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‘Catching Fire’ sequel quenches ‘Hunger Games’ appetites

Hunger Games_Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Blu-ray $39.99, DVD $29.95 (Lionsgate Home Video)

Things are pretty bleak for young folks who have to fight to the death in The Hunger Games. But on the bright side: The sci-fi trilogy’s second blockbuster movie, the No.1 box-office hit of 2013, is well on its way to cracking the billion-dollar mark in sales. So don’t feel too bad for Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, or Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz and Donald Sutherland, all of whom reprise their original parts (plus an appearance by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, in what would become one of his final roles). Bonus features include a nine-part behind-the-scenes documentary, commentary from director Francis Lawrence, and deleted scenes.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Posted by on March 6, 2014 in Uncategorized


purpose of life

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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Uncategorized


Gaddafi’s Last Stand in Sirte

Sirte is utterly destroyed. In just a few weeks this pristine show town, the birthplace and beneficiary of Colonel Gaddafi’s largesse, has been reduced to rubble.

A tsunami of fighting has swept this seaside town away. The few returnees to the battlefield are picking through the rubble looking for anything they can salvage, reports Sky News.

I visited here a few months ago under the control of Col Gaddafi’s minders. The people said they would fight to the end in support of the “Brother Leader”.

As the rebels advanced they were warned the citizens: give up of face annihilation. True to their word the citizens stood firm and the rebels did as they promised.

For the first time in this revolution a city has been looted or sacked by a medieval style army intent on destruction. Sirte has paid for Misratah, Zawiyah, and Tripoli.

I approached two men taking a refrigerator and a plastic plant from beneath the steel shutters of their shop and loading it onto the back of a pick-up.

“They have left people with nothing on their feet,” he told me. “Now go away.”

In essence he meant that they have nothing.

He is not wrong. Mile after mile of Sirte has been utterly wiped out. Not a single building was missed. Dozens on the main streets have been looted and burnt, hundreds are in pieces.

A man in a revolutionary baseball cap came towards me and asked to speak. He said he supported the revolution but that the rebels had destroyed the centre of town to teach the people a lesson.

Within moments he was embroiled in a huge argument with rebel soldiers who were listening. Sirte will not forget this in just the same way that places like Misratah will not either. The future will be difficult.

We had driven to Sirte, halfway across the country from Benghazi, to retrace the final steps of Col Gaddafi before his ignominious and shocking end near dual drain pipes on the outskirts of town.

As the rebels closed in on the city, Col Gaddafi and his final bodyguard retreated into an area known as Sector or District Two. This was to be their last stand.

On the back of a pick-up I joined one of the fighters who tracked Col Gaddafi down.

As we drove through the narrow streets of Sector Two that have been smashed to pieces, he pointed to the roofs where snipers pinned them down for days; past buildings where Gaddafi’s forces had pre-positioned anti-aircraft guns and artillery pieces to fire at the ground assault; and finally to the villa where he spent his final hours before fleeing.

“He changed houses every night until he came to this one. The next day he fled,” Ashraf al Mshayty, my guide, told me.

“Prisoners say that he was very low. So they told him his forces had pushed us back. They lied to him to keep his spirits up,” he said.

Inside the destroyed villa we found abandoned uniforms and signs of dinner being cooked and hurriedly left.

According to Mr al Mshayty, Col Gaddafi and his men and women fled the house and got into about 40 cars that divided into two groups.

As they sped off along the highway they indicated to advancing rebels that they would surrender.

“They had white flags and slowed down near our commanders. As they got near they opened up, killing many,” al Mshayty said.

But before long they met more fighters and in the ensuing fire fight his convoy fragmented. Col Gaddafi and some did make it to the outskirts of town.

He apparently sent some ahead to check the route out of town. As they pulled up NATO struck from the air.

The bodies of Col Gaddafi’s final force lay where they fell. Some are burnt to a crisp in the mangled wreckage of their cars. The air is foul with the stench of rotting bodies.

About 500 yards away victorious fighters sprayed graffiti on the walls of the drain pipes where Col Gaddafi was last seen alive.

Some of them say that he was not found there but was forced inside the pipes by Mistratah Brigade fighters as a symbolic reference to his threat to kills the rats that rose against him.

An investigation into his death is underway but nobody I have spoken seems to care. Col Gaddafi is dead – end of.

But Libya has problems that need to be addressed, for sure. The colonel and his forces carried out horrendous atrocities against his people and the opposing militia brigades have shown little mercy as well.

The search for peace and reconciliation must start soon, just as the nation looks to build itself from the horrors of this war.

