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French businessman Tapie goes on trial over $453m award



French businessman Tapie goes on trial over $453m award


Tapie, a former government minister, who also headed the Olympique Marseille football club from 1986 to 1994, is accused of fraud and embezzling public funds.

An arbitration panel made the award to Tapie after he alleged that his 1993 sale of sportswear manufacturer Adidas had been mishandled by the Credit Lyonnais bank.

But the Paris Court of Appeals overturned the award in civil proceedings in 2015 because of connections between Tapie’s lawyer and one of the members of the panel.

The same affair saw International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde convicted of negligence in 2016 for having failed to appeal the ruling at the time, when she was finance minister.

She was not penalised, however.

Tapie, 76, who is suffering from cancer, denied any wrongdoing in an interview with newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche earlier.

“This trial is one of the most important episodes of my life,’’ he told the newspaper.

As well as being a prominent businessman and sporting manager, Tapie had two brief ministerial terms in Socialist governments in the early 1990s and was at various times a television presenter and singer as well as appearing in cinema and on stage.



UNICEF says 54% of neonatal deaths in Namibia due to prematurity




Windhoek, Nov. 20, 2019  (Xinhua/NAN) The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Wednesday that at least 54 per cent of neonatal deaths in Namibia was due to prematurity.

Speaking at the health ministry’s commemoration of Prematurity Day, UNICEF’s Country Representative, Rachel Odede said that delivering inpatients for premature babies is often a challenge for Namibia.

She added that this was because of limited equipment to ensure the survival of these babies and in some cases limited human capacity to deal with the demand.

Based on available statistics from UNICEF, neonatal mortality rate for Namibia fell gradually from 30.1 deaths per thousand live births in 1969 to 15.6 deaths per thousand live births in 2018.

According to Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, an NGO, prematurity also referred to as premature birth is a delivery that takes place more than three weeks before the baby’s estimated due date.

Premature birth is one that occurs before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy.

Premature babies, especially those born very early, often have complicated medical problems.

Typically, complications of prematurity vary but the earlier the baby is born, the higher the risk of complications.

Depending on how early a baby is born, he or she may be late preterm (born between 34 and 36 completed weeks of pregnancy), moderately preterm (born between 32 and 34 weeks of pregnancy), or very preterm (born at less than 32 weeks of pregnancy).

The baby could also be extremely preterm (born at or before 25 weeks of pregnancy).

Most premature births occur in the late preterm stage.

(Edited by Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN))

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Saudi king says Aramco quickly met global demand after attacks



Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said the ability of Saudi Aramco to quickly restore oil production capacity after attacks on its facilities in September had proven the kingdom’s ability to meet global demand.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz said this at an annual address to the Shura Council advisory body in Riyadh, adding that this is a clear indication that the kingdom will meet global demand during any shortage.

He reiterated that Saudi Arabia did not seek war with Iran, which he blamed for the attacks, but said the kingdom would not hesitate to defend itself.

“Iranian weapons were used on Abqaiq and Khurais,” he said in prepared remarks in reference to the facilities which were attacked.

He then praised the company for restoring production.

Iran has denied being behind the attacks which cut more than five per cent of global supply from the world’s biggest crude exporter.

The king also called on the international community to stop Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and regional intervention and said it was time to stop the “chaos and destruction” generated by Iran, according to the remarks.

He also said Saudi Arabia was seeking a political settlement in Yemen, where the kingdom is leading a military coalition battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

He added that a recent agreement signed in Riyadh would open the door to broader peace talks.

Edited by Fatima Sule/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Russia to continue cooperation with OPEC to keep oil market balanced — Putin



President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said that Russia and OPEC have ‘a common goal’ of keeping the oil market balanced and predictable, and Moscow will continue cooperation under the global supply curbs deal.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meets on Dec. 5 in Vienna, followed by talks with a group of other exporters, including Russia, known as OPEC+.

