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Wikinews interviews biologist Chris Simon about periodical cicadas

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In May, periodical cicadas with 17 years life cycle emerged on the East Coast of the USA after underground development as juveniles since 1996. Researchers and scientists worked to map and study the rare wave, and the locals prepared for the noisy event. First recorded in 1666, the Magicicada septendecim species recently emerged in 1979, 1996, this year, with a next wave due in 2030.

This week, Wikinews interviewed Chris Simon, an ecology and evolutionary biologist at University of Connecticut, about the cicadas.

((Wikinews)) What caused your initial interest in periodical cicadas?

Chris Simon: As an undergraduate student, I was interested in the formation of species so when I went to graduate school I looked for a study organism that was likely to be in the process of forming new species. I chose periodical cicadas because they are broken up into reproductively isolated broods (or year classes). Reproductive isolation leads to speciation so I planned to study biochemical differences among the broods.

((WN)) You study the emergence of the periodical cicadas. What do you study? What observations are you making?

CS: We record exactly where each cicada population emerges (using GPS automated mapping and crowd sourcing). We record the presence or absence of each of the three morphologically distinct species groups of periodical cicadas (Decim group, Cassini group, and Decula group). We collect specimens for DNA analysis. We look for cicadas coming up one and four years early and late. We dig up cicada nymphs and monitor their growth rates.

((WN)) What equipment do you use?

CS: Nets, shovels, automated GPS recorders, cameras, laptop computers, automated DNA sequencers.

((WN)) Do you study the periodical cicadas with anyone else? What is their role?

CS: Yes, there are a large number of people studying periodical cicadas in my lab and in other labs. My lab is made up of Research Scientists, Postdoctoral Researchers, a technician, graduate students, and undergraduates. Research Scientist John Cooley is the leader of the GPS mapping project; he invented the automated GPS recorder; he built our crowd-sourcing website, and he is instrumental in public outreach. Postdoctoral research David Marshall also participates in the mapping project and leads the part of the research related to the mapping of stragglers. John and Dave and Technician Kathy Hill all study periodical cicada mating behavior and conduct mating and hybridization experiments. One of my graduate students Beth Wade has participated in the nymph collections and will soon start genetic work involving genome wide association mapping designed to locate genes related to life cycle. My graduate student Russ Meister is studying the genes of the bacterial endosymbionts of cicadas. My current undergraduate honors student Erin Dwyer is also studying the development of Magicicada nymphs and is helping to design a lab exercise for college students around the eastern US to do the same. Many of my past undergraduate students have studied the biochemical genetics and development of periodical cicadas. See the Simon Lab website.
CS: We are collaborating with Teiji Sota at the University Kyoto and Jin Yoshimura at Shizuoka University in Japan. They are studying the phylogeography of Magicicada. We are collaborating with John McCutcheon of the University of Montana who is studying the endosymbiont genomes.
CS: We are also collaborating with ecologists Rick Karban and Louie Yang, both professors at UC Davis who have an interest in cicada population dynamics and nutrient cycling in the ecosystem.

((WN)) You studied the periodical cicadas in 1979 and 1996 too. What changes with time?

CS: I have studied periodical cicadas since I was a student back in 1974. What changes with time is increased human development constantly shrinking the patch size of cicada populations.

((WN)) What are your thoughts on the long life span of the periodical cicadas? Why could it be so? What advantages and what disadvantages does it have?

CS: Most or all cicadas have long life cycles compared to your typical annual insect. Examples have been found of two-year to 9-year cycles in different species. Periodical cicadas evolved an even-longer life cycle and I think that part of this relates to the evolution of their synchronized life cycles and peculiar safety-in-numbers strategy for survival. To become synchronized, periodical cicadas had to evolve an exact length life cycle and all adults would have to appear in the same year. Because the nymphs grow at different rates underground, a longer life cycle and a way of counting years must have evolved so that the individuals that get to the last nymphal (underground juvenile) stage first would wait long enough for all other individuals in the population to become ready to emerge.

((WN)) News reports mention this is ‘Brood II’ of the periodical cicadas. What are the distinctive features of this specific species and what is its full scientific name?

