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Musings From Abroad

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock on Oscars stage after ‘dirty’ joke on wife Jada Pinkett

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The Oscars which held on Sunday, produced one the biggest surprises of the night which saw veteran actor Will Smith, storming on to the stage and smacking the presenter, Chris Rock, in the face after the comedian had made a ‘dirty’ joke at the expense of Jada Pinkett, the actor’s wife.

Smith went on to win his first ever Academy Award for his role in King Richard.

For those who missed the drama, the ‘Oscar Slap’ began when Chris joked about Jada’s buzzcut by quipping: “Jada, can’t wait for GI Jane 2.”

The joke was clearly a reference to the 1997 movie G.I Jane which starred Demi Moore sporting a buzzcut similar to the haircut Jada is currently carrying.

However, Jada had previously spoken out about her decision to shave her head due to a medical condition known as alopecia.

“Mama’s gonna have to take it down to the scalp so nobody thinks she got brain surgery or something.

“Me and this alopecia are going to be friends … period!”Jada had written on Instagram in 2021.

Jada Pinkett

Jada Pinkett sporting a buzzcut due to medical condition

Obviously angered by the joke, Will walked up to the stage and slapped the presenter, before returning to his seat and yelling: “Keep my wife’s name out of your f****** mouth.”

Chris has previously joked about Jada in the past when hosting the Oscars in 2016, by saying:

“Jada Pinkett Smith boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties—I wasn’t invited!

“It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West!”

Musings From Abroad

France to withdraw forces from West and Central Africa

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According to three sources quoted by AFP, France intends to scale back its military deployment in West and Central Africa to about 600 soldiers in keeping with President Emmanuel Macron’s intentions to lessen France’s military footprint in the area.

Given the strong anti-French sentiment in several former colonies and the competition for influence from nations like Russia, Macron declared in February 2023 that there would be a “noticeable reduction” in the number of French troops stationed in Africa.

A strategy being discussed with allies in Africa indicates that France intends to significantly scale back its so-called “pre-positioned” forces in the continent.

Two government-affiliated sources, as well as a military source, claim that France will only maintain about 100 troops in Senegal, West Africa, down from 350 currently, and about 100 in Gabon, Central Africa.

Paris intends to maintain about 300 troops in Chad, in north-central Africa, down from 1,000 currently, and about 100 troops in Ivory Coast, on the southern coast of West Africa.

According to the three sources, the diminished presence can occasionally be increased in response to the demands of regional partners. The French General Staff was contacted by AFP, but they declined to comment.

Up until two years ago, France maintained around 5,000 troops in the Sahel region of Africa as part of the Barkhane anti-jihadist campaign, in addition to the about 1,600 forces that were pre-deployed in Gabon and West Africa. However, the juntas that took over in Mali in 2021, Burkina Faso in 2022, and Niger in 2023 have been steadily driving it out.

Now, all three nations have security agreements in place with Russia, which has been looking to increase its influence throughout the continent. The final nation in the Sahel to get French forces is Chad, which is led by Mahamat Idriss Deby, the son of Idriss Deby Itno, a former president who served for more than 30 years.

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Musings From Abroad

AfDB, IDB on $20bn IMF reserve asset donor drive

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In line with a global initiative to increase the efforts of leading multilateral development banks (MDBs) to address poverty and climate change, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Inter-American Development Banks (IDB) intend to convert each SDR into $4 in additional funding through the use of hybrid bonds and other financial instruments.

“All these countries have shown a lot of interest, and I think that with the approval from the IMF to use it (SDRs), it’s going to make that conversation a lot better,” AfDB President, Adesina said.

Japan has also pledged to help as a potential contributor of SDR, and in Europe, France has indicated interest in contributing some of its SDR for a simultaneous “liquidity guarantee” that would reimburse donors should they encounter difficulties.

“There are a lot of things that that bacon can feed – electricity, water sanitation, education,” Adesina stated, adding that he and Goldfajn have the remainder of the year to “bring the bacon home.”

The board of the AfDB separately approved a $117 billion capital increase earlier this month, and it is currently seeking an additional $25 billion for its concessional lending arm, the African Development Fund.

It aims to allocate a portion of the funds to projects like credit guarantees, which lower project financing costs by utilizing the bank’s triple-A credit rating as a halo.

It plans to use them similarly for debt-for-nature or climate swaps, which enable governments to reduce debt in exchange for safeguarding important ecosystems. Currently, Tanzania is employing them for railways linking Tanzania to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Nigeria.

The AfDB’s almost-final year in leadership, Adesina, stated that acknowledging the economic and global significance of Africa’s savannahs, rainforests, rivers, and seas is also necessary.

According to his estimation, their worth is at least $6.8 trillion, and the bank plans to adjust the GDP calculations for the continent to account for this amount. For instance, the Congo Basin is thought to be larger than the Amazon to be the world’s greatest carbon sink.

“In a world of climate change and green growth that ought to matter,” he added, saying that if “properly valued” countries like Congo and Gabon would have much better debt metrics.

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