Ukraine says it routs Russian brigade, Kremlin acknowledges 'very difficult' campaign
A Ukrainian unit said on Wednesday it had routed a Russian brigade near the stronghold of Bakhmut in an incident underlining the task facing the Kremlin as it carries out what it calls a "very difficult" military operation.
The unit's claim appeared to buttress comments by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner private army, who on Tuesday said the Russian brigade had abandoned its positions in Bakhmut, Moscow's primary target in its winter offensive and scene of the bloodiest ground combat in Europe since World War Two.
Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, who heads Ukraine's ground forces, said Russian units in some parts of Bakhmut had retreated by up to two km (1.2 miles) as the result of counter attacks. He gave no details.
Reuters was unable to independently confirm the situation on the ground. Wagner units have led a months-long Russian assault on the eastern city, suffering heavy losses, but Ukrainian forces say the offensive is stalling.
"The special military operation continues. This is a very difficult operation, and, of course, certain goals have been achieved in a year," Tass new agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as telling a Bosnian Serb television channel.
"We managed to beat up the Ukrainian military machine quite a bit," said Peskov, citing Russian missile strikes in Ukraine. "This work will continue".
Peskov said he had no doubt that Bakhmut "will be captured and will be kept under control". He also said the Russian campaign in eastern Ukraine was proceeding slowly because Russia "is not waging war".
"Waging war is a completely different matter - it means complete destruction of infrastucture, it means complete destruction of cities," he said. "We are not doing this. We are trying to preserve infrastructure and preserve human lives."
Peskov's comments did not address claims that Russia's 72nd Separate Motor-rifle Brigade had abandoned positions on the southwestern outskirts of Bakhmut.
In a statement, Ukraine's Third Separate Assault Brigade said: "It's official. Prigozhin's report about the flight of Russia's 72nd Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade from near Bakhmut and the '500 corpses' of Russians left behind is true."
A Russian brigade is typically formed of several thousand troops.
"Our army is fleeing. The 72nd Brigade pissed away three square km this morning, where I had lost around 500 men," Prigozhin said on Tuesday, complaining his troops were receiving only 10% of the shells they needed.
In a statement later on social media, Prigozhin said Wagner forces had advanced 170 metres (530 feet). Ukrainian troops were confined to an area of 2.25 sq. km. (just under a square mile) and were coming under pressure in western districts dotted with high-rise apartments.
MERCENARY CHIEF TAKES ON THE MILITARY
Prigozhin has clashed with Russia's defence ministry and expressed concerns about a promised Ukrainian counter-offensive to recapture territory Russia occupied after the invasion was launched on Feb. 24, 2022.
Ukrainian military analyst Roman Svitan said the successes
near Bakhmut amounted to the beginning of the counter-offensive.
"We are the ones who launched the moves to advance," Svitan told Ukrainian NV Radio. "We can say that the offensive that we have been expecting for at least the past six months got underway about a week ago."
Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar wrote on Telegram that pro-Kyiv units had not lost a single position in Bakhmut on Wednesday.
Russian troops invaded Ukraine in what Moscow calls a special military operation and initially captured large amounts of territory, but Kyiv's forces pushed back. Western officials estimate more than 200,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded.
In his evening video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy named the Third Brigade and noted its report "about the flight of Russia's 72nd Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade from near Bakhmut".
In Brussels, NATO's top military official said the war would increasingly be a battle between large numbers of poorly trained Russian troops with outdated equipment and a smaller Ukrainian force with better Western weapons and training.
Admiral Rob Bauer, a Dutch officer who is chair of NATO's military committee, noted Russia was deploying T-54 tanks - an old model designed in the years after World War Two.
In Washington, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said he had authorized the first transfer of forfeited Russian assets for use in Ukraine.
Drone hits government building in Russia – governor
A Ukrainian drone has struck a government building in Russia’s Bryansk Region, which shares a border with Ukraine, Governor Aleksandr Bogomaz said in the early hours of Thursday. The statement came shortly after a drone attack was reported in Russia’s Belgorod Region, which also borders Ukraine.
Bogomaz said the raid took place in Starodub, a town of 17,000 people, and that that no one was hurt. Telegram channel Baza reported that the targeted building was a military enlistment office.
Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on his Telegram channel on Wednesday evening that two drones “exploded over a residential area,” damaging two houses and a car. An hour later, he said that a third UAV was shot down by air defenses. According to the governor, there were no casualties.
Russia’s border regions have been repeatedly shelled and targeted by drones after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine more than a year ago. On Wednesday, the shelling of the city of Shebekino in the Belgorod Region claimed the life of one person.
