Saturday, 24 March 2018

Pulse Opinion: Buhari wants Nigerians to forget dead Dapchi girls

Buhari threatens to deal with anyone politicising security issues

Most of the Dapchi girls have returned but the president keeps neglecting to talk about a crucial detail.

President Muhammadu Buhari has been accused of a lot of things in the three years that he's been Nigeria's democratic leader.

He's been accused of being autocratic, incompetent, negligent and blind to his own failures, or just plain old heartless.

With the disconcertingly 'cheerful' mood of the Federal Government this past week, the president might have affirmed some of those accusations.

It is no longer news that the 110 girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram, from Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School in Dapchi, Bursari local government area of Yobe State on February 19, 2018, have been released.

Well, almost all of them.

I'll not descend into the cesspool of the conspiracy theories that have been swirling around the whole Dapchi situation, neither will I get caught up in the government's failure to prevent a 'national disaster' it had promised would never happen during its time from happening in a laughable manner.

However, I'll deal with the facts of what proof is lying around; and despite the government's sense of achievement over the return of the girls, the president and his entire government have questionably glossed over the most tragic part of the Dapchi story.

Since the girls returned on Wednesday, March 21, the Federal Government has made several press releases that bothered on how no ransom was paid to Boko Haram, how they negotiated the deal to get the girls back by appealing to the good graces of the group, how the terrorists made the Army stand down to deliver the girls, how the government had fulfilled its promise to get the girls back, and how naysayers should desist from 'politicising' the abduction.

Late on Thursday, March 22, when the story of Leah Sharibu gained traction as she remains the only girl still held by the terrorists because she refused to renounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam, the president addressed her situation.

"His heart goes out to the isolated parents who must watch others rejoice while their own daughter is still away. The lone Dapchi girl, Leah, will not be abandoned," a presidency statement read.


A casual observer would be tricked into believing that the Federal Government has covered its bases and handled communication in the most effective way possible; but you'd be terribly mistaken.

One of the schoolgirls, Khadija Grema, had reported on Wednesday that five of her schoolmates died of heart attack and stress as a result of the long trip.

If Buhari's reaction to Sharibu signified anything, it is his acknowledgement of the fact that the 110 girls that were abducted were not the same 110 that returned.

The final official count for the girls that returned is 105, excluding the two unconnected hostages that were also released.

The official count might signify that there's some inaccuracy in Grema's report as only four girls remain unaccounted for currently if you add Sharibu to the 105 that have returned.

However, despite the deficiency in the number and the account from the released girls who said five of them died, the Federal Government has not said a single thing about it.

No press statement acknowledging that some girls died or did not return, no statement expressing condolence to their parents, no press statements that even suggested that they all existed just a little over a month ago.

Bereaved father of one of the girls, Inuwa Garba, told Associated Press on Thursday, March 22 that some of the released girls told him that his 16-year-old daughter was the first to die and was buried in the bush alongside the other four.

"They told me five of the girls died and my daughter, who was among them, was the first to die," he said.

Another father, Adamu Jumbam, revealed how troubled he's been by his daughter's death and the events that led to it.

He said, "I was troubled when other girls were seen on arrival but my daughter, Aisha, was said to have died alongside four others. All the same, I thank Almighty Allah for this and pray for the repose of their souls.

"The surprising thing is that Boko Haram abducted these girls and still returned them in broad daylight and went back freely. All these things trouble our imagination."

While this oversight could have been chucked down to the government's usual lapse in duty, like we've sadly come to expect in Nigeria, President Buhari tried to erase the existence of those girls from history on Friday, March 23. 


During a meeting with the released girls at the Presidential Villa on Friday, the president explained how his government had engaged in careful negotiations with Boko Haram to secure their release.

Most crucially, the president said something that should have got stuck in his throat and never seen the light of day, but unfortunately did.

He said, "We entered into negotiations solely to make sure that no single girl was hurt. This strategy paid off as the girls have been released without any incidents."

While it's forgivable enough, considering what we've come to expect, that this government will try to neglect the decent duty of at least acknowledging the existence of the dead girls, trying to erase them from memory is the most heartless thing the president of a country could do, no matter how low the bar is set for him.

One girl dying IS AN INCIDENT; five (or four) is a national disaster that should mean the president has to wipe dozens of eggs it leaves on his face.

For President Buhari to attempt to pull a wool over the eyes of Nigerians and act as if the death of those girls is unimportant, in the grand scheme of things, is a disgrace.

That the president had the time in his speech to caution 'political profiteers' is even more worrying because it sounds so much like he is more invested in making sure people don't point out his failures than he is with dealing with his actual failures.

Those dead Dapchi girls that remain unacknowledged by Buhari and his government have parents and siblings and friends; people who'll miss them and remember them and mourn their passing.

To downplay their unfortunate deaths, Mr President, in an attempt to magnify your own sense of achievement, is a violation of your vow to cater to ALL Nigerians.

Embrace your failures as much as your successes and be the leader Nigerians half-expect you to be.

Dapchi girls died, and they deserve a mention.

from - Nigeria's entertainment & lifestyle platform online

Abiara: Retired CAC prophet ties the knot

Prophet Samuel Abiara

The prophet who lost his wife of 50 years, Christiana Abiara, in 2016, wedded his new bride, Grace Ojewande, on Thursday, March 22, 2018.

The retired General Evangelist of the Christ Apostolic Church worldwide, Prophet Samuel Abiara, is married for the second time.

The prophet who lost his wife of 50 years, in 2016, wedded his new bride, Grace Ojewande, on Thursday, March 22, 2018, in a colourful ceremony took place in Ibadan, Oyo state.

ALSO READ: Retired CAC G.O set to remarry in a couple of days


The new bride is reportedly in her 50's and is a Level 16 officer at the Lagos State Ministry of Education.

She is also a member of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries.

He had made his decision known earlier, stating that he will be getting married according to God’s directives.


Big congrats to the newly weds!

CAC’s General Evangelist loses wife

Recall that Prophet Samuel Abiara, the General Evangelist of the Christ Apostolic Church worldwide, lost his wifeChristiana Abiara.


Mrs Abiara, who was also a Prophetess, died on Saturday night, September 3, 2016.

ALSO READ: Prophet Abiara offers perfect solution to ongoing controversy

Details about her death remain sketchy, as a family source who confirmed the incident did not give further information.

from - Nigeria's entertainment & lifestyle platform online

Finance: Self-driving cars could be deadly — but they aren't going to affect Tesla's and Uber's business as much as everyone thinks (TSLA, GM)

A self-driving Uber vehicle.

A revolution in autonomous driving won't ultimately affect Tesla and Uber's business all that much.

  • Uber and Tesla have put self-driving front and center for their future businesses.
  • After a self-driving Uber vehicle was involved in an Arizona fatality, the technology is being questioned.
  • Uber and Tesla aren't about autonomous driving — and it's a distraction from their core businesses.

A self-driving Uber vehicle killed a woman in Arizona last week in the first case of an autonomous car being involved in a fatality.

Much testing of self-driving technology has been put on hold while Uber and the authorities investigate the tragedy. And, discussion and debate about the future of autonomous driving has heated up. Some are calling for much higher government scrutiny and regulation of self-driving cars; Arizona has been singled out because with good year-round weather and excellent roads, along with a hands-off attitude toward testing, it's attracted many of the major players.

But others think that the genie has been released from the bottle. At an auto-finance conference in Las Vegas last week, Automotive News reported that General Motors President Dan Ammann said people will develop more confidence in driverless vehicles once the cars show what they can do.

GM is pushing hard, through its Cruise division, to get a fully autonomous, no-driver vehicle on the road in a ride-hailing framework in the next few years. If the company succeeds, it could take the lead in a business that could play to its strengths as a carmaker able to build fully integrated self-driving cars at scale.

Stakes that look much higher — but really aren't

But if GM fails, it still has its highly profitable legacy business to fall back on. For the likes of Uber and Tesla, the stakes have been presented as being much higher. Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick saw autonomy as imperative, given Uber's driver costs. And Tesla has for several years with its Autopilot technology been attempting to avoid being left behind. CEO Elon Musk has taken a personal interest in the effort.

But the truth is that a revolution in autonomy won't ultimately affect Tesla's and Uber's business all that much. Unlike GM, Tesla has nothing in the way of a ride-sharing service ready to launch, and Uber's success hasn't been in getting drivers out from behind the wheel, but in putting more drivers in cars so that the company can continue to expand and grow, increasing the number of trips it provides, thereby maintaining its massive market-share lead over competitors like Lyft.

