Ent : Selena Gomez Reaches Out to Suicidal Fan With Touching Message “

The former ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’ star tells a fan who considers to kill themselves, ‘Before you think of taking your life, think of all the [lives] you could save.
Selena Gomez follows one of her online devotees who is apparently struggling with suicidal thoughts. She sends the fan a touching note about perseverance and love, and shares a screenshot of it to others to further spread the message.

By me following you is not me saying it’s ok to think these thoughts. It’s not me saying ‘hey you said sad things, so I’m going to follow you to make you feel better.’ God puts us in situations that are so unexplainably difficult for a reason,” she wrote.

There is someone in the world feeling so much, just like you,” she added. “People everyday feel so many emotions they wish they could turn it off. But that’s not why we are here. We are here for relationships, for people just like us who feel worthless.”

Your purpose is to share, help, encourage. Remember that. Please. Before you think of taking your life, think of all the [lives] you could save. I love you. More importantly there is a God that will love more than I ever could.”

I know I meant lives. I don’t care about grammar. I’m sorry I had to share. Every life is worth it !!!

Nigeria : Softly, Softly – Humanitarian Schemes to Counter Boko Haram”

Northeast Nigeria faces a double curse – Boko Haram and deep poverty. Now the government and some private philanthropists are deliberately linking the two by rolling out schemes to provide economic opportunities and humanitarian support as antidotes to militancy.

IRIN takes a look at some of these initiatives:

The Presidential Initiative for Northeast Nigeria (PINE)

PINE is basically a US$25 million* Marshall Plan for the region. It links security to social and economic interventions in a classic hearts-and-minds “soft power” strategy. It promises “immediate relief to affected states in the northeast while putting the region on a strong footing for economic resurgence and long-term sustainable viability”, says an overview document.

According to PINE, an estimated 5.9 million people are affected by the crisis: 4 million are food insecure; 1.5 million are displaced (a higher figure than the government’s disaster agency, MENA, uses); health facilities are closed; IDP host communities are stretched; and humanitarian access is severely limited. The violence has halted infrastructure projects, created massive unemployment and triggered the flight of skilled workers and traders south.

The short-term programme is aimed at humanitarian interventions through existing agencies – facilitating cash transfers, and fast tracking the completion of stalled federal projects.

Medium-term projects seek to revitalize agriculture, infrastructure, health and education. There are commitments to entrepreneurship and skills acquisition for youth and women. The PINE initiative is being implemented by the federal and state governments and driven by a committee with representatives from 20 ministries.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE)

This is an equally ambitious umbrella programme run out of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). The strategy has three streams:

· Counter radicalisation – focused on community engagement, economic and education-based projects to stem the flow of recruits to Boko Haram

· De-radicalisation – largely prison-based, to reintegrate extremists and their families back into society

· Strategic communication – producing a counter-narrative based on moderate Islamic views.

Forty convicted Boko Haram detainees and a much larger number still awaiting trial will be held in two purpose-built prisons with specially trained warders to oversee rehabilitation. The first facility is due to open in March.

To tackle the impact of violence, the CVE programme has built from scratch a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) capacity within the national health system. The first PTSD centre opened in the northern city of Kano in June 2014; a second is planned for Maiduguri in the northeast. The CVE is also pioneering education reforms to inject “critical thinking and logical reasoning” into the school curriculum. Twelve model schools have opened, and the programme will be expanded next year.

“The solutions are as complex as the reasons for radicalism,” Fatima Akilu, director of behavioral analysis at ONSA told IRIN. “We have to remake society to deal with terrorism – this is a lifetime’s work.”

Almajiri Education Programme (AEP)

Out of choice, millions of Muslim children in the north are schooled under the Almajiri system, where they are attached to a Koranic teacher (with maybe only a shaky understanding of the text) to learn by rote for years. The children support themselves and their mentor by begging, a mendicant tradition prone to abuse. It has also left the north educationally disadvantaged and the children susceptible to radicalisation.

