekend. The response was phenomenal, and the generosity of so many people who volunteered to give copies to other people – online strangers – was, well, there are no words. It was just very touching and shows that the internet, and life in general, are a lot better when we try to look after each other. I am also pleased that this book, which I wrote over five years ago, is still able to help people in some small way.”

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

Related posts

Goldman Sachs is making it easier to plug its services into other tech platforms like Amazon or Apple’s iPhone, and an industry consultant says it shows how the bank is leading a `fundamental change’ in retail banking.

  • Goldman Sachs is in talks with Amazon about providing small-business loans to merchants who sell products on Amazon’s retail platform, according to a person with knowledge of them. The talks were first reported by the Financial Times on Monday. 
  • The partnership would be the second inked by Goldman with a large technology firm that can provide the scale and distribution for Goldman’s products that it can’t get itself. 
  • The partnership, and another one with Apple, is an example of banking-as-a-service, though some insiders have taken to calling it Goldman Sachs-as-a-service. 
  • “If Goldman can pull off an embedded banking deal somewhere else besides Apple Pay … that’s a leading indicator of a fundamental change in retail banking,” according to independent consultant Richard Crone.

Goldman Sachs is close to inking a second high-profile deal to offer banking services in partnership with a large tech company, and it’s a sign of what may be a fundamental change in retail banking. 

Goldman is in talks with Amazon to offer small business loans to merchants who sell products on Amazon, according to a person with knowledge of the discussion. The Financial Times first reported the talks on Monday. Goldman’s small business loans may feature the bank’s name and begin as soon as March, the newspaper said. 

A spokesman for the bank declined to comment. 

If the deal is signed, it would become the second Big Tech partnership for Goldman Sachs after it launched a credit card last year with Apple last year. Goldman CEO David Solomon has called the Apple Card the most successful credit card launch of all time, without providing details to back up the claim. 

But it would also be a sign of something much more ambitious: Goldman Sachs moving quickly and aggressively to leverage those characteristics that make it uniquely a bank, with a license that allows it to offer banking products and a balance sheet where it can fund loans cheaply being just two prominent examples. 

The company has been sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into building out its technology capabilities, including APIs (application programming interfaces), to make it as easy and seamless to plug such services into the technology platforms of others, whether that’s Apple’s mobile devices, as with the Apple Card, or Amazon’s retail platform. 

At an investor day last week, execs referred to it as banking-as-a-service, but some insiders have taken to calling it Goldman Sachs-as-a-service. 

Stephanie Cohen, Goldman’s chief strategy officer, appeared on stage last week at the bank’s investor day alongside Marco Argenti, the co-chief information officer who recently joined the bank after several years as a senior exec at Amazon Web Services.

Cohen said the bank is looking for ways to use technology to embed the types of things that Goldman can do well, such as risk management, or loan underwriting.

Cohen cited the Apple Card, which is a Goldman-designed product delivered on Apple’s devices, as one such example. 

“That last capability is the consumer version of our platform strategy,” Cohen said. “It allows us to take products and services that we build for our own clients and then give it to other clients so that they can embed financial products into their ecosystem. This strategy will drive top-line growth, and it will create scale efficiencies.”

Goldman isn’t the only large bank that’s working with Big Tech companies. In November, Google announced a partnership with Citigroup to provide checking accounts to the tech firm’s customers. 

And yet, Goldman is probably doing it better than anyone because it has developed a suite of APIs that it can take off the shelf and plug into other platforms, according to Richard Crone, an independent consultant. 

“Goldman Sachs, when they write the history books, will be noted as the one who invented or perfected embedded banking, where you embed your financial services through the user interface, or at the edge, of someone else’s network,” Crone said. “If Goldman can get this right with Amazon, I would expect them to go to Facebook next or any other online platform of substance that provides them a large distribution channel.”

Goldman is leaning on many of the lessons it learned in its partnership with Apple, known as an incredibly demanding partner, Crone said. Most notably, the ability to offer instant issuance to a set of customers that have already been pre-validated, multi-factor authenticated, Know-Your-Customer credentialed by the large tech firms. 

“They already know the customer, but they have met the regulatory requirement in advance before they hand it over,” he said. 

The product will likely look similar to what small merchants are getting from Square Cash or PayPal Working Capital. 