CS: The same species exist in multiple broods. No species is restricted to Brood II. The three species present in Brood II are: Magicicada septendecim, M. cassini, and M. septendecula. These same three species are found in every 17-year brood (except the farthest north which only has M. septendecim).

((WN)) At what depth do the cicadas juveniles live underground?

CS: Most live within the top foot of soil but some have been found deeper. We do not know if they go deeper in winter. We need to do much more digging to understand the nymphs.

((WN)) How do people prepare for the cicada emergence?

CS: Of course various people prepare in different ways. Ideally, everyone prepares by studying information available on the web (especially on our websites Magicicada Central and Magicicada.org).

((WN)) Do cicadas affect transport in the local area?

CS: No, not really. Occasionally individuals can be seeing flying across highways and sometimes they smash into cars.

((WN)) Do cicadas usually stay outside or do they also invade houses too?

CS: They stay outside. One might accidentally fly in through an open window but that would be rare.

((WN)) What do the cicadas eat?

CS: Cicadas suck xylem fluid (the watery fluid coming up from the roots of plants) in deciduous forest trees and herbs. Essential amino acids in the cicada diet are supplied by their bacterial endosymbionts. There are two species of endosymbionts. One makes 8 essential amino acids and one makes two essential amino acids.

((WN)) Do cicadas damage crops or city vegetation? What damage?

CS: Cicadas do not chew leave so they do not damage crops like other insects. They can inflict some damage by their egg laying. Cicadas lay eggs in pencil-sized tree branches. If there are not enough branches available, too many female cicadas may lay eggs in a single branch weakening it and making it susceptible to breakage by wind. This can sometimes cause damage in fruit orchards. If the branches break, the eggs die so this behavior is selected against by natural selection.

((WN)) Thank you.

CS: You’re welcome. I am happy to have this opportunity to communicate with your readers!

Digital security researchers publicly reveal vulnerability in WPA2 WiFi protocol

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

On Monday, digital security researchers Mathy Vanhoef and Frank Piessens of Belgium’s KU Leuven university publicly disclosed a security vulnerability in the WPA2 Wi-Fi (wireless local-area networking) protocol, which they called KRACK (for Key Reinstallation Attack). Their study claimed KRACK affects every modern device using Wi-Fi; it can be fixed by a software update, researchers said.

Vanhoef wrote, “Attackers can use this novel attack technique to read information that was previously assumed to be safely encrypted. This can be abused to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails, photos and so on.” Vanhoef notified vendors about the flaw in July, including UNIX-like operating system OpenBSD. “If your device supports Wi-Fi, it is most likely affected. […] In general, any data or information that the victim transmits can be decrypted”, he wrote.

The study papers, which were submitted for review on May 19, were kept in confidence allowing companies to fix the security flaw. The United States-based Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) informed vendors on August 28. The Wi-Fi Alliance said it “could be resolved through a straightforward software update.” OpenBSD released their software patch on August 30.

Exploring the flaw which affected every device the researchers had tested, National Cyber Security Centre of the UK said “the attacker would have to be physically close to the target”. But due to this flaw, an attacker can send malware or ransomware on the websites, Vanhoef claimed.

Linux-based operating systems including Android v6.0 and higher are especially affected by this flaw, while Windows and iOS are not as vulnerable as Android by this flaw as they do not fully implement WPA2.

Microsoft reportedly has released security patches for Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. Google said Android operating systems would receive the updates in the software update scheduled to be made available on November 6. Apple has implemented the patch in the beta versions of their operating system iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS, however it is yet to roll out patches for stable operating systems.

WPA2 protocol has been used for more than a decade, and has been compulsory for Wi-Fi since 2006. KRACK would also affect various home appliances which can be controlled over Wi-Fi, within the so-called “Internet of things”. Andrew Martin from Oxford University said, “We can be sure a lot of these devices won’t be patched[…] Whether that matters for this attack or only for some future attack is yet to be seen.”

The study and its findings are scheduled for presentation at the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Computer and Communications Security conference on November 1.

