Kogi Guber: #dino-melaye cries out over Bello’s move, warns CBN against granting governor loan

Dino Melaye, Senator representing Kogi West in the National Assembly, on Saturday raised the alarm over the latest move by the State Governor, Yahaya Bello, ahead of the state’s governorship election.

Melaye said Bello requested a N30bn loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

In a tweet, the controversial lawmaker alleged that the loan was meant to prosecute the governor’s second term campaign.

He, however, cautioned the country’s apex bank against granting the loan to the governor, who he described as “squandermania.”

“Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State requesting N30bn from CBN. I have written the CBN Governor not to release the money to the squandermania, akotileta Gov.

“He is trying to raise money for the November election. #stopGYBmovement,” he tweeted.

World Bank appoints new president

The Executive Directors of the World Bank, on Friday unanimously appointed David Malpass as President of the World Bank Group for a five-year term, beginning on Tuesday, April 9.

The World Bank in a press release published on its website, said the appointment followed a transparent nomination process where any national of the Bank’s membership could be proposed by any Executive Director or Governor, NAN reports.

“The Board looks forward to working with Malpass on the implementation of the Forward Look and the Capital Package Agreement as articulated in the Sustainable Financing for Sustainable Development Paper,” the bank said.

The World Bank President is Chair of the Boards of Directors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA).

The President is also ex-officio Chair of the Boards of Directors of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the Administrative Council of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Malpass previously served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs for the U.S.
As Under Secretary, Malpass represented the United States in international settings, including the G-7 and G-20 Deputy Finance Ministerial, World Bank-IMF Spring and Annual Meetings of the World Bank.

He also played a role in several major World Bank Group reforms and initiatives.

He was also instrumental in advancing the Debt Transparency Initiative, adopted by the World Bank and IMF, to increase public disclosure of debt and thereby reducing the frequency and severity of debt crises.

Prior to becoming Under Secretary, Malpass was an international economist and founder of a macroeconomics research firm based in New York City.

Earlier in his career, Malpass served as the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Developing Nations and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Economic Affairs.

In these roles, he focused on an array of economic, budget, and foreign policy issues, such as the U.S involvement in multilateral institutions, including the World Bank.

Malpass had served on the boards of the Council of the Americas, Economic Club of New York, and the National Committee on U.S–China Relations.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from Colorado College and his MBA from the University of Denver.

He undertook advanced graduate work in international economics at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Morocco court upholds Hirak movement protesters’ sentences

A Moroccan court has rejected an appeal against the prison sentences of activists who demonstrated against corruption and unemployment.

Dozens of people stood outside the Casablanca court demanding the prisoners’ immediate release ahead of the ruling.

The authorities have accused the activists of being separatists.

Protests rocked the North African country in 2016 and 2017 after the death of a local fishmonger.

Mohcine Fikri was crushed to death by a rubbish lorry in the city of Al-Hoceima as he tried to protect his fish, which had been confiscated by the police.

His death in October 2016 prompted a wave of anger, with thousands taking to the streets accusing authorities of abuse of power and corruption.

The so-called Hirak movement spread throughout the northern Rif region, and about 400 people were detained – drawing further demonstrations.

In June 2018, courts sentenced the leader of the movement, Nasser Zefzaki, to 20 years in prison, with the same term for activists Ouassim El Boustati and Samir Ghid. Others were given sentences of up to 15 years behind bars.

Now, the courts have rejected an appeal against the sentences.

Relatives of those arrested reportedly chanted “corrupt state” and “long live the people” outside the court house once the decision was announced.

Mr Zefzaki was a finalist in 2018 for the Sakharov Prize, which honours people who fight for human rights.

A group of MEPs sent a letter to Morocco’s justice minister on Wednesday urging the country to immediately release Mr Zefzaki and the other detained protesters.

Brexit: Hammond ‘optimistic’ over Brexit talks with Labour

Chancellor Philip Hammond has said he is “optimistic” Brexit discussions between the government and Labour can reach “some form of agreement”.

Mr Hammond said the government had “no red lines” and an “open mind”.

But Labour’s Diane Abbott says the government has made “no movement” in the talks on the political declaration, which outlines future UK-EU relations.

Three days of talks ended on Friday without agreement and Labour said no more talks were planned this weekend.

Downing Street responded by saying it was prepared to pursue alterations to its Brexit deal and was ready to hold further discussions with Labour over the weekend.

Speaking ahead of an EU finance ministers’ meeting in Bucharest, Mr Hammond told reporters: “We are expecting to exchange some more text with the Labour Party today, so this is an ongoing process.”

The meetings between the government and Labour have been taking place to try to find a proposal to put to MPs which could break the Brexit deadlock in the Commons before an emergency EU summit next week.

Mr Hammond said: “We should complete the process in Parliament… but we should be open to listen to suggestions that others have made.

“Some people in the Labour Party are making other suggestions to us. Of course, we have to be prepared to discuss them… in a constructive fashion.”

