Thursday, 15 March 2012

THE world's tallest man was brought down to size today as he visited a primary school.

Sultan Kosen from Ankara, Turkey, holds the record for the worlds talllest man and visists St. Michael's RC School in Twickenham


THE world's tallest man was brought down to size today as he visited a primary school.

Children had to clamber up a climbing frame to make eye contact with Sultan Kosen, who is a staggering 8ft 3in and has size 28 feet.

The 29-year-old Turkish farmer impressed teachers and pupils by "placing" a ball in a basketball hoop while barely having to stretch.

He then signed autographs and held a question-and-answer session at Saint Michael's R.C. School in Twickenham, South West London.

Pupils crooked their necks to stare up at the giant, who walks with a stick and is almost three times their size.

He visited the 400 pupils after they won a competition run by the Guinness World Records Educational Programme.

Sultan said: "Some people don't know what to do when they meet me but everyone at St Michael's has been so friendly and warm.

Sultan Kosen from Ankara, Turkey, holds the record for the worlds talllest man and visists St. Michael's RC School in Twickenham
Slam dunk ... world's tallest man places ball in hoop

"I wanted to share with kids it's OK to be different."

Year six teacher Ruth Foley said: "The children were all in absolute awe of Sultan, he is lovely, like a gentle giant.

"This memorable experience will stay with us all for the rest of our lives."

Sultan's hands measure a massive 10.8ins across and his feet are 13.7ins long, which are also world records.

He is one of only ten people ever to top 8ft and the first in a decade.

He became the world's tallest man in August 2009, when he shot past China's 7ft 9in Bao Xishun.

Sultan suffers from a rare disorder called pituitary gigantism, which causes his body to continually produce the growth hormone.

His condition is believed to have been caused by a tumour in the pituitary gland.

Doctors thought they had cured him in 2008 when they removed the tumour but he continued to grow by half an inch a year.

The Sun told earlier this week that medics believe he has finally stopped growing following groundbreaking treatment in the US.

When other children were little more than 4ft, Sultan was already well over 6ft. His family are all a "normal" size.

Sultan last visited the UK two years ago, when he said: "The kids used to tease me and I found that very difficult.

"But now I am really proud of being tall."

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Nigerian Sade is the 6th in Billboard's just released money makers of 2011

53 year old Anglo-Nigerian singer, Sade, is among the top ten music money makers of 2011 according to Billboard's just released 2012 Top 40 Money Makers List. Taylor Swift tops the list.

According Billboard, Sade grossed $16.4 million last year following the release of her album “The Ultimate Collection” that was followed by a worldwide tour which included the United States. Her North American tour was the first since 2001 and featured John Legend as the opening act in the 59 date tour.

The tour posted $45.7 million in revenue resulting in the group taking in $15.4 as their share. A DVD of the tour might be coming in the future according to Sophie Muller who was creative director of the tour.

The soft jazz veteran of more than 25 years was number six on the list behind only Taylor Swift, U2, Kenny Chesney, Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne. Her number six slotting also makes her the top British grossing musician of 2011. Her long musical career has seen her sell more than 50 million records worldwide making the shy Anglo-Nigerian the most succesful female British musician.

This is how the UK newspaper The Guardian quoted Brad Wavra, senior vice-president of touring at Live Nation, the world's biggest show promoter, as saying of Sade "(she is a ) rare jewel. It feels like I'm working with Miles Davis, Elvis Presley and the Beatles all rolled into one." Live Nation was the singer's concert tour organizer.

Here is the Top 40 list according to Billboard:

1. Taylor Swift, $35,719,902

2. U2, $32,116,315

3. Kenny Chesney, $29,837,103

4. Lady Gaga, $25,353,039

5. Lil Wayne, $23,178,722

6. Sade, $16,382,809

7. Bon Jovi, $15,835,856

8. Celine Dion, $14,261,515

9. Jason Aldean, $13,409,011

10. Adele, $13,081,909

11."Glee" Cast, $12,587,771

12. Journey, $12,313,822

13. elton John, $11,973,990

14. Katy Perry, $11,969,426

15. Toby Keith, $10,413,127

16. Britney Spear, $10,090,973

17. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, $10,017,031

18. Rascal Flatts, $9,639,270

19. Tim McGraw, $9,335,258

20. Michael Bublé, $9,027,177

21. Brad Paisley, $8,602,374

22. Rihanna, $7,660,833

23. Enrique Iglesias, $7,448,670

24. The Beatles, $6,743,863

25. Paul McCartney, $6,726,519

26. Lady Antebellum, $6,676,450

27. Keith Urban, $6,579,695

28. Zac Brown Band, $6,481,564

29. Rod Stewart, $6,388,756

30. Usher, $6,292,586

31. Foo Fighters, $6,013,257

32. Rush, $5,819,304

33. Backstreet boys, $5,712,050

34. Sugarland, $5,632,406

35. Justin Bieber, $5,523,459

36. New Kids On The Block, $5,519,805

37. Steely Dan, $5,389,509

38. Mötley Crüe, $5,376,272

39. Kanye West, $5,363,661

40. Linkin Park, $5,190,655

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Nigeria: Who Will Say, 'To Hell With Oil Money'?

By Idang Alibi


As is very well known to many, especially music fans, the late global reggae superstar, Bob Marley, died on May 11, 1981. As to be expected of a situation whereby a wealthy pater familias and polygamous husband died without leaving a will, a monumental legal tangle ensured.

