The first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry, against President Donald Trump, are set to begin on Wednesday, as Democrats step up their public campaign over what they see as an abuse of power by the White House.
Lawmakers will question two career diplomats, who have expressed concern that Trump linked aid to Ukraine to a promise to investigate the president’s political rival, Joe Biden, the frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary for the 2020 election.
The first people to testify in public will be William Taylor, the top diplomat to Ukraine and George Kent, a career diplomat.
On Friday, Marie Yovanovitch, the former Ambassador to Kiev, will testify.
She was effectively ousted this year by the White House over his apparent refusal to play ball with Giuliani.
The Democrats have been working to quickly advance the impeachment inquiry, with speculation they might be looking to wrap up the investigations before the end of the year.
Republican lawmakers have nearly uniformly backed the president.
Trump says there was no quid pro quo and has released a reconstructed transcript of one phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The president’s opponents say the call showed pressure on Kiev and highlights Trump’s focus on investigating Biden.
There is no evidence of criminality by Biden, a former vice president.
The Democrat was in charge of Ukraine policy at the end of the Obama administration while his son was being paid handsomely to sit on a board of a Ukrainian energy company.
Edited by Fatima Sule/Abdulfatah Babatunde
FirstBank rewards its Verve Card holders with free fuel
First Bank of Nigeria Limited said that its customers using Verve Cards had begun to enjoy extra five (5) litres of fuel for every N3,000 fuel purchased using the card at specified periods.
Ani-Mumuney said that the customers were enjoying the benefit under its Free Fuel promotion which kicked-off on July 6.
According to her, the Free Fuel promo is activated by FirstBank in collaboration with Verve International and Oando Plc.
“In the promo, for a minimum of N3,000 fuel purchase, FirstBank Verve Cardholders will receive 5 extra litres of fuel for FREE instantly at selected Oando Fuel Stations across Lagos every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
“The Oando fuel stations where the promo will run are Abijo (Lekki Stillwaters), Fola-Agoro, Maryland, Agege-Bypass, Lakowe, Lawanson Ojodu- Berger Alapere Shiro Road (Fadeyi Ikorodu Rd)Awolowo Rd (by Fire Service), Marina, and Tradefair stations,” she said.
She said that the promotion, which ends on July 24, was between the hours of 6am and 6pm.
“Verve card is a secure debit card that allows the cardholder to conveniently meet day to day financial needs such as payment for goods and services, airtime recharge, bill payments, funds transfer and more.
“It is accepted across all ATMs, POS, Web and Mobile Platforms in Nigeria. Pick up your FirstBank Verve card today at any of our branches and start getting rewarded,” she said.
Edited By: Debo Oshundun/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)
First happiness museum opens in Denmark
An international Museum of Happiness said that it has opened its doors for the first time in the Danish capital Tuesday.
“We Danes often hear that we are among the happiest people in the world, and with the museum we want to convey what that really means,’’ Meik Wiking, CEO of The Happiness Research Institute (HRI) and founder of the Happiness Museum, told the Danish News Agency Ritzau.
Fully financed by HRI, the 240-square meter museum provides an array of interactive activities, thought experiments, and a display of artifacts of happiness donated by people around the world as reminders of their happiest moments.
“Whether you live in South America, Europe or Asia, the notion of happiness is largely the same,’’ said Wiking, who is also a bestselling author of `The Little Book of Hygge’ Danish Secrets to Happy Living.’’
On the intellectual dimensions of happiness, the museum also offers an international history of happiness, examines the politics of happiness, investigates the anatomy of smiles, and attempts to explain why Nordic countries are considered happiness superpower.
“We hope that people are in there for an hour and come out a little wiser on how they can create greater well-being for themselves, and at the same time make the world a slightly better place,’’ said Wiking.
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)
United States judge orders delay of first federal executions in 17 years
A United States judge on Monday ordered a delay in federal executions, hours before one was to be carried out for the first time in 17 years, hampering the Trump administration’s plan to revive capital punishment by the federal government.
Washington district Judge Tanya Chutkan issued a preliminary injunction to allow the continuation of legal challenges of four death row inmates against the government’s new lethal injection protocol announced last year.
“The public is not served by short-circuiting legitimate judicial process,” she wrote in an order.
The Department of Justice immediately appealed the ruling.
The department planned to carry out the first executions at a federal level since 2003 over the next few weeks, starting with Daniel Lewis Lee, who is convicted of murder, in the US state of Indiana on Monday.
The move has been mired in legal battles. Chutkan’s order came just hours after a federal appeals court had overturned a lower court’s ruling halting Monday’s execution over coronavirus concerns.
Attorney General William Barr last summer announced he was bringing back the death penalty, of which President Donald Trump has been a long-time vocal advocate.
United States states individually decide whether to use capital punishment in their criminal justice systems. The federal system is separate to those of the 50 states and other jurisdictions.
Some 20 states have banned the death penalty, while others have not carried out executions in decades.
Part of the legal challenge to the use of the death penalty at the federal level relates to appeals over the protocol of execution, which is lethal injection.
Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)
German cabinet passes first ever gender equality strategy
Germany’s cabinet on Wednesday approved a strategy aimed at boosting efforts to achieve equality between men and women in all future legislation and government-funded programmes.
The agreement is the first time the German government has committed to a cross-departmental strategy for improving gender equality, a topic previously left to the Women’s Ministry.
In spite gender equality being enshrined in the German constitution, it had taken “decades” for the entire government to commit to enforcing it, said Franziska Giffey, Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
The strategy paper’s stated aims include bringing more women into management positions, helping them reconcile family and work commitments and encouraging a fairer distribution of care work between the sexes.
Giffey said there was still much work to be done in these areas and that the strategy was a “milestone” that would serve as an “important foundation” for future governments.
The cabinet move comes the day after the party leadership of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) agreed a proposal to increase female representation within the party to 50 per cent by 2025.
The agreement on a proposed binding female quota was reached by the conservative party’s commission for structural matters late on Tuesday following 11 hours of talks.
The proposal passed with an overwhelming majority of votes, with 34 members of the commission voting in favour.
Just seven members voted against, with five abstentions.
In what was considered a compromise in the face of resistance from within the party, the agreement foresees a gradual increase of female representation over the coming years.
Women are to occupy 30 per cent of CDU government positions and parliamentary seats by 2021, 40 per cent by 2023, and 50 per cent by 2025.
The agreed proposal is due to be put to the CDU party conference in early December in Stuttgart, where delegates are to vote on whether to adopt the new measures.
Continuing talks on Wednesday, the party leadership also agreed to recognise a group of gay and lesbian members of the CDU, known as the LSU, as an official organisation within the party.
Women are well represented in the CDU’s highest ranks, with Merkel as head of government and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer currently serving as defence minister and party leader.
However, in the Bundestag parliament, women make up just over 20 per cent of Merkel’s conservative bloc, which also includes the regional CSU sister party.
By comparison, women make up around 43 per cent of the parliamentary faction of their coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD).
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)
Foundation donates N13m worth scholarship to 26 First Class graduates
An NGO Igala Education Foundation (IEF), has donated N13 million to 26 First Class graduates of Igala extraction from various higher institutions across Nigeria.
Onoja, who influenced the donation in collaboration with his friends and associates, said the donation would go a long way to support the graduating awardees.
He extolled the founder of the foundation, late Prof. Francis Idachaba, for initiating the scholarship programme in year 2000, saying it was a right choice that had been yielding tangible results since then.
”In life, you need to sow seed to reap harvest that generations will benefit from.
“I urge us all to continue to sow good seed, because nature have a way of paying us back; there is power in seed sowing,” Onoja said.
The deputy governor, who is also a member, Board of Trustees (BoT)of the foundation, commended the awardees for their commitment to have graduated with First class, saying it was not easy.
”When you see such people with First Class Degree, we need to encourage them so that others coming behind can also be encouraged to try their best.
”I want to believe that some of you will be global players in your different fields. I encourage you to pursue your dreams,” he advised.
Onoja urged the awardees not look at the amount, but to utilise it wisely and make the foundation and people of Igala Kingdom proud.
He promised, on behalf of all the donors, to continue to improve on the scholarship so that more people would benefit and build a good legacy.
”Congratulations once again on behalf of his Excellency, Gov. Yahaya Bello, who is also a donor.
“The exercise is a proof of unity across the different tribes of Kogi,” Onoja said.
Earlier, the Executive Director of the foundation, Prof. Joseph Omada, said that the group had over the years been given scholarship to best students at basic, secondary and tertiary levels.
Omada said the scholarship, which used to be N70, 000 per awardee, was raised to N500, 000 by the deputy governor during the Igala Education Summit held in 2019.
He, therefore, commended the deputy governor for fulfilling his promise and for influencing other donors to ensure that the needed fund was raised for the scholarship.
”This is not politics; it is encouraging the students of Igala to be serious with their academics and come out with good grades,” he said.
Also, Mr Wemi Jones, the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, lauded the foundation for the gesture, saying it worth emulation.
Jones urged the awardees to utilise the opportunity and be a good ambassador of the Igala Kingdom and the state at large.
Speaking on behalf of the awardees, Mr Dominic Iko-Ojo, thanked the foundation, the deputy governor and all other donors for encouraging and motivating them through the scholarship.
Edited By: Angela Okisor/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)
Oyo records its first COVID-19 patient delivery
The State Gov. Seyi Makinde, made this known via his official Twitter, @seyiamakinde on Saturday.
Makinde, however, said the state recorded two additional deaths from the dreaded coronavirus, increasing the total death toll in the state to 14.
“We had our first COVID-19 patient delivery at the Infectious Disease Centre, Olodo, mother and baby are doing well.
“The COVID-19 confirmation tests for 19 suspected cases came back positive.
The cases based on Local Government Areas are from Ibadan South East (3), Ibadan North (3), Akinyele (3), Lagelu (2), Oluyole (2), Ibadan North West (2), Egbeda (1), Ido (1), Ona Ara (1), and Oyo East (1) Local Government Areas.
“So, the total number of confirmed cases in Oyo State now is 1, 451.
“Sadly, we had two COVID-19-related deaths. So, the total number of deaths in Oyo state is 14.
