Breaking: More trouble for immigrants as Congress quietly passes Bill S211 to reform immigration with media focused on attacking Trump
Nothing will stop Nigerians from aiming for America, writes novelist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. Not even the recent travel advisory by a special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari urging Nigerians with valid US visas to postpone their trips there.
To many Nigerians, America is the Promised Land. A land where clear waters gush and trees flourish with fresh dollar notes, where bees lose their sting and pigs fly.
A land where lame feet are cured and blind eyes are opened, where African accents shed their dense tones and become shrill nasal emissions filled with "R"s and "wanna" and "gonna".
In America, lizards transform into crocodiles. Are you the class dunce? The black sheep of the family? A notorious ne'er do well? Never mind. America will soon change your story. And the next time you visit Nigeria, your entire village will gather to receive you at the airport.
America is also the insurance for a child's future. Many Nigerian couples do not mind borrowing funds to travel and have their babies there, so that the children are instantly issued with the red booklet that is their passport to a better tomorrow far away from Nigeria.
Let's not forget the shopping. America has some of the best goods and experiences that capitalism has to offer. Nigerians who have it need somewhere to spend their money.
So what if President Buhari's special adviser is right and some Nigerians with valid visas have been denied access to Donald Trump's America?
Thanks for letting us know. Very kind of you, indeed. We shall simply add the US border officials to the list of principalities and powers that have to be defeated as we journey to this Promised Land, right next to the US Embassy officials that we have been battling with and overcoming for decades.
Many Nigerians narrate their conquests at US Embassy interviews in a manner that must be similar to how David recalled his slaying of Goliath.
"The woman was looking at me," they say. "I looked back at her. She didn't even look at my documents. I kept staring at her. I didn't remove my eyes. Then, she did her face as if she was about to deny me the visa. Under my breath, I just prayed and asked God to take full control.
"In my spirit, I already knew that the victory was mine. Suddenly, she frowned and said I should come back for my visa. She didn't even know what came over her. God just took control and turned her heart in my favour."
But don't be fooled by how easy it all sounds. These conquests - whether for a visitor, student, immigrant or any other kind of US visa - are usually preceded by natural and spiritual preparations.
On the natural side, there are men and women, "agents", who have gained a reputation for their US visa application expertise. Some are consultants, selling advice on what and what not to say in order to nail your interview.
Some assist with the application process.
"If this man helps you fill your application form," people say, "there is no way they can refuse you a visa. He knows exactly what you should write."
On the spiritual side, preparations for a US visa interview sometimes include periods of fasting and praying, or visits to spiritual experts who will command invisible forces in the unseen realm to yank open the doors of America before you.
For, until these gates of brass have been unlocked spiritually, they say, you may attend a billion interviews and fail. The embassy officials are merely succumbing to forces beyond their control.
While visiting Edo State in southern Nigeria last year, I met a friendly juju priest, known in his community as "Doctor", who claimed that his specialty was ensuring girls taken to Italy for prostitution did not run away without repaying the debts owed to the brokers, the madams, who paid their way to Europe.
He also told me that he assists men to smuggle cocaine successfully through international borders.
"I tell them on what exact day they should travel," he said.
"If they follow my instructions, they will never get caught. On that day, nobody will be able to see whatever it is they are smuggling through."
His spiritual powers purportedly blind the most advanced detectors.
If the rumours of Nigerians being turned back at US borders are true, I imagine that Doctor's services will soon extend to "seeing" and "telling" the exact date one should travel to America, the day when the border officials will be spiritually hypnotised into saying "Welcome to America" with hardly a glance at your visa or passport.
Rather than adhering to any travel advisory, many Nigerians would simply extend their unorthodox efforts, not just to conquering a US Embassy interview, but to crossing border control successfully.
For nothing, not even President Trump, can stand between a Nigerian and his or her quest for a better life.
*Original post appeared first on the BBC
Users accessing the Facebook (FB, Tech30)-owned messaging app on iOS, Android and Windows can now visually chat with friends but also multitask within other apps at the same time.
So if a call goes on for too long, users can distract themselves by scrolling through Instagram.
The feature also has a major emphasis on security. Like messages and phone calls on WhatsApp, the video chat functionality will be encrypted by default. This means only the two devices involved in the conversation can access the shared data.
It's a part of a larger effort from WhatsApp, which is favored by a range of users from high school students to politicians, to make privacy and encryption mainstream.
The feature comes more than a year after Facebook rolled out video chat capabilities to its Messenger app.
While Apple's iOS-only FaceTime video chat feature touts similar security protocols and multitasking features found in the app update, WhatsApp has a leg up in emerging markets where Android devices dominate. For example, Andoid makes up 97% of the market in India.
