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Obamas’ official portraits unveiled



Barack and Michelle Obama re-emerged on the public stage Monday in Washington, only this time for an event that has nothing to do with politics.

The National Portrait Gallery presented the official portraits of former American President Barack Obama and ex first lady Michelle on Monday.  The painting was made by African-American artists who were selected by the ex leader and his wife.

Former US President Obama said his portrait by Kehinde Wiley, who is known for his admiration for African-Americans was “pretty sharp”.

“Wow!” said Mrs Obama of her painting by Amy Sherald, another black painting artist, whose work labels social justice. Obama said Sherald expressed the “hotness” of his wife.

“I tried to negotiate less gray hair” Obama joked. The flowers in the background of Obama’s portrait depicts parts of Obama’s life, Wiley affirmed. The chrysanthemums are a reference to the official flower of Chicago; the jasmine “evokes” Hawaii.

Wiley and Sherald are the maiden African-Americans to be tasked by the gallery to paint official portraits.

Obama’s portrait is to be installed in the “America’s Presidents” gallery whilst Mrs. Obama’s painting, showcased in another area of the museum.

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The Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Barnaby Joyce, has announced to step down as the deputy PM of the country. It is widely reported that the leader of the right-of-center National Party of Australia is having an extra-marital affair he had with one of his staffers.

The resignation would take effect on Monday and he would also be stepping down from his role as leader of the right-of-center National Party of Australia.

The party is a junior partner in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government, which is headed by his Liberal Party of Australia.

“I will continue to fight for the people in the weatherboard and iron, for the people on the peripheral and the small regional towns,” Joyce wrote on Twitter.

“I used my experience of these towns and my goal in life will always be to try to make their lives better.”

His resignation has also come after a sexual harassment complaint had been filed against him by his party. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Turnbull and Joyce have become embroiled in a public spat since reports of the latter’s affair with staffer Vikki Campion became public.

Australia’s ministerial code requires members of the government to declare relationships with members of staff.

In response to the scandal, the prime minister announced a ban on government ministers having sex with their employees and later called Joyce’s actions a “shocking error of judgement”.

Joyce hit back, calling Turnbull “inept” and implied that he had not informed him of the decision to resign when asked if had done so by reporters.

The outgoing deputy prime minister said he had only given notice of his resignation to Senator Mathias Cormann, who is filling in as acting prime minister while Turnbull is on a visit to the US.

Joyce’s announcement of his resignation is the latest blow to Turnbull’s government and comes after a year of political instability brought about by a constitutional crisis surrounding legislators with dual nationality.

In October last year, the High Court ruled that dual nationals could not hold elected office, forcing several members of the governing coalition who unknowingly held New Zealander nationality to stand down, including Joyce.

Joyce was re-elected in a by-election for his constituency seat after stepping down and renouncing his citizenship of New Zeland

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Mynmar: Human Right Watch releases satelite images to show proof of crimes against Rohingya



The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said the government of Myanmar has razed about 55 villages which were occupied by the Rohingya people. HRW further stated that the government destroyed with them evidence of crimes against the persecuted minority.

The rights group released satellite images on Friday which shows that between December 2017 and mid-February, areas that were once full of buildings and greenery had been completely cleared.

HRW described the actions by Burmese security forces as an “ethnic cleansing campaign” and called on the UN and Myanmar’s donors to demand an end to the demolitions.

According to the HRW, Myanmar’s military have completely or partially destroyed a total of 362 villages since they began a campaign against the Rohingya last year August.

“The deliberate destruction of villages to hide evidence of ‘grave crimes’ was obstruction of justice.” Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director said.

“The government’s clearing of dozens of villages only heightens concerns about Rohingya families being able to return home,” he said.

“Donor governments should ensure they don’t provide any direct or indirect support that would hamper justice or assist those responsible for ethnic cleansing in their efforts to pretend the Rohingya do not have the right to return to their villages in northern Rakhine state.”

Reports about village demolitions have been filtering through from members of the Rohingya community long before satellite images appeared seemingly confirming the accounts.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Rohingya activist Ro Nay San Lwin said he had heard reports of villages being razed by people on the ground.

“I have been hearing about bulldozing the villages since the beginning of January,” he said, adding: “There were many houses, mosques and Islamic schools which remained intact in … Maungdaw but those all were demolished and bulldozed.

“First Rakhine vigilantes enter the houses and take the things they want … Then the authorities demolish and bulldoze.”

Since August more than 650,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh where they live in camps on near the border.

Those fleeing bring with them accounts of rape, killing, and the destruction of homes by Burmese soldiers and vigilante gangs.

The UN has described their plight as textbook genocide, but little action has been taken by the international community to halt the Burmese government’s campaign.

Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed on a deal to send Rohingya refugees back.

As part of the repatriation deal, Rohingya will be held in holding centers, which Rohingya activists have called “concentration camps”.

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Lithium Discovered In Ghana



Ghana, a nation on West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, is known for diverse wildlife, old forts and secluded beaches, such as at Busua. Coastal towns Elmina and Cape Coast contain posubans (native shrines), colonial buildings and castles-turned-museums that serve as testimonials to the slave trade. North of Cape Coast, vast Kakum National Park has a treetop-canopy walkway over the rainforest.

Ghana has discovered a new mineral, Lithium in commercial quantities.

Lithium, which is among the top 10 most expensive minerals in the world was discovered in the Volta Region by the Minerals Commission.

According to the Chief Executive of the Commission, Kwaku Addai Antwi-Boasiako, the mineral was identified during a nationwide exploration exercise.

The mining activities will start but we want to attract investments into the Volta Region, that is where we have the Lithium and all these rare minerals. These are the minerals of the future. Lithium is about green energy and renewable energy. So if you have lithium and all these rare minerals in the Volta Region, you will want to expand the base of mineral production.

The presence of these minerals is as important as having the money to mine them for now, we know we have it,” he told Citi News.

Mr. Antwi-Boasiako added that the Commission was making efforts to ensure that the discovery sites are not encroached upon by illegal miners.

He further noted that the Commission will follow due procedures before it considers issuance of licenses to companies to mine the mineral in the country, noting that it will primarily consider electronic applications from interested investors to avoid issues of corruption.

What is Lithium and  What are its Benefits? 

Lithium can be used for the manufacture of batteries, heat-resistant glass, ceramics, among other things.

Both lithium metal and its compounds have many uses. Lithium stearate is mixed with oils to make all-purpose and high-temperature lubricants.

Lithium hydroxide is used to absorb carbon dioxide in space vehicles

Lithium is alloyed with aluminum, copper, manganese, and cadmium to make high-performance alloys for aircraft.

Bahnmetall consists of lead-containing 0.04% lithium, 0.7% calcium and 0.6% sodium is harder than pure lead and was used for railroad car bearings in Germany.

Compounds such as LiAlH4 and organolithium reagents (LiMe, LiPh, etc.) are very important as reagents in organic chemistry

Lithium metal has the highest specific heat of any solid element and its sometimes used as battery anode material (high electrochemical potential). Lithium compounds are used in dry cells and storage batteries.

Lithium is used in the manufacture of special high strength glasses and ceramics sometimes, lithium-based compounds such as lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) are used as drugs to treat manic-depressive disorders.

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