Daily Archives: October 16, 2014

Ansell completes second biomass boiler in Sri Lanka

Ansell, a global leader in protection solutions, announced the completion of its second biomass boiler at the Ansell Lanka factory complex in Biyagama.

This new boiler is expected to bring significant reductions in energy consumption at the site as well as reduce CO2 emissions. This project is in line with Ansell’s global strategy of increasing its use of renewable energy sources.

The new boiler has a capacity of 12.5MW and will be the largest hot water boiler in Sri Lanka. Ansell Lanka already has a 10.5MW boiler installed at its premises, which reduced CO2, emissions by 11,000 MT per annum. The company anticipates the reduction of a further 14,000 MT of CO2 emissions annually as furnace oil consumption will now be reduced to the bare minimum.

“The construction of a second biomass boiler at our factory is yet another step taken by Ansell Lanka in our plans to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible,” said Ansell Lanka General Manager/Country Director Hasith Prematillake.

“Through the implementation of this project we hope to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, while also reducing the cost of energy at our site.”

“Unlike fossil fuels, CO2 released during the combustion of biomass materials is recaptured by the growth of these same materials, completing a closed carbon cycle,” said Ansell Manager Utility Engineering and Manufacturing Dayan Gunawardena.

“Hence, biomass combustion is considered to be carbon-neutral and has no net increases in CO2 released to the atmosphere. In addition, through controlled combustion, the project improves environmental quality by reducing not only greenhouse gases, but also harmful air pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrous and sulphur oxides that are present in furnace oil.”

The new multi-million (USD) biomass boiler was custom built for Ansell Lanka by Thermotech Systems – India and has resulted in several new indirect job opportunities due to the need for increased raw material supplies.


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Facebook Challenging Google In Online Advertising Market


NEW YORK: For years, Google has been the undisputed leader in online advertising, but Facebook is gaining quickly in the fast-evolving market.

Google is still collecting about a third of the $140 billion Internet ad market in 2014, but Facebook’s share has doubled over the past two years to nearly eight per cent, according research firm eMarketer.

And Facebook, which is able to leverage its huge membership of 1.3 billion people around the world, is not stopping there.

Earlier this month, Facebook unveiled its “Audience Network” that mines what it knows about users to target ads in other applications on smartphones or tablet computers.

Audience Network expands the social network’s ad platform beyond its borders on the vast landscape of mobile apps and could provide a major boost to Facebook revenue.

The battle is particularly intense in the fast-growing mobile ad segment: Google’s share has dipped slightly over the past two years to 44.6 per cent while Facebook has grabbed 20 per cent of those revenues worldwide, up from just 5.9 per cent in 2012, according to eMarketer.

The world’s biggest social network is particularly well-equipped to deliver “targeted” ads that aim to be relevant, based on the browsing history of each users, in part by using the “Facebook login” feature for many websites and services.

“Because of that Facebook login, they can track people across devices and understand their behavior,” said eMarketer’s Cathie Boyle.

“Now they’re letting advertisers leverage that information beyond just ads on Facebook, which plays to challenging Google.”

While privacy activists object to so-called behavioral marketing, this type of advertising is generally seen as effective because it makes more efficient use of ads.

Tech firms are starting to learn this, and find ways to track behavior as users switch from their PCs to tablets or smartphones.

“One of the biggest challenges for advertisers for the rise of mobile is not only technical things, it’s really understanding how people use the devices together,” Boyle said.

“You have to think about multiple devices. People are not necessarily giving up any of these devices, they are splitting their time between more and more.”

The login system used by both Facebook and Google have become more important as more people use ad blocking technologies or “private browsing” which prevents marketers from using Web histories.

“Facebook and Google have the same competitive advantage in the landscape, they have the unique login that can be used to identify the user across different devices,” said Jennifer Wise at Forrester Research.

“They both have the ability to do it, but Facebook acted on it first. We’re expecting Google to make some announcement in the near future of some kind of ad network that is going to do cross-devices targeting.”

