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Ukraine says Russian drones threatened Danube port, key for grain exports

Ukraine's air force on Wednesday said a large group of Russian army drones entered the mouth of the Danube river and headed toward the Izmail river port near the border with Romania.

Social media groups reported hearing air defence systems firing in the area near two Danube ports - Izmail and Reni.

Governor of southern Odesa region, Oleh Kiper, asked residents of Izmail district to take shelter at around 1:30 a.m. (2230 GMT) and cancelled the air raid alert one hour later.

Ukraine's Danube ports accounted for around a quarter of grain exports before Russia pulled out of a U.N.-backed deal to provide safe passage for the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea. They have since become the main route out, with grain sent on barges to Romania's Black Sea port of Constanta for shipment onwards.

A Russian attack on the Izmail port sent global food prices higher in early August.

** Ukraine's frontline farmers face Russian rockets and rock-bottom prices

Less than 30 km (19 miles) from Ukraine's southeastern front line, rural farmers whose businesses have survived Russian rockets now fear another hammer blow to their livelihoods: rock-bottom prices for their harvest.

Mykola, a 63-year-old farmer in Dnipropetrovsk region, told Reuters on Tuesday he had to keep his crops in a missile-damaged storage site because he could not afford to spend money fixing it in case it was wrecked again by another rocket.

And yet, he is not rushing to sell.

"The price (for crops) is not acceptable for the farmers. We will store them and see what is going to happen. To restore the storage one has to have funds. With the current price for our grain it is not realistic to restore it."

The price which Ukrainian farmers receive from traders for their produce plunged to painful lows in July, when Moscow abandoned a UN-brokered deal that allowed agricultural exports from Ukraine to be safely shipped via the Black Sea.

With that route now closed, farmers all over Ukraine, one of the world's largest growers of wheat and sunflowers, face a losing battle to get their produce out through land and river, routes that can only take a fraction of normal export volumes.

The farmers of Velykomykhailivka must juggle their worries about collapsing prices and export difficulties with the prospect of more Russian missiles crashing into their farms.

"It took more than 20 years to build this. It was destroyed in one day," 60-year-old Valeriy Krut said mournfully of his business, where a missile attack last year destroyed 200 tons of grain and 14 vehicles.

"This is the question: throw it all away or to maybe try to hold on? We won't have any profit this year with such storages and crop prices."



No pressure for peace from West – Kiev

Kiev is under no pressure from Washington and its allies when it comes to potential peace negotiations with Moscow, Aleksey Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, has claimed.

The Ukrainian authorities will deal with this issue on their own, he told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday.

The security chief claimed that all reports of Kiev being allegedly pressured into striking a peace deal with Moscow by its Western backers “exist only on the internet” and are not supported by any real evidence. He also suggested that “Russian trolls” might be behind such rumors.

Danilov’s comments come just days after Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba admitted that Kiev’s foreign backers might push the nation toward negotiations with Moscow as early as this autumn. “These voices [calling for talks] are getting louder,” he told Ukrainian media last week.

Germany’s Die Welt daily also reported in early August that “the West will pressure Ukraine into a ceasefire” at some point in the coming winter.

Ukraine does not need Western nations to deal with the issue of potential negotiations with Russia, the security chief said, adding that Kiev would never hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Danilov maintained that the conflict between the two neighbors can only have a military solution.

“Russia must be destroyed like a modern-day Carthage,” he stated, referring to the infamous proverbial phrase used by Roman Senator Cato the Elder to demand a third war with the ancient Mediterranean state of Carthage. “You cannot leave your enemy standing behind you,” Danilov added.

Danilov has been known as a hardliner when it comes to Ukraine’s dealings with Russia. The security chief, as well as other top Ukrainian officials, have repeatedly made derogatory remarks about Russians during – and even well before – the conflict broke out in February 2022.

In early August, he called Russians “Asians” and claimed that “humanity” is the key difference between them and Ukrainians. Danilov also repeatedly promised to “kill” Russians anywhere across the globe.

