How The Purple Hatter’s Ball Uses Music To Fight Against The War On Drugs

first_imgThis Friday marks the 45th anniversary of one of the most controversial and criticized crime-reduction policies in our nation’s history. On June 17, 1971 Richard Nixon’s administration published a special message from the President to the Congress on Drug Abuse Prevention and Control declaring drug abuse as “public enemy number one” in the U.S. The message included language about devoting more federal resources to this cause, in the hopes of “prevention of new addicts, and the rehabilitation of those who are addicted.” While that goal seemed to be born of the noble intentions, the resulting policy, widely known as the “War on Drugs,” has played out less as a strategy to protect people from the perils of substance abuse and more as a witch hunt, vilifying any connection to drugs and lumping minor offenders in with serious criminals. In addition to costing the U.S. roughly $51 billion annually to maintain, the War on Drugs leans heavily on the cooperation of confidential informants. Law enforcement recruits these informants by leveraging their own (often minor) drug offenses to compel them to cooperate. While acting as an informant is often portrayed to minor drug offenders as a path toward retribution and reduction of punishments, the glaring reality remains that these practices frequently thrust largely defenseless, unaware young offenders into dangerous circumstances. “Today’s drug war involves a countless number of confidential informants – many of which are young people who are busted for a small amount of drugs and then coerced into making much higher-level deals, putting them in very dangerous situations” says Derek Rosenfeld of the Drug Policy Alliance. The DPA, the leading organization in the U.S. working on alternatives to the Drug War, has spent years fighting for more sensible drug abuse prevention policies. As the DPA’s Tony Newman explains, “There are so many sick aspects of the failed drug war, but law enforcement forcing people with a drug arrest to choose between a draconian prison sentence or becoming an informant is one of the most nauseating.”Beginning with an “Action Day” pre-party today and running through Sunday, The Purple Hatter’s Ball at Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL this weekend aims to call attention to one such case—the tragic story of Rachel Morningstar Hoffman. After being arrested for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, Hoffman, a 23-year-old FSU graduate, was compelled to participate in a large-scale buy-bust operation involving 1,500 ecstasy pills, 2 ounces of cocaine, a handgun, and $13,000 cash. The deal went south, and Hoffman was murdered in the process. In her memory, the Purple Hatter’s Ball seeks to increase awareness of ongoing miscarriages of justice under the umbrella of the War on Drugs, inspire reform to drug-related policies like the Confidential Informant Law, and inspire people to lead healthier, safer lives in the live music community and beyond.How One Mother Turned Tragedy Into Triumph: The Rachel Morningstar Hoffman StoryFor more information on Rachel Morningstar Hoffman and the Purple Hatter’s Ball, visit the festival’s website.last_img read more

