In the wake of the deadly attack with a van in Münster, many reports noted that the city was about install bollards in the downtown area. But do barriers really offer protection? Experts say effectiveness has its price.It seems like a cruel irony. In response to the deadly terrorist attacks with vehicles in Nice, Barcelona, London, Stockholm and at a Christmas market in Berlin, Münster had plans in place to install bollards ahead of next month’s German Catholic Convention — only for an attacker to drive a van into a crowd of people before the barriers had been put up.
The reality, however, is different. The attacker in Münster seems to have no connections to Islamist terrorism. And the planned bollards wouldn’t have helped prevent Saturday’s attack because the streets in question weren’t among those to be protected.
One obvious weakness with bollards and other protective barriers is that decisions about where to place them have no margin for error. And yet after every vehicular attack, more and more cities invest large sums in such barriers.
Read more: Madrid to Manchester to Barcelona: A chronology of terror in Europe
New York City, for instance, earmarked 50 million dollars (41 million euros) for high-security metal bollards after the attack by a pick-up truck on the October 31. Münster’s plans include bollards at a cost of 20,000 euros each at thirteen locations.
In Australia, thousands of simple concrete “jersey blocks” were installed in the country’s major cities. They are far cheaper than classic metal bollards, but experts question their effectiveness. So what should cities do to protect themselves?
Concrete blocks no match for trucks at 50 kmh
A whole industry has sprung up with the increasing frequency of vehicular attacks on so-called soft targets such as highly frequented shopping streets and outdoor markets and concerts. There are scores of manufacturers in Germany and around the world, and barriers come in a whole spectrum of shapes and sizes, from classic steel bollards that retract into the ground to lightweight containers filled with water to ramps and x-shaped barriers designed to upend vehicles.
Read more: Germany expands anti-terror squad GSG 9
The barriers most commonly used to protect events in Germany after the 2016 Christmas market attacks are concrete blocks that can be moved from place to place. But a series of high-profile crash tests carried out by the German Motor Vehicle Inspection Association (DEKRA) last year found that what are colloquially known as “Nice stones” in Germany were only of limited use in stopping attacks by heavy trucks. In tests, trucks driving at 50 kilometers an hour simply ploughed through the blocks, first coming to a full halt up to 80 meters behind the barrier.
“The concrete blocks don’t do much to stop anything,” DEKRA Test Director Marcus Gärtner told TV station MDR, which filmed the experiments.
A three-pointed metal star
In a separate set of tests, DEKRA tried out more sophisticated movable security systems but also found them to be deficient.
A private test carried out by a German producer on a three pointed metal star also attracted considerable attention after the driver of the truck was seriously injured. Nonetheless, the design proved more effective than the concrete blocks, stopping the truck after only ten meters.
“The truck got lifted up, lost speed and was ultimately destroyed,” Echkard Stolz, a professor Leipzig University of applied science told MDR.
But barriers made of metal are considerably more expensive than concrete ones. And it’s debatable whether people would tolerate ferocious-looking three-pointed hunks of metal in historic city centers.
Another idea is to link concrete blocks like puzzle pieces to form a chain. In computer simulations, this system was projected to be effective and is relatively cheap to produce, but assembly is complicated.
Effective but worth it?
The highest security-grade cylindrical metal bollards in the US are capable of stopping seven-ton trucks travelling at around 80 kilometers an hour, but there is disagreement about whether they are worth their often enormous cost.
When asked about their effectiveness, Jon Coaffee, a professor of urban geography at the University of Warwick, told the New York magazine The Village Voice, that anti-attack bollards were “incredibly effective at stopping vehicles from entering urban spaces.” For that reason, Coafee added, they had become a “default option.”
The New York City bollards cost an estimate $30,000 (€24,400) per unit. A project manager for a leading US bollard manufacturer told a newspaper in Milwaukee, where some 400 of the barriers are being installed to protect the city’s new basketball arena, that the bollard industry was worth $500 million in the US alone. Those sums, say critics, are disproportionately large.
“The anti-terrorism industrial complex has completely warped our national conversation about public safety,” city planner and author Jeff Speck told The Village Voice. “Why have we thrown untold trillions of dollars at a threat that is, at last measure, 568 times less deadly than car crashes?”