Spokesman for Transneft oil company said on Wednesday that there was an attempt to carry out a “terrorist attack” on the section of the Druzhba pipeline in the Bryansk Region that transports oil to EU countries.
** Putin signs annual decree on military training of Russian reservists
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on military training of Russian citizens in reserve in 2023. The document was published on the official legal information website Wednesday.
"Call up Russian citizens in reserve for military training in the Russian Armed Forces, Russian National Guard forces, state security agencies and Federal Security Service (FSB) bodies in 2023," the document reads.
The Russian government and executive power bodies were tasked with implementation of events connected to the call-up and the training itself. The decree enters into effect since the day of publication.
Military training of reservists is a planned event on improvement of reservists’ military proficiency and takes place annually. The call-up decree is being signed by the President of the Russian Federation. Based on the presidential decree, the Defense Ministry’s mobilization department prepares a corresponding directive for regional conscription stations. Only once this process is complete, reservists will begin to receive call-up notifications.
** Russian assault teams push ahead in Artyomovsk offensive, top brass reports
Russian assault teams continued offensive operations in the northwestern and western outskirts of Artyomovsk over the past day during the special military operation in Ukraine, Defense Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov reported on Wednesday.
‘In the Donetsk direction, the assault teams continued their offensive operations to capture urban areas in the northwestern and western outskirts of the city of Artyomovsk. Airborne Force units immobilized the enemy on the flanks," the spokesman said.
Russian operational/tactical and army aviation and artillery struck units of the Ukrainian army’s 67th mechanized, 80th air assault and 5th assault brigades near the settlements of Krasnoye and Stupochki in the Donetsk People’s Republic and the western outskirts of Artyomovsk, the general specified.
"Aircraft flew ten and helicopters two sorties in that area over the past 24 hours. Artillery of the southern battlegroup accomplished 98 firing objectives," Konashenkov reported.
Battles shake Sudan's capital, ceasefire talks reported to make progress
Fighting in Sudan's capital escalated on Wednesday with fierce clashes and air strikes, but rival military factions were reported to be close to a ceasefire agreement in talks in Saudi Arabia.
Residents reported ground battles in several neighbourhoods of Khartoum between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), as well as heavy gunfire in the north of Omdurman and the east of Bahri, two adjacent cities separated from Khartoum by the River Nile.
The army has been pounding targets across the three cities since Tuesday as it tries to root out RSF forces that have taken control of large residential areas and strategic sites since early in the conflict that erupted on April 15.
"There's been heavy air strikes and RPG fire since 6:30 a.m.", said Ahmed, a resident of the Bahri neighbourhood of Shambat. "We're lying on the ground and there are people living near us who ran to the Nile to protect themselves there under the embankment."
Army and RSF delegations have been meeting since the end of last week in talks sponsored by the United States and Saudi Arabia in the Saudi city of Jeddah on the Red Sea.
Negotiations aim to secure an effective truce and allow access for aid workers and supplies after repeated ceasefire announcements failed to stop the fighting.
After days of no apparent movement, a mediation source told Reuters on Wednesday that the negotiations had made progress and a ceasefire agreement was expected soon.
A second source familiar with the talks said a deal was close. Talks continued late into the night.
U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland earlier said U.S. negotiators were "cautiously optimistic" about securing a commitment to humanitarian principles and a ceasefire but were also looking at appropriate targets for sanctions if the warring factions did not back this.
The conflict has created a humanitarian crisis in Africa's third-largest nation by area, displacing more than 700,000 people inside the country and prompting 150,000 to flee to neighbouring states. It has also sparked unrest in Sudan's western Darfur region.
The U.N. World Food Programme said that up to 2.5 million more Sudanese were expected to fall into hunger in the coming months because of the conflict, raising the number of people suffering acute food insecurity to 19 million.
Since the battles began on April 15, the RSF have dug in across Khartoum neighbourhoods, set up checkpoints, occupied state buildings and placed snipers on rooftops.
The army has been using air strikes and heavy artillery to try to dislodge them.
The RSF on Tuesday said the historic presidential palace in central Khartoum, which has symbolic importance and is in a strategic area that the RSF says it controls, had been hit by an air strike and destroyed, a claim the army denied.
Drone footage filmed on Wednesday and verified by Reuters appeared to show the building, known as the Old Republican Palace, intact, though smoke could be seen coming from the southeast edge of the palace compound.
The fighting has left more than 600 people dead and 5,000 injured, according to the World Health Organization but the real figure is thought to be much higher.
Witnesses have reported seeing bodies strewn in the streets. Most hospitals have been put out of service and a breakdown of law and order has led to widespread looting. Fuel and food supplies have been running low.