The fog of peace

first_imgIt was going to be the end of war. Now Colombians wonder whether peace is possible.On Sept. 26, President Juan Manuel Santos and the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC for its acronym in Spanish, signed a historic peace agreement after four years of negotiations to end Latin America’s longest-running conflict. It was to bring closure to 52 years of a civil war that has claimed more than 200,000 casualties and displaced nearly 6 million people.On Oct. 2, in a shocking result, Colombians rejected the deal in a referendum, 50 to 49 percent, with a 60 percent abstention rate. A few days later, the Nobel Committee awarded Santos the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize partly in hope of reviving talks. To make sense of these developments and what they mean for the country’s future, the Gazette sat down with political anthropologist Jennifer Schirmer, visiting scholar at the Religions and the Practice of Peace Initiative at Harvard Divinity School (HDS). Schirmer spent 14 years working on peace negotiations in Colombia.GAZETTE: Why was there such a huge abstention rate?SCHIRMER: One of the factors was the hurricane that hit the coast on voting day, forcing thousands of people to stay home. Many others didn’t vote because they thought it was unnecessary. Polls were predicting the yes vote was going to win. As to why many Colombians voted no, there are various reasons. The yes campaign started late, and their supporters underestimated former President Álvaro Uribe, who led the no campaign. Uribe called the peace talks “a pact of impunity” that would lead to violent chaos. With the 297-page final accord released only a month before, many voters depended on social networks. Disinformation by Uribe’s tweets was difficult to correct in time. The more conservative elements of the Catholic Church and the evangelicals joined the no campaign. The most interesting aspect of the cartography of voting shows that those who suffered direct effects of the conflict in some of the poorest parts of the country with extreme concentrations of land were the most willing to vote yes. Overall, victims have been the most willing to forgive, to accept the FARC’s pardon, and to end the war.GAZETTE: What were the most controversial aspects of the peace accord?SCHIRMER: One element was disarmament. The FARC said they would not hand over their weapons to the armed forces but to a third party, United Nations monitoring teams. This was significant for the FARC because they didn’t want to be seen as capitulating. The other element was transitional justice. In a negotiation seeking to put an end to a war, alternative and reduced sanctions are permitted as long as they are combined with measures of truth, reparation, and no repetition of crimes. With the FARC unwilling to negotiate an accord “that means we end up in jail,” a system of truth and justice was agreed upon that places victims front and center. The accord creates a peace tribunal with two options: Those who refuse to accept responsibility for their crimes will be sent to jail for 15 to 20 years, and those who accept responsibility receive five to eight years of “effective restrictive freedom,” the place and conditions to be determined by the tribunal. These options apply equally to the FARC, armed forces, and civilians who have had significant participation in crimes.GAZETTE: What about reparations to victims?SCHIRMER: The accord included reparations to victims by building schools and work with affected communities on humanitarian de-mining, and they’re deemed critical. With a yes vote, the FARC would have been far more likely to disarm, tell the truth, be held accountable and provide reparations.GAZETTE: Who are the FARC?SCHIRMER: It’s a Marxist insurgent group that controls territory, has considerable funds and weapons and despite a severe bombing campaign by the Uribe and Santos governments between 2007 and 2012, has remained capable of continuing the war. Surrender was not an option and there was a need for concession and compromise on both sides. In this case, the FARC made the political decision to find a dignified exit to the war. Most peace processes are successful when this occurs.GAZETTE: Why did they start the civil war? What were they fighting against?SCHIRMER: Guerrilla groups arose primarily because of political exclusion and serious land inequity. Back in the 1940s, Colombia went through a terrible period of violence between the liberals and conservatives. A pact was agreed upon to alternate the presidency every four years, excluding all other parties. Political exclusion is a ferocious fault line of Colombian democracy, and it operated that way until 2004, with the rise of a left party. Between 1964 and today, eight guerrilla groups appeared on the scene fighting such political exclusion and seeking land redistribution.GAZETTE: Why did the FARC decide to negotiate?SCHIRMER: Social justice and land reform are still the central issues, but over the last decade, the FARC came to realize this was a conflict of the past that is barely justified today. What they say now is that there is a new way to seek change, but not through armed struggle. They saw other Latin American countries elect more progressive leaders, and realized revolutionary movements belong to the past. This change of mentality opened the door to negotiations.GAZETTE: What role do you think the decision to award 2016 Nobel Peace Prize to President Santos will play in the peace process?SCHIRMER: President Santos deserves great credit for pushing for peace, and for breaking this historical cycle of war. We can only hope Santos will show the same resolve in finalizing and implementing the peace that he did in negotiating it. I am optimistic they can find a way forward.GAZETTE: What was your personal involvement in the peace negotiations in Colombia?SCHIRMER: I organized and facilitated peace-building dialogues in Colombia for the past 14 years between different sectors from the political class to the economic elite, from the armed forces to former guerrillas, and from academics to journalists. For the past four years, I was asked to hold seminars for the technical subcommission in their design of a Colombian model of ceasefire and disarmament. What is extraordinary is that the traditional adversaries in this conflict — military officers and guerrillas who have taken the brunt of the combat with high casualty rates — have been, for the past year, jointly writing and delineating the coordinates of the cease-fire and disarmament protocols to end this long and bloody war, while right-wing politicians, led by two past presidents, serve as obstacles to peace.GAZETTE: Did you find any parallels between the Colombian referendum and the one in Britain where people voted to leave the European Union?SCHIRMER: The huge difference in Colombia is that this is a difference between peace and a return to war. Nonetheless, the comparison is useful as it forces us to ask whether a referendum is the solution for these sorts of very complex political decisions. Both [former British Prime Minister David] Cameron and Santos decided to hold a referendum for their own political reasons, and both were warned not to. Santos was re-elected in 2014 on a peace platform. His own attorney general told him it was not necessary constitutionally. Finally, it seems neither leader had a Plan B, which is quite extraordinary.GAZETTE: What risks do this failed peace accord pose to Colombia?SCHIRMER: It’s a gray zone between war and peace. No war. No peace. It’s a limbo, and my fear is that, if violence were to return, the internal cohesion of the FARC may falter. This is Latin America’s and one of the world’s longest-running conflicts, with one of the largest insurgent groups. A bilateral cease-fire has been agreed upon and extended until Oct. 31. But if there is a confrontation and a loss of security, would the FARC leadership be able to control its troops? That’s the biggest risk in these processes: how to maintain the trust on both sides and how to maintain cohesion internally.The interview has been edited for clarity and length.last_img read more

