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Gorilla Swallows N6.8m in Kano Zoo

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A gorilla has been accused of swallowing the N6.8 million in the Kano Zoological Gardens, according to BBC.

A finance officer at Kano Zoological Gardens has claimed that a gorilla swallowed N6.8 million that went missing under their watch.

The finance officer, according to radio station in the state, Freedom Radio, said the gorilla “sneaked into their office” and carted away the money before swallowing it.

The money was generated from tourists who visited the zoo during the Eid celebrations. The managing director of the zoo, Umar Kobo, confirmed that the money is missing and that the issue is being investigated.

“The issue is under investigations for now and I don’t want to say anything on the matter, many journalists have come to meet me but I don’t want to talk anything. What I can confirm is that money is missing,” he told the BBC Pidgin.

“Yes, it is true that money from five days of Sallah festivities is missing from the Kano zoo,” Abdullahi Haruna, police spokesman in Kano told BBC, adding: “As at now, we have arrested 10 members of staff of the zoo including the security man and those working in the finance unit.

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South African president delivers state of the nation address

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South African president

South Africa’s president declared Thursday the country’s struggling state-owned power utility Eskom “cannot be allowed to fail” and said he wants more funding to keep it afloat after its cash runs out in October.

President Cyril Ramaphosa in his first State of the Nation address since last month’s election acknowledged “enormous and severe challenges” including the economy’s sharpest decline in a decade.

That first-quarter drop of 3.2% was blamed largely on widespread power outages under Eskom, which supplies about 95% of South Africa’s electricity and relies on the government to help service its $30 billion debt.

The country’s economy, the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa, also has seen declines in key sectors such as mining, manufacturing and agriculture.

Ramaphosa said his government would table an urgent bill to allocate Eskom a “significant portion” of the 230 billion rand ($16 billion) it needs over the next decade earlier than planned, calling the utility “too vital to our economy.” He urged South Africans to pay their power bills and do their part.

The president also declared a “relentless focus on economic growth” in a country with 28% unemployment, noting that growth this year is now projected to be lower than anticipated. More than 50% of young people are unemployed, and Ramaphosa wants at least 2 million jobs created for them within the decade.

Public dissatisfaction with the economy and corruption led to the ruling African National Congress party’s 57.5% electoral victory, its weakest showing since coming to power in 1994 after the end of the harsh system of racial discrimination known as apartheid.

Ramaphosa in his address to parliament called for a focus on creating jobs, improving education, reducing hunger and inequality and halving violent crime over the next decade.

He also made an unusual call to construct “the first entirely new city built in the democratic era,” saying the dream was sparked by conversations with a handful of “wonderful” people including Chinese President Xi Jinping and his account of building a new city outside Beijing.

“Has the time not arrived for us to be bold and reach beyond ourselves and do what we believe is impossible?” Ramaphosa asked, saying some 75% of South Africans will be living in cities by 2030 as people continue to migrate from rural areas. His comments drew loud murmurs from lawmakers and questions afterward about who will pay.

The reference to China in the high-profile speech came a day before the United States’ top diplomat to Africa, Tibor Nagy, will make a speech in Johannesburg on U.S.-Africa diplomacy at a time when the U.S. is trying to counter the growing influence on the booming continent of China, Russia, Gulf countries and others.

On the sensitive issue of land reform to help address South Africa’s long-standing inequalities, Ramaphosa said a much anticipated report by an advisory panel had been received and will be presented to the Cabinet for consideration. In the meantime, he said, government would begin to release state-owned land for home construction and farming.

South Africa’s top opposition parties said Ramaphosa’s speech lacked details and a clear plan.

Julius Malema with the Economic Freedom Fighters said the address was too imaginative and avoided the land question, while Mmusi Maimane with the Democratic Alliance said it was vague on how to turn South Africa’s economy around. Declaring 10-year goals “means very little to people who desperately need immediate change,” Maimane said.

Ramaphosa, who first took office in February 2018 after the ANC forced scandal-plagued former President Jacob Zuma to resign, again said corruption had no place in his government and that “we need to ensure that public money stolen is returned” and used to provide basic services to the people.

A widely watched commission of inquiry into graft during Zuma’s administration wants the former president to appear before it and answer questions next month but on Thursday said that Zuma was not entitled to request the questions in advance.