"Our only hope is that the negotiations in Jeddah succeed to end this hell and return to normal life, and to stop the war, the looting, the robbery and the chaos," said Ahmed Ali, a 25-year-old resident of Khartoum.
Aid agency Islamic Relief said many aid operations in Darfur and Khartoum remained suspended due to extreme insecurity.
It plans to provide aid to thousands of people in Al Gezira state, southeast of Khartoum, where some 50,000 people have fled, as well as to people in parts of Khartoum State and North Kordofan, where fighting has raged.
Conflicts are not new to Sudan, a country that sits at a strategic crossroadbetween Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and the volatile Sahel region, although most unrest in the past occurred in remote areas.
The United Nations has projected that 5 million additional people will need emergency assistance inside Sudan while 860,000 are expected to flee to neighbouring states.
As I reflect on the fifth anniversary of the passing of my father, Khalifa Sheikh Isyaku Rabiu (Khadimul Quran), I am filled with both sadness and gratitude. While it is difficult to believe that five years have already passed since he left us, I am grateful for the time that we had with him and the legacy that he left behind.
Khalifa was a man of great faith and determination. He was a devout Muslim who dedicated his life to serving Allah and spreading the teachings of Islam. He was also a successful businessman who built a global empire through hard work, perseverance, and a deep commitment to excellence.
But what I remember most about Khalifa is his kindness and generosity. He had a heart of gold and was always willing to help those in need, regardless of their race, religion, or social status. He believed in giving back to the community and made significant contributions to various charitable organisations and causes throughout his life.
Khalifa’s passing was a great loss, not only to our family but also to the wider community. However, his legacy lives through his works and various programmes we have established in his memory to continue his charitable work, and support various initiatives aimed at improving the lives of people in Nigeria and beyond.
On this fifth anniversary of his passing, I am reminded of Khalifa’s words, which continue to inspire me every day: “Success is not measured by wealth or power, but by the impact you make in the lives of others.” Khalifa’s impact on the world will continue to be felt for generations to come, and his memory will forever be cherished in our hearts.
I am also reminded of the verse in the Quran that says, “And say, ‘My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.'” (Quran 17:24).
May Allah grant him Jannah (Paradise) and may his soul continue to rest in peace.
** Abdul Samad Rabiu Abdul Samad is the founder and chairman of BUA Group, a Nigerian conglomerate.
In the opening pages of his book, Who Will Love My Country: Ideas for Building the Nigeria of Our Dreams, Ike Ekweremadu unapologetically declared his love for Nigeria saying, “I love Nigeria and will forever love it.” The book contents, the regular sweet nothings Nigerian leaders preachify but which they cannot stretch themselves to live by, now take a new meaning in the light of his fall from the grace of deputy Senate presidency to a convicted prisoner. When you consider the past 11 months when he and his wife, Beatrice, were tried in a London court for organ trafficking, you will understand why the man loved Nigeria as fiercely as a scoundrel raised by indulgent parents.
Hardly had the arrest of Ekweremadus been announced when sympathies poured in for them. From Dino Melaye and Smart Adeyemi to the Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi, they were never short of commiseration. Ebonyi State Government announced it stood with his family and asked the UK Government to be considerate of their children’s plight. Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila too requested the Nigerian High Commission in the UK to give him needed support (and those ones hired a lawyer for him shortly after). Colleagues in the Senate visited the Ekweremadus, and some even attended the court sessions to show support. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo the letterman wrote to the Chief Clerk of the Central Criminal Court of England to beg for mercy in their sentencing. Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis, and Head of Diplomatic Mission to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Duru Hezekiah, also appealed to the UK Government for leniency. Both chambers of the National Assembly also begged for mercy. Even the Chair of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who once advised Nigerians to shun crimes while abroad set aside her conviction and joined in the plea for leniency. Her disdain for Nigerians caught in the vortex of crime abroad does not seem to extend to the political elite.
In all the demonstration of anxieties by several highly placed Nigerians not used to seeing their fellow “big man” in jail was a glaring omission: some fellow feeling or even as much as a thought spared for the other Nigerian—the poor young man whose kidney would have been harvested— involved in the matter. There were times during the months of trial I wondered how that young man felt when he saw the overwhelming support from official quarters for the person who was going to rob him of his life. He must have felt lonely, invisible, unsupported, and inconsequential.