At the beginning of 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan announced a programme to build 400 schools for Almajiri in Nigeria’s 19 northern states – getting children off the streets and into a formal education system.

The first model school was opened in the ancient Islamic city of Sokoto in April, providing both Islamic tuition and the regular Nigerian curriculum. By 2013 over 100 schools had been built under the AEP and handed to state education boards. But there has been controversy over the use of public money to fund essentially religious education.

Safe Schools Initiative (SSI)

In the wake of the abduction by Boko Haram of 200 school girls from the town of Chibok, the SSI was launched by the Nigerian government and international aid agencies. UN Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown worked with Nigerian and international business leaders to provide a starting donation of US$10 million, which was then matched by the Nigerian government.

SSI aims to rehabilitate and reconstruct schools, and create safe learning environments in the northeast. Improvements are as basic as providing fencing, sanitation, potable water, decent classrooms and teacher accommodation.

In his 2015 budget speech, Jonathan suggested that 2,400 children could be transferred from high-risk areas of the northeast to other parts of the country.

Civil society groups have questioned that proposal, and expressed concerns about the effort to provide better security for students and staff potentially leading to the militarisation of schools.

Terrorism Victims’ Support Fund

A fund-raising dinner in August 2014 secured US$400 million in pledges to support a presidential appeal to help those affected by Boko Haram. President Goodluck Jonathan kicked off proceedings by donating US$50 million in federal money.

The titans of Nigerian industry then stepped forward; Chairman of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia, set the tone by announcing only those donating a US$5 million or more would earn a presidential handshake. The Fund is chaired by billionaire shipping magnate Theophilus Danjuma.

Questions have been raised over what the fund has actually achieved. News reports suggest that despite the pledges made at the gala dinner, only US$70 million has actually been received.

The Fund’s website does not reveal any details of disbursements. The only vague reference to spending is a single sentence: “In the past year, kindness supported programmes that served over 700,000 people [in] 23 states.”

*Currency conversion based on the current Naira to dollar parallel rate. The Naira has depreciated by 25 percent since mid-2014 !!

Ent : Bill Cosby Cancels Boston Shows Over Weather Concerns, Vows To Return “

Bill Cosby has canceled his two Sunday night performances in Boston because of the weather, but he plans to return soon. In a statement, the comedian said, “I have decided to cancel for your travel safety. No need to worry, I will be back soon to raise the roof with laughter.

The two Boston shows were expected to be met with 200 to 300 protesters outside The Wilbur Theatre, which is nothing new for Cosby. The 77-year-old, who has been accused of sexual assault by over two dozen women, has encountered protests throughout his recent comedy tour. On a January stop in Canada, Cosby was heckled by the audience and met by protesters outside the show. Before canceling the Boston shows, the comedian released a statement saying he still plans to share his “gift” with audiences .

“Dear Fans: GOD has Blessed me with a wonderful gift to share with all of you. For 53 years I have continued to master this gift, which heals the soul and warms hearts. Laughter! I thank you, the theatre staff (Wilbur Theatre), the event organizers and the Boston Community for your continued support and coming to experience family, fun entertainment. Hey, Hey, Hey — I’m Far From Finished.”

Cosby released a similar statement last month before his two Denver shows, saying then that he was “far from finished.” He has also said before that he will continue to share his “gift” of comedy with “the world.”

The theater owner and promoter behind the Boston dates, Bill Blumenreich, said he had tried to cancel Cosby’s shows, but the comedian would only let him cancel seven of the nine that were planned.

“I tried to cancel all the shows,” Blumenreich told the Boston but I had a contract with the guy and, for these two shows, he’s holding me to the contract.” Thanks to the snow, the show has been canceled regardless, at least for now. It’s unknown whether the Boston dates will be rescheduled.

Multiple dates have been canceled on Cosby’s North American tour, but his official website still displays shows scheduled through the end of June!!!

Click here to support Surgery Twins Help ??? by Mercy Veli

Health : Ebola – Why Are We Blaming the Victims?