A most intense struggle arose among his numerous wives and women and his equally innumerable children and court-appointed administrators, over Marley's vast estate. The man once told an interviewer that he will have children "as numerous as the sands of the sea". And for sure, he did.

You can therefore imagine how the competition among uncountable, contending and contentious wives and uncountable, contending children from rival women claiming Marley's paternity, would be over his property. Thrown into this mix, the sharp lawyers with their lawyerly shenanigans all in the efforts to reap where they did not sow and you will better appreciate just how intense the competition for Marley's enormous wealth and riches was.

While the squabbling was on, one of his sons-Ziggy is his name-was quick to notice that the lawyer-administrators of his father's estate were the ones making a kill even when no sibling of the dead music star had taken a cent of their father's or husband's money. Ziggy, an intelligent lad if you ask me, saw that waiting for a share of his father's wealth was a waste of time, effort and of his psychological well-being. Pissed off by it all, Ziggy told himself and everyone else that," To hell with all this Babylonian shenanigan. Let me go and make for myself my own money". He abandoned the contest for a share of his father's estate, launched a solo music career and in no time became a successful, wealthy young man. Eventually the titanic struggle for his father's wealth was settled in 1991, ten clear years after his father's death. If he had decided to wait that long for "justice", he would have, like the crab in our folk tale, developed squinted eyes. His music talent would not have been developed and he himself and the world would have been the poorer for it.

What is the moral of this story? It is that sometimes the pursuit of what is often called "a common patrimony" can often become distractive, debilitating and act as a huge disincentive for those who have the skills or the opportunities to create their own wealth or to produce more wealth for the common patrimony so that everyone can have enough and stop squabbling over the little that is now available for sharing. And such has been the fate of Nigeria. The number one reason why this blessed country has not made as much progress as it ought to have made is the availability of easy oil money from the creeks of the Niger Delta for everyone to share or for a few to loot.

The story of Nigeria from the early seventies to date is nothing but the story of an internecine struggle among the ruling classes from the various tribes and regions of the country on how to position themselves in order to be in a pole position to superintend the sharing, or more appropriately, the stealing, of the oil money. And if you are in a vantage enough position, it is your prerogative to appropriate as much as possible of it for one's self, tribesmen, friends and well wishers. In this struggle, plan or vision for the progress and development of the whole nation is not important. What matters is to be brave, inconsiderate and clever enough to devise a stratagem of how to capture power at the centre and be in-charge of oil blocks and the administration of the proceeds of oil business. This truth has defined the politics of Nigeria since the 70s to this day. Many will offer some insincere patriotic sentiments about why they want to lead Nigeria at the centre but do not be deceived by their honeyed talks. The stark truth is that how to be in control of the sharing of easy oil money is the driving force of their ambition masquerading as a call for national service. No one has called most of them and many of them have nothing to offer Nigeria as we have seen over the years. And I am afraid that so long as oil money remains the motivating factor for aspiring to lead Nigeria at the centre, so long will we continue to have a country that is not governed by any known noble principle nor will we be able to make any stride in any facet of our national development aspirations.

I am taking up this lament today because of the fierce opposition to the call for a national conference for a re-engineering of this Nigerian Project which everybody can see is not working well. Some, who are fiercely opposed to a conference of whatever name called, are afraid that it is a mere pretence for a break-up of Nigeria and that such a development would deprive them of a share of oil money which everyone in the land has become addicted to. Today, I wish that a critical mass of Nigerians will build up and wake up one fateful morning, come to an understanding of why our country is not making much progress, attribute it to the 'curse' of easy oil money , become so dissatisfied and disenchanted enough with it all and acquire the righteous indignation to say, 'to hell with oil money'. I will regard the day when this happens as the real day of our national independence, our day of liberation from indolence, small minded thinking, injustice and unfairness which have marked our slide from a once promising emerging power to one that is at the bottom of most all the indices of development in the world today. I will also see that day as one that marks the beginning of our rise to stardom. If most continue to see nothing wrong with the continuing dependence on oil, nothing will change in our country.

Our ruling elite cut a very sorry picture. They lie from both sides of their mouth pretending to be great nationalists. Some of us are not fooled by their empty posturing. All of those who express worry about Nigeria's break-up are no patriots at all. They don't care a hoot if this country breaks up were it not that there is something in it that they benefit personally from the grossly imperfect way Nigeria is today. Their real worry is that should a national conference be held derivation would be number one on the agenda and they know not how they can cope without easy oil money if there is a return to old days of 50 per cent derivation principle. And their next motivation is bitter envy and jealousy.

To be concluded nextweek

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Actor TChidi Chikere’s Marriage Crumbles


Fine boy Nollywood actor/director, Tchidi Chikere and his beautiful wife, Sophia are no longer husband and wife. They say their marriage have broken down beyond repair.

Below is a statement released to the media...

"After nine years of union that produced three wonderful boys, respected movie producer, Tchidi Chikere and wife, Sophia will be going their separate ways. The couple who have been trying to make things work for nine years will be calling it quits.
"They reached this painful decision after several break-ups and efforts to make the marriage work failed. The relationship was taking its toll on the children and affecting personal happiness of the couple.
"The three children are with Sophia for now and Tchidi will be solely responsible for their upkeep and continue to play the role of a responsible father. For the sake of the children and others involved, Tchidi Chikere will not be granting interviews or running down Sophia on the pages of newspapers".
This is another clear indication that not all that glitters is gold; everything seems perfect from the outside.

