HOUSTON WITHOUT POWER SUPPLY FOR FOUR DAYS, DECLARED CITY IN CRISIS Monday marked one week since Hurricane Beryl made landfall near Matagorda Bay, devastating Houston’s infrastructure and knocking out power to over 2.2 million homes and businesses. While CenterPoint Energy has since restored power to the majority of those customers, hundreds of thousands of people still woke up Monday without lights, or air conditioning, or any number of the vital necessities made possible by the miracle of electricity. The Houston Chronicle spent time with four households in different parts of the region Sunday to understand what a week without power does to the psyche, body and wallet. Here are their stories. In the immediate aftermath after Hurricane Beryl, the sight of CenterPoint trucks would give Maria Noria some hope that maybe, finally, power would soon be restored to her sweltering east Houston home. By the end of the week, that hope had long since given way to frustration. “The first couple days I was ok, thinking ‘they’re coming, they’re coming, they’re going to fix it,’ and then we started to hear it was going to take longer, and it started to bother me,” Maria Noria, 53, said in Spanish. Noria lives with her husband and daughter in a bungalow in Houston’s Northshore neighborhood, north of I-10 between the East Loop and Beltway 8. A week without power has tested all of their patience, though the family maintained a friendly disposition and was quick to crack a joke, even as they wiped sweat from their brows. “We’ve laid out the red carpet for you,” Noria said, as she led a pair of Chronicle journalists over a makeshift trail of concrete pavers, which helped us keep our footing in the muddy expanses of her backyard. After two days without air conditioning, the family borrowed a generator from Noria’s sister, whose power returned to her home. The generator provided just enough wattage to light up the kitchen and power a few fans on the floor. During the day, they could concentrate all the fans in the living room; at night, they could place fans directly next to their bed for a modicum of relief. The Norias have also learned, however, that using a generator can be both expensive and annoying. Maria’s husband, Adrian, has had to run outside at 5:30 a.m. to fill the gas engine. He estimated he’d spent at least $150 on gas in the past five days to keep the generator running. After a week, the Norias, who moved to Houston in 2001, said they were still confounded about how they can still be without power after just a Category 1 storm. Even Hurricane Harvey only knocked their power out for a day or two. “We’re Houston, the fourth-largest city in the country. ¿Que pedo?” Adrian Noria said in Spanish. “What gives?” For Stacy Humphrey, 48, and Donnell Blake, 60, a week without power was the difference between life and death. A pitbull in the northeast Houston rooming house that Blake owns gave birth to a litter of puppies two days before Beryl made landfall. By the end of the week, half of the litter was dead. “We couldn’t take them anywhere, they got to be with their mama, they’re newborn puppies,” Blake said. “There was one every dying every day. Their eyes just opened two days ago.” Humphrey tenderly carried one of the survivors, small enough to fit in one hand, to the living room so we could introduce ourselves, though the near-total darkness in the house made it difficult to see, even in the afternoon. The dog’s fur was matted and sticky — you could feel it struggling in 92-degree heat — and the air, heavy with the smell of mildew,…


EX-US PRESIDENT, TRUMP, PICKS PRESIDENTIAL RUNNING MATE Former US President Donald Trump has chosen Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, as his vice presidential running mate, taking a once-strident critic and elevating him as the leading heir to his political legacy. Vance, who will turn 40 in August, offers a youthful contrast to Trump, 78, and President Joe Biden, 81. He would be the third-youngest vice president in history — behind John Breckinridge (36 years old upon taking office in 1857) and Richard Nixon (40 years and 11 days in 1953). And Vance’s selection comes just days after Trump survived an assassination attempt Saturday, underlining the gravity of the vice presidential selection in stark terms.“After lengthy deliberation and thought, and considering the tremendous talents of many others, I have decided that the person best suited to assume the position of Vice President of the United States is Senator J.D. Vance of the Great State of Ohio,” Trump posted on Truth Social Monday afternoon.


