Thursday, 31 October 2019

12 Nigerien soldiers killed by Boko Haram in predawn raid at a military base

In a predawn raid Wednesday on a military base in southeastern Niger’s Diffa region, gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members killed 12 soldiers and wounded at least eight others.

A government statement said the casualty figure, arising from the attack on the Blabrine military unit,is provisional.

The attack was “very probably” carried out by Boko Haram, the statement added.

This was the latest in a string of increasingly brazen attacks near Niger’s border with Nigeria, where the radical Islamist insurgency has claimed hundreds of lives.

The attack was launched at around 3:00 am (0200 GMT), a municipal source told AFP earlier on condition of anonymity.

A senior official in Diffa added that military equipment had been torched in the attack.

Diffa, which borders the birthplace of Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, has been hit by repeated cross-border attacks by the Nigerian jihadist group since 2015.

There was a lull in the attacks late last year, but they have ramped up since March when 10 civilians were killed by a suicide bomber in the town of N’Guigmi, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Blabrine base.

The mayor of Kabalewa, a village close to N’Guigmi, and his wife were kidnapped by Boko Haram members earlier this month.

The jihadist group has also previously carried out large-scale assaults on military posts, including a raid on a base near the southeastern town of Bosso in 2016 in which 26 soldiers were killed.

Boko Haram, loosely translated as “Western education is banned”, wants to create a hardline Islamic state.

A regional military coalition is battling the group, but the decade-long insurgency has killed at least 35,000 people in Nigeria alone.

Located in the Lake Chad basin in the middle of the Sahel, the Diffa region is home to 120,000 refugees from Nigeria fleeing the Boko Haram violence, as well as 110,000 people internally displaced within Niger, according to UN data released this month.

The region has also seen flooding after heavy rains caused the Komadougou Yobe river to burst its banks, affecting at least 40,000 people, the government has said.

Published in World

The United States’ crude oil imports increased while exports decreased during the week ending Oct. 25, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Wednesday.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 6.70 million barrels per day (b/d) last week, up by 840,000 b/d from the previous week, while crude oil exports averaged about 3.33 million b/d, down by about 356,000 b/d from the previous week, according to the Weekly Petroleum Status Report.

Over the past four weeks, crude oil imports averaged about 6.27 million b/d, down by 1.24 million b/d year-on-year, while crude oil exports averaged about 3.42 million b/d, up by about 1.16 million b/d year-on-year, reported Xinhua.

Published in Business
Thursday, 31 October 2019 08:50

Twitter rejects political advertising

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said today that the popular social media platform will no longer run any political advertising from candidates or about particular issues.

Dorsey announced this on Wednesday, saying Twitter’s position from now on will be that “political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

“We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally,” Dorsey wrote in a Twitter thread.

“A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money.”

Published in Telecoms
Thursday, 31 October 2019 08:29

Ronaldo returns, secures late win for Juve

Juventus claimed a 2-1 victory over Genoa after a stoppage-time penalty by Cristiano Ronaldo ensured another Serie A victory for the Bianconeri at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Ronaldo returned to action after he was given time-off at the weekend and Juve dropped two points.

Leonardo Bonucci opened the scoring in the first half, as Kouame snatched an equalizer just minutes later.

The Old Lady took to the field in a special kit, a collaboration created with Adidas and Palace. They started the game well by moving the ball fluidly and dominantly in and around the final third.

It was Paulo Dybala, who had just been awarded the MVP for the month of September, who created the first chance on goal when he excellently chested down Juan Cuadrado’s cross and connected onto the volley to fire a powerful effort at goal, which saw Radu fingertip his effort over the bar.

Genoa didn’t get forward often in the opening half an hour, but when they did, they had some promising moves, with Pandev coming close when he flicked the ball over the bar from three yards out.

Juventus came agonizingly close to going a goal up in the 34th minute of the game when Dybala brilliantly dribbled a couple of players before seeing his effort brilliantly pushed away by Radu.

Two minutes later, the Bianconeri found themselves celebrating going a goal up when Leonardo Bonucci connected onto the end of a corner and nodded the ball into the back of the Griffoni’s net.

However, Juventus’ lead would only last four minutes as Genoa made it 1-1 through Kouame. He received the ball unmarked on the edge of the box, and took a swing at goal, but his miskick saw it strike his other leg, seeing it loop past a routed Buffon.

Genoa were reduced to 10 men five minutes into the second half after Cassata was shown his second yellow card of the night.

By the hour mark Maurizio Sarri had made two changes to his side with Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot coming on for Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira.

The Bianconeri were turning on the heat and they came close to snatching the lead when a great give-and-go between Bentancur and Dybala saw the Argentine take a shot at goal that narrowly flew over the crossbar. That was followed up by an excellent attempt on goal by Bernardeschi, which was saved by Radu. Two-headed chances then fell to Cristiano Ronaldo, with his one effort being saved off the line by the visiting goalkeeper.