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Don’t lose hope in Nigeria- Aunty Bolu


For most Nigerians, who have lost hope in their country, a writer, Oluboludele Simoyan, author of the popular book: The 8th Wonder of the World- Made in Nigeria, has called for caution. The writer, who recently launched the book to coincide with Lovers’ Day in Lagos stressed the need for Nigerians to love one another, as well as show love to their fatherland.

Born in Washington DC, USA, to a Nigerian diplomat, Simoyan is proud to have one passport - the Nigerian Passport - although she had the opportunity of claiming citizenship of America like most Nigerians would have done. Her new book is a great dream turned real. The idea for her came as a graphic illusion; soon it grew into an irresistible passion and in about eight years, the dream book was born. She therefore described her mission in writing the book as the need to “Create a new vision for Nigeria, to set up goals for achieving that vision and to have a great deal of fun in the process of nation-building.’’

The book with a single effort is a two-in-one publication, as the author employs her architectural background to creatively present the second book in an upside down manner- burgling the mindsof the readers even more.

Aunty Bolu, as she is fondly called by Nigerian youths, geared her book towards reawakening the proudly-Nigerian consciousness and provoking Nigeria-indeed Nigerians towards the call for greatness. The two-in-one book is like the proverbial ‘two sides to a coin’. For while one presents the present pathetic condition of the nation, the other postulates optimistically what the nation can be and indeed will be if there is a turnaround for good.
She recreates a brand name for the nation to be in harmony with the desired nation itself. This, she delightfully and creatively does by creating an acronym for the brand NAIGA, with the emphasis on the letter ‘G’, believing that it represents the ‘God factor’ and the “9G’s” (pronounced Naigese), stands remarkably for: Genius, Goal Getter, Ground breaker, Good looking, Great, Gift, Gem and others.

With the high population of Nigerian youths, Simoyan said her belief is that if the nation gets it right with its youths now- 10, 15, 20 years from now, we would without doubt welcome the new Nigeria of our dreams. According to Simoyan, Nigerians need a new kind of madness which can demonstrate our love, faith and hope in the country. She added, “We all must work for a new and better Nigeria. We must restore our respect as a nation”.

‘The 8th Wonder of the World- Made in Nigeria is interesting, funny and captivating. The book is well-researched, spiced with apt illustrations, African proverbs and wise sayings from leaders and writers from Africa and across the globe.

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"I Am Seriously Searching For A Man" - Nollywood Actress


Boosty Nollywood actress, Ifeoma Okeke is seriously not having things as rosy as she would have expect, especially as it concerns her emotional needs.

The actress was recently quoted thus:
"I have never felt inferior and will never do. All my friends are very free with me and I have never kept friends that are on the big size.

"They accept me the way. The only thing is that...
I am taller than most of them, but they are very slim girls and we like ourselves.

"If they decide to wear their bumpershorts, I will wear mine too but the only thing is that I will never wear anything without bra. I have never felt inferior and I always love myself no matter where I go.

"Everybody don’t have to be slim and any man who loves big babe will never love a slim babe,so my man cannot fall in love with you and your man can never fall in love with me.

"I am not trying to say that men run after me because I have big boobs but the truth is that big boobs is really attractive and people do appreciate it in their various ways. Most men like big boobs but those who like it normal will not fall in love with me and vice versa.

"I am very single and seriously searching. I believe that the issue of marriage is left for God to take care of, but as a human I will say that I am seriously searching for a man".

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South African banks interested in growing their footprint in the Nigerian market.


Nigeria now has fewer, but larger, banks with better corporate governance and regulatory oversight.

Despite rising diplomatic tensions between SA and Nigeria, and tit-for-tat expulsions of visitors, the two countries’ business links continue to expand, particularly in the financial services sector.

SA banks are especially interested in growing their footprint in the Nigerian market. This is despite the fact that in 2009 eight of Nigeria’s 24 banks had to be rescued after weak risk management and corporate governance lapses caused nonperforming loans (NPLs) to rise to more than a third of total loans. About US$17,2bn of NPL s was transferred and ring-fenced by the authorities to a specific asset management company.

Standard & Poor’s (S&P) states in a research report that reforms to the sector have yielded positive results .

Nigeria now has fewer, but larger, banks with better corporate governance and regulatory oversight. But S&P analyst Matthew Pirnie cautions that many questions remain about the real asset quality of Nigerian banks.

“The sector needs a longer positive regulatory track record before we would stop considering corporate governance and regulatory oversight to be among its key risks.”

The questionable asset quality at some banks has also been mentioned by Fitch in its latest ratings report on Nigerian banks. Fitch describes the credit quality of some banks as highly speculative. “Inefficient operations remain a characteristic of the market.”

This has not prevented SA banks from eyeing potential acquisitions in Nigeria Standard Bank, trading as Stanbic IBTC in Nigeria, is regarded as the only SA bank with a real presence in Nigeria .

Standard Bank CEO Jacko Maree says the bank is committed to Nigeria and the African market. “Of the 65 African branches commissioned in 2011, more than half were in Nigeria.”

The other local banks — Absa, FirstRand and Nedbank — have all been playing catch-up .

