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

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

Educational strikes within the nation are usually not unusual — lecturers have gone on strikes greater than a dozen occasions since 1999. However the Educational Employees Union of Universities, the Nigerian physique representing lecturers and professors, says that this time its members are occurring strike to pressure the federal government to implement a 2009 settlement by which the federal government mentioned it could fund larger salaries, present compensation for unpaid work (corresponding to reviewing grants or exterior examination) and spend money on 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 concerning the wider impression 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 cause 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 capabilities when the colleges are on strike. If a world collaborator had an settlement with a scientist doing analysis in Nigeria, and so they fail to ship outcomes as a result of the college is on strike, it’s going to disrupt the programme or undertaking 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 meaning they will’t purchase reagents and work, or attend scientific conferences. Gear that requires fixed servicing and upkeep suffers damages. And in an ongoing research 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 top of the experiment. These are ways in which the strikes have been affecting scientists. They’re taking us steps backwards!

What’s the impression on college students?

A scholar on a four-year course may find yourself staying in college for six years or longer. Some don’t know once they’re going to complete. There’s no worse impression than this, in my view. I do know a household with a baby 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 is just not 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 concerning 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 take a seat at residence doing nothing — and that’s unhappy.

How can this concern 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 should be clear and accountable to the college system. Some researchers get awarded grants by the federal government, however they fail to submit their reviews, even after ten years. So, either side should 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 surroundings with infrastructure for science to thrive, researchers received’t have time for strikes; they received’t wish to disrupt the nice work they’re doing.

Are you apprehensive that issues would possibly worsen?

I’m very apprehensive. Our authorities doesn’t appear to care about science and analysis or about fulfilling its guarantees. So I worry that issues will worsen. To anticipate any change instantly is a dream. I don’t suppose it’s going to 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.

Circumstances of coronavirus reinfection are rising world wide.Credit score: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

COVID reinfections surge throughout Omicron wave

Because the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 was first detected, the variety of folks 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 could actually evade the physique’s immune defences.

In England, greater than 650,000 folks have most likely been contaminated twice; most of them have been reinfected previously two months, in line with information collected by the UK Well being Safety Company. The company considers an an infection a ‘attainable reinfection’ if it came about not less than three months after a earlier one. Earlier than mid-November, reinfections accounted for about 1% of reported circumstances of COVID-19, however the fee has now elevated to round 10%.

“The flexibility of Omicron to contaminate folks with both vaccine- or infection-derived immunity is a key a part of what made the current surge so massive,” 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’ development in atmospheric methane

Methane concentrations within the environment raced previous 1,900 components per billion final 12 months, practically triple pre-industrial ranges, in line with information launched in January by the US Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientists say the grim milestone underscores the significance of a pledge made finally 12 months’s COP26 local weather summit to curb emissions of methane, a greenhouse gasoline not less than 28 occasions as potent as carbon dioxide.

The expansion of methane emissions slowed across the flip of the millennium, however started a fast and mysterious uptick round 2007. The spike has brought about many researchers to fret that international warming is making a suggestions mechanism that may trigger ever extra methane to be launched, making it even more durable 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 previously 15 years is likely to be as a consequence of microbial sources, fairly than the extraction of fossil fuels. The emissions are a serious 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 most likely carried the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 into Hong Kong and sparked a human COVID-19 outbreak, in line 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 folks and led to the culling of some 2,000 hamsters throughout town.

Hamsters are extremely prone to SARS-CoV-2 and so are a preferred mannequin for learning the virus. However the Hong Kong research — posted on-line as a preprint and but to be peer reviewed — is the primary to indicate that hamsters can change into contaminated outdoors the laboratory, and that they’ll move 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 recognized to have the ability to infect folks, after mink. In late 2020, small outbreaks of COVID-19 in folks in Denmark and the Netherlands have been linked to farmed mink, sparking panic and mass culls.

The newest 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 truthful 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 bunch 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 might be a bellwether for a lot of different Capitol riot circumstances, authorized consultants have stated. A conviction would give prosecutors extra leverage in plea talks with rioters dealing with essentially the most severe prices. An acquittal might lead others to attend for their very own day in courtroom.

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

“It’ll actually be fascinating to see how robust 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 associate at a legislation agency, advised The Related Press information company.

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

Greater than 200 of them have pleaded responsible, principally to misdemeanours carrying a most sentence of six months imprisonment. Greater than 100 riot defendants have been sentenced. And a minimum of 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 keeping with prosecutors. The Three Percenters militia motion refers back to the delusion that solely 3 % of Individuals fought within the Revolutionary Warfare 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 sporting physique armour and a helmet geared up with a video digicam when he and others charged at cops on the west aspect of the Capitol, in keeping with prosecutors.

Prosecutors imagine Reffitt took a minimum of two firearms with him to Washington: an AR-15 rifle and a Smith & Wesson pistol. When FBI brokers searched Reffitt’s dwelling 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 through 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 keeping with 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 interact in peaceable exercise,” prosecutors wrote.

The siege resulted within the deaths of 5 individuals, 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 brought on 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 might 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 might 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 power or bodily harmed anyone. In a Could 2021 courtroom submitting, Welch stated not one of the movies or photographs exhibits 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 dwelling from Washington. Reffett advised his kids to “select a aspect or die” and stated they might be traitors in the event that they reported him to legislation enforcement, prosecutors stated.