Detroit seeks revenge on Youngstown St.

first_img Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditYoungstown State (14-11, 7-5) vs. Detroit (6-19, 4-8)Calihan Hall, Detroit; Thursday, 7 p.m. ESTBOTTOM LINE: Youngstown State goes for the season sweep over Detroit after winning the previous matchup in Youngstown. The teams last met on Jan. 11, when the Penguins shot 41.2 percent from the field on their way to the two-point victory. February 12, 2020 DID YOU KNOW: Detroit has made 8.8 3-pointers per game as a team this year, which is most among Horizon teams.___For more AP college basketball coverage: and was generated by Automated Insights,, using data from STATS LLC, Associated Press center_img TEAM LEADERSHIP: Detroit’s Antoine Davis has averaged 23 points and 4.6 assists while Justin Miller has put up 10.4 points and 5.3 rebounds. For the Penguins, Darius Quisenberry has averaged 15.9 points and four assists while Naz Bohannon has put up 10.6 points and 8.5 rebounds.DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENTS: The Titans have allowed just 74.8 points per game across 12 conference games, an improvement from the 80.9 per game they allowed to non-conference competition.OFFENSIVE THREAT: Davis has been directly responsible for 56 percent of all Detroit field goals over the last three games. The sophomore guard has 23 field goals and 18 assists in those games.SHARING THE BURDEN: Youngstown State is a perfect 5-0 when at least four of its players score 10 or more points. The team is 9-11 when fewer than four Penguins players score in double-figures.STREAK STATS: Youngstown State has lost its last three road games, scoring 69.7 points, while allowing 83 per game. Detroit seeks revenge on Youngstown St.last_img read more

Trojans’ secondary a growing concern

first_img“The 19th Hole” runs Tuesdays. To comment on this story, email Joey at [email protected] or visit Someone is the hero and someone is the goat in spring practice. Someone enjoys success at another’s expense.And through three weeks of spring ball for USC, that message largely rings true. At present, the Trojans’ collection of receivers is playing the role of hero.The receiving corps shined during Saturday’s 52-play scrimmage at the Los Angekes Memorial Coliseum, even with junior wide receiver Marqise Lee sidelined because of a knee injury. Sophomore wideout Nelson Agholor scored on a touchdown pass of about 75 yards from quarterback Cody Kessler. Junior George Farmer hauled in a 47-yard reception. Redshirt sophomore Victor Blackwell caught a 25-yard touchdown pass.If you happened to stop by the stadium on that particular afternoon, you would have seen a fair share of big plays. Yup, those receivers looked fast. This is reassuring considering that, at present, it is unknown who will be throwing the passes come fall.But the concerning part is this: They were blowing past USC’s secondary. That’s the flipside of the coin. As strong as Agholor, Farmer and the rest have looked in recent weeks, they have also enjoyed their successes at the expense of an inexperienced and still-developing secondary.Here’s what’s been clear: The back four of the defense, particularly the cornerback positions, is the unit in question and is one that remains increasingly problematic.“We have a lot of concerns at corner right now, and it showed up today,” USC head coach Lane Kiffin said Saturday. “Three go routes in man coverage.”Those three “go routes” went for touchdowns.Evidently, finding the right match at cornerback has been anything but easy. To start off the spring, USC lined up freshmen defensive backs Su’a Cravens and Leon McQuay III at cornerback. But since the first week, they’ve found homes elsewhere — Cravens at “nickel corner” and McQuay at safety. It doesn’t appear likely either will move at this point.Florida transfer Josh Shaw, who spent his first season in the program primarily at cornerback, has moved back to safety. Sophomore cornerback Kevon Seymour and redshirt freshman cornerback Devian Shelton are currently out with injuries.And of course it doesn’t help that Nickell Robey opted to declare for the NFL draft, forgoing his senior season.“The early departure of Nickell really hurt us for a guy who is not going to be a first-round draft pick,” Kiffin added. “That was the kind of experience we were hoping would come back.”But that experience is gone, and the bulk of the experience that the Trojans have left comes from senior cornerback Torin Harris and redshirt junior cornerback Anthony Brown, who have assumed the role as the team’s top two cornerbacks. Thus far, though, both have struggled, including during Saturday’s scrimmage.“He’s really inconsistent,” said new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast when asked about Harris last week. “And we’re looking for consistent players we can depend on.”This isn’t nitpicking a position group in the spring but rather a growing concern for a defense that, in Pendergast’s system, hopes to be more aggressive. In particular, it’s a defense that requires corners to play more single coverage. They’re struggling with that now, and playing single coverage appears increasingly risky.“We have to get better with the guys we have,” Kiffin said. “We have to play better, have to coach better.”The reason USC has to get better with the guys it has is because, well, Kiffin and Co. don’t exactly have any other choice.Freshman cornerback Chris Hawkins is the only member of USC’s 13-player 2013 signing class who naturally plays the position. As tiresome as it has become to hear the oft-heard line about limited scholarships and depth over the last year, that issue only gets worse as the years progress: Next fall will be the beginning of year two of the three-year 75-player scholarship cap.For now, USC must do its best with what it has. There won’t be any reinforcements coming between now and the start of fall camp.There aren’t exactly plenty of backup plans, either. USC needs Harris to be more consistent. The same goes for Brown. Hawkins, though barely out of high school, needs to grow up quickly.Such is the circumstance.A revamped defense, though, is expected to be at the heart of the turnaround USC hopes will come in 2013. And that revamped defense is largely predicated on being aggressive, playing — as Pendergast has reiterated on several occasions — on the offense’s side of the line of scrimmage.But, to do all of that, USC can’t afford to be beaten deep on “go routes,” not this frequently.That’s how you lose football games, something the Trojans have done far too much of lately.last_img read more