Fundamentals matter, even though Musk might want to change the Tesla story and Kalanick, before he was forced out of Uber as CEO, wanted to supercharge Uber's value by eliminating its biggest expense. Tesla is still almost entirely a company that makes electric cars. Uber is an app-enabled, low-friction alternative to taxis and livery cabs.

Both companies have achieved mighty valuations with those fundamental business propositions: Tesla's market cap is over $50 billion, while Uber's investors have pushed it to $50-$70 billion on paper, depending on how much of an impact you think Softbank's recent 20% stake lowered the value.

Neither may ultimately be worth that much (although Uber certainly looks like it has the chance to be the biggest Silicon Valley IPO since Facebook), and Tesla certainly appears overvalued based on its performance — or lack of it. The carmaker's Model 3 mass-market vehicle was launched last July with promises that Tesla would be building 5,000 per week by now. It would be lucky it if were building 1,000 — the company is mired in what Musk has called "production hell."

Not for nothing, Tesla hasn't really made any money in 14 years, has a balance sheet heavy with debt, and burned through over $3 billion in 2017.

Technologies that aren't mission-critical

Up against those challenges, Tesla's Autopilot tech is interesting but hardly mission-critical. Customers obviously can't use it if they can't get a Model 3 until 2019 0r 2020. Uber's self-driving roll-out in Pittsburgh in 2016 was spectacular, but since then, the vehicles have been in test-test-test mode while the startup has endured an epic management crisis and Kalanick's departure. Again, not exactly mission-critical.

What we're seeing here is something of a bandwagon effect for companies whose value is tied up less in execution than in storytelling. Electric cars were the cool, "disruptive" story that made Musk and Tesla investors rich from 2010 until now. Driverless cars that can be summoned using an iPhone, anywhere and anytime, suggested Uber on steroids. You think $70 billion is impressive? Just wait until we don't have to pay drivers anymore.

So Tesla and Uber jumped on that bandwagon with the technology clearly still in a pre-beta phase. They didn't do it because it was important to their respective businesses. They did it because it could keep the story fresh and exciting.

But, you might ask, aren't GM and other traditional carmakers doing the same thing?

Well, sort of. The self-driving story has improved investor outlook in GM. But that's a Wall Street thing. GM wants to attack the autonomous opportunity because it has a realistic chance to be dominant, with the capacity to build millions of autonomous vehicles every year, around the world.

GM also thinks self-driving vehicles will be safer, and it ought to know. About 40,000 people die annually in the US alone in auto accidents. A percentage of those accidents involve GM cars and trucks. That's why Ammann doesn't think the Uber fatality in Arizona is the end of the road. Self-driving cars could be the biggest enhancement to safety GM has seen in its history.

When self-driving is a distraction

The bottom line is that while it might seem that a self-driving death and its aftermath is a threat to Uber's and Tesla's ambitions, it isn't. That's because their self-driving efforts don't matter much in the grand scheme of things. Tesla dealt with an Autopilot-related fatality in 2016, but it didn't cause hundreds of thousands of Model 3 reservation-holders to cancel.

That raises a question, and it's an ethical one. If Uber and Tesla don't need self-driving tech to prosper, then why are they offering it — and testing it when it's clear that the bugs haven't been worked out? Kalanick's argument was that Uber needs it to survive as a business. Musk's is that safety is more important, in fact, than selling cars.

Musk's point is stronger, but even so, Tesla's business at the moment has to be all about getting cars out of its factory, not about those cars driving themselves once they hit the road. So even though the inevitable tragedies that will be associated with the development of autonomous vehicles aren't going to affect Tesla's business in a major way, that doesn't mean Tesla should continue with the experiment. Likewise, Uber.

In the end, it could be best to leave self-driving cars to the companies that have been dealing with human-driven cars for over a century.

from - Nigeria's entertainment & lifestyle platform online

World: Lawrence k. Grossman, head of PBS and then NCB news, dies at 86

Lawrence k. Grossman, head of PBS and then NCB news, dies at 86

Lawrence K. Grossman, who as president of PBS doubled the length of “the MacNeil/Lehrer Report,” its signature news program, then headed NBC News, where he dealt unhappily with budget austerity after it came under General Electric’s ownership, died Friday at his home in Westport, Connecticut. He was 86.

His granddaughter Rebecca Grossman-Cohen said he had Parkinson’s disease and oral cancer.

Grossman, a former advertising executive, transformed PBS over eight years. Despite his initial reluctance to spend the required money, PBS became the first broadcast network to deliver its programming by satellite.

He expanded the influence of the MacNeil/Lehrer program by lengthening it to an hour, from a half-hour, and started the “Frontline” documentary series as well as the 13-part series “Vietnam: A Television History” (1981).

“I have never been more optimistic,” Grossman told The Christian Science Monitor in October 1983, shortly before he was hired by NBC. “PBS, despite reduced funding, is coming into a golden age of programming with probably its best season starting this month.”

Grossman joined NBC News a few months later and was faced with multiple challenges: Ratings for the “Today” show were slipping, “NBC Nightly News” was ranked far behind “CBS Evening News,” and the network was struggling to create a strong prime-time newsmagazine.

His lack of a journalism background did not bother Grant Tinker, the chairman of NBC, who hired him.

“We have an awful lot of people who have a lot of experience in news,” said Tinker. “We are hiring a man in whom we have great faith.”

Soon after taking over, Grossman told The New York Times that his mandate was “not to make NBC News first in the ratings” but to build an organization “of which we can all be proud.”

“And there was no talk of any time frame in which it had to be done,” he said.

He hired Tim Russert, then a political aide to Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York, as a vice president (before Russert became one of NBC News’ top on-air personalities as the moderator of “Meet the Press”). And he had some successes, including “Today’s” return as ratings leader among morning news programs and an increased regard for “NBC Nightly News,” which had risen briefly to No. 1 in the ratings in 1987 before falling to third place.

But after GE's acquisition of RCA, NBC’s parent company, in 1986, Grossman fell out of favor with his new bosses — Jack Welch, GE's chairman, and Robert C. Wright, NBC’s president, as well as with Tom Brokaw, the anchor of “NBC Nightly News.”

To Grossman, corporate ownership of news divisions (Loews controlled CBS and Capital Cities had bought ABC) had increased the pressure to make a profit.

“It was quickly apparent that the most costly thing in putting on nightly news programs is covering the hard news,” he said in 2001 in an interview with Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

In his book “Three Blind Mice” (1991), Ken Auletta described awkward encounters between Welch and Grossman, like one in which Grossman pushed for a 4 percent budget increase for the news division, not the 5 percent cut he had been told to make.

“How dare you come in at 4 percent above 1986 when the word is out that you have to keep below the current budget?” Welch shouted.

After Grossman told him, “That’s what we need,” Welch reproved him, saying, as quoted by Auletta: “You guys spend more money! My kids could do better!”

The next day, Welch, still angry, ordered Grossman to make the budget cut. But Grossman stayed for nearly two more years and supervised layoffs. He was forced out in 1988, replaced by Michael Gartner.

In an email on Friday, Brokaw wrote that NBC News had needed “an aggressive seasoned hand” with experience in journalism and production to “go against Roone Arledge,” the president of ABC News, “and the CBS veteran team.”

He added that Grossman had “failed to appreciate the change represented by the arrival of Jack Welch and GE. Jack knew the department needed fresh ideas, but Larry failed to provide them.”

Lawrence Kugelmass Grossman was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 21, 1931. His father, Nathaniel H. Kugelmass, was a lawyer; his mother, the former Rose Goldstein, was a high school administrator. His father died when Lawrence was 3, and his mother later married Nathan Grossman, also a lawyer, who adopted him.

After attending Midwood High School — where a journalism teacher opened his mind to the world of communication — he graduated from Columbia University, where he studied English and political science. He went on to Harvard Law School, where he met his future wife, Alberta Nevler, who was attending Radcliffe.

But he left Harvard after a year and joined Look magazine in the promotions department. Hoping to be a journalist, he sent story ideas to editors there but found no takers.

Hired in the mid-1950s by CBS to do advertising and promotion for the news division during the era of Edward R. Murrow, he continued to hope for a journalism job but did not succeed.

Then, at NBC, where he was a vice president of advertising from 1962 to 1966, he met Tinker, who was then in programming; their friendship would lead Tinker to consider only Grossman for the presidency of NBC News.

But that was still nearly two decades away. After leaving NBC for the first time, he opened an advertising, marketing and communications firm. PBS, one of his clients, hired him as its president in 1976.

