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Year before Games, Tokyo better prepared than any city before, IOC says



A year before hosting the 2020 Olympics, Tokyo is better prepared than any other city in the past to host the Games, Olympic chief Thomas Bach said on Wednesday.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) President was in the Japanese capital to attend several high-profile events marking one year until the opening ceremony in the almost-completed National Stadium.

Only three Olympic venues in total remain to be finished.

Around 3.22 million tickets were sold during the first domestic sales phase last month, surprising organisers so much that their sales policy has had to be amended.

“I can really say that I have never seen any Olympic city being so ready with their preparations one year before the Games as Tokyo already is,” Bach told sports officials and journalists gathered for a presentation on Tokyo’s progress.

There were also a performance by traditional Japanese string instrument shamisen players and speeches, including by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“The last six years have passed very quickly, and I am happy to hear that the preparations have been carried out as planned,” said Abe, recalling the award of the Games to Tokyo in Buenos Aires in 2013.

But it has not always been plain sailing.

Tsunekazu Takeda resigned this year as president of the Japanese Olympic Committee following allegations of suspected corruption related to the bid.

In 2015, organisers had to scrap the original logo over accusations of plagiarism.

Budget figures released in December 2018 put total costs at $12.6 billion, well above their original estimate at under $7 billion.

Battle with rising costs may be offset by local sponsorship revenue which has passed $3 billion, more than any other Games.

Tokyo also had to ramp up its heat counter-measures, such as shaded areas, air-conditioned waiting areas and ice baths for athletes, as well as water sprays.

Although this summer has so far been mild and rainy, a record heat wave in July 2018 killed over a dozen people in Tokyo.


(Edited by Olawale Alabi)


Lagos rehabilitates 1,983 destitute persons in 1 year



The Lagos State Government said 1,983 beggars, destitute persons, mentally-challenged people and urchins were rescued off the streets of Lagos within one year.

The Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr Olusegun Dawodu, disclosed this on Tuesday during the 2020 Ministerial Press Briefing marking the one year anniversary of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu in office.

Dawodu said that Lagos had recorded a noticeable reduction in the number of destitute persons, beggars and street children across the metropolis in the last one year.

He attributed the development to the continued rehabilitation, social integration and rescue missions, which had consistently ensured that these categories of people were constantly taken off the streets and given adequate attention.

The commissioner said that the ministry remained committed in its resolve to creating an enabling environment that promoted youth and social development services to give succour to the vulnerable members of the society.

Dawodu said that the rescue and rehabilitation efforts by the ministry were still ongoing in different parts of the state.

He added that state ministry would continue to strive to be the model Youth and Social Development Agency in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The commissioner said that among those reunited with their families and reintegrated into the society were 31 persons under Institutional Care, 51 persons under Rehabilitation and 18 persons under Child Adoption/Care, making a total of 100 persons.

”We have also rescued 228 children, comprising of 110 males and 118 females, from different forms of abuse,” he said.

Dawodu said that the ministry had also provided guidance and meeting the school children’s individual, intellectual, social and emotional needs during the period under review.

He said that a total of 1,856 children benefitted from individual and group counselling in different areas ranging from absenteeism, cultism and sexual abuse among several other vices.

The commissioner said that apart from its several rescue missions, the ministry, in partnership with some private organisations, was also addressing the rate of unemployment among youths.

According to him, over 500 were trained in various vocations ranging from Makeovers and Gele Tying, Photography, Tailoring, Beads Making, Cosmetology, Art and Designing, GSM Repairs, Child Care Training, among others.

The commissioner said that some youth centres were currently undergoing reconstruction and renovation.

He said that the centres at Abesan, Lafiaji, Campos, Ojo-Oniyun and Ikeja, were being renovated and equipped to train young people within the areas, thereby promoting social integration and reducing restiveness.

Dawodu said that the state government had commenced the construction of Adult Day Care Centres to complement the services rendered by the State-Owned Old People’s Home, Yaba, in order to expand the net of beneficiaries of vulnerable senior citizens’ care by the state government.

According to him, 145 senior citizens are now benefiting from the services rendered in the Old People’s Home, Yaba.

The commissioner said that the ministry was also responsible for the registration, monitoring, regulation of Homes, Orphanages, Crèche’s and Foundations.

He said that within the last one year, the ministry granted a total of 137 Provisional Approvals to these private establishments out of which 94 were in favour of daycare, creches and playgroup centres.