EPL analysis: 7 things we learned from Saturday’s games

first_imgChelsea’s top-four challenge is already over, while four-goal Tottenham still concern in attack. Oh, and we propose a new system to end the injury-time debate for good.…1) Chelsea can forget top fourSince Guus Hiddink uttered the unwise words that fourth position was possible, Chelsea have collected two points from as many games – effectively ending the shortest ever European challenge. Their next three Premier League games are Arsenal (a), Watford (a) and Manchester United (h). It’s got to the stage where they could feasibly lose all three and, if they do, expect the words ‘relegation battle’ to be lumped into the first sentence of all future match reports. If John Terry’s controversial leveller hadn’t crept in during Chelsea’s tussle with Everton, it may have already commenced. Which brings us onto…2) It’s time to overhaul injury time To blow or not to blow, that is the question? It’s a dilemma that afflicts referees across the globe. Mike Jones found himself at the centre of that exact storm at Stamford Bridge, deciding to play over the allotted seven minutes of injury time – allowing Terry to score his offside winner. And he was probably right, given Ramiro Funes Mori’s one-man celebration dragged on for many, many seconds. But Roberto Martinez still fumed. The solution? Take time-keeping duties away from the referee. Instead, hand them to a fifth official, who surveys the match from the stands and can tot up exactly how much time should be added on, rather than simply rounding to the nearest minute. Then, when that time has passed, the match concludes when the ball next goes out of play. Simple. 3) Title could come down to Sergio Aguero v Olivier Giroud Leicester may be dreaming of the impossible, but the reality is the Premier League title race will probably boil down to Manchester City v Arsenal. Or, perhaps more accurately, Sergio Aguero v Olivier Giroud. One is plagued by fitness woes, the other burdened with widespread condemnation. Sure, City are favourites with Aguero, but any injury would promote Giroud to the deadliest striker in the title race. Sporadic brilliance or consistent normality… which would you prefer?4) Tottenham still struggling to break teams down But Tottenham beat Sunderland 4-1, right? True, but look a little deeper and Spurs’ problem of old remains: their inability to break down teams. But for the introduction of debutant Jan Kirchhoff – inadvertently instrumental in the third and fourth goals – it may not have been so easy for Spurs. There is so much to admire about their high-pressing game, but it’s still unclear whether they can repeatedly unlock the tightest of defences. The 1-0 home defeat to Leicester in midweek proved as much.5) Leicester may already have the depth to go the distance Thought Leicester didn’t possess a squad capable of challenging for a top-four spot, or maybe even the title? The rise of Shinji Okazaki disputes that. Magnificent in the two games against Tottenham over the past week, the Japanese forward was an energetic presence as Leicester drew 1-1 with Aston Villa. He may not snatch the headlines as frequently as Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, but his contributions are imperative if Leicester are to complete the impossible. It’s these lesser-heralded stars, Danny Drinkwater and Christian Fuchs, that are keeping their charge ticking over. Perhaps Claudio Ranieri was right. Maybe they don’t need reinforcements in January. 6) Jonjo Shelvey has his mojo back Just as his hopes of making the plane for Euro 2016 were diminishing, Jonjo Shelvey burst back with a fine performance in Newcastle’s 2-1 win over West Ham. He was instrumental in both his side’s goals and barely missed a pass. Not bad for a player who was struggling to get in the Swansea team. It’s now feasible he could help send his old club down. His next task: get back into Roy Hodgson’s plans…7) Arsene Wenger may rue letting Benik Afobe leaveFebruary 7: Bournemouth v Arsenal. A first reunion for Benik Afobe and Arsenal since Arsene Wenger deemed him surplus to requirements. It may have been a mistake. Afobe, after scoring a hatful for Wolves, marked his Cherries debut with a goal and seems set for a permanent starting role at the Vitality Stadium. Never given a chance by Wenger, he could yet have a say in whether the title finally arrives at the Emirates. –last_img read more


