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Arts Director urges govt. to spread peace, harmony, through festivals



Mr Ice Nweke, the Artistic Director, I-Xtreme Productions in Lagos, on Thursday urged the government to spread peace, harmony and togetherness through arts and festivals.

Nweke said that co-existence would be stimulated in the country when governments scaled up support for all arts and festivals.

He told the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos that festivals would promote arts and also boost tourism in Nigeria.

The director said that festivals would also give youths empowerment needed to keep them busy and be engaged so that they would not to get involved in vices.

“It gives a sense of enjoyment, relaxation and offer the time needed to bond with family members and friends whom we never really have time to visit or see.

“The economic benefits of festivals are easiest to see. They attract visitors which stimulates the growth of tourism and other businesses in a town or region.

“The social benefits of arts and festivals are less visible, but they are just as important,” he said.

Nweke said that national festivals were also a way to spread serenity, accord and togetherness among people.

“They make a country united and strong,” he said.


COVID-19: Arts entrepreneur seeks lifelines for SMEs



A creative arts entrepreneur,  Chief Chinwe Ezenwa, told the Federal Government on Saturday to provide lifelines to Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) for the Nigerian economy to survive the impact of the coronavirus.

Ezenwa, Creative Director of a company, known as Le Look Nigeria, made the call at an online meeting, organised by the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), to address emerging trends in the Nigerian arts and culture industry.

She said that government must give adequate attention to SMEs for an assured sustenance of the economy because the SMEs are the “life of the Nigerian economy”.

Ezenwa noted that although SMEs were classified as belonging to the informal sector, government should turnaround the sector by providing adequate funding to the sector to make it formal.

“Banks and corporate bodies have failed us. We need help for our tailors, vulcanisers and shoe-makers, who are really trying to survive this difficult period.”

The artist advised Nigerians to take a cue from the military establishment, which she said, was always preparing and planning for wars ahead by putting contingencies into consideration.

“Nigerians must begin to plan ahead for occurrences like the coronavirus pandemic. We should always put contingencies into consideration.”

She also spoke on the need for Nigerians to work together in raising entrepreneurs, who would use their skills to re-build the economy after the COVID-19 crisis.

Ezenwa said that while the pandemic had rendered many Nigerians confused, a postpandemic prosperity mindset must be embraced to ginger the populace to become more creative.

According to her, the outbreak of the virus has also created business opportunities for young people to latch on.

She recommended that individuals, business entities, religious bodies and other entities must collaborate at this critical period to save the economy from entering recession.

“The country is faced with economic, health and now sexual pandemic. People are confused as the order of activities have been altered but we can still become creative, to bring out the best from our economy.

“I urge all Nigerians to develop entrepreneurship spirit, develop courage to succeed, be creative, be good risk-takers and be proactive to handle the negative impact of the pandemic on businesses.

“We need to operate at the speed of relevance so that post COVID-19 will be prosperous for us all.’’

Earlier Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, Director-General of the NCAC, said that Nigerian culture, dance, drama, music and others would be explored to serve as therapeutic cure for COVID-19.

He said that performances from NCAC headquarters would be available soon for viewing at different locations nationwide.

According to him, the performances will also be available on zoom and other social media platforms to help in uniting the country.

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Silas Nwoha (NAN)








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PLO warns of Israel’s steps towards annexing parts of West Bank




Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Saturday warned Israel against taking steps towards the practical annexation of West Bank lands.

The PLO‘s department of defending lands and resisting Israeli settlement unveiled in a report that extremist groups of Israeli settlers joined a chamber of operations that prepares for the annexation plan of West Bank lands on the ground.

“These groups are recruiting activists and held a series of sessions and workshops discussing what are the next steps,” said the report, adding that these groups held field tours to see how the annexation plan will be implemented.

The Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to annex more than 30 percent of the West Bank territories, including the Jordan Valley, while imposing Israeli sovereignty on several Israeli settlements.

The PLO report said that the Israeli army forces escalated its measures in the Jordan Valley area, including destructing water infrastructure, confiscating equipment and destroying farmers’ properties.

The report also said that the Israeli army forces demolished several houses that belong to Bedouins and handed written demolition notifications to several home owners in the area.

The Israeli annexation plan is scheduled to be implemented next month, according to Israeli officials.


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Vietnam league restarts with packed crowds as coronavirus risk abates



Thousands of fans poured into stadiums in Vietnam on Friday as the country resumed top-flight soccer without social distancing measures or curbs on crowd sizes.

This is owing to its success in combating the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Matches in Vietnam’s professional league were suspended in March but with no coronavirus deaths and just 328 confirmed cases, the communist country is eagerly pursuing a return to normalcy to get its economy back on track.

