United States of America

Physicists Reverse Time for Tiny Particles Inside a Quantum Computer


By Meredith Fore, Science & Astronomy 

Time goes in one direction: forward. Little boys become old men but not vice versa; teacups shatter but never spontaneously reassemble. This cruel and immutable property of the universe, called the "arrow of time," is fundamentally a consequence of the second law of thermodynamics, which dictates that systems will always tend to become more disordered over time. But recently, researchers from the U.S. and Russia have bent that arrow just a bit — at least for subatomic particles.

In the new study, published Tuesday (Mar. 12) in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers manipulated the arrow of time using a very tiny quantum computer made of two quantum particles, known as qubits, that performed calculations.


Is This the End of Recycling?

Americans are consuming more and more stuff. Now that other countries won’t take our papers and plastics, they’re ending up in the trash.

Americans are consuming more and more stuff. Now that other countries won’t take our papers and plastics, they’re ending up in the trash.

by Alana Semuels

After decades of earnest public-information campaigns, Americans are finally recycling. Airports, malls, schools, and office buildings across the country have bins for plastic bottles and aluminum cans and newspapers. In some cities, you can be fined if inspectors discover that you haven’t recycled appropriately.

But now much of that carefully sorted recycling is ending up in the trash.

For decades, we were sending the bulk of our recycling to China—tons and tons of it, sent over on ships to be made into goods such as shoes and bags and new plastic products. But last year, the country restricted imports of certain recyclables, including mixed paper—magazines, office paper, junk mail—and most plastics. Waste-management companies across the country are telling towns, cities, and counties that there is no longer a market for their recycling. These municipalities have two choices: pay much higher rates to get rid of recycling, or throw it all away.

The same thing is happening across the country. Broadway, Virginia, had a recycling program for 22 years, but recently suspended it after Waste Management told the town that prices would increase by 63 percent, and then stopped offering recycling pickup as a service. “It almost feels illegal, to throw plastic bottles away,” the town manager, Kyle O’Brien, told me.

Without a market for mixed paper, bales of the stuff started to pile up in Blaine County, Idaho; the county eventually stopped collecting it and took the 35 bales it had hoped to recycle to a landfill. The town of Fort Edward, New York, suspended its recycling program in July and admitted it had actually been taking recycling to an incinerator for months. Determined to hold out until the market turns around, the nonprofit Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful has collected 400,000 tons of plastic. But for now, it is piling the bales behind the facility where it collects plastic.

This end of recycling comes at a time when the United States is creating more waste than ever. In 2015, the most recent year for which national data are available, America generated 262.4 million tons of waste, up 4.5 percent from 2010 and 60 percent from 1985. That amounts to nearly five pounds per person a day. New York City collected 934 tons of metal, plastic, and glass a day from residents last year, a 33 percent increase from 2013.

Bales of plastic are piled at a Recology facility in San Francisco. (Alana Semuels / The Atlantic)

Bales of plastic are piled at a Recology facility in San Francisco. (Alana Semuels / The Atlantic)


Tiffany Is Training Africans to Cut Diamonds Sourced From Region

By Pauline Bax


Tiffany & Co. has been expanding its workforce in sub-Saharan Africa -- a region of almost one billion people where the jewelry giant doesn’t have a single store.

More than a quarter of the New York-based company’s 1,500 global diamond cutters and polishers are now based in Africa.

Botswana is the world’s largest diamond producer after Russia, and is the only African country where Tiffany both buys and prepares its stones. While it also sources diamonds from mines in South Africa, Namibia and Sierra Leone .

Ethical Jewelry

The move to hire and train African polishers and cutters comes as Tiffany strives to be completely transparent about how its diamonds progress from deep underground to the engagement rings of wives-to-be.


Sources of Africa News:




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Africa in focus

Is the US keeping pace in Africa?

Witney Schneidman

Editor's Note:

Below is a viewpoint from Chapter 6 of the Foresight Africa 2019 report, which explores six overarching themes on the triumphs of the past years as well as strategies to tackle the remaining obstacles for Africa. Read the full chapter on boosting trade and investment.