DESPITE ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT, TRUMP VOWS TO ATTEND TODAY’S REPUBLICAN CONVENTION Former U.S. President and Republican Party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, on Saturday night, said he would attend the party’s nomination convention today in Milwaukee despite the assassination attempt on him. Donald dispelled insinuations that he might not attend the event after the murder attempt on his life at a political rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, where he sustained an injury in his ears and two fatalities were recorded . The assailant, Thomas Matthew Crooks, 20, who was shot dead by security operatives, had attempted to kill the former President a few minutes after he mounted the podium to address party members and supporters. FBI and other security agencies are still investigating the foiled assassination plot by Crooks, who was reported to have used a gun purchased by his father about six months ago. The Guardian learnt that the Secret Service would have at least two security perimetres around the Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee and the city itself would be beefed up with more security operatives drafted from all levels. Public and political analysts mentioned that the convention would still host speeches throughout the week and the dozens of side events hosted by state Republican Parties and conservative organisations. They observed further that it would even have more colours and glamour than it was planned before the Saturday shooting, saying the failed attempt had changed the narratives and fortunes of the party ahead of the polls. Trump, who was declared safe by the Secret Service after stopping the murder attempt and whisked him out of the venue in Pennsylvania, would be formally nominated as the GOP’s presidential nominee on Thursday. Allaying the fears of his teeming political supporters after the attack on Saturday, Trump said he would attend the convention alongside party officials, assuring the people the four-day event would be hitch-free. Trump, on his social media page, yesterday morning, noted that he was still looking “forward to speaking to our Great Nation this week from Wisconsin.”He said: “Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers yesterday, as it was God alone who prevented the unthinkable from happening. We will fear not, but instead, remain resilient in our faith and defiant in the face of wickedness.”


SOME TAKE-AWAYS FROM UK GENERAL ELECTION Many Nigerians just love the parliamentary system of government without knowing it. That was my first take-away from the UK general election, which saw the Labour Party chase the Tories out of No 10 Downing Street in one of the most comprehensive defeats in the country’s history. Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, assumed power and named his cabinet less than 24 hours after his party won 411 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, leaving the Conservative Party with 121. For context, the Tories had 365 seats and Labour had 200 before the election. While Labour gained 211 seats to claim the majority (meaning they can pass several bills on their own), the Tories lost 251. Massive. After Starmer swiftly named his cabinet and met with his team a day following his appointment as prime minister by King Charles III, my WhatsApp started brimming with broadcasts comparing Nigeria with the UK. One reads: “The elections were held two days ago. Yesterday, the new Prime Minister has assumed office. The new cabinet is already in place. No transition committee.” There you go. In a parliamentary system of government, there is a governing party and an opposition party. The governing party is usually the one with the most seats in parliament, even if it takes a coalition to get the majority. The opposition party is usually the one with the second highest number of seats. For the benefit of those who may not know how it works, the opposition party always forms a “shadow” cabinet when a new parliament is in place. For every cabinet position filled by the governing party, the opposition has an equivalent. They shadow the ministers of the governing party and have access to official documents. This enables them to make meaningful contributions to parliamentary debates, provide their own views and propose alternative policies. In a parliamentary system, the executive and legislative arms of government are merged, so most ministers/secretaries are members of parliament. There is no separation of powers. It is only the judiciary that is apart. Therefore, naming a cabinet “within two days of winning an election” is not a big deal in a parliamentary system. The cabinet positions are shared before elections, with minor adjustments made where considered necessary. If a party does not win enough seats to form government and has to go into a coalition with another party, there could be a delay in naming the cabinet because of the horse trading. By the time a new parliament is proclaimed, however, the cabinet will be named. It would have been an anomaly if Starmer did not name his cabinet immediately. Rishi Sunak, as the new opposition leader, has already appointed a shadow cabinet. In a presidential system, the type Nigeria practises, the executive is separate from the legislature. The president cannot form a cabinet until he has sent the list of nominees to the senate for confirmation hearing. He can only nominate. As an independent arm of government, the legislature can decide when it wants to conduct the hearing and decide the nominees to accept or reject. It cannot be hurried up to screen the nominees or forced to confirm them. There was a time it took almost six months before ministers were appointed and this is totally unacceptable — but the president cannot realistically form a cabinet “within two days”. Nevertheless, our presidents can do better. If there is a sense of urgency to set the ball rolling and there is some regard for Nigerians, nominees can be swiftly named and confirmed. But everything is complicated in our dearly beloved country. One, security screening takes ages. Two, names are dropped and chopped per…