In 1980, he refused to bow to pressure that PBS not show “Death of a Princess,” a film based on a true story about a Saudi princess who had been publicly beheaded for adultery a few years earlier. Mobil Oil, a major PBS underwriter, protested. Some members of Congress spoke out. And Warren M. Christopher, the secretary of state, relayed a letter of concern from the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

Grossman’s stance “was the single most important thing he did at PBS,” Richard Wald, a professor emeritus at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a former NBC News president, said in a telephone interview. “He created a sense in PBS that they were doing important work, and it caused PBS to stand up straighter. It was enormously important to how PBS conducted itself thereafter.”

In addition to his granddaughter, Grossman-Cohen, a marketing executive at The New York Times, Grossman is survived by his wife, who is known as Boots; three daughters, Susan Grossman, Caroline Grossman and Jennifer Grossman Peltz; a brother, Daniel; five other grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

After leaving NBC, he wrote “The Electronic Republic: Reshaping Democracy in the Information Age” (1995), about how interactive telecommunications of that era — faxed petitions, email lobbying and 900-number telephone polls — were providing citizens with more direct participation in politics and making them the “new fourth estate.”

In her review in The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani wrote that Grossman expresses his ideas in “strong, clear language, eschewing both the naïve optimism about technology that has colored so much American thinking in the past and the doomsaying of many contemporary critics.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

RICHARD SANDOMIR © 2018 The New York Times

from - Nigeria's entertainment & lifestyle platform online

Lagos Fashion Week 2018: All the highlights from Day 1 of 'Seasons'

IAMSIGO presentation at the Lagos Fashion Week - Autumn Winter edition

The Autumn/ Winter presentations are underway at LFW and we bring you all the best from the first day including Mo Agusto and IAMISIGO.

Day 1 of Lagos Fashion Week Autumn/Winter presentations got off to a promising start. Here's all the highlights from Day 1 of 'Seasons'.

The venue, The Wings by Oando, though initially confusing, made sense when we entered the space which was reminiscent of a New York loft. The decoration was kept to a minimal and rows of white benches faced a slightly risen white platform. The entire set-up was distinctly more understated than its September counterpart and it was clear that here the clothes, were the main and the only attraction.

It wasn’t an endless parade of clothes but a small, intimate and thoughtful presentation of collections. It was a space bubbling with anticipation as guests filled it, eagerly waiting to see what the designers had in store for us on Day 1.

The lights flashed and it we were given a 5 minute warning. As guests sat down on white benches, the music pumped through the speakers and the lights dimmed, models filed out and the first presentation was underway.

Colourful deconstruction at Gozel Green

Olivia of Gozel Green's main aim was to tell a story, the designer aimed to initiate an individual storytelling process in fashion and to accommodate the unconventional and the diverse styles of the different cultural backgrounds in Nigeria.


The twin sisters, Sylvia Enekwe and Olivia Jude-Okoji are the fresh brains behind the label which was founded in 2010. They credited their supportive parents for allowing them the space to explore their creative boundaries.

This creative upbringing provided the blueprint for their education and together, the sisters built a brand that was so innovative and dynamic, it garnered attention from all over and got multiple features into international publications including Vogue Italia,

When asked by Vogue Italia to describe the brand in three words, the sisters replied:

If we had to use three adjectives we’d say  Gozel Green is an artistic, timeless and original brand. Out style is alternative, vibrant and outwardly androgynous. Every time we create a garment, we always have clear in our mind these features: eccentric cuts, destructured shapes and eye-catching hues and textures.


On Day 1, Gozel Green stayed true to their deconstructed aesthetic as models filed out in outfits that were not as they initially seemed. Dresses and skirts were layered with unexpected cut-outs and finished off with unusual ruching.

With a palette of green, red, black and beige, the colour combinations were more muted than the usual Gozel Green offerings but worked perfectly nontheless. The separates were very wearable and would be a dream to style.

Each Gozel Green piece tells a story on it's own which is what makes the label so dynamic. Gozel Green's identity is so well-established that after 8 years in the industry, you could pick a piece out instantaneously and though the collections change and evolve, the narrative remains the same.

Why Mo Agusto is the new brand for the cool girls

Mo Agusto owes her ‘big break’ to the team behind Lagos Fashion Week, in particular, the Fashion Focus platform which offers designers the opportunity to participate in a program where five participants are chosen.

The lucky individuals are given the opportunity to attend seminars and classes, as well as paired up with mentors who guide them through the journey. The participants are given the chance to showcase their work amongst established designers at the next HLFDW.

Having completed successfully last year, Mo Agusto returns to show us the fruits of her labour. However, in the last year, the Mo Agusto brand has accumulated a decent amount of street cred thanks to the cool girls including PR maven Zara Okpara who regularly rock her clothes.

The Mo Agusto woman, though ladylike, refuses to be confined by it. Mo Agusto manages to strike a delicate balance between the feminine, the flirty and the powerful.

While she initially started off as a “made to measure” designer, after HLFDW fashion focus, Agusto re-launched her brand as a ready-to-wear brand.


Beyonce and Andre 3000's 'We like to party' flowed through the speakers and the scene was set for the models who filed out in a series of party-ready outfits.

Their hair was pulled back and the shock of red lipstick declared that the Mo Agusto girl was here to be noticed. The palette was a combination of dusty pink, wine, white and navy blue, the colours carefully mixed to create elegant yet fun colourblocking.

How IAMISIGO is redefining the sartorial aesthetic of a generation

IAMISIGO is a brand that targets those who dare to stand out, regardless of the consequences.

Founded by Nigerian stylist and creative/art director Bubu Ogisi in 2009, the brand has gone from strength to strength and come to be synonymous with the modern Nigerian girl. The global citizen whose fashion conscious but also very much in touch with her African heritage and draws inspiration from all the places she has been.

Bubu launched her label to show how our deep-rooted African culture can be interwoven with a minimal and modern design aesthetic. Collection to collection she has managed to achieve this and we have watched the IAMISIGO girl grown into a self-assured woman.

IAMISIGO is not just about the clothes, it’s about the message, it’s about the empowerment of the modern Nigerian woman who exists comfortably somewhere between here and everywhere else and wants that to be expressed in every facet of who she is including what she chooses to wear.

The stage was set with 10 chairs, 5 facing towards the crowd, and five facing away. Trust IAMISIGO to break away from the norm and try something different. The spotlight hit the chairs and the models filed out.

Their bouffant hair was back-combed and a thick strip off white paint was boldy painted across their faces. Each model strode out and sat down, then the show began. IAMISIGO had clearly put a lot of thought into the choreography of her presentation and it was as much a moving art installation as it was a fashion presentation.


As the models stood and sat and walked around, we were given a view of the clothes from every single angle conceivable angle and able to see the artistry that went into creating the collection.

The collection was held together, literally and figuratively, by pieces of string which featured in some way or another in every piece. The white bubu was held together by it, the white flares had string dangling from the sides, allowing you to choose just how daring you wanted to be. The green dress was tied both across the chest and at the waist and exaggerated sleeves ruched around the wrists to create THE ultimate day dress.

The models strode around in custom made Shekudo slippers and mules which complimented the collection perfectly.

The collection was quintessential IAMISIGO, every single detail was thought out and each piece was so wearable. With the order forms laying right next to us, it was a wonder we didn't snap up the entire collection.

from - Nigeria's entertainment & lifestyle platform online

World: Misreading Trump: Ally Japan is spurned on tariff exemptions


On Friday, officials in Japan awoke to the news that it was the largest U.S. ally to be left off a list of countries temporarily exempted from stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports by the Trump administration.

Only last week, Tokyo was scrambling to recover after being caught flat-footed by President Donald Trump’s abrupt acceptance of an invitation to meet Kim Jong Un personally to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program.

On Friday, officials in Japan awoke to the news that it was the largest U.S. ally to be left off a list of countries temporarily exempted from stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports by the Trump administration.

The omission of Japan, the largest foreign supplier to be so excluded, was especially pointed. Australia, Brazil, Mexico and even South Korea, which is engaged with the United States in tense renegotiations of a free-trade pact, appeared on the list.

The move also seemed a personal snub of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has courted Trump through rounds of golf, frequent telephone calls and lavish steak meals.

“It’s really kind of almost tragicomic,” said Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Sophia University in Tokyo and frequent critic of the Japanese leader. “Abe was being really sycophantic in trying to please Trump, and at a certain point, quite recently, he was talked about as the closest friend that Trump has. And it all turns out that that wasn’t good for anything when it comes to furthering the national interests of Japan.”

To be sure, Abe is not the first U.S. ally to be so spurned. Theresa May of Britain, Justin Trudeau of Canada and Angela Merkel of Germany have all had turns at being Trump’s slighted friend.

Japan could yet win an exemption from the new tariffs. Trump’s announcement offered a path for countries left off the initial list to “discuss with the United States alternative ways to address the threatened impairment of the national security caused by imports of steel articles.” This week, Japan’s trade minister, Hiroshige Seko, told reporters there was a “high chance” that some of its steel and aluminum products would be exempted.