Dawodu disclosed that the state government, within the last one year, released 105 children for bonding, 89 for local adoption and 16 for international adoption.

”A total number of 116 adoption cases were legalised at various Family Courts, 86 for Local Adoption, 28 for International Adoption and two for Relatives’ Adoption,” he said.

Speaking on the achievements of the Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA), an agency under the supervision of the ministry, the commissioner said that 300 Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs) were trained in January 2020 and empowered with equipment in different vocations.

The Vocational Training Programme took place at three centres across the state, namely; Vocational Rehabilitation Centre for Persons with Disability, Owutu, Ikorodu; Spinal Cord Injury Association of Nigeria, Amuwo-Odofin; and Epe Recreation Centre, Epe.

Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Gov. Makinde’s first year achievements impressive, says Oyo CAN



The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Oyo State Chapter, has said that Gov. Seyi Makinde’s achievements in the last one year was impressive.

Pastor Benjamin Akanmu, State Chairman of CAN, made the commendation while addressing newsmen on Tuesday in Ibadan.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Makinde had on May 29, rolled out the achievements of his administration in the first year, listing hundreds completed and ongoing projects.

“For our governor in Oyo State, it’s time of praise and commendation. Of course, no parents will bash or condemn a child that returns home with excellent report card, it’s impossible.

“Makinde deserves our praise if we put into consideration how his administration has positively affected lives of the masses in the state.

“To us, his report card is impressive and we congratulate the governor and his team for moving to the second year with enviable report card,” Akanmu said.

He said that the perspective for which they rated the governor’s performance defer from that of politicians, contractors or some other groups, saying they were not likely to be on the same page with him.

He said that the basis for which they rated the governor’s achievement as very impressive was the administration’s

direct impact on the masses and by extension, standard of living in general.

The CAN chairman said that the governor would always have the backing of the masses and civil servants, having being able to commit their regular remuneration to the welfare of their children and other associated bills.

According to him, pensioners and civil servants are able to settle outstanding bills, the purchasing power of the common man has been lifted because civil servants and retirees can afford to meet up with their needs.

“And that’s the only thing that has the power to set people free from the boundage of poverty and live better.

”Also, death rate among the pensioners and public servants has reduced drastically because they can afford necessities,” he said.

Akanmu noted that over 75 per cent of the population source for means of livelihood on daily basis, appreciated the governor’s decision not to lockdown the state during the rainy season considering its comparative advantage in agriculture.

“Let me tell you this, our position on his one year in office is also premised on the laid down principles of our Lord Jesus Christ, which mandates us to care more for the survival of people around us, especially the poor,” the cleric said.

The cleric advised the governor to embrace everyone, see criticism as motivating ladder and not to relent on his past achievements.

The CAN chairman further urged him to spread out his tentacles to touch other sectors and improve on those he had already started work on.

“We all know he cannot satisfy everyone, but larger percentage of the population should be able to speak well of his administration. He shall work harder than before, give checks and balances priority in his administration.

“Never embark on anti-people’s policies. Secure at least 75 per cent of their support for every policies to be introduced. There must be regular interaction between the governor and the people,” he said.

Akanmu urged the governor to be more vigilant and conscious of his environment while dissociating himself from sycophants.

He called on him to evolve a system that would ensure his lieutenants who failed to live up to expectations in the last twelve months are re-examined and their stories rewritten.

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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News Analysis: Most expect Italy’s economy to rebound later this year, but few agree on how much




Consensus estimates are that in the second half of this year Italy’s economy will gain back some of the losses it experienced during the national coronavirus lockdown. But there is little consensus on how much.

Italy’s National Statistics Institute, best known as ISTAT, revised its estimates for the first quarter of this year, saying the economy contracted by 5.3 percent compared to the last quarter of 2019, weaker than earlier estimates of a 4.7-percent contraction. During the quarter, imports decreased by 6.2 percent and export by 8.0 percent. Agriculture was 1.9-percent lower and industrial output was down by 8.4 percent.

Given that Italy‘s lockdown entered into force in early March — near the end of the first quarter — all estimates are that the contraction will be even larger when second-quarter economic data is released next month.

But after that? Opinions vary.

Ignazio Visco, the governor of the Central Reserve Bank of Italy, predicted Italy‘s economy would shrink between 9 and 13 percent for the year as a whole. Though the 4-percentage-point range is large — usually, near-term economic prognostications only vary by a few tenths of a percent — the more optimistic side of the range would almost certainly require positive growth over the second half of the year.

