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China raises fears of 'new colonialism' with $60 billion investment across Africa

China raises fears of 'new colonialism' with $  60 billion investment across AfricaChinese President Xi Jinping on Monday pledged $ 60 billion in financing for projects in Africa in the form of assistance, investment and loans, as China furthers efforts to link the continent's economic prospects to its own. Speaking to a gathering of African leaders in Beijing, Mr Xi said the figure includes $ 15 billion in grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans, $ 20 billion in credit lines, $ 10 billion for "development financing" and $ 5 billion to buy imports from Africa. In addition, he said China will encourage companies to invest at least $ 10 billion in Africa over the next three years. China's outreach to Africa aims to build trade, investment and political ties with a continent often seen as overlooked by the US and other Western nations. That has provided lucrative opportunities for Chinese businesses, while African nations are often happy to accept China's offers that come without demands for safeguards against corruption, waste and environmental damage. President Xi told African leaders that China's investments on the continent have "no political strings attached" Credit: AFP China has denied engaging in "debt trap" diplomacy, and Mr Xi's offer of more money comes after a pledge of another $ 60 billion at the previous summit in South Africa three years ago. Mr Xi earlier said the money came with "no political strings attached".  No details were given on specific projects, although Mr Xi said China was planning initiatives in eight areas, including providing $ 147 million in emergency food aid, sending 500 agricultural experts to Africa, and providing scholarships, vocational training and trade promotion opportunities. During a speech at the summit South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday delivered a stinging rebuttal to criticism of China's development aid in Africa. Mr Ramaphosa said the meeting "refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa, as our detractors would have us believe". China's latest pledge comes on top of a 2015 promise to provide African countries with $ 60 billion in funding that Mr Xi said had either been delivered or arranged. Also Monday, Mr Xi promoted Beijing's initiative to build ports and other infrastructure as a tool for "common prosperity" in a world facing challenges from trade protectionism. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa rejected charges of a "new colonialism" Credit: Getty Addressing businesspeople prior to the formal opening of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Mr Xi said the "Belt and Road" initiative will expand markets. He tried to mollify concern that Beijing wants to build strategic influence, promising Chinese investment comes with "no political strings attached." "Unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise. Economic growth lacks robust drive," Mr Xi said in a speech. "China-Africa cooperation under the BRI is a way to common prosperity that brings benefits to both our peoples." African and other Asian leaders have welcomed "Belt and Road" but some projects have prompted complaints about debt and other problems. The initiative involves hundreds of projects, most of them built by Chinese contractors and financed by loans from Chinese state-owned banks, across an arc of 65 countries from the South Pacific through Asia to Africa and the Middle East. In a major blow to China's ambitions, Malaysia recently canceled Chinese-financed projects worth more than $ 20 billion, saying they were unnecessary and would create an unsustainable debt burden. Deeply indebted Pakistan is also reportedly reconsidering some projects in the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that is a key link in the BRI. The Beijing forum brings together leaders from China and more than 50 African countries. Dozens of African leaders met with Mr Xi ahead of the conference. Mr Xi made no mention of the political and debt concerns that overshadow some BRI projects. But Chinese officials previously have rejected accusations that projects leave host countries too deeply indebted to Chinese lenders. "China's investment in Africa comes with no political strings attached," Mr Xi said. "China does not interfere in Africa's internal affairs and does not impose its own will on Africa." 



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Trump's Flag Drama Created Confusion Across The Federal Government

Trump's Flag Drama Created Confusion Across The Federal GovernmentOn Monday morning, federal employees received word that they were to



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Genoa collapse: Hundreds more bridges 'at risk' across Italy as ministers blast highways firm

