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All-Star guard Rondo joins LeBron’s revamped Lakers

first_imgTaal victims get help from Kalayaan town Tim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crown Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Christopher Tolkien, son of Lord of the Rings author, dies aged 95 View comments FILE – Rajon Rondo #9 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives towards the basket in the second quarter against the Brooklyn Nets during their game at Barclays Center on February 10, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Abbie Parr/Getty Images/AFPRajon Rondo, who helped the Boston Celtics win an NBA title in 2008, reportedly joined LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday as a revamped lineup begins to take shape.Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James agreed to a four-year deal worth $154 million Sunday with the Lakers, just hours after the NBA free agency period began.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ Sherwin-Williams told the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Monday that the 10-story banner featuring James on the side of its world headquarters building will be removed this week by advertiser Nike.It stood across from the Cavaliers home arena and became something of a tourist attraction for sports fans visiting the city. The banner went up after James returned from Miami to the Cavs in 2014.Stephenson, 27, joins his seventh NBA club since joining the league in 2010. He averaged 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists a game for Indiana last season, his first campaign without missing a game.Caldwell-Pope, 25, played four seasons for Detroit before joining the Lakers last season, when he averaged 13.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals a game.McGee, 30, was a reserve on the Golden State Warriors’ NBA championship teams the past two seasons. The 7-footer (2.13m) has career averages of 7.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots a game.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next DC United hoping Wayne Rooney can turn its fortunes Four-time All-Star Rondo, a 32-year-old point guard, who has made stops in Boston, Dallas, Sacramento and Chicago, averaged 8.3 points, 8.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds a game last season for New Orleans.READ: LABron: James agrees to 4-year deal with LakersFEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownESPN, Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times and New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Rondo will sign a one-year deal with the Lakers for $9 million after releasing forward Julius Randle to free up space under the NBA salary cap.Players cannot sign contracts with teams until Friday under NBA free agency rules. Bicol riders extend help to Taal evacuees Even as an iconic 10-story banner of James is about to be removed from a Cleveland building, the Lakers began filling out the roster for next season, agreeing to one-year deals with swingman Lance Stephenson, guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and center JaVale McGee.The Lakers were also reportedly targeting New Orleans free agent center DeMarcus Cousins.Meanwhile, back in Cleveland, the city James departed for a second time is moving quickly to say goodbye to James after a departure, having suffered through similar pains when he left the Cavaliers in 2010 for the Miami Heat.READ: LeBron returns to LA to plot next move as free agency nearsThis time, response has been less heated than the jersey-burning anger that erupted from his home region. James did return in 2014 and led the Cavs to the 2016 NBA title, ending a 52-year sports championship drought for Cleveland, before departing for the Lakers in the wake of four consecutive NBA Finals appearances for Cleveland.ADVERTISEMENT Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding Jury of 7 men, 5 women selected for Harvey Weinstein rape trial LATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Cloudy skies over Luzon due to amihanlast_img read more

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NICIL assets to be offered to investors – GO-Invest head

