Mookie Betts, David Price introduced by Dodgers | Los Angeles Dodgers

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Mookie Betts and David Price returned to Dodger Stadium on Wednesday for the first time since defeating Los Angeles in the 2018 World Series as members of the Red Sox.

But as the Dodgers’ new duo was officially introduced in center field — not far from where they celebrated the final out of that World Series victory — Betts said he’s hoping to end the 2020 season in similar fashion.

“I’d like to celebrate here again in this jersey,” Betts said, moments after putting on his No. 50 Dodgers uniform for the first time.

The Dodgers are hoping for a similar outcome following Monday’s blockbuster deal that brought Betts and Price to Los Angeles in exchange for outfielder Alex Verdugo (L.A.’s top prospect — and MLB’s No. 35 — a year ago), shortstop Jeter Downs (their third-highest ranked prospect on the 2020 Top 100 list, at No. 44) and catcher Connor Wong (No. 28 on the Dodgers’ 2019 year-end list).

Los Angeles has won seven straight division titles, but remains without a World Series championship since 1988. The Dodgers watched the Astros and Red Sox celebrate titles on their home field in 2017 and ’18, respectively, then won a franchise record 106 games in ’19, only to be eliminated in the National League Division Series — once again in their own ballpark.

“To be able to jump onto a team like the Dodgers, a team that has had the amount of success they’ve had the last couple years, and then add a player like Mookie Betts,” Price said, “and to then be able to add myself to that mix as well, that’s something special to be a part of, and we’re both very excited about it.”

They’ve arrived. pic.twitter.com/UAcvATulxe

— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers)

Manager Dave Roberts shared his excitement as well, as he is eager to pencil Betts into the NL’s highest-scoring lineup from 2019.

“As a coach, you just want to get going and what we do is compete, that’s what we love to do,” Roberts said. “I couldn’t be more excited.”

It’s hard to blame the skipper, who will have the luxury of rolling out the 2018 AL Most Valuable Player in right field alongside ’19 NL MVP winner Cody Bellinger in center field.

“We’ve kind of talked through passing at the All-Star Game and as we played here,” Betts said of his relationship with Bellinger. “It’s going to be pretty special. He won the MVP last year, so he’s definitely going to put on a show, and I’ll do my best to keep up with him.”

The Dodgers took on Betts’ entire $27 million salary for 2020. The 27-year-old outfielder is set to become a free agent following this season, and he has previously expressed his desire to test the market next winter.

Now that he’s arrived in Los Angeles, might Betts consider signing a long-term extension with the Dodgers?

“Right now, I just got here — still trying to find a house and those kinds of things,” Betts said. “I’m not even really thinking about that. I’m just focused on staying with 2020 and going from there.”

Along with the pair of MVPs in the outfield, the Dodgers will have multiple Cy Young Award winners in their starting rotation. Price, who won the 2012 AL Cy Young Award with the Rays, joins three-time NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw.

Price has plenty of history with Dodgers general manager Andrew Friedman, who selected Price with Tampa Bay’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft. The Red Sox and the Dodgers will split the remaining $96 million owed to Price over the next three years.

“I’ve watched him grow and continue to evolve on the mound — and obviously the success he’s had is evident and everybody knows about that — but he was as good of a teammate as I’ve ever seen,” Friedman said. “The impact he has in the clubhouse was as significant as I’ve seen. … What he does on the mound every fifth day is obvious and evident to everybody that follows, but as we look to continue to supplement and add to this core group, what David brings goes beyond what he does every fifth day.”

Though the trade process had its hiccups and took nearly a week to complete after reports of a deal initially surfaced, Price and Betts said they were both thrilled to be in Los Angeles on Wednesday and eager to report to Glendale, Ariz., next week.

“Once we found out we were both coming, we were excited,” Price said. “We shared some text messages and phone calls, and we’re excited to be here.”

Paul Casella is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.

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Fox’s MacCallum Gives Rand Paul Safe Space For Impeachment Trial Sabotage – NewsHounds

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After rejection by Chief Justice John Roberts and some of his own colleagues for trying to out the whistleblower in an impeachment trial question, Sen. Rand Paul ran to his safe space on Fox News. There, he freely sabotaged Trump’s impeachment with disinformation that was validated by “straight news” anchor Martha MacCallum.

Yesterday, Paul deliberately flouted Justice John Roberts’ impeachment trial rules by re-submitting a previously-denied question outing the Ukraine whistleblower. When it was refused again, Paul stalked out of the trial and publicly aired his question (and the alleged name of the whistleblower) to reporters and on Twitter.

MacCallum helped reveal the whistleblower’s name without actually doing so by suggesting viewers read Paul’s tweet: “Anybody who wants to hear the whole text of that question and the names that you included, it’s on your Twitter feed and you talked about it today and I would direct them there but I’d ask you not to say them here,” she said.

She continued by asking “why you feel it’s so important to focus on the origins of this investigation and to bring that point home.” Nice way to ignore the actual findings of the investigation, Martha!

MacCallum did not mention that Roberts had signaled he would not allow whistleblower outing before the question period began, nor did she mention that top Republicans were in accord.

Instead, MacCallum cocked her head with a look of intent listening, messaging that Paul’s comments were to be taken seriously – unlike the serious impeachment accusations against Donald Trump which she conveniently ignored.