WHO IS THOMAS MATTHEW CROOKS, THE MAN WHO WANTED TO KILL TRUMP A voter-registration record showed that he was registered as a Republican! So it’s looking like an in-house act. Thomas Matthew Crooks was the resident of Bethel Park in Pennsylvania. He appears to have graduated in 2022 from Bethel Park High School. He even received a $500 “star award” that year from the National Math and Science Initiative, according to The Tribune-Review in western Pennsylvania. Thomas Crooks was armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Multiple witnesses said they saw him before the shooting and alerted authorities.Crooks was positioned on the roof of a building about 130 yards away from the stage where Donald Trump was addressing the rally.Crooks was shot dead by the Secret Service officials after the attack on the 78-year-old former US President. Police said Crooks’ motive behind firing on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is unclear.


BREAKING: EX-US PRESIDENT, DONALD TRUMP, SHOT AT CAMPAIGN RALLY AS SECURITY OPERATIVES KILL SUSPECT Former US President, Donald Trump was shot by an unknown assailant as he was rallying supporters at a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania. Trump appeared to fall to the ground as he was giving a speech. He was quickly surrounded by armed security and stayed down for around a minute. Video appeared to show blood on his ear as he was taken away. The former President appeared to be clutching the side of his head as he fell to the ground. Donald Trump’s campaign had disclosed in a statement that he is “fine” after being whisked off the stage at a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania after apparent gunshots rang through the crowd. “President Trump thanks law enforcement and first responders for their quick action during this heinous act,” spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement. “He is fine and is being checked out at a local medical facility.” Meanwhile, the suspect who fired shots at Trump during a rally in Pennsylvania has been shot and killed by Secret Service Operatives. The shooter, whose identity has not yet been confirmed, was neutralized following the incident Dockaysworld reports. Authorities are investigating the motives behind the attack, and further details are expected as the investigation continues. The County prosecutor had stated that Trump was slightly hit by the bullet. Reacting to the incident, Trump’s Campaign team revealed that the former president is fine and responding to treatment at an undisclosed hospital. “President Trump thanks law enforcement and first responders for their quick action during this heinous act. He is fine and is being checked out at a local medical facility. More details will follow.” Trump’s predecessor, Barrack Obama also reacted to the incident.He said in a statement: “Although we don’t yet know exactly what happened, we should all be relieved that former President Trump wasn’t seriously hurt and that he and Michelle are wishing him a quick recovery.”


JAIL BREAK IN NIGER REPUBLIC AS HUNDREDS OF AL QAEDA, BOKO HARAM TERRORISTS ESCAPE A curfew has been imposed in the restive Tillaberi region of Niger Republic after a mass prison break at the high-security Koutoukale prison, approximately 50 kilometres northwest of the capital, Niamey. The incident occurred on Thursday, according to the interior ministry. This is not the first attempted jailbreak at the facility, with two previous attempts in 2016 and 2019 being thwarted. The escape has raised concerns about the ability of Niger’s military to contain jihadist threats in the region, particularly as they are already stretched thin protecting the junta that seized power in last year’s coup and responding to attacks in the west. Zagazola Makama, a counter-insurgency expert in the Lake Chad area, disclosed that the prison, located near the capital city of Niamey, was the scene of a violent mutiny that overwhelmed guards and allowed inmates to escape with weapons and vehicles. Citing eyewitnesses, gunshots and explosions were heard inside the prison around midday, prompting a quick response from security forces. However, the inmates had already gained control of the prison, breaking through armoured gates, barbed wire, and trenches. Meanwhile, the ministry did not specify in its statement how many prisoners managed to escape in the latest jailbreak. Interior Minister has issued a radio message to all governors, confirming the escape and urging village chiefs and religious leaders to report any suspicious individuals. A curfew has been declared in the Tillabéri region, and the entire River Niger region is on high alert. The curfew restricts all movement of pedestrians, bicycles, and motor vehicles. According to Reuters, the prison’s inmates include detainees from the West African country’s conflict with armed groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State and suspected Boko Haram insurgents. Niger and its neighbours – Mali and Burkina Faso, all under military rule, have been battling to contain increasing jihadist attacks. On Monday, at least 14 soldiers were killed and 11 others wounded in an attack by suspected jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda in the Tillaberi region. The troops were ambushed between the villages of Ila Fari and Djangore with 24 soldiers still reported missing. The three military-led countries have all expelled French soldiers who were there helping to fight jihadist groups and turned towards Russia for military assistance.Thousands have been killed in the insurgencies and more than three million displaced, fuelling a deep humanitarian crisis.


