Guard democracy, Atiku tells Nigerians

atiku-apc

As the nation cel­ebrates 15 years of uninterrupted representative government today, for­mer Vice President and APC chieftain, Atiku Abubakar, has appealed to Nigerians to collec­tively protect the coun­try’s democracy, which was attained after years of struggle to end military rule in Nigeria.

Atiku in his Democracy Day message recalled the selfless contributions of the acclaimed winner of June 12, 1993 presidential elec­tion, MKO Abiola, his late wife,Kudirat Abiola, hu­man right activist,

Gani Fawehinmi and the former Attorney General of the Federation,Bola Ige and urged Nigerians to em­ulate them.

Atiku further noted that “the end of military rule in Nigeria brought about a new era of regular elections as well as the return of civil liberties, free press and an end to arbitrary arrests and torture,” but said that Nige­ria was gradually deviating from that path

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Boko Haram, world’s deadliest terror group –US security expert

U.S. President Obama speaks at a Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House in Washington

The Islamist sect, Boko Haram, has been de­scribed as the deadli­est terrorist group in the world followed by the Af­ghanistan Taliban militant group.

Ambassador Daniel Ben­jamin, a United States of America security expert, made the statement yesterday while delivering a lecture at the second International Confer­ence on Democracy and Good Governance, with the theme, ‘Nigeria’s Democracy: Issues and Challenges’, held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Benjamin, a former head of Counter Terrorism Bureau of the State Department, said Boko Haram became the dead­liest, overtaking the Taliban group in Afghanistan, by re­cording at least seven casual­ties in each attack.

Delivering his lecture en­titled: ‘The Nigeria Security Challenges and its Implication for Internal, Africa, and Trans-Atlantic Relations’, Ambas­sador Benjamin said notwith­standing the activities of Boko Haram, Nigeria could not be ranked among war-torn coun­tries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“By 2012, Boko Haram was the second most deadly terror­ist group in the world after Af­ghanistan’s Taliban, as Taliban killed more people than Boko Haram then.

“Presently, Boko Haram is the deadliest terrorist group, killing at least seven persons per attack. Boko Haram has already become a major men­ace to countries like Camer­oun, Niger, as well as Chad. They are well funded and well armed.”

In his lecture entitled: ‘Af­rica, Nigeria, the Issues of the Future’, former French min­ister of Foreign and European Affairs, Mr. Bernard Kouch­ner, pointed out that Africa had become more sensible to the world as it concerned humani­tarian interest.

Also speaking at the event, the state Governor Chibuike Amaechi, called on Nigerians to vote out the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.

Chibok: 4 schoolgirls escaped –Borno official

Four of the 223 ab­ducted Chibok schoolgirls have escaped from their abductors’ camp and re­turned home, an official of Borno State Government said yesterday.

The official, who pleaded anonymity, disclosed that the state Commissioner for Education, Musa Inuwa Kubo, told the Presidential Fact-finding Committee on Chibok attack, during an in­teraction with them in Mai­duguri last week, that the escape of the four girls was a cheering news to the parents and the government which also prayed that the rest of the girls would be released unharmed.

The official said Kubo informed the committee that “the four girls were discov­ered after Governor Kashim Shettima directed the Minis­try of Education to open data pages for families of all the girls” which should include names and pictures of the girls, class, age and the pic­tures of parents.

“It was during the data capturing and visits to par­ents that it was discovered that four girls, who were among those declared miss­ing had reunited with their parents but the parents failed to inform the school authori­ties,” the official, who was privy to the testimony of the commissioner before the committee, stated.

He said the commissioner told the committee he was furious with the parents “for keeping the government in the dark” about the escape of their daughters from the Boko Haram camp.

“The four girls are be­lieved to be among those that escaped to the bush and lost direction during the attack and abduction. The commis­sioner told the committee that with the discovery of the four girls, a total of 219 girls were still missing. He informed the committee that after the April 14, 2014 at­tack on the school, the state government had made series of announcements calling on parents whose daughters might have come home fol­lowing the attack to bring them back so the government could take record to ascertain the number of missing girls.

“Many parents brought back their kids while others who escaped from captiv­ity were also reunited with the school. A total of 276 girls were initially said to have been attacked based on reports by the Borno State Police Commissioner and the state Director of Security Service (DSS).”

Twitter CEO Says Its Reach Goes Beyond Its 255M Users, But Can It Monetize Reach?

Wall Street thinks Twitter has a growth problem, but CEO Dick Costolo said at CodeCon its reach includes people who see tweets on TV and embedded online though they aren’t counted in its 255 million users. Costolo also discussed trying to figure out how to get Twitter into China. But while reach is nice, the problem is that Twitter can only show ads to logged-in users.

That doesn’t mean these incidental users aren’t valuable. Seeing tweets visualized during news casts, hashtags splayed out on commercials and billboards, and threads hosted on blogs surely primes people to become Twitter users. But it has to convert them somehow.

Twitter’s growth rate has improved in the last quarter, but only after falling sharply for a year. In Q4 2012 its monthly active user count was up 10.8 percent quarter over quarter, and up 10.3 percent In Q1 2013. But growth sunk to 6.9 percent in Q2 2013. Twitter’s share price fell 18 percent when it reported growth had slumped to just 3.9 percent in Q4 2013, prompting concerns of a growth crisis. And $TWTR got dragged down 11 percent to its lowest value yet so far when its Q1 2014 growth rate improvement to 5.8 percent didn’t impress investors.

twitter-mau-q114

Contributing to the growth problem may be the struggle to reactivate burned users. Millions have signed up but churned out because Twitter failed to demonstrate the immense value of subscribing to condensed insights from friends and top thinkers. Many new users have trouble building an audience or finding the right people to follow, so they stop using Twitter.

