The YNaija Ticker

The YNaija Ticker

Gore Vidal is dead

Gore Vidal, the iconoclastic writer, savvy analyst and imperious gadfly on the national conscience, has died. He was 86.

Vidal died Tuesday at his home in the Hollywood Hills of complications of pneumonia, said nephew Burr Steers.

Vidal was a literary juggernaut who wrote 25 novels, including historical works such as “Lincoln” and “Burr” and satires such as “Myra Breckinridge” and “Duluth.” He was also a prolific essayist whose pieces on politics, sexuality, religion and literature — once described as “elegantly sustained demolition derbies” — both delighted and inflamed and in 1993 earned him a National Book Award for his massive “United States Essays, 1952-1992.”

Threaded throughout his pieces are anecdotes about his famous friends and foes, who included Anais Nin, Tennessee Williams, Christopher Isherwood, Orson Welles, Truman Capote, Frank Sinatra, Jack Kerouac, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Eleanor Roosevelt and a variety of Kennedys. He counted Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Al Gore among his relatives.

He also wrote Broadway hits, screenplays, television dramas and a trio of mysteries under a pseudonym that remain in print after 50 years.

When he wasn’t writing, he was popping up in movies, playing himself in “Fellini’s Roma,” a sinister plotter in sci-fi thriller “Gattaca” and a U.S. senator in “Bob Roberts.” In other spare moments, he made two entertaining but unsuccessful forays into politics, running for the Senate from California and Congress in New York, and established himself as a master of talk-show punditry who demolished intellectual rivals like Norman Mailer and William F. Buckley with acidic one-liners.

“Style,” Vidal once said, “is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” By that definition, he was an emperor of style, sophisticated and cantankerous in his prophesies of America’s fate and refusal to let others define him.

- LA Times

China angrily defends 16-year-old Ye Shiwan after win is descibed as “suspicious”

Chinese coaches, commentators and sports fans have rallied to support 16-year-old swimmer Ye Shiwen, whose world-record-breaking swim in the 400-m individual medley at the London Olympics has raised questions about doping. Ye beat her own personal best by five seconds and swam the final 50-m quicker than Ryan Lochte, the American winner of the men’s event, prompting John Leonard, an American who is the executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, to call her gold-medal performance “suspicious” in an interview with the Guardian. The allegation has set off a furious response in China, where the Olympics  are closely followed. China took the most gold medals at the Beijing Games in 2008, a point of national pride and a sign of the country’s resurgent national strength.The head of China’s Olympic swimming team rejected any suggestion that Ye may have used performance-enhancing drugs. “Ye Shiwen winning the gold was something we expected, and not worthy of surprise. Her level of training is very high,” Xu Qi told the state-run Xinhua News Service. “We are very excited, but it wasn’t unexpected.” Xu said it was incorrect to compare Ye’s closing sprint with Lochte’s because she was swimming in a closely fought race and had to close a gap on American teenager Elizabeth Beisel, while Lochte had a more comfortable margin on the final leg. And he noted that despite the focus on Ye’s fast finish, her world-record time was 4 min. 28.43 sec., more than 20 seconds slower than Lochte’s winning time of 4 min. 5.18 sec.

Shaving five seconds off a personal best in a race under five minutes is rarely seen at elite levels. At the same time, Ye has shown steady improvement, winning the 400 IM at the 2010 short-course world championships and winning the 200 IM at last year’s Aquatic World Championships. At 16, she is at an age when swimming stars such as Mark Spitz, Michael Phelps and Janet Evans began to stand out in international competitions; Evans set three world records when she was 16. “In Spitz’s time, he was called a once-in-a-century talent, then quickly Phelps came along and won eight golds at the Beijing Olympics, leaving people amazed,” said Xu. “Now the U.S. has Lochte, Missy Franklin and other talents. France and South Africa often have talents emerge. We recognize and admit that these talented competitors exist, so why is it that China, with all its population, can’t have a swimming talent?”

(MORE: Reality or Strategy? China Plays Down Hopes of Beating the U.S. in Gold-Medal Count)

Suspicions against Chinese swimming date back to the 1990s, when the country’s program experienced a series of doping scandals. The women’s team exploded onto the international scene in the early 1990s, winning four golds and five silvers at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and then dominating the 1994 world championships, prompting allegations of doping. In 1998 a Chinese swimmer, Yuan Yuan, was caught with a human growth hormone in her baggage while en route to the world championships in Perth, Australia, and four other swimmers were suspended for positive tests. In a recent interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, a retired Chinese Olympic doctor said the doping program in the 1980s and ’90s was state-sponsored and not merely a series of mistakes by unscrupulous individuals.