With all the high-powered support he received, it is understandable why Ekweremadu would love Nigeria with all his heart. Who would not love a country where the powers that be commit themselves to work in your favour? Why would he not love a country that sides with him against his victimised countryman? The demonstration of support that the Nigerian political class offered Ekweremadu against that young man proved how much our society lacks an appreciation of justice. If that young man had walked into a Nigerian police station to report that a big man wanted to harvest his organs, nothing would have happened. Apart from our lax laws on organ harvesting, our justice system abhors the idea of punishing a big man for an infraction committed against a lowly nobody. In a country where people buy human body parts for N50,000 or even less, Ekweremadu would even have been commended for offering N3.7m. He would even have been garlanded to assuage the shame of the allegation. He would be given the title of “Fiwajoye” or something similarly ridiculous.
Given what we know about the crime of the Ekweremadus, I am baffled some Nigerians think it was their parental instinct that went on overdrive. Even if you do not find their attempt to jump the long queue for organ donation immoral, how about the paltry sum they offered their victim? The boy is around the same age as their daughter. If the transaction had sailed through, it would have been tantamount to shaving off a part of the young man’s life to extend their daughter’s own. What would have at least been moral in such a shady transaction would be to make a willing donor an offer that can at least guarantee them a quality life. Imagine the victim had been returned to Nigeria and fallen sick sometime later, how would he have coped? Even with all the mad love Ekweremadu proclaimed for Nigeria, he did not entrust his child’s life to the dilapidated hospital system in the country.
One clown who labelled himself a “deep thinker” even blamed the Ekweremadus’ travails on the average Nigerian southerners’ tendency to pull down their own. He said if the person involved were a northern Muslim, he would have sought refuge from a mosque rather than inform the law enforcement agents. Such a mindset, reeking of the southern Nigerian condescension that serially stereotypes the average northerner as meek and lacking agency, is irritating and problematic on all levels. Why should the person whose life was undervalued hesitate to affirm their self-worth so that one big man somewhere would not be accountable to the law? The road that leads home might be far, but even the lowly-born slave has a father.
In a country like Nigeria where people with kidney disease and who can afford the expense have to go to India for medical care, what would have become of that poor guy if they had taken his kidney for a measly sum? The fact that the Ekweremadus priced the young man’s life less than the cost of a business class flight ticket from Nigeria to London shows they are depraved and wicked. Actually, what they proposed to do is what Nigerian leaders have done since forever. They take and take and take from the people, and that is all they know how to do. They have been robbing our society of the vital organs that it needs to function, and it is nothing to them to try to take a bodily organ just to shore up their own lives.
With the way the case panned out, I want to believe that the young man redeemed from the snare of the fowler will be forever grateful to the British legal system. To those who habitually steal from us, the young man’s body did not belong to him. He was a mere bag of flesh, available for their use and abuse. But for the integrity of the British medical system, the young man’s body would have been taken apart and used as spare parts. I can bet that he too will now love Britain as much as—and perhaps even more than—Ekweremadu loved Nigeria. His love for that country and its justice system will be far more sincere because, while Ekweremadu loved Nigeria for letting him believe he could take what did not belong to him, the British system ennobled this would-have-been victim. The young man might have been poor and lowly born, but they saw a human deserving dignity.
Funnily enough, at the public presentation of Ekweremadu’s book launch in 2016, part of his speech noted that “the greatest honour and tribute we can pay to Nigeria is to love it. To love Nigeria requires us to fundamentally revise and reexamine our attitudes, our values, and how we treat one another.” Events around his conviction show why he could not but love a country that lets him do whatever he likes. The trouble with being a brat is that if your parents fail to straighten you out within the threshold of the homestead, outsiders will discipline you on their behalf.
Capitalism relies on competition. In practice, however, this core principle is often violated, because ambitious capitalists will naturally seek to eliminate competition and secure a commanding market position from which they can keep new would-be competitors at bay. Success, in this respect, can make you rich and establish your status as a visionary; but it can also make you feared and hated.
Hence, China – arguably one of the most successful market economies of the twenty-first century – has been waging war against its own tech giants, most notably by “disappearing” Alibaba Group co-founder Jack Ma from the public stage after he criticized Chinese financial regulators. At the same time, the Europeans, deeply worried that they lack a Big Tech sector of their own, have focused on enforcing competition (antitrust) policies to limit the power of giants like Google and Apple. And in the United States, Big Tech’s political allegiances (to both the “woke” left and the “red-pilled” right) have become focal points in the country’s corrosive culture wars.
It is only natural to worry about the market power and political influence of such massive – and massively important – corporations. These are companies that can single-handedly decide the fate of many small and even medium-size countries. Much of the debate about corporate influence is rather academic. But not so in Ukraine, where private-sector technology has played a decisive role on the battlefield over the past year.
