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Republican Debate Turns Ugly Over Foreign Policy, Bush, Borders

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Republican Debate

Debating in the shadow of the death of conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a downsized and more combative Republican presidential field battled in South Carolina over foreign policy, abortion, truthfulness, campaign tactics and blame for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The ninth debate featured just six candidates, including an even louder than usual Donald Trump, who blamed former President George W. Bush for the 9/11 attack, a not-so-indirect hit at the candidacy of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida joined the fray, saying the president most to blame for the terrorist attack was former President Bill Clinton — husband of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton — because he missed a chance to kill Osama bin Laden in the 1990s.

 “The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him,” Rubio said.

Personal Attacks

Coming just a week before the South Carolina primary, the debate featured some of the most intense personal attacks between the candidates, with Rubio accusing Texas Senator Ted Cruz of lying and carrying out dirty tricks on the campaign trail. Ohio Governor John Kasich said the bitter sniping risked throwing the election to the Democrats.

“I think we’re fixing to lose the election to Hillary Clinton if we don’t stop
this,” he warned.

Cruz said Trump was a longtime backer of legal abortion, including partial-birth abortion, as well as European-style socialized health care.

“You are the single biggest liar,” Trump said to Cruz. “You probably are worse than Jeb Bush.”

Trump added: “Nasty guy. Now, I know why he doesn’t have one endorsement from any of his colleagues.”

Cruz fired back, saying Trump didn’t address the substance of Cruz’s criticisms over abortion and health care.

The stakes of the election were highlighted just hours before the debate with news of the death of the conservative justice, making appointments to the high court no longer a theoretical issue in the 2016 campaign.

Scalia’s Successor

Even before taking the stage, Rubio and Cruz said the next president, rather than Democratic incumbent Barack Obama, should name Scalia’s successor.

Obama said Saturday he plans to fulfill his constitutional duty and nominate a replacement for Scalia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said he will block a vote this year.

Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul, said he fully expects Obama to nominate someone and called on the Senate to stop it. “I think he’s going to do it whether I’m OK with it or not. I think it’s up to Mitch McConnell and everybody to stop it. It’s called delay, delay, delay,” Trump said.

Cruz said Scalia’s passing “underscores the stakes of this election,” adding that the nation is “one justice away from a Supreme Court that will strike down every restriction on abortion adopted by the states.”

‘Partisan Fight’

Kasich said it was unfortunate how quickly the death of Scalia turned political, and said Obama could nominate someone who could be approved unanimously.

“It’s not even two minutes after the death of Justice Scalia. I just wish we hadn’t run so fast into politics,” Kasich said. “The country is so divided right now and we’re going to see another partisan fight take place.”

Debate moderator John Dickerson of CBS News opened the debate with a moment of silence for Scalia.

Audience Boos

During a discussion about how the U.S. should deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump was booed repeatedly after saying that Bush was “wrong” in his statements about the billionaire’s views.

“That’s Jeb’s special interests and lobbyists talking,” a more combative Trump said after the boos. “I only tell the truth, lobbyists.”

Bush countered that Trump gets his foreign-policy views “from the shows,” a reference to Sunday morning news programming. The back-and-forth got nastier from there.

“It’s blood-sport for him,” Bush said. “While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe.”

Trump shot back, “The World Trade Center came down during his reign. Remember that.”

Bush went on to say, “My mother is the strongest woman I know.”

Trump replied: “She should be running.”

Governing Records

Kasich and Bush tussled over Medicaid expansion, which was a key part of Obama’s health care plan. Kasich, who pushed through an expansion in his home state despite objections from Republican legislative members, said his changes saved prison costs by helping the drug addicted and mentally ill.

“We’ve gone from an $8 billion hole, to a $2 billion surplus,” Kasich said.

Bush interrupted, saying Kasich is “creating further debt on the backs of our children and grandchildren” by expanding Obamacare in Ohio. “We should be fighting Obamacare, repealing Obamacare, replacing it with something totally different,” he said.

After leaving New Hampshire with a decisive victory — his first — Trump enjoys an even more comfortable lead in early polling in South Carolina, a state where politics is known as blood sport.

The establishment candidates — Rubio, Bush and Kasich — are determined to make a stand in South Carolina in order to convince donors and supporters that they have a legitimate shot at winning the nomination, and stopping Trump or Cruz.

Republican leaders in the state have said they expect the debate to be closely watched by those trying to make their voting decisions before the Feb. 20 balloting.

Since 1980, the winner of the state’s Republican primary has gone on to become the nominee every time, with one exception. That was in 2012, when a pair of strong debate performances just ahead of the primary lifted Newt Gingrich to a first-place finish over eventual nominee Mitt Romney.