The three biggest banks in Nigeria — First Bank, Zenith and United Bank — are regarded as too big for a local takeover. A significant interest would also be prohibitively expensive.

That has placed the focus on the cheaper, mid tier banks, such as Access, Ecobank/Oceanic and Guaranty. Nedbank has a relationship with Ecobank after it extended the West African bank a loan of $285m for the integration with Oceanic. Nedbank has the option to obtain a 20% equity stake in Ecobank within three years.

Deutsche Securities says in a research note it is quite likely that Nedbank will exercise its rights in due course and acquire the 20% holding. Based on Ecobank’s 2010 earnings of $113m, a 20% shareholding would represent only 3% of Nedbank’s 2011 earnings.

However, Pirnie expects Nedbank to wait and see . He says that Ecobank still has a 40% NPL ratio and not much of a branch network. “At the same time, it could be a potentially good transaction for Nedbank,” he says.

FirstRand is another candidate for a Nigerian transaction after it walked away from acquiring Sterling Bank. However, it seems that FirstRand is in no hurry: CEO Sizwe Nxasana indicated at the recent interim results presentation that FirstRand would not take its eye off the SA market. Nevertheless, growing an African franchise was stated as a key growth strategy.

Standard Bank’s FICC research department says plans to expand into Africa will remain a relatively small part of FirstRand’s operations for now. “They will likely focus on local entry-level banking because margins are much higher.”

The speculation has been that FirstRand would rather develop its own greenfields operation in Nigeria. Though it would be more expensive, Pirnie says that FirstRand has enough capital to perform the task. “That will also depend on obtaining a licence.”

FirstRand and Absa are regarded as the best-capitalised local banks, with enough capital to expand into Africa, even after Basel 3 requirements are taken into account.

Absa is working through the Barclays Capital franchise on the continent and cannot disregard the Nigerian market. However, it has not provided much detail on its plans, besides confirming that it has opened a representative office.

It is probably looking at the cheaper banks in Nigeria, such as Diamond Bank or Skye.

“The sector needs a longer positive regulatory track record before we would stop considering ... regulatory oversight to be a key risk ”


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African Democracies 'Represent the Future - U.S. Policymaker

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson observes elections in Senegal. (Photo Courtesy U.S. State Department)

Washington, DC — Promoting democracy in Africa has been a policy focus for successive U.S. administrations in the post-Cold War era. Since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, the American government has provided some form of backing for many of the two dozen presidential elections and several dozen national and local legislative polls that have been held across the continent.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the administration has identified democracy-building programs as its top foreign assistance priority in Africa, after three presidential global initiatives directed at health, hunger and climate change, and has asked Congress this year for a 19 percent increase. In the second part of an AllAfrica interview, the administration's top official dealing with Africa policy, Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson, assesses the continent's recent record and details current U.S. efforts to encourage and strengthen democratic practices throughout the sub-Saharan region. Excerpts:

You have said recently that Africa is becoming more democratic. Can you cite specific countries where you see this happening?

Africa's commitment to democracy, to better governance, to improved human rights is on a progressive and positive trajectory forward. A few years ago, leading scholars were saying that there was a democratic recession in Africa [and] a lack of commitment to democratic governance.

Over the last two to three years, there have been very positive developments. Obviously, there have also been some dips, but by and large we see progress.

We're committed to progress. We have been engaged and will remain engaged in trying to strengthen democratic institutions. A strong, stable democratic Africa is in the interests of Africans, but also in the interest of the international community. Countries that are democratic, that are stable, that are providing security and services to and for their people are countries that are not in conflict. These are countries that are not in famine, not in need, not dependent upon the international system for emergency relief, for peacekeepers, or for aid and assistance.

Democracies in Africa exemplify this already: Ghana, Tanzania, Mauritius, Botswana, Namibia, Benin - all of these countries - and others - are doing well and they represent the future for where Africa is going.

Where are you seeing changes that lead you to the 'positive trajectory' conclusion?

Starting in west Africa, we have seen a return to democratic governance in Guinea Conakry with the election of Alpha Conde - probably only the second time in that country's nearly 53 years of independence that they had a democratic election. Prior to that, [the country] had a succession of autocrats and military rulers, some of whom had carried out some of the most heinous human rights violations that we've seen. That election was a triumph for the people of Guinea Conakry.

In Niger, we saw the return of democracy with the election of President [Mahamadou] Issoufou, after a military junta had taken power to remove an elected president who had usurped both constitutional and judicial power. We saw in Cote d'Ivoire the return of democracy with the certification and installation of Alassane Ouattara after Mr. [Laurent] Gbagbo had attempted to steal an election.

In Africa's largest state, Nigeria, last April we saw some of the best elections since the end of military rule. Certainly elections in 2011 were substantially better than the elections that occurred in 2007. We have seen positive elections in places like Zambia, where a sitting president, Mr. [Rupiah] Banda, was defeated by an opposition leader, Mr. [Michael] Sata. Mr. Banda stood aside and left power willingly without any bloodshed and in a peaceful transition.

Liberia was another election that we followed very closely. We believe that was a fair election, a free election, an election whose outcome reflected the will of the people, and we have congratulated President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the only female president in Africa, for winning her second term. But we were a little bit dismayed by the reluctance of the opposition leader, Mr. Winston Tubman, to participate in the second round. Based on what we observed, there was no reason why the opposition should not have participated fully in the second round.

