Friday, 24 September 2021

NEWS AND STORIES

Items filtered by date: March 2021

Manchester United have stepped up their efforts to sign Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic this summer, Tuttomercatoweb reports.

The Red Devils are long-term admirers of the Serbian, and they were initially interested in him when Jose Mourinho was their manager.

He continues to be linked with the club, and it was recently claimed that the Red Devils have ‘a clear advantage‘ in signing the 23-year-old.

It is now reported that the centre-back is heading ‘towards’ United, and the club’s efforts to sign him are ‘getting stronger’.

Milenkovic has no plans of renewing his contract, which expires in June 2022, and La Viola are set to part ways with him this summer.

Sportslens view:

The Red Devils currently have Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire as the preferred central defensive pairing, with Eric Bailly being the back-up option.

Bailly could be on the move this summer while there have been question marks over Lindelof’s performances in the past.

Solskjaer is eyeing a left-footed centre-back option alongside Maguire, and Villareal’s Pau Torres has been reported as a target.

However, Milenkovic could be a quality purchase with his strong aerial presence and willingness to clear his lines.

The Serbian is valued at €35 million by La Viola but could be prised away for less with his contract expiring in 15 months.

Published in Sports

Benny The Butcher has released his new album ‘The Plugs I Met 2’ – you can listen to it below.

The nine-track project, which arrives four months after Benny was shot during an attempted robbery, features guest verses from the likes of 2 Chainz, Fat Joe, French Montana, Jim Jones and late rapper Chinx.

Unlike the first volume of ‘The Plugs I Met’ which had Alchemist, Daringer and a number of others handling the beats, the sequel to the Griselda rapper’s 2019 project is produced entirely by New York’s Harry Fraud.

Although it was recorded at the same time as last year’s critically acclaimed, Hit-Boy-produced ‘Burden Of Proof’ album, Benny said the energy on his latest effort is very different.

“I recorded ‘Burden Of Proof’ in Cali with Hit-Boy and ‘The Plugs I Met 2’ in Brooklyn with Harry and you can hear that influence,” Benny explained. “I came in as an underdog, to filling out my position as one of the elite rhymers in the industry. ‘Plugs 2’ expands upon that mindset; the same confidence, same attitude, cocky, but I still have something to prove”

“‘Plugs 2’ is the story of a hustler who has realised success but understands how fragile it is,” added Harry Fraud. “Lyrically, the album shows Benny reflecting on what he’s sacrificed to get here and what he’ll need to do to continue his rise to the top.”

He concluded: “With this project, we set out to transport the listener into a world that was lush, but still gritty, triumphant, but still emotional and sonically diverse across the board.”

You can listen to ‘The Plugs I Met 2’ below:

To celebrate the release of the album, Benny also shared a new video for ‘Plug Talk’ featuring 2 Chainz. You can watch the Wizard-directed video below.

Earlier this month, Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats released new album ‘Unlocked 1.5’, which is a reimagining of their 2020 collaboration ‘Unlocked’.

The new version of the eight-track EP features a number of guest appearances from the likes of Benny The Butcher, Arlo Parks, Joey Bada$$ and more.

Meanwhile, Benny’s Griselda crew mate Conway The Machine recently hinted that a collaboration with Eminem and The Alchemist could be on the way.

The US rapper said he was “just here for the comments” when he was asked why he had re-tweeted the rumour from his own account. No official confirmation of a collaboration has been given.

Published in Arts & Culture

John Mayer has revealed that his highly anticipated eighth album has been completed.

The US singer-songwriter’s last album was 2017’s ‘The Search For Everything’, which included the songs ‘Love On The Weekend’, ‘Still Feel Like Your Man’ and ‘In The Blood’.

In a new TikTok post, Mayer revealed that work on his new album is complete and that he’s been sharing the finished product with a few of his friends.

“My album is recorded, mixed and mastered,” the text on Mayer’s video said. “I’ve just been chilling and sharing it with friends for the past couple of months.”

In the video itself, Mayer repeats the phrase “I think I’m gonna drop a clip of the single”. As of yet, that clip has not been published.

See Mayer’s TikTok post below:

@johnmayer

It’s probably time #newmusic

♬ original sound – johnmayer

While it’s been four years since Mayer’s last studio album, he’s still been busy releasing music. In 2018, he released the platinum-selling ‘New Light’, followed by the 2019 tracks ‘I Guess I Just Feel Like’ and ‘Carry Me Away’.

He teamed up with Khalid on ‘Outta My Head’ in 2019, and then last year he collaborated with Leon Bridges on the quarantine anthem ‘Inside Friend’.

Last week, Mayer shared the stage with Maren Morris at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards. The pair performed Morris’ 2019 hit single ‘The Bones’, which was nominated for Best Country Song.