Goldman has bigger ambitions. At last week’s investor day, the bank presented a slide that showed a product called Marcus Pay, which talked about point-of-sale solutions for merchants based on its digital consumer bank. 

This is just another example of how embedded banking is here to stay, which can be hard for a lot of bankers to understand because they want to service customers through their own app, Crone said.

But “no financial institution can reach the scale that’s required to compete electronically” with the large platforms if they only do it through their own app, he said.  

“If Goldman can pull off an embedded banking deal somewhere else besides Apple Pay, or if Citigroup can pull off Google Cache, that’s a leading indicator of a fundamental change in retail banking.”

See also: Goldman Sachs just unveiled hundreds of slides laying out the future of the company. Here are the 10 crucial slides that show how it plans to transform into a bank for everyone.

See also: Inside Goldman Sachs’ first investor day, where avocado toast and crab apples were served with tech talk, 3-year plans, and a surprising trading mea culpa

NOW WATCH: WeWork went from a $47 billion valuation to a failed IPO. Here’s how the company makes money.

Related posts

Facebook Accelerator Startups in Nigeria raises over $500,000 in investments – The Eagle Online

person

Startups participating in the second season of the Facebook Accelerator Programme have recorded significant achievements, including raising over $500,000 in committed investments and grants in just three months (halfway through the programme).
Within the same period, they have also made significant product pivots, sealed key partnerships and made progress towards creating unique products with world-class business processes.
These results were recently revealed by Facebook and CcHUB, following its 2019 programmes and training, which took place to support and empower students and entrepreneurs to build locally relevant solutions using advanced technologies at NG_Hub, Facebook’s flagship Community Hub space in partnership with CcHUB.
So far in the programme, the startups have been introduced to multiple venture capitalists and corporate executives and also matched with advisors within the CcHUB Global Advisory network.
These advisors include c-suite executives and experts from companies like Dell, Oracle, IHS Towers, Stanbic IBTC, Cellulant, Old Mutual, Axa Mansard, among others.
Six of the startups contributed to the $500,000 total raised so far, with highlights including:
Chekkit, the only African company to be accepted into a global accelerator, cementing a key partnership for their organisation. They also sealed a partnership with the Fantom foundation for their blockchain product and received a grant from Umdasch Challenge at World Summit Awards 2020.
Haulr emerged second place in the recently concluded Zenith Bank’s hackathon securing N6 million.
Simbi interactives sealed key partnerships and have so far received $35,000+ in investments and grants.
Student team, Vinsighte has completed its prototype that reads books to the visually impaired using computer vision.
AirSynq, completed its balloon satellite prototype and has enterprise clients on the waiting list for its product launch in February.
Gradely launched the beta version of its product, and received its first set of customers, whilst increasing the number of schools they are present in by 200 per cent.
These startups and many more will be showcasing their products and solutions aimed at tackling problems across multiple sectors to corporate executives, multinationals and other potential partners during the annual Facebook Accelerator Programme Innovation Showcase week in February 2020.
Speaking on the development, Adaora Ikenze, Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa at Facebook, said: “The numbers speak for themselves, and further reinforces that the work and investments we are undertaking here in Nigeria are having real impact. At Facebook, we are passionate about helping developers and entrepreneurs to grow. We believe in empowering small businesses through our platforms to help more people launch and grow their businesses, which translates to real impact for their communities and local economies.”
Also speaking, Bosun Tijani, Chief Executive Officer, CcHUB, said: “This is yet another extremely brilliant cohort of startups from the Facebook acceleration programme which we are deeply proud of. This goes to further highlight the readiness of innovators across Africa to leapfrog development on the continent with technological innovation. We are delighted to be part of this journey with Facebook in its desire to inspire African entrepreneurs to be among the best in the world.”
With three months remaining, the cohort of season two of the Facebook Accelerator Programme will be undertaking workshop sessions, faculty one-on-ones, growth planning, Industry Advisor Sessions and mock pitches, rounded off with a demo day in April, the end of the programme.
For more information on the Facebook Accelerator Programme Innovation Showcase, visit www.bit.ly/isw-2020.

Related posts

Persecution of Muslims in China and India Reveals Important Facts About Religion and Geopolitics

person motorcycle

India, China and Myanmar are three Asian countries currently engrossed in carrying out physical and cultural genocides on their Muslim populations. While the plight of Rohingya Muslims and Uighur Muslims is well known, the recent introduction of a new law expressly aimed at dispossessing Muslims of Indian citizenship has alerted many to the reality that India’s ruling BJP government sees itself as Hindu first and foremost.