The stadium in Nam Dinh was close to its 30,000 capacity on Friday as the home side lost 2-1 to visitors Viettel in one of three openings V. League matches, where spectators stood shoulder-to-shoulder with few face masks to be seen.

Hand sanitisers were available as stewards performed temperature checks on fans, who were asked to wear masks as they entered.

“If we were scared of the virus we wouldn’t have come,’’ said Viettel fan, Dinh Van Tam.

“The measures taken to fight the virus were good to keep our health safe, that’s why everybody is having fun.’’

Vietnam has won praise for its aggressive coronavirus testing and a mass, centralised quarantine programme, putting it on course to revive its economy sooner than others.

The V. League’s decision to pick up exactly where it left off bucks a global pattern of countries preparing to restart leagues without supporters while discussing changes to rules to handle fixture backlogs, the lack of atmosphere or fears about fans gathering outside grounds.

Leagues in Spain, England and Italy are set to resume later this month, while the German Bundesliga has already restarted with a haunting atmosphere at empty stadiums and muted goal-scoring celebrations.

Vietnam’s national team captain Que Ngoc Hai of Viettel said it was wonderful to see a full stadium.

“I’m not saying this to compare us with other countries, but Vietnamese football has returned after the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It showed how well Vietnamese have fought the virus,’’ he told Reuters.

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Zambian expert urges tougher penalties for race discrimination, saying racism starts since colonialism




Tougher penalties for discrimination against African Americans is one sure way of protecting the lives of African Americans who have for a long time suffered injustice, a Zambian sociologist said on Thursday in an interview with Xinhua.

Maata Mwiya, a lecturer at the University of Zambia in the Department of Sociology noted that while condemning an act of killing an unarmed person is commendable, there is need to make it more punishable to discriminate against others.

“It starts with condemning because that is the indication that the act itself is deviant and it is unacceptable behaviour,” Mwiya said.

He pointed out that historically, there have been some incidences of racism in the United States and that sometimes the system is the one that creates a situation where individuals become criminals.

He said this in response to comments on the recent murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who died at the hands of a named police officer in Minneapolis in the United States.

Protests have since taken place across the U.S. on the back of the killing of Floyd, with demonstrations across the country against systematic racism. Activists, celebrities and members of the public have joined hands to fight back against police brutality, particularly against African Americans.

Mwiya has also implored African governments to fight racism by promoting African ingenuity and values.

He noted that racism started with colonialism and that to prevent it, Africans across the globe need to be culturally strong and less dependent on the west and emphasized the need for Africans to develop themselves and their communities.

“Colonialism taught us to accept Westernization as civilization. But for as long as we continue to accept the Western way of life as civilization and associate Westernization with civilization, we will continue to be looked down on and be discriminated against,” he said.


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Cleanup starts at 57 sites in Ogoni land – Minister



The Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, says no fewer than 57 sites at Ogoni land in Rivers are being cleaned up currently.

Abubakar made the disclosure while speaking with State House correspondents on Wednesday in Abuja, saying that he had presented a report on the ministry’s mandate to a meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

The virtual meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The Ogoni cleanup in the past has been a story. Finally, President Buhari came in 2016 and the contract was given out.

“We are currently cleaning 21 plus 36 sites in Ogoni land. All these are impacted areas with hydrocarbon — a very big project.

“The world is watching this project because of the nature of hydrocarbons and what they can cause to the environment and the people living there.’’

The minister said that planting of 25 million trees was also in the fore burner and that the ministry was collaborating with state governments on the project.

Abubakar said that the Federal Ministry of Environment was one of the implanting ministries of the 774, 000 jobs approved by the president.

“So, those skilled and unskilled labours are coming through the ministry. About 200, 000 people will be employed plus additional 2,000, who are going to be employed by the erosion department of the ministry.’’

He said that the ministry was also handling waste recycling, describing waste management as a big project.

Abubakar said that waste management entailed waste reduction, waste recycling, waste re-use and waste recovery, among others.

According to him, it is no longer fashionable to produce, use and dispose waste.

The minister said that his report to FEC also covered efforts being made on erosion control in the South East and the upper North areas of the country.

“We have two programmes on erosion control. One is being handled by the department in the ministry of environment, which is in charge of mostly conventional erosion.

“Then, we have the big one which is being sponsored by the World Bank and we call that Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project.

“The project deals with gully erosion — huge erosion that will gulp houses and you know South-East is prone to this type of erosion because of the geologic nature of the area.’’

On job creation, the minister said that the Ogoni cleanup had created 765 jobs, adding that more jobs would be created through the cleanup.

He said that a programme on training of 400 women in agriculture, aquaculture and poultry was also underway.

We have the National Generator Emission Control Programme that will be coming on line.

