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UN aid trucks reach remote Rukban camp in Syria – Source
3 November 2018, 3:34 PM

A United Nations aid convoy on Saturday reached the Rukban refugee camp in Syria, next to the border with Jordan, where thousands of people are stranded in the desert, a member of the camp’s local council said.

“The first convoys have entered the camp,” said Abu Abdullah, a member of the civilian council that runs the campand has co-ordinated with the UN on humanitarian aid convoys.

Rukban, located close to the Tanf US military base in the desert near where the borders of Syria, Jordan and Iraq converge, is home to more than 50 000 people whose last UN aid convoy arrived in January.

The camp was last month besieged on the Syrian side of the border by the Syrian army, preventing smugglers and traders from delivering food.

Jordan has put a block on aid crossing the frontier after allowing the January delivery through its territory, and says itshould not be held responsible for conditions in the camp.

UN relief trucks had planned to deliver aid to Rukban a week ago after gaining clearance from Damascus, but were delayed for logistical and security reasons, the United Nations said.

Shortages of food and medicine at the camp have caused at least a dozen deaths in recent weeks; the United Nations described conditions there as “concerning” and said thousands of lives were at risk.

ANC leads the poll for next year election, according to a survey
30 October 2018, 8:49 PM

South Africa is getting ready for its fifth general election, expected to be held by August 2019. Over the coming months, political parties will be campaigning for national and provincial leadership.

The African National Congress (ANC) may remain the ruling party after next year’s general elections. This is according to the latest Afrobarometer survey conducted between August and September.

It shows that the ANC currently enjoys 48% of electorate support, while the DA and EFF enjoy 11% each.

Results of the survey by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation were released in Cape Town on Tuesday.

The ANC’s projected support is at least seven per cent down from data collected in 2011. All three top parties are expected to be competitive in Gauteng, while the DA is leading the Western Cape with 31%.

UCT Researcher, Jamy Felton explains, “What we found is that if South Africans were to go on elections tomorrow the majority of South Africans 48% of South Africans said they would vote for the ANC while the 11% said they would vote for the DA and eleven per cent for the EFF.”

More than one-fourth (27%) of citizens don’t know or won’t say how they would vote, or wouldn’t vote.

Afrobarometer is a research network that conducts public attitude surveys in several African countries to strengthen democracy and economic growth. Project Manager for Africa, Anyway Chingwete says their results are reliable.

“In the network, we have conducted surveys for South Africa since 1999, Afrobarometer survey are highly reliable and we have strict methodology and protocols for data collection, the sample is highly.”

Meanwhile trust for the Independent Electoral Commission has also decreased.

IEC’s Derrick Marco says: “I think it’s a reasonable perception for a number of reasons. One, there’s a major contestation within parties and across party lines and so the institution that holds the democracy together around the elections is the electoral commission and that could by necessity give indication about the level of trust.”

About 1800 people were sampled from all provinces — representing all demographics from both rural and urban centres.

Read the full study below: Increasingly non partisan, South Africans willing to trade elections for security, housing, jobs from SABC News

 

Xander Schauffele carrying his trophy
Birthday boy Schauffele gifts himself a win in Shanghai
28 October 2018, 8:58 PM

Xander Schauffele bagged the biggest victory of his young career on Sunday, chasing down Tony Finau to win a nail-biting WGC-HSBC Champions in a play-off.

Schauffele, the 2017 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year who celebrated his 25th birthday on opening-round Thursday, started the final round three strokes behind fellow American Finau at a windy Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai.

Schauffele had some early wobbles but closed strong, including crucial birdies on the final two holes to record the lowest score of the day — a four-under 68 — catching Finau to force the play-off.

Replaying the par-five 18th in sudden-death, Finau handed Schauffele the advantage when his tee shot leaked into a fairway bunker.

Schauffele reached the green in two, and Finau faced a do-or-die birdie putt from the fringe of the green, which just missed.

Schauffele’s win comes with a $1.8 million victor’s purse and moves him atop the standings in the young FedEx Cup 2018-2019 season.

It also helps put to rest notions that his 2017 rookie season, in which Schauffele won twice — the Greenbrier Classic and Tour Championship — was a fluke.

“Last season, I really wanted to win to justify my rookie year and wasn’t able to do that,” he said.

“People can say whatever they want but my team and I, we know we are doing the right things.”

Down a stroke going to the tee of the par-3 17th in regulation, Schauffele birdied to move level with Finau and walk to the final hole tied at 13 under par.

Both hit outstanding approaches to reach the green on the par-5 hole in two, and each sank birdie putts to finish the 72 holes in 14 under and set up the playoff.

Schauffele, Finau and playing partner Justin Rose, the defending champion, had pulled away from the field over the back nine, making it essentially a three-man tournament.

But Rose, the world number three who could have returned to number one with a win, faltered late and finished four strokes back at 10 under.

It was a harsh disappointment for the long-hitting, 29-year-old Finau, who was impressive all week and lead after the second and third rounds.