Labour has said it wants fundamental changes to the political declaration, which sets out ambitions for the future relationship between the UK and EU after Brexit – including on trade, regulations, security and fishing rights – but does not legally commit either party.

Shadow home secretary Ms Abbott told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Labour had engaged in the talks “in good faith” and shadow Brexit minister Sir Keir Starmer had written to the government to say he wants them to continue.

However, she said there was concern that the government did not want to alter the political declaration.

Sir Keir Starmer
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer had accused the government of refusing to consider Labour’s demand for changes to the Brexit deal’s political declaration

On Friday, Sir Keir said ministers were not “countenancing any change” to the “actual wording”.

“We do need change if we’re going to compromise,” he said.

A Downing Street spokesman said after Friday’s talks that “serious proposals” were made and it was “prepared to pursue changes to the political declaration in order to deliver a deal that is acceptable to both sides”.

BBC political editor Emmanuel, says there was a sense that the government has “only offered clarifications on what might be possible from the existing documents, rather than adjusting any of their actual proposals”.

She added that both sides agreed the talks are not yet over, but there were no firm commitments for when further discussions might take place.

‘Existential threat’

The UK is due to leave the EU on 12 April and, as yet, no withdrawal deal has been approved by the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Theresa May has written to European Council President Donald Tusk to request an extension to the Brexit process until 30 June but says if MPs agree a deal, the UK should be able to leave before European parliamentary elections are held on 23 May.

She says the UK would prepare to field candidates in May’s European Parliament elections if MPs failed to back a deal.

But education minister Nadhim Zahawi told the Today programme it would be “a suicide note of the Conservative Party if we had to fight the European elections”.

He added the elections would pose an “existential threat” to both the Conservatives and Labour if they “haven’t been able to deliver Brexit”.

Mr Zahawi suggested that if an agreement could not be found from the talks with Labour, MPs should be asked to find a compromise on a deal through a preferential voting system.

Any extension to the UK’s departure would have to be unanimously approved by EU leaders.

Donald Tusk and Theresa May
Donald Tusk’s plan would need to be agreed by EU leaders

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said a longer delay to Brexit “might make more sense” than the UK seeking “an extension every couple of weeks or every couple of months, because that just adds to the uncertainty for citizens, for businesses and for farmers”.

However, French Europe minister Amelie de Montchalin said such a delay would require the UK to put forward a proposal with “clear and credible political backing”.

“In the absence of such a plan, we would have to acknowledge that the UK chose to leave the EU in a disorderly manner,” she added.

A senior EU source told BBC Europe editor Mr Ben that Donald Tusk would propose a 12-month “flexible” extensionwith the option of the UK leaving sooner once Parliament had ratified a deal.

Iran floods: Thousands evacuate homes as heavy rain forecast

Flood-hit Iran is evacuating more towns and villages as forecasts show further rain is expected on Saturday.

Heavy downpours are set to strike south western provinces and officials say they will release water from key river dams that are dangerously full.

Women and children are being moved to safer areas while men are asked to stay and assist with relief efforts.

In recent weeks, much of the country has been submerged and the death toll currently stands at 70.

Towns such as Susangerd, with a population of 50,000, will be left at risk, officials say. It is to be evacuated on Saturday, along with about five other communities in the province of Khuzestan.

A family wade through the water outside destroyed buildings carrying blankets and bottles
Families tried to rescued their possessions as floods swamped homes in Khuzestan

Around 70 villages in the province have already been evacuated in the past week.

Energy companies in the oil-rich region have helped the relief effort by using pumps to remove water.

Extremely heavy rain began on 19 March, affecting about 1,900 cities, towns and villages. Thousands of roads, bridges and buildings have been destroyed.

A map showing the extent of the floods on March 29 and 4 April

So far, 86,000 people are living in emergency shelters, of which about 1,000 were airlifted to safety.

Aid agencies are struggling to cope with the scale of the crisis and Iran’s state budget is under pressure due to US sanctions on energy and banking.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the sanctions – reimposed after President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal last year,  – had impeded aid efforts and caused a shortage of rescue helicopters.

“This isn’t just economic warfare, it’s economic terrorism,” Mr Zarif tweeted on 1 April.

The government has promised that those affected, especially farmers, will be compensated for their losses.

The head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said the armed forces were “using all their power” to minimise damage.


Are floods linked to deforestation?

By BBC Johnson Michael

Environmental experts believe that deforestation has been one of the major causes of flooding in recent years in the country.

According to Iran’s Natural Resources and Forestry Organization, widespread and unregulated deforestation has destroyed around half of Iran’s northern forests, areas where major floods have occurred.

According to the organisation, the northern forests area has been reduced from 3.6 million to 1.8 million hectares during the past 40 years.