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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Uncategorized


After Quake Turkish Villagers Fear White Death

After Quake Turkish Villagers Fear White Death

A rescue team carries a generator as they search for survivors under a collapsed building in Ercis

Standing near homes that have become deathtraps since Sunday’s massive earthquake, the men of this Turkish village gazed at the leaden sky and predicted more deaths unless they were given shelter before the winter snows arrive, reports Reuters.

“In fifteen days, half of the people here may be dead, frozen,” Selahattin Karadeniz, 47, whose mud, timber and brick house held up better than most in Guvencli, a village of some 200 homes.

The first snows normally fall in November, blizzards are common and ground can stay white until April among the hills at the eastern end of Lake Van, Turkey’s largest lake, close to the border with Iran.

“This is the land of winter,” said Hilmi Gulgeldi, a villager in his fifties. “To stay outside after this time is impossible. It falls to minus 25 degrees, minus 40.”

Fahrenheit or Celsius, either way it spells death.

The toll from the 7.2 magnitude quake, the biggest to hit Turkey in more than a decade, had risen to 471 with search and rescue operations still going on three days later.

But the disaster has “affected 600,000,” according to the provincial governor, with people in the towns and villages frightened to sleep in homes they feared were too fragile to withstand aftershocks rattling the area.

While relief efforts first focussed on the provincial capital of Van, a city of 1 million, and Ercis, a town of 100,000, outlying homesteads were left waiting longer for help.

Half way between Van and Ercis, villages wedged in the desolate, barren hills belonged in another century to the urban centres even before the quake.

On the way to Guvencli were ruins of houses on each side of the winding, muddy track road. Some completely flattened, other with walls missing.

The scene was similar at other villages of the area — Alakoy, Dagonu, Gedikli.

At one, a large tent was being used for the menfolk to come together, drink tea, discuss their problems and offer condolences to bereaved relatives and neighbours.

Angry over relief received so far, the men of this traditional herding community complained bitterly of neglect.

“Nobody can say there is no aid. There is aid but it is being distributed unjustly,” Karadeniz said. “We don’t have any water, any electricity. Aid comes and then ends up in someone else’s house and we get nothing.”

People who had measured wealth by their livestock, faced up to the prospect of their animals dying as the barns that protected them from the deadly cold now lay in ruins.

“We killed two turkeys today and ate,” said Orhan Ogunc, a 37-year old village man. “Turkeys are not very resistant to cold anyway.”

He was more worried about his cows and goats being left in the open.

“No animals can take this weather for more than a fortnight. The barns are unusable, ruined.”

Townsfolk camping in the open have levelled similar accusations of disorganised and unfair distribution of aid.

But with night time temperatures already plummeting below freezing, the desperate need for more tents and blankets appeared, if anything, more acute in the villages.

Rather than leave the land, people appeared intent to wait on promises.

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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Uncategorized


World population to hit 10 bn, but 15 bn possible, says UN

World population to hit 10 bn, but 15 bn possible, says UN

LONDON (AFP) – The world’s population of seven billion is set to rise to at least 10 billion by 2100, but could top 15 billion if birth rates are just slightly higher than expected, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

In a report ahead of ceremonies on October 31 to mark the seven billionth human alive today, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) warned demographic pressure posed mighty challenges for easing poverty and conserving the environment.

“This is a challenge and a call to action. The issue of population is a critical one for all humanity and for planet Earth,” Babatunde Osotimehin, the UNFPA’s executive director, said at the launch of the report in London.

But he said that the world should focus on how to make the world a better place to live instead of worrying only about numbers.

“This is not a matter of space, it’s a matter of equity, opportunity and social justice,” he told journalists.

He called for a focus on the rights of women and young people to help keep the global population in check.

“From the Arab Spring to the sit-ins at Wall Street, people are demanding change and young people in particular,” he said. “Educating and empowering girls and women allows them to have fewer children than their mothers and grandmothers did.”

New estimates see a global human tally of 9.3 billion at 2050, an increase over earlier figures, and more than 10 billion by the end of the century, the UNFPA report said.

But, it added, “with only a small variation in fertility, particularly in the most populous countries, the total could be higher: 10.6 billion people could be living on Earth by 2050 and more than 15 billion in 2100.”

The 126-page document, “The State of the World Population 2011″, highlights a surge that began with the post-World War II baby boom — a numbers “bulge” that shows up in following generations as they in turn grow up and have children.

In contrast, prosperity, better education and access to contraception have slashed the global fertility rate to the point that some rich countries have to address a looming population fall.

Over the past six decades, fertility has declined from a statistical average of 6.0 children per women to about 2.5 today, varying from 1.7 in the most advanced economies to 4.2 in the least developed nations.

Even so, 80 million people each year are added to the world’s population. People under 25 comprise 43 percent of the total.

The report highlighted these challenges:

– HELPING YOUTH: Having large numbers of young adults offers many poor countries the hope of rising from poverty.