And there are others that I did not mention. It's not to say that every process or every election has gone well. But the trend line is up.

How do you respond to critics who regard U.S. backing for democracy as an imposition of Western values and practices or an attempt to influence electoral outcomes?

Polls taken around the continent show that Africans want democratic institutions. They want representative government. They want good government that provides them safety, security and opportunity. They want governments that are not corrupt, and they support democracy as it is defined across the globe, and they have shown their commitment in many instances.

President Obama, when he spoke in July of 2009 before the Ghanaian parliament, made it absolutely clear that Africa needs more democratic institutions, not more strong men. We try wherever possible to be supportive of the strengthening of democratic institutions and the democratic process. We work with local groups to promote civic education, to strengthen independent electoral commissions, to strengthen legislative bodies that work effectively for their constituencies, to create and strengthen strong judiciaries, and to support monitoring for elections.

We work alongside international organizations that are trying to strengthen democratic institutions - the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and the National Endowment for Democracy, the Carter Center and others. We do this work, in fact, without getting involved in partisan politics. And we will continue to do that.

Turning to last November's elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you said in Congressional testimony that the process there "was deficient in many ways" but you also cited "positive attributes" such as the large turn-out. How has the outcome impacted your policy towards the country?

Those elections were seriously flawed. They were lacking in transparency, and they were not up to the kind of democratic standard that we have seen in other places around the world and in Africa. As I told Congress, the vote counting process managed by the election commission did not meet internationally accepted standards.

But we remain committed to trying to work with all of those who want to strengthen democratic institutions, improve electoral commissions and make democracy work for the people and the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We have called on all parties to resolve their disagreements through legal mechanisms. We think that getting to the finish line is a process, it's not an event, and we have to continue to work to get there.

You led the U.S. observer team for the February 25 voting in Senegal. In a blog post from Dakar you mention the " intemperate rhetoric and unfortunate violence" that preceded the vote while also giving the election process good marks. How do you view Senegal's prospects?

The people of Senegal are to be applauded for the way they turned out to vote. These were, in my estimation, free, fair, transparent, peaceful and generally well organized elections. Virtually no violence around the country, no intimidation or harassment of voters, and the people of Senegal, and the government, and the Cena - the election commission [Commission électorale nationale autonome], should be praised for what they've done.

That election featured some 14 candidates for the presidency and required a 50 percent plus one (result) for victory. President [Abdoulaye] Wade, who was running for an admittedly controversial third term, only received some 35 percent of the vote. His nearest rival, Macky Sall, received 26 percent.

We hope the run-off on March 25 will be free, fair, transparent and without violence, and that we will see the same kind of strong civil society participation and turn-out that we saw in the run-up to those elections. We want Senegal to be successful, but more importantly, we want the people of Senegal to be able to cast their votes freely and fairly for the candidate that they believe is best able to lead them in the direction that they want to be led over the next five to seven years, depending on whether the constitution is ultimately changed.

There were concerns about Senegal, because we were all deeply shocked and concerned about the violence that occurred on June 23rd and again on June 26th and 27th. It was unprecedented in Senegal's history to see so many people so outraged and so angered by what they felt was a manipulation of the constitution. Some of those concerns were allayed with the fairness of the process, but it's not over, and we hope that the people of Senegal will turn out to vote for their candidate in this next round peacefully, as they did in the first round. It's important.

What are your expectations for Kenya's upcoming elections?

A lot has been accomplished in reforming the Kenyan constitution and addressing many of the problems that were responsible for the violence that occurred in 2007 and in 2008, following the controversial end to the presidential elections there between President [Mwai] Kibaki and now-Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

We believe that former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan has done a remarkable job over the last three years of encouraging a process of political reform as well as political reconciliation. We have seen the adoption of a new constitution, the creation of a more presidential system, the devolution of authority to new districts, and the reshaping of the entire judiciary with the appointment of a new and highly respected lawyer as chief justice of the supreme court and a new attorney-general. These are steps in the right direction, and we hope the new constitution, the creation of new constituencies, the devolution of power, the creation of a new electoral commission, and the establishment of a new high court with many new justices all are good things for Kenya.

We're watching and we're hopeful about elections that will either occur in December of this year or in March of 2013. Kenya has been the most stable, the most democratic, the most peaceful state in all of East Africa and the Horn. It is the state in which the United States has enjoyed its strongest relationship since the 1960s.

It is also the lynchpin for the economies of the region. Kenya is, in fact, the largest non-oil, non-mineral based economy in all of sub-Saharan Africa. It's an economy based on people power and on great skills. It's got great universities, great professionals, great talent, but it's also the centre for transportation. It's the centre for commerce. It's an agricultural hub. Its ports, railroads and oil lines are vital for everyone from southern Ethiopia to northern Tanzania and across to Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and all the way out through to Goma, Bukavu and Kisangani.

It's an important country. We'd like to see it do much better than the 2007 elections.

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A contraceptive is also a medication for many medical conditions

varian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women, and it causes more deaths than any other type of female reproductive cancer. Ovarian cancer is rarely diagnosed in its early stages. It is usually quite advanced by the time diagnosis is made, but by simply taking an oral contraceptive a woman can greatly reduce the risk of contracting ovarian cancer.