“Please call the Emergency Operations Centre on 08095394000 | 08095863000 | 08078288999 | 08078288800, if you have any COVID-19 symptoms: cough, fever, tiredness, body ache, loss of smell/taste and shortness of breath,” he said.
Edited By: Abigael Joshua/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Kaduna completes first phase of ultra modern market
Kaduna State Government has completed the first phase of the ultra modern market being constructed at Kasuwan Magani in Kajuru Local Council in Kaduna State.
The Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Ibrahim Musa, who led newsmen on a tour of the market, said that the construction work in the market had reached advance stage.
The project, with a cost of over N2 billion, has 224,000 shops.
A representative of the construction company, Hamza Bello, said over 400 shops had so far been completed in the first phase of the project.
He said that about 80 per cent of the work had been completed and assured that the remaining work would soon be completed.
Some labourers at the project site expressed their commitment to meet the completion target given to them.
Gov. Nasiru El-Rufai launched the reconstruction of the burnt market as part of his administration’s readiness to promote equality in opportunity and economic development in the communities.
Edited By: Chidi Opara/Tajudeen Atitebi (NAN)
Mercedes in first two positions as F1 gets back on track in Austria
Formula One got back on track in changed circumstances on Friday but with Mercedes bringing a familiar look to the timing sheets.
Six times world champion Lewis Hamilton led team mate Valtteri Bottas for a one-two in Austrian Grand Prix free practice.
The Briton did 41 laps and lapped with a best time of one minute 04.816 seconds in a damp and overcast session, 0.356 faster than the Finn.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, winner of the last two races at his team’s home track, was third fastest and 0.602 off Hamilton’s pace.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, who is heading to Ferrari at the end of the season, was first on track and finished the session fourth.
Ferrari, who have recognised problems with their car but have to wait for updates, had Charles Leclerc 10th and Sebastian Vettel, celebrating his 33rd birthday, 12th.
The cancellation happened on March 15 before a wheel had turned.
Friday marked the first time all the drivers had been on track together since the end of pre-season testing in Barcelona last February.
The last time any of them raced was in Abu Dhabi in December last year.
“Motor Sport is back!,” said International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Jean Todt on Twitter, moments after the cars left the Spielberg pitlane to begin lapping the scenic circuit.
“It’s good to hear the engines and see cars again and almost get back to some phase of normality,” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said.
“We all look like we’re in some kind of hospital programme, with all the face masks and the PPE (personal protective equipment)… But other than that, working practices are very much as normal.
“This is day one of the season. So, it’s a little bit odd coming here halfway through the year.”
The race is being run under strict health and safety conditions, with teams operating in `bubbles’ and isolated from each other in a paddock.
Drivers are wearing face masks even when talking to the media by video link.
The race will be run completely without spectators for the first time in Formula One history.
“We are all used to a lot of fans in the campsites, grandstands… But the most important thing is we are finally back on track and can put up a good show,” said McLaren principal Andreas Seidl on a Zoom call.
McLaren triggered the abandonment of the Australian race in Melbourne after an employee tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Seidl said the entire team had a clean bill of health after the latest round of tests.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
Remdesivir first Covid-19 drug to receive EU’s green light
The EU’s Health Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, said the union would leave no stone unturned in its efforts to secure efficient treatments or vaccine against the coronavirus.
“It is the first time the EU’s Executive arm has granted the approval to a COVID-19 drug and was the last step for remdesivir to be given the full go-ahead,” Kyriakides said.
This decision follows a recommendation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which said that the drug, sold under the name Veklury, should be approved for treating COVID-19 patients over the age of 12 who requires supplemental oxygen.
Remdesivir, manufactured by United States Biotech Company Gilead Sciences, was originally developed as an Ebola treatment, but it had little effect.
However, the approval came shortly after the United States Government had announced an agreement with Gilead Sciences, which it bought up almost all of the drug supplies for the upcoming months.
On Thursday, the European Commission said it was also in talks with the company to secure sufficient doses for the EU.
However, the effectiveness of the treatment remained uncertain.
An international study with over 1,000 participants showed that remdesivir could reduce the time needed for COVID-19 patients to recover from 15 to 11 days on the average.
It also showed that mortality rates decreased slightly with the use of the drug, but not in a statistically significant way.
One Chinese scientific paper, meanwhile, reported no benefit of using remdesivir.
In coming weeks, WHO promised to do a meta-analysis of ongoing and published studies.
However, to speed up the process of approval, EMA began reviewing remdesivir on April 30, on a rolling basis. Meaning that the company would submit data as it becomes available.
Gilead submitted its official application for the limited approval of remdesivir on the European market in early June.
WHO stressed the need for global solidarity amid discussions about which countries would be able to secure COVID-19 drugs for themselves.
Earlier, WHO Chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said it was a test for all humanity.
Swaminathan also cautioned that clinical trials were still ongoing for the drug.
“We don’t know what the efficacy is,” she said.
Earlier, WHO’s Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said that the continent had at the end of June seen the first increase in weekly cases in months.
WHO European region covers 53 countries with a total of about 2.5 million cases.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)
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