Most economists, investment banks, and multilateral groups fall into a similar range as the one in the latest Central Reserve Bank, from negative 9 to negative 15-percent growth for 2020 compared to 2019.

“I am expecting economic weakness in Italy to last well into next year and perhaps into 2022,” Javier Noriega, an economist with investment bankers Hildebrandt and Ferrar, told Xinhua. “The tourism sector won’t be back on its feet this year, and exports will depend on the economic recovery in other countries. The recovery will be soft, but we have no way to accurately estimate how soft.”

Alessandro Polli, a professor of economic statistics at Rome’s La Sapienza University, agreed about the insufficient data to accurately model the medium-term impact and severity of the economic slowdown. But he was more optimistic about where things could be heading.

“Any economic growth estimates we see now are the equivalent of shooting in the dark,” Polli said in an interview. “We are just guessing; we just don’t have the data on unemployment levels, exports, industrial production, tourist arrivals. It’s not really in our own hands, because internal consumption in Italy is too weak to sustain the economy. We’re too dependent on what happens elsewhere.”

But Polli‘s personal prediction is more optimistic than those of many other economists.

“My impression is that this lockdown will look like an economic parenthesis,” he said. “Does that parenthesis last three months? Six months? A year? We have to wait to know that. But I think there is pent-up demand. The economy was not powerful before the arrival of the coronavirus but I think we will get back to semi-normal levels fairly quickly.”


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Indonesia’s inflation edges down to lowest in 20 years as pandemic falters demands




Indonesia’s consumer price index slipped to the lowest level in 20 years in May as restrictions of people movements to endure the novel coronavirus had depressed demands.

The National Agency of Statistics on Tuesday said that the inflation in May drifted down 2.19 percent annualized from 2.67 percent in the preceding month.

The core inflation, excluding administered prices and volatile prices, shrank 2.65 percent in May on the yearly basis from 2.85 percent in April, the agency’s Head Kecuk Suhariyanto noted.

On the monthly basis, the inflation also drifted down 0.07 percent in May compared with 0.08 percent in April, he said.

The virus pandemic had made the inflation pattern differ in May which coincided with the Islamic festivity, said Suhariyanto.

As the world‘s biggest Muslim country, Indonesia celebrates the Eid al-Fitr festivity with demands of goods and clothes usually leap.

“But the inflation this month is different from the figures in the preceding months,” Suhariyanto said.

The annual inflation in March settled at 2.96 percent, according to data from the agency.

Partial lockdowns along with the physical distancing to endure the virus pandemic had kept millions of people cooped up for weeks that cast demands stretched deep.

Indonesia is now gearing up for reopening the economy which has been dashed by the virus pandemic.


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Vietnam’s new enterprises decrease 10.5 pct year-on-year in 5 months




A total of 48,300 enterprises with a total registered capital of 557.9 trillion Vietnamese dong (nearly 24.3 billion U.S. dollars) were set up in Vietnam in the first five months of this year, down 10.5 percent in quantity and 16.7 percent in capital from the same period last year.

Between January and May, there were 794 new firms in agriculture, forestry and fishery sector, up 5.6 percent over the same period last year, 13,800 firms in industry and construction sector, down 6 percent, and nearly 33,700 in the service sector, down 12.6 percent, according to the country’s General Statistics Office on Tuesday.

The rise in firm formation is seen only in essential sectors that are less impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the office noted.

Between January and May, 21,700 firms, which had temporarily ceased operations due to different difficulties, resumed activities, posting a year-on-year increase of 10.5 percent. Meanwhile, another 26,000 enterprises have their operation temporarily ceased, up 36.4 percent, and nearly 6,100 enterprises were dissolved, down 4.8 percent.

Last year, Vietnam saw 138,100 enterprises established with total registered capital of over 1,730 trillion Vietnamese dong (75.2 billion U.S. dollars), up 5.2 percent in quantity and 17.1 percent in capital against 2018.


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Latvia to fuel economic recovery with 2 bln euros over next 2 years




Latvia’s government coalition decided on Monday to inject 2 billion euros (2.22 billion United States dollars) in the national economy over the next couple of years to fuel its recovery from the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins announced at a news conference following the coalition meeting.

The prime minister said the coalition agreed at Monday’s meeting on a strategic investment intended to promote an economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

“While last week we decided on how to invest, now there is an agreement on particular categories,” Karins said.

The prime minister explained that the money to be invested in the economy over the two-year period will be divided into three equal portions and spent on benefits, infrastructure and modernization.