Douglas Costa was then introduced into the game with 11 minutes remaining, and he immediately had an impact when he unleashed a powerful swerving effort that flew over the corner of the goalframe.

RONALDO SECURES THE WIN
Juventus were then reduced to 10-men in the 87th minute when Rabiot was shown a second yellow.

Ronaldo thought he had secured the match-winner when he tapped home a cross inside the box, only for VAR to rule out his strike offside. But seconds later he would then ensure all three points for his side when a penalty was awarded to Juventus after he was brought down in the box.

The Portuguese stood up to take the spot-kick and made no mistake in converting the penalty with a low hit into the bottom left corner.

Published in World
Thursday, 31 October 2019 08:29

Ronaldo returns, secures late win for Juve

Juventus claimed a 2-1 victory over Genoa after a stoppage-time penalty by Cristiano Ronaldo ensured another Serie A victory for the Bianconeri at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Ronaldo returned to action after he was given time-off at the weekend and Juve dropped two points.

Leonardo Bonucci opened the scoring in the first half, as Kouame snatched an equalizer just minutes later.

The Old Lady took to the field in a special kit, a collaboration created with Adidas and Palace. They started the game well by moving the ball fluidly and dominantly in and around the final third.

It was Paulo Dybala, who had just been awarded the MVP for the month of September, who created the first chance on goal when he excellently chested down Juan Cuadrado’s cross and connected onto the volley to fire a powerful effort at goal, which saw Radu fingertip his effort over the bar.

Genoa didn’t get forward often in the opening half an hour, but when they did, they had some promising moves, with Pandev coming close when he flicked the ball over the bar from three yards out.

Juventus came agonizingly close to going a goal up in the 34th minute of the game when Dybala brilliantly dribbled a couple of players before seeing his effort brilliantly pushed away by Radu.

Two minutes later, the Bianconeri found themselves celebrating going a goal up when Leonardo Bonucci connected onto the end of a corner and nodded the ball into the back of the Griffoni’s net.

However, Juventus’ lead would only last four minutes as Genoa made it 1-1 through Kouame. He received the ball unmarked on the edge of the box, and took a swing at goal, but his miskick saw it strike his other leg, seeing it loop past a routed Buffon.

Genoa were reduced to 10 men five minutes into the second half after Cassata was shown his second yellow card of the night.

By the hour mark Maurizio Sarri had made two changes to his side with Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot coming on for Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira.

The Bianconeri were turning on the heat and they came close to snatching the lead when a great give-and-go between Bentancur and Dybala saw the Argentine take a shot at goal that narrowly flew over the crossbar. That was followed up by an excellent attempt on goal by Bernardeschi, which was saved by Radu. Two-headed chances then fell to Cristiano Ronaldo, with his one effort being saved off the line by the visiting goalkeeper.

Douglas Costa was then introduced into the game with 11 minutes remaining, and he immediately had an impact when he unleashed a powerful swerving effort that flew over the corner of the goalframe.

RONALDO SECURES THE WIN
Juventus were then reduced to 10-men in the 87th minute when Rabiot was shown a second yellow.

Ronaldo thought he had secured the match-winner when he tapped home a cross inside the box, only for VAR to rule out his strike offside. But seconds later he would then ensure all three points for his side when a penalty was awarded to Juventus after he was brought down in the box.

The Portuguese stood up to take the spot-kick and made no mistake in converting the penalty with a low hit into the bottom left corner.

Published in World

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) on Tuesday approved a $165 million loan to finance part of Angola’s three-year economic diversification support program intended to restore the country’s macroeconomic stability.

The Angolan government is implementing reforms to diversify its oil-dependent economy and has adopted measures to improve human and social development to restore fiscal balance after the economy was hit by a global slump in oil prices and repeated droughts.

According to a statement released on Wednesday and made available to press by the body, the program aims to prioritize and promote the production and export of non-oil products and to start to substitute imports through diversification. It forms part of the country’s 2018-2022 national development plan.

“There are three main components in the plan; advancing fiscal consolidation through improved public financial management and tax reforms; accelerated implementation of the diversification program; and improving governance in natural resource management and state-owned enterprise reform.” The statement said.

Abdoulaye Coulibaly, African Development Bank director at the governance and public financial management department, said the loan will contribute significantly to the government’s stabilization plan and provide a conducive private sector environment.

“For the past two years we have felt that the authorities are quite committed to make changes. Many concrete measures have been taken… We expect that the program will ultimately impact positively on macroeconomic stability, economic diversification and poverty reduction” Coulibaly said, adding that the country was on track to meet its benchmarks for 2019.

