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24 Hours Across Africa

Sri Lanka ban social media apps in a bid to deter misinformation and rumors.

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Source: Reuters

Several dozen people threw stones at mosques and Muslim-owned stores and a man was beaten in the Christian-majority town of Chilaw on the west coast on Sunday in a dispute that started on Facebook, sources told Reuters.

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Authorities said they arrested the author of a Facebook post, identified as 38-year-old Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar, whose online comment “1 day u will cry” people said was interpreted as threatening violence.

Later on Sunday and early on Monday authorities arrested a group of men in the nearby Kurunegala district for allegedly attacking Muslim-owned businesses, a police source told Reuters.

Military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said people in the mostly Buddhist district then demanded the arrested men’s release.

“To control the situation, a police curfew was imposed during the night,” Atapattu said.

Several mosques and Muslim homes were damaged in the attack in the district, the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said, but the precise extent of damage and the number of arrests was not immediately clear.

The flare-up is the worst violence in the three weeks since Sri Lankan Islamist bombers blew themselves up in four hotels and three churches, killing more than 250 people.

Since then, Muslim groups say they have received dozens of complaints about people being harassed. Other communities say they fear the government, which failed to act on successive warnings about looming Islamist attacks, has not caught all potential militants.

Sri Lanka has used temporary bans on social media in a bid to deter misinformation and rumors.

“Social media blocked again as a temporary measure to maintain peace in the country,” Nalaka Kaluwewa, director general of the government information department, told Reuters on Monday.

On Twitter, Sri Lanka’s leading mobile phone operator Dialog said it had also received instructions to block the apps Viber, IMO, Snapchat, Instagram and Youtube until further notice.

A violent clash between Muslims and Christians erupted a week ago in Negombo, killing more than 100 people during Easter prayers, after a traffic dispute.

The government also imposed a ban on social media after that clash.


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24 Hours Across Africa

Barcelona appoints ‘Valdes’ to coach their youth team

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The Spanish giant ‘Barcelona’ has appointed their legendary star victor Valdes to coach U19A team.

The Spaniard picked up UEFA A and B coaching licences after retiring from football last year and has now reunited with the Blaugrana

The 37-year-old racked up 539 appearances for Barca across all competitions over the course of 12 seasons between 2002 and 2014, winning 21 major titles in total.

Valdes picked up three Champions Leagues, six La Liga titles and won the Copa del Rey twice, earning legendary status at the club while also establishing himself as one of the finest shot-stoppers in Europe.

Barcelona released the following statement on their official website: “Victor Valdes is back at FC Barcelona after signing a contract on Friday morning to become the new head coach of the U19A team. The agreement binds him to the club until June 2020, with the option for an extension by one additional season.

The Spanish born has been enjoying with ED Moratalaz role in the fifth tier of Spanish football before Barcelona reach an agreement with him.

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24 Hours Across Africa

BMW and Tencent to team-up in developing self-driving cars

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(Reuters) – German automaker BMW (BMWG.DE) and Chinese online gaming giant Tencent Holdings (0700.HK) are teaming up to launch a computing center in China that will help develop self-driving cars in the world’s biggest auto market, the companies said on Friday.

The computing center, which will start operations by the end of the year, will provide cars with data-crunching capabilities to help them drive semi-autonomously and, eventually, autonomously.

The two companies did not disclose the investment in the center. Sources familiar with the deal said the center will be built in the eastern city of Tianjin.

The establishment of the center “will support BMW’s autonomous driving development and innovation in China,” Jochen Goller, head of BMW’s China operations, said in a statement.

“BMW can, therefore, develop autonomous driving solutions that fit better with the specific driving conditions in China.”

BMW said the new computing center will leverage Tencent’s cloud computing and big data, and provide the automaker with infrastructure needed to develop the autonomous cars.

The Munich-headquartered automaker says it will likely introduce semi-autonomous, or L3 classification, cars in China in 2021 which would need massive computing power to analyze real-time flow of digital information on road and traffic conditions.

Driverless cars need sophisticated data-crunching capabilities as they rely on so-called artificial-intelligence, or neuro-network technology, to help them “learn” from experience and could eventually drive themselves without human intervention.

BMW’s planned Chinese computing center follows the opening earlier this year of a similar computing center in Munich.

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