African culture” – cute if you’re a tourist, catastrophic when you want to put a lid on Ebola, or so some international health experts and media coverage of the outbreak would have us believe.

Why do people persist with risky funeral rites, eat Ebola-harbouring bush meat, and occasionally attack the very health workers sent to help, the news reports leave us wondering. What is the value of “traditional beliefs” when they are harmful: why can’t people just act more rationally?

The simple answer is; ask the communities. The growing number of researchers that do, find that people are acting as responsibly as they can in desperate circumstances. The lack of a properly functioning Ebola response and weak healthcare services has forced communities into rough and ready self-reliance. Faced with hotlines going unanswered, overcrowded Ebola Treatment Units (ETU), militarized quarantine areas, communities are actually looking for more information, not less.

“Communities will do the best they can given the resources they have, even if ‘un-cultural’, in moments of crisis in order to fight for a future,” a recent study exploring community responses in urban Liberia found. It noted community leaders want training so they can provide safe burials; young men are rallying to guard their neighborhoods against perceived threats; and some people, ill-advisedly, have improvised protection suits out of raincoats and plastic bags to nurse the sick.

They know, in theory, the best option is care in a hospital or ETU (although palliative care at home is tried first), the removal of sick individuals by health care teams, and proper burials. “But in the absence of open clinics and hospitals, residents are trying to assume responsibility for all aspects of healthcare in their local communities,” the study, Community-Centered Responses to Ebola in Urban Liberia, noted.

Remarkable resilience has been shown, that inadvertently can be a source of additional risk with such an infectious virus. Traumatizing decisions are made daily: do I abandon my child to die alone so the rest of my family can survive? Or, as one women quoted by researchers said: “It will be impossible that my child or husband is sick and I refused to touch them. I do not have the courage or heart to do that.”

Forget the fruit bats

The go-to-theory on Ebola’s origins, the link to bush meat and deforestation, has been found to be an oversimplification. Nevertheless, people are aware of the messaging – whether accurate or not.

In a study released this month in 25 villages in east and central Sierra Leone, the majority of respondents listed bush meat as the main culprit in the emergence of the virus by a large margin – with body-to-body contact and the washing of corpses at funerals as the main transmission routes.

Avoiding bush meat (or game, as it is known in the rest of the world) has hurt rural livelihoods and this “inaccurate sensitization, which jarred with people’s experiences, [has been] met with suspicion”, a briefing paper by Annie Wilkinson and Melissa Leach of the Institute of Development Studies found. It is people-to-people transmission, not fruit bats, that is the problem.

The initial communication slogan was “Ebola is real” – few people now have any doubt. “But community health messaging is essentially failing to provide the kinds of ‘higher order’, practical information and training that communities are desperate for – ‘How do I manage a family of children, including infants and toddlers, in quarantine?’ ‘How do I transport someone to a hospital or clinic without promoting infection?’ … ‘What does my community do with an exposed and infectious body when the health teams do not come to collect it?’,” the Liberia study found.

Culture is adaptable. New ways are being found for safe funerals to be held that maintain the dignity of the departed, and allow those left behind to show their respect and compassion.

Don’t insult

Fatou Mbow is a medical specialist working in Guinea, exploring the idea that when communities understand the disease, there is a better behavioral response. Working with the government and Save the Children, she holds question-and-answer sessions with groups most at risk – including healthcare staff, traditional healers and transport workers.

“The content of Ebola communication is really about do’s and don’ts, but it’s rare to see an explanation as to why, or to address what at times is the inconsistency,” she told IRIN. “You are told to come to the ETUs, but you are also told there is no treatment for Ebola; a big fuss is understandably made about corpses, but nobody explains why they are so infectious, more than with other diseases, so people are confused, at times suspicious.”

She finds “troubling” the novelty of her team’s work. The fact that “we didn’t start with this level of explaining is insulting”. She was asked by one snooty aid official whether communities can understand the science of Ebola, yet finds the questions raised in her meetings “completely rational”.