Heavy rains start in central and southern Chile while aftershock takes place

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Heavy rains have started on Wednesday early morning through the most of central and southern Chile. At least 29 millimeters were reported by ONEMI in the Bío Bío Region in Wednesday morning; thirteen milimeters in Temuco and 8.8 in Chillán. It has been worsen by the low temperatures. The rains have affected thousands of people that lost their homes after the great 8.8 earthquake and subsequent tsunami earlier this year. In Chiguayante, firefighters emptied a camp that was completely inundated by the rains. It is expected that the downfalls will provoke chills and respiratory problems in children and the elderly. The rains have damaged some roads in Pichilemu, Wikinews’ Diego Grez reported.

President Sebastián Piñera has visited some locations affected by the rains, including Chocholgue, San Pedro de La Paz, Constitución, and Maule. People told him and Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter that the mediaguas, or small houses, given out by the government don’t block out the water and humidity. There are also people that haven’t received tents or mediaguas yet. The government announced that ambulances will constantly patrol the cities.

Meanwhile, an earthquake hit the area, with the epicenter offshore of Maule, 65 kilometers northwest of Cauquenes, at 11:24 am local time (15:24 UTC), with a depth of 30.1 kilometers. The USGS reported the quake measured magnitude 4.9, although the University of Chile Geological Survey reported it as 6.1. There was no tsunami warning.

Buying The Best Dividend Stocks}

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Submitted by: Kipling Patel

Dividend Stocks provide a great way to grow your retirement. This article includes advice on how to find the best dividend stocks and the best ways to profit from them as an investor.

Dividend Stocks and proper investing in them has proven to be an excellent way to grow your wealth. The keys are to find the best value stocks that have steady growth with increasing dividends. That is our specialty. If you want to learn about the best dividend stocks, then you have landed on the right article and you have the best website to guide you in the future. Here, you will be shown how to identify the high dividend stocks and also how to recognize the best dividend stocks.

What are the Secrets?

As we all know that the main objective of this kind of investment is to find the right dividend stocks to invest in. This can only be known if a person knows the right metrics to evaluate the dividend stocks. Here is some very useful information:

1. Calculating the Dividend Yield:

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Calculating the yield is simple but important. Simply divide the dividend payout into the current price and that gives you the income yield. Typically, your goal should be to have over a 2% and sometimes as high as an 8%. Too high of a dividend yield is sometimes indicative of a stock that is too risky.

2. Look for Companies in with low Debt:

There is more profit with companies that have grown very successful and that have accelerated earnings but not at the expense of carrying too much debt. Make sure the debt is not more than normal the industry average. This kind of research is not always easy but thanks to the internet it is not impossible, as well. There are many sites that provide the debt ratios of the company and its industry and sector averages.

3. Focus Most of Your Research on Large Cap Dividend Stocks:

The market cap can be defined as the filter that separates the companies of different sizes into various groups. Large cap stocks are typically the safest in both protecting appreciation and growing the dividend. Look to the dividend stocks that most institutions buy and that are defensive. Focusing on consumer staples, utilities and the energy space are some of the best places to look. Companies like, Procter and Gamble (PG), Consolidated Edison (ED), and Exxon Mobil (XOM) are the types of top dividend stocks you should be looking at.

4. Attractive Valuations:

Looking for attractive valuations is a very important part of finding the best dividend stocks to invest in. Typically, we recommend looking for Price-to-Earnings ratios less than 15, the historic market average. The best metric is to look at the forward PE ratio to give you the best way of identifying future value and earnings. Looking for PEG ratios of less than 2.0, Price-to-Cash flow ratios of less than 10, and Price-to-Sales ratios of less than 2.0 are also good metrics.

5. Reinvest The Dividends

The very best way to grow your wealth is to reinvest the dividends. That is way to take advantage of compounding interest and the gains in the end are far greater.

If one follows all of these educational tips, they are sure to find the best dividend stocks. The key is research, as with anything. Once you gain the knowledge and get some experience, then you have the tools in this article to start growing your retirement. Remember to reinvest the dividends in the best dividend stocks and you will be well on your way to future riches.