BETWEEN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND NIGERIAN ELECTIONS July 4, 2024, was anticipated to be a pivotal moment, potentially reshaping the United Kingdom’s political landscape and future direction as the general elections were held. The hot race was among key parties and leaders including the Conservative Party led by the incumbent Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Labour Party led by Sir Keir Starmer, Liberal Democrats led by Ed Davey, Scottish National Party led by Humza Yousaf and the Green Party Co-led by Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay. The main issues for debate were the economy and the cost-of-living crisis, inflation, and economic recovery post-COVID-19; healthcare and the NHS funding and reform; climate change and the impact of environmental policies and green energy initiative; the lingering Brexit debate and future relationship with the EU; and finally social issues around immigration, education, and housing. There was also the issue of the incumbent Conservative Party leader, Rishi Sunak’s performance as PM, the Labour Party’s strategy to regain power after a decade in opposition as well as the influence of smaller parties or “Third Force” in Nigeria speak and potential for coalition governments. A Comparative Overview Electoral processes in the United Kingdom and Nigeria differ significantly in terms of structure, procedure, and political context. The UK operates a Parliamentary system, and general elections are held every five years but can be called earlier. The voting age is 18 years and older and voter registration is automatic and mandatory. Campaign finance is highly regulated with spending limits and public transparency. Voter turnout and participation is typically around 60-70 per cent with high levels of political awareness and media coverage. Key issues and campaigns are often around economic policies, including high cost of living, taxation, public spending, health and NHS reform, Brexit and climate change. Election administration in the UK is managed by the Electoral Commission, an independent body that oversees elections and regulates political finance. Security is generally low with low levels of election-related violence, limited use of technology and voting is predominantly paper-based. Voting takes place seamlessly from 7am to 10pm in polling stations situated in schools, community centres, churches etc. Paper ballots with a single ‘X’ mark next to the chosen candidate represent a vote. Post-election, government formation is seamless and quick, the party with the majority of seats in the House of Commons forms the government. Nigeria on the other hand operates a Presidential system of governance held every four years. The voting age is 18 years and older and requires proactive registration by voters. While campaign finance is regulated, enforcement and transparency issues exist. The major parties are the All Progressives Congress, People’s Democratic Party and the Labour Party. Voter turnout is lower at around 30-40 per cent. Political engagement is varied, with significant regional differences in voter engagement and participation. The key issues are around security with the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, and regional conflicts taking centre stage. Others are the economy, diversification, unemployment, and poverty alleviation; corruption and governance reforms and critical infrastructure including roads, electricity, and public services in education, health and water. Elections are often marked by ethno-religious sentiments and voter apathy. The Independent National Electoral Commission oversees elections. Security is always very high because of high levels of election-related violence and security concerns. Technology plays a significant role with the introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for voter registration and results transmission, but challenges remain. Voting hours are from 8am to 2pm but voters in line by 2pm can still vote and it can take a whole day to vote. Schools, public buildings, open spaces serve as polling stations and paper ballots are used with voters marking their choice with thumbprints. The President is elected separately from the legislature…


