Saturday, 31 October 2015
A Russian passenger airliner crashed Saturday in a remote mountainous part Egypt's Sinai Peninsula 23 minutes after taking off from a popular Red Sea resort, killing all 224 people on board, including 25 children.
The cause of the crash was not known, but two major European airlines announced they would stop flying over the area for safety reasons after a local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group claimed it "brought down" the aircraft. Russia's transport minister dismissed that claim as not credible.
Almost everyone on board the Airbus-A321-200 operated by the Moscow-based Metrojet airline was Russian; Ukraine said four of its citizens were passengers. Russian officials did not give a specific breakdown of the 217 passengers' ages and genders, but said 25 were children. There were seven crew members.
A civil aviation ministry statement said the plane's wreckage was found in the Hassana area some 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of the city of el-Arish, in the general area of northern Sinai where Egyptian security forces have for years battled local Islamic militants who in recent months claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group.
The ministry said the plane took off from the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh shortly before 6 a.m. for St. Petersburg in Russia and disappeared from radar screens 23 minutes after takeoff. Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail toured the crash site and later told a Cairo news conference that 129 bodies had been recovered.
Photos from the site released by his office showed the badly damaged sky blue tail of the aircraft, with the Metrojet logo still visible. In the background, heaps of smoldering debris dotted the barren terrain.
One photo showed a member of the search team holding the flight recorder, or black box, which Ismail said would be scrutinized as investigators try to determine what caused the crash. Russian investigators were expected to arrive in Egypt on Sunday.
Natalya Trukhacheva, identified as the wife of co-pilot Sergei Trukachev, said in an interview with Russian state-controlled NTV that her husband had complained about the plane's condition.
She said a daughter "called him up before he flew out. He complained before the flight that the technical condition of the aircraft left much to be desired."
One Egyptian official, Ayman al-Muqadem of the government's Aviation Incidents Committee, said that before the plane lost contact with air traffic controllers, the pilot had radioed and said the aircraft was experiencing technical problems and that he intended to try and land at the nearest airport.
It was impossible to independently confirm whether technical problems were to blame, and no other Egyptian official repeated the claim on Saturday.
In a statement on its website, Metrojet said the A321-200 aircraft was in good shape and that the pilot was experienced. It identified the captain as Valery Nemov and said he had 12,000 hours of flying experience, including 3,860 in A321s.
Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said officials from Moscow and Cairo were in touch over the incident. The Egyptian officials, he said, had not confirmed the claim by Islamic State militants who said they "brought down a Russian plane over Sinai state with more than 220 Russian crusaders on board." The militant group did not provide any evidence to back up its claim.
"Based on our contacts with the Egyptian side, the information that the airplane was shot down must not be considered reliable," Sokolov said, according to a report by the Interfax news agency.
An English-language statement issued by the office of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi spoke of Russian leader Vladimir Putin commending the efforts made by authorities in Egypt "to uncover the circumstances surrounding the incident."
Militants in northern Sinai have not to date shot down commercial airliners or fighter jets. There have been media reports that they have acquired Russian shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft missiles. But these types of missiles can only be effective against low-flying aircraft or helicopters. The Russian airliner was cruising at 31,000 feet when it lost contact with air traffic controllers, according to Egyptian aviation officials.
In January 2014, Sinai-based militants claimed to have shot down a military helicopter; Egyptian officials at the time acknowledged the helicopter had crashed, but gave no reason.
But two major European airlines — Germany's Lufthansa and Air France — were not taking any chances. Both announced Saturday they would immediately stop flying over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula for safety reasons until the cause of the crash was determined. Their aircraft would take alternate routes to reach destinations in the region.
Spokeswomen for the airlines spoke anonymously in line with their respective companies' regulations.
Egypt's foreign minister, Sameh Shukri, warned "foreign" countries that he did not identify against taking measures that reflect speculations on the cause of the crash. "That will impact the Egyptian economy and lead to damages. These nations must consider this as well as their relations with Egypt," he said.