But for anyone who has been paying attention, there have been hints all along that in matters of trade, Tokyo should regard Trump as much “frenemy” as friend.

During the presidential campaign, he seemed to harbor three-decades-old perceptions of Japan, chastising it for “crushing” the United States in trade, invoking the specter of the 1980s and the height of the trade wars between the two countries. After he was elected, he threatened to impose a “big border tax” on Toyota if it built a new auto plant in Mexico.

In niggling comments during a visit to Tokyo last fall, Trump told Japanese executives to “try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over,” ignoring the fact that Japanese carmakers build nearly 4 million vehicles in plants in the United States annually, more than twice the number the industry ships from Japan.

On Friday, Seko, the trade minister, said it was “extremely regrettable” Japan had not immediately been exempted from the steel and aluminum tariffs.

Still, analysts said Japanese officials probably realized it was only a matter of time before Trump took action on trade.

“They knew that this was a president who had pretty well-established views when it came to how he thought about Japan and the economic relationship with the U.S.,” said Tobias Harris, a vice president and Japan analyst at Teneo Intelligence, a political risk consultancy based in New York.

What’s more, tensions between Japan and the United States are hardly unique to Trump’s administration.

“If you look back far enough, periods of friction amidst close security cooperation goes back to the early 1970s and is more the rule than the exception,” Harris said. “I just don’t believe that official Japan convinced themselves that because of the rapport between the two leaders, that they were going to escape scrutiny.”

Analysts said Trump had left Japan off the exemption list as a negotiating tactic to try to force it into bilateral free-trade talks.

“He wants something like some concessions from Japan regarding the auto market or maybe agriculture,” said Shujiro Urata, dean and professor in the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies at Waseda University in Tokyo. “So in order to get these concessions, this could be a very effective strategy.”

When announcing $60 billion in tariffs against China Thursday, Trump directed a sugarcoated barb against Japan and Abe.

“I’ll talk to Prime Minister Abe of Japan and others — great guy, friend of mine — and there will be a little smile on their face,” Trump said. “And the smile is, ‘I can’t believe we’ve been able to take advantage of the United States for so long.’ So those days are over.”

Analysts said Trump was clearly playing to his domestic audience.

“He has to promote this to his supporters in the United States,” said Kazuhiro Maeshima, professor of politics at Sophia University. “In the history between Japan and the United States over the past 30 years, Japan has been seen as an archenemy in the trade wars, so the voters’ image of Japan is bad. The reality is that China dominates the trade deficit, but the reality and image are different.”

In any case, the tariffs are unlikely to hurt Japan’s economy that much. The country’s steel exports to the United States represent just 5 percent of its total steel exports, and it produces very little aluminum.

“The real serious problem for the world is China’s excessive production,” said Masahiko Hosokawa, a professor at Chubu University and a former director of the U.S. division of Japan’s Trade Ministry.

“Unless the problem of China’s excessive steel production is resolved, the products will only flood into Asian markets if the U.S. stops importing them,” Hosokawa said. “The products that are supposed to go to the U.S. will flood the Asian market and steel prices will continue to decline.”

Trump’s actions feed concern in Asia about Chinese dominance. Because he is “unpredictable and kind of capricious,” Urata said, more countries will perceive the United States as “a very difficult country to work with that we cannot trust and rely on,” leaving a void that China will increasingly fill.

In the immediate term, Japan’s hand is weakened by the fact that Abe is embroiled in a scandal involving allegations that he influenced a sweetheart land deal for a crony.

That will make it more difficult for Abe to negotiate with Trump from a position of strength, or to persuade Japanese businesses to consider any trade concessions. “Mr. Abe’s power to persuade businesses and to talk with the U.S. is much weaker than it was even two months ago,” Maeshima said.

Then again, Trump could reverse course at any moment.

Under the tariff laws, the United States “could exempt Japan tomorrow, or they could decide ‘no, no, no, Europe and Canada, we’re actually going to apply this law to you,'” said Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “It gives tremendous discretion to the president to do whatever he wants.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

MOTOKO RICH © 2018 The New York Times

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Tech: 6 reasons you should buy Samsung's new Galaxy S9 instead of the Galaxy Note 8


Samsung's Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 8 are both top-of-the-line phones — but the Galaxy S9 has a few distinct advantages.

Samsung's Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 8 are two of the best phones you can buy right now.

They both have beautiful, edge-to-edge displays, top-of-the-line cameras, and futuristic features like wireless charging and iris scanning.

The Galaxy Note 8 is Samsung's premier smartphone. It has a built-in stylus and Samsung's largest display.

The Galaxy S9 came out last month and has an advanced camera and runs the latest version of Android.

So if you're in the market for a Samsung device, which do you choose?

For most people, the Galaxy S9 is the better bet — here are six reasons why.

The Galaxy S9 is more than $200 cheaper than the Galaxy Note 8.

The Galaxy S9 is an expensive phone — but compared to the Galaxy Note 8, it's a good deal.

The Galaxy S9 starts at $720. The Galaxy Note 8 starts at $950, and can go for as much as $963 depending on your carrier.

These days, you can get a deal on the Galaxy Note 8 if you buy through a certain carrier — it's $200 off through T-Mobile right now — but for most people, it will cost nearly $1,000.

The Galaxy S9 has better speakers.

With the Galaxy S9, Samsung added a second loudspeaker in the phone's earpiece, which creates stereo sound — something the Galaxy Note 8 doesn't have.

Smartphone speakers aren't often known for their sound, but multiple critics have pointed out how great the Galaxy S9 sounds when you're playing music or watching video.

The Galaxy S9 has a more advanced camera.

Samsung added a new feature to the Galaxy S9 called Pro Mode. The phone can toggle between two different apertures automatically depending on how much light is present, or you can manually adjust the aperture like on a DSLR camera.

The Galaxy S9 also has a new "super slow-mo" mode, which lets you shoot HD slow-mo videos and turn them into GIFs.

The Galaxy Note 8 has an incredible camera too — dual lenses, 2X optical zoom, the ability to save images as RAW files, and Samsung's version of portrait mode. But the Galaxy S9 is just slightly more advanced.

The Galaxy S9 runs a newer version of Android.

The Galaxy S9 comes standard with Android 8.0 (Oreo), while the Galaxy Note 8 runs Android 7.1.1 (Nougat).

The Galaxy S9 has a more smartly placed fingerprint sensor.

One of the most irritating issues with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 was the placement of the fingerprint scanner — right next to the camera lens.

Users complained that it was hard to reach, and that when going to use the fingerprint scanner, they'd inadvertently smudge their camera lens.

With the Galaxy S9, Samsung moved the scanner to below the camera lenses, which means it's easier to reach — and you no longer have to worry about a smudged camera.

The Galaxy S9 comes in more colors.

If you're someone who likes a few color options when picking out a new phone, you won't find that with the Galaxy Note 8. The phone only comes in two colors — midnight black and orchid gray.

The Galaxy S9 has four color options: lilac purple, midnight black, titanium gray, and coral blue.

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Supremacy Battle: “Davido Bought Fame, Wizkid Earned It,” Says Marenike

At a time when the supremacy battle between two Nigerian music heavyweights – Wizkid and Davido – seems to have calmed a bit, there seems to be an opinion that might ignite sensation among die-hard loyalists of the two popular singers.

UK-based afro-merge singer, Morenike Lasode, with the stage name Marenikae, may be trying ‘inadvertently’ to stir up a hornet’s nest after she shared her opinion on her preferred act out of the two.

Preferring Wizkid over Davido, Vanguard quoted her as saying that in her opinion, Wizkid earned his pedigree as a musician of repute through difficult circumstances while Davido bought stardom with wealth.

“Wizkid is an all-rounder because of his vibes; thanks to his learning and struggling years. Struggle in the industry teaches you how to be a better artiste, it teaches you how to navigate in the business, how to improve, how to grow, it makes you more perceptive, more aware of what the market needs and I think this struggle shaped Wizkid’s career and drive”, she argued.

She added, “Davido on the other hand grew in better circumstances and his career also snowballed in better circumstances but he’s also good. There are some Davido’s songs I love more than Wizkid’s but if I have to pick one person, looking at Wizkid’s artistry, image, performance and history, I’ll pick Wizkid. As far as image is concerned, Wizkid is very sophisticated.”

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Opinion: Trading cards: a hobby that became a multimillion-dollar investment


Brady Hill used his skills for buying and selling baseball cards to purchase his first car and to pay his way through Louisiana State University.

Now that he’s the chief executive of Greensource, one of the country’s largest T-shirt printing companies, Hill is again devoting time and financial resources to his hobby.

