Sunday, 25 February 2018



Politics (111)

South Africa’s ruling ANC party said Saturday it would “act decisively” to rebuild its reputation, as local media reported that President Jacob Zuma could soon be forced from office.

Zuma has been under growing pressure to resign since he was replaced as head of the African National Congress in December by his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa.

Signalling a clear shift in power, Ramaphosa on Saturday announced a new board for Eskom, the troubled state-owned power company that has been linked to graft allegations.

Zuma’s presidency has been engulfed by corruption scandals and a weakening economy, with the party losing public support ahead of next year’s general election.

Ramaphosa’s supporters are keen for him to take over as president immediately and try to revive the economy before the election, when the ANC could lose its dominance for the first time since the end of apartheid.

“The ANC must act decisively and with determination to rebuild the bond of trust between our people and the movement,” the party said after a two-day meeting of its senior members.

– Power rivals? –

The statement also addressed criticism that South Africa currently has two centres of power — Zuma still in office as president, while Ramaphosa heads the ruling ANC party.

“(Party) officials, led by President Ramaphosa, will continue their engagement with President Jacob Zuma to ensure effective coordination between the ANC and government,” it said.

The News 24 website said the party meeting on Thursday and Friday had decided that Zuma must leave office, but that no exact timeline had been agreed.

“We will have a new president in the coming weeks,” it quoted one unnamed party member at the meeting as predicting.

Eskom’s struggle to repay loans on its massive debts is seen as one of the biggest threats to South Africa’s economy.

Naming a new board was Ramaphosa’s first major public move to tackle the multiple fiscal challenges that face the country after nine years of Zuma’s rule.

“We are confident this intervention will restore the important contribution Eskom makes to our economy,” Ramaphosa said in a statement released on the presidential website.

“We are determined to address the damage that has been done to this institution.”

The statement added that the new board would sack at least two Eskom executives accused of serious corruption.

Zuma’s power ebbs 

Many graft allegations against Zuma have centred on the wealthy Gupta family that is accused of unfairly obtaining lucrative government contracts and even being able to chose ministerial appointments.

Zuma’s closest allies still hold senior positions in the party, and he could in theory remain president until the 2019 election that marks the end of his second and final term in office.

His hold over the ANC was shaken when his chosen successor — his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma — lost out to Ramaphosa in the closely-fought race to be party leader.

Zuma, 75, could leave office either by resigning, through losing a motion of no-confidence in parliament or impeachment proceedings.

He could also be recalled by the ANC, forcing him to step down.

Whoever is president on February 8 will deliver the annual state of the nation address to parliament — providing one deadline for political manoeuvering.

Ramaphosa, 65, is a former trade unionist who led talks to end white-minority rule in the early 1990s and then became a multi-millionaire businessman before returning to politics.

The ANC, which has ruled since 1994 when Nelson Mandela won the first multi-racial election, recorded its worst-ever results in 2016 local polls.

Posted On Saturday, 20 January 2018 23:38 Written by

Speaker Mark-Viverito and coalition of community activists and faith leaders urge de Blasio Administration to include J. Marion Sims statue in review of hate symbols city property

El Barrio, NY – New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, elected officials and community leaders today rallied outside Central Park to demand the New York City Parks Department remove a patently offensive statue that pays tribute to a physician who conducted sadistic and horrifying medical experiments on enslaved Black women.

“El Barrio residents have waited long enough for the City to act,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “At a time when Neo-Nazis, white nationalists and hateful right wing extremists run rampant throughout the country with impunity, we must send a definitive message that the despicable acts of J. Marion Sims are repugnant and reprehensible. J. Marion Sims conducted horrific, painful, medical atrocities on non-anesthetized enslaved Black women with free-reign. Mayor de Blasio and the Parks Department must remove this repugnant statue from our neighborhood once and for all.”

Located on 103rd Street and 5th Avenue in El Barrio/East Harlem, the J. Marion Sims statue is a constant reminder of the United States’ malignant treatment of people of color.  Since 2011, Speaker Mark-Viverito has repeatedly called on the Parks Department to remove the offensive Sims statue glorifying the dehumanization of black women from Central Park and the Parks Department has denied every request.

Last year, the Parks Department announced that it would add a plaque to the Sims monument to provide historical context to the statue and to honor Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey – three victims of Sims’ medical experiments, though Speaker Mark-Viverito, the Community Board and local residents continued to call for the statue’s full removal. However, despite working with the Speaker’s office and the community at large to finalize suitable language for the plaque, the Parks Department has not yet placed it on the site.

“Charlottesville serves as a reminder that we each can make a difference,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). “The violence and tragedy that occurred at the hands of white supremacists and Neo-Nazi protestors is a significant tipping point in our efforts to combat racism, hate and bigotry. Now it is up to each of us to stand united and on the right side of history to do what is required of us as public servants. Hateful symbols and monuments in honor of individuals such as J. Marion Sims, are a constant reminder of the suffering and pain that African-Americans and communities of color have endured for generations. We must remove these symbols of hate from our community once and for all.”

“Slavery wasn’t just an affliction on the south, it’s also a moral stain on the history of the north,” said Council Member Levine, Chair of the Council’s Parks Committee. “A man who took advantage of enslaved women who were unable to give consent for medical experiments, does not deserve to be memorialized our City’s parks. I therefore join my colleagues and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in calling for the immediate removal of the Sims statue, and I look forward to working with the Parks Department to replace it with a more appropriate monument consistent with New York’s morals and values.”