Friends and relatives of the crash victims were gathering Saturday at a hotel near St. Petersburg's Pulkovo airport. Psychologists were meeting with them in a large conference room off the lobby and police kept journalists away. Some left the room occasionally, looking drawn with tear-stained faces.
Yulia Zaitseva was one of them. She said her friends, newlyweds Elena Rodina and Alexander Krotov, were on the flight. Both were 33. Zaitseva said Rodina, her friend for 20 years, "really wanted to go to Egypt, though I told her, 'Why the hell do you want to go to Egypt?'"
"She was a very good friend who was ready to give everything to other people. To lose such a friend is like having your hand cut off," Zaitseva said, adding that Rodina's parents feel "like their lives are over."
Russian airlines became infamous for poor safety in the early years following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which caused severe financial troubles and regulatory disorder. Although accidents have diminished in recent years, crashes persist, many of them blamed on human error.
According to Russian news agencies, the flight was chartered by the St. Petersburg-based Brisco tour company. The plane was made in 1997 and has since 2012 been operated by Metrojet.
Officers from Russia's top investigative body raided the offices of Metrojet and Brisco on Saturday, searching the premises and questioning employees. Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said agents also took samples of fuel from the airport in the Russian city of Samara where the plane stopped Friday before heading to Sharm el-Sheikh, where it had overnighted.
Roughly three million Russian tourists, or nearly a third of all visitors in 2014, come to Egypt every year, mostly to Red Sea resorts in Sinai or in mainland Egypt.
"It is too premature to detect the impact this will have on tourism. We need to know what happened first," Tourism Ministry spokeswoman Rasha Azazi told The Associated Press.
There was no sign of anything unusual at Sharm el-Sheikh's airport just hours after news of the disaster broke. Hundreds of holidaymakers, mostly from Europe and the Middle East, were arriving and departing. Flights in the afternoon were leaving at the rate of four to five per hour, with lines for international check-in spilling out the main gates.
Pavel Moroz, a 30-year-old engineer from Moscow, arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday afternoon on a Metrojet flight. He plans to stay for a week to take a scuba diving course.
"We heard the news a few hours before leaving and thought for a bit about canceling our trip, but then decided to go anyway and everything was fine," he said as he left the airport.
Culled from AP
Friday, 30 October 2015
Exclusive: Khloe is back together with boyfriend James as she flies to Houston to take in his NBA game after helping Lamar
''Khloe and James are moving forward with their relationship,'' the source told the Daily Mail. ''She is happy to be back with her boyfriend and working on the relationship. He has been very understanding during this awful incident. They are trying to stay together, they want to be together. The only reason she went to Houston was to see James. She wanted to see him and spend time with him. He is her boyfriend, after all.''
Khloe was noticed by Associated Press sports writer Kristie Rieken, who wrote on Twitter, ''Just as an FYI Khloe Kardashian was in Houston tonight for Rockets' opener. #rockets#KhloeKardashian.''
On the ball: The athlete on the court playing the Denver Nuggets at the Toyota Center in Houston on Wednesday; Khloe was seated in a private suite.
The fire broke out on Saturday night at the Colectiv nighclub in the Romanian capital, with hundreds of people inside, local media reports said.
"There are 26 deaths so far," Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea told private television Antena 3 from the scene, where dozens of ambulances and firetrucks rushed to evacuate the injured.
Deputy Interior Minister Raed Arafat said the death toll may still climb at the club, which hosted a rock concert attended by up to 400.
"There was a stampede of people running out of the (Colectiv) club," a man who escaped without shoes told Reuters.
He was received at the airport by the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN, The Chief of Staff Abba Kyari, Gov. Rochas Okorocha and other top government officials.
"We have had two votes of confidence on him and they stand,'' Bassey said in an interview with NAN on Friday. ''He has the confidence of the Senate and there is absolutely no problem. In spite of the disagreement between the APC and PDP senators, nothing has changed. In democracy, people must have different points of view and we must express those points of view. The Senate is a vibrant one that has a lot of vibrant debates; the Senate is not a football team that we all have to play in the same direction.''
