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EU gives social media giants mixed marks on anti-disinformation push

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EU gives social media giants mixed marks on anti-disinformation push

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The commission has been issuing monthly assessments since December, when the EU adopted an action plan to combat online disinformation.

The initiative came on the heels of a voluntary EU code of conduct that the internet giants signed in October.

The EU elections in May, in particular, are seen as vulnerable to disinformation attacks.

The commission said it welcomed the effort by Facebook, Google and Twitter to start labelling political ads, as well as moves by Facebook and Twitter to make their ad libraries available to the public.

According to the commission, Google is testing its own version.

“All three, however, need to refine their technology so that third-party experts, such as fact checkers, can evaluate ads,’’ the commission said.

It also called out Google and Twitter for not making any progress in enhancing transparency for issue-based ads, given their importance in elections.

Among other shortcomings the commission cited was Twitter’s failure to provide insight on how its actions taken against spam and fake accounts are tied to activity by users in the EU.

Facebook, meanwhile, did not detail how its actions against disinformation, including the disabling of “eight coordinated inauthentic behaviour networks” affected EU users.

The commission has warned it could introduce binding rules, if voluntary pledges do not go far enough.

 

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Germany reports 342 new COVID-19 cases, total now at 182,370

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New COVID-19 infections in Germany remained under last week’s average as the number of confirmed cases increased by 342 within one day to 182,370, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Wednesday.

Over the course of last week, an average of 457 daily cases had been recorded by the RKI, the federal government agency for disease control and prevention.

According to the RKI, the number of deaths from the new coronavirus in Germany increased by 29 to 8,551 by Tuesday. The case fatality rate in Germany was unchanged at 4.7 percent.

The number of people currently infected with COVID-19 in Germany continued to fall to around 15,000 by Tuesday as the estimated number of people who had already recovered increased by around 800 within one day to 167,300, the RKI noted.

The 4-day average reproduction rate (R-number) of COVID-19 in Germany once again fell below one and decreased to 0.89, according to the RKI daily situation report for Tuesday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the RKI had stressed numerous times that the R-number had to be below one in order to ease restrictions in Germany. An R-number below one indicates that one infected person is passing on the disease to less than one person on average.

Since new daily COVID-19 infections in Germany have fallen well below peak values, the RKI has been stressing that the R-number in Germany was “sensitive to short-term changes” as caused by a local cluster infection after family celebrations in the district of Goettingen.

On Tuesday, the city of Goettingen announced that 80 people so far tested positive for COVID-19. The city was planning to test an additional 700 contact persons and all schools in the city area would be closed as a preventive measure until the end of the week.

(XINHUA)

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Economy

Revenue mobilisation clarifies misconceptions by MDAs on funding

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The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), on Wednesday expressed concern over the misconceptions on accessing of funds from federation account by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.

Mr Elias Mbam, Chairman of the Commission expressed the concern in a document made available to News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

Mbam said that the only beneficiaries to the federation account were the federal, state governments and the local government councils in each state as provided in section 162 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He further explained that the commission had the mandate to monitor the accruals to and disbursement of revenue from the federation account accrued revenue to the federal, state and local governments.

“The commission also advises the federal, state and local governments on fiscal efficiency and methods by which their revenue can be enhanced.

According to him, this explanation became necessary following a letter from the Ministry of Police Affairs to Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and copied the commission requesting it to fund `Nigeria Police Trust Fund’.

The request recalled that on June 24, 2019 Mr President signed into law the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act, 2019.

In the request, the objective of the Act was to provide a legal framework for the management and control of the special intervention fund established under section 3 of the Act for training and retraining of personnel of the Nigeria Police Force.

And also for the provision of state of Art security equipment and other related facilities for the enhancement of the skills of the personnel of the Nigeria Police in the handling of operational equipment and machinery.

According to the letter, sources of funding for the Trust Fund include 0.5 per cent of the total revenue accruing to the federation account as well as 0.005 per cent of the Net Profit of companies operating business in Nigeria among other sources.

The chairman reiterated that “the commission is saddled with the responsibility to monitor accruals of revenue into the federation account from revenue generating agencies and disbursement of all the accruals to the three tiers of government while blocking leakages”.

Mbam explained that the president, upon the receipt of advice from the commission, would table before the National Assembly proposals for revenue allocation from the federation account.

“And in determining the formulae, the National Assembly shall take into account, the allocation principles especially those of population, equality of states, internal revenue generation, land mass, terrain as well as population density,” he said.  


Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Ekemini Ladejobi (NAN)

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Palestinians rally against Israeli plan to annex West Bank lands

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Dozens of Palestinians on Wednesday held a protest in the West Bank city of Nablus, rejecting the Israeli plan to annex Palestinian lands.