Seven or eight years ago, I went to see these cards I had in my safe deposit box that I was going to keep forever,” said Hill, 47. “I said, ‘This is cool.’ Then I looked on eBay and said, ‘Wow, this is legit.'

Prices have certainly risen for collectible trading cards. Over the past decade, as the S&P 500 has roared back from the 2008 crash, an index of the top 500 baseball cards has done even better — beating it by more than double.

Hill and his wife have put about 20 percent of their net worth in baseball cards, he said. They did so for both investment and aesthetic reasons.

“What’s more fun?” Hill asked. “Having a Babe Ruth rookie card or shares of stock where one false move and it goes down?”

The cards make for remarkably portable assets. If Hill held his 1916 Babe Ruth card in one hand and his 1952 Mickey Mantle in the other, he would have about $1.2 million pinched between his fingers.

Those sky-high values mean that collecting cards is no longer child’s play; it’s a big-money realm of affluent collectors who have their eye on returns. And Hill is part of a growing group of collectors who see their cards as investments, even if the type of investment they are — artwork or security — is debatable.

PWCC, an auction site for trading cards of all kinds, is set to introduce a series of indexes modeled on the S&P 500 to help collectors track the value of their cards and understand what their portfolio is worth.

The company has three indexes of the top-trading high-value cards: the top 100, 500 and 2,500. The indexes are based on auction sales data from the past 10 years.

The top three are the 1952 Mantle, like Hill’s; a 1954 Hank Aaron card; and a 1933 Babe Ruth card. Over the past decade, the Mantle card has appreciated 590 percent, the Aaron card 829 percent, and the Ruth card 305 percent.

“Most collectors feel they’ve done well with their cards as investments,” said Brent Huigens, chief executive of PWCC Auctions. “But there was no statistical analysis available. There was no data for them.”

Huigens said card collecting was something of a hybrid of investing in stocks and fine art, and his indexes try to account for that. “There’s a lot of nostalgia in cards, which compares to the art markets,” he said. “But it’s like a stock market because of all the data we have.”

PWCC, which is one of 10 or so big card auction sites, helped collectors sell $50 million in cards last year.

Like any investment, what goes up can go down, and investing in trading cards has its own risks. Huigens pointed out that many cards in the top 500 have fallen in value. There have also been several card bubbles over the past three decades.

He said a small group of collectors with about $20 million among them ran up prices in 2016, but the broader collecting market did not follow. “They put all their money into one card and not others,” he said. “They created outliers they couldn’t maintain. The market has had to reassess itself.”

The other driving force in turning a card hobby into an investment opportunity has been the acceptance of a single recognized grading system for the condition of the cards. An independent company called Professional Sports Authenticator will rate any card and give a grade from 0 to 10, which assesses a card’s condition and, in most cases, determines its price.

The rising interest in cards as investments, though, is not spread evenly through the collecting universe; it is strongest at the highest end. Huigens said the rate of appreciation — and high prices — slowed beyond the top 100 cards.

But like any investment, you need a strategy. Hill said he focused on cards where “supply meets demand.”

“You can’t just buy rarity,” he said. “If it’s the only one, everyone is going to know what you paid for it. There is no chance for appreciation. You have to wait for someone to come to your door and wrestle it away from you.”

The PWCC indexes shy away from the rarest cards because, Huigens said, they do not trade often enough, and the indexes are a measure of cards that are liquid. One parameter he set was all the included cards must have been sold at least 10 times in the last 10 years, with at least two sales in the last two months.

PWCC also uses the grade — not just on the player, the year and the maker — when picking cards for its indexes. The top card in the index is the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle in Grade 8 condition, which is worth about $400,000. There are only 33 known examples of this card in the world, Huigens said.

(There are more expensive examples of the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle; a Grade 10 card is worth around $10 million — but there are only three of those in the world and they don’t change hands often, so they are excluded from the index.)

Sitting atop the excluded list is a 1909 T206 Honus Wagner, once owned by the hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky. (Gretzky’s own 1979 playing card is ranked No. 44, at a price of $25,000, the second-highest ranked hockey card behind Gordie Howe’s.)

To collectors, this Honus Wagner card has a mystical aura. It has been in the collection of Ken Kendrick, managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team, since 2007. He reportedly bought it privately for $2.8 million, but its value now would be far higher — should he wish to sell it.

Kendrick owns the top 25 cards in the finest specimens available. Yet he remains a collector’s collector. In an interview, he said that in the 1990s, when he stepped back from running Datatel, the technology company he founded, his first priority was to complete the sets that he and his brother created when they were boys.

He needed 40 cards for the full 1952 set, he recalled, and he went to work.

“During that time, I began to learn about the high-value cards with great grades,” said Kendrick, whose Diamondbacks will host the Colorado Rockies on opening day on Thursday.

He made it his focus to acquire the top 25 cards in the highest grades.

“The cards that I own are more akin to works of art,” Kendrick said. “They’re valued like rare paintings because they are so rare, and they do carry very high price tags if they’re resold.”

Huigens said Kendrick’s Honus Wagner and Mickey Mantle cards were together worth more than $20 million.

Would-be collectors need not lay down so much money to get started; the prices for high-quality cards can be as low as the hundreds or thousands of dollars. “I have cards worth $600,000 or $700,000,” Hill said. “But I also have another 1,000 cards that don’t add up to that price.”

He said he constantly bought and sold cards, both to realize gains and to fill holes in his collection.

Baseball dominates card collecting, but other sports have climbed high in the PWCC index ranking, usually with cards of the sports’ best players. The highest ranked non-baseball card comes in at No.15: a Grade 10 rookie card of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson from 1980. It is worth about $75,000.

The highest ranked football card is a Joe Namath Topps card from 1965. It’s No. 37 and worth $35,000 in a near-perfect grade of 8.

Younger buyers are driving card collecting in a different direction. A first-edition set of the 1999 North American set of Pokémon cards with the top grade recently sold at auction for $98,000.

“The market has changed in terms of how the youth is involved or exposed to it,” said Joseph Orlando, chief executive of Collectors Universe, the parent company of Professional Sports Authenticator. “For a whole generation of millennials, Pokémon was a game with universal, global appeal.”

For most collectors, a love of the hobby remains at the center. Kendrick said he was working on improving the quality of the cards in his 1952 Topps set.

“I have a full set of cards from that year and extra cards, but they’re not the most highly graded,” he said. “I’ve moved up the rankings, and I’m No.2.”

As for No. 1? “A lawyer in Alabama,” Kendrick said. “He knows I’m gaining on him.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

PAUL SULLIVAN © 2018 The New York Times

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Simi Predicts Who Will Win This Year’s #BBNaija (Watch Video)

Dapchi Girls: Freed Boko Haram captives undergoing counseling in Abuja

Freed Dapchi girls undergoing counseling in Abuja

A Dapchi resident said the Boko Haram terrorists were celebrated when they brought the girls back.

The 105 Dapchi girls who were released by terror group Boko Haram on Wednesday, March 21, are reportedly undergoing treatment and counseling in Abuja, Nigeria's capital.

The terrorists were said to have peacefully driven into the town to drop off the girls and warned their parents not to send the children back to western schools.

On February 19, 2018, the sect abducted 113 pupils of the Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State.

But 105 of the girls were released following negotiation with the Federal Government - six of them reportedly died during the abduction process while the only Christian among the girls, Leah Sharibu, remain in captivity because she refused to convert to Islam.

Arrival of Dapchi girls


A Dapchi resident, Ibrahim Husseini, who was quoted by Premium Times, said the terrorists were celebrated when they brought the girls back.

He said, "It was a thing of joy for us in Dapchi when suddenly we began to see trucks moving into the town at about 8:00 a.m in the morning.

"They brought the girls and then they were telling the general public that they should not go back to Western education schools; that what they did was not terrorism but rather the propagation of Islamic knowledge."

The secretary of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls’ parents' group, Kachalla Bukar, was also quoted to have said he was present when Boko Haram returned the girls, unlike other villagers who fled fearing that it was another attack on the town.

"...we, the parents of the missing girls, did not run as other villagers did, because we cannot run and leave our girls in the hands of the Boko Haram.

"When they came, they told us that they were returning the girls not because somebody gave them money, but out of their freewill. We thanked them. Then they told us that we must never return our girls to western school again; we said we will do as said. They preached to us for some time, and we said we will heed to their sermons.

"They shook our hands and asked us to forgive them for whatever pains that they might have caused us; then we shook hands and they asked us to snap photos with them using their mobile phone which we all did", Bukar said.

Mixed feelings have trailed the released of the girls, with many condemning security operatives for giving the terrorists a safe passage after the girls were dropped off.