Meanwhile, Big Sean has revealed that he’s sitting on three unfinished tracks with John Mayer.

Back in 2018, the rapper posted a since-deleted photograph of himself and the ‘Gravity’ hitmaker in the studio together, but no music has since materialised from their time together.

Speaking in a recent interview with NME, Sean shared more details about what he and Mayer worked on, explaining that their work included input from revered musician James Fauntleroy.

“Me, John and James Fauntleroy did a 17-hour lock-in session,” he explained. “Those guys are legends, man. We came up with some fire ideas that we’ve still gotta finish.

He added: “I linked up with John one other time after that but we really gotta link back up soon. There’s at least two or three great ideas there.”

Published in Entertainment

Republic of Congo is pressing ahead with an election that is expected to extend President Denis Sassou N’Guesso’s 36 years in power

While the constitution allows for an election to be delayed if a candidate is unable to participate in the vote, polling stations in Brazzaville opened at 8 a.m. as scheduled, observers said.

Kolelas, 61, had skipped his final campaign event on Friday after telling some reporters a day earlier that he feared he had malaria. A video circulating on social media Saturday showed Kolelas wearing an oxygen mask and with a blood pressure cuff on his arm as he lay in a hospital bed.

“My dear compatriots, I am in trouble. I am fighting death,” the candidate says in a weak-sounding voice after removing his oxygen mask. “However, I ask you to stand up and vote for change. I would not have fought for nothing.”

Campaign spokesman Cyr Mayanda told The Associated Press on Sunday that Kolelas’ condition was stable, but that plans were underway for a medical evacuation to France for further treatment.

Kolelas placed second to Sassou N’Guesso in the country’s 2016 presidential election with about 15% of the vote. The opposition figure has been particularly critical of the incumbent leader in recent days, declaring that Republic of Congo had become “a police state.”

Sassou N’Guesso is the third-longest serving president in Africa, ruling from 1979-1992 and then again since 1997 in this nation often overshadowed by its vast neighbor Congo.

Republic of Congo has had fewer than 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with 134 confirmed deaths.

———

Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal, contributed to this report.

Published in Headliners

Adam Lambert has revealed that he once auditioned for a role in A Star Is Born.

The Queen singer said he tried for the role of Ramon, Ally’s (Lady Gaga) gay friend in the movie.

Speaking on the latest episode of Apple‘s Nova Podcast Brenda, Call Me! With Courtney Act and Vanity, Lambert said: “Do you know, it’s funny, I auditioned for that part in A Star Is Born? It was so funny to me, because they told me about it and they were like ‘She’s going to have like a gay best friend’ and I was like ‘Okay, that could be cute’ and then I got the script and it was like… he was a Latin American character, like he was a Latino character.

“You know his name was Latino, a lot of the slang that he was using, he was calling her [Gaga] ‘Mami’ and all this stuff and I was like ‘Now how is this gonna work?, Should I just not go to the audition? This is not my part’.”

The part eventually went to Anthony Ramos, who starred in Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Gaga recently shared the first photo on set from her next movie – Ridley Scott’s forthcoming House Of Gucci.

Gaga will portray Patrizia Reggiani, the ex-wife of Gucci heir Maurizio Gucci, who was killed in a 1995 hit she orchestrated.

The MGM film will follow the true story of Reggiani, who in 1998 was convicted of orchestrating Gucci’s assassination after discovering that he’d been unfaithful. Despite originally receiving a 29-year prison sentence, Reggiani served 18 years before being released in 2016.

It is Gaga’s first film role since A Star Is Born (2018), for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. She won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for ‘Shallow‘.

Published in Arts & Culture

After 14 years, 20 seasons, hundreds of episodes, and endless spinoffs, it’s almost time to bid adieu to Keeping Up With the Kardashians. The final season of the long-running E! reality show is upon us, but if you know the Kardashians, then you know this isn’t really goodbye. In December 2020, the Kardashian-Jenner clan signed a multi-year deal to “create global content” that will be streamed exclusively on Hulu and Star, though little is known yet about what kind of content the famous family has in mind. But according to KUWTK co-creator and executive producer Ryan Seacrest, the reality stars “have a stack of ideas” for what comes next.

As Ryan explained to People during a January 2021 interview, “I think they have a lot of ideas and [will do] a lot of things that they may have not had a chance to do with Keeping Up with the Kardashians, because it was such a strong franchise and people wanted what they saw from the family. And that’s what they got for 20 seasons.” While fans wait to learn more about forthcoming Kardashian-Jenner TV content, here’s how the sisters and their momager will be keeping themselves occupied with their many brands and endorsements.

Published in Entertainment

NEW YORK, March 19, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The blockchain industry has witnessed significant developments in the past decade. More financial products have been released that have transformed how we view finance. In recent months many crypto enthusiasts have turned to Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), with the sector experiencing massive growth during this period.