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Libra: Facebook set to launch own brand of cryptocurrency

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Facebook libra 2020

 

Facebook is planning to launch its own cryptocurrency in early 2020, allowing users to make digital payments in a dozen countries.

The currency, dubbed GlobalCoin, would enable Facebook’s 2.4 billion monthly users to change dollars and other international currencies into its digital coins. The coins could then be used to buy things on the internet and in shops and other outlets, or to transfer money without needing a bank account.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive of Facebook, last month met the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, to discuss the plans, according to the BBC.

Zuckerberg has also discussed the proposal, known as Project Libra, with US Treasury officials and is in talks with money transfer firms, including Western Union, to develop cheap, safe ways for people to send and receive money. A report last year said Facebook is working on a cryptocurrency that would let users transfer money using WhatsApp, its encrypted mobile-messaging app.

“Payments is one of the areas where we have an opportunity to make it a lot easier,” Zuckerberg told the company’s developer conference last month. “I believe it should be as easy to send money to someone as it is to send a photo.”

In order to try to stabilise the digital currency the company is looking to peg its value to a basket of established currencies, including the US dollar, the euro and the Japanese yen.

Facebook is also looking at paying users fractions of a coin for activities such as viewing ads and interacting with content related to online shopping, similar to loyalty schemes run by retailers.

However, experts believe that regulatory issues and Facebook’s poor track record on data privacy and protection are likely to prove to be the biggest hurdles to making the currency a success.

“Facebook is not regulated in the same way as banks are, and the cryptocurrency industry is, by definition almost, unregulated,” said Rebecca Harding, chief executive of banking trade data analytics firm Coriolis Technologies.

 

In the UK, for example, there are no formal laws that govern this market because cryptocurrencies are not legal tender. Facebook has also had issues with protecting user data in the past few years and this may well be an issue for it as it tries to provide guarantees to users that their financial information is safe.”

Following an Observer investigation last year, it emerged that the data of up to 87 million Facebook users had been used improperly by Cambridge Analytica to target ads for Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election.

Earlier this month the US Senate committee on banking wrote an open letterto Zuckerberg asking how the currency would work, what consumer protection would be offered and how data would be secured.

It has also emerged that Zuckerberg held talks with the billionaire Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler, whose bitter legal battle over the origins of Facebook was chronicled in the film The Social Network. The twins, who went to Harvard with Zuckerberg and later sued him for stealing their idea for a social network, founded the cryptocurrency exchange, Gemini, in 2014.

In the highly unregulated world of cryptocurrencies Gemini is notable as being one of the first two companies to win regulatory approval to launch a digital currency pegged to the US dollar, the Gemini dollar.

It emerged last month that Facebook is looking for $1bn (£790m) in funding to support the project, and has held talks with payments giants including Visa and Mastercard.

Facebook has been long expected to make a move in financial services, having hired the former PayPal president David Marcus to run its messaging app in 2014. Marcus, a board member of crypto exchange Coinbase, runs Facebook’s blockchain initiatives, the technology on which cryptocurrencies run.

In February JP Morgan became the first major US bank to create its own cryptocurrency, JPM Coin, as a way for its clients to settle payments.

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Sudan Ex-President Omar al-Bashir moved to prison

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Sudans former President Omar al-Bashir has been moved to Kobar maximum security prison, days after he was deposed in a military coup.

Reports say the ex-leader has until now been detained at the presidential residence under heavy guard.

He is reportedly being held in solitary confinement and is surrounded by tight security.

Months of protests in Sudan led to the ousting and arrest of the long-time ruler on Thursday.

Ugandas Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Oryem Okello told Reuters news agency the country would consider offering the deposed leader asylum if he applied, despite an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

As an ICC member, Uganda would have to hand over Mr Bashir if he arrived in the country. The ICC has not yet commented.

Until now, Mr Bashirs whereabouts since his removal were unknown. The coup leader at the time, Awad Ibn Auf, said Mr Bashir was being detained in a “safe place”. He himself stood down soon afterwards.

Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan was then named as head of the transitional military council, to become Sudans third leader in as many days.

Demonstrators have vowed to stay on the streets until there is an immediate move to civilian rule.