ALSO READ: Buhari offers repentant Boko Haram members amnesty

The Federal Government has also said that no ransom was paid for the girls' freedom, a story many Nigerians believe did not add up.

Some critics accused the government of conspiracy given how Boko Haram took the girls and returned them so easily - a move contrary to the known operational pattern of the group.

In April 2014, the Abubakar Shekau faction of the group abducted 219 girls in Chibok, Borno State during the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

It took a year after the President Muhammadu Buhari government assumed power for 21 out of the 219 girls to be released and a huge ransom was paid to secure their freedom.

In May 2017, 82 more of the Chibok girls were freed by the terrorists as others remain in captivity.

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World: At Hamburger central, antibiotics for cattle that aren't sick


Ben Holland holds a Mason jar, tilting it slightly to show the powdery 90 milligrams of the antibiotic tylosin inside.

“It’s about the amount that one animal gets in a day,” he explains, in a small factory that produces feed for 48,000-odd cattle packed in pens in Tulia, Texas, south of Amarillo. Nearby, rumbling steam towers turn corn kernels into flakes.

Holland is the director of research at Cactus Feeders, a feedlot giant. During a recent visit, I found myself surrounded by men with Ph.D.s and cowboy hats like Holland. Several wore jackets bearing drug company logos that were sure to smell of steamed corn and flatulent cattle by day’s end.

Behind Holland, antibiotics were stacked in large bags rising to his shoulders. Every day, cattle here, whether sick or healthy, are given antibiotics in their feed.

But it’s an increasingly debated practice on industrial farms.

Bacteria resistant to antibiotics turn up in turkey, pork chops and ground beef in the United States; in grocery store chickens in Britain; and at poultry farms in China. Antibiotic residues are found in groundwater, drinking water and streams, and in feedlot manure used as fertilizer.

Some 70 percent to 80 percent of U.S. antibiotic sales go to livestock. In addition to the emergence of resistant disease strains, some microbiologists worry that the proliferation of antibiotics, despite their miraculous health benefits, is having a chaotic impact on microbes in the human gut.

The Cactus feedlot is hamburger central, the middle passage of cattle’s industrial journey. Calves come from farms to be fattened up on corn and grain for several months, and then are shipped out for slaughter and processing.

Cattle, however, evolved to eat grass, and their time on a feedlot causes health complications. Hence the antibiotics. Tylosin controls liver abscesses, and Rumensin, another antibiotic feed additive, fights intestinal disease.

While Cactus has taken steps to limit the use of such drugs, it sees cheap and plentiful hamburgers and steaks as a byproduct of industrialization.

“We’ve got to take that potential value and balance it against the risk,” said Paul Defoor, co-chief executive of Cactus. “Antibiotic resistance is a fact of life, no two ways about it,” he added. “We want to make sure that by virtue of our using these products we’re not contributing to it.”

Others, however, see the risk far outweighing the reward.

The Microbiologist’s View

“We’ve become addicted to antibiotics. We’re using them as if there was no biological cost to using them. And there are costs.”

— Dr. Martin J. Blaser,

Chairman, Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria; director, Human Microbiome Program, NYU Langone Medical Center

Dr. Martin J. Blaser, a white-haired scientist in a V-neck sweater and black Mephisto sneakers, walked me through his lab recently at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Manhattan.

“Both on the farm and in human medicine, we’ve become addicted to antibiotics,” he said. “We’re using them as if there was no biological cost to using them. And there are costs.”

Regular use of tylosin on farms, he added, “is a genuinely bad idea because of cross-resistance, involving important drugs used in human medicine.” Tylosin is part of a widely used class of antibiotics used by humans, including Z-Pak.

But Blaser’s career has largely been focused on a less talked about symptom of the proliferation of antibiotics: tracking disappearing microbes in the human gut.

We moved down the aisle of his lab, amid a jumble of computer screens and rows of lab desks, beakers, binders and pipettes. Blaser introduced a cadre of assistants. Many were connecting specific diseases to the disappearance of particular gut microbes, often due to antibiotics.

“Tim here, who’s a graduate student, he works on asthma,” Blaser said. Another is “running a very big project” on juvenile diabetes.

A visiting Chinese scholar studies obesity and antibiotics. Two more researchers, Blaser said, are looking at “an organism that many people have in their gut that may be protective against kidney stones.”

Some microbes are misunderstood. Take Helicobacter pylori, a passenger in the human gut for thousands of years linked in the last century to certain cancers.

“Because of ulcer and stomach cancer, doctors, mostly gastroenterologists, said we should just get rid of H. pylori from everybody,” Blaser said. “But I began to think differently.”

Research from the National Cancer Institute published in January found a potential downside to its disappearance, linking its loss to a new gastric cancer more likely in younger patients and women.

“Nature abhors a vacuum, and if Helicobacter, which was dominant, is gone, something is replacing it, or some things are replacing it, and that has consequences,” Blaser said.

Scientists like Blaser worry that we are too often exposed to antibiotics, beyond when we actually need them. But the United States has resisted more aggressive restrictions on livestock antibiotics that countries like the Netherlands have taken. As of last year, the Food and Drug Administration barred meat producers from using antibiotics to increase the growth of animals, rather than to treat disease. Veterinary prescriptions are now required for farm antibiotics.

But the new rules were designed in cooperation with drug companies and industrial farm groups.

“That didn’t affect us,” Defoor of Cactus said of the ban; his company sees the antibiotics added to feed as a preventive health measure. Similarly, Zoetis, a major livestock drugmaker, said on its website that farmers “will see little difference” in its tetracycline feed additives, beyond needing the appropriate paperwork from veterinarians.

But demand for antibiotic-free meat is eclipsing regulation. Annual sales of antibiotics for farm animals fell 10 percent in 2016, before the FDA’s new policy began.

Blaser turned reflective. In his office, a colorful pinwheel maps the microbial population of his poop.

“It’s just like global warming,” he said of modern changes to our internal microbiology. “It’s a big ecological shift, except it’s happening within the human body.”

The Feedlot Veterinarian

“Until we see clear evidence that this drug is actually causing an increase in resistance, then we can go down a different avenue. But today we just don’t have it.”

— Dr. Carter King,

Director of veterinary services, Cactus Feeders

“There’s a pen up here I’ve been wanting to look at.”

Carter King oversees 10 feedlots for Cactus and some 2 million head of cattle a year. It was before 8 a.m., and he was guiding a Toyota Tundra pickup truck around the feedlot, his wallet resting on a blue bandanna on the center console. Cowboys roamed on horseback, trained by King as medics, alerting him to trouble.

The work is not for everyone.

“We’ve tried taking guys that came off a ranch somewhere, and you put them in a pen of cattle on a feed yard and a lot of times it doesn’t work,” King said. “They’re used to green grass and trees, and cows standing under trees in the open air, and a feed yard is an adverse, harsh place to work.”

He stopped the truck. Smoke plumed from the distant tower where corn is flaked. He pointed to a smoky-colored calf.

“That calf doesn’t feel good,” King said. “He’s by himself. He’s just kind of standing there. He’s a little drooped.” He motioned to nearer calves coming forward to investigate. “You look at these calves here, they’re alert — they’re looking at us trying to figure out what we are.”

King was “raised on a ranch out in the middle of nowhere.” He has had his own veterinary practice, and has worked for the drugmaker Upjohn and even at a zoo, where he learned to wake up gorillas anesthetized by blow darts. (“You pull his tongue over his nose, and you insert the needle into that vein.” And then bolt.)

Early in his career, a large cattle business asked King to prescribe a banned antibiotic. He knew he was “going to blow this opportunity because I’m going to tell this guy, ‘No,'” he said. He did, and lost a customer.

Still, King and other industry veterinarians support using antibiotics in feed. Keith E. Belk, a Colorado State University professor who works closely with the beef industry, said research on risks like liver abscesses was more uncertain than many studies suggested. And “the industry has a whole lot of research to find substitutes,” he added.

Especially in chickens. Zoetis said last year that its “portfolio of alternatives to antibiotic medicated feed” was “the primary driver of growth” in poultry.

For now, the view from the feedlot is that the risks are not evident enough to stop using drugs like tylosin.

“Until we see clear evidence that this drug is actually causing an increase in resistance, then we can go down a different avenue,” Dr. King said. “But today we just don’t have it.”

The Dissenter

“We’re all worried about athletes using performance enhancing drugs during the baseball game, but we’re not worried about the hot dogs that were produced using the same chemical compounds.”

— Mike Callicrate,

Owner of Callicrate Cattle and Ranch Foods Direct

A blunt-spoken former bull rider, Mike Callicrate raises cattle in Kansas and Colorado. To him, antibiotics are “performance enhancing drugs,” and he lumps them in with other industrial additives like steroid hormones.

