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Items filtered by date: June 2019

Thursday, 20 June 2019 04:59

Troops kill more terrorists in Borno

TROOPS have destroyed more camps belonging to Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State with a number of the insurgents killed during clearance operations, the Army said yesterday.

Its spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, said in a statement that some items were recovered from the terrorists.

He said: “Troops of 112 Task Force Battalion on clearance operations in conjunction with Civilian Joint Task Force have neutralised more members of the crouching Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists when troops raided a cluster of recently established camps along Kajeri village on Tuesday, June 18.

“A thorough search of the camps resulted in the recovery of the following items: two Dane guns, eight cartridges, two torchlights and one bicycle.

“Furthermore, two women and three children suspected to have been kidnapped by the terrorists were rescued by troops around the bushes of Kajeri and Saleri villages.

“The rescued women and children will be handed over to the appropriate agency for further action.

“The camps were destroyed/burnt down by the troops, while they advanced further and cleared the surrounding dispersed localities in the general area of Kajeri and Saleri axis.”

Published in Headliners

It takes a lot for C-Span to get mad.

But an unusual move by the South Carolina Democratic Party to bar the network from putting on a live broadcast of its annual convention — which is doubling as a major showcase for 21 presidential candidates — has left executives at the strait-laced public affairs network fuming. CNN and Fox News aren’t thrilled about it, either.

The source of the friction is a deal struck between the state party and MSNBC, the liberal-leaning cable network, granting the channel exclusive rights to show the candidates’ speeches live on Saturday.

Under the party’s rules, which were abruptly announced this week, rival television networks will have to wait three hours after the event concludes before broadcasting their footage.

News organizations always scrap for exclusive interviews with prominent politicians. But the South Carolina convention, virtually a required stop for presidential hopefuls, is typically open to all journalistic comers. The decision to restrict coverage set off broader concerns that the state party was picking and choosing the news organization allowed to cover what is a crucial event in an early-voting state.

“This has never happened before, ever,” said Steve Scully, the C-Span political editor, who has overseen the channel’s campaign coverage since the early 1990s.

Mr. Scully, who also hosts C-Span’s popular call-in show, is perhaps best known for a stoic onscreen demeanor that remains in place even when callers rant and complain. On Wednesday, Mr. Scully sounded more animated.

“You have what is an open event, and a political party dictating who can and cannot carry it live,” he said in an interview. “It really is a very undemocratic move. If they’re trying to get access to the widest audience possible, why not let everyone in?”

C-Span lodged a formal complaint on Wednesday with the convention’s organizers, calling their move “the antithesis of openness” that “could set a precedent that would end up seriously limiting citizen access to key presidential electoral events.”

Fox News, which was also barred from broadcasting the event live, said it planned to sign the C-Span letter and had lodged its own complaint.

In an interview, a spokesman for the South Carolina Democratic Party, Tim Sullivan, disputed the notion that networks had been “barred” from covering the convention, though he conceded that MSNBC had indeed been granted the exclusive live rights.

Mr. Sullivan said the decision was part of a broader agreement with MSNBC that, he argued, would enhance the proceedings. Two MSNBC hosts, Joy-Ann Reid and the Rev. Al Sharpton, are set to interview each of the Democratic presidential candidates from a set constructed inside the convention hall.

“This is probably one of the first times that a major state convention is going to have a show broadcasting from inside of it,” Mr. Sullivan said, adding, “We wanted to put on this big show for our conventiongoers and for our viewers.”

MSNBC declined to comment.

Mr. Scully, of C-Span, said he went public with his objections in an effort to prevent a troubling precedent. C-Span, he noted, has generated a library of decades’ worth of unfiltered appearances by presidential candidates, useful for historians and citizens alike.

“I worry it could be the start of a slippery slope,” he said.

Published in Politics

Philip Hammond is set to warn that a no-deal Brexit would harm the British economy, devour a £26.6bn Brexit war chest, and risk the break-up of the UK.

The chancellor is expected to say that Conservative candidates who are vying to be the next prime minister that they must come up with a Brexit plan “B”.

If they do not, he will hint that a second referendum could be needed to break the Parliamentary deadlock.

He will also pour cold water on tax and spending pledges by the candidates.