Other far less costly measures, such as automatic braking systems for trucks and other heavy vehicles, are also seen as a way of reducing the danger of intentional vehicular assaults. But there is clearly no magic formula at present for cities to protect themselves against these sorts of attacks.
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Kenya: Emergency services in Nairobi can be hailed as easily as a cab on Rescue.co
The response times for emergency services in Kenya are extremely slow, drastically decreasing patient chances for successful intervention. Ironically Nairobi is reported to have at least 100 ambulances in operation in a city of about 3 million which is well above the rate the World Health Organization recommends of 1 ambulance per 50,000 people. The availability of emergency services is therefore not the hindrance behind emergency care in Nairobi.
Rescue.co is an app powered by Flare technology whose tracking and dispatch features have put Nairobi’s best responders onto one map so they can locate and dispatch the closest ambulance within minutes. The available services on the app include: the advanced life support ambulance, basic life support and the medical taxi service manned by a paramedic.
Flare founders Caitlin Dolkart and Maria Rabinovich said at the time of the apps launch that their web-based service ‘Rescue’ responds to alerts round the clock.
“We wanted a service that saves lives via prompt response and we have tested the service, bringing down emergency rescue service to eight minutes from the traditional two hours,” Dolkart is quoted saying by the Business Daily.
“Swift response means less health complications to a patient who receives first aid from paramedics and evacuation to a hospital of choice,” she said. The 40 ambulances are spread across the city according to locations.
Dolkart, who according to the publication studied her MBA at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said the service has created a phone contact database for all participating hospitals where an alert is sent to a patient’s hospital of choice — if they are conscious — ahead of their transportation to the facility.
“We are averting a situation where a specialised doctor is called from other locations when an ill patient arrives at a hospital; with our medical alert service, the hospital is fed with information on the patient’s condition when the patient is on the way. Time wasted means loss of life or a patient going into a coma while swift response means cheaper treatment for the patient and the community,” said Rabinovich.
“Competition among the various ambulance companies will mainly hinge on offerings such as presence of paramedics, type of vehicle, service level and price,” she said, adding that a patient’s condition and location will determine the type of ambulance released to the scene.
Challenges in emergency services
Although the app has streamlined the process of receiving emergency services, Rescue.co cannot however tackle the issue of cost. An ambulance can cost between 3,500 and 8,500 Kenyan shillings, about $35 to $85 an amount that is not manageable for the average person. This means the app is mostly targeted to the middle class or wealthy elite of Nairobi.
Nigeria’s Frances Ogamba and South Africa’s Resoketswe Manenzhe win 2019 Writivism Prizes
Nigeria’s Frances Ogamba, and South Africa’s Resoketswe Manenzhe were announced as the 2019 Writivism Prizes winners. The Koffi Addo Creative Nonfiction Prize went to Ogamba, for “The Valley of Memories,” and the Writivism Short Story Prize went to Manenzhe, for “Maserumo”.
Commenting on winning the coveted Kofi Addo Prize for Creative Non Fiction, Ogamba wrote on Facebook: “I have no words really, it’s been two days and I still swim in overwhelming disbelief. In my thoughts I always ask myself where these stories were born, these tales that the world adopted and owned, and fell so genuinely and deeply in love with”.
“I tell these stories in a small room space that brims with a toddler’s squeals by day, and at night with ideas that spring to life. It is beautiful that our private efforts become a public song,” Ogamba posted.
Manenzhe couldn’t hide her excitement at clinching the Writivism Short Story Prize, posting on Twitter: “so, i can now call myself an award winning writer. maserumo did the things! it did the things and i’m sure even my ancestors are amazed. #writivism #unbreakablebonds”.
Her piece Maserumo is such a powerful story with a strong and interesting narrative. Manenzhe’s poems and short stories have appeared in various online magazines and journals. In 2017, two of her poems were shortlisted for the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Anthology, and were later published in the anthology of selected poems.
— #UnBreakableBonds #Writivism2019 (@Writivism) August 18, 2019
The two winners will each receive $500 and the opportunity to work on their manuscripts in a one-month residency at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The shortlisted pieces for the Koffi Addo Prize appear in Arts and Africa; those for the Short Story Prize appear in Munyori.