Thanks to Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink satellite internet service, the Ukrainians have been able to communicate in real time, track Russian troop movements, and radically improve the precision of their strikes on enemy targets (thus saving precious ammunition). Without Starlink, Ukraine’s defense probably would have crumbled.
But given the capriciousness of would-be corporate dictators, such technological dependencies are inherently risky. Last October, Musk used his ownership of Twitter to stage a virtual “referendum” on a half-baked peace plan that would cede Crimea to Russia. When Ukrainian diplomats objected, he petulently threatened to cut off Starlink (and for some time, access was indeed lost in contested areas).
Paradoxically, the new debate about corporate power comes at a time when competition between tech companies is intensifying. By its very nature, radical technological change introduces radical uncertainty, especially for existing corporations and business models. New, apparently transformational breakthroughs in artificial intelligence could render even the most powerful tech giants obsolete if they fail to keep pace with innovation. Until this year, the dominance of Alphabet’s Google search engine was unquestionable; now, the service is suddenly at risk of being overtaken by OpenAI/Microsoft’s ChatGPT. Facebook and Twitter used to be regarded as indispensable social-media platforms; now, they are quickly being succeeded by others, such as TikTok.
These developments should not come as a surprise. In the annals of business history, failure is far more common than lasting success. Remember Kodak? Its days were numbered when it failed to adapt to the arrival of digital photography. The oldest companies in the world are those with a niche in localized, nontechnical sectors that do not depend on passing fashions. Unless you occupy such a niche – like a Japanese sake producer or a Tuscan winemaker – you are not safe.
Faced with the abiding threat to their existence, large companies generally have two strategies at their disposal. The first is to block or frustrate further innovation by claiming that it will be dangerous and destabilizing. For example, in the twentieth century, big railroad companies lobbied aggressively against automakers’ demand for highways.
Today, the stakes are much higher, and the rhetoric is more overblown. Some leading figures in the tech world are warning that without stringent AI regulations, the latest innovations in the sector could bring about civilizational collapse. This was one of the messages of the widely circulated AI moratorium letter signed by AI researchers and tech icons like Musk, who was later revealed to have invested in a new startup that will compete with OpenAI.
According to this narrative, today’s rapid progress could lead to an artificial general intelligence that is so powerful and so unpredictable that humanity might unwittingly end up at its mercy. Science-fiction writers (and some philosophers) have long articulated such scenarios. If you task a superintelligence with protecting the environment, it might well decide that the obvious solution is to eliminate the source of the problem: humans.
Or perhaps an AI would simply pursue its assigned task so monomaniacally that it would be unstoppable, as in Goethe’s poem “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” Such arguments reflect the general mood of anxiety that is characteristic of any age of rapid change. The example of the nineteenth-century machine breakers, the Luddites, always has a certain romantic appeal.
The second option for an anxious tech elite is to seek government protection by conjuring up risks to national or economic security. Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith, for example, warns that since training AI systems requires such massive investments, there are really only a few institutions that can do it, and chief among them are Chinese ones like the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence.
Both strategies involve formulating a narrative that can secure a political backstop against market competition. Companies that are inherently endangered – because they are engaged in high-stakes wagers with unknowable outcomes – will always call on the political process in big countries to protect them. Whether by adding to the regulatory burden on new entrants or creating barriers against foreign competitors, they want to preserve the status quo.
We should keep these natural tendencies in mind, especially now that the pandemic and rising geopolitical tensions have created a new impetus for technical innovation. As always, technological change will be deeply disruptive and generate new winners and losers. Many commentators (and interested parties) will inevitably fixate on the dangers. It is ironic, but hardly novel, that the new narrative of techno-pessimism is being promoted most loudly by those at the forefront of yesterday’s innovations.
Alphabet Inc's on Wednesday demonstrated an updated core search product that embeds more AI in its answers as the company looks to banish doubts that it is losing ground to Microsoft Corp's OpenAI-powered Bing search.
Google already has a Bard chatbot that competes with ChatGPT, the chatbot from OpenAI that has generated huge excitement among users with its humanlike responses.
SO WHEN DO YOU GOOGLE AND WHEN DO YOU BARD?
The company says that traditional Google search should still be used for finding and seeking information, such as locating something to purchase.
Bard is a chatbot with a persona that can hold humanlike conversations, and is intended to be used for creative collaboration, for instance, to generate software code or write a caption for a photo.
WHAT ARE THE UPDATES TO GOOGLE SEARCH?
With the enhanced search termed the Search Generative Experience, Google's home page still looks and acts like its familiar search bar.