Paul claimed his question did not name the whistleblower, thus contradicting Chief Justice Roberts. Politico explains that while Paul may not have technically outed the whistleblower, he “named a person referred to in conservative media as the purported whistleblower.” But MacCallum didn’t challenge Paul’s disingenuousness.

So, we got a stream of Democratic demonization, unquestioned. Paul claimed his question discussed “two Obama partisans who worked in the National Security Council” one of whom now supposedly works for Rep. Adam Schiff and “one of them is someone who is involved in the origins of the impeachment inquiry.”

MacCallum nodded in agreement.

Paul persisted with his claim that “there are stories and reports now that they, a few years ago, were heard saying, you know what? We’ve got to do everything we can to bring down the president, to take down the president.”

You may recall that Fox described MacCallum as the embodiment of “ultimate journalistic integrity and professionalism” when it pleaded with the DNC to hold a debate on the network. But “ultimate professional” MacCallum never bothered to ask Paul his source for that smear. Nor did she note that even if true, that does not disprove any of the evidence uncovered during the House impeachment investigation. No, Fox’s “ultimate professional” continued nodding as Paul promoted his unsubstantiated, pro-Trump propaganda deflection and whataboutism.

Paul went on with his conspiracy theory (and MacCallum continued nodding in agreement) about “six people who were Obama partisans who worked for the National Security Council who all are transmitting stuff back and forth and my question is, did they have discussions predating the official impeachment inquiry?” We also heard about House Manager Adam Schiff’s supposed dishonesty in the process but none about Trump’s dishonesty – and it’s Trump’s behavior that is on trial.

But MacCallum responded to Paul by saying that questions about the origin of the Ukraine investigation, just like those about the origin of the Russia investigation, “are certainly valid questions.” She called it “frustrating” that there’s no cross examination. But she wasn’t promoting the calling of any witnesses, oh no. She meant Paul had no opportunity to see Schiff “try to answer” Paul’s questions. She later “asked,” on behalf of “anybody at home who says, yeah, I’d like to know the answer to these questions, why doesn’t the Senate Judiciary Committee or the DOJ, someone, start to look into this, just as we saw happen with the origins of the Russia investigation? Is that gonna happen?”

“Maybe eventually,” Paul replied. He quickly segued to promoting himself as “a big defender of whistleblowers.” He claimed that the whistleblower is only protected from being fired so he or she should come forward (and death threats are A-OK).

And Rand Paul wouldn’t be a Republican if he didn’t play the victim. “I never identified anybody as a whistleblower,” he disingenuously reiterated. “That’s why it’s unfair to exclude my question.”

Finally, in the last minute of the 7:15 interview, MacCallum asked if Paul saw “anything wrong” with Trump’s Ukraine phone call and whether he saw it as “a request for a political favor?”

Paul falsely claimed that there was a lot of corruption and that Trump “would actually be going against the law if he didn’t investigate the Bidens” (i.e. hold up aid to Ukraine) and that Trump’s actions were “completely within compliance with the law.”

FACT CHECK: The Pentagon sent a letter to four congressional committees last May certifying that Ukraine had taken sufficient anti-corruption measures to warrant the release of aid. The Department of Defense announced in mid-June that it would release $250 million but the White House blocked that assistance in July.

FACT CHECK: Furthermore, the Government Accountability Office found that Trump violated the law by withholding the aid.

But “ultimate professional” MacCallum never mentioned any of that to her viewers.

You can watch MacCallum enable Paul’s gaslighting propaganda below, from the January 30, 2020 The Story.

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US man arrested for killing his 5 babies few months after birth

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An American man has been arrested and charged with the cold-case slayings of five babies, all his own and none of them older than 6 months.

Paul Perez, 57, is accused of killing the babies from 1992 to 2001, and he was charged with five counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances that could make him eligible for capital punishment, officials said.

He was arrested on Monday after new DNA technology helped investigators reopen a cold case from 2007, the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.

Thanks to new DNA technology, authorities were able to identify a deceased infant found by a fisherman in March 2007 in a sealed container weighed down with “heavy objects” as Nikko Lee Perez, authorities said.

The identification of Nikko finally came in October 2019, and led investigators to discover that Nikko had four siblings, who were all also killed when they were less than six months old, the sheriff’s office said.

The siblings, all born in California, were identified as Kato Allen Perez, born in 1992 and known to be deceased; Mika Alena Perez, born in 1995; Nikko Lee Perez, born in 1997; and Kato Krow Perez, born in 2001. The remains of the last three infants are still unknown, People reports.

Perez has been identified as the father of all five children, but it is still unclear whether they have the same mother, authorities said.

“While I am proud of the efforts of my investigators and coroner’s office, this is not a day that will bring joy to any one of us,” Sheriff Tom Lopez said in a statement.

“In my 40 years in law enforcement, I cannot think of a case more disturbing than this one,” Lopez added. “There can be no victim more vulnerable and innocent than an infant, and unfortunately this case involves five.”