Oral contraceptives are also used to treat acne, heavy periods which can lead to anemia, irregular periods and reduce the symptoms of PMS. While these issues may seem trivial to the male population, they are not trivial to the women who endure these physical problems.

More serious medical conditions that are treated with oral contraceptives are Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which is a common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. Treatment with oral contraceptives reduces the risk of long-term complications, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Since the oral contraceptives prevent cyst from forming, a woman also doesn’t have to worry about facing emergency surgery if a cyst ruptures. Endometriosis is a female health disorder that occurs when cells from the lining of the womb (uterus) grow in other areas of the body. This can lead to pain, irregular bleeding and problems getting pregnant. Again, one of the treatments is oral contraceptives.

Studies have consistently shown that using oral contraceptives reduces the risk of ovarian cancer. Studies have also shown oral contraceptive use significantly reduces the risk of endometrial cancer.

So it is unconscionable that any employer would insist that a woman’s medical insurance deny coverage of this medication.

Thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act, many more women will now be able to use a medication that will allow them to live happier, pain-free and more-productive lives.


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16 reasons NOT to buy a new iPad (including 7 that haven’t changed from earlier iPads)

ZDNet By

I was brought up with a few basic lessons. Don’t touch the hot stove. Look both ways before crossing the street. And just because all your friends want to jump off a cliff, that doesn’t mean you should, too.

To be fair, most of the lessons my mom tried to teach me didn’t stick. To her credit, she tried, oh, did she try. But I was something of a problem child. All these years later, I can simply respect and honor her effort. It’s not my mom’s fault I turned out the way I did. Mama tried.

I tell you this because about 55 million of your fellow tech consumers have been lining up like lemmings, getting ready to jump off the iPad cliff, once again. Don’t get me wrong. I acknowledge that there is some value to an iPad. But just because all your friends are buying the latest and greatest “new” iPad (what we previously thought would be the iPad 3), that doesn’t mean you have to, as well.

Every other tech pundit and reviewer in the business will be out there trying to tell you why you should buy an iPad. They figure that if they suck up to Apple enough, perhaps, some day, a 20-something, wet-behind-the-ears Apple PR droid will bless them with a returned call or email. At that point, that lucky reviewer will be able to check off the most elusive of bucket list items.

Not me. I’ve had my fill of Apple PR reps, back when I headed up some Apple projects and later as a member of the press. I went through the foggy-late-night-outside-the-garage-Foster-City-swap-of-useless-press-materials-with-cute-PR-women phase, and I’m long over it. I’m here to speak truth to you. If that means I get yelled at again by yet another Apple enforcer, so be it.

I’m on your side, kids. It’s time for some truth. Let’s get started.

Reason 1: You already have an iPad

Let’s face the elephant in the room first. The odds are, you already have an iPad. And, if you’re reading this, you’re either an iPad phanboi just looking for something to get steamed about, or you’re an iPad user who already upgraded once from the first iPad to the iPad 2. Either way, you have an iPad.

The iPad 2 adds a few interesting features: a higher-resolution display (we’ll get to that in a minute) and 4G/LTE wireless (we’ll get to that in a minute, too). The bottom line is that you really can’t do very much more with the new iPad than you can with the iPad 2, so save your sheckles and just use the iPad 2.

Reason 2: The retina display is mostly marketing hype

If you want to see the phanbois erupt, it’ll be over this. But hear me out. Yes, I know there are more pixels on this beast than on HDTVs. And yes, I know there are more pixels on this display than most 24″ computer displays.

But. The. Screen. Is. Still. Only. Nine. Inches.

Just how many photographs are you really going to look at and ooh and ah about? Is it really worth dumping your older iPad just so you can show off the exciting new display? You’re probably not doing advanced scientific work, where the high resolution will be important. And sure, you might find text slightly crisper, but is that worth throwing out your existing iPad?

Even worse, many applications won’t support the higher-resolution display, so you’re likely to actually see images that look worse on the retina display than they did on the iPad 2.

So, yes, the iPad’s retina display is an amazing technological achievement. But so is being able chunk punkins 5,545.43 feet across a field. Not everyone needs to do that, either.

Reason 3: High-res apps will take more memory

Fine, if you’re still not convinced, make sure you buy the bigger, more expensive iPad, because all those high-res images in apps (and magazines and books) are going to take a boatload more storage. And sure, some of that storage will be in iCloud, but a lot of it will need to be stored right on the device.

If you bought a 16GB machine back in the day, you’re probably now going to want a 64GB machine. That starts to get quite expensive, quite quickly.

Reason 4: 4G/LTE is expensive

Speaking of expensive, wait until you get a-load of those 4G/LTE bills. Sure, you can stream 1080p Netflix over the 4G/LTE networks, but you do know you’re paying for your data, right? When you wake up at the end of the month with a ginormous data bill because you decided to use the 4G/LTE on your new iPad, you’ll wonder why you didn’t listen to my recommendation to stay away.

Keep in mind that if you have 4G/LTE on your non-Apple smartphone, you’re moving a lot less data than you would on a new iPad. Because the screen resolution is so much higher on the new iPad, if you want to take full advantage of it, you’ll be eating 4-8 times the data load each month than you would have on a 4G/LTE phone — if not a lot more than that, especially if you get it into your head that the iPad is a laptop replacement.