About the Author: Dividend Stocks provide a great way to grow your investment account. To learn how to find the best dividend stocks to invest in along with timely entries and tips, visit

dividendstocksx.com

.

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Manitoba volunteers go to war against Red River flooding

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Over 1,600 volunteers registered to help build approximately 65,000 of the 500,000 sandbags to create dikes 20.5 feet (6.2 meters) high to protect the City of Winnipeg, Manitoba in the war against the Red River of the North flood.

700 volunteers answered at the rural municipality of St. Andrews alone. Once sandbags are filled for West St. Paul, St. Andrews, and Selkirk, then frozen culverts must be cleared.

The height of the river is expected to be Thursday, and predictions are that it will be less than Flood of the Century of 1997. There is no precipitation in the forecast, and snow in the province should be melted by the end of the week.

“The fear right now is we have to get that ice out of the river. The Amphibex [Excavators] are still working and breaking the ice apart, and everyday we buy with the warm weather and the current, it is thinning the ice down a bit, so when it does start to move, the better chance it’ll move right out into the lake,” said Paul Guyder, the emergency coordinator for the RMs of St. Andrews and St. Clements.

“I feel that we’ve done everything humanly possible to get ready,” said Gary Doer, Premier of Manitoba, “But … there are fallibilities with human behaviour. We can take every preventative measure as human beings possible and we can still get Mother Nature proving again she is superior.”

Communities with ring diking will partially or fully close their dikes at the beginning of the week. Provincial officials are considering opening the Red River Floodway gates around mid-week before ice is fully melted.

Ice jams could cause flooding within the city, however opening the gates could spare neighbourhood flooding when the river rises to the estimated 6.3 meters (20.7 feet) height. The province does have back up plans for dealing with ice jams within the city if they do occur. The unpredictability of ice jams and the ensuing water level rise may cause neighbourhood flooding. The city is raising dikes where the river has jammed with ice in the past such as on tight curves and past bridges. Likewise there are excavators and backhoes positioned at these points.

Vulnerable neighbourhoods on the river banks have been reinforced with sandbag dikes at vulnerable areas from the massive volunteer effort over the weekend. Guyader feels no more extra volunteers are needed, however volunteers are still being asked to leave their names and number in case of unpredicted need. Existing personnel will assess roads, and help with clean up.

Approximately 400 of the 800 people who evacuated the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation have returned to their homes.

Former Premier, Dufferin Roblin, brought forward the floodway as a protection for Winnipeg residents and economy following the 1950 Red River Flood. The Red River floodway, “Duff’s Ditch” was finally finished in 1968, and its floodway gates have been opened 20 times saving Winnipeg from an estimated CA$10 billion in damages. The floodway expansion began in 2005 at a price of $665 million.

Polish and Chinese experts have come to survey the Red River Floodway, and Dennis Walaker, mayor of Fargo, North Dakota recognises the need for Red River flood defences down river. “Every town that you drive by from the Canadian line up to Winnipeg is either elevated or ring-diked,” said Walaker.

Indonesian police plane crashes near Batam, fifteen missing

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

An M-28 Skytruck plane operated by police in Indonesia crashed into the sea near the island of Batam today. The fifteen on board are missing.

The domestic flight from Pangkal Pinang on Bangka to Batam lost contact with Singaporean air traffic control at 10:22 Batam local time; Singapore has controlled some Indonesian airspace since the 1940s. Fisherman have located wreckage and body parts off the coast of Kabupaten Lingga in the Riau Islands which also include Batam.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore activated its Crisis Management Centre and has supplied a Super Puma helicopter and a Fokker 50 plane for search and rescue. Two Singaporean ships are on standby awaiting Indonesian clearance. Three Indonesian naval ships and two patrol boats are also involved.

Basarnas, the Indonesian search and rescue authority, says a 200 square-nautical-mile (about 700 square km) area is being searched. Items recovered thus far include seats, luggage, and documents. Basarnas head Bambang Soelistyo said survivors were possible.