first_imgMORE THAN one thousand commonage farmers from across Co Donegal have attended a meeting in protest at new rules being introduced.The farmers packed into the giant ballroom at Letterkenny’s Clanree Hotel in the latest meeting organised to discuss the new procedures.Chairman for the night Henry O’Donnell said: “The meeting is to support for the farmers in the west and to let farmers in Donegal know how serious the situation is for the future of their farm payments.” Commonage farmers – farmers who share lands between them – are protesting over proposed new policies being introduced for collective agreement on commonages and the GLAS environmental scheme for farmers.“The problems which we are facing here in Donegal are identical to those experienced by the farmer who turned up at the Westport meeting,” said Henry.“At the meeting it was outlined that the proposed collective agreement on commonages could not work for farmers. It would mean that one farmer would be responsible for the actions of his neighbour and could be penalised for the other farmers’ actions.“It also emerged that farmers would be denied priority access to the GLAS environmental scheme if less than 50% of the commonage shareholders did not sign up to collective agreement.” The regulations are seen as unworkable.Farmers from throughout Donegal spoke out at the meeting last night, demanding the regulations are scrapped.1,000 FARMERS IN DONEGAL PROTEST AT NEW COMMONAGE RULES was last modified: September 6th, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:commonageIFAletterkennynew ruleslast_img read more

Poaching victim Hope survives surgery

first_img10 June 2015The female rhino that survived having its horns hacked off by poachers was doing well after undergoing surgery, one of the vets who operated on it said yesterday.“The surgery went well yesterday [Monday]. She is doing quite well. She is alert and walking around and eating,” said Dr Johan Marais, an equine and wildlife surgeon at the University of Pretoria. Marais is part of Saving the Survivors, a group that treats rhino for gunshot wounds, facial gouges and other injuries inflicted by poachers.Three weeks ago poachers darted the rhino with a tranquilliser and hacked off its horns while the animal was sedated, fracturing its nasal bone and exposing the sinus cavities and nasal passages. Hope was later found by staff at the wildlife reserve – alive, but with a huge wound on the face.Worst injuries“It was a large wound, about 50cm by 30cm and very deep. It went far into her sinuses and nasal passages,” Marais said. “It is easily one of the worst injuries that I had ever worked on.”The rhino, which underwent the initial surgery in May, was later given the name “Hope”. On Monday, Marais and other vets worked on cleaning and redressing the wound and helped to maintain the structure of the rhino’s face at the Shamwari Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth.“We removed dead tissue. There is also dead bone. We took out some, but we also used it as a scaffold [to help restructure the face],” Marais said. “We will go back in two or three weeks.”It would probably take about 18 months for the wound to heal. However, if Hope was suffering to a point where it was inhumane to keep it alive, the vets would “put her down”. “But we don’t think that at this moment.”Marais said one of the fundamental problems with helping rhino was that there was very little information available on the animals, especially on their anatomy and how to deal with situations like Hope’s. “This is a work in progress.”At the rate rhino were being poached, people had to make a concerted effort to gain more knowledge about the animals so that more of them could be saved, he added.Source: News24Wirelast_img read more