Of Samoan and Tongan descent, Finau is the first player of that ancestry on the PGA Tour and the first Polynesian to play in the Ryder Cup, where he provided a rare bright spot as a USA captain’s pick in last month’s crushing loss to Europe.

His only PGA win so far was the 2016 Puerto Rico Open.

But Finau, along with Schauffele, has become a player to watch, recording 11 top-10 finishes in 2018, including at three majors, and his Ryder Cup performance.

Finau was world number 17 before the WGC-HSBC Champions, to Schauffele’s 19th.

“(I) definitely feel like I let one get away. Xander played incredible golf,” said Finau.

“He posted a number and made birdie on a playoff hole when it counted. Hats off him to. He played nicely today and deserved to win.”

The tournament, dubbed “Asia’s major”, annually gathers a premier field with its winner’s purse of $1.8 million.

But aside from Rose, several of the world’s top golfers struggled in the unpredictable winds that buffeted the lengthy par-72 Sheshan course.

World number one Brooks Koepka shot a 69 on Sunday to finish at two under, second-ranked Dustin Johnson finished at three over, and four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy managed even par only once in Shanghai to finish at 10 over par.

Orlando Pirates celebrating their win
#SowetoDerby: Buccaneers register second win against Amakhosi
27 October 2018, 6:57 PM

Orlando Pirates registered their second successive victory in the Soweto Derby after defeating bitter rivals Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 at the FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The victory follows the 3-1 win Bucs secured against Amakhosi at the same venue seven months ago.

Pirates who are now 10 games without defeat in the derby, still lie second on the log table with nineteen points.

Playing in his first Soweto Derby, Khama Billiat gave Chiefs an early lead.

Pirates were awarded a penalty midway through the first half, but Zambian Justin Shonga was denied by Itumeleng Khune.

But Pirates found the equaliser a few minutes later through Innocent Maela.

The winner for Pirates was scored by Vincent Pule who was also playing in his first Soweto derby, a few minutes later.

 

Gold bitcoin
Bitcoin marks 10 years
23 October 2018, 3:36 PM

October 31, 2008 marked the birth of bitcoin. 10 years on, the world’s first cryptocurrency is at the forefront of a complex financial system viewed warily by markets and investors.

From its first evocation amid a global financial crisis, in a white paper written by Satoshi Nakamoto, an unknown pseudonym, bitcoin conveyed a political vision.

The “abstract” set out in the paper for bitcoin, currently worth about $6,400 per unit from a starting point of virtually zero, was for “a purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash (that) would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.”

A decade on, this continues to be carried out via a decentralised registry system known as a block-chain.

Such ambition for a cryptocurrency was fuelled by the bankruptcy of US investment bank Lehman Brothers in September 2008, an event that discredited the traditional system of “a small elite of bankers… (that) establishes monetary rules imposed on everybody”, according to Pierre Noizat, founder of the first French bitcoin exchange in 2011.

Following its creation, bitcoin evolved for several years away from the public eye, grabbing the attention for the most part of geeks and criminals — the latter seeing it as a way to launder money.

After bitcoin surpassed $1,000 for the first time in 2013, it began to attract the attention of financial institutions.

The European Central Bank compared it to a Ponzi scheme, but Ben Bernanke, then head of the US Federal Reserve, hailed its potential.

In early 2014, the crypto-currency faced its biggest crisis to date, with the hacking of the Mt. Gox platform, where about 80% of all bitcoins were traded.

The result was a collapse in their value, leading to predictions of the virtual currency’s death.

It took until early 2017 for bitcoin’s price to fully recover.

That marked the start of a “turning point” according to Noizat, as the controversial crypto-currency then rocketed to more than $19,500 by the end of the year according to Bloomberg data.

That meant bitcoin had a total capitalisation of more than $300 billion, according to the specialised website Coinmarketcap.

By January 2018 the value of all cryptocurrencies exceeded $800 billion, before the bubble burst.

The concept of a digital currency has progressed substantially thanks to bitcoin, cryptocurrency analyst Bob McDowall told AFP, pointing to the creation of 2,000 rivals.

“It becomes more than a technological, economic innovation. It almost becomes a religion for some people,” he noted.

According to Anthony Lesoismier, co-founder of investment fund Swissborg which offers portfolios based on blockchain, “the real revolution has been on a philosophical level”.

But for economist Nouriel Roubini, decentralisation in crypto is a myth.

“It is a system more centralised than North Korea. Miners are centralised, exchanges are centralised, developers are centralised dictators,” Roubini tweeted.

If the initial idea was for bitcoin to facilitate payments, a majority of observers recognise that it is used above all as a store of value or as a speculative instrument owing to volatility in its value.

“You need 20 years for this kind of… technology to take hold completely,” said Noizat, who is banking on faster transaction speeds for bitcoin.

As it stands, about five to ten bitcoin transactions can be processed per second compared with several thousand for Visa cards.

Looking ahead, US market regulators are considering applications for bitcoin-based exchange-traded funds, which if approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission would see the virtual currency become part of a financial system it set out to bypass.

“We must cross some bridges in the short term” to generate the general public’s interest and trust, said Lesoismier, who described himself as both an “idealist” and “realist”.

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