“The allegations announced today are heartbreaking. There is absolutely no place in our society for horrendous crimes against children,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Follow us on Facebook – @Lailasnews; Twitter – @LailaIjeoma for updates

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Apostle Who Predicted Pastor Adeboye’s Death Reveals Fresh Prophecy On Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari

Apostle Paul Okikijesu of the Christ Apostolic Miracle Ministry has revealed what God told him about President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a series of 2020 prophecy he released to DAILY POST on Saturday, he said God has asked Buhari not to rely solely on his wisdom.

He said Buhari must have a meeting with religious leaders, including his religious advisers in order for his government to be meaningful.

He said, “Thus says the Lord: Tell the President of this country to seek advice from those that I established as my ambassador and representatives that are telling the truth, and not the gluttons.

“The gluttons did not allow Buhari to listen to the truth and he did not count Christianity as something valuable, because the acts/behaviors of Christian leaders are different from what he thought.

“He should think deeply concerning his administration because the messages which I sent to him, he carried out some of my instructions and left the rest, that was the reason that his tenure was in this precarious state.

“Send these messages to him the third time that I want the fear of I the Lord in the heart of this man, and he should not see himself as the president. He should realize that God alone is the President of the world.

“Thus says the Lord: I have sent these messages to him in the past to give these three arms of the government the power to work effectively.

“These arms of the government are the executive, the judiciary and the law enforcement.

“This judicial arm includes the human rights advocates and I instructed him to give them free hand to operate; these are the things which I requested from him, and this is what can make his regime to be meaningful.

“I send this message to him the second time that he should invite the ex-presidents, and he must not commonize anyone if he wants his government to be peaceful.

“According to My previous messages, he complied partly but not fully. I instructed him to invite and have meeting with the banking sector, stock exchange sector, the oil and gas sector and the foreign exchange sector for the growth of the nation.

“He should then present the outcome of the meetings to the spiritual people for advice.

Thus says the Lord; remember that those I installed as rulers during the ancient period did not use only their wisdom, but they asked for direction from I the Lord.

“It is when he calls these people that his regime will be meaningful and he will have a successful tenure. If he uses power to do things, some people will be sabotaging his government.

“The executive that I said are the ex-presidents, he should call them and have meeting with them; then get the opinions/advice of the people in his administration separately.

“It is the wisdom derived from these meetings that will cause growth/development in Nigeria. He must have meeting with the business community including the expatriates, these are the steps that will make the economy of Nigeria to rise and grow.

“He should have meeting with ex-ministers, ex-senators, ex-presidents, and ex-governors, the outcome of the meeting will have positive effect on the economy and restore the economy to a buoyant position.

“He should have a meeting with judicial personnel, including the attorney general to find way that will make the law of the country to be effective.

“If Buhari can take these steps and have meeting with religious leaders, including his religious advisers, his government will be meaningful for good.

“Thus says the Lord; Buhari should have meeting with ex-party leaders and the current party leaders concerning the issues of Nigeria and how she can progress.

“These steps are the things that can make him to be successful and prolong his life, so that I will halt the judgment hand that I intend to use in year 2020.”

In his last prophecy, Okikijesu had declared that God told him that Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG; Pastor W.F Kumuyi of Deeper Life Bible Church and Bishop Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church, will die soon and would not make heaven. 

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Why the fight against disinformation, sham accounts and trolls won’t be any easier in 2020

2020 Election

The big tech companies have announced aggressive steps to keep trolls, bots and online fakery from marring another presidential election — from Facebook’s removal of billions of fake accounts to Twitter’s spurning of all political ads.

But it’s a never-ending game of whack-a-mole that’s only getting harder as we barrel toward the 2020 election. Disinformation peddlers are deploying new, more subversive techniques and American operatives have adopted some of the deceptive tactics Russians tapped in 2016. Now, tech companies face thorny and sometimes subjective choices about how to combat them — at times drawing flak from both Democrats and Republicans as a result.

This is our roundup of some of the evolving challenges Silicon Valley faces as it tries to counter online lies and bad actors heading into the 2020 election cycle:

1) American trolls may be a greater threat than Russians

Russia-backed trolls notoriously flooded social media with disinformation around the presidential election in 2016, in what Robert Mueller’s investigators described as a multimillion-dollar plot involving years of planning, hundreds of people and a wave of fake accounts posting news and ads on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube.

This time around — as experts have warned — a growing share of the threat is likely to originate in America.

“It’s likely that there will be a high volume of misinformation and disinformation pegged to the 2020 election, with the majority of it being generated right here in the United States, as opposed to coming from overseas,” said Paul Barrett, deputy director of New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.

Barrett, the author of a recent report on 2020 disinformation, noted that lies and misleading claims about 2020 candidates originating in the U.S. have already spread across social media. Those include manufactured sex scandals involving South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and a smear campaign calling Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) “not an American black” because of her multiracial heritage. (The latter claim got a boost on Twitter from Donald Trump Jr.)

Before last year’s midterm elections, Americans similarly amplified fake messages such as a “#nomenmidterms” hashtag that urged liberal men to stay home from the polls to make “a Woman’s Vote Worth more.” Twitter suspended at least one person — actor James Woods — for retweeting that message.

“A lot of the disinformation that we can identify tends to be domestic,” said Nahema Marchal, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute’s Computational Propaganda Project. “Just regular private citizens leveraging the Russian playbook, if you will, to create … a divisive narrative, or just mixing factual reality with made-up facts.”