The difference is in the answers: if the new Google detects that generative AI can be used to answer a query, the top of the results page will show the AI-generated response. The traditional links to the Web will remain below.
For example, a search for "weather San Francisco" will as usual point a user to an eight-day forecast, while a query asking what outfit to wear in the California city prompts a lengthy response generated by AI, according to a demonstration for Reuters earlier this week.
"You should bring layers, including a short-sleeved shirt and a light sweater or jacket for the day," the result stated, including links to websites where it gleaned such advice.
Users will also be able to enter a brand-new "conversational mode," which similar to Bard and ChatGPT remembers the user's prior questions so users can ask follow-ups more easily.
However, the company points out that conversational mode is not designed to be a chatbot with a personality; it is intended only to help hone search results. For example, its responses will never contain the "I" phrase, unlike Bard and ChatGPT.
CAN I TRY THE NEW GOOGLE SEARCH NOW?
Not yet. U.S. consumers will gain access to the Search Generative Experience in the coming weeks via a wait list, a trial phase during which Google will monitor the quality, speed and cost of search results, the company said.
CAN I TRY BARD NOW?
The company said on Wednesday that Bard is now available with no wait list in 180 countries and territories, and plans to expand its support to 40 languages.
With brand-name bottle fads and gallon-a-day water challenges trending on TikTok, hydration is in, and that’s good news for health. The average human body is more than 60% water. Water makes up almost two-thirds of your brain and heart, 83% of your lungs, 64% of your skin, and even 31% of your bones. It’s involved in almost every process that keeps you alive. So if you’ve hopped on the water-drinking bandwagon, you’re doing yourself a big solid.
“Water is essential for your body’s survival,” says Crystal Scott, registered dietitian-nutritionist with Top Nutrition Coaching. “It helps regulate your temperature, transports nutrients, removes waste, lubricates your joints and tissues, and it also plays a crucial role in maintaining the delicate balance of electrolytes and fluids in your body.”
You lose water when you breathe, sweat, urinate, and metabolize food and drink into energy. If you don’t replace that fluid, your health can go downhill, and fast. Without food, your body can keep ticking for as long as three weeks or more. But without water, you’ll die in only a few days. There’s just too many systems that depend on it.
“I like to correlate our bodies with planet Earth,” says Scott. “Our Earth is made up of a large percentage of water. If that amount got too low, what would happen to our food systems? Our forests? Animal life? It’s a domino effect.”
To keep that first domino from falling, she says, drink up.
“It’s the starter when looking at any form of change or issues with your nutrition or your lifestyle—assess water intake first and foremost,” says Scott. “It helps with fullness cues, it can improve cognitive function, mood, physical performance, and can prevent health problems like constipation, kidney stones, and urinary tract infections. It’s one of the foundational building blocks.”
Bottom line: Water is life. But how much should you be downing daily not just to survive, but thrive?What’s the right amount?
The common rule of thumb you’ve likely heard is the 8×8 rule: Drink eight 8-oz. cups of water a day. If you’re achieving that, you’re doing well, says Scott. But it’s possible you could benefit from some adjustments.
“I don’t think that amount is necessarily wrong, but I think research over time has definitely evolved,” she says. “Water recommendations are going to vary depending on age, sex, and activity level.”
Your intake recommendation may vary based on life circumstances, too, such as the climate you live in, physical activity, illness, and whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
The National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine recommends an average daily water intake of about 125 ounces for men and about 91 ounces for women. If you’re not filling up a bottle to exactly that amount every day, you’re probably still close or even over, because you also get water from food, says Scott.
“You can get a lot of hydration from foods like celery, oranges, strawberries, watermelon, and cucumbers,” she says. “All are hydrating foods that can actually help supplement your water intake.”
How to know if you’re getting enough (or too much)
Although it’s rare, it is possible to drink too much water. It’s a condition called hyponatremia, and it happens when the amount of water in your system overwhelms your kidneys and they can’t keep up with a normal filtration rate. The sodium content of your blood becomes dangerously diluted and causes your cells to swell. Certain health conditions such as kidney failure and congestive heart failure put you at higher risk of it, and some high-level athletes may experience it if they don’t replace their electrolytes after exercising.
But for the majority of the population, the bigger issue is getting enough water. While it’s helpful to keep tabs on actual ounces, the best indicator of whether you’re well hydrated is your body. When you don’t get enough water, your body will show certain signs.
“Urine color is a really great indicator of hydration status,” says Scott. If your toilet water is pale yellow or clear after you pee, you’re golden. Dark yellow or amber colored urine are signs your body needs fluids.