“This statue has stood for far too long as a reminder of the dark legacy of our nation, which viewed the lives of people of color as merely a means to an end,” Council Member Robert Cornegy. “In New York City, there is no place for statues of men who treated enslaved Black women with the kind of repulsive disdain that J. Marion Sims did. I urge the Mayor and the Parks Department to remove this statue and show New Yorkers that the monuments we choose to erect in this City reflect the values of respect and ethical treatment of all people that we hold dear.”

“Central Park should not have a statue honoring a doctor that experimented on enslaved human beings — women who had no free agency. The fact that J. Marion Sims chose not to use anesthesia — which was apparently available — when operating on enslaved women is also profoundly disturbing. In large part because of these experimental surgeries, Sims made some significant contributions to women’s medicine. But his use of enslaved women as patients/subjects must be brought to the forefront. Sims’ statue should be replaced by a memorial honoring his patients,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“The statue of J Marion Sims is another symbol of this country’s continued disrespect of women of color. If we as community leaders stand by and don’t speak out to remove this statue we are sending a signal to the next generation that being treated inhumanely is okay for women and people of color and not okay for everyone else. We will no longer stand for this in our own backyard,” said State Senator Brian A. Benjamin.

“The public monuments of our city should reflect the values of our city,” said State Senator Liz Krueger. “ J. Marion Sims performed medical procedures on enslaved women against their will. In the 21st century we should be mature enough as a society to recognize that this is not a legacy that should be publicly celebrated. I urge the parks department to remove the Sims statue as part of the mayor’s commitment to ensure our monuments reflect our values.”

“When statues are erected in our streets, parks, and public spaces they represent a choice, and the only way to deal with a wrong choice is to own up to it and correct it,” said Manhattan Borough Gale A. Brewer. “It’s time for us to carefully review, remove, and replace statues that honor figures associated with racism, bigotry, and other forms of oppression.”

“The monument is a constant reminder of the bigotry and oppression men and women of color endured in American history and unfortunately medical science,” said Diane Collier, Chair, Community Board 11.  “Community Board 11, our councilperson, East Harlem organizations have been asking the administration for several years to remove the J. Marion Sims statue from our East Harlem community once we learned the true story of his discoveries.  CB11 members overwhelmingly voted in June 2016 against the city proposals adding the tortured women names to the marker and formally reiterated our call for the statue to be moved.   Intrinsically, the removal of the Marion Sims monument in East Harlem is long overdue; and should be at the top of the Mayor’s 90 day review list removing statues of hate and racism in NYC.”

“The systemic racist thought and practice that continues to be part of the infrastructure of this nation must be challenged, confronted and destroyed at all levels of society,” said  Marta Moreno Vega of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute. “It means developing an impactful educational system that confronts racism, instituting systems of equal access to all without consideration of color, gender, religious practices, economic, cultural or immigrant status. It means having monuments that speak to heroes and heroines that stand for racial justice and equity as all levels to instill the values of a true democracy. Images like that of J. Marion Sims must be removed. They don’t represent the human values that El Barrio and the nation should support.”

“We share a collective duty to stand against racism and bigotry in all its forms,” said Andrea Miller, President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health.  “We should no more celebrate white supremacy today than commemorate its existence in the past. New York City can make a powerful statement against the shameful legacy of abuse against black and brown people by removing the J. Marion Sims statue immediately.”

“We applaud the Speaker’s efforts to remove the statue of J. Marion Sims,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director, Asian American Federation. “As a doctor, his inhumane medical experiments on enslaved Black women further victimized a vulnerable population. His statue honors an individual who exploited Black women and is a reminder of the horror he perpetrated on them. We stand in solidarity with our leaders who reject and act to remove all symbols of racism and hate in this country.”

“Medical progress achieved through immoral practices is not an achievement of which we should be proud,” said Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President, New York Board of Rabbis. “We who have been victims of prejudice cannot be silent when others have suffered injustice.”

“As a leading provider of sexual and reproductive health care for New Yorkers, Planned Parenthood of New York City supports the removal of the statue of Dr. James Marion Sims in Central Park,” Christina Chang, VP of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood of New York City. “19th-century physician Dr. Sims, often called “the father of modern gynecology,” performed experiments on enslaved Black women without their consent and without anesthesia, which was available at the time. Sims’ experiments are part of a long history of medical experimentation on African Americans and directly connects to the ongoing unequal medical care that Black patients continue to receive today. Black patients still receive less pain medication than white patients, and a 2016 study by the University of Virginia found medical students still think Black people feel less pain than whites. As we saw Charlottesville, racism and white supremacy continues in our nation. This country’s long history of controlling and threatening people of color’s safety and control over their own bodies, and any statue that represents this violence and hatred has no place in our city.”

Speaker Mark-Viverito and others today renewed their demand for the de Blasio Administration and the Parks Department to include the J. Marion Sims statue in the 90-day review the Administration is currently conducting of all symbols of hate on city property.  On Friday, Speaker Mark-Viverito issued a letter to Mayor de Blasio formally requesting the City evaluate the Sims monument.

Posted On Wednesday, 23 August 2017 02:41 Written by

Brownsville Innovation Lab inaugurates new technologies and education programs aimed at modernizing public infrastructure, supporting neighborhood development, and bridging the digital divide

NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chief Technology Officer Miguel Gamiño, and New York City Economic Development Corporation President James Patchett announced the roll-out of new smart city solutions and tech education programs for youth at Osborn Plaza in Brownsville, Brooklyn. The efforts will officially kick off on Saturday, July 8 and mark a key milestone for the Brownsville Neighborhood Innovation Lab.

In March 2017, Brownsville was announced as home to the City’s first Neighborhood Innovation Lab. The tech equity initiative brings together community members, government, educators, and tech companies to help address neighborhood concerns with cutting-edge smart city technologies. Over the last four months, the City has partnered with Brownsville community leadersto run a series of strategic planning sessions focused on defining neighborhood needs and exploring how smart city technologies can help improve quality of life and support local economic development. Top priorities emerging from this work include improving safety and cleanliness of public spaces, and strengthening access to healthy foods.