South Africa spends billions on mining towns

first_img1 July 2015South Africa has allocated R18-billion for distressed mining communities across the country. Headed by the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) in charge of revitalising mining communities, projects being undertaken include housing and wellness.“Overall R18-billion has been dedicated to ongoing work in distressed mining communities, benefitting the following provinces: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West,” President Jacob Zuma said on 30 June.“The bulk of this funding is from [the] government, with mining companies contributing approximately a third of the funding.”Zuma appointed the IMC shortly after the Marikana tragedy, in which over 44 people lost their lives during labour unrest at the Lonmin mine in North West in 2012. Its mandate is to oversee the implementation of integrated and sustainable human settlements, improve living and working conditions of mine workers and determine the development path of mining towns and the historic labour-sending areas.“The fundamental mandate of the IMC is to change the face of mining in South Africa working with business, labour and other sectors.”South Africa had undertaken a socio-economic diagnostic study of the 15 prioritised mining towns and 12 prioritised labour-sending areas to get a better understanding of the extent of the challenges in each town and to determine the most appropriate actions to address these.“In changing the face of mining, we are also drawing lessons from other countries,” Zuma said. He spoke about the Australia-Africa Partnership Facility, saying the country was benchmarking the policy and regulatory system governing the mining sectors in Australia, Chile, South Africa, and Zambia.HousingRegarding housing, the Department of Human Settlements was implementing about 66 public sector housing projects in the 15 prioritised mining towns. In the 2014/15, financial year more than R419-million was spent from the ring-fenced budget for upgrading informal settlements in prioritised mining towns in Limpopo, Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West.“Overall over 7 000 units have been delivered in the mining towns.” For this financial year about R1-billion had been ring-fenced, which would deliver about 19 000 new houses.Two of the housing projects were in Marikana, where about 500 houses would be built on land donated by Lonmin.In addition to the ring-fenced human settlement grant funding, the department’s housing agencies have contributed over R1-billion to integrated human settlements in mining towns. This includes 17 341 loans of R239-million for incremental housing from the Rural Housing Loan Fund; R673-million delivering 3 405 mortgage and social housing units from the National Housing Finance Corporation; bridging loans of R95.6-million for 1 177 affordable houses and R36-million for 4 546 subsidy units from Nurcha’s Construction Finance and Programme Management.Zuma said the government embraced partnerships.“We understand that when working together, we can achieve much more that leads to a greater impact than when working in isolation,” he said, adding that stakeholders in business, labour and the government had actively supported and participated in formulating the government’s strategic approach for accommodating mineworkers in decent housing and living conditions in mining towns.Creating jobsTurning to socio-economic conditions, Zuma said that, led by the Department of Trade and Industry, the departments of Co-operative Governance, Traditional Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform and Small Business Development were facilitating large and small scale industrial projects in the 15 mining towns.These were critical in creating business and employment opportunities. In addition, Trade and Industry is helping selected municipalities and regions to develop and implement regional industrial development plans.These include interventions in Bojanala and the Greater Tubatse local municipalities for the establishment of a platinum group metals special economic zone (SEZ).Feasibility studies, business plans and the appointment of a project management unit have been completed and the SEZ designation and land acquisition is being finalised.Others include the establishment of an agri-hub in Bojanala, Madibeng and Marikana for agriculture production and a processing facility, as well as the Vulindlela Industrial Park Revitalisation in King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality, in Eastern Cape.These projects, which include a multi-sectoral business park, will promote sustainable manufacturing investments into the region.Health careOn the wellbeing of the miners, the Department of Health, together with the departments of Labour and Mineral Resources, is working towards the alignment of the industry’s occupational health and safety policy.The goal is to build an enhanced social protection system, as well as reorganise the compensation system and access to benefits for former and current mineworkers.“The Department of Mineral Resources is employing mine accident and occupational diseases prevention mechanisms through improved mine inspections, audits, investigations and monitoring of occupational exposure levels,” Zuma said.Enforcement and inspections have been beefed up through 40 regional medical inspectors, analysis of annual medical reports from the mines’ provision of standards on workplace exposures, implementing inspection and audit tools for occupational health services, promotion of occupational health in the mining industry, and reviewing research relevant to occupational medicine in the mining industry.Furthermore, the departments of Mineral Resources and of Health are employing strategic interventions to promote healthy and safe working conditions. These include ensuring the reduction in falls of ground accidents by 20% annually; actively promoting awareness of the National Strategic Plan on HIV, STIs and TB; preventing personal over-exposure to silica dust; and promoting active linkage of dust exposure to medical surveillance.The Department of Health has established one-stop service centres to bring health and compensation services to former and current mine workers in the mining towns and in labour-sending areas.There are centres in Mthatha in Eastern Cape as well as Carletonville in Gauteng. More one-stop service centres will be established in other provinces, beginning in Kuruman in Northern Cape and Burgersfort in Limpopo.The state will also set up mobile units in neighbouring countries such as Lesotho and Swaziland during the 2015/16 fiscal year.Operation PhakisaZuma said he was making good on his promise in his State of the Nation Address to launch a mining version of Operation Phakisa, the integrated delivery system in the health and oceans economy sectors.It would be discussed when the National Consultative Forum on the Mining Sector met later this year.“To date, the Presidency has engaged in more than 15 consultative meetings with the [chief executives] of mining companies, representatives of civil society and national office bearers of labour unions and there is overwhelming support for the Phakisa process.”His government was determined, working together with other stakeholders, to steer the mining industry towards increased investment, growth and transformation while being mindful of the social, environmental and health impacts on people in mining towns and labour-sending areas.“The migrant labour system has been the backbone of the mining industry in South Africa and continues to have an enduring impact on both mining towns and rural labour-sending areas,” he said, urging all stakeholders and communities to work with the government to try to revitalise the mining sector.Source: SAnews.govlast_img read more