Before the debate shifted from Scalia, Rubio and Cruz both erred when explaining why Obama shouldn’t get to name a successor to Scalia.

“It’s been over 80 years since a lame duck president has appointed a Supreme Court justice,” Rubio said.

Cruz said: “We have 80 years of precedent of not confirming Supreme Court justices in an election year.”

In fact, the Senate confirmed Anthony Kennedy, a nominee of President Ronald Reagan, on Feb 3, 1988, during an election year.

When Dickerson followed up to note that Kennedy was confirmed in 1988, Cruz incorrectly said, “Kennedy was confirmed in ’87.”

Sponsored by CBS and the Republican National Committee, the session also included retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Dickerson was joined by CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett and Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel.

—With assistance from James Nash, Kevin Cirilli, Michael C. Bender, and Sahil Kapur.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Government

COVID-19: Indian Travellers Regains Entry Into Nigeria

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COVID-19 Vaccine - Investors King

The federal government of Nigeria on Monday said travellers from India will no longer be denied entry into Nigeria as the country has been removed from the list of flagged countries.

In May, in an effort to curb the spread of the global health pandemic, the federal government had banned travellers from Brazil, India and Turkey from visiting the country.

Speaking on Monday during the national briefing of the presidential steering committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), said the situation in the Asian county has improved.

“The Global cases recorded continues to decline to about 4m cases weekly, although it is less, compared to last year and the situation calls for caution because we are not out of the woods yet. Africa and Nigeria in particular, continue to record rising cases and lots of fatalities,” Mustapha said.

“This can really be curtailed and reduced minimally if we adhere strictly to the NPIs. I recognize the fact that people are fatigued and tired but let me encourage all Nigerians not to give up. We all need to come together to defeat this dreaded disease so we can return to our normal life.

“The most potent way of getting out of this situation is through vaccines, which science and research has presented to us. I call on every eligible person to come out and be vaccinated. There are various choices now. We have AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and we expect Pfizer to be delivered very soon. There will be enough vaccines to go around soon. By the second quarter of 2022, we would have received about 52 million doses of the vaccines.

“To ease travels for fully vaccinated Nigerians, we are exploring the principles of reciprocity between Nigeria and other nations. For the time being, Nigerians are advised to always carry their vaccination card details or barcode on their electronic devices for easy access especially for those travelling outside the country.

“​Compliance with protocols laid down for quarantine to ensure control remains a source of worry to the PSC. The need to review the protocol has become expedient to align with existing global protocols and realities. On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon. To begin with, India has been removed from the list of flagged countries in view of improved situation in that country.”

“On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon”, he said.

Osagie Ehanire, minister of health said evidence has so far shown that the Delta strain is already dominant in Nigeria.

He warned that though the third wave of the pandemic may appear to be leveling out because there have been no catastrophic increases in infections and fatalities, it is not wise to assume that the threat is gone, especially as cases are fluctuating and have to be identified by genomic sequencing.

The minister assured that even though there is a 25 percent shortfall in CICAX supply, Nigeria will not run low on vaccines.

Ehanire further noted that there were reports of new coronavirus mutations circulating in other countries, and assured that government will monitor with all tools available to respond appropriately.

Also speaking, Faisal Shuaib, executive director of, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency noted that vaccine cards were becoming a requirement across the country.

He, therefore, warned against any attempt to produce/procure and sell fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.

“Anyone who ventures into this would be apprehended and made to face the law. This is a criminal offense, in which both the buyer and seller would be prosecuted.

“We, therefore, urge all Nigerians to report any suspected attempt by any person or group of persons to buy or sell a COVID-19 vaccination card to us via our call centre line on 0700 220 1122, any of our social media handles (Facebook and Instagram), at the nearest police station or any other law enforcement agency. No one needs to cut corners on COVID-19 vaccination.

“The vaccines are free, and the vaccination cards are given free of charge at any of our designated health facilities after your vaccination,” Shuaib said.

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South Africa Plans To Introduce Covid Passport

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South Africa has announced plans to introduce a vaccine passport amid widespread mistrust of the Covid-19 vaccine in the continent’s most affected country.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement in a televised address to the nation and assured that the immunization of the adult population was a necessary prerequisite to fully reopen the economy and avoid a fourth wave of infections, while the number of cases has dropped sharply in the country.

In two weeks, we will “provide more information on a system of ‘vaccine passports’ that can be used as proof of vaccination for various purposes and events,” he said without providing further details.

He added that the “sustained decline in infections (…) over the past few weeks” would, however, allow for a relaxation of the restrictive measures starting Monday.