first_imgChief Executive Officer of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest), Owen Verway, on Monday said the agency would be offering potential investors more ready-to-invest projects in 2018, as opposed to just marketing ideas.He was at the time speaking at the agency’s year-end press conference, where he outlined the challenges of, and accomplishments for, 2017, while providing a preview of 2018 plans. “There is a need to have more pipeline-ready projects, not just ideas. We have been marketing the opportunities, and we have started the process of having the Minister (of Finance) meeting with the other ministries in trying to go through their capital project plans to see what is it we can turn around, and see what we can make into real investment opportunities — whether it is public /private or people private,” he said.Verway indicated that GO-Invest is also in talks with the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) to have some of that agency’s assets packaged into investment opportunities.He further noted that GuySuCo would a major investment opportunity when the diversification plan commences next year.According to Verway, the agency has to place more emphasis on marketing, and there are mechanisms to ensure that this is addressed in the New Year.“Marketing needs to be a more significant focus of the agency. We spend more than 50-60 per cent of time doing due diligence and processing an applications…a lot of proposals are half or less completed…we find ourselves handholding the clients in getting their proposals finished,” he noted, while outlining some of the challenges for 2017.In addition, the CEO revealed that they are also in talk with the University of Guyana to establish a partnership-based approach in the development of a tool to understand the value chain.The agency would also be establishing a service provider’s database to make services more readily available to potential investors.The CEO reported that, in 2017, the agency has been able to process some 120 investment agreements, and has observed over 46 applications for over 99,000 acres of commercial land.Collaborative effortsMeanwhile, Board Chairman Patricia Bacchus said that the agency is looking for greater collaborative efforts with their partners, in order to ensure the effective processing of investment proposals.“Although the agency was touted as being a one stop shop, it was never legally set up to be a one stop shop. It was only responsible for the element of investment promotion, which involved recommending investment agreements for potential investors, which would grant them waivers on duty and taxes relative to their investments, as well as recommend tax holidays. There was a need for a greater level collaboration between the agencies responsible for promoting investments. Those include the Guyana Revenue Authority, Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, Ministry of Foreign Trade, Environmental Protection Agency, and a number of other agencies,” she said.“We asked that our Board be constituted by senior representatives from these agencies, to ensure that investment is promoted faster, and with greater efficiency,” Bacchus added.GO-Invest was set up as the investment promotion agency for Guyana, and its mandate included both foreign direct and local investment across all sectors, along with the promotion of export and trade.last_img read more

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A light bulb goes on for GM’s Volt hybrid

first_img“We’re actually going to put it into production,” Lutz told the NPR audience. “I think it could be one of the most important things we’ve ever developed.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “This is now what I’m more excited about than I was about the Dodge Viper,” Lutz said. “I think this can bring about the revolution and really make us independent of foreign oil and solve all the other problems.” . With the same enthusiasm that he has long used to describe high torque ratings and engine displacements, Lutz touted the Volt’s mileage, which he estimated will reach 151 miles per gallon, fueled by a combination of electricity and gasoline. The prospect of Lutz going green represents a sharp reversal. After all, he has often mocked environmentalists, saying that except for “a few nuts in California,” no one cared about the impact of cars on the environment. In 2003, he described Toyota’s hybrid-electric Prius as a public relations stunt – although he admitted he wished GM had a similar model – and declared GM’s most important car to be the Chevrolet Corvette. But GM is also moving ahead with the Volt, even though it hasn’t yet developed the lithium-ion battery that is needed to power it. ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Robert A. Lutz, vice chairman at General Motors, has long been considered one of Detroit’s ultimate “car guys,” for whom no vehicle could be big enough, powerful enough or fast enough. He is the father of the V-10 Dodge Viper and has championed automobiles like the 1,000-horsepower Cadillac Sixteen, a V-16 concept coupe that Lutz said would have fulfilled his longstanding goal of designing a high-powered car to match the finest European models. Now Lutz, known by his “Maximum Bob” nickname around Detroit, says he has a new dream car. Speaking at a taping of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!,” the quiz program on National Public Radio, Lutz declared Thursday night that the Chevrolet Volt, the hybrid-electric concept car that GM unveiled at this year’s Detroit auto show, may be among the most important vehicles that GM has ever developed. last_img read more

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Ivory Coast star Zaha commits to Palace

first_img0Shares0000Ivory Coast star Wilfried Zaha boosted Crystal Palace by signing a new contract which ties him to them till the end of the 2022/23 season. © AFP / Glyn KIRKLONDON, United Kingdom, Aug 15 – Wilfried Zaha gave Crystal Palace a huge boost on Wednesday by signing a new contract which will see him tied to the Premier League club till the end of the 2022/23 campaign.The 25-year-old Ivory Coast forward — who is Palace’s joint highest Premier League scorer — has been a transfer target for several higher profile clubs. However, Zaha, who has been with the Eagles since he was 12, has committed himself to Palace.“Crystal Palace are delighted to announce that Wilfried Zaha has pledged his future to the club by signing a contract extension, which will see the Ivorian forward remain in south London until the end of the 2022/23 season,” read a club statement on their website.Zaha, who played a pivotal role in Palace retaining their place in the elite last term scoring nine goals as they recovered after a woeful start to the season, said he was delighted to have the contract discussions out of the way.“I’m very pleased,” he said.“Obviously, I just wanted to get it over and done with, so I can just focus on the season. I’m buzzing that we managed to get it sorted.”Palace chairman Steve Parish — who also persuaded manager Roy Hodgson to extend his contract last week — said it reflected Zaha’s loyalty to the club and the area of south London he grew up in.“This agreement is yet another example of his lifelong commitment to the club, and our commitment to him,” said Parish.“This is an amazing day for everyone here at Palace, our supporters and of course Wilf – and is richly deserved.”Zaha, who played a couple of times for England in friendlies which still allowed him the leeway to opt to play for the country of his birth Ivory Coast, has been at Palace all his career save an unhappy two year spell at Manchester United but he attracted interest in the close season from reportedly the likes of Everton, Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