"As technology evolves and becomes even more essential to our everyday urban lives, New York City only grows stronger,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are thrilled to see the launch of the Brownsville Innovation Labwhich will connect residentsto resources, dynamic education opportunities, and deliver a significant boost to economic development in the neighborhood.”

Neighborhood Innovation Labs present a unique opportunity for tech companies and universities to respond to community-identified needs and partner with government to test their technology solutions in a real-world environment with community feedback. The initial technology demonstrations being installed at Osborn Plaza in Brownsville include the newest iteration of the Bigbelly solar-powered smart waste and recycling system, which can hold up to five-times the amount of a regular trash bin and uses sensors to notify maintenance crews when it is full, and two Soofa smart benches, which use solar power to offer free charging for mobile devices.

“Being a smart city means ensuring our communities have access to technologies and programs that improve quality of life, create new jobs and support our City’s youth having skillsets to build their future,” said Miguel Gamino, Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York. “This next phase of Neighborhood Innovations Labs is an important step in making sure all New Yorkers can participate in a modern world.”

"The de Blasio Administration is constantly working to bolster our innovation economy and make it more accessible to New Yorkers across the city,” said NYEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “The Neighborhood Innovation Lab will connect Brownsville residents with new smart cities technologies and programming to improve their quality of life and drive economic development in the neighborhood.”

New tech education programs for Brownsville youth will also kick off on Saturday, starting with a hands-on workshop where elementary and middle school students will learn about STEM concepts by building solar-powered toy cars. The workshops are part of a new “Young Innovators Program” supported by BNY Mellon to spur interest in technology careers and create pathways for young people to join and diversify New York City’s thriving digital economy. Over the course of a year, the program expects to reach roughly 1,000 Brownsville youth through interactive workshops and technology demonstrations. In addition, 36 high school-aged youth and high school graduates from Brownsville will be invited to participate in an intensive skill development and professional training program that uses project-based learning to teach the foundations of product design and application development. The new program will be managed by the Brownsville Community Justice Center and aims to serve as a bridge to connect young adults to industry partnerships like the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline.

“BNY Mellon is pleased to support the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation through this public-private partnership,” said Daisey Holmes, President, BNY Mellon Foundation. She added, “Our funding will allow the city to prototype a new tech-equity and skills development program designed exclusively for youth in Brownsville. This unique program will complement the launch of the first Neighborhood Innovation Lab, and aligns with our focus on building the next generation’s skills and ability to contribute to society in a digital world.”

"Responsive neighborhood investment begins with a resident-driven community planning process. The Neighborhood Innovation Lab in Brownsville is the first step in prototyping and iterating on responsive technology that aims to improve the quality of life of tenured residents and create pathways for young people to join the digital economy" said Deputy Director of Brownsville Community Justice Center, Erica Mateo.  "We are proud to be a partnering on this initiative."

“This dynamic programming will provide a critically needed service to the youth in Brownsville and an opportunity to expand education opportunities in the neighborhood as a whole,” said Maria Torres-Springer, Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “The Neighborhood Innovation Lab was launched as a part of the Brownsville Plan, a holistic community plan developed in close coordination with community residents.  I want to thank our partners in government and the residents of Brownsville for continuously working with us to build diverse and livable neighborhoods.”

“We’re pleased to be participating in the Brownsville Neighborhood Innovation Lab and working closely with community leaders to explore creative ways to keep this neighborhood safe and clean,” said Kathryn Garcia, Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation. “As the City continues to make progress towards our goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030, we need to motivate and support every neighborhood to succeed. The Neighborhood Innovation Lab is a unique model bringing together City agencies, residents and technology companies to achieve our goals on a local level.”

“Innovation is at the heart of our sustainable future. The launch of the Neighborhood Innovation Lab in Brownsville—one of the City’s most culturally vibrant communities—will ensure New York City is at the leading edge of  technology and sustainability in a way that capitalizes on young talent and prioritizes smart, local solutions to global challenges,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.

“The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice recognizes the impact that the improvement of public spaces has on the creation of safer and more welcoming precincts and neighborhoods within New York City. The Neighborhood Innovation Lab is a critical vehicle towards incorporating innovative use of technology into our crime prevention initiatives in the Mayors Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety. MOCJ is looking forward to working together with the Mayor's Office of Technology and Innovation to pilot tech-enabled approaches that can accelerate progress towards neighborhood safety goals in Brownsville,” said Amy Sananman, Executive Director of the Mayors Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety in the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

“We are thrilled to be working together with the Brownsville community to address crucial needs, including access to healthy, affordable food” said Barbara Turk, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy. “This is an exciting opportunity to bring the resources and entrepreneurship of NYC’s tech community to engage in building a more sustainable food system that works for all New Yorkers.”

“Neighborhood Innovation Labs are 21st century incubators for experimenting with how we can make our urban spaces more livable,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “I commend all the partners involved in rolling out these new smart city and tech education tools in Brownsville, a Brooklyn neighborhood that has been historically neglected while facing generational poverty.”

NYS Senator Jesse Hamilton said, “A truly inclusive information-technology revolution means communities across New York having access to the technologies of tomorrow and the skills to design, create, and guide those technologies moving forward. Initiatives like the Brownsville Neighborhood Innovation Lab represent a welcome, concrete effort to turn that vision of an inclusive tech sector into an on-the-ground reality. With the installation of smart city technologies at Osborn Plaza and the robust education programs for Brownsville youth, we see both action today and the planting of seeds to grow tomorrow’s technology innovators. Thanks to all the partners across government, industry, and nonprofit sectors making this important launch possible.”