Iran floods: Thousands evacuate homes as heavy rain forecast
There is flooding across the country

Scotland’s papers: Teacher airgun attack and Easter egg row

Daily Record
The Daily Record leads with a letter from a factoring firm in Glasgow warning residents near the city’s Kelvingrove Park not to cause “distress, nuisance or mess” during their annual Easter egg rolling event. The firm later apologised to residents.
The Sun
The Scottish Sun leads with a crackdown on the use of psychoactive substances at Addiewell Prison in West Lothian. The paper reports that a number of inmates have been moved to other jails and the homes of some prison officers were searched as part of the operation, though no arrests have been made.
The National
Elsewhere, Brexit dominates once again with many papers, including The National, leading on how talks between Labour and the Conservatives on a compromise deal appeared to hit the buffers yesterday.
The Scotsman
The Scotsman carries a claim from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that Theresa May is wasting time with the talks with Labour unless she substantially changes her position.
The Express
The Scottish Daily Express focuses on the formal request to the EU to delay the UK’s departure from the trading alliance until 30 June, with the preference being that the leave date is 23 May so as to avoid the need to take part in the European Parliament elections.
The telegraph
Under a banner titled “Brexit betrayal”, The Daily Telegraph suggests the PM’s request to delay the UK’s exit from the EU – and the possibility of holding European elections – pose an “existential threat” to the Tory party.
the i
The prospect of another short extension to Brexit has been met with a cool response according to the i newspaper, which reports how EU leaders want more detail from the UK on why another delay is necessary.
The Times
A warning from the French government that the UK faces leaving the EU in a “disorderly manner” leads the front page of The Times, which also carries warnings from Labour sources that talks with the UK Government have faltered because of a lack of compromise on the part on Downing Street.
the herald
The Herald has a slightly different take on the impact of Brexit with warnings that bullying of school pupils with Eastern European heritage has got worse since the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016.
the press journal
A string of letters to the Scottish government from angry commuters fed up with the standard of service on ScotRail leads the front page of the Press and Journal.

Related Internet links

Ethiopian Airlines crash: Boeing reduces 737 production

Boeing is temporarily cutting production of its best-selling 737 airliner in the continuing fall-out from crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

Production will drop from 52 planes a month to 42 from mid-April, Boeing has said in a statement.

The decision is a response to a halt in deliveries of the 737 Max – the model involved in the two accidents.

The plane is currently grounded as preliminary findings suggest its anti-stall system was at fault.

An Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crashed only minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa in March, killing all 157 people on board.

The same type flown by the Indonesian airline Lion Air crashed into the sea only five months earlier, shortly after taking off from Jakarta. That accident claimed the lives of 189 people.

In both cases, preliminary findings showed the pilots had wrestled with the anti-stall system, known as MCAS, which caused the planes to nose-dive repeatedly.

A report from the Ethiopian authorities issued on Thursday said the pilots of flight ET302 “repeatedly” followed procedures recommended by Boeing before the crash.

What did the Boeing the statement say?

“We now know that the recent Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accidents were caused by a chain of events, with a common chain link being erroneous activation of the aircraft’s MCAS function. We have the responsibility to eliminate this risk, and we know how to do it,” the statement from Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg said.

He repeated that Boeing was making progress on updating the MCAS software and finalising new training for Max pilots.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, 4 April 2019
The Boeing CEO promises to fix the problem

“As we continue to work through these steps, we’re adjusting the 737 production system temporarily to accommodate the pause in Max deliveries, allowing us to prioritise additional resources to focus on software certification and returning the Max to flight,” he said.

Current employment levels would be maintained, the statement said, and a new committee is being set up to look at “policies and processes for the design and development of the airplanes we build”.

What difficulties has Boeing faced?

The 10 March crash of Ethiopian Airlines ET302 led to airlines round the world grounding their 737 Max aircraft.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was one of the last major regulators to order the grounding of the Max, leading some to accuse it of being too close to Boeing.

Questions are being asked about why the planes were not grounded earlier.

Deliveries of the Max were halted, leading to an excess of the planes needing storage.

After the statement, Boeing shares fell just over 1% in after-hours trading to $387.14 (£333).

How have victims reacted?

Boeing apologised on Thursday saying it was “sorry for the lives lost” in both accidents. But this has failed to satisfy many relatives who questioned why Boeing did not act earlier to take the planes out of service.

The chief pilot’s father, Dr Getachew Tessema, told the BBC the apology was “too little, too late”.

Dr Getachew Tessema, the father of the pilot of the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max, Captain Yared Getachew, speaks to the BBC, 5 April 2019
Dr Tessema blames Boeing

Yared Getachew, 29, had more than 8,000 hours of flying experience when he was killed.

“I am very proud about my son and the other pilot, both of them,” he told the BBC’s Emmanuel .

“To the last minute they struggled as much as they could but unfortunately they were not able to stop it.

“I don’t regret that he was a pilot. He died in the course of his duty.”

Dr Tessema levels the blame squarely at Boeing, questioning why the company did not stop the 737 Max flying after the Indonesia crash.

“Why did they let them fly? Because they were in competition. They want to sell more. Human life has no meaning in some societies.”

Relatives of an American passenger who died in the Ethiopian crash, 24-year-old Samya Stumo, filed the first lawsuit against Boeing on Thursday in Chicago.

MCAS graphic