Meanwhile, Google's new video app Duo includes end-to-end encryption, but the platform is minuscule compared to WhatsApp's 1 billion user base. Facebook recently unveiled a secret conversations feature for texting on Messenger,. However, it requires users to opt-in each time.
WhatsApp's relationship with Facebook might worry some privacy conscious users. Earlier this year, it was announced the texting app would starting sharing phone numbers with the social network, so users could see personalized Facebook ads based on WhatsApp data.
WhatsApps new feature will roll out to all users starting Tuesday. - CNN
(CNN)Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone with US President-elect Donald Trump Monday, according to statements from the Trump transition team and the Kremlin.
Putin "called to offer his congratulations on winning a historic election," according to a Trump statement. The two leaders discussed issues including shared threats, strategic economic issues and the historical US-Russia relationship.
The two men also spoke about working to normalize relations between the two countries and emphasized the importance of creating a foundation of bilateral ties through trade, the Kremlin said.
They also discussed the need for "joint efforts in the fight against common enemy No. 1" -- international terrorism and extremism.
Putin was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Trump on his win, after a campaign dogged by alleged Russian hacking and Trump's cozy relationship with the Kremlin.
Trump praised Putin as a strong leader even as US officials accused Moscow of meddling in the election by leaking hacked Democratic campaign emails to undermine Hillary Clinton's candidacy.
Multiple critics of Putin have been outspoken in their shock at Trump's win. "Russia was a democracy, if briefly," wrote Gary Kasparov on Twitter. "Then Trump's idol won our last real election."
During the campaign, Trump was criticized for saying that Putin "is not going into Ukraine," two years after the invasion of Crimea. He later claimed that he meant as President he would not allow further incursions.
The President-elect also made a habit of questioning NATO's relevance, a departure from over 60 years of bipartisan foreign policy. Putin has been a long time critic of the alliance's expansion into eastern Europe.
However, on Monday, in his first news conference after Trump's election, President Barack Obama said that Trump had told him he was committed to NATO.
Last week, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN that he hoped Trump would help improve relations between Washington and Moscow.
"Because what we have currently is a very lousy relationship," he said.
Nigeria is generally perceived as a country where everyone is money conscious and so, money rules the day. Lagos being the business hub of Nigeria is not let off. Unlike some other states were a majority of the population takes on jobs mainly to fulfill dreams and pursue their passions, the key motivation for workers in Lagos is the wage and the addition that comes from extra ‘hustling’. Passion, vision and dreams only comes after the money has been made, so, people only render regular services when there is fiscal incentive, and excellent service in the occasion of a bonus or tip. Consequently, tipping has become the only way to get things done commendably.
While some might argue that this notion is one of the many typecasts associated with the state and country, there are not enough facts to dispel the already wide-spread conjecture. Tipping is expected by everyone: policemen on the road, waiters at restaurants, porters at hotels, taxi/cab drivers, baggage handlers etc. Most agonizing is the tipping tradition at the Lagos airports. Lagos has the busiest airports in the country (Murtala Mohamed Airports -MM 1 and 2), and everyday myriads of travelers are seen flocking in and out. Most of these travelers usually do not wear pleasant smiles on their faces as they have to endure endless tipping to ensure they get a smooth travelling experience.
For those travelling out of Lagos, It usually starts from the parking lot. To get a good parking space, you have to tip the coordinators with a smile and maybe even pleasant small talk. If you don’t, they would most likely park you somewhere so far from the entrance that you have enough time on the trek to regret not tipping them. Next are the luggage handlers. There are designated carts to help you move your luggage from the car to the departure lounge, however, aside from the fee you have to pay to get one, you would be expected to tip the airport staff attached to the cart to help you load the cart, follow you to the ticket stand and possibly move it to the check-in counter. At the ticket stand, the tipping is inescapable. The airport staff who are meant to direct and assist you, expect you to tip them for any assistance given, and usually even negotiate on the amount before assisting you. On getting to the check-in counter, depending on how much luggage you have, you would be asked to weigh you luggage. After that, you have to stay a while at the waiting lounge for your flight to be announced. Even at the waiting lounge, some officials without being asked help you out with the stamping processes and even advise you on what entrance to sit close to, so that you can queue easily when you hear the announcement of your flight. These Officials also expect to get a tip.
