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UK Electoral Commission  investigates Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat renovations

The Electoral Commission has launched an investigation into the funding of works on Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat, the official residence of the British Prime Minister.

According to the BBC report, the spending watchdog said there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”.

The Prime Minister is under growing pressure to declare how refurbishments were paid for after his ex-adviser said there was a plan for donors to “secretly pay”.

Mr Johnson told MPs he had covered the revamp “personally”, but would not say who had paid the initial bill.

And, speaking at the government’s Covid press conference, Health Secretary Matt Hancock repeatedly refused to comment on the funding of the refurbishment, urging the media to “concentrate on the big things that really matter”.

“What is the row over Boris Johnson’s flat about?

“What are the rules governing political donations?
PM: I didn’t make ‘bodies pile high’ remark
The prime minister receives an annual public grant of £30,000 to carry out renovations to his Downing Street flat each year – but newspaper reports suggest the bill for the latest renovations could be as high as £200,000.

In its investigation, the commission – the independent watchdog regulating UK political finance – will assess the Conservative Party’s compliance with laws on political donations.

It will examine whether any spending on the flat falls within its remit and if it was published as required.

The commission can impose fines if breaches are found, or pass on allegations to the police if it sees fit.

During fraught exchanges at Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer pushed Mr Johnson to explain who had paid the initial invoice for renovations – asking whether it was the taxpayer, the Conservative Party, a private donor or Mr Johnson himself.

He accused the government of being “mired in sleaze, cronyism and scandal”.

But Mr Johnson replied: “The answer is I have covered the costs… I conformed in full with the code of conduct and officials have kept advising me through this whole thing.”

The Treasury has revealed that Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Mr Johnson’s neighbour in Downing Street, also redecorated his flat last year, saying the costs were paid “upfront and entirely at his own expense”.

“Baffling” – that is one cabinet source’s verdict on how No 10 is handling the allegations about the renovations of the Downing Street flat.

Matt Hancock repeatedly wouldn’t engage in questions on the matter at Wednesday’s press conference.

And Boris Johnson wouldn’t answer the central question in the Commons earlier during a session of Prime Minister’s Questions, where he looked more red-faced and furious than can be recalled.

The question is a simple one. Who paid the bill for the Downing Street flat makeover at the start?

And for as long as the PM won’t answer that, the question will be asked again, and again, and again.

No 10 has also confirmed the appointment of a new independent adviser on ministers’ interests.

Crossbench peer Lord Geidt will take up the role, unfilled for five months since the resignation of Sir Alex Allan in November 2020.

Sir Alex quit after Mr Johnson rejected his finding that Home Secretary Priti Patel had broken the ministerial code over bullying allegations.

Downing Street also confirmed Lord Geidt would carry out his own inquiry into the funding of the renovations and “advise the prime minister on any further registration of interests that may be needed”.

However, the prime minister’s spokesman later said Mr Johnson “remains the ultimate arbiter” of the ministerial code – setting out rules of conduct – and would decide whether to accept or reject any findings.

The prime minister’s former senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, claimed last week that Mr Johnson had once planned to have donors “secretly pay” for the work on his flat.

He described the move as “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal” and said the PM “almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended”.

No 10 has refused to say whether the prime minister initially received a loan to cover the costs, but Downing Street has insisted the prime minister “acted in accordance with the appropriate codes of conduct and electoral law”.

Refusing to answer questions on the flat at the Covid press conference, Mr Hancock said: “It is important that there are questions, and there were endless questions in the House of Commons earlier on some of the issues that you raise, and you will have seen the appointment of Lord Geidt earlier.

“But you have also got to concentrate on the big things that really matter”

The UK  Electoral Commission was established in 2001.

It is an independent body that regulates political finance in the UK, including donations to political parties.
Parties, campaigners, and other groups are required to report donations and loans over a certain amount – which are then published.

The watchdog monitors whether the rules are being followed and has powers to ensure they are enforced.

As well as being able to refer investigations to the police, it can hand out its own sanctions under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

It can issue investigation notices, disclosure orders and can carry out interviews – as well as impose fines of up to £20,000, which can increase if payments are late.

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Chinese intercepted 7,200 penis shipment from Nigeria is false—-AFP Fact Check.


A story making the rounds on social media about 7,200 harvested human penis shipments intercepted by Chinese Customs in China has been proven to be fallacious.
According to AFP Fact Check, the false story emanated from World News Daily Report ( WNDR), a satirical website known for its hoax stories.

