Oman bus crash kills 18 people: state news agency

 
>> 
Reuters

Published: 2016-03-02 13:22:06.0 BdST
Updated: 2016-03-02 13:22:06.0 BdST

Eighteen people were killed and 14 injured when the bus they were traveling in crashed into a truck in central Oman on Tuesday morning, state news agency ONA reported.

The collision occurred on a roundabout connecting the districts of Ibri and Fuhud and the victims came from several countries, the statement said.

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Laden feared his wife's tooth held a tracking device

By Matthew Rosenberg

WASHINGTON: US drones were devastating the upper ranks of al-Qaida, his men were killing suspected spies, and Osama bin Laden wondered: Could an Iranian dentist have planted a tracking device in his wife’s tooth?

“The size of the chip is about the length of a grain of wheat and the width of a fine piece of vermicelli,” he wrote, using the nom de guerre Abu Abdallah.

A few paragraphs later, bin Laden signs off and then adds, “Please destroy this letter after reading it.”

The letter was among thousands of pages of documents and other materials seized by Navy SEALs during the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011, and it was declassified Tuesday with 112 other pieces of writings and letters found in the al-Qaida leader’s hideout.

US officials have said that the intelligence seized by the SEALs during the raid included letters, spreadsheets, books and pornography. Yet only a fraction of the materials have been made public — Tuesday’s release was the second set of documents from the raid to be declassified — and experts have cautioned against drawing broad conclusions until there is more.

The bulk of the materials released Tuesday come from the last decade of bin Laden’s life, and include letters to lieutenants and loved ones, drafts of speeches he was preparing to release and stray bits of operational minutia.

Though there do not appear to be any major revelations, the materials provide a glimpse of bin Laden’s thinking and his struggle to keep al-Qaida’s main branch and its offshoots in line as US drones killed the group’s senior leaders and demoralized its foot soldiers.

Bin Laden’s will
An undated will that bin Laden is believed to have written by hand in the late 1990s was included in the documents released Tuesday.

In it, Bin Laden reviewed his finances, saying he had received $12 million from one of his brothers and that he had $29 million in Sudan, where he lived from 1991 to 1996. If he was killed, he wrote, he hoped his family would “spend all the money that I have left in Sudan on Jihad.”

A senior intelligence official, who the CIA insisted speak on the condition of anonymity, said the agency did not know what became of the money, or if any of it remained at the time of bin Laden’s death. But the will, the official said, was probably important to bin Laden, because he carried it with him for years.

Fear of surveillance
The fixation on the possibility of his own premature death, and the fear of the US efforts to track him and kill him, is a theme that surfaces again and again. In one letter, bin Laden warns that a suitcase used to deliver a ransom could contain a tracking device.

Even people presenting themselves as friends were not trusted. In another letter, which does not appear to have been written by bin Laden, the author relates that a Qatari diplomat visited al-Qaida members in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, and brought gifts, including a “huge” watch.

But after the diplomat left, a militant identified by the pseudonym Abu Umamah took the watch and “smashed it with a hammer” because he was afraid of it.

Jihad 101
The latest documents include new details of bin Laden’s apparent struggle to impose bureaucratic uniformity across his terrorist network, including an educational syllabus for new fighters.

Titled a “Course of Islamic Study for Soldiers and Members,” it includes a list of subjects and skills to be taught. (No. 1 is reading and writing.) There is also a reading list of mostly books about Islam as well as lectures ranging from the history of jihad in the Horn of Africa to “a brief word on raising children.”

Bin Laden, who considered himself a student of history, tended to view events through a conspiratorial lens that often distorted his conclusions. The documents made clear, for example, that he believed the West, and the United States in particular, was controlled by a Jewish cabal.

But bin Laden did not reject all things Western. One document released Tuesday outlines the structure of a “chief of staff committee” replicating the structure of a military command staff that originated in 19th century France and is now used by almost all NATO members, including the United States.

The various branches of the staff are laid out numerically, much like the Pentagon. No. 1 is personnel, No. 2 is intelligence and No. 3 is operations. No. 4 is logistics, or what the al-Qaida document calls its “provisions and supplies wing.” The unidentified author added al-Qaida’s own No. 5 role, which could be translated as a morals branch.

The intelligence officials could not say whether the group ever tried to put the command staff structure into practice.

Tuesday’s release was at the insistence of Congress, which in 2014 directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to review the material seized in the raid and make as much of it public as possible. It has been a slow process. The review began in May 2014, and the first release, which included nearly 80 documents, books, news media clippings and other materials, did not occur until May 2015.

