Simone Gbagbo: Ivory Coast ex-first lady acquitted of crimes against humanity

Prosecutors have demanded a life jail term for Ivory Coast's former first lady Simone Gbagbo, accused of crimes against humanity.

An Ivory Coast jury on Tuesday acquitted former first lady Simone Gbagbo of crimes against humanity during the 2010-11 post-election crisis in a stunning verdict after the prosecution had sought to jail her for life.

An Ivory Coast jury on Tuesday acquitted former first lady Simone Gbagbo of crimes against humanity during the 2010-11 post-election crisis in a stunning verdict after the prosecution had sought to jail her for life.

"A majority of the jury declared Simone Gbagbo not guilty of the crimes of which she has been accused, pronounced her acquittal and ordered that she be immediately freed if she is not being held for other reasons, " said the head of the country's top criminal court, judge Kouadjo Boiqui.

Once dubbed Ivory Coast's "Iron Lady," Gbagbo, who was not in court Tuesday, is already serving a 20-year sentence for "endangering state security."

The prosecution in summing up its case against the 67-year-old wife of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo on Tuesday had called on the jury to find her "guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes and sentence her to life imprisonment," said prosecutor Aly Yeo.

He described her as a shadowy figure who orchestrated attacks on her husband's opponents.

"After her spouse came to power, she started to impose herself as the real head of Ivory Coast, the army, the police and gendarmerie," Yeo said.

Laurent Gbagbo is on trial for crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and persecution, having been handed over in November 2011 to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

The ICC also wanted to prosecute his wife and issued a warrant for her arrest, but Ivorian authorities refused to hand her over, insisting she would receive a fair trial at home.

The judge also said that the parties had 60 days to appeal the verdict which the jury reached after deliberating for six hours.

Following the 2010 presidential elections, some 3,000 people died in five months of unrest in the cocoa-rich west African state after Laurent Gbagbo, who lost to current Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, refused to step down.

The prosecution charged that Simone Gbagbo had headed a crisis cell — "a genuine decision-making body" that allegedly coordinated attacks by armed forces and pro-Gbagbo militias.

The evidence came from documents found in the home of the presidential couple when the pair were arrested on September 11, 2011, he said.

"She replied to correspondence from arms dealers offering weapons and combat helicopters," said Yeo.

She was accused of distributing arms to militias backing her husband following his election defeat.

In one case, she allegedly played an indirect role in the shelling of a market in Abobo, a Ouattara stronghold in the economic capital Abidjan, in November 2010.

Big Brother Naija: TBoss not handling nomination well

TBoss

TBoss finds the fact that she never made it to HoH so far and the fact that she has been put up for nomination, very distressing.

TBoss might not be a good sport, after all, considering her reaction to her recent nomination for eviction by practically every other housemate apart from her only ally, Debie-Rise.

The housemate whose real name is Tokunbo Idowu blames Efe and Bisola for her nomination on Monday, March 28, 2017.

ALSO READ: Predicting the winner of show via social media

TBoss finds the fact that she never made it to HoH so far and the fact that she has been put up for nomination, very distressing.

After being blamed for Bassey's eviction last Sunday, TBoss let out her ire in another conversation with Debie-Rise who is also up for eviction.

She said that she had been begging Nigerians for votes too much already and couldn't take it anymore. TBoss also emphasised that she couldn't care less about the fact that Bisola, Efe, Marvis do not like her.

She said, “Its one of those things because, I don beg Naija tire. Do you understand? I don beg them tire. I actually feel it’s sensitive to even reach out to anybody and say ‘please vote for me.

“Bisola and Efe do not like me for five kobo. And the truth of the matter is, I don’t give a fuck!

“Marvis does things that really irritate me because I see through her and it annoys me because I can’t do any about it. But I will just hold on until the end of the game."

ALSO READ: Pokello calls Beverly Osu a hypocrite for complaining about housemates attitude towards TBoss

As earlier reported, TBoss, Debie-Rise, Marvis and Bally are up for eviction this Sunday.

Tech: The Lyft founder’s game plan for beating Uber: ‘We’re woke’ and a ‘better boyfriend’

Lyft cofounder John Zimmer is woke.

Lyft founder John Zimmer tried to make the case for why his company will capitalize on Uber's stumbles.

Uber is getting battered by a never-ending bad-news cycle that has featured accusations of sexual harassment and a lawsuit brought by one of its investors.

That has created a big opening for Lyft, Uber's main rival in the US, to capitalize on the situation.

So what's Lyft's master plan? According to Lyft's founder, it all boils down to one word: "woke."

"We're woke. Our community is woke, and the US population is woke," Lyft's president, John Zimmer, said in an interview with Time on Monday, referring to how his company planned to take advantage of Uber's recent stumbles.