Headaches, migraines, bad sleep, constipation, dizziness, and feeling lightheaded or confused can also be symptoms of dehydration. When in doubt, head to the spout.
Tips for getting your daily fill
If you’re committing yourself to hydration optimization, Scott recommends starting slow. First, take stock of where you are, and then set a goal for where you want to be.
“Half your body weight in ounces is a great starting point,” she says. “So for someone who’s 200 pounds, our first goal would be 100 ounces. And let’s say they’re only drinking 20 ounces of fluid a day. So every week, we’d want to increase about eight to 10oz a week, slow and steady. Because if you do hydrate too quickly, people can feel really waterlogged.”
Other handy helps Scott suggests: Experiment with drinking it ice cold or adding sliced fruit to give it flavor. Use smaller water bottles and refill them instead of filling a huge jug for the whole day, which can feel daunting to conquer. Split your day into increments and give yourself a mini goal in each section. That way you’re keeping a steady stream of hydration going instead of trying to gulp it all in one go.
CEO of Octopus Energy, a UK-based household energy supplier, says artificial intelligence is doing the work of 250 people at the company.
Writing in The Times of London, Greg Jackson said the company had been experimenting with AI for several months. He said the technology had been incorporated into company systems and staff began letting it reply to some customer emails in February.
Now, AI replied to more than a third of customer emails, which is the work of about 250 people, Jackson said.
He continued: "Emails written by AI delivered 80% customer satisfaction — comfortably better than the 65% achieved by skilled, trained people."
A representative for Octopus Energy told Insider: "Our team supervises the answers AI provides, so, for example, drafting a personalized response that a team member can review and then send on."
Jackson told the Times of London that the development was unlikely to lead to job losses at his company but that the pace of AI technology had the potential to cause "huge and rapid dislocation" to the job market.
In March, a report from Goldman Sachs found that generative AI tools like ChatGPT could lead to "significant disruption" in the labor market and affect around 300 million full-time jobs globally.
The report highlighted white-collar workers, especially those working in legal services and administration, as some of the most likely to be affected by new AI tools.
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Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja on Wednesday dismissed the petition filed by the Action Peoples Party (APP) seeking to upturn Bola Tinubu’s victory as Nigeria’s president-elect.
A five-member panel of the court led by Haruna Tsammani had on Monday dismissed a petition by the Action Alliance (AA) following the party’s withdrawal of its case against Tinubu’s victory.
Tinubu who contested the 25 presidential election on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), faced five separate petitions challenging his victory in the wake of his declaration by INEC as the winner of the poll.
The petitioners included political parties and their candidates including Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Atiku Abubakar and Labour Party’s Peter Obi. They lodged their complaints over the conduct of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
They urged the court to nullify Tinubu’s victory and order a fresh poll amongst other prayers.
But at Wednesday’s proceedings, APP’s lawyer, Obed Agu, informed the court that he filed a notice of withdrawal of the petition on 9 May.
“We are seeking an order of this court for leave to withdraw this petition filed on March 19.
“As well as an order striking out or dismissing the petition, same having been withdrawn,” the lawyer said.
Agu cited paragraph 29(1)(2) and (3) of the Schedule for Election Petitions as basis for the discontinuance of the petition.
He did not disclose reasons for the party’s U-turn.
The APP presidential candidate, Nnadi Osita, polled 12,839 votes, a far cry from the 8.8 million votes received by Mr Tinubu.
Its petition filed on 19 March was anchored on, among other grounds, that Tinubu “corruptly induced” electoral officers at local government and state collation centres in “Kano, Kaduna, Imo, Rivers, Kebbi, Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti, Osun, Kogi and Kwara states” with a view to alter the presidential election results in his favour.
The party alleged that “fictitious figures were ascribed to Tinubu “thereby giving him substantial lead and advantage in the various states.”
In a short ruling, the court dismissed the petition.
“Having listened to all the parties, we are satisfied that there is no collusion. The petition having been withdrawn, it is hereby dismissed,” Tsammani said.
Tinubu lauds withdrawal of petition
Tinubu’s lawyer, Wole Olanipenkun, did not object to APP’s request to withdraw the petition.
“We want to commend them, with the hope that more will still come. My Lords, we are not asking for cost,” Olanipenkun said, eliciting laughter from other lawyers and observers in the packed courtroom.
In the same vein, APC’s lawyer, Lateef Fagemi, did not oppose the withdrawal of the petition.
Fagbemi urged other litigants like Atiku and Obi to tow the line of the AA and APP by withdrawing their complaints
“We commend the petitioners for doing the right thing. Let those who have not done so, do so immediately,” Fagbemi said.