The annual Writivism Short Story Prize was started in 2013 to recognise “brilliant short fiction by emerging writers living on the African continent”. The Koffi Addo Prize was founded in 2016, and it is awarded annually for “outstanding non-fiction by emerging writers living on the African continent”.
The winners were announced at the Writivism Festival in Uganda, an annual literary festival organised by the Centre for African Cultural Excellence. The organisers aim “to bring together established writers from the African continent and beyond to groom young talent in the writing craft and also to engage in workshops and panel discussions revolving around critical issues on creation and dissemination of African literature”.
Last year, Kenyan writer Mbogo Ireri won the Writivism Short Story Prize with his story “Hopes and Dreams”. Previous winners of the Koffi Addo Prize for Creative Nonfiction since its inception are Ghana’s Yvette Tetteh (2016), South Africa’s Charles King (2017), and Zambia’s Chisanga Mukuka (2018).
The best African films of 2019 so far… – African Arguments
There’s a lot of debate about what constitutes African cinema. For a film to be truly African, does it need to be made by Africans? Does it need to be funded from Africa? Does it need to be aimed at an African audience and screened primarily on the continent? Or is a film African simply by virtue of reflecting on African experiences?
In this list of the finest African films so far this year, we include any film that centres on African stories. The list ranges from feature lengths to hybrid documentaries and boasts smart storytelling, technical virtuosity and cultural relevance – sometimes, all at once:
Premiering in Cannes, Maryam Touzani’s poignant debut is a thoroughly enjoyable slow burner that employs show-stopping performances to demonstrate compassion and the unbreakable bond of female friendships. In Adam, Touzani creates the perfect habitat to unpack her character study, a gentle observation of the shifts in the relationship between two ordinary women.
This is a stark, unflinching look at the sex trafficking industry that operates from Edo state in Nigeria and stretches across the Mediterranean to Europe. Sudabeh Mortezai’s prize-winning drama, acquired by Netflix, astounds with its rounded and complex depiction of the life of its heroine. It deftly paints the grim reality that countless girls like her find themselves in when they make the journey to Europe. Mortezai may be an outsider to Nigerian culture but Joy is proof that stories are universal and sensitivity is always key to making the best movies.
Keeping up with the Kandansamys, a play on that other famous family from America, became South Africa’s highest-grossing locally-made film in 2017. Its sequel arrives just in time to give the local box office a much-needed shakeup. As blockbuster sequels go, Kandasamys: The Wedding is perfect lightweight fun even when it doesn’t have to be. It is a breezy and humorous inside look at Indian sub-culture in Durban.
When streaming giant Netflix decided to make a play for Nollywood, it only made sense that they would turn to Genevieve Nnaji, its biggest star and leading lady. On Lionheart, Nnaji makes her directorial debut. The result? A tenderly observed and sentimental drama about family, feminism and the ties that bind. Lionheart had its world premiere last year at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and opened up the industry to alternative modes of distributing original content.
In Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s strange but unique hybrid, a woman walks through the streets of an African country, carrying a wooden cross on her back. The image is a metaphor for the continent as the receptacle of multiple traumas. The black and white visuals, with accompanying sterile voice-over narration makes it clear that even while in exile in Berlin, Africa is on Mosese’s mind. A blend of the personal with the political, Mosese’s film is a reflection on migration, corruption and more. What it lacks in originality, Mother I am Suffocating… makes up for in its unique style.
In conservative Casablanca, a woman who gets pregnant outside wedlock is seen as a menace to society and must be punished accordingly. 20-year old Sofia must deal with the consequences when her unplanned baby is due. Directed by first-timer Meryem Benm’Bareka, Sofia is a subversive take on feminism and what it feels like for a girl in a man’s world. The titular heroine, played with a lethal mix of vulnerability and cunning by debutante Maha Alemi, makes some shrewd calculations but as in such a restrictive society, we learn in a heartbreaking way that everyone is a victim, regardless.
