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  • Maya Angelou becomes first Black woman to appear on the US Quarter

     

    Angelou in front of a podium on a stage in a black formal dress, in front of a purple backdrop, smiling
    Maya Angelou, pictured here in 2008, became the first Black woman to feature on a U.S. quarter this week. The celebrated poet and author died in 2014.  Photo by Jemal Countess / WireImage / Getty Images

    If you pay with cash in the next few weeks, keep an eye out for a new face among the Lincoln pennies and Jefferson nickels in your change: Esteemed poet Maya Angelou will now feature on a select batch of 25-cent coins, the U.S. Mint announced Monday.

    Angelou’s likeness marks the first time that a Black woman has been represented on the U.S. quarter, reports Annabelle Timsit for the Washington Post. The coin is one of five new designs that will be rolled out this year as part of the American Women Quarters (AWQ) program. Set to run through 2025, the program will release five quarters each year.

     

    Manufactured at mint facilities in Denver and Philadelphia, the Angelou quarters began shipping to locations across the country on Monday. Mint officials encourage interested people to reach out to their local banks in late January or early February to ask when the quarters will be introduced into circulation in their area, according to a statement. Individuals can also pay a fee to enroll and receive all four annual installments of the coins by mail, according to the mint website.

    A mockup of a quarter's reverse, with Angelou in a strapless dress raising her arms in front of a sunrise and an outline of a bird
    Quarters with a new design honoring poet Maya Angelou were shipped out from U.S. mint facilities this week.  Courtesy of the United States Mint

     

    Angelou’s design depicts the writer as a young woman with her arms outstretched in front of a bird and a sunrise, in a reference to the author’s famous memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. All AWQ quarters will feature a right-facing profile of President George Washington that was designed by American sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser in 1932.

    Also set to release later in 2022 are quarters featuring astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; Wilma Mankiller, the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation; Nina Otero-Warren, a New Mexico superintendent who fought for women’s right to vote; and Anna May Wong, the Chinese American actress who made cinematic history as the first internationally successful Asian American movie star.

     

    U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen worked with the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative; the Congressional Bipartisan Women’s Caucus; and the National Women’s History Museum to select this year’s honorees from a list of more than 11,000 names suggested by the public. Yellen became the first female Treasury Secretary when President Joseph Biden appointed her to the position in January 2021.

    A graphic with all five new designs, including etched profiles of Ride, Mankiller, Otero-Warren and Wong
    Five quarters will be released in 2022 to honor women who shaped American art, history, science, politics and culture.  Courtesy of the United States Mint

    “Each time we redesign our currency, we have the chance to say something about our country—what we value, and how we’ve progressed as a society,” the secretary said in a statement released on Monday. “I’m very proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women, including Maya Angelou.”

    In Angelou’s decades-long career as a dancer, poet, educator, author and activist, she wrote more than 30 bestselling books. She also served as the first African American cable car conductor in San Francisco, acted on Broadway and in films, became a professional calypso singer and dancer and guided the Civil Rights Movement.

    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) recounted her childhood experiences of abuse and racism and celebrated Black motherhood and resilience, as Veronica Chambers reported for Smithsonian magazine on the autobiography’s 50th anniversary.

    Shortly before the book’s publication, friend and fellow writer James Baldwin said that the memoir “liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.” He added, “[N]ot since the days of my childhood, when the people in books were more real than the people I saw every day, have I found myself so moved... Her portrait is a biblical study of life in the midst of death.”

     

    Angelou published one of her most enduring and oft-cited poems, “Still I Rise,” in 1978. Its lines echoed themes of survival and resilience prevalent throughout her body of work: “You may write me down in history / With your bitter, twisted lies, / You may trod me in the very dirt / But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

    President Barack Obama awarded Angelou the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2010. She died in 2014 at 86 years old.

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  • Man gets genetically-modified pig heart in world-first transplant

    Surgeon Bartley P Griffith with David Bennett in JanuaryIMAGE SOURCE,UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
    Image caption,
    Surgeon Bartley P Griffith pictured with David Bennett earlier this month

    A US man has become the first person in the world to get a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig.

    David Bennett, 57, is doing well three days after the experimental seven-hour procedure in Baltimore, doctors say.

    The transplant was considered the last hope of saving Mr Bennett's life, though it is not yet clear what his long-term chances of survival are.

    "It was either die or do this transplant," Mr Bennett explained a day before the surgery.

    "I know it's a shot in the dark, but it's my last choice," he said.

    Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center were granted a special dispensation by the US medical regulator to carry out the procedure, on the basis that Mr Bennett - who has terminal heart disease - would otherwise have died.

    He had been deemed ineligible for a human transplant, a decision that is often taken by doctors when the patient is in very poor health.

    The pig used in the transplant had been genetically modified to knock out several genes that would have led to the organ being rejected by Mr Bennett's body, the AFP news agency reports.

    For the medical team who carried out the transplant, it marks the culmination of years of research and could change lives around the world.