Tech companies say they’ve broadened their fight against disinformation as a result. Facebook, for instance, announced in October that it had expanded its policies against “coordinated inauthentic behavior” to reflect a rise in disinformation campaigns run by non-state actors, domestic groups and companies. But people tracking the spread of fakery say it remains a problem, especially inside closed groups like those popular on Facebook.

2) And policing domestic content is tricky

U.S. law forbids foreigners from taking part in American political campaigns — a fact that made it easy for members of Congress to criticize Facebook for accepting rubles as payment for political ads in 2016.

But Americans are allowed, even encouraged, to partake in their own democracy — which makes things a lot more complicated when they use social media tools to try to skew the electoral process. For one thing, the companies face a technical challenge: Domestic meddling doesn’t leave obvious markers such as ads written in broken English and traced back to Russian internet addresses.

More fundamentally, there’s often no clear line between bad-faith meddling and dirty politics. It’s not illegal to run a mud-slinging campaign or engage in unscrupulous electioneering. And the tech companies are wary of being seen as infringing on American’s right to engage in political speech — all the more so as conservatives such as President Donald Trump accuse them of silencing their voices.

Plus, the line between foreign and domestic can be blurry. Even in 2016, the Kremlin-backed troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency relied on Americans to boost their disinformation. Now, claims with hazy origins are being picked up without need for a coordinated 2016-style foreign campaign. Simon Rosenberg, a longtime Democratic strategist who has spent recent years focused on online disinformation, points to Trump’s promotion of the theory that Ukraine significantly meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, a charge that some experts trace back to Russian security forces.

“It’s hard to know if something is foreign or domestic,” said Rosenberg, once it “gets swept up in this vast ‘Wizard of Oz’-like noise machine.”

3) Bad actors are learning

Experts agree on one thing: The election interference tactics that social media platforms encounter in 2020 will look different from those they’ve trying to fend off since 2016.

“What we’re going to see is the continued evolution and development of new approaches, new experimentation trying to see what will work and what won’t,” said Lee Foster, who leads the information operations intelligence analysis team at the cybersecurity firm FireEye.

Foster said the “underlying motivations” of undermining democratic institutions and casting doubt on election results will remain constant, but the trolls have already evolved their tactics.

For instance, they’ve gotten better at obscuring their online activity to avoid automatic detection, even as social media platforms ramp up their use of artificial intelligence software to dismantle bot networks and eradicate inauthentic accounts.

“One of the challenges for the platforms is that, on the one hand, the public understandably demands more transparency from them about how they take down or identify state-sponsored attacks or how they take down these big networks of authentic accounts, but at the same time they can’t reveal too much at the risk of playing into bad actors’ hands,” said Oxford’s Marchal.

Researchers have already observed extensive efforts to distribute disinformation through user-generated posts — known as “organic” content — rather than the ads or paid messages that were prominent in the 2016 disinformation campaigns.

Foster, for example, cited trolls impersonating journalists or other more reliable figures to give disinformation greater legitimacy. And Marchal noted a rise in the use of memes and doctored videos, whose origins can be difficult to track down. Jesse Littlewood, vice president at advocacy group Common Cause, said social media posts aimed at voter suppression frequently appear no different from ordinary people sharing election updates in good faith — messages such as “you can text your vote” or “the election’s a different day” that can be “quite harmful.”

Tech companies insist they are learning, too. Since the 2016 election, Google, Facebook and Twitter have devoted security experts and engineers to tackling disinformation in national elections across the globe, including the 2018 midterms in the United States. The companies say they have gotten better at detecting and removing fake accounts, particularly those engaged in coordinated campaigns.

But other tactics may have escaped detection so far. NYU’s Barrett noted that disinformation-for-hire operations sometimes employed by corporations may be ripe for use in U.S. politics, if they’re not already.

He pointed to a recent experiment conducted by the cyber threat intelligence firm Recorded Future, which said it paid two shadowy Russian “threat actors” a total of just $6,050 to generate media campaigns promoting and trashing a fictitious company. Barrett said the project was intended “to lure out of the shadows firms that are willing to do this kind of work,” and demonstrated how easy it is to generate and sow disinformation.

Real-life examples include a hyper-partisan skewed news operation started by a former Fox News executive and Facebook’s accusations that an Israeli social media company profited from creating hundreds of fake accounts. That “shows that there are firms out there that are willing and eager to engage in this kind of underhanded activity,” Barrett said.

4) Not all lies are created equal

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are largely united in trying to take down certain kinds of false information, such as targeted attempts to drive down voter turnout. But their enforcement has been more varied when it comes to material that is arguably misleading.

In some cases, the companies label the material factually dubious or use their algorithms to limit its spread. But in the lead-up to 2020, the companies’ rules are being tested by political candidates and government leaders who sometimes play fast and loose with the truth.

“A lot of the mainstream campaigns and politicians themselves tend to rely on a mix of fact and fiction,” Marchal said. “It’s often a lot of … things that contain a kernel of truth but have been distorted.”

