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U.S. Sen. Warren introduces military housing bill to boost inspections, transparency

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Military

that offers new protection for U.S. military families facing unsafe housing, following  series of Reuters

reports revealing squalid conditions in privately-managed base homes.

The Reuters reports and later Congressional hearings detailed widespread hazards,

including lead paint exposure, vermin infestations, collapsing ceilings, mold and maintenance lapses in

privatised base housing communities that serve some 700,000 U.S. military family members.

The Massachusetts Democrat’s bill would mandate both regular and unannounced spot inspections

of base homes by certified, independent inspectors, holding landlords accountable for quickly fixing hazards.

The military’s privatisation programmes for years allowed real estate firms to operate base housing with

scant oversight, Reuters found, leaving some tenants in unsafe homes with little recourse against landlords.

The bill would also require the Department of Defence and its private housing operators to publish

reports annually detailing housing conditions, tenant complaints, maintenance response times and

the financial incentives companies receive at each base.

The provisions aim to enhance transparency of housing deals whose finances and operations the military

had allowed to remain largely confidential under a privatisation programmes since the late 1990s.

The measure would also require private landlords to cover moving costs for at-risk families, and healthcare

costs for people with medical conditions resulting from unsafe base housing, ensuring they receive continuing

coverage even after they leave the homes or the military.

“This bill will eliminate the kind of corner-cutting and neglect the Defence Department should never have

let these private housing partners get away with in the first place,” Warren said in a statement Friday.

The proposed legislation comes after February Senate hearings where Warren, a member of the Senate

Armed Services Committee who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2020 U.S. presidential election, slammed private real estate firms.

He slammed them for endangering service families, and sought answers about why military branches weren’t providing more oversight.

Her legislation would direct the Defence Department to allow local housing code enforcers onto federal bases, following concerns they were sometimes denied access.

Warren’s office said a companion bill in the House of Representatives would be introduced by Rep. Deb Haaland, Democrat of New Mexico.

In response to the housing crisis, military branches are developing a tenant bill of rights and hiring hundreds of new housing staff.

The branches recently dispatched commanders to survey base housing worldwide for safety hazards, resulting in thousands of work orders and hundreds of tenants being moved.

The Defence Department has pledged to renegotiate its 50-year contracts with private real estate firms.

Congress has been quick to take its own measures.

Earlier legislation proposed by senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris of California, along with Mark Warner

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Zimbabwe sacks 435 doctors over illegal strike

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The Zimbabwean government on Friday said it has so far fired 435 junior doctors at public hospitals for engaging in an illegal strike.

The doctors have been on strike since early September to demand better pay and improved working conditions.

The Labor Court in October declared the strike illegal, but the doctors have been defiant and continued with the strike, paralysing operations at major public health institutions in the country.

The Health Service Board has 45 more disciplinary cases to handle for the doctors.

Acting information minister, Mangaliso Ndlovu told reporters at a news briefing that the government has always been open to dialogue with the doctors and that firing them was a last resort.

Edited By: Halima Sheji/Sadiya Hamza
(NAN)

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UN General Assembly President arrives Nigeria to rousing welcome

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Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), arrived Nigeria to rousing welcome on Thursday night on a five-day official visit to the country.

Muhammed-Bande, who arrived at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja at 11:45pm, was received by the UN Resident Coordinator a.i. Ms Comfort Lamptey, Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Charge d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations, Amb. Samson Itegboje, among others.

The UNGA president, who was visiting Nigeria for the first time since his inauguration in September, had as part of his entourage, his Chef de Cabinet Mari Skåre, Senior Adviser Alex Tope, Special Assistant Muyiwa Waheed Onifade, Advisor Emanuel De Jesus Da Costa Tilmann and Communication Adviser Kristina Klein.

Muhammed-Bande, while speaking to the Nigeria News Agency during his first official visit to the country since his inauguration as UNGA President said he was excited to be at home and to learn about the issues relating to the Regional Expert Conference on the Human Rights Situation of Older Persons in Africa.

“Well I’m excited to be here and also very keen to learn about issues at home, but basically we are here to discuss issues of ageing in relation to how the life of the aged are advanced”, he said.

For being the second Nigerian to be elected UNGA President in 30 years and how this reflects on the nation, Muhammad-Bande advised that Nigerians continue to do the things that endears us to the international community and make our nation proud.

“I think that we should continue to do the kinds of things that makes us acceptable to others by doing our bit in the international community and doing also great things for our country,” he added.

Similarly speaking on his experience so far as President of the UNGA Muhammad-Bande credited his good start to the support he enjoyed from his colleagues.

“I’m happy that the support of all colleagues has gotten us to a good start”, he said.

NAN reports that Muhammad-Bande is in Nigeria to attend a Regional Expert Conference on the Human Rights Situation of Older Persons in Africa as an Inter-sessional Event of the United Nations General Assembly Open-ended Working Group on Ageing.

The conference, which is for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons, will hold in Abuja on Nov. 25.

It will have as participants, governments, national human rights institutions, civil society organisations, academia, older persons, regional organisations as well as intergovernmental institutions and United Nations organisations.

The Conference will also witness the participation of non-African member states and is open to a global audience.

It is also expected to provide a better understanding of progress made and challenges faced in ensuring those rights, as well as exchange-related experiences and lessons lea

While in Nigeria, Muhammad-Bande will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, and the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Pauline Tallen.