Google took the first step in that direction in early October, unveiling a tool that allows marketers to determine when an ad delivered on one platform results in a purchase on another.

Google and Facebook are not the only companies using these techniques. Wise said rival firms, such as Twitter and online radio Pandora, also can monitor the activity of its users for marketing. Other such as Apple have the capacity to do so through its login feature.

The online ad market is evolving quickly, and it’s not clear yet how new connected devices such as smartwatches or eyewear will impact the ad landscape.

Twitter has seen ad revenues grow at a rapid pace in the past two years, but it still holds less than one per cent of the market, behind rivals like Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL.

According to Boyle, it’s not clear if any rival can challenge Google on “search advertising,” the system which uses keywords for search queries to deliver ads related to those searches.

Because Google is overwhelmingly dominant as a search engine, it logically controls most of the ad search market as well.

But the ad market could face a shakeup from Amazon, which according to The Wall Street Journal is working on its own advertising platform.

Although Amazon’s market share is less than one per cent, it has the capacity to mount a major challenge. Says Boyle: “Their understanding of shopping behavior is really unique.”


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Ebola escalation could trigger major food crisis

The global famine warning system is predicting a major food crisis if the Ebola outbreak continues to grow exponentially over the coming months, and the United Nations still hasn’t reached over 750,000 people in need of food in West Africa as prices spiral and farms are abandoned. On the eve of World Food Day on Thursday, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations are scrambling to scale up efforts to avert widespread hunger.

“The world is mobilizing and we need to reach the smallest villages in the most remote locations,” Denise Brown, the UN World Food Program’s regional director for West Africa, said in a statement Wednesday. “Indications are that things will get worse before they improve. How much worse depends on us all.”

WFP has said it needs to reach 1.3 million people in need in hardest-hit Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

So far, the UN agency has provided food to 534,000 people, and it expects to reach between 600,000 and 700,000 this month, Bettina Luescher, WFP’s chief spokesperson in North America, told AP. “And we are working hard to reach and scale up to 1.3 million eventually.”

WFP is providing food to patients in Ebola treatment centers, survivors of the virus who have been discharged, and communities which have been quarantined or have seen widespread transmission, including the families of those affected. It is also helping with logistics and is managing the UN Humanitarian Air Service between the three affected countries and nearby Dakar, Senegal and Accra, Ghana to help humanitarian workers rapidly deploy to the field.

“We are assessing how families are coping as the virus keeps spreading,” Luescher said. “We expect to have a better understanding of the impact of the Ebola outbreak on food availability and farming activities by the end of October.”

WFP said its first survey using mobile telephones showed that people living in the Kailahun and Kenema districts of Sierra Leone – where most Ebola cases have been reported – are finding it harder to feed their families than people in other parts of the country and are resorting to more desperate measures to cope.

More than 80% of people in those areas said they ate less expensive food, and 75% reported that they have reduced the number of daily means and were serving smaller portions.

Kanayo Nwanze, president of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development, said Monday that up to 40% of farms have been abandoned in the worst-affected areas of Sierra Leone and there are already food shortages in Senegal and other countries in West Africa because regional trade has been disrupted.

He said preliminary reports suggest that “trade volume in these markets is half of what it was at this time last year.”

Andrea Tamburini, CEO of the non-governmental organization Action Against Hunger which operates in the hardest-hit West African countries, said in an interview Wednesday that his two main concerns are the spike in food costs and the shortage of manpower due to restrictions on movement. This has led to farmers abandoning their crops to seek refuge in locations considered less exposed to the Ebola virus, he said.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization said that in Lofa County, the worst affected rural county in Liberia, the price of food and other commodities increased from 30% to 75%, just in August.

Action Against Hunger said the price of cassava – a key staple – increased by almost 150% in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, during the first week in August.

Tamburini said his organization will be running a survey to watch malnutrition rates but giving farmers “seeds and tools will definitely be there as a first step.”