One example is the flap over a Trump campaign ad — which appeared on Facebook, YouTube and some television networks — suggesting that former Vice President Joe Biden had pressured Ukraine into firing a prosecutor to squelch an investigation into an energy company whose board included Biden’s son Hunter. In fact, the Obama administration and multiple U.S. allies had pushed for removing the prosecutor for slow-walking corruption investigations. The ad “relies on speculation and unsupported accusations to mislead viewers,” the nonpartisan site FactCheck.org concluded.

The debate has put tech companies at the center of a tug of war in Washington. Republicans have argued for more permissive rules to safeguard constitutionally protected political speech, while Democrats have called for greater limits on politicians’ lies.

Democrats have especially lambasted Facebook for refusing to fact-check political ads, and have criticized Twitter for letting politicians lie in their tweets and Google for limiting candidates’ ability to finely tune the reach of their advertising — all examples, the Democrats say, of Silicon Valley ducking the fight against deception.

Jesse Blumenthal, who leads the tech policy arm of the Koch-backed Stand Together coalition, said expecting Silicon Valley to play truth cop places an undue burden on tech companies to litigate messy disputes over what’s factual.

“Most of the time the calls are going to be subjective, so what they end up doing is putting the platforms at the center of this rather than politicians being at the center of this,” he said.

Further complicating matters, social media sites have generally granted politicians considerably more leeway to spread lies and half-truths through their individual accounts and in certain instances through political ads. “We don’t do this to help politicians, but because we think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an October speech at Georgetown University in which he defended his company’s policy.

But Democrats say tech companies shouldn’t profit off false political messaging.

“I am supportive of these social media companies taking a much harder line on what content they allow in terms of political ads and calling out lies that are in political ads, recognizing that that’s not always the easiest thing to draw those distinctions,” Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state told POLITICO.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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Nigerians and the burden of religion » Letters » Tribune Online

The average African, it has been noted by analysts, is a captive of two major influences, namely imported religious ideologies and obsolete customs. When a famous scholar, Karl Mark, once said that religion was the opium of the masses, few had doubts that the statement aptly fitted the African.

Consequently, it has been observed that not even the civilisation of Europe and America was strong enough to influence Africans who existed in those climes as a result of trans-Atlantic slave trade against own traditions.

I began to consider the prayer-side of Africa’s religious ideologies and my emphasis was to understand the meaning of the noise or shouting part of prayer. While on this, the one question on my mind was: Are prayers best presented to God or are answers quickly obtained when such supplications are disturbingly noisy? If I started to find answers by, say, to make a comparison in leadership between Africa and Europe, I would dismiss noisy prayers as mere traditions and nothing more.

If I compared the technological advancement between Africa and Europe, I would still dismiss noisy supplications as empty habits believed to hold a meaning in the minds of the African. If I compared the degree of charities that poor countries of the world benefitted from Europe and from Africa, I would still treat the noisy supplicant as a mega joke! If I compared the standard of living between the European citizen and the African citizen, still I would call off the noisy prayers as mere pollution.

If I compared the level of integrity of an average European and an average African, I would still come to the same verdict that noisy prayers were, indeed, worthy of being criminalized. If I compared the ease of doing business in Europe with those of Africa, I would not conclude any differently still. This means that if the Europeans prayed in their closets and privacy and were better placed or rated in terms of every good thing that appeals to the conscience of sane men, Africa would simply not observing what works.

About a month ago, the social media was awash with stories of how President Paul Kagame closed down churches in 2018 in Rwanda and how he claimed the citizens were not financially buoyant enough to sustain those many churches.

That shocked Nigerians! For many back here, it was strange that government should regulate religious worship and I ask: why shouldn’t they? If there was no justification for continuing a thing, why should it continue?

I marvel too why not many Nigerian Muslims bothered to emulate the cosmopolitan lifestyle of the Saudi Arabians who are the true custodians of the religion. It is time we began to do the same by taking a second look at the things that worked among civilized people and differentiate from the ones that did not. Praying aloud is nothing but noise pollution! It is like believing you could cast a stone at Satan when you cannot see him let alone decipher where he is located per time.

If Africa must move forward in this age and civilization, she must rid herself of those shackles that held her stagnant through all these decades.

Comrade Ifeanyichukwu Mmoh,

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Interest rates: Powell tells Congress federal debt is ‘unsustainable’

Powell: U.S. debt is ‘on unsustainable path,’ crimping ability to respond to recession

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned lawmakers Wednesday that the ballooning federal debt could hamper Congress’ ability to support the economy in a downturn, urging them to put the budget “on a sustainable path.”

Powell suggested such fiscal aid could be vital after the Fed has cut its benchmark interest rate three times this year, leaving the central bank less room to lower rates further in case of a recession.

“The federal budget is on an unsustainable path, with high and rising debt,” Powell told the Joint Economic Committee. “Over time, this outlook could restrain fiscal policymakers’ willingness or ability to support economic activity during a downturn.”

Powell also reiterated that the Fed is likely done cutting rates unless the economy heads south.

“The outlook is still a positive one,” he said. “There’s no reason this expansion can’t continue.”

The testimony marks a more aggressive tone for Powell, who generally has steered clear of lecturing lawmakers on the hazards of the federal deficit. But after raising its key rate nine times since late 2015, the Fed has lowered it three times this year to head off the risk of recession posed by President Donald Trump’s trade war with China and a sluggish global economy.

