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Musings From Abroad

Will Smith resigns from Academy over Oscar slap

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Veteran US actor Will Smith has voluntarily resigned from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, after the embarrassment he caused by slapping comedian and show host, Chris Rock, on stage during the Oscars on Sunday, March 27.

Announcing his decision in a statement by his publicist on Friday, Smith said:

“I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate.

“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable.

“The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home.

“I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.”

Smith had sensationally stormed the stage to slap Rock over a joke the comedian made about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head which is a result of an hair-loss condition known as alopecia.

Smith would go on to win the best actor award for his role in the Ministry “King Richard,” where he played the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.

Shortly after Smith’s statement, the Academy said it has accepted the resignation and would “continue to move forward” with disciplinary proceedings against the actor.

David Rubin, President, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said in a statement Friday that the organization has received and accepted Smith’s “immediate resignation.”

“We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18,” Rubin added.

Such disciplinary proceedings could include stripping Smith of the Oscar he won although that seems unlikely, but he would definitely be denied future appearance at Academy Awards ceremonies.

According to the regulations guiding the Academy, disciplinary actions include suspension or expulsion, along with “other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.”

Only a handful of actors have been expelled from the Academy in the past including Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski, but it was not clear if the same fate was about to befall Smith before he threw in the towel.

But with Smith willingly resigning from the organization of movie stars, directors and producers, he will no longer be able to vote on Oscar-nominated movies and performances each year but he works will still be eligible for future Oscars consideration and nominations.

Musings From Abroad

French, Russia, Chinese firms court Ghana amid plan for first nuclear power plant

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According to a representative of the energy ministry, Ghana will choose a contractor by December to construct its first nuclear power station from among competitors which include China National Nuclear Corporation, France’s EDF, and the United States NuScale Power and Regnum Technology Group.

Robert Sogbadji, the deputy director for power in charge of nuclear and alternative energy, Russia’s ROSATOM and South Korea’s Kepco and its subsidiary Korea Hydro Nuclear Power Corporation were also vying for the contract, which was scheduled to last for the next ten years.

“Cabinet will approve the final choice. It can be one vendor or two nations; it will depend on the financial model and the technical details,” Sogbadji told Reuters on Monday.

The government issued a call for vendors, and 16 countries and businesses replied, according to Sogbadji. However, a technical committee of state agencies headed by the Ministry of energy reduced the list to the current five countries.

In the 1960s, Ghana began exploring the construction of a nuclear power facility, but a coup halted the project. With help from the International Atomic Energy Association, it brought the plan back to life in 2006 after a catastrophic power outage.

Similar to other African nations, Ghana is progressively exploring the potential of nuclear power to bridge supply gaps on a continent where more than 600 million people live without access to energy.

Both Burkina Faso and Uganda have agreements in place with China and Russia to build their first nuclear power plants. As part of their energy mix, Namibia, Kenya, and Morocco are also aiming to include nuclear power.

Amidst acute power shortages, South Africa, which runs the only nuclear reactor on the continent, plans to add 2,500 megawatts (MW) of power from the resource. According to Sogbadji, Ghana wants to increase its electricity mix to include 1,000 megawatts of nuclear power by 2034.

Energy authority in the West African nation, which is now experiencing power shortages, has 5,454 MW of installed capacity, of which 4,483 MW is available.

Ghana, a country that exports gold, oil, and cocoa, anticipates using nuclear power as its foundation for faster and more comprehensive industrialization while expanding energy exports via the West Africa Power Pool to countries like Benin, Ivory Coast, and Togo.

According to Sogbadji, the government has already acquired a location big enough to house five reactors. It would be preferable, he continued, to “build, own, operate and transfer” with space for local equity holding.

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Musings From Abroad

Nigeria’s Air Peace accused of safety violation by UK regulator

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Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority has received a letter from the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority claiming that Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, had allegedly broken several aviation safety laws.

The allegation comes just three months after the Nigerian airline initiated the Lagos-London route.

“United Kingdom SAFA Ramp Inspection Report with reference number: CAA-UK, -2024-0217” and “NATS Management System Safety Report” were the titles of the CAA’s letter of complaint that was sent to the NCAA. Additionally, the NCAA has written to Air Peace to elucidate the matters at hand.

The letter was labelled “United Kingdom SAFA Ramp Inspection Report” and has the reference number NCAA/DOLTS/APL/Vol.11/03624 on it. Capt. O.O. Lawani, the NCAA General Manager of Operations, signed the document, which had the date May 14, 2024.

The NCAA stated in the letter that the flight captain acknowledged using an electronic flight bag for navigation and that the UK CAA had alerted it to the lack of operational approval for Electronic Flight Bag functions that could compromise the aircraft’s safety.

NCAA added that “no mounting device for the use of EFB, no charging points, or battery for backup” was mentioned in the letter from the CAA.

Air Peace has started flying from Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos to London Gatwick as part of Nigeria and the United Kingdom’s bilateral air services agreement.

As of the time of publication, Stanley Olisa, the Air Peace spokesperson, could not be reached.

Since Air Peace started operating flights from Lagos to London, international airlines including British Airways, Virgin, and others have reduced their fares on the route.

Several industry watchers have urged Nigeria’s government to back Air Peace by opposing ‘aero politics” along the route and taking retaliatory measures to undermine Air Peace’s viability there.

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