Most of the documents released in 2015 were notes from bin Laden and his top deputies, and they suggested that the al-Qaida leader spent his final years seeking to direct a terrorist network that appeared to have grown far beyond his control. There was talk of training recruits and of how to select the most talented to carry out major attacks in the West. There were discussions of whom to promote and how to deal with the group’s franchises in the Middle East and North Africa.

In the 2015 release, the intelligence director’s office also made public a list of books found in the compound. There were sober works of history and current affairs, such as “Obama’s Wars,” by Bob Woodward, and wild conspiracy theories, like “The Secrets of the Federal Reserve,” by Eustace Mullins, a Holocaust denier.

Then there was the application for new al-Qaida recruits, which was perhaps the oddest find in the first set of declassified materials. The application blended the mundanely bureaucratic with the frighteningly absurd, asking questions like “Do you wish to execute a suicide operation?” and “Who should we contact in case you become a martyr?”

Whether it was ever used is a question that US officials have not answered.

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Can Obama bring power to Africa?

US President Barack Obama (L) talks with June Muli, head of Customer Care at M-Kopa, about solar power during the Power Africa Innovation FairImage copyright
AFP

In February US President Barack Obama signed an agreement to bring electricity to 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020. Neil Ford asks, even if this is possible, how many will still be left in the dark?

Perhaps the most remarkable things about the Electrify Africa Act of 2015 are that it commits the US to increased foreign aid at a time of economic uncertainty and cuts through sharp political divisions.

The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, worked with Democrat Eliot Engel for two years to drive the bill through Congress.

The act commits the US government to supporting President Obama’s Power Africa initiative. Although headlined as a $50bn (£36bn) scheme, the US authorities will contribute just $7bn.

Other governments, development agencies and private sector companies are expected to provide the remainder in public-private partnerships.

This will be difficult to achieve during a global economic downturn.

Even if it succeeds in its aim of bringing electricity to 50 million Africans by 2020, more than 10 times that number will still be without power.

So the Power Africa initiative is not a magic bullet, but it has at least highlighted Africa’s power supply problems.

Permanently off grid

It is easy to take electricity for granted.

Most African homes lack fridges and electric cookers but even a single electric light bulb can bring security and allow children to do their homework after dark.

Mobile phones encourage economic growth but the lack of electricity makes recharging them yet another hurdle to be cleared.

According to the latest World Bank data, 35% of sub-Saharan Africans have no access to electricity.

This is a far lower figure than in any other region.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

People who do not have electricity use charcoal to cook

The next lowest rate is 22% for South Asia, while all five North African countries claim 100% coverage.

Most Africans use wood and kerosene for fuel, causing deforestation and thousands of fatal accidents every year.

The 35% figure masks huge variations, with electrification rates ranging from 5% in South Sudan up to 100% in Mauritius.

Connection rates in rural areas are typically worse than 10%.

Most of those with electricity at home live in cities, supplied by grids that were developed in colonial times but which have failed to expand with urban growth.

Image copyright
Clare Spencer

Even many of those connected to the grid suffer from unreliable supplies.

So those who can afford them, buy their own expensive diesel fired generators.

While South Africa relies on coal-fired plants, most African countries depend on large hydro schemes to generate electricity.

Yet unreliable rainfall means that hydroelectric production varies even during a good year and is even worse – as at present – during an El Nino event.

The main problem is a lack of revenue.

Most consumers are unable to afford to pay a commercial rate for electricity.

This prevents power utilities from earning enough money to pay for new generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure; generation capacity to produce electricity; transmission to move it across big distances; and distribution to get it into people’s homes and businesses.

Either people need to become richer, or power needs to be cheaper.

Luckily, a solution may be at hand.

The price of photovoltaic (PV) solar power panels is falling, while solar cells are becoming more efficient, so PV is becoming a cost-effective option.

Such off-grid solutions avoid the need for expensive transmission and distribution infrastructure.

Juice for mobiles

Power Africa is already supporting very small-scale solar PV.

It has awarded part-funding to 28 off-grid projects, along with the technical support that small-scale developers often lack.

Many more will now follow suit.

Image copyright
Clare Spencer

Image caption

The first kWh is said to be the most valuable because it powers your mobile phone

Most of these projects involve solar PV or biomass, which involves using agricultural waste as a power generation feedstock.

Power Africa describes the first kWh people gain access to as the “the most valuable” because it provides at least a single source of electric light and the ability to charge mobile phones and radios.