Genoa collapse: Hundreds more bridges 'at risk' across Italy as ministers blast highways firmUp to 300 bridges, viaducts and tunnels in Italy are at risk of structural failure, experts warned, as the death toll from the collapse of a bridge in Genoa rose to 39, including three children. There were fears that the number of fatalities could rise further. Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior minister, said it was hard to tell how many people were still unaccounted for simply because they were on holiday or “under the rubble”. He said the tragedy demonstrated the importance of increasing investments and hinted that EU spending limits could put lives at risk. "If external constraints prevent us from spending to have safe roads and schools, then it really calls into question whether it makes sense to follow these rules," Mr Salvini, who leads the eurosceptic League party, said. "There can be no trade-off between fiscal rules and the safety of Italians." The European Union pushed back against suggestions EU budget rules might be to blame.  "We will not engage in any political finger pointing," the European Commission, the EU's executive in Brussels, said. The commission in Brussels said Italy was receiving billions of euros under the bloc's multi-annual budget for infrastructure investment and was "one of the main beneficiaries of the flexibility" under the 28-nation bloc's fiscal rules. British couple Genoa bridge collapse Around 70 per cent of Italy’s 15,000 motorway bridges and tunnels are more than 40 years old, many of them built during the post-war boom but now carrying far more traffic than they were designed for. Lack of investment, poor maintenance and, in some cases, the involvement of mafia-run building companies that use poor quality concrete to increase profits, could all contribute to disasters like the one in Genoa. “They have problems that, if not addressed in time, could potentially lead to structural failures,” a leading structural engineer told La Repubblica newspaper. “The problem is not so much knowing which structures are at risk, but having the money to finance repairs and maintenance,” said the expert, who asked for anonymity because he works for a company that assesses public infrastructure. Among the structures at risk was the Magliana Bridge in Rome, between the city centre and the capital’s busiest airport, Fiumicino, he said. Italy’s CNR civil engineering society said that many structures dating from the 1960s, when the Morandi Bridge was built, had surpassed their lifespan. It called for a “Marshall Plan" to repair or replace tens of thousands of Italian bridges and viaducts built in the post-war period. As investigators began to study what may have caused a 260ft-long portion of the raised motorway in Genoa to collapse, sending around 35 cars and several trucks plummeting to the ground, Italy’s populist government blamed the private company that managed it. Luigi Di Maio, deputy prime minister and the leader of the Five Star Movement, accused Autostrade per l’Italia of chasing profits at the expense of public safety. “Instead of investing money for maintenance, they divide the profits and that is why the bridge falls," he said. Autostrade, which operates nearly 2,000 miles of Italian motorways, is controlled by the Benetton group through its holding company, Atlantia. Mr Di Maio accused previous Italian governments of turning a blind eye to the upkeep of the country’s motorways because of political contributions. Fire crews told The Telegraph 'we are not going to stop searching' “For the first time there is a government that does not take money from Benetton. Autostrade was protected by previous governments,” he said. “If the bridge was dangerous, then they should have closed it.” The government said it wanted to revoke the contract awarded to Autostrade and hit the company with a massive fine of 150 million euros. "The first thing that should happen is that the heads of Autostrade per l'Italia should step down. And given that there have been breaches (of contract), I announce that we have begun the process for the eventual revocation of their contract and a fine of 150 million euros,” transport minister Danilo Toninelli said on Facebook. Autostrade insisted the bridge had been “constantly monitored” and refuted accusations that it had not invested enough in maintenance. "In the last five years the company's investment in the security, maintenance and strengthening of the network has been over one billion euros a year," it said. Cars and trucks are left on a section of the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa Credit: Nicola Marfisi/AP As the coalition, which consists of Five Star and the hard-Right League party, called for heads to roll, it emerged that in 2013 the founder of Five Star had opposed plans to build a new motorway that would have alleviated pressure on the Morandi bridge. Beppe Grillo, the founder of Five Star, dismissed warnings that the bridge could collapse as “a fairy tale” on his widely-read blog. When the plans for the new motorway were blocked, one leading industrialist predicted that the Genoa bridge would fail. “When, in 10 years’ time, the Morandi bridge collapses, and everyone is stuck in traffic jams for hours, we’ll need to remember the names of those who said no (to the project),” said Giovanni Calvini, who was then regional president of Confindustria, an employers’ association. Rescue personnel use cranes to sort through debris from the Morandi motorway bridge Credit: VALERY HACHE/ AFP Arcangelo Merella, a former member of Genoa city council with responsibility for transport, said: “I was saying that the bridge was at risk, that it was no longer adequate and that there was the need to find an alternative because the traffic was becoming heavier all the time.” As Genoa’s mayor declared two days of mourning, there was anger among locals over the fact that repeated warnings about the safety of the bridge went unheeded. Several locals told The Telegraph that the structure shook noticeably when trucks rolled across it and many residents worried about crossing over and under it. The bridge had to withstand more than 25 million vehicle crossings a year, with traffic volumes quadrupling in the last 30 years. A truck is perched on the remaining section of the collapsed Morandi bridge Credit:  STEFANO RELLANDINI/ REUTERS The number of vehicles using the bridge was expected to grow by 30 per cent over the next 30 years. An engineering report released in 2009 studied the possibility of the bridge being demolished because of concerns over its structural integrity. “The city is sad and of course the mourning comes first, but the city is also angry, because for years we have talked about substituting this bridge and it was never done,” said Paolo Maggio, a 46-year-old taxi driver. “This will be a huge hit for the economy – it will impact cargo traffic to and from the airport, the ports, to France. For months, Genoa will be cut in half.” Andrea Rescin, one of the first local residents to call the emergency services after the bridge crashed to the ground, said: “It sounded like a bomb had gone off, the first thing I thought was that it was an explosion.” Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister, declared a state of emergency for Genoa, one of the country’s busiest ports, whose main land corridor with France has now effectively been severed. He also announced five million euros of funds going into recovery work.



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LeBron James Is Done With Trump: 'I Would Never Sit Across From Him'

LeBron James Is Done With Trump: 'I Would Never Sit Across From Him'NBA superstar LeBron James called out President Donald Trump on Monday night for escalating racial tensions.



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Hundreds of ‘Families Belong Together’ rallies held across the country

Hundreds of ‘Families Belong Together’ rallies held across the countryHundreds of thousands marched in more than 700 ‘Families Belong Together’ events around the country to protest the nearly 2,000 migrant children separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.



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The Dangers Posed by the Bird Scooter Craze Catching On Across America

The Dangers Posed by the Bird Scooter Craze Catching On Across AmericaRiders of the scooters have often been seen without helmets, a violation of the law.



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Truck Crash Leaves Hundreds of Whiskey Bottles Scattered Across Arkansas Highway

Truck Crash Leaves Hundreds of Whiskey Bottles Scattered Across Arkansas HighwayGrab a straw!



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Hundreds Protest In Cities Across U.S. Against Trump's Immigrant Family Separations

Hundreds Protest In Cities Across U.S. Against Trump's Immigrant Family SeparationsHundreds protested across the country on Thursday against the Trump



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Five dead as E coli outbreak spreads across the US in contaminated lettuce

Five dead as E coli outbreak spreads across the US in contaminated lettuceFive people have died due to an E coli outbreak across the United States, thought to be spread by romaine lettuce. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 197 cases of the deadly disease across 35 states, making it the largest E coli outbreak since 2006, when 200 people were affected. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says there is no single grower or distributor to be blamed for the outbreak, and is still investigating, Arizona’s Yuma growing region is thought to be the source of the contaminated lettuce.



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Shaking felt across Southern California as magnitude 4.5 earthquake strikes near town of Cabazon

Shaking felt across Southern California as magnitude 4.5 earthquake strikes near town of CabazonThe U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported that two earthquakes struck within minutes of each other in Southern California on Tuesday morning.



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