Also speaking, Senator George Sekibo who submitted the petition against Amaechi to the Senate maintained that PDP senators were still behind Saraki.
On Thursday October 29 2015, the PDP senators had staged a walk out to protest the confirmation of the former Rivers Governor Rotimi Amaechi's ministerial nomination following the petition of corruption against him by the Port Harcourt based Integrity group.
”It is time for the PDP to take a long, hard look at itself in the mirror and change everything that is ugly about the party, instead of wasting its energy and time on irrelevancies,” the party said in a statement issued in Lagos on Friday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
It said the PDP cannot continue to do things in its trademark old, crooked ways and expect a different result.
”The PDP just doesn’t get it, despite being the architect of its own fall from power. The days of winning elections with the aid of slush funds, brigandage, deceit and rigging are gone forever, hence the PDP must return to the drawing board to fashion out decent and empirical ways of repackaging and selling itself to Nigerians, just like the opposition did when they decided to come together,” APC said
The party said the PDP’s ceaseless and ill-advised attack on the judiciary, now its favourite whipping boy, the endless put-down of government agencies and the demonization of everyone but itself will fetch the party nothing but political grief.
”Instead of a blanket and unsubstantiated accusation against the judiciary over the election petition tribunal rulings in Rivers and Akwa Ibom, the PDP would have shown itself to be a serious party if it had provided statistics on how many of the cases filed at the various election petition tribunals nationwide, after the 2015 elections, have so far been decided in favour of the PDP and the APC, so that Nigerians can see whether the PDP has not won any single petition or whether all the cases have been won by the APC.
”The PDP has forgotten that the same judiciary that it is willfully castigating today had decided many election petitions in favour of the party and against the APC, whether at the Governorship, National Assembly or State Assembly levels, and the ruling party has not opted to bring the whole house crashing down on everyone just because of that.
”Going down the memory lane, when the PDP took itself to court in 2007 over the Governorship election in Rivers, the same judiciary that has now become an apparition to the PDP awarded the Governorship to a candidate who never even featured on the ballot because the party crookedly substituted his name. Then, the PDP did not see the judiciary as being used by the then PDP Administration, neither did the opposition castigate the judiciary,” it said.
APC admonished the PDP to stop yowling and engage in strategic thinking that could propel the party forward, rather than continue to be nostalgic about its past, which is neither dignifying nor enlivening.
”The 16 years of the PDP – which the party has continued to shamelessly celebrate – are nothing to celebrate, either for the impunity that characterized the party’s governance, the massive looting of the national treasury that is still being assessed or the bastardization of all the values that the nation holds dear. Thankfully, President Muhammadu Buhari has brought sanity to governance even as the PDP has continued to try to distract him with their endless wailing.
”Our parting word for the PDP: Stop throwing juvenile tantrums against everyone, especially the judiciary. Stop wasting your energy on frivolous accusations. Learn how to communicate your thoughts to Nigerians in a more civilized way and put your shoulder to the wheel if you want to reincarnate as a force to be reckoned with in our country’s political firmament,” APC said.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed
National Publicity Secretary
All Progressives Congress (APC)
Lagos, Oct. 30th 2015
Sephora, part of luxury industry leader LVMH (LVMH.PA), running around 2,000 outlets worldwide, is keen to build its presence in Iran where there is a huge appetite for cosmetics and especially make-up.
With a population of nearly 80 million, Iran is the Middle East's second biggest market for beauty products after Saudi Arabia with annual sales reaching more than 3.5 billion euros($3.86 billion) in 2014, according to market research company Euromonitor.
And the beauty and personal care market is expected to nearly treble in the next five years to more than 10 billion euros, Euromonitor forecasts.
"Sephora is currently finalizing talks with its partner in Iran," one of the sources close to the matter said.
"Talks are already quite advanced with their distributors," another source said, declining to be named. One source said Sephora was hoping to open up to seven boutiques.
LVMH and Sephora declined to comment.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed in Vienna in July between Iran and six world powers is to end years economic sanctions on Iran in 2016 in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.
While Western beauty products have long been sold in Iran in various perfume shops, the July deal is expected to bring an economic boom to the country which has been suffering from years of under-investment.