Cost of diesel on the rise

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag NetConsumers are seeing a jump in the price they pay for a gallon of gas as summer approaches, a major driving season. The expected additional cost to drive this summer is about $200 more per family compared to 2017.The same goes for a fuel that farmers heavily rely on to grow food and that the agriculture industry uses primarily to deliver those goods to market, diesel fuel.“About 65% of all goods transported in the U.S. are moved by trucks that use diesel,” said Veronica Nigh, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation. “So, when the economy heats up we also seeing diesel prices rise and that is what we are seeing now.”Compared to just a year ago, the price of diesel has climbed over 20%, which is equivalent to 50 cents per gallon.“Unemployment is lower, consumers have more money in their pockets and they are out driving and buying more things,” Nigh said. “That increased demand is certainly having an impact on diesel prices.”That has many wondering if diesel costs will reach the gaudy levels of 2013-2014, which was up around $4.00 a gallon. Nigh said it is hard to tell.“The economy doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, so that underlying reason for increased demand for diesel fuel is strong,” Nigh said. “Today at about $3.20 a gallon we would have to come up quite a ways to reach those levels, but oil production is good as we have recently seen some of the highest levels of production in the last 30 years.”For agriculture, diesel works into the cost of production equation. That will have a trickle-down effect at the farmer and consumer levels.“Unfortunately at the farm setting, we don’t have a lot of ability to effect the prices we receive for inputs so higher diesel prices mean more of a squeeze on those already incredibly tight margins,” Nigh said. “On the consumer level, you can probably expect an increase in food prices. We’re not looking at a huge increases, but 2 or 3 cents across the whole portfolio of food items that you might buy adds up.”Farmers in the Midwest do have a bit of a regional advantage on the price of diesel. West Coast prices have averaged a whopping 40 cents per gallon higher than the national average since January. East Coast prices have averaged 3 cents per gallon higher, while Midwest prices have averaged 6 cents per gallon lower.last_img read more

Hyundai Heavy Splashes Flex LNGs New Vessel

first_imgzoomImage Courtesy: Flex LNG South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries has splashed the newest LNG carrier for Oslo-listed ship owner and operator Flex LNG.The newbuilding number 8010, to be named Flex Aurora, was launched at the HHI’s yard on September 6.With a cargo capacity of 174,000 cbm, the new two stroke vessel features a low pressure X-DF engine and is one of the first uncommitted vessel with this kind of motor technology entering the market, according to Flex LNG.Once fully refurbished and mobilized it will be available for business at the end of the second quarter of 2020.The vessel is one of two newbuildings under construction purchased by Flex LNG in May 2018 at a price of USD 184 million per unit.Flex Aurora’s sister vessel, to be named Flex America, is scheduled for delivery in August 2020.Both newbuildings are fitted with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) to comply with IMO Tier III regulation both in gas and liquid mode giving them high trading flexibility.last_img read more