Artists of all kinds and enthusiasts have access a wide range of possibilities thanks to NFTs. It has enabled the tokenization of buildings, businesses, art, and music using blockchain technology.

Despite this growth, some significant problems persist. Most NFTs are built on the Ethereum blockchain network and although Ethereum is the largest smart contract network, its problems are well documented. The increasing number of users on the network has skyrocketed, leading to congestion and slow confirmation times of transactions.

This has caused a ripple effect with average transaction fees for NFTs at around $50-$80 per transaction. This makes it difficult for the average crypto enthusiast to create and purchase NFTs. It has also caused significant difficulties in developing NFT projects like games on the Ethereum blockchain.

NFT project, NFTWars is poised to solve this problem by utilizing a layer-two solution Polygon (formerly known as Matic) within its smart contract.

Blockchain -based game built on Layer-two technology

NFTWars is one of the first blockchain games built on layer-two technology to mitigate the Ethereum blockchain’s limitations. The game is built on Polygon, a side chain on Ethereum that ensures quick and low costs transactions.

Polygon serves as a bridge between ethereum and the game, ensuring that gamers can process transactions within the game without the high transaction costs on the Ethereum blockchain.

NFTWars will initially develop a simple game using the popular “rock, paper, scissors” system to control a risk-like map. As the game expands, more features will be added to the ecosystem, including alliances and complex battle systems. Also, rewards will be offered by NFTWars to gamers for controlling territories within the game.

NFTWars will also enable other blockchain products like tokenized rewards for NFT owners. Gamers will be able to purchase in-game items, mint new NFTs, and access other customization options using the governance token WAR. The ERC-20 token can be staked for rewards and will be used to provide incentives to gamers.

NFTWars will deploy periodical burns of the tokens spent and funnel them back into the total supply to control WAR tokens’ inflation and maintain its value. This feature is intended to keep the total supply of WAR tokens low and ensure the game economy’s stability. As a blockchain-based game, gamers have full control of their in-game assets.

Key developments within the NFTWars ecosystem

NFTWars is led by CEO Manny Kohistani, a major stakeholder with extensive experience in the blockchain industry. NFTWars has made significant milestones with a successful private sale in February 2021. A total of 175,000 WAR tokens were sold out within eight hours of launch.

As part of its roadmap, NFTWars launched the presale of its native token WAR on March 5, 2021. The presale is expected to last for 14 days and offers early adopters the opportunity to purchase the token on the cheap.

According to NFTWars, the presale listing offers 1,000 WAR tokens for 1.3 Ether. The NFT platform also has a maximum cap limit of 9 ETH for individual investors. Simultaneously, there is a soft cap of 159 ETH and a hard cap of 402.5 ETH for the presale of WAR tokens.

Once the presale is over WAR is expected to be listed on multiple exchanges, including leading decentralized exchange Uniswap. These listings are planned to increase WAR’s liquidity and enable more investors and traders to have access to the token.

The growing popularity of NFTs bodes well for NFTWars, which intends to expand the possibilities within the blockchain gaming sector. To learn more about NFTWars, visit its website: https://nftwars.io/

Published in News & Stories

By Okwy Iroegbu­ Chikezie, and Mke Odiegwu, Port Harcourt/ THE NATION

More reactions on Thursday trailed Wednesday’s approval of $1.5 billion by the Federal Executive Council’s (FEC’s) for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery.

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar said the approval was suspicious while Lagos Chamber of Commerce Industry and Industry (LCCI) described it as a misplaced priority.

A former President of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), Dr. Samuel Nzekwe, called for the judicious use of the cash.

Atiku, in a statement he personally signed on Thursday, argued that a nation with an unemployment rate standing at 33 percent and inflation at 17 percent, should not waste such a huge sum on a “moribund” refinery.

He said: “The nation must be prudent with whatever revenue it is able to generate. Even if the country must borrow, it must do so with the utmost responsibility and discipline.

“To budget $1.5 billion for renovation or turn around of the Port Harcourt Refinery would appear to be unwise use of scarce funds at this critical juncture for a multiplicity of reasons.

“Our refineries have been loss-making for multiple years, and indeed, it is questionable wisdom to throw good money after bad.”

He added that he had counseled that “the best course of action would be to privatise our refineries, so they can be run more effectively and efficiently.”

He pointed out that “the cost appears prohibitive, especially as Shell Petroleum Development Company last year sold its Martinez Refinery in California, USA, which is of a similar size as the Port Harcourt refinery, for $1.2 billion.”

Atiku, who was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the 2015 presidential election, said that Nigeria must bear in mind that the Shell Martinez Refinery is more profitable than the Port Harcourt Refinery.

He also doubted if there was any tendering done before the rehabilitation contract was awarded.