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BUNCRANA TAKES FIRST STEPS TOWARDS CYCLING & WALKING TOURISM

first_imgBUNCRANA has taken the first steps towards setting up cycling and walking routes – and bring more tourists to Inishowen.Cllr. Mary Kelly has welcomed funding for the compilation of a strategy document for the initiative.Buncrana Cycling and Walking group has been informed funding had been approved for a strategy document to be prepared, a study which will provide direction to the group in the areas of cycling and walking in Buncrana and its environment This document will be a requirement to apply for future funding to programmes such as the Smarter Travel Programme.Funding has been approved by Inishowen Development Partnership.Earlier this year Buncrana Town Council agreed to part fund this project and we would like to thank them both for their support.Buncrana cycling and walking group was set up over a year ago to promote and plan walking and cycling in this area. Said Cllr Kelly: “Cycling and walking are of great importance not only for local residents but for tourism. Other areas have introduced cycling and walking projects and the success of these are to be seen around Ireland.”© 2011 donegaldaily.com, all Rights ReservedThe copying, republication or redistribution of donegaldaily.com Content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited by law.Follow us on www.twitter.com/donegaldailyFollow us on www.facebook.com/donegaldaily Sell anything on www.donegaldailyclassifieds.comBUNCRANA TAKES FIRST STEPS TOWARDS CYCLING & WALKING TOURISM was last modified: November 13th, 2011 by BrendaShare 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:buncranacycling routeslast_img read more

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Ex-49er Brent Jones knocks the snot out of Booger McFarland’s analysis of Jimmy G.

first_imgIn the 33 years I covered the NFL, I never ran across a nicer guy than 49ers Brent Jones. Earnest, polite, humble, stoic, well-meaning. We never socialized, but I would bet his scouting report would be the same on and off the field.We are now seeing another side of Brent Jones. The ex-49ers tight end and three-time Super Bowl winner, took massive umbrage at ESPN analyst Booger McFarland’s breakdown of San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s mechanics during the 49ers’ 31-3 caning of the …last_img read more

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Plate Tectonics Gets Squishy