Those developments have hurt manufacturing and business investment while consumer spending remains on solid footing.

The Fed’s benchmark rate is now at a range of 1.5% to 1.75%, above the near-zero level that persisted for years after the Great Recession of 2007-09 but below the 2.25% to 2.5% range early this year.

“Nonetheless, the current low-interest-rate environment may limit the ability of monetary policy to support the economy,” Powell said.

Noting the Fed has lowered its federal funds rate an average 5 percentage points in prior downturns, Powell said, “We don’t have that kind of room.” He added, “Fed policy will also be important, though,” if the nation enters a recession. Fed officials have said they still have ammunition to fight a slump, including lowering rates and resuming bond purchases.

Meanwhile, the federal budget deficit hit $984 billion in fiscal 2019, the highest in seven years, and it’s expected to top $1 trillion in fiscal 2020. The federal tax cuts and spending increases spearheaded by Trump have added to the red ink and are set to add at least $2 trillion to the federal debt over a decade. The national debt recently surpassed $23 trillion.

“The debt is growing faster than the economy and that is unsustainable,” Powell said.

He added that a high and rising federal debt also can “restrain private investment and, thereby, reduce productivity and overall economic growth.” That’s because swollen debt can push interest rates higher.

“Putting the federal budget on a sustainable path would aid in the long-term vigor of the U.S. economy and help ensure that policymakers have the space to use fiscal policy to assist in stabilizing the economy if it weakens,” Powell said.

He added, “How you do that and when you do that is up to you.”

Many economists are forecasting a recession next year, though the risks have eased now that the U.S. and China appear close to a partial settlement of their trade fight and the odds of a Brexit that doesn’t include a trade agreement between Britain and Europe have fallen.

Powell also said the Fed is unlikely to reduce interest rates further unless the economy weakens significantly – a message he delivered after the central bank trimmed its key rate for a third time late last month.

“We see the current stance of monetary policy as likely to remain appropriate” as long as the economy, labor market and inflation remain consistent with the Fed’s outlook, Powell said.

Since last month’s Fed meeting, the government has reported that employers added 128,000 jobs in October – a surprisingly strong showing in light of a General Motors strike and the layoffs of temporary 2020 census workers.

“There’s a lot to like about today’s labor market,” Powell said. He noted the 3.6% unemployment rate, near a 50-year low, is drawing Americans on the sidelines back into the workforce. And while average yearly wage growth has picked up to 3%, it’s lower than anticipated in light of the low jobless rate. Inflation, he said, remains below the Fed’s 2% target.

“Of course, if developments emerge that cause a material reassessment of our outlook, we would respond accordingly,” Powell said.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tried to coax the Fed chief into weighing in on the potential economic impact of “a massive tax increase,” which some analysts say could be required by several Democratic presidential candidates’ proposals for universal health care or free college tuition.

“I’m particularly reluctant to be pulled into the 2020 election,” said Powell, a Republican and Trump appointee who has been repeatedly attacked by the president for not cutting interest rates more sharply.

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Those Seeking to Divide Oyo with Religion will Fail, Says Makinde

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Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan

The Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, yesterday raised the alarm of people whom he said were seeking to divide the people of the state through religious sentiments, urging them  to find other jobs to do as the people of the  state cannot be divided along religious lines.

Makinde, while addressing the congregation at the St Paul Anglican Church in Yemetu, Ibadan, the state capital, during the 80th thanksgiving service for his mother, Mrs. Abigael Omojolagbe Makinde, said the state is too interconnected to be divided along religious lines.

Also, a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the governor as saying that some religious activists who are seeking to divide the people along religious lines would not succeed because, every home in the state has a full complement of both religions (Christianity and Islam), noting that  the nature of families in the state was such that adherents of different religions, especially Islam and Christianity, co-habit in the same family.

He stated that religion cannot therefore be exploited as a weapon to divide the people and cause disaffection and disunity in the state.

Makinde added that though it had become clear that some people “do not want the state government to succeed,” he was appreciative to God and the people for their continued support, promising that his government would continue to serve the state.

According to him, “I want to greet the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta States, Alhaji Dawud Akinola, because he is here with us today. What this means is that those who are seeking to use religion to divide us should look for another job.

“As a government, we will do what is right. There is no family in this state that doesn’t have a Muslim or Christian, so the issues of religion cannot divide us in Oyo State.”

Makinde also indicated that some saboteurs were striving to stall the efforts of his government to develop the state, adding, however, that his administration was determined to make the difference.

 “Once again, I thank the good people of Oyo State for your unalloyed support for this administration. Some people don’t want this government to succeed. Take for example, on my way here, I realised that some people intentionally dumped their refuse on the median. I know that it is not the people of this area that generated those wastes. Some people took it as their assignment to drop those wastes there knowing that I will go through that road today to this place today, but we thank God for His usual support. We will continue to serve the people of this state,” he said.

The governor also declared that his government has declared free and qualitative education in the state, which he said has come to stay in the state, noting that “when we were praying, someone said she has seen Mama Seyi (Governor’s mother) and that she too wants to give birth to a governor.

“For the first 13 years of my life, where we lived was not more than five minutes to where we are now. My mum was a Telephone Operator in the state secretariat. At Adeoyo State Hospital, my brother, Muyiwa, and I used to help her sell bread by the gate of the hospital.