Moscow has stated throughout the conflict that it is ready to start peace talks with Kiev immediately, as long as its security interests and the new status quo on the ground are respected. In autumn 2022, four former Ukrainian regions, including the two Donbass republics, formally joined Russia following referendums.

Kiev has demanded the unconditional Russian withdrawal from territories Kiev claims as its own, including Crimea, and called it the only acceptable framework for talks. Russia has rejected these conditions as unrealistic.

In October 2022, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky banned any negotiations with Putin. Last week, Kuleba insisted that Zelensky will “never be able” to sit down at the negotiating table with the Russian leader.

** Should Ukraine agree to relinquish territories, it will lose Kiev — Medvedev

Should Ukraine agree to relinquish disputed territories for the sake of joining NATO, it will have to give up even Kiev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, said on his Telegram channel.

While commenting on a remark by the director of NATO’s Secretary-General’s Private Office, Stian Jenssen, to the effect that Ukraine might become a member of the alliance in case of territorial concessions to Russia, Medvedev wrote: "Why? The idea is curious. The only question is that all of allegedly ‘their’ territories are highly disputable. To enter the bloc [NATO], the Kiev authorities would have to give up even Kiev itself, the capital of Ancient Rus," he added.

"Well, they (the Ukrainian authorities) would have to move the capital to Lvov then. If, of course, the Poles agree," Medvedev remarked.

The director of NATO Secretary General’s Private Office, Stian Jenssen, said earlier on Tuesday that Ukraine could become a NATO member if it agreed to cede territories that it currently refused to recognize as part of Russia.



More than 1 million people have fled Sudan to neighbouring states and people inside the country are running out of food and dying due to lack of healthcare after four months of war, the United Nations warned on Tuesday.

Fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has devastated the capital Khartoum and sparked ethnically driven attacks in Darfur, threatening to plunge Sudan into a protracted civil war and destabilise the region.

"Time is running out for farmers to plant the crops that will feed them and their neighbours. Medical supplies are scarce. The situation is spiralling out of control," U.N. agencies said in a joint statement.

"At the end of the day, this war will end at a negotiating table," said deputy Sovereign Council head Malik Agar, in a potential softening of the army's stance, citing the hardships citizens have endured.

The war has caused 1,017,449 people to cross from Sudan into neighbouring countries, many already struggling with the impact of conflicts or economic crises, while those displaced within Sudan are estimated to number 3,433,025, according to the latest weekly figures published by the IOM.

Fighting erupted on April 15 over tensions linked to a planned transition to civilian rule, exposing civilians in the capital and beyond to daily battles and attacks.

The millions who remain in Khartoum and cities in the Darfur and Kordofan regions have faced rampant looting and long power, communications and water cuts.

"The remains of many of those killed have not been collected, identified or buried," but the U.N. estimates that more than 4,000 have been killed, Elizabeth Throssell, spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a briefing in Geneva.

Reports of sexual assaults have increased by 50%, said U.N. population fund official Laila Baker.


Large swathes of the country have been suffering from an electricity blackout since Sunday that has also taken mobile networks offline, according to a statement from the national electricity authority.

Agar said the circumstances necessitated the formation of a caretaker government to provide services and to rebuild.

Seasonal rains that increase the risk of water-borne diseases have destroyed or damaged the homes of up to 13,500 people, the U.N. estimates.

In a speech on Monday, army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan accused the RSF of aiming "to take the country back to an era before the modern state" and "committing every crime that can be imagined."

The RSF has accused the army of trying to seize full power under the direction of loyalists of Omar al-Bashir, the autocratic leader who was toppled during a popular uprising in 2019.

Efforts led by Saudi Arabia and the United States to negotiate a ceasefire in the current conflict have stalled, and humanitarian agencies have struggled to provide relief because of insecurity, looting and bureaucratic hurdles.