The nightly curfew will be extended by one hour, to 11 p.m., and the limits on gatherings will be raised.

Restrictions on the sale of alcohol will also be eased, although protective masks will still be required in places open to the public.

The peak of a third stubborn wave due to the Delta variant is now over. Over the past seven days, the average number of new daily infections has dropped 29 percent from the previous week and 48 percent from the week before, Ramaphosa said.

“Our most urgent task is to vaccinate our population,” he said, noting that vaccine supply “is no longer a constraint.”

“If many people are not vaccinated (…) the risk of new and more dangerous variants emerging is much greater,” he warned.

After delays in the supply and distribution of doses, the vaccination campaign is now struggling to take off because of skepticism about the vaccine, especially among men.

To date, just over seven million people have been fully vaccinated in South Africa, with more than a quarter of adults have received at least one dose.

The country’s goal is to vaccinate 40 million South Africans, or about two-thirds of the population, by next March.

Authorities have recorded more than 2.8 million cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and 84,877 deaths, making it the worst affected country in Africa by the pandemic.

South African scientists are monitoring a new local variant with an unusually high mutation rate, dubbed C.1.2, although its presence is so far marginal among new cases detected in the country.

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FG Launches GEEP 2.0 Plans To Lift 100M Nigerians Out Of Poverty

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Muhammadu Buhari

The Federal Government of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja inaugurated the restructured Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) now known as GEEP 2.0. to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.

Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, speaking during the inauguration said the programme was a veritable tool designed to end poverty in many ways.

She said that GEEP was one of the components of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).

According to her, the initial GEEP targets the unbanked poor and vulnerable but skilled population that has always been left out on credit delivery programmes and is directed at providing soft and affordable loans to finance their businesses.

“The GEEP is innovatively targeted and delivered under three unique products – the TraderMoni for marginalised youths, The MarketMoni targets vulnerable women, and the FarmerMoni specifically focuses on rural farmers.

“With President Muhammdu Buhari’s gracious approval of expansion to provide loans to an additional one million beneficiaries with emphasis to targeting smallholder farmers in the year 2020/2021, the GEEP has been restructured and is being flagged-off today as GEEP 2.0.

“The GEEP 2.0 is structured to effectively deliver soft loans and skills to a wide range of unemployed citizens including persons living with disability, marginalised women and unemployed youths amongst other vulnerable groups in our society.

“I wish to state here that the GEEP 2.0 is well-coordinated and has an implementation model that accommodates representation at the Federal, State and Local Government levels,” Farouq said.

Farouq said that part of the new strategies include an increase in the loan portfolio of TraderMon/ and Market Moni loans from N10, 000 to N50,000, while the FarmerMoni is now N300,000.

“There is also the provision of the value chain and creation of digital marketplace (E-platform) for beneficiaries to sell their products.

“In addition, there is a digital integration and coordination platform along with a strong and centralised monitoring and evaluation system aimed at enhancing loans recovery.’’

Speaking, the Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr Sunday Dare who also represented the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha said he was delighted at the inauguration of the GEEP 2.0.

Dare said whenever he saw other ministries that helped in reducing the burden of youths unemployment from his ministry, he was happy, adding that youths were the biggest beneficiaries of NSIP.

Similarly, Mr Clem Agba, the State Minister of Financial, Budget and National Planning said his ministry had been at the forefront of ensuring human dignity and protecting households from poverty.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen said women and youths were always affected by humanitarian crisis and poverty.

Tallen said that the GEEP 2.0 would now help the poor and marginalised women and youths who did not have collateral to secure loans.

Also, the Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba said that the inauguration of the GEEP 2.0 was an indication to show that President Buhari meant it when he said he wanted to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

“It is evident that as we collaborate and corporate with all hands on deck, we shall achieve the ultimate objectives of the programme.”

Dr Garba Abari, the Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA) said the agency would work with state programme managers and focal persons toward the success of the NSIP.

Meanwhile, the Team Lead of the GEEP 2.0, Ms Zainab Musawa said that intended beneficiaries would be effectively supervised and monitored by desk officers in all 774 local government areas, state programme managers and the ministry in partnership with NOA.

“Essentially, GEEP 2.0 is a continuation of the Buhari administration’s laudable empowerment drive committed to the upliftment of oppressed Nigerians and we hope the programme will engender job creation.”

Ms Hadiza Hambuza, a representative of Access Bank Plc said the bank would work with the beneficiaries to achieve the objectives of the programme.

The event attracted officials from Presidency, National Assembly, NEMA, EFCC, FCTA Disability Commission among others.

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