“A story that has been shared multiple times on social media, including WhatsApp, claims that thousands of human penises shipped from Nigeria in a refrigerated container were intercepted in China.
” The claim is false; the story originated on a satirical website, and the accompanying photo was published in an article about a pangolin seizure in 2020.”
AFP fact check further revealed that the article was first published by World News Daily Report (WNDR) on March 19, 2021, according to data provided by social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle.
It has been shared nearly 700 times on Facebook and reposted by online news sites including Naija Tell, The Podium, Gbetu TV, Town Crier, and Sundiata Post.

“This article surfaced about a year after AFP Fact Check debunked a different story from the same satirical website, whose slogan is  “facts don’t matter”.

AFP Fact Check found that the recent article from WNDR was shared online by several social media accounts known for promoting the activities of Nigeria’s separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

The Biafra separatist group has been pushing for an independent state in southeastern Nigeria since 1970, which has resulted in repeated clashes with Nigeria’s security forces and heightened tensions in the region.

In the false Facebook post taken on April 12th,2021, the author of the fake Facebook account said:
“This is What Our Leader IPOB Mazi Nnamdi Kanu Was Saying….That Nigeria Security Agencies …Esp The DSS And SARS Arrest Our People, kill them and Harvest Their organs and Sell to Chinese…..(sic),”
 reads the caption of a post on this Facebook account.

SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) is the disbanded Nigerian police unit accused of extrajudicial killings. DSS (Department of State Services) refers to Nigeria’s secret police.

“If there is any proof needed for this allegation…this is it….Security Agencies In Nigeria Esp SARS Unit Funded by the British Are Predators!” the caption continues.

WNDR’s story was also published on WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as on Twitter. Twitter user Savn Daniel previously shared a claim about the supply of French weapons to Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram that AFP Fact Check debunked.

This recent article has also circulated in other African countries, including Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“However, the entire story is fabricated”, the AFP Fact Check revealed.

The World News Daily Report is a satirical website, which it explains in a disclaimer in its “About Us” section.

 The site assumes “all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content.”

In the disclaimer section of the satirical website, it says “all characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle.”

Although the photo used in the fictitious article was taken in China, it is unrelated to the story’s purported seizure.

AFP Fact Check ran a Bing reverse image search and found the picture in a 2020 report on the website of China’s customs agency. The report details a joint customs operations interception of 820 kilograms of pangolin scales that were smuggled into the country.

Screenshot of the website of Chinese customs, taken on April 12, 2021 states
“Customs seizes suspected smuggled pangolin scales at a logistics warehouse,” reads the Chinese caption of the photo translated into English.

Another reverse image search of the other image in the WNDR article led to a photo of four uniformed men that was published through stock photography agency Alamy on April 15, 2019.

“Vice Minister of the General Administration of Customs of China (GAC) Hu Wei (2nd L) speaks at a press conference in Beijing, capital of China, April 15, 2019,” reads the caption on the photo without identifying the other three people.

Furthermore, AFP’s journalist in Hong Kong confirmed that none of the names plaques in front of the four Chinese officials read “Li Wu”, who was identified as the customs spokesman in the satirical article.

As of April 13, 2021, the spokesman for the General Administration of Customs of China is Li Kuiwen, according to a Chinese state-owned Xinhua news agency.

The purported spokesman of Chinese Customs who made the revelation, Li Wu, does not exist.
Facts about World News Daily Report(WNDR)
World News Daily Report (WNDR) is a satirical fake news website purporting to be an American Jewish Zionist newspaper based in Tel Aviv and dedicated to covering biblical archeology news and other mysteries around the Globe.
It is headquartered in Quebec, Canada.
The site, which was launched in November 2023, is run by Canadians Janick Murray-Hall and Olivier Legault and follows the old-school tabloid-style faux-journalism of its predecessors, such as the Weekly World News. reports that the website perpetrates hoaxes and rumors to prey on credulous readers.
The website combines religious and scientific fakery, political conspiracy theories, and “the occasional seed of truth” to create its false reports.

The Washington Post describes the World News Daily Report as a website that “delights in inventing items about foreigners, often Muslims, having sex with or killing animals”

The website carries this disclaimer: “WNDR assumes however all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website even those based on real people are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle.”