Questions such as “Why aren’t the rich Arab countries saying anything?” have come up, with the implicit inference that Muslim-dominated countries are supposed to stick up for Muslims everywhere in the world. Others have pointed out that despite suffering oppression in some parts of the world, Muslims are also responsible for brutal acts of oppression against other minority groups elsewhere, which allegedly negates the sufferings of the prior group.

In this article, I will pick through these questions and viewpoints with a goal of isolating some useful truths about how religion, geopolitics and human nature constantly interplay and produce much of the world around us.

Oppression is a Matter of Perspective

Which religion is the most oppressed? I like to troll my Christian friends with the image below whenever the topic comes up about some religion or the other allegedly imposing its will at their expense.

The truth is however, that this image could apply to just about every religion on earth. As a general rule of thumb, the only limiting factor on whether or not a religion functions as an oppressive tyranny in a particular jurisdiction is the proportion of the population that practises it there. Similarly, the only thing stopping any religion from being an oppressed and downtrodden identity is whether it is a small enough minority for that to be possible.

While Muslims in India, Myanmar and China are going through untold degrees of horror because of their religious identities, Muslims in places like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Malaysia and Northern Nigeria are simultaneously visiting very similar horrors on Bah’ai, Shia Muslims, Christians, Budhists and other minorities in those areas. It turns out that the mere fact of belonging to a religious identity does not in fact, confer unrestricted global victimhood.

This point is important because it disproves the notion held by every major religion that its adherents follow a single set of standards and do things in the manner of a global “brotherhood.” In reality, Islam according to a Rohingya Muslim hiding from the Burmese military, and the same religion according to an itinerant herder in Kogi State bear almost no similarity to each other save for the most basic tenets. Environmental factors in fact have a bigger influence on how religions are practised than their own holy books. 

The current antics of India’s ruling BJP and its Hindu fundamentalist support base provide an important case in point as to how this works. Looking at the evolution of Hinduism from a passive philosophy into an openly militant ideology gives an important insight into how religion is in fact, a thoroughly contrived and amorphous set of ideas that can be changed, adjusted, aligned and revised at a moment’s notice in justification of anything at all. 

Hinduism traditionally sees itself as a religion of thoughtful, considered spirituality as against the angry dogmas of its Abrahamic neighbours, but something interesting is happening. Some argue that it started in the days of Gandhi, and some ascribe it to current Prime Minister Nanendra Modi, but whoever started it is a side note. The key point to note is that based on political factors, i.e anticolonial senitment against the British and anti-Muslim sentiment fueled by India’s national rivalry with Pakistan, Hinduism has somehow been coopted into the narrative of a jingoistic, monotheistic, mono-ethnic state which is  historical nonsense.

India has always been a pointedly pluralistic society, and in fact the geographical area now known as “India” does not even cover the geographical area of the India of antiquity. That India was a place of Hindus, Budhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians and everything in between. Hinduism never saw a problem with pluralism because Hinduism itself is a very plural religion – it has at least 13 major deities. The conversion of the Hindu identity into a political identity movement is a recent and contrived phenomenon first exploited by Gandhi as a means of opposing British colonialism, and now by Modi to oppose the Pakistanis/Muslims – it is a historical falsity.

The creation of Hindu fundamentalist movements like the RSS (which PM Modi belongs to) is something done in response to environmental factors. Spectacles like the RSS march below are evidence of yet another religion undergoing constant and ongoing evolution into whatever suits its purposes.

Something similar happened when medieval Europe turned into colonial Europe and European Christianity transitioned into a peaceful and pacifist ideology after centuries of being a bloodthirsty doctrine. The environmental factors that created the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, book burnings and witch hunts went away with the introduction of an industrial society, and thus the religion too transitioned.

In plain English, what all this means is that nobody actually practises a religion in the pure sense they imagine they do. Everyone who subscribes to a religion merely practises a version of it that is subject to the culture and circumstances of their environment and era. This is directly connected to the next major insight raised by these events.