Wednesday, 16 August 2023 03:48

Huawei NearLink is here to replace Bluetooth

Huawei has recently unveiled its latest generation of short-range wireless connection technology called NearLink. This new technology is way faster than Bluetooth and can be used as a standard connection technology for future devices.

Despite being blacklisted by the US government, Huawei is still coming up with innovations. The company was blocked from operating in some major Western countries over its suspicious ties with the Chinese government. However, Huawei is one of the best-selling smartphone brands in its home country China. And plays an essential role in pushing China’s tech industry forward.

Huawei’s new short-range wireless connection technology is said to be the result of collaborating with over 300 leading enterprises and institutions in China and abroad. NearLink packs the benefits of traditional wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and WIFI. The result is a connection technology that’s much faster and more reliable.

Huawei introduces NearLink as the next generation of short-range wireless connection technology

According to the company’s explanations, NearLink is six times faster than conventional communication technologies and offers a 1/30 delay. Additionally, it consumes 60% less energy while supporting a ten times higher number of network connections. Business sectors like consumer electronics, smart homes, electric vehicles, and industrial smart manufacturing can benefit from NearLink connectivity to a large extent.

On paper, NearLink’s capabilities seem pretty impressive and promise a massive leap for the wireless industry. As for industrial use, NearLink can provide lower latency. In addition to lower power consumption, wider coverage, and safer connection technologies to smartphones, PCs, and cars.

Huawei is still banned from operating in the US and some EU markets. Given the current tensions between Western countries and China, it’s so unlikely that Huawei could return to these markets anytime soon. Despite that, we can’t turn a blind eye to the Huawei innovations like NearLink, low cost 5G equipment, or even HarmonyOS.

HarmonyOS strives to offer a seamless experience to Huawei customers and fill the Android gap for them. Innovations like NearLink can stoke interest in this novice operating system. But the fact is HarmonyOS can never catch up with Android or iOS in terms of developer’s community, availability of apps, etc.


Android Headlines

Getting someone to do a thing you want them to do is one of the most challenging things about interacting with other humans. We all have our own agendas and desires and they are often informed by our individual values and perception of the world around us. 

If you are in a job that involves persuading people – like sales, or leading a team – you know that one of the most important aspects of persuasion is creating the right expectations. If you want a person to do something, it's helpful to start by getting buy-in from them, and expectations help to do just that.

For example, imagine you are sitting across the table from someone who is trying to figure out what to buy from you. For them, this is all new, and they're having to make a series of decisions about whether all of the things you offer will be a good fit. 

You can see that they're trying to sort through it all when you say, "Most of my customers..." followed by whatever it is that most of your customers choose. "Most of my customers find that option 'C' gives them the flexibility they need, while scaling affordably as they grow."

There's a very simple reason this works. Most people want to be like most people, most of the time. That's human nature. 

If someone is considering becoming your customer, they aren't just buying a thing, they're buying into the experience of being your customer. For them, knowing what that means creates expectations and makes them more comfortable. 

Look, even though they may say otherwise, most people don't want to be unique. They want to be like the rest of your customers and you can help by telling them what that means. That is, after all, the entire point of almost all marketing – to tell a story about what it looks like to use a product or service.

There are, of course, a few important caveats. The first is that whatever comes after those four words have to be true. 

If you just make stuff up, it might persuade someone for a short time, but, eventually, it will become obvious that you lied. Not only will they not be persuaded, they won't ever trust you again. It's just not worth it.

This is important because it can be tempting to try this trick to persuade people to spend more or to choose something that isn't in their best interests. That's a different four-word phrase altogether: "Everyone is doing it." 

The difference is, that's about putting peer pressure on someone to do something for your own benefit. Again, it might work for a little while, but it will cost you your credibility. 

Second, this works best when the person you are persuading is making a decision to buy in. The key is that the person wants to be a part of the group, whether that's your customers or your team. 

It's not helpful to tell someone what all of your customers do if they aren't in any way interested in being one of your customers.