Around 660 million euros will be made available for projects in each category. Of that amount, 32 million euros will be allocated to culture-related projects and 42 million euros to scientific research. Support is also being planned for the tourism industry, which has been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 crisis, as well as other activities.

The prime minister said that the solution agreed on by the government coalition would benefit both the state and the economy. (1 euro = 1.11 United States dollars)


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Man, 45, bags 15-year jail term for raping his tenant’s niece



An Igbosere High Court in Lagos, on Monday sentenced an ex-staff of an oil company, James Onuoha, to 15 years at the correctional centre for raping his tenant’s 14-year-old niece.

Justice Adedayo Akintoye sentenced Onuoha, 42, and an engineer , without an option of fine.

On Jan. 14, the court had adjourned the case until March 25, for judgment, after the parties adopted their final written addresses.

But judgement  could not be pronounced  due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, which led to lockdown of almost all sectors of the economy in March, including the Judiciary.

At the resumed hearing on Monday, the Lagos State Prosecuting Counsel, Mr Babatunde Sunmonu, and the defence counsel, Dr Victor Olowonla, announced their appearance.

Before the verdict was handed down, Olowonla, in his allocutus, pleaded with the court to tamper  justice with mercy as Onuoha was a first-time offender.

“My lord, he is a first-time offender; he is a family man with wife and children, and also the bread winner of his family.

“He has lost his job since this case came up; going by the circumstances of this case, I urge my lord to tamper justice with mercy,” he said.

Onouah, who was charged to court  by the Lagos State Government, was first arraigned in January 2016 at the Magistrates’ Court on a four-count charge bordering on defilement.

Onuoha was remanded in Kirikiri correctional centre pending legal advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Following his indictment by the DPP, the case was transferred to the high court for trial.

The state government accused Onuoha of committing the alleged offences on Jan. 4, 2016, at No.25, Samuel Amoore Street, Idowu Estate, Ike-Ira Nla, Ajah, Lagos.

The prosecution said the defendant willfully had an unlawful sexual act with the teenager.

He said the offences contravened Sections 137 and 258 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

Onuoha, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, hence the prosecution opened its case and called witnesses, including the victim.

After the prosecution closed its case, Onuoha opened his defence,  narrating to the court how he visited his house at the above address to ask for rent from his tenant who was not at home at the time of his visit.

Onuoha said the victim was the only person at home, adding that he entered the apartment to inspect it and thereafter gave the victim N1, 000 as Christmas gift.

Edited By: Joe Idika (NAN)

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Israel discovers 1,800-year-old marble faucet with lion’s face




A 1,800-year-old Roman marble faucet, shaped as a lion’s face, was discovered in northern Israel, the Nature and Parks Authority (NPA) said Monday.

This fancy architectural relic was discovered near a bathhouse in the ancient village of Sepphoris by a citizen who visited the national park where the village’s remains are located, according to the NPA.

The lion-decorated faucet, which also has human features, adorned a fountain in ancient times for the water to come out of the figure’s mouth.

According to NPA‘s archaeologists, such faucets were common from the Hellenistic period through the Roman and Byzantine periods to the Middle Age.

Faucets of this type were usually designed with shapes of humans, animals or mythological figures and used for decorating bath facilities, nymphaions and fountains.

According to the NPA, the quality marble stone from which the faucet is made was probably imported from ancient Turkey.


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Court remands security man for alleged defilement of a 9-year-old girl



An Upper Area Court in Gwagwalada, FCT, on Monday ordered that a security man, Gideon Sunday who allegedly defiled a nine-year-old girl be remanded in police custody.

The police charged Sunday with one count charge of procuration of a minor.

The Judge, Sani Umar granted the application made by the prosecuting counsel, Akaso Sunday not to grant bail to the defendant.

Umar ordered that the defendant be remanded under police custody for one week.

Earlier, the prosecution counsel, Sunday told the court that on May 12, 2020 one Grace Abitayo reported the case at the police station.

He said that the defendant on May 6 2020 took the girl to his room and have carnal knowledge of her.

He added that during police investigation the defendant confessed to have committed the offence.

He prayed the court not to grant bail to the defendant, saying that the offence was not bailable.

He said that if granted bail the defendant would jump bail and would also jeopardise ongoing investigation, adding that the court should refuse him bail.

The offence, he said, contravened the provision of sections 275 of the Penal Code.

The defendant however pleaded not guilty.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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