Cyvette Gibson, mayor of Paynesville, a sprawling suburb east of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, admits that in the initial stages of the outbreak the “messages were unclear; we weren’t even sure if they were accurate”. Central government also ignored local authorities, limiting the reach of the communication strategy; the top-down approach further weakened its impact.

“Local government has a relationship with the community, information wasn’t reaching the local level because the right tools were not being used,” Gibson explained. “The thing is to continue dialoguing. I really feel that’s the only way this virus can leave us, if we deal with it at that local level.”

Ebola has exposed the crisis of governance in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone; and the inadequacy of the international response. Local action and ingenuity cannot be a substitute for an effective epidemic control strategy. Communities dealing alone with the fear and confusion of the disease “are not empowered, they are desperate,” noted the Liberia study !!!

Nigeria : Generals, Senior Officers Arrested Over Boko Haram’s Takeover of Baga “

A Brigadier General, Enitan Ransome-Kuti, his Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel G.A. Suru and some other senior officers have been arrested by the authorities of the Nigerian military over their failure to repel the attack on the headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force [MNJTF] in Baga.

Mr. Ransome-Kuti, the Commander of the Multi-National Joint Task Force, MNJTF, his Chief of Staff and the other senior officers were detained shortly after they arrived Maiduguri from Monguno where they and their troops took refuge after they were dislodged from Baga.

The arrest of the officers was exclusively disclosed to PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday by reliable military insiders who requested not to be named as they were not authorised to speak on the issue.

Also arrested, our sources said, are the Commanding Officers of the 134 and 174 Battalions — a Lieutenant Colonel Haruna and a Major Aliyu. The two battalions are under the MNJTF but were also dislodged from their locations during the Boko Haram offensive of January 3.

These senior officers, now being held in the officers’ mess of the 21 Armoured Brigade, Maiduguri, were arrested over their inability to repel the Baga attack in spite of the weapons in their arsenal. They have also been asked to account for the weapons lost to the insurgents.

Mr. Aliyu is an acting commanding officer of the 134 battalion. PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the substantive commanding officer of the battalion, a Lieutenant Colonel Etang is already facing court-martial following a previous attack on his battalion on November 5, 2014.

Our sources said military authorities are disappointed that the attack on Baga was not repelled by troops of both battalions and the MNJTF headquarters despite all weapons made available to them.

The sources said the military authorities are especially angry with Mr. Ransome-Kuti for his inability to lead his troop to counter the Boko Haram onslaught despite the high calibre weapons and ammunition made available to his formation.

The Brigadier General is also send to have gone underground for four days after the MNJTF was dislodged.

“Nobody was able to reach him and nobody could tell where he was,” one of our sources said. “The suspicion is that he was roaming around Maiduguri in mufti while his troop were in disarray. He and his officers have to account for everything.”

Also, the Brigade Commander of the 5 Brigade, a Brigadier General Yekini, who was injured in the Monguno attack on Sunday, is yet to be arrested because he is still receiving treatment for injuries sustained during the attack, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

He has been placed under close watch in his hospital bed, and might be fully detained once he ps discharged from hospital, our sources said.

However, Defence spokesperson, Chris Olukolade, declined to confirm or deny the arrests.

He however said it is not unusual for the military to hold officers accountable for the tasks assigned to them.

“Every officer who is given a mission must be made accountable for his performance, and that is not necessarily an indictment on the officer; at least until investigations are concluded,” Mr. Olukolade, a Major General, said.

Suspected members of the Boko Haram sect had on January 3 attacked the base of the Multi-National Joint Task Force, MNJTF, in Baga, Borno State, dislodging the soldiers.

A senior security official said the attack which started at about 5 a.m. was one of the fiercest in recent times as soldiers battled to hold their grounds without much success.

The MNJTF was created by defense and military chiefs from the six countries that make up the Lake Chad Basin Commission to combat arms trafficking, terrorism and related cross-border attacks that have continued to rise in the region.

Boko Haram terrorists see the existence of the MNJTF as a major threat to their operations, hence their continued attack on the base and the town with a view to having full control of the area.