Finally, those four words work even better when you follow them with an explanation of why. For example, "most of our clients choose option 'C' because it gives them the flexibility they need while allowing them to scale affordably," gives your potential customer the information they need to see themself in that situation. 

Obviously, this doesn't work for everyone. That's why I say "almost anyone," because there will always be someone who resists any attempt to conform to whatever is normal. That's okay. When you find that it doesn't work, it's probably a good sign that that customer wasn't a good fit anyway. 



Naira has lost an essential source of support after the central bank’s long-delayed financial statements revealed that effective foreign-exchange reserves at its disposal were much lower than previously disclosed.

The accounts published last week showed a previously undisclosed $7.5 billion in transactions with JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. In addition, it detailed an exposure in foreign-currency forward contracts of almost $7 billion. The central bank also showed it vastly exceeded the limit placed on its lending to the government.

The Nigerian currency had already been plunging since the regulator allowed it to trade more freely in June. The issue with the net reserves shown in the report last week means the central bank’s capacity to defend the naira is limited, said Adetilewa Adebajo, chief executive of Lagos-based CFG Advisory.

“Given the state of the CBN balance sheet and the fact that the naira is already at 945 to the dollar on the parallel market, the road to 1,000 looks unhindered,” Adebajo said.

Acting central bank Governor Folashodun Shonubi warned those betting against the Nigerian currency to take care, though he did not detail what actions the authorities had in mind.

“Sooner rather than later, the speculators should be careful, because we believe the things we’re doing when they come to fruition may result in significant losses to them,” he told reporters in Abuja, the capital, on Monday.

He did not take questions and his remarks echoed the tone of Wale Edun, monetary policy adviser to President Bola Tinubu, who cautioned on Aug. 1 that speculators could get hurt.

The move to a more liberal exchange system was designed to remove obstacles which had deterred foreign investors, but the expected jump in inflows has been slow in coming.

Parallel Market

The central bank has also been unable to increase supply significantly through its interventions in the official window where the currency is traded, driving demand to an unauthorized market where the dollar is about 18% more expensive.

Goldman and JP Morgan declined to comment. Officials at the central bank did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

The recently released accounts raise concerns about the sufficiency of the nation’s external reserves to support liquidity in the foreign exchange market, said Ayodeji Dawodu, director ‑ CEEMEA fixed income at BancTrust & Co.

“The local currency will remain under pressure in the coming months unless the central bank increases its intervention in the market and/or incentivises foreign portfolio inflows,” Dawodu said.

Real Rates

To be sure, the bank loans revealed in the statement were “received in exchange for foreign currency securities pledged by the central bank and were intended to support its liquidity position,” Dawodu said in a report.

While the central bank has reported more than $30 billion in reserves as of the end of 2022, subtracting obligations revealed in the report means it has a net reserve of just $17 billion, RMB Bank said in a note on Monday.

Nigeria dollar bonds have come under pressure since the revelations about the central bank reserves. The note maturing in 2051 has slid about 4 cents in the past two sessions to 73 cents on the dollar as of 2:53 pm in London, the lowest in a month.

To boost inflows, the central will have to raise interest rates and consider an International Monetary Fund program, said Charles Robertson, head of macro strategy at Frontier Investment Management Partners.

“Nigeria’s interest rates remain deeply negative in real terms – the most negative in Africa among all the countries we follow, and second only to Argentina in the world,” Robertson said.

Exports of Nigeria's Forcados grade of crude oil resumed on Sunday, a Shell spokesperson said on Monday, roughly a month after loadings of the medium sweet grade were suspended because of a potential leak at the export terminal.

Sources had told Reuters that exports of the grade, which was scheduled to ship 220,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July, were halted on the evening of July 12 after workers saw fumes near a single buoy mooring where oil was being loaded onto a vessel.

A single buoy mooring is essentially a floating loading facility that allows large tankers to moor offshore to discharge cargoes.