Reason 5: 4G/LTE doesn’t work in a lot of places

For those living in a major metropolitan area, 4G/LTE is all the rage. But if you happen to stray outside these districts, you’re in a wireless wasteland. All that money you spent on a 4G/LTE iPad won’t do you a lick of good. You’d be just as successful stringing twine between two iPads and shouting into the microphone icon.

Reason 6: The porn issue

Look, someone had to say this, so it might as well be me. Apple has a major thing against porn, wanting its devices to be family friendly. What does that mean for you pervs out there?

Well, if you thought that oh-so-wonderful retina display could be used to render naughty images in super-duper-pervo-vision, you’re wrong. Apple is blocking all the potential apps that would take advantage of the retina display, so go on back down to your Mom’s basement and wait until Samsung brings out a high-res display for one of their Android tablets.


Reason 7: The size

There’s another factor here, and that’s size. The iPad isn’t necessarily the optimum size for reading books or consuming content. It’s far bigger than most pocket books and considerably smaller than most magazines. Further, the new iPad is 7% thicker than the iPad 2 and 8% heavier.

There is a reason that Amazon brought out the Kindle Fire in a 7-inch form-factor. It’s a lot easier to read books using a smaller, lighter display.

Reason 8: iPad 2 accessories won’t necessarily work

Because the new iPad is just slightly bigger than the iPad 2, you’ll need to be very careful when selecting accessories to buy with it, in particular sleek cases and sleeves. Not everything you get will fit — and beware unscrupulous vendors trying to dump old inventory by simply relabeling it as “new iPad compatible”.

Reason 9: It’s still not 16×9

Amazingly, the new iPad, with it’s oh-so-revolutionary retina display, still presents information in an obsolete 4×3 format. Virtually no TV, and no monitor (and certainly no movie) is presented in 4×3 format anymore. That stuff went out years ago.

That means that if you want to use the super-sexy retina display to watch a 1080p movie, you’re either going to be forced to watch the movie in letterbox form, using the incredible capability of the retina display to display black bars — or you’ll have to crop off the sides of the movie to see the detail in full screen.

Either way, the 4×3 format of the iPad’s display is disturbingly anachronistic.

Reasons 10-16: Still limited after all these years

Many of the iPad’s limitations still exist, even three revisions into what’s clearly a highly successful design. As much mainstream adoption of the iPad as there’s been, the device is still spectacularly limited in some important areas:

  • Reason 10: There’s still no USB port
  • Reason 11: You still have to use iTunes too often
  • Reason 12: There’s still no removable storage
  • Reason 13: Kindles are still much less expensive
  • Reason 14: You can still only run software approved by Apple
  • Reason 15: It still can’t be used as a standalone computer
  • Reason 16: Apple still won’t let you write or run programs that execute programs

Although the new iPad does open more doors for content creators than ever before, it’s still very limited, both in terms of execution and in terms of Apple’s still-draconian Big Brother user policies.

Yes, I’ve ordered one

We’re big on disclosures here at ZDNet, so I’ll disclose that I did order a new iPad. I didn’t buy the iPad 2 and although I have very little use for my old iPad 1 (I use it in the teleprompter, and that’s all), I bought the new model because I felt that if I’m going to write about it, I need to have one here.

But I’ll be honest. If I didn’t have an editorial need to cover the thing, I never would have bought one. I much prefer real computers that can be used to do real work.

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National conference inevitable - Senator



Senator Pius Akpor Ewherido, who represents Delta Central Senatorial District, is the only Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) Senator. Ewherido, Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Maritime, speaks on the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency, the difference between Boko Haram sect and Niger Delta militants, the need for a unicameral legislature and the clamour for a national conference. Assistant Editor ONYEDI OJIABOR captures his thoughts in this interview.

The country is faced with se rious security challenges. The impression of most Nigerians is that Boko Haram fundamentalists have virtually destroyed the economy of Northern Nigeria?

Of course that view is correct because nobody will invest in an atmosphere of insecurity. Recall that during the Niger Delta crisis when the militants took over the entire rivers and oil installations, investors had no option but to move away from the Niger Delta area. Even though, then, the militants targeted only oil installations and not human beings, today the Boko Haram targets human beings. So, it is not possible for any serious investor to move into that region now and that is not good at all because we talk of the need to create employment, we talk of the need to drive away poverty, deprivation and all that. Development cannot take place in an atmosphere of insecurity just like investment cannot take place in an atmosphere of insecurity. Once there is no investment, you cannot generate employment. It is only in Nigeria that people wait on the government alone to generate employment. Elsewhere in the world, employment is generated more by the private sector

You are the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Maritime. We heard about alleged plan by the government to concession the country’s maritime security to a private outfit.

The maritime security bill was withdrawn in the wisdom of the President. I am not aware of a private maritime security outfit.

You are from the Niger Delta area and a lot of people liken the Niger Delta militants to what Boko Haram is doing now. Do you think there is a link between the two?

Yes, there is a link to the extent that there is some violence involved, but during the Niger Delta struggle, predominantly, the militants struck only at oil installations to drive home their points. They were not really killing human beings. The second difference is that the Niger Delta struggle had clear leaders who were known; it was not as faceless as Boko Haram.

When it came for negotiations from day one the Niger Delta militants had spokesmen who were known, they had leaders who were known, names that were known and at any point in time they were required to meet with government, they were available for dialogue.