Mr Hammond is set to say in a speech at the annual Mansion House dinner in the City of London on Thursday that a no-deal Brexit would soak up £26.6bn that has been set aside that could otherwise be spent by an incoming prime minister.

In a BBC debate on Tuesday, leadership candidates promised tax cuts and increased spending on public services.

However, a no-deal Brexit would mean that was not possible, and would also leave the UK economy “permanently smaller”, Mr Hammond will say.

In March, the chancellor pledged to spend the war chest to boost the economy, if MPs voted to leave the European Union with a deal.

Conservative candidates including Boris Johnson have pledged to leave the EU by 31 October, even if that means quitting without a deal.

But a no-deal Brexit would “risk the Union”, Mr Hammond is expected to say.

“I cannot imagine a Conservative and Unionist-led government, actively pursuing a no-deal Brexit; willing to risk the Union and our economic prosperity,” he will say.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson told party members on Tuesday to “take a long, hard look at themselves” after a YouGov survey suggested 63% would back Brexit even if it meant Scotland leaving the UK.

In April, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would push for a second referendum on Scottish independence by 2021 if the country, which voted Remain, is taken out of the EU.

Published in Politics

The Philadelphia band chart a tour of North America, the UK and Europe

Sheer Mag have announced their sophomore album, ‘A Distant Call’, with a new single, ‘Blood From a Stone’. Hear it below.

On the fist-pumping track, vocalist Christina Halladay sings of poverty and struggle: “It’s hard luck living and I just make do/But if one thing goes the rest follows suit/What do you expect when you’re living cheque to cheque?

According to a press statement, ‘A Distant Call’ is loosely based on Halladay’s own experiences going through a breakup, the loss of a loved one and being laid off. The album is due out August 23, two years after their acclaimed debut, ‘Need To Feel Your Love’, which NME named one of the best albums of 2017.

“Energy, desire and that indefinable cool that any great rock band must have burst from every angle. This album feels like a celebration, and Sheer Mag sure deserve one,” NME said in its review of ‘Need To Feel Your Love’.

Sheer Mag will also be embarking on an extensive tour of North America, the UK and Europe. Find tickets for their November dates in Manchester here and Leeds here.

Sheer Mag will play:

Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live (June 22)
Seattle, WA – The Crocodile (24)
Olympia, WA – Capitol Theater (25)
Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theater (26)
Reno, NV – Holland Project (28)
Las Vegas, NV – American Legion Hall (29)
Santa Ana, CA – Observatory (30)
Los Angeles, CA – Zebulon (July 2)
San Diego, CA – Irenic (3)
Fresno, CA – Strummers (5)
Oakland, CA – Burger Boogaloo (6, 7)
Kingston, NY – BSP Kingston (August 30)
Burlington, VT – Higher Ground (31)
Montreal, Quebec – La Sala Rossa (September 1)
Toronto, Ontario – Lee’s Palace (3)
Detroit, MI – Deluxx Fluxx (4)
Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups (5)
Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall (6)
Madison, WI – The Terrace at UW-Madison (7)
Minneapolis, MN – Turf Club (8)
Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews (9)
Omaha, NE – The Slowdown (10)
Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge (12)
Salt Lake City, UT – Diabolical Records (13)
Boise, ID – The Olympic (14)
Vancouver, British Columbia – The Biltmore (16)
San Jose, CA – The Ritz (21)
Los Angeles, CA – The Teragram Ballroom (22)
Tucson, AZ – Club Congress (24)
Austin, TX – Barracuda (26)
San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger (27)
Houston, TX – The Satellite (28)
New Orleans, LA – Santo’s (29)
Birmingham, AL – Saturn (October 1)
Atlanta, GA – 529 Club (2)
Asheville, NC – The Mothlight (3)
Durham, NC – Motorco Music Hall (4)
Washington, DC – The Black Cat (5)
Brooklyn, NY – Elsewhere (9)
Boston, MA – The Sinclair (11)

Amsterdam, Netherlands – London Calling Festival (October 25)
Aarhus, Denmark – Tape (26)
Copenhagen, Denmark – Loppen (27)
Hamburg, Germany – Molotow (29)
Berlin, Germany – Zukunft am Ostkreuz (30)
London, England – Mirrors Festival (November 2)
Manchester, England – Yes (4)
Dublin, Ireland – Grand Social (5)
Leeds, England – Brudenell Social Club (6)
Kortrijk, Belgium – Sonic City 2019 (8)
Benidorm, Spain – Primavera 20th Aniv, Weekender (9)

Published in Arts & Culture

It’s their first material in two years

Spoon have released a new single called ‘No Bullets Spent’, which will feature on their upcoming Greatest Hits compilation. Stream the song and find more details below.