In the last two years, Baga town has suffered five major attacks with high casualty – the latest being that of November 2014 when Boko Haram terrorists ambushed fishermen returning from a night fishing expedition and slit the throats of 43 of them.

The terrorists also launched three different attacks on Borno’s three largest towns – Maiduguri, Konduga and Monguno on Sunday. While the attacks on Maiduguri and Konduga were repelled by the Nigerian military, Monguno fell to the the insurgents.

On Monday, PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported how, despite warning troops to remain on alert, the leadership of the 5 Brigade failed to take the necessary steps and make the right deployment of men and equipment to check the imminent attack.

The troops were indeed warned to be at alert following intelligence report that terrorists would strike between January 22 and 25.

Despite the warnings, when the terrorists arrived on Sunday, the troops were taken by surprise.

Military insiders said the insurgents arrived at about 2 am on Sunday, parking their Hilux vans deep into the bush, with their headlights on.

Soldiers of the Brigade, who saw the unusual lights, began to shoot in the direction of the vans without knowing that the insurgents had left the vans and advanced close to the Brigade headquarters.

Suddenly, the insurgents began to shoot sporadically. The troop of the Brigade, including those of the Multinational Joint Task Force [MJTF], who were camped at a school inside the barracks after they were dislodged from Baga, engaged the terrorists in a long exchange of gunfire.

The biggest fighting tank owned by the brigade, known as “shika,” killed several insurgents, and wounded several others.

It was such a long battle that the equipment, which provided cover for ground troops, suddenly ran out of ammunition and began to withdraw.

As it withdrew, the rifle men behind also retreated, as the insurgents followed in pursuit. In the process, Brigade Commander, Mr. Yekini and a few other soldiers were wounded. It is not clear the number of soldiers and while 53 insurgents were killed in the attacks.

“We could have overpowered the insurgents, but there was no enough ammunition,” an officer, who participated in the battle !!!

Health : Ebola outbreak: Virus mutating, scientists warn “

Scientists tracking the Ebola outbreak
in Guinea say the virus has mutated.
Researchers at the Institut Pasteur in
France, which first identified the outbreak
last March, are investigating whether it
could have become more contagious.
More than 22,000 people have been
infected with Ebola and 8,795 have died in
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Scientists are starting to analyse hundreds
of blood samples from Ebola patients in
They are tracking how the virus is
changing and trying to establish whether
it’s able to jump more easily from person
to person
“We know the virus is changing quite a
lot,” said human geneticist Dr Anavaj
“That’s important for diagnosing (new
cases) and for treatment. We need to
know how the virus (is changing) to keep
up with our enemy.”
It’s not unusual for viruses to change over
a period time. Ebola is an RNA virus – like
HIV and influenza – which have a high rate
of mutation. That makes the virus more
able to adapt and raises the potential for
it to become more contagious.
“We’ve now seen several cases that don’t
have any symptoms at all, asymptomatic
cases,” said Anavaj Sakuntabhai.
“These people may be the people who can
spread the virus better, but we still don’t
know that yet. A virus can change itself to
less deadly, but more contagious and
that’s something we are afraid of.”
But Professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist
at the University of Nottingham, says it’s
still unclear whether more people are
actually not showing symptoms in this
outbreak compared with previous ones.
“We know asymptomatic infections
occur… but whether we are seeing more
of it in the current outbreak is difficult to
ascertain,” he said.
“It could simply be a numbers game, that
the more infection there is out in the
wider population, then obviously the
more asymptomatic infections we are
going to see .