For a group of retired film directors in Sudan, the theatre is an endangered culture. Suhaib Gasmelbari’s Talking About Trees is a compassionate chronicle of the efforts of four directors, collectively known as the Sudanese Film Club, and their near-heroic attempts to reopen a theatre in the city of Omdourman outside of Khartoum. Dogging their every step are Islamist fundamentalists in positions of authority, determined to ensure that cinema remains proscribed.
Debuting in Rotterdam in January, this documentary presents a constrained narrative of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Directed by veteran Joel Zito Araújo, My Friend Fela situates Carlos Moore, Fela’s official biographer and author of the book Fela: This Bitch of a Life as the film’s anchor. Moore, who met Fela back in 1974, condenses several hours of interviews – with Fela but also with many of the people who knew him best – into a uniquely compelling if cluttered biography. Fela is man, myth and legend and Araújo’s film skilfully navigates all these perimeters.
The inspiring real-life account of William Kamkwamba, the Malawian teenager who used his brains and determination to solve a pressing community problem, is the kind of story ready made for a Hollywood adaptation. But instead of going for shiny gloss and sentimental manipulation, debut filmmaker Chiwetel Ejiofor, adapting the story from Kamkwamba’s 2009 autobiography, digs deeper to find empathy and a quiet dignity in the characters. This is indeed cause for celebration. Ejiofor’s film is a convincing exploration of bonds that exist between fathers and sons and, while the narrative is pretty conventional, it is never less than rousing.
Composer and musician Samuel “Blitz” Bazawule’s tiny labour of love, The Burial of Kojo, caught the eye of Ava DuVernay who guided the film to a deal with Netflix. Employing elements of magical realism and blending them with an oral storytelling format that is widely recognised on the continent, The Burial of Kojo is a visually stunning, aurally distinct winner that isn’t just specific to Ghana but rooted in some of Africa’s wider challenges, both ancient and modern.
When a movie combines heavy themes such as religious extremism, domestic abuse, institutional decay and paedophilia, it becomes easy for it to crumble under the weight of its own importance. Not The Delivery Boy, the stunning action thriller by Adekunle Adejuyigbe that says a lot – perhaps too much – in just under 70 minutes. Adejuyigbe, one of the most in-demand cinematographers in Nigerian film, makes his directorial debut with a flawed but ambitious poetic study of violence and the toll it takes on people and community alike.
Joël Karekezi’s road movie, set in the Kivu jungle, considers the futility of war through the eyes of two Rwandan soldiers left behind by their colleagues. Eschewing needless violence and bloodshed, the film provides a reflective look at trauma and the effects of war on different generations of soldiers. Karekezi takes his film’s characters to the edge and back as they confront demons long since buried. While trapped behind enemy lines, the characters navigate both the dangers of the wilderness as well as the horrors of the mind. The film emerged winner of the Golden Stallion at the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO).
French-Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop was one of the biggest successes at this year’s Cannes film festival. Her film, Atlantics, a poetic and mystical meditation on migration, was warmly received. By the end of the festival, Diop was armed with both the Grand Prix and a distribution deal. Atlantics, which was recently screened publicly in Senegal and is headed to the Toronto film fest next, arrives on Netflix by the end of the year, in time for an awards season push.
Based on the practice common in 1960s-70s England, where Nigerian parents paid white families to foster their children, thespian Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje recounts a troubled childhood marked by passages of self-loathing and internalised racism. Unflinching and occasionally harrowing, Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s autobiographical debut gathers a formidable mix of British and Nigerian actors.
Ever wondered what the results would look like should Nollywood’s energetic aesthetic meet film noir? Look no further than La Femme Anjola, the reunion of director Mildred Okwo with her long-time creative partner Rita Dominic. Dominic, one of the most bankable stars in Nigeria, plays a mysterious lady who following a chance encounter with a young, naive fellow, turns his world upside down.
Auteur Jahmil X.T Qubeka’s fourth film may well be his most accessible yet. The boxing drama which opened the Durban International Film Festival in July and is headed to Toronto, explores toxicity in a violent, male-dominated sport and explores the psychology of a fighter in South Africa’s Mdantansane township. Knuckle City stars Bongile Mantsai as an ageing boxer who must lift his family out of depressing circumstances by making it through one more fight.