“Our (common with OPEC) goal is for the market to be balanced, acceptable for producers and consumers and the most important – and I want to underline this – predictable,” Putin told a forum on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman said on Wednesday that the kingdom’s oil policy aims to promote stability in global oil markets, and serves consumers and producers alike.

It plans to announce pricing for an initial public offering of its crown asset, Saudi Aramco, also on Dec. 5.

In October, Russia cut its oil output to 11.23 million barrels per day (bpd) from 11.25 million bpd in September but it was still higher than a 11.17 million bpd to11.18 million bpd cap set for Moscow under the existing global deal.

Putin told the forum that Russia’s oil production was growing slightly in spite of the supply curbs deal but Moscow was not aiming to be the world’s No. 1 crude producer.

Currently, the U.S. is the world’s top oil producer.

Russia has a serious impact on the global energy market but the most impact we achieve (is) when working along with other key producers,” he said.

“There was a moment not that long ago when Russia was the world’s top oil producer – this is not our goal.”

Russia plans to produce between 556 million and 560 million tonnes of oil this year (11.17 million bpd to11.25 million bpd), Energy Minister Alexander Novak said separately on Wednesday, depending on the volume of gas condensate produced during cold months.

Russia will aim to stick to its commitments under the deal in November, Novak said.

Russia includes gas condensate – a side product also known as ‘light oil’ produced when companies extract natural gas – into its overall oil production statistics, which some other oil producing countries do not do.

As Russia is gradually increasing liquefied natural gas production (LNG), the share of gas condensate it is producing is also growing.

Gas condensate now accounts for around six per cent of Russian oil production.

Novak said that in winter, Russia traditionally produces more gas condensate as it is launching new gas fields in the freezing temperatures.

“We believe that gas condensate should not be taken into account (of overall oil production statistics), as this is an absolutely different area related to gas production and gas supplies,” he said.

Three sources on Tuesday said that Russia was unlikely to agree to deepen cuts in oil output at a meeting with fellow exporters next month, but could commit to extend existing curbs to support Saudi Arabia.

On Wednesday, Novak declined to say that Russia’s position would be at upcoming OPEC+ meeting.

Edited by Fatima Sule/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Philippines polio cases stand at 7 as disease re-emerges



Three more children below the age of five were confirmed to have polio in the Philippines, bringing to seven the number of cases of the highly contagious disease, health officials said on Wednesday.

The three children, aged one, two and four years old, were all admitted at the Cotabato Regional Medical Centre in the southern region of Mindanao, said Health Undersecretary, Eric Domingo.

Domingo said authorities were looking at the water supply as being the possible source of infection for the recent cases.

According to the Department of Health, the three new patients suffered from fever, cough and weakness of the legs, neck and facial muscles.

“It is unacceptable that more children are falling victim to this vaccine-preventable disease,’’ Health Secretary, Francisco Duque, said in the statement.

“We are more determined than ever to make sure that no child shall be missed during the next round of vaccination in Manila and Mindanao.’’

The Philippines was declared free of polio 19 years ago but on Sept. 19, the government announced that a three-year-old girl from the southern province of Lanao del Sur was found to have the disease that causes paralysis.

Since then, the department has been conducting a vaccination campaign, targeting all children below five years of age in Manila and Mindanao.

Duque urged parents to ensure that their children receive the complete dose of polio vaccines or four shots.

“We should not be satisfied with our children receiving only one or two doses of the polio vaccine,’’ he said.

“Let us ensure that they receive the complete doses of the vaccine to fully protect them from polio.’’

Edited by Fatima Sule/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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13,423 Nigerian students contributed $514m to U.S. economy in 2018 – Report



At least 13,423 Nigerians currently studying in the U.S. contributed 514 million dollars to the U.S. economy in 2018, according to official data.

The data is contained in the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The report indicates that Nigeria is the 11th leading place of origin for foreign students in the U.S. as of the 2018/2019 session.

It accounts for 1.2 per cent of the total number of 1,095,299 international students in the country.

A breakdown of the figure shows that 5,689 of the Nigerian students are at the undergraduate level, 5,274 at the graduate level, 367 at the non-degree students, and 2,093 on Optional Practical Training (OPT).