first_imgTwo reports on plate tectonics this week make it seem less like “hard” science.  Over 30 years ago, plate tectonics theory surprised many by going mainstream.  In recent years, however, observations have complicated matters.    In the July 8 issue of Nature,1 Norman H. Sleep evaluates a paper in the same issue2 that tackles the problem of hotspots.  Regarding “inadequacies in understanding the relative motions between plates,” he comments, “In case you think this has been sorted out to decimal places in the past 30 years, it hasn’t.”  (For background, see 04/02/2004 and 11/04/2003 headlines.)  Sleep praises the efforts of Steinbeck et al. to understand hotspots and fluid motions in the mantle, particularly how the Hawaiian chain could make a sudden turn.  But he ends, “I expect that debate will continue on the relative fixity of hotspots, the rigidity of tectonic plates and mantle dynamics.”    The Himalayas have been a poster child of plate tectonics theory.  Richard A. Kerr in the July 9 issue of Science3 discusses new satellite measurements around the Tibetan plateau that cast a common assumption into question.  It has long been taught that Mt. Everest and its range were thrust upward to their lofty heights by India crashing into the Asian continent.  New synthetic aperture radar measurements of the Tibetan plateau from the InSAR satellite, however, show much slower movement along faults than expected – like 0 to 7mm per year instead of 30, in one instance, and a factor of 10 lower in another.  Interference diagrams, on the other hand, show the entire region deforming.  Instead of a rigid mass moving between faults “like a watermelon seed between two fingers,” the Tibetan plateau seems to act like a fluid, as if “India were colliding with a water bed.”  Kerr remarks, “For almost 40 years, scientists have recognized that Earth’s ocean floors jostle and slide past one another like enormous rigid plates.  But how well continents fit into this plate-tectonic scheme has been less clear.  Now, satellite measurements of the Tibetan Plateau suggest that when continents go head-to-head in mountain building, they can behave more like unbaked pizzas.”  Another scientist concluded from the new data, “Continental tectonics is not plate tectonics.”  This part of the continent, Kerr says, rather than standing up and fighting, is trying to escape.1Norman H. Sleep, “Earth science: Kinks and circuits,” Nature 430, 151 – 153 (08 July 2004); doi:10.1038/430151a.2Steinberger, Sutherland and O’Connell, “Prediction of Emperor-Hawaii seamount locations from a revised model of global plate motion and mantle flow,” Nature 430, 167 – 173 (08 July 2004); doi:10.1038/nature02660.3Richard A. Kerr, “Hammered by India, Puttylike Tibet Shows Limits of Plate Tectonics,” Science, Vol 305, Issue 5681, 161, 9 July 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5681.161a].4Wright, Parsons, England, and Fielding, “InSAR Observations of Low Slip Rates on the Major Faults of Western Tibet,” Science, Vol 305, Issue 5681, 236-239, 9 July 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1096388]. 1Now I’m getting hungry for pizza and watermelon.  Geological fads are like panaceas that cure all the symptoms until the MRI arrives.  Data have a way of spoiling the fun of storytelling.  Some unscrupulous theorists like Charles Lyell fudged data to make it fit their mental pictures of how the world should work.    When plate tectonics theory became popular in the 1960s, some holdouts complained it was being foisted on them like a new religion.  For example, even as late as 1983, in a popular geology book sold in western National Parks, Donald L. Baars had asked whether the theory was “Geophysics or Metaphysics?”—The concept of the New Global Tectonics may be liked to a new religion; since hard facts are lacking, if one is not a “believer” one is considered an “atheist” with regard to the many theories and interpretations of the “clergy”—the oceanographers and geophysicists.  Many of the concepts are plausible and exciting, and sometimes they fit the hard geologic facts.  Many times, however, they are contradictory and totally incongruent with known geologic facts, at which time the facts are ignored.  With enough “faith,” every known earth event is compatible with the religion, especially with respect to oceanography.  On land, however, where outcrops and fossils abound, it is often extremely difficult to be a “follower.”  The entire doctrine may in time be proven true, it may be completely disproven by geologists, or a compromise may be reached.  I prefer to think the last possibility is likely. … [He describes some examples of contradictions.]    It would require another book to argue fully the pros and cons of plate tectonics theory.  It is obvious at this point that I have not been totally converted to the religion.  That is a matter for individual preference.  You are free to believe as you wish, but please, don’t send missionaries! —Donald L. Baars, The Colorado Plateau: A Geologic History (Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1972, 1983, pp. 217-218, p. 219).No one doubts that various fluids and solids are moving various whichaways down under our feet, at various speeds and in various directions.  But as with many things in science, the phenomena are too complex to reduce to simple models.  What explains one province may not explain another.  A neat global diagram of rigid plates floating on convecting mantle currents makes a nice flannelgraph in Monday School, but what was the Historical Geophysics?  We’ll have to wait and see what happens to this religion.  The lesson is: don’t take the national park diagrams on blind faith.(Visited 48 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Dealing with Light at the Extremes