The editors of the satirical website have said of the site, the “site was intended to encourage self-criticism, but it is people’s fault if they wanted to believe fake stories.
“The people who take it seriously are people who want to take it seriously. It’s stupid to say, but… We preach to converts. The majority of people who share it understand that it’s a joke, and others share it because they want to believe it, not because they really believe in it… You can invent everything and anything and people will believe it.
“Honestly, it’s a little disturbing when you realise that. As long as you confirm what they want to believe, they will share it. If you go against their opinion, they will immediately think that this is false news. But if you go in the direction of their opinion, they will share it right away. They lose their critical spirit.”
 “our main goal is to have fun with this medium, but we still want to get a message through. It is a criticism of sensationalism in the media”

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Twitter dumps Nigeria  —–sites African operations headquarters in Ghana

Eyeswitness reporter

The Internet giant, Twitter, has chosen Ghana ahead of Nigeria as the headquarters of its African operations.
The preference for Ghana was despite the over 2.5 million users of Twitter in Nigeria, which is about the third-largest in the continent after Egypt and South Africa.

The Twitter Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Jack Dorsey, confirmed this on Monday, saying, “Twitter is now present on the continent. Thank you, Ghana, and Nana Akufo Addo.”

“The choice of Ghana as Headquarters for Twitter’s Africa operations is excellent news. The government and Ghana welcome very much this announcement and the confidence reposed in our country,” Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo also tweeted on Monday.

In a release, Twitter reinstated that its mission is to serve the public conversation, and it’s essential, for the world and for Twitter, to increase the number of people who feel comfortable participating in it.

It said, “Today, in line with our growth strategy, we’re excited to announce that we are now actively building a team in Ghana.

“To truly serve the public conversation, we must be more immersed in the rich and vibrant communities that drive the conversations taking place every day across the African continent.

“As a champion for democracy, Ghana is a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate.

 Furthermore, Ghana’s recent appointment to host The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area aligns with our overarching goal to establish a presence in the region that will support our efforts to improve and tailor our service across Africa.

“Whenever we enter new markets, we work hard to ensure that we are not just investing in the talent that we hire, but also investing in local communities and the social fabric that supports them.

“We have already laid foundations through partnerships with Amref Health Africa in Kenya, Afrochella in Ghana, Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) in Nigeria, and The HackLab Foundation in Ghana

” As part of our long-term commitment to the region, we’ll continue to explore compelling ways we can use the positive power of Twitter to strengthen our communities through employee engagement, platform activation, and corporate giving.

“We still have much to learn but we are excited to listen, learn, and engage. Public conversation is essential to solving problems, building shared ideas, and pushing us all forward together. We can’t wait for the next step on that journey.”

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Egypt holds Even Given over Suez canal blockage —-seeks $1bn compensation from shipowner 


Over two weeks after the giant Even-Given container ship was unstuck and refloated after a  week of blocking the Suez canal channel, the Egyptian authorities were asking the owner of the vessel to pay  $1 billion compensation before the vessel could be released.
Egyptian authorities said that they wouldn’t release the massive ship until its owners agree to pay the compensation.
“The vessel will remain here until investigations are complete and compensation is paid,” Lt. Gen. Osama Rabie, who leads the Suez Canal Authority, told a local news station, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“We hope for a speedy agreement,” he said, adding that the “minute they agree to compensation, the vessel will be allowed to move.”

Rabie said that Egyptian authorities would demand $1 billion to cover the costs of freeing the vessel.

The figure will cover the expense of the equipment and machinery used to clear the way, damage to the canal itself by the dredging, and compensate around 800 people who worked to release the 200,000-ton ship, Rabei said.

It will also refund the costs from the blocking of the canal, which ended up causing an epic traffic jam of more than 400 ships on either side of the channel.
Rabie did not say how exactly he arrived at that figure.

According to London-based financial firm Revenitiv, the Egyptian state lost transit fees worth $95 million because of the blockage.

It is also still unclear who will pay for Egypt’s demand for compensation.

 Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the Japanese owner of the Ever Given, told the Wall Street Journal that it hadn’t officially heard from the Egyptian authorities.
Eric Hsieh, the president of Evergreen Marine Corp, the charterer of Ever Given, said that the company is “free of responsibility from cargo delays” because “it will be covered by insurance,” Bloomberg reported.

The 1,300-foot Ever Given made headlines on March 23 when an unexpected wind storm caused it to steer off course and get lodged in the sandbanks of the Suez Canal, disrupting global trade. It was freed six days later.

Egypt has since opened a formal investigation into how the vessel got stuck in the first place.
The ship, its cargo, and the 25-person Indian crew of sailors will remain at anchor in Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake until the investigation is over. Earlier this month, authorities told Insider that the crew of the ship is safe and will continue getting paid.

Rabie said that he would prefer to settle the matter of compensation outside of court, although he didn’t rule out a lawsuit.
“We could agree on a certain compensation, or it goes to court,” he said, according to CNBC. “If they decide to go to court, then the ship should be held.”

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