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UK PM, Rishi Sunak, fined for not wearing seatbelt in back of moving car

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The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK), Rishi Sunak, has been fined for not wearing a seatbelt in a moving car while filming a social media video.

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Lancashire Police said it had issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of a fixed penalty.

A Downing Street spokesperson on Friday said Mr Sunak “fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised”, adding that he would pay the fine.

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Passengers caught failing to wear a seat belt when one is available can be fined £100.

This can increase to £500 if the case goes to court.

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The prime minister was in Lancashire when the video was filmed, during a trip across the north of England.

The video – to promote the government’s latest round of “levelling up” spending – was posted on Mr Sunak’s Instagram account.

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It is the second time Mr Sunak has received a fixed penalty notice while in government.

Last April, he was fined along with Boris Johnson and wife Carrie for breaking Covid lockdown rules by attending a birthday gathering for the then-prime minister in Downing Street in June 2020.

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‘Disregard for the rules’
Fixed penalty notices are a sanction for breaking the law, and mean a fine, which needs to be paid within 28 days, or contested.

If someone chooses to contest the fine, the police will then review the case and decide whether to withdraw the fine or take the matter to court.

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Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, said in a tweet that Mr Sunak was a “total liability”.

A Labour Party spokesperson added: “Hapless Rishi Sunak’s levelling-up photo op has blown up in his face and turned him into a laughing stock.”

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The Liberal Democrats said, in becoming the second ever serving prime minister to be fined by police, he had “shown the same disregard for the rules as Boris Johnson”.

Deputy Lib Dem leader Daisy Cooper said: “From partygate to seatbelt gate, these Conservative politicians are just taking the British people for fools.

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“Whilst they continue to behave as though it’s one rule for them and another for everyone else, this fine is a reminder that the Conservatives eventually get their comeuppance.”

But earlier Conservative MP for Blackpool South Scott Benton suggested Lancashire Police were wasting their time by looking into the incident.

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“The vast majority of people would think that politically motivated complaints about a seatbelt are not good use of frontline resources,” he said.

Passengers aged 14 and over are responsible for ensuring they wear a seat belt in cars, vans and other goods vehicles if one is fitted. Drivers are responsible for passengers under 14.

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Exemptions include having a doctor’s certificate for a medical reason, or being in a vehicle used for a police, fire or other rescue service.

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Foreign

Airlines cancel over 1,400 U.S. flights as ice storm hits multiple states

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Kayode Arewa Sanni

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Airlines canceled over 1,400 flights in the United States on Wednesday, after an ice storm hit states from Texas to West Virginia.
A total of 1,467 flights within, into or out of the United States were canceled, while 527 flights were delayed as of 6.48 a.m. ET, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.
The Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, on Tuesday warned in a tweet that travelers could expect to see some snowy conditions in certain areas including Dallas, Fort Worth and Memphis, which could delay certain flights.
“The ongoing winter storm will continue to bring hazardous impacts to North and Central Texas through at least early Thursday morning,” The U.S. National Weather Service said in its Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area forecast discussion.
Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines Co, LUV.N, led cancellations with 487 flights, while Fort Worth, Texas-based peer American Airlines Group Inc, AAL.O, closely followed, canceling nearly 480 flights.
Southwest and American did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
The latest cancellations come nearly a month after Southwest faced U.S. government backlash for canceling 16,700 flights over the holidays, as it grappled with bad weather and outdated technology.

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USAID grants $2.1million to 40 organizations promoting conflict resolution in Northeast Nigeria

Buhari
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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has expended the sum of $2.1 million on 40 organisations working on conflict resolution across 90 communities in North East region of Nigeria.

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The grant was for a two-year conflict mitigation activity tagged: ‘Building Community Resilience to Violent Extremism and Conflict in Northeast Nigeria’.

The programme, also known as Northeast Connection, was designed to equip participants with the skills required to counter violent conflict.

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Since 2021, Northeast Connection promoted nonviolent conflict resolution from the grassroots to state government levels in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states. The activity provided capacity building for the 40 local organizations to strengthen local civil society groups and promote local solutions to violence.

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At the closeout of the programme, Conflict Specialist USAID, Nigeria, Mukhtari Shitu said USAID was committed to enduring partnerships with the Nigerian government institutions and civil societies to mitigate violent conflict in the country.

 

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Implemented by Creative Associates, the USAID-supported conflict resolution activity in 90 communities across 15 local government areas (LGAs) in the three states.

The Northeast Connection established 181 peace platforms that supported community organizers to identify and advocate for social priorities; trained more than 22,000 people in conflict mitigation and cross-community dialogues; and provided trauma-informed psychosocial support to more than 4,300 community members.

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In Yobe State, the activity worked with the emergency management agency to launch the first-ever two-year Early Recovery Plan which equipped the agency with the ability to respond to and recover from disasters more effectively.

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It would be recalled that violent conflict has devastated social and governance structures and local markets in Northeast Nigeria. The ongoing insurgency by violent extremist groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS West Africa has killed over 35,000 and displaced 2.2 million people. The region also struggles with regular inter communal clashes between farmers, herders, and other groups over land and water resources.

The Northeast connection activity is part of USAID’s strategic effort to decrease conflict and instability and promote stability and early recovery in Nigeria.

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George Weah To Seek Re-Election As Liberian President

Weah
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Liberian President and former international football star George Weah announced on Monday he would stand for re-election later this year.

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The announcement comes amid mounting criticism of Weah, who is accused of being out of touch with the population facing rising prices and food shortages.

“My fellow citizens, I will be coming to you shortly to ask you to renew (…) for a second time the mandate that you gave me six years ago,” Weah said in his annual State of the Nation address.

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The election is slated for October 10 in the West African country.

Weah came to power in 2018 after winning an October 2017 election.

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The 56-year-old was absent from Liberia for more than a month late last year, prompting criticism.

He went abroad at the end of October for a string of political gatherings in numerous countries — and to watch his footballer son represent the United States at the World Cup in Qatar.

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The president was not until December 18 seen in his homeland, where people have been battling soaring prices and shortages of basic goods.

The day before several hundred Liberians had demonstrated peacefully at the call of the opposition to denounce the incompetence but also Weah’s indifference to the plight of ordinary Liberians.

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Fighting corruption had been one of Weah’s major campaign promises, but in September he accepted the resignations of three close allies after the United States accused them of corruption.

Weah had initially suspended the men from their roles after Washington imposed sanctions on them over allegations tied to multi-million-dollar contracts and at least $1.5 million in diverted public funds.

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Graft remains endemic, with the watchdog Transparency International ranking Liberia 136th of 180 countries in its 2021 corruption perceptions index.

Founded as a colony in 1822 by former US slaves, Liberia became a republic 25 years later — Africa’s first.

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It is still recovering from back-to-back civil wars that left 250,000 people dead.

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