The Brownsville Neighborhood Innovation Lab will bring smart city technology to the heart of the community.  This will benefit the community by using technology to connect folks with educational and job opportunities,” said Latrice Walker, New York State Assembly Member for the 55th Assembly District. “We look forward to getting Brownsville connected to some of the most cutting edge technology that improves the quality of life.

“Smart city technologies can vastly improve quality of life and it’s important these technologies are developed with the input of residents,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the New City Council Committee on Technology. “I’m excited to see this phase of the Neighborhood Innovation Lab get underway after months of community consultation.  This next phase will provide a dynamic public testing ground and presents a fantastic opportunity to encourage youth interest in emerging technology.”

"Time after time technology has provided the keys to address societal and economic challenges," said NYC Council Member Rafael Espinal. "As a city we must continue to invest in smart solutions that build our local communities and supply the educational tools that empower individuals in all corners of the five boroughs. I am proud that Brownsville, which had for so long not received investment, is the incubator of this innovation and progress."

"We welcome the opportunity that the City's first Neighborhood Innovation Lab brings to Brownsville, especially for our youth who will be engaged in new technology and education programs that the Lab offers" said Viola Greene-Walker, District Manager for Brooklyn Community Board 16

“We are thrilled by today’s launch of the first Neighborhood Innovation Lab in Brownsville, made possible through the public-private partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation (MOTI) and BNY Mellon. This new community-based initiative will bring cutting-edge technology and interactive programming to young people in this historically underserved neighborhood, creating access to technology and the critical skills necessary for young people to thrive in our 21st Century workforce. The “Young Innovator’s Program” is just one of the many initiatives undertaken by the Mayor’s Office to build tech equity across the city and diversify the face of this sector. We are excited to see the impact of these innovative programs on Brownsville’s homegrown talent pool,” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC.

“There’s a great opportunity here to leverage technology to meet our needs of socio-economic and spatial justice” said Quardean Lewis-Allen, Founder and CEO of Made in Brownsville.  “Brownsville has no shortage of smart people, just a shortage of quality investment that actually serves the best interest of residents.  With residents at the helm, we hope that we can steer the benefits of smart technology investment in the right direction.”

"It is an honor to be part of NYC’s first Neighborhood Innovation Lab” said Mary L. Tobin, Director of the Brownsville Partnership.  “The Brownsville Partnership views technological advances as key to our command center using data as a collective impact tool for neighborhood improvement, advancing employment outcomes for residents, and improving overall environmental conditions. We are excited for Brownsville to become the model for smart cities and its potential to improve neighborhood health, safety, and economic prosperity."

"When we think of the introduction of smart technologies for smart cities into communities, more often than not, this process has not included communities like Brownsville” said Pernell Brice III, Executive Director of the Dream Big Foundation. “And that is why New York city's 1st Neighborhood Innovation Lab and the Young Innovators Program is so important.  The Brownsville Community will not only have opportunities to test new smart technologies, but they will also be able to have a voice in determining what other type of technologies are introduced into their community.  Additionally, Brownsville youth interested in technology and entrepreneurial pathways through technology, will have tangible opportunities to further their learning through workshops throughout the upcoming year.  These initiatives are important first steps in ensuring that the Brownsville community, particularly youth, has equal access to these emerging technologies."

"The Knowledge House empowers and sustains a talent pipeline of technologists, entrepreneurs, and digital leaders, who will uplift their communities out of poverty” said Stephany Garcia, Program Manager of The Knowledge House.  “In collaboration with the Brownsville Community Justice Center, TKH has been offering tech and entrepreneurship skills training classes for the past few years to court-involved youth. Since TKH is based in the South Bronx, being part of the NIL board allowed us to learn more about the needs in the Brownsville community while also connecting deeper with the youth that we serve. We were also excited to see other organizations gather around the conversation of technology as a way to empower Brownsville residents with the skills and tools necessary to be the change they want to see in their neighborhood."

“The world has changed, society has changed, and our communities are changing. This Innovation Lab will be placing Brownsville on the forefront of that change in New York City” said Clinton Dyer, Project Coordinator for Legal Hand. “As a native of Brownsville it was my honor to understand and shape what opportunities this lab could bring to my community. As the Project Coordinator for Legal Hand it is my duty to disseminate that information to the local populace. I want my community members to be aware, and fully utilize the prospects to come. Tech is coming to Brownsville, and we are going to be ready for it.”

"With my family being a part of the Brownsville community for over 70 years it has been an honor to participate on the community advisory board for the Neighborhood Innovation Lab” said Lennie J. Carter, Founder and CEO of TruCircle.  “I grew up in Brownsville seeing the impact of drug abuse and violence in the 80's & 90's.  The Brownsville lab is giving hope to a neighborhood that often feels forgotten by opening the door to more community design opportunities in the growing civic technology sector, as it is rapidly changes our city."

“The last couple of months have been awesome working with so many special people and organizations to bring technology to Brownsville in a way that is responsive to our neighborhood” said Johnnymae Robinson, Project Coordinator for What About the Children.  “Our organization is excited to be part of this journey.”

“The Neighborhood Innovation Lab is inspiring because it connects cutting edge urban-tech startups and innovators to the heart of New York City’s Brooklyn community. The initiative yields a network of knowledge and opportunity for urban planners, citizens and most importantly inspires the youth of Brownsville,” said Robinson Hernandez, Executive Director of the Urban Tech Hub @ Grand Central Tech. “Our participation in the innovation lab is directly tied to the Hub’s mission statement of bettering the lives of Brooklyn youth while also providing opportunity for local urban tech entrepreneurs.”