first_img“Light is the most important variable in our environment,” wrote Edith Widder, a marine biologist.  The inhabitants of two different ecosystems have to deal with either too little or too much. Let your light so shine:  A thousand meters below the sea surface, all sunlight is extinguished.  Yet for thousands of meters more, creatures live in the perpetual darkness by manufacturing their own light.  Bioluminescence is everywhere, reported Mark Schrope in Nature,1 “Eventually, the lightshow grows into a veritable fireworks display against an ever blacker background.”  The light comes from everything alive: bacteria, microorganisms called dinoflagellates, jellyfish, anemones, shrimp, vertebrate fish, and more.    Edith Widder is co-founder of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association in Fort Pierce, Florida.  With a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), her team uses a deep ocean submersible craft called Eye-in-the-Sea to understand creatures who can only be studied in their own space.  The submersible is equipped with an LED flasher that tries to beckon organisms and study their behaviors.  They were actually able to get a distant organism to flash its light back.  They also got a squid to respond to their light signal, thinking it had discovered lunch.    Possible uses of biological light include decoy, defense, camouflage, mimicry, sexual attraction and alarm.  Though red light is the first to be extinguished in the depths, and most dark-adapted organisms see in the blue-green range, some organisms appear to emit red light that could be visible only among their own.  To do this, they must transfer the blue-green light from their photophores to red-fluorescent proteins, which seems inefficient.  “My physics head says, ‘No,’” commented Justin Marshall, an Australian participant in the Deep Scope project, “But my biology head says, ‘Well, Why not?’ Biology is weird, so it could be.”    The fact that organisms can emit light by intricate processes of bioluminescence presupposes that they also contain sensitive organs to detect it.  Many deep-sea fish have large eyes tuned to the blue-green light of photophores.    A new version of Eye-in-the-Sea is being prepared for deployment in early 2008 in Monterey, California.  This will provide the first undersea observatory of the dark depths, “the first effective, long-term study of true deep-sea bioluminescent behaviour.”  It may shed new light on an ecosystem that communicates in the language of photons.Too much of a good thing:  On topside, some organisms have the opposite problem: too much light.  Plants harvest sunlight to make nutrients from the soil, but like sunbathers know, too much can burn.  Within leaves are elaborate mechanisms to shunt away excess light from the photosynthetic factories.  Science Daily reported on a paper in Nature2 where researchers from University of Sheffield and Queen Mary, University of London learned more about “photoprotection” in plant leaves: “They were able to show how a small number of certain key molecules, hidden among the millions of others in the plant leaf, change their shape when the amount of light absorbed is excessive; and they have been able to track the conversion of light energy to heat that occurs in less than a billionth of a second.”  The original paper stated, “it is experimentally demonstrated that a change in conformation of LHCII occurs in vivo, which opens a channel for energy dissipation by transfer to a bound carotenoid.  We suggest that this is the principal mechanism of photoprotection.”  The excess energy is thus shunted to a heat sink by an extremely rapid switch.    What they are learning may help increase crop yields and improve photovoltaic cells.  Plants already know how to adjust for the dim light of a cloudy day to the scorching radiation under a midsummer sun at noon.  “Many plant species can successfully inhabit extreme environments where there is little water, strong sunlight, low fertility and extremes of temperature by having highly tuned defence mechanisms, including photoprotection.”  See also the 06/23/2006 and 01/24/2005 entries about photoprotection, “One of Nature’s supreme examples of nanoscale engineering.”  (That’s Nature as in the real world, not the artificial journal.)Light just right, but que pasa?:  We humans, too, have to not only be able to harvest light, but process it as information.  The brain has a mechanism for making sense of a scene – deciding what is foreground, and what is background.  A “neural machine,” described in Science Daily, sorts this all out faster than the blink of an eye.  A portion of the visual cortex called V2 makes a preliminary judgment of what part of the field is the background, and what part is the foreground.    Rudiger von der Heydt, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University, described what happens: “What we found is that V2 generates a foreground-background map for each image registered by the eyes.  Contours are assigned to the foreground regions, and V2 does this automatically within a tenth of a second.”    This first-pass interpretive filter helps us make instant sense of a complex scene, even though its decision can be overridden by the conscious mind, or tricked by optical illusions.  Paintings by artist M.C. Escher, for instance, owe their popularity to tricks with the mind, fooling our eyes with contradictions about which way is up, or which part is the foreground and which is the background.    Van der Heydt continued, “Because of their complexity, images of natural scenes generally have many possible interpretations, not just two, like in Escher’s drawings.  In most cases, they contain a variety of cues that could be used to identify fore- and background, but oftentimes, these cues contradict each other.  The V2 mechanism combines these cues efficiently and provides us immediately with a rough sketch of the scene.”    The neuroscientist commented on the wonders of this system.  “We can do all of this without effort, thanks to a neural machine that generates visual object representations in the brain,” he said.  He admitted that how it works is still a mystery to us.  “But discovering this mechanism that so efficiently links our attention to figure-ground organization is a step toward understanding this amazing machine.”Look at your eyes in a mirror.  Using an eye to see the eye: fascinating.  There’s enough in that self-reflexive activity to keep biologists, neuroscientists, physicists and philosophers busy for millennia.1.  Mark Schrope, “Marine biology: Lights in the deep,” Nature 450, 472-474 (2007) | doi:10.1038/450472a.2.  Ruban et al, “Identification of a mechanism of photoprotective energy dissipation in higher plants,” Nature 450, 575-578 (22 November 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature06262.As with every natural resource in every ecological environment, light is used efficiently and effectively by a multitude of organisms well equipped to manage with feast or famine.  What other physical resources are utilized via similar feats of nanoengineering by living organisms?  Water (vapor, liquid, and solid), oxygen, nitrogen, iron, magnetism – no matter the physical resource, living things know how to harvest it for highest and best use.  Organisms daily exhibit a declaration of intelligent design; they have been endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rightly elegant constitutions.(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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From farmworker to farmer