Who is Omar al-Bashir?

Mr Bashir led Sudan for close to 30 years.

He is accused of organising war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudans western Darfur region, for which the ICC issued an arrest warrant.

After months of protests – starting in response to a rise in living costs and morphing into calls for the government to resign – Sudans military toppled Mr Bashir in a coup on Thursday.

The transitional military council was set up in the wake of his removal, and has said it will stay in place for a maximum of two years until a civilian government can be put in place.

What are conditions like in the prison?

Kober prison, situated on the east bank of the Blue Nile, was built during Britains near 60-year colonial rule of Sudan.

The building, built with bricks and surrounded by towering concrete walls, has the capacity to hold hundreds of prisoners. Space in its tiny cells, however, is said to be scarce.

 

Many of the protesters and opposition leaders who took to the streets demanding Mr Bashirs resignation have been detained on its special wing for political prisoners.

Sudans feared National Intelligence and Security Service runs this wing, not the police.

Sudan analyst Alex de Waal, who has visited the prison, told the BBC its infrastructure has not been updated since it was built.

“The cells are very rudimentary, it is a very basic form of accommodation, there is no air conditioning or running water,” he said.

Nevertheless, the prison has a reputation for treating the inmates well and not subjecting them to random violence, he added.

A former detainee at the prison told AFP news agency that up to seven prisoners, most of whom are petty criminals, are typically housed in each cell.

“There is a bathroom in each cell but no beds – only mattresses and mosquitoes,” the former inmate, who was jailed there during protests against Mr Bashirs rule in January last year, said.

Whats the latest with the protesters?

Demonstrators remain camped out the military headquarters in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

Reports on Monday said there had been efforts to disperse a sit-in, but protesters joined hands and troops stepped back from a confrontation.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which has spearheaded the protests, urged supporters to stop efforts to disperse them, calling on demonstrators to “protect your revolution and your accomplishments”.

An SPA spokesman told the BBC that the group “completely rejected” the transitional military council leading the country, and said protesters seek the dismantling of state intelligence agencies and the “full dissolution of the deep state”.

What has the military said?

Military council spokesman Maj Gen Shams Ad-din Shanto announced a raft of new measures on Sunday, including the end of censorship and new heads of the security forces.

The council has arrested former government members, he said, and will put in place whatever civilian government and whichever prime minister opposition groups agree.

But while the council promised not to remove protesters from their sit-in, the major also called on them to stop unauthorised roadblocks and “let normal life resume”.

“Taking up arms will not be tolerated,” he added.

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The African Union suspends Sudan membership

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The African Union (AU) has suspended Sudans membership days after the military launched a brutal crackdown on protesters that killed dozens of people.

The AUs Peace and Security Department said in a post on Twitter on Thursday that Sudans participation in all AU activities would be suspended with immediate effect – “until the effective establishment of a civilian-led transitional authority,” which it described as the only way to “exit from the current crisis”.

The announcement followed an emergency meeting by the AU in Addis Ababa,Ethiopia, after the violent dispersal of a protest camp in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, began on Monday.

At least 108 people have been killed and more than 500 wounded, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD), while a health ministry official was quoted as saying the death toll stood at 61.

Al Jazeera is unable to independently confirm the differing tolls after its journalists were ordered not to report from the country.

Sudans pro-democracy leaders have vowed to continue their campaign of civil disobedience until the Transitional Military Council (TMC) – which has ruled Sudan since longtime leader Omar al-Bashir was overthrown in a coup in April -is removed and killers of protesters are brought to justice.

The Sudanese Professionals Association on Thursday asked people to block main roads and bridges to “paralyse public life” across the country in retaliation for the military crackdown.

In response to the killings, AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat on Monday called for an “immediate and transparent investigation in order to hold all those responsible accountable”.

The AU had earlier warned of suspension if Sudans military did not hand over power, but extended the deadline on Saturday after the previous one was ignored.

The AU has met some criticism over its response to the crisis. Political analyst Joseph Ochieno told Al Jazeera before the suspension announcement that the emergency meeting was “coming rather late”.

The CCSD said 40 bodies were pulled from the Nile River on Tuesday and taken to an unknown location by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The TMC has not commented on the allegations.