"We estimate that women, whatever their revenue level, spend as much as a third of their income on beauty," Reza Miremadi, who distributes L'Oreal's mass market brands such as Maybelline and Garnier in Iran.
Several managers from LVMH have been making trips to Iran in Sept. and Oct. and executives from Dior, Louis Vuitton and Bulgari are preparing to go there next month to examine investment opportunities, the sources said.
And the French trade group Comité Colbert, which represents 80 luxury brands, said it was planning to organize a trip in the spring.
Iran, once dominated by bazaars and tiny shops, has seen an explosion in shopping malls in recent years.
"Many people do not know that Iranians' relationship to luxury and refinement is really quite close to that of the French or the Italians," said Sara Yalda, a Franco-Iranian writer who is organizing a series of 14 conferences on Iran at a big theater in Paris next year.
"I think luxury brands are going to be very successful there."
Many luxury brands such as jewelers Cartier, part of Richemont (CFR.VX), and Bulgari are sold in Iran through multi-brand shops.
Iran, whose economy is largely dependent on oil and gas revenues, has more than 3 million high net worth individuals who are major and regular buyers of luxury goods, analysts estimate.
But several luxury groups including Chanel, Gucci owner Kering (PRTP.PA) and LVMH's Dior and Louis Vuitton said they were adopting a "wait and see" attitude for now until the evolution of Iran's international relations became clearer.
"We have to see how things evolve from a political standpoint and see if there is a suitable retail infrastructure," Dior Chief Executive Sidney Toledano said. "This is not short term but things can evolve quite quickly."
Key political milestones will be Iran's legislative elections in February and the outcome of the U.S. presidential campaign in November as there is concern president Barack Obama's successor could re-impose sanctions.
Also, as part of the July Vienna agreement, there is a "snap back" provision which would re-instate the sanctions if Iran failed to fulfill its commitments.
Watch the video via Channels TV.
Siasia: Don't blame me for poor results at African U-23 Nations Cup because we've not been paid for nine months
''Nigerians should know that we are not well prepared (for the championship) and I should not be held responsible for whatever happens,'' Siasia said. '' We are orphans. We have not been paid our bonuses, while the Super Eagles were paid full bonuses even when they drew in Burkina Faso. We have been without allowances for the past nine months.
''How can you survive in this kind of situation, where you have not been paid for three months, no car, no training kits. We have to wash to wear our kits. It's embarrassing. The NFF keep saying they don’t have money. Nobody from the football federation is concerned about our daily welfare in the camp. At times, we fuel vehicles to carry us to training. The players’ morale is down as most of them have not been receiving salaries from their clubs. How can one expect good output from these set of players? To me, Nigerians are liars. It has gotten to the situation that I won’t just sit down quietly and die, I’m tired of the system. I want Nigerians to know at this juncture that I won’t be responsible for any bad result that may come out of our campaign in the African U-23 Nations Cup. I should not be held responsible for whatever happens at the championship''
Orubebe is being charged over false declaration of assets in 2007 and 2011, and allegedly receiving over N70 million bribe from different people.
A four-count charge was filed on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation by Peter Danladi of the Code of Conduct Bureau on October 8.
Ibraheem Al-hassan, CCT spokesperson, reportedly confirmed that a charge was pending against Orubebe before the tribunal.
He disclosed that summons was served on Orubebe on Thursday, October 29.
Without specifying the exact number, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the new forces would amplify President Barack Obama's policy of supporting local forces in Syria as they battle the Islamic State militants.
Earnest said the forces will offer advice and support to the moderate opposition troops.
But Earnest says it's not a combat mission. He declined to give details on their role.
This marks the first time American troops will be working openly on the ground in the war-torn country.
The court ruled "inadmissibility in extraditing Polish-French citizen Roman Polanski to the US," Judge Dariusz Mazur said.
The decision can still be appealed, according to Beata Gorszczyk, a spokeswoman for the court in the southern city of Krakow.
The appeal court ruled Friday, upholding the authority of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to try Mr. Saraki.