The Austin outfit’s latest album ‘Hot Thoughts’ arrived back in 2017. In a three-star review, NME said the LP was “more evidence of [the band’s] serious knack for, ahem, spoon-feeding weird ideas.”

While fans await news on their next full-length effort, it’s been announced that Spoon will release a collection of their best tracks to date. ‘Everything Hits at Once: The Best of Spoon’ will be available on July 26 via Matador Records.

As well as containing well-known tunes such as ‘The Way We Get By’, ‘The Underdog’, and ‘Inside Out’, the album will feature the newly-released ‘No Bullets Spent’.

The master returns, there’s always some kind of war / And counting his steps, you know it’s him at the door,” sings Britt Daniel through a surreal vocoder effect on the track. Snapping into a crisp drum beat, the song boasts classic indie-rock guitar chugs and screeching solos.

Revealing the inspiration behind Spoon’s new collection, Daniel said: “The idea of doing a best-of came to us a couple of times. First I wasn’t sure how I felt about it but at some point, I remembered that when I got my first Cure record it was [Greatest Hits album] ‘Standing on a Beach’. When I got my first New Order record, it was ‘Substance’.

“That was how I met those bands, and I moved backwards from there but I still listen to those comps. I love a greatest hits LP when it’s done well. It can be a thing unto itself.”

You can find the full tracklist for ‘Everything Hits at Once: The Best of Spoon’ below and pre-order here.

I Turn My Camera On
Do You
Don’t You Evah
Inside Out
The Way We Get By
The Underdog
Hot Thoughts
I Summon You
Rent I Pay
You Got Yr Cherry Bomb
Got Nuffin
Everything Hits At Once
No Bullets Spent

Speaking to NME last year, Spoon revealed that their next studio album could take a more “earthy” and “rock n’ roll” direction.

“I want to make a rock n’ roll record,” Daniel said. “We always said this last record [‘Hot Thoughts’] was a rock n’ roll record that didn’t have a lot of guitars on it. Maybe the next one will.”

Published in Entertainment

According to The Sun, Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku is set for an Inter Milan switch which will see him earn £180,000-a-week, and both sides are expected to agree a £75 million transfer fees – the exact amount Everton were paid for his services.

The Belgium international is wanted by former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte at the San Siro, and United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is willing to let him leave after making Marcus Rashford his first-choice striker last season.

Juventus are also interested in Lukaku, but Inter appear to have won the race for the signature of the 26-year-old.

Since switching Goodison Park for Old Trafford two summers ago, the Belgian has struggled to live up to expectations despite scoring 42 goals in 96 appearances, and national team manager Roberto Martinez has since urged him to move on.

Solskjaer will be looking to invest the fees from Lukaku sales appropriately, but it remains to be seen if another striker would be brought in with Rashford expected to lead the line for Untitled next term, while 17-year-old Mason Greenwood could feature in the Norwegian’s first-team plans if he impresses during pre-season.2

Published in Sports
Mendy has joined Real Madrid, after spells with Le Havre and Lyon

New Real Madrid signing Ferland Mendy says he was told he might never play football again after hip surgery as a 15-year-old left him in a wheelchair.

The France defender, 24, joined Real on a six-year contract from Lyon last week in a deal worth up to £47.1m.

“I was in a wheelchair for a while and I spent between six and seven months in hospital doing rehabilitation so I could walk again,” Mendy said.

“They told me I wasn’t going to play again. Now I’m at Real Madrid.”

Only two years ago, Mendy was still playing for French second-tier side Le Havre before joining Lyon in June 2017. He made his international debut against Uruguay in November.

“At the beginning I just couldn’t believe it,” Mendy said of his move to the La Liga giants.

“This is a great club and being able to sign a contract with them to me is something absolutely incredible, fantastic. I’m absolutely overjoyed and hopefully everything will go well here.”

Mendy’s arrival has taken Real Madrid’s summer spending to close to £300m.