“We’re all worried about athletes using performance enhancing drugs during the baseball game, but we’re not worried about the hot dogs that were produced using the same chemical compounds and that are being eaten by our children,” he said during a recent visit to his farm on the Kansas-Colorado border.

This is not to say he refuses all antibiotics. He uses them to treat sick cattle, but does not mix them into feed for healthy calves.

“We need the tool when we need the tool, but the fact is we’ve overused the tool to offset the negatives of industrial production,” he said.

Callicrate took me around his farm, a bucolic vision of grazing cattle and open fields. He’s an outspoken guy, who calls the feedlot giant JBS the “rotten meat mafia,” attacks industrial practices on his website and once sued the government to protest the management of a nationwide program to promote beef.

He gave up on the industrial production model years ago, and now has a small operation that encompasses all steps of the business, from birth to slaughter to a retail meat counter in Colorado Springs.

“We can litigate, we can legislate, but who’s building the alternative?” he asked during lunch over chipped beef in downtown St. Francis, Kansas. “So I felt compelled. I’ve got to build the alternative. I can’t be such a loudmouth and such a critic of this existing system without giving people an alternative.”

Still, it is difficult to buck the system and make a buck. Agriculture is now built around the industrial model. Callicrate has the luxury of raising cattle the way he does because he invented a contraption to castrate bulls humanely.

“This makes money,” he said, while he showed me how to cinch a bull’s testicles in the Callicrate Bander, which looks like a slingshot crossed with a fishing rod. “Everything else loses money.”

Antibiotic-free beef also costs consumers more, though groups like Consumers Union feel it “is worth the extra money.”

For Callicrate, keeping his cattle off the feedlot changed his perspective.

“I’ve decided to take a different path, slow down a little bit,” he said. “If I have to be responsible for the steak on the plate, I’m going to change the way I’m producing it.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

DANNY HAKIM © 2018 The New York Times

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2018 Africa CEO Award: 2 Nigerian top executives shortlisted

Jim Ovia, Rabiu shortlisted for 2018 Africa CEO award

AFRICA CEO FORUM would award executives whose strategies and performance have contributed most to the momentum of Africa’s growth

Two Nigerian top executives have been shortlisted for the among five other top business leaders across Africa for the 2018 Africa CEO award.

Jim Ovia founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc and Abdulsamad Rabiu, Founder and Chairman, BUA Group were among the top leaders whose strategies and performance have contributed most to the momentum of Africa’s growth over the past year.

The Award ceremony, in its sixth consecutive year, will recognise the leaders, companies and investors at the AFRICA CEO FORUM scheduled to hold March 26 to March 27, 2018, in Abidjan, the economic capital of Côte d'Ivoire.

The awards also include African Company of Year, Private Equity Investor of the Year, Most Promising Company of the Year, CSR Strategy of the Year among others.


The other shortlisted CEO for the 2018 edition of the award includes James Mwangi, CEO, Equity Bank, Mohamed El-Kettani, CEO, Attijariwafa Bank, Kate Kanyi Tometi Fotso, CEO, Telcar Cocoa, Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Chairman, Econet Group and Nadia Fettah, MD, Saham Finances.

"In 2018, there is an injection of innovation in the AFRICA CEO FORUM Awards with the launch of the Most Promising Company of the Year award which turns the spotlight on the continent’s startups."

"To win this award, five young companies at the forefront of innovation will present their projects to a jury comprising specialist investors (IFC, TLCom and Omidyar)."

"These are Morocco’s Omniup, which offers free WiFi access once an advertisement has been viewed; Senegal’s InTouch, which has developed a mobile money platform; Kenya’s Twiga Foods, which connects farmers and vendors for the sale of fresh produce; Kenya’s Africa’sTalking Ltd, which offers communication services (SMS and voice APIs, etc.) and Nigeria’s Thrive Agric, which offers, among other things, technological solutions to improve agricultural yields," according to a statement posted on its website.

The AFRICA CEO FORUM, the world's largest gathering of the African private sector is expected to have more than 1,200 key figures and decision-makers from industry, finance and politics from 60 countries in attendance.

With its chosen theme, "African Champions: Powering Competitiveness", the AFRICA CEO FORUM 2018 aims to enable its participants to formulate action plans for the transformation of the continent's large companies.

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Entertainment: Kansas survives a late scare from Clemson to advance, 80-76

Kansas Survives a Late Scare From Clemson to Advance, 80-76

OMAHA, Neb. — Kansas’ most important player is senior guard Devonte’ Graham. But entering Friday’s Round of 16 matchup against a physical Clemson team, the Jayhawks’ X factor was the sophomore 7-footer Udoka Azubuike.

Doubts about whether the 280-pound Azubuike would be at full strength evaporated early as No. 1-seeded Kansas defeated fifth-seeded Clemson, 80-76, in the Midwest Region.

Graham — playing in the tournament’s second weekend for the third straight year — leapt with excitability just before tipoff. But on Kansas’ first possession, it was Azubuike who got the ball.

Several inches taller and considerably heavier than anyone on Clemson’s roster, he maneuvered for an easy basket, the first of his five in the half.

Despite the large brace on his left leg, Azubuike finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in just 25 minutes.

“He makes everything easier for us,” Graham said. “We get to play off of him. We always say throw the ball inside and play around Doke.”

In the game’s final minutes, after Azubuike had fouled out, his value became even clearer as Clemson threatened a stunning comeback that ultimately fell short.

After trailing by 15 points with less than five minutes left, Clemson got to within 4 points with 14 seconds remaining. Kansas inbounded to Graham, who was fouled and made both his shots. On the other end, Clemson missed a 3-pointer but got a putback with 4.6 seconds left.

Kansas then inbounded to a wide-open Malik Newman, who like a wide receiver behind the safeties ran away from defenders and to victory.

In the regional final on Sunday, Kansas will seek its first trip to the Final Four since 2012, meeting the winner of a game between No. 2 Duke and No. 11 Syracuse.

If Kansas was humongous down low, Clemson was versatile: Forward David Skara did pick-and-rolls with guards for buckets. When freshman Aamir Simms was double-teamed, he flipped a short pass to senior Mark Donnal on the other side of the hoop for an uncontested score.

And senior guard Gabe DeVoe was superb, going 4 for 6 from the field, with a 3-pointer, leading all players with 12 first-half points. He finished with 31 to go along with nine rebounds and three assists. The Tigers were playing in the second weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the first time in more than two decades.

But the Jayhawks’ experience won out. Newman, a redshirt sophomore, was like a hybrid of Kansas stars past, particularly last year’s national player of the year, Frank Mason III, a floor-general guard, and Josh Jackson, a silky perimeter scorer who became a lottery pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Newman finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

MARC TRACY © 2018 The New York Times

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Naira Reacts As CBN Injects Fresh $339.89m Into Forex Market

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Friday, March 23, sustained its intervention in the foreign exchange (forex) market by injecting the sum of $339.89 million in the Retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS).

Confirming the figure in a statement he issued, the Acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said that the continued interventions were in line with the pledge made by the Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to sustain market liquidity in order to boost production and trade.

Nigerian Banks Lose 2 Million Customer In 2017

Okorafor further disclosed that the feedback from the wholesale and retail segments of the Nigerian forex markets showed that customers were satisfied with their level of access to foreign exchange.

He also assured Nigerians that the recent confirmation of Deputy Governors and Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) nominees by the Senate would further spur the Bank towards taking sound decisions needed for economic development.

Details obtained from the Bank indicate that the amount released was for requests in the agricultural, airlines, petroleum products and raw materials and machinery sectors.

It will be recalled that the preceding Friday, the Bank injected $210 million into the Wholesale segment of the forex market.

Meanwhile, the naira exchanged at N362/$1 in the BDC segment of the market yesterday.

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Entertainment: Villanova breaks free of west Virginia in the second half to win

Villanova breaks free of west virginia in the second half to win

BOSTON — After Villanova watched University of Maryland, Baltimore County, complete its unforgettable upset over top-seeded Virginia from a hotel room in Pittsburgh, coach Jay Wright said nothing to his team.

“You didn’t have to,” he said. His players understood the significance. It was history — the first time a No. 16 seed had won a first-round game in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

And it was a reminder: No one is unbeatable, not even the Villanova Wildcats, the No. 1 seed in the East region.

After gliding through its first two games, Villanova met an opponent, No. 5 seed West Virginia, that can be tougher to kill than a cockroach. But a second-half surge propelled the Wildcats to the Elite Eight with a 90-78 victory at TD Garden.

There is a balletic quality to the Wildcats when their offense is running on all cylinders. The West Virginia Mountaineers, on the other hand, came looking for a street fight.