With its commitment to providing “cleaner power generation”, many of the on-grid ventures backed by Power Africa also involve renewable energy.

In some cases, it is directly funding generation projects, such as the 152 MW Sarreole wind farm in Senegal.

More often, it will supply technical support and dedicated advisors.

It has already helped Ghana to tap its newly discovered gas reserves for thermal power production by providing regulatory advice.

New projects will be identified as more of the funding is made available.

It may be that a single grand scheme cannot solve Africa’s power problems but Power Africa can help provide local solutions, one at a time.

Source link

Share this:

Read More

Can Obama bring power to Africa?

US President Barack Obama (L) talks with June Muli, head of Customer Care at M-Kopa, about solar power during the Power Africa Innovation FairImage copyright
AFP

In February US President Barack Obama signed an agreement to bring electricity to 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020. Neil Ford asks, even if this is possible, how many will still be left in the dark?

Perhaps the most remarkable things about the Electrify Africa Act of 2015 are that it commits the US to increased foreign aid at a time of economic uncertainty and cuts through sharp political divisions.

The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, worked with Democrat Eliot Engel for two years to drive the bill through Congress.

The act commits the US government to supporting President Obama’s Power Africa initiative. Although headlined as a $50bn (£36bn) scheme, the US authorities will contribute just $7bn.

Other governments, development agencies and private sector companies are expected to provide the remainder in public-private partnerships.

This will be difficult to achieve during a global economic downturn.

Even if it succeeds in its aim of bringing electricity to 50 million Africans by 2020, more than 10 times that number will still be without power.

So the Power Africa initiative is not a magic bullet, but it has at least highlighted Africa’s power supply problems.

Permanently off grid

It is easy to take electricity for granted.

Most African homes lack fridges and electric cookers but even a single electric light bulb can bring security and allow children to do their homework after dark.

Mobile phones encourage economic growth but the lack of electricity makes recharging them yet another hurdle to be cleared.

According to the latest World Bank data, 35% of sub-Saharan Africans have no access to electricity.

This is a far lower figure than in any other region.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

People who do not have electricity use charcoal to cook

The next lowest rate is 22% for South Asia, while all five North African countries claim 100% coverage.

Most Africans use wood and kerosene for fuel, causing deforestation and thousands of fatal accidents every year.

The 35% figure masks huge variations, with electrification rates ranging from 5% in South Sudan up to 100% in Mauritius.

Connection rates in rural areas are typically worse than 10%.

Most of those with electricity at home live in cities, supplied by grids that were developed in colonial times but which have failed to expand with urban growth.

Image copyright
Clare Spencer

Even many of those connected to the grid suffer from unreliable supplies.

So those who can afford them, buy their own expensive diesel fired generators.

While South Africa relies on coal-fired plants, most African countries depend on large hydro schemes to generate electricity.

Yet unreliable rainfall means that hydroelectric production varies even during a good year and is even worse – as at present – during an El Nino event.

The main problem is a lack of revenue.

Most consumers are unable to afford to pay a commercial rate for electricity.

This prevents power utilities from earning enough money to pay for new generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure; generation capacity to produce electricity; transmission to move it across big distances; and distribution to get it into people’s homes and businesses.

Either people need to become richer, or power needs to be cheaper.

Luckily, a solution may be at hand.

The price of photovoltaic (PV) solar power panels is falling, while solar cells are becoming more efficient, so PV is becoming a cost-effective option.

Such off-grid solutions avoid the need for expensive transmission and distribution infrastructure.

Juice for mobiles

Power Africa is already supporting very small-scale solar PV.

It has awarded part-funding to 28 off-grid projects, along with the technical support that small-scale developers often lack.

Many more will now follow suit.

Image copyright
Clare Spencer

Image caption

The first kWh is said to be the most valuable because it powers your mobile phone

Most of these projects involve solar PV or biomass, which involves using agricultural waste as a power generation feedstock.

Power Africa describes the first kWh people gain access to as the “the most valuable” because it provides at least a single source of electric light and the ability to charge mobile phones and radios.

With its commitment to providing “cleaner power generation”, many of the on-grid ventures backed by Power Africa also involve renewable energy.

In some cases, it is directly funding generation projects, such as the 152 MW Sarreole wind farm in Senegal.

More often, it will supply technical support and dedicated advisors.

It has already helped Ghana to tap its newly discovered gas reserves for thermal power production by providing regulatory advice.

New projects will be identified as more of the funding is made available.

