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Nigeria loads first crude at huge new Dangote refinery

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Nigeria’s huge oil refinery built by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote received its first crude deliveries, the company said on Saturday, in the latest step to starting up the delayed megaproject.

Billed as Africa’s largest of its type, the 650,000 barrel-per-day Dangote refinery could be a game changer for Nigeria’s economy when fully operational by helping ending the country’s reliance on fuel imports.

Dangote Petroleum Refinery received an initial shipment of one million barrels of crude from Agbami deepwater field and began loading on Friday, the company spokesman said Saturday.

The initial run will be for production of diesel and aviation fuel before moving on to petrol output.

Dangote gave no date for the actual start of refinery production.

Though one of Africa largest oil producers and the continent’s top economy, Nigeria relies almost totally on imported fuel and diesel because of a lack of refining capacity.

Nigeria swaps crude worth billions of dollars for petrol that it had subsidised for years to keep prices cheap for its domestic market.

Fuel imports and subsidies caused a huge drain on foreign exchange when Nigeria was struggling with dwindling oil revenues and foreign currency shortages.

“Dangote Petroleum Refinery can meet 100 per cent of  Nigeria’s requirement of all refined products, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and aviation jet, and also have surplus of each of these products for export,” the company said in a statement.

The facility sits on 2,635 hectares (6,500 acres) of land at the Lekki Free Zone on the edge of Lagos city and cost an estimated $19bn, according to local media.

The refinery, first scheduled to open in 2021, was officially inaugurated by then president Muhammadu Buhari earlier this year and was supposed to begin operations in June.

Since coming to office in May, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has ended the long-standing fuel subsidy and floated the naira currency in economic reforms he says will attract foreign investment and build long term growth.

The former Lagos governor has called on Nigerians to be patient with his reform programme as the initial impact saw fuel prices soar, a sharp fall in the value of the naira and an increase in the cost of living.

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Could South Africa be the first-ever country to provide a no-strings-attached universal basic income?

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South Africa suffers from severe income inequality — one of the worst anywhere in the world. Its unemployment rate, meanwhile, is over 30%.

But its government thinks it has a solution: a universal basic income .

The idea has broad political support and the country’s largest political party, the African National Congress, said recently it is committed to implementing a universal basic income within two years.

Once the figment of ideological dreamers, a universal basic income — regular direct cash payments to a population with no strings attached — has grown in legitimacy, especially after the success of COVID-era stimulus checks. Tech visionaries racing to develop ever-more advanced artificial intelligence have also suggested implementing a universal basic income. They say it would help mitigate the job losses from AI .

Several other countries have experimented with versions of a universal basic income. Kenya, for instance, offers unconditional payments to about 20,000 people in 200 different towns.

In the United States, numerous cities and some states are experimenting on a small scale with guaranteed basic incomes , which offer no-strings-attached payments but only to select groups of people in need. While studies have shown these American programs to be successful, they have also run up against significant political opposition .

But in South Africa, most political parties are all for it. They just need to work out the details.

“The ANC is committed to finalizing a comprehensive policy on the basic income support grant within two years of the new ANC administration, ensuring broad consultation and expedited action,” South Africa’s ruling party said in a statement .

That statement came a week before hotly contested general elections on May 29, which saw the ANC lose its majority in parliament. The ANC is now working to form a unity government and a commitment to implementing a universal basic income will almost certainly come up in negotiations.

According to the party, a study at the University of Johannesburg showed that a majority of South African citizens “fully support the introduction of a basic income support grant.”

While South Africa provides payments to certain groups living below the poverty line through its Social Relief Distress grant program, the ANC plan would open eligibility to all South African adults, the Guardian reported .

The ANC said it is “exploring” options, like new tax measures and a new social-security tax, to fund the program. The party also says its goal for the program is not to replace existing social-security programs, but to complement them.

If it follows through, the ANC plan would make South Africa the first country to provide a universal basic income.

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Toyota apologizes for cheating on vehicle testing and halts production of three models

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TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda apologized Monday for massive cheating on certification tests for seven vehicle models as the automaker suspended production of three of them.

The wide-ranging faulty testing at Japan’s top automaker involved the use of inadequate or outdated data in collision tests, and incorrect testing of airbag inflation and rear-seat damage in crashes. Engine power tests also were found to have been falsified.

Toyota Motor Corp., based in Toyota city, central Japan, suspended production in Japan of the Corolla Fielder, Corolla Axio and Yaris Cross. The faulty tests were also found on discontinued models.