Geopolitics is all About Self-Interest…Everyone Gets it Except Africa

While anti-Muslim violence has continued apace for years in China, Mynammar and India, the question has often been asked: “Why are the wealthy Arab nations not saying anything?” There is a perception that since the Arabian peninsula is the birthplace of Islam and Arabs – particularly Saudis – are viewed as the global gatekeepers of the faith, they must be at the forefront of promoting the interests of Muslims worldwide.

To many, the fabulous wealth and international influence that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE enjoy, in addition to the presence of two of Islam’s holiest cities – Mecca and Meddinah – in Saudi Arabia, means that they have a responsibility to speak for the global Muslim Ummah and stand up for them when they are unfairly targeted and mistreated. Unfortunately for such people, the wealthy nations of the Arab Gulf region tend to respond to such questions with little more than an irritated silence – and with good reason.

To begin with, these countries are not democracies led by the wishes of their almost uniformly Muslim populations. They are autocracies led by royal families who came to power in the colonially-influenced 20th century scramble for power and influence. Saudi Arabia, which houses Islam’s holiest sites, is named after the House of Saud, its royal family which came into power in its current form at the turn of the 19th century. The priority of the regimes in these countries first and foremost is self-preservation.

Self-preservation means that before throwing their significant diplomatic and economic weight behind any attempt to help out fellow Muslims, the first consideration is how doing so will benefit them. India for example, is a country that has close diplomatic ties with the UAE, and supplies most of their cheap labour for construction and low-skilled functions. India has even coordinated with UAE special forces to repatriate the dissident Princess Latika when she made an audacious escape attempt in 2018.

What does the UAE stand to gain if it napalms its diplomatic relationship with India by criticising Modi’s blatantly anti-Muslim policy direction? It might win a few brownie points with Islamic hardliners and possibly buy some goodwill among poor Muslims in South Asia, but how much is that worth? The regime and nation’s self-interest is best served by looking the other way, so that is exactly what they will do.

The Saudis make a similar calculation. At a time when they are investing heavily in military hardware to keep up with their eternal rivals Turkey and Iran, and simultaneously preparing for the end of oil by liberalising their society and economy, does it pay them to jump into an issue in India that does not particularly affect them? As the status of their diplomatic relationship with the U.S. remains unclear following the Jamal Khasshoggi incident, are they going to risk pissing off the Chinese because of Uighur Muslims?

In fact self-interest like that mentioned here is the basis of the considerations that underpin all international relations. Well I say “all,” but what I really meant to say was “all except African countries.” It is only African countries that take diplomatic decisions based on little more than flimsy emotions and feelings of religious affinity. Gambia for example, has dragged Myanmar before the UN and filed a genocide case against it on behalf of the Rohingya Muslims.

This would be commendable and great were it not that Gambia itself is hardly a human rights luminary, and generally has little business fighting an Asian battle when its own worse African battles lie unfought. The only thing Gambia stands to gain from fighting a diplomatic war that the rest of the world seems unwilling to touch is the temporary goodwill of a few Muslims in Asia and around the world – goodwill that cannot translate into something tangible for it.

To coin an aphorism from social media lingo, you could call it ”diplomatic clout chasing.’

Related posts

Church Accountant Bags 18 Years for N15.5m Fraud – PRNigeria News

person

Church Accountant Bags 18 Years for N15.5m Fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Gombe Zonal Office on January 13, 2020, secured the conviction of one Ibrahim Aku before Justice Nathan Musa of the Adamawa State High Court.

Aku, an accountant at EYN Church of Christ (Ekilisiyar Yen Uwa Nigeria), EYN, Church of Brethren in Nigeria (CBN) in the state faced a six-count charge, bordering on forgery and obtaining money by false pretence.

He was investigated and prosecuted following a petition by the church through Rev. (Dr). Daniel Mbaya an Secretary General of the Church alleging that Aku defrauded the church of N15.5million between 2016 and 2018.

Investigations by the EFCC, revealed that the money was generated by the church members by offerings, donations and tithe.

The convict was entrusted by the church to deposit the church’s revenue into the church’s account with First Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc, but he ended up diverting same, and forged bank tellers to balance the financial books of the church.

He was assisted to commit the crime by his friend, one Benefit Ishaku currently at large to whom he gave N500,000. His accomplice assisted him in forging the stamps of the banks, which were also used to perpetrate the fraud.

He was prosecuted using the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.

He pleaded “guilty” to the charges.