Chinese officials have said that that era is in the past and doping is strictly forbidden. The team even closely monitors food sources to ensure that banned substances like clenbuterol, a muscle builder that is used illegally by Chinese farmers to speed the growth of pigs and cattle, doesn’t end up on athletes’ dinner plates. In 2008 the Chinese swimmers had a strong showing at Beijing’s Water Cube, prompting a sense that the swimming program had recovered from the debacle of the ’90s.

Thus far there has been no evidence that Ye used a performance-enhancing substance. But the suggestion clearly upset many Chinese, who saw it as part of a pattern of foreign prejudice that Chinese athletes face. The allegation became one of the hottest subjects online on Tuesday, with more than 1 million comments posted on Sina Webio, the popular microblog service. “To have suspicions is ok, and there are normal channels for investigation, but why hasn’t there been any doubts proclaimed that are based on evidence? This is too wretched,” Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, a tabloid that is part of the Communist Party–run People’s Daily group, wrote on Sina Weibo. While most Chinese commenters supported Ye, a few raised questions of their own. “Reasonable doubt is normal,” wrote a commenter on a message board hosted by Hong Kong–based Phoenix Media. “Only in an abnormal society do people want to shut every body up in the name of nationalism if they are facing doubts.”

- TIME

Power returns to India

Power has been fully restored to three electricity grids which had failed in India, causing a blackout affecting more than 600 million people, a senior power official told AFP Wednesday.

“Power has been restored fully across the northern, eastern and north-eastern grids,” Power System Operation Corporation chief S.K. Soonee told AFP, referring to the systems which collapsed on Tuesday in an unprecedented outage.

- AFP

Okonjo-Iweala sues PointBlank News for N10b damages

The Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Tuesday in Abuja prayed an Abuja High Court to enter judgment of N10 billion as her damage claims.

Okonjo-Iweala, on March 5, filed a libel suit against a U.S.-based online news medium: “Pointblank News Communication”.

Through her counsel, Munachiso Micheal, the minister is claiming the amount against the medium and its directors – Jackson Ude and Churchill Umoren – for aggravated damages for libel.

The suit is with regards to a news story entitled “Okonjo-Iweala buys N1.2 billion Abuja mansion!” published on January 10.

The publication alleged that the minister purchased the “mansion” from Chief Fabian Nworah, owner of EFAB Properties Ltd in November 2011.

Okonjo-Iweal urged the court to hold that the publication was malicious.

At the resumed hearing in the suit before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, Michael, Counsel to Okonjo-Iweala, told the court that the defendants had refused to enter appearance to defend themselves.

Michael told the court that in spite of efforts made by his client to duly serve the defendants with court processes, they had never made any appearance in court.

“My lord, my client has obeyed the court orders for substituted service on the defendants, which was given on April 25,” he said. “We published all the court processes in ThisDay Newspaper of April 26.

“We also sent the defendants a parcel, through the Universal Postal Service delivery, with all the court processes and orders given by the court to their U.S.-based address in Maryland.

“We also have proof to show that the parcel was received by Mr Ude,” he said.

Michael prayed the court to hold that the defendants have refused to enter appearance and give its judgment in favour of his client.

After checking his records, Justice Oniyangi further adjourned hearing in the suit to Oct. 9.

He said that if by that date the defendants refused to enter appearance, he would hear the prayers of the plaintiff and deliver judgment.

-Business Day

Police arrest man with 19 ATM cards

The Lagos State Police Command on Monday paraded, a driver with Zenith Bank, Dare Oladujoye, who was arrested for allegedly being in possession of 19 Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) ATM cards and the sum of N652, 000.

The suspect was using the cards to withdraw money from an ATM at Ogba branch of GTBank when a security guard raised the alarm.

Lagos state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko, said as of the time of his arrest, the suspect had withdrawn N652, 000 from the ATM.

“On July 26, 2012, around 8:30pm, there was a distress call that there was commotion at GTB, Ogba branch. On getting there, the suspect was seen with 19 ATM cards” Manko said,

The Police boss revealed that the man is an employee of a commercial bank.

“He is an employee of Zenith Bank and we wondered what he was doing with the 19 cards. He was arrested and as of the time of his arrest, he had cashed N652, 000. The matter is under investigation.”

The suspect however denied stealing the ATM cards. He said whenever he lent people money, he would collect their ATM cards as collateral and return them after payment.