That is not exactly the case as you know today about Boko Haram. One of the difficulties in tackling the Boko Haram thing is that their leaders have remained largely unknown. At a point, government said they wanted to discuss with their leaders to state their grievances but they were not forthcoming. I believe that for every struggle to be meaningful the leadership has to be identifiable. So, for there to be consistency and regularity , I think they should have an identifiable leadership that can discuss either with the government or security agencies as the case may be.

What is your reaction to the call by some people that government should extend amnesty to the Boko Haram sect?

You cannot even make any statement about that until you have identifiable leaders.

Do you think that the Northern Elders have done enough or taken some reasonable measures to assist in addressing Boko Haram insurgency

I believe that Nigerians as a people have not even done enough to assist in terms of security because security is a general problem and the few people causing this insecurity are not spirits. During the Niger Delta struggle, in those particular areas, you would know those who were operating even though you could do nothing about it, but you knew them. I believe it is the same thing with the Boko Haram thing. So, if we have to be sincere to ourselves, these are people who live among us, they are people who are seen and known.

If we were doing enough, I am sure the security situation could have been different. Unfortunately, it is now the stock in trade for people to parry it and say oh the security agencies are not doing enough or government is not doing enough. Security is about intelligence and information and when they do not have the necessary intelligence or information how do you expect the security operatives to nip this thing in the bud?

So, we must do everything to tackle it. That is why I agree with some people who are saying there should be a national dialogue on that and many other issues because Boko Haram is not the only issue.

From place to place, there are issues and policies that Nigerians are not happy with. When we come together as a people and we place our cards on the table it becomes easier to understand because the problem in Borno State might not be the same problem in Plateau State or the problem in Delta or some other places.

What form should the dialogue take; could it be Sovereign as some have suggested?

There are two ways to look at it. I am sure that the constitution we have is a federal constitution, but today we are not practising full federalism because of the hiccups in democracy. The democratic institutions that you see are not as free as you look at them. So you cannot just come up and say it should be as it is in the constitution.

The provisions in the constitution are being flouted daily and nothing is happening. Take the relationship between the states and local governments for example, they operate a joint account, after the states receive their own money, they are supposed to disburse the funds to the local governments but we have reports that the governors operate as if they should not give those funds to the local governments, and use them as if they are funds for the state governments, it should not be so.

Then, some of the issues need constitutional amendments but as you have seen constitutional amendment is not an easy process in Nigeria because a lot of stifling take place. The first time constitutional amendment was undertaken, fiscal autonomy was granted to the states legislature but they voted against themselves. Strange things happen here, there are things you should not throw to the dynamics of a democratic system. That is the problem I have with democracy sometimes.

The issue is that some people don’t want government to coordinate it?

But the truth of the matter is that constituted authority must be recognised by that conference, otherwise, it will not make sense. Those of us in the legislature, we are also elected by Nigerians, you cannot therefore discard the mandate freely given to elected officials by constituents, unless you want to say that those constituents are not Nigerians, they are Nigerians.

The President was elected by Nigerians, so you cannot call for a conference discarding the entire mandate handed over freely by Nigerians to their elected officials. That will be working against what even informed the decision to convoke the national conference, which is you want the views of Nigerians reflected.

So, what are the issues you think should be addressed at such a conference?

I have always argued that I do not know what the federal government is doing with agriculture; it should be on the concurrent list. Roads for instance, I do not see what the federal government is doing with internal roads in states. I think the federal government should restrict itself to inter state roads, rails and all that. I do not see what the federal government is doing with primary education because these are localized matters. I don’t even see what the federal government is doing with secondary education. But the problem is that going through the constitution is always a difficult one. So, I am saying that the democratic institutions have their roles, the civil society and Nigerians generally also have their roles, but it is wrong to try to discard democratic institutions because they are also elected.

In a situation where a lot of people do not trust the government and are suspicious of the National Assembly, how will this thing work out?

Nigerians should learn to trust government because if we lose faith in government and at the end of the day we want to operate in a situation where there is no government, that is anarchy. I believe people should continue to agitate to refine the problems with government so that we can get a better government. Take for example people continue to complain about the high cost of governance, yes, I say let us see how we can streamline the parastatals, to streamline the budget demands.

I agree that we have so many parastatals and let us try and streamline them. I also agree that some of the figures in the budget are frivolous. I also look at our government and I also feel that the issue of unicameral legislature must be examined. Do we really need to have a Senate different from the House of Representatives? Because we are talking about cost of governance and if you are to achieve a lower cost of governance I believe that we will have to streamline a lot of things in the presidency and we should look at how we can address the legislature. I stand to be controverted, I don’t think we need a bicameral legislature. But instead of addressing the issues, Nigerians shouted and quoted some bogus figures and say that is what the legislators earn and we look at the figures and some of us wonder whether it is the same legislature we all belong to.

How would you explain resurgence of militancy in recent times in the Niger Delta?

My belief is that a lot of people no matter how good the intention of government is, must have avenues to resuscitate things that are supposed to be behind us. The recent one has to do with the Henry Okah thing. I think it is a legal matter in South Africa . I don’t know if you can hold Nigeria responsible for what transpires in South Africa. I don’t know if the government here has any powers to stop South Africa in carrying out its own judicial duties. But I do know that there was an open agreement for militants to surrender their arms and embrace amnesty. It lasted for a very long time and several opportunities were given. So I do not know about this new one, but I am sure the security agencies are meeting them and discussing with them.

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