The club have already signed Belgium forward Eden Hazard from Chelsea for a fee that could exceed £150m, and Serbia striker Luka Jovic from Eintracht Frankfurt for a reported £53m.

In March, they signed Porto defender Eder Militao for £42.7m.

Published in Sports

In another example the financial services industry converging fiat and digital currency, Visa today announced a debit card that will allow users to buy things using fiat money converted from cryptocurrency stored in online wallets.

The new Coinbase Card it is directly tied to the a person’s cryptocurrency balance in digital wallets managed by the eponymous digital currency exchange.

Coinbase enables the trading of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple’s XRP and Litecoin, all of which will also be spendable through the new debit card.


Visa, one of the world’s largest payment processors, said the Coinbase Card will allows users to “spend crypto as effortlessly as the money in their bank” and make cash withdrawals from any ATM. The cryptocurrency will initially be converted into British pounds, Euros or U.S. dollars.

“Customers can use their card in millions of locations around the world, making payments through contactless, Chip and PIN,” Coinbase UK CEO Zeeshan Feroze wrote in a blog post on Medium. “When customers use their Coinbase Card, we instantly convert crypto to fiat currency.”

An Coinbase Card mobile app will allow consumers to see spending summaries, transaction receipts, and get instant notifications.

Visa brings with it not only its enormous merchant base but world-class security, which includes two-step verification and the ability for users to instantly freeze their card if it’s lost or stolen.

“This is big news. I think a lot of companies have failed to try to do with [Visa and Coinbase are] trying to do, so it’s not clear it’s going to succeed,” said Gartner vice president of research Avivah Litan. “I think it’s fascinating Visa signed up for this. It’s really good news because they have the scalability to make it succeed with merchant reach, their network, their fraud analytics.”

Two aspects of cryptocurrency that traditionally make it more expensive and slower to use than fiat currency or credit cards is the miner fees (money paid to Coinbase to incentivize bitcoin and other miners to confirm transactions), and the confirmation time to clear a purchase.

Coinbase crypto Coinbase

Blockchain, the electronic ledger technology on which cryptocurrency relies, requires each transaction be verified through a consensus of those using it before it is finalized. The current bitcoin transaction fee is about $2.06.

“It could take an hour to for a merchant to know if the transaction’s successful,” Litan said.

To artificially speed up the transaction, the payment processor (Visa) will likely give instant approval and take on the liability if something goes wrong with the transaction.

While Litan does not believe there’s a real market in the U.S. for retail purchases through bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, she does think the Coinbase Card could see adoption in “other economies,” such as some African nations, China, Russia or Venezuela, where inflation is extremely high, consumers don’t have bank accounts or where they’re attempting hide their money from the government.

Coinbase Visa Crypto Coinbasse

“I wouldn’t discount the need for digital cash. If you look at inflationary countries like Venezuela, it’s like 100,000% a year. A dollar today is like a penny tomorrow. Bitcoin is really their only alternative,” Litan said. “And, maybe Visa is getting into this for micropayments.”

Whether successful or not, the Coinbase Card represents the genesis of bitcoin.

Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonym for a person or group of people who created bitcoin, established the cryptocurrency as a method of electronic payment – not as a currency to be traded on exchanges for its value.

“Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments,” Nakamoto wrote in the paper describing bitcoin. “What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party.”

Earlier this year, J.P. Morgan Chase announced plans to launch its own digital token backed by fiat currency. Trials for the new cryptocoin are expected to begin in the next few months.

In the crypto industry, an instrument like JPM Coin is known as a “stablecoin” because it has an intrinsic value, unlike Bitcoin or Ethereum’s ETH coins, whose value is based on supply and demand of virtual money. Once tied to a fiat currency, though, intrinsic value is created.

Facebook is also reportedly looking into developing its own cryptocurrency for payments, a move that has the potential to make the social network billions of dollars while also helping to eliminate fake news and bots.

Facebook has reportedly already spoken with cryptocurrency exchanges about selling its crypto coin to consumers; others believe the social media firm would not tie payments to a strict “cryptocurrency,” opting instead to use a stable coin backed by U.S. dollars and other fiat currencies.

“All these things together may mean people sign up for wallets. This is going to make people more interested in cryptocurrency,” Litan said. “If you see more people accepting it… it will drive adoption. It could fail, but my prediction is it will drive adoption.