He said, “I usually loan people money and I’ve been doing it for over a year. Whenever I loan people money, I will collect their ATM cards and their Personal Identification Numbers. When they repay me, I return their cards to them.”

“However, if they don’t pay me back in cash, I go to withdraw money from their accounts through the ATM.”

When quizzed on where he got the money which he lent people, he said he was into various kinds of businesses.

He also said he had friends in the banking sector who helped him with funds.

He said, “I am a very hard working person. I joined Zenith Bank as a driver over three years ago and in less than a year, I bought a tricycle which I leased to another driver that gives me returns on a regular basis.

“The following year, I bought two tricycles bringing the total number to three. I make N150,000 monthly from the tricycles and N60,000 from my salary. I also get credit facilities through my connections in the banking sector.

“On the day I was arrested, I went to withdraw money on Thursday night with some of the cards when a security guard raised the alarm. I did not steal those cards. I know the owners of the cards and I have their numbers on my phone.”

Meanwhile, the command has warned members of the public to be very careful when buying vehicles so as not to buy stolen ones.

The warning became imperative following the arrest of two mechanics who allegedly received six stolen vehicles and even sold some to members of the public.

Manko said buyers could sense stolen vehicles by their cheap prices.

-Channels

Couple set to remarry after fifty years of divorce

Lena and Roland

Like a story out of a bestseller, Lena Henderson and Roland Davis are set to remarry, 50 years after they divorced.
The Buffalo News reports that the Seneca, New York pair married as teenagers and were together for 20 years before they divorced in 1964 after four children together.

The Buffalo couple met in Chattanooga, Tennessee back when they were teens.

One of those children – their oldest daughter, Johnnie Mae Funderbirk – is a big reason they’re back together, the report said.
Funderbirk encouraged her father to move from Colorado back to New York after his second wife died a few months ago, where she hoped he would reconnect with her mother.

The couple never lost touch during their 50 years apart, frequently talking on the phone (Henderson had even counselled Davis’ then-new wife on how to deal with him).

Davis popped the question – again – to Henderson over the phone after deciding to move back to New York.
She said “yes,” and he soon flew to Buffalo with the engagement ring pinned to his shirt out of fear of losing it during the flight.
Davis and Henderson will tie the knot again on Saturday, August 4 at a church in Seneca.

However, the jury is still out on whether or not remarrying an spouse is a good idea.

-Punch

Kanu’s exit excites Portsmouth

Portsmouth administrator Trevor Birch says he has been “encouraged” by the progress the club have made in their attempts to avoid liquidation following the exit of Kanu from Fratton Park.

Birch has given the club until August 10 to get rid of all their remaining senior players or reach compromise agreements with them.

With Kanu now gone, the side have just three senior players at the club.

“We’ve made encouraging progress,” Birch told BBC Sport.

Administrators PKF also confirmed on Monday that the former Arsenal striker, who has reached the end of his 14-day notice period, is still involved in a dispute over unpaid wages.

Because of that dispute, PKF are now filing a submission to the Football League and are pushing for a hearing to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Kanu, who has walked out on the final year of his contract, is reportedly claiming up to £3m in periods of unpaid wages since 2006 and Birch has asked for a tribunal to intervene.

In the past week Greg Halford, Erik Huseklepp, David Norris and Luke Varney all left the club, to leave just Dave Kitson, Liam Lawrence and Tal Ben Haim at Fratton Park.

Balram Chainrai’s Portpin and the Pompey Supporters Trust are vying for ownership of the stricken club who will start next season in League One on minus 10 points.

-Punch

Girl, 12, steers car to safety after grandpa dies at wheel

When her grandfather died at the wheel of the car, with his foot on the accelerator, 12-year-old Miranda Bowman didn’t waste a moment.

As the car approached 80 mph last Tuesday, Bowman tried to call 911 but couldn’t unlock her cellphone, the AP reports. So she took off her seatbelt and slid over in the front seat, pushed the brake and steered in the direction of some bushes and trees on the side of the road.

Bowman, who was going back to her home in Burlington Township, N.J., after a day of go-kart racing with 63-year-old Paul Parker, escaped the crash with no injuries, according to the news outlet.

Parker, who had a chronic heart condition, died of heart failure, say relatives. “He said he didn’t feel well and told me to just keep talking to him,” Miranda told the Burlington County Times. “Then he said he was scared, closed his eyes, and put his head on the glass. That’s when I knew he was dead.”

Though the family is heartbroken over their loss, Bowman’s parents are understandably proud of their daughter. “She is my hero,” Stephanie Bowman, Miranda’s mother and the daughter of Paul Parker, told PhillyBurbs.com.

