Africa at a glance

Thursday April 18 2019

This handout reconstruction image released

This handout reconstruction image released on April 18, 2019 by Ohio university in Athens, Ohio, shows a Simbakubwa kutokaafrika, a gigantic mammalian carnivore that lived 22 million years ago in Africa and was larger than a polar bear. PHOTO | AFP | MAURICIO ANTON | OHIO UNIVERSITY  

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Researchers discover ancient giant 'lion' in Kenya
A giant lion with enormous fangs that roamed the Kenyan savannah about 23 million years ago was one of the largest ever meat-eating mammals, researchers said Thursday.

A team unearthed the lower jaw, teeth and other bones of a new species, Simbakubwa kutokaafrika; Swahili for "big African lion".

They calculated it would have weighed up to 1,500 kilogrammes and could have preyed upon the elephant-like creatures that lived there at the time.

"Based on its massive teeth, Simbakubwa was a specialised hyper-carnivore that was significantly larger than the modern lion and possibly larger than a polar bear," said Matthew Borths, from Duke University, who co-led the research with Ohio University.

The team behind the study, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, said the discovery could shed light on how supersized predators and prey evolved over millions of years around the end of the Paleogene epoch; the period where mammals grew from tiny rodents into many diverse species.

Senegal government agrees to consolidate power in presidency
Senegal's government on Wednesday approved a plan to scrap the post of prime minister, the first initiative of President Macky Sall's second term in office.

Sall, who was comfortably re-elected in February, announced the plan earlier this month, telling the prime minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, to abolish his own job.

The new government "adopted a draft law on revising the constitution" during the ministers' meeting on Wednesday, an official statement said.

The measure will swiftly be sent for approval in the national parliament, where the presidential party enjoys a majority, helping Sall consolidate power

When Sall originally announced his plan, Dionne said the aim was to reduce administrative bottlenecks and "bring the administration closer to the people to speed up (economic) reforms so they have more impact".

On Wednesday, Sall told his ministers that he wanted to better control the "lifestyle" of the state machinery, including the administration's telephone, water and energy bills as well as the cost of the fleet of official vehicles.

Over 50 Boko Haram fighters killed in Nigeria attack: military

More than fifty Boko Haram fighters have been killed in an attack on a multi-national force in northeastern Nigeria, a military spokesperson said Wednesday.

Two Chadian soldiers belonging to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MMF), an anti-Boko Haram force combining soldiers from Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria, died in the assault at Cross Kauwa on Tuesday, Colonel Azem Bermandoa said. Eleven other soldiers were injured.

Boko Haram's nearly 10-year insurgency has its epicentre in northeast Nigeria but has spilled over into Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

It has left more than 27,000 people dead and about 1.8 million others homeless.

In late February, more than 500 Chadian soldiers entered Nigeria to aid the Nigerian army in the fight against the jihadist group.

On Sunday night, seven Chadian soldiers were also killed in a Boko Haram attack in the town of Bouhama in Chad.
Sudan army arrests ousted President Omar al-Bashir’s brothers
Sudan's military government has said two brothers of ousted President Omar al-Bashir have been arrested.

A military spokesman said this was part of a campaign to round up "symbols of the previous regime".

He added that irregular militias linked to the former ruling party had been brought under police or military control.
The former president was moved from the palace to prison in the capital, Khartoum on Tuesday.

Protesters who forced his removal by the military council say they will stay on the streets until the military generals now in charge hand over to a civilian-led administration.
UN evacuates 180 migrants from Libya detention
The UN refugee agency says it has evacuated nearly 180 migrants from a detention centre close to the area of fighting in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

The agency said the operation was carried out amid crossfire. People relocated from the Abu Salim centre were among its most vulnerable detainees - including women and children.

There's grave concern for those still in the facility.

The fighting is between forces loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar and militia groups loosely aligned with the UN-backed government in Tripoli.

Salah calls for change in treatment of women in Muslim world
Egyptian football star Mohamed "Mo" Salah has called for change in the way women are treated in the Muslim world, in an interview with Time magazine published Wednesday.

The 26-year-old Liverpool forward was named one of the US magazine's 100 most influential figures of the year, alongside other athletes including Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Naomi Osaka.

Salah told Time that while his attitudes towards gender equality had evolved over the years, he wanted to see more change. "I think we need to change the way we treat women in our culture," Salah was quoted as saying. "It's not optional."

"I support the woman more than I did before, because I feel like she deserves more than what they give her now, at the moment," Salah told the magazine.

His comments come a week after women played a leading role in the overthrow of Sudan president Omar al-Bashir.

Boeing conducts final test flight of 737 MAX with software fix
Boeing has conducted a final test flight of a 737 MAX model with an updated anti-stall system prior to its certification by aviation authorities, the aerospace manufacturer said Wednesday.

CEO Dennis Muilenberg tweeted a video where he said the test flight was carried out on Tuesday, adding that test pilots have completed 120 flights totalling more than 203 hours of airtime with the software fix for the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

Investigators have zeroed in on the system as a factor behind the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes in October and in March respectively, killing nearly 350 people in total.

In both cases, the planes nose-dived shortly after takeoff, signaling a problem in a system that was deployed to correct for an aerodynamic issue that tended to cause the plane's nose to pitch up.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday said a portion of the proposed modifications were "operationally suitable" but said it would not rush towards approval.

Canada's transport minister on Wednesday called for pilots to get flight simulator training to learn how to use new software on the troubled Boeing 737 MAX, saying US-suggested computer tutorials are not enough.
Samsung to inspect high-end smartphone after screens break

Samsung announced Thursday it will inspect units of its highly anticipated folding smartphone after some reviewers reported screen damage.

A handful of US-based reporters were given the flagship Galaxy Fold phones, priced at $1,980, ahead of the model's official release next week, and they reported screen issues within days of using the devices.

"The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in," Bloomberg's Mark Gunman tweeted.

Samsung spent nearly eight years developing the Galaxy Fold, which is part of the South Korean tech giant's strategy to propel growth with ground-breaking gadgets.

"We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter," Samsung said in a statement.

The firm suggested some reviewers encountered screen failures because a section of the display was removed.

Samsung has said it will release the Galaxy Fold as scheduled on April 26.

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