He will also visit the ECOWAS Secretariat in Abuja as well as the reconstructed UN House.

Muhammad-Bande’s election, was the second time that Nigeria has produced the president of UNGA in three decades and since joining the UN as its 99th member in 1960.

The first was in 1989, during the tenure of late Gen. Joseph Garba, which was usually described as a flamboyant era.

PAM /YEE

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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Burkina Faso, Cape Verde says climate change affects the region

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Climate

-Edeni

Abuja, Nov.21, 2019( NAN) Parliamentarian from Burkina Faso and Cape Verde on Thursday said that Climate change was one of the major challenge affecting the countries.

The Parliamentarian said this during their countries reports at the Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament held in Abuja.

Hon. Jeremie Sankara, Member of the Parliament from Burkina Faso said that Climate change has adversely affected the rural development due to the constant decline in rainfall.

He said that degradation has affected 34 per cent of land in the country which represents more than nine millions hectares of arable lands.

“Climate change is adversely affecting rural development, owing to the constant decline in rainfall in terms of volume and quality of precipitation as well as high temperatures, upsurge in the number and intensity of floods, droughts and wind storms.

“These extreme weather conditions hampers the performance of agricultural, livestock and animal production systems which had lead to increase population movement as well as serious humanitarian problems and economic losses.”

According to him, the government is set to implement a specific action plan to improve on the agricultural production.

“To improve the living conditions as well as the production and consumption patterns of the people to prevent environmental degradation and the degradation of the living environment.

“The government has fast-tracked the implementation of Specific actions and measures defined in the second National Rural Sector Programme (PNSR 11) to ensure the sustainability of agricultural production in the country.”

He said that to facilitate the transition to free economy, the government would take actions to improve environmental governance, promote the reduction of green house gas emissions and enhance the resilience of grassroots communities to climate change.

Hon. Carlos Delgado from Cape Verde delegation said that Climate change is a major challenge in the country.

He said that integrated policies are being implemented in the field of environment, aiming at ensuring greater environmental sustainability, competitiveness and territorial organisation.

“It should also be noted that Cape Verde faced three conservative years of drought with very low rainfall; the country has faced and continues to face serious problems with lack of grazing for animals.

“The government has been required to implement emergency mitigation plans to address years of drought, fortunately, it has been able to count on some of its partners.

“Cape Verde continues and will continue to participate in global and regional environmental research networks, particularly those dealing with investigation of its effects of the phenomenon of climate change.”

Nigeria News Agency reports that the Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament which commences on Nov. 20 will end on Dec. 14.

Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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Morocco seizes 3.657 tonnes of cannabis in anti-smuggling raid

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Morocco seizes 3.657 tonnes of cannabis in anti-smuggling raid

Cannabis

Rabat, Nov. 21, 2019 (Xinhua/NAN) The Moroccan police on Thursday said  that they seized 3.657 tonnes of cannabis in an anti-smuggling raid near the Northern city of Nador.

According to a police statement, two suspects, aged 37 years and 40 years, with connections to international drugs rings were arrested during the raid late Wednesday.

The statement said that investigations are underway to uncover more accomplices.

A car and a large quantity of equipment were also seized.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime said that in spite of efforts to crack down on cannabis cultivation in the past decade, Morocco remains one of the world’s largest producers of the narcotic plant.

The Moroccan security authorities seized more than 112 tonnes of cannabis and its derivatives by Sept. 15 this year, official statistics show.

Edited by Halima Sheji/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Chinese scientists develop lab grown meat from animal cells

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Meat

Nanjing, Nov. 21, 2019 (Xinhua/NAN) Chinese scientists have produced 5 grams of meat cultured from animal muscle stem cells, according to a university in east China’s Jiangsu Province.

The Nanjing Agricultural University announced this on Thursday that the team led by Zhou Guanghong harvested the meat after cultivating pig muscle stem cells for 20 days.

It is the first meat developed from muscle stem cells in China, according to the China Association of Agricultural Science Societies, which conducted an evaluation of the technology.

Current manmade meat mainly refers to plant based meat that is made by extracting plant proteins from soybeans, peas, wheat and other vegetables and grains with a similar taste to that of meat fibers.

Cultured meat, however, is produced by painlessly harvesting animal cells and nurturing them to create muscle tissue.

According to Zhou, the cultured meat they developed has similar texture and color to ordinary minced pork, but safety evaluations and large scale production technology are required before it hits the market.

Plant based meat has already come onto the market.

Impossible Foods Inc., an American company that develops plant based substitutes for meat products, made its debut on the Chinese mainland at the second China International Import Expo earlier this month in Shanghai to seek opportunities in China.

A Chinese team in Beijing also introduced plant based meat into the market in September by selling mock meat stuffed moon cakes.

Edited by Halima Sheji/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim downing of spy drone near Saudi border

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Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim downing of spy drone near Saudi border

Claims

Sanaa, Nov. 21, 2019 (Xinhua/NAN) Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Thursday claimed they shot down a spy drone near Saudi Arabia border.

The group’s al-Masirah TV reported “our air defense downed a spy drone belonging to the Saudi-led coalition in al-Sawh area near the border of the Southern Saudi region of Najran.’’

There was no immediate confirmation from the Saudi-led coalition, which has been battling the Iran-allied Houthi group in Yemen for over four years.

The coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March 2015 to support the internationally-recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. (Xinhua/NAN)

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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