EX-UK PRIME MINISTER, RISHI SUNAK, APPOINTS SHADOW CABINET In a significant reshuffling following the Conservative Party’s historic election loss in the United Kingdom, British opposition leader, Rishi Sunak announced his shadow cabinet on Monday. Some senior ministers have returned to roles they previously held in government, despite the recent parliamentary election defeat. Notably, former Foreign Secretary David Cameron has resigned. Andrew Mitchell is also set to manage foreign policy within the interim shadow cabinet, a team of senior spokespeople appointed by the opposition leader to mirror the government’s cabinet. The Conservative Party’s loss marked a historic moment, with several high-profile ministers, including former Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, losing their seats. The shadow cabinet will see James Cleverly continue his role with the Home Office, while James Cartlidge will handle defence matters, according to a party statement. “The Conservative Party has had a difficult election and it is important that we regroup and reflect on these results,” stated the new interim Chairman Richard Fuller. “We should also challenge ourselves candidly and deeply on the strengths of the Conservative Party across the country and outline where improvements can be made.” Chris Philp has been appointed Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, succeeding Penny Mordaunt, who was among the senior lawmakers to lose their seats. Former business minister Kemi Badenoch will now oversee the “levelling up” agenda.Jeremy Hunt will continue with the finance brief, while former Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden takes on the role of deputy leader of the opposition.


ELEVEN AMERICANS DISCOVER NIGERIAN LINEAGES THROUGH DNA IN NEW YORK No fewer than 11 Americans have discovered their Nigerian roots through ancestry DNA testing at the Consulate of Nigeria in New York. A statement from the information desk of the Consulate, signed by Mr Tiamiyu Arobani, said the emotional ‘African Ancestry Reveal’ ceremony held at the Nigeria House in New York, highlighted the deep, historical connections between Nigeria and the African diaspora. The 11 Americans were discovered to have Nigerian lineages of Igbo, Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Yoruba-Fulani, Hausa-Fulani and Fulani-Kanuri through ancestry DNA testing. The Nigerian-linked Americans are Maleeka Harris, Shatara Corbett, Abel Watson, Darryl Rattray, Antonia Coleman-Brown, Nicole Williams, Pablo Blanco, Estena Turner, William Conley, Keith Howard, and Gina Paige. Several others were also discovered to have their roots linked with eight African countries, including Cameroon, The Gambia, Senegal, Ghana, and Niger Republic. In his remarks, the Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Amb Abubakar Jidda, said the discovery of Nigerian ancestry not only bridged cultural gaps but also celebrated the enduring bonds between Nigeria and the global African community. “As you may be aware, Nigeria, with its rich tapestry of cultures and history, stands as a leader within the African continent. And we have continued to celebrate this shared heritage,” Jidda said. The Nigerian envoy said the event was significant as it brought to light the rich, shared history between Nigeria and its diaspora, fostering a renewed sense of identity and belonging. “So, Nigeria welcomes you. The Consulate offers various educational and cultural opportunities aimed at promoting cultural exchanges. “We encourage you also to explore these opportunities and deepen your knowledge and understanding of Nigeria and African cultures. “We invite you to stay connected with us for future events and activities that celebrate our shared values. Let this be the beginning of a lifelong journey of discovery,” Jidda said. The Consul-General commended the curiosity and dedication of all the participants in their journeys to uncover their African heritage. Unveiling the ancestry DNA test results, Co-founder and President of AfricanAncestry.com, Dr Gina Paige, said hosting the ‘Ancestry Reveal’ event at the Nigerian Consulate had deepened the experience for all participants, especially those whose roots traced to Nigeria. Paige also praised the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development for its partnership “on this unprecedented Rites of Passage programme for the City’s youth”. Speaking on the significance of the event, she said the mission of AfricanAncestry.com is to help Black people transform how they view themselves and Africa by using DNA to identify their last identities. “Black people are the original victims of identity theft. We don’t know our names, we don’t know our languages, we don’t know who our ancestors were or are, and our families were continuously torn apart during slavery,” she regretted.The New York City Commissioner for Youth and Community Development, Mr Keith Howard, said it was relieving for the people to know their identities and congratulated the participants for knowing that they were not lost.