first_img27 February 2006Nestled in the foothills of Mpumalanga’s sweeping escarpment lies Coromandel farm, South Africa’s poster child for land reform. On the brink of collapse four years ago before it was taken over by a workers’ collective, the sprawling 5 800-hectare estate now posts an annual turnover of R3.2-million. Right now the farm, which is still entirely staffed and managed by former farmworkers, is breaking even. But plummeting milk and maize prices, expanded settlement and potential land claims mean its future is again uncertain.Catherine Chiloane has lived and worked on Coromandel all her life. In 1997, when its fortunes began to wane, the 39-year-old expected she would have to leave her village and move to Johannesburg or nearby Lydenberg in search of work.“I was really scared we would lose everything,” she says, sluicing cow dung off the dairy’s concrete apron with a hosepipe. “Thank God it didn’t end up that way.”By the time the collective had raised enough money to buy the place in 2001, four of its commercial components had already been sold off by the trustees who controlled the deceased owner’s estate. The farm boasted an experimental nursery and bred beef cattle and wool sheep. Its magnificent yearling barn, the only sign of a once-thriving stud-breeding operation, now stands empty.‘It belongs to us’What remains of Coromandel is still impressive. There’s a fully equipped dairy with 530 cows, 230 producing 20 litres of milk a day. Twelve drip-irrigated hectares produce blueberries for export – at R1.2-million a year, it’s the farm’s top earner. There’s also 24 hectares of peaches and nectarines – all under netting and microjet irrigation – and thousands of hectares available for pasturage and dryland crop production.The farm also earns rent from 26 managers’ houses built on Coromandel and leases 500 hectares to neighbouring farmers for maize planting and 1 000 hectares for grazing. In all it employs about 100 permanent staff and up to 50 seasonal workers – although substantially down from 400 full-timers and 200 casuals in Coromandel’s heyday.Which is why Chiloane can count herself lucky. Downgraded to casual status when the farm started shedding its workforce, the mother of three was recently reinstated full-time as production began to pick up. “I can look after my children now,” she says. “For this I am very grateful.”Moreover, like the other workers here, Chiloane feels motivated. “We never dreamed of owning this farm. Now we aren’t just ordinary people staying here. It belongs to us.”The Coromandel farm dam irrigates the 36 hectares of land planted to fruitShe has also benefitted from a deal Coromandel clinched with the local council, which paid R1.8-million to excise 45 hectares from the farm to be used to expand on an existing settlement built by the original owner. The enlarged village will house about 1 500 people – including Coromandel’s farmworkers and their families – now living in settlements dotted around the farm, as well as workers evicted from neighbouring farms.By accessing housing subsidies, villagers will get title deeds to fully serviced low-cost homes. “I feel like a different person,” says Chiloane. “Before I was living in fear of the future. Now I know I can stay here forever.”For farming operations, this arrangement has the added advantage of separating living quarters from the orchards and paddocks.“We’ve got peaches, blueberries and nectarines growing here – and cows wandering around,” explains the farm’s general manager Brian Phokane. “There are just too many temptations. This way it is much easier to control the farmland and minimise the security risk.”From hobby to model estateCoromandel has always been an institution in the district. The original holding was bought in 1968 by Edgars tycoon Sydney Press, who turned his weekend hobby into a burgeoning farming enterprise. Over the years he bought up surrounding land and eventually employed more than 20 agricultural experts and farm managers who lived on and ran his model estate.Their nursery experiments produced cultivars of fruit able to flourish in the harsh mountain climate. They also grew potatoes, yellow and white maize, wheat, sugar beans and soya. Experiments with vines and olive trees were abandoned because of extended frost periods. But the low mean temperature made the region ideal for wool farming.In the end it was a bitter family feud that sounded the death knell of Sydney Press’s beloved estate. The Press dynasty was one of South Africa’s richest families. At the time of