"1776 is honored to partner with the City of New York on the Brownsville Neighborhood Innovation Lab, and we look forward to connecting entrepreneurs with local community leaders to introduce transformative Smart Cities technologies, " said Evan Burfield, Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer at 1776. "The Brownsville Neighborhood Innovation Lab will strengthen New York City's startup ecosystem by creating collaborative pilot partnership opportunities and 21st Century jobs. We are excited to introduce our diverse network of startups to the initiative and applaud the City for its leadership." 

"The Soofa bench is iconic and naturally starts a dialogue about smart, social, and sustainable neighborhoods” said Sandra Richter, Soofa cofounder and CEO.  “We are looking forward to getting insightful feedback from community members as part of the lab. This will inform our product development for both the Soofa Bench and our new digital bulletin board the Soofa Sign. At Soofa we drive a citizen focused approach to making smart cities and the Innovation Lab model fits perfectly with our philosophy."

“Bigbelly is pleased to be working with the Mayor’s Office of Innovation in New York City’s first Neighborhood Innovation Lab.  The Brownsville community will enjoy cleaner public spaces, while the area collection crews benefit from increased productivity by knowing when to collect,” said Brian Phillips, CEO of Bigbelly, a smart city solution provider.  “This multi-purpose platform will deliver even more value to the Brownsville community by providing free Internet access.  The stations deployed in this area have embedded Wi-Fi hotspots, giving nearby residents and visitors expanded Internet access in these key public spaces.”

“It has been our honor to work with the Brownsville community, the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation and the NYC Economic Development Corporation to launch the Brownsville Innovation Lab.  Under the direction of Professor Constantine Kontokosta, CUSP’s research through this lab will allow for vast improvements in the observations, analyses, and models of various communities and allow for improved urban systems and quality of life in New York City,” said Dr. Steven E. Koonin, Director of NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress.

"The City reached out to us to help empower the community to make skeptical and educated decisions regarding technology. The goal is to bring community representatives into the room to vote and discuss when technology decisions that impact them are made. We want to help the Brownsville community build a 'smart city' that benefits them, not a 'menacing city" that happens to them," said  Matt Mitchel, Founder of CryptoHarlem.
"It has been an honor to collaborate with the Neighborhood Innovation Lab program" said Noel Hidalgo, Executive Director of BetaNYC. "For the past few years, we've been working to democratize access to civic technology, municipal data, and service design. Leveraging the wisdom of NYC's diverse neighborhoods will truly build smarter communities. We are excited to grow stronger, smarter, together."

Neighborhood Innovation Labs are a public-private partnership led by the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation, New York City Economic Development Corporation, and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress. Brownsville Community Justice Center serves as the lead community partner for the City’s first Neighborhood Innovation Lab and Osborn Plaza serves as the anchor site for public programs and initial technology demonstrations. Members of the public interested in getting involved should visit:

Posted On Saturday, 08 July 2017 03:53 Written by

AN Ekiti State House of Assembly member Gboyega Aribisogan has accused Governor Ayo Fayose of instigating his suspension because he refused to prostrate and beg for the offence he did not commit.

He said some party leaders and appointees urged him to prostrate for the governor at a reconciliation parley brokered by eminent lawyer and founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola (SAN).

Aribisogan, who was suspended by his fellow lawmakers in October last year said the governor wanted him to admit meeting with the Senator representing Ogun East, Buruji Kashamu, in Lagos sometime last year, an allegation he denied.

Speaking during an interview programme on Adaba 88.9 FM monitored by our correspondent, Aribisogan faulted an investigation panel set up by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) faction loyal to 

Fayose claiming that the panelists had been ordered to do a hatchet job against him.

Aribisogan alleged that some party members in his ward were bribed with a sum of N200, 000 and compelled to write a frivolous petition to the panel to nail him at all cost.

He revealed that the panel had already submitted its report to Fayose on Monday while he was asked to appear on Thursday.

The embattled lawmaker disclosed that he reported the alleged illegality Fayose was using the Assembly to perpetrate to the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and Chairman, PDP Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jibrin.

Aribisogan said: “I cannot confess the sin I did not commit; they (party leaders) asked me to prostrate and beg Fayose but I refused and in the process they brought out a camera with the intent of taking my photographs. Fayose flared when I refused to prostrate and beg and vowed that he would not allow me to return to the Assembly again.

“For somebody to say he would not allow an elected representative of the people to go back to the Assembly shows the type of character Fayose is. He got 14,000 votes from my constituency and he has done nothing for the people.

“If they want to shoot me dead, I am ready. I am not an appointee of Fayose, I was elected the same way hea was elected. I apologize to all Ekiti for joining hands to bring him back to power and that is why he is misbehaving now.

“The Inspector General of Police had given an order that nothing should happen to me; the House of Assembly belongs to Ekiti people and not to Ayo Fayose. Fayose has brought odium and shame to Ekiti State.

“He is owing the Assembly six months salaries, Ekiti lawmakers are crying underneath because many of them are heavily indebted. Fayose threatened that he would recall me, let him go ahead but I will never prostrate for Fayose.”

Responding, Commissioner for Information, Lanre Ogunsuyi, said Hon. Aribisogan, was suffering from political hallucination.

Ogunsuyi said the Assembly suspended the lawmaker according to its rules and does not need Fayose to carry out is constitutional and statutory functions. The commissioner said Aribisogan was merely cooking up stories to cover up his infractions on the House rules.

He advised Aribisogan to avail himself of the opportunity given by the party to present his case before a disciplinary panel set up to investigate the allegations of anti-party activities and disloyalty levelled against him.

Ogunsuyi said: “I will say it is a political hallucination for the honourable member to accuse the governor of masterminding his suspension from the Assembly.