For travelers coming in to Lagos, it is almost the same routine, from the arrival lounge to pick up point, there are different airport officials who solicit tipping for different reasons. Sometimes these officials work as a group and share a large tip from the traveler in the end, while some officials attach themselves to one travel and assist the traveler through various points and receive a large tip at the end. Whatever the case, the traveler ends up tipping, and quite largely too as these airport officials get offended when they are handed paltry sums of money. Most would prefer being tipped in foreign currency such as the US dollar, Euro or British Pounds
Whereas the tipping tradition at the airports might seem like a huge problem, most people who live in Lagos are not bothered by it. They rather encourage it as they see it as a means to achieve quick results. They argue that the decision to tip is quite optional, but then its advantages make it imperative. In countries such as USA, it is compulsory to tip, and they go as far as factoring the tip into your bill (mostly at restaurant). Unfortunately though, the workers do not remember you the next time you visit, and they treat you like every other person. In Lagos however, you tip what you want and how you want, but when you do tip, not only do you get expedient service, the workers mark you and are willing to offer quick and prompt service next time. Some even go as far as giving out their numbers to ensure you get their help next time. Again, the tipping tradition is justified with the fact that these officials get paid very sub-standard salaries and need these tips to live above minimum wage. In this regard, tipping should no longer just be a form of courtesy- to show that you appreciate and respect the service of the person serving you, but also be a medium through which the recipients can receive financial assistance.
No matter the reasons given to justify tipping tradition at the Lagos airport, there are still heavy cons to the dilemma. Things becomes especially difficult for young or low-budget travelers who have actual need of assistance but do not have enough cash to tip accordingly. Again, expatriates who are not well acquainted with the tipping tradition, find it overwhelmingly absurd and get the bad impression that in Lagos, things only get done once the pocket is involved.
To help you survive the travails of tipping at the Lagos airports. Jumia Travel, Africa’s No. 1 online booking portal has these 7 valuable tips:
· Ensure you have lots of change when travelling via the airport
· Giving the tip before the task most times speeds up the service
· Do not engage officials who try to negotiate before assisting.
· Discreetly tip by putting the money in their hand
· Do not feel obligated to use the services of the airport officials. It is okay to say ‘No’ and go through due processes on your own. You should however prepare your mind for the length of time you might take to complete each process.
· Always collect the number of the official you tipped as it comes in handy next time. They will respond faster when you call before arrival.
· Sometimes, the best tip to leave is something other than money
PARIS, APRIL 16, 2016: (DGW) - PRESIDENT Barak Obama of the United States of America has for the first time publicly declared that the worst mistake made by his presidency was the lack of planning for the aftermath of Col. Muammar Ghadafi's ouster in Libya.
This stunning disclosure was made Sunday last week in a Fox News interview while reflecting on his legacy.
While further blaming his administration, according to, The Guardian, for the intervention which, he said ,failed to resolve the problem, President Obama said his administration did not plan well to address the fundamental issues in the country after the death of Ghadafi which led to the emergence of violent extremists in the north African state.
Said Barak Obama, ''My worst mistake was probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya.”
Since the ouster of Ghadafi, Libya has found itself being ruled by rival militias amid the growing influence of the Islamic State group.
A Chinese naval ship seized an unmanned ocean glider that was being used by the U.S. Navy to test water conditions in international waters in the South China Sea, according to a U.S. defense official.
The glider was about 500 yards from the USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic survey vessel with a mostly civilian crew. The U.S. ship contacted the Chinese ship and asked for the glider, which collects unclassified data, but the Chinese ship, which had brought the glider aboard, left the area.
“The United States has through their proper diplomatic channels demarched the Chinese, demanding return of our stuff,” the offices said.
The incident occurred about 24 hours ago, the official said. - The Washington Post
PARIS, FEBRUARY 16: 2017: (DGW) THE White House Washington DC has released a summarised report of the of the telephone call between Donald Trump and the Muhammadu Buhari.
It was released a while ago in its official website whitehouse.gov putting an end to speculations.
However, it did not say Buhari was invited to the United States at his own convenience or on a mutually ''convenient date'' as released by the Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina after the controversial call between the two leaders.
THE readout from the White House, Washington DC:
''President Donald J. Trump spoke this week with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria to discuss the strong cooperation between the United States and Nigeria, including on shared security, economic, and governance priorities. President Trump underscored the importance the United States places on its relationship with Nigeria, and he expressed interest in working with President Buhari to expand the strong partnership. The leaders agreed to continue close coordination and cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria and worldwide. President Trump expressed support for the sale of aircraft from the United States to support Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram. President Trump thanked President Buhari for the leadership he has exercised in the region and emphasized the importance of a strong, secure, and prosperous Nigeria that continues to lead in the region and in international forums.''
Also published on its official website is Trump's call and conversation with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa.
It read: “President Donald J. Trump spoke this week with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa to discuss ways to expand cooperation and trade between the United States and South Africa. President Trump highlighted the strong bilateral trade ties between the two countries and expressed interest in identifying new, mutually beneficial opportunities for trade. President Trump also suggested that the United States and South Africa do more to collaborate on shared security interests, including the fight against terrorism. Both leaders agreed to continue dialogue on these priorities and find ways to deepen the bilateral partnership.”
The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle, has petitioned the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, accusing some members of the lower chamber of improper conduct, attempted rape and soliciting for prostitutes while on official trip to the US. But, the affected lawmakers have denied all the allegations and threatened to sue the ambassador and the US government for “character defamation and a calculated attempt to ridicule the National Assembly.”
