Huge strikes at Nigeria’s universities are disrupting research

Protestors with signs against the suspension of academics in state-owned universities sit on the highway, Lagos, Nigeria 2013.

There have been greater than a dozen strikes at Nigeria’s public universities over the previous 20 years.Credit score: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP through Getty

Educating and analysis are at a standstill throughout Nigeria’s public universities as 1000’s of teachers are in the midst of a one-month strike over pay and lack of funding for analysis infrastructure.

Tutorial strikes within the nation should not unusual — lecturers have gone on strikes greater than a dozen instances since 1999. However the Tutorial Employees Union of Universities, the Nigerian physique representing lecturers and professors, says that this time its members are occurring strike to drive the federal government to implement a 2009 settlement during which the federal government stated it might fund increased salaries, present compensation for unpaid work (equivalent to reviewing grants or exterior examination) and put money into Nigeria’s public universities. The median month-to-month wage for lecturers ranges between $330 for an entry-level assistant lecturer and $1200 for a extra skilled professor.

A authorities spokesperson says they’re dedicated to implementing the settlement. The 2 sides are in talks to attempt to resolve the dispute. If they can’t, the union plans to go on indefinite strike.

Nature spoke to Oyewale Tomori, virologist, fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science and chair of the federal government’s COVID-19 advisory committee in regards to the wider influence on analysis in Nigeria and the world.

Oyewale Tomori, of the Nigerian Academy of Science, at an International meeting on emerging diseases and surveillance, 2014.

Oyewale Tomori: “The federal government ought to fulfil agreements with college lecturers.”Credit score: Michael Gruber/EXPA

What led to this?

For greater than 20 years, Nigeria’s authorities has made guarantees and reached agreements with college lecturers, which embody revitalizing public universities and enhancing remuneration for researchers — however these weren’t fulfilled. That’s the first motive for the nationwide strikes. The federal government typically meets with lecturers and makes sure guarantees to them, however they renege on these agreements, or implement them solely midway. That’s why the strikes have endured for a few years.

How are strikes affecting analysis?

Nothing features when the schools are on strike. If a global collaborator had an settlement with a scientist doing analysis in Nigeria, they usually fail to ship outcomes as a result of the college is on strike, it should disrupt the programme or challenge as a result of analysis grants have a time restrict. So, when our college system goes haywire, researchers can’t go to their laboratories or entry their funds — and which means they will’t purchase reagents and work, or attend scientific conferences. Tools that requires fixed servicing and upkeep suffers damages. And in an ongoing examine that, for instance, requires samples to be collected from a bunch of individuals, however the samples can’t be collected for six months due to strikes, then that’s the tip of the experiment. These are ways in which the strikes have been affecting scientists. They’re taking us steps backwards!

What’s the influence on college students?

A pupil on a four-year course might find yourself staying in college for six years or longer. Some don’t know once they’re going to complete. There’s no worse influence than this, for my part. I do know a household with a toddler who began college right here in Nigeria however who later spent a number of months out of college due to strikes. The household had a youthful baby whom they despatched overseas as a result of the system right here isn’t functioning. The youthful one graduated earlier than the one who began in Nigeria.

We’ve had college students who, after lastly graduating from public universities in Nigeria, go overseas for postgraduate research and get requested in regards to the years they missed at school. It’s embarrassing for these college students to say that their college in Nigeria was on strike. How will they be checked out? In different elements of the world, when college students take day without work faculty, they go do firm internships. Nigerian public universities go on strike, and the scholars have to sit down at dwelling doing nothing — and that’s unhappy.

How can this problem be resolved correctly so strikes don’t reoccur?

The federal government ought to fulfil no matter agreements they’ve reached with the college lecturers. On the identical time, lecturers have to be clear and accountable to the college system. Some researchers get awarded grants by the federal government, however they fail to submit their stories, even after ten years. So, either side have to be clear and accountable — the federal government ought to fulfil its commitments, and scientists should abide by the tenets of integrity that they’re asking the federal government to comply with. It’s so simple as that: there must be integrity, transparency and accountability on either side. If the federal government fulfils it guarantees, strikes received’t be as frequent. And in the event that they create an setting with infrastructure for science to thrive, researchers received’t have time for strikes; they received’t need to disrupt the great work they’re doing.

Are you anxious that issues would possibly worsen?