According to Wikipedia, OPT is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students work for one year on a student visa toward acquiring practical training to complement their education.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Nigeria is the only African country in the top 20 places of origin for international students in the U.S.

China holds the top position with 369,548 students, followed by India with 202,014, South Korea (52,250), Saudi Arabia (37,080), and Canada rounding out the top five with 26,122 students.

According to the report, international students account for 5.5 per cent of the total U.S. higher education population.

Citing data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the report said that foreign students contributed 44.7 billion dollars to the U.S. economy in 2018, an increase of 5.5 per cent from the previous year.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are the top choices of international students with 52 per cent of the total studying in those fields, according to the report.

The report shows that out of 341,751 U.S. citizens studying abroad in 2017/18, Nigeria hosted 34 making it the 130th destination for American students.

The UK, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Ireland, China, Australia, Costa Rica, and Japan were the top 10 study destinations for American citizens, hosting an average of 18,000 students each.

South Africa occupies the 11th position on the table as host to 6,001 American students in 2017/18.

“We are happy to see the continued growth in the number of international students in the United States and U.S. students studying abroad,” said Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and  Cultural Affairs.

Speaking at the launch of the report in Washington, Royce said that promoting the mobility of international students remained a top priority for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“We want even more students in the future to see the U.S. as the best destination to earn their degrees.

“International exchange makes our colleges and universities more dynamic for all students.

“Education at a U.S. institution can have a transformative effect for international students, just like study abroad experiences can for U.S. students,” she said.

(Edited by Joseph Edeh/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN))

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Nigerian selected among 10 startsup by Dubai Chamber of Commerce



A Nigerian, Mr Kenneth Obiajulu-Okonkwo, and five other Africans have been selected among 10 startups by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the other five are from the UAE.

Obiajulu-Okonkwo, who is the co-Founder and Managing Director of FarmCrowdy Nigeria, prior to their selection, participated in the first-ever Chamberthon, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda earlier this year.

NAN also learnt that during the Chamberthon, 20 UAE and African startups worked together to develop the structure and criteria of the Global Business Forum (GBF) Mentorship Programme.

FarmCrowdy is focussed on providing major processors and international buyers the opportunity to buy commodities directly from farm clusters through technology.

Obiajulu-Okonkwo told NAN at the forum on Wednesday in Dubai that his company had optimised the market access to African farmers and also improve their income by at least 40 per cent.

“FarmCrowdy Africa brings the farmers closer to the processors and off-takers by eliminating the layers of intermediaries in the value chain.

“Our business model focus on identifying major processors and international buyers for certain commodities through their platform and identifying the production clusters and building relationships with local farmers in those areas.

“It also involves getting major processors to place orders via the platform and aggregating the commodities from smallholder farmers.

“The forum pays attention to the unique specifications of the buyers and delivery of the commodities to the major processors or the international buyer’s agent,’’ he said.

Obiajulu-Okonkwo said that he was excited with the opportunity given to him by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum to speak at his stand.

“It also afforded me the opportunity to showcase my business concepts and solutions at the forum,’’ Obiajulu-Okonkwo told NAN.

The President of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Hamad Buamim, said the selection of startups was an important step forward in establishing bridges of communication and cross-border cooperation between UAE and African startups.

Buamim pointed out that many of the selected startups specialised in advanced technologies, smart solutions, artificial intelligence and fintech.

He added that collaboration in these key areas would pave the way for mutual benefits and growth for both business communities.

“Startups are playing an active role in fostering innovation as they leverage and test out cutting-edge technologies that improve the way we live and work.

“The GBF Mentorship Programme provides an ideal platform for high-potential startups to develop their business concepts, benefit from collaboration, access new growth opportunities through the Global Business Forum on Africa platform and build valuable partnerships.

“Such efforts complement Dubai Chamber’s programmes and initiatives offered to entrepreneurs through Dubai Startup Hub,’’ Buamim said.

Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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