But, warns the UNFPA, “this opportunity of a ‘demographic dividend’ is a fleeting moment that must be claimed quickly or lost.” Finding jobs for this swelling sea of youngsters is essential.

It notably quotes from a report by the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) which suggests the 23.4-percent youth unemployment in the Arab world was a major contributor to the uprisings there.

– GREEN WORRIES: The report cites environmental problems that are already pressing and set to intensify as demand grows for food, energy and homes.

Referring to a yardstick of sustainability used by the environmental thinktank Global Footprint Network, the report said it now takes the Earth 18 months to regenerate the natural resources that we use in a year.

“Climate change and rapid population growth are among the many factors contributing to the current drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, which has affected more than 12 million people,” it says.

Future concerns focus especially on water stress. “Analysis suggests that the world will face a 40-percent global shortfall (in water) between forecast demand and available supply by 2030,” says the report, citing Egypt — hugely dependent on the Nile — as a particular example.

– CITY FUTURES: The balance between rural and urban populations “has tipped irreversibly” towards cities in today’s world of seven billion. The biggest urban agglomeration, as defined by the UNFPA, is Tokyo, with 36.7 million people, followed by Delhi, with 22 million, Sao Paulo, 20 million and Mumbai, with 20 million.

As the world’s population expands, better urban planning, with closer involvement of residents, will be essential. Adequate housing, sanitation and green spaces should be incorporated in the shaping of cities rather than ad-hoc growth that leads to shanty towns.

– IMMIGRATION: In rich countries where populations are becoming top-heavy with the elderly, the task will be to meet growing demands for labour. Immigration, one of the options, needs to be orderly and managed so that migrants are better integrated and protected.

– FAMILY PLANNING: Dozens of countries are lagging in achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goal of providing universal access to reproductive health, said the report.


Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Uncategorized


You can’t try me in Abuja -Tinubu

You can’t try me in Abuja -Tinubu

ABUJA— Embattled former Governor of Lagos State and leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday, declined to either mount the dock or enter his plea to the 3-count criminal charge preferred against him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, sitting in Abuja.

The ex-governor who was charged by the federal government on allegation that he violated section 7 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Cap C15 LFN, 2004, as amended, by allegedly operating10 foreign accounts whilst he was in office between 1999 and 2007, yesterday, insisted that “the CCT sitting in Abuja does not have the territorial jurisdiction”, to try him over the alleged offence.

Arguing through his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Tinubu told the Justice Danladi Yakubu Umar-led 3-man panel that while he was a governor, “some forms for declaration of assets were brought to him from the Code of Conduct Bureau, at its office in Lagos. The said forms were filled, completed and deposed to at the High Court of Lagos Registry and same duly returned to the CCB in Lagos. ”

He maintained that he “did not have any personal dealing with the CCB in Abuja.”

Consequently, the ex-governor contended that since the Bureau has offices in all the states of the federation, he would neither mount the dock nor take plea in respect of the said 3-count charge, pending when the substantive suit against him is transferred to Lagos State for prosecution.

Former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over his arraignment by the Code of Conduct Bureau on alleged fraud charges, in Abuja, yesterday. Pix: Gbemiga Olamikan.

Besides, in a preliminary objection he raised against his trial, the ex-governor, through his team of lawyers comprising over 15 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, said he “is being accused and/or charged before a Tribunal which is not known to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended).

According to him, “the mandatory conditions precedent for the referral of complaints by the CCB to the CCT and the subsequent exercise of jurisdiction by the said Tribunal, have not been complied with.

“The amended charge is an abuse of court/judicial process, as an earlier charge with No: CCT/NC/ABJ/02/07, dated 5th March, 2007, containing similar particulars like this present one, is still pending.

“The counts contained in the amended charge are vague, ambiguous, unspecific and nebulous. The charge does not link the applicant to the commission of any offence. The counts do not disclose any prima facie case against the applicant.”

Relying on the provisions of sections 36(6) (a) (b), 36(12) and paragraph 15 of the Fifth schedule of the 1999 constitution, section 3 and paragraph 1 of the Third schedule of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Tinubu yesterday prayed the tribunal for an order quashing and/or striking out the 3-count charge dated September 19 but filed against him the next day.

He listed 10 grounds and attached four exhibits that should be considered by the panel in granting him the reliefs.

Meantime, the federal government vehemently opposed the application yesterday, insisting the accused person must face trial in Abuja.

The prosecuting counsel, Dr Alex Iziyon, SAN, who tendered two exhibits in support of a counter-affidavit he filed in opposition to the suit, said the CCT has the requisite jurisdiction to prosecute the former governor over the charges pending before the court.