The Famine Early Warning Network known as FEWS NET said in an Oct. 10 report that if the number of Ebola cases reaches 200,000-250,000 by mid-January, large numbers of people in the three worst-affected countries would face moderate to extreme food shortages.

FEWS NET said that in this scenario, traders’ fears of contracting Ebola and restrictions on movement would severely disrupt the availability of food on local markets, contribute to a significant drop in household incomes, and lead to food shortages at local markets.

“Contingency planning for an expanded emergency food assistance response is urgently needed given that the size of the food insecure population could be two to three times higher than currently planned,” it said.

FEWS NET was created in 1985 after devastating famines in East and West Africa by the US Agency for International Development. It provides analysis to help government decision-makers and relief agencies plan for and respond to humanitarian crises.


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Ebola the ‘most serious’ health emergency in years: World leaders

The Ebola epidemic is “the most serious international public health emergency in recent years”, British, US, French, German and Italian leaders agreed in a conference call on Wednesday. A 75-minute video conference call between British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and US President Barack Obama focused on cooperation to fight the outbreak, a spokesperson for Cameron said.

“Leaders agreed that this was the most serious international public health emergency in recent years and that the international community needed to do much more and faster to halt the rise of the disease in the region,” the British PM’s office said in a statement.

“Each leader set out what they are doing to help the countries affected and then discussions focused on how to improve coordination of the international effort.”

Cameron proposed that plans to tackle the disease could be decided at a Friday summit in Milan between European and Asian leaders and a European Council meeting next week.

The call comes after reports that a second healthcare worker in Texas in the United States tested positive for Ebola after caring for a Liberian patient who died of the virus in Dallas.

The United Nations also warned Ebola was outpacing efforts to combat the disease and said the world should dramatically expand the fight against the tropical fever, which has killed nearly 4,500 people this year, mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

In a unanimously adopted statement, the 15-member body warned that the world’s response “has failed to date”.

Cameron said that he would welcome any other countries who wanted to contribute to British efforts to fight the disease in Sierra Leone, and would discuss cooperation with Italy.

The discussion identified priorities of improving coordination of international efforts, increasing spending and trained personnel working the region affected, and evacuation procedures for workers infected with the disease.

The leaders also discussed the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and peace efforts in Ukraine.

The leaders said “the international coalition was making progress” in Iraq, but that more should be done to train local forces in Iraq and Syria to fight the group.

On the topic of Ukraine, the leaders agreed that Russia should respect a ceasefire and stop a cross-border flow of weapons and come to an energy supply agreement in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko are to meet in Milan on Friday to try to settle a disagreement over gas supplies and broker an end to months of conflict in east Ukraine.

Ebola death toll close to 4,500: WHO

Almost 4,500 people have died in the Ebola epidemic that broke out in west Africa at the start of the year, according to fresh figures released Wednesday the World Health Organization.

The WHO said that as of October 12, 4,493 people have died from Ebola out of a total of 8,997 registered cases in seven countries.

The last official WHO toll, valid to October 8, put the figures at 4,033 dead from 8,399 cases. The seven countries are split into two groups by WHO. The first includes Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — by far the worst-affected nations.

The second includes Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and United States, which have seen a small number of highly isolated cases. Liberia has been hardest-hit, with 4,249 cases and 2,458 deaths, followed by Sierra Leone with 3,252 cases and 1,183 deaths. Guinea, where the epidemic originated in December, has seen 1,472 cases and 843 deaths.

Health workers continue to pay a heavy price as they battle the epidemic, with 236 deaths out of 427 cases across the countries. A total of 96 health workers have died in Liberia, 95 in Sierra Leone, 40 in Guinea, and five in Nigeria. Nigeria’s overall toll remained unchanged at eight dead from 20 cases.

WHO has said it will be declared Ebola-free on October 20 if it has no further cases. In the United States there have been two cases, one of them fatal. Spain has one case of infection.

The toll remained unchanged in Senegal with one case. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, hit by a separate strain of Ebola from the one raging in west Africa, the WHO said there have been 71 cases and 43 deaths up to October 7.


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