Published in News & Stories

Facebook’s plans to launch its own cryptocurrency could change the game for Bitcoin, ETH, XRP, Litecoin, and other coins, in a positive and a negative way.

On the positive side, Facebook’s movement could change investor sentiment, as is already evident by the upward movement in cryptocurrency prices.

7d Price change for major cryptocurrencies*

Coin %7d change
Bitcoin (BTC) 15.70%
XRP 12.37
Ethereum (ETH) 9.22
Litecoin (LTC) 2.62

*As of 6/18/19, 2.40AM ET,

Number of cryptocurrencies that Advanced/Declined in the top 100 Ranks*

Cryptocurrencies Advance/Decline Number
Advance 73
Decline 27

*As of 6/18/19, 2.40AM ET,

“Growing chatter that Facebook is getting closer to launch its own cryptocurrency has helped lift sentiment in the crypto space and has largely been credited as the catalyst for the latest rally,” says Jesse Cohen, U.S. markets editor at global financial platform “Whenever a company as large as Facebook gets involved it helps give a larger degree of legitimacy and mainstream acceptance to an industry still plagued by speculation of illegal activity and regulatory scrutiny.”

Nisa Amoils, a venture capitalist at New York Angels, agrees. “The announcement of more institutional players coming into the asset class like Facebook and Bakkt both announcing this month only furthers the bullish outlook,” says Amoils. And that brings out the fear of missing out crowd (fomo), according to blockchain entrepreneur Kirill Bensonoff.

How high could Bitcoin climb? “From a technical perspective, prices look set to test the $12,000-level in the weeks ahead as positive momentum builds and the fear of missing out kicks in,” says Cohen. Amoils adopts a more bullish outlook. “Some think it can go to 50,000. Since it has more than doubled since April and is now at 9000 they could be right. Hard to speculate,” says Amoils.

On the negative side, Facebook’s movement could place big governments on alert.

Bitcoin and other major digital currencies are “people’s currencies.” They have the potential to become new decentralized currencies, free of the control of big governments.

That’s why big governments cannot tolerate digital currencies that threatens to break their monopoly on printing money, and to manipulate the economy to accommodate the interests of powerful elites.

And big have the ways to end the game altogether.

That’s why investors should temper their enthusiasm over the sustainability of this sort of rallies.

[Ed. note: Investing in cryptocoins or tokens is highly speculative and the market is largely unregulated. Anyone considering it should be prepared to lose their entire investment. Disclosure: I don’t own any Bitcoin.]

Published in News & Stories
  • Bitcoin has settled at an important barrier of $9,300.
  • Tezos and ZCash are the biggest losers of the day.

The cryptocurrency market is in recovery mode as Bitcoin and all major altcoins have gained some ground in recent 24 hours. The total market capitalization increased slightly to $289 billion; an average daily trading volume reduced to $50 billion. Notably, the trading volumes have been sliding since the beginning of the week, signaling that the market is in prone to range-bound trading.

Top-3 coins price overview

  • BTC/USD is hovering at $9,300. The first digital coin has gained nearly 1.5% in recent 24 hours and stayed mostly unchanged since the beginning of Thursday trading. We need to see a sustainable move above $9,350 for the upside to gain traction.
  • Ethereum, the second largest digital asset with the current market capitalization of $28.7 billion, stays under $270 handle despite the recovery from the intraday low. At the time of writing, ETH/USD is changing hands at $269, having gained about 1% in recent 24 hours.
  • Ripple’s XRP has settled well above $0.43, though the upside momentum is losing traction. The third largest coin with the current market capitalization of $18.4, has grown by 1% from this time on Wednesday and stayed mostly unchanged since the beginning of Thursday trading.

The biggest market-movers

  • Tezos (XTZ) is one of the worst-performing cryptocurrency on Wednesday. The coin slipped from the 19th place in the global cryptocurrency rating. Now it takes the 20th position and has a market value of $790 million. XTZ/USD is changing hands at $1.20, down 3% on a day-on-day basis.
  • ZCash (ZEC) is also a big loser today. The coin is down over 4% on a day-on-day basis, trading at $110.10 at the time of writing. This is the 22nd coin in CoinMarketCap’s rating with the current market capitalization of $747 million.
Published in Business and Economy
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