Al Sharpton speaks out on race, rights and what bothers him about his critics

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Monday, December 3, 2007

At Thanksgiving dinner David Shankbone told his white middle class family that he was to interview Reverend Al Sharpton that Saturday. The announcement caused an impassioned discussion about the civil rights leader’s work, the problems facing the black community and whether Sharpton helps or hurts his cause. Opinion was divided. “He’s an opportunist.” “He only stirs things up.” “Why do I always see his face when there’s a problem?”

Shankbone went to the National Action Network’s headquarters in Harlem with this Thanksgiving discussion to inform the conversation. Below is his interview with Al Sharpton on everything from Tawana Brawley, his purported feud with Barack Obama, criticism by influential African Americans such as Clarence Page, his experience running for President, to how he never expected he would see fifty (he is now 53). “People would say to me, ‘Now that I hear you, even if I disagree with you I don’t think you’re as bad as I thought,'” said Sharpton. “I would say, ‘Let me ask you a question: what was “bad as you thought”?’ And they couldn’t say. They don’t know why they think you’re bad, they just know you’re supposed to be bad because the right wing tells them you’re bad.”

Contents

  • 1 Sharpton’s beginnings in the movement
  • 2 James Brown: a father to Sharpton
  • 3 Criticism: Sharpton is always there
  • 4 Tawana Brawley to Megan Williams
  • 5 Sharpton and the African-American media
  • 6 Why the need for an Al Sharpton?
  • 7 Al Sharpton and Presidential Politics
  • 8 On Barack Obama
  • 9 The Iraq War
  • 10 Sharpton as a symbol
  • 11 Blacks and whites and talking about race
  • 12 Don Imus, Michael Richards and Dog The Bounty Hunter
  • 13 Sources

MMS comes to American iPhones

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Today, after two years of waiting, American iPhone users are finally able to send and receive MMS messages. This long awaited feature has caused Apple and AT&T a great deal of grief from its user base. Originally the grief was directed at Apple for the lack of inclusion on the device, but as time progressed AT&T was faulted for lack of support.

When the iPhone was released in June of 2007, it lacked one feature that was widely available on other devices: MMS or Multimedia Messaging Service. This standard, similar to the all text SMS standard, allows users to send and receive video, audio, and picture files on their mobile phones. MMS was launched in 2002 and by 2007 was a common feature on most new mobile phones. It was not until June 2009, with the release of iPhone OS 3.0, that the devices also had the capability to send and receive these multimedia messages. Unfortunately for American iPhone users, all of whom use AT&T because of an exclusive agreement between the phone company and Apple, AT&T did not allow iPhone users to use this feature; that changed today.

Current iPhone users simply need to update (from iTunes) and reboot their device in order to enable MMS. AT&T was originally concerned about not having the network capacity to handle the data demand of all the MMS messages and in Wikinews’ own testing this seems to be a valid issue. The ability to send and receive MMS messages was functional, but by midday Friday (PST), AT&T’s network was extremely slow, with messages taking in excess of two minutes to send. Tests over AT&T’s 3G network showed upload and download speeds nearly halved what they were just a few days prior.

China offers Africa financial aid including $10 billion in loans

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

China has offered Africa concessional loans worth US$10 (€6.5) billion as part of a host of new measures aimed at improving the economy of African nations. The announcement was made at the opening of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Leaders of nearly 50 African countries are attending the two-day conference.

China had already stated today at the 3rd Conference of Chinese and African Entrepreneurs, held immediately before the FOCAC, that Chinese firms would be encouraged to invest in Africa, while both sides would work together to improve the tourism, telecommunications and finance industries. China also said that governments should work with businesses to ensure co-operation between China and Africa.

As well as the loans, made over three years, China will write off the debt of Africa’s poorest countries, build 100 African green energy facilities and systematically lower import duties on 95% of all African products exported to China. Another promise is a loan of one billion dollars aimed at small and medium sized businesses in Africa. There will also be efforts to promote each other’s culture and increased medical assistance to Africa. Medical assistance comes in the form of 500 million yuan (US$73.2 million) of goods for the 60 hospitals and malaria centers China has already built, as well as 3,000 doctors and nurses. Roads will also be improved.