Shell confirmed that injections into the terminal had been curtailed after the report, though no force majeure was declared.

The Shell spokesperson said the cause of the suspension would be determined by a joint investigation between company and community representatives in tandem with government agencies.

The suspension of Forcados loadings contributed to Nigeria becoming the second-biggest contributor to the drop in OPEC crude oil output in July, a Reuters survey showed.



Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says it would mobilise its members to embark on an indefinite nationwide strike if the current price of petrol increases.

Joe Ajaero, president of the NLC, spoke on Monday at the African Trade Union alliance meeting in Abuja.

On Sunday, oil marketers hinted that the pump price of petrol would rise to over N700 per litre if the Naira continues to depreciate against the dollar, especially at the parallel market.

Currently, petrol is being sold at N617 per litre in many parts of the country and N577 in Lagos.

On several occasions, organised labour had criticised the hike in the price of petrol, saying the federal government must provide palliatives for workers over the removal of subsidy.

At the event, Ajaero said the Nigerian workers will not give any notice of strike if petrol price increases in the coming days.

“As we are here they are contemplating increasing the pump price of petroleum products and the federal ministry of labour and employment, for some time now, will only go to the federal ministry of justice to come up with injunctions to hold the hands of labour not to respond,” he said.

“Let me say this, Nigerian workers will not give any notice if we wake up from our sleep to hear that they have tempered with prices of petroleum products.

“They have started floating ideas of a likely increase in the pump price of petroleum products.”


On July 26, NLC issued a seven-day ultimatum to the federal government to reverse all “anti-poor” and “insensitive” policies.

The policies, the union said, included the recent hike in the price of petrol, and the sudden increase in public school fees, among others.

However, the federal government said the unions were restrained by an order of the national industrial court from embarking on any industrial action regarding the removal of petrol subsidy.

The government also said the order prohibited the NLC and affiliates from holding protests across the country.

Despite the government’s stance, organised labour led its members to nationwide protests on August 2.

Consequently, the federal government initiated contempt proceedings against the unions for allegedly defying the order restraining them from embarking on industrial action.

The protest was later suspended on August 3 after leaders of the unions met with President Bola Tinubu at the presidential villa, in Abuja.


The Cable

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says its MI-171 helicopter on a casualty evacuation mission has crashed in Niger state.

Edward Gabkwet, spokesperson of NAF, who announced the incident in a statement on Monday, said the helicopter crashed at about 1 pm near Chukuba village in Shiroro LGA of the state.

Gabkwet said the aircraft had departed Zungeru Primary School en route to Kaduna, but was later discovered to have crashed near Chukuba village.

“A Nigerian Air Force MI-171 Helicopter on a casualty evacuation mission crashed today, 14 August 2023 at about 1.00 pm near Chukuba village in Niger state,” the statement reads.

“The aircraft had departed Zungeru Primary School en route to Kaduna but was later discovered to have crashed near Chukuba village in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger state.

“Efforts are currently ongoing to rescue the crew and passengers on board the helicopter, while preliminary investigations have commenced to determine the probable cause of the crash.”

On July 14, a trainer aircraft of the Nigeria Air Force crashed in Markurdi, the Benue state capital.

According to NAF authorities, the trainer aircraft came down during routine training.

No death was recorded but two pilots who were on board were taken to the NAF base hospital in Markurdi for treatment.


The Cable

A major, no fewer than 10 Soldiers and unspecified number of local vigilantes have been killed by gunmen in Zungeru in Wushshi Local Government Area in Niger state.

Eight others soldiers were seriously injured during the gun duel on Sunday with the bandits.

The Bandits were said to be numbering about 70 and fully armed with sophisticated weapons.

The soldiers were also said to have fought the gunmen to a standstill, eliminating over 30 of them, while several others sustained gunshots injuries and are currently hiding in the bush as the soldiers were said to have reinforced to lunch another offensive against them.