“It is an internal affair of the House and the governor is not a member of the Assembly.

“He was duly suspended by the Assembly; the governor has no hand in it and all what he is saying are stories without corroboration.”

Posted On Saturday, 24 June 2017 20:31 Written by

Controversial senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye, has continued his verbal onslaught on Governor Yahaya Bello, for allegedly sponsoring a large number of his constituents to demand his recall.

In a post on his Instagram page, the outspoken lawmaker said the Kogi governor suffers the “most chronic form of madness”, adding that it is the prelude to his final destruction.

He wrote: “Well, like the good NAPOLEON said: never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

“It is normal for mad people to conceive impossibility.

“Let them dance the dance of madness and schizophrenics. Recall who???

“When the gods want to destroy a man, they make him mad in the first instance. Yahaya bello is suffering from most chronic from of madness already and that is the prelude to his final destruction.”

Governor Bello had earlier said there is no rift between him and Dino Melaye.

Two days ago, Melaye described his State Governor, Yahaya Bello as an “olodo governor” over his inability to pay civil servants in the state.

Posted On Sunday, 04 June 2017 13:39 Written by

Prof Ango Abdullahi, a former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, is the spokesperson for the Northern Elders Forum (NEF). In this interview, Abdullahi speaks on the two years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and the agitation by some Igbo elements for the Biafra state, among other issues of national importance.

The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is two years. What is your take?
My take is the Nigerian take. You are the people who move around to speak to Nigerians to find out if things have changed in the way that Nigerians had hoped before they cast their last vote for the current leadership in the country. But, to me, personally, life has not changed for me and my family; maybe I was out looking out for anything other than the hope for peace and tranquility to prevail in the country. So, on that score, I will say that, perhaps, the country is a little bit more peaceful now in the sense that the insurgency has been reduced, even if not completely removed.

On the other hand, I receive visitors, young people who come in asking to be assisted to secure jobs and so on and so forth. They know that something is not totally correct with the economy; two major indicators, our naira has been decimated, to me, to nothing because, at my age having seen one Naira exchanged for one dollar and forty cents and to now put together 300+ Naira officially for me to get one dollar something is basically not right there. And until, I have always made this very clear, we can do something about this foreign exchange rate- and for-a country that produces nothing, it has to buy everything, we are going to have a hard drive, if we are able to drive at all, to recover. It is going to be near impossible to recover with this exchange rate, it is a major problem.

But the Minister of Finance spoke a few days ago, saying Nigeria is recovering. She should tell us how we are recovering. Check your pocket if we are recovering, check your soup pot if we are recovering, check everything in terms of cost; how are we recovering?

If the government must change gear, what must the government do now?
It is going to be difficult for this government or any government for that matter because these decisions as they affect the economy require an approach which is not orthodox.

Take for example, Donald Trump, who only recently assumed office as the President of the United States of America, said ‘America first, America second, America third, employ America by America’ and so on and so forth. This is what every country now has to do. This is a policy to protect America, annunciation by the leader of the capitalist world, protecting the American economy and the American people and this is the kind of courage that African leaders require to get up and say ‘my country first, my country second, my country third’. This is what happened to quite a number of countries: The Chinese did the same, they disappeared for some time and now they have resurfaced as one of the leaders of the world because they protected themselves, they protected their country.

In Africa today, there are only two or three countries that are going in that direction: Rwanda, Zimbabwe and the same thing perhaps to some extent Uganda. But the rest of the countries (in Africa) are just appendages of colonial mentality and Nigeria is one of them. Nigeria is an appendage of colonial mentality and that is why we have not moved, 60years; Nigeria cannot produce 4,000megawatts of electricity that is not big enough for a village in Europe, for about 200million people. Something is wrong basically.

Is the problem with the people in power?
The problem is with all of us. One major conference that is required is a conference on attitudinal change by Nigerians, particularly those of us the elite.

Who should organize that?
Nigerians who worry about Nigeria. I attended four constitutional conferences in the last 20years but where are we? Our paper work, well-written and so on, but nothing on ground. And when you look at it very carefully, it is we the elite and that is why I keep talking about the elite being responsible for what is happening to Nigeria and they have to do something about it.

2019 is about two years away, but some people are already talking about it. What shape should it take?
The shape that Nigerians want it to take because if Nigerians are complaining that things are not going well for Nigeria and, by implication, things are not going well for Nigerians, 2019 means an opportunity for them to ‘shine their eyes well’ well and look for leadership because the problem, in my view in this country, had always been poor and inept leadership, particularly after our fathers politicians of the First Republic) have gone. Each time I speak, I give very high credit to our founding fathers, they did extremely well with very little. In their hands, the country had no means of getting huge resources except from our agricultural products, yet these people did what they did; infrastructure, tell me what infrastructure has been added seriously on top of what they have done? The railway, the ports, the airports and so on, just tell me; in spite of the billions of naira that is coming or that is supposed to be coming into the Nigerian coffers, what has happened?

At what point did President Muhammadu Buhari get it wrong?
I gave a number of interviews on the man; good man, no doubt, but he got it wrong because he got the wrong team, that is it. Not one single person to run the country, you need competent hands everywhere to get it going.

Did he consult with people like you before he made his appointments?
No, no. But if there had been sufficient guidance through consultations, a lot of the initial mistakes about the take-off could not have been avoided It is better to say that the team he has chosen to deal with the socio-economic challenges of this country was not quite well chosen and I think what happened was that the choice of the team was driven more by political patronage than really looking at the competence of people that will come and help the President and the government to run a more efficient system of administration.