Atiku asked: “Given this discrepancy, one might ask if there was a public tender before this cost was announced? Was due diligence performed?”

LCCI’s Director-General, Dr. Muda Yusuf, told The Nation that the nod for the $1.5 billion to be spent on the refinery calls for a rethink because it brings to question, the quality of prioritisation of government’s expenditure.

Yusuf said: “The opportunity cost of this proposed spending is very high. Ideally, for a government with limited fiscal space, spending should be focused on projects, which the private sector cannot readily provide.

“For a refinery, getting equity funding from private sector investors should have been ideal.Government should have utilised such resources to fix our roads and railway infrastructure.”

Yusuf lamented that security agencies that have repeatedly lamented poor funding by government should have received attention by making such funds to them.

“Securing the country and ensuring that our schools are protected should be of utmost priority at this time to the government,” he said.

Nzekwe, said that judicious use of the $1.5 billion was necessary because funds previously allocated for the maintenance of the nation’s refineries had not achieved the desired result.

He urged the government to redouble efforts towards ensuring that all refineries returned to full operation with a view to reducing the price of petrol in the country.

Nzekwe, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), expressed optimism that the rehabilitation, would generate jobs and reduce pressure on the nation’s foreign currency earnings.

But, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide described the FEC approval as a sign that the Federal Government has woken up from its slumber.

IYC, in a statement by its President, Peter Igbifa, said though reviving and optimising the refinery was long overdue, it was better late than never.

The group also said the rehabilitation would create employment for youths in the Niger Delta and increase the country’s refining capacity.

It said: “We don’t want to hear the usual excuse that the project is being delayed for lack of funds. All bottlenecks must be removed. We listened carefully as the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, reeled out the timeline for the project and we are expecting the rehabilitation to follow the timeline.”

Published in Headliners

Agency Reporter

An 80-year-old retired lecturer, Prof. Muritala Haroon on Thursday told a Customary Court sitting in Mapo, that his wife Afsat denied him sex.

At a resumed hearing in the suit, Haroon said, “My wife did not abide by the advice given to her by this court to allow peace to reign by agreeing to perform her wifely duties’.

Afsat was absent when she was called and nobody represented her in court.

The President of the court, Chief Ademola Odunade, advised Haroon to exercise more patience.

“The court will work with the extended members of the family to resolve the matter amicably,” he said.

Odunade adjourned the case until May 17 for further hearing.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Haroon, in February, filed for dissolution of his 52-ear-old marriage on grounds of sexual starvation and threat to life.

In the petition, he alleged that Afsat was fond of locking him out of the bedroom.

“I can no longer cope with the attitude again. Worst still, she and her relatives want me dead.

“Afsat attempted to stab me. She is misleading our six children. She has turned them against me,” he said.

Afsat had in her reply, rejected the prayer for separation.

“Prof is promiscuous. I cannot have anything to do with because he slept with his close friend’s three wives.

“My lord, Haroon slept with the three wives of the man who acted as an intermediary whenever we had problems,” she said.

Published in News & Stories

The Nigerian striker aims to fight his way into Jurgen Klopp’s team after spending the last six and a half years on loan from Anfield

Taiwo Awoniyi said his focus remains playing for Liverpool as he hopes to fulfil his life-long dream of featuring in the Premier League.

The 23-year-old joined the Reds in August 2013 after helping Nigeria win the Fifa U17 World Cup that year, but he is yet to play a competitive game for the club due to the failure to secure a work permit in the UK.

Awoniyi is currently on his seventh loan spell at Union Berlin where he has scored five goals in 19 Bundesliga matches this season.

Following the review of the work permit requirements post-Brexit, the Nigeria youth star is hopeful of his chances to play for Liverpool after his regular appearances in the German top-flight this season.

“Liverpool will always be the priority for me and I am grateful to everyone at the club,” Awoniyi told World Soccer. “I still don’t have the work permit to play in England. But with the new rules in place, and the minutes I have played this season in Germany, no one knows what the future holds regarding the UK work permit.

“If I become eligible to play in the UK, I think I can have a say on what my decision will be. Things have changed remarkably with the new rules and this will certainly help me decide my next step.”

Three years ago, Awoniyi committed his long-term future to Liverpool with a contract extension that will run out in June 2023 and he believes his dream of playing in the English top-flight can still come to pass.

He added: “Presently I am still a Liverpool player until the last day of my contract, but no one knows what the future holds.

“My dream has always been to play in the Premier League and it’s why I signed for Liverpool. I still keep the dream alive but if leaving will facilitate it, why not? The future is in God’s hands and I keep my hope alive.

“At the moment it is impossible to say what might or might not happen in the future, but I trust and believe in God and that keeps all of my hopes alive.”

Published in Business and Economy
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