Galvanising Sudan

The raid on Monday marked a pivotal moment in the weeks-long struggle between the powerful TMC and opposition groups over who should lead Sudans transition to democracy.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the TMC, said it was ready to resume negotiations with the opposition coalition.

But the opposition rejected the offer, saying the military could not be trusted.

Speaking about the TMCs hard line approach, Ochieno told Al Jazeera it was unclear what the ruling generals were trying to achieve with their violent response.

“If it is a way to negotiate … in this day and age, it is rather unusual,” said Ochieno. “If part of their trips to Saudi Arabia and Egypt were to show power and intimidate the opposition, they have actually galvanised the entire of Sudan,” he said.

“Some of these guys have extensions to the genocide in Darfur. They thought perhaps the old system of general intimidation and use of excess power and violence – to which they subjected the people of Sudan elsewhere – could be attempted in the streets of Khartoum in broad daylight.”

The RSF, accused of dispersing the protest camp with gunfire, grew out of the Janjaweed militia that human rights groups accuse of committing war crimes – including killings, rape and torture of civilians – in Sudans western region of Darfur after the outbreak of conflict there in 2003.

International response

On Thursday, the United Nations pulled all non-critical members of staff from Sudan amid concerns over the violence.

 

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The United States has called on Sudans military rulers to “desist from violence” and urged talks with protesters to resume.

“The United States condemns the recent attacks on protesters in Sudan,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement on Wednesday.

Russia said on Thursday it opposed foreign intervention in Sudan and the authorities in Khartoum must subdue what it described as “extremists”, Russias RIA news agency reported.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov was quoted as saying Moscow favoured a national dialogue about a transition period leading to new elections.

“Naturally, in order to do that, you need for order to be imposed, and you need to fight against extremists and provocateurs who dont want the stabilisation of the situation,” RIA quoted Bogdanov as saying.

“Thats the situation right now, but we are against any external intervention, the imposition of anything on the Sudanese.”

He did not identify which groups he considered to be “extremists” and provocateurs.

David Shinn, a former senior US diplomat in Sudan, said the prospect for talks was dim as long as the violence continued.

“You cannot have successful negotiations between the protest groups and the military so long as the security forces are killing fellow Sudanese. This has to stop. Until it does, I don't see any prospect for meaningful negotiations,” he told Al Jazeera.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is expected in Khartoum on Friday to launch mediation efforts.

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Bill Gates reveals mistake that helped Google overtake Microsoft

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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has said his “greatest mistake ever” was allowing Googles Android, rather than his own company, to become the worlds biggest mobile operating system.

 

 

The billionaire philanthropist said mobile phone software was a “natural thing for Microsoft to win”, but his own “mismanagement” meant Google was able to grab a larger market share of the mobile phone market.

 

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Googles Android is installed on just over 75 per cent of mobile devices, according to figures from Statcounter published in May, while Microsoft has just a 0.24 per cent share of the same market.

Speaking on stage at a Village Global event in the US, Mr. Gates said “in the software world, in particular for platforms, these are winner-take-all markets”

“The greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is,” he said.

“That is, Android is the standard phone platform – non-Apple – phone platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win.

“It really is winner-take-all. If you are there with half as many apps or 90 per cent as many apps youre on your way to complete doom – there is room for exactly one non-Apple operating system and whats that worth? 400 billion? That would be transferred from company G to company M.”

Google acquired Android in 2005 for around 50 million US dollars, launching the first commercial Android-powered phone – the HTC Dream – in 2008.

 

Microsoft did launch its own mobile operating system – Windows Mobile – however, the software failed to catch on despite rebooting it as Windows Phone.

At the start of 2019, Microsoft announced that support for the mobile operating system, now known as Windows 10 Mobile, would end in December this year.

The company has previously suggested it has found it hard to convince app developers to work on the platform because the volume of users of the operating system was too low.

Microsoft has since focused its efforts on its cloud computing business and the Windows 10 operating system used on desktop computers and laptops.

But despite “having made one of the greatest mistakes of all time”, Mr. Gates said Microsoft is still “very strong”.

“We are a leading company,” he said.

“If we had gotten that one right, we would be the leading company, but oh well.”

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