his death in 1997 his personal fortune, made largely from the Edgars group, was reportedly estimated at R100-million.During a decade-long legal battle prior to his death with his ex-wife Victoria and some of their children, the farm was increasingly neglected. Eventually his children won control of the trust that held the family fortune, and Press had to get their permission to visit his own farm. He died of a heart attack soon afterwards. “That’s what killed him,” says Phokane. “He loved this place.”Farming in the bloodPhokane surveys the fields he manages with evident pride. He had studied agriculture in high school but ended up becoming a teacher in his hometown of Bushbuckridge because there was little work available on farms. Then, in 1982, he heard through a relative living in the Lydenberg district that Coromandel was hiring staff. Phokane decided to try his luck.“I’ve always wanted to farm – I have farming in my blood,” he says. “So when this opportunity presented itself I jumped at the chance.”As luck would have it, Press himself was on the farm the day Phokane arrived. He took a personal interest in the young man who had tertiary education but wanted to do unglamorous farm work.“He told me he’d try me out if I was willing to start at the bottom, as a farm hand,” recalls Phokane. “I’m not sorry he did. I got to know every part of this farm. At first I worked in the orchards, but Sydney always encouraged us to take training courses, to learn more. Eventually I was supervising the whole farm.”This hands-on experience combined ability to handle responsibility left Phokane well placed to fight the bitter battle to come. In 2001 the trust controlled by Press’s children living abroad appointed a curator to auction what was left of the farm. The trust apparently wanted R28-million for the entire estate, but the highest bid was R17-million. The community decided to approach the government for a land reform grant to buy it themselves.“These were desperate times,” says Phokane. “People were being laid off every day. We thought we were going to lose our homes. There was talk of stripping the farm of anything of value. Managers were embroiled in theft – some even went to jail.“We were going down the drain.”‘Built with our hands’In the end the workers collective of 248 beneficiaries only qualified for a R11.5-million land affairs grant. When the Land Bank agreed to loan them another R11-million, they offered the Press family R15.65-million for the land and fixed assets. “It took some negotiating, but eventually the children agreed. We told them this farm was built with our hands – they had to compromise.”But their struggle had only begun. By then the farm’s operating company had been liquidated, with all movable assets – including the dairy cows and tractors – belonging to the liquidators. The workers offered the liquidators R2.5-million, but this was refused in the belief a higher price could be fetched at auction.“This was not fair. We had been maintaining these assets and protecting them from being stolen or stripped,” says Phokane. “So I gave them an ultimatum: remove your assets now or let us use them to run the farm, with the first option to purchase.” The liquidators caved in, and in August 2005 paid off their last instalment for the equipment.‘You are our brothers’At first local land owners reacted with dismay. “There was hostility,” says Phokane. “They expected if black people were running the farm it would be a failure, with lots of squatters and crime.” The ice was broken when the workers decided to approach their neighbours for advice on planting. “We told them: you are our brothers. Let’s make this work. They saw it in the same light, and now we get along very nicely.”Now commercial farmers in the district speak proudly of Coromandel as a successful land reform model that should be replicated throughout the country.“Coromandel demonstrates if it’s done realistically and funded properly, it can work,” says prominent local land owner Eric Johnson. He believes that although effective agri-BEE will require substantial sacrifices from both government and land owners, its success is in everyone’s interest. “When you start looking at your long-term future you need to take into account the interests of the broader community,” he says.Initial discipline problems, with some members believing ownership meant they could pitch up drunk for work or knock off early, have been overcome. “We have a code of conduct that’s strictly enforced,” says Phokane. “If they step out of line they get nailed.”Land claims and low pricesBut Coromandel’s continued success is far from assured. The district is subject to a massive 30 000-hectare land claim covering 120 farms, including Coromandel, collectively worth R150-million. Landowners say the claim was gazetted on flimsy evidence and now threatens to derail redistribution projects such as Coromandel.