The reforms are expected also to improve state-owned enterprises (SOEs) transparency and increase the availability of SOE financial and performance data which will in turn improve corporate governance and enhance the performance of SOEs, reducing the need for subsidies, he added.

In approving the loan, Board members called for the monitoring of Angola’s high public debt levels, estimated at about 90% of GDP, and projected to ease to around 60% by the end of the program period. They praised renewed efforts by the Angolan government to curb public sector corruption and step up good governance which had deteriorated.

“A sharp decline in oil prices since 2014 has harmed the economy, and real GDP shrank by 0.2% in 2017 and an estimated 0.7% in 2018 while fiscal revenues declined by more than 50% between 2014 and 2017. Public debt, largely external, increased from 40.7% of GDP in 2014 to an estimated 80.5% in 2018, raising concerns about its sustainability.

“The Bank Group has regularly provided diversified support covering agriculture, rural development and environment, health and education, water and sanitation to Angola’s development efforts. To date, the Group has provided eight loans for a total of $122.4 million to the country”, the statement informed.

Published in Bank & Finance

Plastic milk bottles are being recycled to make roads in South Africa, with the hope of helping the country tackle its waste problem and improve the quality of its roads.

Potholes cost the country's road users an estimated $3.4 billion per year in vehicle repairs and injuries, according to the South African Road Federation, as well as damaging freight.

In August, Shisalanga Construction became the first company in South Africa to lay a section of road that's partly plastic, in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province on the east coast.

It has now repaved more than 400 meters of the road in Cliffdale, on the outskirts of Durban, using asphalt made with the equivalent of almost 40,000 recycled two-liter plastic milk bottles.

Milk Bottle

Road to recycling

Shisalanga uses high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a thick plastic typically used for milk bottles. A local recycling plant turns it into pellets, which are heated to 190 degrees Celsius until they dissolve and are mixed with additives. They replace six percent of the asphalt's bitumen binder, so every ton of asphalt contains roughly 118 to 128 bottles.

Shisalanga says fewer toxic emissions are produced than during traditional processes and says its compound is more durable and water resistant than conventional asphalt, withstanding temperatures as high as 70 degrees Celsius (158F) and as low as 22 below zero (-7.6F).

The cost is similar to existing methods, but Shisalanga believes there will be a financial saving as its roads are expected to last longer than the national average of 20 years.

"The results are spectacular," says general manager Deane Koekemoer. "The performance is phenomenal."

Unlike in Europe, for example, where recyclable plastic is often collected directly from homes, in South Africa, 70 percent is sourced from landfill. The plastic will only be taken from landfill if there is somewhere for it to go -- such as into roads. Shisalanga says that by turning bottles into roads it is creating a new market for waste plastic, allowing its recycling plant partner to take more out of the nation's dumps.

Kit Ducasse, control technician at the KZN Department of Transport -- which commissioned the plastic repaving -- is "impressed" with the road and has now commissioned a highway on-ramp in addition to the first road. "It's working so well," he says. "Time will tell, but what I've seen is great news."

Shisalanga has applied to the South Africa National Roads Agency (SANRAL) to lay 200 tons of plastic tarmac on the country's main N3 highway between Durban and Johannesburg and is awaiting approval for the project.

If it meets the agency's requirements, the technology could be rolled out across the nation. Since SANRAL's standards are so high, Shisalanga hopes it would then be able to meet the strictest regulations across the world.

Tackling the plastic problem

India began laying plastic roads 17 years ago, and the concept has been tested in locations across Europe, North America and Australia. But there are concerns over potential carcinogenic gases created during production and the release of microplastics (tiny particles of plastic) as the roads wear away.

"Such issues have to be ruled out, otherwise we're going to contribute to and not alleviate the national environmental waste problem," says Georges Mturi, senior scientist at CSIR.

Shisalanga has spent five years researching the technology. Its technical manager Wynand Nortje says its method of melting the plastic into the bitumen modifier minimizes the risk of microplastics. "The performance of our plastic mix is better than traditional modifiers, the fatigue seems improved and resistance to water deformation is as good or better," he adds.

Roads are one of many creative solutions to reusing plastic waste. Companies around the world are turning it into bricks, fuel and clothing.

Some other international companies have even found ways to repurpose so-called "non-recyclable" plastic into roads. But Mturi at CSIR believes this is currently too risky in terms of emissions and microplastics, because the properties of this plastic are so variable.

Still, Koekemoer hopes to expand into using non-recyclable plastic in the future, allowing the company to get even more waste plastic out of the environment.

"We're taking plastic out of our dumps (landfills) and we're reducing our pollution problem, and to top it off we've produced a product that's far superior to alternatives," says Koekemoer. "We're leading the global curves."

 

Source: (CNN Business)

Published in Business
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