“What can propel a child who used to live some five minutes away from here (Yemetu) to become a governor of Oyo State is education, and that is why we have declared that free and qualitative education has come to stay in the state.”

He charged parents and guardians to educate their wards, as according to him, education is what can make a difference in the life of a human being.

Earlier in his sermon titled: ‘Occupy till I come’, Reverend Dr. Samuel Osungbeju urged leaders to serve well so as to receive the reward of God.

“Serve well and the Lord will bless you,” he said, adding that the respective positions occupied by public officers are like talents given to them by God.

The post Those Seeking to Divide Oyo with Religion will Fail, Says Makinde appeared first on THISDAYLIVE.

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Dust over death penalty proposal for hate speech

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A groundswell of opposition is building up against the death penalty proposal for hate speech.
The bill, which is sponsored by Deputy Chief Whip Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North), passed the first reading in the Senate yesterday.
Titled: “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2019”, the bill also proposes the setting up of a Commission on hate speech.
Last week, the Senate introduced a bill to regulate the social media to punish what it termed “abuse of social media” with a three-year jail term or N150,000 option of fine or both.

The Social Media Regulation Bill titled: “Protection from Internet falsehood and manipulations bill, 2019” is sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (Niger East).

Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that the Federal Government is poised to regulate the social media.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the Senate has vowed to oppose any proposed legislation that would unduly infringe on the rights of Nigerians.
Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe said this while reacting to concerns on the Social Media Bill raised by members of the Leadership and Accountability Initiative, who visited him at the National Assembly.
Abaribe said the PDP senators would oppose the bill if it threatened the fundamental rights of Nigerians guaranteed in Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Abaribe noted that there were already laws that dealt with issues the proposed law seeks to regulate.
He urged Nigerians to ensure mutual respect while freely expressing their views.
Abaribe said: “There is no speed with which this Bill is being passed. The first reading of a Bill is automatic. We can’t make a comment on what is still on the first stage.
“What I can assure you is that this Senate can’t be a party to removing the rights of Nigerians under any guise. Section 39 of the Constitution talks about our freedom as citizens. The 9th Senate will not abridge your rights.
“I don’t think Nigerians who fought and paid the supreme price to entrench this democracy will easily give it away and make us go back to the dark days.
“Rest assured that when we get to that point, we will stand for the people. Every Bill that passes here must pass through the rigours to ensure that it protects the rights of over 200 million Nigerians.
“We have a plethora of laws that can be used to drive the question of driving a free society. While social media can be good, it can also be bad. I am a victim of social media.
“As much as there is freedom, yours stops where another person’s own starts. We urge Nigerians not to propagate falsehood or fake news. Our job is to guarantee the freedoms and rights of both sides.”
Leader of the group, Nwaruruahu Shield, insisted that since there were already existing laws dealing with Defamation, it is superfluous to introduce a fresh anti-social media Bill.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described the introduction of the Anti-Hate Speech Bill by the Senate as abuse of legislative process and called on the federal lawmakers to “stop the folly”.
In a statement by his media adviser, Mr Paul Ibe, the former Vice President said the bill sought to violate the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech of Nigerians.
“It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests.
“Freedom of Speech was not just bestowed to Nigerians by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is also a divine right given to all men by their Creator.
“History is littered with the very negative unintended consequences that result when this God given right is obstructed by those who seek to intimidate the people rather than accommodate them.
“We should be reminded that history does not repeat itself. Rather, men repeat history. And often, to disastrous consequences”, Atiku said.
He added: “We are now the world headquarters for extreme poverty as well as the global epicentre of out-of-school children. Our economy is smaller than it was in 2015, while our population is one of the world’s fastest growing.
“We have retrogressed in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, from the position we held four years ago, and our Human Development Indexes are abysmally low.
“It therefore begs the question: should we not rather make laws to tackle these pressing domestic challenges, instead of this Bill, which many citizens consider obnoxious?”.
Senator Abdullahi sponsored the same Hate Speech Bill during the Eight Senate but it attracted widespread condemnation from Nigerians. It never returned for second reading before the eighth Senate elapsed
The Bill proposes that the establishment of a Commission to enforce hate speech laws across the country, and ensure the “elimination” of hate speech.
For offences such as harassment on grounds of ethnicity or race, the Bill had proposed that the offender shall be sentenced to “not less than a five-year jail term or a fine of not less than N10 million or both.”
The Billproposes that, “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and/or visual, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” committed an offence.
It added that the charge would be justified if such a person intends to stir up “ethnic hatred”.
The Bill makes provision that any offender found guilty under the Act when passed would die by hanging.
“Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging,” the Bill said.
The Bill provides that “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provided, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.
“Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.
“In this section, ethnic hatred means hatred against a group if person’s from any ethical group indigenous today Nigeria.
On discrimination against persons, the Bill also provides that: “For the purpose of this act, a person who discriminates against another person if on ethnic grounds the person without any lawful justification treats another Nigerian citizen less favourably than he treats or would treat other person from his ethnic or another ethnic group and/or that on grounds of ethnicity a person put another person at a particular disadvantage when compared with other persons from other nationality of Nigeria.
“A person also discriminates against another person if, in any circumstances relevant for the purposes referred to in subsection (1) (b), he applies to that person of any provision, criterion or practice which he applies or would apply equally to persons not of the same race, ethnic or national origins as that other.”
On harassment on the basis of ethnicity, the Bill further provides that “A person (who) subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where on ethnic grounds, he justifiably engages in a conduct which has the purpose or effect of: a) Violating that other person’s dignity or b) Creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment.
“Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in subsection (1) (a) or (b) of this section if, having regard to all circumstances, including in particular the perception of that other person, it should resonably be considered as saying that effect.
“A person who subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to an imprisonment for a term not less than ten years, or to a fine of not less than ten million naira, or to both.”
The objectives and functions of the proposed commission on Hate Speech, according to the Bill includes to facilitate and promote a harmonious peaceful co-existence within the people of all ethnic groups indigenous to Nigeria and more importantly to achieve this objective by ensuring the elimination of all forms of hate speeches in Nigeria, and to advise the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on all aspects thereof.