China also plans to assist with satellite weather monitoring, to help combat desertification and work within the urban environment, all aimed at reducing global warming. The new energy facilities will focus on solar, biogas and small-scale hydroelectrical installations. Another new measure is a promise to aid African farmers to ensure the continent is fed, increasing the number of demonstrations of agricultural technology in Africa to 20 and sending 50 teams of agricultural technology experts to the continent. Training in agricultural technology will be provided to 2,000 people.

“The Chinese people cherish sincere friendship toward the African people, and China’s support to Africa’s development is concrete and real,” said co-chair Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao as the FOCAC opened up, adding “Whatever change that may take place in the world, our friendship with African people will not change.” He described this friendship as ‘unbreakable’. Two years ago China pledged US$5 (€3.37) billion at the last FOCAC in Beijing and now, according to Jiabao, “China is ready to deepen practical cooperation in Africa.”

We want more investment from China

China has fulfilled its 2006 pledge, investing a total of US$7.8 (€5.26) billion in Africa last year alone. 49 African countries are represented at the FOCAC, which was created in 2000, although Jiabao noted that relations between China and Africa go back fifty years. China had already forgiven or reduced the debt for thirty nations at that FOCAC summit.

According to Chinese state-owned paper China Daily, trade between China and Africa increased by 45% last year, to give a total value of US$107 (€72.1) billion, a tenfold increase since 2001 and up from US$491 (€331) million in 2003. The Chinese have a 9.8% market share, the largest of any nation, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. China has paid for schools, hospitals, malaria clinics and Chinese scholarships for African students. 50 more schools are to be built and 1,500 people trained to staff them.

Since 2006 Chinese energy firms have committed to spend at least US$16 (€10.8) billion securing African oil and gas. China’s Sinopec Group, an oil giant, bought up Addax Petroleum Corporation from its Swiss owners that year, gaining control of oilfields in Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon. China promised earlier this year to spend US$9 (€6) billion on infrastructure in the Congo in exchange for mineral deposits for mining operations.

Jean Ping, leader of the African Union, said the told those at the conference that the money is coming at an opportune time, because African growth was “totally compromised” by the global financial crisis. Ping said one of the lessons learned is that the world is paying for “the irresponsible and lax behavior” of large financial companies whose philosophy was to make short-term profits.

We thank China particularly for backing efforts by our countries to achieve peace and stability in Africa’s zones of conflict

Not all Africans are happy with China’s increasing involvement in their continent. Trade practices are a concern for some, with a view that China exploits Africa for raw materials before selling back finished goods. Among these are Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid. Egypt is the richest nation in the Middle East and is discussing this perceived issue with China. Rachid told Bloomberg “What is a worry for me is if competition is unfair. That is where we are unhappy.” Jiabao described the trade as being based on “win-win programmes… and transparency.”

Others in Africa are delighted with the situation. “We want more investment from China,” Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete told the forum. Egypt’s own President Hosni Mubarak talked of “peace, security and growth,” and of “boosting cooperation between China and Africa.”

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Jiabao also used his speech to respond to criticisms that China worked with nations regardless of their human rights record, such as Sudan, whose President Omar al-Beahir is wanted on a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. “Africa is fully capable of solving its own problems, in an African way,” he said, adding that “China has never attached any political strings […] to assistance to Africa.”

Beshir thanked China in a speech for diplomatic work in Sudan, including working to defuse the Darfur conflict, which the United Nations says has left 300,000 dead. “We express our deep appreciation for China’s efforts in backing the comprehensive peace agreement in Sudan and its peace efforts in Darfur,” he said, referring to a peace deal between the northern and southern parts of his country. “We thank China particularly for backing efforts by our countries to achieve peace and stability in Africa’s zones of conflict.” Jiabao said China was willing to work towards “the settlement of issues of peace and security,” in Africa.

A further criticism has been that China has brought in Chinese workers and used their own knowledge, instead of training locals. Jiabao’s speech indicated an intention to co-operate better in the fields of science and technology, as well as improve training for African students on technical courses.

“Why do some only criticise China?” asked Jiabao. “Is this a view representing African countries, or rather the view of Western countries?”

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