    Surgeon Bartley Griffith said the surgery would bring the world "one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis". Currently 17 people die every day in the US waiting for a transplant, with more than 100,000 reportedly on the waiting list.

    Dr Christine Lau, chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was in the operating theatre during the surgery.

    "He's at more of a risk because we require more immunosuppression, slightly different than we would normally do in a human-to-human transplant. How well the patient does from now is, you know, it's never been done before so we really don't know," she told the BBC.

    "People die all the time on the waiting list, waiting for organs. If we could use genetically engineered pig organs they'd never have to wait, they could basically get an organ as they needed it.

    "Plus, we wouldn't have to fly all over the country at night-time to recover organs to put them into recipients," she added.

    The possibility of using animal organs for so-called xenotransplantation to meet the demand has long been considered, and using pig heart valves is already common.

    In October 2021, surgeons in New York announced that they had successfully transplanted a pig's kidney into a person. At the time, the operation was the most advanced experiment in the field so far.

    However, the recipient on that occasion was brain dead with no hope of recovery.

    A glimmer of hope alongside huge risks

    This watershed moment provides hope of a solution to the chronic shortage of donor human organs. But there is still a long way to go to determine whether giving people animal organs is the way forward. Pig hearts are anatomically similar to human hearts but, understandably, not identical. It's not ideal, compared to swapping in a human donor heart. But it is possible to plumb them in and get them working.

    The bigger issue is organ rejection. These pigs are bred to lack genes that can cause rejection. They are cloned with certain genes "knocked out" and reared until they reach an age where their organs are big enough to be harvested for transplantation.

    It is too soon to know how Mr Bennett will fare with his pig heart. His doctors were clear that the surgery was a gamble. The risks are huge, but so are the potential gains.

    2px presentational grey line

    Mr Bennett, however, is hoping his transplant will allow him to continue with his life. He was bedridden for six weeks leading up to the surgery, and attached to a machine which kept him alive after he was diagnosed with terminal heart disease.

    Media caption,
    Watch: Muhammad Mohiuddin from the University of Maryland calls the transplant a "game-changer"

    "I look forward to getting out of bed after I recover," he said last week.

    On Monday, Mr Bennett was reported to be breathing on his own while being carefully monitored.

    But exactly what will happen next is unclear.

    Mr Griffith said they were proceeding cautiously and carefully monitoring Mr Bennett, while his son David Bennett Jr told the Associated Press that the family were "in the unknown at this point".

    But he added: "He realises the magnitude of what was done and he really realises the importance of it."

    "We've never done this in a human and I like to think that we, we have given him a better option than what continuing his therapy would have been," Mr Griffith said. "But whether [he will live for] a day, week, month, year, I don't know."

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  • Adebayo Ogunlesi Gatwick airport owner.



    Nigerians are movers and shakers of the World’s economy. Our peculiarities mean we can milk out water from the rock and eyes won’t blink.
    In recent months, there has been bad media coverage as to our people due to the sour representation we are given by some bad eggs across our shores. Beyond the bad propaganda of the Western media on the country, the story of our people’s excellence can’t still be erased.

     

    Silently, some set of Nigerians are pulling huge strides in key world’s economies. They are not as well pronounced as the Dangotes, Otedolas and the Adenugas but trust me, these ones have continue to put the country’s name on the world map and set huge standards in their own fields.

    The name, Bayo Ogunlesi might not ring an alarm but he is regarded by the press as the man that led the biggest industry take over in the UK when his Global Infrastructure Partners bought London Gatwick Airport for 1.445 Billion Pounds in 2009. His firm also owns Edinburgh Airport, bought in 2012, Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori, bought in February 2018 and the London City Airport bought in 2006.

    The 66 year old native of Ogun State, a lawyer and an investment banker. He is currently Chairman and Managing Partner at the private equity firm, Global Infrastructure Partners.

    London Gatwick Airport.

    He is involved in a number of businesses, a former Adviser to President Trump, a multi investor.

    Ogunlesi went to King’s College, Lagos, a secondary school in Lagos, Nigeria. He received a B.A. with first class honors in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford University in England. In 1979, was also at the Harvard Law School and at the Harvard Business School, which he pursued at the same time.

    With a net worth of $14.5m, Bayo is one of the most successful and powerfull African businessmen.

    Bayo and wife, Amelia.

    In 2012, Adebayo Ogunlesi was named as one of top ten Africans making waves in the business sector and considering his achievements from that time till now, it’s very safe to say he is on his way to overtaking so many African moneybags who are more popular than him

     

     

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  • Alec Baldwin fatally shoots woman with prop gun on movie set

     
    Alec Baldwin outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's office following questioning over a fatal prop gun shooting, 21/10/2021IMAGE SOURCE,JIM WEBER/THE NEW MEXICAN
    Image caption,Actor Alec Baldwin seen outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's office after he was interviewed by police

    A woman has died and a man has been injured after actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on a New Mexico film set for the 19th Century western Rust.