The Ambassador, in a letter dated June 9, 2016, addressed to Speaker Dogara, alleged that three members of the House namely: Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo (APC, Bauchi), Hon. Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa Ibom) and Hon. Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue) had, on a recent visit to the United States for the International Visitor Leadership Program, brought disrepute to the parliament by soliciting for sex from prostitutes and grabbing hotel housekeeper in a bid to rape.
Ten lawmakers were invited by the US government for the International Visitor Leadership Program held between April 7 and 13, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.
They include: Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi (PDPNasarawa State), Danburam Abubakar Nuhu (APC-Kano State), Nkole Uko Ndukwe (PDP-Abia State), Rita Orji (PDPLagos State), Ayo Huliyat Omidiran (APC-Osun). Entwistle’s letter reads: “It is with regret that I must bring to your attention the following situation. Ten members of the Nigerian National Assembly recently travelled to Cleveland, Ohio as participants in the International Visitor Leadership Programme on good governance. We received troubling allegations regarding the behaviour of three members of the delegation to the U.S. Government’s flagship professional exchange programme.
“The U.S. Department of State and the Cleveland Council on World Affairs received reports from employees of the Cleveland hotel where the representatives stayed, alleging the representatives engaged in the following behaviour: “Mohammed Garba Gololo allegedly grabbed a housekeeper in his hotel room and solicited her for sex. While the housekeeper reported this to her management, this incident could have involved local law enforcement and resulted in legal consequences for Representative Gololo.
“Mark Terseer Gbillah and Samuel Ikon allegedly requested hotel parking attendants assist them to solicit prostitutes.”
Entwistle said the US government made efforts to authenticate these allegations.
His words: “The U.S. Mission took pains to confirm these allegations and the identities of the individuals with the employees of the hotel in Cleveland. The conduct described above left a very negative impression of Nigeria, casting a shadow on Nigeria’s National Assembly, the International Visitor Leadership Program, and to the American hosts’ impression of Nigeria as a whole.
“Such conduct could affect some participants’ ability to travel to the United States in the future.”
The ambassador acknowledged that “While the majority of Nigerian visitors to the United States do behave appropriately, even a few Nigerians demonstrating poor judgement leads to a poor impression of the Nigerian people generally, though it is far from accurate. Such incidents jeopardise the ability of future programming and make host institutions and organisations less likely to welcome similar visits in the future.”
Entwistle stated that the affected lawmakers did not show remorse when the issue was brought to them.
“In addition, most of the members of this group reacted very negatively to my deputy when she brought this matter to their attention, further calling into question their judgement and commitment to the goals of the International Visitor Leadership Programme. This leads us to question whether to include National Assembly members for other similar programmes in the future.
“I request, in the strongest possible terms, you share this message with members of the National Assembly so they understand the seriousness of these issues, and the potential consequences of their actions, not only for themselves as individuals, but also for the future of such programmes designed to benefit Nigeria,” he said in the letter.
But, Gbillah said that there was no iota of truth in what the ambassador said but a calculated attempt to cause disaffection between them and their wives, families and constituents as they were not given any fair hearing before the letter was sent to the speaker.
He said he was on the trip with his wife and baby and could not, in any way, solicit for sex from a prostitute.
He said: “This is an affront on the National Assembly and Nigeria, it appears they have ulterior motives. We are not going to take this lightly; we will take legal actions against the US government. It is a dent on our image.”
Narrating the story of their stay in US, Gbillah said: “I went on the trip with my wife and baby and insisted that she stayed with me, but they told me the accommodation was meant for only participants. So, at Cleveland Renaissance where we were, opposite the Quicken Loan Arena, the Cleveland Cavalier Basketball team played a match and many people came to lodge at the same hotel, and they claimed that we spoke with car park attendants. We didn’t go with cars, so how could we have spoken with attendants?” He explained that the first time he heard about the allegations was a month after they returned from the US and went to represent the speaker at the farewell dinner for the Chinese ambassador.
“…I saw the ambassador (Entwistle) and went to greet him and he told me how a few of us tarnished the image of the House. I advised him to make it formal so that we can know who was involved and what actually happened.
PARIS, MAY 16, 2016: (DGW) Thomas Manning, aged 64 from Halifax, Massachusetts, has become the first person in the USA to undergo a penis transplant, New York Times has reported.
He had a part of his penis removed after a debilitating cancer diagnosis early this month in a 15-hour surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Convalescing Manning said he would not go into relationships soon after the surgery.
“I wouldn’t go near anybody.” “I couldn’t have a relationship with anybody.”
Mr Manning probably becomes the third person in the world to undergo a penis transplant after a Chinese man and South African man in 2006 and 2014 respectively, though the former was unsuccessful , medical records show.