According to FG, “the offices of the Code of Conduct Bureau established in the states of the federation are for administrative convenience and do not affect the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

“The accused person/ applicant in this present charge is not protected by the provision of section 308 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 199 as he is not occupying the office of Governor presently.

“The accused/applicant knows the case against him and knows how to prepare his defence as he has been aware of same since 2007 when the earlier charge was filed.

“He knows as a fact that this honourable tribunal is one of summary jurisdiction. The CCB invited the accused/ applicant severally regarding the complaint leading to this charge but the accused refused to appear and was evasive.

“The counts disclosed in the charge clearly disclose a prima facie case against the applicant, this application is frivolous and should be dismissed”, it added.

After listening to their submissions, Justice Umar before adjourning ruling on the issue till November 30, said the panel would consider the application on its merit.

“In accordance with the judicial oath we took, we will treat the matter justly, fairly and without fear or favour. As ministers in the temple of justice, we will do justice and justice will be seen to have been done in this matter”, he added.

Meanwhile, there was no space inside the court room yesterday as so many supporters of the ACN trooped out en-mass to show solidarity to the accused person.

Among those in court yesterday were three sitting governors of Lagos, Osun and Ekiti states, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, Rauf Aregbesola and Kayode Fayemi, respectively, as well as serving lawmakers under the ACN platform.

Lawyers divided

Meanwhile, lawyers who spoke on the issue were however divided on whether the tribunal can move its sitting from Abuja to any other state.

Chief J.K Gadzama, SAN

“I don’t think the issue of where the tribunal is sitting should be a problem. Though it is a matter that bothers on jurisdiction, however, my view is that the panel can sit in other places just as they have offices in all the 36 states of the federatio. Nevertheless, I also think that the tribunal has the discretion to decide whether or not to sit anywhere or state in the country including Abuja.”

Niyi Akintola, SAN

“Yes of course! The tribunal can sit in other states apart from Abuja. The CCT have done so in the past even while it was headed by Justice Mohammed. What matters is where the alleged offence occurred.

However, as it relates to the case of the former Lagos state governor, I will not make any comment in view of the fact that I am equally in his defence team and this issue was the kernel of our argument today (yesterday). I will also advise the press to exercise restraint on issues that may be sub-judice. Having said that, as a legal practitioner, my view is that the tribunal can sit anywhere apart from Abuja.”

Chief Amechi Nwaiwu, SAN

“Yes the tribunal had in the past moved its sittings round the federation and the essence is to bring justice closer to the people. Most times, logistic problems of bringing witnesses to Abuja may adversely affect trial that could have been conducted smoothly assuming the case is tried within the jurisdiction the alleged offence was committed. Moreover, there is no law that says the tribunal can only sit in Abuja.”

Prof. Itse Sagay SAN

“Under Criminal Law, a person is to be tried at the place where the offence was committed. That was why James Ibori’s case was transferred from Kaduna to Delta State. Although I have not read the details, but if that is the reason his counsel has given, then he is right.”

Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN

“If I am his lawyer I will do the same thing, if Tinubu allegedly committed the offence in Lagos according to the prosecution, that was what the Court of Appeal decided in Ibori’s case. So, the question is, where was Tinubu when he allegedly committed the offence? He was in Lagos and he was governor of Lagos State at that time. And all the witnesses are likely to be in Lagos.

So why take him to Abuja for trial? Is it for sensationalism? Our criminal Justice System says that an accused person should be tried where the offence was allegedly committed. That is the law. If I where his counsel, I would not allow his plea to be taken.”

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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Uncategorized


NIMC justifies N30bn for new identity cards

NIMC justifies N30bn for new identity cards

LAGOS – The N30 billion earmarked for the national identity management system,NIMS, is to be utilised over three years, commencing this quarter, the government agency responsible for the implementation of the harmonised identity scheme has explained.

In a statement, yesterday, the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, clarified that the new scheme would integrate other law enforcement systems now in use and enhance their operations in the maintenance of law and order.

According to Head, Corporate Communication of the commission, Mr. Anthony Okwudiafor: ”NIMS will “enhance the work of the law enforcement agencies towards maintenance of law and order, preservation of lives and property and the fight against corruption, unknown, duplicate, multiple and ghost identities and related frauds (advance fee frauds, among others.

He said: “Contrary to views expressed by some people, the approval is not for the award of any contract in the sum of N30.066bn. It is also not for the commencement of another project that is different from NIMS.

”Furthermore, the money which will be provided to the commission over the next three years (starting from the last quarter of 2011) consists of a sum of N23.074bn for the procurement of the redesigned, multi-application national identity card utilising advances in smart card technology and having ICAO-compliant machine readable zone,MRZ, making it an acceptable future travel document.”

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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Uncategorized