It may be that a single grand scheme cannot solve Africa’s power problems but Power Africa can help provide local solutions, one at a time.

Source link

Share this:

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Λέστερ: «έκρυψε» την μπάλα! (vid) (http://www.balla.com.cy/ekripse-ti-mpala-i-leicester-video)

Χάρη σε μία εκπληκτική… αλήτικη ασίστ του Μαχρέζ κι ένα εξαιρετικό τελείωμα του Κινγκ, η Λέστερ «έγραψε» το 2-1 κόντρα στη Γουέστ Μπρομ!

Οι «αλεπούδες» βρέθηκαν πίσω στο σκορ, ωστόσο πριν το τέλος του πρώτου…

Διαβάστε Περισσότερα…

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Turnover Port of Rotterdam Authority increases, sound profit development

Port_of_Rotterdam_NEW

Last year, turnover of the Port Authority increased by 2.6% to €676.9 million. This was mainly due to a 4.9% rise in the throughput of goods as a result of which the Port Authority received more port dues. Costs are under control, therefore profit development is sound. Nevertheless, profits fell by 1.7% to €211.6 million due to the redemption of a long-term loan. This has reduced the debt that has been accumulated due to the construction of Maasvlakte 2.

jaarverslag

Chief Financial Officer Paul Smits: “Our financial situation shows a positive development. For the second consecutive year after the construction of Maasvlakte 2 the cash flow is positive, which allows us to continue to invest in the port and at the same time improve our debt position. The fact that our revenues have not increased to the same extent as the throughput shows that we are making an effort to keep Rotterdam attractive for business.”

The two main sources of income for the Port Authority are the lease of sites and the seaport dues that ships pay when they visit the port. Revenues from the lease of sites rose by €3.3 million (+1.0%) to €340.8 million. This is the sum of – on the one hand – the allocation of a site to Sif – Verbrugge at Maasvlakte 2, indexation of contracts and renewal of contracts at revised prices, and – on the other – termination of the contract with Shtandart, resulting in the Port Authority recovering a site. The port dues increased by €10.3 million (+3.4%) to €316.5 million, which is less than the rise in throughput (+4.9%). The Port Authority granted environmentally-friendly ships discounts on port dues totalling €3.8 million. Overall, operating revenues rose by €17.1 million (+2.6%) to €676.9 million.

Operating expenses rose by 3.3% to €133.6 million, mainly due to higher costs for the management and maintenance of port infrastructure and investments in innovations such as PortXL and SmartPort. Costs for internal business operations remained stable. The income from participating interests amounted to €8.9 million, over 50% more than the previous year. The size of this item is determined mainly by the successful participation in the port of Sohar (Oman). For the redemption of a loan the Port Authority paid a one-off sum of €19.2 million. This is the main reason why profit for 2015 declined by 1.7% to €211.6 million.

Dividends of €91 million

In conformity with long-term agreements, the Port Authority will propose to its shareholders – the municipality of Rotterdam (70.83%) and the State (29.17%) – to pay dividends of €91.0 million (+2.0%) for 2015: €64.5 million to the municipality, and €26.5 million to the State.

Investments vs corporation tax

The mission of the Port of Rotterdam Authority is to create economic and social value by generating sustainable growth together with customers and stakeholders. That is why the Port Authority, in addition to paying off debts and paying dividends, uses its profits to invest in the development of the port. Investments in 2015 included new buoys and dolphins in the Caland and Hartel Canals, the construction of the LNG Breakbulk terminal, quay walls for UWT and Sif – Verbrugge, a jetty for LBC and the redevelopment of RDM Rotterdam. Last year, the Port Authority invested a total of €151.1 million compared to €189.4 million in the previous year.

The investment portfolio for the coming years is well-filled with projects such as the diversion of approximately 4 km of the Port Railway Line via the Theemsweg. This concerns public infrastructure to which the Port Authority will contribute almost €100 million. In competing ports in neighbouring countries, the government pays for that kind of public infrastructure. It is therefore particularly unfortunate that the European Commission has decided that the Port Authority will have to pay corporation tax as from 1 January 2017. The Port Authority is considering an appeal against this decision because it violates the principle that a level playing field should exist within Europe.

Integrated annual report

Since 2009, the Port of Rotterdam Authority has integrated its financial annual report and its CSR report, as corporate social responsibility is embedded in the company. For the sixth consecutive year, Ernst & Young Accountants LLP has issued an integrated auditor’s report for the annual report. The report is in line with the new G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative.
Source: Port of Rotterdam Authority

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