When the studio behind some of the most profitable Nollywood films of the last decade decides to make a push for prestige, the go-to director would be Kenneth Gyang, the auteur behind Confusion na wa, one of the most influential films to come out of Nollywood. Oloture, produced by the formidable Mo Abudu, details the experience of a young reporter who goes undercover to expose a sex trafficking ring.
‘Using Her Name for Clout’: Fans Scold Alexis Skyy’s Boyfriend After He Publicly Takes Credit for Her New Hairdo
In case no one’s heard, “Love and Hip Hop: New York
figcaption>Alexis Skyy and her shorter look. @alexiskyy_/Instagram
figcaption>Alexis Skyy praised by her new man for her new look. @troubledte6/Instagram
Backlash to Trouble’s response comes days after a video surfaced of him seemingly putting Skyy in a chokehold.
A short Instagram clip posted by the rapper himself, showed the Atlanta native caressing his girlfriend with both hands around her neck. At one point, she seemingly tried to remove herself from his grip, but he wouldn’t let go.
It’s unclear how long Skyy and Trouble have been dating, but according to an old picture posted on his page, they were spotted together around July 16. The “LHHNY” actress publicly announced they were dating on August 3.
Skyy is the ex-girlfriend of singer Fetty Wap, whom she shares 1-year-old daughter Alaiya Grace with.
‘Damn Sourpuss’: ‘Black Ink Crew’ Fans Slam Puma’s Wife Quani After She Side Eyes His Renewed Friendship with Ceaser
It seems not everybody is exactly onboard with “Black Ink Crew Quani, her husband and Emanuel decided to meet for Emanuel’s 40th birthday party, and, needless to say, she wasn’t here for the two old friends reuniting. “I don’t know why Puma came back to your shop. Like, I actually don’t trust you,” she told Emanuel. “He’s promoting your business while he’s not promoting his own business. It seems like it benefiting you more than it’s benefitting him.” Emanuel explained that he gave Robinson “half” of his shop and that they planned on “taking over Harlem.” His comments were apparently enough to make an already frustrated Quani angrily storm out of his birthday party. Robinson apologized to his reconnected bestie before following his wife out of the door. “Black Ink” viewers felt Quani was being melodramatic and slammed her for still holding a grudge Emanuel. “She’s always been a damn sourpuss lol always miserable 😩 but I am happy puma and ceaser are friends again” “Quani gets on my f-cking nerves bruh!! Like she one of the most extra mfkas I know. Girl get tf over it already their beef was like 5 years ago!” “Quani keeping her storyline. Im over it. She is drama she hate Cesar but still eating off of his show.🤡 girl it was hella long ago let it go.” Others felt indifferent. “I don’t think she’s Trippin. I would never be cool with someone who I thought, got a female to come fight me. Her feelings are valid 💪🏽” “Love Quani Ceas is fake so I understand her point”
Quani, her husband and Emanuel decided to meet for Emanuel’s 40th birthday party, and, needless to say, she wasn’t here for the two old friends reuniting.
“I don’t know why Puma came back to your shop. Like, I actually don’t trust you,” she told Emanuel. “He’s promoting your business while he’s not promoting his own business. It seems like it benefiting you more than it’s benefitting him.”
Emanuel explained that he gave Robinson “half” of his shop and that they planned on “taking over Harlem.” His comments were apparently enough to make an already frustrated Quani angrily storm out of his birthday party.
Robinson apologized to his reconnected bestie before following his wife out of the door.
“Black Ink” viewers felt Quani was being melodramatic and slammed her for still holding a grudge Emanuel.
“She’s always been a damn sourpuss lol always miserable 😩 but I am happy puma and ceaser are friends again”
“Quani gets on my f-cking nerves bruh!! Like she one of the most extra mfkas I know. Girl get tf over it already their beef was like 5 years ago!”
“Quani keeping her storyline. Im over it. She is drama she hate Cesar but still eating off of his show.🤡 girl it was hella long ago let it go.”
Others felt indifferent.
“I don’t think she’s Trippin. I would never be cool with someone who I thought, got a female to come fight me. Her feelings are valid 💪🏽”
“Love Quani Ceas is fake so I understand her point”