“These are jobs that will be crated immediately after COVID-19,’’ said the minister.

Edited By: Silas Nwoha (NAN)



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Egypt starts gradual reopening of services and offices




A hotel employee cleans the hand sanitizer machine in Conrad Hotel in Cairo, Egypt, on June 2, 2020. Egyptian government has already started gradual reopening of services and offices that have been halted since mid-March, and allowed reopening of dozens of hotels for local tourists with 50-percent capacity. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

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Alitalia restarts Rome-New York service as part of wider relaunch




Alitalia, Italy‘s flagship airline, formally launched long-haul flight from Rome to New York on Tuesday, a day before the country opens its borders to other Schengen countries.

The airline is being relaunched under state control after it failed to attract a buyer in the leadup to Italy’s national coronavirus lockdown. Since early March, the lockdown has all but shut down the airline aside from some cargo flights and a few flights used to repatriate Italians from coronavirus hotspots.

Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development has said the airline would relaunch its services in June. The full scale of the relaunch will be visible on Wednesday, when the country opens its borders to unrestricted national travel for visitors from the 25 other countries in the visa-free Schengen area.

But Tuesday saw the symbolic restart of the airline’s most popular direct, long-haul route, one that had been closed down because of the coronavirus pandemic. The eight-hour flight will run twice a week.

The airline will also restart flights between Rome and the Sardinian cities of Alghero and Olbia on Wednesday, as well as flights between Rome and Spanish cities of Barcelona on Wednesday and Madrid on Thursday.

The airline said other flight routes will be added in the coming days and weeks.

All the flights will take place with social distancing rules in effect, meaning passengers would board one at a time and seated at least 1 meter away from each other. The company will also schedule more time between flights in order to disinfect each aircraft before passengers for the next flight can board. The rules mean flights will be capped at 33 to 50 percent capacity depending on the type of aircraft.


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Namibia’s arts industry continues to be hampered by impact of COVID-19




Namibia’s highly competitive art exhibition, the Bank Windhoek Triennial, which celebrates visual art in the country, has been shifted to next year due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the organizers announced Tuesday.

Staged every three years, the triennial showcases the quality and diversity of artwork produced by Namibian artists and is sponsored by Bank Windhoek and organized by the National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN).

As a result of the impact of COVID-19, the new deadline for artists to submit their artwork is Nov. 6, 2020, and judging of the artworks will take place in early February 2021, while the official opening of the Bank Windhoek Triennial is in April 2021, they said.

The duration of the exhibition is scheduled to start from April 9 until July 3, 2021.

“The pandemic has severely affected the visual arts industry. Thus, prompting the decision to allow visual artists more time to work on their submissions to ensure they submit quality artwork,” said Bank Windhoek’s Head of Corporate Social Investments, Sponsorship, and Events, Bronwyn Moody.

Despite the setback, NAGN’s Chief Executive, Snobia Kaputu said they look forward to innovative works of art, and therefore encourage all artists who meet the qualifying criteria to enter the competition.

The triennial aims to celebrate visual art in Namibia, while providing a continued platform for the development and promotion of the visual art industry. The first event took place in 2008.


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Over 200 arrested in NYC before curfew starts




Some 200 people were arrested in New York City Monday night before a curfew order went into effect at 11 p.m. (0300 GMT on Tuesday), local media reported.

Following the same pattern as in the previous days, peaceful protests in the city turned ugly as the night fell. Those arrested on Monday were mostly looters who broke into various shops in Midtown Manhattan, Union Square and on Fifth Avenue, which have all been closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to NBC4 and The New York Times.

The chaos prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to impose a curfew on Tuesday as well, which will start earlier than today at 8 p.m. (0000 GMT on Wednesday) and end at 5 a.m. on Wednesday (0900 GMT).

Monday’s curfew is supposed to end at 5 a.m. on Tuesday (0900 GMT). Both curfews exclude essential workers, homeless people and people seeking medical treatment, according to the mayor.

However, there were still people protesting when the curfew began, and de Blasio took to Twitter to persuade them to go home.

“We support peaceful protest in this city. But right now it’s time to go home,” the mayor tweeted around 30 minutes into the curfew.

“Some people are out tonight not to protest but to destroy property and hurt others … Their actions are unacceptable and we won’t allow them in our city,” he continued.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio on Monday afternoon made a joint statement announcing the curfew to curb violent acts in extensive protests over Minnesota man George Floyd‘s death from police brutality and racism.

New York City‘s police presence was doubled Monday night to 8,000 officers, with a large number of them dispatched to Lower Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn, where violence and looting were rampant on Sunday night.

So far, at least 1,200 people in New York have been arrested in five days of citywide demonstrations, and over 40 police officers were injured, according to NYPD officials.


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