Prosecuting counsel, S.E. Okemini, thereafter, urged the court to convict him as charged.

Justice Musa, thus, pronounced him guilty and sentenced him to 18 years in prison – three years on each of the counts, to run concurrently. He was not given an option of fine.

The trial judge, further ordered that he refund the stolen fund to the church, and that proceeds of the crime recovered from him should be sold and the proceeds remitted to the Church.

Tony Orilade
Acting Head, Media & Publicity
……….

EFCC Nabs Internet Fraudsters in Ibadan

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC Ibadan zonal office, between January 11 and 12, 2020, arrested eight suspected internet fraudsters in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The suspects, who are between the ages of 17 and 30 years old, were arrested at different locations across the ancient city. They are Abdulrahman Qozeem, Umoru Ibrahim, Umoru Abdulahi Gregory, Famous Ose Itahma, Umoru Shaibu Pedro, Durrele Oyeniyi, Umoru Evidence and Judge Okoye.

Their arrest was sequel to series of intelligence report, alleging that they were involved in internet-related crimes.

Items recovered from them include six expensive cars, various brands of phones, laptops, international passports and several documents suspected to contain false pretences.
They will soon be arraigned in court.

Tony Orilade
Acting Head, Media & Publicity

Related posts

The General’s Death Upsets Iran’s Plan

person

Qassem Soleimani, who was Iran’s most hyped general, loved publishing “selfies” showing himself close to battlegrounds in the Middle East. He was never present anywhere near a battle but was always to come after the dust had settled, to take “selfies” and claim the credit. (Photo by Mehdi Ghasemi/ISNA/AFP via Getty Images)

While analysts and policymakers are busy speculating on ways that Tehran’s ruling mullahs might avenge the killing of their most hyped general, the real question that needs considering may be elsewhere.

The question is: what effect Soleimani’s death might have on the power struggle that, though currently put on hold, is certain to resume with greater vigor in Tehran.

Tehran’s propaganda tries to sell Soleimani as a kind of superman who, almost single-handedly, brought Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and parts of Afghanistan and Yemen under Iranian control while driving Americans out of the Middle East and crushing ISIS’s so-called Caliphate which tried to rival the Islamic Republic in Tehran. Soleimani himself did a lot to promote that image and, doing that, received much help from Western, especially American, and Israeli media that bought the bundle of goods from Tehran.

Facts, however, offer a different portrait of the late general. Soleimani joined the Islamic revolution in 1980, aged 27, at a time that the mullahs were busy putting together a praetorian guard to protect their new regime. A few months later, the ragtag army that Soleimani had joined was sent to help the remnants of a heavily purged national army fight an invading Iraqi force. With over 8,000 officers and NCOs of the national army purged by Khomeini, the new regime offered a fast track to people like Soleimani who had joined the military with no proper training and often little or no formal education. Thus, just three years after he had joined the military, young Soleimani found himself in command of a division of raw recruits. Under his command, Iranian forces suffered three of their biggest defeats in operations Al-Fajr 8, and Karbala I and Karbala II. Mohsen Reza’i, then chief of the Revolutionary Guard, describes the three battles as “a string of catastrophes” for Iranian forces.

However, Soleimani, who was to demonstrate his genius for networking and self-promotion, scored one lasting victory when he attached himself to Ali Khamenei, the mullah who was to become the Islamic Republic’s “Supreme Guide”.

Khamenei started as Deputy Defense Minister and rose to become President of the Islamic Republic. Soleimani, mocked as “the mullah’s bag-carrier”, was always at his side. In the 1990s, as Khamenei slowly built himself as the sole arbiter of Iran’s fate, Soleimani seized the opportunity to secure a fiefdom for himself.

That came in the shape of the project to “export” the Iranian Revolution to other Muslim countries. Initially, exporting the revolution, mentioned in the regime’s constitution as a sacred duty, had been regarded as a matter of propaganda and organizing sympathizers in Arab countries through outfits named Hezbollah. The task was handled by a special office in the Foreign Ministry headed by Ayatollah Hadi Khosroshahian. Partly thanks to lobbying by Soleimani, the task was taken away from the Foreign Ministry and handed over to the Revolutionary Guard. But even then Soleimani didn’t get the top job, which went to then Col. Ismail Qaani, the man who has now succeeded Soleimani as Commander of the Quds Force. Soleimani’s next move was to dislodge Qaani and get the top job himself. (Qaani was named as deputy). Even that configuration would not satisfy Soleimani, who had bigger ambitions. As long as he was part of the IRGC’s chain of command, he had to obey rules set by superiors whom he despised.