The Court of Appeal ruled that the “The CCT is a court of criminal jurisdiction, albeit limited jurisdiction”.
It added: “There is no inherent difference between a court and a tribunal. The only difference is that tribunals in most cases handle special cases”.
The three-member panel of judges, led by Moore Adumein, also affirmed that the tribunal was properly constituted- another kernel of Mr. Saraki’s suit.
- Premium Times
The deadline for the exercise is on Saturday October 31 and no extension would be granted after the deadline expires.
According to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) , the registration window will still be open after tomorrow, but unregistered customers will not be granted access to their accounts.
Thursday, 29 October 2015
"These moments are kind of very sweet but kind of sad, because you think 'hmm, it's not actually the end', I hope there's more career for me", the 70-year-old actress said, then recounting her long standing relationship with Israel which began with her first trip to the holy land in the late 1960's with a Jewish boyfriend she had then, volunteering in kibbutz Ha'On and hitchhiking her way to the city of Eilat, where she wound up sleeping on the beach.
"Since then I've been back a couple of times, I've been very grateful. I was in the remake of the great Israeli film The Debt and I'm so impressed by the incredible Israeli film industry and very excited to see the films that are showing here. I love Israel; I think it's a great country. I think that through all the difficulties and all the pain that Israel has suffered in the past and will in the future, the great thing that Israel has is Israelis and they will guide it through".
Addressing the Plenary Session of the 3rd Summit of the Forum, President Buhari said that to attract the massive investment in-flows which they need to overcome the challenges of unemployment and wealth creation, Nigeria and other African countries must also establish policy environments that guarantee the sanctity of contracts on the basis of the rule of law.
The President told the gathering that since its inception in May this year, his administration has been working with determination to establish these preconditions for rapid socio-economic development and re-focus governance on the real needs of ordinary Nigerians.
"As a Government, we have demonstrated our strong determination to change the direction and content of governance, including the management of our resources through accountability, transparency and result-orientation in governance.
"We are confident that India, as a tested friend and dependable partner, will always stand shoulder to shoulder with us in the discharge of the mandate entrusted to us by our people," President Buhari said.
The President expressed the hope that the India-Africa Forum will deepen, in practical terms, the South-South Cooperation that countries of the South have desired for so long.
"The current international economic and political environment is far from being favourable, particularly for developing countries. Fresh political conflicts have erupted, accentuated by terrorism and extremism in the most awful forms.
"Trans-border crimes, illegal arms trade, irregular migration and cybercrimes have all added to the new global threats that demand our collective action.
"Furthermore, the world is facing the challenge of Climate Change in which Africa remains badly affected with severe threats to food security and social stability.
"From the West to the East, North to South, virtually every country in our respective regions is faced with unacceptable levels of poverty, unemployment and a youth bulge.
"India and Africa must develop a new spirit of solidarity, cooperation and partnership to confront these emerging threats. We must recognise that, in this globalised age, we all live interconnected lives in a fragile planet. We must therefore work together to uplift the lives of our people in a manner that preserves the sustainability of our living environment.
"These challenges call for a renewed sense of urgency among African countries for economic development. It is an open secret that Africa possesses all the prerequisites to become a major growth region of the world.
"There is therefore the need for India and Africa to strive together to build a virile framework for partnership and cooperation in order to address common challenges in key areas including health, education, interconnectivity, power and employment generation as well as the strengthening of institutions of governance and democracy," President Buhari told Prime Minister Narendra Modi and African Heads of State and Government.
The President said that although African countries have a number of partnership arrangements with other countries of the world, the India-Africa Forum promises to be different "as it is not only a partnership between friends, but between countries and peoples who have had similar historical experiences of colonial rule".
He noted that the immense potential of the forum was already evident in the growing volume and improved terms of trade between Africa and India as well as the increasing presence of several Indian enterprises in Africa.
- Garba Shehu
Osinbajo also met with the Italy's Ambassador to Nigeria, Fulvio Rustico and Counsellor Luca Attanasio at the Presidential villa on Thursday.
Osinbajo and Rustico shaking hands.