“As much as I am upset about losing my father, I can’t even imagine how worse this could have been,” she added.

-Huffington Post

Watch what you post on Facebook, you may get arrested

Cliff Hicks has been arrested after he posted a series of messages on his Facebook page that allegedly threatened his former employer, Attorney Greg Underwood of Norfolk Commonwealth in Virginia, WVEC 13 reports. Hicks, who left the office in 2010, has been unable to find steady work since then. His mother, Judy Brooks, told the local ABC affiliate that Hicks posted the comments while intoxicated.

“That’s not Cliff,” she said. “That’s alcohol… When he’s been drinking, he doesn’t remember anything.”

Underwood indicated to police that he took the threats seriously, which included Hicks stating he was “tired of being intimidated” and also him saying “I will kick your” rear end, as The Virginian-Pilot puts it. WVEC.com, the local ABC affiliate, reports that he has been charged with communicating a threat in writing, a felony in the state of Virginia.

It’s not the first time an employees threatened a boss.

Neil Prescott of Crofton, Maryland, was recently arrested by police for threatening to kill his boss, KPLC 7 reports. In one such threat, Prescott told his employer that he was the Joker and would have no problem loading his gun and blow everyone up. Upon searching Prescott’s home, the police found what KPLC described as an arsenal of weapons.

If a number of recent studies are any indication, how you present yourself on Facebook could ruin future employment opportunities too. In England, a 2010 studyfound that roughly half of employers had decided against a job candidate after taking a look at their Facebook page. A more recent study provided more evidence that such judgements might not be a bad way to go about things.

-Huffington Post

Four sentenced to death for bank fraud in Iran

An Iranian court has sentenced four people to death for a billion-dollar bankfraud that tainted the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, state media reported on Monday.

Iranians, hit by sanctions and soaring inflation, were shocked by the scale of the $2.6 billion bank loan embezzlement that was exposed last year and by allegations it was carried out by people close to the political elite or with their assent.

Of the thirty-nine people tried for the fraud – the biggest in the Islamic Republic’s history – four were sentenced to hang, the IRNA state news agency reported.

“According to the sentence that was issued, four of the defendants in this case were sentenced to death,” prosecutor general Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei told IRNA.

Two people were sentenced to life and others received jail sentences of up to 25 years, Mohseni-Ejei said. In addition to jail time, some were sentenced to flogging, ordered to pay fines and banned from government jobs.

Mohseni-Ejei did not name the defendants and Iranian media have identified them only by their initials. State television broadcast parts of the trial but blurred out the faces of the accused.

The man described by Iranian media as the mastermind of the scheme, businessman Amir Mansoor Khosravi, is said to have forged letters of credit from Iran’s Bank Saderat to fund dozens of companies and buy a state-owned steel factory.

Mahmoud Reza Khavari, the former head of Iran’s biggest bank, state-owned Bank Melli, resigned over the affair and fled to Canada where records show he owns a $3 million home, Iranian and Canadian news agencies reported.

 

CORRUPTION AND PRIVATISATION

The case has been politically awkward for Iran’s leadership as it aims to show it is tough on corruption and raised questions about whether the government’s privatisation drive has largely benefited friends of the political elite.

Ahmadinejad has rejected claims that the investment company at the heart of the scandal has links to his closest aide, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a powerful figure who has become the prime target for the president’s adversaries within the hardline ruling elite.

Ahmadinejad’s economy minister, Shamseddin Hosseini, survived an impeachment vote last year, where members of parliament accused him of lax banking supervision.

Acknowledging the political damage, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, while criticising financial corruption, said in televised comments last year that the media should not “drag out the issue.”

“Some want to use this event to score points against the country’s officials,” Khamenei said. “The people should know the issue will be followed up on.”

Mohseni-Ejei has held up the case as a demonstration that Iran can deal appropriately with high-level fraud. “The government, parliament, and all available devices were used to pursue the issue so that corruption can be fought in an open manner,” he was quoted as saying earlier this month by IRNA.

But one of the defendents complained that, while the judiciary had pursued some low-level players in the fraud vigorously, senior officials involved in the scandal had gone unpunished.

“Many other banking officials are outside of prison right now. Why are you able to put us on trial and have nothing to do with them?” the unnamed steel company official said, according to Iran’s Fars news agency.

The anti-corruption group Transparency International ranked Iran 120 out of 183 countries on its 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures countries according to their perceived levels of government corruption.

-Huffington Post

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