Thanks to Khamenei’s support, he succeeded in securing his independent fiefdom in the shape of the Quds Force which, though formally part of the IRGC, has its own separate budget and chain of command and is answerable to no one but Khamenei.

Next, Soleimani seized control of Tehran’s foreign policy in Arab countries, Afghanistan, North Korea, and South America and, in some sensitive areas, even Russia. The Islamic Republic’s presidents and foreign ministers have never had tête-à-tête talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Soleimani had.

It became a matter of routine for Soleimani to appoint Iran’s ambassadors to Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Doha and several other Arab capitals.

A dramatic illustration of Soleimani’s “independence” came when he shipped Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad to Tehran in a special airplane without even telling the Iranian president, let alone the foreign minister, who were also excluded from the Syrian’s audience with Khamenei.

A control freak, Soleimani insisted on deciding even the smallest details himself. In his one, and now final, interview, last November, the general talks of how Lebanese Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah had to clear every move with him.

Inside Iran, Soleimani built a state within the state. According to the Islamic Customs Office, the Quds Force operates 25 jetties in five of Iran’s biggest ports for its “imports and exports” with no intervention by the relevant authorities. A levy on imports of foreign cars is reserved for a special fund, controlled by the Quds Force, to cover expenditures in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and help pro-Iran Palestinian groups.

Soleimani had his own network of lobbyists in many Arab countries and some Western democracies. Hundreds of Iranian and Arab militants have enrolled in Western universities with scholarships from the Quds Force.

The Quds Force has registered vast tracts of public land in its name, claiming the need for future housing for its personnel. It also runs two dozen companies and banks, several shipping lines and an airline.

Soleimani, who loved making and publishing “selfies” showing himself close to battlegrounds in the Middle East, was never present anywhere near a battle but was always to come after the dust had settled, to take “selfies” and claim the credit.

A master of self-promotion, Soleimani received the rank of major-general without having risen through the hierarchy of the top brass like the other 12 men on the list. (After death, he has been promoted to Lt. General).

Some analysts in Tehran believe that Khamenei was planning to promote Soleimani further by making him President of the Islamic Republic in 2021. An image-building campaign started last year, as Soleimani was marketed as “the Sufi commander”, a label given to Safavid kings in the 16th century.

A committee of exiled Iranians in Florida also started campaigning to draft Soleimani as president.

If that was Khamenei’s game plan, there is no doubt that Soleimani’s demise will lead to more uncertainty regarding the future course of Iranian politics.

Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked at or written for innumerable publications, published eleven books, and has been a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat since 1987. He is the Chairman of Gatestone Europe.

This article was originally published by Asharq al-Awsat and is reprinted by kind permission of the author.

Related posts

COCA Spotlight: Young pianist knows score on film soundtracks | COCA

500Music is a calling for film composer and pianist Matthew Cravener. The 25-year-old virtuoso has created scores for 17 short films, one documentary, two audio books and an epic Christmas poem. He was selected as the Florida Young Soloist of the Year by Arts4All Florida and has released his own albums. 

When he isn’t in front of the piano, he’s out in the yard keeping his hands busy. He’s often at the keys though, whether he’s playing the Blue Tavern at happy hour or performing for Canterfield Assisted Living every Sunday. Composing inside his home studio, Cravener finds peace at his keyboard.

“Music makes me feel very calm,” says Cravener. “I have autism and Tourette’s. For a very long time and in my adolescent years and it was hard for me to function. Playing piano used to calm the tics down. It relieves a lot of tension and makes my mind go to better places.”

After experimenting with guitar and drums, Cravener was given a miniature piano at age 4. He often requested to hear Andy Griffith’s music and would play along with gospel albums. His father walked by his room one day and was shocked to find Cravener playing “Amazing Grace,” all from memory. 

Cravener still plays by ear. His first piano teacher had him turn around while she played three keys on the piano and he recognized them without any trouble. His next teacher worked with him on scales, arpeggios, phrasing and dynamics, which Cravener says he still uses within his repertoire.