I’m very anxious. Our authorities doesn’t appear to care about science and analysis or about fulfilling its guarantees. So I concern that issues will worsen. To anticipate any change instantly is a dream. I don’t assume it should get higher quickly.

This interview has been edited for size and readability.

COVID reinfections, sneezing hamsters and huge methane emissions

People walk past a COVID-19 testing sign on the street, during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, New York, U.S.

Instances of coronavirus reinfection are growing all over the world.Credit score: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

COVID reinfections surge throughout Omicron wave

For the reason that Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 was first detected, the variety of individuals reinfected with the coronavirus has been rising sharply — a pattern that was not noticed with earlier variants. Researchers say that Omicron might be driving the surge as a result of it will probably evade the physique’s immune defences.

In England, greater than 650,000 individuals have in all probability been contaminated twice; most of them had been reinfected prior to now two months, in accordance with knowledge collected by the UK Well being Safety Company. The company considers an an infection a ‘attainable reinfection’ if it occurred at the least three months after a earlier one. Earlier than mid-November, reinfections accounted for about 1% of reported instances of COVID-19, however the charge has now elevated to round 10%.

“The power of Omicron to contaminate individuals with both vaccine- or infection-derived immunity is a key a part of what made the latest surge so giant,” says Marm Kilpatrick, an infectious-disease researcher on the College of California, Santa Cruz.

Measuring reinfection charges helps to evaluate “how infections may surge”, says Catherine Bennett, an epidemiologist at Deakin College in Melbourne, Australia.

‘Dangerously quick’ progress in atmospheric methane

Methane concentrations within the ambiance raced previous 1,900 elements per billion final 12 months, almost triple pre-industrial ranges, in accordance with knowledge launched in January by the US Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientists say the grim milestone underscores the significance of a pledge made ultimately 12 months’s COP26 local weather summit to curb emissions of methane, a greenhouse fuel at the least 28 instances as potent as carbon dioxide.

The expansion of methane emissions slowed across the flip of the millennium, however started a speedy and mysterious uptick round 2007. The spike has induced many researchers to fret that international warming is making a suggestions mechanism that may trigger ever extra methane to be launched, making it even tougher to rein in rising temperatures.

A worrying trend: Line chart showing the rise in atmospheric methane levels since 1985.

Supply: NOAA

“Methane ranges are rising dangerously quick,” says Euan Nisbet, an Earth scientist at Royal Holloway, College of London, in Egham, UK.

Some researchers assume that a lot of the rise prior to now 15 years could be attributable to microbial sources, somewhat than the extraction of fossil fuels. The emissions are a significant menace to the world’s aim of limiting international warming to 1.5–2 °C over pre-industrial temperatures.

Workers in full PPE at the Little Boss pet store in Hong Kong

A suspected outbreak at a pet store in January led to a cull of hamsters in Hong Kong.Credit score: Chan Lengthy Hei/Bloomberg/Getty

Sneezing hamsters sparked Hong Kong COVID outbreak

Pet hamsters in all probability carried the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 into Hong Kong and sparked a human COVID-19 outbreak, in accordance with a genomic evaluation of viral samples from the rodents. The analysis confirms earlier fears {that a} pet store was the supply of the outbreak, which had, by early February, contaminated about 50 individuals and led to the culling of some 2,000 hamsters throughout the town.

Hamsters are extremely prone to SARS-CoV-2 and so are a preferred mannequin for finding out the virus. However the Hong Kong research — posted on-line as a preprint and but to be peer reviewed — is the primary to point out that hamsters can change into contaminated exterior the laboratory, and that they’ll cross the virus on, each to different hamsters and to people (H.-L. Yen et al. Preprint at Social Science Analysis Community; 2022). Hamsters are solely the second animal identified to have the ability to infect individuals, after mink. In late 2020, small outbreaks of COVID-19 in individuals in Denmark and the Netherlands had been linked to farmed mink, sparking panic and mass culls.

The most recent research factors to the pet commerce as a route for viral unfold, says co-author Leo Poon, a virologist on the College of Hong Kong. However “to be honest to the hamsters”, persons are nonetheless more likely to be contaminated by one another than by pets, he says.

‘Huge impact’: First January 6 US Capitol riot trial begins | Courts News

The primary trial for one of many a whole lot of US Capitol riot defendants has begun, with jury choice beginning on Monday for the case in opposition to Man Wesley Reffitt.