    Halyna Hutchins, 42, was shot while working on the set as director of photography. She was flown to hospital by helicopter but died of her injuries.

    The man, 48-year-old director Joel Souza, was taken from the scene at Bonanza Creek Ranch by ambulance.

    Police said they were investigating and that no charges had been filed.

    A spokesman for Mr Baldwin, best known for his role as Jack Donaghy on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock and for his portrayal of Donald Trump on sketch show Saturday Night Live, said the incident involved the misfiring of a prop gun with blanks.

    In a statement to AFP news agency, a Santa Fe sheriff spokesman said Mr Baldwin had spoken to detectives.

    "He came in voluntarily and he left the building after he finished his interviews," the spokesman said.

    Mr Baldwin is a co-producer of the film and plays its namesake, an outlaw whose 13-year-old grandson is convicted of manslaughter.

    The eldest of four brothers, all actors, Mr Baldwin has starred in numerous TV and film roles since the 1980s.

    Ms Hutchins was from Ukraine and grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle, according to her personal website. She studied journalism in Kyiv, and film in Los Angeles, and was named a "rising star" by the American Cinematographer magazine in 2019.

    She was the director of photography for the 2020 action film Archenemy, directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer.

    "I'm so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set," Mr Mortimer said in a tweet.

    In a statement, the International Cinematographer's Guild said Ms Hutchins' death was "devastating news" and "a terrible loss".

    "The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event," said guild president John Lindley and executive director Rebecca Rhine.

    Police said sheriff's deputies were dispatched to Bonanza Creek Ranch, a popular filming location, at around 13:50 local time (19:50 GMT) after receiving an emergency call about a shooting on the set of Rust.

    Incidents such as Thursday's fatal shooting on the Rust film set are extremely rare, but not unheard of.

    Real firearms are often used in filming, and are loaded with blanks - cartridges that create a flash and a bang without discharging a projectile.

    In 1993, Brandon Lee - the 28-year-old son of the late martial-arts star Bruce Lee - died on set after being accidentally shot with a prop gun while filming a death scene for the film The Crow.

    It was later determined that the gun used had earlier fired a round that caused a cartridge to become lodged in the barrel. When blank rounds were later fired, the cartridge was dislodged and released.

    Responding to Thursday's news, Brandon Lee's sister Shannon tweeted: "Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on 'Rust'. No-one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period."

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  • Fury as £265billion-a-year of taxpayers' cash lost in Westminster black hole...White hole.

    Fury as £265billion-a-year of taxpayers' cash lost in Westminster black hole...White hole. 

    TAXPAYERS' money has been lost in a Westminster black hole, with the startling figure of £265billion-a-year said to be unaccounted for after reviews are still yet to be undertaken.

    The Government has been asked to “properly account” for a £265billion sum that has been spent by quangos aka "non-departmental public bodies". In the UK, the term quango refers to different "arm's-length" government bodies or ones that still remain partly controlled or financially backed by the Government. 

    Bodies such as the British Council are quangos and are ultimately organisations that are funded by taxpayers, but not controlled directly by the central government.

    A new report has sensationally claimed that a review of the bodies responsible for spending the £265billion-a-year of taxpayers' money sum has not been completed.

    The review has still yet to be completed in full, with only a percentage said to have been reviewed, despite it being five years after it was promised to be undertaken.

     

    Just one-third of the tailored reviews had been completed according to the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

    PAC said that although the Cabinet Office had promised to review every so-called quango between 2016 and 2020, only a small percentage had been investigated by the government department.

    PAC also say that the makeup of these quango bodies remained "messy and complicated".

    A report released on Friday addressed the system and suggested solutions going forward to prevent further quantities of taxpayers' money being lost in the same way.

    In the report, the PAC had said that promises to cut the number of arm's-length bodies (ALBs) "has been limited".

    They state that going forward, procedures need to be altered and suggest that there must be an overhaul into how the business cases for new quangos are assessed.

    They state that further importance needs to be placed during the business plan stage when changes can be enacted more easily, than by trying to orchestrate a reform later on.

     

    It states: "If there is ever to be real progress in the governance of ALBs, the Cabinet Office must place greater emphasis on ensuring these business plans are correct and in order rather than trying to reform an ALB once established."

    Dame Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC, also addressed 2010’s quango reforms which followed the UK Government’s announcement to curb public spending through the abolition of a large number of quangos groups.

    She said: "The famous 'bonfire of the quangos' of a decade ago notably failed to spark and in fact we've seen Government wave through half-baked business cases for arms-length bodies too often since.

    "The public appointments to lead these bodies lack transparency and accountability to an extent that poses a real risk to the reputation of the organisation and so to how Government delivers objectives using them.”

    She went on to say that the situation required action from the Government who needed to “properly account” for the sum spent by the organisations.

    Dame Meg concluded: "Government must begin to properly account for the vast £265 billion of taxpayers' money a year spent by ALBs, starting at the point of why they're set up in the first place, and demonstrate who is genuinely the best person to lead and deliver through an open, fair and transparent public appointments process."

     

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