By age 9 he was regularly playing at Black Dog Cafe though his feet barely reached the pedals. He once held a conversation with someone while he continued to play the psalm “We Gather at the River,” quite a feat given the coordination the piece requires. 

Cravener was moved to make his first Christmas CD when a young church friend contracted cancer and was struggling to pay medical bills. In a big-hearted gesture for a young musician, Cravener produced “Matthew’s Christmas for AJ,” which sold 500 copies on its first day. All proceeds went towards his friend’s family and  “Angels We Have Heard on High” became his favorite song to play and record.  

“It was a hard piece to play, but it was really rewarding when I learned it,” says Cravener. “The tempo is uplifting and fast and I enjoy the complexity.”  

At age 14 he produced a gospel album, though shortly after, his Tourette syndrome worsened and inhibited his ability to perform live. During this time, he would watch television shows and movies on YouTube and became interested in the musical scores that would play behind the action. 

Though he believed his performance days might be over, he was captivated by the promise of creating music behind the scenes for films. He attended TCC and was connected with aspiring film director JT Timmons, and began scoring films for Red Eye Productions.

Cravener ambitiously submitted his work to award-winning Los Angeles film composer, Christopher Young. Young called Cravener and sponsored him for an emerging artist residency at Tilden House in Culver City, California.

Read the rest of the story by visiting the Tallahassee Democrat

or read more by downloading the article here

Related posts

‘If Secularism Means Changing ‘Nadeem’ to ‘Rajesh’, Set Secularism On Fire’- Deepika Padukone’s Chhapaak Trolled

person

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone has become the talk of the town and is getting heavily trolled by netizens for her recent appearance during JNU protest as many believe that she visited the varsity campus for the ‘promotion’ of her upcoming movie Chhapaak- a story based on acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal.

Soon after the actress visited Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus on Tuesday to support the students, different social media platforms got flooded with mixed reactions. But Deepika’s stand for JNU agitators sparked controversy and seems to have landed the entire Chhapaak team in trouble after the makers of the movie have reportedly changed the name of the acid attack survivor’s assailant Nadeem Khan’s name to Rajesh.

Moviegoers are well aware that Deepika’s upcoming movie is based on a real-life incident in which the acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal was brutally attacked with acid by the assailant Nadeem Khan. Laxmi was only 15-years-old when the assailant burned her face with acid for rejecting his marriage proposal.

Changing the character’s name in the movie certainly didn’t go well with many. In Chhapaak, Laxmi’s character played by Deepika has been named as Malti while the acid attacker’s name has been changed to Rajesh.

Twitteriates have trolled Deepika and the makers for changing the name of the acid attacker. The netizens trolled the makers and hurled nasty comments and have raised demands to boycott Chhapaak.

The comments read, “How how how????From NADEEM KHAN TO RAJESH OR RAKESH….from “MUSLIM TO HINDU”…..if your movie is based on true events then why would you change the RELIGION OF ACID ATTACKER….FEELING SORRY FOR THE PEOPLE LIKE YOU.#boycottchhapaak.”

Some tweets read,

If crime has no religion, then why does Bollywood feel the need to change the religion of perpetrators even in biopics? Chappak is about an acid-attack survivor, attacked by one Nadeem Khan. Apparently, in the film his Muslim identity has been hidden and he is given a Hindu name.

— Sonam Mahajan (@AsYouNotWish) January 8, 2020

If secularism means changing “Nadeem” to “Rajesh”, set secularism on fire

— Nupur J Sharma (@UnSubtleDesi) January 8, 2020

I don’t have any right to comment against deepika, that she joined tukde tukde gang. It’s her personal decision..

But, I have all the right to comment on the shitty movie, which targets one community in order to be in the good books of other one !#boycottchhapaak #UnitedHindu pic.twitter.com/stcmmlYOjh

— Vinita Hindustani🇮🇳 (@Being_Vinita) January 8, 2020

One user commented, “I was going to watch chhapak….but now I will go for TANAJI
Also changing name of acid attacker from nadeem khan to rajesh doesn’t make any sense
What if bollywood make movie on 9/11… will they rename osama bil laden as om bhatt??”

While Deepika’s Chhapaak is all set to release on January 10, it is to see whether her action along with the moviemakers’ such a ‘narrow-minded name-changing’ move of the accused will prove dearer for the movie.

Related posts