The Texas man is charged with bringing a gun onto Capitol grounds, interfering with cops guarding the constructing, and threatening his teenage kids in the event that they reported him to authorities.

Reffitt’s trial could possibly be a bellwether for a lot of different Capitol riot instances, authorized consultants have stated. A conviction would give prosecutors extra leverage in plea talks with rioters going through essentially the most critical expenses. An acquittal could lead others to attend for their very own day in courtroom.

Reffitt “actually is the canary within the coal mine,” stated Gregg Sofer, a former federal prosecutor who served as US legal professional for the Western District of Texas from October 2020 to February 2021.

“It’ll actually be fascinating to see how sturdy a case the federal government has and whether or not or not they’re counting on proof that, when pushed and examined, stands up. It’s going to have a huge effect going ahead,” Sofer, now a companion at a legislation agency, instructed The Related Press information company.

Greater than 750 folks have been charged with federal crimes associated to the riot, which Democrats typically describe as an rebel that aimed to violently stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory.

Greater than 200 of them have pleaded responsible, largely to misdemeanours carrying a most sentence of six months imprisonment. Greater than 100 riot defendants have been sentenced. And at the very least 90 others have trial dates this 12 months.

Former President Donald Trump was impeached by the US Home of Representatives for “inciting” the riots.

Reffitt is a member of a militia-style group referred to as the “Texas Three Percenters”, in response to prosecutors. The Three Percenters militia motion refers back to the fable that solely 3 % of People fought within the Revolutionary Struggle in opposition to the British.

On January 6, 2021, Reffitt was armed with a handgun in a holster on his waist, carrying zip-tie handcuffs and carrying physique armour and a helmet geared up with a video digital camera when he and others charged at cops on the west aspect of the Capitol, in response to prosecutors.

Prosecutors imagine Reffitt took at the very least two firearms with him to Washington: an AR-15 rifle and a Smith & Wesson pistol. When FBI brokers searched Reffitt’s house in Wylie, Texas, they discovered a handgun in a holster on a nightstand within the defendant’s bed room. Prosecutors say photographs and video of Reffitt throughout the riot present a handgun holster on his proper hip, with what seems to be a silver object contained in the holster.

On the morning of January 6, Reffitt stated he deliberate to “do the recon after which come again for weapons sizzling” and despatched messages about assembly at a “rendezvous level,” in response to prosecutors.

“These messages, together with the weapons that Reffitt carried and the gear he wore, clarify that the defendant didn’t come to DC with the intention to have interaction in peaceable exercise,” prosecutors wrote.

The siege resulted within the deaths of 5 folks, together with a police officer. The Division of Justice has stated greater than 235 rioters have been charged with assaulting or impeding legislation enforcement, injuring greater than 100 officers. Rioters prompted greater than $1m in injury to the Capitol.

Philadelphia-based defence lawyer Justin Danilewitz, who was a federal prosecutor in New Jersey from 2012 to 2017, stated a conviction in Reffitt’s case could result in a flurry of responsible pleas by different riot defendants.

“And that may profit defendants every now and then as a result of it’s higher than the choice if the choice is a conviction following a trial,” Danilewitz added.

An acquittal may encourage different defendants to “dig of their heels” and both push for a greater plea provide from prosecutors or gamble a trial of their very own, he stated.

Defence lawyer William Welch has stated there isn’t any proof that Reffitt broken property, used drive or bodily harmed anyone. In a Could 2021 courtroom submitting, Welch stated not one of the movies or photographs reveals a gun in Reffitt’s possession on the Capitol.

“In reality, neither of the cops interviewed by the federal government stated something a few firearm,” he wrote.

Reffitt has been jailed since his arrest in Texas lower than every week after the riot. He faces 5 counts: obstruction of an official continuing, being unlawfully current on Capitol grounds whereas armed with a firearm, transporting firearms throughout a civil dysfunction, interfering with legislation enforcement officers throughout a civil dysfunction, and obstruction of justice.

The obstructing justice cost stems from threats that he allegedly made in opposition to his son, then 18, and daughter, then 16, after returning house from Washington. Reffett instructed his kids to “select a aspect or die” and stated they’d be traitors in the event that they reported him to legislation enforcement, prosecutors stated.