The protesters called for “consolidation of the people’s resilience in their lands and escalation of popular resistance,” while raising Palestinian flags and slogans against the annexation of Palestinian lands.

“The escalation of popular resistance by all means on all fronts is the proper response to Israel’s plans,” said Jihad Ramadan, Fatah party’s secretary in Nablus, urging Hamas to end the internal division.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday night chaired a meeting for the crisis committee in charge of following up on Israel’s possible annexation plans and United States President Donald Trump‘s peace plan for the Middle East, better known as the Deal of the Century.

Following the meeting, Mahmoud al-Aloul, vice chairperson of the Fatah, told reporters that the leadership’s decision to disengage from all agreements and understandings with Israel and the United States “is final and will not be retracted as long as Israel is pressing ahead with the implementation of the Deal of the Century.”

Observers said the possible declaration by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of applying Israeli law on West Bank settlements and annexing large areas of the occupied territory in July would lead to violence and unrest.

The Israeli public radio reported that heads of Israeli security and army bodies will hold a meeting to discuss anticipated scenarios after Netanyahu’s declaration of annexation.

(XINHUA)

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Politics

Ondo 2020: Okunomo advises against monetising PDP primary

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A Peoples’ Democratic Party(PDP) governorship aspirant in Ondo State, Mr Banji Okunomo, has advised against monetising the party’s July 22 primary election.

Okunomo gave the advice while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria in Akure on Wednesday.

Okunomo said some aspirants believed in the power of money to buy party delegates and advised against using money as a benchmark for choosing the party’s governorship candidate.

He urged the electorate to rather carry out objective analysis of the aspirants’ pedigree on what he could offer when he becomes a governor.

“My advice to all delegates is that they should be wary of bad and emergency politicians who come to run because they have money to buy their votes and when they possibly win, they forget them.

“The electorate should not shy away from judging the antecedent of aspirants because the antecedent of those aspiring determines what they are going to do possibly when they get into office.

“And ensuring that anybody that will emerge must have strong view as a functional and efficient manager of people and resources,” the PDP aspirant said.

He added that the party needed a professional that was technically skillful and capable to understand economic and financial components of governance.

“To be a good leader and archiver is not by quantum of certificates that you acquire or by self glorification or title you hold but by your content.

“Content of your character, intellectual possession, administrative, managerial skills and capabilities to be able to run a good government,” he said.

Okunomo, who was a former Chairman of Ilaje Local Government, promised to embrace all other aspirants and unite the party if he emerged PDP candidate for the October 10 election.

“Failure is not in my dictionary, rather success is what is in my dictionary but if otherwise, I’ll give glory to God and life continues,” he said.

The PDP governorship aspirant promised to give adequate priority to agriculture by providing incentives to various farmers’ groups for optimum food production, if elected.


Edited By: Josephine Obute/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Health

COVID-19: Gombe records 7 deaths, says taskforce 

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Gombe State Taskforce on COVID-19 says it has recorded seven deaths related to COVID-19 in the state.

Prof. Idris Mohammed, chairman of the taskforce stated this in Gombe on Wednesday while briefing newsmen.

The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that three deaths were initially reported, and the state recorded additional four recently, bringing the total to seven.

He said out of the seven deaths recorded, three were from community transmission because they did not have any record of travelling.

He said so far, there were only 23 active cases in the state that were on admission at Specialist, Federal Teaching Hospital and Kwadon Isolation centres Gombe.

He further expressed concern over the way people were conducting their businesses in the state without the fear of the pandemic.

Idris said the negative attitude of members of the public was worrisome because they were frustrating the efforts of the taskforce that was going round the communities for contact tracing.

“Members of the community were frustrating the efforts of taskforce who were out for contact tracing.

“Community transmission can only be checked if they cooperate with health workers who were out for contact tracing,” he said.


Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Salif Atojoko (NAN)

 

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Economy

FG okays upward review of Lokoja Port contract sum to N600m

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The Federal Government has approved the upward review of the contract sum of the Lokoja Port from N400. 11 million to N600.4 million.

The Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr George Moghalu, confirmed this to newsmen in Lokoja on Wednesday.

He said that the review was to accommodate additional specifications to the project to meet specific standards .

Moghalu said that with this development, the contractor handling the project would soon return to site, adding that the authority was committed to its early completion.

On Baro Port which has remained inactive since it’s inauguration by President Muhammadu Buhari, the managing director said that the major constraint was lack of access road to the port.

He however said that he would soon meet with the Governor of Niger, Abubakar Bello and other critical stakeholders on how to resolve the problem.

Moghalu said that the authority had plans to review its tarrifs downward as part of efforts to make inland waterways attractive for movement of cargo and passengers.

To this end, he said that the authority had begun discussions with some private investors to acquire ferries to ply the dredged channels of River Niger.