“There was never any real chance of a gazetted claim succeeding here – there were no forced removals,” says trout and cattle farm owner Gerrie van der Merwe. “We will have to fight it in court.”Chief land claims commissioner Tozi Gwanya says the claim had been solidly researched and accuses farmers of only supporting land reform models they can control. “They can control their workers but they can’t control restitution claimants. That’s why they oppose it,” he says.Phokane is not too concerned about a 10-hectare grazing strip of Coromandel that’s under claim. “We would fight it of course. We’ve worked here all our lives so we should have first right to this land,” he says. “But it’s not really an issue for us.”In the end the greatest threat to Coromandel, like so many farms in this country, is the steady decline in producer prices while input costs keep climbing. “Our blueberry exports are doing very well, but everything else looks risky right now,” explained Phokane. “This year we will not be planting maize and will run at a loss of R2-million.”Like their white neighbours, Coromandel’s workers must diversify to stay afloat. So far they have a trial contract with crisps manufacturer Simba for a five-hectare potato patch. If they can produce consistent quality and quantity, their planting contract will be increased.More soil tests are needed to see which other produce could prove profitable. And the dairy will need an upgrade, especially a processing plant to create yogurts and cheeses, if milk prices stay low.The farm also has three self-catering lodges in converted stables. With excellent trout fishing, horse riding and hiking available in the farm’s mountains and streams a mere two-and-a-half hours from Johannesburg, there is plenty of room for a larger agri-tourism enterprise.Coromandel is currently in talks with a Gauteng tourism consortium, but more capital and expertise is needed to make a success of the farming plans.“With the village being built, the farm must create jobs for everyone. Otherwise people will get hungry and start stealing,” says Phokane. “In the end, if we don’t get the investment and technical assistance we need, all our achievements are at risk.”Stephan Hofstatter is a specialist land correspondent, contributing to Independent Newspapers, Business Day and Farmer’s Weekly, among others.Story and photographs strictly copyright Stephan Hofstatter. No reproduction is permitted without prior permission.This article was originally published in Farmer’s Weekly, South Africa’s premier national agricultural magazine, and is reproduced on SouthAfrica.info with kind permission.last_img read more

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Jobless SPOs block Brahmaputra bridge

first_imgSome 300 Special Police Officers (SPOs) on Monday blocked an arterial bridge across the Brahmaputra river demanding regularisation of their jobs. They threatened to commit mass suicide by jumping into the river before the police dragged them away to restore order.About 650 SPOs have been jobless since the Assam government discharged them in 2015. They have been awaiting absorption in the proposed 3rd Assam Industrial Security Force as the government had promised.“We have no job, no money to look after our families. The government does not want us to live, and by preventing us from jumping into into the river, it does not want us to die either,” an SPO said.The State government had raised the SPOs in 2008 to guard government officials and vital installations after militants triggered large-scale violence in Dima Hasao district. Many surrendered rebels were included into the squad under rehabilitation schemes.“Initially, 900 SPOs were recruited. But the government discharged 298 of them in 2010 without any notice. The remaining SPOs were discharged in 2015, but none of us was given the revised pay since September 2013,” Dilip Saikia, president of SPO Welfare Society, had said recently. Mr. Saikia is undergoing treatment following an accident.The SPOs were recruited at a fixed monthly pay of ₹4,839 for the first three months. The pay was later revised to ₹8,200.last_img read more

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