Another common concern is that while
the virus has more time and more “hosts”
to develop in, Ebola could mutate and
eventually become airborne.
There is no evidence to suggest that is
happening, however. The virus is still only
passed through direct contact with
infected people’s body fluids.
“At the moment, not enough has been
done in terms of the evolution of the virus
both geographically and in the human
body, so we have to learn more. But
something has shown that there are
mutations,” said Institut Pasteur virologist
Noel Tordo.
“For the moment the way of transmission
is still the same. You just have to avoid
contact (with a sick person)”
“But as a scientist you can’t predict it
won’t change. Maybe it will.”
Researchers are using a method called
genetic sequencing to track changes in the
genetic make-up of the virus. So far they
have analysed around 20 blood samples
from Guinea. Another 600 samples are
being sent to the labs in the coming
A previous similar study in Sierra Leone
showed the Ebola virus mutated
considerably in the first 24 days of the
outbreak, according to the World Health
It said: “This certainly does raise a lot of
scientific questions about transmissibility,
response to vaccines and drugs, use of
convalescent plasma.
“However, many gene mutations may not
have any impact on how the virus
responds to drugs or behaves in human
‘Global problem’
The research in Paris will also help give
scientists a clearer insight into why some
people survive Ebola, and others don’t.
The survival rate of the current outbreak
is around 40%.
It’s hoped this will help scientists
developing vaccines to protect people
against the virus.
Researchers at the Institut Pasteur are
currently developing two vaccines which
they hope will be in human trials by the
end of the year.
One is a modification of the widely used
measles vaccine, where people are given
a weakened and harmless form of the
virus which in turn triggers an immune
response. That response fights and
defeats the disease if someone comes
into contact with it.

The idea, if it proves successful, would be
that the vaccine would protect against
both measles and Ebola.
“We’ve seen now this is a threat that can
be quite large and can extend on a global
scale,” said Professor James Di Santo, and
immunologist at the Institut.
“We’ve learned this virus is not a problem
of Africa, it’s a problem for everyone.”
He added: “This particular outbreak may
wane and go away, but we’re going to
have another infectious outbreak at some
point, because the places where the virus
hides in nature, for example in small
animals, is still a threat for humans in the
The best type of response we can think
of is to have vaccination of global
populations !!

World : 5,000-year-old city found in Turkey “

A 5,000-year-old underground city has been discovered in a historical area in the central Turkish province of Nevşehir.
The ancient underground settlement, discovered in the country’s central Angolia region in Cappadocia area, is thought to be the largest of its kind in the world.
The head of Turkey’s housing development administration, Mehmet Ergün Turan, said the discovery was made during preparations for a housing project in the area.
It is not a known underground city. Tunnel passages of seven kilometers are being discussed. We stopped the construction we were planning to do on these areas when an underground city was discovered,” Turan said.
About 44 artifacts have so far been taken from the site by the administration for preservation. Turkey’s Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Board has also officially registered the area.
According to Hasan Unver, a local mayor near the area where the city was found, previous discoveries were nothing more than a “kitchen” compared to the recent city.
Experts say the Cappadocia region, once a Roman province, was suitable for constructing underground cities because of its soft volcanic rocks.
The most well-known underground settlement in Turkey’s central region is called Derinkuyu, a multi-leveled city that is large enough to house thousands of people !!

News : CBS suspends sports analyst Greg Anthony after his arrest “

CBS Sports basketball analyst Greg Anthony has been suspended indefinitely by the network, a CBS spokesperson said on Saturday, a day after he was arrested in Washington, D.C., on a charge of soliciting prostitution.

“Greg Anthony will not be working again for CBS this season,” the spokesperson said in an email.

Anthony, 47, was arrested Friday evening after making an agreement for sexual favors, according to Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department.

He was booked into jail and released, Officer Hugh Carew said.

Anthony issued an apology on Saturday to his wife, family and colleagues, saying he made a mistake.

“With this lapse of judgment, I embarrassed many, including myself,” he said. “I will work to regain the trust that I have lost, and the first step is saying that I am sorry.”

Anthony played 11 seasons in the National Basketball Association before joining CBS in 2008 as lead studio analyst for the network’s college basketball coverage, according to his network biography.

He previously played on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas team that won the national college championship in 1990. He was drafted into the NBA in 1991 by the New York Knicks.

He had been scheduled to work CBS’ broadcast of the Michigan State-Maryland basketball game in College Park, Maryland, on Saturday. (Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and James Dalgleish !!!

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