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Biden to announce first cabinet appointments Tuesday

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US President-elect Joe Biden will name his first cabinet picks on Tuesday, his chief of staff said, even as Donald Trump clung to unsubstantiated claims of fraud despite growing dissent from within his own party.
Biden has pushed ahead with preparations to assume the presidency on January 20, regardless of Trump’s bid to undo the results of the November vote.
“You are going to see the first of the president-elect’s cabinet picks on Tuesday,” Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
Several US news organizations, including Bloomberg and The New York Times, reported that the president-elect will nominate seasoned diplomat and long-time aide Antony Blinken as secretary of state.
Biden also said last week he had already decided his pick for the key position of Treasury Secretary.
US media also widely reported he will name Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who served as assistant secretary of state for Africa under President Barack Obama, as his UN ambassador.
A growing number of Republicans have either recognized Biden’s victory or at least urged the General Services Administration — the usually low-profile agency that manages the federal bureaucracy — to release federal funds for the Biden transition.
With Trump refusing to acknowledge the election outcome, Biden and his top aides have been denied briefings on sensitive domestic and foreign policy issues — most urgently the coronavirus pandemic battering the country.
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who in 2016 advised the Trump transition, said on ABC that the president’s legal team was a “national embarrassment.”
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, another prominent Republican, told CNN that Trump was making the country look like a “banana republic,” later tweeting the president should “stop golfing and concede.”
Trump has golfed on every weekend day since the election, though he took part virtually in the conference of the G20 leading economies this weekend — skipping a Saturday session on the pandemic.
And even Representative Devin Nunes, an ardent Trump loyalist, conceded backhandedly on Fox News that Biden had “run a successful campaign from a basement.”
Trump again tweeted on Sunday about “massive numbers of fraudulent ballots,” a claim dismissed by a long list of judges in several states.
Appearances by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have drawn mockery, as have claims by another former member of his legal team, Sidney Powell.
Powell has alleged baseless conspiracy theories involving a possible hack of the election, earning her widespread derision but also praise from some of Trump’s most ardent supporters.
Giuliani announced Sunday that Powell had been dropped from the team.
Trump’s latest legal setback came Saturday, when Pennsylvania judge Matthew Brann threw out the president’s fraud claims in a scathing judgment.
Pennsylvania was a must-win state, and flipped to Biden after backing Trump in 2016.
Brann’s ruling paved the way for Pennsylvania to certify Biden’s victory in the state.
Biden won the state-by-state Electoral College votes that ultimately decide who takes the White House by 306 to 232.
The Electoral College is due to formally vote on December 14 before state certification.
State certification of popular vote results in presidential elections is usually routine.
But Trump’s refusal to concede has raised concerns that he could cause long-term damage to public trust in the voting system that underlies US democracy.
The judgment in Pennsylvania came hours after Republicans also requested a delay in certification in Michigan, another battleground state won by Biden.

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Nigerians To Pay More For Beverages, Sweetened Drinks As FG Enforces Sugar Tax

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The Federal Government has commenced the implementation of the N10 per litre sugar tax on carbonated sugar drinks and beverages.

According to the Chief Superintendent of Customs, Department of Excise, Free Trade Zone and Industrial Incentives, Dennis Ituma, the tax would help combat Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).

He spoke at a Policy Breakfast Meeting which held in Abuja this weekend.

The event was organised by the National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR) to proffer ways to implement tax and other interventions to reduce consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) in Nigeria.

The implementation is coming despite pleas by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and some related stakeholders who asked the government to halt the policy introduced in the Finance Act, signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 31, 2021.

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In a statement, the Coalition Representative of the 12-member NASR, Omei Bongos-Ikwue, quoted  the Customs official as saying the services had commenced.

“The N10 per litre of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages has been implemented on June 1, by July 21, all excise duties must have been collected and paid into the federation account. It should interest you that taxation on SSBs was a policy of the Federal Government in 1984 but was stopped in January 2009.

“Previously both SSBs, alcoholic drinks and tobacco were all taxed until 2009 when SSBs was removed from taxable beverages,” he said.

Members of the NASR are Diabetes Association of Nigeria, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Nigeria Cancer Society, Breast Without Spot, Lafiya Wealth Initiative, TalkHealth9ja, Nigeria Health Watch, Project PINK BLUE, Sustainable Development Initiative, African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD), Bundies Care Initiative, and Nigerian Heart Foundation.

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Ekweremadu: Immigration says Ukpo birthday certificate shows he’s 21 not 15

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Birth certificate of Ekweremadu ‘kidney donor’ shows he’s 21, says immigration

The Nigeria Immigration Service says David Ukpo, the “kidney donor” at the centre of the organ harvesting allegation against Ike Ekweremadu, is 21 years old — not 15.

Spokesman for the NIS, Amos Okpu, disclosed this in a statement released on Sunday.

Okpu said the birth certificate presented by Ukpo during his international passport registration showed that he is 21 years old.

Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, were arrested last Thursday and arraigned in court for allegedly bringing a child to the UK for organ harvesting.

They were subsequently remanded in custody till July 7 while investigations are still ongoing.

The senator had written to the UK high commission to support a visa application of a “donor”.

Although the UK police said the donor was 15, Ukpo was listed as 21 years old on his international passport and the Bank Verification Number (BVN) portal.

The immigration spokesman said the birth certificate issued by the National Population Commission (NPC) and the national identity number (NIN) slip presented by Ukpo indicated that he is 21.

He explained that Ukpo’s date of birth was listed as October 12, 2000 — meaning he will be 22 years old in October 2022.

“The facts of the matter concerning the case above, therefore, are that the said Mr David Ukpo Nwamina applied and paid for the enhanced standard passport using the NIS portal after which he approached the Gwagwalada Passport Office, FCT Abuja, on the 2nd November 2021 for his interview,” the statement reads.

“To support his application, Mr. Nwamina presented all the necessary documents required, including his National Population Commission (NPC) issued Birth Certificate, showing 12 October, 2000, as his date of birth; his National Identity Number (NIN) corroborating the date of birth on his birth certificate, issued by NIMC; a letter of introduction issued by Ebonyi State Government Liaison Office situated at Maitama District Abuja, and a Guarantor’s form duly signed by one Mr. Uchechukwu Chukwuma Ogbonno.
“In view of the above, the general public may wish to be informed that the date of birth, or any other information for that matter, on any Nigerian passport is printed on the document only after a thorough vetting process that involves both physical and forensic examination of the applicant’s breeder documents. Mr. Nwamina’s case, therefore, was not different.”

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South African police investigate death of 20 in nightclub 

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South African police are investigating the deaths of at least 20 people at a nightclub in the coastal town of East London early Sunday morning.

According to AP, it is unclear what led to the deaths of the young people, who were reportedly attending a party to celebrate the end of winter school exams.

Local newspaper Daily Dispatch reported that bodies were strewn across tables and chairs without any visible signs of injuries.

“At this point we cannot confirm the cause of death,” said health department spokesperson Siyanda Manana.

“We are going to conduct autopsies as soon as possible to establish the probable cause of death. The deceased have been taken to state mortuaries,” Manana added.

The owner of the club, Siyakhangela Ndevu, told local broadcaster eNCA that he had been called to the scene early Sunday morning.

“I am still uncertain about what really happened, but when I was called in the morning I was told the place was too full and that some people were trying to force their way into the tavern,” he said.

“However, we will hear what the police say about the cause of death,” Ndevu added.

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