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Fireworks thrown at firefighters, houses pelted with eggs and hooded yobs on mopeds: Gangs of teenage thugs cause Halloween misery – Manchester Evening News

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Gangs of anti-social yobs took to the streets of Greater Manchester on Halloween to wreak havoc.

Fireworks were thrown at houses and firefighters; eggs were thrown at windows; and buckets of sweets were stolen.

A fire service watch manager was left with a nasty burn after being targeted by thugs.

Police and fire crews were called to a number of incidents involving thug teenagers across the region on Thursday night (October 31).

There was reportedly a large group of ‘hooded youths’ on mopeds seen ‘carrying tools’ near the Longford Park area in Stretford, Trafford.

A resident said they were ‘deliberately scaring’ kids out trick or treating.

In a tweet, officers from GMP’s Stretford division said: “There was a large number of off road bikes causing havoc all over Greater Manchester this evening.

“Neighbourhood officers from Stretford and Urmston worked together and managed to safely seize three bikes.

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“Checks revealed two to be stolen. One male was arrested.”

Teenagers were reportedly seen throwing eggs at the house windows in Stretford.

The same thing happened around the Park Road area of Sale, and in the Wardle area of Littleborough.

A Wardle resident posted on Faceook: “I just came home from work and my front door is full of eggs.

“So are the people of Wardle that desperate for a chocolate and sweet, that if you don’t give them they damage your property shame on you.

“I thought that I lived in a lovely place.”

A large group of youths were spotted ‘throwing eggs at peoples windows’ in Edgeley in Stockport and a ‘group of girls’ were seen doing the same thing near Peel Hall Park in Wythenshawe.

A group of youths were caught throwing eggs in the Bromley Cross area of Bolton before being stopped by police.

While dealing with the group on Darwen Road, officers stopped a child with 25 snap bags of cannabis, GMP Bolton North reported.

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Groups of kids throwing fireworks was also a massive problem.

Youths were reportedly spotted throwing fireworks at cars on Stockport Road, Heaton Moor Road and Reddish Road in Stockport.

One Withington resident said she had called the police due to a ‘group of kids’ throwing fireworks on Old Moat Lane.

She said: “My son asked to come back from trick or treating because of this, it’s getting out of hand.”

As firefighters were tackling a bonfire at Crumpsall Park at around 8.45pm last night, a watch manager was hit by a firework aimed at the crew.

As Paul Marston and a colleague approached the blaze, a group of roughly 15 youths dressed in black began to aim lighted fireworks in their direction.

WM Marston was hit by one of them – leaving him with burnt hair and skin.

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Speaking the morning after the attack, he said in his 27 years of working for the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, this is the first time he’s been injured in an attack.

He added: “I’m Manchester born and bred and work hard to help protect my community – it’s my job, I’m proud to serve, but I must confess last night’s incident has shaken me.

“As we approached the bonfire I saw a group of youngsters and my intention was to go over and speak to them about fire safety. But as soon as we saw fireworks being lit we got a sense of what was about to happen.

“When I was hit, the pain wasn’t the thing I remember most clearly but the impact followed by the horrible smell of burning hair.

“It lodged inside my helmet and, as we were retreating from the scene, I struggled to get it off.

“I’m very grateful to my colleagues on White Watch and the staff at the hospital for their medical treatment.

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“I’ll be honest, in the hours that followed I felt furious.

“But I soon calmed down and have actually stayed on shift all night – it’s my responsibility to be at work, protecting my local community.

“But the next time I’m called to an incident like a bonfire or other small fire in a public space I expect last night will be on my mind.”

Jim Wallace, chief fire officer for GMFRS, said this is ‘the last thing’ the service need at such a busy time of the year.

A number of residents also expressed their shock at group of youths taking ‘full buckets’ of sweets from outside their houses.

In Radcliffe, one resident said: “Three lads were banging on my door.

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“I assumed they were children but they were teenagers.

“I had a bucket outside for the trick or treaters and they have stolen the bucket and run.

“They threw the bucket on the street and legged it, now the children have nothing.”

A Hazelhurst resident said a ‘couple of kids’ cleared out the whole bowls of sweets that she had left outside her house, before any of children had the chance to have some.

GMP have been contacted for a comment about the anti-social behaviour.

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