Abubakar Mahmoud, INEC’s lawyer did not challenge the withdrawal of the petition.
Wednesday’s withdrawal of the APP’s petition leaves Mr Tinubu and his party with three cases to battle.
Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal will today hear the motions brought by the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, over the outcome of the February 25 election.
The presiding justice of the tribunal, Haruna Tsammani, had on Monday scheduled the hearing on the responses to pre-hearing questions by the parties on Obi and LP’s petition.
The proceeding, which has been fixed for 2pm, is for the tribunal to review the compliance of parties to its directive to streamline issues they would rely on in the main hearing.
Similarly, Obi and LP will bring their motion for the live broadcast of proceedings of the tribunal because, according to them, the petitions are of public interest.
Tinubu wants Atiku’s petition on dual citizenship issue struck out
At the proceedings yesterday, the tribunal fixed May 11 for hearing the two motions by the president-elect and candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu, challenging Atiku’s petition.
In the first motion brought by his counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, Tinubu is seeking to strike out some paragraphs in Atiku’s petition where he raised fresh issues, which he said were not pleaded in the original petition, while replying to his preliminary objection.
Atiku had contended that Tinubu did not meet the constitutional threshold and is constitutionally disabled from contesting for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because he forfeited a sum of $460,000 “as substituted by a competent authority, sequel to a compromise agreement, and for narcotics-related crime (proceeds of crime) in the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division, Judge A. Nordberg.”
Atiku also claimed that Tinubu failed to disclose in his Form EC9 that he holds dual citizenship in Nigeria and Guinea, having voluntarily acquired the citizenship of the Republic of Guinea.
Atiku had further submitted that the grounds for non-qualification are competent, being a constitutional issue.
Tinubu, in his second motion, also asked the tribunal to dismiss the entire petition seeking the nullification of the election for being a breach of the Electoral Act, 2022, filed by Atiku at the pre-hearing stage for being incompetent.
Tinubu also contended that the petition was “vague, non-specific, nebulous, inchoate, incompetent, imprecise, fraught with ambiguity; and liable to be struck out by the court.”
PDP, Atiku seek live broadcast of proceedings
Still on Thursday, the tribunal will also hear the motion by Atiku seeking live broadcast of the proceedings.
Counsel to Atiku, Chris Uche, said the application is “an order directing the court’s registry and parties on modalities for admission of media practitioners and equipment into the courtroom.”
Atiku contended that the application for live broadcast of the tribunal’s proceedings was backed by the Nigerian constitution as well as that the matters of the 2023 general elections were of national concern and public interest.
Court fixes May 11 for Tinubu’s motion seeking dismissal of APM’s petition
Meanwhile, Tinubu has also filed a motion seeking the dismissal of the petition by the All Peoples Movement (APM) challenging his election at the pre-hearing stage.
The presiding justice of the tribunal, Tsammani, on Tuesday, also fixed May 11 for the hearing of the motion.
The panel adjourned the application after the lawyers in the matter submitted that they had responded to the pre-hearing questions raised in Form TF 008 over the APM petition.
At the proceeding on Tuesday, APM, through its lawyers O. A. Atoyebi, and S. A. T. Abubakar informed the tribunal that the party has responded to pre-hearing questions raised by respondents in its petition – INEC, APC, Tinubu, Shettima and Masari. In his response, Fagbemi told the tribunal that he had on May 8 filed two motions challenging APM’s petition and they are ripe for hearing.
Fagbemi said the APM’s petition was worthless and disclosed no reasonable cause of action, maintaining that it has no leg upon which to stand.
He insisted in the motion that the election being challenged by APM was lawfully conducted and a clear winner declared in line with the provisions of the law.
Similarly, Olujinmi said he had filed responses on behalf of Tinubu and Shettima on May 3, 2023, adding that the processes are ready for determination and that he will respond at the pre-hearing date.
On his part, the lead counsel to INEC, Abubakar Mahmoud, said he has filed answers to the questions raised on the pre-hearing proceedings.
Tsammani advised the parties to examine all the applications filed and decide which they would object to and which they wouldn’t before the next pre-hearing session.
In its petition, APM contends that Tinubu is not qualified to contest the 2023 presidential election because he has not produced a validly nominated running mate.
APM contends that Shettima was still the nominated senatorial candidate of the APC for Borno Central Senatorial District, Borno State, as of the date he was nominated as the vice presidential candidate on July 14, 2022.
The party argued that despite withdrawing his senatorial candidature on July 15, 2022, he had breached the Electoral Act, 2022, via double or multiple nominations.
APM and its presidential candidate, Chichi Ojei, also contended that the election was marred by widespread irregularities.