"There's an awakening," Zimmer continued. "Our vote matters, our choice matters, the seat we take matters."

As if being "woke" made Lyft the obvious alternative, Zimmer offered a curious metaphor to explain the difference between Uber and Lyft.

"We're not the nice guys," he said. "We're a better boyfriend."

Zimmer's use of "woke" might strike some as incongruous for a venture-backed company that has raised more than $1 billion in funding from the likes of Peter Thiel and Carl Icahn.

The phrase "stay woke" has its roots as a black activist term used to acknowledged the systemic oppression of the black minority. It gained prevalence during Ferguson and Trayvon Martin to the point where even Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey appeared on stage with a "stay woke" t-shirt. At the time, he said using the term meant that his eyes were open to the world around him, especially having been on the ground in Ferguson, but his appearance in the shirt was viewed by some as extremely embarrassing.

Zimmer's use of the activist term to promote his own business goes one step further.

Choosing to download Lyft because you disagree with Uber's business practices isn't a "woke" act made by a "woke community" to side with a "woke" business. Lyft is right to capitalize on Uber's stumbles, but calling it being "woke" to do so is not how you do it.

Tinubu: Fayose says APC national leader is an outstanding leader in Yoruba land [VIDEO]

Bola Hammed Tinubu Colloquium at Eko hotel & suites on Tuesday, 28 March, 2017

Tinubu, who is the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, turned 65 on March 29, 2017.

Governor Ayo Fayose has showered encomiums on the former Lagos state Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his 65th birthday.

Tinubu, who is the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, turned 65 on March 29, 2017.

Governor Fayose also described the former Governor of Lagos as an outstanding leader in Yoruba land.

According to Daily Post, he said “Congratulations Shuaibu Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I want thank God for your life, I want to appreciate God for you.

“I want to say at 65 you have done well. You are a leader, an outstanding leader in Yoruba land and beyond. We are happy that you are strong and representing the Yoruba nation very well.

“I am saying this to let you know that issues in Nigeria go beyond party lines.”

ALSO READ: Gbenga Daniel praises Tinubu for his audacity and charm

Fayose recently told newsmen that he might reduce his criticism of President Buhari because of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.

Politics: Republican leaders have diverging views on whether or not Democrats should celebrate the ‘Trumpcare’ flameout

(L-R) U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell address the media during the 2017 "Congress of Tomorrow" Joint Republican Issues Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., January 26, 2017.

Republicans in the House and Senate can't decide whether Democrats should celebrate the pulling of the American Health Care Act or not.

Two leading congressional Republicans had seemingly different views on the future of healthcare overhaul from the party — and whether or not Democrats should be cheering the GOP's inability to bring their to the House floor for a vote last week.

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the Republican House whip, told reporters Tuesday that the celebration from Democrats on the American Health Care Act's failure was coming too early.

"To my Democrat colleagues who were celebrating Friday's action, I think their celebration was premature because we're closer today to repealing Obamacare than we've ever been before. Surely, even closer than we even were Friday," Scalise said at a press conference held by House Republican leaders.

Slightly less optimistic was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who told reporters on Tuesday that Obamacare was going to stick around.

"I think where we are on Obamacare, regretfully, is where Democrats wanted us to be — with the status quo," he said.

He continued that he expected Democrats to be pleased about the AHCA's failure.

"Well it's pretty obvious we were not able, in the House, to pass a replacement," McConnell said. "Our Democrat friends out to be pretty happy about that because we have the existing law in place."

For their part, Democrats did gloat after the GOP could not muster enough votes to pass the AHCA, which became colloquially known as "Trumpcare," through the House. Disagreements between the conservative and moderate wings of the party, plus House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump's inability to bring the sides together, led to the bill being pulled from the House floor.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that the decision to pull the bill by Trump and Ryan was "a victory for the American people."

Finance: Restoration Hardware pops after sales forecast beats expectations (RH)

null

Restoration Hardware shares gained 10% in after-hours trading.

Restoration Hardware on Tuesday announced a forecast for first-quarter sales that beat analysts' expectations, sending its shares higher in extended trading.

The high-end furniture retailer said it saw first-quarter net revenues in a range of $530 million to $545 million, beating the forecast for $485.1 million according to Bloomberg.

For the fourth quarter, Restoration Hardware reported adjusted earnings per share of $0.68 and net revenues of $586.7 million, both in line with its earlier guidance.

"We made several strategic investments and changes to our business last year, which temporarily depressed financial results in the short term, that we believe will strengthen our brand and position the business for accelerated growth in fiscal 2017 and beyond," said Gary Friedman, the company's CEO, in the earnings statement.