How should the Federal Government respond to the renewed Biafra agitation?
Well, we should be mindful of the fact that the renewed agitation cannot be detached from the politics of Nigeria. It is not new and not different from normal politicking that has been taking place in Nigeria since independence.

Politics? Why lump the agitation with politics?
Biafra agitation arose from the Nigerian political process. It came from a power struggle in the First Republic, which culminated in the assassination of the First Republic leaders and the subsequent emergence of Ojukwu. Incidentally, it was Ojukwu, who suspected that the Igbo were being attacked whereas it was the Igbo who attacked Nigeria.

Attacked Nigeria? Is this revisionism or what? They were the ones being attacked in the North and they had to flee…
(Cuts in) It should be noted that Ojukwu, assisted by Igbo intellectuals, thought they should pocket the rest of Nigeria. Thus, the so-called Biafra agitation is rooted in the 1966 coup and I want to say that if people are still asking for Biafra almost 50 years after the civil war, then it is necessary for us to sit down and ask ourselves how we want the nation to be. That’s exactly what the Igbos are asking for – let’s sit down and discuss but it seems that is not falling on good ears? In dealing with the renewed Biafran agitation, the Federal Government should adhere strictly to the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution relating to the rule of law. Accordingly, the Federal Government should be firm in dealing with any individual or group trying to create problems for the rest of Nigeria under any guise.

Posted On Sunday, 04 June 2017 02:56 Written by

SPONSORED BY X365RADIO.COM: ABUJA-Presidency Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday told former President Goodluck Jonathan to be afraid of probe only if there is skeleton in his cupboard. The president also refuted claims that he was harassing the family of the former Nigerian leader in any way.

Buhari’s remarks followed an outburst by Jonathan in a new book, “Against The Run of Play”, written by the Chairman of ThisDay Editorial Board, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi that the present administration was hounding members of his family with its anti-corruption crusade.

In a statement by Buhari’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina on Wednesday, President Buhari told Jonathan that “fear belongs only to those who have abused trust while in office.” The president asked anyone with valuable grievances to approach the courts for redress.

The statement read thus: “The Presidency is constrained to respond to the banner headline story in a national newspaper of Wednesday, April 26, entitled: Buhari’s govt harassing my family, saying Jonathan. “The paper said former President Goodluck Jonathan made the allegation in a new book, “Against The Run of Play”, written by the Chairman of ThisDay Editorial Board, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi. “The former president also reportedly disagreed with the style being used by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in fighting corruption.

“We make bold to state unequivocally that President Buhari harasses nobody; he merely allows the law to take its course. For the umpteenth time, we say that anybody without skeleton in his or her cupboard, has nothing to fear about the bared fangs of the anti-corruption initiative. “Fear belongs only to those who have abused trust while in office. Anybody who feels aggrieved is free to approach the courts to seek redress or justice. President Buhari believes in the rule of law and that is why his campaign against corruption is anchored on that plank.

“With regard to President Buhari’s anti-graft style, which the former president deprecates, given the scale of revelations and recoveries so far by the anti-corruption agencies, it is obvious that corruption had an uninhibited course during our recent past. “In any case, time will give the verdict on whose style of fighting corruption ultimately yielded the most dividends. “For now, President Buhari is resolute and single-minded in the fact that his crusade against graft is not targeted at any individual or group. “He firmly believes that national interest must always be placed above personal interest, no matter who is involved.”

Posted On Thursday, 27 April 2017 02:34 Written by

SPONSORED BY X365RADIO.COM: ABUJA—AMIDST increasing concerns over the health status of President Muhammadu Buhari, indications emerged, yesterday, of his imminent return to the country, having reportedly finished with the extended medical tests his United Kingdom-based physicians ran on him.

The latest public declaration that the President is in fine fettle was given by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and Speaker Yakubu Dogara who, in separate tweets, acknowledged that the President is in fine shape. 

Also yesterday, a very close associate of the president, who had been in close touch with people around him, confirmed the positive news of his health, saying the President was expected to return any time from today. Meanwhile, President Buhari, yesterday, received two prominent leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande, in London. The assertions came as the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, in separate calls, also urged Nigerians to pray for the well-being of the President, asserting that as a human being, he is also prone to ill-health. A prominent official of government who also maintains a close personal and family relationship with the President, equally confirmed the well being of the President, yesterday. “I found out from the family and I was told that the tests had been carried out and it is being envisaged that he could come back anytime from tomorrow (today),” the public official, who spoke on the strict condition of anonymity, said. Another senior Presidency source spoke in the same vein, saying there is nothing holding the President back, though he could not give a clear date for his return.

The well being of the President was further accentuated by pictures of the President with APC leaders, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande, which Vanguard confirmed to have been taken yesterday afternoon. In one of the pictures, the President was sitted between the two party leaders in a sitting room and, in another, Buhari was sandwiched between the two men with all of them smiling.

Asserting that the President is hale and hearty, Saraki in a tweet at 11:35 p.m. on Wednesday, confirmed that he spoke with Buhari, adding that the President even cracked jokes with him during their discussion. Noting that he is happy to have interacted with the President, Saraki in his tweet, said: “Happy to have spoken with @NGRPresident @MBuhari tonight. He was in good spirit and joked about my working late into the night, as usual. – @Bukolasaraki on Twitter Wednesday 8th of February 2017, 11:35 pm.” Saraki’s assertion came three days after Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, also disclosed that the President is hale and hearty. Speaker Yakubu Dogara also went on Twitter, yesterday, to confirm speaking with Buhari, who he claimed professed his pains at the sufferings Nigerians endured last year and had as such, resolved to ensure a better life for the people. Dogara in his tweet said: “MBuhari called me yesterday evening. He talked about what the Executive/Legislature must do to ensure food security for all Nigerians. “He said he was pained by the suffering endured by most Nigerians last year and he is resolved not to let events of 2016 repeat themselves.  He also asked me to extend his best wishes to all Honourable members.” Ahead of the President’s return, the expectation was also being raised among APC members.