What do India, Turkey, Japan, China, and the European Union have in common with Africa that the United States does not? Each country and the EU have held two or more summits with African heads of state. While there were positive aspects in the Trump administration’s Africa strategy that was released late last year, there was no mention of a U.S.-Africa summit. Does this matter?

For example, over the course of six Africa-EU summits (the most recent being in Côte d’Ivoire in November 2017), European and African leaders have addressed a number of issues including trade, migration, peace and security, and technological innovation. The summit process has also brought together leaders from civil society, business, youth, and female entrepreneurs.

The results have been substantive: (1) The EU has developed a trade strategy that gives European companies and products preferential access to the region’s market. (2) On the priority issue of immigration, the European Commission will soon build a $5.8 million facility to improve the relationship between African diaspora organizations and their country of origin. (3) Endorsing the recently concluded African Continental Free Trade Agreement, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said that he envisions the creation of a “continent-to-continent free trade agreement between the EU and Africa.”


Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth

It's time to change the way we talk and think about Africa.

by Nick Dearden

Mapping Africa's natural resources [Al Jazeera]

Mapping Africa's natural resources [Al Jazeera]

Africa is poor, but we can try to help its people.

It's a simple statement, repeated through a thousand images, newspaper stories and charity appeals each year, so that it takes on the weight of truth. When we read it, we reinforce assumptions and stories about Africa that we've heard throughout our lives. We reconfirm our image of Africa.

Try something different. Africa is rich, but we steal its wealth.

That's the essence of a report (pdf) from several campaign groups released today. Based on a set of new figures, it finds that sub-Saharan Africa is a net creditor to the rest of the world to the tune of more than $41bn. Sure, there's money going in: around $161bn a year in the form of loans, remittances (those working outside Africa and sending money back home), and aid.

But there's also $203bn leaving the continent. Some of this is direct, such as $68bn in mainly dodged taxes. Essentially multinational corporations "steal" much of this - legally - by pretending they are really generating their wealth in tax havens. These so-called "illicit financial flows" amount to around 6.1 percent of the continent's entire gross domestic product (GDP) - or three times what Africa receives in aid.

Then there's the $30bn that these corporations "repatriate" - profits they make in Africa but send back to their home country, or elsewhere, to enjoy their wealth. The City of London is awash with profits extracted from the land and labour of Africa.


Future Development

Is trade with India changing Africa’s health care landscape?

Siddharth Dixit, Natalie Emery, and Chinmoy Kumar

Through its various agencies, the government of India has been expanding its engagement in multiple African countries by creating avenues to speed up the two-way trade between India and Africa. Examples include the triennial India-Africa Forum Summit, the Duty-Free Tariff Preference Scheme, and the Pan African e-Network (PAeN). Launched in 2009, PAeN aims to share India’s growing expertise in tele-education, telemedicine, and other information and communications technology (ICT) services with several African countries. The project includes setting up an e-network that connects remote hospitals in 53 African countries to 12 Indian hospitals by installing infrastructure such as satellites and fiber-optic links. As of 2015, 460 telemedicine consultations have taken place and an additional 4,168 continuing medical education sessions were held.

Widening the pathways for the health care trade, and for other goods and services

The World Bank recently conducted a survey of 2000 health professionals, hospital representatives, and patients in nine sub-Saharan African countries: Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The Bank identified four main modes of trade in health services:

  1. Cross-border trade, where services are supplied from one country to another via the use of ICT. One such example is the Pan-African e-network.

  2. Medical tourism of patients traveling from Africa to other countries in search of medical care that is either unavailable or unaffordable in the home-country health care systems. According to the World Bank statistics, Africa is expected to lose over $1 billion a year to medical tourism abroad, mainly to India.

  3. Establishing a commercial presence, such as hospitals, through setting up satellite partners in African countries. For example, Dr. Agarwal’s eye hospitals have 10 facilities in African nations while Apollo Healthcare has opened hospitals in Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritius, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

  4. The temporary movement of doctors and nurses to Africa to provide services.


World News Sources