Within 10 minutes, there was blood on the court. There were flying elbows and jammed wrists. There was nearly a dust-up when, during a timeout, West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate wandered toward Villanova’s huddle, prompting Phil Booth to shove him away.

For most of the game, Villanova’s offense could be summed up by a meeting at the rim between Konate and the Wildcats’ Mikal Bridges early in the second half. Bridges soared majestically for a dunk with one hand, but Konate stuffed him with two. He then jogged back up court, tongue wagging.

The block, a highlight of the tournament, razzed the crowd and seemed to raise the hostility another notch. This is the Mountaineers’ style, after all. They revel in making opponents uncomfortable, and they recruit players who have been overlooked, the theory being they are hungrier and more unconventional.

True to form, West Virginia forced nine turnovers in the first half against a team that averages just 10.4 per game.

But the Mountaineers’ aggressive approach was not entirely without consequence. They picked up 10 fouls in the first nine minutes of the second half, sending Villanova to the free-throw line early and often. West Virginia’s leading scorer, Daxter Miles Jr., collected three quick fouls and went to the bench for about 10 minutes.

Without Miles, who scored 16 points, West Virginia was depleted on offense, and it shot just 30.8 percent in the second half. An 11-0 Villanova run midway through the half — capped by a putback slam by Omari Spellman — put the Wildcats ahead, 65-60, with nine minutes remaining, and they would not look back.

West Virginia went 18-0 this season when it held its opponent to fewer than 70 points. But against the top-scoring team in the nation, that was a tall task. The Wildcats drained four 3-pointers in a row during a late stretch that kept West Virginia at bay.

Perhaps they knew the Mountaineers’ record entering the game when they surrendered more than 80 points: 0-7.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

ZACH SCHONBRUN © 2018 The New York Times

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Opinion: Aging alone? Here's how to plan for the later years


But Peveler, 71, who is divorced and childless, said she was determined not to let fear of an uncertain future get the best of her.

Sarah Peveler lacks a support system that many older people count on: their adult children.

But Peveler, 71, who is divorced and childless, said she was determined not to let fear of an uncertain future get the best of her.

To help avoid the potential perils of a solitary old age, Peveler is carrying out a multipronged, go-it-alone plan. A key part of it was to find a small community where she could make friends and walk nearly everywhere, without worrying about the hazards of ice and snow.

A friend from North Carolina suggested that she look at Tarboro, in the eastern part of the state, about 75 miles from Raleigh. The city of 11,400 filled the bill, and she moved there several years before retiring in 2012 from her job as an executive of a faith-based nonprofit in Philadelphia.

“At some point, I am not going to be able to drive,” she said. From her downtown home, “I can walk to Main Street, the library, the church, the drugstore and the Piggly Wiggly.”

Peveler paid $135,000 cash for a one-story house with longevity in mind. One of the three bedrooms, she said, can be converted into an apartment if she needs a caretaker to move in. She is thinking of checking out assisted-living facilities in case she ever needs more than home care. (There is a family history of dementia, she said.) Several mini-strokes caused some cognitive impairment, so her doctor monitors her regularly.

With a brother on the West Coast and no nieces or nephews to step in, Peveler has, through her church and several civic activities, developed a surrogate family of friends and neighbors, many of them several decades younger, who keep tabs on her. For added protection, she signed up for a service, EyeOn App, that signals three friends if she does not reply within a half-hour to scheduled alerts on her cellphone.

“Once, I didn’t respond, and everyone called me,” she said. “My next-door neighbor sent her daughter over.”

Although no plan is foolproof, Peveler said she was as confident as she could be. “I know people would have my back,” she said.

Peveler is among a growing number of older Americans who are unmarried and childless. By 2030, about 16 percent of women 80 to 84 will be childless, compared with about 12 percent in 2010, according to a 2013 report by AARP.

While Peveler is trying to control the risks of aging alone, many so-called elder orphans may not fare as well. Older single and childless people are at higher risk than those with children for facing medical problems, cognitive decline and premature death, according to a 2016 study led by Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, the chief of geriatric and palliative medicine at the Northwell Health system on Long Island. The study noted that about 22 percent of people 65 and older either are childless or have children who are not in contact.

Adult children typically help elderly parents negotiate housing, social service and health care options. Without such a fallback, elder orphans can reduce their risks by building their own support structures, Carney said.

“People who are aging alone need to make plans when they are independent and functional,” she said. “They need to learn about the resources in the community and the appropriate time to start using them.” Those services could include senior-friendly housing and the growing number of home-delivered products and services aimed at the aging-solo market, such as healthy meals and doctors who make house calls, she said.

One of the first steps childless people should take is to hire an elder law lawyer, who can draw up documents that will protect them if they become incapacitated. Childless people typically turn to a friend, a lawyer, clergy or a niece or nephew to make medical decisions, according to experts. A bank’s trust unit can take on financial tasks, with a friend, a relative or a lawyer monitoring the bank’s decisions.

Christina Lesher, an elder law lawyer in Houston, suggests appointing a “micro board,” which includes the lawyer, the health care and financial agents, an accountant and a geriatric care manager. “The board can step in if a client cannot make decisions,” Lesher said. The client could assign a network of friends and neighbors to call the lawyer in an emergency or if they notice cognitive decline.

As for housing, Carney recommends that people aging alone consider a senior-friendly “congregate living” arrangement. Besides offering a variety of services, such housing can lessen isolation, which her research shows can lead to physical and cognitive decline. If that is not possible, she said, elder orphans should move closer to shopping, medical care, recreation and senior support services.

One housing option with a built-in support system is a continuing-care retirement community. Residents usually start in an independent living unit and, depending on the care needed, move to an on-site assisted-living unit or a skilled-nursing facility. Entrance and monthly fees tend to be hefty, however. Typical entry fees range from just over $100,000 to more than $400,000, while monthly services fees can range from $2,000 to $4,000, according to MyLifeSite, which tracks the pricing and financial information of more than 800 communities.

With no one to oversee their care, elder orphans who want to remain in their own homes for as long as possible could enlist a geriatric care manager, who monitors elderly clients and coordinates care.

In Washington, clients of Iona Senior Services, for example, can arrange for a care manager to be on call as their health deteriorates, said Deborah Rubenstein, director of consultation, care management and counseling programs. If a client is discharged from a hospital, for example, the care manager, in consultation with the designated health care agent, would arrange for rehabilitation or home care, she said.

“More and more people were coming to us and saying, ‘I’m OK now, but I’m realistic enough to know my health status could change,'” Rubenstein said. Iona charges $150 an hour.

Meanwhile, a growing number of volunteer neighborhood groups are providing both social connections and practical help to older people who are at home alone. More than 200 organizations in the Village to Village Network provide rides to medical appointments, snow removal, home repairs and computer support. Tax-deductible membership fees can range from $100 to $400.

Entrepreneurs and companies, many nationwide, are moving into the so-called longevity market. On-demand services, accessible by a phone app or a computer, can connect people to personal assistants and food delivery.

“The on-demand marketplace will be the best friend of elder orphans,” said Mary Furlong, a Silicon Valley consultant to companies that cater to seniors.

For example, the ride-hailing service Lyft is working with health care systems and retirement communities to provide rides to nonemergency medical appointments and other destinations. And because financial acuity often declines with age, childless singles can enroll in a service such as EverSafe, which monitors accounts for unusual spending and alerts the client or a trusted advocate of possible fraud.

In-home technology, like medication reminders, also can help people live alone safely longer, experts say. Besides her EyeOn home-monitoring system, Peveler uses an Amazon Alexa device.

“If I am reading a recipe, I can tell her what to put on a shopping list,” said Peveler, who has a harder time remembering some details since her mini-strokes. And just for fun, she may tell Alexa “to make cat noises, and one of my cats goes nuts.”

For those aging solo, expanding a social network is essential, according to experts on aging. Two years ago, Carol Marak, who is in her mid-60s and lives alone in Dallas, started the Elder Orphans Facebook group.

“I wanted a place to feel less lonely and to connect with others in the same situation,” said Marak, who is also the spokeswoman for, a site that provides information on local care options. About 6,500 childless singles, mostly women, are members, she said.

Marak said she was struck by the number of members who worried about being “isolated and disconnected from the community.” She said she was trying hard to create her own social connections. She moved from a suburban house to a downtown condominium building, where she is making new friends. And she has organized brunches for Dallas members of the Facebook page.

Determined to stay healthy for as long as possible, Marak walks 6 miles a day and eats mostly vegan meals. “I need to keep stronger,” she said, “because I am totally responsible for myself.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

SUSAN B. GARLAND © 2018 The New York Times

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