According to him, NIWA is in the process of buying a dredger to ensure regular maintenance of the dredged lower part of River Niger.

The Federal Government in 2011 dredged the lower part of River Niger at a cost of N36 billion.

The dredging which covered 10,000 kilometres started from Baro in Niger State to Onitsha, Anambra State.

Moghalu appealed to the media to help in returning normalcy to the country by educating Nigerians on how to regularly observe the protocols put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

He also solicited media support for the activities of NIWA, saying that the agency as a major player in the maritime sector, was critical to the survival of the country’s economy.


Edited By: Ejike Obeta (NAN)

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Foreign

Namibia poaching cases down 50 pct compared to last year

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Namibia’s number of poaching cases recorded so far this year, at 13, represented a fall of 50 percent from the same period last year, Environment Ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said on Wednesday.

Muyunda attributed the drop to the country’s improved preventive measures against poaching.

Namibia has prioritized of intelligence gathering to stop poaching before it happens, instead of just responding to poaching cases, he said.

“More people are being arrested for conspiring before the act, which has resulted in a decrease in poaching cases,” Muyunda said.

Namibia recorded 26 poaching cases during the first five months of last year.

(XINHUA)

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Russian hospital fire kills careless smoker

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A fire at a hospital in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on Wednesday killed a patient, who is suspected of starting the blaze by smoking in bed.

The patient was treated for an intestinal disease in the Botkin Infectious Disease Hospital, TASS news agency reported.

The patient was poisoned with combustion products and found dead, the agency said, citing a spokesman for the St. Petersburg division of the Russian Emergencies Ministry.

The fire was eliminated by the hospital staff, and there were 274 patients and 87 staff members in the hospital when the accident occured, TASS said.

(XINHUA)

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Kenyans adopt new greeting habits amid coronavirus pandemic

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As COVID-19 cases take an upward trend in Kenya, reaching 2,093 on Tuesday, citizens are adopting new greeting habits, such as elbow bumps, which are helping people socialise as they maintain hygiene and keep social distance to curb the spread of the disease.

With handshakes, hugs, cheek kisses, and shoulder bumps among other forms of salutations dead, thanks to the new coronavirus pandemic, new forms of greetings considered safer are taking root in Kenya, both in official and informal circles.

One such a greeting that is taking the east African nation by storm is elbow bump as citizens consider it much safer.

From the old to the young, men and women, elbow bumps have now become the official greetings of Kenyans both in formal and informal settings like homes.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto cemented the greeting in Kenya’s formal circles on Monday when they used it during independence celebrations in Nairobi, the capital.

Wearing masks, clenching their fists and smiling, Kenyatta and Ruto bumped their elbows to greet each other.

Their greeting did not only acknowledge the popularity of the salutation amid the pandemic, but it also confirmed to citizens that they can use it.

Several dignitaries at the event that was attended by few government officials and opposition leaders also used the elbow bump to greet each other.

“I have been using the elbow bump since last month.

“Some people have been comfortable with it, others are not, avoiding contact but when I saw the president use it on Monday, I felt happy, that this is the greeting for those of us who are used to handshakes,” said Gilbert Wandera, a businessman in Nairobi.

Wandera, who sells computers, had shunned any form of contact greeting when the disease broke out to maintain hygiene.

But I changed my mind as people embraced face masks and other sanitation measures.

“Besides, elbow bumps are a little safer because chances that you will touch your face with the elbow are nil,” he said.

The greeting has also been embraced in households, corporate offices, operators of public transport vehicles commonly known as matatus, commuters, motorbike taxi riders and traders among others as it quenches citizens’ thirst to shake hands.

Besides elbow bumps, other forms of greetings that Kenyans are using include foot taps and hand on my heart – what the World Health Organisation recommends.

But these are not as popular as elbow bumps.

Another culture that has taken root in the east African nation, thanks to the pandemic is the wearing of face masks.

Initially, wearing of masks was seen as a mark of style mainly done by the sophisticated or wealthy, but it has now been embraced by all citizens, with thousands hardly venturing out of their houses without the gadget.

“I am also finding myself maintaining the 1.5m social distance in public places naturally.

“No one is reminding me to keep distance in supermarkets, at ATMs, in public transport vehicles or in the office.

“And this is what many other people are doing.

“It is now a culture that is helping curb the disease,” said Victoria Selima, a government auditor.

Initially, funerals in the east African nation would attract hundreds of people, some who would stay at the affected families’ homes for days mourning.

But with COVID-19, citizens have learnt to keep away from the events without being forced by government officials, noted Victor Mulanda, who traveled to western Kenya on Monday from the capital for a funeral.

Rashid Aman, Kenya’s health chief administrative secretary, noted Tuesday that citizens must be responsible and embrace new norms to beat the disease that is currently deeply entrenched in community across the east African nation.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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