The soldiers, it was gathered were ambushed by the bandits while on their way to respond to a distress call from Akare community where the bandits had gone to rustle cattle.

The soldiers, it was further gathered, were given wrong information as to the movement of the bandits, hence they ran into ambush by the bandits.

According to a source close to the community, about 30 of bandits were killed in the encounter with their bodies left in the forest while those that were injured were ferried away by members of their gang to the bush.

It was further gathered that the bodies of the slain soldiers were deposited at the Federal Medical Centre Zingeru before they were evacuated Monday morning to unknown destination.

As a result of the incident civilians in Akere, Wushishi and neighboring communities have abandoned their homes and are now taking refuge in Zungeru town.

Efforts to get confirmation of the incident failed as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Internal Security Tareek Abdulrahim did not pick several calls to him.



A Court of Appeal sitting in Benin City, Edo State capital, has affirmed Julius Abure as the National Chairman of the Labour Party.

This was disclosed in a statement issued Monday evening by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Obiora Ifoh.

The case with No: CA/B/93/2023, which was filed by Lucky Shaibu against Abure and five others, was dismissed after a unanimous decision by three Justices - Abadua, Fatima Akinbami and Sybil O. Nwaka-Gbagi.

The plaintiff, Shauibu who was a member of the Labour Party Executive in Ward 3 in Esan North East Local Government Area of Edo State, had allegedly suspended the chairman of the Labour Party.

However, in his lead judgment, Abadua affirmed the decision of the High Court of Edo State and held that one man cannot suspend the national chairman of LP in line with Articles 13 and 17 of the Constitution of the Party and the extant Electoral Act of 2022.

In a swift reaction to the judgment, an excited Abure eulogised the judgment and team of justices who he said refused to close their eyes to the justice of the case.

He said, “I thank the Obidient movement who tarried with me and Peter Obi while the impostor Lamidi Apapa and his adherents who tried to trade off the mandate freely given to the Labour Party with billions of Naira expended by his paymasters in the opposition parties”.

Also, Abure’s lead counsel, Prest Aigbokhan applauded the judgment describing it as a sound and courageous decision.

“It is a landmark judgment that will stand the test of time. Anybody still associating with impostors parading themselves as factional leaders of the party does so at their own peril. Political parties must remain watchdog of national conscience,” he stated.

Hours after the news of the appeal court judgment went viral, the Lamidi Apapa faction of the party kicked against the report, saying the Benin court only ruled on his suspension.

The statement signed by the spokesman of the LP faction, Abayomi Arabambi, insisted that the Abuja High Court Restraining order that recognised Apapa as acting national chairman remains in force.

Arabambi said, “Our party’s attention was drawn to misleading information that has been peddled around by some criminal elements loyal to the police-indicted former National Chairman of Labour Party Julius Abure. Labour Party wishes to state categorically that our complaint in the appeal filed before the court of appeal bothered on his suspension as a member in Article 19(2)A of our party constitution which the three justices of the court of appeal did not take cognisance of and refused to make findings on.

“We are aware of the capacity of Peter Obi and Abure Julius to tamper with court proceedings and documents as evidence in the forgery perpetrated in Abuja FCT high court where the signature and seal of judges were forged by Abure Julius and which he boasted yesterday in Lagos with Peter Obi that nobody in Nigeria can probe or arraigned him in court and three others indicted by the police.

“Surprisingly, the same Abure has a pending appeal in the Supreme Court against this same set of justice which has been filed and served on us to arrest today’s judgment. But since they know it may not fly in the face of the law, Abure resorted to his trademark by engaging the services of unscrupulous elements in the Edo state high court to tamper with the records transmitted. What we don’t know is if Abure has now become the Chief Judge of Edo state to be able to commit any crime and get away with it

“The said missing document is in the transmitted copy with our lawyer and duly paid for, but unfortunately this singular criminal act that aided Julius Abure today at the court of appeal was the reason the three justices base their judgment on the suspension of Julius Abure.”



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