The company said the wrongdoing does not affect the safety of the vehicles already on roads, which include the Corolla subcompact and Lexus luxury vehicles.

“We sincerely apologize,” Toyoda said, bowing deeply at a news conference in Tokyo.

A Japanese government investigation into Toyota began in January. The latest problems don’t pertain to Toyota’s overseas production.

Also Monday, Japanese rival Mazda Motor Corp. reported similar irregular certification testing, and halted production of two models, the Roadster and Mazda 2. It said incorrect engine control software was used in the tests.

Mazda, based in the southwestern city of Hiroshima, also acknowledged violations on crash tests on three discontinued models. The violations don’t affect the vehicles’ safety.

Tokyo-based Honda Motor Co. also apologized late Monday for improper tests, such as those on noise levels and torque, on a range of models whose affected older versions are no longer in production, such as the Accord, Odyssey and Fit. The safety of the vehicles is not affected, it said.

About two years ago, certification problems surfaced at Toyota group companies, truck maker Hino Motors and Daihatsu Motor Co., specializing in small models, and Toyota Industries Corp., which makes machinery and auto parts.

Shinji Miyamoto, a Toyota executive overseeing customer satisfaction, said Toyota began looking into its own tests following the problems at the group companies.

The apparent unraveling of the testing systems at Toyota and its group companies is an embarrassment for an automaker that’s prided itself for decades on production finesse and a corporate culture based on empowering workers to make “ever-better cars.”

Toyoda said the company may have been too eager to get the tests done and abbreviated them at a time when model varieties were burgeoning.

Toyota sells more than 10 million vehicles around the world.

Toyoda, the grandson of the company’s founder, suggested some certification rules might be overly stringent, noting such tests differed around the world. But he repeatedly said he wasn’t condoning the violations.

“We are not a perfect company. But if we see anything wrong, we will take a step back and keep trying to correct it,” said Toyoda.

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Black Family Loses Out on Discrimination Lawsuit Over Investment Property 

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The Houstonian black real estate investors filed the federal lawsuit after they said they were prohibited from buying condos in a community advertised to Asian buyers.

Last Wednesday, the racial discrimination lawsuit filed by three Black real estate investors in Texas was dismissed “without the option to refile.”

“The decision hinged less on whether the family had been discriminated against than whether the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discriminating in the ‘sale or rental of a dwelling,’ had been violated,” the Houston Chronicle reports.

In 2022, James Ra-Amari and his wife Misty Ra-Amari, and Misty’s sister Rosemary Afful filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against realtor Josie Lin, “Lin’s company, UMRE; Grand West Condominiums; Grand West Residential Condominium Association, Inc.; United Property Management; and RE/MAX and EXP Reality, two real estate brokerages.”

The three investors purported that Lin “refused them the option to purchase three condominiums in a newly constructed community. They say that they were denied the units because of their race.”

The Ra-Amaris and Afful sought “compensatory, special, and punitive damages, economic damages for alleged violation of the Fair Housing Act, and infliction of emotional distress.”

According to the civil lawsuit, the condos’ marketing materials were “advertised as ‘…a new option for a safe and simple Asian life’ and [said], ‘Katy Asian town is within walking distance.’”

In addition, there was allegedly an “information packet [that] marketed the complex as a ‘new option for Chinese and Asian communities.’”

The suit also claimed that Lin told the three real estate investors that “all the current owners were personal friends and knew each other.”

The Black family’s argument: Lin’s comments in concert with the promotional materials explicitly targeting “‘Asian communities’ established discrimination.”

But the judge dismissed many of the defendants from the suit, citing that the Ra-Amaris and Afful failed to establish a business relationship between themselves and Lin or that Lin was an agent “acting on their behalf.”

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case in its entirety, arguing semantics, pointing out that “a condo is only a ‘dwelling’ if the buyer planned to occupy it, and the family had identified themselves instead as investors in court documents. Additionally, they argued that the family had never indicated in court documents that they had actually made an offer.”

United States District Judge David Hittner largely sided with the defendant’s assertions that the Black family had failed to demonstrate they even “had a case.”

In a written statement, the plaintiffs’ attorney Justin Moore said “This case highlights the ongoing challenges and importance of the Fair Housing Act.”

“Our stance is that real estate investment has historically been a pathway for many Americans to build wealth, and our clients’ endeavors align with this tradition,” Moore continued. “Property at its essence is an investment…Your home is an investment whether you live in it or not.”

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