After lowering its outlook on full-year EPS last quarter, the company attributed weakness to slow sales around the election and late delivery of its Fall 2016 catalogs.

Restoration Hardware shares gained 10% in after-hours trading. They rose 2% in the 12 months through Tuesday's market close.

Sports: Kid races bike on sidewalk next to world-class pro for a few glorious seconds

kid races bike alongside pro during race Gilbert

The kid was livin' the dream.

In case you missed it, cycling is the best sport.

And for many fans this is the best time of year as the one-day classics are here. This Sunday it's the Tour of Flanders — one of the biggest sporting events in Belgium — and the week after that it's the "Hell of the North," Paris-Roubaix.

When races come through your town, you can get up close to the riders — inches away — as they whiz by. That's normally not a problem, except when it is.

This kid in Belgium took his zealousness to the next level on Tuesday by hopping on his bike and racing alongside pro rider Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) during the opening stage of the Three Days of De Panne race.

For a few glorious seconds the kid was livin' the dream, and cycling Twitter relished the moment.

There aren't a lot of sports where you can do that sort of thing.

Gilbert, a former world champion and all-around monster bike racer, went on to win the stage after an impressive solo breakaway late in the race (which surely now marks him as one of the favorites for Flanders).

"Riding against someone in normal shoes is not fair! happy i dropt him!" the Belgian champ said on Instagram.

[h/t Sporza]

Tech: SpaceX is about to try something ‘potentially revolutionary’ in the history of space travel

Elon Musk and one of SpaceX's self-landing Falcon 9 rocket boosters.

Elon Musk's rocket company plans to launch a used rocket booster for the first time on March 30 — with a customer's satellite on top.

  • SpaceX will try to re-launch and re-land a used Falcon 9 rocket booster for the first time.
  • A telecommunications company called SES plans to use the rocket to launch a satellite.
  • A spaceflight expert says the launch could be revolutionary in lowering the cost of access to space — if everything works.

It's make or break time for SpaceX.

On March 30, pending agreeable weather, Elon Musk's rocket company will try to make good on its promise to slash the immense cost of launching stuff into space.

The goal is to re-launch and recover the lower half of a 229-foot-tall (70-meter-tall) Falcon 9 rocket, called a first-stage booster, that SpaceX first fired off on April 8, 2016. The booster in question helped deliver a satellite into orbit, screamed back to Earth, righted itself, and self-landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

This is highly unusual: Nearly all rocket parts today crash into the ocean following launch, sink to the bottom, and are never recovered or seen again. One booster — typically the most expensive part of two-stage rockets — can cost tens of millions of dollars.

Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX's CEO, has said that reusing a rocket booster could give its customers — who have so far used SpaceX rockets to launch satellites and space station supplies — about a 30% discount on a Falcon 9 rocket launch, which typically costs $62 million.

SpaceX's orbital rocket system is already the most affordable in the world, but such a discount would save companies more than $18 million per launch.

"This is potentially revolutionary," John Logsdon, a space policy expert and historian at George Washington University's Space Policy Institute, told Business Insider. "Reusability has been the Holy Grail in access to space for a long, long time."

Logsdon uses the word "potentially" because although SpaceX has been collecting used orbital rocket boosters, it has yet to re-launch and re-land any one of them. But that could change on Thursday.

How to buy a used rocket

Demonstration flights like SpaceX's upcoming launch-and-landing attempt are vital to prove that the rocket system works as intended. But they're also inherently risky, since they test new capabilities that might fail.

That's why many demonstration launches fly without any valuable payloads on board; there are simply fewer consequences if there's a failure, especially since the payloads they carry (most often orbiting satellites) can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

However, SES — a Luxembourg-based telecommunications company and longtime customer of SpaceX — actively pursued SpaceX so it could be the first to launch something on the used booster. In this case, the rocket will carry a satellite called SES-10, which will provide internet and television coverage for much of Central America and South America.

SpaceX's used booster will loft an upper-stage rocket dozens of miles above Earth, then separate from it. The upper-stage will then fire and take SES-10 into an orbit about 22,200 miles (35,700 kilometers) above the planet. Meanwhile, the booster will fall back toward the ocean and land on a ship.

"Wherever we can change the industry equation, we will do it. We were waving our hands to be the first," Payer told Business Insider. "We are not risk-averse, otherwise we would not be launching satellites."

In light of SpaceX's recent launchpad failure, Payer sounded optimistic.

"We are not new to this business. These things happen," Payer said. "[The explosion] has not, at all, rattled our confidence in what SpaceX is doing."

SES declined to tell Business Insider how much they paid SpaceX for the upcoming launch, citing contractual issues and competition within the industry. SpaceX did not reply to Business Insider's request for comment on the matter.