In some ways that could be worse than them never signing up at all. At least they’d still be curious and Twitter would have a fresh chance to impress them. Instead, it has to convince them it’s much better than it was.

One way to make people feel more welcome is to get users more favorites, replies, and retweets per tweet. Costolo said on stage that Twitter’s been very focused over the course of the last six to nine months on increasing per-tweet engagement. It’s seen an increase in retweets and comments. Growth is based on increased engagement per timeline view, but that’s one side of the engagement coin, he noted.

Ryan Seacrest, Seacrest Global Group, Dick Costolo, Twitter

Perhaps getting into China could help. Costolo said he didn’t expect Twitter or Facebook to be unblocked by the Great Firewall Of China in the forseeable future, but was still in early conversations about what a government-OK’d Twitter would look like. For now, Twitter is happy to take advertising dollars from Chinese businesses that want to reach an international audience.

To get Twitter growing soon, it may need to concentrate harder on its onboarding flow. It’s already better than old versions that just subscribed users to some celebrities and dumped them into the service. Now Twitter walks rookies through how to tweet, and finds them people to follow that align with their interests.

But the answer to boosting retention amongst new users may be finding them an audience. Twitter may need to push hard to get veterans to follow and engage with new sign-ups who they know. Facebook managed this by sucking in people’s address books so it could recommend they friend their contacts who signed up later. Twitter might need to push harder on this dimension, because nothing feels quite as lame as tweeting to nearly zero followers. No one likes shouting into a black hole.

Apple Buys Beats Electronics For $3Billion

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Apple has indeed purchased Beats, which includes both Beats Audio hardware and Beats Music, the streaming radio service that was founded by rapper Dr. Dre and longtime music industry exec Jimmy Iovine. The deal was reported to be in the works earlier this month, and was said to be worth an estimated $3.2 billion at the time, though a recent New York Post report said it was cut to $3 billion after Apple completed its due diligence. The price is indeed $3 billion, with $2.6 billion in cash and $400 million in stock.

Apple typically makes smaller purchases of startups and companies most people have never heard of, so Beats is a considerable change of course for the company. The last really high-profile acquisition Apple made was NeXT, back when it bought that company to bring Steve Jobs back into the fold.

Much speculation has been made around what the Beats acquisition brings to Apple, which already has an existing streaming radio business and a very healthy third-party ecosystem when it comes to headphones, Bluetooth speakers and other peripherals. Apple doesn’t yet sell on- or over-the-ear style headphones, however, or its own speakers, and these are areas where competitors like Samsung currently operate to support their smartphone devices.

The company also reportedly enjoyed Beats’ ability to convert free trial users of its service to paid subscribers, according to a recent Bloomberg report. And bringing on Beats’ top executive talent, which includes Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, was also said to be an important factor. In an interview with the New York Times, Apple CEO Tim Cook cited Dre and Iovine as important factors and praised the Beats streaming music service.

Given the stature of this acquisition, Apple is being a bit more communicative about the deal than it has about others in the past. Apple indicates Beats Music will continue to be made available and operate as before (even on other platforms). Also as part of the deal, Beats co-founders Lovine and Dre join Apple’s management team.

Frozen becomes fifth-biggest film in box office history

Still from Frozen
Frozen won two Oscars in March, including best animated feature and best original song

The Oscar-winning movie, which was released in the US in November, has taken $1.219bn (£723m) worldwide, overtaking Iron Man 3’s total haul.

It now stands behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, with $1.34bn (£795m) in global ticket sales.

The feat comes two months after it was confirmed Frozen had become the highest-grossing animation in history.

The film’s bumper haul has in part been due to its success in Japan, where Frozen has been number one at the box office for 11 consecutive weekends.

Some 15.6m tickets for the film – released as Anna to Yuki no Jou (Anna and the Snow Queen) – have been sold in the country, with many people reportedly watching both the original and Japanese dubbed version.

It is the third most successful Western movie in Japan, behind James Cameron’s Titanic and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – known in the UK as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – although it is predicted to overtake the latter film this week.

Frozen won two Oscars in March – best animated feature and best original song for Let It Go, sung by Idina Menzel.

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Top five highest-grossing films of all time

  1. Avatar – $2.78bn (£1.65bn)
  2. Titanic – $2.19bn (£1.3bn)
  3. Marvel’s The Avengers – $1.52bn (£900m)
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 – $1.34bn (£795m)
  5. Frozen – $1.219bn (£723m

X-Men crush Godzilla at US box office

X-Men: Days of Future Past
The film sees the X-Men meet the younger versions of themselves.

With totals expected to top more than $110m (£65m) over the Memorial Day weekend, the film has left last week’s number one movie in its wake.

Brit director Gareth Edwards’ monster movie earned $31.4m (£18.6m) bringing its total US tally to $149m (£88.4m) since its release.

Blended, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, took the third spot.

The rom-com, which sees Sandler and Barrymore reunite on the big screen for a third time, took a disappointing $14.2m (£8.4m).

Godzilla
Godzilla was directed by Brit Gareth Edwards

Seth Rogen and Zac Efron comedy Neighbors took $14m (£8.3m), taking it over the $100m (£59.3m) in the US while The Amazing Spider-Man 2 rounded out the top five with $8m (£4.7m)in its fourth weekend on release.

Fears that a series of sexual assault claims filed against X-Men director Bryan Singer would harm the film’s box office proved to be unfounded as its takings gave it the fifth biggest Memorial Day weekend.

The filmmaker, who denies the charges, even dropped out of doing any press interviews for the film.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak, said: “Rarely do outside situations impact the box office.

“The true fans, all they care about is the movie.”

The film, a time-travelling sequel to the 2011 reboot of the X-Men franchise sees Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman, being sent from a dystopian future back to 1973 to save the future of mutantkind.