At the national secretariat of the party in Abuja, a big banner was placed inside the parking lot with the inscription, “Welcome Mr. President, Baba, Oyoyo” the banner produced by the National Youth Council of Nigeria, had pictures of Buhari and Youths and Sports Minister, Mr. Solomon Dalung. Pray for his quick recovery, CAN urges Nigerians Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, yesterday called on all Nigerians to pray for the quick recovery of the President and his safe return. In a statement by the Director of Legal and Public Affairs, Barr. Kwamkur Samuel, CAN  also called on the Presidency not to hide information from the people.

The statement read: “We wish to call on all Nigerians to join hands in prayers for the quick and full recovery of Mr. President and his safe return to Nigeria instead of dwelling on the needless rumour on the President’s health. “President Muhammadu Buhari is human, hence subject to health challenges sometimes. CAN appreciates the anxiety of Nigerians to hear Mr. President speak, but sues  for understanding as we await that. It is very clear that our leader is passing through health challenges. “We advise the Presidency to update Nigerians on how he is faring and the full progress of his recovery. “We call on all Christians and indeed, all God-fearing Nigerians to dedicate time of prayers for our President and the nation. We owe our leaders prayers and support at all times while shunning divisive opinions that only generate strife. “CAN also calls on Nigerians to give the Vice-President who is also the Acting President full support and prayers to lead well. “We acknowledge that government is a continuum. Hence, we call on Acting President, Professor  Yemi Osinbajo to be bold in handling critical state matters and not to be distracted by those who do not wish Nigeria well.” JNI condemns death-wish peddlers The Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, on its part, condemned those it said were wishing the President dead instead of praying for his full recovery. The JNI also termed those it said were calling for the resignation of Acting President  Osibanjo as “callous and mischievous.”

In a press statement  by its Secretary General, Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, the group said:  “JNI is, indeed, perturbed over the series of rumours making the rounds on the state of President Muhammadu Buhari’s health. “It should be, however, noted that as with every mortal, illness is inevitable, likewise life and death. Thus, JNI is very concerned about the pandemonium generated as a result of the rumoured illness of the President and the dimension it is unfortunately taking. ‘’ Does that mean he can no longer get ill? Agreed that reports from the Presidency stated that President Muhammadu Buhari is currently undergoing a cycle of tests as recommended by his doctors, hence the extension of his leave. “We must as patriots, be cautioned on spreading inaccurate information. More so, Muslims should be cautioned not to join the bandwagon of rumour-mongers. This is so because already some unpatriotic elements are wishing that the President is dead. Interestingly, those who wish him death will certainly not live till eternity. Aren’t we supposed to wish each other good well-being? Let alone, the President of the country? “Therefore, following the unnecessary excitement in the President’s delayed return to Nigeria, we implore all and sundry, particularly Muslims to persistently supplicate on daily basis for President Muhammadu Buhari’s safe return, restoration of good health and the ability to continue with the task of piloting Nigeria to greater heights with his team.

“In the same vein, we are all implored to fervently pray for the nation, the Vice President, governors and all those in positions of authority, for Allah’s guidance in the discharge of their respective duties. “We nonetheless, condemn in the strongest terms those calling for the resignation of Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as the Vice-President, Federal Republic of Nigeria. Whatever, the intent may be, we see such calls as callous, mischievous and unpatriotic. “ Moreover, why must that vacuum be created now, if not for sinister motives? We, therefore, call on all Jumu’ah Imams to include the matter in their respective Friday sermons tomorrow and beyond.”

Posted On Friday, 10 February 2017 01:38 Written by

SPONSORED BY X365RADIO.COM: Spokesperson to Gambia’s president elect Adama Barrow has said on sunday that Barrow’s inauguration must hold on Jan 19 unfailingly

“Jammeh’s term shall end on the 19th and the same date president-elect Barrow’s term begins. Nothing will change that. He will be sworn in and shall assume office on that date without fail,” as revealed by spokesman Mai Fatty, who accompanied Barrow to Dakar.

Barrow flew into Dakar as requested by West African leaders AFP reports.

Posted On Sunday, 15 January 2017 16:01 Written by

SPONSORED BY YES434.COM...THE BUSINESS DIRECTORY: ABUJA— THE new Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North),  said yesterday, that with his emergence on Tuesday, the animosity which had characterized the 8th Senate, which was inaugurated June 9, 2015 has been nipped in the bud.

Lawan noted that the atmosphere was tensed soon after the emergence of Dr Bukola Saraki as President of the Senate when members of the Senators Unity Forum, SUF, alleged injustice and felt that things must be put in their proper perspective, adding that now that there was compliance, there will be unity and peace in the Senate where the lawmakers will now focus on real legislative activities. Ahmad-Lawan He said: “The 8th Senate started on a shaky foundation. This Senate will end on a solid, stable and successful foundation. On the part of the SUF, we were never personal, we only felt that what ought to have been done was not done and if there is compliance now, there will be no animosity.”

Addressing journalists,  Lawan, who disclosed that he had no knowledge of his party and Senate decision to replace him with the immediate past Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, said what took place was an act of God, just as he called on his colleagues to cooperate with him in his new assignment to deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians. He further called on his colleagues on the need for collaboration to make life better for Nigerians by improving on security and ensuring economic growth.

The Senate had on Tuesday adopted the change in the leadership of the APC in the red chambers as it affirmed the replacement of Senator Ndume with Senator Lawan as the Senate Majority Leader.

Posted On Friday, 13 January 2017 23:40 Written by
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