But John Logsdon said he wouldn't be surprised if SES received a discount of 30% — or even managed to pay SpaceX nothing at all, since this is a demonstration flight.

"I think they're getting a low-cost ride, though there's no reason to think why this should not work," said Logsdon, who recently toured the Cape Canaveral, Florida-based facility where SpaceX is refurbishing used Falcon 9 rockets.

SpaceX designed its Falcon 9 rockets to be reusable from the beginning, and most of the multi-million-dollar construction cost is sunk into the first-stage booster. Meanwhile, refueling the rocket with liquid RP-1 (a type of kerosene) and liquid oxygen (to burn the fuel) costs about $200,000, Elon Musk has said.

"The booster is not some kind of strap-on accessory. There are nine rocket engines on the first stage, while there's only one on the second stage. And rocket engines are the most expensive item," Logsdon said, adding that that Falcon 9 rocket was designed from the ground-up to be easily repaired and reused.

"So this begins to come close to the image of launching these things, recovering them, turning them around at low cost, and launching them again," he said. "That's the goal."

A future built on a ' very violent process'

Engineers have tried to build reusable launch systems for decades, the most notable example of which was the space shuttle developed by NASA and its contractors. But they haven't seen much success.

"The space shuttle was supposed to be fully reusable at its inception. The orbiter itself was supposed to be able to go into orbit, land, get turned around, and go out to the launchpad again," Logsdon said. "It turned out to be much more difficult than that."

However, progress over the past few years has rekindled the dream of reusable launch systems.

SpaceX has raised eyebrows with the self-landing capability of its Falcon 9 boosters — on more than half a dozen occasions. Musk's company is also working on a much-larger Falcon Heavy launch system, which will use three such boosters, further compounding launch cost reductions.

Blue Origin was the first contemporary company to launch, land, and reuse a liquid-fueled rocket, called the New Shepard. As Musk has pointed out, however, Blue Origin's New Shepard system is a suborbital tourist rocket, so it's not designed to put heavy satellites into orbit — a feat that requires nearly 1,000 more energy.

Blue Origin is developing the giant New Glenn rocket — a heavy-life launch system that recently attracted its first paying customer — but SpaceX is ostensibly farther ahead in the reusable launch race.

Whatever direction the reusable launch industry goes, Logsdon said any company attempting to get in on the game is signing up for a long-term fight. It's no simple task to launch rockets at speeds of many thousands of miles per hour, land that hardware, and prepare it for another flight.

"Launching is still a very violent process," Logsdon said, adding that "each recovered booster will present a different challenge" in terms of damage to the rocket's engines, fuel pumps, navigation electronics, cylindrical body, and more.

Logsdon is eager to see how quickly companies like SpaceX can turn around boosters under heavy demand — and whether or not enough customers will actually want to fly on used merchandise.

But between SpaceX's goal of launching a global network of 4,425 internet satellites and SES' plans to expand its satellite business, there may not be any shortage of demand for low-cost rocket rides.

"This is not a one-off. If it works, it will become a key element in all future satellite constellations," Payer said. "We'll be double-happy if this goes well, for both our sake and SpaceX's."

Ibe Kachikwu: Minister’s absence from Senate hearing angers lawmakers

Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu

Kachikwu was invited by the lawmakers to shed some light on the gas flaring penalty.

Members of the Senate Committee on Finance were angry over the absence of the minister of state for petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu at its hearing on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.

According to Punch, Kachikwu was invited by the lawmakers to shed some light on the gas flaring penalty in the 2017 revenue profile.

The minister however asked a director in the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to represent him at the meeting.

What angered the Senators was that the DPR director then asked one of his aides, Mrs. Folashade Odunuga to appear before the Senators.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator John Enoh, who refused to speak with Odunuga, also wondered why Kachikwu did not inform them that he will not be in the meeting.

Enoh said “You mean we invited the Minister of State to come here and the Minister of State asked a director to represent him and the director, in his wisdom, asked you to represent him? This is unacceptable and we will not have you to represent any body.

“It will be difficult to have you. The invitation to the minister was based on a directive of the Senate President for this important interaction, which is necessary for the 2017 budget.

“(We) Wrote the Minister of State, there was no communication from him that a director will represent him. That simple courtesy was absent and lacking. Communicate to your director to communicate to the minister that we refused to take you.”

ALSO READ: Senate refuses to confirm President’s 27 RECs because of Magu

The Nigerian Senate has been on a war path recently with most of President Buhari’s cabinet members.

Notable, was the blatant refusal of the Customs boss, Hameed Ali to appear before the lawmakers in uniform.

The Senators later agreed to summon Kachikwu to appear before it on Thursday, March 30, 2017.